Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Friends in Colombia

So for the past 2 summers Beth and I have travelled to Popayan, Colombia and helped out in an impoverished area just outside the town, called El Sendero. We've helped serve food to children, shared about Canada, led some songs in Spanish, participated in some church services, handed out treat bags, visited some families in their homes (shacks really), and I even tried to help dig a ditch last year (didn't last too long at that - figured having a heart attack in South America was not a wise thing). These trips have been eye opening and life-changing for us. We were so surprised that just our simple act of showing up and taking an interest was such an enormous encouragement to them. It really gives them a sense of hope to know that people from another country care about them.
We've also met, and stayed with, a variety of wonderful folks who are more well-off (some doctors, dentists, lawyers) that support the work in El Sendero. Their openness and warmth towards us was so sincere that we found ourselves falling deeply in love with this country and these people. Our friend Jenny has done a lot of work in this area to help many of the families who are experiencing difficulties. One of the biggest projects has been the building of a community centre and while it's not fully completed yet a daycare for young children has been opened in the main room.
Tonight we were part of a Fiesta that was put on to raise funds and make others aware of the needs in El Sendero. We served over 80 people and the program included Colombian singing and dancing. It was a great success and we raised a significant amount of money to support the work down there.
For the past year we've committed to giving regular monthly donations to help Jenny meet the needs of those she comes in contact with. One of the families that she has used this money for is a man who's wife was murdered and he is left to raise 4 children, including younger twins. He is wanting to build a small home for his family in the mountains and last year we went up a very rough road to help deliver roof tiles for him. It means a lot to us that we can be part of their life.
This year we're not sure if we can swing another visit. I keep going back and forth in my mind. I think we'll wait to see the income tax return results before making a final decision.
Musically, this week I've enjoyed listening to some old time Christian rock: Phil Keaggy's "Sunday's Child" and "Crimson/Blue", along with Russ Taff's "The Way Home" and his untitled release. Gave a closer listen (with lyric sheet in hand) to Josh Ritter's "The Animal Years". Last couple of days it was Neal Morse's "One" which is a neat progressive rock opera of The Redemption story.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Niagara Falls

    So I'm writing this from our motel room as Beth and I decided to get away for an overnight on the Family Day holiday. Checked into the Radisson (our room has a partially obstructed view of the Falls) and took a walk down to Table Rock. Bought a package deal that let us go into the Niagara's Fury presentation (which is a fun multimedia show), and go down to the observation deck at the base of the Falls - it's neat to see them up close in winter. Beth wanted to go to the Elements restaurant that overlooks the Falls, and I'm glad she convinced me. It was a great meal for a decent price - a special deal that included soup and dessert. Plus the view was fantastic! Then we walked back up (and I mean up!) to our motel. In the evening we drove back down, taking advantage of the free parking and we went skating at The Rink on the Brink, which is an outdoor rink they've built right across the road from the Falls. They had the lights illuminating both sets of falls so it was another nice view. The only problem was Beth ended up falling and hitting her head pretty hard. We came back then and got some ice on it. Later, I took a long walk to burn off some of supper's calories - went down to the river and up Clifton Hill - man it's a real circus around there. Checked in on Beth, hoping it's not a concussion - don't think she hit that hard but I've been reading about Sydney Crosby's injury so now will worry a bit more. Tomorrow we'll have a nice breakfast and visit the Butterfly Conservatory (part of that package we got) before heading home. Wouldn't mind checking out the exercise room and pool too before we go.
    We need to get back in time to go to the visitation for a sweet neighbour man who passed away this past week. Other significant news is Josh is thrilled (as are we) that he has a new job. Still commuting though.
    Listened to more music this week (more walking = more weight loss = happier Terry) - Robert Plant's "Band of Joy" (not enthralled), Josh Ritter's "The Animal Years" (it's good but I'm going to give it more attention), Mumford and Sons (I like this), Mike Roe (just his voice and guitar - nice), Steve Bell's new release "Kindness".
    Began rereading "When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayers" by Jerry Sittser as I recall it being an insightful study. Sunday's message was I think the best sermon I've ever heard on forgiveness. Pastor Todd is such an excellent communicator.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Busy Week

Well I sure hope the movie is better than the book. Actually I can't believe I'm saying this. I always maintain that a book is better than any movie adaptation. However we're talking about Doctor Zhivago here - the book I was determined to finish but caved after 300 pages. I just couldn't go on after I read a paragraph with 7 different names and I only recognized one of them! Finally decided to stop the pain as I have lots of better things to do with my time than try to figure out the multitude of characters and meandering descriptions (with a little bit of plot) of this plodding Russian novel. Will try the movie (on the big screen) on Wednesday. Beth seems reluctant but I'll drag her along anyway.
A good week for music. Saw Classic Albums Live perform "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with the KW Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday (with Josh, David and Rachel). Great songs performed well, the live orchestra making it special. Amazing how many great Beatles tunes are out there, and how well they stand up after all these years.
Thursday I led the study at our home church group again and we had some good discussions on Ephesians 3.
Friday we saw the Steve Bell Band in Cambridge (with Beth's boss and husband) and they are fantastic players. Especially loved the additions made by his 23-year old guitarist Joey Landredth. Steve asked if there were any Pierce Pettis fans out there and I was the only one to raise my hand (so he dedicated the song to me;)). More people need to hear his music.
Saturday we went to a Marriage Encounter dinner at our old church. It was great to connect with some of our friends there.
Sunday there was a his & hers shower at church for the assistant pastor and his wife, and new baby.
So yeah there's pretty much been something every day of the week. Kinda busy but good. One of the lessons out of our study this week is how we've been created for community so connecting with folks is an important thing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birds at My Feeder

Apparently (according to some of my children anyway) I'm becoming an old man - this because I like to look at the birds that gather at my feeder outside the kitchen window. But I think it's pretty cool to see the number and variety of birds that rely on the food there. I've had a black-capped chickadee feed out of my hand a couple of times too. We've seen juncos, finches and sparrows but the most striking of course are the pair of cardinals. They look beautiful in the trees just outside our back door, especially with some of the thick snow we've had in the past week or so. Some days it gets quite busy back there with up to a dozen or more birds on the feeder, the ground or in the tree. I've had to work at keeping the squirrels out of it - they actually will walk along the clothes line so I've put a plastic bucket on it. Squirrels will also take the lid off of the feeder so I've taken to wiring it shut - extra work each time I fill it but that seems to be working. And I don't mind because I love my birds! (and trying my best to not sound like a grumpy old man)
I've been considering reading Doctor Zhivago for a few months, since reading a review of a new translation at Then I noticed last week that they're showing the classic movie of this on Feb. 16th on the big screen at Galaxy so I went to the library to get a copy. Now I'm under the gun to read this 522 page book in 10 days. And it is tough slogging. I think this will be the last Russian book I ever read. The writing is just so dense, descriptions sometimes are quite overdone (including some pretty odd similes), the characters tend do too much long philosophizing, and some sentences just don't make sense no matter how long you read them over. Plus, everyone has 3 names (and often a nickname) so it can get really tricky keeping track. I often have to go back into previous chapters to figure out who has been introduced before and I've found some notes online that I read after each chapter to make sure I'm understanding the main plot and some of the literary nuances. But so far I can't really say I'm enjoying it.
Been sampling some of the recommendations from CT's Best Music of 2010 and so far have been less than impressed. I've appreciated 5 of the 12 releases they mention but the other stuff just doesn't grab me. Seems to be focussed too much on old-timey gospel songs it seems to me. Tried Aaron Neville's "I Know I've Been Changed" and Mavis Staples' "You Are Not Alone" but can't get into them. Give me Mike Roe's or The 77's take on classic gospel tunes anytime over these. And what's with promoting an album that includes the line 'your wicked daughters are doomed to hell' (on Staples' song "The Downward Road")? - Yuck!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Bit of Snow

This picture makes it look worse than it actually was because of the drifting that happened near the front of the driveway. Still, it was a lot of work shovelling. Of course I didn't mind as I had the day off because a snow day was declared. Hardly seemed necessary but realized again the power of the media to influence events. Weather reporters had been wetting themselves in excitement for days previous predicting the "storm of the year". Sure don't have much respect for them but I enjoyed the day off anyway.
David and Rachel's move last Saturday went quite smoothly and very quickly too. They had lots of help and we were done by 11:30. Waited around for lunch then went home to rest and also realized that somewhere along the line I had pulled a muscle in my arm that was actually quite painful. Ended up missing a couple of trips to the gym this week as a result.
Met with the children's ministry leader on Tuesday to share songs I know that I think could be used in their Sunday morning program. I've volunteered to lead some singing a couple of times a month. It's neat to think these songs (and me) can still be used to be a blessing (maybe I better see how it goes before I say too much;)).
I actually did play guitar on Sunday morning for the service and it seemed to go very well. I got lots of positive feedback anyway so that was a nice encouragement.
I plowed (pun intended?) through a couple of lighter books this week. "The Charlatan's Boy" by Jonathon Rogers was a fun read and "The Identity Man" by Andrew Klavan was a pretty engrossing (though sometimes racy) thriller. Not as much walking so not as much music. Did listen to some episodes of "The Blank Squirrel Podcast", which I imagine very few people have heard of - it's by a musician from our last church, and I do think he does a pretty nice job with it.