While living in Alaska, as a Canadian I often felt culturally alone.
Though struggling, I continued with my calling; trying to depend on God to comfort me in times of loneliness. Thankfully, he placed a Canadian friend into my life, whose home would become my Canadian oasis.
I was not the only Canadian in Alaska. I ended up meeting a few of them while I was serving there. For anyone who has spent an extended amount of time in another country; you will know the great joy that comes from meeting one of your countrymen.
Back home, perhaps you never would have been friends. However, now that you have met abroad, there is a kinship that is really inexplicable.
I remember the first time I visited the local Christian school. I was looking for places to serve outside of the church and the school’s soccer team was in need of an assistant coach. Before serving, I had to go through some preliminary steps, one of which was a meeting with the principal.
Obviously, the fact that I was Canadian came up early on in the conversation.
Then in passing, she mentioned that one of her faculty was Canadian. When I finally met this staff member, I found out that she not only was from the same province that I grew up in, but the same city! Furthermore, she went to the same high school that I did, only graduating some years previous. It’s a small world!
There is one friend whom I owe a great many thanks to. He had moved to Alaska from Vancouver some years previous, after meeting his bride-to-be on a Christian dating site. He not only went to the church I was serving at; but he and his wife also had a child the youth group.
Almost weekly, he would pull me aside and ask “How you doin’ man?” This likely has no significance within typical conversations; but when he asked, he meant it! Furthermore, he and his wife would often open their home to our family.
As soon as we entered, the Tim Horton’s coffee was pulled out of the cupboard. As he scooped the grinds into the coffee maker, he’d always turn to me and quote, “Tim Horton’s – Always Fresh.” Sometimes I wondered if I came over just to hear that little sales slogan.
Soon enough, Canadian topics and current events were being discussed and debated. Meanwhile, his wife poured herself into serving my wife and children. Not only through hospitality, but also through purposefully engaging in how my wife was doing. It felt like home.
Other than Canadian banter, this friend was constantly checking in to see that I was encouraged and that life was moving along well. As the oldest in my family, I’m unfamiliar with what it feels like to have an older brother. I imagined, that perhaps this is what it feels like.
It felt like he and I were like-minded in so many ways.
Due to the cultural connection we had through both being Canadian, he was able to understand some of the struggles that I was going through. He also helped in bridging the gap between myself and the Alaskan-American mindset that I was struggling to understand.
He was pivotal to my success in Alaska and I will never forget that. Both he and his wife were great friends and a constant encouragement to my wife and I. We miss them very much.
What are the benefits of finding a Canadian friend?