Life Change Stories

3

Wide Open

Call it Sanctuary, a safe haven or a place of refuge but fundamentally, it’s the hospital for the hurt, afflicted, lonely and rejected. Perfectly sandwiched between two colossal edifices was a community within a community.

I was gifted the opportunity of spending the weekend there and so I did. Through the stories,  keynotes, interactions, discussions and activities, l learnt that life has greater meaning when yours is dedicated in service of others. I learnt that persons who have trodden the battle field of abuse, hurt and bewilderment do exist and some are trying pretty hard to better themselves.
I learnt that to invest time in others is an investment in a better world.

I was blown out of the water for the grave selflessness displayed by the speakers. The joy they found in the giving of themselves and their certainty when their life mission was thrown in the limelight.

Someone asked, “What would be your advice to those who want to change the world?”

-“Don’t. Change yourself”  replied the speaker.

This speaks volumes to the great potential of one individual with the right attitude and values. An individual who has identified his/her purpose and “risks rejection in hopes of acceptance”.

The time spent at Sanctuary was an eye opener to say the least!

6

Press Release!

Life Change Adventures exists to instigate the type of change that builds brighter and better futures. We could not be more thrilled than to know we played a small part in making this happen. What a great bit of news! Read More

6

Meet our Guys

Blue and white… they insisted; ‘Ice colours’ they said, ‘its cool!’

Days later our office is still strung up with streamers and tinsel across various doorways, and the only traditional ‘Christmassy’ element is the jovial Santa smiling at me whenever I exit the stairs.


 

Sunnydale Connect is anything but a typical or traditional youth group. Why not an ice theme for the Christmas celebration? Diverse to the max… a huge range of cultures and backgrounds, age and experience… people who have no obvious natural basis for being together do so in ‘Connect’…  Africans, Asians, Latin Americans. North Americans… all together… laughing, struggling, creating, playing, learning…!

Sometimes more than 30 gather and the energy generated is something to behold. We have outgrown our space, we are stretching our leaders to the hilt, our finances are under pressure, but we are seeing change and growth and friendship and transformation.

I watched our gang devour two turkeys, Halal chicken, vegetables galore, citrus punch and an abundance of pie & ice cream, and was struck again; just how important the act of ‘celebration’ and appreciation is in the life of community and relationship building. We may each enter this holiday season from different perspectives and faith orientations, but surely we can all decide to celebrate; celebrate others, celebrate life, celebrate the next breath I take, celebrate it all. We in Life Change will certainly celebrate these kids and our sacred journey with them.

1

You’re My Girl

These are some of my girls. Girls that I’ve come to love oh so much in such a short amount of time. Girls that make me laugh, and help me  especially to love. Girls that also make me cry, but I’ll hold their hands nevertheless when come to me in confidence and share their aching hearts with me with things like:

“I’ve never felt like I was pretty enough” or “I get bullied every day at school and sometimes wish I wasn’t alive,” or even “starving myself for days to lose weight because people tell me I’m overweight.”

WHAT?! Words like these actually come from other ELEVEN year olds?! This just does not make any sense to me!


Conversations like these reaffirm the responsibility we all share and have for one another; to comfort, support and encourage each other when it feels like you’re fighting a battle with a team of one, or because we simply can’t do so for ourselves.

These are the faces of our future women – our future leaders, mothers, activists, artists, engineers, entrepreneurs and the list goes on! But, you see, we must teach them well. We must teach them to not entertain even the idea of hatred, neglect, ignorance, jealousy, envy nor greed, but to be consumed by and operate out of humility, generosity, respect and love. That is not the responsibility of just one person, or that of a few people, but one that we ALL have to each other.

3

Seemingly Insignificant, Yet Precious!

        Change rarely comes in like a tidal wave or earthquake. Real, lasting change comes along slowly: one person at a time, the ‘pay it forward’ kind of change, the one drop in the bucket until it becomes an ocean change. Investing in change is an act of faith. You do the right thing for another because you believe in their value and worth, and as you do, you trust that something contagious might be kicked  off,  and yet, if it doesn’t you do it anyway, simply because it is right. And ‘right’ doesn’t need to be perceived or recognized, for right is just right because it is.

“You do the right thing for another because you believe in their value and worth…”

The students of our little high school in Kibombomene, Zambia surprised the group of teachers and volunteers the other day. After drawing them all to a room under false pretences, they commenced to tell each how much they meant to them. With song, words of encouragement, poems and skits they communicated  with sincerity just what these adults meant to them. Their uneven and young efforts of acknowledgment were met with tears of laughter and appreciation, and smiles of satisfaction. Little things. Small expressions. These are the things that people the world over hunger for. These are the things, one by one that change the world.

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2

Another Journey, Another Adventure!

Every relationship an extraordinary adventure, every person a universe of dreams and ideas. Eight years ago I met a young woman named Marissa who from that first encounter impressed me with her passion for life and people. I often say; “If you have a dream that involves making a better world or changing the world for another, talk with me. Maybe together we can achieve reality.” When Marissa first told me about her dream I was stunned. Now, years later her dream has transformed into a place where young girls are becoming women, where quality education is being delivered to those who otherwise would never have access to it, and where a village(s) is being transformed by hope.

I am at this moment on my way to visit Marissa in Kibombomene, Zambia. Together we will be working with the girls, appointing a Board of Directors, seeking greater Zambian partnership and clarifying the staff team.  It will be a busy few days.  At many places in the world little lighthouses or beacons of light are popping up.  Places where people are working hard to bring about change and growth and to make sure that life is vibrant.

Marissa is a dear ‎friend and a great inspiration, it is a great honour to journey with her.

3

A slice of heaven?

My pal Dave and his good wife Anna bought the farm. No, they actually bought a farm! Really!

And in doing so made it abundantly clear to me that this property with its rolling hills, old barn, fields, sheds and house was to be used in the service of people. “ Bring your students, friends and families!” I clearly remember him telling me.

So I did!

The occasion was the 2014 Canadian Thanksgiving. I invited friends and they came from all over; Chinese MBA students, Ghanaians, Nigerians, Sudanese, South Sudanese,  Kenyans… and together this hotchpotch  of colours and cultures gathered to swap stories, eat food, admire the vivid almost florescent maple leaves, and eat… almost forgot the eat piece!  Many have a concept of heaven… floating on clouds, eternal bliss of some kind, golden streets, gardens and rivers, but for me, as I walked around that old, largely restored farm house I could not help but think of heaven.

“This is what it has be like”, I told someone. “laughter, community, engagements, beauty, peace, some eating, others chattering, some preparing, others kicking a soccer ball… people from each continent together celebrating“… a diverse,  flowing throng of colour, language, heritage, experience, life philosophies.  There we were just people together… how rich, how very rich… we were just people being together. And if that isn’t a slice of heaven, well I really cannot begin to imagine what it might be like!

 

1

A Shining Sun… A Celebrating Community. 

The sun shone, the westerly winds blew delightful warmth that enveloped us.  Leading to that day, for an entire week, the weather had been cool and wet.  Today’s beauty was exceeded though by the wonderful scene that unfolded about us.

Two years prior, while the community children were at school, their playground, determined as unsafe, was, without warning, removed.  For families, as many are, who had journeyed the refugee highway survived bullets, famine and violence the irony was poignant.

Now on this day, after many conversations, much dreaming, and the hard and creative work of the landscaping firm Earthscape, the community was prepared to celebrate. A job well done!  A neighbourhood, that rarely comes together, found common ground through the design, implementation and funding of their new playground.

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” ― Howard Zinn

This day was set apart to celebrate and to say a big thank you to all who worked hard and to those who donated to the project.  With BBQ’s billowing smoke, hamburgers sizzling, and desserts pouring out from the houses… the kids squealed with delight at their chance to show off their new playground.

The community came together. A ribbon was cut by the youngest member, groups huddled on the grass, laughter and chatter filled the air, Jean Claude took the microphone and guided the proceedings.  The community was alive. In time these memories will fade, and even the playground will sadly deteriorate and need to be replaced…. but my hope, my desire is that the realization that change is possible when people band together and work hard for a common goal will stay firmed rooted deep in the hearts and minds of each participant, young and old.

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7

Four Fun Days: Live Your Adventure

frontEarly Tuesday afternoon, amidst the manageable chaos of registration and organization, I received an email. In the subject line, two words “Brace Yourself!” So I did. I braced myself when I opened up that email and saw attached a photo of our campers: a never-ending kanga line of little smiling faces! I braced myself when this flock of approximately 80 kids bounced over to Church in the Woods this too cool summer afternoon for the first of four fun days to come.

 

I also braced myself (we all did) for on outpour of rain that would drench us all, destroy our fun and coop us indoors with 80 let down kids. Instead, we were met with kids who wouldn’t miss this week for the world, downpour or snowfall; kids who know camp station rotations better than most because they’ve done it 6 times over; dedicated leaders with energy bouncing off the roofs. It was to be a journey through the hopes and dreams of 5-yr olds, teenagers and twenty-somethings: people living their adventure!

 

Our circle is filled with aspiring professional basketball players, child-workers, dentists and beekeepers. “I want to tell you my dream,”  little George says tugging on my shirt, as do many of these guys and gals. This camp provides the space for that: to remind them of their own value and the value of their dreams. I think we’re going to have to brace ourselves when the time comes. Brace ourselves for the amazing leaders, visionaries and life-changers these people are going to be (and are, really!) And some of it starts here, at our yearly Five (four this year) Fun Days Summer Camp!

IMG_20140812_130150   brae

1

Albert St. Playspace

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

– Albert Einstein

 

“Tickets! 5 dollars, please?”

A little voice called out from inside the water tower.

Imaginations had already begun to fire; within 24 hours of the opening of our new play space!

I listened and watched as the 5 children, (two from El Salvador, and two from Pakistan and one from South Sudan), pretended that the new slide was a train and the tower a ticket booth. I commented that I thought the charge was a little too steep, but they were having none of that!  Clearly, they had planned it out. Underneath two very younger children playing with the woodchips and a piece of plastic soon baked and served up delicious cake to anyone who would play along.

Imagination! Imagination plays a central role in our lives. Poverty and struggle can dampen and erode the ability to dream.  This is part of what is referred to the “Cycle of poverty”.  Not able to imagine new futures and possibilities the same old issues stunt growth and generation patterns become entrenched. A better future relies so much on our ability to imagine new possibilities. Hope is a powerful force that carries us from the present.  And play is where we learn to dream and where our imaginations are formed and take flight.

So, as little Matthew and his friend bake their cake from woodchips and the 5 in the ticket booth plan exotic train vacations,  wonderful we futures are being created, process that may one day result on the design of new vehicle, or the teaching of classrooms of eager learners or a family hurdle being overcome. The play space is just the beginning.

We are very excited about the new playspace we have assisted the community in designing and building. It you would like to see one of the most creative and interesting play areas n the entire region let me know. I am happy to give you a tour.