Friday, November 28, 2008


It's been a while since we last wrote and a few good things have happened around here since then. November has been a fruitful month for us in Montreal because two whole weeks of it were dedicated to finding our places here in terms of internships and volunteer work. First of all, Lauren and I have both found volunteering opportunities! We originally wanted to find something to do together and we did (working at a soup kitchen), but the health risks posed a threat to lil' D so we opted out. We were bummed out at first because we thought we had finally settled on a volunteering place; nonetheless, the very next day (which was yesterday), Lauren met with a lady who works for an organization called Women Aware ( This organization's mission statement is "to assist and empower women who have experienced conjugal violence through self-help and advocacy in order to improve their quality of life and affect social change." Lauren had a really personable, good meeting with one of the only two full-time staff of this organization. The lady loved Dennis; in fact, Lauren told me that several times their conversation was halted simply to revel in his cuteness. She told Lauren that he was welcome to come along any time she volunteered, which works out really well for us. At almost the same time, I was meeting with an organization called The Yellow Door ( which does a whole variety of things for the community and is tucked in right next to McGill University. One of the reasons I chose to check this place out was because it combined three things that I have interests in: service to the elderly, music, and a direct tie to the university's inter-faith chaplaincy. Primarily, I have scheduled a training session a week from Tuesday for volunteering in the elderly program. Eventually, I hope to take advantage of the music cafe and the chaplaincy as well.
As far as internships go, Lauren (as most of you know) has been involved in her internship for almost four months now, called motherhood. Dennis Michael, or Pass The Torch (his Native American name), is not the sleeper he once was so he's giving Lauren or both of us a run for our money at nap time and nighty-night time. Lauren's patience is blossoming into a permanent character trait. She's a natural! For my internship, the details are yet to be determined but the foundation will be an in-depth study of prayer. I have already compiled a number of books to read through various recommendations and also have begun something called "spiritual direction" at a place called the Ignatian Spirituality Centre. I have met with my director, Sister Mary Ellen (she's been a nun for 52 years!), two times and plan on continuing to meet weekly for the duration of the time I'm here. At the Ignatian Centre they teach you to pray through meditation and contemplation on scripture; something I'm just beginning to learn about! I'm positive that there will be more to the internship than this study of prayer, but at this point am not sure exactly what it will be.
We're spending this coming week out in the country with a neighboring YWAM school. Ironically, we have better internet access out in the country than in the city; so, we'll have more blogs and pictures up soon. Thanks for caring.
Denny, Lauren, and Pass The Torch

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Toronto Trip

Although it's been over two weeks since we returned from our week-long trip to Toronto, I'm determined to keep it fresh in my memory. One way to do that is to write a short blog about it!

Altogether we visited four different kinds of "ministries" or organizations; all four had a profound impact on us--thanks to Pierre, our school director, who organized the whole trip. The first night in Toronto we were beautifully hosted by John Franklin (the director of Imago []) and his wife. Imago is an organization that helps artists raise funding for completing their projects. John, like our director, Pierre, feels strongly that arts (serious arts) have somehow become obsolete in many areas of Christian culture. He is determined to encourage all forms of artistic expression within and outside of Christian circles.
The other ministry we visited was one similar to YWAM called Ignite Youth. It is a team of 7 or 8 people from all over the world who have come together in a specific area in Toronto, Regent Park, to basically help the poor community there. The leader of this organization, Geoff Ryan, also has a church (although he likes to call it a community) and a cafe, where he offers good food to the poor or the street people for very low cost. Geoff was quite a contrast from John. Geoff struck us as a very literal, concrete person who believed the best way to live out the gospel would be to serve the poor and under-priveleged. John, on the other hand, emphasizes the arts, which too often have no relevance when it comes to the poor. A lot of our conversations that week centered around this conundrum: how do we reconcile something as high-class as quality art with serving the poor?
The third ministry we visited was called Sanctuary. This place was an old church turned into a sort of soup kitchen for the homeless of downtown Toronto. What struck me the most about this ministry was what the director, Allen, explained to us about really caring for the poor. He said that caring for the poor did not mean just pitying them, or even feeling sympathy for them (and therefore feeding them); no, the most true, holistic way we can care for the poor is to see them as people created in the image of God who undoubtedly have a purpose and a unique make-up. Now, you might wonder: how do we make that concrete? He said it meant entering into a relationship with them just like you would with any other person. For example, if you saw that person on the street, hungry and without any money, obviously you would help that person. In conversation, you would listen to that person not just out of sympathy, but out of a genuine interest in his/her own life and how it can positively affect yours. It was profound to me to think of serving the poor in this way, not just out of sympathy, but out of a sincere conviction that real relationship is the only way to restore self-esteem and a sense of purpose to these people.
The last ministry we visited was called New Directions. Basically, this organization exists to bridge the huge chasm that has too long existed between mainstream Christians and the homosexual population. The director, Wendy Gritter, coherently deconstructed for us the different traditions of thought on homosexuality within Christianity. She spoke of the different levels of acceptance that exist in different Christian communities.
She started with the churches that view homosexuality as an abomination, and as a sure ticket to hell. Of course, these types of communities are definitely not abundant, but nonetheless still exist. The next level of acceptance are those that see homosexuality as a sickness that needs to be cured. They believe that a person can eventually come around to heterosexuality if he/she gets enough help. After that, there are those who are willing to accept--and not try to change--those with homosexual tendencies, as long as they are not acting on it or, in other words, remaining celibate. I would say most Christian churches fall in to one of the two above levels of acceptance.
The next level would be an acceptance of homosexual behavior, as long as that person is in a monogamous, dedicated relationship with his/her partner. There's probably only a few churches that ascribe to this level of acceptance, comparable to the numbers of the above mentioned zero-acceptance churches. The last level is one of total acceptance of any kind of homosexual behavior, monogamous or not. These people are usually the ones that refer to anything else as oppressive. I don't think there are any Christian churches that would ascribe to this perspective.
It was quite an all-encompassing run down of the present relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. She pushed us to continue the conversation in our Christian communities so that this issue (often viewed as taboo) would no longer remain stale and tucked away.
My feelings are that somewhere along the way within the Western Christian mindset homosexuality became something undoubtedly ugly, horrible,and irredeemable, and yet Jesus never says much about it. So, how do we as Christians approach this issue in a new way that will make genuine conversation possible with the homosexuals around us? Too often we're scared to death of anything that has to do with it. As long as that fear persists, the huge chasm between us and the homosexual population will only grow wider, and nothing will occur except one side blindly judging the other.
For me, this is challenging and I'm not sure how to respond to it exactly. I feel strongly about opening up conversation, and yet am not sure I would have the courage to actually do so in a real life context. But we can start here with this blog and I invite anyone to share their thoughts and feelings on the matter so we can all have a better educated perspective on the issue. One other source is the blog of the director of New Direction, Wendy Gritter. If you're interested, her web address is

Well, that was not a short blog. I apologize for misinforming you in the intro. We'll be back soon with to share more exciting adventures. Thanks for caring.

Denny, Lauren, and lil' D

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mailing Address

A few people have emailed us about our mailing address, so I thought it would be easiest just to post it (we love mail- hint, hint!):

Jeunesse En Mission
1204 Boul. Saint-Joseph
Montreal, QC
H2J 1L6