March-July Blog Post
Hey ya'll! Long time no see! And I apologize for that, I meant to write a new blog post every other month so that you can stay updated. But that last one I wrote was back in February. Of course, the pandemic happened and it took me a while to get over the shock of that to be able to sit and write about everything going on; well, what little that actually has been going on.
Honestly I didn't write a blog post because I didn't want to. Chris (Pastor of Multiply Church) warned us about the 8-10 month mark. A lot of missionaries become very homesick. I was definitely homesick around that time so it didn't seem right to update you. But I am also going to blame that on pregnant hormones and the emotional side effects we all experienced of a pandemic.
For those who maybe didn't know - yes, we are pregnant with a baby girl!!! She is due November 1! I joke that the beginning of the pandemic was perfectly timed because during my first trimester I felt sick all the time, so I did not really want to go anywhere anyway. Thaddeus on the other hand was getting very restless being stuck at home all the time. So Layne and I decided that we had to get out, then after a lot of consideration, we went back to Missouri. Despite the border being closed, they will still let US citizens into the US and those with a Canadian work permits back into Canada. So we loaded up trusty ol Dan (our mini van) and drove for two whole days to Missouri. That was a very long trip to take with a two year old but he did pretty good most of the time. We didn't feel that airports would be the best idea. It was so good for us staying with family, especially letting Thaddeus burn energy was a huge perk for me. My parents have a pool and live on a cul-de-sac so there was plenty of room for him to run, ride his bike, and play in the water. Then Layne's parents still have all their boys' toys so there was plenty for him to do there. It sure did help with my homesickness, I got to spend time with close friends and even spent a day with previous students of mine. I ate all my pregnant cravings, and spent a few days thrifting without a toddler. It was nice, but made us realize that we were homesick again; for our home in Canada at Multiply Church with our church family!
So obviously Canada was/is experiencing the pandemic as well. Of course the country essentially shut down as well, but Layne was still able to go into work. He works in a small town outside of Calgary and there are only two other people in his office so he was perfectly safe going into work. Multiply did online Sunday service, online small groups, and online staff meetings. How that changed what I do: I pre-record Sunday morning lessons to post on YouTube, I did a series of virtual lessons on Thursday nights through zoom, and pre-recorded family devotionals to post on Facebook. The whole staff tried to maintain an online presence to keep our congregation connected. I think we all did an excellent job. Lately, we have started to ease off as with the online small groups. We are now only doing online Sunday morning services because screen fatigue is real for both the congregation and the staff! Besides, the weather is AMAZING right now which means everyone is going camping and spending a lot of time outdoors. Even during a normal summer, attendance is down for our church, the congregation just wants to take advantage of the great weather while it lasts. If you'd like to watch our sermons or my children's lesson the link is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4bccau8NYIA4EiPJ6sOsjw
Here is a preview of the zoom lessons I did.
Alberta is currently in phase two of reopening. Churches could start meeting during phase one, but theatres just opened with phase two. Since we meet in a theatre and do not have our own church building it makes it more difficult for us to meet in person. We considered going back in phase two but decided against it. Since it is in the theatre, we meet in public with a lot of eyes on us, so we wanted to be delicate with the idea of re-opening. Plus right now we could only have a limited number of families in one theatre which means we would have to turn some people away. We also felt that we could not make church feel like the home that it is to our congregation; we couldn't have children's ministry, we couldn't sing in worship, nor could we congregate together afterwards. So with that in mind we decided to wait till phase three then re-evaluate. But I really don't know when that will be because Calgary has also had a spike in cases, the city has made masks mandatory starting August 1st.
We are also still doing our Apartment Life ministry as well. We have been doing different online events, including: Netflix watch party, Macrame class taught via zoom, different contests and more. I do feel that lock down has helped boost our exposure, before we were getting the same few people every time at events which was good in its own way. But now with it being online we have been getting more and more residents involved. I think they are really enjoying what we have been doing for them, but the actual witnessing part of this job has been difficult. We are praying that when we can start meeting again we will see those new faces and be able to build on those relationships with them. Pray for us in this area though - the responsibilities that have come with this job have piled up and the burnout is getting to us. Plus this small apartment will feel a lot smaller come November.
Overall the Lord has been working on us. I have been working on letting go of what is comfortable and easy, such as home in Missouri or doing things in a way we are used to doing it in church. Instead we are trusting that God is using us here. He has control over everything - even a pandemic. Plus we have started to learn how to enjoy all that Canada has to offer! How can we not believe in a God when we live in a city surrounded by all this: