Sunday, 28 October 2012

My Birthday Gift, Minneapolis.

The "Birthday Boy" at the Walker Art Gallery Minneapolis MN

The "Funky" restaurant in the Walker Art Gallery

I guess it is pretty obvious, I have no photo to start off my blog as usual. Let me explain. First, I promise I will have a picture inserted sometime this evening after we have arrived back home from Minneapolis. Yesterday evening, when I sat down to do this blog I realised I'd left the cable for connecting my camera to the computer in the car. So, if you are reading this before then, you will have to come back again to see the photo. I promise you won't be disappointed!

We arrived Friday evening, checked into our hotel and just crashed. We had a room service supper, watched TV and planned out our Saturday's activities.

So yesterday we arrived at the Walker Art Centre just in time for lunch. They have a very beautiful funky/artsy cafeteria on the second floor jutting out to the edge of the street. We got a table by the windows and just enjoyed the sun (Which we haven't had for seemingly 2 whole weeks or so in Winnipeg!) and the decor of the place. We just enjoyed sinking into the artsy ambiance of the whole art gallery. Everything seemed to be so different, unique and creative. It was wonderful to behold and experience. 

After that we began going through the exhibitions. "Dance Works 111" was very interesting. It had to do with a very creative wardrobe creator who ignored the usual tutus and created a wardrobe for the dancers with lumps and growth looking things at unusual places, shapes in unusual places. The dancers now did not really have the usual human profile for a body. The amazing line I took away from that exhibit was, "It's not a consideration of weather the clothing were functional but that the thought one has needs to be respected and expressed." I realised I've been much too busy "editing" my thoughts, not respecting them as I should have. 

In fact, when 5pm arrived we had not finished getting through all the exhibits! Both of us were so energised. 

After this we went off to the Mall of America. Did a little shopping and went out for my birthday supper at Ruby Tuesday's in the mall. We had a great talk sharing our thoughts about several important subjects, including how grateful we are for where we are at as a couple and in the joy we have now doing what we love. What we'd dreamt of doing all our lives. 

Then, it was back to the car, reprogramming the amazing GPS technology and getting back to the hotel so I could write and tell you all about it.

It is one of the best birthday gifts I've ever had.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..."
James 1:17

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Best Laid Plans...

 This week, I completed the “seat” portion of the “King Saul Throne of Swords”. Now it was time to tackle the real problem. The issue of the tall back of the throne.

There is a saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” and this is what happened. It is always good to expect the unexpected. Despite the best of plans sometimes as in this case, new realities arise and new alternate plans must be made to compensate. So, let’s get technical!

It was abundantly clear that a single sheet of clay about a quarter of an inch thick or so simply would not work for the back of this chair. Not with the height of about 21 or more inches high and the width demanded. Add to that the weight and bulk of all the swords that would have to be added over it’s whole surface, front and back. From an engineering perspective this would not work and it would simply collapse under the weight of all that bulk.

So as I was dealing with all the detail of the seat portion I kept thinking of options. How do I strengthen the back and keep the integrity of the chair?

Do you know that there is actually an engineering term for this. It is called “Failure mode effects analysis”. This is when a problem or failure can be predicted and they do all kinds of study to figure out the problem and how it can fixed so that the predicted failure will not happen.  

So, I’ve done all the analysis and here is the corrective action that I have decided needs to take place. I decided to make two backs. In other words two identical large sheets of clay that make up the back. The back sheet you see me making here will stand on the top of the existing back of the seat portion I just completed. The second sheet, identical to the first including the bottom portion will stand behind that first one. Imagine a V shape, wide at the bottom and joined at the top. In the same way the second sheet will begin at the bottom about 3 inches away and go all the way to the top where it will be joined to the first one.

But, we missed a step. We have another issue. The two sheets are so large they will need support to stay in position. So, I will need to make a kind of honeycomb of beams between the two that will support, strengthen and hold them to the form we want. I will begin building these “beams” as I put up the first backing on top of the existing lower part of the just completed seat section. Then as that is completed, I can add the second sheet, welding it to the “beams” that will be hidden between them.

So, I have been busy, measuring and creating the two sheets. They are both made in two sections and are presently laid out on boards to be dried to a leather hard state. That will make it easier as they will be able to support themselves as I put it all together.

The pictures you see on the right illustrate some of the process in making these sheets for the back of the chair. You will notice that I had made a stencil to ensure the two would be identical. Then I put the clay through the slab roller and kept adding till the back sheet was large enough to be cut to size. With each piece I added I needed to make sure the joints were secure. To complete this task I had to have access to the underside of the sheet to ensure the seams were good. So I got another board, placed it over the slab, picked it all up, walked to a clear area and spun it upside down. Then I put it on the table, removed the board and had access to the underside of the clay. You can see, in the photos how I then carved the joints out about half way through the clay, painted slurry into the joint, and added new moist clay to ensure a good connection with no air pockets. Next, simply smooth the new clay to match the rest of the slab surface.

Sorry about being so technical today. I like what Churchill once said, “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

“ like a foolish man. He builds his house on sand. The rain comes down. The water rises. The winds blow and beat against that house. And it falls with a loud crash.”
Matthew 6:26-27

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Amazing Week that Was.

These are the two views from each end of the Galleria Room 
of the “Holy Ground” art show.

As you can see, last week was a rather busy one for me.

Thanksgiving Monday, was the day I took out the “Friends Forever” piece from the kiln and that evening attended the birthday party presenting it to the “birthday girl”. On Thursday I spent the day in Winkler where I presented at the “Forgiveness and Mental Health” lectures. Friday I was up early loading my van with all of my art, arriving 8;30am at the Inner City Youth Alive (ICYA) Capoto Centre on Wilks Ave. for their fund raising banquet that would begin that evening.

I was the first to arrive. I saw the banquet room and as you can see below it was stunning. My jaw dropped. It looked fantastic. It was obvious this organisation was very artistic in their approach to this event. The “Gallaria” room alongside this banquet hall were I was to put up my art was bare. It was clear some work would need to be done here.

I began to move in my art from the van.

Then the staff arrived and things began to take shape. The goal was to create a room in line with the decor of the banquet room already done, but with the purpose of highlighting the art. What to do with the lighting? Where to place the pieces? What would be a good flow for the viewer from entry of the art show to exiting into the dining room? Decisions were made. People began scurrying about, making calls, running out to purchase items needed, tool boxes and tools appeared and the plans began to become reality. I worked at organising the placement of each piece, and placed each plinth. Then placing each piece beside it in it’s packaging while the staff did the decorating. No one wanted to wipe out a sculpture with a swinging ladder etc.

It was fun making new friends and working together. I was struck with their beautiful spirit. Their careful respect for our story, Candace and my pieces. Their humility. For example, the director of the organisation, working alongside all of us to get the job done. Their love and dedication for their work, whatever it might be to minister effectively to our inner city youth became very obvious. I enjoyed having lunch with them, were we continued becoming friends.

At about 3pm I left for home to get ready for the evening. I returned just before the event to a completely transformed Galleria. I marvelled at the elegance yet simplicity of it all. I then began to unpack and place my pieces on the plinths.  

The Art Show was entitled “Holy Ground” and as we’d done during the trial, the guests were invited to take off their shoes for going through the show. Many did just that. The program was wonderful. The MC was Janet Stewart who is the host of CBC 5 p.m. news on CBC television. Her positive bubbly personality pervaded the event.

The entertainment was by Winnipeg singer/songwriter Jaylene Johnson. We were privileged to have her sit beside us at our table and so got to know her a little. I don’t know that much about music but she is apparently making an impact having been the finalist for the past three years in the International Song writing Competition in the country and pop categories. Wow.

The speaker of the evening was my wife Wilma Derksen. She made the point that the work of Inner City Youth Alive was helping young men and women to make positive choices, preventing them from becoming future Mark Edward Grants, who is the man charged and doing time for the murder our daughter.

This was the very first time, since I had gotten into my art in 2010, that Wilma and I were doing our thing together at the same function! It is so fun doing things with family members. In the past I’ve had art shows together with my daughter Odia. Now, Wilma and I ministered at the same function. Amazing. I love it!

The most touching aspect of the evening were the awards given out to individual youth living on the streets in the inner city area. Youth who in the past year have made some huge choices for change and growth in their lives. Some for making brave choices like love and forgiveness instead of revenge. Some for graduating from High School. Some for their personal growth and accomplishments in becoming volunteers assisting in the work of ICYA. One by one they were called up for the different categories. For these street kids it was like winning an Oscar. Their accomplishments were described and admired. They were called up, given a trophy, photographed, hugged and congratulated by the staff before their friends plus almost 400 guests in attendance. This they will never forget. We all pray they will be encouraged to continue building their lives.   

After it was all over, we had to tear all that beautiful decorative work down. I packed up my sculptures and loaded them into the van. The plinths were placed in a truck. Wilma and I crawled into bed very early the next morning!

Were we tired? Yes. Did we feel good? Yes we did, we felt very good. This organisation is amazing, working with those in our society most of us fear and even avoid at all costs. Despite our concerns and opinions of these who live on the streets, God love’s them and seeks to challenge them, the same as he challenges us to make the next decision a good one, a better one then may have made in the past. These brave staff of Inner City Youth Alive, at great personal sacrifice, walk alongside these broken, hurting, angry, hungry, depressed, dysfunctional ones to help them making choices that might begin to turn their lives around one decision at a time. It was a privilege to assist in any way possible.

And that’s the amazing week that was.

“Come and take what is yours. It is the kingdom prepared for you since the world was created. I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink....”
Matthew 25:34-36

The Amazing Decor of the Banquet Room.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Forgiveness and Mental Health

The progress on “King Saul’s Throne” today represents 37 hours of work.

The next stage is building the back of the throne.
This throne symbolises the dynamics of “unforgivness.” 

Forgiveness and Mental Health, a Stepping Stone to Recovery.  
Oct. 11, 2012  
On Wednesday afternoon the day before Oct. 11, I’d completed my ¾ hour talk for this event. All I had to do was prepare the power-point.

At about midnight, I completed it. I brought up the speaking notes for my talk and inserted the queue notes for the technician who would operate the power point as I spoke. I pressed print and walked to the next room to pick up the printout. When I came back, my computer had gone into the “automatic loading of program upgrade” mode! I saw that my precious power-point was not on the screen. I quickly tried to find it and realised to my horror that I had not saved it. You are right. My worst fears had happened, it had been obliterated! Gonzo!

I took a deep breath! Now, I had to forgive that most crazy idiot...myself! I considered the situation. Do I really need the power-point? Do I have the time before I need to leave for Winkler at 6:45AM to get it done? I had my queue notes indicating all the pictures and notes I had put together and decided with this list it would not be hard to replicate. I felt I could really motor and do it fast. Maybe even have an hour or so for a quick snooze before I’d have to leave.

I made a coffee and went for it.

I got it done just before I needed to take my shower and get going. I was now praying that my mind, without a nights sleep, not stall on me somewhere along the line. Especially of concern was the last item on the program, the panel discussion. This is the kind of activity for which you need all your faculties. Especially, since the questions were coming from the audience and were not pre-prepared questions directed from a friendly moderator! I grabbed some Tylenol on my way out to the van!

The next hurdle was my crazy decision to take a different route than we’d usually taken to Altona. Since Winkler was West of Altona I decided to take the number 3 off the perimeter. This I felt would be more direct and therefore be a quicker way of getting there. I knew where it was but in the dark I made a wrong turn off the S. perimeter highway. I realised the mistake when the pavement suddenly ended and I seemed to be on roads only farm implements take from one field to another!

Making turns in the general direction Hwy. #3, I finally found it and made up some time I’d lost. I arrived only 8 minutes past my scheduled arrival time of 8am. I still had time to set up my sculptures before it all started. Whew.

The rest of the day went well. I was scheduled to share at 10:45am till noon. I used the morning to have a coffee and muffin so kindly provided for the guests. while the first speaker spoke, I found a quiet section of the foyer and went through my talk again, centering and calming my spirit for my presentation.

They had appointed a couple to “host” me and they were very kind and understanding.  They certainly had the gift of hospitality, very sensitively walking me through each aspect of the day. I came to appreciate them very much.

My goal was to be as honest and straight up as possible about my journey of forgiveness. After my talk several members of the audience spoke to me of “resonating” with my story as they had experienced or struggled in similar ways.  

My “all-nighter” caught up with me during the presentation following lunch. I caught myself nodding off a few times. I hope the folk behind me were just thinking I was agreeing with the speakers comments!

The dreaded “panel discussion” was quite ok. First, I managed not to nod off in front of the audience. Secondly, the professionals took most of the questions so I was off the hook! Fantastic.

It was fantastic that the Eden Mental Health organisation sponsored such an event on this subject. How is it that we have this amazing gift of forgiveness given to us? Something, which can increase our quality of life to a huge and fantastic degree. It can save our physical health, our emotional health our mental health and our very lives. It can reduce pain, missed work, and therapy bills. Still, we have such problems with it. We don’t understand it. We resist it.

I know from personal experience that it is not easy. It takes work. It takes determination and dedication. It feels counter intuitive but let me tell you it is worth it. I feel so blessed that my family and I have found this secret. It has changed our lives completely. Considering our history and the possibilities, we are so fortunate. We are all in a good place. It has been our deliverance. We are satisfied customers and recommend it to everyone.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, “ I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21-22 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Birthday Secret No. 2.

All dressed up and ready for the party.

Now you all know how sorry I am to have stopped the narrative of my story right at the crucial point of learning if the piece had survived the kiln firing. I’m just not that kind of a mean spirited person, to do such a terrible thing. I just don’t know what got into me but when I got to the point of opening the lid, I just had to stop. It seemed sooooo right at the time. So please accept my apology, forgive me and we will just move on.

Oh, I forgot, you’ve already seen the photo and have deduced that the sculpture survived it’s fiery ordeal. Yes it did. What a relief to see it sitting there all in one piece.

I placed it on my work table, found my “fine” sandpaper and began sanding it down for a nice smooth finish. I had also brought our cooler from the house for the purpose of packing it safely for the trip. I pulled out my styrofoam and began to measure and cut pieces to fit the lid size and hold the sculpture in place. It was nice that the size of the piece was such that nothing fragile received pressure from the styrofoam.

Once we got to the party, we were careful to confer with the husband during moments his wife was distracted with the guests, working out just how the presentation might work. We decided on a room separate from the living room where everyone was gathered for socialising and the meal. This way we could set up for the presentation in secret and then he could have the group move there at any point he felt was appropriate.

The next move was to get the piece into this room without being discovered. We all watched for the moment. Suddenly, I got the signal. She was now busy, sitting at the table, eating and talking with guests.

I casually made my way out, went to the car, covered the whole thing with cloth and began to make my way back. I suddenly realised that I was moving along the street directly in front of the living room picture window. The table she was eating at was right by this window! Rats! Well, at least it was covered.

We set up the piece and made our way, one by one back to the living room. It was now rather hard for me to concentrate as the excitement was rising.

Finally, the moment arrived and we were all invited to the “presentation room.” It was quite a moment realising, that this was a surprise for everyone at the event. Here everyone stood, seeing this covered item, but having no idea what it was. There was lots of anticipation, whispers, giggles, uuuhs and aaaas.

As his wife clung to him in anticipation, he gave a little speech, revealing his thoughts and how he’d decided to ask me to make something for his wife’s birthday.

Then came the moment of revelation. She slowly and carefully removed the cloth to reveal for the very first time this gift from her husband. There was just a moment of silence then all hell broke lose. Bursts of laughter, short screams, tears began to flow, some more squeals, somehow all at the same time!

I was asked if I wanted to say something regarding the gift. Since it had to do with lockets and jewelry and friendships of the girls, I’d already arranged that my wife who’d been more intimately involved with this story would do the talking. This of course, not only brought more meaning to the gift, it also elicited more emotion from the birthday girl and actually everyone in the room.

I have to say, It was a very gratifying moment. In the end this sculpture will be beautiful in the eyes of the recipient for what it represents. It is good to know, the piece has found a loving home. To see the sheer emotional response of tears, joy and delight of the recipient was such a humbling event.

I will never get used to how something I’ve fashioned can have such an impact on others. (I have seen grown men weep uncontrollably!) The level of responsibility now placed on me in my creative work frightens and excites. I must, yes, I must very intentionally seek to continue to be connected and guided in my own life and in my creative work by the one who knows all things. All things in my life and in the lives of those who view my work.

“I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you've posted.”
Psa. 119:10 (The Message) 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

A Birthday Secret.

Notice the heart locket and the chain.

This week began with a party. In fact it was a birthday party for a long standing friend who had known Candace.

In fact her husband was planning a party which he wanted to keep a secret from her. He’s been doing this every once in a while over the years and has never succeeded. It seems all her senses become 100 times more active as her birthday approaches. She’s evaluating every nuance of his conversations and actions and somehow, she successfully uncovers the truth of his plans.

About two months ago, he approached me about doing something special for her as a gift for her birthday. He asked if I could make a sculpture having to do with her past relationship with Candace. He indicated that the celebration was to take place on the Thanksgiving Monday. And of course he reminded me of his failures in surprising her and that this time he was determined to make it happen.

I decided to do a version of the winged “Project Angel” sculpture with reference to a heart locket Candace wore as a symbol of friends and friendships.

So, I went to work. Meanwhile, every so often our families would run across each other, usually at church. The husband and I pretended all was cool. Occasionally we had a moment alone like for example, at the coffee table, adding our condiments to our coffees. We'd have this “secret service” kind of coded conversation. “So, how’s ‘everything’?” he’d say and I’d respond casually, “Oh, ‘everything’s’ coming along great.” And he’s say something like, “It’s so great when ‘everything’ comes in on time eh?” and I’d respond with, “Yea, I do feel when ‘everything’ is on track you can tell it will all happen exactly as one expects!” We turned around and standing there is his wife...blanch!...My panicked mind moves much to slowly back into reality. (Out of the fog I remember he’d just returned from a week long work related trip.) I greet her warmly with “So you've got your husband back!”  As we part he turns and give me a subtle wink. Whew, I'm thinking 'all is well', congratulating myself with my smooth transition from a coded conversation to reality! This, I thought was a close call, but also, kind of fun.

As you can see there is a lot of detail on this piece which took some time. I’d scheduled the firing to take place on Oct. 3rd and 4th, but when those dates rolled around, it was still not dry enough. Someone else had the kiln after that and so I only had access to it on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, I had a fan gently blowing on it beginning Friday morning. Sat. night, after a social event at our house, I put the piece into the kiln and set it on low for the rest of the night. This way giving it a chance to bake and cook away any residue moisture in the piece. Early Sunday morning I went to the studio and set it to medium. We went to church. I was praying the piece would not explode! At about 1;30pm I was back. Now it had been on medium for about 5 hrs. Normally for a piece I know is dry I do 2 hrs. between setting changes. I turned it to “high”. Checked the master safety clock and observed that it was sitting at just over the 4 hr. mark of time left before automatic shut-off. I went to an appointment I had with a staffer at 2pm and when I returned the kiln had shut off. I checked the safety clock which now stood at just under 4 hrs. left. From all appearances it probably was at “high” for a little over half an hour. Normally this would be about an hour and a half. Simply meaning that with the extended times in low and medium it had come very close to the correct cone temperature before I had turned it to high. The good thing about that was that the last bit of added heat at high would have been much less shocking to the piece.

That bit of information made me believe it had survived. I’d had one piece explode recently and this was just too close for comfort. I could not afford another and have to show a broken piece with the promise of making another later. What a party spoiler that would be!

Monday, the day of the party, I came to the studio, just before noon. Took a deep breath, and slowly opened the heavy lid of the kiln.

(To be continued Sunday am.)

“...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize...”
Philippians 3:13b-14. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Looking at This Week Ahead.

 This week will be very exciting and challenging.

First, I have been asked to share my forgiveness journey on Oct. 11th at a day of lectures on the subject on “Forgiveness and Mental Health, a Stepping Stone to Recovery”. This is organised by the “Eden Mental Health Centre”, a faith based organisation located in Winkler MB. This centre includes an acute care mental health treatment facility, residential care services and supported housing, counselling services, as well as a vocational assessment and training for individuals with employment barriers.

The keynote speakers include Dr. David Weaver-Zercher who is a professor from a college in Pennsylvania and has co-authored the book “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy.” It’s about the multiple murders in the Amish school and how they went about forgiving so quickly.

The second keynote speaker is Dr.Randy Goossen who is the Director of Community Mental Health and an assistant professor at the U of Manitoba. He also has a special interest in spirituality and mental health. He has travelled and worked in various third world countries including Rwanda and Haiti.

I am very excited about this subject, as I have learned from my own personal experience that my unforgivness and subsequent decisions to forgive definitely affected the health of my mental state of mind. Whenever I refused to forgive, my mind would continue to do nothing but think negatively about the unfair event or treatment I felt I’d received. Because of my spiritual background and experience I would bury these as best I could but, usually in another stressful situation the buried anger would boil to the surface. Then someone else would get the brunt of it. Reactions way over the top for the situation at hand. In time this buried anger would turn into bitterness, thoughts solidifying about how bad I’d been treated, this included ideas about revenge. Because I had this stuff boiling just below the surface I lived in fear of when it would show itself. And it did at the most inopportune times. Triggered by usually very little things. My relationships began to deteriorate. On my part I would be withdrawing because I could not trust myself and secondly, others were becoming aware of that unpredictable guy, and would begin to avoid me also. With the fear and isolation, negativity continued to grow and fester. Hurts began to pile up...a bad downward cycle that I realised would not have a good ending. Clarity of mind for life, relationships and decision making become a real issue.

Only forgiveness can solve this downward spiral of a mind going crazy. The sad thing I discovered was that I was suffering and the one’s I thought had offended me were totally unaware and living, at least as far as I could see, a great life. Meanwhile, I was falling apart! There was something wrong with this picture.

Forgiving is hard work, It doesn't seem natural or even make sense, but it is worth it. It is the greatest gift of freedom from a debilitating life of anger, bitterness and rage one can find. I am a satisfied customer and recommend it to everyone!

I will also be bringing a few of my art pieces to the event.

I am a “little concerned” that after I've shared my story these mental health practitioners will gently take me away and I’ll end up in a padded cell somewhere. Stay tuned, I may need support for my release!

This event will take place Oct. 11, at the Bergthaler Mennonite Church in Winkler, registration begins at 8:15am and the event goes from 9am to 4pm.

The second event will happen on the evening of the 12th. This is a fundraiser for Inner City Youth Alive here in Winnipeg. Wilma will be the speaker and I will be displaying my artwork. It will take place at the Caboto Centre on Wilkes Ave.

I would so appreciate it if you might send up a prayer or two on my behalf. This is going to have to be a God thing.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Mathew 18:21-22. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

My weapon of choice is...

Swords have always been a symbol of power, courage and skill.

Would you believe in the late ‘70’s, while we lived and worked in North Battleford, Sk. I took up “fencing”. No, this was not the kind of fence to corral domestic animals and such, it was a “very safe” form of sword fighting!

I remember when we were kids, we loved to sword fight. We made clumsy wooden swords and whacked away at one another. We soon learned to wear work gloves as our hands would take a beating very quickly. As time went on we looked for and experimented with more realistic “swords” finding thin rods of different kinds of metal etc. I’m not sure how safe this all was but we managed to play mostly in secret as we knew our father would tell us to quit if he saw us doing it. A lot of times when we had to do the chores ourselves, the fencing activities were way more important than the milking of cows, and the chores for some reason lasted much longer than usual. I’m sure the cows were in severe pain by the time we’d finally get to milking them!

Somehow we all managed to survive with no one getting impaled and with all our eyes intact!

When I joined the “fencing club” it was so exciting to finally really do it, and in the correct way. I learned new French words such as “parry” and “riposte” and felt so exotic. Unlike the swords we used on the farm these had a blunted point with a small rubber on the tip. The only way to score was to touch the opponent with the tip and only on certain parts of the body. The head, arms and legs were out of bounds. Touching with the side of the blade did not count. It was ones “thrusting” techniques that would bring success. Plus, we also wore protective clothing and masks!

I know what you are thinking, how is it that a pacifist Mennonite could pick up  a military training weapon for the sheer joy of attempting to poke someone in a vital area, just for fun?

Hey, it’s an Olympic sport! Who knows where this could have gone!

Maybe I’m not quite the Mennonite you thought I was.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword...discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12