Posts tagged ‘Toronto’

May 5, 2019

Unplanned Visit to Canada

My Grandpa passed away at the beginning of the month and I wasn’t sure at first if I would be able to travel home to go to the funeral. Friends of ours generously lent us money for a plane ticket for me to travel back. We bought the ticket and then a few hours later Othy drove me to the airport and I boarded a plane! Crazy! I arranged to stay at the DeWalle’s place for the first night because they live near the airport and were also planning to go to the funeral. It felt like I was in a dream to be welcomed by Jeff and Katelynn and then arrive at their house where Dianne had tea and cake ready. Since it wasn’t that late yet, we had some time to catch up a bit before we all turned in.

The next morning we got up bright and early, shared a dutch breakfast (something Dianne likes to do for company and it was oh so good!) and then headed to Niagara. I had a nice time sitting in the back chatting with Katelynn’s young daughter. Since we made good time, they dropped me off at my parents place in Beamsville. A few minutes later our family left to meet the rest of the extended family at church where we would drive together to the cemetery for the internment. Afterwards we returned to the church for the memorial service. Near the end of the service I joined the Lammers cousins in singing a song called “Who you say I am” by Hillsong. There was a luncheon following the service and it was good to connect with family even though it was short.

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Mom’s siblings

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Somehow we all got the memo…

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Cousins!

I stayed with my parents until Thursday and then headed to Toronto in the afternoon. Mom dropped me off at the Burlington Go station just like old times! I planned to attend my old Grace Gathering that evening which is still held at my old digs where Susan still lives! So I walked around the neighbourhood for a while going to some of my favourite shops, and then when I knew Susan would be home I walked in without knocking and surprised her sooo good because she didn’t know I would be there! I was able to congratulate Susan and Andrew on their engagement in person. Soon everyone else arrived and it almost felt like I had never left. It was interesting that almost at this exact time last year I was introducing everyone to Othy and saying goodbye. I stayed that night with Jess and Jeff.

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The following day I met Lucy from Adam House for a meeting at the city and then dropped into my office. The team was away on lunch when I arrived, but I called them and was able to join them. I was thankful to be able to put in some face time at work and meet the new staff who I didn’t know yet. At the end of the workday I walked to Vikkie’s new place to spend Friday evening with her. We ate leftover Japanese curry for dinner and caught up on lost time chatting and watching episodes of Once Upon A Time! We slept in and had a very lazy Saturday morning. In the early afternoon I left to go visit my friend Pamela who lives in Etobicoke. It took an hour and a half to get there by transit, but I was enjoying taking it again and having time to do nothing. I spent a few hours visiting with Pamela and then started my journey back before it got dark. I spent the next few nights back at Jess and Jeff’s place. I spent that particularly evening working on getting the blog post finished about the elections and the ebola. I was proud of myself for finally sitting down and getting it done!

I went to Grace Toronto the next morning. Since Jess and Jeff had to go early to help set up and lead worship, I went and spent some time at the nearby Tim Hortons and enjoyed a Canadian Maple donut… had to fit that in at some point! It was such a joy to be back at Grace and worship with so many familiar faces and songs. I joined a group for lunch after church that included Tim, Joe, Robb, and Rosemarie. I got to learn the wonderful news that both Tim and Joe are engaged! It was a very wet and windy day and so I headed back to Jess and Jeff’s after that. Later Jess and Jeff returned and we spent a nice evening together. They taught me how to play Cribbage.

On Monday I stayed at home and did some work and made arrangements to visit with three friends from my small group. They all came at different times and was so nice to catch up with them. Victoria and Season came by at different times in the afternoon and then Sarah came for dinner. On Tuesday through Thursday I spent full days at the office and also moved back to Vikkie’s place to have more time with her and because she lives not far from my work. On Tuesday Rolf took our whole team out for lunch at Terroni’s. It made me feel so appreciated and it was a great opportunity to catch up more with the group. On Tuesday evening Susan had me over for dinner and we had a wonderful time catching up. Then on Wednesday evening Vikkie invited Rachel to come to her place and hang out with us. I offered to make dinner and made a tasty lentil curry soup. I am sad I am not going to get to go on another Adirondacks adventure or camping trip with these two ladies for a while!

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On Thursday I took an extended lunch from work to meet my friend Petra for lunch in China Town. Later that day our work team piled into Rolf’s car and he took us to his place for drinks and to see how the renovations were going. I didn’t stay long because I had plans to go to a special evening prayer service at Grace Toronto. Unfortunately I got turned around and took the streetcar West instead of East which made me late for the service, but what I did get to see and participate in was beautiful. It was wonderful to see that Susan had fulfilled her dream of starting a choir at Grace! Afterwards I got to surprise many Grace downtown friends and catch up until we were almost the last people left in the church! I miss these amazing people! Since it was Good Friday the following day, Vikkie and I stayed up late watching a few more Once Upon a Time episodes!

Jen generously picked me up on Friday morning because I had accumulated too much stuff that I had purchased to take back with me. It was another rainy day. Before arriving at her and Chris’s place we stopped and picked up decaf lattés… gotta love sista time! Jen and I talked and talked and watched some episodes of Merlin with Natasha. I got to see more of their dog Bandit who is a very skinny but very tall greyhound. I also got to walk him the next morning since I was the first one up. We had a lazy morning and then our parents came by and we went out to the Lancaster Smokehouse for an early dinner. Mom and I shared a tasty three meat platter and between the two of us we still didn’t finish it! I ordered onion rings that were more like donuts! Mom, Dad and I headed home directly from the restaurant. Jen and Chris were planning to come to our parents for dinner on Sunday, but I wanted to go early so that I could go to the easter service at my parents church.

It was just Mom and I at church the next morning because Dad had to work. I enjoyed talking to old acquaintances and friends after the service. Al, Jen, Chris, and Natasha came by later in the afternoon and we hung out and then had lasagna for dinner (my mom spoils me….). We played one game of wizard and then it was already time for them to go because they had a long drive home. I spent the rest of my days in Canada at my parents house. I did work most days and then visited a few other people including Bob and Jane, Bob and Della, and Ingrid. Al came by to visit one last time on Thursday night and took me out to one of her favourite restaurants in St. Catharines. We ate a series of tapas including oysters, shrimp tacos, salmon tartar on deep-fried avocado, and liver brulé – all delicious!

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That same evening, a friend of Othy’s dropped off a keyboard that he had found for a good deal on Craig’s List. It is an old beast complete with floppie disk and is bigger than I thought it would be. It was going to be an interesting challenge to bring back. I started packing the easy stuff that evening so that all that would be left to pack the next morning would be the hard stuff. Fortunately all of my other things fit into a single suitcase. Mom was a packing superhero as always. The next morning she went out and bought bubble wrap and found some cardboard boxes in the garage to wrap the keyboard in. We finished with time to spare! On the way to the airport we stopped in at Al’s work and she helped us to saran wrap the box. It will be worth all the trouble to be able to play the keyboard and hear Othy play! Finally we were at the airport and Mom stuck with me until we dropped off my checked bags and then it was time to say farewell to her too. I am thankful that I had this opportunity to reconnect with friends and family after being away for a year. It was a long flight home to Uganda and I didn’t arrive until midnight the following night. Othy was already away for his work in Congo, but I was warmly welcomed at the airport by our brother Obady.

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June 16, 2018

Othy’s Visit – Family Time

The last part of Othy’s visit was to finally meet my family and see the area where I grew up. On Friday morning we emptied the car, did some work, and then in the afternoon I took Othy to Balls Falls. It had been so long since I had been there, and I kept missing one of the last turns to get there and so we had to turn around and backtrack several times! It was VERY windy, so much so I was wondering whether or not we should even walk around! We had even passed a fallen branch on the drive there. We proceeded with caution and hiked to the upper falls, then walked around the settled area where there is a small chapel, a barn, and a house. Unfortunately the buildings were closed to visitors but we still enjoyed walking around the grounds. There were large white tents installed everywhere, maybe in preparation for some kind of arts and crafts show. One of the tents had completely blown over! Lastly we went to the lower falls that is just adjacent to the cluster of buildings. Othy got a funny photo of me as we were walking over the pedestrian bridge and a crazy gust of wind took me off guard!

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For the sake of nostalgia I stopped in at Jordan Public School which is now vacant. Although there was a sign that says no trespassing, I couldn’t help but go and sit on the swings which were my favourite pass time during recess! From there we went to visit the old school house and then several of the shops along Main Street in the village, one from which we bought some delicious fudge. The last stop that I wanted to make was to visit my cousins who live in the house that I grew up in, but nobody answered the door. I drove us to an empty lot right by the QEW onramp where I was hoping we might be able to walk down to the water. There was no way down however, and so instead we climbed up onto a small incline where we were at least able to see the water. It was still so windy and we had to be careful not to get pulled off! You could see the wind pulling at the water drawing it away from the shore! On the way home I could really feel the wind pulling at the car. Al arrived later that evening. Mom made lasagna for dinner because she knows it’s one of my favourites! We came on the topic of what Al does for work, and then she offered to give Othy a tour of her workplace which Othy responded with a wholehearted YES! I also enjoyed seeing it because her job is so interesting, and her company recently moved to a larger facility.

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The next morning Jen and Chris came to visit. In the late morning Jen, Othy and I went and visited my Grandpa. Grandpa was very happy to meet Othy. Ironically, Othy knew a few words in Malay that he had learned from a visitor at his university. Later in the afternoon we went to Niagara Falls. It was a perfect day for it! We found parking and then walked alongside the falls while stopping to look and take photos now and then. While Chris went back in search of his water bottle, Jen and I explored the gift shop area. To get back to the car we went upstairs in the building and crossed over the pedestrian bridge. There were daffodils planted everywhere! Before we left for home we walked through a beautiful row of blooming magnolia trees. I was glad that I got to see signs of spring before leaving! My dad had shared with Othy before leaving for Niagara Falls that he was unimpressed with them, but Othy did not agree and neither do I. The amount of water going over those falls always astounds me!

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I’m going to miss this one!

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Back at home we had an appetizer dinner together. It was my idea so that Othy could experience the style of meal we have on special holidays. After dinner my family got into an intense discussion on politics, a very common occurrence at our family gatherings! Othy expressed some of his views from his experience in Congo, and then he smoothly changed the subject to express how happy he was to meet my family, how much he loved their daughter/sister, and if they would give their blessing for us to get married! I couldn’t believe that this day had come and this was actually happening! Othy and I had already planned that this would happen, but I was still blushing, smiling wide, and tearing up a bit. Then Al said something like; “Is your heart racing Lise? Because mine certainly is!” and everyone laughed. My parents gave us their blessing and there were hugs all around! Then we took a family photo (a nice one and a crazy one, also a family tradition!) and then played a game of Wizard. We didn’t stay up very late because my dad had to get up very early for work the next day. Othy said goodbye to him that evening because he would not see him the next morning.

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I finished packing the car in the morning and putting a few last things in storage, we took a farewell photo with my mom and sisters, and then Othy and I went to church with my mom. We had to leave pretty quickly after church because I had plans for us to meet up with Vikkie at the airport before going through security. Before we left, Ingrid stopped in to say goodbye! I got emotional when saying goodbye to my Mom who has always been an amazing role model, friend, and prayer warrior. Othy and I hit the road and managed to keep mostly on schedule! We stopped quickly in Stoney Creek to meet up with Othy’s friend (the same one who visited us in Toronto) who wanted to give him some things to take back with him. Once at the airport we dropped off the rental car and went to Terminal 3 to meet Vikkie. Vikkie and I got to chat while Othy waited in line to check in his luggage. She gave me some wonderful treats and items from her recent trip to Japan (the reason why we had not been able to meet up with her during our time in Toronto). Then we had a late lunch together at Freshii. Vikkie and I bid farewell to Othy because our time had run out, and then I bid farewell to Vikkie because I was flying out of Terminal 1. The time had come! I was about to embark on a big journey and also move into the next season of my life.

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June 9, 2018

Othy’s Visit – Road Trip Part 2

Our first stop on the way back from Montreal was to quickly drop in and visit some of the family near Belleville. Othy enjoyed seeing all of the farmland we passed by after getting off of the highway. My plan was to visit my Aunt but she had not been responding to my texts. But then as we turned onto the street near where they live, there she was in her car sitting at a stop sign! It turns out she had stopped to check her phone for texts because she had left it at home while taking the grand kids to the park. Although she was on her way somewhere, she turned around and we had a quick visit with her at the house. From there we drove to the old farm house to visit my cousin Janice. She was home with the twins. They were shy around us (especially Othy) but you could tell they were curious! Finally Janice told them to show us their turtle and then they totally forgot that they were supposed to be shy! In the dining room they have a small fish tank with a medium sized snapping turtle inside! Janice told us the story of how they found him on their driveway and then kept him. She also told us about their mama cats who both had kittens, but that she was hoping they were doing okay because they had chosen to have them high up in a tree!

We couldn’t stay long, but before we left Janice asked the twins if they wanted to show us the barn. Of course they did! We went and visited the hens, found an egg, and then went and fed the goats some hay. On our way out, Janice paused and said that the C.A.T.s were okay after all. I didn’t understand right away until she tilted her head towards the corner. I realized that she was trying to tell me about them without alerting the twins. Her attempt to hide it failed and the twins soon found and began holding and petting the kittens! Fortunately they already had their eyes open. So cute! Before we left we took a fun photo to remember this short and memorable visit!

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We hit the road again but only for a short time because the next destination I had in mind to visit was Presqu’ile Provincial Park near Brighton. It was further off of the highway then I had thought, and so our time there was short as well. The park is on a very narrow peninsula on lake Ontario. The road makes a nice loop through the park and so we drove directly to the end were there is a lighthouse. At the lighthouse all we could see was the lake meeting the grey misty sky. We decided not to stay here too long because Janice recommended checking out the boardwalk that goes through a wetland that is closer to the entrance of the park. She was right to recommend it because it was oh so beautiful! Red and green spruce trees stood out among golden dead wetland grasses against a grey sky. I don’t think I have seen anything quite like it. The boardwalk wove through this landscape and I was sad that we didn’t have the time to walk the whole thing. We went in a ways simply admiring the view, and then turned around and went back. It was very peaceful because there was nobody there but us! Othy enjoyed taking pictures of me because he thought I matched the colours of the grasses.

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After spending twenty minutes there we hit the road again so that we would get back to Toronto by dinner time. Susan prepared us a really nice dinner of salmon and roasted vegetables and we enjoyed spending a last bit of time with her and Andrew. Somehow we got on the conversation of wanting to learn the violin, and Othy asked Susan if she could give him an introductory lesson. He managed to learn how to play some scales and the beginning of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He caught on very fast! After that we loaded the car with the remaining items that I had to bring home including our packed suitcases. It was miraculous that it all juuuuust managed to fit into the compact rental car. We hit the road once again and arrived at my parents place after 10pm. I am thankful for all that we got to see and do together on this mini roadtrip, and that we had safety on the road. What a full and amazing day!

 

 

June 2, 2018

Othy’s Visit – Road Trip

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Our first destination was Cambridge and Waterloo. I took Othy to the school of architecture and we walked around the building and looked at the exhibition at Design at Riverside gallery right before it was about to close. From there we went to Brent and Cathy’s place. We got a tour of the house, shared a lovely meal (lasagna!), went for a walk around the park behind their house, and then Brent introduced Othy to the game of golf! We talked well into the evening over tea and snacks. I was thankful that Othy got to meet this couple that I consider as my surrogate parents!

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We left early the next morning so that we would have time to visit the University of Waterloo before traveling on to Montreal. We drove around the ring road and then went and parked on the east side of the campus on the other side of the tracks. From there we walked to the Cheriton School of Computer Science which is in the Davis Centre. I had not been to this building since visiting the campus while still in high school! We found a graduate studies administrator who provided us with useful information and even gave us a quick tour of the building! Afterwards I took Othy to explore the newer Engineering 5 building (designed by Perkins+Will) since I had not yet been inside. Othy enjoyed looking at many of the research posters that were hanging around the building. There was also an interesting double height collaborative design space on the first two floors.

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Our visit was short and sweet because by 11am we had to be on the road to Montreal in order to get there in the early evening. I had made plans for us to couch surf with a couple from Catalan who I had hosted several months earlier in Toronto. The drive took 7 hours with a short stop for a fast-food lunch. When we were entering the city I accidentally went on the highway heading to downtown instead of uptown where our hosts live, but fortunately Brent and Cathy had given us a map of the city they had lying around and we managed to turn around and get back on track! Not having data on my phone meant getting lost the good old fashioned way! Once we made it to the neighbourhood were our hosts live, we had a very difficult time finding parking! It was worse than Toronto which is saying something! There were all kinds of signs all with different rules and exceptions that could drive anyone crazy! Finally after about twenty or thirty minutes we found a spot. I almost couldn’t believe it and so was triple-checking the sign thinking it was too good to be true! Our hosts were very welcoming and soon had us feeling settled. They have a little toddler who was crawling when I last saw him but was now he was walking! We wanted to pick up some simple things to eat and so our hosts directed us to a small corner store.  It was a nice walk because it was approaching 7:30 and the sun was just setting. When we got back to the apartment our CS hosts surprised us by offering us dinner. They gave us several suggestions for things to see the next day!

We had a bit of a lazy morning and then I had to be on two back-to-back E4C calls and so we didn’t leave the house until noon! We walked to the metro entrance and got a day pass so we could go wherever we wanted. Othy wanted to visit more universities and so we went first to the University of Montreal. It is actually situated on the Mont Real and the main building is very monumental. The ecole polytechnique is beside it. Although the building is quite nice (I remember visiting it on my 2A field trip), we couldn’t for the life of us find the graduate studies office. People kept directing us to different places until finally we were directed to the registrars office who told us to look online. I couldn’t believe that this is how a university would welcome someone who is visiting the campus! From there I was hoping that we could find a way to walk across the mount to the other side where there is a park, a church and McGill University, but there appeared to be no way across. So we descended the hill and took the subway around to the other side. We had more success finding our way around McGill and Othy found someone to  meet with and answer some questions. The campus was made up of some beautiful older stone and brick buildings.

Next we began walking towards the downtown and the waterfront. We came across the Rue St. Catharine which to me felt like the Yonge Street of Montreal. From there I took us on a route toward the water that had some nice parks. I really wanted to take us through the park that I remembered near the Palais de Congres, but was disappointed to find out that is now a construction site. The coloured glass of the Palais de Congres and the pink trees were the same as what I fondly remembered. From there we walked into the old town where the most historical buildings are located. They are beautiful and it felt like we were walking through a European city. By the time we got to the water we were pretty tired and so found our way back to the nearest subway to go back to the apartment. That night I cooked for everyone with food it the corner shop. I made gnocchi in a rose sauce that turned out well. We headed out pretty early the next morning because we had to move our car before nine and we also had a long journey ahead back to Toronto and then on to Beamsville! I also had plans to stop and show Othy a few special places along the way…. To be continued!

May 22, 2018

Embroidery

Over the last few years I have begun experimenting with embroidery as an artistic medium.  I like how it reduces expression to lines and colour. The work is inspired by my Grandma who would often do embroidery on the cards she would give to friends and family on special occasions. The last time I did embroidery was for a set of Christmas cards. This time I made the two cards below as a gift for Philip and Rolf and they depict views from the 2 Fraser adaptive reuse project that I worked on for almost two years.

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May 5, 2018

PBAI RSA Farewell

At the beginning of April, Rolf, Astrid, Philip, and Anne hosted a nice little farewell gathering for me. Darcie, Fysel, Alex, and Mike also came out. We gathered at Rolf and Astrid’s new house and enjoyed dinner and conversation together. At some point in the evening Darcie managed to convince Rolf and Philip to sing something, after which one song surprisingly led to several others in impressive a cappella! Apparently there was still more to discover about my employers of almost three years! I was so thankful to be able to close my time working with them in a positive and memorable way. It is the end of a very good season of professional contribution and development! I am going to miss this group!

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April 28, 2018

God at Work

On the first Sunday of April I shared a God at Work testimony with the congregation at Grace West. I thought that I would include it here as well.

I am headed to Congo in one month’s time and want to share how God is working in the Congo, through the university I will be partnering with, and in my own life. The Congo is a beautiful and a broken country. It is lush and green, has incredibly warm and welcoming people who will invite strangers into their home to stay dry during a downpour, and a very rich culture. And yet they suffer from a cycle of exploitation and conflict. Currently in the East of the country, lack of governance has lead to the formation of rebel groups that periodically attack vulnerable civilians and it is impossible to tell what their larger strategy is or who is involved in funding them. But despite a situation that feels almost hopeless, there are many signs that God is still working in this place. God’s word through the old testament prophet Isaiah 43:19 says:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”

God is providing hope to Congo through the work of the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) who are providing post-secondary education that is often subsidized to a few hundred students with the goal to grow to have a few thousand. Their vision is to bring students up with biblical teaching to encourage them to serve as humble leaders who refuse to participate in the pattern of corruption that has become a regular practice, and to transform their communities from the bottom up. Over the years UCBC has gained a reputation with organizations and businesses who wish to hire graduates who are dependable and trust-worthy.

God is working through a project of UCBC’s Integrated Research Institute called Sharing the Land. The project is mapping land conflict in the region in order to bring land disputes and corrupt practices of selling land into the open where resolution can begin to take place. God is also working through another project called Community Land Use Planning that is teaching local municipalities digital land administration tools in the hope that it will improve land administration practices and accept multiple types of land claims to give people greater land security. These are projects I am privileged to be serving with while I am there.

God has also been working in my own life and teaching me to trust him more completely and become more rooted in my identity in Him instead of the world. Eight years ago I was struggling how to serve God with my skills in architecture and was praying for Him to show me a path to serve him more fully . He responded by opening an opportunity, connecting me with the right people, and speaking to me through His word in the Bible. He brought me to serve in 2012 with Engineering Ministries International and work on a campus master plan project that brought me to Congo for the first time and introduced me to what God was doing through UCBC. It feels like there is this cyclical conversation happening between God and I, where I pray, He opens a door, I doubt about things like finances and ineptitude but pray for provision, He works in the details and sustains me. He reminds me repeatedly, Lise, you can trust me; look how I clothe the lilies of the field?

The return to Congo this time is more daunting than previous times. I follow the news closely to keep tabs on the security situation which is becoming increasingly unpredictable. People respond often in surprise to hear I am going there even with the situation the way it is. But I’ve also realized that God doesn’t call us to be comfortable and that with the kingdom perspective, this is a place that God continues to need people to do His work, and that this part of the world can’t simply be abandoned. He has given me the skills, the passion, and the opportunity; all that remains is to go.

Please pray for what God is doing in Congo through UCBC and their ongoing projects, that they may continue to be a river in the dessert and be God’s instrument in that place. Please pray for peace and security in Beni territory. Please pray for me as I adjust to a new culture and build relationships. Pray for wisdom and the fruits of the spirit in my daily encounters and as I take leadership on these projects. This church community at Grace Toronto is an answer to prayer and I am so thankful to be able to share this journey with you. Thank you for your love and support.

April 7, 2018

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

At the end of March, I joined a group from Adam House who went to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. I didn’t realize how big of an event it is! We all took different cars, met at the parking lot, and then walked to where the festival begins. It was rather chilly for the end of March and everyone was bundled up! We decided to start by going on a tour to see where the maple syrup is collected and made. To get there we were brought to the outside of town on a yellow school bus, and then switched to a tractor with a trailer that brought us across a farmers field and into a wooded area. There we could see buckets on some trees and long stretches of silicone tubing connecting others. There was still snow on the ground which made the whole scene very pretty! We got a tour of the sugar shack where the sap is collected and boiled down, bought some tasty maple treats, and also walked a short loop through the woods. When the next tractor arrived we took it back the way we came.

Upon arriving back at the town we split up into different groups to go explore the main street that was bustling with vendors of all kinds! I stayed with Azzah and Hussam because they had driven me. There was a lot of delicious food like large turkey drumsticks, shawarma, pirogies, potato chips you name it! And of course lots of tables selling maple syrup! There was a booth selling maple syrup cotton candy and I could not resist buying some! There was also some crafts and music. We met up with the larger group again at the end. A few of us were tired of walking and so we decided to take the tractor to the parking lot. What we did not realise is that it drove right past our lot and made a long loop before it brought us around again. The others who had walked were confused by what took us so long! It was a fun day trip and I am glad that I got to enjoy some Canadiana before leaving the next month and also sharing the experience with newcomers!

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March 24, 2018

Sugar Shack TO

On March 11th Vikkie and I kept with tradition and went to the Sugar Shack TO festival at Sugar Beach. There was free coffee, maple toffee made on snow, fun music that included fiddle and dance by the Great Canadian Fiddle Show, and an ice sculpture competition using power tools! The best thing about it was spending time with Vikkie since my time in Toronto was coming to a close!

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February 4, 2018

Mont Tremblant 2.0

At the end of January I joined Sally-Jane’s annual Mont Tremblant ski trip. I was so happy to go because I had not been skiing for two years and Mont Tremblant is some of the best skiing within driving distance of Toronto. I had gone on a similar trip two years earlier. We ended up renting a van because we had a few people cancel. The group was graciously willing to leave an hour later so that I could have a networking meeting related to my job search. The drive was super smooth and we got there in good time with one interesting detour to get gas in a small town.

It was in the negative twenties overnight and we were worried that it would be extremely cold on the slopes. It warmed up a bit though and turned out to be quite bearable and strangely warmer at the top than at the bottom of the hill. The condition of the slopes was pretty good though a bit icy in places. I really enjoyed how clear the day was, a very different experience from skiing through fog two years ago! This time I became very comfortable with the black diamond level hills and skiing faster.

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The following day I decided to go snow shoeing instead of skiing to save money on the lift and rentals and try something different. I went with Sanford and Rebecca to Domain Saint-Bernard. They took cross country skiing lessons and I went on a snowshoe hike on my own to Mont Onontio. I loved being out there all alone. All you could hear was the occasional wisp of wind or sound of wildlife, and the crunching of the snow. Snow shoes were definitely necessary for this trail because the snow was hard and you could easily twist an ankle if you hiked in boots and stepped through the top crust of snow. I enjoyed tapping the hardened snow on either side of the path with my hiking poles because it would make resonating sounds because of hollow areas formed beneath the hard shell on top. I can see myself doing more winter hiking! I enjoy skiing because you feel like you are flying, but snowshoeing you can go at a pace where you can enjoy so much more of the details of the nature and winter stillness around you.

My hike only took two hours and then I relaxed at the lodge for an hour waiting for Sanford and Rebecca. From there we went for lunch at a fantastic crepe place called Creperie Catherine. Yum! Rebecca and Sanford had booked massages at the Scandinave Spa which includes use of the baths afterwards. This was a day full of firsts and so I decided to go and see if there was an opening to use the baths. It was a fun and relaxing experience. There were several indoor and outdoor areas made up of hot installations, cold installations, and relaxation areas. They recommend that guests follow a ritual of hot experience for 10-15 minutes (a hot pool, steam sauna, or dry sauna), cold experience for a few seconds (cold pools or showers), and then relaxing for 10-15 minutes. I appreciated that there is a general rule to be quiet. I enjoyed it from an architectural standpoint because every bath area and relaxation room had a slightly different atmosphere and different furniture. I think my favourite relaxation area was a row of slightly rocking recliners that were outside beneath a trellis with heating lamps and the sound of waterfalls flowing into adjacent pools and a crackling fire. I spent a few hours there going through the rotation several times.

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Our evenings at the Dentz chalet were cozy and relaxing. It was lovely just to curl up in front of the gas stove. We enjoyed two delicious meals together and played several rounds of Code Names. I think that we were a calmer group than past years and didn’t know each other as well, but we had some good laughs and conversations. *Sigh* I will forever be fond of winter escapes.

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