Van City Shenanigans: Adventures with Gramps

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Has anyone ever gotten “voluntold” to do something? You know, when your boss is like, “Alright, who wants to run this errand for me?” and then after a haunting moment of silence some punk calls your name out for you. Awesome eh?

I mean, it really depends on the context because it ain’t always bad. How things turn out is one thing, but being voluntold in itself ain’t pleasant.

And trust me, I would know.

I had one of those days (sort of). Shortly after the winter semester ended, my parents asked me if I had plans during the month of August. Out of curiosity and a hint of suspicion I questioned why they had asked. Turns out they were already in the process of planning a trip to travel around Western Canada.

They asked me after they planned it.

The plan was for me to travel with my grandpa. Just grandfather and grandson, rolling out into the wild west. Wouldn’t that be nice? Like, don’t get me wrong, I was certainly down to travel with my gramps, I just wish they could’ve asked me first.

So when August 21st finally came, I boarded the 12:10 PM flight and headed to Vancouver, BC.

During the trip, God revealed no shortage of insights to me, but here are just a few that really hit home for me:

The elderly become kids again
When I was young, my grandpa used to always hold my hand and take me to school. But on this trip, in a way, the roles became reversed. Now I was holding his hand and taking him to places. Time really flies doesn’t it?
This next thing might be exclusive to him because he’s a die-hard chinese food eater, but what I found was that his eating habits resembled that of a child, if not worse. Like, after volunteering at kids’ camp during the whole month of July, I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with picky eaters till the next camp came around, but oh boy was I wrong. Like, my gramps would not even go near a bowl of salad. It got to the point where he didn’t eat any vegetables for 2 whole days because the only veggies available were raw salads. This guy just wouldn’t eat his veggies.
I found all this collectively mind-boggling because we were born in a state of vulnerability and over time, we gain a considerable deal of independence and self-sufficiency. But as we grow older, we eventually become more dependent and child-like again. In vulnerability we were made, in vulnerability we will return. In a way, I find that we were designed this way to be humbled and know that our days are numbered and that things always come back full circle. What we boasted about in our youth will look foolish in our old age and the things we boast about in our old age will sound foolish to our youthful selves.

Generational Gaps
First, I just wanna thank God that I was graced with another opportunity to share the gospel with my grandpa during this trip as it’s not everyday that I get to do that. However, there were many moments of shock that seriously knocked me out of my groove. For instance, I was shocked to find out that my grandpa’s worldview is actually quite polished and complete. It’s clear to me now that he is a self-professed atheist, a big believer of evolution, and on the political side of things, a left-wing extremist (in my opinion). He strongly believes that I have been brainwashed by western ideologies and that I’ve been deceived to believing in the existence of a deity. His ideas were preached heavily during the Maoist years in China so considering that, I’m not too surprised. Little if anything I said got through to him based on what I observed, but hey, if God’s willing, even a mountain like this one can move before my eyes and that’s exactly what I’m praying for.
Another thing that was difficult to deal with was his anxiousness. Perhaps I take Philippians 4:6 very deeply to heart so I tend to be less anxious than most people, but I just never thought someone could be this anxious. My grandpa would literally scan through an entire buffet and just jump to the front of the line, even when he knew that we would have ample time to eat. He would even bud into conversations with the tour guide just to ensure that we weren’t left out of anything. He just constantly worried about whether we were getting ripped off, if we were gonna get to places on time–just a bunch of things he had no control over. I would even say that he has a lot of FOMO, like a lot. But I have a big hunch that this comes with age because since things are moving slower for him it might make him feel like he has to keep up with the pack. However, I do hope he comes to terms with the reality that we actually don’t have a whole lot of control over our lives and to embrace that as liberation.

My Cantonese is garbage
This I always knew so this isn’t anything big. But I think I never really took in how bad it really was. It took an encounter with some tourists from Hong Kong to really smack me in the face. I realized that in a way, I do know how to say everything, just not in the smartest ways. I got called out numerous times for my “interesting” speaking habits. But yeah, I really need to work on this haha.

This trip wasn’t exactly an escape into the land of peace for me, but more of a luxurious opportunity that helped me find true peace in God. I would say that made the whole trip really worth it. Surely I don’t wanna undermine the incredible awe provoked by the breath-taking scenery though. The ginormous trees I came across reminded me of His might, the waters of the peace found in Him, and the from the captivating landscapes, His artistry. The beauty and meticulousness of creation boldly points to a Creator.

On a funny note, when I look back, it’s kind of crazy how so many people spoke to me about the exact same topic. “You’re such a good boy, accompanying your grandfather!” I heard that so much, but I always reminded them: “I didn’t volunteer, I was voluntold.”

But regarding the less eventful shenanigans, hours upon hours were spent on the bus each day. Listening to pre-downloaded sermons was a big time-killer for me. Most of them were spoken by John Piper and one sermon that really hit home for me was one about the 5 relationships that Christ has brought peace to and the necessity of having peace before using power given by Him to carry out our ultimate purpose of glorifying Him. Another sermon I liked was spoken on Psalm 127 which shed insight on how to rest in God’s sovereignty and power and the fact that embracing that truth is a key to true rest. They’re pretty old, but I recommend giving those a listen as they’ve really stuck with me ever since.

But despite all that I can gladly take away from the trip, this tour didn’t come without hiccups. My grandpa and I surely had our fair share of arguments and what not. For the most part though, God supplied me with great patience and encouragement from other tourists which really powered me through it all. And without hesitation, I can say that I’d definitely wanna travel with my grandpa again, but ideally on a tour with more experiential, hands-on activities as opposed to just sightseeing which can get boring if done for 8 straight days as we did.

Yeap, that’s all for now haha.

Shalom!

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