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Advent Stories: Peace

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, listening to stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

PEACE

We met Vanessa earlier this year when she started attending Innercity Arts. Vanessa is friendly, energetic and generous. It is easy to think that she has everything figured out. But as we got to know her, we realized she is wearing a thick mask in order to cope with the trauma she has gone through. Recently Vanessa shared what it was like the first time she came to art group, and her thoughts on Peace.

“I would just sit in my room for days. Doing nothing really. All my life – regardless of living situation I’ve just been… existing – going through the motions of life. I would self-isolate a lot. I felt depressed, and lonely. I felt exhausted, but restless at the same time. Eventually I would force myself to go for a walk.

When I would go outside this feeling would come over me – like a deafening silence, and my feet would feel unsteady  like the ground was coming out from under me. It was chaotic in my head all the time. Like I was screaming but no one knew.

One day when I was walking I ran into my friend Dexter. He said he was going to this art group and I should come too. I was…skeptical but I had nothing else to do. Then we walked into this building – I didn’t know what to expect.

But the first thing I felt when I walked in…was peace. The ground felt firm, the noise in my head was quiet.  I could tell right away it was a good place. I felt like I connected with people right away and everyone was kinda like me. We’d all been though stuff. When I come here, I don’t have to concentrate on every move – I can just go on auto pilot. I felt calm and I think it’s because of the people here at OIM. I don’t have anything to worry about here. I’ve found compassion, kindness and community.”

Vanessa still struggles with isolating herself. And she still goes on long walks to help cope. “When I walk, I don’t really pay attention to where I am going. But I usually end up at the OIM building, even when it’s closed. I feel drawn to it. And I think it’s because it’s so peaceful.”

Listen to Vanessa’s Story of Peace:

 

 

Advent Stories: Love

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, listening to stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

LOVE

 We met Larissa 3 years ago. She’d gone through a lot in her short life, including spending much of her teen years on the streets. Yet, she has a spark in her that just won’t go out – despite all she has been though. We asked her about the word LOVE and what it means to her: 

“When I was on the street, I would go to a lot of services and programs – but I didn’t really feel love there. I know they were trying to help….but it just felt like a service….not love.

When I came to Innercity Arts, I felt loved right away. I could tell that everyone loved each other and were connected.

I think that every new person who comes to the art group can see that we love each other – that we are a community. But they may feel like they don’t belong there. Sometimes, they may even act out or cause a problem because they don’t feel like they belong. But then we get over the problem and they learn that they are accepted anyways. And then they are part of the community.

I think that love doesn’t have a shape, or colour, or name, or form…it’s comes from people. Like the wonderful people at OIM  who work together and do good things. They show love to us, and then we carry that love wherever we go.

That’s what I think of when I think of Love.”

Larissa remains a faithful member of Innercity Arts and the Spirit of the Streets Choir. Last year, she took the Urban Intervention Training so she is now a weekly OIM volunteer!

Listen to Larissa Story:

 

 

Advent Stories: Faith

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

 

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, listening to stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

FAITH

When I asked Bryon to share about his life he said: It’s been a nightmare; I have been through the meat grinder.

Bryon was born in Winnipeg; he comes from a family of 9.  Both of his parents were alcoholics, he grew up seeing a lot of violence in his family and receiving beatings from his father. Growing up with alcoholic parents was not easy. He doesn’t blame his parents for this, because he doesn’t know what happened to them, what pushed them to alcohol.

He’s been struggling with alcoholism over 50 years. He has had times of sobriety; the longest time was 2 years. Even thought he hasn’t managed to stay sober he says he will never give up because God has never let him fall into the cracks. He still struggle but he still has hope.

Bryon moved to Ottawa 2 and half years ago, he first connected with OIM at the Drop-In at Dominion Chalmers. “OIM helps a lot of people, people who are hurting and struggling with different things. They (OIM) have helped me immensely. They don’t just feed you they really help you. What keeps me going is knowing that I’m not alone and that I have support, people that cares for me and prays for me and that I have no doubt that God is there for me.”

Listen to Bryon’s Story:

 

 

Advent Stories: Hope

Adora’s Vlogs (1)

This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, sharing stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.

HOPE 

Mike connected with OIM 11 years ago. When we met Mike, he was homeless and in an addictions treatment program.

“I was dealt a very bad set of cards early on in my life. My childhood wasn’t happy. I started drinking heavily at the age of 16. I didn’t know joy back then. All I was doing was drinking.  At that age, I got myself into a lot of trouble and ended up in jail.

Before I knew it, years had gone by. And in that time, I lost my job, my family – everything.  

When I met OIM I was in a strange city, homeless and with a serious problem. I would get my monthly money and I would blow it in 4 hours. I was very hopeless back then.

 I came to OIM because I heard you could get food there but I got something more than food. I remember talking to Jelica at the Drop In and started to feel a bit different. I started to feel hope. I also came to the OIM office. There, the staff helped me get to my AA meetings.

I am 10 years and 8 month sober now. I don’t go to meetings anymore. Now, I come to OIM for my recovery. It reminds me of what I’ve overcome. One of my favorite words is the Bible is ‘steadfast.’ To me OIM is that – it’s like a rock in my life because they are always here. 

My life is getting better all the time because I have hope. When I got here 11 years ago that wasn’t always the story – I  was very hopeless. But then I found OIM and I ‘turned the corner’ as they say. Y’see, what you guys do is give me hope.

 When I came to Ottawa I was pretty sick, but I’m not sick today.  I don’t feel my age most days. I feel young again because my hope was restored. If you don’t restore your hope somehow it will take over the hopelessness. Now, it’s the other way around. Hope has taken over. Even though I’m still poor and I don’t have everything I need it doesn’t matter – those are the small things. I have faith that things are going to come along.

If you still have a little bit of faith left in society, in the world or in the good people, come to OIM and get it reinforced by 10.”

Listen to Mike’s Story: