Houston vs Canada

I’ve been meaning to write this for quite a while, but it keeps getting pushed away for one of various reasons:

  1. distraction
  2. laziness
  3. work
  4. sleepiness
  5. [fill in the blank]

But it’s finally time!  There is a definite need to help my Canadian and American friends understand some differences between my two homes.

When I initially started planning this post, I wanted to write it beside the pool in our apartment complex.  In December.  Wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  Which would have happened if I had done it last Saturday!  But we’ve gotten into a cold spell here.  Everyone is wearing toques and large jackets. (ok.  We’re not, I’ve been wearing a hooded sweatshirt and pants.) It’s only getting to 50 degrees this week!  So ya cold.  Chelsey and Jared were telling us that their teachers were pretty much demanding that all students wear long sleeve shirts and pants because of the cold.  (note: the temperature in Calgary is 37 degrees right now.  In Houston it is 39.)

Did you catch that?  It’s so cold the kids are being told to wear long sleeves.

In Canada, it’s dumping snow and cars are sliding off the road.  They refer to that as “Saturday” and people regret not being able to make it to the Christmas tree lighting.  If that level of snow and cold were happening here in Houston, CNN would call it “Snow-pocolypse” and Obama would be getting blamed for it somehow.

Oh, I also turned on my furnace yesterday.  But only to burn off the dust so if it actually runs overnight we don’t wake up thinking the apartment is on fire.  It hasn’t run since.  But my air conditioning was running Saturday night.  (note: Michelle just told me the furnace ran twice today.  It IS cold today!)

You wanna know what really is crazy down here?  Drivers.  They are HORRIBLE here.  And rude.  And aggressive.  Mad Max aggressive.  I know that everyone thinks the drivers where they live are the worst; but just come drive our freeways.  I’ve lived in three different countries and driven all around them.  Here is how I would rank the various places I’ve been for sanity of drivers:

  1. (best) Mexico
  2. Calgary
  3. Seattle
  4. Portland
  5. Edmonton
  6. Vancouver
  7. Montreal
  8. Houston

And in case you were wondering, Three Hills comes in at #25.  Out of 20.

Houston drivers are mean.  And they always are using their smart phone.  In fact, I’ve been worried that I would get pulled over for NOT texting while driving 70 mph and changing lanes.  Also, you don’t signal your lane changes on the freeways here.  If you do that, you’ve just told the people in the lane next to you to speed up to ensure there is no way in “H.E.B.” you can get over.  If there is a car length between you and the car in front of you, that’s 50% more space than necessary for that SUV to pull in.

Crap.  I’m getting lost.  I had a whole list of stuff I was gonna mention.  And when I say “list”, I mean “stuff I’ve thought about writing down but never did”.  Let’s see, we’ve talked about the cold and the drivers.  They sell beer in the grocery stores here.  Mail gets delivered on Saturdays, I kinda like that.  My bank here in the US is pushing online banking and bill payments like it just showed up.  And they make the cutest faces when I politely explain that the good folks in Canada have been using debit cards and paying bills online for over 10 years.  But who am I to complain?  My bank gave us an account package that pays no service charges as long as I use my debit card at least 5 times in a month!  I can do that in an afternoon!

Hmmmmm, still thinking there was other stuff to mention.  Like in Texas, a church with 1000 members is considered small.  Oh, and I’ve been told that Southern Baptists are so afraid of Hell that they absolutely HAVE to keep the air conditioning running at all times.  Until the buildings are a chilly 60 degrees.  You literally shiver while you’re sitting at your computer.  During the summer, I had to wear a hoodie INSIDE the church.  It sucked when I forgot and then walked outside to 120 degrees.  Pretty much melted on to the pavement.

Speaking of melting.  You know how cool it is to be able to chill your pop on your deck or even in the garage in Canada?  I loved that!  Of course, here we can’t do that.  BUT, we can thaw meat on the deck!  I suspect if I waited long enough we could actually cook it too.

And while I’m puttering through this, I want to give a little update on a prayer request that we talked about in our most recent ministry update. (if you never got the update, just give us an email and we’ll get it sent out to you)

We’re praying for at least 10 more monthly partners to join our support team by the end of the year.  The reason we need this is because the money we receive from regular monthly only pays for about 30% of our monthly needs.  We then get about another 30% from special gifts.  That has added up to the area of 60%-ish of our monthly budget received.  We then use those gifts to pay all of our expenses.  The hard part is that we are finding that after rent, health insurance, tithe and utilities are paid we tend to have a couple hundred dollars left each month to buy food and gas.  I’m not complaining, I know good and well that there are people all over the world who have way less than us. But living in North America with a couple hundred dollars to get through 3 weeks with a family of 5 is difficult.  Thankfully we’ve been able to get on a couple of social programs like free school lunches and free health care for the kids!  Those have helped in the budget.

(note: God has always provided.  Without fail.  We’ve never gone hungry. I guess when Jesus promised to always take care of us, He meant it!  God’s cool.)

Monthly budget Image
As of right now, we're up to 75%! And about 40% is from monthly givers!

Praying for the 10 new partners will allow us a little more comfort in knowing how much money is coming in each month.  It will also allow us to start saving a little money to be able to pay for the unexpected things like car repairs and such.  We also are planning to come back to Canada in June and need to be able to pay for gas, hotels and food for the trip.  The budget graphic to the right shows how our yearly/monthly budget is split up and how much money we have received or have pledged lines up against it.  But, at this exact moment, we’ve had 4 new monthly partners sign on since we started praying and asking others to pray!  Woo-hoo!  As you can see, that has pushed our support number to 75%, with just over 40% of that being monthly supporters.  Now, we’re just in a stage of waiting for the last 6 to sign on.  You can visit http://www.cten.org/ryandiks for information on how you can sign up.  Special gifts can also be given at this link.

Would you consider joining our monthly support team?  Joining our support team gives you the opportunity to join a work that is starting to do amazing things with the unreached peoples of the world.  You may not be able to go out, yet, but giving of some money is another way to get involved.

And since I can’t think of anything else to contrast Texas and Canada, I’ll do a similarity.  In particular, between Texas and Alberta.  In both places, you are blessed to live there.  Because the rest of the country (especially the states/provinces out east) are messed up.  Everything is smarter, and just plain better in Alberta/Texas.  We’re a lot alike, eh?


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