I've been putting off blogging about my last day in Canada, mostly, because I couldn't think about it without getting all weepy. Or, as evidenced Sunday, bursting into tears in the church lobby. Thankfully, the person who witnessed this surprising and sudden display of overwhelming and raw emotion didn't walk away awkwardly, counsel me to seek medication, or call a pastor for intervention...and she's still returning my texts, so...yay.
Being home, and alone most of the time...again, has been very hard. Don't get me wrong. I love my home town, my apartment (in spite of my neighbors and my lack of dog), my family, and being with my friends at church and in small group meetings...and via Facebook...but...most evenings, after work, I'm alone. Unless I call and invite someone to hang out, my phone doesn't ring, my calendar remains empty. It is the sad reality of being a single, my age, who is unattached, in a church full of people who are, for the most part, otherwise.
Don't get me wrong. I have friends. About 500 the last time I checked FB. ;)
I have people I can call when I need something, people I can visit, people who hug me and ask how I'm doing when they see me, people who I call and check up on periodically, people I can chat with on FB regularly, people I can arrange to spend time with...and we have a great time together. I even have long-term friends. People that I love dearly, that I may not talk to or see for months or even years at a time, but we can pick up right where we left off and it be just like old times. But, I don't have a "best" friend here. Someone with whom I'm certain the affection and care is totally mutual and who is involved in the daily of my life...and I in theirs. Someone who's home I can just crash at without calling. Someone to just "be" with. That special person that knows "everything" and its ok. Someone with whom I share inside jokes. Someone who's more like a sister than a friend. That person who is a given on the list when girl time is in order...and vice versa all of the above.
You girls know what I mean, right?
I don't have that, here, locally, in real life.
(big, heavy sigh)
So, getting a taste of what its like to be invited to walk around in someone's life for a week, whether it be an actual outing or simply dinner with the fam in the backyard...was...really...nice. But, now that I'm home and away from that, it makes my reality all the more stark and hard.
Hence the spontaneous sobbing in the church lobby.
ANYway, (for those of you still with me) that's just some frame of reference info for this post about my last day in Canada.
My last day began as per usual. We got up, had coffee (and a smoke for Nin) outside and then proceeded to get ready for church.
I'd really been looking forward to visiting Nin's church ever since I knew I was going up for a visit. Over the past 2 years, I've heard so much about the church and the people and how they've cared for my friend and her family, going back to when I only knew my friend's sister through her blog. I was also curious, both generally and specifically. I'm always interested in how other churches do church, but I was more specifically interested in seeing their worship time...more to the point, in seeing one specific aspect of worship: Flagging.
Nin had mentioned "flagging" during worship on many occasions. I pretended like I knew what she was talking about and didn't ask any questions to be polite. But, really, I didn't know what to think. I couldn't imagine anything in my head that wasn't chaotic and/or really distracting.
Nothing in my head was anywhere close to the reality of what I saw that Sunday.
Even before the worship time began, people were gathering up near the altar, ready. They selected flags and looked up at the musicians, some with eyes closed in prayer, preparing their hearts for what God had for them that morning.
Then, the music started, and the flags began to move. Words fail me as I sit here trying to think of a way to describe what I saw and felt.
Though, I was drawn to the flags, to the colors, to the movement, it was by no means distracting. The flags brought a whole new level of life to the music. It was as if the spirit was dancing through the waving colored fabric...as if the spirit of God in the people waving the flags was somehow dancing above their heads. It was beautiful and I was moved to tears.
At one point, an older woman began dancing with a young girl to a song called "The Father's Song." I was undone. I saw in their movements the heart of God for his children, his joy in us, his delight.
Honestly, though the sermon was good and instructive, I think I heard more from the Lord and experienced more of the Lord from the flagging and dancing. I'll elaborate on that in another post, though. :)
After worship, we had a short break for coffee, which I, personally, think should be mandatory at every church, every where. But...I digress. During that time, I got to meet some more of Nin's church friends, including an actual French Canadian and the man who did her shower surround. I also saw "coffee whitener" (creamer to us) for the first time. I couldn't help of think of teeth whitener and that caused a few seconds of weird images and giggling to myself. Then, we went back in for the message.
Part way through, another Canadian internet buddy showed up. His name is Steve, but everyone calls him Moose. I've known him about as long as I've known my friend's sister...so, going back before Katrina. He came in to visit his brother and decided to stop in at church to say hey to me.
We took a photo to commemorate the event. :)
I also got to meet and visit with Nin's friend, Sherry. A.K.A. "Sherryness".
Then she and another friend, Chelsea, joined me and Nin and Sarah for lunch.
We had planned on Mexican. So, naturally, my mouth immediately began watering for chips and salsa.
I could literally taste it.
I was ready.
But the restaurant we'd decided on was only open for dinner on Sundays, so Sherry suggested another "mexican" place down the road. It was called "Avocado". I was hopeful. I mean, guacamole is made from avocados, right?
It was good, but it was only marginally Mexican, and...(cue Hitchcockian suspense music)...they didn't serve chips and salsa!
(insert shock and horror and many gasps)
But my lunch was good. And pretty. So pretty, that I took a picture. (I also took a picture because this was the first time I ever go sweet potato fries at a mexican restaurant and I thought that was worth preserving for posterity.)
Sherry liked it, too, and took her own photo.
Our lunch was loverly. We ate outside. Where it was very warm and I, again, did not sweat. I also got to get to know two very sweet, godly ladies a bit, which was better than not sweating.
After lunch, we headed to the mall...at my request. This never happens. But, in my defense, they had some awesome eyeshadow that I just had to have...so...there.
Before we headed toward the eyeshadow, they made me stop in the Roughrider's store to shop for a souvenir to take home.
They had some fun, too.
Then, I had to pee. Sarah and Nin did this while I was, um, indisposed.
Finally, we arrived at the home of the awesome eyeshadow.
I was in heaven.
...and after my purchase, I was blissfully content.
After shopping, we headed to Nin's parents for dinner and cards. This was probably my most favorite night of the whole trip.
And, I was doing a good job of not being sad until Chris prayed before the meal. I tried to choke back the tears and the sob that was forming in my throat as he thanked the Lord for mine and Nin's friendship and making my visit possible. When I opened my eyes, I tried not to make eye contact with anyone. "Just look down and serve your food. Keep it together, woman", I instructed myself.
But, it was no use. My lips were in full quiver and the tears spilled over my eyelids and my restraint was shattered. Then I saw Nin, wiping a tear, too...and that was it...until I called Chris a name for making me cry, then we all laughed and I was ok again.
For dinner, we had the Dunlop's famous spaghetti. It was delish. It felt very "family-like". :)
I felt very welcome, very loved...and that feeling was quite mutual.
Again...favorite night of the whole trip.
Then, we played a card game called "Pit" It was super fun and super loud.
I won the first hand and thought I was pretty much the bomb.com.
Nin didn't win. Many times.
Chris remained silent about this and just took score.
Then, Nin stuck me with the worst cards possible. and, I lost. and, I didn't handle it well.
They all laughed at me. But, I didn't cry, cuz I'm strong.
While we were playing, a wicked storm kicked up...
I'll save the rest of the story for tomorrow, because this post is already way too long and I'm still not quite ready to write about the "goodbye" part.