Last time I (James) was in Canada in 2009, we were seeing so many people and so many places that it was completely overwhelming to me. We were seeing up to four different people every day in all sorts of places and restaurants. We were traveling somewhere every single day, if not around Edmonton, then somewhere in the next province or on the other side of Canada. We were in BC for family, Edmonton for family and work and Toronto for friends and work. But in all of this, Christina's friends were her friends. Christina's extended family was her family. I had some rest and some fun inbetween, as I was taken out a few times to different events, but in all it was too much and there wasn't enough rest, there wasn't enough time-outs for us as a new family. Somewhere along the line, we kind of lost focus on that, probably because our eyes were watering from exhaustion.
There were also a few points on the trip that made me see Canadians in a darker light, with the flagrant beggars, the way-too-close-to-the-bone "humour" that some have, the way a lot of them drive, the slices of racism that sometimes crop up, the amount of distance traveled to get anywhere and the way how a lot of social injustices are given a one-sided shrug... it didn't want to make me move there any time soon.
Before the death threats start coming in, let me remind you that this current trip we are on is a lot different. We are not going to restaurants, we are focusing on meeting in people's homes. We are not focusing on ourselves per se in raising funds, we are instead focusing on Slovakia and how people can help us raise funds so that we can help carry out much-needed work there in the first place. We are not traveling everywhere in the country, burning petrol and making Greenpeace knock on our door this time around. Instead, most of our time will be in the Edmonton area, with Christina and Joseph going to Calgary for a week later on, then BC after that.
This has, in all, made Canada a much more enjoyable experience where we can take our time at that dinner appointment without having to suddenly rush off somewhere. This makes it more laid back, for people to pass Joseph around a bit more, for Christina to regale stories, for me to insert rubbish jokes every now and then. I nervously gave my first ever sermon at Fort Saskatchewan Pentecostal Assembly, we had an on-stage interview by our friends at Bethel Community Church and Christina shared in class and Chapel at Vanguard College. Joseph has discovered the game Fetch, whereby he stares at us and then very slowly releases whatever toy is in his hand onto the floor, then gives us a big grin, knowing in his devious genius baby mind that we are nothing but pawns to his commanding will. Either that, or he just likes the noise of a dropped toy.
Best of all, after a three-week separation, we re-discovered ourselves as a family that is always on the go. We will always be moving forward, but we'll still have a rear-view mirror to see where we have been. Christina did an amazing job of traveling by herself with Joseph for the flight over and then with the battle with 'flu that put both of them in bed for a couple of days during their first weeks. It was certainly one of many items to give over to God, including the time on Saturday, when we drove Joseph to the hospital for another suspected fever, but after he got prodded and poked at, and then cooed over by most of the doctors and nurses (he is a handsome fella, after all), he was given the green light.
We still have a long way to go in our time here, but at least we'll be getting the rest that we all deserve. It even feels homely sometimes. Until someone else cuts you up on the road, that is...