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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Time

Wow, Merry Christmas, eh? Hope the holidays are treating you well and all your Christmas wishes are coming true! Danny and I wished for snow. Guess we should have been more specific and wished for snow here. We have none. The weather's been quite nice actually. Light winds and slightly overcast...

Wait! What am I doing? I have to tell you what I got for Christmas!!!!!

So Thursday, Danny and I took a trip to (drum roll please...) LONDON! It was beautiful to go at Christmas with all the lights and carollers and psycho shoppers! Since it was Christmas, Danny and I decided no to have the usual McDonald's lunch, but to really treat ourselves like royalty. We went to Burger King. Enjoying our Whoppers and fries, Danny asked me, "What would you like to do first?" It didn't really matter to me, we were in London! But that sneaky guy had already made plans. He reached into his pocket and pulled out (drum roll again, please...) TWO TICKETS TO SEE THE LION KING MUSICAL AT THE THEATRE!!!!!!!

Yeah, wow! I don't know what to say about it except that it was AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, SPECTACULAR, MAGICAL, ENTHRALLING! In a word - it was COOL! The puppets, costumes, music, set, stage, everything was unbelievable! It totally inspired us both to revamp all our LifeForce drama stuff. We might need to adjust our bugdet a bit and squeeze in some more fundraising stuff, but it will be all worth it!

I still can't believe we went to the Lion King.

All that tormenting and teasing is finished! For Christmas Danny and I saw the Lion King and it was the best Christmas present!

So yesterday, Danny and I are sitting at home enjoying a quiet Christmas eve, when all of a sudden he says to me, "I have the best birthday present ever for you! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Unbelievable.

We have enjoyed our Christmas here overall, although to be honest, it hasn't really felt like Christmas to either one of us. The lack of snow is a big factor. And it is an even crazier time of year here than in Canada. We are truly a laid back culture. The English are all or nothing people. They either don't care at all or they are 100% gun-ho! And when it comes to their music, they are crazy! The show "X-Factor" which is like one of those Pop Idol shows, had a third of the country voting on it's contestants. Will a third of Canada vote for a prime-minister in January?

Christmas lights are another thing the English are crazy about. There are no houses with one simple string of icicles hung from the eaves. Oh no. There will be 5 houses in a row with not even a paper snowflake on the window and then BLAM! Some one has decorated their place with enough lights to make Stevie Wonder blink. They put up twinkling lights, strobe lights, flood lights, light-up snow men, Santas, reindeer, stars, angels, nativity scenes, candles, etc., etc. 'What's that? Does it light up? Stick it to my house.' It a totally unrelated story, Scotland and Wales are experiencing rolling blackouts due to power shortages...

Well, I'm sure you all have many Christmas things yet to do today so I won't keep you any longer! May God bless you all this Christmas and all throughout the new year!

Best Wishes,
~Alycia (& Danny) DeLong

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Apology

Hey everyone!

I know that I just sent out an email a couple of days ago, but hey, it's the holidays! What else am I going to do?

Really, the purpose of this email is to apologize to everyone for my email "DeLong Reports: UNBELIEVABLE" in which I wrote how Danny found out what I got him for Christmas. I didn't mean to belittle anyone involved in 'letting the little cat out the bag'. Danny and I thought the entire thing was funny, after all, I had bought the gift at a second-hand church sale for about 50 cents. And I didn't throw it out the window. But I was a real jerk when I teased some people about it. I never meant to hurt anyone's feelings or make them feel stupid, but I did. And I am very sorry. It seems my gift is not only to totally stick my foot in my mouth, but to shove the keyboard in there too. I figured, though, since the my offense was made in public I figured the apology should be made in public as well.

Well, then, there it is. If any of you wish to email me and call me a jerk personally, I am open and understanding to that. Otherwise, I just want to say again that I am sorry.

Hope I haven't dampened the holiday cheer for anyone. Take care and God bless!

Best Wishes,
~Alycia DeLong

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Unbelievable

Seasons Greetings and Christmas Blessings to you all!

I have an absolutely unbelievable story. No, seriously, this one is takes the cake. Now, I realize that this is a huge claim to make after all we've been through (ie the "prostitute/pastor too" incident), but at the end of this you will say, "UNBELIEVABLE!"

Remember my last email where I confessed to my own humanity and weak nature when I almost overheard (okay, eavesdropped on his conversation with his mother) what Danny got me for Christmas. But, as you all know, by the grace of God I was saved from my sin and I still do not know what he got me. Apparently though, most of the rest of the world does because I have been receiving non-stop emails from people (most of whom are in my immediate family) teasing me that they know what it is and I do not. I have graciously accepted this. After all, I deserve it, right? Well perhaps it's time that we bring some balance back to the scales of marital bliss, shall we?

I have been very excited for Christmas, not only to find out what Danny got me, but to give him a great present as well. The church we go to here in Walsall had collected a bunch of stuff from the congregation to have a fundraiser sale for the nursery. At the sale I found a great gift for Danny - a video game controller for the computer. It was still in the box and everything! Just like new! And I bought it for 30p - which is about 60 cents Canadian! As soon as I got it home, I wrapped it and hid it in my closet, and I could hardly wait until Christmas to give it to him! This year I got him something that he will like and use for sure! I was so excited I even emailed a few people, who will remain nameless (but they are all my immediate family) about it. That was my fatal error.

To those persons who shall remain nameless (but are all members of my immediate family): You know when you reply to an email, the original email is attached to your responding email. Hence, anyone who reads that email can also read the original email sent. For example, let's say some one emails you secret information concerning a Christmas gift purchased for their spouse. You reply to the email. The spouse then has access to both your email and the original message.

I know what you are all saying: NO!! HE DIDN'T!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

Danny confessed yesterday. He said he didn't mean to find out what I got him for Christmas - it was an accident. Yeah, you're getting a big lump of coal buddy. I threw the game controller out the window of our 4th floor apartment. Sorry, it was an accident.

And as for my immediate family - if I had a will, you would all be removed from it!

Merry Christmas and God bless us everyone!

~Alycia DeLong

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nautghty or Nice?

Hello, it's me again (I can hear those groans). Remember last email how I mentioned that I had a Christmas story already? If you don't it's probably because you're one of 'those' people who don't actually read my brilliant work in its entirety. I don't take it personally; my own husband doesn't even read the whole thing! That last one was pretty long though.

Anyway, on with the show...

So, Christmas is less than a month away (insert screams and shrieks of panic here) and the hunt for that perfect gift is on. Well, for like 2 weeks now Danny has been bragging about having found the most perfect present ever. Every day I hear him teasing me with his little sing song heckling, "I got you the best present! The best present ever!" He'll sing and prance around non-stop. It makes me want to beat his little secret out of him. But he's just so gosh-darn cute. So I satisfy myself by imagining that I pie him in the face instead.

The other night we were at a friend's house to use their phone. Not only to use their phone, but also so Danny could watch NFL football (the real motive). I'd been on the phone for some time talking with Danny's mom, when he came in for his turn to chat with her. A few minutes into the conversation I was informed I had to leave the room because he wanted to tell his mother what he had bought me for Christmas. Well, I pouted and whined for a moment, but then left the room to join the others watching football in the living room. But as I left, the funniest thing happened. I was passing through the kitchen when all of a sudden a little devil popped up on my shoulder. He was dressed in red and had horns, a pointy tail, and even a tiny triton in his hand.

The little devil said to me, "Hey, you could totally listen in and find out what that great Christmas present is. Danny wouldn't even know and you could just lie about it if he brings it up!"

Yeah, I could! I made a small u-turn in the kitchen and headed back towards the door to the room. I could hear Danny's voice clearly from inside.

Just then a little angel appeared on my other shoulder and said, "No, Alycia, don't do that! You don't want to wreck Danny's surprise for both of you. And you certainly don't want to deceive your wonderful husband!"

Of course not. That is definitely true. What a brat I am! Why, shame on me for...

"Awww, what's the big deal?" the little devil piped up. "Besides, you'll be doing you both a favour by finding out. The suspense is going to drive you crazy! And then you'll drive him crazy!"

Definitely a good point. In fact, it's already driving me crazy! I suppose it's really not that big of a deal if I just hear a bit about it...

"Alycia Rae Stephens!" Uh oh. My full maiden name. This little angel meant business. "You know happy it makes Danny to surprise you! And how he's taken the time, the energy, and the money - going out of his way to do something special for you this Christmas - and you want to take that away from him? Shame on you indeed! Now, you turn yourself around and march straight out of here NOW!"

What was I thinking? Of course I don't want to spoil Danny's fun and I especially don't want to lie to him about it! What am I? Five years old? How ridiculous am I being...

The little devil gave his final argument. "Awwww, come on!"

Sold!

I snuck around the door and crouched down behind the cupboard so I could hear but not be seen. As I huddled there, totally still, ears alert and tuned into every sound I could hear Danny:

"I got Alycia the greatest gift! She's going to love it! I saw it last week but only picked it up the other day..."

Blah blah blah! Get to the point!!!!!

"Oh dear," said the little angel. "Looks like I'm going to have to call in some Divine intervention." Producing a tiny trumpet, the angel lifted it to his lips and gave it a loud blast.

Danny continued. "This Christmas, I got Alycia..."

"DANNY! COME QUICK!" Our friend Matt boomed as he burst through the kitchen doors and ran towards the room my ear was glued to. He had scared the living daylights out of me (to put it politely), but in that split second I jumped to my feet from my suspicsious position by the door.

"Shhhhh!" I hushed him angrily.

"But the football scores are on!" said Matt, defending his overwhelming entrance.

"Not now!" I continued scolding him, "He's talking to his mother!" I was on a mission here! Matt huffed and returned to the TV, and I returned to my espionage...

"Anyway, that's what I got her," Danny finished up. Pause. "I know! It is the perfect present!" End of conversation.

I missed it?!? I MISSED IT!?!?!? Why, of all the unfair, stupid, bad timing... This was all Matt's fault! If he hadn't been so rude and selfish...

Wait a minute. Who's the bad guy here again?

'What's gotten into me?' I thought. I left the kitchen and sat down on the couch in front of the TV with Matt and the others there.

You know, I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do and what I hate I do. And if I do the wrong thing even though I admit it's wrong and I don't want to do it, I'm still guilty because I do it anyway. As it is it is no longer I myself who does it but it is sin living in me (a.k.a. the little devil). I know that nothing good lives in me that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out.

Know what I mean? I think Paul in the Bible can relate. After all, he wrote about it too in Romans 7.

Thankfully, I was rescued from my fall into temptation by God's divine intervention. I suppose it shouldn't really surprise me. Since Jesus himself suffered when he was being tempted (in Matthew 4) so can he help us when we are being tempted (see Hebrews 2).

Finally to wrap it all up here, I just have to say that looking back at my shameful, pathetic behaviour - it was by grace that I was saved! (Ephesians 2)

With that, take care, God bless and try not to peek under the bed or snoop through the closets!

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Sunday, November 27, 2005

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Canada

Hello there from sunny England! HA! It's snowing here. Big fluffy snowflakes and quickly everything has become a winter wonderland. How magical all the Christmas lights are! How magestic are the Cathedrals! How quaint are the little English homes! How insane are the motorways! In fact, we are not driving home tonight but will be staying out at the OM/LifeForce base for the night. On that note, what a perfect opportunity to finally catch everyone up on what's been happening here!

Now, I realize I haven't written since LifeForce training started back in October. Wow, has time gone fast! Let's do a quick recap though:

1. LifeForce training is happening at the Operation Mobilization base in Halesowen. It's a fantastic place with rooms for our team to eat, sleep, learn, practice, watch movies, and just hang out in! If you'd like to see it, go to http://www.luke.om.org/about_virtual.htm and you can see pictures of the place.

2. Danny and I are living in Walsall, about 20 minutes away (when there is no traffic). Typically, we commute every day between our flat and LifeForce, but on average we are spending at least 2 nights a week at the base: Danny in the boys' room and myself with the girls. Those are usually late nights, if you can imagine.

3. There are 9 of us all together at this UK LifeForce base. Three will be returning to Canada after Christmas though to carry on with their normal lives (which may never be normal again spending 3 straight months with us). Wow, exciting stuff, eh? Well, maybe I have kind of skimmed over things a bit.

The classes we've had have been excellent. There have been teachers from all over the UK come and share their experiences, their wisdom, their victories and their failures with us and each class has impacted all of us in many different ways. It amazing how God can use the same thing to teach different people different things. He really knows how to meet us where we are!

Wow, exciting stuff, eh? Well, maybe I have kind of skimmed over things a bit. I'm trying to spare you from a horrendously long email. That's why I'm keeping it to an obscenely long email. You're welcome.

Well, I should wrap this up here for now. Speaking of "wrap," I have a Christmas story already. Next time though. I will say that the UK is crazy about Christmas! Lights and decorations have been up and blinking for a good couple of weeks. There is a big debate about how much 'Christ' they should allow in Christmas. It's pretty much the same thing we deal with in Canada: don't say 'Merry Christmas' in the shops, don't play Christmas songs about Jesus on the radio or sing them in schools, should nativity scenes be banned, yada yada yada. Here's a funny thing that happened. A few local radio stations here had people from the Muslim, Hindu, and other religions calling in a singing Christmas carols over the radio in protest to a ban on traditional, religious-based Christmas music. Many people of other religions are starting to feel unsafe about the security and protection of their own faith, after all - look at how this 'Christian' country treats its own. It may not be long before more religions come under attack. They other reason for the protest though is that you don't have to be of any faith to see how stupid it is to make a fuss over these songs we sing once a year. Listen to the top 10 music charts, and the government wants to censor songs about Jesus' birthday over 2000 years ago?

Here's the real kicker: So the fear is that Christmas songs will offend people who don't believe in Jesus? The other day as we were driving, we passed a bingo hall and what was the name mounted on this massive building in bright, flashing, tacky colours? MECCA. Please forgive me if I am being ignorant and disrespectful for saying this, but if I was a Muslim, I think that I may be more offended by a bingo hall named after my religion's place of holiness than walking into a store that is playing "Joy to the World" over the speakers. Maybe that's just me though.

And that is my rant. Glad you hung in there with me. In the end though I am faced with a challenge to myself: Do I just rant, or can I do more? I can't leave it all up to everyone else to fight my Christmas battles for religious freedom. Not only that, but it is the time I like to take time to personally celebrate the birthday of some one who's become very special to me. This year, let's all send some one in office a Christmas card. Not to aggravate or harass them, but to wish them a Merry Christmas, and encourage them to at least learn about the man they are trying to cheat out of his own birthday party.

Yep, this email is now officially horrendously long. My apologies. Until next time, God bless and take care!

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Monday, October 24, 2005

Better Get a Coffee

Hey there everyone! I know I didn't finish sending the rest of the Chapters from this summer's adventure. I'm going to amalgamate them into one story. So in a nutshell, after we returned from Malta we threw ourselves headlong into a week of kids’ club. There were over 50 kids that came. Most of them, actually, it was pretty much all of them except for a couple, came from low-income areas and very broken, confused families. Divorced parents, separated parents, arguing parents, teenage parents, no parents, grand-parents…you get the idea. But all of them 100% kids ready to play. We’d pick them up before 10am and drop them off around 5pm. We had 6 very long days of parks, playgrounds, songs, games, face painting, scrapped knees, and badly watered down juice. It was fantastic! You just don’t know how much difference a week at a kid’s club can make in a child’s life. Now, I never came from a background like any of them. I was very blessed with a wonderful mom and dad and even a brother. I never had to think twice about if they were going to be home when I returned, I never had to worry about if there was going to be food, I never wondered if my parents loved each other or me. Those are just a few of the things too many kids deal with by the time they’re 5 years old. But what I do know is that before I ever went to church on a regular basis (which wasn’t until my teens), I went to a kid’s club in my neighbour’s back yard for a week in the summer every year. We sang songs, heard stories, and played games. I learnt new things about God, and it always stuck with me. I don’t know where these kid’s will be 10 years from now, I don’t know where I’ll be – but I do know that that week, we could share with these kids that God loves them, and will always be there for them.

After kids week, Danny and I went to a weekend conference in Devon. It was beautiful there and the weather was great Danny and I were staying in a 2-man tent (borrowed) and we had an inflatable mattress to put in it (also borrowed). Sounds perfect, right? Well, the people that brought us the mattress forgot to bring the caps for it so no air would stay inside. But that didn’t stop us! We’re Canadians – get the duct tape! We fashioned ourselves a couple of caps that would have made MacGyver proud. However, once the mattress was fully inflated, we found it was too big for the tent. We let the air out and slept on the ground, which was just fine.

Okay, the last chapter was about a mystery ingredient recipe. One day Danny and I found this discount grocery store and in the reduced to clear bin (which is always a bad sign, but even worse if you find one in a store full of stuff that has already been discounted) Danny found a jar of yellow chunky sauce. It had no label, but it was 5 pence (which is like 2 cents Canadian). Being the adventurous people we are, we bought it. Now we do joke about being on a missionary budget, and that we are from Canada and that Canadians eat anything – but this transcends into a whole new level. A level I don’t even know if people in trailer parks resort to. The important thing is that we both lived to tell the tale. I don’t know if it’s a good illustration about faith, or a story of taking a stupid risk. A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B…

Well, this email has been huge. I hope you are all still with me! I haven’t even written anything about how LifeFORCE is going yet! We are into our second week of training and everything is going very well. We seem to have all settled in (all 9 of us) and are in the full swing of things. I’ll be writing more on that though next time. I’m sure you all need a breather. This is why I don’t preach on Sundays!

One last thing: I just want to say a huge thank you to all of you for everything. Every little email you send me back, every little prayer you say for us, all your immense patience and understanding with these massive updates and a few sparse personal notes in between, and the financial blessings – can’t forget that! Even though Danny and I are in another country, and sometimes we do feel very far away, we never have felt alone in this work. My prayer is that will return these blessings back to you in greater ways!

God bless,
~Alycia DeLong

Let's Finish Catching Up

Hey there everyone! I know I didn't finish sending the rest of the Chapters from this summer's adventure. I'm going to amalgamate them into one story. So in a nutshell, after we returned from Malta we threw ourselves headlong into a week of kids’ club. There were over 50 kids that came. Most of them, actually, it was pretty much all of them except for a couple, came from low-income areas and very broken, confused families. Divorced parents, separated parents, arguing parents, teenage parents, no parents, grand-parents…you get the idea. But all of them 100% kids ready to play. We’d pick them up before 10am and drop them off around 5pm. We had 6 very long days of parks, playgrounds, songs, games, face painting, scrapped knees, and badly watered down juice. It was fantastic! You just don’t know how much difference a week at a kid’s club can make in a child’s life. Now, I never came from a background like any of them. I was very blessed with a wonderful mom and dad and even a brother. I never had to think twice about if they were going to be home when I returned, I never had to worry about if there was going to be food, I never wondered if my parents loved each other or me. Those are just a few of the things too many kids deal with by the time they’re 5 years old. But what I do know is that before I ever went to church on a regular basis (which wasn’t until my teens), I went to a kid’s club in my neighbour’s back yard for a week in the summer every year. We sang songs, heard stories, and played games. I learnt new things about God, and it always stuck with me. I don’t know where these kid’s will be 10 years from now, I don’t know where I’ll be – but I do know that that week, we could share with these kids that God loves them, and will always be there for them.

After kids week, Danny and I went to a weekend conference in Devon. It was beautiful there and the weather was great Danny and I were staying in a 2-man tent (borrowed) and we had an inflatable mattress to put in it (also borrowed). Sounds perfect, right? Well, the people that brought us the mattress forgot to bring the caps for it so no air would stay inside. But that didn’t stop us! We’re Canadians – get the duct tape! We fashioned ourselves a couple of caps that would have made MacGyver proud. However, once the mattress was fully inflated, we found it was too big for the tent. We let the air out and slept on the ground, which was just fine.

The conference was very interesting. There were numerous speakers, all of them doctors, professors, authors and all with education in the sciences. Everything from biology to math. At first glance, I thought, “Yeesh, it’s going to be one of those weekends.” But it wasn’t like that at all. Much of the focus was on creation and evolution. I came away from it feeling not only encouraged about the reliability of the Bible and creation, but also so impressed by how incredible our universe is – how much more incredible must our creator be? So often we believe what we are told or taught, and the things that are being taught today as truth should be put under the microscope – especially by Christians. I really believe that we aren’t supposed to hide from science. I don’t believe God is scared of our questions. I believe that He’s given us not just the right, but the responsibility to ask questions about what we believe. There are answers. Maybe not all of them come right away, maybe not all of our questions will be answered, but we’ll never know if we don’t ask. Do you believe in evolution? Why or why not? Do you believe that the universe and everything in it was created by God? Why or why not?

If you want to email me back about your thoughts, feel free. I can’t promise I’ll email back in full detail, and I don’t want to start any wars about it either. I’m just putting it out there, I guess. I believe in creation as it is stated in Genesis. God + nothing + 6 days = everything. If some one were to ask you, what would you say?

Anyway, here is an interesting website www.creationmoment.com

Okay, the last chapter was about a mystery ingredient recipe. One day Danny and I found this discount grocery store and in the reduced to clear bin (which is always a bad sign, but even worse if you find one in a store full of stuff that has already been discounted) Danny found a jar of yellow chunky sauce. It had no label, but it was 5 pence (which is like 2 cents Canadian). Being the adventurous people we are, we bought it. Now we do joke about being on a missionary budget, and that we are from Canada and that Canadians eat anything – but this transcends into a whole new level. A level I don’t even know if people in trailer parks resort to. The important thing is that we both lived to tell the tale. I don’t know if it’s a good illustration about faith, or a story of taking a stupid risk. A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B…

Well, this email has been huge. I hope you are all still with me! I haven’t even written anything about how LifeFORCE is going yet! We are into our second week of training and everything is going very well. We seem to have all settled in (all 9 of us) and are in the full swing of things. I’ll be writing more on that though next time. I’m sure you all need a breather. This is why I don’t preach on Sundays!

One last thing: I just want to say a huge thank you to all of you for everything. Every little email you send me back, every little prayer you say for us, all your immense patience and understanding with these massive updates and a few sparse personal notes in between, and the financial blessings – can’t forget that! Even though Danny and I are in another country, and sometimes we do feel very far away, we never have felt alone in this work. My prayer is that will return these blessings back to you in greater ways!

God bless,
~Alycia DeLong

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Worst Story Ever

Hey everyone! LIFEFORCE UK HAS OFFICIALLY STARTED! Yes, all of our staff and students have arrived making us a strong army of 9. Of course, 3 of our crew will be returning back to Canada at Christmas, leaving 6 of us to go on the road in January. It has been totally crazy. Good thing I write my email updates in advance. I'll bore you more with all the details of our training centre later but for now, here is my last terrible story. I fear that the rest of my chapters may be so out of date now that they are irrelevant, but maybe I'll just merge them all together into one super-chapter.

Without further delay, this is the last, and the very worst one.

So Danny and I were in Kidderminster (some small town) doing school programs with the local church. The pastor of the church is only like 25 years old, and we all have a lot of fun together. Anyway one day, this pastor guy, Dan, and I were walking through the town centre to pick up some things for school when we ran into some one he knew. This guy was a big, rough looking guy - raggidy clothes, unshaven, smoke hanging out of his mouth and a really thick accent. They chatted for a moment and then this guy turns to me and says, "So, are you a prostitute?" I was shocked. I was appalled. I was confused, insulted, angered, etc, etc. I thought to myself, 'What is this guy about? Do I look like a prostitute, buddy? It's not even noon! This guy has to be drunk or something. Why I oughtta...

"Uh, no!" I squeeked out. I was speechless. (Insert your own sarcastic remarks here)

The pastor I was with, Dan, came to my rescue, "Ah, she's just here helping with the stuff we're doing in schools this week. We've got to run though. See you later!" My hero (that's sarcasm). As we're walking away I said, "I can't believe that guy! That he would just ask some one he's never even seen before a question like that!" Dan shrugged. "Oh he probably just thought that because you were with me." He said nonchalant.

My inner monologue voice was livid. "Because I was with you?!?!? What is that supposed to mean? Is there something about you I don't know?!?!?" I thought.

There was no time to get into it then as we had to get to the school for classes. The rest of the day though I was sick about the whole thing. Later that evening I brought it up as we were all haning out. I leaned over to Danny and told him, "Today some one asked me if I was a prostitute!" My sensitive husband burst out laughing. "Really? When did that happen?" "Dan was there! Tell him Dan! About that guy who asked me if I was a prostitute!" I blurted out. "What!?!" exclaimed Dan. "Where was that?" Typical man. Didn't even notice.

"In the town centre today. Remember that guy when he asked me, 'Are you a prostitute?'" Dan reflected for a moment. "Alycia," he slowly explained, "he didn't ask you if you were a prostitute. He asked if you were a pastor, too." Dead silence. Then the eruption of laughter. Finally, my eternal shame.

That is my worst story ever. I hope.

Anyway, those are my stories right now. I'll continue with the other chapters soon.

They kind of seem a bit boring after that, so I'll try and spice them up. Talk to you later! God bless!

Love,
~Alycia DeLong

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Donut Disaster

Hello again everyone! Here is story number two in our series of commercial breaks. This one's brought to you in dedication to Tim Horton's. Let's not take Canadian tradition for granted.

So last week we were in Kidderminster (some small town near Birmingham) working with a church in high schools. Danny, me and the pastor of the church were in 2 schools doing classes about values and christianity stuff and drama presentations every day, 5 times a day. It was very intense. So one day at lunch I found - to my great joy - that it was donut day in the school's cafeteria! Well, I snatched up one of the big ones, the kind that are long and topped with chocolate and usually have whipping cream on the inside. Ooooooh yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah. I carefully plucked it from the donut tray and lovingly carried it back to our table in the cafeteria. Well, upon examining my treasure, I found that it was in fact not a donut, but a pre-cut hot dog bun from lunch the day before that some one had slapped some chocolate icing on and a few crap sprinkles! I have heard of some horrendouse crimes in the past, but this! THIS!! WHY?!?! Needless to say that I threw that disgusting forgery in the garbage (after licking all the chocolate off first). Appalling. Simply appalling. I am already in the works of drafting up a bill for the EU about this travisty (travesty? how do you spell that?).

Anyway, if I can have one request - please have a box of Tim Horton's donuts and a moment of silence this week. Do it for me. Do it for all Canadians around the world.

God bless,
~Alycia DeLong

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Shaken Not Stirred

Just a quick story here. I actually have 3 outrageous tales of a typical day in the life of Alycia DeLong, but I'll start with this one. It is by far the least outrageous of the three. Consider this as a commercial break in the Chapters of our DeLong Sega. This message is brought to you by Alycia DeLong, the blondest Canadian in the UK, possibly Europe and the world.

I have to get a certificate in food and hygiene so that I can help in the kitchen preparing meals during the training time. It's a one day course and at the end of the day there is an exam. Well, I was all signed up to go last Wednesday, the college had called twice to confirm I was coming to the food and hygiene course. I was a bit nervous (you know, first day of school) but I thought, 'Oh, it will just be a bunch of cafeteria ladies and I'll make lots of friends.' I was the first one in class. The next person who arrived was a 40 or so lady who was very nice and we hit it off right away. The rest of the class arrived but to my surprize it was all young, 20-something guys (and not bad looking, but that is purely observation).

The instructor went through the schedule for the day, we filled out the registration forms and then he sent us downstairs to pay the class fee before we started. On the way down, I commented to my new friend about what kind of homework came with a food and hygiene course (ha ha). She looked at me and said, "Food and hygiene? I must be in the wrong class today!" I wasn't sure if she was making some sort of joke in British humor, which I sometimes don't understand. It made me suspicious, though. Suspicious and nervous. I excused myself from the line up, ran up to the class and asked the teacher, "Pardon me sir, but at the end of this course, what kind of certificate do you earn?" The reply came, "You get a private liquor license."

Now I have to be honest with you all, I did hesitate leaving the room. Not every missionary has their own private liquor license. In fact I can't think of any off the top of my head. But we are pioneers, aren't we? And it could be a great tool for reaching people in the world, where they're at, right? And think of the income that could be generated - extra money to give to the poor, perhaps? Danny and I have always liked the movie, "Cocktail" with Tom Cruise...

Okay, okay. I didn't stay for the course and I didn't get my own private liquor license. As it turns out the lady who registered me had signed me up for the wrong day. The Food and Hygiene course was the week before, so I have to wait another month. Besides, the course for the liquor license was £160 which is over $220 Canadian (not that I would have earned it all back making martinis for people in our appartment building.)

Anyway, that's my story of the day. I hope that if nothing else, its left you shaken, not stirred.

God bless,
~Alycia DeLong

Monday, October 03, 2005

Chapter Two: Lord of the Passports

Chapter Two: Lord of the Passports – Return of the Canadians (almost)

You know, passports are a mystical thing. They contain magical little stamps imprinted with ink made by gnomes. Some of the gnomes are happy little things, but some are surly. The surly gnomes poison the ink so that when certain airport personnel hold the passport, their reason is clouded and they become discombobulated. Confused? Exactly.

Basically what happened is this: We arrived back in England and while passing through immigration, the astute young man behind the counter informed us that the immigration laws in the UK changed in March. Not everyone in every airport knows everything about it yet, but what it came down to was that they weren’t going to let us back into the country. Some one some where when we returned in June didn’t know this something about the changes to the law and gave us some stamp in our passports that weren’t the right some stamp that we needed. They took our passports and said we would be sent back to Canada right away!

To cut a long, irritating and confusing story short (now there’s a first), we spent 3 grueling hours in the airport praying, sweating, brown nosing the airport personnel, and praying some more, but were finally passed through.

Free again we left the airport and drove back to Walsall, which is just over an hour away. Upon finishing packing we discovered that our little CD binder that holds about 12 CDs was missing. It had been left on the plane! We called and called but to no avail – it seems our beloved worldly possessions are gone on a vacation of their own. Permanently. Hope they have their passports worked out…

Well, that’s that then for this week. Next is Chapter Three: Survivor – Kids’ Club Season (insert dramatic music here).

God bless and have a great week!
~Alycia DeLong

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Chapter One: National Lampoon’s Trip to Malta

Chapter One: National Lampoon’s Trip to Malta

Let’s start where we left off last email: August 11th. That was the day we left for to spend 10 sunny days in Malta. Weather there in August is quite a contrast to England. It was HOT! This made going swimming all the more appealing. Unfortunately, I have no idea what country my bathing suit is in. Only one of the many perils of travelling so much. This did not dampen our dreams of jumping into the Mediterranean Sea; I just did it in my shorts and a tank top. All was well once again. Until Danny lost his flip flop to the sea. We were walking across some rocks to a small piece of land just off shore when the waves swept his sandal right off his foot and quickly took it farther and farther out to sea. Danny, being the athletic swimmer he is, instantly handed me his shirt and back pack and dove in after it. The shoe was quickly recovered and all was well again. Except that our cell phone was in the pocket of his shorts when he dove in. The phone was fried, well, drowned the fried (we did try to revive it by laying it out in the sun to dry). Thankfully the chip that records all our contact names and phone numbers was alright though. We only needed was another phone to put the memory chip into and a friend happened to have an extra one to lend us for the week. All was well once again.

Then we found out August is Malta’s month of festivals. Every night, every town has a fantastic show of fireworks. Now I know you’re saying, “Well, what’s wrong with that? Party pooper.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. But for some reason having fireworks at night aren’t good enough for the Maltese. Oh no. They have to set fireworks at all hours of the day. This includes 7:45 am. And 8: 30 am. And 9:17 am. And from 9:18 am until 11:00 pm. Everyday. It was like we were under attack. But at the end of each day, as we watched the beautiful display from the roof tops of Malta, all was well once again.

The rest of the trip went fairly smoothly despite those slight set backs. We went to a beautiful wedding on the beach, visited many of our friends, enjoyed many free home-cooked meals, and saw Madagascar (soooo good). We went swimming, read some good books on the beach, and didn’t even get sun burnt. Yes, all was well and right in our lives.

Unfortunately we had to return to England, which turned out not to be as easy as usual.

Stay tuned for Chapter Two: Lord of the Passports – Return of the Canadians (almost)

God Bless and have a great week!
~Alycia DeLong

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Update Overdue Charges

Hello there everyone! I hope this email finds you in good health, sunny weather, and happy times! Yes, we’ve been having our own share of sunny weather and happy times around here, noo doot aboot it (I am informed by the British that that’s common Canadian lingo). There is only ONE MONTH until the UK LifeFORCE base blasts off into action. Registration day is October 16th and the party starts October 17th. Everything is set up, but we are still trying to get a few last students in. We are looking for 3 adventurous and dedicated suckers, uh – I mean students. So far it looks like our team size will be 6, but we’re still pulling for 9! Well, actually, we wouldn’t mind if 30 students signed up over the next few weeks. We’ve got places to send them!

Life hasn’t been all LifeFORCE for Danny and I over here. We’ve been busy with a number of kid’s camps, youth nights, camping conferences, drama workshops, and tons of meetings. Since school has started up again, we’ve been involved in organizing a number of activities for classes. We’ll be running an after school drama program at Emmanuel Christian School here in Walsall and we’ve also been putting together class programs for churches in Franche, Kidderminster and Stourbridge. We’ll actually be going with church teams into schools to talk about values, choices, who is Jesus (yes, we can talk about that here) and all that fun stuff. We’ve also been offering our van to churches so we’ve been busy picking up other teams on summer missions, taking kids to camp and youth to bowling, that sort of thing. It seems that even if Danny and I weren’t here with LifeFORCE, we’d still have plenty to do!

I know I haven’t written in ages and I do want to catch everyone up to speed, but there is just so much! Therefore, to spare you from another one of my novels, I’m just going to break them up over the next few emails. I already have the chapters worked out:

Chapter One: National Lampoon’s Trip to Malta
Chapter Two: Lord of the Passports – Return of the Canadians (almost)
Chapter Three: Survivor – Kids’ Club Season
Chapter Four: Cabin Fever – Camping at a Church Conference
Chapter Five: The Iron Chef – This Week’s Secret Ingredient

Wow, so much to look forward too, eh? Yes it has been a busy month. Just one more thing before I go: A few updates ago (back in June, I think) I mentioned about a young girl named Sarah who was addicted to smack. We’d met in the town centre one day and got to pray with her. She came to a few free diners at the church and was connected with some of the staff. Well, Sarah has just returned from a camp in Scotland for kids trying to get off drugs. She’s been gone for over a month climbing mountains, making new friends, and getting counseling. We met up with Sarah yesterday afternoon and she looked great! She’s gained a bit of weight and her colour is much healthier. We still have a long road ahead, though, so please remember Sarah and all of us here who are going to be helping her with this over the next however long it takes!

Alright then, that’s all I’m going to write this time. Tune in next time for…yeesh! I need to switch to decaf tea.

God bless,
~Alycia DeLong

Friday, September 09, 2005

Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover

Hello everyone! How's it going, eh? I just had to put that in. I have no one to say that to here. Everyone just laughs at me and start saying, "Eh? Eh?" Yeah, yeah, I'm quite the novelty. I don't mind, though. The Brittish are so cute when they start giggling!

Not too much has been happening over the past couple of weeks. I don't remmeber if I mentioned it in the last email but Danny and I have moved into our own appartment right smack in the middle of Walsall. If I did mention it before I probably went on and on about the 62 steps we have to hike up and down between our place and the rest of planet earth at ground level. I won't go into that again. It's a great appartment though. It was fully furnished so we didn't have to carry any furniture up those evil stairs. The place even has a TV, but we don't watch it. Not because of any personal convictions about spiritual contamination and rotting of the brain. Oh no. It's because here there is a TV tax. You have to pay 100 pounds a year for every TV on your property that is connected to any type of station services. Basic cable is only about 7 channels and then you pay for anything extra after that. What this works out to is over $200 Canadian a year for 7 channels. $200 plus for Coronation Street, a few news updates, and the weather. There's breaking news: Today's forecast is rainy with some sunny patches. It's not even about that the price is too high, but its the principle of the thing. We come from the land of the glorius and free. We ain't paying no stinking TV tax! That's like having a separate donut tax at Tim Hortons. Yes, these are sad and sorry days. Danny and I unhooked the cables from the TV and sent them back to our landlord. We don't have any channels, but we can still watch movies on it, and there is even a DVD player with our place! And we don't have to pay any TV tax.

DeLong's - 1; TV Tax People - 0. The MacKenzie Brothers would be proud. (If you didn't get my SCTV referrence there, don't worry about it.)

In a related story, Danny and I have kept busy reading quite a few books lately. And being that it is summer, here's some short reviews of what's been passing our eyes lately:

Stormie - by Stormie Omartian (Its a she, and that is her real name)
Category: Christian Autobiography
Some of you may have hear of Stormie Omartian before. She's written a bunch of books such as, "The Power of a Praying Wife" , "The Power of a Praying Husband" , "The Power of a Praying Parent/Grandparent/Second Cousin/Mantis..." and so on and so forth. I've actually never read anything of hers before. My reasons are shallow - I always thought she looks like the Christian poster-child for Prozac. Anyway, somehow I ended up with her autobiography for a few days. It was really good. The lady's got quite an incredible story. I do recommend it and I may just be picking up another book of hers in the future.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).

The Lazuras Trap - By Davis Bunn
Category: Christian Suspense Fiction (supposedly)
My interest was baited by the back of the book cover: A man awakens with bumps and bruises but no memory of who he is, where he is from, or what has happened to him. As memories flash back, he finds himself in the middle of fraud, revenge, and murder. Sounds exciting? Well, it wasn't. What a disappointment for a book with such great potential in its plot. I never really became attached to any of the characters, no real surprises (the guy had his memory back within 3 chapters so the plot was over), poor dialogue, and there were lots of loose ends. I hate to be cruel, but leave this one on the shelf.
Rating: 1 star (its a pitty star, really).

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less- by Jeffrey Archer
Category: Fiction
Jeffrey Archer is an English writer who specializes in tales of brilliant fraud and big stakes. Ironically, Archer is in prison for a brilliant fraud in which the stakes where too high for him. No joke - the dude is doing time. I enjoyed this book very much though. When four guys are suckered and loose big bucks, they decide to return the favour by scamming the scam artist back, but for not a penny more, not a penny less. If you like that Ocean's Eleven feeling, then you'd probably like this book.
Rating: 4 Stars

Kane and Abel - by Jeffrey Archer
Category: Fiction
Another book about fraud (write what you know, as they say). This is a biggy, though. It was, like, twice as big as "Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less." It follows the lives of two men from different worlds. Inevitably, their worlds collide. Its all about the money, the power, and revenge. It was interesting because you really saw what made each man what he was and what he was about. Take note, though, this isn't Christian fiction and some parts are a bit graphic, which never enhances a book's impression in my opinion. This one is seriously 500+ pages, they could've done with out some details.
Rating: 2 stars

Black, Red, White - by Ted Dekker
Category: Trilogy, Christian Fiction
This is a set of 3 hefty books, but absolutely fantastic! A man is trapped between two realities: One of the world where a deadly virus is about to be released; One of strange creatures, true love, and the battle between good and evil. But which one is real? One world may help him save the other. And one world might save him. Let me warn you, if you pick these books up you will not put them down. They are super great fantastic! Yes, a real adventure. It's like "The Clear and Present Danger" meets "Lord of the Rings."
Rating: 5 stars (even 6 stars, they are that good).

THR3E - by Ted Dekker
Category: Christian Suspense Fiction
Okay, Mr. Dekker made a fan out of me after Black, Red, and White, but after this one, he's made me an obsessive follower. This book was nothing like the trilogy, but just as super great fantastic, which, to me, shows talent. In this psycho-thriller a man receives a call from a stranger. "You have 3 minutes to confess your sin," is the demand, "or you will die." Whoa! Read this book, but not when you are alone in the house. Or after dark. Ted Dekker has an incredible gift for taking something from the Bible, be it a verse or a principal, and building an entire story off of it. The thing breathes life - and it is exhilarating! Get ready for goose bumps!
Rating: 17 million stars (the ultimate 'read-it-now' rating).

A Painted House - by John Grisham
Category: Fiction
I am a huge Grisham fan. Many of his books have been made into movie classics such as 'The Firm,' 'The Pelican Brief,' 'The Client,' 'A Time to Kill,' and there are a few others. He usually writes a typical lawyer/underdog type of story, but A Painted House was totally different. It's written from the perspective of a 7-year-old boy growing up on a cotton farm in Arkansas during the 1950's. Another doozie of a book, around 500 pages, but it was a great read. Lots of great things that kept my attention. I admit that in this one I did find myself laughing out loud in some parts and wiping away tears at others. I'd recommend this one if you're on holiday. It was delightful (sorry for the cheesiness, but it was).
Rating: 5 stars

Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
Category: Children's Fiction
Ha ha! Just Kidding! I haven't read this one. You should have seen the madness here in the U.K. when it came out! Let me put it this way: When JK Rowling releases a new book, the Royal family could go to a McDonald's drive through, order Happy Meals and wear the boxes on their heads to the mall without it making the papers. Potter is royalty over here (although nowhere near as good looking as Prince William).

Once again, I have written a novel of my own. Is everyone still with me? Are any of you experiencing a dryness of eyes or stiffining of back or cramping of retna and that sort of thing? Maybe wait 24 hours before picking up a book.

On that note I will be off. Oh hey, one last thing. Danny and I are heading over to Malta this week for about 10 days. We will be in a few churches and taking a few potential candidates for LifeForce out for coffee (shmoozing, as we say in the business). There's also a wedding we get to attend (score - free cake). So until next time, God bless you all - I hope you are all having a wonderful summer - and give your TV's a hug this week, for me and Danny.

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The London Bombings

Hello there everyone! Yes, we have had one wild week here in England. On Wednesday, July 6 English spirits soared when it was announced that London would host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Thursday, July 7 there were four bombings on London's public transport - three on the underground subway and one on a street bus. There has been very little talk of Britian's gain of the Olympics. All the broadcasts are about yesterday's loss.

Danny and I were not in London when that all happened, so for those of you that have written asking if we are okay, the answer is yes. Apparently this has been the work of terrorists (and not the French blowing off some anger about losing the Olympic bid). We did have to take some friends to the airport in Birmingham (about 2 hours north of London) that afternoon, and the main motorways were filled with confusion from the attacks. The electric road signs that notify drivers of road delays, construction, accidents, etc. read, "CLOSED: LONDON." At the Birmingham airport there were hundreds of police and military officers fully equipped with guns and on high alert.

The reports are that at least 50 people have been killed in the blast and more than 700 injured. That number is actually surprisingly low considering it is said that almost 3 million people commute into London everyday. Personally, I think we can thank God this wasn't much, much worse.

Security everywhere is up today as England begins to process what just happened. Thankfully, we all know that God is an expert in bringing beauty out of the ashes and that is something we can all pray for right now.

So, thank you for all your emails and concern for us - we are just fine! Thank you also for your prayers. May God bless you today with a joy and awe about the preciousness of life, and what a true gift it is to have been given another day. My prayer is that with that in mind, we will take opportunities to share our gift with others.

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What God did This Week: Part II

As promised, here is the second installment of our on-going adventure here...

Tuesday, June 21

Today in the Walsall town centre we decided that it would be nice to hand out flowers to people as they suffered through another typical English day - cloudy with sporadic periods of drizzle. It went over fantastically and many people stopped to talk. About an hour into the afternoon we were out of flowers and I was elected as the one to restock our little operation. As we were figuring out how much I should spend, I said, "I know, I'll just tell the guy we're doing this because Jesus wants to show people that they are special!" Everyone laughed at me (Thank you, Ned Flanders, and that sort of thing ). So I started laughing, too. Then everyone was laughing with me. Another excellent cover on my part. Anyway, I went and bought the flowers. And we didn't get them for free. But we gave them out for free and people were really touched.

Cool story 1: While handing out flowers, I met this wonderful little 70-something lady named Judy in the town centre who loved the little bouquet she was given. She said she had been here the day before and saw us doing drama and after some one had shared about Jesus. Judy also said that she was a Christian and that Jesus had been the only one who got her through the deaths of her husband and her daughter. There were times when she felt God was so far away, but later, in looking back, realized how close he was and how he had carried her through. Seeing the drama and hearing about Jesus the day before had reminded her of this.

While she was thinking about this, the women sitting on the bench next to her was also watching what the church group was doing and remarked about how she had believed in Jesus but felt so far from God right now as she grieved the death of some one she loved. Well, Judy picked up her cue and told her all about how she'd gone through it, too, and how God helped her. She revived this woman's faith and encouraged her to hang in there, keep believing, and keep praying!

And that woman was...(drum roll)...

Okay, I don't know who she was. But talk about a divine appointment! It reminded me how important it is not just to pray for myself that God will help me tell people about how much he loves them, but also to pray for His others who are out there too!

Later in the afternoon, oops sorry I forgot...

Cool Story 2: We met a 16 year old girl named Sara who is addicted to smack (heroine). At one point last year, she was staying with her older sister in an abandon car. The car caught fire after they had forgotten to blow out a candle before falling asleep. Sara and her sister both escaped, but Sara has some serious scars on her left arm and a nasty one in her throat where paramedics inserted a tube into her esophagus so she could breath. Her sister said that it must have been God that saved them. Ever since then she's been trying to clean up her life. Sara couldn't understand why God would save her though.Why is it that sometimes the simplest answers to givee are the hardest answers to understand? So we tried to tell her in the best way that we ourselves understand it - God loves you! That evening we got together again, and she let us pray that God would help her break free from smack. I was thinking praying for some one to be healed of an addiction to heroine seems a lot more difficult than praying for some one with hay fever, or at least to me. But then that quiet voice from Heaven seemed to drop a thought into my thick head,"you praying for this may seem for difficult, but Me answering it is not." Oh yeeeaaaahhh. Duh. Anyway, there were no flashes of light or the echos of breaking the chains of addiction at that moment, but Sara and her younger sister came to church on Friday night and Sunday. And are planning to continue. Sara found out how to get connected with a Christian agency that helps teens quit drugs and has asked for help from the people she's met, and more importantly, from God.

Cool Story 3: At the end of the afternoon, the guy who sold us flowers in the market came by and gave us a bucket of beautiful blue flowers for free. (I should have joked about a million dollars. )

Today's Lesson: Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"

And that is the DeLong Report: UK for Tuesday, June 21, 2005. Until next time, take care and God bless!

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

God Bless You!

Hello Everyone!

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for another update, so I'll use my regular format. First off, I start my emails with the usual: The Apology. I'm sorry that I haven't written for a while. Second of all: The Excuse. We've been very busy. Lame as usual. There, now with that out of the way, let's get into it.

Last week we did a mission with one of the Walsall churches. They did a week of all sorts of activities in the community and town centre to share Jesus with people. We did dramas, music, free food, free flowers, free balloon animals, free Jesus, and ended the week with a free buffet at the church on Friday night. Each day was incredible see how God will touch people's lives in such a special and personal way. Many times we didn't even use anything, we just went to the town centre and sat around. It was INEVITABLE that you would get into a conversation with some one and get to tell them about what Jesus has done in your life and for the world on the cross!

Now, this email is going to be long enough as it is, so I'm just going to send you Monday's cool story and I'll carrie on with the rest later. Oh hey, a little warning here. You may want to grab a snack or a drink or use the toilet before you continue reading because this is a doozey.

Here's my cool story now: So on Monday we went to the town centre for the first time and there were tons of people walking around, going to work, shopping - that sort of thing. This young guy came up to me (probably in his early to mid-twenties) and asked me if I had been in any accidents. He sold some sort of claim insurance just out in the street. I told him I hadn't had any accidents. But he said again, "What about your accident?" I was a bit confused but I restated a little slower, "I haven't had any accidents." He insisted again, "No what about your accident?" Now I was a bit nervous and quickly scanned my shirt and pants to see if there were any 'accidents' I was unaware of. But I could find none, so again I repeated myself slower and louder, "I haven't had any ACCIDENTS!" He looked me in the eyes and replied very slowly, "Your ACCENT, what about your ACCENT?" Then to my embarassment I realized he wasn't asking me about any accidents. "Blonde," I answered, "My accent is blonde."

Ha ha ha. But that isn't the cool part...

I told him I was from Canada. He asked why I was here. I explained that my husband and I (yes, I brought that up as quickly in the conversation as possible) had moved here to plant a new training centre for a Christian theatre company and a bit about why we are doing it. I was brief in my explanation (if you can imagine), but it was because I usually try to avoid conversations with young men I don't know. I mean, why should they get their hopes and dreams up only to find out I'm already married and older than them anyway? Right. Well, we got to talking about Christianity and the Bible and I was able to ask him what he thought about Jesus as a person, not just a church. He said he did believe in God and had believed in Jesus as a child, but was interested in learning about other religions right now and persueing other things. The entire time we talked he was always sneezing and blowing his nose as if he had a really bad cold. He apologized after a fit of about 4 sneezes in a row and revealed that it was hay fever. He'd never had it as bad as this before, apparantly. He took echinacea and a bunch of other herbal stuff, but so far he just had to suffer it out. At that moment, God really did something and before I realized what I was doing, I'd offered to pray for him right there and he'd accepted! I don't even remember what exactly was prayed, it was only a second or two.

When we had finished he looked up at me a bit confused and aked, "What was that?"

I thought, 'Look, I know I'm no Billy Graham of a prayer warrior, but I meant what I said.'

"That was a prayer?" I sheepishly responded.

"No," he said and he took a deep breath, "I feel different! I don't have a scratch in my nose or anything!" And he took another deep breath.

Well, I looked at him sideways thinking, 'Okay guy, what are you talking about?' Then it sunk in. He had stopped sneezing! In fact we continued talking for over 15 minutes and he never sneezed again. At this point the door was wide open to tell this guy about all the things Jesus could heal a person of and share about the things Jesus had healed me of. Every ten seconds or so he would interrupt me and say, "I'm sorry. I just feel so different! I feel so much better!" We talked about many scriptures in the Bible, we talked about Jesus, we talked about the cross. He went away thanking Jesus and rekindling an new relationship with Him!

Okay, I know maybe this isn't the biggest miracle - you know, not exactly some one jumping out of a wheel chair or anything. But isn't it so amazing that God, the creator of all things, the one who sees all the pain in the world, thinks that hay fever is worth helping some one with hay fever! Wow, God is good! I just don't know what more to say about it! I've never really seen anything like it before, and I don't know if I will again. Why not, though, I guess! It's really reminded me of how much God wants to use us to touch other people and bring them to himself! It also reminds me of how powerful the Holy Spirit is that he could totally take over the whole situation and move me around to pray for that guy!

Wow, if you are still reading - three cheers for you! Stay tuned for the next, soon to be released (hopefully), installment of "DeLong Reports: UK!"

You can't say I didn't try to warn you about taking a bathroom break before the story. Hate to say I told you so, but there it is.

Unitl next time, take care and God Bless!

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Hello from the UK

Hello Everyone!

We have landed in the UK! Yes, this is one small step for the DeLongs, one giant leap for LifeFORCE...

(We didn't sleep much on the flight so the jet lag is hitting us something fierce this time)

As we both try to gather ourselves and put a list of priorties together, I just wanted to pass on some prayer requests:

1. The LifeFORCE Base
- Please pray that everything would fall together for getting a place where we can facilitate the teams, the training, the eating and the sleeping for all the students will come.

2. The LifeFORCE Students
- Okay, we need those students to put in the new LifeForce base. We are looking for about 10-14 students, and actually already have one!

3. The LifeFORCE Leader
- We already have one leader for our local team, but we do need one or two more for our international team going to Malta and Northern Africa. If all else fails, Danny and I will lead that team (which may not be such a bad thing. We love Malta and have never been to Northern Africa before).

4. The LifeFORCE Van
- We do have a van, but it is a bit of a seedy thing. We need to get a few things fixed or possibly sell it and go for a new (new to us) one all together. Please pray that God will direct us there.

5. The LifeFORCE DeLongs
- At some point (hopefully very soon) Danny and I would like to be in a place of our own. Right now we are staying with some wonderful friends in Walsall, but we don't want to be squatters in their home forever! We aren't looking for anything fancy. Fancy place equals expensive place. Expensive place subtracts from my chocolate budget. Negative chocolate budget multiplies my crankiness. You can do the math. We do want to be as close to the LifeForce training base as possible.

Well, I think this is about it for now. I'm working on getting things super-organized (HA). I've noticed some of these updates have been getting bounced back to me, so if you wouldn't mind emailing me back if you got this or if there is a different email account I should use, or if you want to be taken off my update list because you're sick of my ramblings, etc. You know, that sort of thing.

Again, thank you all for your prayers and support! It is a bit strange to be here without a team in the physical. But in the spiritual, we know we aren't alone.

Thanks for joining us!

God bless and take care!
~Alycia DeLong

Friday, June 10, 2005

And We're Off to the UK

Hello Everyone! First off (as usual), my apologies for the inconsistent time periods of these email updates. With that said, let's all get caught up!

Sunday, May 15: We returned to Canada safe and sound and exhausted. The following morning we began debriefing with all the teams and students.

Friday, May 20: Early Friday morning, we left Calgary with Danny's parents and drove 12 hours to Vancouver. There we met up with Danny's birthmother and the rest of her family. Danny met his 2 half-brothers, and 1 half-sister, as well as his birth mom's husband. They are really a remarkable, wonderful family and we all had a blast getting to know eachother more.

Wednesday, May 25 (I think): Things get a bit blurry here. We were back in Calgary for 2 nights and a day. Our brains hadn't even recovered from jet-lag yet!

Friday, May 27-ish: Back home to good ole' Regina, Saskatchewan to visit the family for a week. We had a great time, although very hectic! Danny spoke at the Sunday night service at the Regina Apostolic church, then we spent the rest of the week getting in those last minute Tim Horton's meetings with friends before we left again. It was wonderful to see so many people though.

Friday, June 3: Up to Edmonton for a family reunion with Danny's massive family. Thankfully, the weather was nice for a few days so we got in some quality BBQ and picnic time with all the family. We even had a Bacci ball tournament with all the grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second-cousins, second-cousins' kids, etc. There were A LOT of people there!

Tuesday, June 7: We finally made it back to our place in Calgary. Now we've just been spending the week packing like crazy, getting all those little details in order in the house and the office. Needless to say, these past few weeks have been a blur - but it was still great to be back! We fly out to England Sunday, June 12.

I'm not sure what else to say at this point except thank you all for everything! We will do our very best to keep in contact regularly, and we will miss you! So until we meet again, God bless you and take care!

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong

Saturday, January 22, 2005

On the Road Again

Hi there everyone! Long time no email - but had another funny story. This one takes place at a junior school with a group of 13 year olds, in a galaxy not so far away...

So we had just finished a short drama where the four girls on our team are in a car trying to decide on the quickest way to McDonald's. One character is apathetic, one is indecisive, one is a bit anal and the last is blind. After all having a turn behind the stearing wheel, they eventually end up in the ditch. The point of the drama is about how much your attitude toward decisions is important for choosing a direction for your life. However, when I asked the audience what were some of the main points they got out of the sketch, one brave young man raised his hand and shared with such a conviction, "Women shouldn't drive."

Let's just say that his parents probably will never have to worry about their son dating too young. Hopefully he's made it home safe.

In other news, we have purchased a mini-bus! Its a long, white, 9-seater diesel beast of a van, but it will get our team around this year and in the years to come! We are leaving Walsall tomorrow evening to go to Litchfield, so please pray for our safe arrival (more specifically, the van's safe arrival).

So with that then, I will bid you all adieu until the next hilarious insight some brilliant child throws out at us!

God Bless you all!
~Alycia DeLong

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Hey there everyone! It's a balmy day in England (rainy) and we've just reached our first-week anniversary of our trip! We've been in about 5 different schools, done youth group, church services, kid's programs, and a whole lotta eating!

Straight to the funny story of the week:

Saturday morning we were handling the children's program at the church for kids between the ages of 4-11 years. After presenting a short funny drama about how gaining money and other stuff really can't give you true happiness, Jana stood to give a short speak about the skit. She asked the children, "What is something that you really, really want?" To which a sea of small voices responded with their various desires: "A barbie"; "A dog"; "Candy" and so on. Then Jana asked, "Well, kids, do you know what I really want?" Without missing a beat a small boy emerged from the audience and called out, "A boyfriend!"

I missed her point after that.

We leave Walsall on Monday and head to Litchfield for a week. Please pray for us as we are trying to buy a small 9-seater van for this trip and the new LifeForce Base. We are sorting things out with insurance (woo hoo).

I will write again as soon as I can. Until then, God bless you all and take care!

Sincerely,
~Alycia DeLong