Chapter 37: New Friends
I am a “born again” Christian. I became a Christian in 1977 and had been very active in all of the churches I’d attended. I’d also spent 2 years in Montreal with the Mennonite Central Committee just 2 years after I became a Christian. However, when I met and then married Dave I fell away from the church. None of the people at my church felt I should marry him. They didn’t give us counseling as we’d requested but were very quick to react once we decided to live together. Of course they were right. But I didn’t see that and was quite bitter over our treatment for many years. I still felt that I was a Christian but God certainly wasn’t a major part of my life. Although Dave had told me he was a Christian when we first met, he wasn’t living as one. I now know that if someone is busy living like a non Christian then it isn’t too likely that he has a good relationship with Christ.
It didn’t take long after Kayda arrived in my life before I knew I couldn’t do this alone. Over the years I grew closer to God once again. I tried to attend church with her a few times when she was quite young but she was very noisy and it just didn’t work out. I was still leery of getting involved in another church due to the judgmental way we’d been treated by my former church. I also feared that any church would kick me out if they found out that Dave & I had lived together before we were married. He never attended church with me.
When we purchased our house in 1995, I noticed that there was a small church just down the street. It intrigued me. However, I noticed that there was no wheelchair ramp. And as it was very small I knew there would be no way for me and Kayda in her giant casts to be invisible and unobtrusive which is how I prefer to introduce myself to people. I longed to be able to attend. Finally in the summer of 1997, Kayda was out of casts and as she no longer needed to wear her brace during the day her chair could be narrowed to a normal width. Just the day before her chair was adapted I found a flyer in our mailbox announcing a children’s program at the little church each evening that week. That was all the encouragement we needed. The day after her chair was narrowed we went to the church to attend the children’s program. I just went to the door when we arrived and asked if someone could help carry Kayda up the stairs. We quickly had volunteers. Once we were seated, I noticed that someone I’d worked with many years earlier (Heather) was there. I remembered from when we worked together that she was a Christian and was just home from Bible school. We’d gotten along quite well back then so once I realized that this was her church I knew that this was the right place for Kayda and myself. We enjoyed the program that evening. I told Heather that we would try and attend as much as we could on Sundays. It felt so good to be back in church.
So, that next Sunday morning Kayda and I drove the short drive to the church. That was the morning after Princess Diana died. As soon as I heard prayers being offered for Princess Diana’s family and those in the car, I knew that this was a good place for us to be. I don’t really know why that was so important to me, but it was. Kayda wasn’t well enough to attend church every week but we went as often as possible and I always attended when she was at respite. Every week several men were very quick to come and carry Kayda and her chair up and down the stairs. Even though people were a little unsure of how to relate to Kayda at first, her smiles quickly broke down any barriers and people realized that she was just a little girl. It helped that Heather worked with people like Kayda. She was one more person that was comfortable with Kayda right away. Kayda loved church. She especially loved the sermon as she thought it was a story. She enjoyed the singing too. I usually held her during the sermon just to keep her quiet-even though one lady kept telling me she was too big. When the sermon was over Kayda would often complain. And, when we were downstairs having coffee after the service Kayda clearly recognized the voice of the man who gave the sermon. She loved him and always had a big smile when he spoke to her.