It’s the Christmas season which I’m sure is meant to be the time of year when things are slowing down, but it never seems to go that way for anyone I know!
In terms of work – my colleague who I job share with is from the Dominican Republic and is going back to visit family and friends for the first time in over two years since moving to Vancouver with her husband. They’re super excited, and I totally get why, so when she asked me to cover her at work over Christmas, I was more than happy to say yes!
Although the Christmas season seems to amp up with busyness, I’ve always known offices to be extremely quiet over the Christmas period and therefore shut down, but it seems that in Canada, tax and charitable giving is all different and so the last week of the year is a bit of a hectic time for charities and churches due to receiving monetary gifts before the end of the tax year. The church office stays open to ensure that nothing is missed and that we can get as much out of 2018 as possible to meet the budget. I’m still incredibly new to it all so feeling a little daunted by the whole concept of me being in charge of this in the last week of the year on my own, but I know there are people I can call on should I need it.
For the first time ever, I’ll only get Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day off this year, besides weekends. I’ve never had to work that much over the festive season, so it’ll be strange for me. Tom is expecting to be quite quiet on the work front because everyone he works with will be closing down for Christmas. He’ll have lots of time to facetime people, play video games and warhammer/warmachine so it’s safe to say that he’ll be pretty content.
I’ll post more about Christmas in the coming days, but here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to since my last post!
We planned to go to a Christmas Market in the Stanley Park Pavilion one Saturday, but ended up leaving a lot later than planned to get there so only caught the last ten minutes. Turns out it was actually pretty rubbish anyhow so we ditched it and went to the aquarium instead! We bought annual passes when just after we arrived and I do not regret it one bit. We’ve already got out moneys worth out of it and have had them five months!
When we first talked about applying for visas to come out here, I started searching online for churches that were in the city. I began following a few pastors on Instagram so I could learn more about their churches and their heart for the city we were moving to. Not long after that, one posted about a friend having had a preemie baby and asking for prayer. I started to follow this lady who had given birth to her son at 25 weeks, and loved seeing the story of how their tiny baby came through miracle after miracle to eventually be taken home, and the family adjust to life with this new child. What always struck me was how honest and raw the lady was about life, so I kept following after they’d taken the baby home (plus I was still interested in his journey).
The church that this pastor I was following and she attends meet downtown and I have wanted to go since arriving here in Vancouver but we haven’t actually made it down yet. However, the church recently announced that they’re launching two new campuses, one that the lady and her husband will be pastoring, and one that is right in our neighbourhood. They held a couple of start up parties in local coffee shops, so we went along and had a great time meeting people and hearing the heart behind the launch of the new Kitsilano campus. I’m excited to get more involved as they’re right on our doorstep, and I’m pretty invested in who they are as a church!
I’m sure you’ll all be aware from my personal Instagram that we went to Seattle for a few days, from Tom’s birthday. It was so much fun, it’s meant to be a four hour train, but we were sat on the tracks for about two hours because a truck had jack-knifed on the tracks. But, the long journey was worth it! I’ll post separately about it as there’s so much to share, but basically we saw everything we had planned to plus more, we ate great food, had a fantastic experience with a very high waiter in an oyster place, drank coffee, stayed in a very dated but convenient hotel, and generally had a good time. We also saw Tom Hanks’ floating house from Sleepless in Seattle. But as I say, more on that in a separate blog to come…
We cooked another young adults lunch at church. This time we served up roast chicken thighs, ham, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, bread sauce and gravy, with Christmas pudding and brandy sauce to follow. Everyone loved it. We had a few hiccups along the way – we forgot the vegetarian option, and left the Christmas puddings at home too. Thankfully there was only one veggie there who we explained the situation to, saying we’d run out and get something else for him, but he kindly said he was happy to eat what he could! Then, about 25 minutes before the chicken was due to come out of the oven, we realised we’d left the puddings at home too! So I quickly found a car, drove home, picked up the puddings and returned just in time for the food being served. Thing is, we don’t live that close to church, so it was about a 20 minute drive either way! It was definitely worth it, as we got to light a pudding on fire, and Tom had been making them for about a week in an effort to have enough for everyone!
We’ve had the chance to hang out with a few different people too, going for bubble tea with one couple, dinner at Storm Crow with another, and I’ve also been to a couple of ladies nights too. It’s nice to feel like we’re actually getting to know people now. We also went to another Settlers of Catan night in a local pub – a couple put it on and open it up on an app called Meet Up for anyone to come along to. It’s always a lot of fun. You get some people who are very serious about the game, which for me as a total novice and play-for-fun type, isn’t always the best, but as the night goes on, and as more drinks are consumed, everyone loosens up and the games become a real laugh! The couple that host it are really nice, and have invited us to theirs for New Years!
This weekend has actually been super busy, Catan was Friday night, then there was a church young adults Christmas party Saturday, and on Sunday we went to Coastal Church’s “Grand Service” – their Christmas celebration event in a theatre downtown. It was pretty cool. There was lots of musical variety, including some vocal groups, violin and saxophone performances, a group with a singer, rapper and ballet type dancer using the song Mary Did You Know, an older man crooning along with the sax, a kids choir, and then when the Lead Pastor got up and delivered his Christmas message there was a segment with his wife casually interviewing Michael Buble, who appeared to maybe be a member of their church… I’m not sure on that, but no-one seemed to react when he appeared on the screen (except for me, of course!), which makes me think the church must be used to him popping up from time to time. It was pretty cool, because he was talking about how Christmas is such an important time for him, and celebrating Jesus being the big part of it.
It’s been fun decorating the flat for Christmas. We bought this little 4ft tree and put it on a side table in the corner of the room and bought lots of cute decs in the Black Friday sales at a store called Michael’s. We’ve not bothered with other decorations as we’ll likely only use them the once before returning to the UK so it seemed silly! Hence the $35 pre-lit tree too… It looks super cute though, and adds a fantastic festive touch to our living room.
There’s a lot of festivities still to come! On Wednesday we’re going to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at a local theatre – it’s a two person show and I’ve been told that it’s very good. This Saturday we’re having an open house – we’ve invited friends from church and are inviting our neighbours too. Hopefully we’ll meet some new people, and generally have a good time! Then on Sunday, Amy (my sister) has made us a reservation at the restaurant in the Lookout – it’s the tall building that is a viewing point over the city and has a revolving restaurant at the top. We’re excited about this as it’s a fun place to go just for the views, so having a meal will be pretty special. The last thing before Christmas is a Christmas Eve service at church, then on the day itself we’re going to spend most of the day just the two of us, then go to some friend’s in the evening! It’s a very different Christmas this year, but we’re certainly making the most of it! There’s festive lights and Christmas Markets to go to yet as well!
All in all it’s a pretty busy festive season – so nothing new there, just a lot of different to normal!