Saskatchewan Rain

Posted: January 11, 2011 in Chawn, The World Needs More Canada

I am in Canada. Co-leading a team of teenagers on a two-week adventure in the lovable town of Stoughton, Saskatchewan. It’s small, and worms its’ way into your heart like an emergency injection that stops you turning into a vampire. We’re half-way through our first week, and working to a knackering schedule. We’re up early; and busy ‘til after 11 every night.

And I’m loving every minute of it.

We are here to serve the church in Stoughton, and doing everything with aplomb. The only problem is that we’re not getting to spend much time praying. If you’re doing something for God, you need him to do 99% of it; because there’s no way you can achieve anything worthwhile without Him. You’ve gotta spend time praying.

It’s nearly lunchtime, and the team are dossing about downstairs waiting. I’m upstairs lying on chairs in the church, telling God the problem and asking for help. He doesn’t seem to be saying much. Or it could be that I’m thinking about Holly’s homemade moose steaks more than listening! I go and join the gang for food.

Food at the Stoughton Apostolic Church is amazing. They are the kindest people.

People I’m definitely gonna miss.

A bit later we’ve started walking to the pool where we’re hanging out this afternoon. It’s +35, and the pool’s fine by me! The best news though, is that I look good in shorts.

Stoughton’s a town of gorgeous landscape.

Well.

Gorgeous Saskatchewan landscape… by which I mean it’s totally flat. With no natural features whatsoever. Except sky. Looooots of sky. And the sky’s pretty! When it’s not right now. (Which it normally is). The sky’s turned quite a bizarrely black shade of black. There’s been no weather warnings for today but some of the girls are concerned. It’ll be fine.

“It’ll be fine. Let’s carry on”

Karli winces at me and gently points out that if the pool’s closed because people think it’ll rain, there’ll be no point going.

Karli.

Karli is my co-leader, and an incredibly good one. She sees things I don’t. She’s funny, and wise. She convinces me and we agree that I and Jamin (our Commander Riker) will scope out the pool while she waits with the team at the Jeremiah House; (the youth centre/HQ) halfway between the church and the pool. Everybody’s happy.

We walk on.

The sky’s looking well black. I can tell it’s rubbish weather, but I’m English. I know of no other kind! If it’s grey, it’s good! Unless it’s meat. Anywho. I know Canadians. They party over stadiums of snowfall like it’s a plate of perogis but the second it rains they freak out! Like… freaks! Like freaks freaking out! It’ll probably rain, but hey! It’s boiling outside! It’ll be like swimming in the rain! Ace fun!

It’s started to spit.

It’s fine. It’s just spitting. My team are running ahead scared.

Classic.

I and Katie are English and we’re fine. It’s only a little bit of rain.

Oh.

Oh no!

It’s definitely not only a little bit of rain! Within an instant things have totally changed and my entire front is drenched. The rain has turbo mode’d into extreme MAX-STRENGTH apocalyptic power-hail hosed in our faces at point-blank range by a nuclear-powered weather-inclement-machine gun in the hands of a rotten, devious, spoilt, fat idiot American rich kid called Carl!!!

What kind of a name is Carl?

This is ridiculous! So much so that I can’t even handle facing the front to see where I’m walking! I try walking backwards, and immediately my entire back is drenched. I can just about see my team.

Who are freaking out.

Freaks.

I carry on. I can barely see a thing.

I can barely see one thing. A very faint blurry neon light. It says something… a word. A Canadian word. That I don’t understand.

And two words I do.

‘Laundromat – Now Open’

“EVERYBODY INSIDE!!!” The team follows me into this fortress, this refuge, this sacred sanctuary of suffrage! I breathe, and allow myself the comfort of knowing that all eleven of my team are now safe. I make a little joke, and the five of us laugh out of adrenaline-fuelled obligation.

Hang on.

Five of us? Where’s the rest? Oh no! Outside! Running to the Jez! Have they even got a key? Hang on… Who’s got the key? The only key?

Oh. Rats. It’s only Ol’ Muggins here! Wait! That’s it! Could I give the key to some rats and get them to scurry-carry (or ‘scarry’) over to the Jez???

Karli’s looking at me. I can see the haste in her eyes. She wants me to get out there. Somehow I don’t think she’ll be in the mood for training a batch of rodents. Not even cute little baby ones! But then I’d probably get done for child labour, or for copyright by Richard Scarry. Meh. I can’t be bothered. Which means only one thing.

It’s gonna have to be me.

Sigh.

Ok. As the man of the team, I will brave the insurmountable storm! Fight some dragons! Rescue the rest of the team! And hopefully a beautiful young damsel if there are any knocking about. I activate my default action man settings and take a deep breath. I take one last look at these young men and women. These princes and princesses. These charms of delight. These miniature heroes. I hope we will see each other again some day. They can see it in my eyes.

I run.

I’m immediately drenched again, but I’m so soaked now that I don’t care.

I can’t see. I carry on walking forwards.

Ouch!

I walk into the long handle of a trailer. Karli walks into the back of me. Karli? She’s run out of the Laundromat for some unfathomable reason! And the other four have followed her! “What are you doing?” She looks as confused as I do.

“We could see in your eyes that you wanted us to follow you!”

Drat! I unpeel myself from the trailer and run positively with my head bowed low. The rest of the team begin to faintly appear ahead, furiously trying to open the HQ door and squealing with what sounds like delight at the fun time they’re having.

I smile. I like people who make the best of bad situations. Katie’s obviously having a very positive influence on those kids.

I finally catch up with them and am pretty desperate to get in so selfishly end their fun by barking at them to hide round the side of the building while I unlock the door. The rain, I have just realised, is only coming from one direction. They follow my instructions. And now it is all down to me.

Me and the door.

We are in small-town Saskatchewan, where doors are impossible to open! I pull out my wallet for the key. It’s immediately drenched. Rain’s ravaging my left side. I’m getting a wet ear. I ram the key in the keyhole. “It’s just you and me, door! This town literally ain’t big enough of the two of us.” I turn the key. It doesn’t open. I jimmy the lock violently and manage to vigorously muscle the door open! I fall inside on my face and take a moment to breathe. And then remember the rest of the team. I holler directionless-ly, and soon the whole team is inside. There is a Tesco annual profit-sized wet patch in the corner by the door. The team’s soaked in cold water. We need to get out of these clothes or we’ll get pneumonia.

Drat!

Fortunately we all have swimming costumes and towels for the pool. But we need somewhere to change. There’s a loo. One loo. That’s probably not enough for the 12 of us. There’s a semi-partition halfway along the Jez. I declare the half with most privacy the girls’ changing room and announce to everybody that the boys will not go near that section. I consider telling the girls that they can’t come into the boys’ bit. Nah. Girls are smart! And not as horny. I don’t need to tell them.

I say everybody has their swimming costume… I don’t. Still, I have no choice either; I can’t stay in these wet clothes. I strip to my pants. (Translation for Canadians– Tighty Whiteys) The girls decide they have an important question to ask me.

They come into the boys’ bit.

I am a sight to behold. If you’re over 18.

They’re all under 18. They really should be able to see the capital-lettered “WHAT THE HECK?” in my eyes but are all looking at me like seeing me nearly naked is normal! I need to practice my eye language! I decide that since it so obviously MUST be so normal to see some Mohr I might as well just answer their question and pretend that this isn’t the weirdest moment in history!!!

Jamin points out that there’s a Laundromat down the road. “Ah yes…” I look at him and give him a cheeky wink. “…the fortress.” I’ve just realised that winking at Jamin wearing nothing but soggy pants may have been a bit disturbing for him, but it’s too late to do anything about it now. We walk shirtless down the road. Jamin’s keeping his distance. We find the fortress and load up. The clothes dry and I remember my conversation with God before lunch. We get dressed and warm.

And spend some time praying.

We are finishing praying when the sun comes out.

We go to the pool.

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