Monday, September 07, 2015

Day 17 – Quebec: bouncy castles and Shrine

The kids will always remember the bouncy castles at the campgrounds of Quebec, but the adults will remember the beautiful shrines and the French culture. What a fun province! 

 We have been enjoying it here so much. The people are very friendly, the churches are so beautiful and the geography is picturesque. I imagine it’s a delightful place to live.  We didn't really want to leave the lovely Lac-St.-Michel camp ground we were in.  In fact, before we even drove past the office on the way out, the kids discovered this massive bouncy castle there, so we ended up staying an extra hour just to have fun bouncing and taking slo-motion videos of flips and crashes. Everyone had a good time. 

It was probably a good thing they had so much fun there, because we found another Shrine to visit at lunch time in Trois-Rivieres.  This is the city that I stayed in for 6 weeks when I was on a government sponsored exchange in university.  I remember loving the French culture back then too.  The Church is called Notre-Dame-du-Cap, and it is so pretty (like all the other ones).  It wasn't nearly as crowded as St. Joseph’s oratory, so it was nice to wander around and make hot dogs in the parking lot.

This little detour meant we were late getting to St. Anne-de-Beaupre later in the day (still having time zone issues LOL), but we made it to the museum just in time to tour around for half an hour to get some historical background on the church.  The church is really stunning. It really took my breath away, and I have been there before when Elizabeth was only 10 months old. 

You drive along a highway beside the St. Laurence to get there, past farmer’s fields and trees, a big waterfall, and little stores sprinkled here and there…  then all of a sudden this huge European style church rises up on the horizon! What a testament to the faith of the people living in this area centuries ago.  You really should come see it one day if you have a chance.  The attention to detail on the inside is remarkable.  

The ceiling alone could keep you occupied for an hour.  Along the sides and back of the church, behind the main altar are many little shrines and altars to various saints: St. Patrick, St. Joachim, St. Benedict, and more… and a special one to St. Gerard, who is the patron saint of expecting mothers and those wishing to become one.  I spent awhile praying there for my friends and those who I had promised to pray for. 

Saint Anne is the mother of Mary, so that makes her Jesus’ grandma.  Isn’t it fun to think of Jesus having a grandma? It’s not something I have ever spent thinking about.  I know I have loved both of my grandmas so much – I can online imagine how much He loved his grandma.  They are special! 
In an alcove beside the main altar, they had an actual relic of St. Anne.  Now that has got to be very old- she lived before Jesus did! 
Near the middle, there is a beautiful statue of St. Anne holding the child Mary that had this beautiful prayer you could pray:

God is the author of all blessings.  HE is the one who raised you, O Good Saint Anne, to such radiant heights of holiness. Today it is through you that I offer my prayer to my loving and merciful God. It is He whom I honour as I venerate your holy relics as I lay my humble supplications at your feet. 
Kindly pray for me, Saint Anne.  Pray for us all. Bring us closer to Christ, our Redeemer, and through Christ may we be closer to God our Father.
Through your powerful intercession, may the Kingdom of God spread throughout the entire world, so that all people may come together and live in peace and harmony. AMEN.

Where St. Joseph’s Oratory was strong and masculine, this church, dedicated to his mother-in-law was pretty and feminine and peaceful.  We spent a long time just sitting in the pews in the quiet, taking it all in. 

After we left, we wandered across the street to have some ice cream- trying to make the last days of Quebec linger… because after Quebec, we will be parting ways with our travelling companions. Our large crew (4 adults and 11 kids in total) took over the whole store, and the locals just sat and enjoyed the chaos.  It’s been a lot of fun trying to communicate in broken French with the people we meet. They always want to know if we really have 8 kids, and where we are from.  Everyone has been so friendly. 
The Wiens left ahead of us, making tracks to the KOA we were scheduled to stay in for the night, and we took our usual time to get organized.  A quick stop at McDonalds gave us a lot to laugh over! In the smaller towns of Quebec, there isn’t much English – even in the McDonalds, I can speak a little bit of French because of school, and the 6 weeks I spent living here in university, but I’m not very good… and so when I tried to order “sept frites” (seven fries), the lady just sort of looked at me with a funny look on her face. You see, the kids were all in the car and here was this crazy Anglophone trying to order SEVEN fries? Who does that? She obviously decided I couldn’t count in French and kept asking me if I really wanted ‘sept’, even showing me seven fingers.  I just laughed and tried to tell her I had beaucoup enfants.  Then I tried to order a burger without a bun.  All communication broke down then… I couldn’t remember the word for bun or the word for bread or meat.  So I was making hand motions and she wanted to know if I wanted one without onions… mustard? Ketchup?  Finally a guy in line had pity on me and told her what I wanted.  She still thought I was crazy. :)

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