Archives for the month of: July, 2018

Note from Erinn: Saying goodbye to Olivia is hard. We all not-so-secretly wish she could stay. She has eagerly participated in all that we do at The Dale and we deeply value her presence. Olivia: you are a kind, sweet spirit. Thank you for sharing yourself, deliberately building relationships, and offering to help in such a variety of circumstances. I am grateful for your smile, your hugs, and your quiet and thoughtful strength. There is no way this is goodbye, because there will always be a place for you at The Dale. You are loved. 

I have been working with the Dale for almost three months now, and unfortunately it is time for me to say ‘goodbye’. I have learned so many things from this experience. I do not think it is possible for me to have done more for The Dale than what The Dale has done for me.

There is a passage in the Bible that says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalms 139: 13-14) This truth from Scripture is a powerful reminder to me, that I have been designed by God and it is wonderful. This truth also applies to each person I have met, shared a coffee with, or played ukulele alongside.

Each friend that I have made in Parkdale is so unique. So many of them love to create and are willing to share what they have more than most people I meet do. But most importantly, they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. I was always reminded of this when I met someone new and they told me what makes their heart happy, such as poetry, gardening, or singing. Even in times of difficulty, like seeing someone in the hospital or someone frustrated and upset, I was reminded me that we are the body of Christ, we are the church, and each are so loved by God.

One personal struggle that I have dealt with my whole life, is feeling like my weaknesses are so big that I am not qualified enough to do ministry: that my shy personality and nervousness gets in the way of relationship building and speaking in front of large crowds. But, God is constantly trying to teach me that I am wonderfully made and that He is using me in my weakness. Entering a new space can be difficult, but when I came to the Dale I felt like I walked into open arms. I came to give, but instead they embraced me with found gifts and sweet encouragement. Every time I felt like I messed up, we laughed together. When difficult news spread, we cried together. The Dale showed me that doing ministry does not require a specific and perfect personality, but simply someone who will say “yes” to going; someone who will say “yes” to loving others and joining with one another in the messiness of life.

Being at the Dale exposed a new side of this type of work to me, one that goes deeper. I not only met and built relationships with individuals from the neighbourhood but got to hear their life stories and sometimes meet their family members. This was over-and-above any of my other experiences, which was usually to meet someone, maybe give out food, but then move on. There was something special about being welcomed into homes and meeting the parents, children, and spouses of the friends we love. This made me think about how life goes on after a meal program ends or after I get on the bus to go home. Each of these dear friends have a different circumstance to go home to and that I should not stop thinking about them or praying for them when I leave.

These are only some of the many reflections and discoveries I have learned during my time with the Dale. I am so thankful for Erinn, Joanna, and Meagan for welcoming me onto their team, taking the time to show me the ropes, and for exhibiting how to serve and love a community so well. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but I know I will see them all again when I visit Toronto.

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There’s a four-wheel loader, otherwise known as a Bobcat in my backyard. The basement has been demolished, revealing strange things like no framing or insulation along certain walls, wood panelling, and linoleum tiles. A film of dust covers everything, at least on the first floor. Orange fencing surrounds the front yard. And maybe most traumatically, the porch is gone, leaving the porch swing beached for now.

Renovations have begun.

I am grateful that my brother Logan is our contractor. We communicate easily and have the same vision for things. One day six of our friends showed up to help Logan get all of the debris into a bin. It got done so quickly, that some of them were able to stay and continue working, notably taking down the drywall from the ceiling. To say I am thankful is an understatement.

As many of you know, Dion has not been living at the house since January. Multiple Sclerosis, though constantly present, reared its head in a dramatic way for him at that time. Since then he has been adjusting to a new normal at three different facilities, Michael Garron Hospital, Bridgepoint, and now Bellwoods. This period has been a very difficult one for him, and for me and Cate. I don’t quite know how to describe it all. Suffice to say, while there are good things happening, I am also scared, sad, and tired.

The plans for the house include digging down and underpinning, putting in a lift from the main floor to the basement, a barrier-free washroom, and space for a hospital bed. We have no idea when it will be done. Currently Dion is receiving good care at his new place, and outpatient physiotherapy at Bridgepoint.

With everything going on, I have chosen to be pretty quiet here lately. I haven’t known what to write, even though writing often helps me sort out my thoughts. I am trying to live in the tension of a life that is full to the brim, and some days it all feels like too much. I’m looking for ways to rest and am eagerly anticipating having the month of August off from work. There is a lot to process, and I’m hoping for a little more space in my brain to do just that.

I do wonder if there is something symbolic about having to tear down old things in order to make something new. As strange as it is to have a Bobcat parked where my car usually is, there is something exciting about it all. Things are happening. And that, however messy it is and nervous it all makes me, is good.

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Julie Gold has been found! While we can’t share details, what we can say is that she is safe. Thank you to everyone who has been looking, praying, sending good thoughts, and sharing her picture. To say we are relieved is an understatement. We are crying tears of joy.

Julie Gold is a member of The Dale community and a friend. We have recently learned that Julie has been missing for eleven days. The last time she was at The Dale was June 24th. Though from Uxbridge, Julie made the long trek to Parkdale on a regular basis (always to my amazement). There is evidence that she may currently be in the Toronto area. We join together with Julie’s family in deep concern that she be found.

We have been instructed by the police to ask the following should you have any information about Julie:

Please contact the Toronto Police at 416-808-2222, or in case of emergency, 911. This is Durham Regional Police case #18-136926. The officer in charge is Police Constable Gerritts, Badge #3521, 905-579-1520 ext 2000. PC Gerrits can also be reached by email at 3521@drps.ca

Julie is 5’8″, has a medium build and shoulder length brown hair. Those are important features to know as you look. Please also know that Julie is the kind of friend who consistently encourages me to take time out for myself and regularly offers to meet for a drink (she doesn’t like coffee, but knows I do) or a lakeside walk. She is: a loyal friend and a lover of cats; can be very quiet and has a great laugh; is quick to help with the dishes and gives good hugs.

Julie: may you know deep in your core that you are loved. I hope you are safe. We all do. 36636842_10156213384211223_3177978359669850112_n