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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, September 27, 2009

Firstly, let me apologise for the delay in loading this up... it's been 6 weeks now but my blog entry has been trapped on another laptop (long story) with no way of getting it off. So here are the last 6 weeks. Pace yourself, you're in for a long ride.

I'm going to try and write weekly updates every Sunday to fill you all in what’s happening during the week; classroom stuff, free time, weekends etc etc. For those of you who don’t know, I’m in Vancouver for 6 months (with a 5 week hiatus in Montreal next January), with a Christian organization called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The programme I’m on is called Discipleship Training School, the purpose being (from my understanding) to train us students up to be like disciples of Jesus, so in turn we can train others. This is achieved by a) receiving teaching, b) living in community and c) going out to practice what we’ve learnt.

Out daily schedule consists of about 2 to 3 hours teaching from a guest speaker about topics such as listening to God, Evangelism and Justice, mixed in with some worship and intercession (prayer) time. Then every Tuesday afternoon we’re either helping out with Chilli Wagon or prayer stations. The first is basically a soup (chilli0 kitchen for the many homeless on Commercial Drive at a park down the other end, and the latter involves wearing a red jacket, standing outside the main Skytrain station with a sign saying 'free prayer’ for anyone who feels like they need it. Should be interesting! Then on Wednesday afternoons we’re either going on a tour of one particular part of the city with the YWAM Vancouver Director or preparing for Outreach in Montreal (French lessons, buying lots of jumpers… that kind of thing!) On Friday afternoons we have Stop@5 to practice public speaking amongst each other- where we have to prepare a 5 minute talk about a characteristic of God (taken from a list) and then spend the rest of the day summarizing the week. We also have to spend an hour every morning before class on our own doing bible study/devotional/whatever you want to tcall it, and coupled with lunch/dinner prep 9we get food provided but do all the cooking ourselves), it’s a very busy week1 Bit of a shock after 7 hours a week last year at uni.

I’m staying in what’s effectively a dorm (a one-bed apartment) with 4 other girls: Heidi from Finland, Trix and Rebekka from Switzerland, and Alex from Romania. Then down the corridor is the guys’ apartment, housing Taylor from the States, Ancel from Switzerland and Nathan and Jenny (who are married) From Alberta, Canada. Then on the staff there’s Randy from Canada, Tanya from Canada too, anne from Holland, Julia from Kenya, stuart from Oz and Bobby (who lives in the apartment above us), also from the States. So quite a mix of nationalities and personalities.

I’m trying to think back to that first week, it seems so long ago already. It was basically just an introduction to the programme and getting to know each other. One of the icebreakers we did was a circle of encouragement- 2 circles of people, one inside the other, and you had to eyeball the person in front of you and say something good you’d noticed about the other person, or give them a compliment or just generally say something nice! It was a little awkward in patches as we’d only known each other 48 hours but it forced us to get over that initial hurdle of getting to know each other and made us all closer, faster.

On Thursday we went out for lunch and had a kind of scavenger hunt on Commercial Drive, answering questions on the local businesses. The Drive is a great area- we’re living just off the drive itself, with lots of cafes, delis, vintage shops, second hand book shops, and about every ethnic restaurant you could think of. Our apartment is also really close to the skytrain (monorail) meaning we can get into downtown Vancouver in about 15 mins door to door.

We went to the park on Friday afternoon to play some wide games involving water balloons and running in circles with our foreheads on a baseball bat. The local teenagers, hanging around evidently with nothing better to do than smoke week, looked on with mild interest. Friday evening we decided to go ice skating- after a few shaky rounds, I managed to get by and only fell over twice (one of which doesn’t count as I was pushed!) We then went via an amazing Italian gelato parlour on the way home. I have made it my personal mission to get through every flavour by the time I leave- have been 3 times in the first week, so it may just be possible.

Our Saturday was filled with a tour of Vancouver to help us get our bearings – we took the bus into town, then a ferry across to North Vancouver (on the other side of the harbour), with fantastic views of the skyline silhouetted against the clear blue sky. On our way back, we went over to English Bay, one of several small beaches on the West side of Stanley Park. It was super windy, but beautiful weather- with the waves crashing against the sea wall and feeling the spray in the hair I felt like I was in Brighton or somewhere on the coast, felt right at home! We strolled through Stanley Park (it takes about 3 hours to walk around the perimeter) to get to the other side, and then Rebekka, Trix, Anne and I hit downtown Vancity for some shopping. Good shops here, and I think just a little cheaper than England.

I really want to get settled into a church here asap, so I went to two churches on Sunday morning. Slight overkill, perhaps, given the busy week I had ahead, but it was good all the same to check them out and incredibly, the second sermon more or less continued where the first (in a different church) had left off! On Sunday afternoon I went back onto the Drive to check out the vintage shops, handmade chocolate shops… all very important research. Then before we knew it, week one (kind of) was over!

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