Saturday, September 29, 2007

News Flash: Hobos found living in the Hoodoos!

The "Your Home is a Van" News
Reporter: Lorianne M. Dueck

At the Hoodoos, an attraction site in the Alberta Badlands of wind carved rocks shaped like mushrooms a family of 6 was found. Since this was a hobo family I just couldn't help suspecting that they had settled in and started living there. Unusually, they had a van. I didn't know that hobos had cars. Hey wait a minute, I've seen that van in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and sometimes in the U.S.A. That van is their home!! I'm sorry this article is wrong! These are hobos who live in a van, (I still don't see how that works) and are visiting the Hoodoos on their long trip. The stickers on their Yakima tell a lot about where they have been. These parents must love their kids a lot to take them from Manitoba to Alberta. I've heard of the Dueck family and hear that they are doing a long trip. Maybe, just maybe I will be allowed to type out another article!
This photo shows that the hobo children had a lot of fun by the Hoodoos. There are four of them, one is hiding behind the girl. The one kid is looking at his sister and smiling at her pose. I think he looked at the wrong time. What a handful for the parents. I wouldn't want to be by that crowd in a fight or an argument.
Well, thanks for reading, even though this article is wrong, and hope to hear your comments next time on the "Your Home is a Van" Newspaper.

The many benefits of (almost) Winter Camping

Now I know it may only actually be fall across much of Canada, but out here in the Wild West we have encountered some pretty cold nights in the past week as we ventured out onto the campground for the first time on our trip. Needless to say we discovered a few things about ourselves, and the benefits of tent camping in fall.

These benefits are (in no particular order):

1. Good sleeping bags are really, really important! We discovered this vital truth when it got down to -5 in Drumheller, and our kids were complaining their sleeping bags were not good! Thankfully the laundry mat at the campground was heated, so Lois and I could share our bags with the kids and spend the night reading in comfort. We also stopped in at MEC in Calgary to buy Lois a bag rated to -10, and we now double up the kids bags.

2. Cold can be cool: This dandelion looked beautiful covered with hoarfrost.

3. Going hiking before bed warms up the body: We went on a great hike in the Alberta Badlands near Drumheller, enjoying a beautiful sunset and some great exercise.

4. God's creatures try to find warmth wherever they can: The kids found this little guy burrowing into some ashes in a fire pit on the campground.

5. The leaves are beautiful: We went on our first really big hike yesterday, hiking from our campsite to Radium Hot Springs and back, a distance of about 7 km. God blanketed the trail and the mountainside in an amazing display of color.

6. Campsites are less crowded: While most of the campgrounds in Kootney National Park, B.C. were already closed, the one we stayed at had about 30 sites open. We had lots of room to choose from, and interestingly enough, almost everyone else had an R.V. I wonder if the forecast for snow had anything to do with that!

7. Vans make great quiet time spots when it is cold and rainy: Stephen and Joe both wanted their sleeping bags, but they still were much warmer in the van than under a tarp in the rain!

8. Wildlife seem to be more active: Okay, that is just a guess, but we saw almost half a dozen deer and almost two dozen Big Horn sheep in the past two days. It was great, and we even got within about 10 feet of the sheep a few times, both on foot and in the van.

9. Tourist spots are less crowded too: This picture was taken this afternoon at Lussier Hot Springs. As you can see by the picture, these springs have been kept natural, and they are right next to a creek (we were going to go from hot to cold and back, but Caleb and I could only go into the frigid water just past our ankles before wimping out!). In summer the three little pools are wall to wall people, but we had them almost to ourselves.

One other benefit of camping in late fall is that it makes you appreciate your friends. What do I mean by that? Well after three really cold nights in Drumheller Lois and I were trying to decide where to sleep for a night before heading into B.C., when God reminded us of our generous friends Wes and Cat Peters. After one quick email they readily agreed to host us in their house in Calgary for a night. We had a great time of warming up, visiting, playing pool and Nintendo Wii, and our kids really enjoyed hanging out with their son Grant. We stayed there less than 24 hours, but God used them to encourage us and provide for us in more ways than they know.

While we won't be camping for the next three weeks, we hope (and pray) that when we do start again somewhere in Washington or Oregon, the fact that it will be even closer to winter will be offset by the fact that we will be further south!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Seeing God's grace in a pile of wood

An ordinary pile of wood or an example of a gracious and loving God? I will tell you the story and you decide.

We were travelling from Edmonton to Drumheller where we are now camping for a few days. As I was driving along I noticed lots of dead trees, which would make really good firewood. Why was I looking for firewood you ask? Well some campgrounds have free firewood and others don't, and the place we were going charged for its wood. I really hate paying for firewood (must come from my thrifty Mennonite roots or the fact I usually camp in the bush where you can have all the wood you want for nothing), and wasn't looking forward to buying a small bag for $5. So there I was travelling down the highway being envious of all the wood I saw on other people's property.

Now envy is a sin, as is greed and just plain selfishness. God, in his gracious way, reminded me through a conversation with Lois that rather than complain about a situation or wish it different, I should be praying. So I stopped looking greedily at all the dead wood just standing there, and prayed as I was driving that God would somehow provide wood for us so that we could enjoy lots of fires with our family, and keep warm. Whether we found some somewhere or the campground did something different, I didn't know how God would answer my prayer. And to be honest, I figured he wouldn't.

So upon arriving at our campground we set up, and I noticed lots of dead branches around. I built a small fire and then went to the office to buy more wood. I asked the staff about using the branches I saw around, and if there was any way else to get wood (without paying!). When I mentioned that I was camped right next to what looked like their excess wood pile, they said that I could have as much of it as I wanted! Thats right - I didn't have to go drag it out of the bush, it was already piled neatly, and there were even saw horses around to cut up the big pieces.

God is sovereign, and he is also very kind. Do we have the money to pay for wood? Of course. But God chose to show himself to be gracious and resourceful, and to teach me to not be envious or greedy, and to remind me that he answers prayers. And he did that all through a pile of wood.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Me at the WEM Wave Park: by Lorianne

Hi, it's me Lorianne, you know the girl in the picture in the World's biggest Water Mall seconds before crashing into my Dad who is taking the picture! Yep, thats me. I got the honours of writing on the blog about the Water Park, so here goes.

While staying at the mall we had the chance to spend the whole day at the water park. As we were changing us kids were just itching to go! When we finally got out we were just amazed at what we saw, waterslides everywhere!! The whole front part of the park was set up like a beach! The slides were great but for me personaly the Wave Pool was the best. Every 20 minutes a horn blared and the waves started to come in. When we all tried to hold hands and go over the waves it was a race against time to get on the tubes in time! Mom spent most of her time quietly walking on the beach or walking in the water while the boys loved the water slides. Caleb and Joseph really liked the Skyscreamer, the red slide in the pichture.

What a great way to spend a day as a family!!!

Living in a Fantasy!

As a family we went from staying with friends to living it up at the Fantasyland Hotel this past week. For two nights we lived in the World's Biggest Mall, and we enjoyed it immensely! The hotel has a special theme on each floor, and the kids loved exploring them and choosing a favorite.

The hotel also had bunk beds, so everyone got a bed, even if they had to share.

The mall itself was fun. Not that we are serious shoppers (okay, Lorianne is but the rest of us aren't!), but the attractions were great. The kids loved the big pirate boat (we got to go on it for free), the seal show was a lot of fun, and we all even went bowling at the arcade. As parents we discovered that our kids like different things: Caleb started getting into hockey cards and would still love more video games, Joseph loves guinea pigs and bought a Playmobil set of them, and Stephen liked a lot of stuff, but didn't buy much. Lorianne could shop all day and still not have enough time, so we are grateful that she has limited disposable income. I bought a few stickers for my big trip project: to decorate our Yakima roof top carrier so we look like one of those really cool travelling vans that has been all over the country! Lois bought a few little things, but together with what we have received as gifts so far, we will soon be having to mail our first box home!

I am thankful that our kids are great listeners and could spend two days in this shopping mecca without getting much and not complaining. We went in and out of all sorts of stores, and they came when called, and never got lost. In a society that is fixated on the idol of materialism, the 800 stores at WEM are a big temptation for many people. Thankfully God has given us much greater joys in life than accumulating stuff, and the reality is, all of us have much more than we need already. See 1 Timothy 6:8 for a great reminder that we all have what we need to be content.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wanted: NCEM Missionaries!

NCEM stands for Northern Canada Evangelical Mission, and it also stands for a group of effective committed people who are reaching First Nations people all across North America with the Gospel. While they have missionaries on many reserves and in cities, we have had a chance to connect with their headquarters here in Prince Albert, and especially with their T.V. ministry, Tribal Trails, and the print shop.

We were introduced to Tribal Trails through our friend Julie Sandberry in Tadoule Lake. For her, TT is her "church," and we watched the 30 min show together with her in her home this past July. Well, this past Friday we got to be on the set of TT, watched how they put a show together, read off the teleprompter, and saw ourselves on screen! As a family we also go to help the ministry and be really short term NCEM missionaries by preparing DVDs for shipment, organizing their DVD collection, and I even transcribed a bit of an interview!

Lorianne loved helping with the DVDs, but for the boys, the print shop is where the action was. We worked on a stapling and trimming machine, and together we boxed up 5000 copies of their latest promotional brochure, and also did a mailing of over 13,000 Muskeg Moccasingraph newsletters! We all took turns bringing the booklets to the machine, stacking them in the stapler, removing them from the trimmer and then putting them in boxes to be shipped off. The joy on Caleb, Joseph's and Stephen's faces was a delight to see, as they were having a ton of fun, while truly blessing the people here and making an eternal difference in God's kingdom.

It was truly a great privilege to be able to serve together as a family with a great group of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. The staff at NCEM let us join them in their many tasks, and we observed their dedicated efforts to reach Canada's unreached peoples. Many of these men and women have served for 10, 15, even 20+ years. That amazed us, and challenged us to remain faithful to the call that God has given us.

We also heard many times over our 5 days at headquarters that NCEM is very short staffed. They could use people in the print shop, staff at the bookstore, people at Tribal Trails, and more. If you have skills of any type, from computers to accounting, trimming lawns to pounding nails, camp work to kid work, recording and audio work, I am sure there is a place God can use you at NCEM. Just check out their website at to learn about service opportunities, or just to see how God is using "The Mission" (as the NCEM'ers like to call it!) to glorify himself and extend his kingdom.

As a family, we enjoyed staying at the Mission guest house (where Lois saw a Tonka jeep that she had had as a kid 20 years!), and at our friends the Bekkatla's. They were missionaries in Tadoule Lake in the early 90's, and while we had actually never met as families, we could share stories of familiar people, encourage each other in our God-journeys and pray together. In God's amazing sense of timing, they were also hosting a native friend from Tadoule who we also knew really well! Please join us in praying for Laura as she works in the NCEM office and Gilbert as he does Dene language translation work and travels as an evangelist to many Dene communities each year, including Tadoule Lake.

Overall, our first serving/missions/working as a team experience was better than we could have asked for. We had fun, we served God in a way that brought joy to others, met great people, and we discovered more about our children's unique abilities. We pray that God will provide more such opportunities as the adventure continues!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On the Road, going West!

Well, it has finally happened. The downsizing is all completed, the bags are all packed, the van is stuffed to the gills, and we are on our way! While we truly have been on an "Adventure with God" for a few weeks already, today was the day we said goodbye to our families and left Winnipeg behind. We are in Regina now, and will be heading to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan tomorrow to spend a week or so with NCEM, Northern Canada Evangelical Mission. They are putting us up in the Missionary Guest house for the weekend, and then we hope to spend time with the Bekkatla's, our Tadoule Lake connection. We don't know what we will all be doing, but God does, so it should all be good!

The kids are excited, we are very happy to be finished packing up (after 6 weeks!), and everything we needed fits in the van. We had a great picture of us with all our gear, but one thing that didn't make it along was the cable for our camera, so I can't download any pictures. I am sure we have forgot more stuff, but since we aren't far from shopping, we can aways restock.

(Sept 21 - The beauty of Blogging - here is a picture now that I have the cord!)

Stay tuned for reports from our travelling circus! And please pray, because we have started homeschooling!

Enjoying spending time with God's family in Emo

The Dueck 6 had a great weekend in Emo this weekend. We were blessed to be able to stay at Henry & Beth Petkau's place, where our four kids had a wonderful time playing with their four children, as well as playing with Buzz the dog, the cats, the rabbits, and checking out the forts in the bush. We also really enjoyed visiting and praying together as adults, and the amazing Mexican meal we had on Saturday night was a highlight. Being at church for the Sunday School Kick-off was a special gift for the kids, as they had a chance to meet some of the children at Calvary Baptist and make some friends. Lois and I also attended the men's and women's Sunday school class, which was encouraging for both of us. It was probably the first time in almost a decade that we both attended Sunday School on the same Sunday, without having to look after any children, ours or others!

I preached from Matthew 6:25-34, reminding the congregation and myself that Jesus calls us to a worry free life. He does so by reminding us that worrying is a sin, that it is futile, and that worrying is a sign of a lack of faith and trust in God. He also provides a remedy for worry, by calling us to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" and promising that if we do, "all these things will be given to us as well." We need to constantly "cast our cares on God, for he cares for us" (1 Peter 5:7). Pastor Andrew Hall closed off the service by pointing out that a key to trusting God is to remember how he has been faithful in the past. He also summed up what I said by reminding the church that we need to "pray, and then obey." I was blessed in preparing the message, and from the feedback that we received, it seems that God was at work in the hearts of the people. In fact, even Lorianne said it was a good sermon! (The kids age four and up stay in the service at Calvary, so our four kids will be hearing a lot of their Dad's sermons if God continues us down this path!)

After church we spent a great afternoon visiting some members of the church, having great meals, enjoying the beauty of the country side, and driving around on 4-wheel ATV's. (Nothing like driving 60 km/hr in the bush on a new quad to convince a dad and his three boys that Emo is a great place to live!) The whole weekend was a blessing, and as we travelled back Lorianne asked us if we still felt peace about God's calling us to Emo. We said that we did, and that we were trusting in him for our futures. There don't seem to be any red flags on either side, and Lois and I have really been thankful for the way the search committee has been upfront and honest with us, and has allowed us to be real with them.

We look forward to the next step in the process, which will involve the church discussing whether they want us to come for a more "official" candidating weekend some time in the coming months. If that is the case, they will fly us (or some of us!) back to Emo and we will have the privilege of getting to know them better, and they us.

God has been more than gracious, and we are truly humbled by his goodness. Thanks for your prayers on our behalf. God truly does know "what we need before we ask it." Mt 6:8

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Being Amazed at the Leading of God

This past weekend Lois and I had the privilege of returning to Emo and meeting with members of the the Calvary Baptist Church Leadership as we together discerned if God is calling us to be the lead pastor couple at their church. It was truly amazing to see how God has been leading and blessing the church, and how his leading of our family has brought us to this point.

Having built an addition onto their church a few years back, the church now has a beautiful fellowship hall. This hall is where the church has its monthly first Sunday of the month after church potluck. We enjoyed some amazing food and getting to know a variety of people as we hung out at lunch (and since we were classified as visitors we even got to eat first, which is a nice treat after years of organizing events at GMC and waiting till the end to eat!). There are a lot of families with young children in the church, and it was encouraging to meet many families who had four kids like we do.

After lunch we began our meeting with the Pastoral Search Committee. These godly men and women asked some great questions, and allowed us to ask them questions at well. The church has developed a very biblical leadership system which I would feel very privileged to be a part of. One thing that is a strong value to the leaders, the pastor, and the church, is the idea of church as family. They all see that as one of their main strengths, along with being a very gospel centered church, and a being a church full of people that truly love each other.

After a great "faspa" (yes, there are a lot of Mennonites in this Baptist church!), we headed back for another three hour session of getting to know each other. Pastor Andrew joined us for this session, and it was great to hear his heart for the church, his love for his people, and his excitement at how God is leading this whole process. As I had the opportunity to "pass the baton" to the new Children's Ministry Coordinator at GMC, it seems like that is happening here as well. God's grace was so evident the whole day, and all parties involved are truly amazed at how God is leading so quickly and clearly. Truly God loves his church more than any of us, and he will provide for his people.

Lois and I and all the kids will be heading back to Emo this weekend, as I have been asked to preach. This will give the church as a whole a chance to get to know us, and continue to move the whole process forward. We had a great tour of Emo from one of the members of the committee, and visited with Andrew and Melanie and their family at the parsonage. We received an education as to the cost of land in the area, and came to the conclusion that if God continues to make the way clear, moving into the parsonage in town to start would be great way to get our bearings on small town life and allow us to make connections with the community.

Please pray that God's Spirit will work in and through me as I speak, that Lois and I can just be ourselves as we interact with many people, and that our kids will enjoy going to the start of Sunday School and make some friends.

Thank you for your prayers so far. I received this verse in an email the other day, and it clearly speaks to what God is doing. Jeremiah 10:23 ~ I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. We continue to be humbled by our great God and his love for us, his love for the people of Calvary Baptist, and the amazing way he brings glory to himself.

The Dueck 6 go Canoe Camping!

I love the bush, and being out on an island in the middle of no where with just Lois and the kids is my idea of a really good time. So when we, for the first time as just the Dueck 6, went on a three portage, three lake canoe trip last week, it was a big highlight. And the great thing was that it was fun for the the whole family, not just for this bass fish loving dad. We worked together as a team hauling all our gear, survived a rainstorm, enjoyed beautiful sunsets, played games, and caught lots of fish. God was gracious in that there were no injuries (outside of a bass getting me caught in the same hook he was caught in!), there was no one else on the lake, and everyone had a positive attitude.

Because there are 6 of us, we actually needed two canoes to haul everyone and our stuff. Besides this being the first time we went without other adult support, it was also the first time we held a "Dad vs. Kids" Fishing Derby. Everyone tried their best, all the kids caught at least one fish, but Dad still managed to come out on top, catching 12 fish to the kids 10. Since I am competitive, I am happy I won, but I was also happy to discover that Lorianne is very competitive, which should make these contests even more fun in the the future!

Enjoy the rest of the pictures!

Lorianne and Caleb did a great job of helping us paddle.

Stephen's first ever fish!

Caleb, Lorianne, and Joseph worked together over two days to chop through this log.

At Lois' recommendation, here is the Dueck 6 mascot, the turtle, which reminds us that we need to SLOW DOWN!

God creates families, and God created a beautiful world that he wants them to enjoy.