Into the Paralaralympics!

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

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Sunday, March 14, 2010

The long drive back from the prairies to wet Vancouver was fairly boring, and fairly uneventful. However a couple of moments stuck out:
1. We saw 3 wild moose right by the side of the road soon after leaving Caronport. The Canadian emblem!
2. We stopped at Starbucks for a group coffee courtesy of a donation made by someone in the church
3. The scenery was, of course, spectacular- made even more impressive by the heavy snow that had fallen the afternoon before...

We arrived into Banff early afternoon, giving us a few hours to explore/sit in a coffee shop (guess which I did?) Well, given the amount of coffee I now drink, you'd be forgiven for thinking the latter, but this was my first time in a new town, so of course had to check it out! Turns out, there's not all that much to check. I walked around the entire village, twice, in about 1 1/2 hours. Calling in on a couple of shops, but realising I don't really need any more clothes, nor do I need the extra weight in my suitcase for next month! In fairness, it is a nice village, a ski town like any other, with lots of winter sports stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. However, ever since we arrived, it had been snowing and getting progressively more aggressive ever since. We all went out for a 'final night' team dinner at Earls, which was great- sat around one big table, we all enjoyed a hearty meal cooked by someone else for a change. Once inside, though, the snowstorm closed in until at one point you could barely see anything out the window. We trooped out after paying the bill, and gingerly stepped across the slippery sidewalks to our van. I think about 10-15cm had fallen just since we parked the car, such was the mound on the roof. We slowly and carefully started to ascend the gentle slope up to our chalet. 

Now generally, people in Alberta will have winter tyres or chains during the winter, for just such occassions. We, on the other hand, had rented a car from Vancouver, the land of rain and sleet. Said van had an 'anti-slip' override on the tyres, meaning that the car limited its speed if it felt the traction slipping. So it came to pass that the seven of us were sitting in this van, as it crawled up the hill, struggling and faltering until it finally came to a stop, refusing to go any further. Five minutes later, we're standing in the snow pushing the poor little thing up the slope while Bobby tries desperately to keep it moving in a straight line. At one point it starts rolling back down the hill- we catch it and push it on its way. Eventually it musters enough courage to start moving again, and Bobby speeds off up the hill, leaving us to walk the final few minutes. 

After that, the evening consisted of little more than a hot tub, steam room, sauna, and a movie. Bliss.

After 9 1/2 hours of driving on Tuesday, we finally arrive back in Vancouver. Home, sweet home!  

We were given the day off on Wednesday but (I blame the time difference), I awoke at 6:30am. After two days of idleness, I thought it would be a good idea to do some exercise, so I went to the local pool for a few laps, and relaxed in the library next door afterwards. In the afternoon, a group of us decided to visit Queen Elizabeth Park, that Taylor and Heidi had been to and raved about a few weeks back. I'd love to see it in the summer, with all the flowers out- there were daffodils, bluebells and snowdrops in small quantities, but most of the trees were yet to come out. Still, the landscaped gardens were pretty- and reminded me of a National Trust gardens (of which I've seen many). I don't they have similar kinds of things in the States however, since Taylor was quite surprised I'd been anywhere like it before. Also everyone seemed impressed with my knowledge of plants- and I know nothing about plants, apart from the obvious! Not so obvious for others, I guess.

Thursday was our briefing day for the Paralympic outreach. We met up at the Salvation Army centre for introductions (to the one extra volunteer we didn't know), briefing, worship and prayer. In small groups, we tried to come up with one word that represents our expectation/feelings towards this last part of our outreach. We came up with honour (both to be able to be the first ever Christian outreach at a paralympic games, and to honour the athletes), open, celebration, overlooked potential and relax. =)

After eating dinner together, I shot off to granville island for a Spiritual Training seminar with my church on How and Why we should study the Bible. While there wasn't particularly any new information, it was all scriptures and information I needed to be reminded of. It was a great evening, even if I nearly drowned on my way there and back. So glad I had an umbrella.

Friday was the opening of the Paralympic Games, so we decided to go downtown and 'see what we could do'. As ever, such decisions are fairly frustrating, as we find ourselves doing very little, but my group of 4 at least were able to occupy ourselves making balloon animals (thanks mum), and spreading a little joy to the children of Vancouver! The team were also handing out pocket guides, welcome bags, prayer walking and doing prayer stations, so it wasn't really an unproductive afternoon, it just felt like it at times. I really liked the atmosphere downtown; it was still fairly busy, but much more relaxed, more families, and I sensed more locals too, who may have avoided that chaos/mob during the Olympics.

I went down to granville island again after we finished for a Film & Theology night, again with Westside, discussing Where the Wild Things Are. Now I've read the book several times, even studying it at university- but I wasn't quite sure how someone could take a 25-page picture book and turn it into a 90 minute film. I wasn't surprised, therefore, when it differed/expanded from the original, but it was a strange film. Discussing it afterwards, however, helped me make a bit more sense of it, and James, leading the discussion related it all back to the gospel in such a way I think I enjoyed and certainly got a lot more out of his analysis/thoughts than the film itself. 
Saturday saw further training for new teams who had arrived from Mississippi, Texas and Washington for the paralympics. We were 'facilitating the training'- which turned out to mainly just being there. A few of us were on a panel answering questions about Vancouver (since now we're practically locals), and several did an amazing job of cooking for all 40 of us, but other than that, I read my book a bit and chatted to the new volunteers.   

Today, Sunday has been relaxing. Gym, Church, Jacket Potato & Beans, Skype, Doze, Bathroom Cleaning, Dinner Cooking. And it's raining. 
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