I remember it like it was yesterday. Grade 9 Band Tour. My suitcase was packed. We got on the bus at night. I was nervous. We were going to drive through the night and arrive in Alberta the next day. I remember the sun was just starting to go down, the smell of fresh fallen rain lingered in the air as I hesitantly waved goodbye and apprehensively stepped onto the bus.

I tried to go to sleep as we were instructed, but I was too excited and uncomfortable. I remember watching the mountain silhouettes go by as we were led by moonlight through the Rocky Mountains. I remember praying to God for safety and that the bus driver would stay awake.

I remember waking up at sunrise to the beauty of mountains. I was relieved our bus driver was still awake and that we were several hours closer to our destination.

Sing “O Canada” One More Time

This would be the first of many bus tours  in my life. Over the course of the years ahead there were yearly high school band tours and then once in college, longer choir and band tours, Repertory Theatre tour, van rides to attend Resident Life seminars and retreats all over the Midwestern USA. For at least 9 years of my life, jumping on a bus to tour with a team was a common occurrence.

And, from every single one of these trips, the thing that still lives vividly in my mind is the bus ride.

The card games, first relationships, new friendships, singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in major thirds  to pass the time and drive others crazy, the teaching of the Canadian anthem to a bus load of fellow band members (all of whom were American), freezing instruments, Rook tournaments, fits of laughter, annoying voices, pillow fights, giggles.

Fun. Team-building. Memories.

I’ve ridden busses and experienced the bond bus travel creates first hand. I wouldn’t trade these memories or miles for anything. More than the concert or the performance, the time of bonding on those busses is what I treasure.

And yet last weekend, I relive those moments with, “What ifs?”

We Ask, We Wonder

I feel like I am magnetized to the news. Who were these boys? How could this happen? How did it happen? Why did it happen?

Senseless. Horrific. Why them?

When I count the miles I travelled in similar situations, I am reminded of God’s grace. But where was this grace on Friday?

Last weekend, we were reminded of the unthinkable. I can’t help but feel a bit skeptical. Everything in me wants to say, “Let’s just keep our kids in school.” No need to go anywhere. No need to put anyone at risk. At least, that’s what my practical and fearful brain says.

I look at some of our high school students who returned safely from Mexico Missions trips. They traveled in vans. I want to hug them. In church on Sunday, we had a visiting choir from Ripon Christian. They too, traveled by vehicle. Our secondary kids left for Band tour on Sunday morning. On Monday morning, we have a group of students leaving for a SALTS trip. They will travel by bus.

And Yet…

I think of my own child and how will I ever let her drive, let alone go on a mission trip in a van or on a band tour in a bus. I pray God softens my heart and teaches me to have some grace because right now when she turns 16, I plan on moving to a city where everyone walks to their destination.

I think of the 65 kids going out in various vehicles for service for our Monday X Block. The events of last weekend fill me with that sense of, “It could happen.”

Maybe we shouldn’t do these things.

And yet, I know better.

I know we serve a God who is greater, a God who created a world meant to be explored and traveled. I know we cannot live in fear of the unknown or what if’s. Even in times of doubt or senseless tragedy, God is big, and even when we don’t always understand, we trust. 

As a community, may we uphold the community of Humboldt, SK, the families and billet families of the victims in prayer.

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