January and February
Hey y'all so sorry for not getting the January blog up, it just kept putting it off and off until I realized that its almost the end of February already. Wow how time flies! Speaking of time, this month is our six month mark! I feel as if both time has drug on forever but also feel like we moved in yesterday. I also realized that I meant to post photos of our fully decorated apartment but six months in, it is still not 100% finished. Im waiting for Layne to finish two things, one is a bathroom and one in the master.
Maybe we will get those two things up eventually but there are much more pressing matters at hand. A LOT more items! Multiply church is doing so much that the whole staff is excited about it. This month they have hit their two year Anniversary. Of course we had a party to celebrate with cake, a photo booth and all! I was put in charge of the photo booth props and I had fun with that as you can tell from the photos below. We didn't have children's church that day, it was so nice to just sit with my husband through a church service, especially this service because our awesome Worship leader Kristie wrote a song for the church and the band sang it that week. Then, since we did not have children's church I made Busy Binders for the kids, just a binder full of dry erase sheets with puzzles and games to keep them quiet during service. I usually have about 15-17 kids in my class but I made 24 binders for visitors, and I STILL ran out. We hit 100 people attending this week and it was amazing! We also did like a reverse birthday party, so it was Multiply's birthday but the church gave the gifts. They gave a devotional book with $10 inside for the adults. The $10 was part of a challenge to bless someone in our community as a way to jump start our new vision, which I will get back to later. But then for the kids I just put together a bunch of fun little items, so since I made 24 of those too I decided to give one per family and STILL RAN OUT! it was insane to have that many people coming together to celebrate two years. The church family is growing so much, and we love seeing the new families join! It just means the love of God is spreading faster than the corona virus! haha
So as a six month update just on us as a family - we are still adjusting. Many of you would probably think that adjustment to Canada wouldn't be that difficult because it is not that different. That may be true if I grew up in St Louis or any other large city. But going from small town to big city, particularly this city, is as different as night and day. Of course there are the little things that get way more under our skin that we ever thought they would. Like the lack of drive thrus, which by the way I figured out why. So I rarely go to McDonalds anymore because sodas are not nearly as good nor cheap, but the one time that my southern instincts took over, I went to get a sprite and as I was driving away my window froze and wouldn't shut until I got back into our heated parking garage. (or as Canadians call it a parkade) But overall I think we're getting used to things. I am starting to figure out what brands to buy and where everything is in the grocery stores. Also we are finally facing the fact that we can't escape the snow so might as well enjoy it. But connecting with people is still a challenge for us. Everyone told us that it is takes forever to connect with Canadians but once you do you are connected for life. Of course we are great friends with our church staff, as they are all Americans, and most of the church members but honestly only like 4 of them are Canadian the rest are from Nigeria, South Africa, or wherever. But Canadians are very different, and we Americans are not so patient.
Part of the reason that we were excited about Apartment Life was so that we could connect with our neighbours. Six months, 8 events, 100 visits in and we still barely know anyone. Apartment Life has almost felt more like fulfilling obligations rather than forming relationships. We keep telling ourselves that it will just take time, but it can be very discouraging. Especially when you plan an event for at least 50 people and only one person shows up. Which did happen at our super bowl party. We thought the super bowl was still a big deal up here, BUT. . . .Oh well. I do think it was partially because our advertising didn't get up until the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, so it seemed last minute to our residents. That has been a repeated issue for us. I think I have mentioned this before, but because the company that owns our building is the largest property management corporation in Canada it just means there are a lot corporate hoops for us to go through to get our advertising up. Our posters get forgotten about in the process, or pushed to the side, or taken down to make room for something else, then never go back up. We do finally have a Facebook group exclusive for our residents but its been slow getting our residents to join.
In January we bumped up from one event a month to two so we did a paint night and trivia night. We had ten people show up to the paint night. We painted welcome mats to welcome to new year. The residents enjoyed that, we even saw one proudly displayed in the hallway while we were doing renewal visits. For trivia night we had 13 people come enjoy a Friends themed trivia night complete with Friends themed desserts, coffee, and photo booth. Then in February we did the Super Bowl party, which you already know how that went. We also did a coffee cart where we served everyone a free specialty coffee. We are trying to get more community involvement with a restricted budget so for our first attempt we thought everyone loved coffee especially when its free. We had 22 people stop by for a great cup, honestly I was expecting a lot more. Layne mentioned how people reacted like we were trying to sell them something, so I'm thinking maybe people just aren't quite getting that we are here to serve them not sell to them! Our next events are a St Patricks day themed scavenger hunt and a Macrame class so be praying that those are well attended, enjoyed, and effective for our goal. Of course forming relationships is only the first part of the goal. We form the relationship in order to share the gospel, to which that opportunity has not presented itself yet, which is why we are getting impatient. I did invite one resident to just come to women's Bible study with me and it seems like she has been avoiding me ever since. She has always been the chatty one in our building, but I think it just goes to show the cultural difference here. Canadians are willing to listen but when if comes to any more than that they step back. It's the whole "you do what works for you and I will do what works for me" type thing. So like I said it will just take time, so you can be praying that we start to see progress.
But the good that came from the super bowl party was that the one guy that did show up, we think God brought him for a reason. So it was the half time show and Layne took Thaddeus upstairs to get him ready for bed while I started to clean up. After the half time show came on of course the good commercials were on so I sat down to watch those, and someone came in. Layne came back down and we sat down with the guy watched the rest of the game and got to know him a bit better. He had just gone through a divorce, had a new job, and moved into the building. I think he needed to get his mind off things, and enjoyed some football and wings. So we have seen him in the hall way a few times and think that we can make a good connection there.
But back to the church, the New Years has jumpstarted a lot of changes for the church. Well I guess they have been in the works for a while but now they are happening. So our pastor has felt for a while to go bi-vocational in hopes to take the financial burden off the church, as we would love to get into our own building some day. So for the past couple months he has been going through the application process to become a police officer. The Lord has been helping that process go very smoothly and we are also very excited for him. But you can be praying for the rest of that process and for his family, he has a wife and four kids, just for them during the transition. But also maybe pray that the opportunity for a building will come up, that would be awesome! :)
Our vision has also been in the works, which we launched during our two year anniversary service. With the theme of "Reaching Up, In and Out." Reaching up to the Lord through worship, reaching in to the church through discipleship, and reaching out through serving our community. All areas of our church are working to achieve this and I get to do this for the children's ministry! Reaching up is through our Sunday morning service, we dive deeper into Bible stories every Sunday and try to instil Godly characteristics. Reaching out is through summer camps, and other outreach events, like the Easter egg hunt coming up in April. Reaching in is through our family night events. We are doing three to four of these a year. We had our first one in January, we had 8 families attend and it was a hit. The goal for these is to train and equip parents to guide their children through their spiritual walk. So I engaged them more into the existing children's ministry, showed them a method to engage the visual learners in a weekly family bible study, sent them home with more activities, and just overall we had fun together. So I don't know if all the families actually did the activities but the ones that did said they really enjoyed them. I know that in order to really run an effective children's ministry it takes parents being involved in the ministry, and continuing that ministry at home. So another small culture shock to me was shown in children's church one morning. I asked the kids, just out of habit, for everyone to say John 3:16 with me, and not one student could join me. I am not even sure they knew what I was talking about. It just made me realize that once a week Bible exposure is not enough. I grew up going to Sunday school and Children's church Sunday morning, Evening service Sunday nights, Awana Wednesday nights, and Bible class for school every day. So I wanted the parents to continue Gospel conversations throughout the week, and hopefully these quarterly events will help train the parents to do that.
The last thing we did in the past two months was the Volunteer Appreciation Event. We had a Luau themed party. Chris gave me a budget for decorations and said "go honking crazy" and I think I did. But y'all know how much I enjoy decorating. But the best part was seeing everyone that makes Multiply Church possible. I know I could not do it without my team, they go above a beyond. It was a challenge getting a team together, I never enjoy making that ask of them but I'm glad I did because they all make my job so much easier. Same for the rest of the volunteers, we need an entire team to help set up and tear down for church each week, and we have an awesome band to lead worship. This church is more than we could ever ask for. I was telling someone that if I could really have my way I would bring Multiply Church back home to Jackson because boy do I miss home. But the family, friends, and opportunity at Multiply Church make it worth being up here. So thank you to everyone that make it possible for us to be here.
So what to be praying for this month:
1. For Apartment Life - that we start making more connections with our neighbours
2. For the church - that we see success in our new Vision
3. For our Pastor - that the job interviews go well and the transition for his family.
4. Be praying for God's will in terms of a building for the Church.
5. Us in general as we add more to our plate.