Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christians Awake! Salute the Happy Morn

This hymn, written by John By­rom, in 1745 as a Christmas gift to his daughter, Dolly, isn't sung in our churches as often as "Joy to the World" for example, but it is a wonderful salute to Christmas morning.  Enjoy.

Christians Awake
Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Whereon the Savior of the world was born.
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above,
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the virgin’s Son.

Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard th’angelic herald’s voice, “Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Savior’s birth
To you and all the nations of the earth;
This day hath God fulfilled His promised Word;
This day is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.”

He spoke; and straightaway the celestial choir
In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire;
The praises of redeeming love they sang,
And Heav’n’s whole orb with alleluias rang.
God’s highest glory was their anthem still
Peace on the earth and unto men good wil

To Bethl’hem straight th’enlightened shepherds ran
To see the wonder God had wrought for man
And found, with Joseph and the bless├Ęd maid,
Her Son, the Savior, in a manger laid;
Then to their flocks, still praising God, return,
And their glad hearts with holy rapture burn.

Like Mary let us ponder in our mind
God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind!
Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss,
From His poor manger to His bitter cross,
Tread in His steps, assisted by His grace,
Till man’s first heav’nly state again takes place.

Then may we hope, th’angelic hosts among,
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song.
He that was born upon this joyful day
Around us all His glory shall display.
Saved by His love, incessantly we sing
Eternal praise to Heav’n’s almighty King.

To hear the tune Yorkshire
click here

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday School Pageant

Back stage excitement
    One can predict that sometime in December, the Sunday School will present the Christmas pageant.   One cannot predict what will happen once the child actors take the stage, and that is the charm of the Christmas pageant. 

 We had angels

The holy family


and some very active sheep


There were Kings, and do I see Hoshmakaka making a return visit?

The Bethlehem stable as seen by the children of SPPC in 2011

There's more.  Dec. 18 was a very busy Sunday for this church.  During the fellowship hour, Peter Walden read an abridged version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol 

While willing helpers sorted through the white gift offerings and packed Christmas hampers.  Remember those craft nights?  Each of the hampers contained an ornament handmade on those two Fridays.

During advent, we have lit candles for love, joy, peace and hope.  Here we see those prayers in action.  Come see for yourselves. Join us for candlelight and carols Dec. 24 at 7:00 pm.  Proclaim with us, the Birth of Christ on Christmas morning at 10:00am. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Last Straw

  This year's Christmas play was fraught with one mishap after another.  The dancer sprained her ankle in the dress rehearsal, the lighting tech discovered he'd double-booked himself.  Leave from work was cancelled.  Illness robbed us of voices.  And finally, our accompanist took sick and had to miss the show.  As one of the cast remarked, this show shouldn't have been called "The Last Straw".  It should have been named "The Last Man Standing."
  But stand we did, with what turned out to be an audience pleaser.

Three Kings

The Wind calls Hoshmakaka

Hoshmakaka accepts the challenge

The crowds gather

The gifts keep piling on

                                                  and on

We approach the Manger

One More Gift!

The last straw breaks the camel's back

A Miracle --Christ Heals Hoshmakaka

We celebrate a successful production

We enjoy a reception

Helpers and guests

And in the end we collected $500.00 for the Sidney Food bank.
Merry Christmas, everyone, from the Living Flame Choir.

And here's the final instalment from our traveller.  

Thank you all for your replies and for listening to me ramble on about my trip. It has helped me feel connected to Canada and home each time I sit down to write about my adventures. Many of you have mentioned that you feel a trip like this can change a person and I believe you are right. I am looking forward to my life at home and wondering how I will approach things differently.

The last week has been a different one as we are staying in Kathmandu with nothing to do but shop and relax. On Sunday Marjorie and I went to the International Christian church for a wonderful multicultural service. There was a refugee couple who were married, both of their families had been murdered and they had fled to Nepal for safety. They became Christians while being helped by the people and Kathmandu so the church was their family, it was a very moving ceremony. They had a wedding lunch after so we were part of that. It was a great day.  On the walk home Marjorie and I stopped for coffee at a high end hotel and a cup of brewed coffee has never tasted so go

The next day I was hit by a bug and was down for 2 days. It was more like a flu than "the Other" so I spent the time in bed drinking fluids and sleeping. Then when we started to get in the sight seeing mode the city is being hit by bundha's or strikes. Yesterday they were roving ones so we tried to go out with a taxi but could get no where so the driver had to bring us back to the
hotel. You know it is bad when they give up a fare. So we spent the day sitting in the garden drinking tea, enjoying the sun as I know we will be back to winter. Today we are going to walk to the old palace which has been turned into a museum.  We leave tomorrow and fly to Incheon Korea.

 Linda arrived home on Dec. 10, too late to attend the Christmas Play, but she was in church on Sunday morning, shivering with cold.  I'm so glad to have her safely back with us and look forward to hearing about her adventures in person.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Behind the Scenes

   Those of you who come to the Christmas Play on Dec. 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm (notice how I slipped that little promo in there?) will see the finished performance on stage.  What you won't see are all the behind the scenes preparations that have taken place over the past six months. 

Things like writing the play.

Sewing the costumes.

 sets and props.

Organizing the lights.

Turning the sanctuary into Bethlehem.

Creating a poster and program cover.   By the way, that's Bill Richer, winner of the Presbyterian Record cover art contest.  Now the rest of the church knows what we've known all along.  Bill is an artist par excellence.

Not to mention practice every Sunday since the middle of September.
The Christmas Musical is an offering of love and dedication from the cast and crew.   Come and enjoy.

The latest from Nepal:
Today was an auspicious day! ! We finally saw the mountains and they are fantastic. I know it is hard to believe you can be in Nepal for 5 weeks and not see the mountains, but the weather has been against us. When we first arrived it was very foggy. So much so that many people who had come to trek Everest could not fly to the trail head. We met many disappointed people and I am not sure if they ever got to the mountains as we left for Bhratpur. While at the hospital once again the weather was misty and we got the odd mountain glimpse. But today made up for it all. We got up at 5am and drove to Sarangot and sat and watched the sun rise over the Annapurna Range. We were awed, the view changed constantly as the sun rose. Pictures can not capture the magnificence of it all so you will all have to make a trip to Nepal.

Yesterday was also a great day. We did our own little trek. Today our muscles feel like it was a major trek! We first went to Devi falls which is this place where a river goes under ground and there is a resulting gorge, then we were taken to a cave, where the river runs into. It was wet and dark and so interesting. I had to touch the rocks to make sure they were real as we are so used to seeing the Disney version of such works of mother nature. Then it was off to a Tibetan refugee camp and yes we are all the proud owners of some carpets. You actually see them weaving, carding the wool and dying it as well.
Then the trek. We wanted to see the Peace Pagoda which is up this small (by Nepal standards) hill. The road was washed out so our taxi driver left us off to walk the rest of the way. Well a group of children on a field trip passed us and got to the top about a half hour before us. Then we decided we would hike down the mountain, on this path, it went through the jungle and it took us an hour to get down. On the way we met some Nepali women cutting feed for their animals , they were at least 10 years older than us, in bare feet, carrying over 50lbs of feed on their backs and they didn't even break a sweat. Humbling to say the least. When we got to the bottom of the hill in one piece, we rented a boat to take us across the lake to Pohkara. For some of us this will be a once in a life time hike, I am game to try it again!

Pohkara is a wonderful place, the restaurants are amazing, they all have happy hours which we take advantage of and the food is a nice change from rice and lentils, our diet for the last 3 weeks. Much shopping and the prices are so reasonable. Tonight we are going to the Everest Steak house and we are going to have beef. To date any red meat we have eaten has been water buffalo. There is also hot water in our hotel and we have been enjoying very long showers in the morning and sometimes at night too.

Back to Kathmandu tomorrow. We have hired a car so it will be a 5 hour trip.  Home a week tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Wind, The Camel and Bethlehem

Anyone who has been around the church lately may have noticed some strange goings on in the Sanctuary and some even stranger boxes and bags turning up in odd places.  Regular attenders will recognize the signs -- it's nearly time for the Christmas Musical.
This year we are taken on a journey with Hoshmakaka, the camel who carried the gifts.
Here's an interview between Hosh and your intrepid reporter.

Reporter: I'd like to welcome Hoshmakaka, the camel, to our
                 blogtoday. Hoshmakaka, I understand you are setting out
                 on a journey, with an unknown destination.

Hoshmakaka: Yes. I will follow a star to wherever it leads. Have
                        you heard of such nonesense?

Reporter: Why you?
Hoshmakaka: Because I am the chosen one. I have the strength of
                       ten horses. There is no other camel as great as I am.
                       If there are any honours in the caravan, they come to

Reporter: Is this trip convenient for you?
Hoshmakaka: No, not at all. I had to give up a water-drinking
                       contest and a cud- chewing convention.

Reporter: Then why did you accept the commission?
Hoshmakaka: Something odd happened. I was resting by a palm
                      tree, perfectly content with life and I heard voices. 
                     They were shouting at me. Then a desert wind, a
                     simoom, if you will, lashed me with sand and fury. I
                     knew then that I'd been called by more than the Magi.

Reporter: So you packed your bags and started West?
Hoshmakaka: I packed one bag. You should see what others
                       packed on top of me.

Reporter: Thank you Hoshmakaka.  Good luck on your journey.
                  Now, through the wonders of modern technology,
                  I've been able to speak with the wind, or simoom, as
                  Hoshmakaka called her.
                  Welcome Simoom.

Simoom: Happy to be here.

Reporter: There are many names
                 for  wind. One of my 
                favourites is Descuernacabras, or wind that de-horns

Simoom: If I'd been talking to a goat, I'd have come as
               Since Hoshmakaka is a camel, Simoom was more

Reporter: Was he difficult to persuade?
Simoom: He resisted at first, but none can stand against the wind,
               especially when it is a wind raised by God.

Reporter: So, God sent you to Hoshmakaka?
Simoom: Of course. you don't think events happen by accident, do

Reporter: Um, no, Sorry.
Simoom: You should be.

Reporter: Well, thank you for your comments, Simoom. I'm very
                 happy to have been able to speak with you directly.

Simoom: Let he who has ears, hear.

Here's an update from our friend in Nepal.

Last weekend we went to the Chitwin Nature park. A real adventure. The hope was to see rhinos and ride the elephant. When we were on the elephant at 6:30 am in the middle of a very wet and dense jungle we did manage to rout out 2 rhinos. Unfortunately from my perch on the elephant I only got to see their back ends.
We had an excellent guide and over the course of the day we spent approx 5 hours walking through the jungle looking for wild life.  Only saw a crocodile and some deer and many birds. We saw amazing flora and signs of the bigger animals. The guide told us to hide behind a tree if we came upon a rhino so I spent a lot of time looking for trees!
We also spent time floating on the river -- the same one the crocodiles were in -- in a dug out canoe. Many of us were nervous. Later, we got to spend time washing and feeding the elephants.
The place was so peaceful butonly had power from 5:30 pm till 9:30 pm and alas NO HOT WATER! Would go back again, saw lots of very rugged country and rural way of life getting there.
Some other highlights are attending the birthday party of a 10 year old, a wedding feast where we ate goat, and tea with the director of the hospital and buying some Nepalese clothes. It cost us $3.00 to have an outfit tailored for us.

I need to go. We have a social engagement to attend. Since we will only be here for 3 more days everyone wants to feed us!

We  hope to go to Lumbini, the birth place of Buddah, this Saturday. It is a 3-4 drive and some of the nurses we have met will come with us. They still have rotating strikes here because of the political situation so western Nepal is closed today so do not know if we will get to go.

This update came in on Saturday, Linda's Sunday

 We did not go Lumbini after all.  Because of the political unrest  it felt safer to stay here.  The bonus was we went to church.  It brings tears to my eyes to be in church and hear their worship.  I am sure all of the people living around the church must be awed by the sounds of praise.  There is lots of music and singing and then open times of prayer and celebration where everyone raises hisvoice in praise.  Wonderful.  
Say hello to all for me, I feel their prayers daily as I meet some of the challenges we have to deal with.  


Monday, November 21, 2011


    "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.  Matt 25:13

   This verse refers to Christ's return, but foresight is a valuable quality at any time.  This past Sunday, SPPC conducted an information session on emergency preparedness.  We do live in an earthquake zone, after all. 
   Even if the big one doesn't hit in the next few years, there will undoubtedly be power outages this winter, so it is a good time to think of how we can care for ourselves for 36-48 hours.  Guests from the Sidney Fire Department brought examples of survival kits, some small,

And some large, all approved by both the Canadian and US Coast Guard.  If you're like me, you put off assembling a kit yourself, so it's great to have the opportunity to buy one already put together.   The food and water inside are guaranteed for five years so you won't have to replace it in a hurry!  Joe McCracken from our Session is taking orders for anyone who wants to purchase an emergency kit.  He suggested they make a perfect gift for that someone who has everything. 

      For more information, or to order a kit, call the office at (250) 656-2241

From Linda in Nepal

 I thought I would try and give you a run down on the day in the life of our time so far in Chitwin. Chitwin is a southern province of Nepal. It is a jungle region and very flat. As a  matter of fact we have not seen the mountains yet! The weather in Kathmandu was both foggy and smoggy so we did not see them and here the weather has been foggy in the morning and overcast most days. This is unusual for the region. We have even had rain which is not typical.  We also experienced a earthquake. I felt it.  In fact, I thought an animal had jumped on my bed!!!

Now a snapshot of our days......

We get up around 0730 as we need to be either in class or at the hospice at 0900. Breakfast is a simple affair of instant coffee or tea, instant hot cereal and fruit. We do not have cooking ability and eat everything we prepare out of a teacup, now we have 2 cups so we can have our coffee and eat our cereal at the same time.

Showers are an adventure. There is no hot water.  There is a large tank on the roof 1000 litres and if it has been a warm day the day before and not too cold overnight you can get this not so cold water. There is an art to a daily shower in cold water. You do not stand under the nozzle, you do soap yourself all over then you rinse in parts. For hair you just take a deep breath and go for it. The air around you is warm so it is not as cold as it would be in Victoria. Also you are not in a stall, the shower nozzle is in the middle of the bathroom and you just turn it on.  There's a toilet on one side, sink on the other so there is room to stay away from the water and just rinse in sections. Believe it or not when done you feel just as clean as you did at home, just more invigorated.

We walk to class or the hospice unit, very pleasant but there are still a lot of motorbikes and bikes on the road so you have to watch where you're going. The hospital system here is one of lining up rather than appointments, so the roads and side walks are full of people going to the cancer hospital. The flow of people seems to start at about 0600 in the morning so there is a lot of activity.

We eat lunch and supper in the canteen attached to the hospital. The menu rarely varies so our diet consists of: chow mien, daal bhat(rice, vegetables, daal, a spicy pickle), pohokora. samosas, chicken some days and our favourite potato chop which is like a croquette. We ask for potato chop every day, and the canteen manager will say ready at 2 o'clock. We go back and he says ready at 6 o'clock, and when we go for supper he says tomorrow. This means everyday we are excited when we arrive at the canteen only to discover tomorrow will be the day! Every other night we eat western which means cup of soup, chips, crackers, chocolate bars, peanut butter in our little house. You can only take so much rice in a week.

Laundry is another of our weekly challenges. We have 3 choices: the bathroom sink, a bucket at the tap in the yard or wear your clothes dirty. Since the last is not an option we find that one of us is doing laundry everyday. The pastor's wife loaned us a clothes hanger so we look forward to warm days to dry the clothes outside. The locals are always walking by our little house looking at us.  I don't think they are used to westerners doing their laundry in the front yard. Of course when you do laundry you run out of water in your tank. The first time we made a panic call to one of the nurses and she came over and showed us how to fill up the tank, so we have developed a routine to ensure we have water when we turn on the tap. We boil all of our drinking water and have a wonderful hot water dispenser so never have to worry about that.

Electricity has been good. There are random outages daily but we have our flashlights handy. There was one during the teaching day so we went to a building that has a generator and carried on.

Our evenings have turned out to be a great part of our day. The three of us Marjorie(RN) and Ellen(Dr) sit around and prepare our lectures, read, do sudoku, knit, and visit. When we arrived none of us were well versed in the use of power point, flash drives, or writing presentations. So we sat at the computer and tried all the buttons and now we can all write a presentation, do clip art, change the background and we are so proud of ourselves. When I think of all the years I worked and could never find the time to learn these skills. I can't believe I had to go to Nepal to learn powerpoint.

Bed time comes early, as the days are busy. The nights can be noisy with howling dogs and jackals, and all of the things that go bump in the night, and there are a lot of them. But morning comes and we start again. I can say we are loving it!
 We are off to the animal reserve in this week where we will ride on the elephants, see the rhinos and bears,  and, hopefully, get a hot shower!

The adventure continues.  Watch this space for the next installment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Craft/Games Night

Last Friday night the Sunday School hosted a crafts/games/fellowship night.  Here one of our students creates a Christmas angel which the pastoral care committee will distribute over the Christmas season.

Of course, every project needs
a supervisor.

And some crafty ladies.


If scissors and glue guns weren't your forte, there were games. Puzzles

And, of course, food!

Posted by Picasa
If you missed the fun, we're doing it
all again on Dec. 2. 7:00 pm

Here's an update from Nepal.
We are continuing to have a marvelous adventure.   Our days start at about 0800 with an illy coffee in the lounge then breakfast and then off to explore.  We have found that hiring a driver is the  best way to get around, that way they can take us to the site, then wait for us and then take us right home.   We have visited the 3 Durbar squares which are the sites of the previous royal palaces. The one we saw today had some buildings dating from 745 AD.   Many temples in each one and they do look very similar.   We also went to the Monkey temple,(Swayambhunath) -- it is a Buddhist temple and there were lots of worshipers today also many monkeys.
Because we have so much luggage we are driving[instead of flying] to Bharatpur a trip  of 147 km which will take us about 4 plus hours.  The roads are rough in places so we have to go slow!!  Hopefully the weather will be clear as yet we have been unable to even see the hills that surround Kathmandu because of the smog.
Ed. Note;  Received the following a couple of days later. Our trip to the hospital in Bharatpur was unbelieveable. The distance was from Victoria to Naniamo and it took 5 hours.   The first hour of the trip we traveled 21 Km in wall to wall traffic, buses of all sizes, huge trucks, not transports just very large dump truck types and of course motor bikes weaving in and out sometimes with 3 people on them.  Often children and even infants strapped to their mothers.  The road is narrow and often washed away by the rains.  We had an angel looking after us as a large truck full of rice straw nearly toppled on us.  Thank you for your prayers!  We arrived safe and sound to a gracious welcome.  The staff have done everything for us  -- going so far as to install a heater so we can have warm showers.  So far we do not know how to make it work so hopefully tomorrow we will have it up and running. We each have our own room, a toilet and a squat, and electricity.  We feel blessed. We have met the people at the Christian church and had tea with them.   We hope to deliver some of our supplies to the community to them on Sat.  They have a wonderful Guest House as well,  so any of you can come next time!!

Sunday   Went to church today. It was amazing.  We were asked to give our witness. Must say I had tears in my eyes. The whole congregation has an open prayer time where everyone prays out loud at the same time.  I am sure the heavens are alive with the sounds of praise.