Shannon Falls, August 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Strong Start

It could be that with both David and me working full-time, Hayden in school, and church activities, I had no reason to go hunting extra-curricular activities for Hayden. Fastfoward to us living in Canada and adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle and suddenly I need things to help us meet people and fill our days!

 We've had such beautiful weather (apparently, not the norm and according to friends, we were getting spoiled!), but now the gray skies seem to have arrived. Not so much the incessant drizzle yet, but we have the overcast days. Bummer. We have not put Hayden into a sport this fall for a number of reasons. One is that with David coaching football and only one vehicle, practice during the week could be difficult to get to. The other is that we hope to return to the Coast for a visit at some point before the holidays, and when/if we do, we will miss at least 2-3 weeks. We want Hayden to be consistent if he's going to be involved, and this allows me the time to learn what's here. So that's what has led me to Strong Start.

Yesterday afternoon/evening I was able to venture across the border with some new friends to do a bit of grocery shopping. Sounds like the highlight of my week, right? Well, I was able to have adult conversation with other believers and not have to worry about bedtime (thanks, Dave!) and shop in peace. PEACE, I tell you. No "I want this!" or "What is that?" or "Are we going to another store?" Cassandra mentioned last night about Strong Start. This is the website's definition: "StrongStart BC early learning programs provide school-based early learning services for adults and their young children, aged birth to five, at no cost to families." Nice, right? And it's a come-and-go thing. I don't have to go everyday, I participate WITH Hayden, and it's free! FREE. That's huge. I'm working on the best location for us and filling out the paperwork. With all of the rainy days ahead, this will be perfect for getting us out of the apartment and doing something that doesn't cost us anything but time.

Our most local community centre (yep, centRe) primarily offers recreational activites and some can be pricey. There is an aquatic centre that we'll likely get Hayden involved in this spring. The aquatic centre is more like a YMCA. You have to buy a membership ($$) or we can do drop-ins for, I think, $10 a class. Hayden has done great in the pool and the spring will still be rainy, so this would be a great way to get Hayden moving and out of the apartment again. However, we did find a community centre not too far away that offers classes--some that cost and others that don't. There's a sports class on Thursdays that introduces preschoolers to all different types of sports. So we're going to start plugging in!

Within the next few months, I'll be starting some sort of job, so please be praying for that. Please be praying for David, too, because he'll become a stay-at-home dad concentrating on The Common Place. Whatever we get Hayden involved in, we want it to be good for all of us. With one vehicle, we'll have to do some figuring on a few things, but it's all going to work out. Right?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Short & Sweet

We haven't sent out a recent newsletter, but for those of you who are praying for us, first of all, THANK YOU! We can feel your prayers. Secondly, I have a few personal, selfish prayer requests that I wanted to make you aware of.

-I am looking to start a women's bible study. Please pray that the timing and right materials would fall into place. Also, be praying for the women I would be able to reach. I'm not exactly sure how this study will/would look just yet, but I'm already praying for the women who will come.

-We are just a step away from changing our visas so that I may work. There are a few ways we can change our work permits, but the easiest way would make us happiest, of course! If not, the change will still happen, it just may be more difficult.

-In reference to my being able to work, that means I have to find a job! David has been excellent in helping me look. I may have to take a position somewhere that is not "ideal," but it would allow us the freedom to look for something better/more long-term. I am looking into applying for a teaching license, so please pray that favor is shown on that. Apparently teaching jobs are hard to come by, and coming from a career where the two different teaching positions I've held were gotten very easily, this is all new!

We have thoroughly enjoyed seeing friends and family from MS over the past few months. It certainly helps to boost our energy and spirits!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Shark Bite and Scripture

There are many days when I long to blog, but I feel I have nothing to say. Seriously. Nothing. Tomorrow will mark the 3 month mark of our move to Canada. I suppose adjusting has been fairly easy (compared to other missionaries who have moved to some serious foreign lands. Though to hear all the accents here you just might think you've entered Asia or Europe!). But I'm off task. My point is that a majority of people speak English, stores are comparable (though prices are not!), we do know some folks here (even if they aren't very nearby) get the idea. Other transitions have been rough. We have literally had visitors, our summer interns, in our lives and home since we arrived. When Christopher and Shannon left this past Monday, it was time to really find out who we are as a family of three in metro-Vancouver. Sounds easy with parks everywhere and a clubhouse with activities, right? It's more difficult than one might think. And it led to the first days since we've been here that I, deep in my very core, missed our friends (no offense, family) from "home." Maybe it's because I've had more time to think on it this week. Hmmm...

Wednesday was the first fall Parent/Tot Connect at the clubhouse. Yeah, so Hayden and I were the only ones who showed. My heart was heavy. I needed to talk to a woman. Any woman. (Does that sound weird?) Hayden and I went to the park instead. With school back in session, the park was filled with mommies and nannies with young, young children. Sidenote: Any time we meet people, the first question they ask (after "How old is he?") is if Hayden is in school anywhere (preschool) because he's 3. I work with Hayden daily, but sometimes I feel judged because we aren't spending that money to put him in school. I have worked full-time since Hayden was 4 months old. While, yes, I did get summers and holidays off, it's not like having every day to invest in him and create and be with him. There are days I wish he was in school, but for the most part, I'm loving getting to teach him. I just sincerely hope I'm doing the best thing for him. Education is so tight here that kids voluntarily take summer school and tutor for hours after school. It was pulling teeth to get kids to tutoring last year! Maybe next year will be different in some areas that will allow him to attend PreK 4, but if not, I'll just treasure these days. He begs to do school each morning. Hayden was not only just a bit older than the majority of kids at the "green park" as he calls it, he was a full head taller! So his playing sometimes means he's beating smaller children up (unintentionally). Plus, he's still learning how to interact and such. It wasn't a bad time, I just felt alone. Everyone else was grouped up and the one group of mothers we approached told Hayden he couldn't play with their kids' toys. Ouch. It hurt me more than it did him.

Thursday we went back to the same park for him to enjoy the sand volleyball court and sprinklers while we still have sunshine. Rainy days are ahead, friends. He interacted and played well (maybe I should stay out of the picture more) with some kids, but we had to leave just as I was close to getting into some good conversations with the children's parents. I'm still learning how to introduce myself and exchange phone numbers (though my next paragraph explains how Hayden solved that for me today!).

So now to today and the reason for "Shark Bite and Scripture." I'll try to be succint in my storytelling. We met some new friends today---families from Poland. They were very nice and shared toys with Hayden. I think one mother and I will make plans to get together again soon. Her son, Michael, let Hayden play with his awesome shark. After a while, a mother and older daughter (my age) got into the pool. I looked up from one side of the pool to see Hayden attacking them (playfully) with the shark. They were so cool about it. The daughter, Kaitlyn, really played along. The first complete thought Hayden got out to her after "biting" her with the shark was, "Hey, hey. 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'" (No, I have not coached him to say that to strangers, either. Thank you, God, for a brilliant son who probably gets why we're here more than I give him credit for!) That led to a discussion on his knowing Scripture, Kaitlyn asking where we go to church, me explaining here and motioning to the complex, and her saying, "Oh, are you church planters?" I.was.shocked. She admitted that she wouldn't know anything about church planters except that her pastor is doing a series on that currently. We had a great discussion. We exchanged numbers and will likely get together for a game night. She was totally cool in Hayden coming over to play Guitar Hero.

After the week I've had, I have been praying every night for friends. I haven't had to go out of my way to make new friends in quite some time. I never changed schools growing up, so college was the first for that. and then the second time was when David and I moved to Southaven after we were married. I just thank God for connections today: I didn't want to work out this morning, but since David and Hayden were both still sleeping, I got my butt up and got it moving. As I was returning home, I passed the mom and son of a family we met at Christopher and Shannon's farewell party. We had a nice discussion outside. Touching base was good; she's so friendly and in the same boat we are having just moved here. Then we met Kaitlyn as well as Michael's family at the pool. Forming relationships here has been the most difficult for me. I hope today is a sign of days to come!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gearing Up for Fall

I couldn't come up with any snazzy title, so that's what you're stuck with (note the irony: "up" and "fall." I'm a dork.). This has perhaps been one of the oddest summers I've experienced in quite some time. There have been summers/periods of major change: graduation/college, working my first "big girl" job, getting married/moving in the spring and working full-time as a married woman, moving back to the Gulf Coast to begin teaching, quitting teaching to open a daycare only to not be involved in the endeavor as of July 5 via a text message and then having to scramble to find a new teaching position or other job. You get the idea. And then this summer and a major Canada. And I'm not working (yet). And we left our huge house for an apartment. And we don't have a church home here (as we are the church). And making friends is sometimes very, very, very difficult. And our lives just look different.

I hope my family/friends don't take offense to this, but I don't necessarily miss the MS Gulf Coast. I miss the people. I miss things about the States. There are days when I just want to go across the border to be IN America. The odd thing is, we have the same or the equivalent here of nearly everything we have at "home." But there's a different feel to it. There are times I'm simply reminded (by goofy, off-the-wall items/scenarios) that I'm not in the United States anymore. We are doing well at making this home, but it is taking time.

Last night was a farewell/until-next-time party for Christopher and Shannon as they leave early tomorrow morning to return to Kansas City. It's been great having Shannon live with us. I appreciated having a girl to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, to spend "girl time" with. She, just like Pia, fit in well with our family. She's welcome back any time! I digress. We met a family last night. The dad is a police officer (Royal Canadian Mounted Police: RCMP) and mom was a teacher in Ontario. They recently moved here and while not believers (I don't know that for sure, however), they are experiencing the same issues we are. They have an eight-year-old highly intelligent girl and a long-haired, blonde cutie 2-year-old of a son. The mother and I exchanged numbers and I hope we can have them for a meal and let the kids play more often. My goal is to meet other mothers/families. Thankfully, our community clubhouse is starting a Parent/Tot Connect each Wednesday. That may be our ticket. I have to make each conversation intentional. My goal is to start a ladies' Bible study very soon and not only that, I just need to make friends. My soul craves it.
My Visa (and David's actually) is being worked on. He, come to find out, was actually given the wrong one which resulted in my receiving the wrong permit. Once those are switched, I will likely see about becoming a sub teacher (which pays incredibly well here) and tutor. David will become more of the homemaker, but he's about to take over supper duties, so I think we'll work out just fine. He's still finding ways to make The Common Place a fixture in our community. He wants us to do things the closest to perfection that we can. I plan to start a Bible study and then see, between working, where I can best fit in more ministry opportunities. One idea David and I tossed around was a learning/Bible story time where I can focus on certain letters and associate everything with them: activities, songs, crafts, stories, Scripture, etc. I haven't focused as much attention on that yet as I probably should have. Guess I know what I need to do this week!

As I close, some "Hayden-isms" for you:
-Whenever he tricks you, he says, "I tricked you out!"
-My FB status tonight: Hayden just came out of our room, pulled his shirt up, sort of marked a spot on the upper right hand-side of his ribs and said, "You see this? It's still hungry." Pause for laughter. "Or maybe for just a drink." Cheeky grin and dimples working hard. Crazy kid.

And now I'm drawing a blank. He's so funny. Frustrating, too. And he forgets nothing! But here's to a fall that will be filled with even more changes. Thanks for your prayers and keep them coming!