Deo Volente

This was often used in conjunction with a signature at the end of letters. It was used in order to signify that 'God willing' this letter will get to you safely, 'God willing' the contents of this letter come true. Deo Volente, everything I say will hopefully reflect that I am Jove's child, and I was made to glorify Him.

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Wait… What do you mean it’s over? No. That’s wrong.

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).

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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:

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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: image

(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:

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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.

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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?

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Filed under God Youthworks! Adventure travelling Canada summer

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This is ridiculously long, but I couldn’t help myself. God is so good.

     What an amazing past two weeks. It’s crazy to think that I am entering the last one, but I know that it will be amazing as well. 

     The first of these two weeks was Week 6, which marked the one-year anniversary of God turning my life around so that I was in complete relationship with Him. I went through many trials and had a lot of hurt come my way, but it was the pain of the Refiner’s fire and God whispered to me one night in November “Just wait, after this year is over you will be amazed with where I will bring you and who you will be”. Thinking about this promise just blows me away, because even though I knew it would happen, the fact that it has just makes it all the more powerful. Here I am, having the first of many amazing adventures I will have with Christ. It has brought me from one coast to the next, across the boarder and up in the middle of nowhere in this beautiful city of Thunder Bay. Yeah God, You’re amazing. 

     I felt called to share my story with the youth on Monday night, it was short and I don’t remember what I said and I truly believe it’s because God wanted to tell my story for me. Now when God tells your story you know it’s just going to open doors for more conversations, which it did. God brought the youth to me who needed to open up and talk about their lives and God gave me the ability to meet with them there. I felt complete joy all week; everything that happened was just great, positive, completely and utterly blessed by God’s hand. It was literally one of the best weeks I’ve ever had in my lifetime. I had these amazing youth, who were blown away with the organization of how I run things and the utter awesomeness of my kids. I was so pumped up from the moment I sat down with these youth in orientation that I knew it would be a good week. 

     One of the bible stories we did this week for Kids Club was the prodigal son, I played the father and one of the youth was the son, the kids loved the skit and so did the youth. They actually loved it so much that by Thursday, most, if not all were calling me dad. Believe it or not I sometimes struggle with the concept of being a father, I’m not sure if I ever will be or not, but when stuff like this happens I feel like it’s God’s way of telling me “dude you’re going to be a dad” so we’ll see. These youth were amazing though, they loved to just hang out with me, they taught me the cup song, came into meal prep even though they were on clean up just to hang out. In Kids Club they were always ready to get stuff done and help wherever needed. We switched our Big Fun Activity day from Thursday to Wednesday so that we could go to the Boys and Girls Club of Thunder Bay and roll around in big inflatable hamster balls and bouncy castles. SO MUCH FUN! Here’s a picture. Be jealous. 

     I got a new girl last week that is absolutely amazing. She is the sweetest little girl in the world and is full of innocence, but I’m not fully sure of the circumstances she comes from which causes my heart to hurt for her so much when I see her. Gail, one of the youth leaders, is a hygienist and she bought all my kids toothbrushes and taught them how to properly brush their teeth and sent the new brush home with each of them. The love my adult leaders and youth had for my kids that week was extremely heart warming and I don’t feel like I could fully express the depth of my gratitude.

    Thursday fell on July 25, also known as Christmas in July. So I decided it would be fun to dress up as Santa. For those of you from Redeemer, the Santa suit I had was from the Santa 5k, which I had gotten from Jacob Borgdorff. I had also found in the costume closet a better white beard, reading glasses and a felt Santa gift bag. So I walk out of the church with two pillows shoved in my pants and my blanket in the bag with Hobbes my stuffed tiger sticking out the top. I get to the morning circle up yelling in the best deep and jolly old man voice I can manage: “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas in July, I have gifts for all of you… NAMETAGS!!” and pull them out of my bag and start writing youth names, I managed to have most of their names already memorized so I actually felt like Santa knowing the naughty and nice list. But that’s not the funniest part… Ever morning circle up we pray before we send out the youth, and according to Robyn guess whose turn it is? Mine. Even as she’s saying this to me I’m looking at her saying, “are you kidding me? I’m dressed up as Santa!” but she’s like “we’ve all prayed the other days it’s your turn.” Now I just want to say that Robyn was not doing this in some mean, spiteful fashion because that’s just not who Robyn is, she’s like my big sister, but she was completely serious in thinking that since everyone else had prayed that week it only made sense that I would do it that day. So I did. While still in character. You can imagine the snickers from youth, adult leaders and other YW staff as Santa is asking God to bless the day as we all go out to serve Him. Let’s just say it was one of the events this summer that I don’t think anyone from that day will forget.

    That night when we did foot washing I was able to pray for so many of them as well as other youth who I just felt lead to. We prayed for one girl who was the daughter of one of the adult leaders, she has a small tumor on her brain stem and was going to start radiation when she gets home from the trip. This girl is so in love with Christ and so passionate about serving Him that she refused to start treatment early so she could be on this trip. She was an amazing inspiration to me and all of us staff gathered around her on Thursday to pray for healing in her life. Please continue to pray for her and her family, the love they have for one another was so obvious on this trip, it was absolutely beautiful. I also prayed for one young man who God is building up to being a youth pastor as well. The faith he has at his age is amazing, I know he will go on to do great things for the Lord. 

    I will also not forget the fact that we had two church groups that week and the pastors of the two churches were brothers. The first night of evening activity I spent talking to and from bowling with these men just talking about every single nerd thing under the sun. Specific books we have read and want to read, television, cartoons and movies that we watch, the comics that we read as well, and lego. It was amazing and they came up with the best team cheers we had ever seen.

    I’m not going to lie to you, I’m in a bit of a wedge right now when it comes to YouthWorks! Incase you didn’t know, YouthWorks! is a North American organization, which originally started in the States. Until this point, YouthWorks! Canada has been it’s own branch within this organization and we have run our own sites in a slightly different fashion than the American ones, not completely different but we have set up a few things that have made us different to how the American sites are run. This past week Carmen presented us with the news that America has decided to retake control over the Canadian sites and Carmen has decided to take this opportunity to go to seminary and pursue a calling to ministry that God has placed in her life. Now up to this point I was totally okay with the idea of coming back again next summer if that was God’s plan for me. Now I’m not too sure. I love YouthWorks! and what they do, and YouthWorks! will still need Canadian workers to run these sites even though it will be under their jurisdiction, but things will be different. I will be coming into a very different system of doing things, and I will be answering to different people. I know a lot of my reasons are fear and worry-based, but there are some legitimate reasons for them. I will leave it with saying that I’m not sure and acknowledging that next summer is a long way off but it’s something I’m praying a lot about, I’m asking God to slap me in the face if He really wants me to do this job again. It also doesn’t help that I want to be back in Thunder Bay so I can be with my kids again. 

    Now we will enter into Week 7, I decided with the two weeks left I would turn my no-shave for the summer beard into mutton chops since I was tired of food getting in there and I had just seen the new Wolverine movie, which was great. I honestly didn’t think this new group could be as good as Week 6 was, but I was wrong. Week 7’s group was a bit smaller than the last but the characters of these youth made the week amazing. They were funny, imaginative and desired to grow deeper with Christ. 

     Some crazy/fun things from this week is that one of the youth I had looked almost exactly like my friend Selena from Redeemer, it was actually uncanny. Also one of the boys in my group knew he was my minion for the week and he loved it and owned it, which was hilarious, youth actually had to tell him to stop acting like me. One of the best things about this group of youth was their desire to have me be apart of everything. On Thursday, when we did our Big Fun activity day, we had another water day, which I haven’t done since the first week of KC. I had some extra pudding cups from snack so I decided to do the game where you put pudding on people’s faces and the kids try to wash it off by throwing sponges. It was so much fun smashing my fingers through the covers of the cups, digging out the pudding with my fingers and smacking it onto my youth’s faces. I slopped it right into the middle of their faces, on their eyelids and smeared it around their faces. It was beautiful. Of course they pulled me down to join them and smeared some of the pudding from their faces onto mine. Now I had a lapse of judgment and told the kids to get the sponges to throw at us. Now I thought they might stop where I had told them to stand while I did the pudding to throw the sponges. I was wrong. These kids came right up to all of us, and from only two feet away smashed heavy, wet, car sponges into our faces. It was equally great as it was painful. That night for evening activity Adrian came and played grounders with us at Marina Park. It was so much fun to be back at the park and to have Adrian meet all the crazy kids from the week. I also got to have two one on ones this week with Carmen and Robyn. Carmen took me to get a wolf shirt and Robyn took me to an amazing small little vegetarian place called The Growing Season. It was so nice to spend so much time with my favourite bosses and have amazing conversations with them. They have spoken so much into my life and allowed me to get to know them; it’s been such a blessing this summer to have them be there for me.

     I felt this week, that God was showing me that these youth connected best to stories when talking with them. So when my devotional came around on Wednesday I added a bit of my personal story into it and again God used it to open doors into the lives of the youth. As I watched my youth interact with the kids, making both my kids and me laugh with their crazy antics, the way they talked to me and asked me questions about my life during lunch and the fact that when we had our time of prayer before KC started they all prayed short and simple prayers. It dawned on me that within them too is the faith of a child, they didn’t have to be told like Jesus told his followers to have the faith of a child; they already practiced it, they just didn’t know it. God used me to speak into this and draw it out of them, which was a practical accomplishment one of my hidden goals this summer. It was my hope that God would use me to show teenagers what it meant to have child-like faith and what it truly means to be a kid for life. Although I’m not able to know all the hearts of every single youth who has passed through my Kids Club doors, I was able to practically see this hope fulfilled in many of the lives of my crew this week. It is such a blessing to know that God is using me, and that my heart is becoming so much more aligned with His each day. There is nothing like watching the realization growing within them that they are God’s beloved children. And as that concept enters into the core of their beings, it consumes them and those eyes just dance with joy. No matter how old they are, I get to see them become a kid once more. Complete and beautiful to Christ. I had some amazing conversations with some of the girls on Thursday night that showed me that Christ is working deep within them and pursuing them to give up all they are to Him.

All I can say is Soli Deo gloria,

Deo volente, Amen,

Julien

Filed under God Youth YouthWorks! Canada Thunder Bay Faith Love Jesus

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Wishing I had a Rubber Stopper

What a week…

I honestly don’t even know what to say because unfortunately the ways we saw the devil working this week I cannot talk about on a public form like this. Yet we were still able to see Christ work, so thank God for that.

This past week will have been one of the two memorable ‘bad’ weeks i’ve had. Not because the youth we had weren’t great, or were the adult leaders sent from who knows where. In fact everyone here were decent people, yet this week was the most spiritually draining week. This is where I wish I had a rubber stopper—plug the hole where my spirit was being drained from my soul. My whole team felt it this week; we were completely under attack through many different means and directions.

Please pray for us as we move into this new week, that blessings are poured out upon us and God shows us His faithfulness in what He is doing through us. I’m not saying we don’t see it, we could even see where He was protecting us last week and giving us the strength to keep going. By the end of the week we saw God touch the lives of those He needed to and we trust that seeds were planted and to that we say amen and give thanks. But we need this coming week to be abundant in blessings, with little resistance and God’s Spirit just pouring out on these youth with all the glory going to Him. 

A few more weeks to go and then I’ll be home. First though I’ll be spending a day in Vancouver after our debrief, I’m looking forward to it. Pray I’m smart with my wallet, I do fear for the school year with having to pay for Redeemer all at once and all that fun jazz, but I know it’s where I’m suppose to be and God will provide. Here we go! Hey there week 6!

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Music, water and an old wooden bat.

Hey everyone, 

It has been two weeks since Kids Club started, and let me tell you, it doesn’t feel like it. This week when I was having my one on one with Robyn she pointed out that we have reached the half way point of the summer, I can’t believe how fast it is going. It is honestly one of those weird moments that can only be described with the saying “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it”. Ever time I close my eyes the end of the summer approaches and soon I’ll be back at Redeemer. It’s exciting, crazy, terrifying, and depressing all at once. I am exhausted, yet I don’t want this summer to end. Although I know that there is still a month to go, and that is a long time, I just feel God constantly saying “you’re not done yet. You’re far from it so get moving” and then the song “I like to move it, move it” comes to mind ha ha. 

To give some updates on how things are going I will start with the first week of Kids Club, which was incredible. I had amazing youth helping me out and all of them had done KC before at other YW sites so helping me start it, establishing rules, discipline and giving suggestions on how improvements could be made came easy to them. They were super encouraging to me and loving on the kids, I am so thankful for them. Speaking of the kids, they blow my mind constantly and I love them all so much already. I will say that they are wild, energetic and crazy which keeps me on my toes in watching them and making sure they are behaving and not getting into trouble like the curious little monkeys they are. It’s like I’m dealing with a bunch of little mini-mes, which terrifying I know. They are also loving, accepting, forgiving and caring kids who just want tobe loved, read to and attention in anyway possible and all forms. The female helpers and I had a great time doing crafts, reading and having massive water fights with them.

Week 2 was jam packed with interesting events. The first being one of my little boys being hit in the head with a bat… by me… Don’t freak out, let me explain. We were outside playing kickball and one of my other boys had found an old wooden bat. Me not wanting anyone to get hurt decided it would be best if I held the bat and put it somewhere out of reach. When the boy with the bat thought this was a new fun game of keep away and jumped for it and I jumped back, one of the other little boys behind me got well… the short end of the stick. In the head. I felt terrible and angry at myself for being careless and thinking “Of course, I take it away trying to prevent someone from getting hurt and I end up doing it myself!” Thank God the kid was okay in the end. I instantly grabbed him as soon as he started crying and carried him inside and got him an ice pack and a freezie. He was very good despite getting hit in the head with a bat, thanking me for both of the frozen items. He came the next day with a barely noticeable bump, so I am very thankful he’s okay.

When it came to the youth this week it was very interesting. In all honesty there is stuff I’m still processing and trying to work out, but I don’t know if it is possible to really figure out what exactly happened. All I can really say is that God moved in the youth this week. They wereamazing. I can’t say it enough. By Wednesday there were huge barriers being broken in these youth’s lives and by Thursday it was gone. I had this one big guy this week just open up to me. He walked in and I looked at him and just went “Well, there’s me a few years ago.” We have similar, yet different, stories but I believe through God’s amazing grace we were able to meet on common ground and talk. I know he is going to go on to do great things in Christ’s name. I was also able to have many more wonderful and meaningful conversations with the youth these weeks that I didn’t get to have in previous weeks. Again all I can do is give credit to Christ for opening up these youth’s hearts and being willing to share with myself and all the other staff here. I hope that I am able to have many more conversations like those in the future weeks. 

This week we had youth from Stillwater, Minnesota. Their parting gift to all of us was singing Clouds by Zach Sobiech, as many of them were connected to him and his music. It was an amazing visual of how we don’t always get to see the impact of our work, but God takes it and carries it beyond our wildest dreams so that it can touch not only a state/province or a country but a continent and the rest of the world. It was also beautiful to see how so many of us are connected in the small things that we can share with those around us and grow in amazing ways. This week was such a blessing in so many ways.

Well that is what is going on right now in my life, with many, many, many more crazy fun adventures happening in between. But that is all I have time for at the moment slash don’t want to make this some huge post that no one will want to read. If you want to hear more stories let me know!

Julien 

P.S. Just saying…

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The Fourfold Franciscan Blessing

Ajay reads this to the youth every Friday morning before they leave. I absolutely love it and plan on always having it posted on a wall wherever I may live.

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.

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American’s singing ‘Oh Canada’

Well Happy Canada Day everyone!!!!! I want you all to picture our morning as Ajay lead 56 Americans singing Oh Canada, and me in the background making the “ba da da da” and “clashhh” noises of trumpets and cymbals in between the lines as I use to do at camp (such a great image isn’t it?). I loved it!! I’m wanting to make them do it every day and see them all learn the lines by the end of the week. I don’t know if that will happen though. Anyway, I’m very excited for today as it is a new group of youth who are absolutely amazing and have just already set a great tone to the week that I know will continue to the end.

To touch on our previous week I personally found it very difficult. Not that the youth weren’t great but there was just too many of them. I said before we had gotten an extra group due to Calgary flooding which put our site at 81 people so you can imagine how chaotic it was at times. I felt stretched thin and it showed, not greatly, but I knew I wasn’t myself and my team did also (they were very encouraging and supportive though to which I am incredibly thankful). Yet still at the end of the week we all got great evaluations back from the youth and adult leaders praising all of us for our hard and well done work and desires to serve God. This just shows how nothing we do is own our own but all through the power of Christ. 

Today we are going up to Eagle’s Cove to celebrate Canada Day, I might go swimming in the lake, sauna, kayak and play cards, yep, be jealous. It’s a beautiful sunny and clear day here in Thunder Bay and God made me a crazy nut bar - oh yeah, nothing better. 

I’ll let you guys know how this week ends! Hope all is well with you, and please pray for us all of you who have been. Also just saying, if you have any prayer requests for yourselves send me a message!

Blessings,

Julien

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The Baker’s Dozen

The Baker’s Dozen is adding one extra to a group of 12 as many as you know. I reference this concept because at the last minute we ended up getting an extra group of youth for this week. But as we thank the baker for giving us an extra portion we thank God for this group as well.

The reason for this extra group is due to the events in Calgary. As many of you know by now Calgary is flooded and since YW has a location there the youth group that would have been there was unable to go. So we decided to invite them here instead. Although we are the ones that invited them we recognize that God is the one who wanted them here so we were only the messagers for Him. God has a reason for these youth being in Thunder Bay and we are all excited to see what those reasons are.

This set of youth has a lot more energy than last weeks, and given the fact that they are over twice the size (last week we had 35 people on site total, this week is 81), I can already see this week being much more draining than last weeks. So please, all you prayer warriors out there. Pray for energy. I already feel more drained after one evening than I did all last week. I love these youth of course, don’t get me wrong but I am going to be much more spread out so I’m scared, and the Enemy is going to be attacking me much more because of it. Pray I get the introverted time I need to pump myself up, the God time for Him to pour into me so I can pour into the youth. They are great, and a lot of the boys remind me of how I was as a youth which is equally exciting as it is terrifying for me. My game plan is to get a deck of cards tomorrow so I can play some good games with them to open some doors hopefully.

To close off my post about last week, it ended wonderfully. I was honestly so sad to see the youth leave, many of them had given me gifts which was highly appreciated and confirming for me in knowing this is where I am suppose to be. Although I’m not expecting the same thing to happen this week, or any other week for that matter, I do hope I can create the same bonding moments with the new set of youth once more. The weekend was highly needed, I slept for 11 hours. Ajay made the wonderful acronym of YOSOW (You Only Sleep Once a Week), which is very, very, very true. Now I am hoping that I will be able to wake in the morning, drain the chai tea that will be warm in my David’s Tea Thermos and get moving on breakfast at 6:15 am. Literally 6 hours from now. Here we go. One week down, 7 more weeks of getting to serve God with all I have through YW, man I love this. 

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So They’re Here. And Wow.

I’m doing a great job at making sure I do this once a week-not, and considering things will only get busier for me I don’t think I will be able to keep up with this whole once a week blog thing. Sorry folks. 

So it’s Tuesday night which are the half way points with the youth. Since they leave Friday morning Wednesdays don’t count as our hump days. These youth are amazing, this is our smallest group of the summer with there being only 23 youth and 7 adult leaders. In our later weeks we are going to have closer to 90 youth which is going to be insane. Sometimes it’s difficult to manage 23 youth so managing that many is going to be crazy! But seriously, I love it. 

The youth are amazing at all their service sites, they are funny, smart and show such a hunger for knowing more about Christ and serving others. I wish I had the hunger that they do when I was there age. But all this is for God’s perfect plan of course. There have been hiccups of course, nothing and no one is perfect but we have dealt with each situation to the best of our capabilities and those around us are able to recognize that. 

Ajay continues to amaze both the youth and adult leaders and considering we are only half way there I’m excited to see how things will progress and the results we will see at the end of the week. Heather and Robyn have been champs in getting everything done and being so much on the ball that they are able to help us newbies out with our jobs.

Currently I have no word on how Carrie is doing in Calgary. But I’m sure she’s at least alive so that’s good. 

I’ve been working on as much kids club stuff as I can right now. I’m making good progress I like to think. I still have more to do and the desire to make what I have done better but over all I’m content and know that with God’s help I’ll be fine. Today I was able to go out to put up flyers for Kids Club and connect with people in the Thunder Bay community, which is allowing me to feel so much more connected with this place and I love it. Plus I got to long board around and find cool little shops and really experience the parts of the city that have a lot of character, not just drive through them.

I love hanging out with the youth, the past few days during their free time we have been playing cards, stella-ella (the American version, which is different), joking and chatting. I tell them Robert Munsch stories sometimes because I’m slowly memorizing a bunch to tell at Kids Club so saying them to the youth is practice. It’s hard to judge if they like them though. They think the stories are weird and random and they will ask me to tell another but they don’t seem to laugh at them so I don’t know. Oh well, I know the kids will love them when they get here. 

Tomorrow I’m going to be traveling to some of the sites with the youth to see what they have been doing since I haven’t had a chance to yet. I’m excited to work a bit with them and have some fun in those contexts. For now I’m going to go get some shut eye on my wonderfully comfy air mattress. I’m finally getting use to sleeping on it so it’s actually great.

Please keep us all in your prayers still, energy and focus is huge for me now so I really appreciate them!

Thanks for reading, I know things are jumbled around but that’s life for me right now and it’s probably going to continue like this or get worse.

Any-who. Night!

Julien 

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PREPARE YOURSELF - Participants are coming!!

Well… We still have another week for preparation, but still, this week has been busy. 

We wake up at 7:30am and go until 10 or 11 pm only taking breaks for meals and a one hour break in the afternoon. Honestly, even though it has been busy, I don’t feel like I’m working too hard. Maybe it is because I’m enjoying it. I’ve been making flyers, writing orientation for youth and adult leaders, our team has met with a few service partners/community advocates, we have been cleaning, practicing clubs, going on adventures and bonding as a team and many, many, many more things.

One of the places we were able to go see as a team was Eagles Cove. They are one of our service partners, where we will be sending youth to help do camp maintenance and odd jobs. This place is absolutely beautiful in both area and the work they do. Which by the way is a camp that is helping Aboriginal youth and families connect with their heritage, have individual or family counselling to help with issues and hurts and show/lead them to Christ. They run full time events and activities for people. I’m so excited for the youth that get to go and help there. To learn more about them and what they do click here: http://scainternational.org/ministry-centres/sca-eagles-cove-ministry-centre/

An adventure we did earlier this week was we went up to Mt. McKay, which is a 1000 ft mountain on one of the reserves just on the outskirts of Thunder Bay. I was instantly reminded of walking on the edge of the waterfall at the Devil’s Punchbowl in Hamilton and ran to the edge of the cliff. For the record we were only half way up the mountain so I wasn’t at the edge of a 1000 ft cliff but around 500 ft. So don’t worry I was fine. We walked around and took pictures and I snuck off and sat on the edge of the cliff and looked out at Thunder Bay until we left. 

All throughout the week Ajay and I have been having some super God filled conversations before bed and watching Avatar The Last Airbender and once we are done we are going to watch Dragon Ball Z. I am so happy we are both nerds and enjoy watching and talking about all this stuff. I’ve felt challenged by him and hope that he feels the same. I’m so blessed to have him as a summer roommate/teammate and friend.

Now the reason I’m writing this update at the beginning of the new week over last week is because this weekend was an adventure on its own. We actually worked intensely all Friday and Saturday. I spent my time cleaning my kids club room supply closet and writing orientations and other role stuff and on Saturday. We had Carmen (the head honcho slash amazing boss lady) coming and it was her birthday so we wanted to work Saturday in order to have all Sunday and part of Monday off to party and go up to a cottage owned by one of the members of the church. So we got her presents and cleaned up our office for her and made a cat out of bacon. She loved the shirt we had found at Value Village of a cat with yellow hipster glasses shooting lasers out of its eyes. Epic win right there.

On Sunday (yesterday), I was asked to help out with kids church. I agreed eagerly because I knew this would be a great way to not only serve the church but to start getting to know the kids that would be coming to hang out with me soon. They were very open to me, instantly loving my crazy voices and antics. We took them outside to play and I played tag and other games with them. It was super encouraging for me and made me feel much more relaxed about stepping into the role I’m going to be in a few weeks from now. I even had the other adult leaders of the church laughing so I think I’m golden in their books. Now that afternoon going to the cottage was amazing. Adrian came with us and so did Robyn’s fiancé Timo came. We sauna-ed and jumped in the lake for hours and just relaxed. It was so peaceful and beautiful up there. Adrian, Ajay and I slept in the screened off deck area they have so we were pretty much outside all night. We bunched up in layers of clothes and blankets and fell asleep listening to the rain. So beautiful.

Coming back to work today we went at it. I almost have the kids club closet cleaned up and we practiced skits for Carmen. I’m having a huge blast although I’m not going to lie, I’ve already been under attack. The first few days of the week were very tough on me spiritually and I just had to keep pressing on and leaning on God constantly. Now things are going smoothly, still leaning on God of course but I no longer feel so stressed. I’m just hoping I can have everything organized on time. Participants come next week, our site is looking amazing, God is so good to us, the church is constantly blessing us and helping us out, I just can’t believe how easy this has been. It’s scary because I’m almost on my toes out of fear that something will go wrong, but I’m just praying and trying to have faith. We found out today that Carrie will be going out to Calgary early because they need an extra hand out there so she will actually be gone for 3 weeks instead of the already planned one, pray for her safety and God working in showing her His plan for her out there as well as here in Thunder Bay. 

Please continue to pray for all of us in our roles and as a team. We know we are being truly blessed by God and know that all those who are praying for us have a role in that.

Talk to you soon, God bless!

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