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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.

~Alycia DeLong