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!|
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|
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.
Peace be with you!