Oh Canada - My Family Travels

Taking a trip down memory lane, one of my most unforgettable trips would be the mission trip I went on with my youth group to Saskatchewan, Canada for two weeks. The mission was to go to this camp called, Timber Bay Bible Camp, located in Northern Saskatchewan on a Native Canadian reservation. Campers were usually Native Canadian youngsters who came from dysfunctional homes where alcohol, physical, and sexual abuse were a commonplace. Consequently, it was no surprise to find numerous children that shared the same mother or father with each other. While I was there, an unforgettable experience happened to me that taught me a valuable lesson.

            After three perpetual days of traveling on “Big Blue,” the loving nickname we gave to our church’s bus, we arrived safely. One of the first observations of the area was the unbelievable amount of bugs; they were ubiquitous. Swarms of horseflies or “bull flies”, as the Canadians call them, and mosquitoes surrounded us. Mosquitoes were, figuratively speaking, the “national bird”. One of the first projects that we were assigned to was to paint a recreational center black. To guard myself from the blood-thirsty mosquitoes, I wore jeans, a sweatshirt with a hood, and I applied myself with mosquito spray that had twenty five percent deet which I thought would be enough. As a team we had applied a fresh coat of paint on the center by the end of the day.

            As I woke up the next morning, I struggled to open my right eye, but failed.  With panic, I looked in the mirror and saw an ogre. My eye was completely swollen shut and my left ear had tripled in size, protruding from my face. The sides of my face appeared to have bad acne when in reality, it was the uncountable numbers of mosquito bites; it caused my face to expand in width. I barely recognized the young woman looking back at me. My older sister, Kristen, who was also on the trip, came into the lodge that I stayed at that morning; I observed that her eye was also infected like mine. We stood out because we were the only people that had eyes that were inflated like balloons. There was an inside joke that mosquitoes liked the “Sneller girls’ ” blood especially considering that a similar incident occurred to my oldest sister, Heather, when she attended the camp a few years earlier. After the horrendous morning, my sister and I had to walk around the camp covering our eyes with ice packs. The sight of us caused a Timber Bay worker to question if my sibling and I had gotten into a physical fist fight. With my troll-like appearance, I still managed to help out on the work crew. Even though, I was self-conscience and felt miserable with my swollen face. As the week went by, the swelling diminished.

            Despite my obsessions over my swollen face all week, it was worth all the hard work for the common good of the camp and the campers. There were larger obstacles then just having a bloated face; the campers had to deal with bigger life issues, which would leave a scar on their lives forever. As the trip was coming to an end, it was difficult for me to see the campers leave, knowing what they would be going home to. In realization, it made me grateful, not only for my parents’ commitment to their marriage, but also the love, support, and encouragement that they provided to me throughout my life.

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