A day, or a week, in the life ….

Recently a friend asked us, “So, what does a typical day look like for you?” And so we figured it would be a good opportunity to share that thought with all of you also, as you may be wondering the same thing.

Really, we are simply living our family life, with a ‘regular’ family schedule. Gianna and Kateri attend the Tahltan school, and are provided lunch and healthy snacks every day, while Isaiah and Aliz usually attend Headstart 4 mornings a week.

Tuesday evenings, except for in the summer months, we host a Rosary and Adoration night at the church at 8 pm, so usually one of us will lead that and get some nice prayer time in while the other will finish getting the kids to bed and finish washing the dinner dishes:)

During the school year we have Catechism classes after school on 2 days of the week, from 3-4:30.

There is always the regular things to do around the house for maintenance. The summer months usually see us doing bigger projects like roofing, building new stairs to the church, painting, or other such time-involved tasks and repairs. Joshua also has to cut our wood for the winter, about 4-5 cords, and we usually try to stay a year ahead so that it has time to dry out before using it the following year. The house and the church both use wood for heating.

On one day maybe someone would stop in for a chat and you put on tea or coffee and make some time to visit, or another person may need help writing e-mails(as a regular does who doesn’t know how to read or write). It really is a ministry of being available.

It is also a ministry of presence. We try to attend whatever events are happening.

In this day and age it’s not too common that you get the opportunity for both parents to be at home raising your children. This, we feel, is one of our biggest blessings. And so we attend everything in the community as a family.

But really, a regular day is nothing fancy simply being present,to our kids and anyone else who wants a few moments to chat. It is really a breath of fresh air to what seems the alternative of the rush and busyness of city life. You would regularly just fill your day with more things because you can, while we feel that we don’t have the same pressure to do so up here. And simply the normal routine of dishes (no dishwasher!), meal preparation, laundry and cleaning fill up the day on their own!

I guess we could give you a snapshot of what last week looked like for us here:

Sunday(January 15): Sunday is perhaps our most structured day of the week. While Saturday evening saw Joshua preparing his reflection for today, we have also picked the songs for the service, or will do so in the morning. We have breakfast;usually pancakes or the like but sometimes a simple one like granola if we are going for simplicity and less to clean up. Sunday and Saturday(more often) are generally special breakfast days. We prepare the coffee and hot water for tea and goodies and make any last minute tidy ups. Joshua will start the fire in the church furnace, and depending on how cold it is, anywhere from 2 to 3 hours before the Service is due to start. We will usually watch the Holy Heroes Sunday Mass prep video and print off a colouring page that depicts an image from the Sunday Gospel for the kids to colour while we wait for Service time(although with it being in the US the odd time the solemnities don’t line up with our Gospel, as I noticed for the Sunday I posted the link for). We also have a snack for the kids during this time, to stave off hunger until after the service. Our Communion Service begins at 11:30 am, with Joshua leading and Denise in the pew with the children. A typical Sunday will see about 10 people attending, although there can be upwards of 20, not including ourselves. After the service we invite everyone over for refreshments, goodies, and a light snack. We visit in the living room and around the kitchen table and people go on their way. On this particular day 2 ladies stayed to play cards, which happens fairly regularly, while another man stayed and got Joshua’s help to check his Facebook as he can’t read or write. After everyone has left we generally have a restful afternoon. Today we invited one of the men who comes to church, who lost his wife a few years ago, over for supper. As we were sitting down to supper another couple showed up, who are the kids’ ‘adopted’ grandparents, as we wrote about here. They had already eaten but they joined in for the visit and had some dessert. Being it was a school night we got the kids down to bed by 8 pm, and resumed our cleaning up, doing dishes, etc.

Monday(January 16): Today the kids didn’t have school, as it was a professional day for the teachers, so we decided to do a fun activity together; ice fishing! We wrote about it, and posted pictures, here!

Tuesday(January 17): Today Joshua took out one of the elders to go hunting all day, as he doesn’t have a vehicle and enjoys the company. The kids’ school starts at 9, for all of them, but getting there is nice as it is only a 3 minute drive and rush hour is about 5 vehicles and they’re all going the same place:) And for the younger ones it is a 3 minute walk around the back of our house, through the RCMP driveway, and we’re at Headstart. Gianna & Kateri are at school from 9-3 while we pick up Isaiah & Aliz to come home for lunch at 12. If we feel that they are up for it, they can go back in the afternoon from 1-3. It is during the day that we can get some of the administrative things done, phone calls, planning, preparation for Catechism, house visits etc., as Tobias usually has a bit of a nap. After school the kids sometimes have a friend over, as they did today, to play until supper time. After supper we get ready for bed and have some prayer time and quiet reading until 8ish.

Wednesday(January 18): Our weekdays follow the same schedule with exceptions. Today Denise spends the afternoon planning her lesson for Catechism for the older class (ages 9-12), which she leads from 3 – 4:30 in the Atrium in the church basement. Denise has the help of one of the elders from our Church community. Today we had 5 young people in attendance. At 7 pm we attended Family Nite at the Rec Centre, which has just started up as a weekly program. They had beading, colouring, games, and even a game of basketball. While not well attended we hope that it will become so, but generally parents don’t attend these type of things with their kids. There was probably 14 kids there, but there was only 1 other parent there besides ourselves. There was however a couple grandparents and 2 of the staff from the Clinic(who organize this event). Wednesday nights we also have Adoration and the rosary from 8 – 9pm, so Denise headed back to the church to lead this while Joshua finished up with the kids at the Rec Centre at around 8:45. Generally we have anywhere from 1-4 people in attendance for Adoration/Rosary.

Thursday(January 19): Today we had Catechism class from 3 – 4:30, at the church, with 5 young children in attendance. This is the younger class, ages 6-9, and generally we have up to 8 children attending this class. Denise baked a cake for one of the ladies who attends church, whose birthday it was, and we all went over to her place after supper to celebrate with her.

Friday(January 20): One of the men, who comes to church, was over for supper as he had just come back from Terrace, where he had been for the week, and had brought us some groceries back. He had picked us up some of the things we can’t get here or that are much less expensive to buy down south, like yogurt and milk. (He always think of us! He is also a huge help around the church, cleaning and vacuuming after each Sunday Service.)

We had family games nite, which we host every Friday night during the winter months, from 7 -9. Generally we get anywhere from 4 – 10 young people in attendance, but again very, very rarely ever have any parents attending. It is usually a pretty noisy crowd, but the young people enjoy playing games (and we enjoy them!)and, in between, taking breaks to play downstairs with the toys or with our 2 pet rats, which have been quite a hit. We enjoy snacks, usually of popcorn and iced tea! We have found it is a great way to be able to host an event in the community, but still be able to involve our kids! And it is one of the highlights of their week.

Saturday(January 21): Saturday is our tidy-up day. The kids each pick a chore to do and we work together to tidy up the house; dusting, vacuuming, cleaning out and putting new bedding in the rat cage, wiping down the windows and mirrors, etc. Joshua takes some time today to gather his thoughts and prayers from the week for his reflection on the Gospel for the Sunday Liturgy, although today he doesn’t have to write a reflection as we will have a priest visiting to celebrate Mass tomorrow. Denise will normally bake some cookies or some kind of goodies for Sunday after the communion service/Mass. In the evening we usually make pizza, from scratch, and have a movie night!

Sunday(January 22): Today was spent in preparation for Mass and for supper afterwards. Once a month we have a priest come down from Whitehorse to celebrate the Mass, generally the 4th Sunday of the month. Fr.Tito, from the Phillipines originally, and Simon, a seminarian originally from Lebanon, arrived at 4:15 pm after celebrating Mass in Iskut at 10 am and Dease Lake at 1 pm. The sacrament of confession was made available, again our once a month opportunity for this sacrament. We had 20 people(not including ourselves) in attendance for Mass. After Mass we have a potluck supper, something we only do once a month for this special occasion. The people really enjoy this as it also gives them an opportunity to visit with the priest.

So there is a week in a semi-brief summary!

It is a very unique and blessed opportunity, and a challenge, for us to be able to do this type of ministry. To show the love of Christ that we have encountered, within the community of our family, with all that we meet is our mission. In the words of two of our more recent Popes:

“…Christ’s instruction: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.’ I am particularly content that this mission will be carried out thanks to Christian families who, joined together in a community, have the mission of giving the signs of the faith that attract men to the beauty of the Gospel.” –Pope Francis in an audience with members of the Neocatechumenal Way, March 6, 2015

“…the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates…the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home.” -Pope Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation (a proclamation from the modern day Apostles)  Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), #52

We are encouraged daily by the words of Catherine Doherty which so much apply to our family life, especially her Little Mandate.

“The duty of the moment, our nitty-gritty, daily, ordinary routine of life, can bring the face of Christ, the icon of Christ, into the marketplace. Then Christ can come into the place where you work or play or eat. He will come into your home or a restaurant or a school or a company cafeteria or a subway or wherever.” -Nazareth Family Spirituality, pg 31

“There are plenty of good things you can go out and do, programs and such, but whatever you are, you have to realize that there is always a duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God. Tired, untired, sick, well, whatever your state, do the duty of the moment. It’s what God calls us to do. And if we do it, people follow us. We don’t have to preach by word of mouth. We preach by living. We preach by doing. We preach by being.” -Nazareth Family Spirituality, pg 32

 

 

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Being Missionary…

When people ask what mission life is like here in the North it is always hard to find the words to summarize our experience. The following is an article from the the Catholic Mission in Canada quarterly magazine that spoke to us so deeply of the purpose behind our being here. It truly captures our feelings and experience!

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Epiphany House Blessing

Yesterday, on the feast of the Epiphany, we had our annual house blessing!

We invite you to adopt this custom in your family. The family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.

“Chalking the door” is a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing of our lives and home. With time the chalk will fade. As it does we let the meaning of the symbols written sink into the depths of our heart and be manifest in our words and actions the Latin words, Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.”

Here is the blessing, or you can go to the link here to find the more printer friendly version:

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Happy New Year

Happy Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God!

As we celebrate this great feast day I wanted to focus on a specific line from the Gospel reading today(Luke 2.16-21), and it is a similar line to the one we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel(Luke 2.51):

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(excerpt taken from “The Better Part” by John Bartunek, pg 538)

In closing I leave you with the words of Pope Francis at today’s Angelus (as we also celebrate the World Day of Peace) , “The peace which God the Father wants to sow in the world, must be cultivated by us.” This involves a “real struggle, a spiritual battle that takes place in our hearts, for the enemy of peace is not only war, but also indifference, which makes us think only of ourselves and creates barriers, suspicions, fears and closures [of mind and heart].”

I encourage you to take some time today to ask for Mary’s intercession in seeking first the kingdom of God in your life, in seeking peace; A simple ‘Hail Mary’, the Angelus(below), the Magnificat, or the whole rosary! May she show us the face of Jesus her Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace.

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PEACE TO YOU!

 

Holidays – slight change & details!

 

 

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So, our holidays have taken a slight twist and change since we posted last. We realized a while after that we were not going to have nearly enough time to spend with family and friends, and so we decided to take an extra week, although we realize that this will still feel rushed.  We have 4 weeks out of the year that we are able to allot for vacation, and so have decided that we will now be taking our holidays from March 9th – 27th. With 6 days of travel, round trip, stopping in Terrace with friends and in Prince George to visit my sister and brother-in-law, we now will have about 1 week in Chilliwack and 1 week in Kelowna.

We will spend our first week in Chilliwack, arriving on the evening of March 10. On Saturday March 14th we will be attending a potluck supper/get-together at the Osborne’s (in Ryder Lake). This will take place starting at 4 pm, so please bring food to share and join us (if you need directions just e-mail us). All are invited, especially our church community. We are extremely excited about this and hopefully we will get some time to catch up with many of you, if not all of you, although our time will be short!We will also be attending the 9:30 Mass on Sunday at St. Mary’s.

We will be departing from Chilliwack and arriving in Kelowna on March 17th. We will be attending Denise’s cousin’s wedding on Saturday, so it will be nice to have lots of time with extended family to catch up:) We will be departing from Kelowna on March 25th, to head home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave behind your nets and…

In Mark’s Gospel we hear about Jesus walking along the beach and inviting His future apostles to come and follow Him. I’d like to share with you a short reflection, which really spoke to me;

“From St.John’s Gospel we know that Jesus had already met and spent time with the four apostles whom he calls so suddenly in this passage. It’s important to keep this in mind: far from unexpectedly demanding an irrational abandonment of family, career, and previous plans, Jesus built up a relationship of mutual knowledge and trust before he invited Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become His full-time disciples.

Likewise only as we cultivate a true friendship and an intimate and ongoing exchange of hearts with our Lord will we be able to hear and heed his call in our life. This is not a God who demands blind obedience to his awesome power; this is Jesus Christ, true man, who meets us right where we are and walks along the shore of our lives, who wishes to get to know us, to spend time with us, and to call us by our names. This is a Lord and God who wants our friendship, so that he can share his life with us.” *(taken from ‘The Better Part’ p.347)

This reflection speaks so closely to my heart: “…as we cultivate a true friendship and an intimate ongoing exchange of hearts with our Lord we will be able to hear and heed his call in our life.” In my own life I can look back and recognize many of these moments. I would like to share one such example with you today; why I (along with my family) am here (in Telegraph Creek) today. I share this, not out of a self-righteousness (that I am so close to the Lord) but, from the joy of my heart and to give glory to God for how he has worked in my life, and in the life of my family, and how he can work in all of our lives.

Denise and myself first felt God pulling us to serve as missionaries, about 6 years ago, after hearing a priest share about the northern Catholic missions and the shortage of priests (and even the lack of a spiritual presence) in many of these remote locations, even within our own province. As we thought and prayed about this we came to the realization that our family was our first missionary territory; that we need to be rooted in love and hope in order to share that with others. We joined a group of other like-minded people; seeking to enter into the heart of Jesus. We felt a continual pull to the idea of reaching out to others in a remote community, but we continued to wait on God’s timing.

Reading the line from Mark’s Gospel, “…[James and John] left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed Him”, struck me today as I read it, because this was much of my experience. Being involved in the family business, I almost literally dropped the “net” and followed. This was my biggest struggle. It was a “net” that I had a hard time letting go of and giving to God; “Should I leave the family business high and dry? What about my future in the family business? How would we provide for our family, and meet their needs?” It came to a point where I/we had to open myself/ourselves to a deeper trust in God’s plan. This decision led us to a point where we told the Bishop, of the Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse, that we would go wherever the greatest need was. This symbolized, especially for me, a letting go of that “net” of control and of our own plans. Moving to Telegraph Creek was also the first time we had ever been there, but what a glorious abandonment.

Our time here has already been filled with so many blessings; everyone here has been so generous and hospitable, we feel welcomed as a part of the community, we have had more time to spend with our children, and God has provided so much for us financially. We feel that the biggest blessing is being able to serve others and to be a witness to God’s love for us, as our ‘job’. I am, we are, in no way perfect, but continue to be open and active in my/our relationship with Christ, that He may transform my/our heart/s.

In sharing this I realize that we are not all called to serve in the church, as Denise and myself are, but in our relationship with the Lord He leads us to where He needs us. It is through this relationship with Christ that even something as simple as a smile or a “hello” can be ways of bringing Him to others.

I would encourage you today, even right now, to take a look at how you have been led through your relationship with God, or maybe you haven’t; either way, take some time to sit with this scripture passage (Mark 1.14-20) and envision yourself as one of the apostles, sitting in the boat, as Jesus asks you, “Come follow me.” And think about what nets you are being called to leave behind for Him.

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The scripture readings for today;

Jonah 3.1-5, 10

Psalm 25

1 Corinthians 7.29-31

Mark 1.14-20

…remind us that God wants to be a part of our lives, He can work amazing things when we are open to Him, and He is never very far away.

 

*Excerpt taken from: “The Better Part: A Christ-centred resource for personal prayer”, by John Bartunek