Thursday, November 15, 2012

Haida Gwaii

So I've been putting off writing this blog post for a couple of weeks now.  Partly because I've been really busy and partly because my first trip over to Haida Gwaii was so amazing that I was worried that I wouldn't be able to convey how amazing it was.  But then I realized that I'm going again in a week or so, so I really need to write this post now.

The congregation that I've been serving (St. Paul) has been in relationship with a small congregation (Lord of Life) on Haida Gwaii for the past 20 years.  Once a month, St. Paul sends either it's pastor or intern for a weekend to provide pastoral care and worship leadership.  Last month was my first trip over, so my supervising pastor went over.  Normally, we would have taken a float plane over Saturday and the ferry back on Monday, but due to overbooking on the float plane, we had to take the ferry over on Thursday.  This meant extra time on the islands, so we took his truck over and spent Saturday touring the islands.

The ferry.

The rainforest near Grey Bay

A Haida boat

Balance Rock

Tow Hill near Massat

Tow Hill again

The view about halfway up Tow Hill

The view from Tow Hill

Another view from Tow Hill

St Mary's Spring carving

Lord of Life community church in Sandspit
 Here is an article I wrote for school about Lord of Life:

As I write this article, I am sitting near a large window, overlooking Shingle Bay. It is raining, like it often does on the northwest coast. Shingle Bay is located between Sandspit and Skidegate, two of the small towns on the group of islands called Haida Gwaii, which is about 110 nautical miles west of Prince Rupert. Sandspit is home to less than 300 people and to Lord of Life Community Church. Lord of Life is not a Lutheran church, but is supported by one. My internship congregation, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in <town>, understands their mission and ministry to include supporting Lord of Life. When Lord of Life needed kitchen cabinets, a member of St. Paul's built some cabinets, brought them over on the ferry, and installed them. When Lord of Life needed a new roof, a group of men from St. Paul's came over and fixed the roof. Twenty years later when Lord of Life need a new roof again, St. Paul's started a fund raising campaign with the synod and helped to raise over 20 thousand dollars to have the roof replaced. And once a month, St. Paul's sends over either their pastor or their intern to have a worship service with Lord of Life.

This is my first trip over to Haida Gwaii, so my supervisor, Pastor <name>, has come across with me. Because the float plane that flies over was booked, we took the 7 hour ferry across Hecate Strait. It was on this ferry that I saw my first whale. It was also when I learned that I quickly feel sick as soon as the ferry starts moving. I may not have enjoyed the ferry ride, but once here, I have quickly fallen in love with Haida Gwaii. Pastor <name> took me from the north end of islands to climb Tow Hill, and then to Balance Rock near Skidegate and St. Mary's Spring near the Tlell community, and then to Gray Bay, which is just south of Sandpit.

My favorite part of Sandspit is the people. Lord of Life may only have 10 active members, but those members are varied and unique. There is the retired US sailor who was in World War II, who has written several books along with his now late wife. There is the Filipino matriarch who holds court from her hospital bed. There is the woman who I stayed with who wanted talk theology with me at 11:00 at night and US politics with me over breakfast. Everyone here has a story to tell and life filled with adventure.

And that's been my experience so far in British Columbia: I may be surrounded by beautiful mountains and oceans, but it is the people who I have grown to love. My congregation in Prince Rupert is filled with loving and caring people who have an excellent definition of what ministry is and how to care for others- whether it's caring for each other in the congregation, or those in the hospital, or by sending their ministers out to care for those who cannot afford a minister.


Vicar Sarah 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Deciding to not live alone

I was really excited about living alone this year.  Because I've spent the last six years living in campus housing, I've either lived with roommates or in a dorm.  I loved having roommates but I was excited that I would get to experience living in an apartment by myself before getting married next year. 

Well, it's been a month and I've decided that I hate living alone.  I hated coming home and having no one to talk to or to watch movies with.  It was very lonely.

So, I adopted a cat.

This is Skeena.  I adopted her from the local SPCA.  She's a year and a half years old, and is very calm and docile. 

I did check with Russ before adopting her, to make sure he was okay with me adopting a cat that he isn't going to meet for a couple of months.  I am so glad that he was okay with it, because I adore her.   It's going to be a pain to take her home next year.  In order to get a cat through customs, you have to have her cleared with a vet and have documentation on her shots and things.  And carry her onto the plane.  Hopefully the local vet will advise me on the easiest way and best way to do that.  

My favorite part of the day is now coming home and crocheting on the couch while Skeena sleeps next to me.

So far she hasn't even attacked my yarn!  I don't think that will last, because she's a pretty typical cat. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Is This a Trail?

When I first started thinking about coming up to Canada, I looked up where my residence would be.  And lo and behold!  Google maps showed that my apartment was only separated by the water by a thin strip of land.  So I figured that it would only be a short walk from my door to the water front. 

So today, since the sun was shinning, I decided to go exploring.  I noticed shortly after arriving here that there is a trail by my apartment, so I decided to go down that to see how far I could go. 

At first, it was a pretty easy trail, even if the old, broken "dead end" sign was a bit troublesome.  But I continued on.

The old forest is very pretty to walk through.  The part of British Columbia that I live in is actually a rainforest. 

There are all sorts of interesting looking fungi growing.  And the ground is very wet and spongy. 

As I continued on down the path, I started to suspect that I wasn't actually on a trail but a creek bed.  At times I was actually in water.  It was starting to become clear that this wasn't a good idea.  

 I was walking downhill, in a creek, on very slippery rocks.  My tennis shoes were wet and muddy.  I started to visualize myself slipping and hitting my head.  No on knew where I was or that I was planning on going down this "trail."  No on would even think to look for me until tomorrow afternoon. 

So as I was starting to panic, I continued down the creek bed, hoping that I wouldn't slip and fall.  And soon, I started to hear traffic.  Traffic?  I had pictured just some wild waterfront.  Was I even going in the right direction? 

Turns out that the waterfront that I live by is the yacht club!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Toto, I Don't Think We're In Iowa Anymore!

Every month, my internship site puts out a newsletter.  This is the article I wrote for the October issue, but with pictures!

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 1939 movie adaption of the book The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy utters a similar phrase to her pet dog, Toto. Dorothy had just emerged from her tornado devastated house to see the wonderful, yet strange, land of Oz. Dorothy, who had spent her entire childhood on a farm in Kansas, found things in Oz to be similar to her home, but always with an unexpected twist. Things look slightly different, which is emphasized in the movie as the scenes in Oz were filmed with color film and the Kansas scenes were filmed in black and white. People also talk slightly different in Oz, as the people are prone to speak in rhymes. And the vegetation is also slightly different. One of my favorite scenes is when Dorothy meets Oz apple trees. As she travels down the yellow brick road to see the wizard in Emerald City, she becomes hungry and sees some apple trees on the side of the road. But instead of being able to just pick the apples, the trees start to talk to her, asking her how she would feel if someone just came up to her and pulled on her hair. Everything is familiar to Dorothy, but also slightly different. 

I am feeling slightly like Dorothy in Oz. Canada is similar to the United States, but slightly different. The language is slightly different, but still English (I am glad that British Columbia is part of the English-speaking part of Canada because I do not know French). But phrasing is slightly different here. Instead of asking where the “rest room” is, I try to remember to say “wash room.” Listening to the Canadian accent has been fantastic! The mid-west accent that I speak with is very flat, which is great for public speaking but kind of boring. The Canadian accent, on the other hand, is very musical as it goes up and down. If I'm not paying attention, I already find that I want to adopt this accent and use it myself. 

Picture taken after I retreated inside

The wildlife in <town> is also just slightly different than Iowa. Iowa is also overrun by deer, and we have cougars. But instead of wolves, we have coyotes. Instead of moose we have racoons – which aren't very similar at all. But the most similar wildlife, deer, is also what I find the strangest. In Iowa, deer aren't afraid of people but they do keep their distance. But in <town>, the deer will come right up to you! The other day I was petting a stray cat right outside my suite's door, when suddenly a baby deer and mother deer was right next to me, sniffing at the cat. I was torn between being startled by their sudden appearance and glad that I had my camera on me at the time. 

The landscape and climate is the most dramatic change that I have encountered so far. Iowa is pretty flat, with very few hills and is landlocked. <Town> is on an island, with mountains. In the nice September weather, I have already taken hundreds of pictures of the the river, the bay, and the surrounding mountains. So far, I have greatly enjoyed the weather here. The sun has been out most days, with the occasional fog in the morning. It has rained here and there, but since I spent the summer in Iowa, which was in a drought from June to late August, I have enjoyed the rain. 

But there is one way that I do not feel similar to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy spends the entire movie trying to get home to Kansas. But I am glad to be here. I know it's only a year, and then I will soon be leaving for Iowa and for school in Ohio (which is really similar to Iowa). But in the meantime, I'm enjoying being here in a place that is both familiar and unfamiliar. 

My supervisor and his wife took me on a beach picnic.  I am roasting a hot dog by the tidal river.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pictures of Canada

Three weeks ago, I packed my suitcase and my backpack and moved from Iowa to British Columbia.  I had also shipped some boxes, which have finally arrived and I'm all unpacked.  I'm still getting settled in (figuring out where all my parishioners live, and getting use to living so far away from my family and Russ), but I am thrilled to be here and excited for the year to come. 

Instead of a long post with detailed descriptions of what I've done the last few weeks, I thought I would share some pictures I've taken. 

This is my front door

Peaches, a friendly neighborhood cat

A statue in town

Do you see the face?

The Skeena River

This is the bay near town.  The mountains in this picture is the mainland.

This picture may give you an idea of how big those mountains are.
Most of these pictures were taken on the same day.  Because the town is on the coast, we get about eighteen inches of rain a month, so it's usually raining.  On this particular day, my supervisor's wife, an ELCIC deaconess, came into the office to take me on a long car drive up the highway so I could see the river. 

Needless to say, I live in a beautiful part of the world. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Those Lazy Summer Days

A barn near my parent's home, early summer
I have been spending my summer with my parents in Iowa.  Because this is probably my very last summer vacation, I decided against looking for gainful employment and instead am spending my days preparing for my Canadian internship (applying for a student visa, doing research on the area, buying plane tickets), wedding planning, and crocheting.  Several of my cousins are expecting babies, so I've been creating small stuffed animals, hats, and blankets. 

A mosaic of my summer projects
My parents are renovating the two bathrooms this summer (starting with the guest bathroom that I usually use).  Because my dad has decided to do it all himself, without contractors, I've been little help.  Each step of the process has been well researched by my dad, and then tried several times before he is happy with the result.  So the first bathroom, which was originally going to be nearly completed when I moved home at the end of May, is only half-way done - but it is turning out more beautiful than any of us expected.  

The bathroom in progress
 One of my favorite things about coming home to my parents is the creative energy.  My dad is a stain glass artist who has recently began to experiment with fused glass with my mom.  Earlier this summer I saw a blog post about tinting your own mason jars.  Knowing that my parents could then put these jars into their kiln and melt them into wall hangings, we tried it ourselves.  Because of the mid-west drought/heat wave, we haven't melted them yet (the kiln puts off a lot of heat). 

The jars waiting to go into the oven to dry the food coloring/glue mixture

My absolute FAVORITE thing this summer has been visiting Russ.  He also went to stay with his parents this summer on the east coast.  I went for about a week and had a blast. We got so much wedding planning done!  We registered for wedding gifts, found wedding bands, and I got to be crafty with Russ' mom.  She has offered to make my wedding dress, so one day Russ drove us to the city where they had a whole street of fabric stores.  I really wish I was better at sewing.  Stores and stores of beautiful fabric, buttons, and more!

All the stores were overcrowded with the fabric
A wall of buttons

But eventually, I had to return home to the heat of the mid-west drought.  All our grass is brittle and brown. 

 It finally rained about a quarter of an inch yesterday for the first time since early June and the heatwave seems to have broken.  Iowa crops need about an inch a week to thrive, so we are in desperate need of more rain.  The corn and bean fields have never looked sadder. 

I am looking forward to starting packing next week for my internship.  My internship town has rain all the time, so the rain that I have missed this summer will be made up for me soon.

To my classmates who have already started their internships:  God bless you.  May you find welcoming hearts as you meet new people.