Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Angels Around Me

I have read somewhere that angels, whether supernatural (beings of light) or ordinary human beings, surround us every day. It takes an open heart and utmost sensitivity to be aware of them, and to recognize what they're doing to us.

My life has always had a recognizable pattern. In my lowest moment, I never run out of somebody who comes in at the right time and says or does the right thing helping me cope or see through a most difficult situation. This somebody is my human angel, and I can count lots of them in my fingers. They come and go. Or they stay for good. Those who stay, I believe, are God's designated angels to accompany me throughout my life's journey.

There are latest additions to my list of angels, and one of them is my good friend LA. He used to be my officemate but we weren't that close really. Our conversations were limited to work and our greetings were simple hi and hello. He stood out from his league as he was unusually bubbly and disarming even to strangers. I never had an inkling that our paths would become closely woven later. He moved to Winnipeg a year ahead of me and then we didn't communicate much after that.

A few months later, I received our family's immigrant visa with Winnipeg as destination. I started making travel preparations already, banking on the support and assistance of my sister-in-law who was to help us settle. As fate would have it, in the thick of my preparations, my sister-in-law suddenly decided to move to Toronto, for good, leaving us hanging in the air. Naturally, we were thrown off balance. It was like drowning and gasping for air in the middle of the sea. We wanted to quit mid course. The fear and anxiety of having to do it by ourselves was just too much to bear. Settling in a foreign country with no one to help you is definitely no joke!

We were about to put off our migration plan and then ta-dah - LA came into the scene. He volunteered to arrange for our airport pick-up, look for our apartment and do all sort of stuffs for us. Whew - what a relief that was! I felt like a damsel in distress being saved by a mighty prince! To cut the story short, LA did as promised, and delivered more than expected. Everything was ready when we arrived. He even had a hot molo soup and chicken barbecue waiting for us in our apartment upon arrival from the airport. He also had the sense to pick up minor grocery items for us, anticipating that we will have nothing to eat on our first day.

Over the next few days in Winnipeg, LA and his sister (Lynn) and her hubby (Chris) had been our tireless companions, driving us here and there as we opened our bank accounts, applied for our health and employment cards, looked for school for the kids and even shopped for our furnitures and home needs. They truly made us feel at ease, and at home. I never thought that settlement could be this easy, and only because you have friends to assist you. Then they introduced us to other well-meaning people who eventually became our friends too. Most importantly, Chris facilitated the employment of Ronny at Palliser, the company he works with. So many angels, and so much blessings!

I will never be able to repay them fully for all the good things they've done. Being the kind-hearted persons I've known them to be, I'm sure they're also not expecting anything in return from me, except probably a word of thanks and a spirit of gratitude, which I am so profuse with. I know they are God-sent, and as I write this, I have made a promise to God to be an angel to others, especially those in great need. This is my contribution to ensure that this cycle of giving and receiving is not broken. What comes around goes around.

At one point in your life, you may have met a human angel in the form of a friend whose words of encouragement have healed your soul and led you to the right path, or a stranger on the street who asked you something, delaying you long enough to spare you from a fatal road accident. Or an ordinary human being who has touched your life with his deeds of kindness. If we will only be sensitive enough, there are many situations which are often dismissed as simply luck, coincidence or even a miracle, but which have "the touch of a hand of light behind it." The most amazing thing is - you can be an angel yourself!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring in Canada

Before we left for Canada, the horrible stories I've heard about winter - how one needs to bundle up with layers after layers of clothing to beat the bone-chilling cold, how a bath-fresh hair should be blown dry before going out or how one should never stick out his tongue while outdoor else they will freeze, how an protected ear could harden, freeze and literally fall off without one knowing it, and many more -had been scaring the wits out of me. So when we received our canadian visa in October (winter was only a month away then) hubby and I had a very serious discussion on this matter.

With the best intentions for the family in mind, we agreed to come to Winnipeg in March 22 this year, just when winter is about to end and spring is just around the corner. Spring is supposed to be "less colder" so we did not bother to clothe ourselves with thick jackets. My friend had warned me not to underestimate the cold weather in spring but I figured that the fur-decorated denim jacket I was wearing then would be enough protection. As I stepped out of the airport in the middle of the night, I was jolted as my cheeks were kissed by a chilling wind. Horror of all horrors - it was minus 15 degree centigrade and the cold is penetrating like painful needles pricking the tiniest of my veins!

Going to the heated car that was waiting for us about 30 meters away from the airport entrance was like a walk in eternity. I was literally freezing to the bone. It was as if I am in the thick of a freezer turned to its coolest temperature! My fingers and my toes started to feel numb, my nose became stuffy and eyes were reddish with pain. We hurriedly hopped into the car, and despite the heater, it provided little comfort. Oh, how I wished we didn't have to get off anymore.

As we drove through the snow-littered stretch from the Winnipeg airport all the way to our pre-rented apartment, I wasn't very much impressed by the sights around me. Trees along the street pavements appeared barren and lifeless, with nary a single leaf hanging from the branches (twigs is a better term) having fallen off in autumn in preparation for the winter. The streets were slippery and slushy, with the frozen ice gradually clearing up for spring and eventually summer. The buildings (or warehouses is a better term) had facades that are as unexciting as the surroundings around them. All I saw around me is brown and white and gray and a little variation in between. I suddenly found myself wondering if we are in the right place.

When we went out of the car to walk the pavement that leads to our apartment, the weather was surprisingly not very cold anymore. Tolerable is a better description. I felt more relaxed and confident as we entered our pre-rented fully-heated two-bedroom apartment at Tyndall Gardens. Despite the absence of furnitures, our new home had an unexplained ambiance of warmth and life to it. The carpeted floor felt warm under my feet while the new
ly-painted walls felt smooth under my palms. The hot molo soup and chicken barbecue waiting for us were certainly a most welcome sight, courtesy of my good friend LA.

As my body clock was still adjusting to the new timezone, I couldn't sleep on our first night. I thus spent the night tidying up our luggages and busying myself with other things, hoping that sleep would eventually catch up on me. After three hours of fussing over things, doing this and that, I finally dozed off.

I woke up at around eleven o'clock in the morning to the soft sound of birds chirping by. Drawing the window blinds apart, I saw four of them playing in our balcony. The snow outside shone like crystals as the sun rays hit them, giving the surrounding a brilliant whitish glow that permeates all over. And there in the backdrop was a rainbow in very clear and lucid colors! Standing side by side with the brown lifeless trees lining the pavement that led to our apartment were a number of trees already in full bloom. The sight was just awesome, giving me a surreal feeling. It was as if time stood still. I wanted to hold the sight in my palm. I cried and said a prayer of gratitude to the one Creator who made all these sights possible. Suddenly, I felt home. All the fears I had were swept away, replaced by hope and peace and confidence. I had the sense that I am exactly in the right place and at the right time, as designed by God .

As Winnipeg is one of the coldest regions in Canada, we still had a "little" taste of winter over the next several days. There were residual snows everywhere, occasional hails, windchills and blizzards and the temperature without warning, would still drop to minus 20! To describe the weather as simply cold is an understatement. It was piercingly, achingly COLD to the bone! But the peace that had enveloped me since the first night had never left me. Deep inside, I just knew I could overcome the cold weather and conquer all winters to come.

Spring has now fully arrived and summer - when trees and flowers would be in full bloom - is something to look forward to. As the spring completes its full course, and as I see new life springing all around me from nowhere, so does my faith continue to leap. Spring symbolizes new life and to live is to trust. And when there is trust and hope and life is lived in prayers, nothing seems scary and insurmountable anymore.