Sunday, 25 December 2011

Could It Be True?

There was born a Saviour,
oh not soo long ago.
He is the King of kings,
blessed be the name.

Quiet your hearts,
even of for only a moment,
and hear Him whisper your name.

He was but a baby,
who grew to be a man,
not unlike you and me.

The difference between me and Hun,
while I stumble and fall,
He never sinned.
For He was more than simple carpenter or wise teacher,
He is GOD.

I beg you, please stop for a moment or two,
and consider this:

A Saviour has been born to you,
He is Christ the LORD.

Friday, 23 December 2011

My View

This is the view from the window in my room. My roommates, in the room connected to mine by a bathroom, have an even grander view. Yes, we live in a slum hotel, but also live in downtown Vancouver.  Some of my friends live in the Balmoral Hotel (another Slum Hotel) on the seventh floor, and they can see the Science World ball from their room. We live on prime real estate. It is ironic. The downtown eastside is prime real estate. This is where gentrification comes into play. Gentrification refers to the changes that result when wealthier people ("gentry") acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size decreases in the community. It is commonly believed that this results in the displacement of the poorer native residents of the neighborhood, who are unable to pay increased rents, house prices, and property taxes. Often old industrial buildings are converted to residences and shops. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, move in, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to the poor (
I am not opposed to development, I live in a Slum Hotel I know firsthand the conditions of these old decrypted buildings, they do need to be improved. What I do oppose is the displacement of hundreds and hundreds of people. I see this happening in the DTES, people no longer can afford the housing and end up on the streets and in shelters. Also, in the attempts to "clean up" the neighbourhood, people who are considered "dirty" are pushed out. I am not opposed to "cleaning up" neighbourhoods, I live in the DTES, and it is dirty. I am opposed to labelling people as "dirty" and pushing them out of their neighbourhoods. Where do we expect people to go? We push them out of one neighbourhood into another and then push them out again. We keep pushing people out, people will not disappear.

Jesus Loves Me! This I Know For The Bible Tells Me So

The other morning I was listening to: Jesus Loves Me sung by my dear friend Adri-anne, who has been blessed with a voice of an angel! While listening to the words, I thought to myself “Jesus loves me, because the Bible tells me so?” I have sung this song a million and two times, as I am sure many of you have, but have never truly thought about the words:

Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

I encourage you to meditate on the words of this song. Read them out loud, pause and mediate on the words. Ask Holy Spirit to speak to you through the words, let yourself sink into the words, chew on them. Are the words true to you?
I found myself stuck on “Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so?” Recently (in the past 5 months) I have come to the realization that I know Jesus loves me in my head (because the Bible tells me so) but I do not truly madly deeply know that Jesus loves me in my heart. Ok, so what do I do about that? I want… no I NEED to experience Jesus’ love truly madly deeply. How does the truth that Jesus loves me run from my head to my heart? First, I need to confess to Jesus that I believe in my mind that He loves me, but I do not always believe in my heart. Then I need to ask Jesus to continue to reveal His abiding love to me. Also, I believe that our minds are transformed through the Word, so I need to mediate on God’s unconditional, everlasting, and perfect love for me.
Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so. Where does the Bible tell me that God loves me? This question brought The Father’s Love Letter ( to my mind:
My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.
Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.
Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.
Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented
by those who don't know me.
John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.
1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.
1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.
Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.
Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.
Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.
Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.
Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.
Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.
Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.
Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.
John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.
Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.
1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.
Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.
1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.
Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.
Luke 15:7
I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.
Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…
Will you be my child?
John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32

Your Dad Almighty God
Please note that this “letter” takes verses out of context, but I do believe that the message of the Bible is that God loves us. This letter wraps up the message of God’s love and puts a big red bow on it! I would suggest if you need to experience that Jesus loves you, mediate on the verses in this letter, one by one, asking Holy Spirit to speak the Truth into your mind and heart.
Jesus LOVES YOU, you can know this because the Bible tells you so! but don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself…

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Is the DTES a dark, dirty, depressing place? Absolutely.
Is there brightness, beauty, and blessing? Absolutely.
This is a shot of some graffiti that I walk past every morning on my way to breakfast, I love the bright colours. This is not the only art, there are many more murals and graffiti decorating the DTES.
This is a very dark, dirty and depressing place, but there is brightness, beauty and blessing, you just have to keep your eyes, minds, and hearts open to it.

A Snapshot

I want to share with you my life in the Downtown Eastside.

How do I do that? If you cannot hear the sirens, smell the urine, see the faces, meet the names and feel the heaviness in the air?

Being here in the Downtown Eastside is a holistic experience: mind, body, and spirit.

In the am when I awake (I don’t have an alarm, I let God wake me, or a few times my roomies have acted on God’s behalf, haha) I stretch out, check the time (usually around 6am) and remove the ear plugs, the sounds of the streets come crashing in, oh gosh! Good morning.

I jump out of bed, shake out my slippers (you never know what might have spent the night) and grab my pink polka dot house coat, if my heater didn’t make through the night it is very very very cold (my widow is single pained and held in by packing tape).

First order of business: pee! As I shiver on the toilet, no heat in the bathroom, I consider crawling back into bed.

Next I go and switch the breaker so that I can get some heat (I normally do this about 5 times before giving up and just start praying that God would heal my electrical outlets). I go over to my roomies room (who generally are still asleep (maybe I should be?) and plug in the hot water kettle (peppermint tea solves all my problems: it wakes me up, warms me up and settles my tummy). As I wait for the water to boil, I put on worship music and stretch out with yoga.

If I have time I will take a few moments to just be silent before God (this is ideal), but usually I am scrambling to put clothing on, make it down the stairs, and to breakfast (which is about a 3 minute walk away at a Salvation Army Rehab). I look forward to my breakfast every morning: hot porridge. Some may not appreciate porridge, but I love it! I take some nuts to add protein and I enjoy every last bite, mmmmmmm.

After breakfast I go back to room to spend time with Jesus for about an hour, and then it is another scramble to get out of the door and to school. Every morning (except Wednesday, we go to St. James for liturgy, this a new experience for me, not my favourite, but it is good to try something different) we start with praying the Bible (we walk in a circle and read the Bible out loud, sounds strange, but it grows on you).

The rest of the day is filled with classes (Who Is Jesus? Can You Here Me? Biblical Interpretation, Evangelism, Consistent Life Ethics, God’s Story, Memorizing the Bible, Celebrate Recovery, and Deliverance) and/or Drill (think P.E.), volunteering (I am working at a thrift store), or Squad (the girls get together, drink tea, share, and pray for each other). In the evenings I am at either League of Mercy (we go visit people and take people out for tea), Re:cre8 (a street cafĂ©), Knee Drill (like a church service, but don’t tell the Whites I said that), Caribou Hill Temple (a church service), Life Force (we walk the streets and ask people if they want prayer) or Cell (Bible Study). In the in between I try to do homework, rest, meet with friends and do all those random to dos that we all have on our lists. We have full days; generally they are good days, not always fun, but usually fulfilling.

In the pm (I try to be in bed before 11pm) I hit the springs (really, I can feel almost every spring in my mattress) and I pray that God would protect me from the bed bugs (“don’t let the bed bugs bite” has a whole new meaning!), cockroaches, mice, evil spirits, and any other harm, I put in my pink ear plugs, because the sirens and partiers have not got the memo: it is bed time! And I hope that my heater stays on through the night (to be honest I am mostly concerned about my orchids, they are freezing to death!).

Isn’t interesting that I started this post off trying to“share my life with you” and I ended up by giving you a description of what I do. I do therefore I am. This is a similar to how when we meet people we most often ask “what do you do?” We are defined by what we do. I am a busy busy War College student. It used to be (and in some cultures it still is) that we were defined by who our family was (specifically our fathers) so I would be Maria the daughter of Paul Bulk. Also, where we were from so I would be Maria Bulk of Victoria (or the Downtown Eastside, when does a place become home?).

I did not intended to write a blow by blow account of my day, but I think it does demonstrate that it is very difficult to share with you what it is like to be in the Downtown Eastside… so you will just have to come and visit (though even visiting will not give you the whole experience, so you should join War College! (Though I think that being here for only one year will only take me so deep, to truly become part of this community I would need to make a long term commitment)).

Self-denial? No Thank You

 A new post on The War College blog: please check it out :)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Homeless Jared

This is a picture that I took of my friend Jared (He is in The War College with me) on our first night sleeping on the streets. At the start of our two day and two night experience when I asked Jared if he was scared or nervous he shrugged his shoulders and said "it is like camping in the city." I think he summed up how different out "adventure" was compared to someone who is trying to survive on the streets night in and night out with no end in sight. Our experiences was by no means all campfires and s'mores, but it was also not the hopeless, oppressive and dangerous existence that so many people are living (or rather dying) in every night.
This picture reminds me of the thoughts I had running through my mind that night as I lay in the dark park fearing that the copes would find us and kick us out, "Oh please don't let the cops bother us, I'm so tired, I just want to sleep, I'm not hurting anyone, no one is using this park right now, why can't we sleep here?" I only had to sleep in the cold (though not that cold, it was September) and fear for two nights, there are people who are sleeping out in the cold, alone, hopeless, sick, hurting and afraid right now! How are we going to help them?

Tis Is The Season