A Special Reunion Trip in Manitoba

I finished my education at Providence College which is a Christian college in a small town called Otterburne in Manitoba, Canada. I got a 3 year Bachelor of Arts degree in Intercultural studies and also my TESOL (Teaching English to other Speaking Languages) certificate at Providence College but I was only there for a year and a half (September 2002 to December 2003) because I was able to transfer credits from the previous schoolsCollege Logo Colour I went to. I never planned or thought of finishing my education in Manitoba but when God opened up the doors for me to go I knew it was God’s plan.

My time in Manitoba was not only a very meaningful time for me to finish my education but also the friendships I made and the people I met there were very special as well. I truly believe in my heart that there are friends God brings into your life for a season whether it is for a short or a long time and then there are those lifelong friends that are such a blessing and a treasure to have. The lifelong friends we may not necessary keep in touch very often or there may be a distance between us but when you reconnect with each other it’s like you just pick up from where you left off from the last time you connected with each other.

I met my friend Erin at Providence College in the fall of 2002 when we worked in the kitchen together for our student jobs we had.  We enjoyed some good laughs as we worked together and did various cleaning tasks in the kitchen. Erin is one of those

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Erin and I at The Forks in Winnipeg

lifelong friends God has brought into my life when we met at college even though we haven’t seen each other since I graduated from college our friendship has been a real blessing from God over the years since we have known each other.

During the year and a half I was in Manitoba for college I am very thankful for all of the great memories Erin and I had shared while we were at school together. It has been quite a while since we were at college so I won’t be able to share all of the memories we had shared during that time but I would like to write about some of the ones that stick out the most. One of the things I will never forget that I love about Erin is her hugs, her smile and also the joy that radiances out of her. Here are some of my other memories that stick out during the time we went to school together.

The very first time Erin and I had met was at the back of the kitchen where we were cutting up boxes when we worked in the kitchen together for our student jobs during our first year of college. We also worked alongside Ray who was an international student from China. There was one time Ray had invited us over to watch a suspenseful movie which is when they were both pretty surprised how involved I get into movies!

We spent a lot of time with the international students when were at college together. We

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My speaking partner Jae won

both had speaking partners who were learning English as a second language. I had a student from South Korea. Jae Won was my speaking partner which was a real blessing as I did my TESOL during that time and later on we even got to meet again when I taught English in South Korea.

One of the events we did with the international students was when we went ice skating at The Forks in Winnipeg which was a lot of fun even though it was in the freezing cold weather of -30c degrees. We were also involved with other events as well like when we helped out with the Missions Encounter weekend.

Erin and I stayed in the same dorm in the fall of 2003, which was my third and last semester at Providence College. The name of the dorm we stayed at was called “Upper Cundy”. I am so grateful that I went to a Christian Bible college because it was a real blessing there wasn’t any partying or anything like that but we did have some really

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Our dorm we stayed at

great memories with all of the girls in the dorm when we hung out together, celebrated birthdays and had some devotional times together where we encouraged and prayed for each other. Kyung Jin was my roommate who was an international student from South Korea. Two friends we often hung out in our dorm were Jen and Mary.

One crazy college memory I had that Erin recently reminded me of was when we had a missions’ conference and the speaker we had singled me out to crowd surf. If I remember correctly I think I spoke to him about how I

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Erin, Jenn and I

desire to overcome my fears so I guess he got the idea of me conquering it by joining in the crowd surfing he did during one of our sessions. I totally didn’t want to do it but I felt like I got singled out as everyone’s eyes were on me so I had no choice to say no. I ended up doing it but I have to admit I felt pretty embarrassed when I got singled out!

There were many times when I was at college that I had missed my family so it was definitely a blessing from God of how Erin’s parents Larry and Vivian had adopted me as their “daughter” and welcomed me into their family during the time I was in Manitoba for college. In the fall of 2003, I was able to spend Thanksgiving weekend with Erin and her parents which was really nice to spend the holiday with them. Erin and her parents had a good laugh when we were in the car and I said out loud “There are hills in Manitoba!” It was a real blessing to be able to see Erin’s Mom get water baptized and she even gave me a real special surprise when she requested a song for my birthday on the Christian radio station we often listened to.

I am incredibility grateful that I was able to return to Manitoba in April 2004, for my

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My Dad, Nana, Erin, my brother Jonathan and I.

graduation with not only my parents, my brother Jonathan but also my Grandma from the States and my Nana as well. When I went to Providence College to get my TESOL certificate it was actually my second time to get it because unfortunately the first time I wasn’t very successful to complete it however God had a different plan and He taught me a very valuable lesson to keep going forward even if there may be people to question you along the way in your journey of what God is calling you to do.

My heart is filled with so much gratitude of how Providence College was such an important piece of the puzzle in my journey God had created me and called me to. My graduation was such a defining moment in my life as I saw the faithfulness of how God had brought to completion this season in my life. I am also incredibility grateful for God giving me Catherine, my TESOL professor who believed in me and saw potential in me of what God was calling me to do which is to teach English as part of the ministry as I serve God as a missionary overseas.

It definitely was a real blessing from God to not only return to Manitoba for my graduation with my family but also to be able to celebrate it with my friend Erin and her parents as well. I loved how God had worked everything out for us to be reunited again IMG_1610for my graduation weekend. It was such a joy to be able to see Erin and her parents who pretty much adopted me as their “daughter”. We also had a lot of fun spending some really great quality time together when we ate dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant and going to The Forks in Winnipeg too.

My graduation weekend in Manitoba was the last time I saw Erin and her parents but I am very thankful that we were able to still stay in touch over the years and we never lost contact with each other. I honestly never knew that I would be able to see Erin again because there are always people who come and go in our lives and you don’t really know if you will see them again which happens a lot especially when you are in missions, though you do hope you will see each other again one day in the future.

At the beginning of the year 2017, Erin told me that her boyfriend proposed to her and she was engaged to be married to Richard who she met through her teaching job. I was extremely happy for Erin when she told me about her engagement and I got an invitation to her wedding which was on July 15, 2017 but unfortunately it was a kind of complicated to fly there for the wedding because of the transportation. I felt really bad that I wasn’t able to go to Erin’s wedding because I really did want to be a part of her special day and especially to be able to see her again after so many years too. I did tell Erin that I will try to visit her and Richard in the future once they are settled, though at that time I had no idea when that would be.

On April 9, 2018, I decided to send Erin a spontaneous message on Facebook to tell her that I had been thinking of her and asked her about the possibility of me visiting her if I could find a cheap plane ticket. When Erin got my message she seemed pretty excited

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Reunion picture of us at the airport

about this spontaneous decision I had made and I am not a person who usually makes spontaneous decisions at all but I am so glad that I did! After Erin spoke to Richard about my potential trip we finally figure out when would be the best time for me to visit and I went ahead and bought my plane ticket on April 18th.

After 14 years since Erin and I last saw each I boarded the plane in Toronto on June 28, 2018 early in the morning and flew to Winnipeg at 6:30am for a very special reunion trip. I had a very early morning because I had to check in 90 minutes before my flight departed which was at 5:00am plus before that I needed to get to the Toronto airport so I was quite exhausted but it was definitely worth the trip!  I flew with West Jet airlines, I had a good flight even though it was delayed around 20 minutes and I arrived in Winnipeg at 8:30am.

I don’t know if I can possibility put into words how excited I was to finally see my friend

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Enjoying breakfast together

Erin again after 14 years since the last time we saw each other! When I arrived and we saw each at the Winnipeg airport we gave each other a big hug and quickly took a reunion picture. It was really great to also finally meet Richard who is now her husband. It was definitely a moment of joy for all of us when we were together at the airport! After I arrived we went to Perkins restaurant to have a delicious breakfast before our long 3.5 hour drive to Dauphin which is where Erin and Richard live.

My time in Manitoba was extremely busy and packed with tons of things we did together because it was short trip but a really great one! God gave me a lot of unexpected surprises during this trip which completely blew me away with how God loves us to bless us in so many tangible ways. The weather was amazing during my time in Manitoba. I felt very blessed by God with all of Richard and Erin’s incredible hospitality and amazing servant’s hearts they both had during my time with them. It was really great to have my own room during my time there especially to spend some time with God as well.

On Friday June 29th , it was really great that Erin and I were able to spend lots of one on

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Erin and Richard

one time together just catching up as we went for walks, doing some weeding together outside their house and hanging out at their house. Richard is a Pastor at their church so they took me to their church and showed me around which was really great to see the church. In the afternoon we enjoyed ice cream or tried to as it melted extremely fast! For dinner we ate a delicious BBQ that Richard cooked at home and later in the evening we watched the movie called Wonder.

On Saturday June 30th, Richard and Erin took me to Riding Mountain National Park and Clear Lake which is just around a 10 minute drive from where they live. When we went to Riding Mountain it was definitely a really special experience for me because it was absolutely beautiful there and now I can honestly say I have changed my perspective of Manitoba because my previous experience in the 20180630_125129province was the flat prairie land. I honestly had no idea that Manitoba had such beautiful lakes, hills and a mountain terrain.  I am so glad that Richard and Erin helped changed my perspective and helped me to see the beauty of Manitoba.

Our day at Riding Mountain was really great and lots of fun too.  I was quite amazed to see how full the park was with tourists especially all of the campers from the States. The park was absolutely beautiful to explore and enjoy for the day. We went to this bison look out place where we had hoped to see some bison nearby. When we were there this lady told us she saw one off in the distance we did see it but it was too far for a good picture so we decided to get back in the car and continue on.

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We saw a herd of bison!

Shortly after we all got back in the car God gave us a much unexpected surprise because we saw around 30 bison in the field including young babies too! It was just incredible to see a herd of bison in Manitoba! We also enjoyed eating gelato ice cream, sharing a big beaver tail and a BBQ for dinner.

On Sunday July 1st, we had a nice relaxing day. In the morning we went to church. It was really nice to go to a service where Richard is a Pastor at, meet people there, worship along other Christians and hear Richard preach as well. They are a part of a great community small church. After church we all went out for lunch and the rest of the

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Celebrating Canada Day in Manitoba

afternoon we hung out at their house. In the evening we went to Mountain View Christian Assembly church to enjoy some fireworks for Canada Day. It was a lot of fun to celebrate Canada Day with Erin and Richard especially that we had these fun head bands with Canadian flags and glow sticks to celebrate the holiday.

On Monday July 2nd, it was my last full day in Manitoba. We had a relaxing day just hanging out at their house. It was a real blessing to be able to spend a lot of quality time with Erin just catching up and encouraging each other.  Erin and Richard told me that we will go out to eat for dinner but I was really surprised when they told me that we will go to Brandon for dinner and not in their town of where they live. We travelled for a couple of hours when we went to Brandon and when I was in the car I had wondered what Erin and Richard were up to. In the back of mind I was hoping that maybe we might see Erin’s parents but I wasn’t sure we would so I think I just kept that to myself.

When we arrived at Pizza Hut in Brandon I was speechless and beyond excited of what I

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Erin’s parents and I

possibility could put into words when I saw Erin’s parents! What an amazing unexpected surprise it was to have dinner with Erin’s parents and see them again. It was so good to see Larry and Vivian, Erin’s parents again and to catch up a bit and share with them how my trip has been in Manitoba as we enjoyed some delicious pizza. After we ate dinner we went to this park to walk around, take some pictures and to spend a bit more time together. Erin’s Mom gave me a very special surprise when she gave me a handmade teddy bear she had me as a gift for me to take home.

What a special blessing it was from God to have a surprise reunion with Erin’s parents who became like my “adopted parents” during the time I was in Manitoba for college years ago. I was really hoping I would see them during my reunion trip in Manitoba but I wasn’t sure it would work out or I should say I didn’t know that they were planning to surprise me at all. I felt really encouraged when I saw Erin’s parents again especially how they embraced me with all of their love and care just like they did when I was in college. Erin’s Dad encouraged me by telling me that maybe I need a reset button as I continue on with what God has for me next. I have to admit it was really difficult to say good bye to them when it was time to say good bye but I am so glad that we were able to see each again even though our time was very short.

On Tuesday July 3rd, it was my last day of my time in Manitoba which it was hard to

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Erin and I at The Forks again

believe how fast our time went of my short trip I took to see Erin and meet her husband Richard. In the morning we relaxed a bit and prayed together before we had a long drive back to the Winnipeg airport for my return flight to Toronto. Before we headed to the airport Erin and Richard had one more surprise for me. They took me to The Forks which was a really nice unexpected surprise to go there again especially to take a reunion picture with Erin at the exact same spot when we were in college together.

When we got to the Winnipeg airport for my return flight home I have to admit it was really hard to say good-bye to each other. I flew out of Winnipeg at 6:00pm with West Jet airline and I arrived in Toronto at 9:30pm. I had a really good flight home but I have to admit I really felt emotional that my trip had come to end so quickly but it was so worth it to take the time to go to Manitoba to have this reunion trip. The timing of the trip was just perfect and I am incredibly grateful of how God gave me this spontaneous idea to visit them.

The time I had together with Erin and Richard was quite special beyond what I could

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Flying Home

possibility put into words especially of all of the unexpected surprises they gave me during my short trip in Manitoba. I was so touched by their servant hearts with all of their hospitality and all of the driving they did which was such a blessing far more than I could put into words. It was so good to see Erin after all of these years of us being apart and I am so grateful for the friendship God gave us.

About Andrea

I am from Whitby, Ontario. I have lived in Romania for 9 years as a missionary but I am currently in Canada on a sabbatical break at this time. I have also lived in South Korea for a year and I have also been to Russia, Uganda, Albania and the Czech Republic on short-term mission trips. In 2012, God also gave me an amazing opportunity to go to Mozambique for the Harvest Mission School with Iris Ministries as well. I love children, reaching out to people who are in need and vulnerable, I have a passion to fight against the injustice issue of human trafficking and to simply share the love of Jesus wherever I go. I also love cats too and I have a cat of my own named Minnie!
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