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Lisa woke up to see the time way past what she had expected. She couldn’t even remember when she had slept off. Weary from the tempests of life, she laid with her back on the ground. Blankly staring at the smoke stained ceiling till she fell asleep.
Grabbing her coat from the rusty coat hanger, she stepped out for an evening stroll to clear her head.
After walking two blocks, she met some Christian fanatics who insisted on giving her gospel tracts. “Oh, please!” she thought. “God doesn’t want to have anything to do with me” she muttered as she politely collected the piece of paper from this rather aggressive group, screaming and yelling out lots of religious stuffs she couldn’t make out. She glanced at the paper which had boldly written ‘THE CROSS: YOUR ONLY WAY OUT’. How would there be only one way out? Even airplanes had at least 2 exit doors, she shook her head as she absent mindedly promenaded along the streets leading to the park.
Lisa hadn’t always been so unbelieving. There was a time she belonged to that group of fanatics, a time she believed in God, a time she even wore robes and sang in the choir. She gave Him her all, until…she tried to swallow a tight knot in her throat as she relived the most painful part of her life-he took her all. Some tears escaped her firm grasp and freely flowed down her high cheek bones. It still felt like it had just happened, every time she recalled mom and dad strapped in the flaming car with no exit whatsoever. The car doors were slammed, as the policemen told her after the accident with an oil tanker. Where was God when she sat in the hospital, praying, crying, praying again, and singing? With the stabbing pain that rushed out from the depths of her heart, she squeezed the little paper with all her might. They didn’t deserve to die. They were good people. If He could save others in the Bible she once loved reading but couldn’t save the two people she loved the most in the world, then there was no need to go on with Him.
She climbed a little hill located at the east side of the park they loved going to. It was their favorite picnic spot. Mom and dad always took her there on Saturdays, along with the freshly baked cookies mom loved making because she knew it was her favourite. She took in a deep breath, relishing the aroma from mom’s kitchen. Mom and dad really loved God. They always said she should trust in Him. She wiped a straying tear and looked up to the skies and whispered ‘are you there?’ A part of her wanted so badly to feel his presence envelope her and his love overwhelm her heart. She desperately needed answers to the why questions; why did they die? Why couldn’t he save them? Why did he abandon her?
It had been a year since she last stepped into church or said a prayer or even read her Bible. She suppressed every thought that reminded her of his presence. He didn’t love or care about her and most likely never existed. He was probably just another figment of her imagination.
Mustering all the strength within her, she screamed ‘God, are you there?!’ The thunder roared, the lightning flashed and the rain began to pour down but Lisa was unperturbed by the elements. She wanted closure so bad. She needed to know if He took her parents away just to hurt her or for the fun of it. She imagined He would bellow from the Heavens and give her answers. But He didn’t.
The silence that followed overwhelmed her as the tears began to flow uncontrollably. She had never felt more alone in her entire life. Soaking wet, she began to trudge downward, oblivious to the heavy downpour.
Of course, he had abandoned her. No doubt. The rain mixed with the tears on her face, flowing in torrents. She made a decision. There was no going back. Closed up from love, she picked a new path for her life. A path dark as the night. Cold as ice.
Mfon Etuk, 2015.
Shivers run down my spine like fingers on a dead winter’s night,
My lips frozen, skin shut tight like epileptic teeth-
Words buried, unspoken,
“Its zero degrees in here
Or am I just dreaming?
The sun is still overhead,
Why am I freezing?”
Feet can’t move,
Heart stops beating.
I watch a part of me leave.
My soul weeps at the loss of a memory.
No one in sight, empty plains,
Tears no one can wipe away stream down my soaking cheeks;
My screams are mere whispers, no more than soundless echoes,
Whispers no one can hear,
“I reach out but can’t feel a thing.”
My enemy, stuck like a brother,
The ghost keeps me awake at night, blanket to my chin,
Too frightened to fight-
I know that word only too familiarly,
A well of torment well unleashed.
Flowing in its torrents, swiftly running currents,
I float along, log of body wood-
“I lost me in you.”
Mfon Etuk, 2015
The hot mid-day sun liberally shines down on me, withholding nothing.
The light reflects on my sunshades
Queuing like ants searching for food, we all line up
At the mercy of the buses
When they would arrive, no one knows
Yet we patiently wait, unsure of the possibility of getting on the next bus.
No shade. The winds are on a standstill.
Been standing for a while now
40 minutes or 40 hours?
I’m afraid I can’t tell the difference
Looking at my phone screen-
My only companion
Hoping to get a ping or a buzz…
The blank screen reflects an image of me right now-
I sigh and look up, desperate for a bus.
Buses begin to drive by
None going on my route.
Tired commuters begin to sit on the hot pavement
The closest thing to comfort.
Whatever happened to the over 100 BRT buses?
Stuck in traffic?
Or the obvious fuel scarcity that has crippled every institution?
My mind shuts down for a minute
Unable to analyse the unpleasant situation.
I need a drink. Something cold.
I glance around searching for a mobile drink carrier.
Thankfully there he is! I quickly pay for the bottle of apple drink, twice its normal price and gulp like a girl who has sojourned the Sahara desert for a month without water.
The long queue behind me gives me a thin thread of hope to grasp.
It’s been 4 hours already.
I should be in bed right now.
My jacket is off and my shirt untucked
Shoes taken off, earplugs in place,playing songs that do little or nothing in easing my depression,
I’m sitting on the pavement with careless abandon
Don’t get me wrong, I’m way past anger and disappointment
I just want to go home.
A brilliant light penetrates through the dark night
As it gets closer, hope springs forth
Everyone scrambles to their feet.
Finally, it’s here.
I don’t care about the tiresome wait anymore
All that matters is that the bus is here and I’m on my way home.
Mfon Etuk, 2015
I haven’t blogged in a while and I feel so bad 😦 😦 😦
I have been looking for something big and beautiful to write but nothing has come to mind.
But then I got the inspiration to start Live Series where I write about my everyday life with or without the big explosive moments.
I hope you enjoy this.
For the past three weekends, I have been exploring my cooking skills.
I made Strawberry yogurt smoothie with banana and strawberry toppings. Along with fresh fruits. Yummy!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law- Gal 5:22-23
I made fun pink pancakes for breakfast alongside a cup of chocolate drink. I love colors and having my food colored is super cool! Thanks to a friend who gave me the recipe.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength- Neh 8:10
I made jollof rice, peppered beef and fried plantain. This was an anniversary meal for my sister and brother inlaw and thankfully they loved it!
I’m so proud of this meal because I’m quite a lazy cook; I don’t like cooking all the time but whenever I do, I’m all in 😀 😀 I know I should be more consistent with these things I take as mere hobbies. And so should you! What are those things you do with ease and take as mere hobbies? Why not use them to bless the world around you?
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men- Prov 22:29
Well, that’s what went on for the past three weeks I went MIA. By God’s grace I will be more consistent no matter how short the post is…I know there would be an inspiring message in there somewhere to help you live a victorious life.
Lemme get back to work, my lunch break is over *sobs*
Have a blessed day!
Mfon Etuk, 2015
I stepped out the door. The air’s crisper than the crease in Donald Trump’s pants. The cold air can’t keep my spirits down – I’m bouncing up and down like a kid who has to use the bathroom. Except I’m excited, not desperate.
I finally found the perfect present and I can’t wait to get home, wrap it, and ship it to my sister. The odds of finding a suitable present for Gail are as good as finding leftover dessert at a Baptist potluck. You could say Gail’s difficult to buy for. But that would be like saying my dog likes week-old garbage. It just doesn’t get across the depth of feeling.
You see, Gail’s got phobias. Lots of phobias. She’s scared of smells – and if you sniff hard, everything smells!
The DVD player we bought her a few years ago … well, she returned it because it smelled of perfume. It didn’t matter that it was made of metal, came from an electronics store — not a perfumery. In her mind, it smelled of perfume. And back it went.
Books smell of ink. Clothes smell like the dyes used to colour them. Sheets and towels have formaldehyde on them to make them perma-press.
But this year, I got something that I knew she would like – that wouldn’t have smells attacking her sensitivities. Gail always loved mom’s Royal Albert tea service. As a child, she always wanted to play with it – but of course she wasn’t allowed to touch it! I could tell she loved it. When we had company, the tea service came out and Gail would get this dreamy look on her face like a mental patient on prozak. She’d carefully caress the smooth porcelain with her just the tips of her fingers.
Mom’s tea service isn’t in service any more. The teacups went into a moving van long ago and never came out again and the overwrought teapot took its own life on a wooden floor twenty years ago. The pattern and pattern maker vanished long ago as well.
But today, yes, today, I found that forgotten pattern in a forgotten store in uptown Saint John. That bashful teaservice lerking in a dark corner of the timid shop, hiding itself from my wandering eye. I almost missed it. I approached like a hungry cat pouncing on the unsuspecting mouse. A Royal Albert tea pot. Two china tea cups and their saucers. No chips. No cracks. It isn’t perfect. It’s stained with dust. But that will wash—along with any odors.
If I wash it, dry it carefully, seal it in a plastic bag, she can’t complain of the smell. I know Gail’s love for Royal Albert will be stronger than her fear.
I can hardly wait. I long to hear the joy in her voice.
Three weeks later.
I mailed the package. I was notified by shipping company’s website it arrived two days ago. But Gail hasn’t phoned.
Did it get delivered to the wrong house? Is Gail sick? Why hasn’t she called?
“Gail, um, I sent you a parcel. The website says it was delivered two days ago. Did you get it?”
“Did you open it?”
“No. I could tell it was smelly.”
“Gail, how could you tell it was smelly if you didn’t open it?”
“You know I’ve got allergies. My muscles started feeling sore when I looked at it.”
“Right. So you didn’t open it.”
“I put it outside to air out.”
“Well, why don’t you open it outside and throw away the smelly wrapping paper and then bring the present inside.”
“But the smell from the paper would be on the present!”
“Gail…just go get the present.”
“Gail, get it!”
“I can’t. Someone must have taken it from the front lawn. It’s not there now.”
My joy has been cruelly killed – murdered mercilessly long distance. Weariness wraps around me like a boa constricter.
She didn’t even open the present.
Now I wish I could say I made this story up. Actually it’s half true. I didn’t buy Gail a tea service this year. The truth is that the DVD player we bought last year was stinky. It was returned. As were previous presents.
However, the story isn’t really about Gail. It’s about a gift. The gift that wasn’t opened.
It’s an allegory.
Perhaps we could say this story is about—food. Perhaps the wife takes my part in the story. I shopped, washed and wrapped the present. It took hours. kneading, prepping and cooking, the cook’s carefully shopped, washed and prepared her present. It’s taken hours and hours of toil, tenderness and attention.
The husband comes home, takes one look at the meal and says in his most romantic and tender way, “What’s that? My mother never made that! I’m not eating it!”
Hope and joy evaporate like drops of water on a red hot griddle. Hubby might as well take his wife’s hand and place it on that burning pan. Beause her heart just froze like pollywogs in December. It will thaw but the invisible scar will remain.
But this message isn’t just about Gail. And it isn’t about food. It isn’t just for husbands. Or just the wives. It’s for all of us.
God has prepared a great feast for us, given us all gifts.
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “come and dine! ‘
His largest and best gift is eternal life though his Son, Jesus Christ.
God’s also given peace and joy. He gives faith and healing. Tongues and knowledge to others. The ability to encourage. To sew. To paint. To laugh. To love.
And yet, we don’t open many of these gifts because we’re AFRAID. We don’t like the packaging. Or the paper they’re wrapped with.
“What’s that? I’ve never seen a Christmas present wrapped with turquoise wrapping paper before. The paper’s got to be green or red or it ain’t a Christmas present.”
I can only imagine God’s sorrow.
Today, open the gifts God has chosen just for you. And you’ll find: love, joy, peace, hope, endurance, faith and a whole lot more.
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “come and dine!”
Written by Jean V. Dickson and Randy J. Harvey.
Jean V. Dickson is a Canadian-based entrepreneur who puts creativity’s ZING into training and communications. For more information on creativity and innovation, visitwww.jvdcreativity.com and www.experientialexercises.com. Put some ZING into your corporate communications at www.powerpointjoint.com. For church zing, seewww.fatsheep.org and www.worshipzing.com.
Randy J. Harvey, Ph.D. is the Toastmasters 2004 World Champion of Public Speaking. He is an educator, lawyer, storyteller, speech coach, and award-winning speaker. Check out Randy’s website, www.randyjharvey.com, for articles andproducts to help you improve your presentation skills.
Alas!!!! Tis the season again, another year to pick a new king,
The drums, each with its unique beat and each representing a different clan, beating hard
But songs of war are being sang beneath the thunderous beat of the drums,
Evil motives moves the feet of the clan leaders, rather than the beat from their drums
Dis-trust and threats is masked under endearing smiles and embrace,
One would almost think he/she was in the presence of gods, in the graceful manner they carry themselves in the presence of fellow contenders,
But the people can’t help but notice the helpless sway of their eyes darting to the ultimate prize of the THRONE
One would think that it is the fountain of life itself.
Indeed, time draws nearer, excitement in the air,
The clans push forward the contenders, let the people choose they say
There are shouts of joy at the arena-
Suddenly it is cut short by a heavy mist of despair, screams of anguish, confusion and pain become the very air they breathe
What is this? They ask themselves
The wine we all drank is poisoned! Shouts one man
Who poisoned it? They all ask
But silence answers their question
Slowly the poison entwines with the heart and gives life to distrust amongst brothers, anger against elders, confusion amongst the wise and hatred to the very earth that gave life
The making of a king
No longer is a festival
But war, war not with enemies or strangers
But war amongst brothers
The war songs sound louder than the beating of the drums
Evil no longer wears the mask of a smile or an embrace
Feet move with an intent to kill.
The contenders look on from their high stools and give orders to those whom they choose for game…
Written by Miss Yelnen.