Thursday, April 26, 2007

off to Ensenada

After a week of relaxing and indulging in Bakersfield, today we hit the road for Ensenada Mexico, with a few days in San Diego en route.

Ensenada is a beach side town, located on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula. We can drive there; it is approximately 4 hours from Los Angeles, about 90 minutes south of Tijuana, just over the US/Mexico border. Ensenada is a rapidly growing town of about 450,000 people. Being close to the US border, Ensenada has a growing tourist industry and is also a port for short cruises out of LA & San Diego.

This will be my 4th trip to Ensenada and my 5th to Mexico. Usually, we head down to Ensenada for 2-3 days to visit a growing number of friends, friends that we have been introduced to through relationships that Jess' folks have developed. On this trip, however, we will be staying for 7-8 weeks.

We have decided to spend a good chunk of our 'summer' here to get a real taste for life in a developing nation, to develop our relationships with our Mexican friends and learn more about following Christ from their perspective, and to help out at the Ensenada Outreach Centre where we will be staying. Jess is also hoping that is will be an opportunity for my Spanish to improve in leaps and bounds. If you compare Ensenada's weather with Vancouver's (see the two AccuWeather modules on the RHS of our blog) and also understand that the last 8 months have been wet, dark and cold for us, you'll also understand another reason why we are keen to spend a few weeks in a warm and dry beach-side town!

We are not entirely sure what our time will look like in Ensenada, but we are hoping that the experience will be one that gives us a greater perspective on life beyond our affluent Western one, and also on what God is doing in this part of the world. We are going with open minds, obedient hearts and ready feet to see and to hear if this could be a place or a gateway to what the Lord has for us post Regent.

We hope to keep the blog well-updated as we go, to try and share some of the experience and in so doing crystallise it for ourselves. Please pray for us as we go ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

after 40 days (I feel like Noah) ...

For the 40 days leading up to Easter, my Lenten spiritual discipline has been fasting from wasting time on the computer. This 40 days have been extended past Easter with final exams in the last week. But now it's over! So back to time wasting shall I go?

I probably will in reality, but hopefully to a lesser extent. Here's a few thoughts on what I have learnt from the experience:

Blogs - most blogs I read (mainly of friends) don't need to be checked daily for an update (as I had been in the habit of doing). Our Lenten fast was put on hold for a Sabbath Saturday sundown to Sunday sundown, which gave me an ample window to check people's blogs once a week. The only blog that I at times struggled to keep up with was J-NYC [;-)] as J sometimes posts very frequently. The only reason to check most blogs more than once a week is to follow the conversation of comments on a post, but this is more often than not worth following.

News - I have to confess I am a little ignorant of all the details surrounding Anna Nicole's death and the many saga's that followed during the Lent period. But have I really missed anything? There of course are some worthy news stories and articles that I have missed, but that's ok too. I think the needs to be a once or twice a day visit for me, rather than an every 5 minute refresh, like it sometimes was in my days doing a desk job.

Online accounts - I am far better than I used to be (maybe I am/was a control freak? Don't comment on that ... otherwise I might delete your comments!), but during the lent season, I have tried to avoid checking online banking and other accounts except when necessary. This is a habit worth keeping!

Lent of course, isn't meant to be about using my time better, it's about taking on a discipline that helps you be more in-tune with Christ as he walks towards his crucifixion cross. In some small way, we pick up and carry our crosses and forgo our chocolate, alcohol, internet use or whatever and go with him, as he carries his cross and gives it all up for us. My chosen discipline did help with this, but to be honest, only in a limited way. At first, I did turn to prayer instead of the computer to make the most of those few otherwise idle minutes, but this faded into obeying a self-imposed rule on my life (as many of our honourable and godly pursuits can do). You'd have to ask my wife to be sure, but I think I was more attentive to helping around the house and in the kitchen, rather than defaulting to the computer. And again, check with Jess, but we probably spent more time simply being with each other, without the iMac distraction – all good things!

This lent thing is a work-in-progress with me as I’m new to it, so I will try something again next year. To leave you with something to ponder, in one of my classes we have been looking at the effects of technology on our spiritual lives, both good and bad for sure. Technologies like computers, the internet, mobile phones and even watches can be a stronger force in our lives than we think as they can become invisible to us, and part of our natural environment. If you are someone who can never miss a call, cant go an hour without checking email, or constantly needs to know the time – can I encourage you to think about taking a technology Sabbath (which may turn into a Lenten sacrifice next Easter). Do we really need our mobiles on a Sunday?

Friday, April 06, 2007

let’s (not) t-t-talk about the weather

so much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say ...
keep it locked up inside don't talk about it
t-t-talk about the weather

~ Dave Matthews Band, So Much to Say ~

We talked about the weather in our last post – why do we talk about the weather when there should be so much to say?

I was humbled this Good Friday morning. While breaking my Lenten Disciple, I read an article from the SMH around the notion that ‘the church has left the building’. It lead me to think about where Jesus would be worshipping on this sacred day?

Studying theology raises so many questions and anxieties for me. Sadly, more about myself than about God, but I am a work in progress, so I’m ok with that for now. One constant question for us, is what will we do when we are done studying at Regent? While we are doing well at being present living day-to-day where we are in this season, this question keeps popping-up.

After reading about the church leaving the building, I came across a post from some good friends who, for a week, got to see what the transforming news of Jesus of Nazareth is doing in Central America.

So much say. So much need. So much to do. So much good being done. So much hope brought about by our transforming Jesus. Yet we talk about the weather.

This summer we will probably be blessed to be part of the transformation that Jesus is bringing to Ensenada, Mexico. We will spend 8 weeks (starting at the end of April) being part of the work of the Ensenada Outreach Centre. May Jesus of Nazareth have so much to say to us when we are there …

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It’s official – spring is here!

The northern hemisphere ties the beginning of spring to the Vernal Equinox, March 21. Of course, the exact equinox varies a bit, but this year, it was March 21 (more equinox details). For us in Vancouver, this blessed day promising warm, honey-coloured sun almost coincided with the end of a 22-day straight rain streak on March 25th. It also coincided with the appearance of the famous cherry blossoms, known as the first real sign that spring is truly on its way. Needless to say, after a winter with 30% less sunlight than a normal Vancouver winter, unusually strong storms, early and frequent snow, gale-force winds, and record-setting rain totals, everyone is much relieved.

To celebrate Vancouver residents are donning their shorts, tee shirts and thongs, heading outside for barbeques, and generally revelling in the “sunshine.” This brings us to a key point of definition. To me, sunshine is a golden-yellow light streaming forth from the sky, which, for the day to be considered “sunny,” must be blue. If the sky fails to be truly blue, I would call the day “hazy.” If the haze were a more opaque grey with texture, “cloudy” would be the appropriate term. Shadows always correspond to sunshine and one may find solace in the shadows from the sun, if heat accompanies the light. The other day was decidedly not sunny. While it was not raining, the sun could not be seen in the sky, definite clouds blanketed the expansive space above. No shadows graced the ground. Knowing that I hate the rain and am desperate for sun, many a cheery Canadian acquaintances asked me on said day, “are you enjoying the sunshine today?” I could only smile in a bewildered response.

All that said, we all know of warm, muggy days that are bright, cloudy and pleasant, if a bit hot. And so, the lack of true sunshine alone is hardly any reason to question the calendar, the cherry blossoms, and the throngs of thong-wearing Canadians. And, as this picture, taken yesterday, demonstrates, we have experienced a few days of beautiful blue-sky sun (just not on the previous day in question. Of course, the reality of true sun on some days only exacerbates my confusion as to Canadian use of language.) Stepping outside, however, one is not greeted by muggy warmth. No, even when the do clouds break and true sunshine appears, it is still cold. Not cool, not “well-it-certainly-isn’t-Sydney-in-the-summer” cold, not even 15 (that’s 60 for my North American friends and family) spring day cold. Yesterday was 8 (46.4), as I write this, at noon, it is 6 (42.8). It may reach 10 (50) this week. It is decidedly NOT spring, no matter what the calendar, the cherry blossoms, and the throngs of crazy Canadians declare.