Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Heading back to Emo!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!"
Ephesians 3:20-21
This verse pretty much sums up how amazed Lois and I are at what God has done this past couple of days. God, in his grace and providence, has in a really short time worked it out that we are to go back to Emo, Ontario this coming Sunday to connect with Pastoral Search Committee of Calvary Baptist Church! We come back from camping on Friday, enjoy a birthday party/housewarming party with Lois' family, then leave our kids with their Omi and Opi and drive to Emo late Saturday night. The plan is to attend church, visit with people at their monthly potluck lunch, and then meet with the Committee on Sunday afternoon so they can get to know us and we can get to know them.
Clearly, this is a God-ordained and orchestrated turn of events. When Lois initially suggested that we head off on a family sabbatical trip, I felt that I wouldn't be able to truly relax on such a trip without knowing where we would be landing afterwards. God eventually brought me to the point of just giving the whole job situation over to him, and so the plan was to go on the trip, sending off resumes via email as we travelled along. Yet our great God, who has all things in his control, has decided to bless us with an opportunity to connect with a great church even before we head on the road!
God's timing in all this has truly been astounding:
  • As I mentioned before, I received a call suggesting we go check out Emo the day after my last day of work at Gospel Mennonite Church.
  • Lois had planned for us to go to the area already months ago, so we went there on the Aug 19th, had a great time, and connected with the Pastor and a few of the church leaders.
  • We had an incredibly busy weekend of us moving, having meals with friends and family, and helping Lois' sister Linda move into her new place.
  • This past Sunday morning I felt that I needed to get my resume sent off to the church, so I prepared a cover letter and a list of "10 reasons why we believe God is leading us to Emo!" and sent it off to the church email.
  • Later that day Lois' sister Elaine phoned and said some guy from Emo had been phoning her number for the last few days trying to get a hold of me. Turns out that the Committee Chair had gotten her number from the Pastor (we were staying at Elaine's place when I talked to him back in the beginning of August and he must have copied it down) even though I had given him my cell phone number. Why is that important? Because had this gentleman actually gotten a hold of me on Friday (when we were moving and doing meals with people), or on Saturday (when we were moving Linda), it would have put me over the edge in terms of being stressed out with too many things to do. But when I finally did manage to talk with Philip on Sunday night late, and he asked me to send him some information, it was all prepared and ready to go.
  • Meeting with a church now is MUCH simpler than trying to fly back from some place out west, leaving Lois and the children on their own while I try to introduce myself to people.

When Lois and I had committed to going on this sabbitacal trip we imagined that a "best case" scenario would have us meeting with a church right after we got back. But our great God is fully capable of working out an even better scenario, which is seeing us possibly postpone the start of our trip a bit as we step out in faith and apply to serve at Calvary Baptist in Emo.

Pretty amazing, isn't it? Personally I am very excited about this opportunity, and I would ask that you continue to pray for us that Gods' will be done. Pray that we will prepare what we need to before we arrive, that we can humbly and accurately share our story, that the Committee in Emo would have insight from the Holy Spirit as to what questions they should ask us, that we would discover what we need to about he church to help us in our decision making process, and that God's name would continue to be lifted high in the whole process.

Our hope is in God, and we know (and have just experienced it once again!), that he will faithfully lead us.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

The Ups and Downs of living the Hobo Life

First off, a big thanks to all you who have been praying for us over the past month. While we have not officially left on our big Adventure with God, the challenges of living in a variety of different spots (we moved into our fourth "home" in less than a month yesterday), downsizing our life's possesions so that they can fit into a van with a roof top carrier (we bought a Yakima Skybox 16 from Gord's Cycle which my brother graciously tested for us in a tornado near Grand Forks this weekend - it did great!) have required patience, endurance, and a family that is gracious towards one another.

God has extended his love and grace towards us in many ways: generous family members who have allowed us to stay at their homes, friends who have invited us over for meals (and even sent home leftovers and gifts!), great mini-vacations where we could get away and recharge, and good communication between Lois and I.

As we continue on in our journey, I would ask that you pray for me in some specific ways. Yesterday was a challenging day, and Lois reminded me that I am not used to being with our four kids 24/7. Normally I would go to work, and have 8+ hours a day where I set the agenda, choose how to spend my time, etc. That is not the case anymore. While God has blessed us with great kids, they are sinners, and their selfish nature combined with my own sinful selfish nature has resulted in me not communicating in love as much as I should. So please pray that I will be able to extend grace as needed, discipline in love as needed, communicate my frustrations kindly and gently to Lois, and that God would give me wisdom to know when I need to just take a break and have some personal down time.

I truly desire to lead my family in a way that honors and glorifies God, brings us closer together as a team, and gives us opportunity to bring joy to others and point them to Christ, the true source of hope. We have learned much already this past month, and I know God has much more learning in store for the Dueck 6 as we head out on the road in the coming weeks.
And I am very excited that we will be heading out in a few hours to live on an island in Nopoming Park till Friday. We are looking forward to some warm days to relax, enjoy a great time of canoe camping just as a family, and catch a lot of smallmouth bass!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Benefits of listening to Your Wife!

Way back in January when I briefly started looking for a job, God led us to look at the NW Ontario region as a place where our family should go. It is close to Winnipeg, has access to wilderness and land, and gives our family a chance to get outdoors and live life to the fullest. We looked into a job in Fort Francis (about 4 hours from Winnipeg), but it never turned into anything. Lois however, was convinced that God wanted us to check out the area so the plan was to go camping there in August once I was done work. I wasn't convinced this was the greatest idea, but went along with the plan anyway.

The plan was to go there this past weekend, which we did, camping at Caliper Lake Provincial Park and having a marvelous time as a family. However, the weekend was much more than just camping, but was a sign once again that God has his hand in all things, and that he directs our steps.

You see back in February I had gotten a lead from a friend that there might be a possible job opening in the area coming up. I told him to keep me posted and then kind of forgot about it. Well on August 1 (one day after I finished at Gospel Mennonite Church!) this friend phoned back and told me that the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Emo, Ontario was heading back to seminary after 9 fruitful years of ministry, and that I should really check the church out.

I called Andrew Hall, the pastor of the church, told him our situation, and asked if we could come and visit the church as guests, but also to see if it would be a fit for our family and if God might be leading us to serve him there. He welcomed us to come, and because Lois' plan was that we were to be going there this past weekend anyway, it all worked out great.

Well, it just happened to be the town fair weekend (a parade and lots of candy for the kids!), an added bonus that again showed God's timing. Emo is a beautiful little town of about 1200 people, about 3 1/2 hours east of Winnipeg. It is just one stop on the "Historic Boundary Waterway" which links Rainy Lake to the Lake of the Woods. It is also a scenic stop on the "MOM's Way" (Manitoba-Ontario-Minnesota) route.

As a family, we felt right at home in the church of about 120 people. There were lots of young families with little kids, as well as teenagers and everyone up to seniors. The worship was very Christ-focused, and Andrew preached a powerful sermon on the church as evidence of God's grace to the world. Many little things, like using the ESV bible translation, having Fighter Verses in the bulletin, reading that the church had strong leadership structure, and the fact that the search committee was announced that day, not only brought a smile to my face but led me to believe that this was a place where God could (if he chooses to) use us to equip his people and extend his kingdom.

After church Lois and I had some great talks with various people in the church, who kind of guessed that we weren't just there "visiting." Lois learned about the schools in the area, and that the Pastor's wife grew up going to church in Altona were here cousins Alan and Anita Kehler were the Pastor couple. Andrew and I talked, and I discovered that we had both attended some of the same Desiring God Conferences hosted by John Piper, that he had went to school with my sister and her husband, that we were actually attending Providence Seminary at the same time, and that we both loved to canoe and fish! He mentioned that his last day was to be January 13, 2008, which is just before our 5 month Adventure with God will be over. He also mentioned that there were different people who had expressed interest in being hired at the church. I asked him to include my name on that list, and he said he would talk to the search committee and get back to me.

As we drove away from the church, Lois and I were both excited and at peace that this could be a great place to minister together as a couple, and as a family. I said to her, "Lois, I think I just verbally applied for a job!" Obviously God has to continue to lead and guide in this whole process, speaking to both the church, and our family. I haven't even provided them with my resume, but hopefully that opportunity will come soon.

Thank you to all those who have been praying for us. Clearly, God is answering those prayers! He knows what we as a family are about, what our hearts desires are, and he also knows which one of his churches will be best suited to further glorify him with the Dueck 6 as a part of the congregation. Stay tuned for details!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Details of our Adventure

The "Adventure with God" that we as family are taking has actually been going on for years, since God ordains all of our days - Psalms 139. However, the specific events that have led up to the creation of this blog are as follows:
  • In Spring 2006 Lois and I felt the need to pray and fast about the future plans God has for us as a family.

  • On our anniversary weekend we discerned that God wanted us to do ministry together more as a couple, specifically in the area of marriage, family, and prayer.

  • Throughout the summer and fall of 2006 we came to the conclusion that God was leading me to resign from my position as Pastor of Children's Ministries at Gospel Mennonite Church.

  • On Dec 10 I announced my resignation in church, and many people both affirmed the ministry that we had done as a family, and our desire to do future ministry together.

  • Some time in early 2007 Lois gets the idea from God to go on a big trip with our family to regroup and reconnect after years of me going to school and her having babies.

  • This past spring I focused on finishing well at GMC and thus we didn't look for a new job.

  • Our family gets excited about the idea of a 5 month "Adventure with God," and we plan out a very loose itinerary: west to B.C., down to California, across to Phoenix to spend Christmas with the extended Dueck clan, and down to Mexico City to visit Lois' cousin who is a missionary there, before returning back to Winnipeg at the end of January, 2008

  • Our church blesses us with a great farewell party, and I finish 10 years of great ministry on July 31, 2007. God blessed us with a great church family, gave me the opportunity to use my gifts, and drew all of us closer to Himself.

  • In August we are now doing some camping and home renovation projects for Lois' family (who are graciously letting us camp out at there places!), before spending the September Long weekend at my folks place and then heading on the road!

Many of you will probably have known most of these details already, but you might not know exactly what we hope to gain by being homeless, jobless, and on the road for 5 months. Here is what we as a couple are praying for, and we would ask that you join is in prayer as well.

Please pray that God would:

  • grow our family into a dynamic ministry team that enjoys serving God together and just being a family,

  • give us many fun, relaxing times together, filled with memory making sights and joy filled challenges,

  • open our children's eyes to the grace he has shown them by putting them in a family with four siblings, and that they would grow to love being a part of the Dueck 6,

  • allow us to experience and learn from different cultures and people groups,

  • bless us with great times of worship and learning as we go to church as a family (something which doesn't happen often when Dad is a pastor!),

  • protect us from harm, and use us to bring glory to his Name.

Feel better informed now? I hope so! Knowing that this is what God wants us to do, and that there are people praying for us, makes going on this Adventure with God that much more of an amazing experience.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fun Times at Family Camp

Going BMX biking on a great course

A real bullseye!

Stephen, the family clown!

Caleb, the Dauphing Bible Camp Rock, Paper, Scissor Champ along with Conrad the B-Side "Ghetto Ball" (a version of tennis) champ together with DBC Camp Staff

Lorianne discovered a new favorite past time -horseback riding!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Green Pastures, Still Waters, and a Challenge

Dauphin Bible Camp hosted a Family Camp this past weekend and the Dueck 6 experienced the green pastures and still waters that the Lord our shepherd promises his people in Psalm 23. No meals to cook, amazing activities (table hockey, archery, pellet gun shooting and horseback riding for everyone, including Stephen!), freedom to be outside as a family, multiple tournaments (Caleb was the camp Rock, Paper, Scissor Champ) and great times of worship. Lois connected with old friends from her teenage years and I got introduced to "Ghetto Ball" a version of tennis which was a lot of fun.

As a family we were challenged by the camp speaker, a missionary from New Tribes Mission. He spoke from 2 Corinthians 2-5 and reminded me of what I am, and what I have:

  • I am insufficient, yet God parades me in front of the world because I have his glory in Christ in me (2:14).

  • I am the fragrance of God to those around me, because I have the knowledge of him (2:14).

  • I am not competent in myself, but I have competence that comes from God alone ( 3:4-5).

  • I am created by God and saved by his grace, and I have knowledge of the glory of God (4:6).

  • I am a fragile, insignificant jar of clay, yet I have the greatest treasure to share with the world (4:7).

  • I am a new creation with a job and a mission- to be an ambassador of Christ, because I have been forgiven of my sins and reconciled to God, and have been given the ministry of reconciliation (5:17-20).

Our family won't quickly forget all the fun we had this weekend. And I pray that we won't forget who we are and what we have, and the mission that we are on.