I've gotten two updates now from OLSWA's two students who are doing the cross-Canada walk to witness to life. Please read it, keep the guys in your prayers, and think of supporting them financially, if you at all can. Let me know if you want to support them that way, or directly contact OLSWA and they would make sure the money would get to them. Our students are Michael Hayden and Jonathan Baker. They are joined by some seminarians from Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Dear Friends in Christ,
Well, our first week at Crossroads is done, and what a week it was. Michael and I arrived in Vancouver a couple of days early, on May 19, because we wanted to see the sites a little. The weather was absolutely fantastic; the air was so crisp and clean, without even a hint of humidity. And the flowers, wow. So many, and so beautiful. We would soon find out just why everything is so green. More about that later. Anyway, Katherine, a good friend of ours who lives in BC, picked us up at the airport. Mike was feeling a little sick so he decided to rest up a little. We dropped him off at a friend's house and during the next couple of days Katherine and I drove around the Vancouver region. What I enjoyed most was the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge is 446 feet long and spans 230 feet over a river below. I don’t mind saying that it’s a little scary to cross! On the other side they have an old growth forest where some of the Douglas Fir trees are over 250 feet tall and over 500 years old. We walked through the treetops on suspension bridges that went from one giant tree to the other. It was pretty expensive to get in, at $23.75 for students, but it was worth it.
The first night in Vancouver I stayed at a cheap hotel in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. What a mistake. I had lived in that neighborhood years ago but for some reason was nostalgic to see it again. I quickly lost that nostalgia. That area is perhaps Canada’s worst skid row. It’s sad beyond words. There are thousands of homeless people, most of them heroin addicts, and their misery is shocking and saddening. You drive up and down the streets and they are camped out, or passed out, one after the other on the sidewalks. There are heroin addicts prostituting themselves everywhere, even shooting up in broad daylight. In that part of the city one can see the devil’s work first hand and the result of sin: broken bodies, broken minds, and shattered souls. We know that we must pray for these poor people and offer our sufferings and prayers for them also.
On the third day in Vancouver we met the rest of our walking crew for the first time: four seminarians from Christ the King seminary in Vancouver B.C. Brother Paul, a Franciscan Friar, is the group leader and he will be a blessing and a quiet strength for all of us. What’s interesting is that in our group there are two Michaels, two Jonathans, and two Pauls. You can’t help but think that there must be some reason for this.
That weekend, May 22-23, the crew spent some time together, going over what we could expect on the walk and how it would work. Br. Paul was very clear and up-front about the challenge ahead. It was going to be hard. Yet, we would do all in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and this knowledge would make all suffering bearable, even joyous, for we would be uniting our suffering to that of Christ on the cross for the saving of the unborn and the conversion of our country. How could we possibly spend a better summer?
On Monday, May 24, we began the walk. We went to Mass then drove out to the very edge of Vancouver, where it meets the Pacific Ocean. We dipped our hands and feet in the ocean and began the walk. Walking through Vancouver was interesting. The big cities tend to have the most opposition to the pro-life movement, and it wasn’t long before some people were giving us funny looks, giving us the finger, shouting comments etc., especially since we were all men. We also got positive feedback, however, which helps to keep the morale up. People were actually indifferent most of the time, which is the Canadian way.
We walked all day and then stopped for supper. We then continued through the night. We will begin each day with Mass and then the day crew will start their walk. We will walk 24 hours a day, with three people on the day walk and three on the night. Since there are only six of us each crew will have to walk a minimum of fifty kilometers a day, and as a whole we will cover approximately one hundred kilometers every 24 hours. We didn’t plan it this way, but the day and night crews each have one Paul, one Jonathan, and one Michael. Again, a sign of God’s providence, I’m sure.
For much of the first week we walked in pouring rain. Now we know why everything is so green on the West coast. I really love the natural beauty out here, but I don’t know if I could handle the weather. In the wintertime Vancouver is very warm by Canadian standards, but it’s very frequently overcast and rainy. The constant gloom can get very difficult to live with. I think I prefer -30 and a blue sky.
By the third day we started going through the coastal mountains. The views were stunning, but the walk became much harder. Our route along highway 3 climbed thousands of feet, and the constant rain not only soaked us but made most of the surrounding mountains invisible behind a shield of cloud and mist. What we did see was breathtaking, with snow-capped peaks, dense rain forest, and creeks and waterfalls everywhere around us. God’s country! I also saw a black bear while walking. It crossed the highway then started eating some plants beside a flowing creek. It couldn’t have been more than 50 feet away. It completely ignored me and went on happily munching it’s lunch.
We stopped our walk after the Friday night shift. On the weekends we won’t walk but will go to local parishes to talk about the pro-life movement and raise funds for our walk. We are staying with a couple of lovely families in Summerland. They have kindly opened their houses to us and words can’t describe how generous and hospitable they have been. May God bless them for their charity. Sunday afternoon, between talks, a local Korean Catholic couple who own a motel made us a Korean BBQ for lunch. Man was it good. Four different kinds of meat, salads, Korean finger foods. God is so good, how he uses these wonderful people to help us rest and recuperate before another week of walking.
On Tuesday we will drive out to Kelowna to take part in a regular pro-life vigil outside a hospital. Tuesday is the day the hospital does abortions. The same institution that is dedicated to saving lives is also dedicated to destroying them. This is how it is in Canada. Unlike the United States, where so many abortions take place in facilities that specialize in that sort of thing, like Planned Parenthood clinics, here the death of the unborn takes place behind a wall of secrecy and respectability, helped by the vast indifference of the Canadian public. People do not want to hear our message. Even if they are ostensibly against abortion, in principle, they do not want their lives disturbed by the issue. It is sad, but true, that Canada has become a country of mediocrity. We have lost our passion, and this is one of the reasons why the culture of death is gaining such a foothold here. We no longer believe in God, in the value of human life, in our eternal end. We have become bored to death with life and as a society are slowly committing suicide. Please pray very much for us as we walk. There is a hard battle ahead. Yet, at the same time, we know that in the end love will triumph. Until next week, God bless you all.