Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The good and...

In three weeks I will be leaving the reserve to come back to southern Ontario. I don't want to leave yet. I do want to see my friends. But I like the pace of life here, the children we read with, that children come to our door just to hang out (well, some come to get freezies and leave), that I open my back door every morning to stare out at mostly untouched nature, not a building in sight on the other side...

All that said, I don't want to idealize or paint paradise of this place. There are good things. There are also tough things. I'm hesitant to write about the problems. It's easy to talk freely about the beauty, the joys, the successes. There are many of those. I'm uneasy about sharing just yet of other parts of res life. I think I could say many Canadians have a vague perception of what it might be like through the news and other media sources. There are many stereotypes portrayed, however, which aren't exactly true or fair.

What I want to emphasize is that seeds of hope are growing. We need to keep praying. As was discussed in our Bible study last week, we also need to start being the answers to our own prayers - by that I mean not just shrugging responsibility off to some Higher Being, but allowing the possibility that this Higher Being might have given us the ability to do something about our prayers ourselves. We say "God, please help that person" and maybe He says back to us, "Why don't you help that person?" This doesn't mean I know how, exactly. Maybe that is the prayer: not "God help them", but "God, how can I help them?"

For tonight, I pray for wisdom, energy and lots more joy. Laughter is always a good start!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Day Past the Hump

It's raining again in Wabaseemoong. Beth is slaving away in the kitchen, the other Ottawans are upstairs talking to their youth pastor on the phone, Clark is entertaining his biggest fan on the reserve, and I'm sitting here listening to The Avett Brothers. And the odd crack of thunder.

Ten bucks says we'll loose power again soon. And probably our recently re-ignited wireless connection.

Yesterday was "Hump Day". That's the half-way point of the summer. For three of us, it's past half, since we need to leave a few days early. I'm getting a ride home with Beth, who's got a family reunion/wedding shower in Uxbridge on the 21st.

I'm praying that we'll make the best of our last four weeks here, for good relations with the kids, that they'll learn and have fun, and that somehow we can exemplify God's love.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blueberries and Space

We took some girls berry and wild-flower picking today. Here's me and my meager finds after an hour of picking blueberries and raspberries. I've got a new appreciation for the olden days! It's also wonderful to not worry about pesticides or washing them. Pure, natural, God-given fruit.

Just as an aside: I'd love to post pictures of the children, but since this is such a public space, I'll be keeping those offline. Friends, feel free to get in touch and I can share photos with you privately.

Things are better in terms of our living space. While we still have a leaky shower, we now have a phone and another apartment for the boys. The six of us still eat together, but it's nice to have a little more space, especially since the four of us girls were sleeping in one room. We now are two to a room, which makes life a little easier.

Whenever I want to complain about things that seem tough, I have to remember how some others in the community live. Some houses are in worse shape and have many more people living in one-level homes. In some ways it seems odd to come in as a volunteer and have more space. Leaky showers keep us humble, I guess --> the words of a spoiled Westerner.

All is well this fine Saturday. The Literacy Camp people have invited us over for a potluck. This gave me an excuse to bake my favourite cake: chocolate with vanilla icing. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

3.5 Weeks In

We're continuing to get into the swing of things with the READ program. It's been both encouraging and discouraging: encouraging when the children get excited to come and we can see them progressing and building their literacy skills. We play games and read with them to help with basics like phonics (how letters sound) and high-frequency words (the, this, is, and, etc). Sometimes it can be discouraging, like when the kids aren't around or seem frustrated/bored or don't listen. For the most part, they like coming and seem to feel good about themselves when they learn new concepts.

On top of READ we're still taking kids swimming down the road and making bracelets with some of the older girls in the evenings. White Dog feels more normal as time passes. I'm happy to be here to help the children, even when it is difficult.

This past weekend I got out to the Winnipeg Folk Fest, which was a wonderful four day break. So much good music! My friend and co-volunteer Beth and I were blessed by good, warm hospitality via a place to sleep in the city at my friend Laura's. We also got the chance to visit Grain of Wheat church. Our friend Joel from Manitoba Pioneer Camp was sharing a message on baptism. Our other friends Joy & Jer from MPC talked about their upcoming move to Morroco. They'll be taking their three kids along, living amongst a Muslim population, teaching at a school, and hoping to be a positive, restorative presence in the community.

Back in White Dog, we could use prayer for our team with six people in one two-bedroom house. Our shower still leaks into the kitchen, however, we finally got a washer and dryer, as well as two new mattresses and another couch. This means no one is sleeping on air-mattresses anymore. Please pray that we would continue to reach the children as we mentor, tutor and play, and also that we would be a blessing to White Dog as a whole.

Thanks, peace, and miigwetch.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Quiet Saturday Morning in Wabeseemong

I've been enjoying a quiet morning to myself for the past few hours. Maybe it's an older-person thing, but I love waking up earlier than everyone else. I make french-press coffee, sit on the couch by the window, and stare out at the trees, sky, rocks, and river. It's my favourite time to pray, read and listen. Like right now: the thunder is rolling lightly, I'm listening to the rain fall and the wind blow. It's dark in here at ten am, for the clouds are thick and heavy today. I'm happy for a Saturday to relax and get errands done around the house. I'm just hoping the storm won't take away our electricity.

Kids have continued to come by our home in the late afternoon and evenings. They are curious and perhaps a little bored. The past few days hemp necklaces were being made. Yesterday nails were painted on the front porch and portraits were drawn on the back. The two girls I drew said no one has ever drawn them before!

Woah! It just started pouring so hard I can no longer see the river! Whenever it rains this hard I get a little nervous in my belly. I am also reminded that we are fortunate to have shelter, to stay dry, and that I have hot coffee in my mug beside me.

Last night we met and welcomed in some new neighbours. They are three people working for the Lieutenant Governor's Literacy program. They will also be here most of the summer running camps for the children. While our purpose and focus may be somewhat different, there are opportunities for partnership and at minimum, some new friends in White Dog.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1st

READ got underway yesterday. We met the children and introduced them to the program. In my brief sessions with each child, I can see already why Agidasin Initiatives has developed this type of tutoring program for younger primary children. The kids are super cute and I pray we will see progress, not just in literacy skills, but also in relationship building.

Some kids and teens have been stopping by our home where us volunteers live. Last night we started making hemp necklaces with some of the girls on our front porch.

Today is Canada Day, so we're not working. There are community games today and fire works tonight. At the moment we're enjoying a slow, relaxing day, catching up on personal business. I practiced guitar on the back deck and watched the pelicans and black birds soar. I could see a bunch more pelicans down in the river, but they were quite far away.