June 2009


Two years ago we flew through Hong Kong on our way to Malaysia and that one brief glimse was enough to convince us that we wanted to have a closer look. Today we got that chance. True it wasn’t the most favourable time of day: we arrived in Hong Kong at midnight, and our flight leaves shortly now at noon. But we did find a nice little hotel in the Wan Chi district at a reasonable rate, and after coffee and a muffin negotiated with a very nice cabbie for a one hour tour that took in some of the sights such as Victoria Peak and Recluse Bay. This is enough to ensure that we simply must get back for a a more extended say. Sorry we can’t post a picture now as the airport wifi is slow. We’ll try again in Vancouver.

Sitting in another airport, waiting for yet another flight and trying to come to grips with what I experienced over the past week. I wish that each of you could have the privilege of meeting these women and hearing them tell of the plight of the women of their countries. We had times when our hearts about broke when we heard of unbelievable abuse, poverty and rejection and times when we just rejoiced together in what God is doing through the ministry of Project Hannah and the faithfulness of these women.

To hear Marli speak with passion about the history of Project Hannah and her vision for the future was amazing and challenging.  With daily times of worship and prayer and time in the Word with her husband, Edmund, it was a great opportunity to draw closer to each other as a team.

We spent Saturday afternoon saying our goodbyes to each of the women as they left on various flights to return to their home countries.  On Sunday morning we attended the church where our dear friend Dr Boukab is the Pastor and Marli and Edmund were guest speakers.  To listen to the name of the Lord worshipped in the Thai language is like tasting a little bit of heaven and makes me look forward to a time when we will all understand each other and there will be no more suffering.

On our return to the hotel, I finally got to sit down with Marli and Ros, an Australian lady who has been involved in the script writing of Project Hannah for many years. We just sat in the lobby as it seemed a comfortable enough spot for our short meeting.  Four hours later we decided to take a half hour break to rest before supper when we could continue the discussion.  By ten we went to bed because our minds where overflowing with ideas and turning to mush.  The plan was to meet again at 9:00 in the morning but we were all ready to start again by 8:30. 

Once the cab driver put my suitcase in the trunk for the trip to the airport we had to reluctantly wrap it up but not without some really wonderful ideas and plans for the future of Project Hannah which I hope to be able to share with you over the new few weeks and months. Thank you for your prayers. The Lord certainly blessed my way this past week.

Bill and Co.

Our best friends the first year we were here were Bill and Kim McNamara, an older couple from the Toronto area. Bill had retired as principal some years back, but Kim worked right up until practically the day they got on the plane. They moved into the Boulevard into a very nice apartment that we now enjoy, and immediately set to work to tranform this place for the better.

Kim and I shared a love for English, but she brought administrative competence to bear as well, writing what has become the manual for assessment here at Taylor’s. Bill was no slouch either, carrying the load in business studies and organizing volunteer activities. Bill and I shared a love for music, and he is the first person that I’ve met whose knowledge of the arcane minutiae of that era exceeded my own. Pam and Kim’s eyes would roll when we’d get going about Roy Orbison or the Moody Blues, or how Billy Preston ended up working for The Beatles.

Bill was an absolute brick when it came to building the set for the school play. There is nothing I could ask for that he wouldn’t have a solution to, and then would be willing to try. And if it didn’t work, he’d try something else. I delighted to hear of how he would handle difficult situations as a principal, always taking the shortest route between problem and solution, even if it meant bending protocol to get there.

He was a straight shooter, and I valued his advice. He was a man that you could instantly trust, and know he would never fail you. Both Pam and I did everything we could to convince the two of them to stay in Malaysia, we valued both of them so highly. But we also knew that their love for their children ran so close to their heart, that staying here was just too much for them to bear.

Bill was on his way to a baseball game yesterday when an aneurysm caused him to black out, leading to a fatal car crash. The news has stunned us all in Malaysia. Bill was not only well-respected, but well loved. We were due to meet him in just two weeks and our colleague Yen Sen has only just returned from visiting with them and our friends Ken and Susan. I almost cannot believe the news, my heart is having trouble catching up with my head. Bill, my friend, you will be sorely missed.

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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