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!”