I wasn’t planning on writing five episodes in the series when I began five weeks ago, but my first post about day one was 1,900 words long after scrupulous editing. Day two was 2,200 words long. There was no satisfactory way to combine and condense both posts. Same thing for days three and four. 10,000 words later and here we are!
I wanted to write everything important once and then be finished. I know there are things I will forget, I’ve forgotten so much already, but I want to get down as much as I can. This trip was important to me.
The night before, Blake introduced us to an incredible song called “Oceans” by the John Butler Trio. Let it play and read while you listen. You won’t regret it, I promise. ❤️
We had to wake up early that morning. We were going to beat the traffic and the tourists for Niagara Falls. It was Victoria Day, a national holiday similar to Labor Day because most people get the day off, so we were expecting a lot of people on the road.
As we rode, we listened to “Oceans”. It was the perfect song for a chilly, dewy morning.
Eastern Canada was awake, but groggy. There were few cars on the roads and minimal traffic. Along our left was the coast of Lake Ontario. The water shimmered and reflected the pink clouds along the horizon, make it difficult to tell apart the water from the sky.
When we arrived, the mist clouded much of the view. When it rolled away, we could see Niagara in her glory.
We took a boat ride to see The Falls up close and personal.
By the end of the boat ride, my clothes were soaked. I looked like I had taken a shower fully clothed. It took hours for my jacket to dry.
It was so worth it.
As we trekked back to the van one final time, Dent and Jacob took it upon themselves to sing camp songs.
Introducing, the President and Vice-President of the Ministry of Silly Walks, Dent and Jacob.
We arrived at the airport, turned in our faithful van, and started checking in. Everyone went through immigration easily but I got snagged for a bagging technicality. We worked everything out and I met everyone on the other side, relieved. I like to think it was Canada’s way of trying to keep me from leaving, but it didn’t work.
We stepped out of the air conditioned airport and walked smack into almost 90% humidity.
It felt like being smothered by a wet mattress.
We drove back home through the mist and rain again, and I could feel the trip slowly slipping away from me. I could feel that cold, heavy iron in the pit of my stomach. I think I didn’t want to have to face everything again. And again. And again. It felt like someone said “Congratulations on your progress!” followed rapidly by “Now back to work”. That’s life, I suppose.
We arrived back at the church, hugged each other, and went our separate ways. It was quiet and I was thankful.
I found this quote a few months ago before I left for Toronto. It resonated then and it resonates now.
But the best part about airports lies in what they symbolize. Airports are places of bookends: new beginnings and long-awaited endings, arrivals and departures, hellos and goodbyes. We start in one city to end in another hundreds or thousand miles away. You enter from a desert and exit into a blizzard. In from winter, out into summer. In from familiarity, out into something completely foreign. Or vice versa.
An airport is a place of transit, and not just geographically. I wish there was some sort of time-lapse to show how people change between departures and arrivals. When I arrive back home from being away, I’m never the same person as when I left.
-Alex Brueckner, “Airports Are My Happy Place“
Who am I after all of this? I feel more confident and more comfortable socially. If I can approach a complete stranger to talk about Jesus, I can survive a college lunch. I enjoy social activities more than I did before. Not having so much anxiety helps that a lot.
What have I taken away from the trip? After five weeks of writing and reflecting, I’m still not entirely sure.
One thing I do know: encouraging people with the Gospel is really satisfying. It isn’t because it’s my message, but because I’ve experienced the tangible, substantial goodness that comes from knowing God.
I know I want to do more of it.
I’ve seen God come through for me and I want others to see it in their lives, too.
I don’t know what all of it means or where it is leading, but I am okay with not knowing. I like surprises… I think.
I signed up for this trip because I wanted to share the Gospel. I loved meeting Jeremy, April, Seth, the people in the Pakistani church, and the college students at the Bible study. Seeing the children in the Hindu temple truly broke my heart.
What I saw and learned along the way helped me make more connections to other things within my life. Most of what I brought back was seeing how much God has healed me. That’s what made the trip so special. I could see the progress. I could benefit from that growth.
I saw God temporarily remove my anxiety. I still struggled, but it was minimal compared to how I have felt on vacations, during family trips, when I’ve spent an afternoon at a friend’s house, or even driving.
I had peace on the trip. I felt it in my bones when I didn’t feel it in my heart. My emotions weren’t always up, but I was so thankful for the many times they were. It hasn’t always been so.
I know I was supposed to go on this trip. There were too many coincidences and personal miracles for me to believe otherwise. Looking ahead, I would like to go back with the college ministry next year. I have $8.30 in my “Toronto or Bust!” jar, so I’m already that much closer.
I loved the team. When I woke up on Tuesday morning after sleeping in my own bed for the first time in five days, I was disappointed. I missed seeing them at breakfast, bleary-eyed and huddled over their cups of coffee. I missed driving into town with them, listening to music and some of their stories. I missed their jokes and their laughter. I missed looking over at Blake, seeing him smile at his phone, then hearing him mention something about Becca. I missed hearing the occasional click of Dent’s ancient camera. I missed hearing Mr. Glenn and Jacob discussing routes and destinations, debating whether we were headed in the right direction. I missed being lost and late with them.
The guys, primarily Jacob and Dent, would get all swoony around expensive or rare cars. They would gasp, and reverently point out its finest features. They acted as though it were the Mona Lisa in motion or something. I missed that, too.
They have helped me rebuild a healthy perspective of men. With all that I was taught, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was capable of feeling safe.
I never doubted them for a minute. Never ever.
Now you know more about this trip than anyone else could ever possibly want to know. I have exhausted the topic. I won’t say anything more than this:
God hears. God heals. God provides.
He did it here. He’ll do it again.
Until next time,
Sara Kathryn ❤