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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Study in Canada: Confirmation and Surprises

Lugging my baggage over to the cart, I carefully stacked the bags and boxes. A young man named Chris came over to take charge of the cart as soon as he caught sight of me. “Thanks so much for your help. It’s my first time here and I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to figure things out.”

“No problem. At the start of a new school year, this is my job. I don’t mind, really. When is your friend coming in?”

“Cheryl’s plane is to land at four o’clock. She said that someone would be meeting her. Is that someone you?”

Slipping behind the wheel, Chris responded with a smile. “Sure is! Four o’clock, you say? Okay. I’ll take you home with me first and we can wait for her arrival time there. Mum will want to meet you.”

His words surprised me. Chris had been asked to drop us off at the home where Cheryl and I had made boarding arrangements. To facilitate his schedule, he’d wait until Cheryl arrived to take me there. Okay, no problem. Home to Mum, eh?

“Mum, here is one of the new students, Sojourner.” A delightfully warm, very British lady presented her hand.

“How lovely to meet you, dear. Come sit in the parlor and make yourself at home. Chris, show our guest to the parlor, will you?”

Taking my elbow, Chris moved me forward. I looked at my watch as the time to fetch Cheryl approached. I didn’t want her to think I’d not remembered to tell him the time her plane landed. “Okay, well, do we have time to sit down for a bit?”

“Oh yes, we do; it won’t be long. Mum needs to greet you properly, you know.”

The parlor was beautifully decorated, yet had the homey feeling one loves in a room welcoming guests. Before long, Mrs. H. called for her son. “Chris, dear, come take the tray. The tea’s nearly ready.”

“Tea? Uh, we don’t really have time for tea, do we? It’s ten minutes to four.”

Chris smiled and tried to relieve my anxiety. “That’s exactly it; it’s almost four o’clock. You’ll get used to it; that’s tea time, you know. The world stops for tea at four; or at least, it does here. Your friend will wait for us. We won’t be long over the tea.”

Chris was right on both counts: the world in his home stopped for tea at four, and we wouldn’t be long drinking it. Imagine my total surprise when, through the conversation with the lady of the house, I discovered that I was having tea with the wife of the President of the school, in their home! It was their son acting as the pick-up man for new students. Mrs. H. couldn’t have been friendlier; I felt right at home with her, in spite of her position.

Shortly after drinking the tea and woofing down the biscuits, she urged us to go to the airport, without delay, to get Cheryl. I had to smile that she had, in no way, seen the partaking of tea and biscuits a delay. Truly, it is a good practice and we would do well to stop our hectic afternoon pace for a bit of refreshment, as a regular part of our day. Our British and European friends have a super idea there. Of course, I didn’t think so at that time; I just worried that Cheryl might think we weren’t coming.

With Cheryl safely onboard, we left for our new lodgings. The lady of the house was a friendly, middle-aged woman. The handsome Swedish lady showed us to our rooms; we’d discuss food likes and dislikes once we unpacked. Our gear was in all the appropriate drawers or on hangers in our closets, when the call to supper rang out from the kitchen below. Meatballs, of course. My, but they were excellent!

The circuitous route of the local bus, made our trip to school the next morning last one hour, followed by a hike across campus. There was only one bus stop on campus, centrally located, whereas our class building was on the far border of the university. A bit of a hike, or a run if the bus happened to be late that morning.

“Hello. My name is Ruth. I believe I talked with you over the phone when first you made inquiry of our program. Welcome, Sojourner.” Her lovely face bore a broad smile, as she extended her hand over the countertop in the reception area.

“Yes, thanks. Everyone is very friendly here. Uh, I have a bit of a problem. You see, I have always worked my way through school and planned to do that here. I didn’t know until the Immigration Officer at the border said it was not possible for me to work in Canada. Is that really true?”

“Yes, I’m afraid it is, dear. Oh my, well, I’ve seen the Lord do marvelous things to provide in the past; no reason He won’t provide for you here.”

“Well, er, I kinda thought He would provide a job and that would be the way He provided for me, but—“ Ruth gave a little chuckle and her smile grew even wider.

“Oh, Sojourner, but God has more ways than a job to provide for you. I assure you, dear, if God wants you here, He’ll take care of everything. You just settle yourself into studying. He is faithful to do His part; you be faithful to do yours.”

“But, what should I do about my fees? I’ve only paid for this semester.”

“Then, worry about the next semester when the time comes. Do you have enough money for food?”

“Yes, for this month. I am in a board and room situation and have paid this month already.”

“Good. I see you have the books you need there in your hands, so you’re all set then. Sojourner, when it is nearer to the end of the month, comes see me and we’ll pray for the Lord to provide for your next month, okay? Don’t worry; God will take care of you.”

When two students came through the door, Ruth glanced over, giving them a nod. “Okay, is there anything else, Sojourner? If not, let me introduce you to these two students. They’re second-year, but you’ll be seeing them around these halls.”

Following the introductions and their cordial greetings, I left for the Student Commons to find Cheryl. I, probably, resembled a deer caught in the headlights of a car, as I strolled down the corridor, reviewing the conversation I’d just had with Ruth. I had expected to be handed student loan application forms or some such thing. To be encouraged to let God provide for me and to be offered prayer had never even entered my mind! What kind of academic establishment was this? I sensed I would be learning important life principles and practices here, alongside the Greek, Hebrew, Exegesis and Hermeneutics!

****Study in Canada: Timely Provisions…Next Post

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