You can’t be merry by yourself.
Sure, you can be content, happy, possibly even delirious. But merriment requires a group, and that group is almost always a group you can see and touch, one that’s sharing the same molecules of air, face to face.
The digital revolution continues to get deeper, wider and more important. But it has made no progress at all at increasing merriment. That’s up to us.…

Stu and Lyn Town

Our respect for people who serve for years on foreign soil and then re-integrate back to Canada is increasing rapidly. We had “the best” day with Stu and Lyn and their middle son Joey last Sunday. Went to  church at the Penticton Vineyard with them in the morning, and then over to their place for lunch and the afternoon. They served in Brazil for 5 years, and have now been home for 6. They told us only this year are they really feeling like they are getting the rhythm of life here and they are starting to feel at home again in their church. It is quite a journey, moving from one country to another.
“Do you miss Brazil?”
“Only every day.”
Way to go, Stu and Lyn, for your faithfulness, perseverance and friendship. May God continue to bless you and your growing family in ways that surprise and amaze you!
This reminds me of some verses from Hebrews, Chapter 11.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hiking Upcountry

Bella, Emma and I hiked to the top of some cliffs upcountry. There were deer everywhere, and breathtaking beauty. It was dark with no moon by the time we got down the narrow cliff trails. We made a small fire and roasted some marshmallows and thawed out a bit.  Pretty fun.

Okanagan Falls

Travelled upcountry to Okanagan Falls last week.
What a beautiful area of apple orchards, vineyards and desert mountains.
The area has abundant wildlife. We saw swans, geese, eagles, quail and lots of deer. One morning there were 10 deer just outside our window.

Psalm 19:1-4 MSG

1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. 
   Madame Day holds classes every morning, 
      Professor Night lectures each evening. 

 3-4 Their words aren’t heard, 
      their voices aren’t recorded, 
   But their silence fills the earth: 
      unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. 

 4-5 God makes a huge dome 
      for the sun—a superdome! 
   The morning sun’s a new husband 
      leaping from his honeymoon bed, 
   The daybreaking sun an athlete 
      racing to the tape.

Fourth Advent Sunday

I trust all is well and you are looking forward to some extra special time with people you love, and maybe some people who need your love. In Esther there is a story of temporal deliverance and how the people celebrated.
He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy. Esther 9:22 NLT
How much greater is God’s gift of eternal deliverance through Jesus?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Advent Action
Look around you for a sign of God’s presence. When you find it, share it with someone.
Here are the last two of our Christmas Paintings for 2011.

Third Advent Sunday

We prepare this week by feeling the joy.  We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand.  And so we consciously ask:

Prepare our hearts
and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling
the joy and hope
which his presence
will bestow.

Each morning this week, in that brief moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light a third inner candle.  Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy.  They represent our inner preparation, or inner perspective.  In this world of “conflict and division,” “greed and lust for power,” we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy.  Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply and say,

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

I copied this reflection on “joy” for this week’s meditation from Online Ministries .

Here are three more of our set of nine 2011 Christmas paintings. RGB

Justice Institute of British Columbia

A few weeks ago I had a coffee with Tony deWaal, the executive director of the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Program. Tony told me he took some very helpful courses at the Justice Institute of Canada .

Abbotsford Restorative Justice Tony deWaal

Our life in the Amazon is all about teamwork, communication and restoring relationships. This is more of an art than a science.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to study these puzzling issues from a slightly different perspective.

I enrolled in a Conflict Resolution program. Learning how to think about cultural and relational differences is very helpful. The professor of Conflict Resolution Theory, my first 3 day class, is one of my new heros. He has extensive experience among the Bosnians, Serbs and Croats in the 1990s, and more recently in Canadian “First Nations / Crown” issues. He advocates what he calls Transformative Mediation. “I do not go in with the primary goal of resolving interests. My primary goal is increasing understanding among the people involved and restoring relationships.”

Classes include theory, working out scenarios in small groups, and review. When we would share our professions in our small groups I had the distinct impression I was the first “missionary” many people had met, “No way! Really?” Maybe I will switch over to calling myself a LTCCW, a Long Term Cross Cultural Worker, like the leaders are recommending at the Vineyard Conference in Colorado. Apparently the word “missionary” has unhelpful baggage in some circles. I wonder what meanings my classmates put on the word? They are a cool group of people. One is the Red Cross co-ordinator for BC/Yukon. One is involved in city planning and community disputes for Vancouver. One is a head nurse. One is a lawyer. Some work with First Nations / Crown issues. What an honor to rub shoulders in a learning environment with these people.

This was a great week for me!

Here is an overview of the Justice Institute of British Columbia.