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Showing posts from July, 2014

One week after returning from our mission trip. (Why it is sometimes hard to adapt when you come home).

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While we were there in Winnipeg for our mission trip, we spent five days in full-time connection with the various parts of the Winnipeg Inner City Mission. During that short time, a number of very significant things happened:
A young girl in the church went missing from her family.Another young girl, in desperate need of a new kidney, successfully underwent surgery that would allow her continue her daily dialysisThe church was putting together household items to set up housekeeping for a young mother and her children as she was in the process leaving an abusive relationship.A resident in A Place of Hope celebrated two years of sobriety.Another resident reached the end of her time in A Place of Hope and made arrangements to move out and begin a new and exciting phase in her lifeA church picnic (that had been as good as cancelled) was resurrected and organized in about two hours. This was, as far as I can tell, a fairly typical week at Winnipeg Inner City Mission with big doses of both g…

Why it is Important that we Came

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Our trip to Winnipeg has been short - too short we all agree. It seems like we just arrived, have just gotten to know the people there and to appreciate everything that is so special about them and we have to go. But there is absolutely no feeling in the group that it was not worth the effort to get here for a few days.




Why are we so sure that it was vital that we come? Because we have received that message loud and clear from everyone at all involved in the ministry that we have met and from the children and young people and families. Is that because of all the work that we did for them? Well, not exactly. They certainly appreciated everything that we did. Whether it was painting Flora House (and, yes, we did manage to get the main hall and the front and back entrances painted in our time with a little help from Derek) or organizing clothes and goods in the miracle store, weeding Papa's Garden, helping to keep the kids or youth organised and safe on outings or cleaning out mountai…

Thundering Eagle Woman

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Rev Margaret Mullin comes from a mixed First Natiions and Irish heritage. She is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a recognized First Nations elder who has had the traditions passed on to her from the elders who have gone before. There are eight eagle feathers on her staff to represent the eight years she has spent learning from the elders. The spirit name that she was given is Thundering Eagle Woman - a name that fits her very well indeed.

It is as if in her two different worlds have come together in one beautiful spirit.


Today she spoke to us about the long and difficult journey she has had to reconcile the different traditions that are her heritage. Today she participates in almost all forms of native spirituality and sees no contradiction to the teachings of the Christian tradition as she has received and absorbed it. 
I tend to think that she is on the right track. There is no question that the Christian church has done a lot of damage and been a party to a lot of damage that …

Smudging along

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I spent most of my day, our third day at Winnipeg Inner City Mission, at Flora House. The day's activities there began, as they often do, with a smudging ceremony. The First Nations kids take smudging very seriously and respectfully and it really makes for a good start to the day together for them.

In such a ceremony, dried herbs (usually some mixture of sage, tobacco and cedar) are set to smoking in a small shell or pot. The smoke is waved by a feather and each person takes a turn to waft the smoke over his or her arms, head and body.
The smudging ceremony is primarily a purification ceremony -- a way of putting aside mistakes, errors, regrets and things that weigh you down. This kind of ritual that is part of most every religion and is needed by everyone (even non religious folk) at least sometimes.
And that was kind of what all of our day's work at Flora House was about today. Flora House has gone through some tough times recently. There have been some things that have gone wr…

Overcoming the Overwhelming

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I'll start today's blog entry where the day started at The Place of Hope. We had a sharing circle where everyone was asked to share some reflections from the previous day. As we went around the circle, one word that came up again and again was "overwelming." It had been overwhelming in terms of the information and the stories that we had had to absorbed and were only beginning to process and in other ways as well.

The word that came to me in the circle was also overwelming but especially in terms of the challenges that fill the community around the Place of Hope. With gangs, prostitution, drugs, alchoholism and much more, the problems just seem too big. They are overwhelming. And when I face an overwelming challenge like that, the temptation is always to throw up my hands and say, "It's too big, it can't be solved so what is the point of even trying. We'll never get anywhere anyways."
To see the ministry that is taking place here at WICM against…

A gift from Vivian

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Our first day at WICM was very full and meaningful and I am quite sure that I will be processing it for some time. I have shared some thoughts on the early part of the day and am too weary now to reflect on all of the rest of it. But I did just want to say that I will long remember watching and listening as Vivian Ketchum stood by this monument to survivors of the Residential Schools (erected just a couple of months ago outside what will soon be an absolutely stunning human rights museum) and tell her utterly devastating story of what her time in the Cecile Jeffery Residential School (run by the Presbyterian Church in Canada) cost her.
Her testimony is so much more powerful because she is able to speak it now as a healed and healthy woman who has dealt with her loss and anger and betrayal. She has also done amazing things to help bring the church towards healing from what it was involved in by helping it understand what it did and still does sometimes. She is a wonderful illustration…

Toto, we're not in Cambridge anymore

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We started out first day of working with WICM with a round circle discussion in the Place of Hope. Margaret Mullin and some of the people involved here gave us an incredible look at the work they do here and the challenges that they face. Mostly she just told us the stories of people touched by the ministry here. Some of them are stories of great triumph -- people who overcome addiction, bad backgrounds and gang affiliations who managed to pull their lives together. Some of them were not necessarily triumphs but there was still much evidence of God's love and care touching their lives in some really profound ways. So many of the stories, sadly, even the triumphant ones, end in tragedy and death. She walked us through so many names on this banner. But even through the stories of tragedy, hope found a way to shine through. Margaret says that the biggest enemy that they face is what she called anomie. It is that sense that the people have here that as bad as their life is right now, t…

Writing at 20,000 feet

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I am starting this post in a Bombardier Q400 Turboprop airplane about 20,000 feet somewhere over Lake Superior. Soon we will be decending to Thunder Bay -- about halfway to our goal in Winnipeg. Of course, I cannot post this now, but I will as soon as I get a chance to connect to WIFI.
There is something about actually being on your way to where you are going that makes you think more concretely about what you are going to do when you get there. I must admit that, though I have been looking forward to this trip, I haven't necessarily given much thought to what we are really going there to do. I have heard a great deal about the Winnipeg Inner City Mission over the years, seen a number of pictures and a few videos. I have also heard Margaret Mullin speak passionately on a number of occasions about her ministery and what it means to her. But I expect that it will be really different to see the ministry in action. At St. Andrew's I am involved on a near weekly basis in interacting…