Since our last update, we have officially made the transition from the U.S. to Canada. The past two weeks have been filled with the excitement of a new culture, the monotony of unpacking, and welcome opportunities to meet people in our neighborhood. Many things have been easy, while others have been more challenging. Here's a short snapshot of some of our experiences since moving:
MEET AND GREET: One of our primary tasks during these first few months in Calgary is to meet as many people in our neighborhood as possible. In the evening, the streets of our community (Evanston) are alive with folks exercising themselves, their children, and their pets. This time of the year also seems to be home-improvement season. There are lots of chances to perform acts of service by jumping in to help shovel gravel or place sod. Additionally, we've been trying to shop at the same stores within our community in order to gain some recognition with the other "regulars."
But, it's not always easy to make these connections. One reason is that people don't spend a lot of time in their front yards. They're either out for a walk, playing at the park, or behind the fence in the back yard. Additionally, Canadians are polite, but generally reserved. In the southern U.S., it is common for perfect strangers to wave or exchange pleasantries as they pass each other (either in a vehicle or on foot). We've noticed less "spontaneous greeting" in the streets. For these reasons (and others), we have to work extra hard to find ways to engage people.
IT'S DEFINITELY NOT THE U.S.: Despite the similarities between our two countries, it's surprising how quickly you can feel like an outsider; a foreigner who just landed in a new and different culture. Did you know Canadian Tire isn't just a tire store? (It's actually a lot like Walmart.) Apparently, everyone except me knows a Tim Horton's coffee with two sugars and two cream is called a "double-double." And it's common to be greeted by a cashier with the question, "Airline Miles?" Huh?! All of these are banalities that are quickly learned and accounted for. But in bulk they remind you that you really are in a different country.
STICKER SHOCK: Everything here is 50-100% more expensive than comparable items in the States. Gasoline is close to $5 a gallon. A basket of ordinary groceries will put you over the $200 mark, and the list goes on and on. Calgary isn't the most expensive North American city to live in, but it certainly isn't the cheapest either.
FRIENDS, PASSION, AND VISION: Since moving here, we have been blessed to make friends with a couple of couples who are are roughly our own age, as well as some who are a bit older. These relationships have helped us not to feel too lonely, though of course we miss our friends and family back home. Another exciting thing is how God is fanning the flames in our heart for this community. We have set a goal of prayer walking every street in Evanston (there are 31.7 kilometres of residential roads in this community alone), and asking God's blessing and favor on every single home. We wake up each morning feeling an increasing responsibility and privilege to serve the people who live here.
I could write a lot more about specific relationships we are developing, the progress we are making in preparing to plant our church next year, and the blessing our new spiritual family at the Pathway Church has been to us. But, we'll save that for our next post. Thank you to all those who continue to support us with prayers, finances and encouragement. We love you all!