12.18.2012 |

acts 4 is an encouraging passage to read because in these words it is obvious that peter and john were ordinary men with no special training; however, people could recognize jesus in their lives by the things they said and how they treated people so much that they could not deny the work of christ.  peter and john were overwhelmed by the promise in christ that they could not stop telling people of the hope in christ.  because of their souled out lives to spreading the gospel, many people believed and were able to experience the freedom in the lord.  this was a beautiful picture as i headed out to a world who does not naturally reach for the lord.  i am not extraordinary in my "bible knowledge" and i definitely have no "special training."  my prayer is that i would conduct a life so blatantly changed by the lord.

thus far, i have met some incredible people from ALL over the world.  i may put a list up later, because it is quite remarkable the melting pot of awesomeness that is this city.  but, if there is one person that has impacted my trip more than any other thus far, it is none other than irene carlson.  i wish i could depict irene in words, but truly, there are none to adequately portray the beautifulness of this woman.  irene's birthday is today (december 18) and she is turning 69 years old.  irene is from nova scotia but has been in vancouver for a long time.  she has 3 driven children who have been very successful.  proudly, irene showed me scrapbooks she has made with newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and modeling photos of all her children.  the word "beautiful" pales in comparison to what her children look like. irene was in a terrible, i mean terrible, car accident a few years ago.  she was actually pronounced dead and taken to the morgue.  because there was no room in the freezers at the morgue for irene, she had to lay next to the freezers.  when a young employee in training went to move irene, irene started making noise and moving her pinky.  irene was quickly rushed to the hospital and treated.  if i were that man who moved irene, i would have run out of there screaming "ZOMBIE" at the top of my lungs.  irene still has pain associated with the wreck and wears about ten layers of clothing constantly because she is always freezing cold.  irene went on to tell me more about her life, her children, her travels, her loves, etc.  we chatted inside her small boutique for nearly an hour.  i invited her to the life community center for jennifer's goodbye party–jennifer was an intern here for a 2 year commitment, but ended up staying for 3.  irene actually came to the party and had the time of her life meeting others, listening to live iranian music, and eating authentic foreign cuisine.  

you see, i have learned so much from irene.  in irene's words, there were several emotions. before talking to irene, i guess i made assumptions about life, or rather took some realities for granted.  we are one people in that we are all hurting, we all want more out of life, we all need a friend to listen to us, and we all want to be loved and valued and respected.  sure, these are things i have always known, but after i left irene, my outlook on life completely changed.  irene opened my eyes to what real pain, loneliness, and need looked like.  there have been things in our lives that have happened that have helped shape who we are today.  sometimes we stuff those things down and let them depress every aspect of our lives.  sometimes we explode out of anger and leave shrapnel in every life we touch.  sometimes we pretend like everything is absolutely perfect when our lives are imploding on ourselves.  sometimes we blow things out of proportion when we really have it pretty well off.  after talking to irene, talking to people (i mean random strangers walking their dog down the street) became essentially effortless.  

the man who is standing on the street corner has hurt and pain behind his disinterested eyes.  the girl gazing out the window on the bus may have just been laid off or may have had a parent just die.  the list is endless and you don't even realize how many people you come into contact with until you actively engage in conversation with people, even if it is just to say hello.  we are all hurting, and aching; and yes, when we want to stop feeling sorry for our exaggerated hangnail of a "problem," we can admit having reasons to celebrate.  

however, do you realize the simplicity of a smile yet the impact it can create in someone's day? case and point: roy and i found it very difficult to have simple conversations with people unless we were sitting in coffee shops, and even at that, people were in and out quickly.  so we turned the day around just as the clouds cleared out and the sun came out over the mountain.  we just smiled, said hello, and asked how people's days were going.  most people were surprised when we just said hello, but i could honestly see a bleakness in their eyes melt away.  it was the neatest thing.  also, i was walking down the street in north vancouver and i man is sitting on the sidewalk playing (well, more like touching the strings) on the guitar.  broken by his state, i reach into my pocket and pull out the only thing i honestly had on me.  it was 3 canadian quarters.  i stopped and talked to him expressing that it was all i had.  he said word for word, "it's okay girl, that is why i don't ask for money. you see, your smile is just enough to get me through the day."  

so remember the next time you are on the bus, in line at starbucks, or waiting for your appointment that the people around you may need a kind hello, a soft smile, or a simple conversation.  not everyone will be warm and friendly to you.  "you are a stranger, why are you talking to me?" but be intentional with your kindness and channel it to those around you.  if every where you went your goal was to learn at least one new thing about just one person, at the end of the day you may have been 10 different places, which means 10 unique people.

we are all in need. give a smile. lend an ear. give some time.  your life will be forever changed.  

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