By Andrea Johancsik
If home is where the heart is, this Otesha tour has found home again and again throughout the last 5 weeks of cycling together. As we celebrated Thanksgiving in Wolfville, Nova Scotia this past weekend, we raised our glasses to people’s generosity and openness. In particular, one experience of home stands out: Grandbay.
The ride from Gagetown to Grandbay-Westfield, New Brunswick, was our first long ride of the tour. It was 72km, which takes about 7 hours on a bike. That day, we learned what “rolling hills” really means – sore and out of breath!
Halfway through our ride, Pastor Malcolm and his wife Laura from the Grandbay Baptist Church accepted us into their home to provide homemade scones, warm drinks and conversation. Four hours and many hills later, we were welcomed by them again at the church along with a fresh hot meal of soup, salads, fruit, tea, and (the best part!) quinoa cookies and a dark chocolate bar. That night and throughout the weekend community members let us into their homes for showers, did our laundry and provided us with air mattresses.
One of the challenges of cycling tours is giving up daily comforts. After a difficult cycle, we desire hot meals, comfortable beds, warm showers, and clean clothes. Instead, we often accept hunger, hard floors and smelly bodies, so the comforts we received at Grandbay are memorable to us.
However, we are most grateful for the sense of community. Community is a concept we advocate in our performances and exercise in our group, but the members of the Grandbay Baptist Church were the first to show us on tour how a genuine and well-functioning community thrives. We truly felt at home.
In return for their open hearts, we performed an excerpt of our play at an event the church was holding. It was so last minute we were rehearsing harmonies outside the church just minutes before stage! We also wrote and played a song for the community members that were so generous – You can read the lyrics at the bottom of the post.
The Grandbay Baptist Church holds a special place in Oteshaites’ hearts, because this was the church that the 2010 Highlands and Islands tour stayed in after tour member Andrew died in a road accident. More is written about Andrew here: http://otesha.ca/content/remembering-andrew-0
Grandbay Baptist Church embodies the sharing, giving spirit that is often encountered at home during Thanksgiving. We are always grateful for the places and things that are donated to us, but more important is the intention behind the giving. At Grandbay, the community’s small actions made a big impact on our lives – a message Otesha truly takes to heart.
Lyrics (written by Elyssia and Kristen)
It seems like only yesterday,
I met my fellow tour mates,
and we set out to make a change.
But actually yesterday,
we pedaled seventy-two K
And tomorrow, we’ll be moving on,
to Saint John.
How sad it is, to say goodbye,
when we’ve only just said hello.
Grandbay! You’ve been so good to us
You’ve fed us, showered us and washed our clothes
It’s nice to know that even with a thousand miles to go,
we still feel right at home,
through the rain, fog hail and snow.
We’ve got a long, long way to go.
Grandbay, we love you so.