Friday, August 17, 2007

We can't all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love ~ Mother Theresa

I'm headed off in a few hours for Terazzas, near Tijuana, Mexico. A team from my church is headed down for a week to build a house for one family who is living in total poverty. If people are lucky, they live under propped up garage doors, but most live in less than that. The house we will build is small, but adequate, and I've been told when we actually hand over the keys to the family, there is rarely a dry eye to be found. In addition to building the house we'll visit an orphanage in the 'slums' along the river to play with the kids and pass out gifts that we're taking down with us, and run some children's programs in the afternoons. I really don't know what to expect farther than that, but I know it will make a BIG impact on my life.

It's true, that short term missions trips are often more impacting on the team than they are on the people the team is going to serve, but we ARE going to be making a HUGE difference to one family. Maybe it sounds cliched, but I'm really honoured to be able to be able to be a part of this team. The quote in the title of this post is really the theme of this week. It's not so much about the house, which really is a small thing for us to do, but about doing what we're doing with great love.

I am SO incredibly excited. I'm looking forward to hanging with the kids, getting to know my team, actually building a house from start to finish in four days, and eating some goooood Mexican food. But more than that, I'm looking forward to getting to see God in a new way. That song I posted a few days ago kinda describes the way I am feeling these days, and I'm looking forward to experiencing God afresh this week. I also think that it will be sooo good (and sobering) to get out of this stinking rich place and get some perspective on the way people live in the rest of the world. We are SO privileged here, and we don't even know it.

It's gonna be an amazing, challenging week. I can't wait.


As I've been mulling this all over today, I got an email telling me that my church was in the news again today. It's different, but there is poverty on the home front, too. This may be a little different than my usual posts, but it's important, and it's something that I'm becoming more and more aware of...

So, some background. My church runs two meals a week for homeless and under-privileged people, serving about 200 people per week, and running a once-a-week shelter for about 25 people. Recently, the City of Vancouver has told us that we may not be able to continue these programs, because they don't fit the city's definition of "what a church does." Basically, the city is classifying these programs as "social service" use and not as "church" use, and so may require permits (which mean beurocracy and large fees), or they may be discontinued altogether because of zoning regulations. It's not even a money issue: it's an issue of the city dictating the functions a church is and is not allowed to fulfill. A major function of the Church - not just mine, but in the global sense - is the care for the "orphans and the widows" - those less fortunate than ourselves. But the city isn't seeing things that way.

We've been in the news a bit recently, but there was a segment aired on CTV this morning about this whole issue. Read the brief article here, then click the link on the right of the article for the TV clip, too. Check it out! If you like more in-depth reading, you can try this.

People from many different faith communities, and many who don't adhere to any particular group, are pretty stupified at the fact that a church is potentially being denied the ability to serve to poor, and have developed an organization called "Faith Communities Called to Solidarity with the Poor" that is working to have City Hall expand the definition of what a church does to include things like social outreach programs. Their fundamental belief states that "solidarity with the poor, the practice of compassion and justice, is fundamental to the vocation, identity and mission of the church / faith communities." (taken from here)

If you agree with the above statement, regardless of your belief system, this organization has started a petition you can sign if you so choose. The petition is open for Vancouver City residents only, but if you live in Vancouver and wouldn't mind taking a minute, go here and download the petition form, fill it with signatures, and drop it off at City Hall! Thank you in advance! It would be your small thing done with great love that really will make a difference! :)


Well, I don't know if we'll have internet access where we're going, so for now, I'll say...

Adios! Hasta luego!


Jenn said...

have a wonderful, inspiring, fulfilling trip (oh, hope you did, in case you read this after you get back) and take lots of pics.

As to the other bit, I hadn't seen that on the news, but I'll be checking that out for sure - how inane! I'll forward this link on to friends in the city itself and set these city hall folk straight.

Queen Bee said...

I know you will be a blessing to the people that you are going to serve, Hillary, and that they in turn will be a blessing to you. Thanks for being obedient to His leading :D

Sorry to hear about the bureaucratic nonsense, hopefully it can get straightened out so that your church and others can continue to minister to the poor.

Jean said...

Hope your trip is an amazing experience for you as I'm sure it will be for those you are helping!

Anne said...

Oh my word!! I can't imagine the gov't being able to tell a church anything like that! And who wants to tell someone to STOP helping the poor and needy? Ok fine--now the gov't is stuck doing the work because no one else is?! Ridiculous!!
Good luck getting that signed and taken care of--many prayers for you guys.

Emily said...

That's such a great thing you're doing! Have so much fun and be safe!

nachtwache said...

I know you'll be under God's protection while doing His work. That's wonderful!
City hall needs to learn some history of things that can be a church's function.
The SPCA was started by Christians, the first women fighting for womens' rights were pretty much all Christians. Hospitals used to be run by nuns, since the government did nothing for poor sick people. Orphans often were cared for by nuns, for a long time the roman catholic church was the only official church in Europe.
Sometimes we have too many rules!!

Katrina said...

Wow, I can't believe your church is having to face that kind of resistance from the government when you're doing so much to help the community!

It seems like this would fall under a freedom of religion statute--does Canada have an equivalent to the U.S. 1st amendment? And is this happening in other communities that you know of?

I'll definitely be praying that the red tape clears, because you're clearly doing good to those who need it most!

Shle said...

I am SO glad you went on that trip...