When I first moved to Vancouver I knew one person in the entire city. I used to call my family three to four times a week just to have a longer than 1 minute interaction with other humans. I wanted to move back to Edmonton almost every single day. For six long dark months I was lonely and miserable, wondering what had possessed me to pack up my life and transplant it to the most expensive city in the world.
Then one rainy Saturday night in February of 2007, I went out for drinks with a friend of a friend from back home. She invited two other girls along, and the four of us talked about church. I told them how much I was struggling to find any kind of community or friends here, how I’d tried different churches but never felt at home or like I fit in. I bemoaned the prison-like campus of SFU and how it was impossible to meet anyone at school. One of the girls grabbed my arm and emphatically said, “Me too!”. One of the girls suggested we check out this little church plant she’d been attending called Westside.
The next morning Kim and I drove into the city to attend Westside for the first time. We were practically strangers, having just met the night before. But it was nice to have someone to walk into the theatre with, someone to sit with. And I remember leaning over to her at the end of the service and saying, “Do you feel like you just came home?”
Over the next months I met people who would become my family when I didn’t have Family nearby. My friendship with Kim grew over the first six months. And when I started playing in the worship band I met Ben and then Michelle and I felt like I had a big brother and sister for the first time in my life. A year or two later I met the Kneppers. And then Natalie.
The past few weeks have been so hard for me, you guys. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, because there are some things that are just too personal for the internet. But it’s been such a blessing to have people here who know me inside and out and love me no matter what. These three ladies have been my voices of reason and truth in the midst of all of it. Loving me and talking through hard things. Encouraging me and praying for me. Just being the best sisters anyone could ask for.
This month marks my five year Westside-iversary. God has brought so many amazing people into my life through this church. I have learned so much about how the church is supposed to function, how community works and what it means to be one body with many parts. I have been both encouraged and admonished and my walk with Jesus has grown so much. I look back over the past five years and see the faithfulness of God in my life and how he has met every need. I have no idea what the next five years are going to look like. Or even the next five days. But I trust him, and I am so thankful that I get to walk through it with this family.