I’m going to begin by sharing this post I wrote about a very special Christmas I had overseas.

If you go over to read that post, I’m referring to the first Christmas I spent overseas. The one in The Netherlands.

Like I said before, after the first time I saw Amsterdam, I vowed to go back and live there. So I did.

I found a school called Youth With a Mission, which apparently a lot of people have heard of. I hadn’t but I found out about it through a friend. I did a bit of research and decided it would meet my educational and adventure needs as well as my travel wishes. I had waited four long years to return to Amsterdam. Patiently working at McDonald’s, going to university, saving my money for another trip of a lifetime… a part of me thought it would never happen. But a lot of me still believed.

You know, I just didn’t want to force it. I wanted to go back if it was the right thing to do, not just on an emotional whim. So I waited, and then I went. And I wanted to stay, desperately.

However, part of the school program I attended (called a Discipleship Training School, aka DTS) required an outreach. Mine was to South Africa. Do I dare admit when I heard I was starting my journey in East London I nearly jumped out of my skin because I had wanted to go to England so bad?

Yes. East London is a city in South Africa. And yes. South Africa is a country, not a region.

Things I didn’t know before I went… but I know now!

My months in Amsterdam were amazing. I didn’t want to leave. I even bought a bike from a junkie in the market and rode it around town like I owned the place. And when it was time for me to go to South Africa I tried valiantly to do my outreach in Amsterdam instead. I claimed I didn’t have enough money to go all the way to the bottom of the world (and actually I didn’t) and wouldn’t you know it. Somebody sponsored me, like an answer to prayer.

So I went to South Africa. And I had the TIME of my life. And I vowed to return to South Africa and live there. And I waited six long years, but I did return.

But I didn’t live there. But I sure tried. I had an amazing visit and it confirmed my love for the country and the region of southern Africa. And maybe I will live there one day, but I don’t have the desire as strongly any longer.

After my months in South Africa I returned to Amsterdam for another couple weeks. It felt like home honestly. I thought about staying on with Youth With a Mission, but they only took two year commitments and, well, two years is a long time when you’re 22.

So I went back home and thought long and hard about moving overseas. And then something weird happened. I went to Bible school in Alberta, and then I got distracted and moved to northern B.C. for 18 months. I think I was a bit lost for a while, not really fitting in anywhere and not ready to stay in one place. The early 20s are a funny thing. I think people choose to either settle where they are and embrace adulthood, or they wander, searching for…


At any rate, I continued to restlessly search for the unknown for the rest of my 20s.

Skip-bo and the Farm

Something my family spent a lot of time doing was driving. I don’t know how many times we went back and forth to my grandparent’s farm in Alberta but trust me, it was a lot.

My guess is between two and four times a year for 10 years.

Anyway, we loved going out to Alberta and spending time at the farm even though we were “from B.C.” Yeah, we were branded by our cousins for being from over the mountains and through the hills. To me it was so weird that someone would care (and have an opinion) about where I lived. However, I think we all tried to fit in with our cousins as best we could even though we didn’t understand what made us so different.

This meant playing in/around/on cows, farm equipment, junkyards, derby cars, snowmobiles, etc. etc. etc. At home we didn’t have any of these things. Just bears and stuff and junk. Mountain trails. Dogs who chased you home from school. Kids stuff. We were in Alberta now.

Of course we also spent a lot of time with our grandparents. They were nice people. Really really nice. My grandfather spent a lot of time restoring classic Fords and my grandma spent hours tending to her vast flower garden, greenhouse, and vegetable patch. They were simple people who lived quite a ways out of town. There was no TV, no Internet, no video games, no radio stations, no entertainment really. So, when our cousins weren’t around the four of us Roste kids could play with our mom’s old toys from when she was a kid or…

  • Watch one of the two VHS tapes in the house:
  1. Disney classics Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, and Robin Hood, all on one tape
  2. Hockey’s Greatest Hits
  • Play games (here are my favourites):
    • Skip-bo
    • Racko
    • Othello
    • Old Maid
    • Dutch Blitz

    And…that’s about it.

    But actually, we all loved games and especially Skip-bo. My grandpa was pretty good at it and my grandma was ruthless. They taught me all I’ll ever need to know about cards and strategy and my family still gets together regularly to rally at Skip-bo. Sure we try other games now and then but nothing really compares. Especially now that we have all sorts of in-laws who don’t quite “get it” yet. They’re so funny.

    Anyway, so this little passion began for me basically as soon as the game was released…OK, since I learned how to play. It’s a simple game anyone can play so I don’t think it’s the game I love so much as all the years of happy memories of my grandparent’s farm and spending time with my relatives and family.

    It’s weird. Even though there wasn’t much to do and even though we had to wash dishes by hand and do chores and stuff, I always had the best time and cried and cried each and every time we had to leave. I loved living over the rainbow but…well I can’t explain it. I guess you just know when you’re loved and you want to hold on even when you know you can’t.