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, August 11, 2017

The Overnight Visits Continue...

The weeks march on as volunteer missionary teams head to their communities.  For myself (and Steve Morley) it was a week of back-to-back overnight visits to the teams this week.  The first up was Garden Hill, Manitoba.  This community is unique as access is by water or winter road.  Island Lake airport is a short 5 minute boat ride away. 

On Sunday morning, we arrived at Island Lake hoping to catch a water taxi and meet up with the team in time for church.  Unfortunately, there were no taxis running anywhere at the airport dock since there were no incoming flights until after Noon.  We walked the half-mile to the Northern Store and thought we might catch a ride there.  Again, the store didn't open until Noon.  However we did finally catch a ride but arrived in Garden Hill too late to attend church.  Bummer.

We met up with the team at the elementary school where they were conducting the VBS and using the school for their accommodations.  The first task after lunch was to get set up for the start of VBS the next day. 

Shane, Matt, and Aaron joyfully work on VBS crafts.
Things were going along just fine until... the lights went out!  The gym was in pretty much total darkness with some residual light coming in from the hallway doors.  Not to worry!  The LAMP LED flashlights that each team member received as a token of appreciation for their hard work came in handy.  (There's a sermon in this about the light of Christ shining in the darkness.)

Letting the light shine on the darkness of VBS craft making.
Thankfully, the power was off for a short time.  The work continued as the first day craft covered the 10 plagues in Exodus.

Lindsay, Julie, and pastor Dennis hard at work making frogs for the 2nd Plague

This was posted in the entrance hallway of the school.  You wouldn't find this in a public school in the U.S. or Canada!
After we finished up working on crafts, we heard that the reason there weren't many kids around was that there was a community festival at the "south beach".  So we struck out to find where it was so we could connect with them.

This is the bridge the kids would jump off of into the lake below (which is not allowed anymore)
A friendly lady saw us and asked us where we were going.  She said, "It's a long, long way.  I'll take you there."  So a group of us piled into the back of her truck and off we went.

She was right!  It was at least a 15 to 20 minute ride one-way.  I can say that my body discovered every bump, rock, dip, and rut on that ride.

A panoramic picture of those of us who went to the south beach (that's rather jumbled because of the rough road)
Once we arrived, we were invited to come up to the stage and sing.  However, we graciously declined.  Some of the team members got a chance to chat with some of the children and the parents. 

We didn't stay very long as our ride was going to leave and return an hour later.  With supper in the works, we elected to ride back to the school.  With the temperatures heating up, the guys decided to take a dip down at one of the boat docks.

Catching Matt in mid-dive.  Island Lake airport is across the shore.
With a full day, we all turned in for the night camping out in various locations of the gym and adjacent rooms.  The next morning we walked to the band office to meet with the chief and council at 10:00 AM.  However, they were not going to arrive until 11 AM.  We continued to walk past the church and cemetery to the north shore.

The United Church where Rev. Don Little is pastor and our main contact
It is a beautiful vista of the area at the north shore.  Pictures can't begin to illustrate the beauty of the area.  Yet among such beauty is the struggle of the communities face with poverty, limited resources, and hopelessness that the Gospel of Jesus brings.

After our community walk, it was time for us to get back to the airport for our flight to Winnumin Lake, Ontario.  We easily got a water taxi since it was a weekday and the scheduled flights were once again landing at Island Lake.

On the open water in a boat taxi back to Island Lake from Garden Hill
With the latest weather briefing and flight plan filed, we pointed the LAMP airplane due east toward Wunnumin Lake.   We were met at the airport by our main contact, Rev. Joey Bluecoat.  He and a friend took us to his church where the team was staying and using for VBS.  We arrived during the last half-hour of VBS where the children were playing games outside.

After VBS was over, I was invited over to Rev. Bluecoat's home.   He introduced me to his wife and youngest daughter who will be a Senior in high school this fall.

Joey also gave me a gift of a wood carving that he said I should varnish so it shines like my head! 😊

He also drove me out to the landfill to see if there were any bears hanging out.  Not to be disappointed, there were a handful there feasting on some of the refuse.  I'm glad we were in his truck (with the windows rolled up too!). 

A black bear was napping after his evening supper at the landfill.

We drove back to the church for a 6:00 PM VBS hot dog supper.  Things got started slowly but eventually the church basement filled right up. It was good to see some of the parents come with their children.  That was another way to connect with the families.

Bobbie was a "newbie" to the team and blended in like a pro, especially in the hot dog production line.
Part of the evening activities was a bead craft the children could design.  Then an iron was used to melt them all together.  The kids seemed to enjoy the unlimited designs they could make.

Pastor/Pilot Dennis was the holder of the hot iron to keep everyone safe.

Yes, that is the outhouse the team used for the week.  They willingly make sacrifices for the sake of ministry to the children and families of Wunnumin Lake.
After a busy evening with the supper and craft, we got the basement cleaned up for another day of VBS the next day.  We all bedded down for the night for a well-deserved rest.  The next morning, we grabbed some oatmeal for breakfast.  Then we walked down to the nurses station where we met one of the nurses.  I talked with her about some of the issues the community is facing and left a copy of the DVD "Through the Pain" which is to help a person contemplating suicide.  She was very glad to have it.  I gave her my contact information in case she had any other questions or needed other resources.   We went to the band office, but found out Chief Rod was out of the community.

Looking at the skies prompted a call to flight service.  We decided to head out immediately since a storm front was headed toward Sioux Lookout.  It would be a race, but we should (and did) beat it by an hour. Joey happened to drive up and took Steve and me back to the church where we loaded up our things and took us to the airport for our flight home. 

The weather moved in and would delay us for a day.  Thursday was also the "changing of the guard" as Steve had to go back to BC (British Columbia) and Keith was flying in within a couple of hours of Steve's departure.

Friday would take us to the other community accessed by water, Little Grand Rapids, Manitoba.   This community is also unique as you go to your grocery store with your boat!  In the winter after the lake freezes, it's by snowmobile.  It brings a whole new meaning to convenience.  We were fortunate that we got a water taxi after a brief 15 minute wait and got dropped off at the dock nearest the Catholic church where the team was staying and conducting VBS.

The team which comes out of the Kitchener, Ontario area had one new member.  The other 3 were veterans at VBS in the community.   Shortly after our arrival, I met with the team leader Janine Cain to discuss a few of the issues with a couple of people in the community that the team had relationships with.  It's another indication of the trust in the teams and the hope in Christ that teams can offer to those in need of it.

We gathered for lunch and then geared up for the children to arrive for VBS.

We sported Canadian flags as part of the VBS recognizing the blessings God has give us.

Jeff, the new team member, prepared name tags for the kids.

Lois was getting items ready for the gift bags each of the children received for the last day of VBS.
The VBS theme for the LAMP curriculum

Janine is leading the Bible story for the day.

Part of recreation time was a water balloon toss.  Needless to say, not many of us were dry afterwards.

The children were enjoying making Jesus buttons.

The children signed and left messages on the banner the team would take back to their home church.

The VBS team and the children of Little Grand Rapids.

(L to R) Janine, Lois, Elaine, Jeff, and Pastor/Pilot Dennis
It was a full day of non-stop VBS activity with lesson, music, craft, play time, and snacks.  The team finished strong and was a blessing to the children and their families.   We also ended up spending time with Father Rheal and a one of the men who was having a difficult time.   Then it was time for us to grab a water taxi and head back to the main land.  The weather was good for the flight back to Sioux Lookout. 

It was a fast and full week of ministry to teams and communities.  The extra time spent with them allowed individual one-on-one conversations to take place that normally would not be possible under a tight one day trip, especially to communities that were far away.   It was a privilege to be an encouragement and supporter in the lives of fellow brothers and sisters in ministry partnership.  I can't imagine a higher calling or honor that the Lord allows me to carry out on His behalf.

Please remember to keep the ministry in your prayers, especially as team members minister to the people in need in the communities they serve.   And also keep the LAMP staff in your prayers in the last part of the VBS season.

Until the next time...
God's blessing to you all.

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