People We Miss

Schwinghammer, Zama & Co.

No, this is not a stage company, or a high quality brand of pots, or even an accounting firm.
These are just a couple of the pastors that have helped shape our faith early in our walk.It’s normal to miss people who have grown your faith, but it’s not always common to keep in touch with them once you and they have moved on from that church.

When Cynthia and I were just starting out in our Christian faith we attended College Park Church in Oshawa. It was a big church, easy to get lost in and blend into. We liked that because we were new and we were shy.
Pastor Dave Schwinghammer was the head pastor at that time and on our first few visits we did not like his preaching style.
We were church shopping at the time, trying to find a place we can belong, and seeing if any pastor “spoke” to us. Although we were willing to give this guy a try, how many times can we come back before we say “enough” and move on to another church?
Let me explain first what I mean by “enough”. Pastor Dave’s messages were not the problem, it was the way he delivered them that we didn’t buy into.
No one can be this excited about God, we thought.
After about 4 visits we came to realize that this guys was the real deal. It wasn’t pretend. This wasn’t for the audience. Our guard was put down and we let his preaching of the Word seep in. We met him in person after a few weeks and we instantly got along. We had many similar interests and he as so willing to be active in our lives.

We expressed an interest to be baptized and he helped us realize many important things about our relationship with each other and with God, and what had to be set right before he could baptize us according to the Word. He was always gentle with us and led us with a kind hand.
Our new found convictions led us to be get married that spring so that we could live right in our relationship. He married us in a private ceremony and even wrote a special song for us he performed right there on the church piano. Oh yeah, he does that by the way; where he will play background music while preaching and then break into a song. This guy was amazing!

Pastor Dave lead us through many of life’s journeys and when the time was right, he reconfirmed our marriage before our whole family and friends a year and a half later.
He dedicated 2 or our 3 children as well. By the time we had Lincoln he was no longer pastor at that church and we had moved on to a closer church in our home town of Brooklin.
We miss him dearly and I always look forward to our lunches when we make it back into town. He will always be a special part of our lives.

Pastor Rob Zama came into our lives when we were also attending College Park. He was a new youth pastor looking to stir things up. We instantly clicked. We would hang out together from time to time and he would help lead us in our walk with the Lord as well.
When Pastor Rob got married we got to spend time with his new, growing family.
Pastor Rob was a lot like Dave because he was also super excited about the Lord when he preached. One time I got to be part of the opening joke of his sermon when he accidentally walking into the wrong house and sat down while trying to visit our new house. It was his first time over and he didn’t know the neighbourhood well. It made for a funny story and we all had a good laugh. Pastor Rob also moved on from that church but we still keep in touch by meeting up for lunch. It’s always a pleasure to see him and his family. No matter what you tell him he is terribly excited to hear it. It makes you miss him more. I need more friends like this in my life!

There have been other pastors from College Park that were kind to us as we grew in our faith.
Pastor Oudri and pastor Nunez showed a passion for our faith, and Bonnie, the receptionist at the church, was always present for our most important life events. She was like part of our family. We miss that time when this group manned the wheel at College Park. It was a special time in our lives and in our faith.

(Left) Pastor Dave Schwinghammer and us on our official, but very private, wedding day. (Right) Pastor Rob Zama and I after a delicious breakfast at Coras.
People We Miss

Dagmara

I, Luke, have known Dagmara for decades now.
I remember being at a party and meeting her for the first time. My brother and her would date for a little while. We naturally got to know one another because she was always around.
After they were no longer dating I wondered if our friendship would continue. My brother and her remained close so it was easy to keep in touch.

Some people may remember, to others this is news, but I used to go to the movies at least once a week. It is very hard to find someone else that dedicated. Needless to say, Dagmara was one of my most willing guests. We saw so many great movies together. I could almost always depend on her to come along when others got sick of me and my movies.
This may seem like nothing big, but to me it meant the world to have someone to share a good movie with.

Dagmara was extremely supportive. She has a special emotional side of her that allows her to relate with people pain incredibly well. Did we have conflicts? Sure, all friends do, but I will never excuse her sympathy towards me at those time that I was going through a break up or another tough time in my life.
Together we laughed, we cried and we shared adventures. We also learned about Christ around the same time and became saved. It was special to see Dagmara as my sister in Christ now, as well.

When Cynthia came into my life, her and Dagmara would develop their own friendship, and would study the word together in their women’s group for years.
Our lives seemed to constantly be intertwined. Dagmara’s brother Marty and I worked together for a while and we still see him from time to time. We lived close to one another on two occasions and shared many holiday meals with their family.

As is common in life, we don’t always keep as close in touch as we would like. Although I talk with her from time to time, when I think of her, I miss those good times growing up. I am often reminded of her kindness to me over anything else we may have gone through. I wish her the best always. I hope she lives a truly blessed life and that the compassion she shows will always return to her, no matter where she is in life.

Dagmara and I at a New Year’s celebration with friends a couple decades ago.
People We Miss

Baff and Shelley

Luke:

When I was in high school, I met Shelley in our Drama class. We didn’t care much for each other until we were brought together to direct our final project for the semester.
Let me put it kindly and say that we clashed. I liked Shelley as a person but our ideas conflicted. If this was going to develop into a long standing friendship that would last decades, then this was a strong test to put before it, right at its conception.
As the project progressed we worked together and found common ground.
That is the special thing about Shelley I noticed right away; not only does she care about you, but she tries to see your point of view. Of all my close friends through the years, Shelley is one that I didn’t always agree with and she didn’t always agree with me, but while those other relationships have disappeared, this one remains.

Shelley is special to me because she has been one of my longest standing friends. When she went off to University we continued to be friends and she helped me through one of my toughest times. She was my cheerleader in life in my early twenties. Without her support things would have been much harder on me.

When Shelley met Baff in University, I was protective. But when I met him in person, I instantly liked him. I was so happy when they got married because they were a wonderful fit.
When Cynthia came into my life I was worried how her and Shelley would get along. Shelley was skeptical just like I was with Baff, but as they got to know each other they developed their own friendship. Before we left on this journey Cynthia hung out with Shelley way more together than I ever did. I was happy to see that relationship bloom.

Over the years we attended each others weddings, we were there to greet the new babies coming into each others worlds, and were there for the birthdays that would come and go.

Life got busy, and although we see one another less than we used to, it’s always a treat to get together with Baff and Shelley.
Our kids love to play with Chrissie and Nathan. Baff and I would joke about Isla and Chrissie hanging out together when they are teens and our worry as dads.

Baff and Shelley are friends we will always have and will always connect with. They are true, they are sure and they are dependable. What more can you ask for in lifelong friends?

Cynthia:

Baff and Shelley are the couple we’ve known the longest. I met Shelley when Luke and I had just started dating… I remember being really nervous because she was the first friend I was formally introduced to–over lunch at William’s. She was so kind and sweet, she gave me a huge hug and I felt like I had her approval to be Luke’s girlfriend. Fast forward 13 years later and it’s as if Luke needed Shelley’s approval to be my boyfriend.

I remember Luke and I were always hanging out with Shelley in the early months of our relationship. We’d watch movies together, go out for coffee together, we were a trio… Mostly because Baff lived Montreal, and we loved hanging out together.

I remember the first time I met Baff, we went out for dinner at East Side Mario’s. Baff was super friendly, super smiley and super in love with Shelley.

We shared their joy over getting engaged, we celebrated their love when they were married and we supported them when they became parents. We’ve shared so many milestones together that it’s permanently bonded our friendship. Baff and Shelley are that friendship that is always comfortable. We don’t get together as often as we should, but whenever we do it always feels like we just saw each other the week before… our friendship never, ever skips a beat.

 

General Posts

Maui, Hawaii: The Third Leg is Complete

We have departed Maui and have flown to the Big Island of Hawaii.

To many who visit Hawaii for the first time, on a nice vacation or honeymoon, Maui is the go to island. To us, Maui is the “odd” island of the Hawaiian archipelago. We’ve been here twice before so we have had some time to form this opinion, and this last stint did little to change it.
For us, coming to Maui is not usually as deliberate a choice as the other islands. With the other islands there was something we wanted to return to and experience again. With Maui that wasn’t so much the case. This is not to say Maui doesn’t have much to offer; it does. It has the Hana Highway, Lahaina, Haleakala mountain top crater, Jaws and more. Also, a lot of celebrities choose Maui as their second residence – like Oprah, for example. Come to think of it, most of the friends we know who have come to Hawaii have come to Maui; like our friends Paul & Amanda, Jason & Cheryl, Scott & Justine and Tim & Cheryl. Also my buddy Adam made this his island of choice for his Hawaiian destination. I think it’s safe to say that we don’t really know anyone who has been to the other islands aside from Cynthia’s aunt & uncle, who used to frequent all islands at one point.

Maui doesn’t have any impoverished areas (that we know of) and there is rarely the site of poverty or homelessness, which is common on the other islands we’ve been to (I say this in contrast to what someone might expect from the Hawaiian “paradise” they heard about or saw in pictures).

So why do we have this feeling towards Maui? It’s hard to define, but I can think of a couple of reasons:

Number 1:
It shares the physically beautiful characteristics of all the other islands without being “king” of any of them. What I mean by that is that it has mountains, but they aren’t the tallest in Hawaii (the Big Island holds that title). It has a visibly volcanic past, but only the Big Island of Hawaii is actually active. It has rain forests but it doesn’t trump the forests and jungles of the garden isle of Kauai. It has shopping and beaches, but nothing quite like Oahu and the Waikiki area for shopping, or the Hanalei Bay on Kauai for our favourite beaches. It’s dry area, small towns and plantations all have history and charm, but to us the more secluded islands of Moloka’i and Lana’i give you a little more of that. It seems to me that Maui has a bit of everything you’d want if you had to combine all the islands, but without giving you the best of any of them. I say this carefully because I have been in awe at the splendor of the Haleakala crater, the steep drops along the gorgeous Hana Highway and the majestic giants being surfed at Jaws. I’ve had many great experiences in Maui over the years without any concerns or issues. In fact our favorite place to stay, ever, on the islands was on Maui a few years back. So what overshadows those wonderful physical aspects of this island? Perhaps the answer can be found in reason number 2.

Number 2:
Maui, like the other islands of Hawaii, has many types of people. Some are native Hawaiian, some bought a vacation property, some retired here from the mainland, others came over for fun and sun and decided to stay. The difference with Maui is the ratio of each. On the other islands you definitely get a sense of the Hawaiian heritage and culture. I cannot say the same thing for Maui – you have to look harder for it here. What you can find easily here is all the other groups.
Maui is quite affluent; more so than the other islands, it seems. It also has a large hippie and new age culture that can be seen in almost any little town. These are not your typical hippies though; they are well off and own shops and businesses in these towns. They bring in many homegrown products to sell and have many specialty restaurants serving the best vegan dishes around. This is not a bad thing on its own, but it seems like this suppresses the Hawaiian culture a bit, or at least mingles with it in a way that makes it unrecognizable to us.

Of all the islands we’ve been on, we’ve connected the least with the people of Maui. The problem could be us but we’ve had no issue with this on all the other 5 islands we’ve been too. You sometimes forget your in Hawaii on Maui because native Hawaiians are rarely seen on the streets of these towns.

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to write about this topic when discussing our time on Maui. We enjoyed our time here and the place we stayed in for the month of January. I had a great experiencing hiking the Haleakala crater for 3 days and seeing the surfing at Jaws. I also had a super time at the Golf Tournament of Champions. The wife and kids had some nice times at the beach and playing in an actual backyard, for the first time. We saw whales splashing wildly, we rode the Hana Highway, we hiked the bamboo forest (Pipiwai trail) and watched the sunset from above the clouds up on the mountain. We also enjoyed the many towns and dined with the kids at Ruth’s Chris for their first time.
Maui has a lot to give any visitor, but if this is all that our friends experience of Hawaii, then it’s no wonder some of them didn’t have the “Hawaiian experience” we’ve been boasting about.
It is safe to say that Maui is our least favorite of the archipelago islands – but that is like saying you’re not going to take a gift of a million dollars because its delivered in singles. Maui is still beautiful, enchanting and hospitable to its visitors; and it’s definitely Hawaiian. My only advice to potential vacationers is to visit more than just Maui – but that could be said about any of the islands if you were going to pick just one. They are as similar as they are different, so take in as many as you can, I say.

On that note, we are now on our final island in this 6 month journey. We’ve been to Kauai for 24 days, Oahu for 40 days and Maui for 28. Our remaining 3 months will be spent on the big island of Hawaii. Its the tallest of all the islands at almost 14,000 feet. It also can fit all other Hawaiian islands inside its land mass. This is not an island you can just drive to the other side of on a whim, and that is okay; we plan on actually “living” here. We want to carry out our days like we would back in Brooklin, more or less. I think our time here will be more structured and less like a vacation. We still have some goals left and treating this place completely like a vacation won’t help us achieve them. That is not to say we will not enjoy all this island has to offer.

 

 

A photo of our last day on Maui and a very Hawaiian set up in our kitchen.
Luke's Thoughts

“I Have a Right To Go to Work…”

My last personal post was an evaluation of the changes I did or did not go through in the past few years. It was a reflection of my spiritual growth as I flipped through the pages of my journal, exposing the truths I held and my effectiveness in following them.

That was back in October and I’ve been trying to grab hold of what was revealed to me since then. Shortly after we left for Hawaii to spend our 6 months US-stay here instead of the mainland. This was to be a time “off the road”, allowing my mind to be clear of the challenges and distractions of everyday trailer-travel. To be honest, I was hoping to get some clarity regarding the future here as well, as if the change in location would reveal it.

A part of me thinks that God will reveal to me that there is a purpose for us to stay and work in Hawaii, although I am painfully aware that this is dangerous territory for my mind to explore. I know that His will and mine are currently not as aligned as I would hope. Any desire to fit my favourite place in the world (Hawaii) with the will of the Lord for my life is terribly wishful thinking. More than that, it could be sinful. Still, the Lord has been known to graciously grant us our desires when they point to Him, even if they seem selfish to us. On that note I will move from the subject to avoid thinking and dreaming about it too much, since my primary desire is to be useful to Him no matter where I dwell, and that is more than likely not Hawaii.

Speaking of Hawaii and working, one cannot help but notice the “help wanted” signs on virtually every business window. Its not that they don’t have the population to fill those jobs, or that the wages are too low; quite the contrary: Hawaii pays well and has plenty of youth and adults alike who are unemployed. I learned from the residence here that the youth are supported by their parents and don’t find the need to work and that the adults benefit more from the massive social assistance programs that fill their pockets almost as much as a job would. I don’t know how true this is but it made me a little envious of being able to live and work in Hawaii – actually it made me envious of those who work in general.

It has been almost 2 years since I walked away from my biggest client and about 8 months since I fully closed up shop on my personal media business. My remaining client was not very lucrative so to clear my head of this career, which I had been in for almost 2 decades, my colleague took over that account.

Being without paid work for this long has had some interesting affects.
When I returned back to my home town of Brooklin last spring, I was thoroughly occupied for several months with some pro bono renovation work at our church. This opportunity came just in the nick of time as I was already feeling very useless and lazy coming up from our leg in the American south.
That feeling, although pacified by the work in the church, didn’t stay back long. By the time we had arrived in Hawaii and the dust and excitement had settled, I had thoughts meandering their way around my head about my “purpose” once again.
It’s no secret that the primary objective of this journey for me was to know God’s will for my life; specifically my vocation. Maybe it’s in the mission field, maybe it’s a new business, maybe it’s something that hasn’t been revealed yet – no matter what it is, my hope was to grow in the Spirit that would guild me in wisdom to this revelation.

When you are a kid the last thing you want to do is work. An allowance is fine but you feel quite sorry for your parents who have to head off to work in the early morning and return home in time to make your dinner, working tirelessly in between. They do this till they retire or die. Summers are not real summers for them either. There is nothing appealing about working to a child. I remember hearing a song by Dire Straits mentioning the “right to go to work, but they shut it down (the work plant)”. This one lyric stuck with me because it sounded like people wanted to work. That is absurd! Absurd to a child. But I’m not a child anymore, and my desire to be useful overcomes me sometimes.
To be fair, I enjoy working as much as I enjoy not working, and after a variable period of time I find myself tired of most work. This is just my personality and it makes finding that right career very difficult. This “perfect” job has to offer many specific benefits and fulfill a handful of personal and spiritual requirements in order to satisfy me long term, it seems.
I can see myself being so afraid of stepping into the wrong job that I don’t end up doing anything in fear of it not being God’s will for my life, not to mention that no job is perfectly fulfilling but the one that you do whole heartedly and with honour.

All of this to say that I miss work. I hear stories of success and progress from friends back home, while I’m on some beach, useless as a lump of sand. Talk about “greener grass” syndrome.
But in all seriousness, I believe any reasonable human being wants to feel useful and be filled with purpose, and I’ve had the opportunity lately to feel the lack.

In recent weeks Cynthia and I have revisited an idea we had at the beginning of this journey. The idea was to make video logs or “vlogs” of our experiences. We already vlog, as you know, and we keep a photographic account of our travels active on Instagram, so the idea of making weekly videos seemed the natural next step.
We did not chose to make them at the beginning of our journey because of the time we thought it would take (we originally wanted to make daily logs), and because we believed it would change us. We watched a few of vloggers on Youtube like: Mike & Drea, Sam & Nia, Vet Ranch, and the Bucket List Family. Their lives were so well documented that a camera was on for every little event they experienced. This seemed daunting and distracting from our journey so we abandoned the idea.
Now, in this relentless pursuit of purpose and usefulness, we are thinking that it can give us something to do. Documenting on a weekly basis seems more doable. We can talk about our week on camera and show cut aways of what footage we have from that event. If we don’t have any footage then we won’t show anything but us talking. Seems simple enough.

In order to prepare for this I made a Youtube cannel (Makerlight Family) and populated it with some of our old trips and adventures. Now that we have 20 or so videos up there from the past, we will condense the last year and a half into 6 months video segments to get all caught up. I have already been logging videos from our Hawaii trip to make into a separate videos after that.
This will be a lot of work but we will have time on the big island of Hawaii to get it done.
My hope is that documenting our journey will give us something to do in the interim. It may lead to greater things, who knows?

Me, enjoying a surf completion on Oahu last month. Maybe I could be a professional surfer for my career? Nah.