Saturday, September 29, 2012


Lately I've been doing a lot of blabbering on my blog, so today maybe I'll just share a bit of what is going on in our lives. We do, after all, still live normal lives even with all the upheaval we've been in, the silly things we do, and the many adjustments we're making!

We had our first hotdog roast in Canada just before Garry left. It was fun to sit by the fire and enjoy the warmth. We love watching the fire, and there's something about sitting by a blazing fire that makes conversation flow.

Garry is in Arizona this week, meeting with numerous people and enjoying being part of life there for a short while. The guys have come to some helpful conclusions about the future and Garry's priorities for the next while. He has enjoyed a lot of time just talking to people, hearing what is going on in McNeal and what God is doing in people's lives. It's always amazing to hear the God-story of another person's life, to realise that somehow God is working in and through and around all of us! How privileged we are to be part of the only truly epic story!

The boys and I are getting quite ready for Garry to come home already. We've had a busy week with school and badminton and a little bit of company. We've enjoyed reading aloud and listening to music. Kaleb has been building a fort out back. Kevin has been training hard and has gotten back to blogging.

We got a call this week that our shipment from the Philippines should be here on Wednesday or Thursday! When Garry gets home he'll have to go to Winnipeg while it clears customs, or some such thing. Then they will deliver it to our house.... and I'll let you know how we get it unloaded, it might be an adventure all its own! I'm actually looking forward to unpacking the crates and seeing what's in them as I was pretty sick when we did a lot of the packing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pain and honesty

Pain. It's a part of living in a fallen world, not only because we are fallen, but also because we are humans that need to grow and learn. Even Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. Why, then, would we fight the pain, try to hide the struggles we face, and pretend that maturity is all about prosperity? It isn't. At least not in my Bible, and certainly not in my life.

In fact, over the past 7 years since God challenged us to live in a new level of faith, we've also felt more pain and suffered more hardship. The pain seems to come in direct proportion to the joy, the struggle in the same measure as the faith. In Psalms we read that we will face hard times then call upon God and He will answer us and we will glorify Him. I think that's the point-- that God is glorified when we call upon Him and He answers. It's the middle of the story, the wait between the calling and His answer that is hard. And we have the incredible opportunity to walk through that part of the story with God Himself as our firm foundation and with family and friends who choose to walk with us.

Once more I've come back to the blessing of walking this journey together. And that is only possible when we are transparent in godly ways, when we share the truth of our story. And when we see the truth of our individual stories, we will also see more of the real glory of a God who cares and delivers.

Since I've used up my latest posts rambling about thoughts, I've forgotten to mention that Garry is in Arizona for the next week and a half. He is in meetings regarding the future of the aviation safety program and various other things in NTM Aviation. We personally and as an organisation are asking God for clarity regarding His plans and ways. The explanation would be yet another long post, but I wanted to let you know what we're up to in regards to the safety program. The boys and I are home, getting into a new school year and still trying to corral life into a bit more order and routine.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Speaking Manitoban

Somewhere along the line, I think we've forgotten how to speak Manitoban. We can still string the words together, but communicating is an altogether different story! I've been wondering lately why that is, and I've come up with a few theories that seem reasonable:

  • In Asia, body language is paramount, and it seems it's the words that matter most here
  • We've been working with a team of pilots from the US, so while we think we're still speaking the same language, the meaning of our words and the way we communicate has changed-- not to mention how international our bigger team has been, with members from multiple countries
  • So much of what we all talk about is no longer familiar, so we are struggling just to grasp the main ideas and subjects
In the end, I'm sure it's a mix of all of the above. Like my friend who refused to ride with a Filipino because he was flirty: in reality, he raised his eyebrows simply as an affirmative response to her question! We have become accustomed to a very limited amount of personal space and privacy, yet those are highly valued here. (And I apologise profusely to those of you I've back into a corner by standing too close-- thankfully I don't think there are too many of you this time! My mom once told me that if somebody took a step backward when I was talking to them, I should never follow-- I'm trying to remember that!) 

Non-verbal communication is very important in Asia, and as such it is key to watch people when you talk to them and respond to their non-verbal cues, not so much the verbal ones. Here communication seems to rest mainly on the words that are spoken, and much of what we "hear" in the non-verbal is either unimportant or we misinterpret it. Still, there seem to be some non-verbal cues that I'm missing... when I'm in a 3-way conversation I often hear people respond to one another in ways that don't make sense to me, and I'm trying to figure out what's going on that I'm missing. 

So, yes, we are still on a journey of cultural adjustment and language learning. As our instinctive culture has changed over the years, we find that no matter where we go we need to learn things. There's a certain sense of wonder and adventure in the learning, a joy in each discovery, and a deep contentment in knowing this is a journey God has planned for us!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


As we make the transition back to Canada, I am being challenged and stretched in so many ways. One way is a changing perspective on pain, suffering, and challenge. As people reach out to me, I am appreciating the power of walking together in a new light. I am seeing in a new way the power of being present, of simply sitting with one who is in pain.

God Himself is in the business of being present, of walking us through hard times. In the moment of pain, He simply promises to be there. He doesn't promise to change our circumstances, but He promises to change us and grow us as we allow Him to do so. He promises that He knows all things and that His plan is good: He doesn't explain His plans or expect us to understand His ways. In fact, He says His ways are so far above us that we cannot understand them. He says we see through a glass darkly, and He doesn't promise to illuminate our current circumstance.

So I ponder this walking together, living daily as the Body of Christ. And I'm seeing that walking together is about pursuing God together, about holding onto faith ourselves. It's about functioning as a Body, lifting up the weak and admitting that sometimes we are the weak. It's simply being there and knowing God is there. Bearing one another's burdens.

Together. It's a beautiful concept and an even more incredible reality!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I'm thankful for many things, and thought I'd share just a few of them:

  • A God who never tires of our new beginnings and is always the same, yesterday, today, and forever
  • A house to live in and that we get to stay here for a while
  • Family-- our immediate family and extended family
  • Friends who brought us groceries... a LOT of groceries 
  • That things change, and in a while we'll be settled in and everything that seems new right now will be "old hat"
  • A supportive church family
  • Friends who bless us with friendship, prayers, and encouraging words
  • Warm clothes (yes, already!)

I've been pondering lately what it looks like to deal "well" with stress (the outside stresses of change, death of a loved one, family changes, etc.). Thankfulness is one thing that I don't think ever hurts, and in some amazing way, it heals. Running away from our troubles doesn't seem to change them. Admitting our reality doesn't make it worse: in fact, I believe God loves to hear us pour out our hearts to Him and then we can listen while He pours out His heart to us. And in the middle of our pain, we often find friends we didn't know we had, receive gifts from people we didn't know would offer them, and find strength to carry on when we didn't think we could. Never mind that stress grows and changes us!

In reality, I haven't been doing a lot of pondering lately. Mostly I've been trying to get our school year planned, doing some cooking and housework, meeting with a few friends, hugging random strangers (a most embarrassing moment that turned into a blessing), wishing I had time to sit down and blog, and the million other things every mom does. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Grocery shopping in Steinbach

I know that for those of you who have been shopping in Steinbach for years it isn't any big deal. In fact, it's a small town (more or less). It's quick and simple for plenty of people.

For me, on the other hand, shopping is still a major event: shopping on 10% Tuesday is a test of endurance. The stores are too big, the options are too many, and my experience is too small! I would hate to know how many times I walked back and forth in stores this morning, looking for things in aisles I'd already been down: I shudder to think how long I spent standing in front of displays pondering prices and comparing the options. And I hope nobody asks me exactly how I felt by the time I'd finished shopping and putting things away this morning!

You see, it isn't the "big things" that are mostly hard. What makes transitions hard is the sheer volume of new things you have to deal with. Grocery shopping for instance: multiple store options, prices, store layout, brand differences (or lack of difference), the number of ways you can buy things-- canned, frozen, fresh, the fact that I have no clue if I can/should ask a store employee for help finding something, new things like rain checks if something on sale is out of stock,  chip credit cards, and the ease of returning items... and that is just the relatively short list of what makes grocery shopping challenging. (Not to mention that I'm not sure I can find the store from my house yet, given my severe directional challenges!)

Apart from the trauma of shopping this morning, we are doing well. We moved into our new house over the weekend, and we're getting things settled, figuring out how to use the various spaces and furniture in our house. We are loving the yard and simply having our own space is a treat. It's been fun to unpack and find things we'd forgotten we have. Kevin tried his hand at grilling yesterday and we all enjoyed the results.

Saturday, September 01, 2012


Friday. Most weeks I welcome Friday with a special smile. This week, it's suddenly here. Since Mom Barkman moved to her mansion just two weeks ago, time is a strange thing. Days are endless, yet short.  We keep moving and doing, but so little gets done. I guess it's called grieving, and I suppose it's a full-time job for a while.

Grieving the loss we feel without Mom here where we can see her, grieving the life we left behind in the Philippines, and trying to adjust to life in Canada.

At the same time, rejoicing in the hope of heaven. Thankful for the rich heritage Mom passed on to each of us. Thankful for family and friends who gave us a warm welcome back to Canada. Thankful for the many tangible blessings we have. At some level we're excited about what's coming next, what God is up to in our lives.

And while we're processing, life goes on also. Meals, laundry, and cleaning for me. Errands to run, people to call. Garry is starting to work on aviation safety things. Kevin started badminton with the provincial team last weekend. Kaleb is busy riding his bicycle and making amazing technic inventions. Both boys have spent some time working on a turkey farm.

Last evening we started moving into our new home in Manitoba! What a blessing Emery and Bev have been to us, from moving out early to leaving so many things that make the transition easier. And besides that, they're just cool people!

Since we haven't really been taking any pictures since we arrived home, I thought I'd add a couple from our trip to North America.