Hello loved ones!
I am sending out a ministry letter. Here is the link to that letter. I am feeling led to make some changes. Please continue to pray for me!
Here is also the link to Youth Unlimited letter:
I have begun to volunteer at the Church in Chateauguay, Calvary Baptist. It is a wonderful Church. It is small, and has a family atmosphere . So many people at this Church have taken me into their home and made me feel like family. They are the most generous people. I weekly am eating at someone’s house. I would never have to worry about starving in this Church. At Calvary, the ministers are highly involved in the lives of the members. The first time the Pastor asked me if he could take me out for breakfast, I was a bit taken back. He just wanted to find out how I was doing and how he could pray for me. Needless to say, I love my Church.
I have been volunteering with the youth and young women at Calvary. I have been given an expense account, weekly report to the Pastors there, and usually put around 20 hours in weekly at the Church. It’s been going well. As soon as I got over the initial “I can’t do this, I don’t feel qualified” scare, I really enjoyed it.
One of the girls in the youth group got baptized about 6 months ago. She hadn’t been attending the youth events or Church. I was asked to call her and see what was going on. She has begun to come to the Youth Group that meets on Saturday nights. I chatted with her a bit on the Saturday night, inviting her to sit with me and asking her how she was doing. (side note: it’s weird to me how simple some things are. I was simply friendly to her, and showed that I cared and all of a sudden I was let into her life). She asked me at the end of the night if I would be interesting in “mentoring” her. I was very excited. Usually the teens don’t just come out and asked to be mentored.
So yesterday I took her out for coffee after school. We sat at the coffee shop. It was there that she shared the words that I didn’t want to hear. She told me that she had been through a lot the last couple of months. I asked her what she had gone through. She told me that two months ago she had an abortion. My heart sank. I want to cry and mourn her baby right there. I needed to get the whole story so I started asking her questions. I asked her when she told her mom, what her mom suggested that she do. She told me that her mom told her to do whatever she wanted to do. If she wanted to have an abortion her mom would support her, if she wanted to have the baby, her mom would support her in that. My heart sank again. I was on the verge of tears. Her mom said exactly what “seems” right. It seems right to be supportive of your little girl, in whatever situation she is in. It seems supportive to let her make her own decision without interfering. What she needed from her mom at that moment was the truth. She needed her mom to say, were going to get through this pregnancy together.
She had the abortion mainly to keep her boyfriend. Her boyfriend held her hand through the whole abortion. After, he broke up with her.
The girl is broken right now. I told her that I was glad she chose to share this information with me. She told me she was afraid that I would think she was a bad person. I told her that I don’t think any less of her. I told her that I love her, and I want to support her in all that she is going through right now. She could tell that I was sad. I told her that I was just so sad that her baby was gone now. I talked that even a baby in the womb has a soul and I was just so sad for that loss.
She and I are going to be meeting weekly for “mentoring”. I want to support her in all that she is going to be going through in this next year. She may not be ready for post abortion counseling, but when she is, I want to be there to point her to those who can help her, and counsel her through this difficult time.
I wasn’t expecting that information that afternoon. I wasn’t expecting to feel so lost and sad over the information. It’s when the statistics become real that break my heart. I know that Quebec has the highest rate of abortion in all of North America. It’s a different world to know that statistic, and then deal with the heartbreaking reality of it right in front of me.
Please pray for this girl. Please pray for me as well.
Thanks for reading.
I asked one of my girls “How can people know about Christ if they have not experienced him personally?” – she gave me an answer at the time that I cannot remember. However, later in the day another answer came to her. I was speaking to her about the importance of family/ community in someone’s life. I told her of my desire to be family to others who don’t have a family. It all clicked with her, she said that is how I can share Christ with people, by meeting their practical needs and BEING Christ to them. Ah yes, it’s so simple. I don’t have to come up with this awesome program and say the exact thing that someone needs to hear, I need to be Christ to them.
What does that mean practically? I think it means forming a safe community with them. A community where they know that they are loved. It is a stable place that they can rely on. We have an after school program that meets once a week called “Girls Group”. Many of the girls teared up when I shared my need for family and how God has put it in each one of us. One commented on how she sees pictures of a girl and her family on Facebook , and it makes her sad because she does not have that. I told them that in Girls Group, we want to be like family to them. We want it to be a safe environment for them. We cooked a meal together that night. We all sat down at the table together and I prayed for our meal. We did the dishes together, and cleaned up the kitchen. The girls had a blast, they really felt like they were a part of something special.
Monday, October 12th is Canadian Thanksgiving. I asked what each girl was doing that day. Some of them responded that their parents weren’t doing anything. I suggested that we all meet for lunch at McDonald’s and have our own Thanksgiving celebration. All of the girls were super excited about this. I am so thankful to be able to *be* Christ to these girls. Every meeting I share Christ with them in some way. I am continuing to pray for each girls salvation. I know that God is moving. Please continue to pray.
Thanks for reading. Please continue to pray.
Hello All. I apologize for the long time it has been since I have last wrote. I am sitting at a coffee shop in Chateauguay watching the rain outside. It has been raining on and off all day here. I come to this coffee shop often to work. I prepare Bible studies, discipleship, teen group and contact the teens here. It’s interesting to me the kind of relationships you have with people when you frequent a place. I have spoken very kindly with the girl behind the counter. We have always exchanged social graces.
Today, I started asking her questions about her life. She has grown up in Chateauguay. She is my age. We talked about traveling and experiences. We both love new cultures and meeting new people. She had moved all over Quebec and has the desire to experience new things. She asked me about how it is for me to be here. I told her that at times it is so difficult to be away from the familiar, from my family and friends. I told her that sometimes I want to pack up my car and move home that instant. Most people wonder “what I do” or “why I’m here” and it gives me the opportunity to share my heart with them. I was able to share my heart with her today. I told her about my love for people, and my desire to love some of the teens. I told her that it was because my heart is broken for the people here. We chatted about many other things.
And now I will pray for her. I am excited to see God open up other conversation for us to have. I want to be used in every aspect in my life. Everywhere we go, we are children of God. Everywhere I go, I love God and I bring that with me. It’s funny when ministry is also your job. I get confused, knowing I need time to recharge, yet always wanting to be a light. I guess I am just encouraged to make this new friend, and am praying that God would use it to his glory.
Oh, and about Canada + US = Best friends. When she was talking about Canada and the Quebec she made a very interesting observation, and I cannot help but wholly agree. She talked about English Canada (meaning the 12 other provinces and territories other than Quebec). She talked about Quebec really being its own country. Although Quebec is a part of the rest of Canada (at least for now), it is in many ways its own culture. I don’t think I would have such a great shock moving to English Canada. In most respects, it is very similar to the American culture. However, Quebec, even the English in Quebec are so different than the rest of Canada and the United States. I guess I always try and express that to people when they ask if I am a missionary in “Canada”, because I just feel that Quebec is so different from the rest of Canada.
Thanks for reading.
Family is truly the backbone of our society. Without family we don’t know how to behave. I was talking with one of the teens the other day about family. I was sharing with her my thoughts on family and its correlation to the breakdown of our society. She commented that no one wants to be told what to do, so no one is telling them what to do, but in turn they don’t know what to do. And it’s true, teenagers who are not told how to behave and act, have no idea how to function in society. There is a lack of security in our teens today. They are unsure of themselves and how they function in society. I grew up with my mom, sister and aunts and uncles who poured into me. I also had an amazing Church family, who took me in and loved me a great deal. I wonder what I need to be doing in ministry to really reach and help the teenagers I work with. The answer I believe lies in all of our needs for family. I need to be the family that they don’t have, I need to offer the guidance and love in their life, so they will know that they are loved. I believe a child who knows they are loved can then love others.
Over a year ago, I went to the Doctor’s office, and discovered my deep, deep need for family. I will share this story here, it is hard to share these kinds of things and become so vunerable. However, it is because I believe God will use my experience to love and touch many that I share this.
Like many life changing events in a persons life, mine happened in the doctors office. I was working with a woman who had Alzheimer’s disease. Most of the time with her I was questioning my sanity. It was a great weekend job for the awkward time right after college. I’d like to call those the sailboat days, because you really have no idea where your headed. Anyway, the Alzheimer’s patient loved to do yard work. I acted as her assistant most of the time, as she loved being in charge. This particular Sunday we were pulling weeds out of her corner flower bed. The next day at work I noticed a rash under my chin and on each of my arms in the crease of my elbow. I asked some of the ladies in the office what they thought it could be. I was already itching it at this point. Both of the ladies confirmed they thought it was heat rash and that it would go away with time. I was pleased with this diagnosis and went on my merry way. The rash continued to itch for the next several days. When I returned to work with Alzheimer’s patient the following Thursday another one of the caregivers made the comment that she seemed to be getting better. I had no idea that she was sick and asked what was wrong with her. Turns out that the Alzheimer’s patient in fact had poison ivy, and the mystery of my very itchy heat rash had been solved. One of the other workers had also got poison ivy, and we turned out to be quite the three stooges in all of this.
The hippy in me came out in the next week. I wanted all natural relief from the horrible itch. I wanted my body to fight off whatever was happening to it and avoided the doctor. I rubbed banana peel on my skin, took a bleach bath, rubbed salt, apple cider vinegar, and lots of other things on my body to have some relief. Well, after two weeks had past and it started spreading all over my body, I was singing a different tune. My legs, back, arms, face and practically everywhere else had poison ivy. As morbid as it sounds, there were times I wanted to burn my skin off. Once it got to that point, one of my friends called her father who works in the medical field. He diagnosed me over the phone as having an internal infection and that it could take weeks for my body to clear this up on it’s own. I had enough. The next day I called Family Medical Center. I have a male doctor, but always made it a point to see the nurse practitioner, especially for female related issues. The receptionist asked me who my doctor was, I told her but insisted that whoever could get me in the soonest is who I wanted to go to. My doctor happened to have an opening and I gladly took the appointment. I didn’t know the effect this very appointment would have on my life, but I believe it to be God ordained.
So, I signed in and sat in the waiting room hoping for relief soon. I was called back to the room, I followed the zig zags of the building back to my doctor office. It just so happened that my aunt was Dr. Biven’s nurse. She gave me a big hug and asked how I was doing. I told her about what was going on with me and my crazy poison ivy. We wrapped things up and I was alone in the doctors office once again. Dr. Biven came in shortly. I always feel a little awkward around men, so needless to say I was feeling nervous. He made a comment about having family here. He asked the typical doctors questions, what are we doing here today. I told him of my battle with poison ivy. He asked me who I had come into see before. I told him of my crazy home remedies and he kind of laughed a bit. He asked who my doctor was, and I told him it was him, but that I rarely came. He thought this was good. He then asked me more about the poison ivy. He had me sit up on the uncomfortable table. He looked at my arms and exclaimed at how miserable I must be. He rubbed the spots where the poison ivy was and felt the area. He then asked me to pull up my pant legs so he could look. I had shaved the day before, so besides a little stubble I wasn’t doing so bad. He felt my legs with the same gentleness he did my arms. He then asked where else it had spread to. I told him my back. He walked around the table and lifted up the back of my shirt. All of my insecurities about my weight or the way I looked melted away by his attitude and gentleness. I didn’t care about anything. He felt it on my back as well and exclaimed that I must be feeling pretty badly. I told him the worst part was at night because it was hard to sleep sometimes. He looked into my eyes when he told me what he was going to prescribe. I could feel the tears welling up inside of me. I remember doing some self talk “Jenna this is not the time to cry, suck it up”. With much difficulty I was able to keep it all in. When I was walking out, I called my best friend Beth. By this time, the tears were streaming down my face. I just couldn’t believe that someone could actually care about me. Who would take time to listen to what was going on with me. He wasn’t grossed out by it and his touch was gentle, like that of a father. Something about his masculinity and gentleness struck a cord deep inside me. I couldn’t handle being cared for without crying. That is when I knew that the effects of not having a father still mattered to me and maybe always would.
I know the deep, unchanging love of God for me. But I still would have liked to have had a loving father with skin on. Most days, I don’t think twice about not really having a father in my life and it’s affect on me. It’s interesting that it is only when I receive that kind of love, that I notice me deep longing and need for it. Maybe it is that way when coming to know God, it is only when we feel his love, that we realize our deep need for it and for him.
I found a treasure today. As a stranger in a foreign land, I have come to realize that some things are just not for me. Or at least not for me at this time. As you can tell, I am an English speaker, and besides a couple of phrases in French, I am bound to English. Consequently, some things are just not for me. It is not that I have not tried to sign up for French courses. I have attempted to sign up for three French courses, each time being rejected because I am not immigrating to Quebec, but merely have a work visa. I also tried to do a “language exchange”, which did not work out. Because of my “English handicap”, as I like to call it, whenever I attempt to go anywhere, I try and find “English Friendly” venues.
I often can be very flexible with where I work. Lesson planning, Bible Study planning, mentoring etc, can all be done at different locations. My work also can change from week to week. Sometimes I have to work in the evenings, or mornings depending on the needs and availability of the teens. If you lived in Chateauguay, you might catch me working from a coffee shop, or another “Jenna” spot. Today, however I found a treasure.
I love libraries. When I walk into a place filled with books about life, love, death, change, religion and all things that make us human, I feel at home. Buying books has not been a possibility for me lately. So today, I decided to work from the library, for the simple fact that it is quiet and has free internet access. I was searching for the bathroom and roaming through the shelves, trying to find a table to call home. In the midst of this, I saw it. “New Releases”. It was written in English and I as I looked, I saw English books. You see, I thought the Chateauguay library was not a place for me. At other visits to the library I had only seen French books. Upon asking other “Anglophones” (English Speakers) in Chateauguay, they said that they thought they only had French books. Today, I found that the library was in fact for me, my own little treasure in Chateauguay. The next step will be to get a library card, hopefully the library will accept me, and it will still be a place for me ;).
I first met Emma at the annual Options Walk-A-Thon. It is an event that helps raise money for the Crisis Pregnancy Center located within Station 7. We had chatted a bit at the event, and she asked if I would mind giving her a ride over the bridge to the bus stop. I said no problem. It was just a 20 minute ride over the bridge, so I thought. Two hours later in traffic, Emma, her daughter Jamie and I finally made it to the bus stop. We exchanged e-mails and I told her that if she ever needed anything to let me know.
A couple of weeks later I got an e-mail from her. She was moving that day and didn’t have anyone to help her. As I read the e-mail a feeling of dread came over me. Moving was the last thing I wanted to do that day. I was at the Station preparing for the classes I teach. As soon as I read the e-mail, I knew I would end up going. Although it was not what I planned on doing that day, it was what God had called me to do that day. Sometimes I get so consumed with scheduling, that I forget that being Christ to someone in the present moment is what God asks of me.
I arrived and we started loading boxes into my little Saturn car. We put her daughter in the car and piled things around her. We were all tired after making several trips back and forth across Montreal. When we picked up her table at the store, I asked if she was sure that we could move it. It was heavy, huge and raining outside. When I looked at her I was hoping that she would say that we could get it another day. Instead she assured me that we could do it and that it would fit in my car. We got it into my car and to her apartment. I had to carry it piece by piece up her stairs because it was so heavy.
I sat in her apartment trying to assemble it with her. I felt alone. I felt helpless. It occurred to me that when I leave, she will be alone with her little girl. She will have the task of making a home for them. She has shared with me that she feels alone in life. I get it, I understand it. Her family is not supportive of her, because she had Jamie out of wedlock and the man has since left her life. I can’t imagine being so completely alone and raising a family. I didn’t know what to do. I so badly wanted to make it better for her and her little girl.
Emma has since had a little boy. She is still alone and trying to make it work. The last afternoon we met for coffee she shared with me her desire to have a family. She trusted the men in her life that told her that they loved her. She so desperately wanted to hear these things that she fell into their trap. She then got pregnant, and was left alone by these men. I realize that she has to take responsibility for her actions. She could have said no to these men, and avoided the situations she is currently in. However, I can greatly empathize with her situation. The feelings of loneliness and emptiness that leads her into these actions.
In the afternoon we met for coffee, she shared with me that she was going to have a loving family someday. She told me that she was not going to settle for any man in her life that did not want to commit to her, and her children. I was so excited for her. I talked about my desire for a family, and that is is really God’s desire for us all. Please pray for Emma. She has a rough road ahead of her. I praying for God to redeem her and her family. I believe he is working in her life.