If Canada only has two seasons, the longest season is definitely winter! But as the saying goes, "Canada only has two seasons, winter and getting ready for winter."
Am I ready for winter?
Before moving to Canada, I was convinced that any place north of the American border would equate to living in the frozen tundra (a typical stereotype of an ignorant non-Canadian). As I have found, it may not be the frozen tundra this far south (as I'm only 30 mins north of the US border), but to an African, it still FEELS like the frozen tundra.
So how do you survive the southern part of Canada that feels like the frozen tundra? You need a good coat and a good pair of snow boots! They say it's all about how you dress? I have several layers on, and I'm still cold! After my trip to Israel, I'm convinced that I could live in a 40 degree desert over a -40 degree ice land... When I am brave enough to venture outside, it is usually because we've had some fresh snow and I need to shovel it, in order to get out the driveway (which can be quite a feat). I've realized that this is also one of the only times I see the neighbours. Shovels, snowblowers, roof scrapers, and whatever you do - don't throw hot water onto the car window. And praise God for a car, and heated seats! A Canadian invention? With all the automatic features, you can now start your car from inside so that it warms up for 15 mins before you even venture out. Although, I don't have that feature, I'm not complaining. What would I do if I had to wait at the bus stop? Turn into one of those beautiful ice sculptures that survive so well in these deadly temperatures! Winter...yes, hello winter.
On my recent trip to Ottawa, I got a word about sowing into the next generation wherever possible. With the the recent coverage of Justin Bieber's marriage on Canadian news, I decided to listen to his newest album on the bus ride back to Lenox. His song, Children, echoed deeply in my soul. It was a timely confirmation to this next season of my life, where I will be hibernating in the house of prayer, teaching 8th grade math as a private tutor and helping my host family with their adopted kids in this very transitional period of both our lives.
I have officially set up base in the living room of the "mission house." All the rooms are taken by the international exchange students who are with us this semester, but it's amazing how at home I feel in a room full of book shelves. Plus, I get a great view of the woods in the back yard and have personal access to the fireplace and a private toilet. Having the washer and dryer in my area of the house has proven trying at times, but I guess that's just part of community living. YWAM and boarding school prepared me well?
I'm living in a university town and I'm sure there are plenty of public events I could be part of, but for my first winter, I'd prefer to stay inside. I can see why Canadians are so friendly? Firstly, who in their right mind would choose to live in this freezing place, if you had an option of living in the tropics? Additionally, winter is the time when community becomes very important to keeping your spirits high. I'm thankful for all the people in my life right now, and for the very unique experience I have living here in Quebec.
Two of my Quebecois friends hosted a dinner for their friends from the past semester, which included students from all over the world. Thankful to be included in the international gathering, I was amazed to meet my first Syrian, Afghan and Iranian at this dinner. Besides the delicious five course meal, which was a definite hit, the conversations were never boring. From Chinese students seeking freedom and a new home in Canada, to the song of the Afghan girl whose appreciation for western freedoms could not be understated. Who needs to minister in the Middle East, when the Arab world is on our doorstep? Mmm... maybe Quebec really is the 10-40 window!
And what a wonderful end to the year! Celebrating a winter wedding with this semesters housemates, from Spain, Germany, Canada and Puerto Rico. Congratulations Hannah!