2008 BBQ at Milne Dam Conservation Park
Markham, Ontario

Miranda Kwan      ・66                 Toronto

Every year around summer time, St. Mark・s Alumni committee organize a BBQ family and friends event so we have a day out to enjoy the good weather and also a time to exchange greetings and updates among old pals.

This year is no exception. Earlier the year, the date and the place had to be chosen because we needed to make reservation with the Parks and Recreation of Markham and we had to be early enough to get a spot. Summer weekends usually sell like hotcake. This year we managed to book July 26, Saturday at Milne Dam Conservation Park which is located at the SE side of McCowan and Highway 7.

Everything went well, we had the booking, we had great response from the fellow St. Markans and we prepared a yummy menu for the day. We are ready to go! However, the weather seemed out of control. A few days before July 26, we started checking weather forecast for our B day. On Monday, it said there was high risk of thunderstorm and also 80% precipitation, then on Wednesday, it changed to cloudy with possible of thunderstorm and then on Friday again with high risk of thunderstorm. Our president Raymond got worried. We had emails back and forth for the change of plan. He was in a dilemma of whether to go ahead as usual or call off the gathering. After discussion, we decided to take chance and go ahead. Rev. Fung said if worse come to worst, he could let us go to St. John Divine church (a nearby church which he had connection or .face・) which could give us shelter but there would not be any BBQ and we could auction the food if necessary. So we have plan A and plan B. Actually there was another plan which was to go back to our cars if needed.

On July 26, all the committee members went there an hour earlier for preparation and also to see if we needed to switch to plan B. We all prayed for good weather. The morning started with a bit cloudy but no rain which was good. Kai Ming, Rev. Fung and a few others started the fire. We also set up and rearranged the picnic tables and chairs so they were not under the trees following Raymond・s instruction (didn・t we know that we have to stay away from trees in case of thunderstorm?).

By 11:00 a.m. more and more showed up and we had around 80 people. We had assigned some as chefs, some as servers and some to do cleaning and social. We also had Madam Liu and Madam Li joined us and they both were keen supporters to alumni activities. Special mention goes to Madam Liu who is one of the founders of St. Mark・s Alumni Association in Toronto and it was a great pleasure to see her on every of our occasions as she did make an effort to participate given her age.

Everything went as planned. Denis Lee (Mabel・s husband), Edward Chan, Arthur Chung (Timmie・s husband) and the guys started building a tarp for us. After many trials, they finally erected a perfectly balanced tarp with strings tying to the trees. We all thought it was a great job and gave them a big hand. May be we were over joy a little bit too fast and just when we were so happy to have a shelter, the park administrator came to us and told us to dismantle the tarp as it would hurt the trees. What a great disappointment! We gave the tarp a last look and torn it down as told. Yet our spirit was not dampened, the tarp engineers still found fun building it and also had fun destroying it.

We saw sun coming out of a cloudy sky. Not so strong but good enough. What a timely sunshine to our BBQ! This reminds me the bible message; always have faith in God, when you think the door is closed on you, God has already opened another one for you. So true!

The sun actually was on for the whole morning and we had a really good time. Kai Ming took pictures for us and as usual we had a group photo to mark the event. Everyone tried the salad, steak, sausages, lamb chop and vegetables. Mabel・s beef stew was one of the hottest dishes and it was gone till the last bit. Virginia・s sesame dessert the same. By the way, this was the first time Virginia made the dessert for us and it was a huge success. The watermelons were particularly juicy and sweet this year thanks to Timmy・s expert selection.

After filling the stomachs, Helen was about to play games with us. We sang the school hymn (of course!) and just then, we saw dark clouds over the west side and it was travelling towards us. The weather changed and we felt rain was imminent. To play safe, we cut the program short and everyone headed home.

On my way home, rain was pouring hard. And there was hail too. At one point, I had to stop the car at the roadside because the wipers were not fast enough to clear the windshield and I couldn・t see the road. Inside our hearts we all knew had this rain came earlier, we wouldn・t have made our BBQ. God has been with us all the time. So even we had to stop a couple times to wait till the rain subsided, we were thankful.

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