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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Inspired Word for 2017: KIN

   Over the past couple of weeks I was pondering which word I thought would give some shape to my experience of 2017, I kept coming back to this three-letter word.
   First of all, I was drawn to its meaning.  Kin is a word that means close relatives, people we are bound to by our family heritage.  The four-letter word "kind" is connected because we naturally tend to deal "kindly" with our "kin."  One of my daughters asked me during our rather quiet Christmas break why we don't have many gatherings with extended family anymore.  She wondered if by not connecting with these kin we were missing out on something good that we were meant to have: closer ties, family stories, a better sense of connectedness.
   Something else that drew me to the word "kin" is that it is a beautiful English word.  What I mean by English is that it comes from the Germanic branch of languages. These words are quite plain and ordinary; they may be short and sound a bit harsh with their combination of letters.  Besides "kin", some other original English words are "cow-like," "bed," "knife," "hat," and "good."
   Why would I call it beautiful?  Perhaps most people would not.  In fact, there is a Facebook picture I saw in the past month which named "100 Beautiful English words," but every one of them was a more recent addition to English as a loanword from French or Latin.  For the words I listed above, the so-called beautiful versions would be "bovine," "chamber," "stiletto," "fedora," and "excellent."  A beautiful word for me is not so much how poetic it sounds but what it communicates.  For me "kin" makes me think of the beautiful reality that we are born into close relationships in which we are to show kindness.
   How I hope this word will give shape to my experience of 2017 is that I will be more intentional about forging ties with and appreciating my kin, also for the sake of my children.  I want to plan more visits with them and enjoy their company.  Next month, Lord willing,  my son and my mother will travel to Europe to be with kin. Through their visit, I hope to also feel renewed in my connection to aunts, uncles and cousins living so far away.  Other kin live nearby, but the busyness of life often conspires against getting together with them.  I want to make greater effort to resist those excuses.
   Over this calendar year I hope to share some stories about my kinfolk and what makes cultivating these ties so valuable for my family and me.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Guest Post by Carolyn: A Pregnant Opportunity

With a vision to having our students intentionally engage God’s world, locally and globally, every class at LHCS participates in a service project during the school year.  This opportunity is meaningful to the students and encourages them to selflessly think of the needs of others.
In November our Grade 6B class learned about an organization called Salama SHIELD Foundation.  Begun by Mrs. Fehderau’s brother, they operate in Uganda and Malawi, building relationships and learning the stories of those in deep need, in order to search for appropriate solutions.  The foundation has been able to improve the lives of tens of thousands through its programs in food security, micro-credit revolving loans, water, education, and health.  And goats!
The students were challenged to change a behaviour or attempt a new one that would educate them about living with less.  Some examples given were sleeping on the floor, wearing clothes that didn’t fit properly, or only using a bar of soap to wash everything with.  The students could choose the length of time during the month that they would perform their act.
In addition, Mrs. Mostert and Mrs. Fehderau encouraged the class to think of unique ways that they could fundraise for SALAMA Shield, in order to buy pregnant goats to be given to families in need of the milk and the potential income generated by selling the kids.  Each goat costs $75, and that amount became a goal for many of the children.
The grade sixes took to the challenges with enthusiasm!  “We are privileged to have so much”, one of the students said, so they sold some of their toys to raise money.  “We have it a lot easier”, noted another student, who chose to wash everything, even their hair, with a bar of soap for a few days.
“It was hard to wear clothes that didn’t fit properly, and I felt bad for people who have to all the time”, said one girl who wore her Dad’s shirt for a week.  Another student commented: “It hurt my back to sleep on the floor, and I learned that we are really blessed”.  “It was kind of annoying to drink only water for a week”, was an understandable observation made.  One of the teachers and one of the students wore the same clothes for a month!
Through selling chips, the sale of their own baked goods, extra jobs for parents, selling jewelry they made, and more, the class raised enough money to buy 28 goats!  It was a herculean effort that will richly reward those that Salama SHIELD will be able to help.  The month ended with a class party that included goat cheese and a thought provoking story called A Country Far Away, a book that ingeniously examines the differences between life in North America and life in Africa for a child.
One student’s comment sums up the experience well: “I didn’t realize how much a goat could help”.  These grade six students didn’t realize how much they could help either, but the Lord has blessed their efforts through this learning opportunity.

Looking Back upon "Jubilee"


One year ago I chose the word "Jubilee" to give shape to my experiences for 2016.  I wanted to be more conscious of issues related to justice and to celebrate things worthy of jubilation.  Looking back on 2016, the following items connect to the theme of Jubilee:
  • In 2016 I celebrated with three loved ones as they graduated from one level of schooling to another.  Two earned their high school diplomas, and one her Grade 8 diploma.
  • Jubilee was experienced through music.  In 2016 I had the opportunity to experience the 40th anniversary concert for the Ontario Christian Highschool Choir Festival in the spring and a rousing orchestral and choral rendition of Handel's Messiah just before Christmas.
  • Musical theatre was also a cause for jubilation.  Each of the five live plays I was privileged to experience combined story telling with song: The Pirates of Penzance; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Our Town; Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol; and Christmas in Reverse.
  • I learned more about global justice initiatives through reading The Locust Effect by Gary Hausen and Clay Water Brick by Jessica Jackley.  My husband and I were able to support new charities that are focused on bringing justice to the marginalized.
  • The schools I am affiliated with began celebrating milestones in 2016: the high school marked 40 years of God's faithfulness and the elementary school is commemorating 50 years, a true jubilee.
  • My father had successful surgery to improve his mobility and reduce back and neck pain.  My mother had a cataract removed and can see more clearly. The support both my parents received from the medical community and their church family has also been cause for jubilee.