Sometimes You Have to Knife Your Way Out

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.

Limited Power Supply

Last night I got a boost of energy and I drove around trying to do my errands. It doesn’t matter how early I wake up or how late I go to do my errands, there’s always been a problem during this month of December. The line ups are insurmountable. Wal Mart must be making record revenues because there isn’t even walking room in the stores during some hours. I called around many different stores and a Wal Mart in Square One had tires in stock. Not winter tires mind you but whatever, I don’t care anymore, I just need any kind of tires on my car. The ones I have are paper thin and it’s been an amazing miracle from Jesus that they’ve lasted this long.

I had to save up for 10 months to actually get these tires, so glad to mark it off my to do list.

Unfortunately wal mart wasn’t taking anymore appointments for the day so I had to drive (in nasty traffic) to other wal marts and tire places, all that were not taking anymore clients.

So early this morning I woke up and I thought “TODAY I WILL GET THESE BLOODY ERRANDS DONE FINALLY”. But no, the power instantly went out across the neighbourhood and so I was limited in what I could do at home. You know laundry, cleaning, even making myself a cup of coffee. SO I got into the car and head out to do some outside errands.

Now all the snow, and we had lots the last week – was melted. Today we are having strong wind storms, with 60km winds and wind gusts of 80km according to CityTV.

Luckily Wal Mart had power, and they installed my tires. I ate some breakfast, did some errands, not all mind you, because again – the line ups are simply silly. Is there really a recession? People are spending like their money grows on trees. Or maybe everyone is like me, trying to get their piled up errands done.

Anyway, it took about 3.5 hours to do like 2 errands, I’m not kidding. I couldn’t even put the windshield washer in the car because the wind would simply spray it away instantly.

Anyway, I’m back home now with a cup of coffee and the power is back on and I’m sure I can do a lot more.

Anyway, I’m just really thankful to have new tires on the car. I still can’t believe how long it took to save up, and they aren’t winter tires like I wanted, but they are new, and I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I still have to do an oil change, breaks, fix the antenna, secure the stereo, but that can wait till next year.

It’s Going To Be A Good Christmas

Last night we had 35 people at our young adult Christmas party. 6 people brought gifts for me to give at our Christmas outreach, the 6 of them brought a lot of stuff which is awesome cause I’ve been begging. At this time I have a full mini-van load worth of gifts. Ryan and Kendra will be coming with me, and about 5 others have expressed interest but we don’t have the rides for them unfortunately.

I love the winter and the holiday season.

Progress Starts On The Inside

I’m not so far off as I thought. I mean, I’m not missing out on as much as I thought I was. My friends, whether married or single are all going through similar things in one way or another. Yes there is the seemingly blessed person who has it all and all together and not a problem in the world, but I’ve learned that that’s short lived and far from God.

Another thing I realized is this year is different from last. I have a little bit of money this year. I have a car, a home, I have nice prospects actually. In fact, my prospects are immeasurably better than last year. Work is going much better, normal and fairly stable.

Last year when Dave visited here from Nova Scotia, he wanted to go out for dinner and I was flat broke. This year we had a good dinner together.


Wisdom is knowing when to keep your mouth shut.

I Like Visiting Video Stores

Last night I was at Roger’s video getting a movie. There was a young couple choosing a video and the male was very rude and absurd to the lady. I often wonder why women are so desperate to stay with men like that. In Guyana, where I was born, women had few choices, here in Canada women have plenty of choices but seem to make the wrong ones.

What A Difference A Day Makes

18 months ago I heard about a man named Barak Obama for the first time. A black senator in the US who would express an interest in running for president. I read a brief article about his life in a magazine a few weeks ago. About his white mom, his black father, his travels to different countries. The difficult life he lived. Living with his gramma in Hawaii, drugs, troubles. On Monday his gramma died. On Tuesday, he was elected president of the United States.

Country Drives

Okay so there’s this fund raising dinner for an African orphanage I’m going to and I waited till the last minute to ask a girl I have a crush on. There are these 3 sisters who live way up in the country and we are all crazy about them. All the guys go nuts over these girls. Any way I waited to the last minute to ask and I asked the oldest one (Let’s call her B) to be my date and she said she would have gone with me if I asked sooner because now she’s going with her female friend Dianna.

So I asked her younger sister (Let’s call her R) and she said yes. Now I just want to take a moment to mention, these 3 sisters are absolutely crazy-beautiful but most importantly, they are wonderful Christian ladies which is hard to find these days.

Saturday I worked in the morning and then in the evening I got ready and I picked up Kendra (when I have a car, it’s usually full of people that I drive around everywhere). We headed over to the banquet hall. Remember last year? It wasn’t easy to get there, I took the bus for about 2 hours then I walked a very long way, my feet were really tired after. This year was easier.

I’m not really a social person in general, I don’t know why. I think I used to be at one point when I was younger. My mom tells me I also used to be an avid break dancer. LOL. How times change. My date, R, and her friend Natasha showed up shortly after me. I purchased an entire table so I could have B to myself for the night but when that fell through I told R to bring a female friend.

It was my lucky night because we had so many people in attendance that we had to squish tables closer to each other. Guess who I was sitting back to back with? R’s older sister B! If you’ve read my December 2006 entry then you know I had about $1,000,000 cash on my coffee table when I was 17 years old and it felt good to me. But sitting next to these super gorgeous ladies made me feel a whole lot better. I don’t know how the heck their parents made 3 gorgeous daughters, but may the Lord bless them. Every time I see them together I think “Hot damn!”.

We had some guest speakers and food and overpriced drinks. For some reason, even though I paid for my own table, other people were placed at it. I guess it doesn’t matter, it’s all for charity. So also at our table was Moses and his wife who are pastoring a new church. Another lady and her 13 year old daughter who did a contemporary styled dance for us, it was really good! R told me about her job and a bit about her life in the country. She currently works at an Inn, her friend Natasha is currently in college.

Around 9pm the dancing started in one room while the cleaning started in another. I’m not a dancer by any measure anymore, but I do enjoy watching people dance, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two. I gave a flower E, the youngest of the 3 sisters who was working at the banquet that night and I asked her to make sure that R, B and Natasha each get a flower.

It took about 6 of us to clean up the place, we finished around 12:30am or later.

The next day I did my chores as is my custom, and around 7pm I left for the country, heading to B+R+E’s house. B was holding a farewell party for Johnny which is a very sad thing for me.

The beautiful old farm house can be considered an hour up into the country. I love country drives so it was fun getting there.

I pulled up around 8:15pm and greeted the remaining crowd. I walked around looking at the beautiful photos on the wall and the wonderful trinkets decorating the old and beautiful house. B’s father gave me a tour of the inner workings of the house, showing me some of the things he’d renovated over the years. I played with their dog tucker. I thought about the cozy winters there and the balmy summer evenings they spent together. Long quiet prayer walks looking up into the sky, is what I’d do. They probably see millions of stars at night.

A father, a mother, happily married, 3 children, a house up in the country, each family member serving the Lord in one way or another – if I had the whole world I would trade it for this.

B sat beside me on a sofa while tucker and I had a staring contest. After I helped them tidy up a bit and B said I could follow her home since she recently moved into the city for school. I had Kendra in the car as usual, chatting away and I was trying to give her hints to just be quiet and enjoy the beautiful ride home so that I could enjoy it to. This will also be the last time I see Johnny and will also put me in a slight transition also.

It’s Happening

Progress from last year to this year has been massive, not dollar wise (I’m still super poor and in debt) but in terms of moving forward in the right direction. Last night was a BBQ for my church group. It was fun, boring at times because of the vast age differences between everyone. Shallow college aged kids annoy me. I like hearing about peoples life dreams. Stan told me about his journey into music and his aspiration for a career in music. Timothy told me about his dream for an Olympic boxing medal. Another person, a newer Christian, Conner, told me about his life in a homeless shelter and how hard it is to be a good example for the non believers. Last year in October we did a big Halloween community outreach for kids here and it wasn’t easy getting here and home without transportation, this year I drove myself and several people here.

Go for it

If you want million dollar victories, you have to fight million dollar battles. You don’t get to leave the ring partway through a fight and declare victory do you?


Tipping point, that’s what I said last time isn’t it? I’m still there, closer and closer each day.

Opinions Change

There are fat people who hate skinny people. They think it’s an injustice. When they get skinny their opinion changes.

There are poor people who hate rich people. They think it’s an injustice. When they get rich their opinion changes.

There are people in bad situations who hate people who are in good situations. When their situation changes their opinion changes.


Extraordinary people have extraordinary lives. They get into extraordinary problems and have extraordinary victories.

No Proof Yet

I feel like I’m finally starting to move forward little by little. I don’t have any actual evidence yet but I bet God does.

Kill Bill Part 1

If you haven’t seen the movie Kill Bill (part 1) yet, you’re silly.

There’s this part in the movie where the main character has been beaten and left for dead – in fact everyone thought she was dead. In the scene, she has to regain all her strength (she can’t even move her body) and wants to exact revenge against her enemy, Bill. But before she can do that, she has to go through dozens of important missions and levels to get to him. The first step: wiggle her toe. She knows that if she can wiggle her toe, she can regain control of her entire body and move forward toward her final goal.

Some of you have never been there – but I have. I’ve been there several times in life where I have no resources and no hope and no progress except for the ‘ability to wiggle my toe’. But it’s the start of something grand.

The Sun Is Shining In My Eyes

Last night I was fighting off the flu (I think) so I slept for 12 hours. This morning around 7:30am one of my annoying roommates was banging on my bedroom door. Instead of telling them to get lost I just chuckled and got up. I have a sore throat. My moustache is too bushy. The sun is shining in my eyes. It’s chilly. I have intermittent fevers. I’m covered in bedbug bites. My life is sucky right now.

Ever Had A Bad Year?

I was cleaning my glasses yesterday and I accidentally broke them, so add this to my list of problems.

The Circumcision of Asif Zamir

I remember it vividly. I was 4 years old. It was Guyana, South America. I was living at my grandmothers house which was built in the 50’s for $500 USD. The house sat upon tall stilts because the rainy season would bring floods that would wash away houses and farms. Several of our neighbors houses were washed away and were simply piles of sticks they lived in. You could walk clearly under the house, which was dirt floors. Red ants would crawl up your legs and bite you hard, it would hurt. I like to ride my tricycle which was from the city dump. My uncle made 2 wooden rear wheels for it because we couldn’t find the wheels when we took the trike. We had lot of chickens and a goat. Once in a while the neighbors cows would break into our property and scare me, mooing loudly. Wild South American foxes and dogs would get in our property and kill our animals. More than one were killed with an ax.

One day I was minding my own business playing, and I was invited inside and asked to lay on the bare floor, which I did with a giggle at first. Then 2 cute ladies held me down, each one holding both an arm and a leg. The doctor (I would hope he was a doctor) removed my pants and underwear and grabbed hold of my wiener. That’s when I started to panic. I mean I really started to panic. I tried my damn hardest to get free and run away but they had a good grip on me. I even threatened to beat the women up. I tried making up an excuse that I needed to go relieve myself. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what this guy was trying to do to me. Living in Guyana, in our town, part jungle, part farmland, you had to become street smart fast. People would be killed in the street and bad things would happen all the time. Kids would be killed or go missing walking to school in the morning.

You could pay a hit-man $200 USD to kill someone, far cheaper than the rates in Canada. I saw a lot in Guyana. But I had never seen anything like this. The doctor (I really hope he was a doctor) circumcised me. I felt the initial cut and screamed probably as loud as I ever remember screaming.

No pain medicine, no anesthesia. Not even a comfortable bed to lay on. When he was done I was to tired to fight. I went to sleep or fainted or something. When I came to, I got up and walked around in severe pain. What the hell just happened? I was minding my own business, living my life, doing what I do and all of a sudden I’m in this brand new situation.

Fast forward to today and I don’t remember the circumcision as a negative event, but a positive one. The doctor (I no longer care if he was a doctor) did a really, really great job. I remember the pain, and the suffering and lack of hope and it helped to mold me into a man today. This is exactly how I feel today. I wake up, have my bible time, prayer time, worship time, I go to work, run my errands, go to church, come home and eat dinner, do my prayers and go to sleep. I’ve acted with good will and in good faith towards everyone and yet all of a sudden, I’m in this brand new situation. Everything that can collapse has collapsed in 2007. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for me in 2007.

This year I worked everyday. I pushed myself harder than ever. I put in at least 1,000 hours of useful volunteer work. I reached hundreds and maybe thousands of precious souls for Jesus and participated in a small handful of quality missions projects that saved lives. I did the best I could, but it wasn’t enough. Church ministry went well, but work was a nightmare.

If I told you every bizarre event that happened to me in previous years, you might believe me because there were logical explanations for each situation.

But this year there are no logical explanations. Everything that can go wrong in life has gone wrong. Loss of money, friends, even self respect. In December of 2005 I had less than $400,000 in debt and a decent income. Today as I write this I’m in $3,000,000 of debt and my income is almost $0. None of my clients can pay me, there is talk all over about a deep recession worldwide. I’m suffering from a slight depression that I’m sure will catch up to me and kick my ass.

And yet in a way, I’m moving forward as planned.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. – Exodus 14:15

Jesus Sets Slaves Free

Last night grandma told me that she used to work for wealthy families in Guyana, cleaning their homes and taking care of their children. I remember being a child and visiting her at these homes, seeing her scrubbing clothes against a wash board and smiling at me. Any way when she saved up enough to come to Canada, one of the wealthy folks heard about it and responded “SHE is going to Canada?” and my grandmother was very hurt over it, it was discouraging to her. It was as if they believed that the poor should always stay poor and the rich should always stay rich. Actually that’s what they believed because it was part of their religion.

More than 25 years later grandma saw her at the mosque here in Canada. When she saw the lady, she approached her and gave her a hug and a kiss. Grandma went on to tell me about the many families from Guyana that she knew who were born wealthy because their parents left them an inheritance, and how sad she feels that our family, our entire bloodline has had no inheritances at all. Maybe because of me, our inheritance can be Jesus.

Frustrated Everyday

I find myself frustrated – at myself. If everything is going perfectly something crazy happens. A few nights ago at 3am my printer turned on it’s own and started making noise. Then one morning at 4am the neighbor put on his alarm clock so loud that it woke me up to.

I missed church this week for like the first time in 3 years. Bad bad bad.

Extra Extra! Giant Black Guy Scared of Malton

I was walking to the mall last night over that dangerous bridge that takes you to Food Basics and a huge black guy was on the phone talking to his girlfriend and saying “baby you know I gotta be careful, this is Malton”. My goodness, if he has to be scared of Malton, what about the rest of us?

Seriously though you should not walk around after dark, nowhere is safe in this town after dark. On the bright side I fit right in here and I’m familiar with everything. I know where guns are sold, even grenades. Suppressors are special order. Drugs, protection services, special services like forged paperwork. I’m familiar with Malton. I’ve had some interesting conversations with familiar faces. 10 years ago people would offer me goods and services and instead I’d invite them to church, and some would tell me to get lost and some would say yes. I think there was one night when I saw more than 30 firearms handed over to police at a youth service at church. This generation is different though. Invite one of them to church and they’ll point a firearm at your face and threaten you. It’s not as easy these days.

On a brighter note, there’s still something beautiful about Malton. I grew up here from around the age of 7 or 8 to my 20’s. I like walking down Etude Drive during Autumn, from one end to another. It’s beautiful and peaceful for the most part.

We are where we are

I find that even though I am where I am in life and other young adults are where they are in life, we each have our own struggles, blessings and challenges. We share some of them, and have some that are unique to ourselves. I’m not that different after all.


My days have stabilized after 4 very terrible and hopeless months. I wake up, jog, eat breakfast, do my prayers, bible time, worship time. I work hard all day, do a workout, eat dinner, relax, go to church or just watch tv.

Grandma and I have good chats lately. She tells me one of her favorite shows is Pastor Joel Osteen, and that several women at her Mosque watch him.

Laying Here Staring At the Ceiling

I packed up my things and by 1pm I was in a taxi with all my stuff, all my worldly possessions headed to Malton. I moved my stuff in, setup my bedroom and went to sleep. I had trouble sleeping the first night knowing that I’d have 3 other room mates.

Sunday I setup my desk and then took the bus over to a charity fund raising dinner for Rwanda. Which was way better than I expected. We had great food, a buffet, we got to hear some talking and see some dancing.

One of the young ladies gave a testimony in the Rwandan language (we had an English translator) about how her dad was crucified, her mom and siblings burned to death in church. Yup, some people don’t like Christians.

It lasted from about 2 – 5pm. That’s when I started helping with the cleaning (I live for stuff like this). Anyway we cleaned up the hall, and then moved onto the most dreadful task – the kitchen. It took us from 5pm to 9pm washing and drying and putting away dishes, cutlery, pots, containers and a whole host of miscellaneous things. It must have taken 15 of us to do it all and one reason I really like doing things like this is because I can talk to people about Jesus. Some people need a mic and stage, not me.

Andrew and his sister gave me a ride all the way home, I really really appreciated it. I got home and I relaxed, I was really happy all things considered.

This morning I woke up, went over to the mall, I got the internet and tv setup, got a bit of work done and now I’m getting ready for church.

I Guess Anything Is An Upgrade At This Point lol

The constant sirens, the constant cars and motorbikes honking horns and revving their engines, the crackheads yelling at all hours. The crackheads asking for all of my spare change WHICH I AM LIVING OFF OF lol, the crackheads just…being there, doing suspicious things. There was an ice fight in the hallway at like 3am again, people knock on my door offering $5 sexual services. One girl might have been 14 and on crystal meth. That’s what happens when we kick God out of the country.

At 10:30am I picked up the keys to my new temporary apartment. It’s a super tiny little studio apartment and it’s only for a few weeks. One of the staff here said she would miss me, I talked to her about Jesus every time I saw her. I can honestly say my room has been left in better condition than when I got here.

My new apartment was super filthy but beggars can’t be choosers. It was like 10,000,000 roaches were the previous tenant. I borrowed a vacuum and it picked up 2 full canisters of dust and 1 canister of mouse / rat droppings. I put on a new toilet seat because the current one was covered in poo when I got here.

Monday I woke up to work. I had caught the flu early Friday. Monday night it was pretty bad but I took 2 tylenol, showered and went to church. I haven’t shaved in a while so I look kind of unkept.