Posted by: Chris Hoskins | July 2, 2009

Canada!

Having missed Canada day yesterday (but thanks to my dodgy computer calendar only realizing that after making ‘Happy Canada Day’ my facebook status I thought this would be a good time to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for ages!.

Those of you who know me, know that I have something of a love affair going on with Canada! I can’t get enough of the country. Before I start rambling, let me start at the beginning of it all!

I first visited Canada in July 2002 for the 17th Roman Catholic World Youth Day. This was an awesome 2 weeks. On the one hand, it marked the first major trip I’d ever taken outside the UK (apart form a day trip to Paris with my parents), it also marked my first time flying. I was there with a group from the Church of Scotland, 27 (I think) Protestant Pilgrims amongst 800,000 RC pilgrims. The CofS group was fantastic, unfortunately I don’t keep in touch with that many of the folks who were on the trip as often as I’d like to, but at the time of the trip some of the folk there were my closest friends: Yin Lee and Colin Hyslop.
Here’s a picture of the whole (I think) CofS group in RHPC:

CofS Pilgrims in RHPC

CofS Pilgrims in RHPC


Those 2 weeks were spent exploring Toronto and greater Toronto: highlights being Niagara Falls, Canada’s Wonderland, meeting and staying with Vivian, Kevin, Olivia and Ceilea, meeting the Nigra family, the final mass at Downsview and my falling in love with Canada!
Colin, Rachel and I in Downsiew

Colin, Rachel and I in Downsiew


Part of the crowd at Downsview

Part of the crowd at Downsview


I could write for ages about the WYD trip, but I’ll need to come back another time to do that, I want to talk about Canada and my experiences as a whole just now.
After this first trip to Canada, I had an incredible urge to go back, I really wanted to go back and spend more time with the awesome people I met the first time, but there was also something about the country that made me (and still makes me) well up with passion from my gut. I know that probably sounds crazy to a lot of you, but there’s no other way to describe it. When I first felt it, I just assumed it was down to the great time I had when I was there for WYD.
As time went on after the trip, I spent more and more time chatting to my new friends and emailing them. I knew I was going to go back, I just had to figure out arrangements. As it happened, I went back the following April (2003) with my good friend Calum Wilson. Everyone knew I was coming, but only the parents of the families we were staying with knew Calum was coming, which was a nice surprise for them all! I managed to embarrass myself immediately by calling ‘shotgun’ at the same time as forgetting about Canadians driving on the other side of the road and so ran to the drivers seat, whoops! As well as being a trip to visit our friends, we were in Canada to celebrate Olivia Shins 16th birthday with her and Lindsey Nigra’s 19th brthday with her. Both celebrations were great fun (apart from some Scottish idiocy from us!). The first week (the last week in March) was glorious sunshine, whereas the 2nd week was cold and very snowy! Particular highlights of that trip were: getting my tattoo, Olivia’s 16th party, Lindsey’s 19th party, RHPC’s spaghetti dinner.
Again, I could write for ages about that trip, but I’ll revisit it another day.
When I came back from this trip, I had such a strong longing to be back in Canada. Such a strong passion whenever I thought of the country. It was at this point I started thinking that perhaps God was calling me to Canada. For a few weeks this played on my mind daily. Was it God? Was it me imagining things? Was it just that I’d had 4 great weeks in Canada with great people?
A few weeks after getting home I was at Spring Harvest with some friends. During one of the evening sessions the speaker, Tré Sheppard was speaking about calling, specifically where has God called you to minister. He was quite good in that he made the point that not every Christian is called to go on mission in Africa, as he saw many do. He didn’t see this as a bad thing to do, but he also didn’t see it as a bad thing to be called to a ‘developed’ country on missions. As he was speaking, I was prying constantly in my head: ‘God, am I called to Canada? Is that where I’m meant to go? I’m so confused, make it clear for me!’. For 30 minutes I prayed and listened, and heard nothing. i wasn’t that frustrated though, you often hear of people praying for years without answer! How Tré ended his talk truly shocked, scared and excited me though. His last line was this: ‘It doesn’t matter if you are called to Africa, or to….(long pause as he thought) ..Canada, what is important is that you follow Gods call’. What was I supposed to do with that!? What could I assume except that God had given me a timely answer? I approached Tré the next day and asked him why he had chosen to say Canada at that moment? His only answer was that it was the first developed nation that popped into his head as he thought. He wasn’t really sure why, and as he comes from one of the southern states in the US it wasn’t because he was thinking of home!
Ever since then, I’ve been of no doubt that I’m called to, one day, move to Canada and be involved in some form of ministry there. It’s quite exciting! What makes it even more exciting is the fact that Linda, my wife, is open to the idea too!
Since that evening at Spring Harvest, I have returned to Canada only the once, in the August of 2003. There were 2 reasons for originally going, and one bonus reason! The 2 original reason was for my friend Crystals wedding and to attend Canada Youth 2003, the bonus event was going to a Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football game.
Crystals wedding was great, her and Joe looked great and looked so happy! It was a gorgeous, sunny day out in the more ‘rural’ part of Ontario (to the west of Toronto, I think). Everyone seemed to have a great time and were all really happy for them both!
The football game was awesome, Canadian football is slightly different to Amercian Football, if you’re really interested you’ll read up on it yourself! Toronto, who I was supporting, were narrowly beaten by Edmonton. But that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the game!
Canada Youth was an awesome event, I’ll share some highlight, but again I’ll need to return to do it justice! I met so many more awesome people there. The great thing about everyone I’ve ever met in Canada is how welcoming and accepting they have been of me. At CY03, the folks i hung around with most of the time were already a pretty tight group, yet the accepted me straight in and treated me as part of the group. I’ve never felt so welcome in my life! Moments of note from CY03: random girl realizing i was ACTUALLY from Scotland and screaming scarily loud, the thunderstorm (awesome!), the Seiché, mealtimes, there are to many just to blandly list them!!!!!
Here are a couple of videos about Canada Youth, the first is a teaser promo video for this years event (if you watch closely, you’ll spot me, albeit a very young looking me!) the second is a worship version of the proclaimers song ‘500 miles’.


Thats enough of a wee ramble from me, except for this: I won’t ever try and convince anyone how awesome Canada is (apart from Linda!). I don’t expect everyone to feel what I feel for Canada. It’s hard to describe what I feel for Canada. An intense passion, a strong love. Whenever I’ve been there, including the very first time, I’ve felt at home. Canada is, to some extent, is home for me. I can’t really explain why, or expect people to understand. Thats ok, tey just have to accept that’s how I feel about it!
Peace out
Chris

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