“I’m headed back to the West Coast where I’m from. I’m headed back to the Left Coast where I belong… Fading West with you.”
Okay, okay, so this Switchfoot song is about California, and while that’s where I’m from, I figure any west coast city will do – why not a trip back to British Columbia? After a short turn-around from our sailing trip to snowy Calgary and work, we turned around again and popped on a plane to Vancouver, headed back to Langley where we both went to (and met at) Trinity Western University. It was the second official Alumni Weekend and we were humbled to be honored at the event as recent (within 7 years) “Alumni Distinction Award” recipients (you can read more about our story here!). More than that, the trip back allowed us to get plugged into the alumni community more and spend some time reliving and reflecting on how significant our years at TWU really were. So… How do you recap another incredible and meaningful weekend? Well, I guess you simply get to writing and sharing. 😉 Here we go!
We left after a very stressful morning at the airport in Calgary on Thursday (I’ll spare you the panick-stricken, sweaty, cardio-inducing and heart rate-rocketing there-and-back trip because I left my wallet and ID at home!) where we picked up our rental car and drove straight in to Langley from Vancouver. TWU graciously paid for our way to attend this weekend and picking up the Fiat and bombing around our old stomping grounds was a blast!
A TWU-classic, Robbie Rhea, had asked Mikey to speak at chapel on the topic of “Why I Follow Jesus,” and he was among 2 students and 1 faculty who were speaking as well. We met Mikey’s parents, who had come out for the event, in the gym and enjoyed running into a few familiar faces, like a meaningful professor and friend to us, Daryl Page. Mikey did a great job and the topic was such a solid one because it elicits so many different responses and conversations to jump off from as a starting point.
I am so proud of my husband – he is so giving, so amiable, so well-spoken and so full of life! It was neat to have Maurice and Muriel there too and I love seeing how proud they are of him too – above and beyond!
After that we all checked into the hotel that was one of the sponsors of the alumni weekend, the Sandman Signature Hotel, before splitting up and driving into Vancouver. Mikey and found a spot in North Vancouver to walk around and loved seeing one of my favorite Canadian cities while soaking up the sun.
The evening held a beach BBQ of cedar plank smoked salmon with baby potatoes and a kale salad thanks to Catherine and Dave. We had a beautiful night and enjoyed relaxing at Ambleside Park eating together while the sun slowly sank over the Pacific. Before sunset, however, we drove up Cypress Mountain, picked huckleberries and blueberries, watched the sunset on the way down from the mountain, and ate the berries over ice cream at Cath and Dave’s place in North Van. It was so much fun and such a great night together. Of course we ended with some sunset jumping shots – what else would you guys expect of us?! 😉
After a great sleep in Langley, I squeezed in a quick bodyweight workout in the hotel before meeting up with one of the most caring and big-hearted men we know, Dale.
Dale was the head of Recreation Services when we were at TWU and helped us after Mikey and Cora (from our sailing trip!) founded the Outdoor Club. Talking about life and connecting over pain (both in life and physical like on long, hard hikes), sharing verses and struggles as a Christian, laughing and enjoying Fort Langley together – it was all so meaningful! Connecting with people is just the best.
We said goodbye to Dale and drove our to Aldergrove to visit Mikey’s aunt and uncle, Enid and Doug. We always love chatting with them and reconnecting when we’re on the coast; it was great to see them and get some face time and hugs in. 🙂
Then it was off to pick up my parents! We were thrilled they could make it up for the weekend, and I was so, so excited to pick them up! After their crazy customs line, they emerged, looking as fit and smiley and Californian as usual. We drove into Vancouver to meet Mikey’s parents and had a great time walking along the seawall in the sun and then grabbing some Mongolian BBQ, Marble Slab ice cream and then sunset while walking around at night.
Then the TWU fun began – the rest of the weekend was all about alumni events and reconnecting at the university that was so incredibly meaningful for Mikey and I (and so many of our friends). That meant a pancake breakfast, “tent talks” by university professors, campus tours seeing the recent renovations, and of course all the bouncy castle and outdoor fun for kids. The alumni association (and Scott, among many others!) did a great job of making the weekend family-friendly and fun, and after a nap on the lawn Mikey and I spoke with several others on the “Backpack to Briefcase” panel about transitioning from university life to “real” life after you graduate. There were so many great words of wisdom shared, and being able to encourage one another through our stories and experiences we’ve all had was super valuable.
We went back to the hotel, cleaned up, and got ready for the intimate dinner and awards ceremony a bit later, where I surprisingly ran into so many people I knew and loved from TWU – people like Keith and Melissa, Mike and Juliet, Katy (and got to see her second one on the way!) and even past TWU presidents. SO many of our peers and friends from TWU are doing such incredible things with their work and lives, so to be picked by the committee and honored for our award was amazing to us. Although only one person was supposed to receive the award, and Mikey’s name was the one written down by peers as a nomination, the committee said they couldn’t just give it to one of us and promptly made space for “Mike and Bonnie Lang” on the award and in the presentation! What an affirming thing for us to be recognized for our lives as a couple – we really are a team and I am so pumped to be doing life with Mikey. My dad presented the award to Mikey and I, and his words were incredibly meaningful and moving – what a gift to have him honor us.
(thanks, Nelson, for the great video work!)
The food was delicious, the videos on each person moving, the conversations engaging and the evening enriching for all of us, and having both our parents there was the best part of the whole weekend. What a memory!
Can you believe the weekend STILL isn’t done?! 😉 Sunday was short but sweet with breakfast in Fort Langley on the water all together and chapel at TWU as a group. We were super encouraged by the message from an alum from 2005 and for the time to sing together. Trinity meant so much to Mikey and I, and both Mikey’s sisters attended as well, and to be able to get plugged into the community again as an alumni is super rewarding. I know both our parents are thankful and appreciative of our experiences at TWU and it was such a great way to end the weekend, thanking and acknowledging God for his work in all our lives during and since Trinity.
After a hug-filled goodbye with the Langs and waves as they left in their camper home for Oregon and a tearful one for me with my parents, we boarded our planes and headed back to our respective homes in California and Alberta. Trinity Western University was really a formative place for Mikey and I as we learned more about ourselves and the God we serve while there. We didn’t just learn about but lived out community, were stretched and grown with our leadership experiences on campus and made some lifelong friends. It was great to reengage with a place that is so meaningful to us and we look forward to not only attending the Alumni Weekend for years to come but being involved with the community in more significant ways. And what a way to end the summer after all our fun Survive & Thrive trips – a capstone experience most definitely!
And here we are, about to start another week. Thanks for letting me share my experiences with you guys on the blog – an online journal not only for us to look back on but for people to follow along our journey and join us in saying, “God is good!” We receive His goodness when our life is going well and proclaim that we believe He is good when our life circumstances are hard, and this is a place where I can share those dark and bright seasons with you.
For other alums out there: Are you connected to your alumni network from your university? And for anyone else, have you been to Vancouver this time of year or at all? Such an amazing city!
Thanks for being a part of our journey, friends. And now it’s back to full weeks of training, eating a little less of the splurging stuff and little more of the greens and proteins, and to the transition to fall! Live well & be well!