Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sunday Funnnday

On this beautiful, sun-soaked International Woman's Day, I've just emailed four families in Italy (Milan, Tuscany, Amalfi Coast and Rome) checking to see how they're doing, letting them know I've just prayed for them, hoping they're safe and healthy, and asking for a reservations refund because the Ofam's Grand European Adventure this May is not going off as planned.

I am sad and heartbroken.
And ashamed that I'm sad and heartbroken FOR ME, not for the 109,000 people in the world with the virus.

Back in January, when the Coronavirus was making the news, I was preoccupied with worries about the boobs of the other ladies who were sitting with me in the basement of the cancer clinic. I vaguely remember thinking, "That's in China. I'm in a room with 12" walls, underground, 10,000 miles away."

(And then I found out that I actually KNEW and CARED ABOUT someone who was eight and a half months pregnant and living RIGHT IN THE CENTRE OF THE STORM, (Wuhan, China) with her husband and two year old son. So I started praying for them (Mandi's friends). They were welcomed to England at the end of January, quarantined for two weeks, and safely had a little girl in February. Happy Ending.)

February, for me, was about getting my head sorted, going back to work, catching up with friends, and praying for new friends on Twitter. My heart was hurting for those who were struggling with health issues, who were grieving the loss of loved ones, who's families were being torn apart because of divorce or stubbornness and people I cared about who needed jobs... I was also STILL PLANNING THE TRIP because I am a positive thinker. And a planner. To be honest, it didn't occur to me to pray for this virus or the strangers who were affected. Because I'm mostly a bloody selfish person.

Last night I attended an event hosted by 5 + 2 (an organization that loves and feeds the homeless 'n hurting in Abbotsford). Before it started, I watched Jesse and his team of volunteers provide a hot meal for dozens of adults who deeply needed care and casseroles then decided I needed to step up my game. Maybe I could gather/inspire some of my friends to prepare and serve a meal once a month with me? Or something?

Eighty-five year old Tony Campolo was the evening's speaker. He spent a few hours spouting off scripture, stories and stats to about sixty or seventy of us gathered in the front entrance of the MCC building, tirelessly. His passion these days? Justice. Especially in terms of laws and policy making, climate fears, refugee rights and poverty in Canada. He encouraged us to get involved. He strongly encouraged us.

He also inspired us. 
Churches, church-people, christian organizations, faith-based charities are leading the way in caring for those most in need. (I need to hear these stories. Too often our news is about the way Christians drop the ball, make a mess, do something bad, hurt those around them..but on this night, Tony was sharing Things I Could Be Proud Of.) 

For example, 25 years ago, 42,000 children under the age of 5 were dying EVERYDAY because of poverty/starvation. 
Today? The stat is still alarming, (especially when we compare it to the current world health crisis; Coronavirus) but it has decreased to 15,000 children per day dying now. What's made the difference? Christians who sponsor a kid or ten through Compassion or World Vision-type monthly payments. Churches who raise money for orphanages. Pastors who collect discarded/unwanted babies from roadsides and city dumps. Youth groups who raise money to dig wells. Missionaries who show villages how to keep their water sources clean. Doctors who volunteer their time training underprivileged health care professionals, tradesmen who spend a week building a house in Mexico for a poor family...

Speaking of houses, he talked for awhile about Habitat for Humanity (another Christian organization) and how they have been able to  build 800,000 houses for those most in need. When they started, their vision was to raise money for the materials, but have volunteers do the actual building. Tony asked, "Where are you going to find volunteer skilled labourers?" The Fuller's responded, "Church men will go. Christian builders will volunteer." And they were right. They get many volunteers, most of them Christians. All happy and eager to build a house.


Afterwards, I went out for coffee with a friend, her son, and her 82 year old uncle. He was telling us about the volunteer work he's doing for a local group whose focus is human trafficking. HUMAN TRAFFICKING! In BC! In Chilliwack! As well, he and his wife are supporting/caring for broken, lonely, scared women who've escaped abusive relationships. Plus, of course, he loves on his extended family and church family.

I am not doing enough. Not enough action, not enough giving, not enough praying, not enough loving.

And that's the bottom line, yes?
Being a loving person. Caring for people beyond our families. Giving of one's time and resources to those who are in desperate need. Giving a shit about the people we share this planet with.

I drove back to the lake feeling compassion fatigue.
SO many needs. Like, SO many.

Which brings us to today.
International Woman's Day.

And again, this year, as in past years, I think of my Omi. (My dad's mom.) And how, as a young widow (her husband was taken from their home then executed a week later), she and her sisters ran, with their young children, from their Mennonite village in Russia to follow the German army across Europe. They made it to Canada 10 years later, to experience the hard prairie life during a season of drought. Eventually she and my dad ended up in Vancouver where she supported herself, self-employed as a house-cleaner for the rest of her working days, looking after the mansions in Shaughnessy. She, on her limited, but sufficient income, tithed and gave to the causes that tugged at her heart.

During those working years, she would come over on weekends, to babysit us, mend any clothes that needed her needle and thimble and do all the ironing. She pulled weeds in the garden, made us meals and prayed for us, passionately, in low German, the Holy Language.

Once she retired, (from cleaning houses) she'd spend her days at the local MCC store, in the backroom, sewing quilts for those in need.

She was not a President of an Organization. She didn't march or petition. She didn't fight for her rights. Her contributions to society were never recognized. She loved hard. And she worked hard. I never once heard her complain about life's challenges, or how tired she was of working and caring for those she loved.

I am proud to be her granddaughter.
Because of her sacrifices, I get to live in Canada.
Because of her faith, passed down through prayer and action, I believe.

I come from a line of hardworking, loyal, family-loving, church-going, Bible-believing, God-fearing women who believed they were worthy and valuable because the God of the Universe said so. He created them uniquely, for a divine purpose, and they lived it out everyday. 

The Day I Cancelled the Italian Reservations (while preparing my heart for the very real possibility that my plans to spend a few weeks with my kids, exploring and adventuring, in May, is not going to happen) ... on this day, I once again, say to the God who knows and loves me, "OK FINE. Your will be done. Show me what You want me to do, then give me the courage and strength to do it. Help me be The Woman you created me to be. And muzzle me if I whine about cancelled travel plans. Re: Coronavirus - Please give strength to those on the front lines, caring for the infected and give wisdom to the smart people who're trying to figure out a cure/vaccination.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. This place

2. These people

3. This woman

who's sass, smile and smarts will be missed terribly...

I KNOW you're gonna love the new team over at that other place. 


No comments: