Sunday, January 29, 2006

sun nin fai loh!

what's warm and delicious and fun all over? a chinese new year celebration! somehow, it's cozier when it's snowy outside, but you're inside with lots of people and a bunch of good food.

we had friends old and new over to celebrate the start of the spring festival, the most important of the traditional chinese holidays. painfully aware that our knowledge of the customs is thin, we invited mainland friends to help us shop, cook, and decorate.

my personal favorite was the dumplings. i liked making them, and i liked eating them. i'm pretty sure i wasn't the only one. the evening was a big hit; the only downside was that a number of us overate slightly. well, maybe a little more than that...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the power in weakness

after years of being overweight and battling a number of health problems (notably, some nasty auto-immune problems), i've enjoyed remarkable health over the past 3 years or so. i lost about 30 pounds and kept it off. i learned good nutrition and discovered weight training. i've been in the best shape of my adult life, and for the most part, i've been illness-free.

until this past monday. and suddenly, the specter of another battle with an auto-immune condition (this one threatens my sight in my right eye) raises its ugly head. i hate being sick. and i hate auto-immune problems, which are mysterious and seem to delight in confounding the doctors. in our new situation here in montreal, i am learning to hate the vaunted canadian health care system, which has been slow to respond, required long waits, and delivered mediocre treatment. it hasn't been much fun. i know that in the grand scheme of things, my problems are relatively small. but they're a significant challenge to me.

"why does God allow such things?"
these episodes have been inconvenient and annoying and even frightening. on the surface of things, they aren't much of an encouragement to my faith.

yet i can't escape the knowledge that God's power is made perfect in weakness. i've never been partial to weakness, but i know it's true. and it is that power that i long to see made manifest in my life, even at some cost. there is no viable alternative; i am learning to walk by faith.

and he has said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” most gladly, therefore, i will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. therefore i am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when i am weak, then i am strong. (2 corinthians 12:9-10)

Friday, January 13, 2006

an international christmas!

we did something different this christmas — we celebrated it with about 75 friends from around the world. when people come to canada to study, sometimes they're not able to get home to spend the holidays with family. so we got to be family to one another this christmas.

we were out at camp iawah in eastern ontario, enjoying cross-country skiing and tobaggoning outdoors, the rock-climbing wall, soccer, volleyball, and many other activities indoors. (above and right: the thrill of agony, the victory of defeat... or something like that. as you can see, we take our foosball very seriously!)

in quieter moments, we enjoyed group discussions on each other's cultural and holiday traditions. international students and their families were amazed and thrilled by a visit from santa himself (looking somewhat more korean and thinner than most canadian portrayals), who came bearing gifts for all of the good boys and girls (and some of the others as well!).

one of the highlights of the week was the international dinner. students from most of the nations represented got together and prepared at least one dish from their country. what followed was one of the most amazing buffets ever — outstanding food from korea, sudan, china, iran, germany, congo, taiwan, and thailand. some of us (in our enthusiasm) ate a tad too much; but it was delicious, and a hint of what is to come at the wedding feast of the Lamb!

and they sang a new song, saying, “worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

revelation 5:9