Sunday, 11 September 2011

Learning to ride a bike

Just so ya'll know I do know how to a ride a bike but I thought it fitting to use this line as this week has been full of learning opportunites.

Lesson #1: I actually had to relearn how to ride my bike a little bit. I was a little wobbly at first especially turning corners, gaining speed and letting other traffic know which direction I was going in. Thankfully Charlottetown has numerous quiet streets for me to practice on and when I came to busier streets I hopped off and like a coward walked my bike on the side walk. But hey, a coward today is hero alive tomorrow.

Lesson #2: PEI does church differenly. First of all if you are new EVERY BODY notices. Every where I turned there was another friendly face welcoming me. Also they serve coffee and goodies through out the service. So if you finish one cup you can quietly go grab another. The gentleman in front of me had 3 coffees in 2 hours. And you think I talk fast. After singing they have five minutes of mingling where people walk around to meet and greet and chat it up, over more coffee of course (I like how this church handles coffee). Offering, prayer and dismissing of children to sunday school is pretty standard. They have a moment in every service to lay hands over people who are ill, going on missions, or need extra prayer. I witnessed a prayer of healing for a gentleman on sunday. I believed the prayers were genuine and faithful but the man remained ill. I discovered I wasn't wrestling with the question of whether or not God wanted to heal him in that moment, but I was left pondering of where the line was between faith and cockiness. I also found that the service included a lot of things that may seem distracting to an Ontario congregation: children giggling, people engaging in quiet conversation even during the singing, people replenishing their coffee during the sermon etc. Back home this would not be acceptable. Church has to be structured to allow the Holy Spirit be be ushered in. But I wonder how many times we miss the blessing of fellowship when we are so focused on structuring the Holy Spirit.

Lesson #3: Don't wear a skirt to church when your mode of trasportation is a bike. A) It is difficult to get on ones bike. B) It is difficult to pedal. C) There is always the paranoia that you are giving people a free show even though your skirt is snuggly tucked under your behind. I was faced with this challenge and the thought did occure to me that I could run up stairs and change but that would make me late so I stomped my foot and said to myself, "If Hetty King can do it in a full length dress then I sure as hell can do it in a skirt!"

Lesson #4: Banana bread can mend a broken heart, solve world hunger, and bring world peace but it can't make the rain go away. However it does make it more tollerable. Try eating a warm slice of banana bread fresh out of the oven on a rainy day with your afternoon coffee and tell me there isn't a smile on your face.

Lesson #5: If you have asperations to be a pastry chef make sure you sign up for the class with Austrian instructors. Their accents alone are worth the tuition. Phrases like, "We are here to have fun and to learn while having fun," sound like a line from the Sound of Music when said with an Austian accent, for example, "Vee are here to haf fvun and to luurn vile hafing fvun." Also Canadians don't know how to pronounce the word 'chocolate' find an Austrian an he'll teach you the right way.

Lesson #6: Orientation is the same every where! There is something remarkable about the amount of energy faculty and staff can conjure up during orientation, and even more remarkable to see it all dissapear the day classes start. There is always a big welcoming event, usually held in a sports center, where all new frosh are hearded to like cattle and handed free things every where they turn. There is always that one guy at said event that is the loudest, most energetic, and will cheer at anything. He will stand up even if there is no cause for a standing ovation, clap his hands, scream as loud as he can, and shake his behind as if he were trying to fling off a leech. I had such a man at my orientation on Thursday, it was more fun watching him than the shenanigans on stage. And of course there is always free food, and as every good moneyless, hardworking student knows NEVER SAY NO TO FREE FOOD! Who cares if it tastes like cardboard.

Lesson #7: Check your alarm clock the night before to make sure your landlords cats haven't been playing with it and accidentaly turned the volume down so can't hear your alarm thus making you panic and throwing you into a mad dash to get to orientation on time.

Lesson #8: Double check the time on your orientation schedule to ensure that your event starts at 10:00am not 9:00am so that you can avoid future panics and mad dashes (see above lesson).

Lesson #9: People are stupid. So instead of wasting ear space listening to their stupidity excuse yourself politely and go for a nice long walk. Along the way you will bump into pleasant, spunky elderly ladies out for a morning speed walk.

Lesson #10: Smile at people while you are walking around. I did not realize how big of a snob I was until I took a self guided tour through the city one evening. In my defense I was afraid that if I seemed to chipper I would be a target for someone to take advantage of me, or I would look really foolish. But as I walked along, head slightly tucked and eyes shifting from sidewalk to scenery I heard a lovely voice say, "Hello." I looked and there was a woman sitting on her porch enjoying the evening air and passer bys and I realized, "I am so rude!" So I tossed my fear aside, lifted my head and gingerly said, "Hello," back. Now I smile at everyone and my evening walks are the highlight of my week.

Lesson #11: "I work well under pressure," is a lame excuse for procrastinating. The only things this line works for are diamonds.

Lesson #12: There is no occassion too dull or simple that God doesn't want to hear about. I often found myself spending my morning bike ride to school, or my walks shadowed in conversation with the Lord. I found that in talking with Him I saw need for prayer, and scenery for celebration. I could feel Him whisper peace, gentleness, and reassurance into my heart. The verse from Ephesians 6:18 became resonant in my heart this week. "Pray at all times and on every ocassion in the power of the Holy Spirit." God always wants to hear from you, no matter what state you are in.

Lesson #13: Reading a pastry dictionary in the park doesn't make it any less a dictionary.


  1. Joelle, you have such a gift with words! Thanks for sharing this. I feel so bittersweet--I love these experiences, but I do miss you so much. What a wonderful post (especially the part about Hetty King! Haha!) Keep them coming.

  2. Joelle, I especially like your last lesson. I can picture you in that park. I think PEI was made for you, or perhaps more appropriate... PEI is your bosom buddy.