We live in a dark world...a world that suffers the affects of sin and evil. Yet this is the world God send his Son, Jesus Christ who is the light of the world bringing us deliverance from the darkness of sin and evil. But Jesus also gives us his Word to light our path, to guide us, and to take to the far reaches of the earth. As His word says, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Expanding Ministry - Part 2

Well, as you can guess, I didn't include visits to Sachigo Lake, Ontario or Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba in Part 1 since it was getting a little long winded.  Imagine that from a pastor!  So, if you haven't read about the ministry trips to Cross Lake or Shamattawa, Manitoba, then you may want to start there first before continuing here.  It's just a suggestion.

Back to the expanding ministry of LAMP...

Two weeks after my visit to Shamattawa, I was headed to Sachigo Lake, Ontario for my second Family and Parenting workshop at the healing center.  Last year was the first workshop I conducted in a northern community.  It was received well enough that they requested a second one this year.   Due to the regional airline schedule and that I was going there from a LAMP weekend in Billings, Montana at Trinity Lutheran Church (the Cross Lake, Manitoba team's church), it was going to be a quick "in-and-out" trip.

The first day of the workshop went well.  I had a smaller group of 4 people, but they were really engaged, asked a lot of questions, and had great dialog.   The second day of the workshop didn't go exactly according to plan.  I chalked it up to the Lord's plan again.

The healing center had run out of fuel oil for the furnace.  The person who was supposed to take me from the hotel to the center was tied up with 3 tanker trucks that were fresh off the winter road and trying to orchestrate getting a fuel oil truck to the center.   That left me stranded at the hotel, even though I could have walked the mile and a half to the healing center.  However, with a temperature of -5F and a wind chill of -27F, it was safer for me to wait.  But that opened up another opportunity to meet Stan Tait, the operator of the hotel, the gas station, and manager of finances for the community.  It was really a blessing to hear his story and to be able to affirm and support him in his faith walk.  Not only that, I now have another friend up north.

With the fuel oil delivered, my ride took me to the center and the second day of the workshop commenced.  We managed to finish up everything and have some more great discussions.  Evangeline who is director of the center was asking about when I could come back.  So it looks like this ministry to families and parents is growing and necessary for not just Sachigo Lake, but a number of northern communities.   I would have liked to stay longer and track down some of the people I know, but my flight was leaving that late afternoon and I headed to the airport.  It is truly humbling to see how the Lord is working through LAMP to not just bring the Gospel to communities but to support and encourage believers in these communities in their faith in Christ.

The third week in March, I met up with John and Sue Folger in Winnipeg to travel to Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba.  John and Sue have been going there literally for decades and have deep connections to the community.  Beside connecting with the people there, I was going to conduct another family and parenting workshop.

We arrived in the afternoon and were greeted by Sean Harper who is the youth pastor for his church and assists with programs at the family enhancement center where the workshop would be held.   Sean took us to the cabin we were going to be staying in.  It was really nice and homey (sic).

John getting comfy in the cabin

After we dropped our baggage and supplies off at the cabin, we headed over to the Northern Store to stock up the kitchen with food for the next couple of days.  That visit took the better part of an hour as we kept running into people who recognized John and Sue (and occasionally me).  It turned into a real social event and reunion of sorts.  It's astounding that the people there were so glad to see John and Sue, a real testament to the ministry they have carried out at Red Sucker Lake.

We left the store and headed back to the cabin for supper.  I wanted to check out the location of the workshop.  Sean met me there and we got the lay of the land for the workshop and the area for the children to play during the workshop.   As I was finishing up, John showed up with a member of the community to take me to the nurse's station.

Apparently, there was a friend of his who was in respiratory distress and was being treated for cancer.  He was going to be flown out on a medivac plane.  I was asked as a pastor to go and have prayer with him.  His family and friends gathered around Marlo's bed as I prayed for comfort, peace, and relief from his respiratory issues.  You just never know when the Lord will press you into service for his people.

John and I went back to the cabin afterwards ending a rather full day of activity.

Our first full day there was a cold and windy one with the morning temperature hovering around -11F.  But the skies were crystal clear.

A crisp and cool sunrise at Red Sucker Lake on my morning walk

After breakfast, we began our morning trek around the community.  The first stop was the school where the VBS is held in the summer.  John and Sue connected with some of the staff.  We also dropped off a bunch of  "The Bully" booklets for the teachers to pass out.

Sue Folger catching up with the staff at the school office

Then we visited the Northern Store again (they have a Tim Horton's Express there) and met more people.  I talked with the store manager, Nathan, and got a better understanding of some of the challenges of running a store in a remote community and the balancing act of trying to provide for the people's needs and, at the same time, trying to keep the store profitable.

By now it was lunch time.  We headed back to the cabin and ate.  In the afternoon, I stayed at the cabin reworking the presentation to fit into two evening sessions of two hours long.  John and Sue headed out to spend time visiting with more friends, including Rev. Susan Evans, pastor of one of the churches.

Mid-afternoon, I met up with Sean again.  We headed back to the Northern Store to pick up door prizes and snacks for the workshop participants.   Afterward, we went to the family enhancement center to set up for the evening. 

Sean dropped be off at the cabin where John and Sue had returned from their afternoon visits.  We ate dinner and then walked over to the center to get ready for the workshop.  Sean had arranged for "taxi" service for those people without vehicles and for babysitters. 

The gathering around the snacks after the workshop.

The first night went well, even though participation was light.  The people attending were young parents with young children.  We had some good discussion including how to deal with a whiny 4-year old.  The children, of course, were once again enamored with my "Mr. Clean" look.

One of the children checking out "Mr. Clean's" head

After the workshop, we hung around the center while everyone snacked on the food and drinks.  By the time we got done and everyone headed home, it was well past 11 PM.  We got back to the cabin and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

The next day was almost a repeat of the day before.  I did some more preparation, especially to provide additional information based on our discussion the night before.   Sean made copies for me to hand out, we got the snacks set up, and were ready to go for session two.

The second evening's attendance was doubled.  I did a quick overview of what we covered the night before (Parenting, child development) and then forged ahead with communications, conflict resolution, stress, and forgiveness in the family.  Again, there were questions and discussion to help these parents in their vocation raising their children.

Sean printed up the course certificates and we had a small "graduation" ceremony followed by the drawing for the door prizes.  Everyone  was excited to get their certificates and the door prize drawing was filled with excitement and a little humor along the way.  The workshop was definitely a hit and well worth the effort by everyone.

The "graduates" of the family and parenting workshop.

I got to give away a likeness of myself...a gallon of "Mr. Clean"!

A happy door prize winner!
 It was another night where we finished up and got back home just before midnight. We all slept like logs.

The next morning after breakfast, we met with Sean and the staff at the Family Enhancement Center.  We listened to them describe some of the challenges the community is facing like the increase in drug traffic and alcohol, especially during the winter road season where it's easier to smuggle it in.  The effects on the community, especially parents, children, and families is heart-wrenching.  The family and parenting workshop is a tool to help them and the staff and Sean would like it to become a regular event in the community.  Before we departed the center to head to the airport, we prayed together for the community and for the Lord Jesus to bless and protect them from the Evil One.

(L to R) Dennis, Sue & John Folger, Sean Harper

We headed to the airport for our flight.  We said our goodbyes to Sean and are already looking forward to the summer trip back to Red Sucker Lake.  It's a special place with special people who love the Lord and want to see the faith spread and grow there.

LAMP is so grateful for teams and team members like John and Sue who are willing to make the commitment to the communities that they serve, especially the growing "off-season" trips in the winter.  It's such an honor and privilege to be invited into communities, to be welcomed like family, and to be able to share the love of Jesus through teaching, praying, and overall ministering to them.

This is a blossoming part of LAMP's ministry to the First Nations people of northern Canada.  Our expanding presence in the communities is needed so badly to support the believers and those who have yet to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Through your continued support--your prayers--your financial gifts will make this possible.

As the teams and I prepare to head north for the summer VBS season, please remember to pray for...
  •  Safe travel for the teams and that the LAMP aircraft operate without incident.
  •  Open hearts in the communities, especially as new teams minister to them for the first time.
  • God’s Word to encourage communities in their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Good health for me with a busy schedule of 16 communities and teams this summer. 
May God’s Word from Philippians 1:3-6 be my prayer to you for your continued support of LAMP and me.   “I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

Peace be with you!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Expanding Ministry - Part 1

It's hard to imagine that it's already the day after Easter, or, Resurrection Sunday as I like to call it.  The time between Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus, and now, celebrating Jesus' resurrection from the dead has gone my at warp speed.  Part of that time warp was due to travel to northern communities this winter.

Yes, the ministry to the people in these remote First Nation communities is expanding, especially with volunteer missionary teams desire to make additional visits beside just teaching a week of Vacation Bible School.

The first group that went north this year was the Cross Lake, Manitoba team from Billings, Montana.  The first week in January a group of 9 volunteers went back to visit and minister to the children and families.  Last year as you recall, there was a huge suicide epidemic going on there.  I met the team there during Holy Week to minister to the children in the schools and the staff.  This year, thankfully, things are much better though they still deal with the same issues of poverty, joblessness, and isolation.  Unfortunately, I was unable to go and be with the team and community due to a personal family situation.   But that didn't stop the Lord from working through them to bring the encouragement of God's Word to the people of Cross Lake or other communities.

That includes Shamattawa, Manitoba.  Three members of the team along with one of the team member's spouse and I traveled there the week of Valentine's Day to visit the children in the school.

The Shamattawa team: (L to R)  Leon and Lori Dawkins, Shawn and Dave Schneeberger
During our 3 day stay, we camped out in the school (literally!) and were able to minister to the children along with the staff.  Christina, one of the teachers who organizes and runs a breakfast program put the gals to work in the morning.  As the kids arrived, they served up the menu for the day.   A number of the children greeted us with hugs recognizing us from our previous visits with them.

The guys pitched in with cafeteria cleanup after breakfast.  Dave was an expert with table wiping.

We then started visiting the classrooms from preschool through high school.  The team brought an arsenal of item for the children including glow-in-the-dark  "Jesus is the light of the world" necklaces.  Leon brought his guitar for singing and Lori introduced us and our purpose for our visit.  I piggy-backed off of the 1 John 1 passage that was on the necklaces about how Jesus helps us overcome darkness with his forgiveness and presence in our lives.  Dave managed all of the handouts.

The group singing one of the kids favorite VBS song, "I just want to be a Sheep".
We also had the opportunity to support the teachers in the school.  Many of them appreciated us coming and supporting them in their faith as well.

Leon chatting with the 2nd grade teacher after our time with the kids.

One of the teachers reading the booklet we handed out to all the kids on bullying.

A number of the VBS children helped out with the songs.

It was so obvious that the LAMP missionary team has made quite an impact on the children in Shamattawa over the years they have been serving that community.

One of the items on our agenda was to conduct a Family and Parenting workshop.  We had planned everything out to the last detail and were ready to go...or so we thought.  We unfortunately didn't know that we needed to arrange for transportation to the school especially with the frigid temperatures outside.  Well, the Lord had a different plan for us.

The school basketball team was going to Churchill, Manitoba for a tournament.  They needed to raise money for their train tickets and accommodations.  So a few of the teachers organized a Valentine's Day banquet at the school as a fundraiser.   We all pitched in over the course of two days before the banquet assisting with preparing the food...turkeys, roasted potatoes, moose & caribou, appetizers, and desserts.

Denise was our head chef and organizer of the banquet.

John, one of the teachers was busy preparing the stuffing for the turkeys

Shawn, Leon, and Dennis cooking up sauces and gravy

The decoration committee!!!
 The day of the banquet, we all went into high gear to not only prep the food but to decorate the cafeteria for the 40 Plus people who had made reservations.

Pastor/Pilot Dennis putting the banquet theme on the bulletin board.
Leon and a couple of the children decorated another board
The dessert table
The crew all ready to start serving the banquet
Let the feast begin!
Leon singing a song to the banquet guests
Pastor Dennis was asked to open the banquet with a prayer.  Then Leon provided entertainment by singing a song he had written for the occasion.  It was quite an evening that everyone enjoyed and appreciated.  It was a lot of work, but also a way for us to be a blessing to the parents and families of the children.  

The next and last day at Shamattawa was busy.  We finished up visiting the classrooms, made a visit to the local radio station, and got to go out on the "winter road" a few kilometers.  We also got to visit with the basketball team before they headed out that afternoon.

We received "Thank you" notes for coming from the preschool class.
The basketball team as they prepared to leave for Churchill via winter road and train.
The team out for a morning walk before we left to head home.  The school is behind them.
Dave dropping off Christian music CD's at the radio station.
On the beginning of the winter road crossing God's River!
The winter road on the other side of the river.
(L to R) Rylee Gilbert, ,the Vice-principal, Obu, the phys ed and basketball coach, and Denise Richardson
Our time in Shamattawa was special.  We were able to touch more people than we imagined.  It's always hard to leave a community because you leave a little of yourself behind.  But then we also leave behind the most important thing of all...the love of God through Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Last week, a friend of mine sent me a link with a couple of pictures in it of a frozen lake in Michigan.   Well, you might say, "It's winter in Michigan.  Of course the lakes will be frozen."   That's true, but it's rare to have what is called "clear ice".   On Lake Charlevoix, the weather conditions were just right for this phenomenon to occur.  What is fascinating is that you can see through the ice to the bottom of the lake.  It looks as if the person is walking on water.  The person's shadow on the bottom of the lake along with a perfect mirror-like reflection are part of this unique occurrence.  It's just another one of God's fingerprints that he leaves in nature to remind us of His creative power.

"Clear Ice" on Lake Charlevoix in northwest Michigan!

I have been to Lake Charlevoix a number of times but never in the winter and never when it was this clear.  I think it would be awesome to witness this rare phenomenon in person...to see my shadow and reflection perfectly.  But in this case, a picture will have to do.

This picture also reminds me of how the Lord uses each of us to reflect His glory, love, and hope to the world in Jesus Christ.   God's Word says this to us: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  (2 Co 3:17–18  NIV).   Those reflections are not only important for each of us but to those around us as well.

As I stand at the beginning of 2017,  I have looked back at how the Lord has allowed me and the missionary teams to reflect his glory and yet at the same time, I am looking forward to this spring and summer at how the Lord will use us to continue to reflect his glory.   It is an awesome phenomenon that occurs only by the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit working in us and not by anything any of us can do on our own.

As an example, this past fall took me to the remote community of Muskrat Dam, Ontario.  There was a new VBS team that went there last summer.  I wanted to touch base with the Deputy Chief, Roy Fiddler and Rev. Roy Morris who help coordinate the team's accommodations and location for VBS.

An ariel view of the healing center at Cat Lake, Ontario on the way to Muskrat Dam.
Over the course of their week at Muskrat Dam, the team exhibited that reflection of God's glory to the children and their families.   In my discussions with both Roy's,  they were pretty emphatic that the community would like to see them more often!   They believe that providing additional Bible based programs for the children is important to the community.   They are seeking and desire to see the reflection of God transform their children!

Roy Morris, Pastor/pilot Dennis, and Deputy Chief Roy Fiddler
If anything came out of my visits and conversations this past summer and fall with the communities I serve in Ontario and eastern Manitoba, it's that there is a need and desire for more spiritual care than just a summer Vacation Bible School.  Additional programs for the children and community are high on the priority list for the First Nation people.

As I begin my third year with LAMP, the vital need for taking the Gospel of Jesus to the First Nations communities in northern Canada has become more and more apparent.  Communities see not only VBS as a valuable need but are looking to LAMP to provide additional assistance such as Sunday school resources, workshops on parenting and grief, and pastoral care and support.   They want to see LAMP’s volunteers and staff missionaries more often.  It’s a task I am passionate about providing, one that we so often take for granted here in our own communities.

I’m currently preparing for a trip the second week of February to Shamattawa, Manitoba to conduct a family and parenting workshop.   The volunteer missionary team that teaches VBS in Shamattawa will be there with me as we seek to reflect the glory of the Lord by caring for the children and their families with compassion only our Savior can provide by His Word and Spirit working through us.  I also have a trip scheduled to Sachigo Lake, Ontario at the end of February to conduct another parenting workshop at the request of the community.   Then in late March, missionary team members and I will be traveling to Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba to provide programs for the children in addition to a parenting workshop.

The Lord is blessing LAMP greatly with expanding opportunities to reflect God's glory on a year-around basis to communities in the north. 

It's also an opportunity for you to be that reflection of God's glory by your support, both in prayer and financially.  You would be a true side-by-side coworker with LAMP in taking the Good News of Jesus to the First Nations people.   So please consider becoming a partner in ministry with me so that together we can reflect God's glory and transform lives through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Peace be with you!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Sachigo Lake, Bearskin Lake, & Weagamow Lake, Ontario and Churchill, Manitoba

It was down to the last couple of weeks in August and then the summer VBS season would be over.  It comes so quickly and goes by just even faster.

At the end of my last exciting episode, I had left the team in good hands at Muskrat Dam and was heading to Sachigo Lake, Ontario.   Upon our arrival, we were met at the airport by Rev. Solomon Beardy who took us to the teacher house where the team was staying.  This would be an overnight stay to spend more time with the team and in the community.  It was a luxury to be able to do this since normally we have to head into other communities to meet with VBS teams.

It was really nice to be able to have a much more relaxed schedule with the team.  I got to know them better and we were able to have a number of discussions especially about how their experience compared to other VBS teams.  I also had a couple of one-on-one conversations that allowed me to encourage and support those individuals.  It was great to connect to the children and parents on an evening walk after dinner.  That's a major role the teams have--to build their relationships with the communities which allows them to share the Gospel of Jesus openly.

Yes, that's me "using my head" again to make connections with the children

As we sat around late Saturday evening, the team prepared a few songs that they would sing as part of the worship service on Sunday.   Then we headed to bed (or in my case, the sleeping bag).

The team working out lyrics for the Sunday music

Sunday morning found a couple of the women already at work making breakfast for the crew.  After breakfast, the team got ready to head to the church for worship.   That is a special time in so many ways.  The team shares the message of Jesus through their music.  Pastor Brad shares the message through his sermon.   The people in the community come to listen and learn about their Savior.  But the best part is that everyone there is one in Christ--forgiven sinners who have received God's grace and mercy.   After worship, Rev. Beardy thanks the team for being there with tears of appreciation in his eyes.   Chief Titus Tait also spoke and thanked the team for coming to Sachigo Lake.   It was nice to see the Chief again and have a chance to talk briefly with him.

The team singing during worship

Rev. Solomon Beardy addressing the church after worship
Chief Titus Tait thanking the team for coming to Sachigo Lake

Team members talking with Chief Tait and Rev. Beardy after worship.

We headed back to the teacher house for a quick lunch and to gather VBS supplies.  Then it was back to the church for the afternoon VBS session.  The team was quickly set up and ready to go which was a good thing as children started to arrive.  The children can't seem to get enough VBS!  It's another opportunity for them to hear, see, feel, and learn about Jesus and his love for them.
The puppet show that tells the Bible story is always a hit with the children.

It was approaching mid-afternoon and time for us to head back to Red Lake.   Rev. Beardy once again provided us with a ride back to the airport.  As we said our "good bye", he asked what he normally asks me; "When are you coming back?"   In a way, a piece of me never leaves Sachigo Lake.  But I look forward to returning hopefully this winter to do another family and parenting workshop.

Three days later found us in Bearskin Lake, Ontario meeting up with the team there.  Rev. Mary Ann Beardy met us at the airport and gave us a ride to the church.  This team does not only one, but TWO VBS sessions a day!   The morning session is for the younger children and the afternoon session is for the older children.  The VBS sessions also coincide with the literacy camp that is conducted at the same time.  So while the young ones are at VBS, the older ones are at the literacy camp and vice-versa.  We arrived shortly after the morning session was underway.

Since some of the younger children come back with their older siblings, the team presents the Bible story two different ways.  In the morning it's a puppet skit...

But in the afternoon, it's a character skit...

Craft time is always a favorite of the children.  The team, like all of them, integrate the Bible story into the day's craft to reinforce the story.

Along with craft time is recreation time.  The children played a number of inside games to occupy their time in between activities.

On of the craft activities was to take strips of paper and write down sins that the children were aware of.  Then these strips were put together in a chain and hung on a cross to represent that Jesus, by His death on the cross broke us free the chains of sin.

It seems that everywhere I go, I witness teams of volunteers who demonstrate the love of Jesus to the children and community they serve and it was not any different at Bearskin Lake.   The day of VBS came and went quickly.   Mary Ann soon arrived at the church to take up back to the airport for our flight back to Red Lake.

Rev's Genny Kam and Mary Ann Beardy (Left) with the rest of the VBS Team.
Now there was only one more trip to make in Ontario for the summer to Weagamow Lake.   It would also be one of the most "interesting" trips so far.

Our departure from Red Lake was normal along with the flight up north to Weagamow Lake airport.  Our only concern was the notice issued for high bird activity.  We saw none of it probably because of the flights that were landing ahead of us.  Everything was textbook on the approach and initial touchdown.  But then I noticed that the airplane was not responding as quickly with my rudder pedal input.  As we slowed down, and the front of the plane oscillated left and right, I knew what happened.  The nose tire was flat!  I carefully taxied us to the ramp and shut the plane down.  When we got out to take a look, my suspicion was confirmed.   Another flat tire.

Oh well.  "The Lord must have a plan in all this," I thought.   We'll have to figure out what our options would be.  But first, it was time to meet up with the team.  We got to their teacher housing unit as they were getting ready for brunch.  There were a couple of new team members this year and the rest returning.   After eating, the team was preparing to take their supplies to the community center for their first day of VBS.

I went to work to help the team get set up by putting the theme for the week, "God's Mighty Power", on the white board along with the Bible verse for day 1.  Each day's verse and focus would be added as the week went on.

The children arrived and the team went to work.  Teaching the children the songs is fun, especially if there are plenty of motions to go along with them.

A couple of different craft activities kept the children busy, again reinforcing the theme for the day.

Of course, with Jesus as our superhero for day 1, you have to make a superhero mask!  The children had quite a time decorating their mask.

There is story time to teach the children the lesson for the day as well.  With only 2 hours of VBS, it's important to keep reinforcing the lesson in as many ways as possible.  You can never get too much of the Good News of Jesus!

The first day of VBS flew by quickly.  We decided to head to the airport to evaluate the flat tire and figure out what to do.  Hopefully, it would only need a patch.  But after removing the tire and then the tube from inside, it would need much more than that!

The tube was damaged beyond repair due to taxiing the plane on the flat.  Fortunately, there was a Northstar Airline pilot who recognized the plane and me from last summer.  He got us the phone numbers for the aviation supply company in Sioux Lookout and the number to the airline dispatch.  We got the new tire and tube on order and it would arrive on the next morning's flight.  However, that also meant we would be spending the night with the team.

We headed back to the teacher house to let everyone on the team know what was up.  Thankfully, Gary Kakekayash, our community contact (who also owns and operates Weagamow Air Charter) came to the rescue with a couple of mattresses.  So we were good to go--or maybe I should say good to stay for the night.

After supper, we headed back to the community center for the evening program.  For that evening, it would be to teach information technology to those adults who were becoming exposed to it via iPads and smartphones.  One of the tech savvy team members had it all planned out.  The rest of us would watch the children who came with the adults.  With the community center next to the lake, that would be an easy task.

The time came to wrap things up for the day and to head back home for the evening.  The snacks were broken out and the conversations abounded about how the first day went and what adjustments could be made to make it better.  We also had a number of discussions regarding doctrine, theology, and how that all works in the communities and in our own lives.  With two pastors in the room, you can guarantee the conversation would eventually get to that, right?

We finally relented and turned in for the night.  In the morning, we had breakfast and our conversation continued until it was time to head to the airport to get the new tire and tube, install it on the airplane, and head back to Red Lake.   That was our plan.  The Lord had a different one.

The morning flight was cancelled but we were told it would be on the afternoon flight that gets in around 4:30 PM.  That would still leave us time to get the plane repaired and fly back to Red Lake.

So the team got Andrew and me for yet another day of VBS.   It was a repeat of the first day with even more children coming.  Our count was up near 40 children!  It was another day of being able to share Jesus and His mighty power to save us from our sins.

When VBS ended and we got things cleaned up, we made our way to the airport where the tire and tube had arrived on the afternoon flight.  Within 30 minutes, I had the tire and tube on the airplane and all was well.   Sort of.  The  weather was fine at Weagamow.  However there was a front with thunderstorms moving toward Red Lake that would beat us there.  We decided that it would be best to try in the morning when the weather should be clear.

We went back to the teacher house and had dinner and then headed over to the beach for the kids night.  The water looked tempting but with no swim suit, it was best to keep my cloths on and hang out on the beach.  I was able to chat with some of the elders who drove by to check on how things were going, especially Rev. Jake and his wife Edith who is being treated for cancer.  All in all, it was a good evening.

We headed home and then to bed after another full day.   In to morning, the weather was foggy but clearing.  We would be good to go around 9 AM.   However, the team at that point tried to convince us to stay for the rest of the week!  It was really nice to have such an extended time with the team and the community.  It just emphasizes the need for LAMP to continue to carry the message of Jesus to the remote communities of the North and to do it more often than for one week out of the year.

Upon our return to Red Lake, Andrew and I headed back to the apartment where Andrew packed up and was heading out to Winnipeg where the plane would be parked and routine maintenance done for our fall trip.  That would save 7 plus hours of flying expenses as well taking the plane back to the Edmonton area and then returning a few weeks later.

So what about flying to Churchill?  With it being located on Hudson Bay, and the weather being unpredictable, I decided to fly commercially out of Winnipeg.  But to do that, I also needed to pack up everything, get the apartment cleaned up and keys returned and then drive to Winnipeg.   Thursday was clean and pack day.  Friday was key return and drive to Winnipeg day.   This would also be another overnight trip to spend more time with the new team.  It would also be a first-time visit for both of us.

Saturday morning at 4:30 AM came too soon.  I wanted to make sure I got through security in time for the 7:00 AM flight to Churchill as sometime it can take an hour to get through even early in the morning.   As boarding time came, I was expecting our airplane would be the typical ATR twin-engine turboprop, especially considering that's what Calm Air usually flies.  I was surprised to see a First Air Boeing 737... and one configured like this one.  Passengers boarded through the rear door.  The front of the plane was for skids of cargo. 

After arriving in Churchill, I met up with Gord and Kim Gibley who were on the flight with me.  Pastor Hannah, our main contact, and her friend Louise were waiting for us in the terminal.  After gathering all of the Gibley's supplies we headed to the hotel to check in and then to church to drop off the VBS supplies.

Churchill is a unique community as it is part First Nations (Dene) and part Anglo in population.  It has gone through some trying times economically, especially since the largest deep sea inland port in Canada was closed down just weeks before our arrival.

The now closed deep sea port

At one time, Churchill was a thriving port and research center for rocket development.  That has all disappeared.  However, there is an arctic research center where university students and professors study the various areas of sub-arctic marine, plant, and animal life.

The remains of a rocket launch site
The Churchill Research Center
The population has also dwindled down less than 700 people as well.  Access is by air or train.  There is no winter road to Churchill!  It's also in the latitude that places it in the sub-arctic region of the planet.  That means it's not a warm place to live and there's tundra everywhere.  It also is the home to Polar bears and Beluga whales!  Yet it's not much different than many isolated communities in the north.  The Gospel still needs to be proclaimed!

Louise and Hannah took us on a tour of Churchill and surrounding areas.  It gave us all a better feel for the community and some of the issues they deal with.   It's a familiar story from the north.  Isolation.  Expensive cost of living.  Discouragement.  The feeling that they have been forgotten by the "outside world".   They need hope...the hope that only the Good News of Jesus can bring.

I was able to spend a fair amount of time with Gord and Kim.  Kim is an educator by training and profession and would be a natural at teaching VBS.  Gord is a book broker and a really good amateur magician, not to mention his avocation for photography.  They have a heart for the mission.  That is evident as they also committed to going to Churchill and conducting VBS for the next 5 years.  That's an incredible blessing to the children and community as they build relationships and are able to minister to them.  

The next day, I attended Pastor Hannah's church, St. Paul,  and spoke to the congregation about LAMP and the importance of the ministry, especially sharing the message of Jesus.   This church building itself has a long and interesting history.  The building was moved three times, one of them to Churchill!  It actually has a metal frame structure which allowed those moves.  On the last move, the foundation included a basement which is where the VBS would be held.

The Lady Franklin Window
The church basement where VBS would be held.  Note the banners on the wall that are still there from previous LAMP sponsored VBS's
After church, Hannah and Louise took us to a camp with several other First Nation people for a cookout. It was a great time of conversation, listening, and learning  about not only the people there, but about life in Churchill. On the way back to Churchill, I got dropped off at the airport for my flight back to Winnipeg.

On my flight back to Winnipeg and my subsequent drive home from there, I pondered the past months of community and VBS team visits, the people I reconnected with, the new one's I met, the many people I was able to minister to, and the situations I observed.   Here are my takeaways...

Number One:  The need for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the communities is critical, especially for communities that do not have a strong church or pastoral presence.  LAMP VBS teams are an integral part of that mission. 

Number Two:  Ongoing spiritual support to the leaders of the northern communities is equally critical.  Many of them have no regular support system.  Regular contact with them, by both the VBS team member and me, is a much needed ministry, especially by praying for them and encouraging them in their lives.

Number Three:  None of this can continue without the help of those of you reading this blog post.  The ministry of LAMP needs your support.  First of all, we need your prayers that the Lord will bless our work now and in the future.  We need workers in the field, both missionary staff and volunteers, to be able to take the Gospel to these northern communities.  We also need your financial support to not just continue what LAMP is doing, but to expand the ministry to provide year-around support to the communities we serve and to other communities that are requesting LAMP's presence.

God's Word always gives us not only hope, but encouragement to continue the great and needed task of taking Christ to the nations.   2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 says, "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance."

Until the next time.

Peace in Christ,