Monday, 25 September 2017

God Has No Teacher

While waiting in my car to go into a meeting that would include a documentary showing survivors of human trafficking I watched a few small birds picking up food from the ground. I saw they were free and thought of every animal in the world and came to the sad realisation that only human beings have enough evil inside of themselves to put chains on and enslave their own.
On vacation while in Florida I sat on a porch overlooking a garden and spent a long time watching a Gecko move around.

At first it`s steps seemed random, after a while I could see it had a pattern of movement that was anything but random.
I thought of two of the many examples of what some would call fate or random happenings in my life.
Twelve years ago I joined a new gym near my house. A fellow member and myself hit it off very well, we talked about everything including our work places. His work had profit sharing, flexible work shifts, banking overtime hours, employee performance reviews, and accountability. Three months later I left my secure job of thirteen years taking a temporary pay cut, and joined his company. Two years later my former company closed it`s doors. My present company pays me very well and it`s flexible work schedule has allowed me to help the vulnerable in Cambodia to a better life.

Twenty three years ago two of my closest friends started up a pool company. I helped them out whenever I could. A weekend was planned for a celebration. We were to go to a condominium in Barrie, and than on to a weekend at Wasaga Beach. The weather was terrible so on Saturday we headed back home. That night we attended a dance where I met my wife of twenty years and my best friend met his wife of eighteen years.

Looking out the window of a plane I watched how the wing would move and change its position according to what was required of it. I remembered seeing a movie of the first flyers and how they would study birds and chart their movements hoping to perfect the flying machines. I saw many birds in Florida, one day I watched three Hawks gliding, instinctively they knew how to catch the wind and stay airborne for a long time without even using their wings.

I love the ocean! I heal spiritually and physically in the 
ocean. In Canada epsom salt baths bring healing to my body when I push it too hard. This cannot begin to compare to the salt in the ocean. Two days of relaxing and swimming took away all my tension and pain. The ocean stays clean because of its natural filtration system of constant movement. Men have applied this same system on swimming pools. When stagnant a pool looks like this.

It is not popular to believe in a Creator. Watching Hawks soar, Oceans roar, Geckos wander and thinking of the "coincidences" in my life reinforce my belief.

Jim Morrison of The Doors had a saying "no one gets out of here alive."
The Earth is a dangerous, fallen place.

This sign is posted as a warning at a pond I ran past. A young boy was drowned by an alligator in a similar pond the previous summer. In Fort Lauderale my family arrived at the same airport where a lone gunman killed five people the previous year.
On June 12 2016 at the 5kmWalkathon I mentioned this day in history and shared many examples of good and evil from the past. We celebrated all the good that would come from our walkathon, later on that night forty nine people were shot dead in an Orlando night club. 
Two weeks after my vacation Hurricane Irma devastated a large part of Florida, including places my family had been to.

A prophetess spoke once at my Church about the time she felt the Lord asked her what she wanted as a reward for her very hard life. She asked for a small stream in Heaven, she was shown her wish would be granted. 

My wish for Heaven is a beach on an ocean. On it my family will meet many Cambodian girls that have been helped by our work on Earth.


Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Death Of Music Red Flag

Lyrics from two songs of two different eras, by two vastly different types of music inspired this writing. 
American Pie was written in 1971 by Don McLean. I heard it twice on the radio in less than a week. As I listened to the lyrics I was amazed at the imagery. Forty six years later people are still debating the meaning of this song. A popular Christian writer lamented on the loss of creativity amongst Christian artists and writers. This lament could be spread to the mainstream as I fear very little of what I see, hear, or read will inspire, or challenge people generations later.

I believe hearing and enjoying music is given to us as a gift from God at birth. In the song American Pie time and time again the words are sang "This`ll be the day that I die." 
Dying to music can come to people in many forms. Abuse, neglect, bullying, shaming, ridiculing etc can chip away at the music until one day, we hear music no more, feel joy no more. Sadly many people around us are walking around life in this state.
Many years ago some of the music went out of my life: hearing about young girls the same age as my daughters being sold into sexual slavery brought me into a world I never knew existed. Time and knowledge have only increased this sadness. I realize now how widespread of a problem this is. I am grateful to have only read and never had to have watched the abuse of a child.

Oh, and as I watched him on that stage
My fists were clenched in fits of rage
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

A friend from work went to school with a band from Mississauga named Billy Talent. 

Red Flag
Cast off the crutch that kills the pain
The red flag waving never mean`t the same
The kids of tomorrow don`t need today
When they live in the sins of yesterday

How often do we try to ignore or numb pain? Another friend from work told me about his estranged wife keeping his daughter`s from him, even throwing out his letters, gifts, communications etc. My friend would buy a small amount of alcohol each day that allowed him to numb his pain and sleep.
One year at Missionfest I was at a booth handing out flyers with information about forced child trafficking in Cambodia and practical ways to do something about it. A lady burst into tears as she approached our booth, and walked away. A few minutes later I saw her laughing and collecting information at another booth with a different ministry. Later in the same day a friend approached this woman and asked her about her earlier reaction, the woman`s response was "All I could think of was my grand daughters being in that situation and that is too painful."
I do not know what ever became of this woman but speaking from experience it is my belief that when you are moved to tears this is probably the area of ministry that God has intended for you.

Looking up the meaning of a red flag had many differing opinions. The one I liked most was that unlike a white flag which is used to surrender, a red flag was carried for war.
Sometimes heading directly into pain while seemingly illogical is exactly what we are called to do.
I learned this lesson the hard way. One day I was sparring with my martial arts instructor and things were not going very well for me, I was getting hit often and could not muster any offence of my own. My instructor stopped the session and showed me what was going on. He hit me and what did I do? I stepped back, he hit me again, I stepped back again. He stopped me and explained that each time I backed away from him, he only had to step forward to mount an offence, he also showed me that by backing up I could not generate any power of my own to counter him. My instructor showed me stepping to the side (slipping) was a good move, but the best way to stop his offence was to step right into him, throw my own punches, and force him to back up.
Many people I know that are involved with ministries have suffered abuse and yet God has placed them in areas that deal with a lot of issues that would make sense to avoid.
Running away from pain is a logical wordly reaction, but it is not always the right one. 

The kids of tomorrow don`t need today
When they live in the sins of yesterday

I heard the term "sins of the Father" many times growing up in my Church. It was always used to explain some sin a person had committed, whom had a parent with an obvious sin in their life. I never thought much about this, and after time I almost accepted it. Reading my Bible showed me the many times that God saved David`s line as King of Israel because of God`s love for him despite David`s many sins. I think of John 9 vs 2 Jesus healing the blind man and the disciples asking "Rabbi who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind? Jesus replied "Neither, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." I think of Ezekiel 18 vs 20 "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father."
As a father who is less than perfect and was far less than perfect in my younger days, I take comfort in these verses as I think of my children.
The child growing up in Cambodia marked with the legacy of "The Killing Fields" as their past looks forward to a future filled with a God who judges them on their own merit.

I am running very regular this Summer, today I crossed paths with one of these in my ravine.

It was a baby milk snake and thankfully it has was not like the full grown one I encountered a few years ago.

My long range plans are in place in my head, the next few months will allow me to put them into practice. I am to run a full marathon next May, keeping with my previously stated agreement I will not be running to the destination of my next marathon. BUT, I have worked out a compromise and will hopefully run my longest distance ever in a day in the week of next June before next years 5kmWalkathon. I hope to bring awareness to our cause, while sharing, blending and honouring my work place and their cause as they have allowed me the freedom to try to make the world a little better.

I believe in helping others we are able to bring music back to individuals who have had the music stolen from their lives. I also believe earth is so fallen that even our brightest, purest, most selfless experiences of music can only pale in comparison to what one day awaits.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Chlorine Spill 97 km Journey Bringing Healing

Last week driving home from a pool company a bottle of chlorine spilled in the trunk of my car, only about one cup leaked out, yet it has been a challenging problem to get rid of the odor. After trying a few "quick fix" solutions that made the problem worse I have found that by opening the windows and airing my car out in the garage every night is the best way to gradually naturally freshen my car. 
I started this blog a few years ago to write out my deepest thoughts revealed to me when running down my ravine. I started writing as a way to cope with the reality of the ugliness of human trafficking, and my unlikely role of combating it. I have taken six months off my writing, and wondered if I would ever post again. The funny thing is that this blog is being read more than ever, by parts of the world I do not even know and will soon have over 10 000 views.

The French Emperor Napoleon was defeated in Waterloo.
This year I had a goal to run/walk the 97 km or 59 miles from my house in Mississauga to the starting point of The Waterloo Marathon, three days later I was to run the full 42.2 km or 26.2 mile Marathon.
I am not a risk taker! A banker once told me I was one of the most conservative investors he had came across.
I guess in some ways I am not taking a risk as I believe God is orchestrating these events that I seem to "randomly" enter.
Trusting in God is not a risk.
The trip to Waterloo was the biggest physical challenge of my life. At work a friend asked me "how do you train for 97km ?" I told him "there is no training for that distance." As soon as I said it I realised how ridiculous my answer seemed, but it was the truth. To train for a 42.2 km race, along with other shorter runs I run one very long run a week. I start at 15 km and by the end of training I have actually ran further than a marathon. Working full time, being a husband, and Father did not allow me to transfer this type of training for my trip to Waterloo.

The day of travelling to Waterloo itself was amazing. I had wanted to run further before walking but the weight of my backpack was actually choking me. While walking up the side of the road I thought of the weight of my backpack in terms of any child who has suffered sexual abuse. I thought of how this individual must carry this weight all the time, every day of their lives, their loads instead of getting lighter as mine did, would become heavier due to the unfairness of life. What an incredible privilege I have been given to help lighten those less fortunate than myself loads, through my unlikely career in running.  

I came across this baby turtle who was trying to cross Highway 7, I picked him up and carried him safely to a stream a long distance from the road.

Many times the song by Rend Collective came to me:
The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength

The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I`ll dance
In the shadows I`ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength

I laughed aloud as I shuffled past Speed River in Guelph which is the training facility for some of Canada`s elite marathon runners, picturing my current stride with theirs.
I ran out of water and went to Rocky`s Hot Dog Restaurant in Guelph to purchase some, when the young man heard of what I was doing for my cause Ratanak International and their work with victims of trafficking in Cambodia he filled my back pack up with water free of charge. Having a headache I purchased advil from a Drug store who would not let me use their restroom and directed me to a mall that had a public restroom. When I came out of the restroom I saw a 140 lb security guard looking at me nervously. I realised he thought I was homeless and thought he may have to deal with me. Pride was still part of me for I laughed to myself and thought  "even in my weakened state it would take a lot more than you."
I finished this long journey at 9.30 pm. Another laugh was my oldest daughter thinking the ambulance was waiting for me. It was in a way, as St John`s was the main benefactor of the marathon, but my daughter was thinking more along the lines of her dad collapsing into the ambulance, than of St John`s being there for a publicity shot.

I have mentioned before sometimes I believe our minds fail us before our bodies. I know I could have went further that day, how far I do not know? That is a question that may never be answered for while bandaging up four blisters and trying to stop the blood flowing from my foot onto the kitchen floor my wife told me next year she does not want me to run a long distance to a City before running the actual marathon, she "wants me to run fast in what will be my last marathon."   I will honor her request for running a marathon is a risk and she has supported me for all nine previous.

The day of the Waterloo marathon was freezing! Ron Beer showed up and filmed the whole race, here are a couple of pictures.

At a Toronto Core Group meeting we set the goal for the upcoming walkathon I suggested the number $15 052, a very aggressive number. Other members mentioned $20 052. Jessika Mak set the goal at $20 252. A number I did not see how we could achieve.

The day of the walk as I am trying to organize my responsibilities, these two show up at 8.00 am, one hour before the walk. Peter and Chris Fonseca, both politicians in Mississauga, along with their two sons.
The day itself is always so amazing! Jessika spoke of meeting two young ladies who have benefited from the work of Ratanak International and how they even knew of our event. I mentioned how our family cat Lucy likes wandering around in our backyard. Lucy is a hunter, she is looking for something she can prey upon, something that is weaker than her, something she can devour. As many as twenty birds of all different sizes and types have started chirping very loudly every time Lucy comes into the backyard, they even take turns flying near her. Lucy gets discouraged and leaves the backyard. I see our walkathon in comparison to the birds, we are small, and no match for the giant that is human trafficking. On the surface we seemingly can do very little. By banding together and picking one area of the world Cambodia, and one organization Ratanak International we can and have made an impact. The birds of my backyard can not save every bird on my street from Lucy or other cats but they have prevented Lucy from catching any birds in my backyard. Collectively there is more strength than acting individually.

As with my chlorine spill in my car there is no "quick fix" for victims of sexual abuse. There are many years of healing through therapy, prayer, training, counselling. There is a cost attached to this. The total of $23 352 was raised at the 5kmWalkathon well past the goal. The money will be sent to Cambodia to help victims of trafficking get the help they need to heal. 


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Monsters Amongst Us

Monster: a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty.

In high school I attended a party with a set of friends different than my close ones. A young man I knew was holding court, that is, he had a few people around him and was telling a story. I walked over to hear what he was saying. I heard a description of an event in which he forced himself on a young woman who tried to fight off his advances. As he explained the woman`s reaction the man was laughing. I punched him in the mouth, left him on the floor, and left the party. Later on the young woman thanked me for what I had done.
Erin Van Vuren
"Every monster has a sob story, be careful who you help."
Sixteen years ago my oldest daughter was born. Two months later; out of five thousand people I was one of twelve picked to sit on a jury for a murder trial. Two young girls had their throats slit and had been left to die, eventually they bleed to death alone in an industrial parking lot. One had been sexually assaulted. I was elected foreman and had to face the girls assailant and read aloud the guilty verdict.

Ten years ago I heard about the forced prostitution of young Cambodian girls, especially upsetting to me was hearing of how many men from the western world went to take advantage of the girls.

This week a link to a facebook feed frightened me. It was from a Cambodia newspaper and mentioned the arrest of a Dutch man, and the search for another man. In spite of my fear I clicked on the article and read about the horrific abuse of a two year old boy by these men. The boy had been sexually assaulted and had been subjected to a stun gun on various parts of his body. Many on facebook were obviously shocked, and upset. Many comments were made of what should be done to the perpetrators, many comments of concern and prayer were offered up for the boy.
What disturbed me the most of this story was that these assaults were video taped. One of the assailants was caught with 46 videos.
It is one thing to think of a few sick individuals, it is a totally different thing to think of the market for this type of video and where the men who view it may live?
Some may be my neighbours, and the only thing stopping this type of person from acting out their sickness is their fear of law and order.

What do I or can I do with this knowledge? I reinforce my prayer for a hedge of protection around me, my loved ones, and my friends and their families. 
I will continue to run, for running has taken the place of my fist and in a way that only God could orchestrate has become a voice for abused people.
I picked todays race months ago and wondered why? It is extremely difficult. It is not a marathon, but I find it harder to finish than some longer distance races I have run. It is 10.8 km straight up two hills. The only time it is fun is at the finish. To make the race harder is that it is snowing, and the huge hills are slick with snow and ice.

Today I ran for the two year old boy in Cambodia I will never meet. I dedicated these hills to him. I will not stop. I pray that those around him never stop their therapy, their love, their support, their donations, their prayer, and their tears until he meets the only One who can give him complete healing. As I start up the first hill I think of these words from Mark Buchanan in one of his books: ( I changed the writing from female to male)

"I sat one day with a young man who had a desolate past, a blighted landscape of childhood neglect and sexual abuse. As he poured out his story I sat speechless. His past was beyond repair, at least on my watch. But God showed me he still had his future. And it was vast, unbroken, pristine, radiant. It was pure promise: a glory that would be revealed in him, a glory that far outweighed his troubles.  Some days his past mounts it`s best attempts to reclaim him for it`s own. He has learned to keep taking hold of his citizenship in heaven. He has learned to refuse surrender for anything else. His past was a tragedy to lament. But his future is an epic to anticipate. Which is simply to say: what will happen matters more than what has happened."

Though I live amongst monsters. I will continue my work. I serve a God who one day will devour all monsters.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Heavy Times

I have been told by a friend they think I write as a form of therapy for myself.
During my summer trip to Croatia I saw two images of lasting change. The first is from Postajna cave in Slovenia

The guide told us how over time tiny drops of water have worked  through the rock creating this beautiful picture.

These are mountains in Rijeka, Croatia. The Roman empire occupied Croatia for a time, and during that time they stripped these mountains of all the trees. More than 2000 years later the land is still barren.

A few weeks ago my elbow hit a glass on the kitchen counter knocking it unto the floor, the glass shattered in a million pieces, to a million places.

These three images got me thinking of the lasting impact each individual has during their time on earth.

Choosing to harm others is represented by the Croatian mountains. Harming someone takes away their beauty, their self confidence, their trust, sometimes their ability to function. Cruel acts impact the victim, their family, and all of society. These acts have consequences felt centuries later.

Choosing to help others is like the caves and the broken glass example. The water does not know the effect of it`s dripping unto the rock. The glass I broke ended up in hundreds of different spots in my kitchen, some clustered, some by themselves in tiny corners far away from the counter. That is what doing good for the right reasons is all about. Our help has an immediate effect, but it also has a multiplying effect we will never truly fully understand. That is good, for we are prone to pride.

What do Sia, Matthew West, and Lady Gaga have in common? Recently a song from each of them touched me on a personal level.

I recently finished a half marathon race in a surprisingly respectable time.

It was the 373 fastest half marathon ran in Ontario in 2016. Some rolling hills took a lot out of me from the 13 to 16 kilometer mark. In one week  I will run a race called The Egg Nog Jog which is only 10.8 kilometers but is all uphill. Hills have always appealed to me in that I feel they represent the daily challenge faced by victims of sexual abuse. In that, the victims are starting each day at the bottom of a steep hill. For me climbing hills builds strength, endurance, power, and confidence. I pray that the victims I run for are granted these qualities when they need them most.

Sia The Greatest

Uh-oh running out of breath, but I 
Oh I, got stamina
Uh-oh running now, I close my eyes
And uh-oh I see another mountain to climb
But I, I, I got stamina
Don`t give up, I won`t give up
Don`t give up, no, no, no
Don`t give up, I won`t give up
Don`t give up, no, no, no
Your free to be the greatest, Your alive
Your free to be the greatest, here tonight, the greatest

It is a broken world we live in. So many people are suffering today. Lately my eyes have been opened to many problems I have been ignorant of.  A sampling: PTSD  by Military personal once they get back to civilization. The poor treatment of Native Indians in the past and present, and the highly disproportionate number of young native girls trafficked into the sex trade. The high rate of depression, mental health issues, and suicides by teens. PTSD by victims of repeated sexual abuse, especially when occurring as children.

Lady Gaga Million Reasons

I bow down to pray
I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way
To cut through all this worn out leather
I`ve got a million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good reason to stay

In less than five months on April 30 I will run my ninth marathon, The Waterloo Marathon.  Like last year when I ran from Mississauga to Buffalo I have another long journey planned to get me to my marathon. I will run/walk 97 km from Mississauga to Waterloo in one day. I have four months of increasingly hard training ahead of me. Mentally I have been a bit off lately, I am weary of the things that are evil in this world. I wonder about what Heaven will be like?  I think there will be a disproportionate number of women there as compared to men. People who run marathons are not smart, they are determined. Sometimes they need encouragement and to be shown one reason to stay.

Driving to work this past Sunday I hear this song on the radio. It speaks to me in that there are many problems in the world, I do believe at a later time I will try to tackle some of the issues I mentioned above. For now I have been called to try and correct one; that is Ratanak International and it`s work in Cambodia of giving back dignity to victims of trafficking.

Matthew West Do Something

I just couldn`t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said "God, why don`t You do something?"
He said, "I did, I created you."



Sunday, 25 September 2016

Two Animals. Two Worlds.

It has been a while. Since my last writing I have had many thoughts and ideas. To take the time to finish a writing I guess I needed a       push. The push came in the form of spending time in the company   of a great man. A man who has dedicated 27 years with his               blood sweat and tears in trying to bring healing to the most               vulnerable in a Country not his own. This Saturday I sat    and  listened  as Brian McConaghy                                                                                                                           ian  founding                                                                                      Director of                                                          Ratanak   
                               International spoke of his life trying to help those in Cambodia. This past Summer my family vacationed in Croatia. My "bed" the first night was two air mattresses pushed together. For some reason I  ended up in the middle of the mattresses on the hard floor. I thought of stories of people born in other Countries who immigrated to Canada had told me. These people love Canada, but they feel Canada is not their real home. These people also love their former Country but when they go back to visit , things have changed so much they feel this is also not home. Later on that sleepless night I thought of my two homes. Earth is my present one, one where to many problems persist. I fear the news, I fear stories, for my present home is full of despair, and heart break.  Heaven by God`s grace is my future home. No wonder so many people are unhappy on earth, this is not how it was supposed to be. The best night in Croatia also had the most pain. Through social media a party was set up for a family who had not seen each other in thirty years. It was one of the nicest experiences of my life. Watching family members embrace, laugh, sing, and cry was priceless. Partway through my dinner my youngest Daughter through tears tells me "there is a sick dog outside." Off I go, as we approach the dog it collapses. My immediate reaction is anger  God I think "Why now? Why this dog? Why my Daughter?  Why me? Why of all nights tonight?" I put my hands on the dog and pray for God to have mercy on this poor creature. Realising my Daughter`s heart has made this my problem I start to act. I smuggle bread and water out of the restaurant. The poor dog eats and drinks quite a lot. Seeing it trying to move brings tears to both of  our eyes, as we see it`s obvious pain. Patting and praying for the dog is all we are able to do. When it gets dark, the dog seems to sleep and we go back inside the restaurant. Izzy asks me about the dog and I tell her "unless God performs a miracle, this dog has hours to live. We did our best to show it love, and filled it`s last hours with comfort and dignity."  A few nights later at a different restaurant our family has another visitor. I notice both daughter`s looking very guilty and realise they are giving their dinner to their visitor. The visitor is this kitten who somehow has made it to "Dr Dolittle." My family lingered over our dinner and enjoyed this beautiful surprise.
 During his visit Brian showed me one picture from his laptop. Before he showed it he talked of this girl`s life, she had been sent to another Country as a domestic servant (slave) and had been beaten many times before somehow escaping back to Cambodia. I was afraid of looking at a graphic picture of a young girl and the results of a beating. I was pleasantly surprised as a beautiful young girl looking radiant as she smiled for her picture looked back at me. Brian told us this young girl had thanked him and the Ratanak staff for showing her love. Looking at her picture I see a young woman who has a future, has hope and has had her dignity restored. It has been an honour to work with and support such an organization. An upcoming event is a celebration of the 5km walkathon, with a silent auction on October 26. Earth is full of stories and people like my experience with the "old dog." It is a fallen world with fallen people. These stories don`t wait for the right time to come to us.                     Yet God expects and allows us to be his hand`s and feet to such people, and though I do not like being exposed to such stories, that is life. Heaven is stories such as the young kitten, lovely, beautiful, and nice. Until Heaven comes God wants us to immerse ourselves in the stories like the old dog.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Ratanak 2016 5km Walkathon

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Three weeks of insanity are over for me. In that time I ran 100 miles or 163 km from Mississauga to Buffalo. I than ran the full 26.2 mile or 42.2km Buffalo Marathon in near record heat. This is a shirt sold boasting of the temperature without the humidity. 
Last weekend I was part of a team that helped organize and coordinate the 5km walkathon at Erindale Park in Mississauga.
Looking back I realize how the month of March always seems to be a low point for me. Training for my spring marathon has me physically exhausted. Laying the ground work for the walkathon has me mentally exhausted. On a particular demanding day I wondered not for the first, and certainly not for the last would this be my final year?

The Friday before the walk my beautiful wife Gloria sent me a message about what Paul (co organizer) and myself were going to do about Saturday`s weather? I had stayed away from checking the weather as it is out of my control. Looking up the forecast I saw it called for severe weather between 5 am to 10 am. This was the worst possible forecast. The event is booked eight months in advance. We trust in God to give us the perfect day. Thinking about the possibility of lightning in a heavily wooded area with 140 participants was not a comforting thought.
Many people started praying. I would like to say I was unaffected, but that would be a lie. I checked the weather network many times during the day and was relieved in the evening when the forecast started changing a little. God as He always does came through. We had a very hot, humid day in which many times a participant would mention to me how hot it was. Compared to the original forecast I gladly accepted the humidity.

The day of the walk itself is always so positive! I lost track of how many times someone came up to me and thanked me for the event itself. I would in turn thank them for although I love my fellow volunteers of the Ratanak core group our walkathon would seem pretty hollow without the participants.

Jessika Mak is a symbol of me to what his day is all about. Her smile is contagious! She is passionate, compassionate, and driven to make a difference to those in Cambodia. She prayed for the event itself, and through her shaking voice and tears reminded us again of the agony the ones in Cambodia have endured and how it is a honour to be a part of something that alleviates this suffering.

For my speech I talked about the day June 11 in History and used examples of great events from the past that brought freedom on this day, as well as events that represented great acts of evil, and oppression. I mentioned how today many acts of good and evil would take place around the world and that is nice to take part in something positive that we may never truly know the full effect.  
I also mentioned how the world is always looking for individual heroes. This sometimes discourages regular people from becoming involved in some of the world`s problems, we think of the greatness of the problem compared to our limited skills and we do nothing.
In total I ran 205 km in five days. At the walkathon 140 people walked a total of 700 km in less than one hour.
Collectively a group of people can make a far larger impact than one individual.

Most participants took their time and enjoyed their walk through such a beautiful park. A 14 year old cross country runner blazed his way to first place, setting a new course record.
A Mississauga Councillor showed up and blessed our event on twitter. She also wants to give publicity to our future events in a forum I had never considered. Thank you Chris Fonseca.

At a core group meeting leading up to the walk I asked members to submit what they felt should be the financial goal of this walkathon. Most estimates were very conservative, one person said "whatever goal Larry sets we should follow."
As in the past I do set the goal. There is not a complicated process of charts, graphs, or trends. My thought process has been until we do not reach the goal we must raise the bar each year.
Last year I set the goal of $25 252 and somehow with God`s help we were able to surpass it.
This year I set the most aggressive goal ever $30 252. 
To date $18 000 has been raised with a possible huge donation to come in August.

Half empty or half full?
For me even if we do not raise another dollar the glass is full. At the walkathon I saw many new faces which encourages me for the future. 34 people who attended were 18 years of age or under, again these young people are the future. We gave our all and whatever the thermometer finally stops at is the number that God intended for us.
Many times in life we do not know how close to a major breakthrough we were approaching, but we quit. 
This is my triumphant picture of my recent Buffalo Marathon, taken in my Hotel room.

What this picture does not tell or show was one of the many moments in every marathon especially the one in Buffalo that I feel like quitting. I think of a sign held up in a recent race "pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever."

This picture that was taken by a photographer in Buffalo captures a very tough moment when I wondered about continuing. At such moments whether in life or a marathon I remember a statement from Brian McConaghy many years ago. Brian talked about committing to the young women for Ratanak International programs. "We cannot accept a woman into our program and than turn her out before her healing is complete because the funding runs out." I took this as a personal challenge. I feel whatever I commit to I must finish; because if I don`t possibly the well being of a young woman is at stake.

I did not quit and my thoughts of March are long gone. I look forward to running two more marathons in hopefully cooler weather and also continuing to be a part of bringing freedom to those in Cambodia through our annual walkathon.