Sunday, February 11, 2007

Charlene's Whirlwind Trip to Canada


Yes it was a whirlwind! Thought I would share some of my experiences while traveling across Canada this winter! Six weeks of rushing around in what felt like an out of control tailspin.

On December 19, 2006 (my 19th Wedding Anniversary) I set out for a six week trip to Canada. The primary purpose of this trip was to spend time with Talitha (my firstborn and first to ‘leave the nest’)!

In Atlanta I went through the grilling US customs… what a process (especially when you are tired); thankfully I had lots of time to just kick around so I wasn’t in any hurry to get through. I did meet a nice guy at the Agriculture counter; he was joking around lots and made me laugh! The lady at the screening however wasn’t quite as nice, she was yelling her head off… I almost asked her why she worked there if she hated it so much, but decided not to. I arrived in Maine on the 20th and spent the night at my Aunt and Uncle’s near Bangor; however before getting to Uncle Wilbur’s place I ended up spying one of my other Uncles (Uncle Nathan) standing across the way leaning with his arms crossed and a big smile on his face. I thought, ‘oh he came to see me also’… but no he had no idea I was going to be there. He was there to pick up his son-in-law with my cousin Carol (whom I hadn’t seen in years). He was wondering what was going on! It was funny, especially since it was 10:30 PM, what are the odds?

The next morning we got up and went for a visit at my Grandmother’s place (where my Uncle Nathan and Aunt Sue came for a quick visit) and then we were off for Roger’s place. I was a bit concerned about going through the border with all my luggage (filled with Namibian trinkets), but once at the border the lady asked a few very simple questions and then asked “are both of you Canadian citizens?” and they said “yes” and she said “have a nice day”… she didn’t even see me sitting in the back of the van (could have been the stack of blankets I had covering me to keep me warm… haha). Talitha made it home before I could make it to Roger’s so they had her downstairs watching a movie. When I arrived Roger had a box by the tree, which I promptly got into (I was totally out of breath) and he covered the box with a red table cloth and then Roger called Talitha, Janeice and Tyler up. The kids knew something was up but didn’t have any idea what was in store. Janeice played along with everything when Roger called her to come upstairs, she let him know that they were in the middle of a movie, but then said they might as well go see what was going on. Talitha came bounding up the stairs and spotted her grandparents (I think she thought they were the surprise as she was going to their house the next day after school but it turned out that she didn’t have school on the Friday), she said “Granny and Grampy!” Then they told her they had an early Christmas present for her “is it for both of us?” (her and Tyler) she asked. My mom said “I guess it could be, yes”… so both Talitha and Tyler grabbed the red tablecloth and counted to 3 and then ripped it off. Then they leaned down and opened the flaps on the box… Talitha stood there stunned, slowly raised her hand to her mouth and said “oh my word, no”, and then started to step back, she was in shock and just couldn’t believe that it could really be me! She then latched onto me and didn’t really let go for about 3 weeks! She packed up her things and we headed to my mom and dad’s for the time over Christmas holidays. We had many LATE nights (some until 3 AM)!!!

The rest is a bit of a blur… but I will do my best to recall what I can. We went out shopping (which caused a bit of stress to my body), that must have been the most difficult thing to adjust to while at home… the SHOPPING! It is no wonder people are stressed, depressed, and have ADHD! You don’t realize until you have been away from it all. Doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal, but it is and you don’t understand it until you have gone away to some place where there is ‘nothing’, can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if I had been coming from Angola!! All the colour, selection, lighting, busyness, etc… of course it was Christmas time too which adds a new dimension, but really it gave me the jitters.

I spoke at my mom and dad’s church in Sussex (it was nice to connect with and meet personally the people who have been praying for us this past year). I also went to the Miramichi and spoke at my mom’s home church, and also had the opportunity to visit some of my family (such as my Grammy Olga, Uncle Don, Aunt June, Great Uncle Allen and Great Aunt Della… she passed away 2 days before I returned to Africa, the funeral was on the Saturday that I left). On the 3rd of January I went to my Uncle David and Aunt Irma’s church near Fredericton and shared with another group who had been praying diligently for our family and we had never met them.

On the morning of the 7th we drove to Cumberland Bay (where Roger lives) and I was able to share with the church there (their Sunday School kids raised money and we put a roof and door on Rosa’s house in Angola, the pastor even dyed his hair blue and yellow because the kids met the goal in the time allotted), then I stayed with Roger and Janeice for the next 3 days. The 8th there was a SNOW DAY… the first of the New Year (they had been having rain the whole time I was there), so we went out and had a wiener roast and made Snow Angels. On the 8th Roger and Janeice took me back up to the Miramichi and we visited some more family and went to Calvary Baptist in the evening for their Missionary Night. It was exciting to share with people who had taught me in Sunday School when I was just a kid!

On the 10th I went to school with Talitha, it was great to meet her teachers and principal… they had a lot of nice things to say about her (which always makes a mother happy). In the evening I went back to my parents and got ready to fly out to Kelowna. I arrived ‘late’ and Steve, Patti and Callista were there to meet me. We stayed up late visiting and then on the 12th I went up to Kamloops with Valen and Carol Straley and Amy Berthelot, who came down to get me! THANK YOU! I went to the Ev. Free to speak to the youth group and got roped into playing some games (for those of you who know me, you know I ‘don’t like to play games’)… we played capture the flag and because I had forgotten my Mannatech (the stuff that has helped my asthma) I couldn’t do the running around on the second go, so Troy came up with the brilliant idea of hiding me in the cold air return vent in the basement floor! I FIT, good thing it was at the start of time in Kamloops that’s all I can say!!! Afterwards I went for a visit with Jason and Lorena (until well after midnight!). On the 13th in the evening I met with the leadership of Hillcrest to try to work out some things. Sunday morning I slept in (my alarm didn’t go off) so I made it to church LATE (African time…half hour late). I went for lunch with the Wiseman’s and that was wonderful! In the evening I spoke at Hillcrest.

The 15th I went to the Sheriff office and visited Pete’s old coworkers. Then I had lunch at MINO’S (my favourite Kamloops restaurant) with Carrie and Arlana, it was nice to catch up! Then it was on to Guy and Wendy Doll’s for supper (where they invited several others to join us, that was nice).

The morning of the 16th I popped into George Hilliard Elementary (where my kids went for 9 years) and shared in 2 classrooms! Then at noon I met my friend Philippa Coxon at Chapters Viewpoint (what a view of the city… which is GROWING), then it was on to Mirtha Zamudio’s to get my hair done (GREAT JOB!!!) we had a wonderful visit! Then in the evening I went to Jodi and Chris Gremaud’s house (man have their kids grown!!!).

The morning of the 17th I went to Katherine and Earl Varbel’s for a visit and fantastic lunch!!! It was sure nice to be able to spend some time with our second mother (and her new husband, he is so cute!). In the evening I went for supper at my friend Philippa’s and then joined her at her Bible Study and shared with the group there our journey in Africa! There was a gentleman there who is going to Mozambique the end of this month, that was so exciting!

On the 18th there was a big snow storm and I went to Mary Scott’s for lunch and a time of sharing at her Bible Study with some of my friends from the Ev. Free Church. It was so nice to get caught up on everyone there! Pete’s parents arrived at the Gill’s in the afternoon and we spent the rest of the day visiting (and we went to MINO’S for supper!).

On the 19th the Knightly’s and I spent the day doing a little bit of shopping and then had a relaxing evening at the Gill’s where we were fed the most fantastic East Indian meal!!!

Saturday was also fairly relaxing and I did get caught up a little on some sleep. I went to Hillcrest around 5 PM to meet with a gal who is interested in joining us on a short-term mission here in Namibia, and then at 6 PM we had a Coffee and Dessert Night (thank you to those at Hillcrest who helped to organize that!!!). There were many friends there and I was encouraged by their support and love for our family. It was so nice to see everyone, although I wish I could have had more time with each of them, personally! After the night was finished I headed off for the East Indian Ladies Party, it was great!!! Again I had the chance to eat some great Indian food, and visit with some of the ladies.

Sunday morning I went to Ev. Free Church (I was supposed to go to the coast but it had snowed a lot and I was not keen on traveling in someone else’s car over the mountains especially being as tired as I was). Sunday afternoon I moved over to the Marlow’s house. I spent the next week with them.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty relaxing, in fact I don’t really remember much of what I did (although I spent a lot of the time working on getting my new computer set up and getting things downloaded, since there was HIGH SPEED internet available!!!). I went to a movie on the Monday night, got to see my friend Helen for a couple of minutes up at the theatre (where I used to work).

The 24th in the morning I met with the pastor of Gateway Community Church, as one of his members and her daughter are interested in going with CHI in Zimbabwe and I did an interview with him for CH-USA. Then I went off to the Christian School to share with the High School kids. At lunch time I was off to Lorena and Jason’s house, where I spent the rest of the day and evening! Kelly and her daughter (the one’s going to Zimbabwe) came over for supper and we had a nice time visiting.

The 25th was my Pinitan day… I went out for brunch at Karen’s place and then we trucked on over to Jackie’s place (she worked with Pete) and had lunch! Had a great visit there (and of course went home with all kinds of gifts for Pete and the kids… and me too!!!), then it was off to the Leslie Bowering’s log house for a visit with her and the kids! Had a great time… can’t believe how BIG those 2 boys are getting… and so smart too! In the evening I went back to the Marlow’s and I think this was my first viewing of House (the series… very very funny!!!) or maybe that was the night we watched a movie.

The 26th I headed up to Juniper for a ladies morning out at Horst and Alisa’s house. We had a great visit. I scheduled a supper with the Marlows and was able to spend the evening with them.

The 27th I went to a Crop Til You Drop (Creative Memories Scrapbooking Day) to visit with a friend, then I met Dyanne Sharp and the Maisonneuve’s for lunch at MINO’S (I know that was my THIRD time!!!), then I had a meeting with Shawn Buckley after which I headed to the church for a meeting with the leadership again. Then I went with Lora Lee Marlow and her friend to Kelly O’Brian’s Restaurant (another great place… mmm Patchos).

The morning of the 28th I went to Westsyde Baptist (I was a bit late getting there) and had to set up quickly… I was feeling a bit tense and tired! The pastor’s house had burned down that week and his wife was singing on the worship team (what a trooper). After I shared with the congregation he gave a wonderful application to missions and living a life recognizing in life what is important, its not the stuff you have but rather the relationships! After church I went to my friend Kelly’s for a nice light lunch (thanks Kelly)! I am pretty sure I have gained about 15 or 20 pounds while on the American Continent!!! After that I moved into the Gill’s again and on Monday morning Jirnail and one of his friends who was up visiting from the coast drove me to Vernon to Steve and Patti’s again!

On Tuesday morning (January 30, my mother’s birthday) I flew off to NB again… arriving LATE (story of my flights!), not just late in the evening but the flight was later than it should have been! The next day was spent packing things up and preparing to head to Maine (there was supposed to be a big snow storm rolling in, so we left a day early). My dad’s cousin passed away and the funeral was on Saturday so they decided to attend that after I flew off to Africa. On the 2nd in the evening we went to Bugaboo Restaurant with Uncle Wilbur, Donna and my cousin Kevin (it was Donna’s birthday on Saturday).
Then it was off to bed… but not for long… I was up at 2AM getting ready to head out. I was concerned about my luggage and whether or not it would be in the limits… people had given money for the extra luggage I was taking home and so I was prepared to pay but one bag was over the limit!! We arrived at the airport at 4AM and we were trying to figure things out when a kindly gentleman came out from the back and said that he would check my bags for free!!! WOW! The only thing was he couldn’t check them all the way through to Windhoek!!! AHHH! So he checked them as far as Jo’burg, South Africa! Everyone was really praying that there wouldn’t be any problems with the transfer there… and PRAISE GOD there wasn’t any problem! The traveling time (including airports and hotel in Jo’burg) was over 50 hours!!! We left LATE from Maine, left LATE from Boston, and left LATE from Atlanta… had problems with the plane in Dakar Senegal and ended up being delayed 4 hours (which didn’t make a lot of people very happy)!!

Arrived LATE in Jo’burg and many people missed their connecting flights. I had my hotel booked as I knew that I would be too late for the last flight into Namibia… however I ended up waiting around for quite some time to get my bags rechecked so that I could GO TO BED! I finally made it up to my room around 9PM and managed to get into bed around 11PM and then only slept until 3AM (Jet lag is so much worse coming this way)… checked out of the hotel at 9 AM and went and got my boarding pass and continued on to Windhoek (we arrived a little LATE!).

I was SO incredibly tired and my brain wasn’t working… I grabbed my laptop from under the seat in front of me but I completely missed my camera… sitting right beside it!!!! Things went a bit crazy after that… I went to get my HUGE amount of luggage (thankfully our International Director and his wife happened to be on the same plane and he helped me get it off the track)… however I managed to grab one bag that WASN’T mine… and as I was loading it into the car I realized it… I then ran back into the terminal just as Jos was coming out with MY bag, he even took the wrong bag back for me! It wasn’t until we were about 5 minutes from the airport that Meagan said “hey can I see your camera, I want to see the pictures”… that I went AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH… MY CAMERA… it is STILL ON THE PLANE! So we rushed back, the plane was taxiing out to the runway on its way back to South Africa and well the final verdict after filling out police report, and going to lost and found was that the cleaners probably took it and I would never see it again! That was a sad moment… but I was almost TOO TIRED TO CARE… however now that I don’t actually have my camera and I have gotten some rest I am quite disappointed; however I am HOME safe and sound and glad to be back with my FAMILY!

So that is my story of the Whirlwind Trip to Canada… in the cold, snow, hustle and bustle of the Great White North! Hope I didn’t bore you to death… really I did leave a lot of stuff out!!! J

Lots of Love,

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