So many memories

Fire in Telegraph Creek newslink

What a shockwave has hit our community! Each one of us has been affected in one way or another. Each one of us experiences loss and grief at some moment in our lives, some more than others, in differing capacities, but who ever thinks they will be the victim of the disaster from a forest fire.

We were informed on Tuesday evening that St.Theresa’s Catholic Church and rectory(the house we were living in) were both taken by the Alkali Lake fire, along with many other structures/homes in the village.

BC Catholic news article

Fortunately for us we had left town last Thursday morning to head south for the birth of our newest baby, bringing with us our hard drive with our family photos. We left, not realizing it would be our last view of the place. We have been dealing with grief and a sense of loss of all the special keepsakes that are irreplaceable but most of all the loss of the Church and our home that was filled with so many faith filled memories for so many of the faithful over the years. Our hearts also hurt out of love for all of the others in our community who have lost so much, these people that we have come to know and love and have become such a special part of our lives. Although we have also felt a bit distant to this tragedy(as we were not around during evacuation) we are also aware of the blessing of our children not having to face the intense emotions of being forced out of our home. In that regard though it has also felt very surreal to all of us and I think finally getting to go back at some point will create some closure for us.

We feel that God will use this for good. Even just two days after we heard the news we were already feeling so blessed with the love and support of family, friends, and even people we have never met. This situation has really helped us to put life, its meaning and purpose, into perspective. Thinking back to all of the jobs and tasks we were trying to get complete before we left, it is not that we got them done but how we did them that really mattered. Were we doing them with great love? Were we lifting up our brothers and sisters in need of prayer as we worked? The truth is, not always. We have felt, in our hearts and soul a call to go deeper through this; God calling us to surrender everything, to ‘sell’ all we possess and be little, simple, poor, childlike(as we pray as a couple most mornings, from Catherine Doherty’s Little Mandate). We feel blessed, yet perplexed, to part of the great mystery of encountering Gods will and His love through all of this.

Although Telegraph Creek may never be the same as it was, we take comfort and joy from the memories we have had there thus far.

In the words of a good friend of ours, we pray that “from the ashes will rise beauty”; a more beautiful community, a more unified community!

And so we would like to share with you our last few memories of what life in Telegraph Creek was for us before it was, and we were, changed forever!

Because of the hot weather during the last couple months of July we spent many afternoons/evenings swimming in Sawmill Lake and cooking supper over the campfire.

Fr.Leo, from Toronto, came for a visit to celebrate Mass and prepare three of the youth for their First Communion by celebrating their First Reconciliation. We had a potluck supper afterwards in the back yard.

Josh putting a new roof on the shed, and the kids using some of the leftover vinyl for a slip-and-slide.

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A visit from our good friends, the Bruneaus(also a part of the Holy Family Apostolate) who came up for 4 days. It is always such a blessing for us to share a bit of our life with friends. And always such a comfort and joy to have visitors!

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An afternoon down at the beach, on the river, with one of the nurses. Fishing, digging in the sand, rock collecting, and watching a wedding party (in suits and dresses) boarding jet boats for a the ceremony down the river.

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Tobias’ apparent love of water. And another visit from some good friends(from Whitehorse); what a blessed July!

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Bishop Hector joining our family picnic.

Bishop Hector came to Telegraph Creek on the second last Sunday of July to celebrate three First Communions and two Baptisms. He was also able to go down to the fish camps to visit with the people there.

We had also been blessed by the presence of Kristina(pictured sitting at the picnic table with the kids), a young woman from Vancouver who came up for six weeks this summer to help out in our Mission churches. She stayed at St.Mary Magdalene Mission in Dease Lake and was a huge help with sacramental prep, also travelling to Iskut and Good Hope Lake for this purpose and making a connection with the people with her joyful and loving personality. In this short time she became a special part of our family life and we feel so strongly that God placed her in Dease Lake at just the right time to bring the support and the light of Christ that was needed.

So, so many good memories, and perhaps it’s only the beginning.

Many people have been asking how they can support or help us. Your prayers for the community, for hope, strength, and courage, as we prepare to rebuild are such a blessing and so greatly appreciated.

On the other side of things, if you would like to make an online donation towards a Relief Fund for the Telegraph Creek Community, or for the Rebuilding of St. Theresa’s Mission, you can go to the Diocese’s website here, and click on ‘Donate Now’. Don’t forget to select which fund you would like to donate to from the drop down tab.

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Family Camp & Fish Camp

At the beginning of June we had the opportunity to attend a Catholic Family Camp at Braeburn Lake, about a 1 hour drive north of Whitehorse. It was such a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some re-creation time for all of us, for the kids to be able to just run around and have fun with a lot of their friends,  and to connect with other families, all of whom we knew previously. We also got to celebrate Mass outdoors! This was the first family camp for Whitehorse and there were 7 other families present. Here are some highlights:

Camping in a cabin, that’s the way to do it with 5 kids!
The Bible scavenger hunt was a hit!
Some canoed, while others got to ride in the zodiac!
Making crafts on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Celebrating Mass!

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Tobias’ favourite spot was the wood pile(and it looks like he was joined by other culprits also, including his older brother) and pushing the small wheelbarrow. There were lots of wood scraps and construction things to play with as a couple of new cabins were being built.

Josh was out in Dease Lake last week preparing the site for the new church building. It was great to have the help of some other Catholic men! Next week will be the final site prep with removal of a few more trees on the front edge of the property and the rest of the stumps. And then we will also be putting in the foundation posts.

And  then we were all in Dease Lake the following day, taking the school bus out, to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. It started with a walk from the school up to the Community Centre. There was traditional drumming to open the event as well as a clan designation ceremony(for all those who were not Tahltan). Denise and the kids became honourary Wolves (Ch’ioyone)  and therefore Josh was an honorary Crow(Tsesk’iya). There were also lots of activities including a  bouncy house, t-shirt making, face painting, language games, and stick gambling.

We had a field trip this week down at the 6 mile fish camps where the school kids got to release the salmon that they had raised in a fish tank at their school.

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A little bit of fishing, the ol’ fashioned way, to wind down the day.

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10 Years & Fun

There has been a lot going on lately, and with the weather being quite nice here there seems to be so much needing to be done. There were many more, than usual, community and school events this last month, from a Mother’s Day tea at the school to community clean-up, a healing walk through the community, a 10 km walk down to 6 mile for a bbq, the kids from the school transplanting their classroom started veggies into the community garden, and a baby welcoming ceremony. We also had a farewell potluck and celebration for one of the RCMP families who are moving down to Smithers. Their post here had already been extended an extra year (3 years total) and so they had to go.

Josh has taken up an on-call position for driving the school bus, which has actually turned in to more of a full-time position as of late. As full time as it is, it is only 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon so it works out well. And it seems our children enjoy him driving the bus also.

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We are blessed to be celebrating 10 years of marriage this year and so it was wonderful to be able to celebrate our once-a-month Mass close to our anniversary date, and on the feast of Pentecost. We were able to renew our vows and receive a blessing from Fr.Suresh. It was so wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the members of our church community!

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We got to spend the next afternoon, Victoria Day, down at the river with our friends and despite it drizzling a wee bit, and being a tad windy we all had a blast!

 

With the snow finally gone there is always the pressure, and excitement, to get projects around the property completed. And with the help of some of the community it always makes the job a lot easier AND a lot more enjoyable:)

 

Our new wrap-around driveway was completed last June and so now it was time to run the fence down the property line next to the new driveway.

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Summer Lovin’

What a beautiful day it was on Sunday! Feels like summer is here with 25 degree celsius weather during the day and the warm breeze. Being a Sunday we of course gathered in worship as a Church community(which I will share a little bit more on further down) and once all of the visiting was done decided to head down to the beach, at old town, for some quality family time.

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Playing Mancala with stones we found at the beach!

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On the church side of things, it is always wonderful celebrating the Easter season. And on top of that we celebrate May as the month of Mary. So we had a ceremony for the crowning of Mary and we’re so sad we forgot to take pictures. But it involved the children processing with flowers up to the sanctuary, to the singing of Immaculate Mary, and placing their flowers at the feet of Our Lady. And then the rest of the congregation was able to come forward and do the same. We also placed a wreath of flowers on Mary’s head.

 

The Scripture readings from Sunday centred on the Golden rule: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15.12) A fairly repeated verse and one that we should all strive towards, but what does it really mean?!

For one, it means opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit. The 1st reading(Acts 10.25-48 and a little bit before to get the full context) really opens our eyes to this as we see Peter being led by the Spirit to a new way of thinking; really to see as God sees AND living from that. This isn’t always easy as we as usually tend to stay away from change! But it is from this that the early Church extends the scope of it’s mission from just the Jews to non-circumcised believers, in Peter’s words from a reformed view, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10.34-35)

Secondly, it means we have to abide in His love(John 15.9). There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love and He loves us all perfectly and equally. I think the key here is, also from this Gospel passage; “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15.16a) It involves us giving up our control over our little story and surrendering to Gods’s love so as to be caught up in His great story.

Thirdly, and lastly, is the measure we are asked to give. In our society the word ‘love’ is used pretty loosely and lightly, but if we continue to look at this last weekend’s scripture passages we see it painted very clearly; “ In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4.10) And so the cross is what we measure our love against and by. We can say words, but they have no meaning until we put them into action; “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15.13) This is the measure to which we must love, laying down our lives, in other words sacrificing, for one another as Christ did for us!

SO, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15.12)

And in the closing lines of the Gospel passage we hear: “… I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John 15.16b)

Our very mission is TO love! And our individual mission which God has called us to, always takes the form of love, no matter what it is; it always takes the form of Him who first loved us.  WE are chosen BY love, to BEAR love!

We encourage you today to abide in God’s love for you and to ponder your mission, to love, by asking yourself:

How am I to lay down my life for others?

How am I to make of my life a gift?

God is speaking to YOU, “I have chosen you to be a bearer of my love to the world!”

May the last two weeks of the Easter season be blessed for you 🙂

 

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts of the Apostles  10.25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Psalm 98

1 John 4.7-10

John 15.9-17

 

*** Some themes and ideas paraphrased from Mark Hart (The Bible Geek) @ “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday Podcast” and from Bishop Robert Barron’s Sermons Podcast.

 

A long awaited update

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Looking back it has already been close to 1 year since we last sent out an update. It has been a full year and one with a lot of adjustments, challenges and changes. This year, up to this point in our family life, has been one of the greatest struggle and growth, but also great blessing.

As always, we have enjoyed so much the time that we have had to spend with family and friends in the south. It has become so precious to us, as the distance makes our hearts long for the physical presence of our loved ones, which we have grown to cherish much more deeply than we ever have.

There has been a lot happening in the community this year. Joshua celebrated his third funeral service within a month and a half of each other, just last month, which is always a very moving opportunity and one he feels so honoured to be asked to celebrate. We believe that it is truly a comfort for the people here to have a presence at the church. It was reassuring, just recently when Joshua was asked to lead a funeral service they said, “We are thankful to have you here to do this for us.” We also finished up sacramental prep with the celebration of the Sacrament of First Holy Communion, back in May, a total of 8 children and their families attending. It has been an ongoing journey here in the ministry of presence, the more we are truly present the more we feel welcomed in; a school, where we are equals walking side by side and discovering what we can bring forth from eachother. A wonderful mystery! As we get to know people more there is a certain longing we have to go deeper and to encourage others to go deeper as well, in their faith, and so there has been some challenging pastoral moments.

We continue to host a family games nite every Friday night during the winter months, which is a highlight especially for the children. We had the help of some of the community members, and one of the other pastoral administrators, in relocating our shed from the front yard to the back and now have a lovely pull through driveway and extra parking; a huge transformation, and now the church is visible from the main road!!

At the kids’ Spring Break we were able to join both sides of our family, and were blessed with a prolonged visit(with Joshua’s side), albeit not under the most preferable of circumstances with Joshua being diagnosed with MS and facing a lot of uncertainty. Although at times we felt lost, and didn’t know what to do, we also felt so blessed and provided for and were showered with so many prayers and so much support. It was a big adjustment of our lifestyle, especially at first, but feel now that we have somewhat settled into this new reality.

In previous years Joshua has been a one-man show with getting our winter’s firewood; cutting the wood, hauling the wood, and splitting and stacking the wood. But this year from start to finish it was a team effort! Volunteers from the community, family, priests, seminarians, and even the Bishop lent us a huge helping hand! We were blessed to have 2 new priests arrive in the diocese, serving northern BC and the Yukon. So we were able to start having them come down to celebrate Mass twice a month, instead of the usual once a month, which it had been for the last 2.5 years.

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One of the biggest highlights of the year was our time with family over the summer; celebrating both of our parents’ anniversaries (35th & 40th) as well as Joshua’s brother’s wedding. Our summer vacation finished up with our speaking(as the key-note speakers) at the Catholic Family Conference on Vancouver Island; a whole new experience for us. We were very humbled to see God work through us and touch the lives of those who attended. Joshua’s favorite moments were being able to talk to the men, sharing his story with them and encouraging them in their walks and also being surrounded by the support of our family while doing so. Denise’s favorite moment was being able to journey with a loved one back to the Catholic faith! At the beginning of the conference we had all our kids up there with us and did a short rap grace and introduction, which ended up being a great hit both with the kids and the crowd. It was great being able to incorporate our whole family into our sharing! It was very uplifting to be surrounded by so many other Catholic families, and also to have some of our extended family with us; Denise’s mom, brother, and sister-in-law, and Joshua’s parents, 3 siblings, and 3 cousins.

The kids had a good start to the school year, still enjoying the fact that there is an actual school bus that drives them to and from school. Kateri has moved in to the older grade, the Grade 3 – 5 class. Her favourite part of school is her Tahltan language class that she has every day. Isaiah started Kindergarten, joining his big sister Gianna in the K – 2 class. Isaiah is very quiet in class but loves recess and a program they do, called “Go-Noodle”! Gianna loves math and reading and enjoys helping Isaiah with these skills too! Aliz has been enjoying Headstart(preschool) but hasn’t had too many classmates. Being a social butterfly this has been difficult for her, so has been intermittent with her excitement in attending. Tobias has been into everything, whatever he can reach or get a chair to reach, and has been starting to say a few more words.

We wound down the fiscal year here with a trip to Whitehorse, for our Pastoral Advent Retreat on Church law, mainly highlighting the Sacraments with emphasis being on ways and ideas for being more pastorally present in our communities. As always it was good to be together with our northern family; the priests, other pastoral staff, the Maryhouse ladies, and our other friends.   We always leave to come back home feeling so spiritually nourished, We also had our fill of fun, staying at our friends’ place and with their 6 kids, all around the same age as ours. Our God-son’s family with five kids live next door too, so it is always a party! This time around we were able to go to the pool, to the sledding hill for a pizza and hot chocolate party, and the Santa Claus parade and live Christmas tree light-up!

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Above Teslin

Our new year started out with a surprise bon fire in our back yard, which we found out about when we got a knock on the door at around 11pm, and were greeted by a caravan of vehicles in our driveway. It was SAFE! It was the brush pile that we had built back in the summer when we were clearing the front yard to move the shed and build the new driveway. That morning Joshua had taken some hot ash from the fireplace and emptied it on the pile, as he always does, and with there being a foot and a half of snow over the pile who thought it would flare up. Some 8 hours later it indeed did. So it worked out well with the very cold weather and added some excitement to everyone’s new year’s eve. A day later we were joined by our friends from Fraser Lake, a family with 6 kids, for a few days. It was so wonderful to have close friends with us to spend some of the holidays doing fun things together.

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We recently had two seminarians, studying for the Diocese of Grouard- McLennan(Northern Alberta), from St.Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton stay with us. They were here for around 3 weeks for their pastoral experience. It was a truly blessed time as they fit seamlessly into our family and community life. It was special for the community to see these young men who are studying to be priests and they even got a comment, “People still do that?” But they were received so openly be all in the community. It was wonderful having their hand for catechism classes and they were even each able to share a reflection at our Sunday Communion Service. Really, for us, it was like having family staying with us with the gracious amount of support they brought. The Lord continues to bless us with unique opportunities, like this, that give us a greater love for our universal Church and a greater appreciation for how He continues to work in and through our lives and the lives of those around us.

 

We wrapped up this last weekend with the Winter Carnival here in town, bookended with Gianna’s birthday(on Friday) and her party(on Monday). Although it was a lot of fun it definitely left us fairly exhausted. Life here in a small town usually doesn’t have this much going on at once 🙂

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Winter Carnival sledding

Well, we feel that there is so much more we could say and share however out of the hope of actually getting out this update to all of you we will have to leave it at that. And hopefully we will have time to write some more soon!

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“Hot chocolate anybody?”

PS – Would not want to forget our most exciting news…

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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

 

 

Summer Recap

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Our happy little Tobias!

Gianna’s preschool graduation!

The last 2 weeks of June we travelled to Juneau, Alaska for Denise to take the second half of her Level 1 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training.

We played at the park in Skagway while were waiting for the ferry. We also took some time to take in some local historical sights, including an old hearth(top right) which is all that is left of an old building run by one of the hearty pioneering women of the goldrush age.

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Playing on the “beach” at the Mendenhall Wetlands (in Juneau), with our friends. The tide was out, leaving these sandy little rivers winding through the wetlands.

Going for a hike, with our friend, and picking wild blueberries, which were everywhere.

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Hiking at Mt.Roberts, after taking the tram up. Some people that we met on the trail were enthralled by our family and asked us if they could take a picture of us, for us:) 

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The kids were mesmerized by all of the different sea creatures at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery

The touch tanks were pretty great also; starfish, urchins, crabs and sea cucumbers.

Working on marshmallow/toothpick creations at our friend’s house. It was very nice to have a place to stay with other people and have 2 friends to play with. Their hospitality was wonderful and made our stay in Juneau that much more memorable.

More creations and blueberry picking, again. Pretty much any time the kids were outside they would be looking for and picking wild blueberries.

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The Merciful Love Labyrinth at the Shrine of St.Therese

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On the beach at the Shrine

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Hiking on the old Flume Trail in Juneau

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Back home from Juneau, Aliz was very excited to celebrate her baptism anniversary

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Tobias’ first time in the jolly jumper. His times in it are short as his big brothers and sisters can’t help swinging him back and forth! With a narrow doorway it makes it rather dangerous.

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Summer bike rally with the RCMP. The Tahltan elders complex is in the background

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Stopping for a slushy in Cache Creek as we head south for a couple weeks

Hanging out with their new cousin, Christine

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We are Godparents for our new niece. She was baptized in Castlegar

At the park in Castlegar

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Playing games with the cousins. Be it Prince George, the Kootney’s, the Okanagan or the Lower Mainland we are blessed to have family to visit wherever we go!

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At the pool, at Uncle John & Auntie Ana’s in Kelowna. Kelowna is the best in the summer!

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Flying with Grandpa during our time in Chilliwack. We flew over the city and city limits. We all had a blast! We even saw Granny wave to us as we flew over Granny & Grandpa’s house.

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We camped for 1 night at Tyhee Lake on our way back home, so we went down to hang out on the beach for a little bit. Beautiful spot. Telkwa and Smithers are breath taking places!

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Visiting with our friends (Our Whitehorse family), at Totogga Lake Resort, as we cross paths (they were heading south and we were heading north)

(below) Posing with animal mounts at Tatogga Lake Resort. Aliz was completely freaked out!

After getting back from our trip south Josh went out to Good Hope Lake to put a new roof, as well as fixing up the front porch that was rotten, on the church there.

During the first week of August we hosted a Bible Camp sponsored by our twinned parish St.Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria. Fr.Harrison, Deacon Michael, Will, & Karl came to help us.

A nature hike to collect sticks for making crosses (left). Deacon Michael helping Aliz make her cross (right).

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Singing songs. Awesome God was a hit. As you noticed whenever we sang most of the kids held their crosses so high. “Jesus is the most powerful” one of them said.

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Procession to the church. Kids love processions and it helped to quiet their hearts for church time.

‘Recycled creations’ projects, and ‘recycled’ tabernacles 

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Going for a hike on the south ridge trail, above town on one side and the Stikine River on the other side.

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The closing bbq supper

We summarized the Bible Camp in a write-up that we put together:

Transformation was the theme for our Bible Camp here at St.Theresa’s Catholic Mission in Telegraph Creek, BC this past August. Five days filled with music, crafts, games, and the message of the Gospel. If you’ve ever spent time with children you know that you can only hold their attention spans for a couple minutes at a time. So it was great to see them taken in by the dynamism of the newcomers: 2 young men, a deacon, and a priest, from your diocese of Victoria. These 4 young men; Karl, Will, Deacon Michael, and Fr.Harrison, brought an infusion of energy and realness that comes from giving your life to Christ and really living for Him, and we could tell the kids could feel it by their response. With a small attendance, the same number of adults as children, it was a beautiful experience both for the adults and the children present because it was so intimate.

We started out with Fr.Harrison introducing who Jesus is, that he was and is a real person, and what the cross is. A nature hike followed as the young ones collected sticks to make their own crosses. It was beautiful to see, afterwards, their excitement as we were singing songs and they were raising their handmade crosses to “Our God is an awesome God.” To the singing of “Jesus I trust in you” they processed with their crosses to the altar in the church, before a closing celebration of the Mass.

Day two saw us making recycled creations with a group of a couple friends, emphasizing that we become friends with someone by spending time with them and getting to know them. We talked about how Jesus is a friend who wants to spend time with us.

From friendship, going with our transformation theme, we moved in to talking about the Eucharist; Karl shared that Jesus makes himself present to us and that during Mass we join with the whole communion of saints and angels praising God as one. The children made their own tabernacles and repeated their daily procession to the altar in the church.

On day four we moved to the topic of prayer; that we can talk to Jesus as we would talk to a friend on the telephone. Fr.Harrison taught the “Jesus” prayer and blessed rosaries were handed out, as gifts, on which we prayed “Jesus” for each bead of the five decades.

On Saturday we closed off our camp with a visual presentation on the gifts of baptism; the water, holy oils, and Jesus as our light which we carry with us. The church community joined us in our closing Mass followed by a BBQ and farewell to Fr.Harrison, Deacon Michael, Will, and Karl.

Over the past two years in our time here, as lay pastoral administrators, we have never felt such incredible support, knowing the cost of this endeavor and coordinating 4 people to travel all this way and yet also the infusion of life that it brought into our family and the community here. Being able to close each day with the celebration of the Mass was a real blessing, as we only ever have Mass out here once a month. It is great to see the Lord working in His faithful, and it is equally wonderful when you get to be on the receiving end of what feels like, and what truly are, abundant blessings.

Praise the Lord!

Swimming lessons at Sawmill lake(pictures below also). Funny to think we thought our kids would never get actual swimming lessons while we were up here. We felt very blessed when this opportunity came up:)

Shelling peas from the community garden, and putting stickers(from Grandma) in their sticker books

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A hiking trip with our friends, while we were camping down at Glenora for 2 days. The kids didn’t want to travel anywhere so we opted for camping 20 minutes down the road:)

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Hudson’s Bay Flats (with our neighbours); the location of the old Hudson’s Bay Company building

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Our campsite at Glenora

Shooting archery, and making a new friend from the Czech Republic. We thought we would be the only people camping down at Glenora. But there were people from Czech Republic, Germany and Victoria. It was quite something as we usually don’t get to see the tourists that come in. 

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Making canned beats. Effie said it was okay to use her picture 🙂 It was great; eight women, one day and about 15 dozen beet jars canned! The beets were all from the community garden.

Celebrating the Coronation of Mary

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Celebrating Isaiah’s 4th birthday

Josh attended a men’s camp. This is a picture of Telegraph Creek, quite a ways up the creek from town.

Drum making and decorating at the camp

Supper cooking over the fire and visiting with the elders before a community supper at men’s camp.

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Our monthly visit for Mass, this time with seminarian Guy(on left) and Fr.Kieran

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The Salt & Light film crew came to town to film for one of their upcoming documentaries, “A Woman’s Place.”

At the old cemetery, looking down to ‘Old Town’

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The film crew(L to R); David, Sheridan, & George

Playing games at our friends’ house, the Lefebvre’s, in Whitehorse. Salt & Light was also filming all of us there. It was a neat experience for all of us!

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Playing at the park

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First day of school

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Gianna & Kateri are in the same class!

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Re-roofing St.Theresa’s

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Celebrating the Nativity of Mary with blueberry tarts:) Arnold joined us for supper as he was helping with the church roof.

Another job well done, with helpers Arnold & John

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Fishing at Sawmill Lake

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A good catch, all by herself! Kateri’s first fish! We cooked it for supper the next day! She was over the moon!

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Fr.Kieran receiving our farewell gift, a pair of mittens and socks knitted by one of the elders that comes to church. It was possibly his last visit to Telegraph Creek before he departs back to his communities’ mother house in Combermere, Ontario. 

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Dawn(L) & Beth(R) from Mary House also came down with Fr.Kieran for a visit. We will miss him!

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Tobias first taste of food, rice cereal

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south & back again

It’s been a while since we have shared some photos with all of you. There has been a lot that has happened since then. Starting with our trip South to Chilliwack, for the birth of our newest son/brother, then to Kelowna and back North again. It has been a whirlwind since then, and so we’ll share some of the moments with you!

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In Prince George at the park with cousin Wyatt

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Spending time on Saltspring Island with our friends

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In the Delta Hospital, after Aliz had a febrile seizure while we were on the ferry. What a scary time, but she was such a trooper and we had much support and love from friends and family!

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At the petting zoo

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Rhino Hero! There’s always time for a few games:)

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Who knew a treadmill had other uses:)

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My 2 big helpers sorting and cartoning the farm eggs at Granny & Grandpa’s. Collecting the eggs was definitely a highlight each morning.

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Reading at bedtime with Auntie Shaleyn

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Rhino Hero has never always been this much fun! Especially with Auntie Diane!

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Chilling’ with Auntie Kayla

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Riding lessons with Auntie Shaleyn

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Archery lessons with Uncle Justin

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The beach volleyball court doubles for a sandbox

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Playing ‘My First Bohnanza’ with our second cousins

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Hike up Mt.Thom, at the ‘summit’

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Having fun with Auntie Brittney

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Easter morning at Granny & Grandpa’s

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Easter with Denise’s siblings(& their spouses) & mom & dad

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The pregnant sisters!

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“Whoa there!”

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Tobias with Granny & Grandpa

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Tobias with Grandma & Grandpa

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Kateri’s special ‘rainbow’ birthday cake

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Gianna’s special baptism cake

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Our new trailer, to haul behind the van. Our option for getting around with our luggage(rather than buying a new vehicle just yet), now that all the seats are filled in the van. It will come in handy for going camping as well:)

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The classic box fort

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Washing the vehicle at Grandma & Grandpa’s before our trip north.

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Kateri’s school project she worked on during our time away.

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We hosted some Gospel/bluegrass artists for an evening of music and testimonies.

Making things for the Atrium for Catechism classes, using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model; tabernacle.

Sacristy cabinet

Altar, with altar cross

Altar and lectern

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We were able to bring the rest of our bikes back up from Chilliwack, with having the trailer, and so Aliz discovered the joy of catching a ride in the bike seat and she sure enjoyed it.

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Kateri painted faces for the whole cast of Inside Out; Disgust, Anger, Fear, and Sadness(L to R)…

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… and there is Joy(on the right) 🙂

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Kateri wanted a birthday party with her friends! You can still see remnants of the face paint:)

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Ready, Set, Learn; an afternoon where the preschoolers come to Kindergarten. So we brought all the kids to Kateri’s classroom.

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“I lost my front tooth!”

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Helping daddy flip the pancakes

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Happy 2nd birthday Aliz!

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Some of our friends raise goats. These were the not-so-small baby goats.

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A treat at the Stikine Riversong Cafe. Thank you Grandma!

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Blessing the ‘Blue Door’ and our ‘Holy Door’! The Blue door is a reminder of Mary’s protection in our lives, and we pray for that protection in our comings and goings. Also, that all who enter would encounter the loving embrace of our mother Mary.

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Isaiah blessing the door, and the girls, with holy water

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Our holy water font at the door

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Chalking the door, a little late, but better late than never. We had actually put the chalk on our living room entrance at Epiphany when we did it with our church community, however we had wanted to do the blessing of the ‘blue door’ at the same time

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The three wise men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s son who became human two thousand and sixteen years ago. May Christ bless our home (Christos Mansionem Benedicat) and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen

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On the beach of the Stikine River, at Glenora, for a picnic with 3 other families

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Replacing a broken window on the church

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It had been broken before we got there so it only took me a year and a half to get around to replacing it

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A hike on the ridge above town, overlooking the Stikine River, with Uncle Brandon & Auntie Anneli

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Treats at the store on our way back from the hike

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Tobias’ baptism with Bishop Hector Vila, Sunday May 22nd

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The Godparents; Diane Pakula & Brandon & Anneli Grimard

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Newly baptized, with Fr.Anthony from Sri Lanka in the background (newly arrived to the diocese)

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Supper outside, after the baptism, in the gorgeous weather

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Cake made by Diane Pakula

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Winter joys

We have had many neat opportunities this winter. Below you can see us on Sawmill Lake, just a couple kilometres out of town, enjoying some skating and ice fishing with some of the local families. Unfortunately we never caught anything.

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Kateri pushing Aliz on a friend’s homemade sled. Isaiah was having a nap in the truck!

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Ice fishing. You can see our friend’s truck in the background, with the snow plow on it.

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One of Aliz’s favourite things to do is put on her backpack and go to school with Gianna & Isaiah. She has even got used to the snow suit and is always such a character; making us laugh with her funny faces and expressions.

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Isaiah putting his new stickers, that he got for Christmas, in his sticker book.

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Always a character!

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Celebrating one of our good friend’s birthdays!

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Kateri’s school had a winter fun day, so we joined in as a family!

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Another fun, and interesting, games night! Our friends brought over their game, Pie Face!

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The kids made their own sock and stick puppets and put on a show for us.

We had the amazing opportunity to go to Whitehorse to attend the celebration of the ordination of the new bishop, Bishop Hector Vila. As being a part of the pastoral staff of the diocese it has been such a blessing to be a part of the whole celebration. After praying about moving north to do what we are doing we never imagined that when it was finally time to move north we would be without a bishop. So this was a very joy filled occasion for us! But even for all of the faithful gathered it was a celebration of joy. The ordination took place at Vanier High School in Whitehorse.

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Bishop Hector receiving his Mitre from Cardinal Lacroix of Quebec City.

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Receiving a blessing from the new bishop!

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Bishop Hector LOVES families. We have never felt so affirmed by our church family than at this special weekend.


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Ice skating on the rink out behind the Lefebvre’s, in Whitehorse

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Celebrating an early birthday for Gianna in Whitehorse, with donuts!

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Jump rope for heart at Kateri’s school.

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The whole school tried to jump rope together!

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Giannna made invitations for her friends and drew their families in the invitations as well:)

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Gianna’s 5th birthday party!

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the two “partners in crime” with Gianna’s jacket.

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Scary. Kateri receiving a her first ever massage, at the Community Health Fair.

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She quite enjoyed it!

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Manning the booth at the Health Fair. Our display was on prayer & forgiveness.

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Kateri receiving a reading award from her teacher.

If there is one thing we have discovered more than anything in these past few weeks it is the idea of just how reliant you are on one another in the North, especially in a small, isolated place like Telegraph Creek.

Having a part break on our washing machine, it is one thing to troubleshoot your own solution while another to wait for 10 business days while the part gets shipped to us. So we had to use our neighbours(the RCMP) washing machine a couple times and one of our friends washing machines a several times. But they were very gracious and happy to be of help.

Then, a priest had arrived for Mass this past Sunday and upon arriving he says, “My oil light came on when I just pulled in. I ran over a rock on my way in!” I saw him pull in with his little car, but the scary fact was that we are in spring meltdown here and the weather has been above zero most days. This means everything turns to mud and sludge on the roads and many of the hills coming in to town shed rocks, as everything unthaws, that litter the road way. So between mud bogging and dodging you are better to have good clearance or watch out. Anyways, we were able to contact one of the guys from just outside of town who has a welder. He came to take a look at the car, which we discovered had 2 smaller holes and 1 larger hole leaking oil out of the bottom of the oil pan. Our attempts to pull the oil pan were futile, with 2 bolts being impossible to get out with the angle they were at. To make a long story short, it was a good thing I had some spare diesel oil in the shed, with that we were able to drive the car to his shop and he was able to patch it up at least to the point where it was only a slight drip! And yes, he made it back to Whitehorse. Our friend insisted on not receiving any payment. And him and his wife even gave a large bag of their garden carrots and potatoes for Father to take back to use int he soup kitchen in Whitehorse.

It has been such a mild winter up here and we never ended up getting more than about 9-10 inches of snow.

We spent most of the month of February sick with various stomach and cold flu bugs. The Lord sent us a meal through good friends of ours and one of the parishioners here, John, has come and vacuumed and mopped our house several times! Bless you John!

And now our due date is coming up soon, so we will be heading south for a bit. We will miss everyone here for sure but are extremely excited about spending time with family and meeting our new little one, due April 2nd! Stay tuned!

 

Rejoice!

We started our December with a trip to Whitehorse for our Pastoral Study Days. We got to Whitehorse safely, but not in our vehicle! The truck broke down 97kms outside of Teslin. Oil was everywhere so we were definitely not going to figure this one out. But God is good and the first person we flagged down was a man from Whitehorse that was just returning from Edmonton with his new large vehicle! So we all packed in and headed to Teslin to where we called the BCAA. They said they would tow our truck to the nearest repair shop which, in their books, was Teslin. After asking some locals at the store we found out that there was no longer anyone in town that does those kinds of repairs. So Watson Lake was the closest but that wouldn’t work for us as it was in the opposite direction. So we paid the difference to have it towed to Whitehorse. Carlo, the man that drove us all the way to Whitehorse, just happened to live in Riverdale, the same area as our friends that we were staying with. He was so good to us. He sat for an hour in Teslin with us as we figured everything out. We were well taken care of! He wouldn’t even let us give him anything for it. He said, “That’s what we do in the North. I’ve been there myself.” Have to say this is one of the huge things we love about the North, everyone seems to look out for each other. Mostly, we assume, out of necessity but it’s still really reassuring.

So, we got to Mass in the morning and Father Kieran had a vehicle ready for us to use for the week. Praise God! We talked with a friend a couple days later about that we should embrace trouble and disturbances to our plans as it leaves room for God to work!
At Mass Father Kieran asked us to light the candle for the Advent wreath, as a family,  and introduced us. After Mass we had several people come and introduce themselves and asked about life in Telegraph. We felt so loved! It’s so beautiful how within the church you feel like you have family wherever you go!!
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Making our Advent wreath at our Advent party with other families from the Holy Family Apostolate.

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Lighting the first candle as we bless the advent wreath.

Supper at Boston Pizza! We used Grandma’s treat money we saved up! What a treat!

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Snack time, after a swim in the pool at Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse

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Celebrating the Feast of St.Nicholas (Dec. 6th) with the Lefebvre’s

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Sledding party at the local hill, in Whitehorse on the Feast of St. Nicholas

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Celebrating the feast of St.Nicholas. Our friend made a bishop’s hat baked struddle

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More stockings when we got home? St.Nicholas was generous this year:)

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Gingerbread house making at the REC in Telegraph Creek

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Sledding on the little hill behind the RCMP station, next door.

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Gianna modelling our new advent wreath, which she helped cut and drill.

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Celebrating mommy’s baptism anniversary.

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Rhino Hero became an instant hit!

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Snowshoe making class

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Drilling holes in preparation for filling.

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Kateri’s class singing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ at the school Christmas concert.

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All of the students singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’

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It’s a Tahltan band tradition that Santa comes after the annual Christmas dinner and brings a gift for each child in the community. Isaiah really liked Santa as you can see or at least wasn’t sure what to do. 

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Aliz was terrified

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Gianna just stared at Santa and nodded her head

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Kateri told Santa she new he was Mark the RCMP officer!

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Skating party at Sawmill Lake

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Warming the hot chocolate on a log stove

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Christmas tree hunting. We found one!

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We performed a Christmas story drama before Christmas Eve Mass

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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We drove out to Dease Lake to spend Christmas evening with Fr.Bryan. Father Bryan celebrated Christmas Eve Mass in Telegraph Creek and Iskut and Christmas day in Dease Lake & Good Hope Lake. We pulled out Pitchcar Mini, for the first time, only to all be beat by Fr.Bryan! Good times were had by all.

We were able to celebrate Mass the following morning for the Feast of St. Stephen before Father left for Whitehorse, but not before we played a few more games!

We had talked to Fr.Bryan back in the spring about how we are always looking for priests to come up and celebrate Mass in the missions in the diocese, particularly for Christmas and Easter, to ensure that every community is able to have Mass. We were quite surprised when we found out only a few weeks beforehand that it would be Fr.Bryan coming out to our neck of the woods. He is a close friend of ours from our time in Chilliwack and it was very special to have him spend Christmas with us! Thank-you Fr.Bryan for blessing us and all the communities with your presence!!

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Kateri had fun with their new face paints.

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A new puzzle!

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Sledding in Telegraph Crrek

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A new car?!

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A family puzzle! Worked on by everyone!

We spent tonight watching our home videos that we had taken over the year. What a great way to rejoice in all that we have been blessed with!

As we enter the new year we just wanted to leave you with a small wish, taken from the words of Catherine Doherty from our small flip calendar, “I wish that the coming New Year would be a year of growth in faith; for as you grow in faith, you will grow in love and surrender to God, and that is really all that matters!”