Woohoo, the proverbial group picture day (oh, right, I don't have one of those to post...oh well). Our group divided into two again today to serve in the early a.m. and the later afternoon. Lucky me gets to continue to Be Still and Know on the Surrey homefront. But today is picture day so we all met mid-day to do the Olympic Cauldron Torch picture. Hopped on the SkyTrain and walked a few city blocks amongst the awesome nations of people. Beautiful day, too, the rain subsided and the sun shone brightly.
It's like carnival today. Games coming to a close and last rounds of medals coming up. Huge hockey day! Oh, right, met Lisa Chesson #11 of the US Women's Hockey Team the other night on the SkyTrain. Such a tiny thing for a defensemen! She's from the Minnesota Select Team, Whitecaps. Such a celebrity now. Go USA! Yes, their game is streaming right now as I write this.
We all gathered at the torch cauldron. I have to say, it is breathtaking. You think "ah, it's a torch, it'll be nice." But then you really see it, and you're completely captivated. Met another anchorman today filming the streets for CTV. Entire group on film with Jerry being interviewed with the classic questions like "So, what's it like for you to be here?". Traded a ton of pins this week, many more today; the More Than Gold pins.
JERRY'S INTERVIEW WITH CTV
Gathered for amazing dim sum at Kirin, a downtown Chinese restaurant with most everyone and then headed out to serve more hot coffee, chocolate. I, Being Still and Knowing, returned to Surrey to fight off this bug, read a Word, and post a silly blog.
In all I am stunned at the pageantry, the people, the country. It truly, truly strikes me that this awesomeness is nothing, nothing compared to the eternity God has created to honor Him one day.
Well Whistler was good for the soul but not for the sinus. Had to give in knowing I wasn't going to chase this bug away. Really? I can count on one hand how many times I've been this sick the last 20-years. So I wait for a trip of a lifetime, OK, I get it, Be Still and Know.
About 3am I decided, yes, I'm going to the doctor later sure. Gerda, such a friend, drove us to a nearby clinic. Arrived to see a sign that they were "closed until 12:30" with a lobby full. Most clinics closed for lunch anyway, so joined in and had lunch only to return to the next signage saying "closed until 2:30".
OK, so "how does this system really work?" I questioned the staff knowing I'm completely ignorant of the process. Oh, you register about 10-mins prior to the next doctor coming in. OK, got it. So, we go back to Boston's to watch another hockey game and sip on hot herbal tea courtesy of the house. But this time we're going back to the clinic at 2:00 straight up so not to miss the registration thing. Hooray, 2:20 I'm signing in to see the doctor at 4pm. And, wow, I now see why there are like 6 people to sign you in, not a single computer, zippo. Everything done on pen & paper. So super glad I brought a book, because ya know there are no magazines, because they carry germs and other biological-type warfare; noted. After 62 tissues, I get to see the doc. Our intensive examination lasted a second for every tissue. Zip, Zap, here's your antibiotic prescription. Buh-bye.
OK, so I'm being cheeky; it was a busy day and the staff are genius nice. Loads of us are carrying some form of H1N1 on us anymore anyway. So off to the adjoining pharmacy we go. Meds in 15-mins and a new Neti-pot. Speaking of, why am I just now learning of these Neti pots? These contraptions have been around for centuries, yet I've just discovered what a miracle they are. Highly recommend them! But I don't recommend the YouTube video. Somethings, like nasal passages, just don't need to be demonstrated.
So a mere six hours later, sweet friend Gerda picks us up to carry us to our Surrey abode. All medicated up. Good times. Bring on Thursday.
All this talk of Whistler. Are you going to Whistler? Have you been to Whistler? Oh, you've got to go to Whistler, eh!? Whistler, nope, no plan to go there but would be nice, right? So after serving up the crowd loading all those buses destined for, you guessed it, Whistler, we found out that we could board a bus without an event ticket. So we're on our way to pay when a blueberry stops us. Oh, what's a blueberry? That's those turquoise blue people we keep running in to, those Olympic workers, volunteers. They are EVERYWHERE except the washroom. They were calling themselves Smurfs, but the toques came in blue instead of white. So they named themselves blueberries instead. Oh, that's your Canadian word of the day: Toque /two-k/ (a noggin topper, a tobaggan).
The blueberries at the Whistler bus centre are a complete blast. Despite working from 3am, they are so happy doing this Olympic thing. So I start up a conversation with the lead blueberry, Shaun. Turns out he just returned from Beijing after six years, so we chat it up a bit sharing our Beijing stories. A while later as we're on our way to purchase our tickets, Shaun shouts out 'just get on the bus'. Not expecting anything in return for our own work, we get the very cool opportunity to experience Whistler. Right then, let's go!
Talk about a scenic mountain tour; such amazing, amazing terrain. Rocky, stone mountains bathed in evergreen encapsulated by clear ocean waters the entire two hours. We deboard at the center of town quickly finding a breadhaus to satisfy the lunchtime cravings (pierogies!). A misty, gray, snowy Germantown feel; almost an Aspen but on a much larger, historic scale. Would be remiss if I didn't mention the first site was the memorial area for Nodar Kumaritashvili adorned with candles, flowers, flags; a touching reminder of our fragility. Spent the afternoon going shopping,engaging in conversations in many dialects. I especially enjoyed the Swiss house with portable heaters and the hockey game live. Got on CTV (Canadian television), watched the anchors interview the latest Canadian gold winners, Squeezed our way though a Jamaican mosh pit courtesy of Damian Marley (youngest son of Bob). "He's sick!" as the 20-somethings like to say. Celebrations on every corner along with a cup of Tim Hortons (the Krispy Kreme of Canadian Coffee).
The skiing and the snowboarding looked terrific. Really wanted to hit those slopes, but could only imagine it. Oh well, another day sure. Loaded up on more trinkets along with a new toque to keep away the falling, traditional rain here. Nice to walk the streets with my sweetie since our own story started in the Rockies of Colorado. Aww, sweet moment had to say out loud. After yum-o pizza din din, more hockey, made our way back to the bus for the journey downside to Surrey. Another day grateful for the bountiful.
Oh, did I mention hockey? Right, watched more hockey!Nothing less than Gold will do for the Canadians. After their first loss early on though, the chipper Canadians on the Skytrain went sullen chanting "they're going for the Zinc!".
Can't beat 'em, join 'em. Not going to let this bug slow me down too much, so got up at 5:30 a.m. to take the morning shift serving the travelers to Whistler. Took the morning SkyTrain to downtown to catch the shuttle over to Simon Fraser University Vancouver campus where we were greeted by the numerous buses loading for Whistler. That's where the big ski events are and the famous sliding center; a two hour mountain ride.
Fresh and chipper in our Salvation Army uniforms, we set out to serve free warm coziness to the masses. And what masses there were. Love to see country pride show itself in so many ways: Big husky Norwegian men in cascading blond viking wigs, Japanese winter kimonos (yes, they make those), Dutch men in outrageous orange bathrobes (my personal favorite), proud Koreans hoisting their flags (um, yea, they're pretty darn terrific that Korean team!), scores of Maple Leaf adorned noggins (Canada red is the new black), stoic German faces shining & grinning from ear-to-ear at the shout of 'Deutschland!', Russians in their red & blue glory as they advertise Sochi 2014! Let me just say, get your wallets ready for those Russian item pricetags.
Being here makes you wish that we could all speak, hug, shake hands and tell our stories to one another like this any day any where. The Olympics really give a whole new meaning to 'community'. Not going off on a New World tangent; not a big proponent of that. But we were all created in God's image, His people. Designed to care for one another; not to walk it alone or create barriers that restrict us. God's love is a powerful, powerful gift inside us all and it should be no wonder to ask "Why are you doing this?".
Well the cold I've been convinced would go away hasn't. Stuffy. So I'll stay in out of the rain trying to give this thing a chance. That should do it, right? Eh? Listening to stories of those out serving at 6:30 a.m. to the masses loading buses on their way up to Whistler. The second team serves downtown where they get to literally run hot chocolate and coffee 8-10 blocks every 20-mins. Everyone asks us "Why are you doing this ?" and we smile and say just showing the love of God in a very practical way. While there are a thousand cutie faces in the crowd hankering for a good cup of warm cocoa, there are still amongst the global celebrations the not so cutie faces that walk the streets day-in-day-out hoping for a warm bed. I am reminded of the exponential blessing that is my life. The reminder to be more mindful of those across my path be it next door or across the continents.
Canadian word of the day: loony is one dollar. toony is two dollar. Right, eh?
Well off to nap time to see if I can get rid of this ickle bug and hopefully get my voice back!
We awoke Sunday to worship in the church we're sleeping in! Having read about Gateway and reading their updates over the years, it was super to spend Sunday in worship with them. Gerda leads the worship team while Rick brings the message. Their kiddos are a delight as they serve along side their family.
We were accomanied with one other group from Texas and another fresh in from Maryland. Sharing two showers has become a lot like the loaves and fishes, it just seems to be enough for the crowds remarkably. Afer morning services, we gobbled down a sandwhich courtesty of the Barr sisters and made our way to the SkyTrain for our morning walk. Taking the train about 24 stops away, we spent the remainder of our Sunday training at Oakridge Adventist church learning about the More Than Gold organization that brought us to British Columbia bringing radical hospitality to the nations.
While there we had the photo-op to get a snapshot with one of the Olympic Torches; woohoo that's a rarity.