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July 2009 News - Sunchild Reserve
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At the end of March and early April I made an outreach trip to the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Jean-Luc, a student from Switzerland went with me and I could write pages on just that trip. We couldn't work out the details before we left so we had to depend on Providence to work things out and He did much better than we ever could. The power steering pump went out on the truck just after we left, but we were only delayed a couple hours because the garage in Whitecourt was able to fix it with out us having to wait for an appointment. We were visiting some friends of Jean-Luc in Grand Prairie and found out that they used to live at Sunchild over 30 years ago and taught in the Mennonite school that was here then. They were the first white couple to be married on the Reserve. When we got to Eagle Plains the road was closed due to blowing snow in the mountains and we had to stay overnight there which was very expensive. The next day we got into Ft. McPherson and at first we couldn't find any of our friends home. Jean-Luc was starting to wonder what we would do, when we found a good friend, Ernest Vitraqua. He took us home and gave us supper. That evening we found the local missionaries, Paul & Lynn Hanthorn at home. They had a helper staying with them who also was from Switzerland, the same country Jean-Luc is from, so they had a good time visiting. Paul offered to let Jean-Luc use one of his snowmobiles to go part way with me on my trip to Old Crow. They also provided Jean-Luc with an arctic parka and boots as they didn't think he would make it with what he had. The next day we left with Johnny Charlie Jr. and went the first 40 miles up Stoney Creek to the cabin. Before I would get back to Ft. McPherson I would put 500 miles on my snowmobile, all through the bush as we had now left the realm of roads. The next day we left Jean-Luc to fend for himself for a week or so and Johnny & I crossed the mountains to Curtain Mountain. The next day we spent opening the trail, 45 miles to the Porcupine River and didn't get back to the Curtain Mt. Cabin until 2:30 in the morning and could hardly stand up. The snow was 4 feet deep and deeper and we couldn't get through without exhausting work, constantly getting stuck and struggling to get out. The temperature was only around 30 below at night, which is not considered cold for this area. It was amazed to see Johnny working to total exhaustion just to help me out! Johnny got leg cramps real bad. Most people will never know how difficult this is, but we got the trail broke open. The next day I headed off by myself to cover the last 100 miles to Old Crow. When I got to the Porcupine River I was amazed to find that Esau and Marvin has just passed by and broke trail up the Porcupine on their way to Whitefish lake to hunt caribou. They wrote a letter in the snow for me. So now I had clear sailing all the way on a fresh trail. I was concerned that I would get into Old Crow after everyone had gone to bed, but when I stopped at Dick Nukon's house he was still up for some reason and they moved someone out of their bedroom and gave it to me for the whole time I would be there at Old Crow. I'll leave off here with all the details except to say that several days later when I left we got together in front of Dick and Christine's house's and had prayer and left amid tearful goodbyes. When I got back to Curtain Mt., I found a large pack of wolfs had moved into the area. One came running around the cabin fast and almost ran into Johnny. Evidently it didn't know he was there and things were kind of exciting. Thanks so much for praying because much was accomplished of real importance. Jean-Luc survived just fine during his week alone at Stoney Creek. He had just got married a couple months before this and his new bride back in Alberta was wondering if she would ever see him again!
After we got back we had a very special Sunday service and at 5:00 in the morning our Outreach vehicle was stolen. I heard it go out and phoned the police immediately. The main burden we have had for some time is the situation concerning getting our house back, as explained in previous letters, since what is going on there impacts our mission and us living here. So...God has strange ways of working. The next morning the Reserve roads were closed with 15 police vehicles and their elite special forces swat team (the guys with the big paratrooper knives strapped over their hearts and the weird black guns). A party next door got out of control and moved up the hill and then escalated into a shootout with the police. They were using our stolen truck as well in the shootout. I was there for part of it. (Humorous note: When they sent their high tech robot into the house which had been taken over by these guys, it became immobilized in a pile of clothes, and every where a swat guy was hiding and sneaking up on the house a neighborhood dog was standing there barking at him!) It seems it was all God's way of bringing attention to our situation so the Band Council will deal with the issue. This entire part of the country has never in history seen a show of force like this!
Our truck was found and recovered several days later in a very damaged condition and was written off by the insurance. This was very hard for us because we had years of investment in this vehicle, a Dodge Diesel, so we could operate in the Arctic with equipment that would be dependable and get us through. It was the most expensive investment we have ever made, but the insurance is only giving us less than 1/3 of what we had invested in it. We still haven't got the settlement yet, and we can't replace it without repeating years of investment all over again. (Read here: frustration and stress dealing with this!) I'm not going into more detail on all this since it was a very bad experience. Had I made a left turn instead of a right turn in the middle of that night I would have been right in the middle of the shootout. I was expecting it and prepared for it, so it was very merciful that I missed the worst of it.
God sent us an Angel from Germany. She claims to be a regular person, but she 'is' an Angel. Her name is Gabriele and she is a wonderful help who will be here until September. She is 25 years old and her father is a pastor in the former East Germany. Yesterday everyone had sore muscles from the the children climbing on us, wanting shoulder rides and swinging in circles, etc. so this is an everyday experience and Karen & I need all the help we can get! The other day we got to spend a lot of time with little Jaylynne. She wouldn't leave me for more than a minute the entire time and I can't begin to express what I feel as I still have the trauma of having crushed her in the horrible accident, holding what was to me the tiny lifeless body, and the amazement of her now being in my arms as a perfectly normal child who won't let me go!
The ministry teams continue just as described in our last letter, even though the Bible College assignments are over for the summer. I promise to get some of the students to write accounts from their perspective of what is happening here and how this is impacting their lives, as we dearly want you all to understand some of what we experience every week. We desperately need the students this summer and they are still coming.
This past school year Karen has had an open door to target the O'Chiese Reserve by working with the families in their homes and in the school in a tutoring program. Her expenses are paid by the Band and it has given her the opportunity to work with the families & about 40 students on a grass roots level.
We have had two families from Rocky Mt House coming every week to work with the teens here at the mission. They are taking a break for the summer..last Friday we had our last teen meeting with these workers until fall, so now we are taking the teen group into Rocky to join in with the Nazarene Youth group for this summer. This is a good experience for them as they get to be with other teens and meet new people from another culture.
Our VBS season starts on July 6th, so please come or send someone to help.
A team from Pennsylvania is coming for two weeks. They are an excellent organization
that sends teams to other countries to do VBS's and we are greatly privileged
to have them. Pray that others like Gabriele, will come for short term assignments
also. We know there are many who would dearly love to do this if only they knew
about the opportunity. We now have hot water and a shower in the church, thanks
to the Crossroads church in Red Deer! We got an older, high mileage pickup truck
to haul firewood and supplies. It doesn't replace the Outreach vehicle but will
get us by for right now. The 85 Dodge Van that the Bible College students keep
at Three Hills and use to travel to the Reserve is on it's last leg and will
have to be replaced soon. We don't know whether to fix up an old van again or
try to find a good one to buy.
We just wish you could be here and experience a little bit of what is going on. We find most every day quite a thrill.
In His Service, Rodger & Karen & Gabriele
This is the group from the Crossroads church in Red Deer that came to work on the church. Scroll down for more pictures and links to several more pages of pictures.
Here (Below) the plumbers from the Crossroads church are putting in the water heater.
This spring a special team from the Rocky Mt. College in Calgary came to spend a week in the Sunchild school and worked in the classrooms each day and had a VBS program in the gymn after school.
Here our Sunday School class is making invitations for Fathers Day.
Here one of our Sunday School crafts class is working outside.
These are Karen's tutoring students who won a reading contest award.
This is Gabriele from Germany visiting homes with Karen.
Here Gabriele is fixing a German style dish for supper in the kitchen.
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