April. Most folks in the U.S. and southern Canada think it’s a month where the snow is finally (or almost) gone and it’s time to make sure those summer shorts still fit. Should be a perfect time to go up to Canada to visit First Nations communities, right?
I arrived in Edmonton, Alberta on the 2nd of April. Even though Andrew [Anstey–LAMP’s Director of Flight Ops] and I were delayed a day in our attempt to fly the Lance to Flin Flon, MB due to a cold front, I completely expected relatively warm, clear skies during the week ahead so we could visit our VBS communities as planned. Turned out the only days it was clear enough to fly, the temperature was 5 below zero – Fahrenheit! (Air-cooled airplane engines don’t like to run or put off any heat to the cockpit when it’s that cold.) The other days it snowed. We were so thankful to have a 4WD truck. So, our easy spring trip turned into a slog through the snow. I’m thinking the Lord’s sense of humor borders on the ironic…
Andrew and I met some great folks while stuck in Flin Flon, MB, and will be happy to base there this summer. In spite of the weather, we surprisingly made it to more communities than we thought we would. We were able to visit Sandy Bay, Deschambault, and Pelican Narrows in Saskatchewan and Lac Brochet, Cormorant, Moose Lake, Easterville, Grand Rapids and Thompson in Manitoba.
We met with many great people in these First Nations communities – school principals, clergy, lay people – all excited to have a VBS this summer. Despite the challenges they face (weather, fires, poverty, suicides, etc.), I was humbled and encouraged by the persistent, patient faith of these Christians. It made me wonder who the missionary was! (A little sidebar for the teams and partners out there in blogland: yes, you are making a difference!)
After finishing up with community visits, Andrew and I traveled to the LAMP Canada annual meeting in Winnipeg, MB. We had the chance to hear from several First Nations leaders concerning what the people of the North need from LAMP. The conversation is ongoing, but I can tell you exactly what I told the folks at St Paul’s Lutheran in Steinbach, MB: “above all else, prayer.” God hears prayers and He answers them – albeit in His time and in His way. One caution, though, don’t be surprised if “His way” is through you. Andrew and I are headed back up to Flin Flon at the end of May to visit the communities we missed. Please pray that God provides rain in Alberta to douse the fires and that the rest of northern Canada receives rain, also.