Who knows where to start on this past week? Certainly not I. I had fully intended on updating this when I touched down in Vancouver, but I either never had a reliable wifi connection or I never had any time. Oh well. We’re here now, and that’s what matters, probably. Allow me to fill you in on some highlights.
Our first experience with Vancouver was a rainy one. I actually think the rain has been following me around. Every time I get to a new city, it’s grey skies and wet asphalt and someone says “we’re usually not rainy this time of year, I don’t know what’s going on.” Well, here’s some news: This is Florida’s rainy season. Make of that what you will.
The retreat was held at a Seventh Day Adventist center in Hope, British Colombia a couple hours outside of Vancouver. We got there late Thursday night –close to midnight, if I remember– got into our rooms, gave the piano and other trappings a once over (I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but I requested the teams in Canada to rent a keyboard for me for these international trips. I thought that might be easier and cheaper in the long run than bringing mine) to make sure they were suitable, and then promptly went to bed (as there was near-to-zero cell reception anywhere on the grounds and, therefore, no data for web browsing).
The retreat itself, as all retreats are, was pretty straightforward. Of course we had people who would complain about various things, but that’s anywhere. You can’t please anyone. It’s always either “the music is too loud” or “the sessions are too long” or “why can’t we talk?” (because silent retreat, that’s why). Overall, though, the rhythm of the Vancouver retreat remained much like all the ones so far: People come with burdens, and they leave with blessings. They arrive with chains and leave with change. It’s a steady pulse; a breath that begins with an inhale on Friday –held in the lungs of time, growing more painful with each passing day, as the word of God breaks the will of man–until Sunday arrives like a sigh, and life finally seems better than it was before. A breath of fresh air.
The real ordeal began after the retreat was over, of course. Never in my life have I been juggled around from place to place like I was in Vancouver. Aside from sightseeing, which was nice (although tiring), we were constantly at one house or another, having dinner or lunch or some social gathering I wasn’t completely keen on attending but had to attend anyways.
I was pretty cranky the last couple days, I won’t lie. It’s exhausting being around people you don’t know and having to act more cheerful than you actually feel. I was homesick, I was tired, and I was so sick of people asking me the same 20 questions. I know they were trying to be polite, believe me, but after a certain point, I just kept getting aggravated with everything and everyone through no actual fault of their own. All of this was made worse in me by the fact that I was completely dependent on other people for transportation and lodging. I’m neither proud nor ashamed to admit any of this. I’m human, and this is one of my many human flaws. I did my best to be gracious, my best just happened to not be enough. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t being rude or anything. I was just very internally grumbly about the whole two days.
Anyways. The scenery is really spectacular in Vancouver, and I can see why people choose to stay there (though, I still can’t see why they’d initially move there. Riddle me that). Some of the retreat coordinators took us around sightseeing, like I said, after the weekend was over. We took a hike up a mountain to Shannon Falls, saw some beautiful lakes, and took a walk down a pier where we could watch the seaplanes taking off from the bay. There’s a lot to see, and I did take pictures of most of it. I reckon if I hadn’t been in such a sour mood, I would have been more thrilled with everything. Oh well. I never said I was perfect.
We got into Edmonton yesterday evening. For once it wasn’t raining, and that was a positive change of pace. We were transported to a very nice house in a very nice suburb with some very nice people who –despite their very-niceness–I get the feeling don’t actually want us to be in their home. They have three small children: 7, 6, and 3. The two older ones (a boy and girl, respectively) don’t talk to us much, but the 3 year old is a little chatterbox. He’s too young to understand prejudice, but I overheard the 7 year old telling the housekeeper that he can’t be friends with us because we’re Americans. Wonder where he got that ideology from.
I have never been thus treated in my entire life!
Whatever. I didn’t come here to make friends, anyways.
If you haven’t sensed it yet, I’m pretty irritable. I just have to make it through these few days and then I get to go home. That’s what I’m holding on to and looking forward to. I miss my family and I miss my house and I miss not feeling like I’m imposing on people and their lives. Just gotta make it through the weekend. I can do that much.
It won’t be so bad once everything starts tomorrow morning. I’ll be glad for the work and for the distraction. Days pass quickly when I’m focused on serving instead of being served.
That’s another sticking point: If there’s one thing that I find most annoying about being away from home, it’s that everyone keeps wanting to do everything for me. I can’t even take my dishes to the sink without someone telling me to leave them on the table. The same independence that makes me hate being beholden to anyone for food or transportation or lodging is the same independence that makes me hate being waited on hand and foot. Not being able to do things for myself actually makes me feel useless. And again, I know it’s just them trying to be polite, but I was raised differently.
This is all gonna turn into a complaint fest, so I might as well stop now. I probably won’t write again until I’m less grumpy. Sorry for being down today, but I’d rather be honest here than put on a façade of positivity that I don’t feel. Anyhow, I’ll just take my own advice and —