That's one line I can only use today.

Teenage shop cashier guy: Hey so how's your day been?

Me: Well this morning I was in London England.

Teenage shop cashier guy: Woah...

Me: You can say that again. It's a lot colder here.

Teenage shop cashier guy: Woah...

Teenage shop cashier guy: Hope your evening picks up then.

Me: Me too.


And we are home. Frost on the trees and snow on the roof, but we are home.

And now since my body thinks it's three in the morning, I think I'm off to bed.

Woah.

Night.
From the field.

On the ground again.

In Calgary, and ten hours in a discount airline plane isn't fun.

The trip was fun though. Worth the travel.

Now to drive home.
I hear there is snow.

Kissing in London

Beneath hundred year old, colour filled trees on a street with columned houses where people have lived for centuries, with the rain gently falling on our heads, we kiss. Slowly.

Making as many memories as we can.




An afternoon in Oxford

Toni, Chris, Nikita and Lauralea

I suppose much of this trip has been about experiencing the British nation once again in all it's beauty and wonder, but a good deal of it has also been about seeing some old friends and making some new ones. As we reluctantly begin to ponder a return to the field, I will carry with me the stories of the people we've shared life with these days.

It feels strange thinking that we leave these people here and travel to the other side of the earth and that the chance strongly exists that we may never see these people again. That seems so odd for being able to have deep connections so easily. But there it is, none the less.

The time for return is not yet however. Tomorrow starts a few days in London and then we'll worry about the Next thing.

It's 11:30 now, so I'm off to bed.

Night, from Oxford-shire.

Me and my friend, Toni

He is a little person.

But he has a big spirit.

Toni's brother, Dwarf Toni

Nope, NOW I can die happy

Me and Shakespeares home

For those of you a little more high brow than seeing me pleased to be at Beatrix Potter's house, here I am standing at The Bard's house.

Yes, this is the place William Shakespeare was born and lived. In Stradford-Upon-Avon.

Shakespeares house


Just think, here lived the genius who created such amazing pieces of written language that caused me so much grief in High School English.

I wonder if they'll go see my house in 500 years...

Next stop

On the train



Leaving Kendal and Rachel for Oxforshire and Toni and Chris.

Things are going well.

More pictures here.


Warm window+++

Making memories

Today October 19th, is the anniversary of our engagement I guess 26 years ago now. I proposed at the Burger King in St. Thomas Ontario and I recall being so nervous (yes I was) that I couldn't eat my flame broiled cheeseburger.

But tonight we went to a little french place with amazing ambiance and food to go along with it. We talked of old times and our kids and how we've progressed through life, finding our way and being led by God. We talked of the future and where we hope it goes and who we want to become.

French restaurant

And then after a wonderful meal we walked home the long way, arm in arm along the river.
Walking home along the river

It's going to be a great memory for the next 25 years.

Ok, now I can die.

Me outside Beatrix Potters home, Hilltop.

Outside Hilltop, the Potter residence


A day of intense beauty and connection with history.
My soul is being restored.

More pictures up on Flickr.

We are here

We have arrived in Kendal and it's beautiful here. We are staying with a friend, Rachel, and it's been great to reconnect. I am being reminded by those here that I am on holiday and I don't need to do everything at once, so I am slowing down. Posting may also be sparse.

Here's where we are staying in Kendal.

Rachel's house


We had seven hours in London so after being awake for the day we decided to go on a walking tour.
Is this a better picture of me?

Is this a better pic of me?


There are more pictures over on Flickr.

And we are off


And we are off, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

First to Calgary.
Then a 3 pm flight to the Islands.

Then an 8.5 hour flight and we arrive at 11:30 pm Alberta time.

That will be 6:30 am there.

Maybe time for an English Breakfast, some London sights, then a train ride up north.

Its all underway now.

Harvest still on 2010

This afternoon I headed out to find a bit of harvest still happening, which wasn't hard to do given that we started so late this year. The fields are still active and some are still talking about 10 - 15 days of hard work left.

As I've said before here, it's been a crap year for crops. The wheat has so much mould in it that most of it isn't even useable for humans. Some lucky farmers are getting graded for feed grain at least, and then many can't sell it for much more than to make ethanol.

It's been tough again. Last year, dry dry dry, this year wet wet wet, then cold, then mould.

In spite of it all, many of the farmers are just glad to be doing something, anything, rather than sitting around waiting for the weather to cooperate. And do something they are. 14, 15 hour days driving combines or tractors or grain trucks.

So I found the Pluim production team this afternoon.

Here are some pictures I got.

Here's a video of the transfer:

NOW I'm getting excited

People have been asking me for two months am I excited for the trip yet? But I've been so busy that no, I haven't had time to get excited, till now.

Final visits are done, worship leaders and speakers are in place, train tickets purchased on line, suitcase packed and only one more event to run tonight, the youth supper and bible study evening. Then tomorrow morning we are gone.

And are we awesome or what, we've got the packing down to pretty much one suitcase so I don't have to tow a train of cases behind me through England and wear out the wheels like we did last time we were there. Thanks to Lauralea's good packing and our previous back breaking experiences around the world.

One more sleep and we are off.

This is going to be good.

Nearly ready to fly

In this 25th year of us, Lauralea and I started talking a long time ago about making a trip. An epic journey to celebrate the epic journey we've been on together these 25 years.

We chose to go to the UK, which holds a few of our friends, and some fond memories for Lauralea and myself, and a few powerfully simple spiritual shaping moments for us.

We are heading north to hide out for a few days in the lake district. The plan is to chill and relax and read and walk and sleep and write. Just live in a village for a while. Go to church, shop, buy some used books at the local Oxfam store, lunch at the local pub, you know, just live.

The second part is to visit Toni and Chris for a few days. Internet strangers who have become friends over the years and the miles. I'm looking forward to being with them and sharing our stories again. Who knows how many times we may have to do that again.

Finally we plan to make our way to London for two days to connect with the London Mennonite Centre people again, fifteen years since our last visit. That last visit was profound for me and the short version is that after that visit I stopped trying to not be a pastor. I accepted the calling I had been fighting with for nearly ten years.

Yes, two days in London, and then back to the field and the coming of winter to end the year of us.

It's more of a thanksgiving tour I think. Grateful hearts for the years we've shared together, remembering shared experiences, and giving thanks to God whose given us these years.

Pretty cool indeed.


You have yourself some fun too while this place is quiet, ok?

Ok.

Night, from the field.

Free Range Heaven


Free Range Heaven, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

One of the families in church is now in a simple egg business on the side. We buy their "Home made" eggs and we love them.

Into the mountains

Banff

I didn't take as many pictures as I normally do, but I did get some of the mountains and the meetings and the food and the Lauralea.

:)

Lauralea and Lunch


Pics Here

When will I die?

I took a test and the Internet, which seems to have an answer for everything, has an answer for my life span as well.

My When Will I Die Quiz results:

I have 29 years left to live.
I will die in 2039 at age 76.
I am behind the average lifespan for someone my age by 2 years.
To put it another way, I have the health of a 49 year old man.
I have lived 62% of my life already.

Conversations were had

We are back from the land of the mountains and Asian and German tourists.

We were in Banff these past three days and we were to be on retreat Lauralea and I. While I was thinking there would be nicely little for me to do this year because I am no longer the conference Ministerial chair, and that I would laze about, retreating and thinking deep thoughts and so on, I was misguided.

I know that for me the bulk of the way I do ministry is through conversations; listening, thinking, responding, then listening once again and off we go. These past three days turned out to be days of much ministry and the opportunities to care and serve came thick and fast.

The speaker was great and challenged me on so many levels, and I know many others were also encouraged and challenged by his call to make good healthy choices for ourselves and our internal lives.

But I am staggered by the hunger of the hearts of the leaders of the Church these days. Hunger to be listened to and to be understood. Desiring to be heard, they share much. Many look for mentors and people who have already gone where they are going, but people who have done that journey well.

So many of our leaders are young and desire helpful graceful conversations that build them up in good ways. Conversations where Christ can minister through the connections of the joints. This is so good, compared to a generation that felt it needed to have it all right, and to give the impression that they did have it all right.

I spent the first evening there feeling like the guy in the room with the "Old Fart" hat on his head, and then I just rejected that reality and began looking for Jesus in the limited time we had away. We did some great worship singing together, and as I said David Kersten spoke well and used language that was challenging and shaping for our hearts to hear.

And the conversations continued, and grew and multiplied. So many conversations that got personal so quickly. Probably more than anything else, the conversations were the largest part of the time away. And they weren't conversations like "I'm thinking of leaving my spouse, can we talk a bit?" They were conversations about life and living it out and what did you do in that situation and how has that worked out for you and I'm not sure what to do about this and where is God when its difficult. Just honest conversations with people who want more than "How are you? I'm fine" chats.

And I remember how when I was their age I used to long for someone who had been in ministry for a long time who might talk with me. Someone I could ask where was God when that family found their son hanging in death. Or I could ask what should I do when God seems so very silent for a long time, or I could tell about my pain and frustration with a work that seemed to demand even my family time. I remember longing for someone I could talk to for an hour or two and who would listen to me and not cut me off when I needed to talk.

I see some of that in the eyes of these young leaders, and maybe it takes a weekend like this to help me to see it, or remember it maybe. I'm not the guy who comes in and has all the answers and offers them like bouquets of flowers to all wether they are asked for or not. I have my own insecurities about how much to inflict myself on others, but I saw in many of them my younger self, looking for a hope or an answer or maybe even just a conversation.

So a good many conversations were had this week, and prayers will go up on behalf of those who walk through these seasons of wanting to serve well mixed with self doubt.


Yes, much kingdom work happened this weekend, and God is good.

Last morning of retreat and worship in the mountains.

Later today we will head back to the field.

A good retreat, good to get away.

Autumn comes to The Field

It is October here now and the leaves are showing it well.

IMG_5316

Tomorrow Lauralea and I are off to a pastors and spouse retreat for a few days and I've worked hard this year not to be busy leading different activities for it. I'm just making sure there is a space for morning and evening prayers and running a prayer station if you can call it that, during our communion evening, and one little ten minute piece during a service. Lauralea today mentioned that she'll have to rethink the retreat with me being available this year.

And we've been going pretty hard since mid August, actually really hard, so this will be a good couple of days away.

Then we come back and get ready for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend next weekend, and then later that week herself and I shall fly out to the warm sunny beaches of the United Kingdom for two weeks of celebrating 25 years of marriage together. But more on that later.

For now, some beautiful photos of Autumn moving through the area we live in, fondly known as The Field.

IMG_5324


More here.