(See yesterday’s post recapping Friday’s adventures)
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Saturday morning we were meeting at the church building at 9:30am and our lovely friend who was letting us stay at her house baked us fresh cinnamon buns and scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. It was DELICIOUS! Well except for the bacon. I realize this is a bit taboo, but I don’t like bacon. Sorry. I just tell people, all the more bacon is left for them!!
We made our way to the building and got ready to go out. We were going to go to some of the local schools and do prayer walks around outside. We made up three groups with the three families we were working with and went to two schools each and prayed over the buildings and the students and teachers who go there.
After that we headed back to the church building (keep in mind, everything in this town is pretty much within five minutes of everything else so though it may sound like a lot of back-and-forthing, it really wasn’t). Once regrouped, we sorted through some old tracks to try and salvage some because we were going to the local mall to offer to pray for people. In the end though I think most of us decided to just pray and not hand out the tracks, they were just a little toooooo old. The mall unfortunately was preeeeeetty dead. Like, not counting store employees, the eight of us nearly doubled the number of people in the mall. Okay, possibly a slight exaggeration, but seriously, I’ve never seen that few people in a “mall” ever and I work retail. Apparently Saturdays are often like that, very slow because most people are sleeping off hangovers or just sleeping in. So we prayed for those that were willing out of those that were there and then we had lunch in the food court. I should, perhaps, describe the size of this mall. This mall had under a dozen stores, one of which was a grocery store, and three non-chain restaurants made up the food court. It was very small… But, hey, it had the necessities, which is all that’s important: there was a Timmies beside the mall!
After lunch we drove about an hour out of town into the reserve and eventually into Saskatchewan and went to Sturgeon Landing, which is a teeny, tiny community of about 80 people. It’s incredibly run down and we were told that the vast majority of the people who live there are alcoholics and/or huffers. It was like going to a ghost town. I counted the number of people I saw, 8 through windows, three outside (one of which was a child and one of which was obviously very intoxicated staggering along the road). We were there around three or four in the afternoon and saw eleven people. It was the most bizarre experience.
Sturgeon Landing Swinging Bridge
View off of the Sturgeon Landing swinging bridge
Sturgeon Landing also has a swinging bridge that we went across so that was some nice light fun. On the other side however, there used to be a Residential School. For those not familiar with residential schools, starting around the 1870’s, the Canadian government partnered with Anglican, Catholic, United, and Presbyterians churches to start up boarding and residential schools for Aboriginal children with the idea of fully integrating them into Canadian culture (by force basically) Attendance at these schools was mandatory for all aboriginal children and over 150,000 children (some as young as 4 years old) were sent through them. Many were forcibly taken from their homes and families and forced to attend these English schools where their own culture and languages were now banned. In many cases the school authorities and religious leaders abused the children both sexually and physically. The last residential school in Canada closed down in 1996. I was alive when the last of these horrific schools closed down. For many people this is still an issue that hits very close to home and this abuse of by the white man has not been forgiven in many cases. Sturgeon Landing is one of those places. On a previous outreach run by our friends pastoring up there they brought transportable soccer nets and soccer balls up and began to play around, trying to get the kids to come play too. Some did, but one girl in particular who couldn’t have been more than eight years old refused to come play because she wouldn’t “play with a blue-eyed white boy” (one our friend’s sons who is about five years old). Racism is still very much alive up there and though many, if not most people are friendly and welcoming, there are still many people smarting from the wounds inflicted in past years.
That was a bit of a side note, but it gives you some background on the kind of environment we were heading into.
Before we left Sturgeon Landing we decided to walk through the community and pray for them, and if we met up with anyone we’d see if they’d let us pray for them in person. We saw a couple people through windows (included in the above count) and sometimes got a chance to briefly chat through a window but one house we passed, my friend saw someone in the window and walked up to go say hi. They opened the door and she started up a conversation, kind of explained what we were doing (going around praying, would she like any prayer? etc). The woman said yes, they would like some prayer and invited my friend in. She called over our friend (the pastor) and his wife and one of the guys who was with us (a fellow intern), and the four of them went inside to go pray.
So the rest of us were left outside. There were five children under age eight with us, and about seven adults just kind of standing around outside this house. I’m sure most of us were praying for the four inside but as I saw the kids getting restless I started to get a little anxious. When I’m anxious I can get slightly controlling so basically I started parenting the children… Thankfully I don’t think their parents noticed/minded (I do hope I wasn’t being rude by acting like I was parenting their children… I know it was unnecessary but it was my immediate coping mechanism…) I went full on babysitter and attempted to round those children up. It didn’t really work… I was holding one, and another was being held by someone else so that accounted for two, but left five running around after the “neighbourhood” puppies (all quite dirty, but friendly and safe enough). I started getting more freaked out when I saw a male figure walking from where we’d left our vehicles and coming towards us. I was beginning to think of all the things that could have been done to our cars that would prevent us from being able to leave and praying like crazy. He took a different path before reaching us. Sigh of relief. A few minutes later another man comes from the same area. This time he was obviously heavily intoxicated, staggering back and forth across the road, weaving towards us. I was probably over seventy-five percent sure we were going to get yelled at and beginning to think we might be attacked and that I might die then and there. Soooooo I prayed some more! (I’m sure everyone else was too!). Like the first fellow, this guy also veered off the road before reaching us, heading towards a different house. Soon after, our friends came out from the house we were waiting t and we began to head back to our vehicles.
The vehicles were totally fine, no one had touched them. Our friend were totally fine, the people inside had been super nice to them (I almost feeling they were safer inside than we were outside), and no one confronted us. I had allowed fear to get in my head and hadn’t been trusting God to protect us.
I have done outreaches like this before (not to this extreme, but similar type) and I often begin to panic and mentally discover all the ways I could be colourfully murdered. It’s a problem. It’s a lack of trust and it’s allowing myself to get foolishly worked up about very unlikely situations about which I have nothing to base my fear on other than more fear. I feel that this year I will have plenty more opportunities to worked on this. (See, putting a positive spin on it. Opportunity to learn…)
We then drove back to the church building in The Pas and had another potluck dinner with some of the other members of their church and then (busy day, Saturday was!) The five of us interns (four of us are in the program I’m in and one is interning directly under our church’s’ head pastor) and one of the couples we’re friends with out there, went to a young adults evening worship night/house group. We got to speak to them about internship and mentoring and why we felt it was important etc and it was really fun! That was probably my highlight of the trip getting to hang out and chat with all those young adults and just see how passionate about God they are and how excited they are about what He’s doing and what He’s going to do in their town! I’m really glad we got to meet and hang out with them.
Then we headed back to the houses we were staying at and went to bed. It was an eyeopening day, especially heading to Sturgeon Landing. It’s shocking to see those kind of cut-off communities exist, especially in Canada, and how very different people and places can be living just an hour away from each other. A very busy day, but a good one!
Tomorrow, Sunday summary!
By the way, today is my 20th birthday and I feel kind of strange. I feel like now I’m a proper adult and have to start behaving all grown up… I’m not sure what I think of this.
I had a really nice day though! My friend in the intership decorated our classroom with balloons and got me a cake and my roommate ran out to the store while I was in the shower this morning so I wouldn’t notice she was gon a bought me a fancy croissant for breakfast and she got me a really nice used copy of Our Mutual Friend from 1923 and, and, and, and *melts* MY FRIIIIIEEEEEENNNNNDSSSSSSS…. They win.