Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too. ~ Teresa of Avila

When we left Portland not only did we leave our home and our friends and our family.  We left behind our church as well.  And here in Michigan we are hundreds of miles from what we call one of our 'branch' churches that are scattered around the US and Canada here in North America.  The nearest two are in Chicago which is 266 to 303 miles away, depending on which route you take, and Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, which is 204 miles.  It's 133 miles inland from the US/Canada border so when you go to Kitchener you are definitely IN Canada and not some border town that seems as American to us as I'm sure our border towns seem almost Canadian to them.  Since we've been living in Michigan we've been 'worshiping' via the live internet broadcast of our Portland church's Sunday morning service.  Tho here, in the Eastern Time Zone, we're settling down on the couch at 2 pm.  It's been working very well for us, too...we 'see' everyone we know on the screen and, in all actuality, probably focus better on the music and the sermon better than we ever did 'live' in the sanctuary.  There aren't the people and noise distractions.  The cameras might scan the congregation here and there, but mostly it's on the musicians, choir, and pastor.  Very up-close and personal.

Even so...it's not quite the same.  I no longer have my beloved Aunt Lois to come and sit with me most Sundays.  I miss her sweet smile, her infectious laughter, her hugs and kisses.  We don't get to chitchat with dear friends.  I can no longer catch my dear friend Karen's eye across the sanctuary and I miss the discreet little waves we'd give each other.  But we made this choice to move.  We felt when we made that choice we were in the center of God's will for our lives.  And we still feel that just as strongly now as the day I boarded the jet to fly 'home' to the Detroit area, the day Dear Hubby and our daughter-in-law set out to drive 2/3 of the way across America.

In all of the official switching over from residence in one state to another, we of course needed to get new drivers licenses.  Here in Michigan because it borders Canada you can choose to apply for an enhanced license  which works almost like a Passport in allowing you to cross the border.  It has an embedded microchip in it and you have to keep it in a sheath for radio frequency protection.  I believe it's not only for easing the border crossing but also helps encourage commerce between the two countries, especially for towns and cities nearby.  It seems like a lot of information is needed to prove you live here in Michigan.  I told the clerk at the Secretary of State office I'd brought everything but my Death Certificate.  She thought that was pretty funny.  To get the enhanced license you have to provide answers for a couple of security questions.  They asked me, "What was your father's occupation at the time of your birth?"  I mean, really.  How many people would know that?  But I have a photographic memory and as I pictured my Birth Certificate in my mind I saw "mailman" and indeed he was.  Whewwwwwwwww.

Dear Hubby and I had been wanting to attend our church in Kitchener but we had to wait to have our enhanced licenses before we could go.  Mine finally came the Friday before Easter.  Not enough time to make plans.  So we decided to make the trip this past Sunday.  We drove to Port Huron and as we crossed the bridge there to Sarnia, Ontario, what a beautiful view of the port and Lake Huron!  It was my first trip ever into Canada so that was pretty exciting for me and crossing into the country was very pain free.  It was a gray and overcast day but even so the landscape was so pretty.  Many, many farms with barns and silos.  Well-maintained farm houses.  We stopped along the way to buy "petrol" and for a 'breather' - if you catch my meaning - and as we walked out to our vehicle a very nice young gentleman stopped us and asked us where we were from in Michigan...he'd spotted our license plate.  We told him from the Detroit area and he welcomed us to Canada and wished us a pleasant visit.  As we came to Kitchener, a city of 230,000, traffic became a little more congested.  We had Google Map directions and wouldn't you know they weren't quite right.  So we drove around in circles for a few minutes until I convinced my son to stop at a market so I could go in and ask for directions.  "From the States, eh?" the clerk asked me, and he was very kind and gave me excellent directions.  Got us right to the church.  We ended up being almost late...the musicians had already started playing...but the usher greeted us warmly and we went inside and took our seats.  We were given song books and people all around us smiled in welcome.  And then the congregational singing started!  There was a piano.  An accordian.  A couple of guitars.  A choir with 14 members.  And mercy, they almost took the rafters off the building.  It was WONDERFUL!!  The vast majority of the congregation is Canadians from Newfoundland who'd moved inland to find work.  And they love their music and they love to sing!  I could have sat there and just listened and sung along with them the rest of the day.  I had never experienced anything like it in my life!  And such a sweet, sweet Spirit in that place.  Such a sweet, sweet Spirit in the prayer service that followed.  And then every congregant came up and either shook hands with us or gave me friendly, heartfelt hugs.  They made me feel as if I'd been coming there forever!  The pastor and his wife invited us over for dinner and what an amazing experience that was, too, being welcomed so warmly into their home and being made to feel so comfortable and at ease.  I know Canada is 'right next door' to America but it still IS another country and what a privilege it was to be invited into a family's home to share food and wonderful fellowship.  I felt like a sponge the entire day, just soaking it all in.  And all too soon it was time to head back to 'the States'...it was a 3-hour drive to get there, 3 hours to get home.  But worth every penny in gas, every mile traveled on that smooth and clean Canadian freeway!

And will we go back?  Oh my, a million times yes!  As long as gas prices don't go thru the roof.  As long as the Lord wills.  No matter where in the world you go, God is still the same today, yesterday, and forever.


Betty said...

I read a blog from a Canadian. It´s called "Yesterday, Today, Forever". Your last sentence reminded me of her. Here´s the link if your interested: http://thinkingtoodeeply.blogspot.com/
I´m so glad you had such a good time at that new church. It´s not easy to find a place to feel at home in so soon. God is blessing you!

Dori said...

I'm so glad you guys made it up there! What a great experience.

So, you got me curious and I looked up the church. Our denomination got it's start at the Azusa St. revival as well! What an awesome time that must have been.

Donna said...

I thought gas prices had already GONE through the roof!

WOW said...

What a wonderful experience for you. I hope you are able to make the trip often.

Pam said...

Hey, Kris. The above comment from WOW is really me, Pam. I was logged into my old WOW account in error.