travelling travelling

stranded in torontosometimes you read the news, and sometimes you live it. like for example the latest news about air travel over Christmas! Last night was the first time I actually got stuck anywhere because of air traffic; on our way to Moncton, my family and I got stuck in Canada’s busiest airport after our 8:00 flight was delayed, then cancelled, leaving us to wait for a flight at 11PM. I’ve got nothing to complain about, really; all we did was hang around at Pearson airport for a little while—I caught up on emails and my mom and sister strolled around doing a little shopping in the duty-free section. Some others didn’t have it quite so easy: others had been waiting in Toronto for up to three or four days waiting for a flight out. Many of the people sitting around us on the flight (once it finally came) had been waiting upwards of seven hours for a plane. I’m just glad I wasn’t trying to get to Vancouver or Halifax; it seems like both airports have been effectively shut down for the past week. Things were crazy enough, though, to have Westjet lose a piece of my mom’s luggage—chock full of Christmas presents, of course—during our transfer in Toronto; thankfully, they just called up to announce that they were able to track it down, and it should be arriving in Moncton overnight, for us to pick up in the morning. I have to say that, for a relatively inexpensive airline, I’ve been pretty happy with Westjet’s service. I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to try flying within Canada for sure.

OK, dinnertime now. No more time for travel stories. It’s time for turkey :3

vacationing in victoriaville

it’s not Cancun or the Dominican Republic, but I’m taking a short little vacation visiting my good friends Geneviève and Craig in Victoriaville, my old pioneer post. This place is amazing. Many of the locals are on vacation, so the neighbourhood is very quiet. Gen and Craig live in the foothills of a mountain, which means they can go outside and be greeted every day with a breath of fresh mountain air. Their water’s also pretty good – there’s a humble little “spring” not too far from their home that gives clean, fresh water… through a metal pipe stuck in the face of the mountain, no less. There’s a lovely river not very far where they tend to bring all their visitors to skip stones or, if it’s a particularly hot day, to swim. And my favourite – it’s only a quick drive up to the top of the mountain, where they can see all the way to the St. Lawrence River. I love this place. Whenever I return here, I’m reminded of the following quote from the book Baha’u’llah and the New Era: “Baha’u’llah loved the beauty and verdure of the country. One day He passed the remark: ‘I have not gazed on verdure for nine years. The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.’

back from a sweet weekend

glorious afternoon in victorandom update time. I peaced out for the Thanksgiving weekend (yup, Canadian Thanksgiving) and went to Victoriaville to visit Craig and Geneviève, two terribly good friends of mine from back when I went on a year of service there in 2002. it was great to get back together with them. we hung around, took care of their kids, and had some of our good old prayer sessions like back in the day. theirs is a musical family, so there was sweet harmony and soft chanting melody. I spent some of my time on the train ride to Drummondville studying parts of the long obligatory prayer—in an effort to finally memorize the whole thing—and said prayers on the bus from Drummondville to Victoriaville. It was sweet to have all that time to pray. it really took me far outside of the harried and somewhat obsessive-compulsive mental state I’d been cultivating for the past little while back in Ottawa. just quiet and honest reflection. on the train ride back from Drummondville, I got through two more chapters of The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh by Adib Taherzadeh. Deeply touching and at times heart-rending book to read—reading about the all crushing sorrows inflicted upon Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by the early Covenant-breakers is almost too much to take in one sitting. And I haven’t even gotten to the part about Shoghi Effendi yet. Anyway, I digress.

the weekend was an oddly productive one. I paid visits to and/or called up several other Baha’is in Victoriaville, and even stopped in to the Marché public to buy two bags of fresh local cranberries—which, in addition to the 2 kg bag of cranberries I ordered at work, should make some fine cranberry jam. I’ll blog the resulting jam session once it happens, with some recipes. hmm, I’m having cranberry flashbacks here.

fyi: i’m out

I’m off to Vancouver tomorrow (Christmas Day – merry christmas!) at 8AM to visit the Talebifards, previously of Ottawa. Then I’m off to Edmonton on the afternoon of the 27th for Misagh and Jamal’s wedding. On the morning of the 29th, after a night of revelry, I’ll be scooting off to Winnipeg, to visit France, Jessika and Patrick, formerly of Drummondville. Then, on New Year’s Day (cue Bono), I’ll be flying back to Ottawa, arriving in the afternoon, at around 1:30PM. Holla back and feel free to wish me bon voyage!

back in ottawa

yar har fiddle de deeoh ho ho ho I’m back in ottawa after my ten-day-long vacation. look out for photos to be posted gradually on my flickr site in the week (weeks!) to come. still pretty exhausted, and still almost feeling as if I’m still on vacation. a few days of slaving over a hot web queue should fix that up.

moncton was fun, restful and refreshing. the family reunion was a great occasion for me to renew ties with relatives I hadn’t seen in ten years – and to meet ones I didn’t even know I had. suddenly it’s like the whole family tree suddenly sprang to life. besides the reunion, we did a lot of hanging around on the beach – sunbathing, swimming, digging clams. we ate a lot of seafood, too. I gorged myself on fried clams (and paid for it dearly, with indigestion – whoops). there were a couple of lobster dinners too, as well as raw oysters and quahogs (yes, I ate raw seafood), and a nice seafood chowder/stew/thing c/o my aunt. there was lots of visiting during the week I was there – not long visits, but just enough to give you a taste of people’s company and make you want to keep up the contact. on the final day, I paid a visit to good friend Jinous Allard with my aunt, and we got the chance to chat and welcome her into her new home in riverview – across the petitcodiac river from moncton.

more soon – in the meantime, there are new pictures. also check out arash city, which has been experiencing record-breaking amounts of new content lately – the latest is a set of photos from Fern and Valentina’s corn roast over the weekend (also featuring arash’s vacation beard).

teaching trip wrap-up

Martin called today while on his way to a Teaching Committee meeting, asking how my trip went. I said it went well, and the wrap-up would be posted on my blog soon in case he wanted a full story. He said he didn’t want to have to read through my long posts, and would I please give him the abridged version. It went something like: “It was good, I went to Drummondville, then Victoriaville, met lots of folks, got caught up, helped out, and oh yeah, talked to a few people about Bahá’u’lláh.” So, if you’re looking for the short version, there it is, you can stop reading now – otherwise, keep reading.

Sunday morning, after a long day of hauling shingles around in the oppressive heat on top of the roof, I woke up to more crazy Shih Tzu tongue, more stomping around, and sounds of breakfast and pleasant socialization upstairs in the kitchen. I groggily eased myself out of bed and checked the time – #@%@*&, it’s not even 8:00!!! – and ambled headlong into a nice, refreshing shower. Today there was a different crew; Laurent stayed in Warwick for the day, and Chakda (Geneviève’s brother-in-law) was preparing for his thesis defense back in Sherbrooke. Instead, we had a slew of hefty, pure-laine Québécois neighbours from down the street helping us out, along with Benoît and Aurélien, a local Baha’i father-and-son team. Aurélien recently celebrated his 19th birthday; I gave him a copy of the Adam Crossley / Nine Point Landing CD I got at Unravel the Mysteries (I hope he likes it). Anyway, I hauled away and played gofer until around noon, when it was time for me to start packing up. Before leaving Victoriaville, though, I sat in on the 19-day Feast and told everybody stories of how Baha’i activities are doing in Ottawa, as well as showing them the pictures I took. It was beautiful. Victoriaville Feasts are small, to be sure, and a little disorganized compared to Ottawa Feasts. But that’s a temporary condition. It took over sixty years for Ottawa’s Baha’i community to grow to the point it’s at today. These folks are just setting out on their journey, and there’s a long road ahead of them, filled with divine confirmations just waiting to rain down on whoever puts their trust in Bahá’u’lláh and steps out into the arena of service.

One thing I learned during this trip is that progress can be slow, but it happens. While I was in Victoriaville pioneering my time pioneering (in case you’re wondering, that’s Baha’i shorthand for “going somewhere and staying for a period of time to help advance the progress of the Baha’i Faith”), everything seemed to go so slowly and I always wondered when things would finally get moving. I didn’t realize until now that things have been moving, in God’s time. Sometimes people do their very best to make things happen their own way, to convince others that theirs is the way to go, and so on – and meanwhile, God’s plan is in motion, setting things up in the background, making things happen slowly but surely, changing hearts one by one, a little at a time. We can either help that process or hinder it, but in the end, God’s will shall be done.

Going on this trip renewed my confidence. Bahá’u’lláh writes, “The source of courage and power is the promotion of the Word of God, and steadfastness in His Love.” It gave me courage to be able to tell people about His message for humanity. Sure, I didn’t do a perfect job of it, and I could have done more of it, more frequently, with more zeal and vigour, but I did what I could. I got to encourage a lot of my Bahá’í friends who were downhearted, and bring some light and joy into their lives. I got to be a “servant of the servants”. That meant a lot to me, and it made me feel like I was really making a difference. Beyond that, it just felt good to do – it felt right, like I was fulfilling my life’s purpose. That’s a great feeling. As well, going on this trip restored much of the confidence I lost after leaving Drummondville last year in the throes of a crushing depression. I felt the difference between then and now – and all the healing that’s come since last summer. I realized, I CAN do this. I CAN live my life in accordance with Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. I felt intensely thankful.

Sahba suggested to me that I could get some Ottawa youth together for a teaching trip in the Drummondville/Victoriaville area sometime, perhaps during the summer. That could be interesting… it’s not too far from Ottawa, it’d give people a chance to practice their French, and it’d be easy to hook up (since we already have an ‘in’ with those communities already)… even better would be to have some of the Baha’i youth visit one of the native reserves out that way. There’s a pow-wow in Odanak in the first week of July… sound interesting, anyone? Let me know and we’ll hook something up… I was already planning on going down there and joining in for a day. Inshallah.

Ok, Catherine’s going crazy on me so I think I’m gonna have to go. Otherwise she might start attacking my keyboard and making me type all sorts of random letters. So, in conclusion I wish you all a good night, a pleasse aof gseok okergk, gerso[,gas’; sagl,regs,erl’,reagr4eyhagy89a 98 earha r hearjae rjejraHBRRE%HYU%$