A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday and Monday

Sunday morning was church. It was a wonderful experience. The sanctuary was full and there was a lot of energy during worship. Isabelle, Daniel's oldest daughter, led worship. We sang in French and English. We had communion. I had the opportunity to preach as I have done on each trip here. I have always found the translation to be awkward. It is hard to preach one sentence at a time. It really breaks up the rhythm. But for some reason this time was different and the translation went very well. Daniel translated and we had a great rhythm going as we went back and forth.

After my sermon a number of people came forward for prayer. This was a very humbling experience- this hasn't happened any of the other times I've preached here. But people came forward and said that the sermon touched them and was very meaningful to them. Daniel and I prayed for many people. Daniel was particularly happy that one certain couple came forward. She was raised a Christain but he was not a Christian. They had two children together but never married. They have been coming to church for several weeks. They both came forward for prayer but didn't really know what they wanted prayer for- they just knew they needed prayer. It was great to be able to pray for God's blessing on them. We found out that on Monday they asked Daniel to come visit them because the man (not a Christian) spent much of the day on Sunday crying and said that he felt that they needed to get right with God. Amazing!

Our group went back to Daneil's house for lunch. And then after lunch we took a driving tour of Chateauguay. We went to Nun's Island a former convent. It is a very beautiful site- an island between the Chateauguay River and the St. Lawrence River. We spent some time walking around.

We returned to Daniel's house for dinner- if does feel like we are eating all the time. After dinner we took some time to share how we were doing. We prayer for each other and then left for our houses.

On Monday morning our work began. We got to the church a little after 9 and began to clean the food boxes. We did this last year and it was a lenthy job. We were glad to do it again this year becuase we know it is important and our clearning of these boxes is the only time they get cleaned all year. But there was a new tool this year- a power washer! It cut our cleaning time in half. Which meant that we actually cleaned twice as many boxes. This year we also cleaned the bread boxes. It took most of the morning but our team worked well together and we got a lot done.

Before lunch we worked to put blueberry pie fillling into seperate containers. It came in large bags that were very heavy. We cut a hole in one corner and squeezed it into plastic containers. It was difficult and messy. But clean up included licking our fingers and it was quite good.

Lunch was provided by Claude. He is the host of Van, June and Theresa. Is is a former restaurant cook and made a great lunch for us- poutine, chicken sandwiches and cole slaw.

After lunch we spent some time doing a Bible Study- usually our morning routine but because of the heat we started working first thing. We studied Isaiah 1 and 2 and we talked about what God really desires from us- justice!

After Bible Study we were back to work. We separated pasta into 110 bags and started getting the food boxes into place.

We ate dinner together and shared about our day and then left for our homes- earlier than the last two nights.

We were all glad to start working and felt productive. We are all tired and a little sore. But we are glad to continue getting the boxes ready for Thursday.
Please pray for energy and strength.

Posted by sahovey 17:49 Comments (0)

We made it!

We made it to Chateaugay! It was an amazingly smooth day of travel. It began early as Lucy, Kim, Theresa and I met at RDU at 6:00. Our flight to Philly left at 7:00 and by 10:00 we were in Burlington, Vermont. After gathering our luggage and renting a minivan we started our journey north.

We stopped for lunch at Aviation Deli for some great sandwiches. Last year's trip ate here too.

We had the easiest border crossing of all my trips up here. And with that, we were in Canada. I always find it interesting that crossing into Quebec you don't see many Canadian flags. Instead you see the blue and white flags of Quebec. This is one indication that this place has a very particular self-understanding.

The other thing that always stands out to me is the Quebec liscence plates. At the bottom they read, "Je me souvenier." I will remember. I always encourage our newcomers to ask Pastor Daniel what that means. It means a lot. But at the heart of it is the issue of identity. To be a Quebecer means to remember- to remember the story, the history, the suffering, the abuse, the empowerment. Memory is always a significant key to identiy. We know this in church. Most communion tables have the words 'Do this in rememberance of me' carved into them. Those were Jesus' words because he knew the role that memory and rememberance play in the forming of identity. I really like the phrase that the Quebecers have used- can we use that as Christians? Je me souvenier.

We arrived at the Cimon house and enjoyed some great hospitality. Josee, Daniel's wife, made an amazing dinner- pork, mashed potatoes, beans, salad and rolls. And as always it was followed by dessert.

After dinner Daniel told the history of the French Canadian people. He told it from the perspective of his own family. The story concludes with a strong concern for his people. French Canadians have long been mistreated and as a result have turned to unhealthy and abusive behaviors- alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse and suicide. Pastor Daniel clearly longs for a healing that can only come from God.

After our conversation we all went to where we will be staying. Van and June and Theresa are staying with Claude. Kim and Lucy are staying with Daniel and Jennette. I am staying with the Cimons.

It was a good day. We were all pretty tired by dinner time so I'm sure we will sleep well.

Tomorrow is church and looking around Chateauguay. The work starts Monday. Our group had a good time traveling together and meeting our hosts. Please pray for good rest and an eagerness to jump into new friendships. Pray that we engage with worship even if it is different than the worship we are used to. And pray for me as I preach tomorrow (while Daniel translates).

Posted by sahovey 19:00 Comments (0)

Getting ready for our 2015 trip

Our team is ready! We are Scott Hovey, Lucy Kay, Theresa Riggins, Kim Winspear, Van and June Jones. We leave for Canada on Saturday, August 15. Pray for us as we prepare and pack. We'll keep you updated as we travel!

Posted by sahovey 12:36 Comments (0)

Last stories

Our last stories
These are some stories I forgot to add earlier in the week.
Wednesday night there was a worship and sharing service. This was a special service because we were in Chateauguay. Usually, church members meet in small groups in people's homes, and once a month, the younger people meet at church for dinner as part of their small groups.
So this service had 3 parts - an opening prayer, and 3-4 songs, led again by Pastor Danielle's daughter Isabelle, who also played guitar. At least half the songs included English words for our benefit. This was followed by what was called sharing time. Marie - daughter of Ann W's hosts shared a Psalm and told why it was meaningful to her. Andre (our dinner host one night) told of having shared about God while standing in line at the pharmacy. A woman shared concern about an ill relative and her daughter's soul. Isabelle, the worship leader had us all laughing with a story about 2 rescued, bottle-fed squirrels and how attached she became to them. Then it was time to release them and she was too attached Eventually, after bringing us to gales of laughter, she said she learned along the way while carrying for them about releasing things to God. Ann A asked for prayer for our own Aileen. Betty wrapped it, speaking for herself but also for all of us. She read the passage in 3 John about hospitality for fellow Christians and strangers. She talked about how pastors like herself, Scott, Daniel and others can occasionally fall into viewing their calling as a job. She spoke for all of us when she said this church and the hospitality of its people, the sharing of their stories and their joy in their faith have renewed our faith and inspired us. Sharing time was followed by prayer, which concluded the evening - well not really. Next we fulfilled Van's oft-expressed hope to go to Tim Horton's. It's a doughnut and coffee chain, recently purchased by Burger King - a good time being had by all.
Thursday dinner was by candlelight - all because Van looked at the elegantly set table in the fellowship hall and asked, "well where are the candles?" And Louise, who had been at the church since the early morning, responded "I'll call my husband", and sure enough, when Richard arrived with the excellent ribs he'd made for us, he also brought candles. It was a fine dinner. Richard & 2 others are leaving soon on a hunting trip so we had a lot of dinner conversation about hunting and whether there's a difference between quail and partridge.
A prayer request: the food distribution center from which the Chateauguay church gets much of they food they give out is going to have to move. So please pray that they'll find another church or place which will house the distribution center for free or at low cost. Also pray for the non-Christian volunteers at the food bank.

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Posted by sahovey 07:28 Comments (0)


Thursday - the big day
Scott, Van and Shelton left Chateauguay early along with Pastor Daniel, Girard and Eddie (Van and June's host). They went to the food bank distribution center where they picked up a truckload of food. $8 of the $15 paid by each family goes to pay the food bank for the food they pick up, hte remainder to pay for truck gas, insurance, etc. The ladies had a more leisurely morning as we weren't needed at church until 10:30.
The truck arrived shortly after we did and was quickly unloaded. The next couple of hours were spent first in bagging (and counting) more produce, then adding it to the individual boxes. We were truly amazed at what the church was able to supply to each family with only donations and the $8 for purchases at the food distribution center. Each family received: 4-5 peaches; 3 oranges; cilantro; iceberg lettuce; boston lettuce; looseleaf lettuce; potatoes, red onions; green onions, a huge honeydew melon; a cantaloupe; celery; a large jar of applesauce; a can of vegetables; a head of cauliflower; a bag of fresh snow peas/sugar snaps; spaghetti sauce; a bottle of salad dressing; a container of juice; a bag of mixed salad (cilantro, lettuce, parsley, green onions; etc.); a flat of tomatoes; a bag of green grapes; a container of yoghurt; a container of sour cream; a bag of cereal (oatmeal-ish); 2 containers of hummus; a bag of rolls; 2 loaves of bread; rice & mushroom soup; small packages of cookies; 55 individual mustard packets and 50 individual vinegar packets (and that probably leaves something out).
Then it was time to eat (again), this time with the volunteers from the church and community. Today's lunch was, of course, homemade: egg salad sandwiches; vegetable soup, pasta salad and another salad. Then the volunteers got to take what they wanted from the leftover produce. Any left after that was hauled outside - either for departing families to add to their food baskets or for delivery to another church. Then we cleared the room for the actual food distribution.
The room was set up with 6 tables on one side. Each table was set for 2 families with a large food crate, a bread crate, flat of tomatoes and small yoghurts, grapes and 2 other items. As each family paid, it entered the room and went to 1/2 a table where they transferred their food from the church's crates to their canvas bags or boxes they'd brought (or taken from a discard pile). As soon as one 1/2 table was emptied, we descended en masse to replace the items. From shortly before 3 p.m. until all crates were emptied, there was a steady stream of people coming in. Shelton actually started helping people pack their food. Some accepted the help, others didn't.
Each of us took breaks to sit with Pastor Daniel and observe the payment process (the new Canadian plastic money is kind of neat). During the afternoon we were unexpectedly provided with treats. Louise (Ann W's hostesss) provided toasted pita with an oil/herb spread and also slices of fresh cantaloupe. The day was also enlivened by the carrying on of one of the volunteers, Claude, who alternately told jokes in English and French, juggled or offered to tickle us to make us laugh. And of course, we were all greatly amused each time one ouf took Isabelle's dog out for a walk - that little terrier type dog was strong enough to turn each walk into a run.
On a more sober note, Pastor Daniel shared some of the people's stories with us after they left. One woman came with a friend just to check it out because she was thinking of putting her name on the waiting list - she'd only just learned about it. Several people had called to cancel so Daniel was able to tell her he had an extra box she could have. She went down the hall to see and was so excited and amazed by how much there was that she was practically jumping for joy. Then she found out something she hadn't realized - that she would have to pay. She went down to give Daniel the few coins that were all she had and someone overheard her friend say she would split it with her and help her pay. So they ran down and told Daniel and he gave it to her as a gift. It turned out that the few coins were literally all she had. Her husband has become disabled and she's lost her job.
Then there was a tall handsome young man who fit none of the usual stereotypes for someone who needed this kind of help. So someone asked Daniel - are some of these people what we would all "working poor" in America - that is people who work full time but still don't make enough to live. He said some but the man who'd triggered the question is actually working and able to support himself but he knows 3 families who are poor so he buys boxes for them. Similarly, Daniel said that one of the women who came through is the pastor of the United Church, a wonderful woman and she comes and gets several boxes for people she knows who are poor. For one couple, both are disabled. He was working washing dishes and rode his bicycle to work and one day last year he was hit by a car. He had to have surgery. He's still recovering a year later. His employer was supposed to have something like disability insurance but didn't. Because he's now getting some small payment from the government like disability, he's not eligible for the Canadian equivalent of welfare.
Then we observed the hard part of the food bank. There are 10 boxes of food left and Daniel has been calling and calling people on the wait list trying to find people who need the food to come and get it (so he can go home after a long, long day).
Dinner tonight has turned out to be as elegant as it's possible to be in the fellowship hall - we're having rice and ribs and who knows what made by Richard, (Ann W's host - husband of Louise).

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Posted by sahovey 17:29 Comments (0)

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