Getting into the swing of things

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
Trip End Jun 07, 2010

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Where I stayed
Commercial Drive

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Sunday, October 11, 2009

This week we had Rene, an amazing guy from Montreal, coming to speak to us about God being like a father. He's a counselor in his full-time job so there was lots of talking through feelings and stuff like that. We talked about some false concepts of God, like that he's old fashioned, distant or disapproving of creativity - none of which could be further from the truth! Also the concept that God's happiness is constantly troubled because he suffers because of us, with us and in place of us. Maybe that's a bit theological for this early in the blog but that's my summary of the week!

Also during the week we had outreach prep- we're going to Montreal next January - so Rene gave us an intro to Montreal and a few French lessons. I won an Olympic-athlete T-shirt in return for singing a song in French... small, small price to pay. It's so long ago, I think I'm just gonna have to go through the week day by day. On Saturday I met up with Michelle (who I met a couple of weeks ago in Tofino) for brunch. It was great to catch up with her and we went for a wander afterwards to a cookery warehouse which rocked. If you ever don't know what to get me for Christmas, a gift card for this shop will make me happy! Then on Sunday I went to church downtown with a couple of the other students and after walked down to eat my picnic lunch in Stanley Park. I tried to get in to a screening of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Heath Ledger's last movie) at the Vancouver International Film Festival but the lineup for reserve tickets was huge, and after an hour and a half of waiting, they said there were no more tickets! But it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I was sitting on the pavement waiting so I was quite happy.

On Tuesday we had our first Chiliwagon. This is a great initiative set up about 14 years ago, a soup kitchen with chilli, pitta bread and banana bread. It's been running every single week since it as set up. We get there for about 6pm to eat before we start, and then load up 3 trolleys and wheel them down to the local park. By the time we get there at 7pm, there are already 50 homeless people lined up waiting for us to start, and then about another 40 or 50 come while we're serving. So many of these guys just want a decent conversation and their stories are fascinating. I love talking to people and just hearing about their lives- people are so interesting. Right now I can't remember who I spoke to, but we do it every Tuesday night, so we're getting to recognise certain people and see them during the week on the Drive. I came back totally energised, I loved it!

Then on Thursday night we had Rene and the staff come over to our apartment for dinner. Every night the 9 students meet in Bobby's apartment upstairs to eat together. It's a little tight, but we managed to squeeze in another 4 people and it was just an amazing evening. Despite only having been together a few weeks, we were all laughing and talking like old friends throughout dinner.

Every week we get about 10 crates of bread donated to us from the bakery to keep us going throughout the week- but every week we have loads of bread left over. They were about to be thrown out, when I thought 'this is crazy!' There are SO many homeless people here, people who I'm sure could make use of a loaf of bread, so I bagged up the remaining bread, gave each student a bag and said our task for the journey home was to find someone to take it. I gave mine to a guy called Pete and had a good chat with him about where he was from, what he was up to in Vancouver etc etc. It worked really well as I always want to talk to the guys sitting on the street but I don't necessarily want to give them money. Chilliwagon helps too- when you've met people before, it's a whole lot easier to talk to them!

OK, nearly there... on Saturday, one of the DTS staff had her 16th birthday party... her 16th spiritual birthday! We wanted to have a party, and Tanya realised it was 16 years since she'd become a Christian soooo we all trooped over to her house to play party games (pass the parcel- which apparently is only ever played in England and the chocolate game with gRRReat Swiss chocolate), decorate hundreds of cookies and cupcakes Tanya had baked the night before and eat lots of dip and birthday cake! A couple of the other students and I baked Tanya a chocolate zucchini (courgette) cake which was goooooood. Pass the parcel went pretty good- highlights from the forfeits included Ancel (swiss guy) reading a delightful passage from Twilight off the balcony, Randy blowing up a balloon until it popped in his face, Bobby eating a giant cupcake/muffin in one bite, and me donning a Tiara and giving a public address to Canada, again off the balcony.

Then Sunday Rebecca and I set off on an expedition. We first went to Vineyard church, which just so happened to where Pax, the Wade and Joanna's (YWAM staff) little 2 month old was getting dedicated! So despite the fact that it was our first time at the church, what with all the YWAMers who had come to watch, we probably knew about a quarter of the congregation. But we snuck out early to catch the bus/ferry/bus all the way over to Grouse mountain- one of 3 mountains overlooking the city on the North shore of Vancovuer. The Grouse Grind is a famous uphill trail that's renound for being super steep and a bit of a ritual every Vancouverite has to go through (I think). Now Rebekka is a seasoned Alps hiker, while I exercise rarely, so while I needed to stop every 10 mins for a breather, Rebekka wasn't even out of breath- so I sent her on ahead. MAN it was steep! 2800ft, 2800 steps, although some steps were about 2ft high, you had to clamber up and it was so hard. It was a beautiful walk though, through the trees, nice stone trail and all very natural, despite the fact that we had lots of company doing the trail with us. But eventually- an hour and a half later - I finally reached the summit and it was worth every minute. The view over the city and greater Vancouver stretched out as far as the eye could see, the harbour running into the Pacific ocean, and looking all the way down towards the States. I met up with Rebekka at the top (she made it in an hour and a quarter), and we shared a Nanaimo bar while drinking in the views. There's a whole load of activities and trails up there but we only had about half an hour before we got the cable car back down, savouring the leisurely journey.

Then we jumped back on the bus over to Randy's house for.... THANKSGIVING!! Canadian thanksgiving was actually on Monday but Randy cooked for all of us plus several others (so about 25 in total) and we had the works... turkey, ham, yams, honey balsamic carrots, cranberry relish, stuffing... pumpkin pie, apple pie, icecream, nanaimo bars, cupcakes, cookies, zuchinni cake. LOTS of food to be thankful for. Yum yum yum! And so we returned home, stuffed and satisfied, eternally thankful for a good night's rest.

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