June 2009

CheckupWe you live overseas you don’t get to see your regular doctor that often. We are fortunate in that the school I work for flies us home once a year, otherwise we would be more or less stuck out here. So last year at this time we scheduled a visit with our doctor in St. Thomas that we have had since we moved there in 1979. A week before we boarded the plane to come home he cancelled on us, and closed his office for a month. No physicals for us that year.

This year, once again, Pam booked our physicals back in March so we could fit them in during my two weeks in Ontario. Last week his office let us know that our appointments had been cancelled. Those of you who live in Ontario know that this is all too common anymore, and none of us dare complain because doctors are so rare that you are fortunate if you have one at all.

So we had the work done here, and really what is the fuss all about? We went to a clinic, paid forty bucks Canadian and had the work done. For that we got a full work up, including cancer screens and a consult with a doctor on our results. I am, as I suspected, disgustingly healthy, with a BP that men half my age can only wish for and negligible cholesterol.

We really need to get on the same page back home. The model of public health that we have been clinging to doesn’t work. It is just not cost effective. Over here they run it as a business, and given a certain level of competition, that business is efficient and reliable. I’m sure OHIP back home isn’t paying out forty bucks for an annual physical.

Steve and Pam

Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. I will leave for the airport to begin what will be two solid months of non-stop travel, visiting and work. It will be richly exciting, fulfilling, challenging and totally exhausting. We have been joyfully anticipating this for several months but I must say that both of us approach it with very mixed emotions. This is compounded by the fact that I will be away at a conference in Thailand for the next week while Steve struggles to finish marking, preparing for the Prom and the Grad and packing for Canada.

Obviously, we can not wait to see our kids and grandkids again. Ben is no longer the toddler we left behind but is very much a little boy now. Abi was a tiny little three month old baby but now is walking and starting to talk. We love to watch them interact with each other on our Skype calls but that is no substitute for holding them. That goes for our own children as well. Although no longer as cuddly, we still love to hug them when they’ll let us. We look forward to talking to them and getting caught up on all their news.

However, we know the emotional upheaval we will face as we visit with friends that we have not seen for a year and get caught up with their news as well, some of which will undoubtedly be painful to share. You can’t be away for a year without some trouble in the lives of those we care about. When you only get one visit per year in you don’t spend much time talking about the weather but go directly to what is emotionally and spiritually important. We are praying for the Lord to give us wisdom and strength, and remind us of the joy and comfort that only Jesus can give.

There is another trouble spot for us as well. Having lived here for over two years, there are some aspects of Canadian culture that we are not proud of, and it would be most comfortable not to have to deal with these aspects again. Here in the East we have seen so much dire human need and yet people here are doing so much for the Lord with none of the resources that we take for granted in the West. We need to rely on God and not to be too harsh on what we once also took for granted.

Ultimately, we will need to say another round of painful good-byes and tear ourselves away from family and friends once again. We will throw ourselves in the work Christ has called us to and that will relieve the heartache for a while, but it is not easy being literally on the other side of the world from virtually all those you love. It is an awesome privilege being here and serving at this point in our lives and we really would not change a thing. But that doesn’t mean it is easy.

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