May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
It all started in the Toronto Airport with a backwards cap, an orange rug sweater and a Starbucks chai latte heading to Moncton, NB (with a little time in PEI).
And it ends in the Vancouver airport, that same cap on the chair next to me, and a Starbucks across the room. Maybe I’ll get something later. My summer adventure has now ended and I’m about to head home where I’ll arrive in Toronto after 1 am. My mother loves me so much but she’s going to hate me tonight. Today is all about the mixed emotion of realizing I am no longer a YouthWorks! staff, the heartbreak of leaving my team and the excitement to get back to Redeemer.
To tie up the lose ends of work I’ll begin with the last week of having youth on site. Unfortunately this week did not go as well as I would have hoped. God moved in the lives of the youth like always and it was a beautiful thing. However I was beyond stressed about the end of the summer paperwork and all I had to get done that I was not present in what was going on and my work reflected that. Although I did manage to connect with some youth through being crazy Señor, my story and being weird in general, it wasn’t the same. It’s funny to think that no matter how old I get I still struggle with giving stuff to God, I regret not being able to give my stress fully to Him in order to be able to focus on relating to the youth better. I will say that we had awesome adult leaders this week, I had a few amazing conversations with the trip leader and the other two male adult leaders, it was a blessing to get to know them. The last day of Kids Club was also fun, I had a lot of my budget left to spend so I got all the kids balls like this:
When everyone left on Friday I became so relaxed and happy though, because all the stress I felt during the week was finally about to end and I was able to work on everything. I finished all my work by 9 pm and then went out with Ajay and Heather to a Greek restaurant. When we got back we gorged ourselves on other snacks and I started cleaning up my room and packing stuff up. On Saturday Ajay and Heather and I went to a little bakery called the Holland Bakery, which has the best baked goods I’ve ever had. Absolutely amazing, I highly recommend going there if you are ever in Thunder Bay. After this we went up to Mt. McKay to do a final hike to the very top of the mountain. It is beautiful up there, you can see all of Thunder Bay and we enjoyed finding the places that meant a lot to us throughout the summer. After dinner we went out to Kakabeka falls one last time and I lost my sunglasses over the edge of the platform, which resulted in this picture:
(I can never recreate this face).
On Sunday we woke up nice an early and got to the airport, while we were in line Ajay was wondering why we all had two flight tickets and he only had one. After studying his ticket a bit longer he exclaimed “JASON MARTIN!!” dropped all his stuff and booked it to the check in station as we all stood there laughing our heads off. Thank goodness the Thunder Bay airport is small and easy going, his ticket was fixed to his reservation. The rest of the flight to Kelowna went off without a hitch. We had a quick stop in Winnipeg and a lay over in Calgary, when we got to Kelowna and it is absolutely gorgeous, I can’t believe how many mountains are in British Columbia, I have always heard about it being full of them, but it actually is FULL of them! Seeing all of them made me itch, I just wanted to hike up each one, no matter if there are tons of trees or few, big or small, each one was something that I needed to concur. Carmen and Kristie met us at the airport and took us to the hotel. After settling in and having magical water-pressured hot showers we were ready to go out and get food. The Toronto team arrived right before so hugs went up all around and they came with us to get food at a supermarket. Dinner was a wonderful time of sharing stories, inside jokes and how our roles went. Toronto had the same job roles as we did so we literally walked down the street with the person we shared a job with comparing mental notes on the summer. When we returned from dinner it was hot tub time until Vancouver arrived.
Monday was our debrief day which consisted of beach volleyball, kayaking, paddleboards, swimming and food. Oh and a small one hour time of reflection on the summer with Carmen. Yeah, that’s the way we do it here in Canada. Cameron and I did a little Redeemer volleyball verses everyone else. We would have won the game (thanks to Cam obviously) but it came down to a next point wins deal and I bumped the ball out of bounds. And this is why you don’t see me playing alongside the other Redeemer Royals folks! Go me ha-ha. That night we had a nice dinner at a golf course and Paul and Marv gave some encouraging closing speeches on our time with YouthWorks and what God is doing in our lives. Then it was back to the hotel where we all hung out as late as we could. Nathan, Amanda and Cam left around 9 and eventually the Vancouver team, Carmen and Payden went to bed. The last to go was us Thunder Bay-ians (Carrie included). We talked a bit, had a little crazy fun with a very old tampax pad that Ajay found in one of our first aid kits and decided to bring along so we could all see how much it could hold (this may come as a bit of a shock but Ajay went a little nuts this summer. The rest of us were already crazy so maybe we just influenced him too much). We then went back inside, group hugged, prayed and the girls cried. Ajay and I are too tough to cry on the outside obviously (inside we were like little babies). Ajay if you do read this you will now think along the lines “speak for yourself, bro”. Glad you’re reading this at least ha-ha.
The morning was a rough go where Ajay and I were up at 5:30 to go with Carmen to take Nadine to the airport and then ourselves to the bus stop. After a 5 and a half hour bus ride on very uncomfortable fake leather seats that were way too close together (do they not ever consider wide people? I mean c’mon let’s take a look at the general population, very few guys are female model thin-and neither are real women!). When we arrived in Vancouver we met Ajay’s mom and Lindsay, Ajay’s girlfriend, and after not seeing each other for 3 months you can imagine how Ajay’s mom and I became invisible instantly. When they detached from one another (it really wasn’t that long they are a very mature couple) We headed over to Ajay’s to drop off our stuff and then the three of us went out while Ajay’s mom made dinner. Ajay and Lindsay took me to the docks so I could see the Pacific Ocean and where they film tv’s Once Upon a Time:
After dinner we went to play volleyball with people from Ajay’s church which was a lot of fun but by the end of it Ajay and I were highly ready for bed. The next day we went up the Stawamus Chief mountain an hour outside of Vancouver. We took the second trial that took us 2,149 ft up. Absolutely beautiful and the first thing Lindsay and I do is race to the edge to look over while Ajay sits back at least 3 feet. Maybe it’s the age factor? Nah. I am realizing I am a very speedy hiker for a rookie, there were a few people I overheard going down commenting on my quickness and stamina. Go me for real this time hee-hee.
When we got back down it was lunch and then the airport, my flight was delayed and so I didn’t get home to Toronto until 2 am. Flying into Toronto invoked a very mixed emotion within me. I was looking at the sky line and all the lights below and my 2 in the morning Ontario time mixed with the 11 pm BC time to bring about the realization that the saying that home is where the heart is would result in me being homeless. After all I am never in one place for very long. Yet I love wherever I am, so my heart can be found in places such as Thunder Bay, Vancouver, Toronto, Hamilton and Uxbridge and I can never be in all those places at once. Yet that could also mean that no matter where I am, I’ll always be home because I’ll at least be in one of the places that I love and surrounded by those that I love. And if all else fails then I will follow with the statement found in the Four-fold Franciscan blessing of living deep within my heart and knowing the love Christ has for me in there. I don’t know if this makes sense or if anyone else can relate to this, maybe I have attachment issues or I’m just a nomad. I like it though.
I am now home in Uxbridge (because I can never finish a blog post all at once) and I’m going through boxes of my stuff in order to prepare for the fall. My summer adventure of going coast to coast and seeing a bigger part of my world is over—for now. God is taking me places and this summer was just the beginning of what He is about to do through me. I learned this summer that I am more than the statements people say about me, whether those be good or bad ones I’m learning to find my identity in what God says about me, and He has said some pretty intense things to me that can only point towards an exciting future. I learned what it is like to have older siblings, one’s who love you and want to see you grow. I learned that I’m actually not just an average guy but I can be more than that. I learned to be humble and serve, yet know who I am and be confident in that. I learned that I’m constantly going to make mistakes and mess up and do stuff that goes against what God has called me to do, but He loves me, He’s pursued me and taken me out of my brokenness, He restored me long ago and I’ve been empowered to do His work. It’s an amazing thing when you actually realize the power God has placed inside of you, for you to grasp and to glorify Him and to do good works. I learned what it means to feel God’s grace and not just know it. I’m still realizing the things I’ve learned and I know I’m always going to be learning more and more and refining my strengths and weaknesses through God’s perfect authority on my life. I’m not sure when the next adventure will be but I know there will be more. After all the reason I ran to the edge of a mountain is because I’m ready to jump off and fly—and it’s about time I did that, don’t you think?