Last year was a year of death. This year was a year of birth. Healthiest financial year since 2005. I took on zero new debt and I paid some of my debts off. 2008, to sum it up, started out nasty and frustrating. It’s ending sweet and fairly collective, all things considered. I mean I have a long way to go, and tough times ahead, very tough times, but I’m smiling. I’ve signed on 30 new clients this year. If their businesses succeed then I’ll get a share of that.
I grew more in my faith this year than any other year I can remember. Sundays at church, Mondays at church, Tuesdays doing homeless outreach, Wednesdays at small groups (or the movies), Thursdays doing outreach, Fridays at the movies. And of course Saturday is laundry day.
Let’s not forget many many outreach nights where we fed the homeless, chatted with young and elderly people and won over people for Jesus in downtown Toronto. We reached over 6,000 people with the gospel this year on a very personal one on one level. Think about that number for a moment. We talked to 6,000 people about Jesus. Gave out 2,000 meals. Remember that giant thanksgiving day outreach for the community? 650 meals at least, many children. Many smiles.
Christmas evening David, Ryan and Kendra came with me to downtown Toronto and we brought Christmas presents to a teen homeless shelter.
2008 was a year of new things for me. New horizons and new visions and sharp correction.
I lost 3” off my waist! I read lots and lots of books. Is there a way to get paid for reading books? I remember running like mad to catch the bus in blizzards and rainstorms. Many of them would be late or out of service or completely packed. I remember being frustrated and biting down on my teeth. I remember amazing times of peace and tranquillity, praying silently when I had no words. I remember my tears. My many many tears.
A thought about myself. I know people who have grown up in the faith. With parents, grandparents, extended family, family gatherings, Christmas’s, a home, money, wisdom that comes from knowing Jesus, a church, faithful friends. They didn’t have the troubles that come from not knowing Jesus. They have what I call the perfect life. No I don’t mean they don’t have troubles. I mean they just have so much more than everyone else right from the start while people like me have to spend the first half of our lives trying to catch up.
I often wonder about those people, so well adjusted and with a smile on their face. I didn’t really have any of those things but I sure do want it for my children. If my kids can’t have it then at least many thousands of other kids will through the missions work I’ve been doing since 1997.
Mr. Chong has a good home now. He came out to visit us on December 25th 2008, our Christmas evening outreach. He knew just where to find us as and opened up his winter parka to show me my (I mean his) fall jacket. He gave me a pat on the shoulder and a big smile. He’s still in my prayers and close to my heart. I have more than 20 positive updates like this from this year alone. Hundreds more positive updates like this since 1997.
Back in grade 4 or 5 my teacher Mr. Wood got frustrated with me, my performance was poor. I was receiving hard daily beatings at home while still earning money to support my family. 5 days a week was school plus work (delivering papers, babysitting, door to door candy sales etc) then the weekends was work work work. On weekends my parents would have the wildest and noisiest parties on the block, making it hard to sleep, and let’s not forget the weekly police visits. Because of this my reading was way behind, not to mention spelling, writing, etc, etc.
I guess the school didn’t know what to do with me so they placed me into the special needs class. I’m not talking about ESL (English as a second language) because I did that when I came to Canada and finished in grade 3. Even though my first and only language was English. I’m talking about the actual special needs class for people with severe mental or physical disabilities. It was very uncomfortable for me. There was a large black girl who wore a helmet and would bang her head against the concrete block wall all day. The other classes in the school could clearly hear the banging. Another boy would be completely silent and then break out in violent fits. That kid would get me into all kinds of trouble, I would be by myself in a corner of the room and he would walk over to me and start screaming or making noise, implicating me in his crazy behaviour. Other children were sweet and friendly. Some were in wheelchairs, others I think should have been in institutions for the violently insane. Maybe I myself should have been in one of those institutions. After a while of this class I decided it was time to gather up my strength and get the hell out of there for good, my main fear being that the black girl with the helmet would one day go crazy and kill us all. She was enormous and very frightening. I begged and begged for them to put me back in the normal class with my friends, I promised to work harder than ever but my pleas fell on deaf ears.
I felt absolutely defeated while walking home every day. To this day I don’t think my parents know or care that this ever happened.
One day during class I was playing at the water bin. It was a white plastic bin, shaped like a deep pool table, child sized. It was filled with water and different objects. I called over the boy who was always getting me in trouble, and waited till the class was fairly quiet. I pinched his arm so hard I thought flesh would come off it. He screamed so loud and started going so crazy that the teacher couldn’t contain him. She had to call emergency help from our principal, who heard him scream from downstairs. He grabbed him kicking and screaming and took him out of the class (the entire class went wild, think of a zoo gone wild or a prison riot). When the teachers talked about it they knew very well that I planned my escape from the class and agreed that I was smart enough to be in the regular school program.
So that was it for me. They kicked me out of the special needs class and I was placed back into normal classes. I learned a lesson: Sometimes you have to nice your way out of a situation, and sometimes you have to knife your way out of a situation.
That day I walked home, smiling the entire way.