We've made it to Calgary! And it's a lovely day, blue skies, no wind & a top of 0degC (that's good). Chris has struggled again this week with one injury piling on top of another so he's split his time up into a mixture of walking, riding in cars & sitting in coffee shops waiting for me to arrive. The week almost began on a sour note after a warm wind (called a Chinook) swept through Lethbridge the night before we left & melted the snow. No sooner had it began to melt the snow & it disappeared as the temperature droped again, now freezing the melted snow into solid slabs of ice. As Chris & I started off in the early morning freeze I slipped on a driveway & my feet shot forward sending me airborne. I crashed down backwards but thankfully landed flush on my backpack, which took the full brunt of my weight. I did sustain a sore neck from the whip-lash of my head coiling back over the back-pack but I was thankful to not be one of the 25people who were rushed to hospital that morning after similar falls (or so I read in the paper the next day). This past week was blessed with more speaking engagemnts than any preceeding it. I was invited to speak to a numebr of classes at the Catholic Central High in Lethbridge, then speak with both tv news crews in the small city as well as the local radio station. I also had an interview with the Lethbridge newspaper & incredibly the jornalist phoned ahead for me & organised for me to stay with his mother in the next town! I was very grateful. In the evening I headed off to the Youth Group that met at the High School (though they'd came from neighbouring towns & schools as well) & I had an oppurtunity to speak there. I was so impressed with how focussed this group was! They had a lot of fun & enjoyed each others company but at the same time they were so focussed on Christ & to put a finer point on it, couldn't stop talking about how good God is. They were alive to the max. the next day on the road I was blessed to have Stan & Kathy pull up alongside us with warm food & my socks & undies, which I'd left in their dryer. All day people were hitting their horns as they drove past & I thought it was starting to get to me, "Why are you tooting at us! We're not on the road!" At the end of the day we discovered that the local radio station was giving updates of our progress & inviting people to encourage us by tooting their horn. I would have prefered that they throw chocolate at me or something like that, but it was a great encouragement none-the-less (once I'd found out why they were doing it.) In our next town, while staying with the journalists mum, Jean, we were invited to speak at a Rotary Club meeting & with the Pumpkin Club at the A&W. Both Chris & I thought it was funny that I'd be speaking at a pumpkin club & assumed that the A&W stood for somthing like, "The Albertans Women's Club" or something to that effect, but we both started laughing when we pulled up to the A&W highway fast food restaraunt. In any case, it was warm & cosy with our hot breakfast in front of us as I recounted the call to pray for Christian unity. In the evening Chris & I where 'dobbed in' by Jean to be waiters at the Fort Macleod annual Senior Citizens Christmas Dinner. How could we say no to Jean? We actually worked reasonable hard that night but had some fun doing it. We didn't break anything though Chris managed to drop a knife down the industrial dishwasher's drainage outlet causing a few blank looks between the two of us. Thankfully we were able to get it out eventually & off we went again. The temperature on the daily walks has hovered between -20degC & -10degC most days though the last two have been milder & I have only needed to wear one pair of gloves. The cool temperatures have caused minor problems with our water freezing regularly & our food becoming the equivalent of flavoured cement blocks. A few weeks ago actually I was trying to eat an energy bar but couldn't break a piece off. So I clamped my teeth down on it & began to work it up & down with my right hand. After a minute or so it was only moving a few mm's but it eventually began to loosen up until, "Bang!" It snapped in half on an upward motion, sending my clenched fist flying into my eye socket. I actually staggered sideways for a few steps & then had to stop to clear my head. Oww, that hurt. A quick check up & down the road to make sure no one had seen me right hook myself & I continued on gingerly, now with two energy cement bars. In the town of High River we attended the local parish for Saturday night mass & as we were leaving were invited to stay for the youth group that was about to begin. The deal though was that before the speaking part of the youth group they would be visiting the Manor Nursing Home & then the local hospital to sign Christmas Carols! So off we went, carolling our way through the High River Senior Citizen caring facilities. We had fun, didn't get booed & arrived back at the church again without loosing anyone. After a chat with the youth group about praying for unity & the walk to-date Chris & I were invited to stay with two of the parishoners, who took great care of us. Chris drove to the next town of Okotoks & I walked in to meet him at around 1pm. From there we walked together through the streets stopping at St Peter's Anglican Church, The Uniting Church & then St James Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was brand new. It was double tiered, spacious, double data projectors with a huge sound desk. More to the point though, the people were lovely & I was invited to speak after the homily, then taken out to dinner before being dropped at another parishoners house (Frank, Louise & Kerry) to sleep for the night. Thank you for your hospitality! The next morning I met up with Fr Jack & a few more parishoners at the local coffee shop & we talked some more. Fr Jack has done some extensive work with a Lutheran Church in building a shared facility & his assitant priest was ordained an Anglican priest. The Uniting church also had an intersting background with three churches coming together to worship & study as one. On an international front, if you haven't heard, there is some extremely encouraging work taking place between the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican & Lutheran churches at this very moment. Check it out if you have the time (or are interested at all). There are so many pieces to the puzzle of unification of Christians & so for those of us not directly involved in talks & theological discussion we still have a major role to play on two fronts; prayer & in putting love into action with all around us. I hope everyone's Christmas preparations are filling you with joy & not with debt & I'll see you again next week from somewhere near Edmonton! God bless & peace be with you, Sam.
"You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did." James 2:22
ps: A huge congratulations to Dave Callaghan & Dan Strickland back home in Australia who have been 'ontilogically changed', which apparently means they have been ordained as Deacons. Congratulations fellas! I mean... Reverends.