Twenty-Four. Trust.

This might end up sounding kind of silly but I was reading a Christian romantic suspense story last week (Broken Crowns by Tamara Shoemaker) and one of the main themes was trust. Obviously they were in a very difficult and dangerous situation, different from any situation I’ve ever been in, but the point remains, how much do I/we trust God?

In the story Jeff and Jill were brought together under terrible circumstances. Jill’s boss was murdered and Jeff’s sons and sister were kidnapped after his brother was shot. The two were targeted by a witch coven from Jeff’s past so they have to work together to get Jeff’s family back, etc., etc. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who might want to read it but I wanted to establish the kind of situation they were in.

They both had to trust God for a lot of things.

Since my grandpa died almost two weeks ago, I haven’t had much appetite and my head has been hurting much more than usual. Normally, I try not to complain about my headaches because it would get kind of annoying and depressing to hear about someone’s pain every single day. If I ever do say something, it’s because my head is really bothering me. Usually the pain is at a manageable level that I’m used to.

Since my grandpa’s passing though, I guess my body is reacting in a sort of negative way, but I didn’t really know what to do. Well, I guess I always knew what to do, I just never did it.

I’m really blessed with a spiritual family who loves the Lord and who loves me too and truly believe in prayer and God’s power. They have a prayer meeting every Monday night and I know many people pray for me daily too.

I didn’t really want to “bother” them with my head though because I figured, I’m just stressed out right now because of two deaths so close together and the visa application, so it’ll pass on its own.

I don’t think it was necessarily a lack of trust, but I wasn’t willing to ask for help. That’s something I’ve struggled with a lot in the past as well, but that’ll be a post for another time. I was definitely feeling that I should trust more though. God is the ultimate healer but when my pills weren’t working, I still didn’t turn to Him for some reason.

Finally, my pain got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t handle it at all anymore so I made a quick phone call to ask for some prayer.

God works fast.

Just a few minutes after I hung up I felt lighter and my pain decreased significantly.

I might not have been in a life or death situation like Jeff and Jill but trusting God is applicable at all times, in any situation, for any reason.

Anyway, I want to encourage everyone that God is worth trusting. He does listen and He does respond. He doesn’t get annoyed with our prayers and there’s nothing too insignificant for Him. It seems self-evident, but I think it’s worth remembering or being reminded of every once in a while.

So pray friends, about any and all things. Pray all the time.

God Bless!

Oh, one more thing I realized I had planned to talk about, but forgot (I was wondering why this post was so much shorter than my other ones).

I was scheduled to work everyday last week (I’m a supply teacher, so I work on-call and I appreciate every single shift I get) but on the Friday before the ladies in the office realized they had hired two new teachers who would be starting on the Monday. They said they didn’t need me so they took all my shifts away.

I was really bummed.

As it turned out, I went to the doctor, got my tests done and I got one step closer to finishing my visa application, so the week off was actually very useful. I was also able to sell an old textbook and meet some new friends who are also going to Belgium.

This small example of God’s perfect timing was an amazing reminder to trust in Him always. He knows exactly what we need and exactly when.

He is also amazing at providing whatever money we need so I know I don’t have to worry about what I lost from the week off (over $550) because if I really needed it, He would give it to me!

So anyway, in all things rejoice in Him. Give thanks. And pray!

God Bless!

PS. I’ve been working on my visa application and Carleton paperwork, everything seems to be moving along. I’ve gone to the doctor and done some tests for the medical requirement and I’ve gone to Carleton to give in my course list and to get my bursary from the French department. More on that in my next exchange prep post 🙂

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Twenty-Three. Application Frustration and Stress (Exchange prep three)

After months of waiting (the application to Carleton was due in December), I got an email in early February that said: We would like to inform you that it is very likely that you will be nominated for the exchange program.  Details regarding your host institution and term of study will be confirmed in late February.
Then “the week of February 25th” or “late February” meant the last day of the month. The wait was so hard.

FINALLY when I was officially accepted into Carleton’s Exchange Program and offered a place at ULB, I had to apply there to make sure they’d accept me.

**Just before I found out about Carleton’s decision I also had the opportunity to apply for a grant from the French department to go on my exchange. The necessary qualifications were that I’d applied to a primarily French institution and I had to be registered as a French major or double major. I qualified, so I applied – I encourage anyone thinking of going on an exchange to look for grants/scholarships as well. I just had to write a short letter about my goals and how the exchange would benefit my studies. Eventually I was given $800 so I’m glad I applied.

To apply to ULB I had to fill out yet another form, and this one was in broken English because it must have been translated directly. I had to include my résumé which I thought was a little strange. *Pro-tip: Always have your résumé up-to-date and easily accessible.

I had to write another motivation letter about my goals and the benefits an exchange would give me. These were getting kind of tedious at this point because even though they were all closely related, the focus had to be on something slightly different each time so I couldn’t keep reusing the same one. Also different languages impede reusing an answer.

I had to get a transcript from Carleton, a photocopy of my passport and the exchange program coordinator forwarded my letters of recommendation on my behalf. Thankfully those could be reused 🙂

I also had to provide a list of courses I planned to take at ULB. This was a little complicated because I was told to use the form for major or minor course transfers and equivalencies. For that, I had to meet with undergraduate coordinators from two departments (French and Political Science) to have them sign off on some approved courses. Of course I was incredibly rushed through all of this.

When I handed in all my documents to Chau (the Carleton Exchange Program Coordinator) I thought everything would go smoothly. Then she called me and said I gave her the wrong list of courses.

Apparently the major/minor course transfers thing (I don’t remember what it was officially called) are only for the registrar’s office so they can transfer the credits and ULB just wanted a simple list of courses I planned on taking. At least this was easy to correct.

The other slight complication was that ULB wouldn’t release its 2013-2014 courses until the end of June.

That’s what’s causing me a bit of distress right now – but way less than some of the other things I have to do.

The registrar’s office asked us to have our course transfer sheets in awhile ago. But as I mentioned, mine will be completely useless to them because none of these courses exist for the year I’ll be gone. Can I wait until the end of June, or even July to hand in the papers? I don’t even know about that yet. Oh well. *Pro-tip: KEEP ALL YOUR PAPERS SAFE AND ORGANIZED! I had a little panic attack when I thought I misplaced two papers I needed so I highly recommend a special folder for ALL papers concerning your plans.

So now I have to apply for my visa since I’ll be a student in Belgium, living there for ten months.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST HEADACHE OF ALL!

For anyone who knows me, you already know I have a bit of a problem with my head – I have chronic migraines and daily head pain. So I really didn’t need all this stress. The checklist of documents I need to provide to apply for this visa is ridiculous!

Some things make sense, my passport (plus a photocopy), the acceptance letter from ULB (took a long time coming but it’s finally here), some pictures, and the visa application form itself. I’m not happy about it, but they require proof of travel insurance as well. But the other requirements are silly.

A criminal record check ($45)

A medical certificate indicating that I don’t have any “infectious diseases” and this has to done by one of three doctors in Ontario (only one in Ottawa), or, if I choose to ask my family doctor, the certificate would have to be legalized by the CPSO (Ontario College of Physicians)… as if my doctor isn’t just as good as the one they listed? Plus, the only things they care about are HIV and Tuberculosis (and maybe if I have a genetic disease like heart disease or something).

They need me to prove financial solvency (I can’t.) So I need to lean on my parents.

I need a  sponsor (my dad) who will have to prove his financial solvency by providing way too many documents of a personal nature. I only hope they will accept his proof to fulfill both requirements. He needs to sign an affidavit as well, which they have to legalize at the consulate (an extra $19.50).

The visa itself costs $234. And the only place to get this done is at the consulate in Montreal. So I can either drive there (inconvenient) or mail everything (extra cost) and include my own photocopies of almost all the documents plus a pre-paid return envelope.

There’s a lot to do and sometimes it can be frustrating.

I take care of the children who come to the OMF on Friday nights and it’s mostly an informal time to chat with them, see what God’s been doing in their lives and share with them something God had taught me. A few weeks ago I was complaining about the frustration of my visa application and I realized, I hadn’t been praying about.

I made sure God was very involved in the other application processes but I forgot to include Him in my visa application too.

Today, I went to a doctor’s appointment to see if my family doctor could help me with the medical stuff. On my way home I was fairly pleased with what she could tell me and I thanked God for her. I also prayed that the official acceptance letter from ULB would come soon because without it, I couldn’t proceed. As soon as I got home and checked my email, there it was!

Prayer really is incredibly powerful. God is such a loving provider. He knows our needs, He knows all the timing and He is the power to count on in all things!

Anyway, as is my usual style, this post is probably too long. All I can do for now is keep ticking requirements off my visa application checklist and I need to keep praying. I’ll apply for my visa soon, go to Carleton to deal with the registrar’s office and pick up my French grant and maybe then everything will calm down…

Just kidding, I still have to think about my life once I actually get to Brussels, living arrangements, transportation, work – possibly, other financial considerations – banks, credit cards, etc… There’s plenty to think – and pray – about!

Thanks for reading, God Bless!

Twenty-Two. Grieving.

I don’t know how this post is going to go… Usually I wait until I’m calmer to write, but I think writing this will help me right now…

Four and a half months ago my grandmother died. It was completely unexpected and it happened very fast. At the time, everyone said we were slowly preparing for grandpa’s passing and that made my grandma’s death even more sudden.

Today I know, nothing can mentally prepare you from a sudden loss.

Today my grandpa died quickly and unexpectedly.

At least for me it was quick and unexpected.

Here we are, planning to visit Belarus in August, to be with my grandpa, to visit my grandma’s grave. He’d been sick for so long, but he kept holding on. He was excited when we called, he loved seeing pictures of us and it seemed to give him hope and a reason to keep fighting, just knowing we would come visit him.

Then he fell this morning.

The ambulance came, put him in his bed and left him. They said there was nothing they could do. They didn’t even give him any medication for pain. They said he would never stand and walk again.

My uncle had to go out, and he was gone for a few hours, but he had a sudden feeling that he needed to get home. My grandpa was overjoyed that his son had come home. He even managed to get up!

It seemed like an amazing burst of energy. It seemed like maybe, everything would be okay.

After my uncle helped him, he put him back to bed, made him comfortable and went to another room.

Soon he heard my grandpa making a strange noise. He went to check on him and he’d turned blue – he couldn’t get enough air.

My uncle called the ambulance again, but by the time they got there, they could only pronounce him dead and write down the time.

 

 

Today I woke up, went to work, came home to tutor another little boy and as soon as he left, my mom told me what had happened. At first I wasn’t crying, and I was confused. Then I started suddenly and it was beyond my control. Even as I write, the tears start and stop as they please.

Today I realized no one can grieve the same way. Not even one person grieves the same way twice.

I used to think that I didn’t know what to say to comfort a grieving friend because I’d never experienced loss. My dog died, and I got a taste of familial loss, but I knew it would be the same as a parent, or grandparent’s passing.

Then my grandma died, and now my grandpa’s passed too, and I still don’t know what I would say to comfort a grieving friend. It’s because I don’t know what I need or want to hear myself.

When people find out about a loss they often say, “I’m sorry.” I don’t know how to respond to that because they’re not apologizing. I can’t say, “That’s ok,” or “It’s alright” as if I’m forgiving them. “Thank you” doesn’t seem to fit right either.

Personally, many people have told me that they’re praying for me and my family, or keeping us in their thoughts. I’m sincerely thankful for those prayers, but I almost feel bad if my loss is “in their thoughts” because it seems like I’m ruining their day. I don’t know if that makes sense… I don’t even know if that’s how I’ll usually feel. Maybe the death is just so fresh in my mind that all my feelings are off right now.

Before my mom told me, I was hungry and I needed to use the bathroom (sorry if that’s TMI).

After she told me, all thoughts of my body’s needs went away…

Is that something others feel too? I just seemed to shut down, my feelings for myself were far from my mind, I lost control of my emotional response and I felt empty.

Now there is a strange heaviness in my chest. I still have no control over my tears, but I’m thinking about a lot of things at once.

I’m thankful I have loving family and friends surrounding me and a mighty God I can lean on in sorrow.

I’m really confused as to why my grandpa had to die now, and I don’t think I’ll ever know… at least not until I meet my Creator myself.

For now, our family will be grieving and praying. It’s quiet and somber at our house.

Please keep us all in your prayers. I have an uncle, aunt and cousin still in Belarus as well, and they need more prayer than we do.

God Bless.Grandpa Eddie