Canada Trip, Part 11: Manitoba and Mitchell

Manitoba, Canada
Manitoba, Canada

Part of ending a year well and entering a new one strong is to finish what you started. The next couple of blogs will be the end (for now!) of my 2012 Canada Blog Series on my trip to Canada where I was one of the keynote speakers at Doreen Penner’s women’s conference. I’m looking forward to traveling new exciting places in 2013! This is part 11 of my Canada Blog Series. You can read part 10 by clicking here.

Canada Trip, Part 11: Manitoba and Mitchell

When Doreen Penner asked me to be one of the keynote speakers for her women’s conference, Walk Into Your Blessing, I was so excited!

I had been to Canada only once, when Ray, Leah and I visited Niagara Falls on both the American and Canadian sides. Not to sound like a traitor to my own country, but I thought the Canadian side of Niagara Falls was far more beautiful. The beauty and the power of the falls was INCREDIBLE! It reminded me so much of the verse,  Revelation 1:5: “His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.”

Since we were in Canada just one day, I only saw the waterfalls. For my speaking trip, I’d be taking the Canadian Via Railway train back home to Kansas City and was looking forward to seeing the breathtakingly beautiful Rockies, traveling from Winnepeg to Vancouver, B.C., where I’d then board the Amtrak train for the U.S. This was going to be an adventure!

Doreen and her sweet sister Edna would pick me up at the Winnepeg airport (about an hour from Doreen’s home in Manitoba). Doreen, Edna, Doreen’s family and team, and the Canadian women at the conference were some of the most loving, friendliest people I’ve ever met. Yet Canada itself is cold spiritually. It is an atheist nation; Doreen’s husband Rick said that ten years ago, it was 16% Christian, but today only 2-3% of Canadians are Christian believers.

Sign at Canadian airport
Sign at Canadian airport

One of the first things I noticed about Canada as soon as I stepped out of the airport into the parking lot with Doreen and Edna was the distinct sense of an absence of God’s presence. It was cold and eerie. You could sense in the spirit that this was a godless nation. I’d felt this before in other countries like Germany and France when Ray went on our 10th year anniversary “honeymoon” to Europe. Rick and Doreen said that you don’t say, “We’re praying for you” in Canada due to the atheism.

It felt foreign to my soul and spirit. It almost took my breath away with its cold barrenness. It was as if I was visiting this foreign land of perpetual ice and snow, an Age of Winter, like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, which Jadis the White Witch conquered and reigned over, making it “always winter and never Christmas.” I was truly in a foreign land, physically and spiritually. Yet God sent me there for HIS Divine purposes.

Tim Hutton coffee to warm us up

It was so funny meeting a Facebook friend face to face! Doreen said she was glad to see that I actually looked like my Facebook profile pic, because some people don’t. She looked like her pic too, only she was even prettier!

I am a jeans girl and like to be comfortable when I travel, so I arrived at the airport in a casual butterfly shirt, blue jeans and a blue jean jacket. Word of warning: Canada is cold. If you go, take a heavy coat. Due to packing room, I only brought my light jean jacket and I did get cold! Doreen tickled and blessed me after I flew back home by recording a video in a blue jean jacket just for me. 🙂

Me & Doreen Penner
Me & Doreen Penner

I was surprised to see so many American businesses in Canada: Starbucks, TJ Maxx, McDonald’s, and many more. Doreen and her friend Helen said they often cross the border to go shopping at retail clothes stores in Fargo, North Dakota, because of good sales. But the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar are about the same rate. Many businesses in Canada take the U.S. dollar, but some don’t so you will need to exchange some money at the airport if you travel to Canada.

Doreen and Edna needed to stop by the chiropractor on the way back to Doreen’s house, then as we drove back, Doreen introduced me to Tim Huttons coffee. I’d never heard of it before, but it’s popular and Doreen’s favorite coffee place. It was warm and yummy. When I was in Vancouver, I took a pic of a Tim Huttons shop just for Doreen.

Tim Hutton

Manitoba was first settled by fur traders in the 17th century. It’s flat with a lot of land in the country that Ray would have loved, mostly used for farming. Manitoba looked like any American city, although the houses in residential areas seemed closer together (little space and privacy in between residences). It has about 14,000 people, Rick said.

There was so much open farmland; I was amazed. Rick said the hog industry was hurting due to a drought last year. There is rich farmland by the “sleeping giant” Red River, which gives good returns on crops. In 1997 there was a big flood – the flood of the century. A dike now protects the area from flooding.

This area was first inhabited by Mennonite Germans, so some of the Canadian expressions have German origin. One such expression was “schlucks.” I didn’t know what that  was, and Rick and Doreen laughed because they weren’t really sure how to translate it into English, as it is used for different things. Doreen finally said the closest translation she could think of was “push it down” – like, “I’m going to drink one more schlucks of Coke.”

Doreen said a big yearly tradition they have in Canada is a “people hunt.” Everyone dresses up in unusual types of clothing for a disguise and the youth look for for their parents. Afterward, groups of youth go out for a burger and fries. She said it’s lots of fun.

Doreen and her family live in Steinbach,  a quaint area with charming, pretty houses in well-manicured neighborhoods. I loved Doreen’s pretty, very clean, modern house and felt immediately comfortable there with her beautiful, loving family. They made me feel so welcome! Doreen’s sweet daughter Kiersten won my heart right away and I had a lot of fun shopping with Doreen and her at the Winnepeg mall the day before I left.

Kiersten Penner
Kiersten Penner

Doreen’s son Reagan, like most teens, is a techy whiz and helped me to connect right away to the internet on my smart phone at Doreen’s house so I could text my family to let them know I safely arrived. Thank God for teens!

I was so impressed with Doreen’s husband Rick, who worked so hard and was the man behind the curtain for this women’s event, handling everything from setting up tables and chairs at the conference to making sure the video and the sound with lapel mics for the speakers worked properly to record their sessions. He and Doreen truly have humble, servant hearts.

Rick Penner, Doreen's husband
Rick Penner, Doreen’s husband

Doreen apologized for not cooking a big meal for me and Karen because she had been busy organizing and getting things ready for the conference, but she had no idea how good that meal of fried chicken, French fries, cole slaw, and biscuits tasted. I have lived in Missouri for over 20 years, but I was born and raised in Valdosta, in deep south Georgia, where fried chicken is a staple of life. I was thankful to sit down and eat a delicious, warm meal in the comfort of someone’s home after my flights. I was surprised how quickly I arrived in Canada, in the early afternoon – only a few hours to get there from Missouri!

Fried chicken
You can’t go wrong with fried chicken!

Doreen’s other keynote speaker for the conference, Karen Wells, drove alone over 30 hours from her home in British Columbia, north Canada. That is dedication! She said she had to hold onto the steering wheel almost the whole time to keep safely on the road, not even able to sip her hot coffee. But she did manage to stop different places and to sell at least 10 of her new book, Unhooked!

This easy marketing fascinated me and I asked her how she did it. She said she just told people she was a speaker and author and she was on her way to speak at Doreen’s conference, and asked them if they wanted to buy her book! If you missed my show with Karen sharing about her book Unhooked: 7 Steps to Emotional Freedom, you can listen to the replay by clicking here. It was a great show.

I wished I could have spent much more time with Karen to learn more about marketing and to hear more fascinating stories. She told Doreen, me, and Helen about her travels to different nations and how she has led people to Jesus – even when she couldn’t fluently speak the language, like in China! Karen is definitely a soul winner. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” – Proverbs 11:30

Below is a pic of Karen, me, and Doreen at Doreen’s house, shortly after Karen arrived. We were so pumped about the conference and couldn’t wait until the next day to speak and minister to the ladies. We are all speakers, authors, coaches, and leaders, yet we all have different personalities and speaking styles.

Doreen is a Choleric personality, very much a leader, extremely polished and professional in her speaking style (she’s active in Toastmasters’ professional speakers’ organization), and shares God’s truth and wise insights in her presentations. Doreen had a great handout for her presentation time. Handouts are important leadership tools. Handouts help you connect with the audience and help them to follow you.

Karen is a bubbly, happy Sanguine, who makes you feel instantly right at home, and at the same time her words reach straight into your heart and bring tears to your eyes and laughter to your soul. Her challenging questions cause you to dig past the surface and make you really think. Karen used a power point with her presentation.

I am a Choleric-Melancholy personality; Doreen said I am “very intense” when I speak. She said she often wondered what in the world I was thinking because I was so intense. :O  Helen said I was “real” and described my presentation as “one from the heart,” where I shared my personal painful life experiences (and triumphs), others’ powerful stories, and what God’s word has to say on the matter. Because I am such a visual learner myself, I use a lot of visual aids (props) when I speak. The audience’s feedback was that they enjoyed hearing the sessions from different speakers, spread throughout the day.

If you are a public speaker, what is your speaking style? What are some speaking tips you’d like to share with others? Leave your comments below.

Karen Wells, Beth Jones, Doreen Penner
Karen Wells, Beth Jones, Doreen Penner

Kiersten and I sorted the speakers’ handouts and inserted them in teal folders that Doreen bought (Kiersten, Doreen and Rick debated over if this was really a “teal” color, which I found amusing.) Then Karen and I followed in her SUV behind Rick and Doreen in their car to Dan and Helen Reimer’s house, where Karen and I stayed several days. The actual conference was in Mitchell, Manitoba.

I’d love to visit Canada again. I found the people there charming and friendly. I’m so honored God gave me this opportunity to minister to God’s daughters in Canada!

Stay tuned for my next blog post in my Canada blog series. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series and would love to know what you think. Please leave your comments below.

 

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