Archive for April, 2015

REFLECTION in the garden: When it rains…

Thursday, April 30th, 2015


Although it was overcast, the beautiful floral pictures in a forwarded e-mail inspired me to go outdoors to capture the blooms in the garden . As I began to sort through the photos, the sky broke open and the rain began to fall. I realized that the beauty was still there, but the down pour prevented me from continuing to enjoy the beauty. As I deleted the blurry ones and enhanced and cropped the others, I sensed that words needed to be included with the pictures. The music was chosen randomly and the words began to flow as if they were meant specifically for each picture. What was difficult to fathom was the pictures remain in the exact order in which they were taken. All I can say to this is God’s hand was definitely in the making of “When it rains…” He was the true Director.

Please consider viewing… May it bring healing and hope to all.

God bless,

Melissa – April 28, 2015

The makings of Believe Street Meal

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015


It was some time in 1995 or ‘96 when I first met her at Lynn Valley Full Gospel Church.  It was during a breakfast gathering while we both sat at a round table when I asked, “Is there anything in particular that you need for your ministry?” Her answer was “vitamins”.  The woman I am referring to is Ellen Shonta, better known as “Mom” to those on the streets… and it was there and then that my walk with her street ministry began.

Ellen’s ministry began by making and distributing sandwiches to the youth that hung outside her building.   I’m not sure how it expanded, but by the time I met her, many of the congregation at Lynn Valley Full Gospel were preparing over 100 loaves of sandwiches each Monday for her to distribute nightly as she made her rounds through Granville Street, down Robson and up Denman Street.  Her target was connecting with the youth, but she fed anyone and everyone she met, regardless of their age.  Being a mom herself, Ellen ensured that the youth stayed away from drugs and prostitution by stipulating that she would not feed them if they strayed to the east end of Vancouver where the drug pushers and the pimps frequented.

As she won their confidence, Ellen’s relationship with the street youth grew.  She was their friend and their advocate.  She was the one who shampooed a young boy’s hair when he didn’t know how to shampoo his own.  I was stumped over this for a while until I realized that as a young mom, it was I who had taught my children how to bathe and this lad didn’t benefit from the same.  While it was still legal, she would take one or two youth into her place, helping them and encouraging them to find the beauty and goodness in themselves.

Ellen never forced her Christian faith on anyone.  She told them that she was praying for them, but she would never force one to pray or listen to preaching before she fed them.

Ellen’s use of a scooter facilitated her ministry.  Eventually someone built her a four wheeled trailer and she and/or helpers would make their evening rounds with it in tow… and the “turkey-a-la-king” ministry was born.  It started out with a few deboned turkeys prepared in an “a-la-king” style every Easter and Thanksgiving but eventually, it extended to 8 roasted and deboned turkeys-a-la king, soup, stuffing and mashed potatoes on every special celebration.

In 2007, after the passing of her mom, Ellen retired from her famous Mom’s Agape Street Ministry so she could care for her family of origin.  And in 2008, the first Believe Street Meal was served on Easter Monday.

The Believe Street Meal comprises of ordinary people who share a common desire to provide a hot, healthy meal to the less fortunate (homeless and/or low income) living around downtown Vancouver.  Monetary funding is mostly provided by those who cannot actively take part.  Others donate goods in kind, baking and cooking from their own kitchen, donating dental hygiene, other supplies and clothing from their own purchases or from their business.  The use of a parish industrial kitchen and additional accessories (buffet pans, tables and serving utensils) has been extremely beneficial as it has opened the door for many to prepare and cook together while allowing friendships to grow and blossom, and also providing the necessary serving tools that would have had to be purchased for each meal.  All the labour offered comes from the overflowing love of God for each volunteer.

The call to service is never without glitches and hence, the Believe Street Meal is totally dependent on the power of prayer.  Although they may not be on the front line serving the guests or actively preparing the meal, the prayer warriors are a crucial partner of the ministry.

To end, I’d like to share a series of photos with you… (Mission Statement and a Testimony of a former Street Youth is at the end.)

God bless,

Melissa – April 23, 2015

p.s. – The following is a news clip of Ellen Shonsta, our former street Mom, during her active years…


REFLECTION: Trust in the Lord…

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

This hasn’t happened before, but my right hand is trembling a bit this morning.  It’s not that it hasn’t trembled before, but it’s the first time it’s shaken on the day of our street meal food preparation and cook off.  I purposely didn’t do anything strenuous the previous days and the only aggressive hand movement I made was knitting, if that in itself could even be considered a heavy hand work out.

Although I’ve done this many times before, I’ve had a hunch the battle would be bigger this time.  A special prayer request had been circulated a week earlier so that the protection and the blessings would begin to flow.  Without reason, fatigue began to creep in and then “forgetting to breathe” (better known as shortness of breath or perhaps anxiety) popped up every so often.

Perhaps high levels of adrenaline has already been circulating as I’ve rehearsed repeatedly in my mind what has to be done.   Perhaps fatigue prevents me from bouncing off the walls and so the energy flow has to move elsewhere while I have been challenged to rest and wait for one and a half more hours before we begin.   Patience and peace Lord… patience and peace.

He reminds me… Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord…”  Yes Lord, I will   I trust in You.   I offer You my heart.  Take all that is within me and use it for Your glory.  I offer the day’s work to You.  Take my hands, my skills, my stamina and even my quirks and use them.  “Lean NOT on your own understanding”…  You’ve got me there Lord!  I offer my thoughts to You.  I offer the 5 huge defrosting bags of pre-cooked rice to you.  I’m not sure how they’re going to be good for serving with the meal Lord, but I’ll trust in You.

Father, why have I been worrying about 5 bags of frozen pre-cooked rice?  It sounds so silly, but that’s been bugging me since I bagged them several weeks ago.  Help me to surrender all this ridiculous thoughts to You Lord.  Father, distract me…PLEASE?

Your prayers would be appreciated for today and our street meal tomorrow.

Thank you for your prayer support and Lord, thank YOU!  Wink, wink…

God bless,

Melissa – April 18, 2019 – 11:54 a.m. (food prep starts at 1:00 – one more hour!)


REFLECTION in the Garden: Weeds…

Friday, April 10th, 2015

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You should have seen them!  The weeds I came across at my friend’s house were ripe with seeds.  In a few more days, the slightest breeze would have triggered a large bombardment of seeds flinging all over the area, reseeding the plot of soil.  I’m sure that would have made a spectacular sight if it was recorded in a time lapsed movie.

Weeds… our first meaningful encounter began after a breakthrough during my first big bout with depression.  I had found myself in our front yard, pulling up the weeds that reigned there.  My gardening thumb was extremely “black” then while the greens and I didn’t see eye to eye, and yet while I pulled, I heard our Father clearly say, “From now on, you will be pulling weeds out of your life.”  Although I didn’t “hear” God’s voice regularly at that time, I knew exactly what He meant and I knew He was going to assist me in pulling out beliefs and habits which either hurt me or stunted my growth.

Weeds come in varying forms and sizes.  In truth, even a wild rose bush would be considered a weed if it grew on its own “will”, moving forward over the terrain as its roots spread out.  Every spring, the roots of the wild rose bush in my backyard and I have a tug of war.  Thankfully, I am still the stronger of the two and I am able to pull out most of it.  Their stems are prickled with the sharpest thorns and you can imagine what can happen.  Our many encounters and experience have taught me to clip those surface stems before the tug of war begins.  Unfortunately, I do not have the strength to pull out all the roots and so our tugging encounters continue on year after another.

Have you looked at the photo posted above?  It’s actually a picture of a Boxwood Bush with many other woody sprouts around it.  I would be thrilled if they were Boxwood sprouts and then I wouldn’t have to buy more to complete my project.  Unfortunately, the neighbourhood squirrels have kept busy on the trees hovering above and multiple seeds have fallen everywhere… and boy do I mean EVERYWHERE!!!  An unplucked sprout  would eventually mean having an unwelcomed tree grow in the middle of my flower bed !!!

What weeds are you growing in your garden of life?  There are some which hinder you and so are readily recognizable as weeds, but what about those that are like the wild rose in my backyard?   Their blooms are beautiful, but their invading roots allow them to rise up in unwanted places.  Their beauty bring admiration, but their haphazard appearance in the garden brings about disarray.  What about their horrid razor sharp thorn-like prickles?  I am reminded of jocks and its female version in the school setting.  Do you have traits that make you appear bigger than who you really are?  These traits may be appealing from a distance, but when people draw near, they are ripped apart by your razor sharp personality.  And what about those seeds from hovering trees?  Have you become a “disciple” of one who hovers over you without realizing the immeasurable amount of teachings that have seeded your life?  Caution should be taken on whose ways we follow less these sprouts grow into a forest, blocking us from the truth of reality.

Fr. Hampsh mentions that a weeded area merely becomes an empty plot of land if nothing grows on it.  It can only be rightly called a garden if what is planted grows.

Father God, we invite You to come and be with us as we examine ourselves.  Help us recognize and pluck out the weeds that hinder our freedom in living a full life.  Lord, we’ve believed the lies that were spoken to us in our younger years and they have shackled and imprisoned us in a self-limiting mentality.  Lord, we were told that we were stupid; that we would not amount to anything; that we are a burden to others.  Although there were no basis for these words, the repetitive labelling in our younger years helped us accept them as our truth.   Come Holy Spirit, we ask you to cleanse us from all these lies and we ask You Lord Jesus to take them and deal with them accordingly.  Fill us with Your truth and help us embrace that we are dearly loved by You and that we are wonderfully and beautifully made.  Psalm 139:14  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 13, 2015