Not a warm welcome | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

It was a pleasant drive from Seattle to Vancouver, BC on board the Bolt Bus. It is a great way to travel. We crossed the border into Canada a little over two hours after we left downtown Seattle. The customs guards were kind and let me stay on the bus, and instead came up to see me. After a few questions they bade me a good afternoon.

Vancouver was sunny and beautiful, but chilly. My nephew and his wife met me at Pacific Central, which is a hundred years old. It is an impressive station, and it was busy when my bus pulled in. But it was nothing like the bustle and excitement of Grand Central Station in New York. For a moment I remembered the many times I stood on a platform waiting for my train to Chappaqua. That was organized chaos.

A delicious sinigang dinner awaited at the Viduya-Hombrebueno home, my favorite Vancouver destination.

I saw cousins, nieces and nephews. We had a happy reunion. My visit was short and sweet. But it was such a special time, and I am grateful.

The drive back to Seattle was courtesy of Deo Tan, our favorite travel agent in Vancouver and his wife Letty, who graciously treated us to a sumptuous buffet dinner in Burlington before seeing me safely home.

Entering the United States from Canada can be a pain. The queue is long and slow. The agents are not too friendly.

Why is it that even when you adhere to every single regulation, arriving at the port of entry is always stressful? No matter that your papers are all in order; you shudder, wondering, “What if.”

Why is it that they make you feel like a trespasser, or worse? Why is entrance to the United States fraught with suspicion instead of a warm welcome?

A quick visit

On my last morning in Vancouver, my daughter’s school buddy Mari Quimbo Lalana came with Niqui, her second child, for a quick visit and a hug.

I was fascinated when Mari talked about her work. I knew she lived on a farm of sorts and that she rescued horses. But I had no idea about her amazing ministry to help people.

Let me share with you what she told me, verbatim:

“I am an Equine Facilitated Life Coach. I teach experiential learning with the assistance of my horses and donkeys.

Mostly they teach, really.

“I hold private and group sessions, workshops, team building, retreats, also classes in environment stewardship, meditation, energy healing and life experiences

“My clients include corporations, team leaders, individuals seeking clarity, young people, children, senior groups, mentally and physically challenged individuals, anyone who is stuck or wants change.

“The horses help by teaching us to find our deepest truths. For horses, everything is about survival. They live in the moment and in community. When one member of the group is not in sync with their truth, that causes imbalance and presents a danger to the whole. So, they seek to tip the scales back to balance.

“It’s a beautiful dance of life that they so willingly do for us. This is not a taught trick.”

I asked Mari why she does what she does.

“Why do I do this? It wasn’t my choice.

I answered a call and never looked back. And my joy in being a part of rescuing horses and helping people grows exponentially each day.”

I was in awe as she related how a man suffering from severe tremors from Parkinson’s disease came to see her. “He just sat in a chair and shook.

“Fernanda, my donkey, moved nearer and nudged the man’s right leg, bringing it closer to his left, and looking puzzled, watched him shake. Then the donkey leaned in, head on the man’s breast as if listening to his heart, and stayed there, just breathing calmly.”

No more shakes

A few minutes later the man turned to his wife and whispered, “I am not shaking.”

When the session ended, the man had no more shakes. The tremors ceased for the next two or three days. His wife was able to sleep beside him again, at least for those nights. No, he was not healed of his Parkinson’s, but the relief he felt must have been indescribable. He wants to return.

Mari also spoke about an autistic girl of seven who came with her mother for a session with Mari and her horses. The child understood everything she was told, but was totally nonverbal.

Mari took her to the stables and told her, “You will take a walk with my horse and when you do, you can tell him all your secrets. Horses know how to keep secrets, so tell him anything you want.” The girl just smiled.

The child walked, tentatively at first, but soon became comfortable with the huge animal beside her. Soon Mari and the mother noticed the little girl was moving her lips and smiling from time to time. When they returned, Mari asked her, “So did you tell the horse your secrets?” And in a clear voice she replied, “Yes I did. Thank you.”

These were her first words, ever. The mother was overjoyed and broke down in tears. Mari was touched but not surprised. She knew it would happen.

And there are more stories, all amazing!

Mari calls her service “Small Blessings.” I say she is too modest.