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.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mission: At home and Away

There are several mission projects to report on this month at SPPC.  The first is our "warm toes" program.  This is the time when we buy warm socks, stuff them with necessities like toothpaste and shampoo and bring them to the church where they are dedicated to God's work on earth.  We then donate them to Our Place in Victoria for distribution.  With winter coming on, the need for warm toes among the clients of Our Place is great.

Another mission that SPPC supports is the Refuge Bus, often referred to as The Blue Bus.  One Sunday morning this month, we heard from Rick Wismer, who runs the program.  The bus ministry focusses on outreach to First Nations communities on lower Vancouver Island.  Two communities Pauquachin and Tseycum are close to SPPC.  Rick reported on some success stories and some needs.  The most pressing need is a new bus.  The old double decker has reached the end of the road, so to speak, and he has his eyes on a new coach-style bus that would better suit the needs for this ministry.  He also took the opportunity to thank SPPC for the volunteers who come on board the bus and especially for the cookies.  Thousands and thousands of cookies are produced every year by members of SPPC and donated to the Refuge Bus for snacks.  

Finally, one of our members is embarked on a mission of her own.  Linda Cliff is in Nepal as part of a hospice team.  They will be there for six weeks, to teach staff at a hospice in rural Nepal.  I had a letter from her shortly after she'd arrived in Kathmandu.  "We arrived safe and sound with excellent flights on Korean Air.   Everything was on time, the service was excellent and the flights did not seem as long as expected. The first leg to Incheon , Korea was 12 hours and the second to Kathmandu was 8 hours.  The stopover in Korea made the trip doable.

The ride from the airport to our hotel was overwheming!  Dogs,cows, people, cars, motorbikes, horns blaring, all on the road at the same time, all seeming to go in different directions and us in a sketchy van traveling right down the middle of the road.  Our driver took us the back way so we saw much poverty and the road is what we would have called a trail.  It was a relief to arrive at the hotel which is an oasis of calm in a very busy, noisy and wonderful city.

So far we have explored the Thamel district where the hotel is.  Lots of shopping and amazing sites.  Feel safe and as long as you realize that when a car or motorbike sounds the horn you better step out of the way it is easy to get around.   Yesterday we went on a tour with a driver and a guide.  We went to Bhartapur and saw this ancient temple town and the real third world life style.  It is just the end of harvest so they are drying their rice in the town squares, so everywhere are these great mounds of rice they are getting ready to store.  We also drove into the country and saw the people preparing their fields for the next crop which is potatoes.  Terraced lands, worked by hand, makes me embarassed to say I work in my garden.  I play: they work.

Today we are off to Hospice Nepal and to wander around.  Have loved the food, many places to eat, both western and ethnic food.  We go to bed early and get up with the sun.  It is wonderful."

 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 ESV