One year’s gifts unfolding!

This time last year I had just moved to Ottawa, the city that I continue to call ‘home’ for the next year.  I continue to carry a verse from Proverbs throughout the journey: "The human heart may plan a course but the Lord makes the steps secure".

Looking back there is so much to be grateful for. It has been a wonderful though challenging year! Here's 10 highlights:
1)    The birth of my little nephew Isaac on the first day of the Year of Faith! I am counting the days until I see him for the first time, and to see my beautiful nieces and nephews who are growing up so fast.
2)    Getting to know the sisters in the communities here in Canada and in the States. I continue to be grateful to them for making me feel very welcome.
3)    Making wonderful new friends and acquaintances from the four corners of the world. You have been true pilgrims with me along the way.
4)    Discovering  new things about myself and my personality which I am called to welcome as a gift from God.
5)    Having the opportunity to study a subject that I really like at a post-graduate level and eventually go home to work in this field.
6)    A bounty of the senses every time I go for a walk: Ottawa is a beautiful city. Or visiting the falls at Hog's Back or the breath-taking Niagara Falls.
7)    The Tulip Festival was just food for the soul. Who could not be moved by the beauty of one million colourful tulips!?
8)    Walking in the snow with friends, watching it glisten, then going for hot chocolate before we froze and got hypothermia! Or shuffling along on the frozen canal eating ‘Beavertails’!
9)    Hanging out in the ice-cream parlour, yes, the one which has rose-petal flavoured ice-cream and celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Oh, celebrating my birthday, it's a long time since I did that!
10)    Learning lots of French, Spanish and Latin!
There are lots more to add to this list...God is good. 

Arriving in Canada, 27th of August 2012

10 things that still require time to get used to:
1)    Being away from community life, the discipline and the schedule! However, we do have our little ‘community’ here which is a very different experience altogether but we look out for each other and eat, pray, attend lectures, study and socialise together!
2)    The weather! Today is 29 degrees, humidity makes it feel even higher. However I am not complaining because in 8 weeks or so, the snow will be just around the corner if it hasn’t already arrived. Temperatures can range from 33° C  in summer to –40° C  in winter.  Ottawa is the seventh coldest capital in the world. Others that are colder include in order of coldest first are Ulaan-Baatar in Mongolia, Astana in Kazakhastan, Moscow, Russia, Helsinki in Finland, Reykjavik, Iceland and Tallin in Estonia.
3)    Cars driving on the other side of the road and me trying to cross the road! I can still hear ‘Sister, look right, look right!’ I also on many occasions have gone for the ‘drivers’ side and not the ‘passenger’ side. I don’t drive, by the way. Well, not yet, we’ll see!
4)    People asking me if I am British or people who can tell I am Irish and proceed to ask about the IRA, the situation in the North etc.
5)    The amount of squirrels running around the place (outside, obviously!).
6)    Doing the whole student thing, exams, papers, deadlines  at this age! I ain’t 18 anymore, I tell you!
7)    Time zones! Coming up after supper and all my family, community and friends in Europe and elsewhere are already in bed. It’s a good incentive to study though.
8)    Being very much in the minority as a female, here in the house and in our classes. It’s a Smurfette feeling at times.
9)    Homesickness.Enough said.
10)    Buying ‘Cadburys’ chocolate to discover it doesn’t taste a bit like Cadburys!

Other random bits of information about Canada:

1)Canada is the second largest country in the world however Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world, with only three people living per square kilometer! Almost half of the population in Canada were born in other countries.
2) Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world at 243,977 kilometers – 151,600 miles.
3) Canadians can deduct a number of things from their tax software, but I bet you didn’t know that dog food is tax-deductible in Canada.
4) Canadians like to finish a sentence with the word eh.
5) If you want to make an American smile, ask a Canadian to say 'out and about'. It works every time. Just so you know, it sounds like 'oot and aboot', think of a Highland Scottish accent.
6) Canadian inventions include the game Trivial Pursuit.
7) There are more doughnut shops in Canada per capita than any other country.
8) The license plate for cars, motorbikes and snowmobiles in Nunavut is in the shape of a polar bear.
9) The Rideau Canal in Ottawa, A UNESCO world heritage site, has the world’s longest skating rink in the winter
10) Thirty two percent of Canadians are very happy, 55% are quite happy.
And on that 'happy' note, here’s to another year! Please keep me in your prayers as I do you.  I’m so
thankful to anyone who has read, commented or shared this little blog. For God's glory, eh!!!