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Friday, February 24, 1989. This is the day my family and I arrived in Canada from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I was 6.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008. This is the day that I shall travel downtown to write a test to become a Canadian citizen. I am 24. This has been 18 years in the making. To prepare I was given a book titled, ‘A Look at Canada,’ which I am to study in advance (although I hear the test isn’t that hard). After writing the test I’m anticipating that I will have to sing the national anthem and pledge allegiance to the Queen, the Prime Minister or Canada (at which point I’ll be crossing my fingers, you know, because then it will void the pledge, and of course, repenting for my idolatry!).

People become a citizen for all sorts of reasons I suppose. To vote, to be patriotic, to better identify themselves with a country et cetera. I’m not becoming a citizen for any of these reasons in particular. My primary reason for becoming a citizen is to make traveling easier. Essentially, I’m just tired of being probed every time I try and cross the US/Canadian border. If I can simply flash my Canadian passport I can spare myself all of the unpleasantries that are so inherent in said probing and it will make returning to Canada from wherever that much easier. I have no desire to pledge allegiance to a country for my allegiances lay elsewhere (Big Brother, if you are reading this I still quite like Canada and am content to be here).

So that’s the story of the last 18 years. Time to become a citizen.

Grace and peace.

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Well we’re back! Christina and I touched down at Lester B. Pearson in Toronto at about 2:00pm on Sunday. When you’re away for that length of time and living out of a suitcase it always feels great to be home. So much happened in our 3 weeks in France and Hungary that I couldn’t possibly highlight it all. However, despite that I’ll be writing a couple of posts highlighting particular things that really changed us.

We went to Europe with an amazing group of people from the Toronto area and Minneapolis (although they were dubbed honourary Canadians for the week!). The team was made up of the following people.

Howard, Caron and Patty Moore. Howard is the Canadian Director of Greater Europe Mission (GEM), Caron is his wife and Patty is one of their daughters who just so happens to be a Paramedic (this came in handy when a women fainted on one of our flights).

Paul, Vicky and David Burke. Paul and Vicky are pastors of Church in the City, Church in the Beach and Urban Cornerstone Church in Toronto and David is their son.

Flora. I’m not sure of Flora’s surname, so I won’t try but she is the mother of Vicky Burke.

Keith and Noreen Jacka. Keith and Noreen are a part of Church in the City and live downtown. They both have their Ph.D’s in education.

Kathryne Silver. Kathryn was a last minute addition to the team. She’s 18 and will be going into her second year at Tyndale this fall.

Peter Goulos. Peter is a part of Church in the Beach and works for RBC in downtown Toronto. He is Greek and hilarious.

Casi and Andy Buch. This couple is from Minneapolis and are quite fun to be around. They’re moving to Spain on September 16th so that Casi can teach English for a year in Madrid. Their last name means ‘book’.

All of these people were so great and we really enjoyed getting to know them over 3 weeks! We look forward to hanging out more.

Everyone came from different experiences and walks of life, but we all love Jesus and had at least that in common. There were 18 year old college students and retired Doctors. Bankers and Pastors. Singles and married folk. However, these differences only made us stronger as a Body.

Myself, Andy, Kathryne, David, Christina and Casi in front of the Gare de Flandres station in Lille. A little blurry, I know.

L-R: Myself, Andy, Kathryne, David, Christina and Casi in front of the Gare de Flandres station in Lille. A little blurry, I know.

Patty, Flora, Paul, Caron, Peter and Vicky.

L-R: Patty, Flora, Paul, Caron, Peter and Vicky trying to figure out where to go in Vienna, Austria.

Howard, Keith and Noreen at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France.

L-R: Howard, Keith and Noreen at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France.

Peter, myself and David at the GEM Conference in Sopron, Hungary.

L-R: Peter, myself and David at the GEM Conference in Sopron, Hungary.

We love you guys!

Grace and peace.

JT

Hey all!

Just a quick hello. Christina and I are in Sopron, Hungary at the moment attending a conference with Greater Europe Mission. Essentially we’ve been hanging out with over 300 missionaries from all over Europe and hearing their stories. It has been way greater than I was experiencing. Being here and talking with these people from across Europe and participating in discussions is really getting me excited to return to Canada and change some things in regards to youth ministry in Aurora. I’ll share more on this later. Hearing peoples stories is incredible. I mean, in North America we hear loads about how we’re living in post-Christendom. But let me tell you, Europe is POST-Christian. Yet God is doing cool stuff through His Church here on the fringes of society in Europe.

Monday, we head back to Paris which I’m pumped about. We biked around Sopron the other day and got stuck in the pouring rain. Nice.

Anyways, just a quick hello and update.

PEACE.

JT

Lot’s has been happening lately which partially explains why I haven’t written much. From June 27 – July 7 Christina and I took a group of 9 students and 1 other leader out to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia to work alongside Dave and Shirley Sawler. I’ll write more on this later.

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This past week we held the first ever Cornerstone Sports Camp: Foundations for Life and Sports. This was a sports camp put on for kids in the Aurora community. A lot of work went into this and it turned out to be a great week. We ran baseball in the morning at a local park and then basketball in the afternoons at a local high school. The kids all had a great time and it was really fun getting to know and spend time with them. Definately look forward to doing this again next summer. Kudos to all of our volunteer coaches and team leaders!

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This evening Christina and I headed down to Church in the Beach to hang out with the Burkes and the local Body there. It was quite the evening. The group of people that we are heading over to Europe with include the Burkes and some people from the faith community in the Beach so we gathered there as a sort of ‘send-off’. It was great. I really love worshiping with the folks at CITB because they all seem so free from pretense. No one pretends that they have everything figured out. The leadership isn’t convinced that they are the most dynamic leaders the world has seen. It’s refreshing. There was probably about 30 people that were there last evening. Most evangelicals would likely chuckle upon hearing that number but I tell you, God was present.

Howard Moore, the Canadian Director for Greater Europe Mission preached about the mission of Jesus. We looked at how/why the Father sent the Son into the world and the impact that this had on the Church being sent into the world. Great stuff. Afterwards we had a time of prayer for those of us heading to Europe.

Then came the party. After our gathering everyone, and I mean everyone, headed back to the Burke residence and partied. Food, drinks, converstation…the whole bit. Why party? Well one of the women that has been a part of this community since 2001 has been a refugee in Canada since 1999. Just this past week she won her immigration case and was granted refugee status! Great! Paul asked her if she had anything she wanted to say. “I won!” was her cry. Then from the back of the room came this: “We all won!” Wow. This really hit home. How wonderful. This woman did not win this case by herself. Rather, the entire community won and was granted refugee status. At times like this I realize how true Paul’s words are: “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others,” (Rom. 12.5) and “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of your is a part of it,” (1 Cor. 12.26-27).

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This Friday Christina and I along with a group of others head over to France and Hungary for 3 weeks. Essentially the break down of our time looks like this: we’ll spend a week in Sopron, Hungary at a conference for church planters from all across Europe. I’m super stoked for this and can’t wait to learn from these people. Then we’ll head back to Paris, France for a week where we will try and be Jesus on the streets there. Finally, we’ll take the train up to Lille, France to try and be Jesus on the streets there. What’s really cool about Lille is that it is about 60% muslim. This is one of the cities where there were riots between muslim youth and police a couple of years ago so I’m pretty excited to walk those streets. I’ll try and update with pictures and stories from along the journey.

Grace and peace.

JT

christina and i have some cool things happening this summer.

1st of all, we’re taking a group of 10 students out to glace bay, nova scotia for 10 days from june 27-july 7. we’ll be working with dave and shirley sawler who are planting churches in cape breton. we’re really excited about this and it’s so cool to see the students getting excited as well. pray that God would continue to guide our steps.

2nd, we have this amazing opportunity.  for 3 weeks in august we’re heading to europe with greater europe mission to get our feet wet in the area of church planting, or as david fitch puts it, “seeding missional communities.” this is an area that christina and i have felt like the Lord might be leading us towards. we’ll spend the first week in hungary at a gathering of GEM’s church planters from all over europe. awesome. then the second two weeks will be spent walking the streets of paris getting a feel for the people there and getting involved in different things that God is doing there. here’s the kicker, all of our expenses are paid for. flights, trains, food, shelter. it’s paid. cool. so needless to say we’re pretty excited about this. i’ll be talking to the staff at church about this next week so be praying that they are supportive of this incredible chance we have.

it’s a lovely friday. get off the internet and go play.

peace.

today i went to a luncheon at our lady of grace parish here in aurora. it was really neat. i got to have a delicious lunch (and i mean delicious! we have a some kind of beef loin that was stuffed with goodness, with these great potatoes, brocolli, gravy and this dessert that looked way too good to even eat!) with a number of local pastors from a variety of theological backgrounds. there was myself from the pentecostal church, 2 pastors from the host catholic church, and 1 pastor each from the anglican, baptist and united churches. it was really neat to gather together with nothing on our agenda but to get to know one another better and chat. i’m glad i went because i found out about a number of things that are happening in the community for poor. i’m really hoping that we can get involved in that.

that kind of leads me into a bit of a sidenote. in my experience, one of the weaknesses with the PAOC is the hesitancy of the pastors to get involved with other churches and things that are already going on in the community. in my experience, PAOC pastors seem to think that they are theologically superior to pastors from other denominations. in addtion, rather than getting involved in a soup kitchen that is being run by the united and anglican church, a PAOC pastor would tend to want to start up their own soup kitchen.

again, i realize that i am generalizing here but this just seems to be much of what i’ve experienced in the PAOC.

my thinking is that the PAOC are not the only truthbearers in the community. rather, where there is Jesus, there is Truth (captial ‘T’), because Jesus IS Truth (Truth as person rather than right understanding of concepts). and it would seem to me, that if there are hungry people being fed, then Jesus is probably present, so why not get involved in that? light is light. right?

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last night i went to see the raptors take on the suns with jon gordon. first of all, any evening with jon gordon is a treat because his sense of humor and honesty really turns my crank. secondly, it was the highest scoring game i’ve ever attended with a final score of 136-123 in favour of the visitors. the raptors certainly didn’t have any problem scoring (despite the fact that they were without both bosh and bargnani). however, their defense (or lack thereof) was horrendous. jon and myself were repulsed at the number of open shots the raps gave the suns. it bordered on rediculous. barbosa must have had at least 5 wide open 3’s for the suns (all of which he made). all in all, a fun night.

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this past summer we at momentum did a week long mission trip to toronto where we served alongside urbanpromise toronto. yesterday i met with matt janes from STM network to chat about more STM (short-term missions) trips we could do in the summer of 2008 and again in 2009. so lots of exciting stuff there.

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the jetta is giving christina and i trouble. not good. but we’re thankful we have a car.

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christina and i leave for HERE in like a week (dec. 16). it will be amazing to get away for a week and relax. we’re obviously both PSYCHED for this trip!

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i feel like i’m learning more about God as time goes on. yet i still feel like i’m no where near ACTUALLY knowing him. but i feel like i’m home. i feel like for a long time i was away, lost, and now he’s led me home. what a nice feeling.

hello. i’m back. 2.5 weeks in ireland has come to an end and it’s back to newmarket, ontario for this one. i realize that i haven’t really writen a decent post in a while, and this won’t be that decent post. however, here’s a little update on the past few weeks:

– my friend dave and i randomly decided to travel down to NYC a few weeks ago. i say random because we decided on thursday morning that we were going to go and we left on thursday afternoon. it was awesome. we hung out in manhatten all day on friday. the highlight of manhatten was sneaking into ‘the peninsula’, a 5th avenue hotel overlooking central park, and going up to their rooftop patio to sunbath and relax for a couple of hours. however, the real highlight of the trip, and the reason for the trip, was game 6 of the nets/raptors series. as you all know, the raptors lost by 1 point in the dying seconds but it was awesome. we got our upperbowl crappy seats upgraded for free because dave had a broken femur. there was also a fight a few rows infront of us between and toronto fan and a jersey fan. cool.

rooftop patio on 5th ave.

– i’ve been struggling lately to be in the word and therefore, have been having a hard time walking in the Spirit. dangit.

– ireland was awesome. it was my uncles wedding in dublin (which was TIGHT!) and my grandparents 66th wedding anniversary in belfast. i just had such a great time. all my family was there even the ones from south africa, new zealand and canada! on the day we celebrated my grandparents anniversary we also celebrated two upcoming weddings: my cousin hollie’s, and my own. it was really special. i’ll post pics of the trip at another time.

some fam in ireland. myself, mom, clara, jessica, justin, christina, aisling, caoimhe.

– i love Christina.

the woman i love.

– i love Jesus and am hurt by my lack of intimacy with him as of late. Lord change me.- finished reading ‘sex god’ (bell) and have begun ‘simply christian’ (wright)

– i’m also excited for the summer. YEE!

peace.