Monday, 17 June 2013

"Born to be... Wild?"

When I was younger, I saw a movie called Road to Redemption. It’s a Christian comedy that came out in 2001, and the basic plotline is this: Girl and her boyfriend have get-rich-quick scheme. Get-rich-quick scheme blows up in their faces. Girl and boyfriend find themselves owing a quarter of a million dollars to the “baddies.” Girl decides to reconnect with her estranged (and wealthy) grandfather and try to get a loan, but all he wants to do is go fishing… exactly the way they did it when she was a little girl, which means they’re headed cross-country to the town of Redemption, Montana, with both the boyfriend and the baddies on their trail!

Okay, so my summary’s not the best. Trust me, you just need to watch it yourself. Believe me when I say it will be worth it.

I’ve gotten sidetracked.

My point was this: during the movie, there is a scene where the two voyagers are left stranded on the side of the road. In the middle of the desert. They are picked up by an unlikely group of heroes… a gang of Christian bikers. Beards, boots, bandannas and all. With slogans such as “Jesus is #1” on their bikes and patches declaring “Satan is a punk” on their jackets. And they raced our main characters off to their next adventure with “Born to be Wild” playing in the background.

There are plenty more details besides that one, of course, but I won’t spoil the ending for you. Anyway, that movie was my first introduction to the world of Christian motorcyclists. I was enthralled. I wanted to buy a bike and hit the road!

Of course, motorcycles are for the young, the very brave, and the very wealthy. (Ah well, one out of three ain’t bad.) And life went on. But I’d always had this secret desire… to ride a motorcycle. To taste the freedom and understand a little of what all the hype was about.

That’s why there’s one day of the year that’s pretty special to me: Biker Sunday, also known as Father’s Day. At Open Door, Biker Sunday is when all the bikers come to church. The congregation (if you want to call it a congregation… around here we just call it the “Open Door crowd.”) dresses in their finest. You guessed it… Bandannas, boots, leather jackets, chaps, and all that goes with it. It’s a time of celebrating the good that our local biking groups do for the local charities, as well as just a rocking good time. There’s great music, a great message by our own Rev. Jesse (wearing his own leathers with “Rev. Jesse” emblazoned across the back) and some great barbecue! Everybody eats and talks motorcycles, along with admiring the line-up of “hogs” in the parking lot. It’s a biker’s paradise!

So as you can imagine, this past Biker Sunday was welcomed with great anticipation. I arrived at our venue fairly early, since we usually squeeze in a quick band practice beforehand.

Driftwood Cross.
L to R: Dave Hammond, Bob Tetford, myself, Jim Vaughan-Evans, and Larry Baldwin.

We were just finishing up our list of songs when we heard it… a deep, sustained rumble that grew louder by the second. I heard someone call, “Bikers are here!” and I immediately rushed out the front door (along with practically everyone else in the congregation) to catch a first glimpse of the bikes roaring into the parking lot. The noise was thrilling. It began to die down as the bikes were parked, but rapidly rose again as old friends greeted each other, exchanging hugs, back-slaps, and “biker handshakes.”

A few minutes later, I found myself chatting with a lady named Sue, whose husband happens to be our saxophone player, Dave Hammond (pictured above), and who also happens to be a member of the Tribe of Judah Motorcycle Ministry. During our conversation, I happened to mention that I’ve never been on a bike before. She was surprised to hear that, and promised me, “After the service, let me talk to Dave and we’ll see what we can do.”

You know that feeling when something is almost too good to be true, and you can hardly believe it, but yet you can’t stop hoping desperately? That was me. I wasn’t sure how I’d get through the rest of the morning, but I managed to compose myself.

It wasn’t too much later before we gathered together to begin our service. As a member of a worship team, I can tell you that there’s nothing that adds energy to a service quite like a roomful of Northern Stars, Relic Riders, and of course, Dave and Sue from the Tribe of Judah. Special guest Blair Lane also added a lot with his rousing rendition of “At Calvary.” And, of course, there was plenty of laughter as worship leader Larry (pictured above) sang a very special Happy Birthday, Elvis-style, to a very special someone; Nan, the eldest of our congregation at ninety-two, who arrives at every Biker Sunday dressed in her bandanna and leathers, and who is taken for a motorcycle ride around the block each year. I couldn’t help but envy her opportunity… at the age of ninety-two, she’d been on many rides, while I’d never even been on one! (Well, I sat on a motorcycle one time, but that hardly counts.)

After our worship service, Rev. Jesse preached… or should I say, he joked with the congregation about cats and crab plants (you had to be there) and then drove the point home in his inimitable style. Afterwards, we closed out the service with prayer and a rollicking version of, you guessed it… “Born to be Wild” by our own Bob Tetford, (also pictured above) who somehow managed to sound even better than the original. Then we headed outside to enjoy some of that great barbecue and admire a few more bikes. In the meantime, I was fervently chanting in my mind, “Please Lord, let me go for a ride… please Lord, let me go for a ride…”

I needn’t have worried. When God works something out, He’ll move mountains if he has to. And before I knew it, I was suitably attired and climbing on board a roaring, sputtering Harley-Davidson. Dave looked over his shoulder at me and called out a few last minute instructions. “Hang on to the side hand-holds (believe me, I was already holding on plenty tight!), but if you don’t feel safe, you can hold on to me. When you feel the bike lean one way or another, just gently lean with it. I’m going so start off fast when we get on the flat, so hang on!” And with a jerk and a roar, we soared into space… at least, that’s what it felt like. I have to admit, the first emotion on my mind was a split second of terror, followed by heart pumping adrenaline. Believe me, there’s nothing that compares to hurtling along the road at what feels like a million miles an hour with no seatbelt or airbags, just your own death-grip on the hand-holds to secure you. The first thought on my mind was I’m going to die… followed two seconds later by I never want this to stop.

There’s really nothing I can compare it to. Unless you’ve felt for yourself the wind screaming by, the vibration of the motor surging up through the soles of your feet, the easy swooping motion of the bike as it glides around a turn, the freedom of looking in every direction with a completely unhindered view (so unlike a car), the earth-shattering roar of the motor beneath you, there’s really no way I can describe it to you.

As we slowed down for a stop sign, Dave took the opportunity to call over his shoulder, “How do you like it so far?” I hollered back, “Ohhhhh… I’m addicted now!!”

After we returned to the church, I staggered off the bike and immediately blurted to all within hearing distance, “That was the most awesome thing that I ever did in my entire life!” I suppose my euphoric grin must have attracted attention, because it’s all people could comment on. I felt like my cowboy boots weren’t even touching the ground. I believe I actually flushed with pride when Larry came over and gave me a “real” biker’s handshake…

By that time, most of the crowd had dispersed, but I stuck around and chatted with the folks… and then got thrilled to death when Dave offered to sit me on the bike and snap a few pictures. I have to give a big shout-out to Dave and Sue, for doing everything they could to make sure I’d never forget this Biker Sunday. And who knows, as I follow the path of my Carpenter, maybe His path will lead to a bike someday. If that’s true, there’ll be nothing more to say than… “Thank You Lord, for Making Me a Biker!"
(Above video is some pictures of previous Biker Sundays, accompanied by the song, "Thank you Lord for making me a Biker" written by Larry Baldwin for the Northern Stars.)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

I won the Liebster Blog award!

I was so excited today to discover that Hannah H.over at Because of Shamim has nominated me for the Liebster award!

Thank you SO much Hannah H.! For those who don't know, the Liebster award is a way of recognizing up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. The rules are as follows:

1. If you are nominated for the award, accept it! Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.
2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer their 11 questions.
4. Make up 11 random questions for your nominees *feel free to use the same questions or create your own*
5. Nominate/present a Liebster Blog Award to 11 more bloggers.
6. Display the Liebster Award logo on your site.
7. No tag backs.

Eleven random facts about me:

1. Jesus is the Number One love of my life.
2. I love music of absolutely any genre (as long as it's Christian!)
3. I grew up in Winnie-the-Pooh's hometown.
4. I'm passionate about photography and videography.
5. I drove a CN rail engine when I was nine years old.
6. I am passionate about languages and pick them up pretty quickly.
7. I am a speed reader.
8. I sing and play guitar, keyboard, cajon, and some recorder.
9. I LOVE whole wheat toast.
10. I LOVE Gypsy Vanner horses and Shiloh Shepherds.
11. My Compassion kids are my world, they keep me going every day!

My answers to Hannah's questions:

1. What is one thing you want to be remembered for? Being a person who loved Jesus more than anything else.
2. Who do you relate the most to in the Bible and why? Definitely Andrew! I wrote a blog post about it actually.
3. Who has had the greatest impact on your life and why? Well, Jesus Christ, of course! Because without Him i would be lost, I need Him every single day!

4. If you got to "make a wish" and spend one day doing anything, what would you do? I would spend a day riding Gypsy Vanner horses on a trail through northern Ontario.
5. What is the best compliment you have ever received? Lots of awesome ones, but when something I've said, written, or created moves people to tears, that has a deep impact on me.
6. If you had to choose a completely different career/life path, what would you do? I've always dreamed of being a rancher.
7. What would you do with a million dollars? Invest it so I know I'm set for life, then visit my Compassion kids and sponsor a few more. Other than that, not sure!
8. List the guests from your dream dinner party. Jesus and my Compassion kids.
9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I think being able to turn into any animal would be pretty neat!
10. Tell us about one of your favorite memories. Definitely the summer I spent in Lethbridge Alberta in 2004. Awesome time at Dominion Conference, was really awesome to be on national TV at the age of 13!
11. What makes you laugh? My bandmates from Driftwood Cross. They always cheer me up!

I pass the Liebster Award on to: (Note: I have no idea how to tell how many followers a blog has, so if I goof up, please forgive me! And if I nominate someone who's already been nominated, I'm sorry! I'm still new at this thing too!)

Nothing Left to Paint
Blue Campelo
Beloved Little Ones
Compassion Can
Me and Mr. Jones
My Compassion Kids
Once Upon a Prayer
Proof of His Love
Tales of Child Sponsorship
With Elephant Grace

Your questions! (same as above)

1. What is one thing you want to be remembered for?
2. Who do you relate the most to in the Bible and why?
3. Who has had the greatest impact on your life and why?
4. If you got to "make a wish" and spend one day doing anything, what would you do?
5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?
6. If you had to choose a completely different career/life path, what would you do?
7. What would you do with a million dollars?
8. List the guests from your dream dinner party.
9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
10. Tell us about one of your favorite memories.
11. What makes you laugh?


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

For the Love of Mbula

As some of you know, my Compassion journey started with one child, my precious Isimbi. She was my world, my heart, my passion… until I felt a nudge from the Lord saying, “You have room for one more.” Shortly after, my beautiful Basomingera Ada joined my family. My two sweet children: both girls, both from Rwanda, both nine years old. And I thought my family was complete. And it was… for a while.

Then, I felt another nudge… this one, for an older child. So I requested that my name be put on the Compassion Canada waiting list again… and I waited.

But this time, I was afraid.

My request was for an older child, boy or girl, from anywhere in Africa or Asia. But my secret desire was for a boy from Africa. I could have requested that specifically, but I was afraid I would be waiting for a much longer time. This sounds like an awful thing to say, but I have to admit the thought came to me several times… “What if I get assigned a child that I feel no connection with? What if I get a child from a country I know nothing about, and I get ‘disappointed’? Can I really love an older child? It was so easy to fall in love with my two little girls… can I have the same connection with an older child? What if I get another girl when it’s a boy I want?” I’ll admit I even prayed a few times, “Lord, if this is not Your will, let my request get lost somewhere or don’t let any children come available!”

Finally, I was able to tell the Lord that whatever child He gave me, I would take it as a sign that He really wanted me to minister to this child and that this child really needed me. Whether they were a boy OR girl from Africa, Thailand, Philippines, India, or wherever.

So on May the 15th, 2013, I put this post on my personal Facebook page. “Happy International Family Day to my two sponsor daughters, Ada and Isimbi! And the big news is... I AM EXPECTING!! Well, expecting another correspondent, that is. Yes, it's official... I've been added to the wait list for a THIRD child! I don't know how long I will have to wait, but I know it will be worth it! I have been SO BLESSED by all those who send prayers my way when I was waiting for my beautiful Ada... will you all join me in praying for the new child, whoever he/she may be??”

And I waited…

On May the 31st, I happened to log into my account on OurCompassion, a forum for Compassion sponsors/correspondents. Then I did a double take, because there was a new face looking back at me!

I immediately checked my account information, and there he was.

Mbula. A boy. An eighteen-year-old boy. An eighteen-year-old African boy!!

I literally ran around the house screaming, shouting, and jumping for joy. “A BOY!! A BOY!! A BOY FROM KENYA!!!! I needn’t have worried about loving a new child… like a new parent, my heart was instantaneously flooded with the most incredible love for this young man. And I find myself so overwhelmed, once again, with the goodness of God. I was also able to request all his former pictures from Compassion Canada, so I also get to watch him grow, in a manner of speaking. So without further ado, here is MBULA!

Mbula age 5. Isn't he adorable?
Mbula age 7. It's common for boys to wear pink in Africa, because
it's considered a dilute of red and therefore masculine color.
Age 9. Not so little now!
Age 11. I love his socks in this picture!

Mbula age 13, wearing pink again...
Age 15. Really growing up!

 And last, but not least...

Mbula, three months before his eighteenth birthday. What a fine young man he's grown into!

 And now, my Compassion family is finally complete… until God says otherwise!