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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