Why Nanaimo?

That’s a great question, and one I’m not entirely sure I have a clear answer for.

When Bea died, we didn’t think we would go back to Rwanda long term, but wanted to be wise and wait a while before we made any permanent decisions.

We knew we wanted to continue in ministry in line with our overall vision.  Given all that we have experienced within YWAM, we also thought that we wanted to continue with this organization.  As I processed our re-entry to Canada, I have felt inspired that I want to be involved in areas of discipleship, justice, and care for the earth – and have felt drawn specifically to do this work in the West Coast of Canada.

We wanted to take the next couple of years to serve.  We wanted to be part of a community that we could genuinely help without having to take responsibility for vision or direction, and somewhere we could learn about the culture and workings of the West Coast.

The obvious choice, which we considered, would have been joining YWAM Vancouver – we love people there, and are sure we could find a place within that structure.  Neither of us was excited about the prospect of living within a large city, though.

Last June we attended the YWAM Canada leaders gathering in Calgary.  We met a few new people from different ministries.  There was someone there about to start YWAM in Nanaimo, and this really stuck out in my mind.

Let’s be honest: if we made out life choices according only to logic, we would be living entirely different lives.  There usually is some logic, and reasons that I can explain, but the truth of it is that we have committed our lives to serve God, and committed to following what we sense as His leading and guiding: Nanaimo felt like it might be it.

So, I followed it up: I sent them an email at the end of last year, and I did not fill it out in the same way I filled out our rental applications.  I did my best to clearly emphasize our limitations and weaknesses.  They took our emails and applications, and pondered and prayed.  When they got back to us quickly with an enthusiastic welcome.  That was enough confirmation to me to give it a try.

Despite setbacks, we finally got here in May.  Within a couple weeks, I think we were ready to say that this seems like a really good fit for us.

We genuinely like and respect the leadership here.  In a short time, we have seen them display wisdom, follow-through, and genuine space and care for the people around them (including us).  We also like the group of staff (despite the fact that they really make us feel old)!  They are passionate, capable, hard-working, skilled, and funny people.

Practically, it is logical for us to jump in and serve in the area of food, but more than that, it feels like there is a real place for us to mentor and encourage.

We’re still working on finding our groove, but thankful that we seemed to have followed that sense of leading and call to a good place.

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Luxury Vacation Destination

Mike & I love to cook for people and love to host people!  One of the benefits of our nomadic season was that we were recipients of many peoples’ gracious hospitality: and the flip side was that we were unable to host guests ourselves.

We have been gathering furniture, utensils, etc, in great hopes of being able to cook meals and have visitors come and stay in grand style!

I was a little bit afraid that we had overshot when we thought it was a great idea to have a family of 6 from Pennsylvania come stay in our 2 bedroom basement suite for a few days, just a few weeks after we moved in.  (Given the opportunity, though, how could we not try to make that awesome visit work!?)

However, they are possibly the most appreciative and easygoing family I’ve ever met.  Someone was really happy about sleeping in the recliner, and another felt like he had great luxury because he got the pullout couch all to himself!  And no one complained because we didn’t have 8 matching bowls for soup.

I’m not totally sure that they experienced the best of Nanaimo, since most of the places we went were new even to us, but we definitely had fun.   We visited the sea, walked among centuries-old trees at Cathedral Grove, and hiked up Mount Benson.

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Cathedral Grove

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At the top of Mount Benson (apparently I’m the least photogenic)

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Playing Bandu

Just in case you aren’t already convinced that visiting us would be a dream family vacation, we also put them to work at the YWAM house cleaning and building bunk beds!

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Although I would logically have suggested that this was premature, and there was too many of them to reasonably fit in our space, this was such a great week.  I’m happy to have a bunch of new poetry on our fridge, and it was so good for us to be able to welcome people into our space.  It was also really affirming and encouraging that everyone was so easygoing and appreciative of what we had to offer.

Settled without settling (Homeless no more!)

Last week I was talking to someone about trying to furnish our house, etc, and he said to me, “Moving is so stressful, and so hard on a marriage.  It is probably the most stressful thing.  Well, after death.”

I almost laughed, because he doesn’t know our history, but yes, I know the truth of all that he was saying.

Trying to find a place to live in Nanaimo was crazy.  I’ve never experienced anything quite like it – there is such variation in what is available at a certain price range.  Many of the people we interacted with (landlords and tenants) felt desperate, and possible ready to take advantage of whoever was around to get what they wanted.

Plus, we look terrible on paper as tenants.  We don’t have a landlord reference since 2011, plus our “employment” and “income” look sketchy and unreliable.

Places turned over really fast – coming up and then being rented out within a day or two, so we had to be really on top of it, and look at so many places.  We had a short list of non-negotiables, and a wishlist.  Early on, I said to Mike that I had a sense we would know the right place because the street name was significant.  When we went to look at a place on Hosanna Way (hosanna is an expression of praise to God), I thought that this was the one!  It looked even better than the pictures, and the landlord seemed kind and reasonable!

We got an email from him a couple hours later saying he wasn’t comfortable taking us as tenants.

I was SO disappointed, but seeing that place gave me some hope to keep looking, as this was by far the nicest place we had seen in the price range – the other places we had looked at all felt like we were settling for much less than what we wanted.

I kept looking, learned a bit about how to better fill out applications, and had a couple places on the horizon that looked hopeful.  We left Nanaimo at the end of May (for a conference and eye appointment) with a place we wanted and a backup, not knowing if we would get accepted to either.

While away, we found out we got accepted to our first choice!  It so obviously filled all our requirements and wants that I decided my sense about the street name was wrong, and I could live on a street called Thalia.

My dad was looking us up on google earth (as he likes to do), and then handed me the computer with a definition on it:

 

In Greek mythology, Thalia was the muse of idyllic poetry and comedy.  She presided over festive meetings, and the word literally means, “blooming.”

 

It felt like God was blessing all the things we have hoped for, for this next season, and reminding us that He is intending these things for us, too.

“Festive meetings!”  That is so us.

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Bonus story:  About a month after Beatrix died, we were staying in a friend’s house for a couple months.  I wandered into a bookstore and some boxes of magnetic poetry caught my eye.  Normally, I would think this a frivolous waste of money, but on this day I thought, “This will be fun for Mike and I.  We need some fun.”  So, I bought several packages.

I was so disappointed when I got back to the house and found out that the fridge wasn’t magnetic.  (Seriously, I didn’t know that was a thing?!?  But, none of the fridges in any place we have been in for more than a week have been magnetic.)

Here is the view in our kitchen today:

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