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