Lessons, learned.

I sat there thinking that this wasn’t really happening to me. Not now.
“What a brilliant way to ruin a holiday, you dud.” And similar thoughts played over and over through my mind. As I sat there sulking in the living room of a friend-of-a-friend whom I had literally just met, I wallowed in a rather emotional puddle of self-depreciating thoughts and feelings. I realize this sounds a bit dramatic but having just crashed a motorized scooter on a busy roadway in the middle of nowhere India (actually it was a lovely town called Ooty, I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in India) the adrenaline and negative thoughts were flowing fast and full! The sound of the wreck is something that has startled me as I continue to think about it. I remember pulling out to pass a bus on a road at rush hour, I remember seeing the Jeep turn into the oncoming lane, and I remember seeing my front tire skidding aimlessly about as I desperately tried to avoid the chrome grill of the aformentioned Jeep. What happened next was, what I can only describe as an act of God. The bike was devoured by the front right wheel of the Jeep and I was sent hurling down to earth. I am convinced that Columbia Sportswear’s Circuit Breaker backpack is actually an angel in disguise, as I tumbled onto my back the pack provided excellent cushion and sufficient bounce for me to complete a tumble and pop up on my feet, about a meter in front of the bus that had come to a stop sometime during the ordeal. I ran over to grab the bike and endure a good tongue lashing from an understandably angry driver. On the side of the road, mangled bike by my side, I started to contemplate the significance of the event. This could have been the end of me. But God, my protector, had other plans. It was that night, sitting in a good friend’s house that this thought really impacted me. My friend’s father said to me, “God has spared you, I feel that you have a great call on your life from God.” It is this phrase that has seemed to be a recurrent theme throughout the year for me. Although, it has been expressed in different ways, the main point is that God is in the refining business! There is a purpose for me and God is preparing me and using me to fulfill that purpose. However, this kind of refining does not come for free or with ease. It is often filled with hardship and trial, often with confusion and heartache, sadness, anxiety, etc. the list is nearly endless. But the hope in this is that God is still there through it all. That is the thing that this year has taught me again and again! Maybe that’s because I’m a slow learner? Regardless, God has consistently shown me so many things through the trials I have faced. In the refining fire of life the things that I so desperately need have been absent, at the same time the character of God has been shown by the same fire. When I have lacked commitment, God has shown his faithful pursuit of me. When I have lacked relationship, God has shown Himself to be a friend like no other. When I have not seen justice or mercy, God has shown me His undying empathy and sorrow for those effected by injustice. As 2016 comes to a close, I look back at what has been a challenging year to say the least! But, I also look back at a year that has taught me, and shown me more of who God is than any other in recent memory. I look forward with hopeful anticipation to what God has in store for 2017, for me and those around me as well!

A quick GlobeTREK update: So for a while now my professors back in Canada and I have been talking about my internship placement. Unfortunately, there is not much opportunity for me to fulfill the academic requirements of my internship in Kolkata. So in an effort to make this possible, through much prayer and careful consideration, my professors have decided it would be best to move to another location where I will have more of an opportunity for the Youth Ministry requirements to be fulfilled for my program. So the country I will be moving to now is Rwanda in Africa. I am sad that I must leave Kolkata, a place continuously on my heart, but at the same time I am so excited to see what God has planned for Rwanda and my time there. This is a big transition and I would appreciate prayer as we figure out Visa requirements etc. Stay tuned for more on this coming soon!

Thanks for reading! Happy New Year friends!

Grace and peace!

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Coffee, coffee, coffee, and the Word.

I started to slide down the side walk, and naturally, out of fear and confusion, my first reaction was to run faster. As I felt that I was finally back on solid, not inclined, ground,  I looked back to investigate the cause of my slippery adventure. I found that a combination of Clark’s Desert Boots, which if you have ever worn no that they have about as much grip as your grandmas freshly waxed hardwood hallway, and mud had been the key contributors. I wiped a drop(s) of sweat from my face, thanked the good Lord that it was only mud, and continued my journey. I rounded th corner and spotted the cafe that I had been looking for and made my way towards my cliche millenial-Christian hideaway. Recently, I have found great comfort in reading the bible. I have found the words of Christ, and the apostles that followed, more compelling and engaging than ever before, at least that I can remember. Phrases that I have read many, probably hundreds of times, have somehow changed and mean so much more to me. Likewise, coffee shops have been somewhat of a safe haven, I am in one currently, as I seek to “escape” or take a break from the craziness of this city. I know I sound like a hipster, and I guess I am a little bit. Anyway, I have been experiencing a renewal of sorts. Things that seem mundane or ordinary in my comfortable “first world” life, have been brought to new light and have taken a new form it seems. Writing for instance, something that I have looked at with disdain (often because it is associated with an 8-10 page paper due in two days that has not yet been started) has been something that I have found great joy in, and more than that, something that I have been able to spend time with God doing. Recently I have taken to rewriting some Psalms in my own words, call it plagiarism if you want but, I enjoy communicating with God in that way. Yes, in an ethically-unsound way, get over it. But the thing that has been the most refreshed in my life is the joy of devotion. As any good Christian kid knows you “enjoy” devotions and spending time with God is “fun.” But in the same way that every good Christian kid knows this, they also know that this is just not true all the time. However, recently the “fun” has come back! But it’s different,  it’s more of a constant, steady joy rather than an exciting hit you in the face kind of experience. It has been really cool to experience the consistency of time with God, and finding joy in those times. I find that it’s in these times when my my heart is most open to what God has to teach me. In these times that I find are very challenging, God has been leading me on a tremendously thought provoking and perspective changing journey. I am excited to see where it leads as it continues! It makes me think a lot about God’s character. Especially, the inexhaustible nature of it. I often get caught up in the action of devotions or worship, trying to make my actions fit into this mould of who God is that I forget that God doesn’t fit in our mould. There is so much about God to discover and experience, but I often shut myself off to that. In this I miss out on that refreshing experience, I miss out on God opening me up to a new experience or a new perspective that could be amazing and life changing.

Well that’s new…

Well that’s new…

So India. This place is crazy! There is so much going on that sometimes I find that if I don’t just put my head down and ignore my surroundings for a minute, I might have to develop multiple personalities in order to deal with it. However, at the same time if I keep my head down for too long I WILL get hit by a bus. That is true, I was nearly hit by a bus today, and it was terrifying. I apologize for the delayed nature of this post, I have been finding it somewhat difficult to find reliable sources of internet access. (Related: I am thinking about getting a portable wifi hotspot, does anyone have experience with them and if so, good or bad? Comments are appreciated!) And in all reality, I have had no idea what to write about, and let’s be real I still don’t really. But I figured that maybe if I just throw my hands toward my keyboard in a hopeful fashion something good may come out. Maybe that’s how the Twilight series was written? Anyway, India, living here has been incredible, hard, gross, amazing, fulfilling, and challenging. And I have only been here for three weeks! Everyday holds a new experience and gives me the opportunity to learn and grow, but it also gives me the opportunity to be closed minded and be negative towards the culture and the people. There is a choice to make everyday of whether I am going to choose to embrace all that God is teaching me through people and culture, or whether I am going to neglect this and try to remain in my own world. Every time I use my flip flop to heartlessly murder an enormous cockroach (a battle that I am winning by 16-0 kill/death ratio by the way) I have to ask myself if I am going to hold this as mark against living here, or if I am going to see the humour in it and learn that ADDA flip flops are the best for this task. Every time I go into a public bathroom and I am greated by the sight of a soaking wet and slippery toilet seat, I am confronted with the choice to hate it, or think about how going to the bathroom normally is rather boring and not knowing if you are going to slip off the toilet and break something mid-movement is quite exciting and really enhances your bathroom experience! Or how about when the guy on the train decides that he wants to practice his MMA skills and decides to throw an elbow directly into my sternum, should I get physical with him and say that he is a problem, or should I maybe realize that everyone on this train just wants to get home/to work/to their friends house, and maybe even that when he becomes the UFC Welterweight champion I can say that he practiced his wicked elbow-to-the-chest move on me first. Constantly there are experiences that cause a confrontation within me. Am I going to curse the smell that, after steeping in the humidity all day, can only be described as “funky”, or think about how amazing the view of the rice fields and palm trees was as I rode through the countryside on the back of a motorbike? Am I going to sit at the back of the church with my arms crossed and repeatedly tell myself that charismatic worship is not what I believe in theologically, and therefore will not take part in it, or will I join in and appreciate the fact that we are all part of One Body, and God has created diversity within the body. I must admit that I am guilty of the former. The thing is each day, whether you live in India, Canada, America, Barbados, Mozambique, or Fiji, we are faced with challenges and they each present a confrontation between our own ideals of how we think life should be and what life is. We want our lives to be cockroach, wet toilet seat, and funky smell free but, in reality they are not! And I am glad they are not because, life would be boring if we always knew what was coming up and we wouldn’t learn anything from that. The age old saying that “Familiarity breeds contempt” comes to mind. The thing that makes life so awesome wherever you are, is the unexpected, the challenge, the new experience, and I think that we, me especially, miss out on things because I expect life to fit in a box. I don’t think that’s how God designed life to work. When I look at the Bible, and more specifically the message of the Gospel, I see that it was full of unexpected lessons and experiences. People didn’t expect that Jesus was going to come as a baby in a manger, I mean they should have based on the prophecy, but they didn’t! They didn’t expect Him to be a humble carpenter, they didn’t expect Him to die. How could the Saviour of the World die? The disciples didn’t expect to see Him again but they did. The Bible is chalked full of examples of God using the unexpected experiences of life to teach, affirm, and build people and groups up. I guess what I am trying to say is that I think that God shows us a lot through the things we go through and we have a choice to make. Are we going to be open and willing to learn from the challenges and experiences that we have, or will we choose to close ourselves off to them because they don’t fit in our category of what life should be like?

As always, these are just some thoughts that I am processing and I do not mean to accuse anyone by this. Thanks for readin! (And for real with the wifi thing, comments are appreciated!)

HAPP(me)NESS

As I watched little Chinam, a three year old Cambodian bundle of endless energy, jump from the railing of a classroom building into a small pile of construction sand below I realized something. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but, I knew there was something about him that was unusual. Last week, we spent time in the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most unspeakbaly amazing places I have ever been able to go. There was something so welcoming and friendly about the community there. Not just friendly because they wanted us to feel welcome, but a genuine, raw warm and welcoming spirit that just flowed from them in everything. However, this was not the thing that caught my attention the most. I kept noticing something about the people here as they worshipped, worked, ate, slept, and generally just lived in community with each other. Something just seemed to be present at all times. It was only on the bus as we were travelling from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (the capital city) that I realized what that something was, it was JOY. Joy was what had stood out to me so vividly as I watched how they went about their everyday lives. They seemed to be so happy all the time, but looking back I no it was more than just mere happiness. The people that we were working with did not have much, and they knew that, but that didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that the church yard was so flooded that they could not work on the wall that we were supposed to be helping with. They had found the joy of the Lord in every situation. This joy is deeper than happiness that solely depends on circumstance. This joy was the undercurrent of their lives, the constant stronghold in their lives. This made me think about how so often I find myself in a bad mood or upset with my life because my circumstance is not what I wanted. My faith would be tested and I would lose heart and tell God that he had gotten it wrong again, I wasn’t supposed to face hardships or trials. But that isn’t a particularly biblical view of the Christian walk is it? James 1:2-3 says that we should “Count it all joy, my brothers” when our faith is tested because that will produce steadfastness. That’s pretty different from the whole “pursuit of happiness” idea, isn’t it? Our joy, as followers of Christ, is not dependent on the circumstances that surround us, whether that be a flooded church yard, or bad job, or no job. The joy of the Lord is th undercurrent that constantly flows beneath the trials and tribulations of this life. The people that we had the privilege of spending time with exemplified this kind of joy so beautifully and that is something that I will take with me as I mve on in my journey. God’s joy is constant, regardless of circumstance. Always has been, always is, and always will be available to us. That’s beautiful!

UPDATE: We are in Phnom Penh until Tuesday and then we are off to Thailand for a bit. I have really appreciated your prayer and support! If you feel so inclined to support me financially while on GlobeTREK you can do so through the Donations page in the dropdown menu or visit Prairie College Donations. Also, our friends Darren and Minako from Work of Your Hand will be in Canada speaking at a few churches and what not so you should go check them out! It’s and amazing ministry.

My Lighthouse

         The words of “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective are ringing in my ears, and have been now for a few days. There is something so tangible about the comparison that they draw between the promise of God to lead us through the trials of this life and the lighthouse as it promises to lead ships safely through the dark and uncertain sea that they sail in. I had the priviledge of being part of a worship night when I was back at college for a couple nights this past week. As I was there only to make preparations for GlobeTREK I was feeling quite flustered with all the last minute details that still needed to be figured out, along with a great deal of uncertainty about how this whole trip thing was actually going to work. I sang out the words to the song and Immediatley I felt the comfort of God’s knowledge surpassing peace. I felt Him reaching out to me as if to say, “Just stop trying to swim agaisnt the current and let me guide you.” Tis was an amazing moment to say the least. However, I then thought to myself “Does this mean that we will never be harmed in life?” It was then that another song played and one of the lines talked about finally reaching heaven’s eternal shore, and the promise of eternal life. Another flood of peace hit me! God does not promise to keep me safe from the physical harm that this world may bring, He may choose to protect me, but, He does not promise it. What He does promise is that, with our faith firmly rooted in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, He will bring us safely to the eternal shore of Heaven where we will dwell eternally with Him. This is a promise that Has been true and always will be true, however, we often put things in the way don’t we? Somehow we take something that man deems as more important than God’s promise to heart and let those things control us. Through the chaos of my preparations for GlobeTREK God has given me new eyes and a new understanding to see and accept HIS truth as real in my own life. I look back at the things I worry about and they all seem so foolish! My teasure does not exist in this world but trather in Heaven and I have no reason to fear what this life may bring before me because my hope and faith is in the neverending, unceasing, and everlasting God, my lightouse. 
GlobeTREK Update: We are in Beijing for a few days! It is such a cool city so many cool places and the culture is unreal! Also, every second store there is a food stall of some sort so that makes me happy haha. Thank you for all your prayers and support as we have been travelling and continue to do so! God has definitely blessed our team and I thank you for being a part of that blessing! Stay tuned for more….

To Him who is able!

Peace in chaos

       As I felt the ocean toss me around like a weightless piece of paper I understood why the surf instructors had referred to the crashing waves as the washing machine. What felt like an eternity trapped under the salty water was little more than 3 seconds, however, these were some of the longest seconds of my life. I was consumed by the utter chaos of not knowing which way was up or which way was down, and whether I was actually out of the water or not. It was then that I remembered what the surf instructor had told me to do in those situations, (okay I didn’t think of this right away, it was probably after four instances of being tossed from my surfboard into the angry ocean) “Just stay calm. It will be over before you know it.” So I tried that, I remembered that I had come just fine, a little dizzy, but all in all perfectly fine all the other times so why would this time be any different? I stopped trying to fight against the overwhelmingy strong water and just rode it out. 

      A while later while I was sitting on the beach watching others go through a similar ordeal, and I thought to myself “How many times do I do that in my life? How many times do I fight against the things that I actually have no ability to control?” Often, is the conclusion that I drew. Too often even. I find myself fighting against the “ocean” in my life, whatever it may be that is causing me difficulty I find myself fighting against it rather than letting God lead me through the tough times. This brought to mind Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” What I love about this passage is that it does not make the promise that life will be easy and that we won’t face hard times, but it does promise that the Lord will be with us through the times that are hard and that we will not be overcome by our trials. As I pondered this passage and my recent experience in the ocean I looked back on my life and I saw that God has faithfully brought me through many things that I thought were far too big or difficult for me to overcome. Even recently in preparation for GlobeTREK God has provided for me and helped me through chaotic and difficult situations, and through this He has shown me love and mercy in giving me peace to deal with the chaos. Through this I have gained a deeper understanding of who God is and how He is working in my life now. It is pretty interesting to look back at what He has done in my life, and exciting to look forward to what He will do in my life in these coming months! I would love to hear from you guys about times God has brought you through something difficult and how that affected your relationship with Him. So please leave a comment! 

GLOBETREK UPDATE: GlobeTREK prep is going great! I have all the visas, and vaccines that I need for our many travels. We are 17 days out from departure and I am getting super stoked! Finances are coming along bit by bit but there is still a long way to go! So as always if youy wish to support me in this endeavour it would me much appreciated! You can donate through the donations page in the top right menu on this blog, or at this link Prairie Giving, just be sure to select GlobeTREK 2017 and the name of the team member that you wish to support. Also, I have been thinking about starting a prayer list, would any of you fine folks be interested in signing up for an email prayer update?

Thanks for reading and partnering with me in this awesome adventure! To Him who is able!

Caleb

Peace in chaos

Peace in chaos

       As I felt the ocean toss me around like a weightless piece of paper I understood why the surf instructors had referred to the crashing waves as the washing machine. What felt like an eternity trapped under the salty water was little more than 3 seconds, however, these were some of the longest seconds of my life. I was consumed by the utter chaos of not knowing which way was up or which way was down, and whether I was actually out of the water or not. It was then that I remembered what the surf instructor had told me to do in those situations, (okay I didn’t think of this right away, it was probably after four instances of being tossed from my surfboard into the angry ocean) “Just stay calm. It will be over before you know it.” So I tried that, I remembered that I had come just fine, a little dizzy, but all in all perfectly fine all the other times so why would this time be any different? I stopped trying to fight against the overwhelmingy strong water and just rode it out. 

      A while later while I was sitting on the beach watching others go through a similar ordeal, and I thought to myself “How many times do I do that in my life? How many times do I fight against the things that I actually have no ability to control?” Often, is the conclusion that I drew. Too often even. I find myself fighting against the “ocean” in my life, whatever it may be that is causing me difficulty I find myself fighting against it rather than letting God lead me through the tough times. This brought to mind Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” What I love about this passage is that it does not make the promise that life will be easy and that we won’t face hard times, but it does promise that the Lord will be with us through the times that are hard and that we will not be overcome by our trials. As I pondered this passage and my recent experience in the ocean I looked back on my life and I saw that God has faithfully brought me through many things that I thought were far too big or difficult for me to overcome. Even recently in preparation for GlobeTREK God has provided for me and helped me through chaotic and difficult situations, and through this He has shown me love and mercy in giving me peace to deal with the chaos. Through this I have gained a deeper understanding of who God is and how He is working in my life now. It is pretty interesting to look back at what He has done in my life, and exciting to look forward to what He will do in my life in these coming months! I would love to hear from you guys about times God has brought you through something difficult and how that affected your relationship with Him. So please leave a comment! 

GLOBETREK UPDATE: GlobeTREK prep is going great! I have all the visas, and vaccines that I need for our many travels. We are 17 days out from departure and I am getting super stoked! Finances are coming along bit by bit but there is still a long way to go! So as always if youy wish to support me in this endeavour it would me much appreciated! You can donate through the donations page in the top right menu on this blog, or at this link Prairie Giving, just be sure to select GlobeTREK 2017 and the name of the team member that you wish to support. Also, I have been thinking about starting a prayer list, would any of you fine folks be interested in signing up for an email prayer update?

Thanks for reading and partnering with me in this awesome adventure! To Him who is able!

Caleb