Oh Canada – yeah!

22 06 2011

After arriving in Canada back on May 22nd, Joel is now getting ready to move on to his next destination.  But before doing so, we want to reflect a bit on our time spent here in Canada as we have ‘rediscovered’ some of the things that make Canada so unique. If you’re from Canada, you’ll appreciate the following list; if you’ve never visited Canada, you may learn a few things here in this brief (and somewhat funny) introduction to the True North!

You Know You’re a Canadian
• if you know the 4 seasons – almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction
• your snow blower gets stuck on the roof
• when driving in winter is better, because all the potholes get filled with snow
• if you feel warm and toasty at  -26° C (-15° F)
• if the trunk of your car doubles as a deep freezer
• if the mayor greets you on the street by your first name
• when you miss the sunrise and sunset if you don’t go out for lunch
• if the school district had snow days, no one would ever have to go to school
• if you think it’s normal to have a grain elevator in your backyard
• if you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time
• if you install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked
• if you apologize when someone accidently steps on your foot
• if you apologize when you accidently step on someone’s foot, and then apologize for making them apologize
• if you know what a toque is
• if you know how to pronounce and spell “Saskatchewan”
• if you measure distance in hours
• if your local newspaper covers national news on 2 pages, but requires 6 pages for hockey
• if you understand the phrase, “Could you please pass me a serviette, I just spilled my poutine”
• if you have 10 favorite recipes for moose meat
• if you frequently clean grease off your barbeque so the bears won’t prowl on your deck

Okay, maybe some of these are ‘generalizations’ of what life is like in Canada, but it is not only a great place to visit but a wonderful place to live!  In reality, we have experienced some of the ideas expressed above during the past 4 weeks we have spent in Canada.

When Joel left Hong Kong on May 22 – the nighttime low was around 26° C [79° F], while the nighttime low for Edmonton the next day was 6° C [43° F]! While the weather has warmed up somewhat during the daytime hours – there were a couple of days when the temperature peaked at 23° C [73° F] – for the most part it has remained cool our entire time here.  In ways it has been nice not to have to deal with the oppressive heat and humidity of Hong Kong these past weeks, but we’ve had to do some ‘layering’ in order to help us adjust to what are usual winter temperatures for us (10-14 ° C / 50-57 ° F)

We have especially enjoyed the wide open spaces here in the city of Edmonton – green grass everywhere, and plenty of sports fields and parks to play and walk in.  In the suburb where Joel’s brother and his wife live, there is a small (man-made) lake, as well as a ‘nature walk’ where we got to go walking.  One day we walked down to a ravine a few blocks away in the middle of the afternoon. Joel stopped and pointed out an animal peering at us from behind a tree – it was a large cow moose – what a surreal encounter compared to the usual masses of people we encounter during “walks” in Hong Kong.

As well as enjoying the wide open spaces, we have also been enjoying the joys of being a pedestrian in Canada. You can cross at any cross walk and cars will stop for you – until you get to the other side! In Asia people are generally in too much of a hurry for that to happen – it seems that no one wants to wait.

Some of these things have helped us to slowly get into a more relaxed mode, even though we have been busy taking care of family affairs.  We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support over the past couple of weeks, as we were able to come together as a family for Joel’s mother’s funeral. We are looking forward to a few days together with some of our kids this month, a chance to see the apartments where they are living, and just being able to spend time with them.

Pray with us to have valuable bonding times connecting with Nathan & Jasmine (Marysville, CA) and Ryan (University Park, WA) over the summer.  They are still looking for church homes—would you pray for God’s leading to a place of fellowship and nourishment in His Word.

Pray for Janelle, as she leaves next Sunday, June 26th, for a 6 week long missions trip to Cambodia, where she will be teaching English and leading a sports program for children at two schools in Phnom Penh..  Pray for safety, health and strength, guidance and continued financial and prayer support.

Thank you for your notes of encouragement and your prayers through this time of grief and transition for our family—we appreciated hearing from you.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie


Journey into the Arms of Jesus

6 06 2011

Two weeks ago, we thought we knew what our summer was going to look like.  Joel was getting ready to make a trip into south central China to meet with church leaders there, while Debbie was grading papers and tests in preparation for the end of the school year.  We had made plans and booked air tickets to fly from Hong Kong to the USA, anticipating spending time at our home church in Salem, OR before traveling to Canada to spend time with Joel’s mother in Edmonton, Alberta.

Joel's mother - Ruby Chute

But when Joel’s mother’s health took a turn for the worse we realized he needed to get back to her bedside as quickly as possible.  After being admitted to the hospital with severe back pain earlier in May, an MRI had revealed lesions on her backbone.  While she was a bit discouraged with this news, she continued to believe that God still had a purpose for her life – and was hopeful for a recovery as doctors began radiation treatment.  Over the course of the next week, she began experiencing setbacks with her health and she was unable to eat or drink fluids.

We were able to find a seat on a flight to Vancouver and then on to Edmonton for Joel, and he arrived there the evening of Sunday May 22nd. For the next several days, Joel along with four of his other siblings, spent time at his mother’s bedside.  Joel spent the late night shift (11 pm to 8 am) at his mother’s side on Friday evening, and before leaving the next morning prayed with his mom, gave her a kiss and headed to his brother’s house to get some sleep.  It was within the next ten minutes that his mother was ushered into the presence of Jesus. We grieve at the loss of Joel’s mother, but rejoice that she is free from pain and in the presence of her Lord and Savior.

Joel with his mom at Banff, Alberta - 2009

We are so thankful for the staff and teachers at ICS – making it possible for Debbie to leave before the end of the school year and to come join Joel in time for the funeral.  Her students were so loving and caring as they said good-bye to her, and we’ll try and share some stories with you in the coming weeks about the opportunities Debbie had to share with her students about our hope in Christ – even in the midst of the death of a loved one.

A very close friend of ours shared the following words with us – they have been very helpful as we walk through this time as a family.  “The journey into God’s presence requires a departure, and that brings sorrow for those who remain.  But what joy it brings to know of your loved one’s arrival into the very arms of a loving Heavenly Father.” A memorial service for Ruby Chute will be held on Wednesday June 8th at Harvest Hills Alliance Church in Calgary, AB.

We’re still not sure what the rest of our summer will look like – we have plans to visit Debbie’s dad in Detroit and to share in several churches about our ministry in Hong Kong and China.  Would you pray with us that God would direct our travel plans, giving time for connecting with family, friends and supporters.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie