Archive for June, 2016

June 16, 2016

Small World Moments

This year I have been having a lot of small world moments! They are a lot of fun and make me think that things don’t always happen by accident.

This moment is from before this year but it is such a great story! In 2012 during my time in Uganda I was walking with my friends/coworkers through the fabric district in Kampala when we came across a sign for a shop that had an old photograph of my friend photoshopped on it (this kind of copyright infringement is pretty normal in Uganda). What were the chances that we would come across it?! It all started with one of my friends commenting “There are a lot of mzungus (white people) on that sign…”.

Last year my friend and old classmate Andrea, who now lives in Switzerland, sent me a photo of herself with a girl who looked very familiar. I quickly realized that she was a girl whose couch I had surfed in Boston several years earlier. When I was looking for a place I searched the keyword “architecture” and had found her and her roommate who were Swiss students from EPFL (the same school in Lausanne I went on exchange to in 2010) who were working for a year in Boston. Almost a year later she then came and visited me in Toronto when she was getting her Visa renewed. A couple years later Andrea met her at a house party of a friend in Lausanne and through conversation they discovered that they both knew me. Andrea had thought perhaps I had met her back when I was on exchange, but was surprised to learn we had met in Boston of all places!

When I was looking to couch surf when I attended a huge geography conference in Exeter last fall, I had a few people turn me down before I finally found a host. The reason for this was because other conference attendees had chosen to do couch surfing as well. At the conference I presented work related to my thesis at a small session with an audience of about ten people. I struck up a conversation with one guy afterwards who had some comments about my work. The next morning the same guy came up to me and said that he was surfing on the couch of the one guy who had turned me down! He figured out as much from my uniquely spelled first name. We ended up all going out for drinks later!

In October I moved into a new apartment in the West end. I was moving a few last things in on a Sunday morning and noticed a woman standing with her dog on the front lawn next door. I decided to go and introduce myself. The conversation went as follows: – “What brings you to the area?” – “I got a new job and wanted to move close by” – “What is it you do?” – “I work as an intern architect.” – “My daughter works at an architecture office called Philip Beesley Architect.” – “I work at Philip Beesley Architect!”. Philip Beesley Architect has about twelve employees and yet I had managed to move next door to my coworker!

Just a few weeks ago I attended and helped out at a Friday night social evening at my church. The event was pretty big and a lot of people came who had never been to our church before. I met one such guy and we struck up a conversation. After a bit he says; “You look a lot like someone I know, a girl named Al van Overbeeke”. My response: “No way! She’s my sister!” It turns out he knew her from five some years ago when they both attended UOIT and were on the same worship team at their campus church. I’ve never had a complete stranger associate me with one of my sisters! Crazy!

And now for the most recent moment. I sometimes meet up with a couch-surfer here and there for drinks without always hosting them. This was the case this week with a guy from Scotland. I had given him my number and we were communicating on Watsapp. He reported that he had arrived and was at the airport trying to decide what to do with his time. I responded that he could head into town, but where he should go would depend on where in Toronto his host lives. He responded by giving me the name of the street where his host lives. It was the street that I live on, and it is a very small street! Meeting up later that evening was extremely convenient!

June 12, 2016

Adirondacks 3.0


On the Victoria day weekend I went for my third time to the Adirondacks! This time I went with Matt, Leah, Neil, Benissa, Nate, Ali, and Amelia from Grace Toronto. Because it was so early in the year and we had an eight month old Hannah with us, we decided to do AirBnB instead of camping. We stayed at a spacious cottage in the town of Jay in the High Peaks region. Six of us carpooled down together in Nate and Ali’s mini van on the Friday evening and arrived at 1:30am. Matt and Leah had gone earlier then us and were already asleep when we arrived. They were ambitiously planning for us to be out of the house at 8am the next day because our plan was to hike Algonquin, the second highest peak in the Adirondacks. It is the same peak that I hiked last year with Vikkie, Rachel, and Jacky. An 8am goal meant we left at 8:30! There were so many hikers there for the weekend that the parking lot at the trail head was full! Matt wore a big carrier bag for Hannah, but she fell asleep in the first five minutes of walking and so they strapped her in a smaller carrier on Leah’s back. As a result we did a swap and Matt carried my small bag like a child in his bag while I took Leah’s bag. The trail up Algonquin looked quite different at this time of year. Most of the trees didn’t have full leaves and there wasn’t a lot of undergrowth. This meant you could see a long way through the trees and also take more notice that most of the trees were birch. We had not predicted how much ice would still be at the top of Algonquin, so we got to a point where we decided it would be safer to turn around. Luckily there was a fork on the trail where we could take only a short detour to get to another nearby peak called Wright (the 16th highest peak at 1,398m), that was low enough in elevation that it did not have any ice. The views were beautiful, but we didn’t stay up there long because we could see an oncoming raincloud in the distance!


The second day we chose to hike Ampersand Mountain based on some feedback we got talking to other hikers the day before. It was a much easier hike (Ampersand is not included in the high peaks), but was equally beautiful. We all decided the views were richer, perhaps because the other mountains around were slightly closer. The weather at the top was gorgeous and so we hung around up there for just under an hour! Everybody had a great time taking epic photographs such as child sitting on ledge (don’t worry… Leah is propping her up from behind…), or trying to spell ADK in the reflection of big puddles. It was so beautiful I didn’t have any other thoughts except for the magnificent view before me. I love hiking as a way to relax the mind because all you can do when mounting or descending a mountain is to focus on where to place your foot next. I definitely plan to keep doing hiking trips and maybe even do a two day trip!





June 8, 2016


My friend Becky knows about my interest in Africa and so invited me to see a documentary called Mully at the Hot Docs festival. We went to the 6pm showing on May 5th. The documentary was very well done and portrays the life story of a man, along with his wife and children, who makes a lot of sacrifices and leaps of faith to serve hundreds of the poorest children in Kenya. It’s one of those stories you almost can’t believe is true because there are so many crazy and miraculous parts to it. I want to share a bit of the story to remember and be encouraged by it.

The story follows a Kenyan man named Charles Mulli who is abandoned by his family at a young age. After begging in his village for some time, he soon makes the decision to walk to Nairobi to try and build a life for himself. He finds simple work, quickly moves up to bigger roles, and eventually starts his own taxi (matatu) business that really takes off. He becomes a millionaire as he begins to move into the oil and gas industries. In the meantime he marries his wife and they have eight children.

One day his car in Nairobi gets stolen by street children and this becomes a turning point for him. Charles feels God is asking him to do more with his life. After a lot of struggle and prayer he comes home to his family and tells them that he is never going to work for money again. He begins walking the streets at night, finding street children and taking them into his home. His wife and family think that he is crazy. His wife Esther remains steadfast and faithfully cares for the children. His biological children are at first resentful that these street children have come and impeded on their lives. His church no longer accepts him and his extended family into their community because many come from addictions and prostitution. As the number of children in the house grow, God provides through donations at just the right moment as resources begin to dwindle.

Eventually their home get’s so full that they move several hours outside of Nairobi to a piece of land that Charles owns. It is a dry and desolate piece of land because of recent droughts but he sees a big vision for the place. They start by living in tin shacks but slowly build houses. They build a bridge in a completely dried up river bed because he believes that God will provide water and that sometimes we need to act in faith before God does the rest. They do drilling for wells but come up with nothing, but one night while praying, God tells Charles to dig in a specific spot. They dig and dig on this spot, until finally an abundant stream of water sprays out! The spring is a continuous supply and they are able to store it and use it to plant trees and crops. Over time the local climate begins to transform and the land becomes green!

Today Mully Children’s Family is an organization that is a home and place of learning for hundreds of street children. The children affectionately call Charles “Daddy Mulli”. The organization has children homes and also puts them through school. Beyond that they have many programs in the community. To become more self sufficient so as not to depend completely on outside donations, the family farms vegetables and fish to sell on the global market. Charle’s and Esther’s biological children have joined in their father’s vision and serve in various positions within the organization. Charles is eventually welcomed again by his church and is also reunited with his parents. Mully Children’s family continues to grow and impact the surrounding communities. You can visit their website here to find out more.

I thought the movie was well done because it is very raw. Charles and his wife act out their adult selves and all of the members of the immediate family contribute to the telling of the story. Some parts of the story are reenacted, but many parts are real footage that was taken over the years. What was even more amazing then the movie itself was that Charles and Esther attended the showing along with the producers and came up for questions afterwards! Although he is a man of many accomplishments, he said that it was all in God’s power and leading. It is a reminder of what God can do if we but put our gifts and resources into His hands and say “use me”. Just be prepared that God’s response might be for us to do what everyone around us thinks is crazy.