Humans of Canadian Memorial: Nathalie & Diego

Nathalie and Diego are an absolute delight to get to know and share a beer (or South American wine) with. Just watch them finish each other’s sentences…. 

Nathalie: “When we started dating we always used to talk about living abroad. Learning new cultures, learning new languages – that’s something I’ve always been interested in. Rio is a hard city to live in. So we decided to apply for residency in Canada (Diego: “and it worked!”) Besides the weather, we picked Vancouver because of how inclusive it was. When I was living In the US it was really hard for me to fit in. I just didn’t feel welcome, even in church. It was devastating.”

Diego: “Everyone kept saying Vancouver was perfect for us: shared values and so many restaurants with vegetarian options! And it just really felt like a community here. My first ‘battle of sorrys’ that I saw was in the bus: someone was having trouble putting his bike on the bus and both the driver and cyclist kept trying to take the blame for it. They kept saying ‘sorry’ to each other for almost two minutes!” 

Nathalie: “It’s not that Brazilians aren’t polite – they are! The system is corrupt and people are without jobs, they’re hungry and scared. When we moved here, I was still wondering whether not we would really stay but there’s no amount of money in the world that pays to feel safe walking home at 11:00 at night. It is one of the best feelings I’ve had living here.”

Nathalie: “Being brought up Presbyterian has been challenging the past few years and it’s been really hard to understand why the church is not open to the LGBTQ+ community, knowing what Christ was all about. He actually died and ate with people who were outside the norm. That was something that has always bothered me. How the UCC cares about this demographic really stood out for me. I really like the open-hearted and open-minded message that Canadian Memorial has.”

Diego: “I’ve actually been reading the Bible for 190 days now – a personal record. When I started to experience God, it was the first time I felt blessed and loved. At first I was trying to rationalize it. I would think, ‘this is the amount of serotonin in my brain. If I can measure it, I can understand where it’s coming from’.  But I realized it was God. But not just any God: a God that is love. You don’t have to change yourself to go to church. You just have to love what God loves. You feel it in your heart. Canadian Memorial is a place that really represents me: same beliefs and a love for everyone. For me, that’s the biggest thing.”

Nathalie: “You have to love everyone because this is what we were called to do. Something that this church is about – spreading love and really embracing everyone, no matter your gender, race or ethnicity. This is how Canadian Memorial really spoke to me… other than, of course, the dogs in the service!”

Humans of Canadian Memorial: Rosemary

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

“When I met my future husband in England, he was married. Financially, we couldn’t see a way that we could ever have a future, so he moved his family to Zambia! After 18 months there, he decided to move to Vancouver and asked if I would consider meeting him there. After more ups and downs, we eventually married in 1968 and were married for 46 years! So, in the end it worked out well! We were living in Vancouver when he was arrested and went to jail for theft. It’s at this point that we met a minister who was very supportive of him. I witnessed the changes that God was making in Ted’s life and we were baptized shortly thereafter. When he had finished serving his time, he went back into prisons doing Bible Studies, as a Chapel volunteer. The same minister then convinced him he should be ordained. My first thoughts were “Oh my God! I don’t bake cookies, I don’t play piano, I can’t sing, how could I ever be a minister’s wife!?” But as time went on, he was absolutely convinced that was what he had to do. He was ordained in 1984 and the prison system invited him to become a prison chaplain. He went back to work in the camp where he had been an inmate. In the meantime, I was working for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and worked there for 39 years. We enjoyed our retirement years together until he passed away in January 2014.   I said to myself: “Tomorrow’s the first day of the rest of my life, a new chapter in the book of my life and I can make it what I want. I could feel sorry for myself… but who’s going to want to be around me? So I’m just going to go out, embrace life and get on with it!” I went to Barbados 3 weeks later and have been travelling ever since! Life is good!”