Monday, December 29, 2008

From Sand to Snow: The Difference a Year Makes

A year ago at this time we were in sunny San Diego serving with World Impact, a ministry to the inner city. We were both doing ministry (like moving piles of sand, helping out at a Feliz Navidad Christmas party, etc), and also enjoying an Adventure with God vacation that gave us the family time and the rebuilding time needed to prepare us for our new adventure. That adventure began with a calling here to Emo, Ontario, a place with a lot less sand and a lot more snow! (Our house is truly an amazing place and we are enjoying it every day. I still love shovelling, which is good because we have a really, really long driveway!)

God has been and continues to be so good to us. Here is a copy of the note that we handed out in our Christmas card at church this past weekend.
A year ago at this time the Dueck 6 were in sunny California,
enjoying our “Adventure with God” road trip, and beginning to think and dream about what life in Emo, Ontario would be like. Now, just a week before Christmas 2008 we can truly say that our God has done “more than we can ask or imagine” in bringing us to this wonderful place, to serve, to live, to raise our kids, and to worship together with you gracious, kind, and generous people.
As we pause to reflect during this Christmas season, we also thank you, our CBC church family, for being bearers of God’s good gift of love to us. You have welcomed us, accepted us for who we are, and have supported us as we adapted to small town country life. We thank God for you, and ask that he bless you for being a blessing. Furthermore we pray that your Christmas will be focused on Christ, and that the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13).


Truly, it has been a great year of experiencing joy.
Birthday for the Kids!
There is rush on birthdays leading up to Christmas in our house, and we have really enjoyed getting to know our kids friends and discovering the benefits of having more space to host parties.

Joseph was first with a party in November. Because he and one other Grade 2 boy were moved into the Grade 3 class in October due to some class reshuffling, it was a bit challenging to discover who he wanted to invite, as he was still making friends. Yet we did manage to come up with a good group, and they all had a great time. And just when we thought we were going to go a bit squirrely from all the noise, God sent the first snowfall of the year so they all headed outside for snowball fights and snowman building. Joe continues to enjoy his Lego and cars and games.

Stephen has an incredible amount of friends, and his party had a great mix of church and school kids. At the beginning of the year we had to stop our kids from teasing him about his many "girlfriends" and it has been interesting to hear from a few moms in town that their girls are planning to marry Stephen! Stevie loves the limelight, and school is a blast for him because his kindergarten teacher (Mr. Enns, the only male teacher in the school) is incredibly creative. How creative? Well Pirate Day and Teddy bear day we may have heard of, but Star Wars day (they built a pod-racer!) and Elvis day (pictures complete with fake guitar and Elvis wig!), that is different! Stephen has also kept up his love for Batman, and is doing his best to collect all the Lego sets.

Lorianne just had her 12 birthday party this past Friday. She had a sleepover with 5 girls, and it was great to hear them say how much they appreciated the fact that Lorianne was always happy, and made others around her happy. Lorianne is considered "different" by her school friends, and that is, as she tells them with a smile and a laugh, "because I have Jesus!" It is encouraging to see her seeking to be a light at school, and also having fun with kids who may not think Christians have "fun" (she highlighted her hair pink a while back and one of her friends said with complete shock - "Lorianne, you were the last person I ever thought would do this - do your parents know?).

Integrating into the NW Ontario Culture
If you were moving to Africa with your family to spread the Gospel, you would learn how to speak the language, eat the food, and get involved with local activities so that the people will be more accepting of you and see that you care about them and their culture. We are thankful that God hasn't sent us to Africa (we don't like the heat!), and we have sought to faithfully serve him here, and one way of "integrating" has been for me to learn to be a hunter!
The process actually started in 2006 when Lois gave me a gift certificate to take a hunter safety course. Because of the move and everything I was only able to take one this summer, together with a PAL (Possession and Acquisition License) which allows me to purchase/borrow a gun. Because I knew almost nothing about hunting, God was gracious enough to provide me with great friends who, among other things, let me borrow a gun, took me out practice shooting, taught me how to look for deer from a tree stand, sat with me in a stand, told me how to bait a deer feeder, and gave me pointers on cutting up a deer.

And thus, we have the following pictures:
I built a deer feeder from scrap lumber scavenged from Arctic Cat snowmobile shipping crates, and placed it about 150 yards from the house. We used corn and oats to bait the deer. I could sit 40 yards from the feeder and hunt/watch for deer. Several times I saw a doe and two fauns.

This is a deer, skinned and hanging in the Border Country Outfitters Lodge. It is ready for a butchering party!

Get all the sharp knives you own and go at it! We discovered that Joseph and Stephen love playing butcher with sharp knives, while Caleb does what is needed and Lorianne, well she isn't that interested in staring at and cutting up a 200 pound deer carcass! The end result of a deer that size is about 50 pounds of roasts, stewing meat, and wonderful back strap slices, about 50 pounds of hamburger (from deer #1) and 40 lbs of pepperoni sticks and wild rice sausages (from deer #2), and 50 lbs of scraps and bones for Kelly, our German Shepherd.

So praise God our freezers are full, we have had lots to talk about with people all over town, and we have learned much about what it means to be a deer hunting family. The only thing missing is that I actually didn't get to shoot a deer! The two we cut up were gifts from our friends who own an outfitting business, I saw lots of does that I could have shot, but am "too honest" as one person said and didn't shoot them because I only had a buck tag, and spent 6 hrs in -25 degrees on Dec 15 (the last day of the season) sitting outside and never fired a single bullet at anything but a target! It was still a great experience, and I look forward to Nov 1 next year already when the whole process begins again!

Small Town Experiences
We are constantly amazed at the blessings of living in a small town, and the opportunities that God gives us to share his love. On Oct 31 we had a chance to talk about God with our whole neighbourhood (an 8 mile round trip on country roads!) as the kids sang a song for them in exchange for candy. This is the first time ever that our kids have went out for Halloween, and they were blessed with serious amounts of stuff (country people are generous because they only get like 5 or so kids coming out!), and we were blessed out God rewarded our obedience to his call to go out and meet the neighbors and share about him.

Remembrance Day is an important day in our district. The Emo Ministerial (myself, the Christian Reformed pastor, the Catholic Priest, the United and Anglican Reverends and the Pastor from Off Lake Covenant Church about 20 min away) were responsible for the service in a neighbouring community, and a prayer at each town's cenotaph. At the cenotaph service in Emo, Lorianne and Caleb were part of the school choir that sang, while I did the prayer. It was a new experience for all of us, and a great chance to glorify God as we preached and prayed the Gospel.

Emo celebrates "HollyDaze" the first weekend in December with a parade, fireworks down by the dock, Christmas shopping events and good deals at the stores. It was fun to watch the floats go by (ATV floats and the DYS school choir on a float were especially cool) and again get candy and even some toothpaste tossed out to the kids as they watched! Also that night Lorianne celebrated the completion of "The Little Ladies" a program for Christian girls to encourage them to live for God, wait for their prince, and live in purity. They met for a couple of months in spring, and this was a real blessing from God as it allowed Lorianne to connect with girls her age who were seeking to be faithful in living for God (and not chase after boys, which sadly is the favorite past time of many girls at Lorianne's age).

With Lorianne and Caleb both not having much for homework, and needing to challenge themselves, we enrolled them in the community choir. They both are great singers, and because they have good attitudes and were willing to work at it, they were joyfully accepted by the 25+ other singers, all of who were much older! Caleb was a bit bummed out about having to sing with the ladies (there were only two other guys!), but they did had fun meeting new people and singing great God-centered songs that were chosen by the choir director. The concert was in the CRC church, and it was neat that Lois' mom and my Mom and Dad could come out to hear them.

Getting ready for Christmas
A huge highlight for myself, and for the whole church family, were the two baptism services we held on First and Second Advent. We had 11 people ranging in age from 10 to 50+ getting baptized, and as one person said "that is 10% of the church!" I was blessed to hear how God has worked in their lives, and thankful that he graciously helped me as I learned the ins and outs of doing baptism services in a Baptist church. God was truly glorified and the whole church was celebrating.

This whole season of Christmas was one of slowing down, being purposeful, and not using the word "busy." Being a Pastor at Christmas means that I have to practice what I preach, and that meant living out my belief that "Christmas should be different for Christians." God was gracious, and gave us as a family a meaningful time this past month, full of much receiving of blessings, and chances to give things away.

Walking out your door and cutting a Christmas tree less than 200 meters from the door - what could be better! It was great to have Auntie Ruth along, and give her the opportunity for the very first time to cut a tree.

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Breaking out my M&M Christmas Tin Collection with all the ornaments and memories that go along with that was also a lot of fun (And with two new tins bought on EBAY this year I am only one tin away from finishing my collection - a 12 year process!)
We have had lots of snow here, which has made for some great snowshoeing through the bush.

We have also got a lot of use out of the sledding hill we modified behind the house. By modified I mean God provided the hill, but we had to cut the stumps down, clean the brush and build a ramp with my Dad for some extra speed!

This was also our "chicken pox" Christmas - all four of our kids had Chicken pox in December. In a small town viruses spread quickly, and I would guess almost 20% of the kids in the school had it.

Stephen got it last, and he got it the worst!

While I have said a lot, a lot more could be said: experiencing the generosity of many gifts from friends at church, growing in love for each other as a couple and a family, making new connections with people who need to experience the love of Christ, hosting multiple Sunday School and Christmas parties in our God ordained "party house" (Lois said that if we don't have at least one party a month we don't deserve such a big house!), reflecting on the year and being amazed again at how God has provided for our needs, seeing again and again how God has us right where he wants us. We went back to Winnipeg for a few days just this past week, and while it was great to see family, it was even better to come home. Many people have prayed for us this past year, and truly, God has more than answered those prayers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Time Fun

Who would have known that fall time in the Northern Ontario forests would be so beautiful?! Truly this is an amazing time of year here in little old Emo, and we are so amazed by the colors of the leaves, the gold tamarack needles and the wildlife (took some shots at my first ptarmigan, and just missed hitting a deer with our van!), and it can all be seen on our own property. We are still amazed at the blessing of this place, and enjoy every moment of it.


Our extended family seems to enjoy it here too, and we were thankful to have had my parents here for a few days in September. My dad and I celebrated our birthday's early, and this year it was even more special because we don't get to see him as often, and because he is still doing great after two bouts of cancer surgery.


Part of my birthday celebration involved us as a family going overnight camping for the first time this year. It has been at least a decade since we waited this late in the year to tent it out for night. God blessed us with some great weather, a beautiful beach campsite just 30 minutes from the house, and lots of entertaining fishing. We all enjoyed it, and I am thankful for Lois who really encouraged us to make it happen.

For many people in our church and in the district, the chainsaw (or as commonly referred to here - the power saw) is a part of everyday life. Whether employed as a logger, or just cutting up firewood, these are practical tools. But in the hands of a former city- slicker, they can be down right fun! I borrowed this big beast from a friend at church, and together with Lois' nephew Greg who was in for the weekend and the whole Dueck 6 clan we laid waste to 25 trees around our house to create some sunshine and open space. It was a great family effort, and it all got done in about 5 hours, including hiding all the branches in the bush.

For those of you who are wondering, I did get a safety lesson prior to using this tool of forest destruction. I was also given a pair of chainsaw pants to wear (supposedly when you cut your leg the chain jams up in the pant threads rather then on your bones!), and protective boots. Because all of this was new to me, and because I usually work at a desk and with people, there was a lot of joy and satisfaction in seeing our place transformed, firewood stacked up, and having the trees eventually fall where I wanted them to. But I also have a new appreciation for the muscles involved in running a chain saw - my forearms hurt for hours after cutting for only half a day! (The joke in church the next day was that I should have started the saw first!).

You can see that there are still lots of trees left around our place! The tarps on the ground have been replaced by a garden plot thanks to a friend who came over with his Bobcat and a tiller attachment.

While Greg was here we made another trek to Humble Hill (formerly known as Pride Rock!), our large Canadian Shield outcropping on the southeast corner of our property. It is a beautiful 20 minute hike from our place to the hill. For part of the hike we go down an old logging trail (most of the saleable timber was logged off our property years ago), while the other part of the trail follows a deer path through a new poplar forest. The hike is well worth the effort, for the view from the hill is amazing.

Loving our new life!


Follow the Leader -just make sure he is using his compass! (we actually never head into the bush without our compass, matches and a knife, because it is very easy to get lost)



Look at our muscles Mom!

We had set ourselves a deadline of mostly setting up our place by our Housewarming Party day, which was October 3. Our house easily accommodated the 60+ people who came through that evening, and most of them were amazed (as we often still are!) how spacious and beautiful our place is. The house is perfectly set up to host large groups of people, which is good because we have the "gift" of hosting parties and really enjoy it!

We continually are encouraged and challenged by God's work in the church. The desire to faithfully serve God is still very much wrapped up in me learning on the job, and I often wonder what to focus on, how to use my time, how to lead a godly group of people to further God's kingdom, etc. I know that there are many people praying for me and us as a family, and we see God's hand in the many areas: the church is growing, new ministries that have begun are making an impact, and I and the rest of the church are learning much as we walk through the Bible together.

Lois had a chance to head down to Chicago for a TrueWoman 08 this past week, and she was blessed and affirmed in the path she has taken as a woman of God. Together with over 6000 other women she heard some challenging messages from speakers such as John Piper, Joni Erickson-Tada and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, as well as times of solitude in the 12 hr drive there and back and God's gift of a funky hotel room just minutes from the conference center. The conference was free for pastor's wives, and God provided $400 in a really unique way to cover the cost of a car rental, gas, and food for the whole trip! We serve an awesome God!

Me and the kids had a great time back at home, and I can honestly say that it was fun. This is a radical departure from previous times Lois has gone away, and I am very thankful to God for the way he is working in our kids' lives. We really pulled together as a team and there was hardly any complaining. We enjoyed watching a movie, playing games, having a "camp out" on Humble Hill, cleaning out Lois' pumpkin patch (over 50 pumpkins!), and just being together. Lorianne made lunches for all four of them two nights in a row, and even offered to make mine! Stephen and I did some visiting of seniors together, we had fun hosting a friend from church for Thanksgiving supper on Sunday. It was great to have Lois arrive safely home on Sunday again, and to know that while the break was nice, she was looking forward to being home again. God has shown a lot of grace to our family, and the changes in our home are a real blessing to us as parents.

As we look towards Christmas, we realize that we have already received so much. We are continually praying for wisdom in knowing how to serve God with what we have been given. For those of you who are praying for us, we ask that you continue to pray for our kids as they seek to live for God at Donald Young School, a task which can often be challenging. Pray for Lois as she seeks to love her husband and kids well (she told me to write that!), and for me as I desire to faithfully and boldly serve in my role at CBC.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summer 2008: A Summer of Firsts

I think that as a family we will look back on the Summer of 2008 with much fondness. Both together and individually we have experienced so many new things, and have seen time and again the goodness and grace of God. So pull up a chair (if you aren't sitting already!), and prepare to be informed, to smile, and to be surprised as you discover what the Dueck 6 have all been up to the past few months.

First Time Working at Three Summer Camps
Calvary Baptist Church is connected with three different summer ministries. Throughout my 10 years as a Children's Pastor in Winnipeg I always said "Sorry, I can't" to all requests for me to be involved in any kind of summer camp program as a speaker because we had our own amazing Day Camp program at GMC that I was responsible to lead. However, here in Emo I can't use that line (and wouldn't want to), so we did a lot of praying and as a family volunteered or attended a variety of things this summer. The funny guy in the Friar costume is me reprising my role as Friar Marlow for the VBS program at the Christian Reformed Church here in Emo. Our church works together with them on this event, and I enjoyed the chance to lead the opening and closing of the morning, as well as rewrite the skit that came with the program to give it more of a gospel focus, and make it more fun. Lois helped in the pre-school area, and at the end of the week it became very clear both of us can't be serving all out at the same time as it has a negative effect on the family.

The other two programs that CBC is connected to are camps run out of the Kiwanas Sunny Cove Camp just east of Fort Francis. It was kind of weird discovering that the Northern Echo Bible Camp, and the CSSM Camp were two different entities entirely, but run out of the same place! At Northern Echo, I did a Bible talk and shared the gospel at the closing program one day, while at CSSM we as a family had the chance to lead the camp in large group games for an afternoon (our kids helped in prepare the supplies for the game, and Lois and I helped run them). It was fun to use some different skills learned by watching and working with the amazing Mr. Murray at the FunZone, and see that the games were a big hit, and something new for people out here. For summer 2009 we will need lots of wisdom as a family as we discern just where God is calling us to use our skills, where our own children should go to camp, and if we are to help for a day, the whole week (technically I could be booked up to 4 weeks every summer!), or return back to our former home in Tadoule Lake where they have a great need and limited options for hearing the gospel.

First Summer of the 30 minutes or less trip to the Lake!
One of our big desires as a family was to be able to spend time fishing or hiking or going to the beach and not have to make it an all day or all weekend event. Well, God has definitely brought us to the right spot! We have done many afternoon and evening trips to a variety of lakes around here, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. I timed one trip the other day, and it took us 22 minutes from our door, down the highway, down a gravel road, to an almost completely secluded lake with fish, blueberries, and a private beach! We have really enjoyed these times as a family, and the chance to get to know new friends as well as take old friends from the city out to these beautiful and relaxing spots. Just think - in the time it used to take us to go from our home in Winnipeg to St. Vital Center or Polo Park Mall, we can now go fishing and swimming for free!


First Child who went away to Camp
While many parents send their kids away to overnight camp at 7 or 8 already, this was the first year that one of the Dueck 4 went away from home for an extended period of time. Lorianne and a friend from Winnipeg met half way at Moose Lake Camp near Sprague, MB and they had a great time. Lorianne enjoyed the activities (especially kayaking), the 8:00 am polar bear swims, and the chance to learn and have fun away from her folks. Home life without Lorianne is a lot different, and while the change was good for a while, it was great to go pick her up, have a family picnic and then head home. Lois was praying that we would find some blueberries on the way home, and God again was gracious to us, and we found a whole patch at the CN Rail stop between Warroad and Baudette, MN, aptly named, Blueberry!

First Casket Built
Lorianne's week at camp will always be a memorable one because 2 days after she left one of her kittens named Ocean was killed by a greyhound right on our driveway. It was a freak attack, and while the lady whose dog it was even drove the 30 min to Fort Francis to the vet see if she could save her, it was too late. Lorianne got the sad news on the Saturday back from camp and cried more tears than I have seen in a long time. We built a casket together and buried Ocean on our new property the next day.

Being former "city folks" the procedure seemed normal, but for our friends in Emo it was a pretty elaborate undertaking. Pets dying around here is a very common occurrence, and I assume that things will be less painful and simpler in the future for our kids. In fact, when I asked a friend of Caleb's what happens when her kittens die, she replied "Oh, my Dad just picks them up and throws them in the tall grass over the fence." Obviously, we have a long way to go!

First time "Entertainment"
Imagine the following phone call -

"Hi, is this Pastor Dueck?"

"Yes."

"This is Sis. I heard that your kids do entertainment."

Lorianne, Caleb, Joseph and Stephen as entertainment?! Well they can make us laugh and cry, but I don't think that is what was being asked for! Actually, the rumor was going around town that the Dueck 4 dance team did a great job at the DYS Idol competition, and so their name was passed on to the organizer of the Emo Fall Fair Queen Pageant competition. Here is what the local paper had to say about it.

Nordstrom crowned as 2008 fair queen
Dave Ogilvie Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Last Thursday was the final evening of the 2008 Emo Fair Queen pageant. The floats had been marked, the banners sewn, the interviews completed, and the fashion show over.The only thing that stood between the girls and the 2008 crown was the talent show.
The first of the five contestants to take the stage was 17-year-old, Alyssa Strachan (Green’s BBQ and Bar), who presented and narrated a slide show entitled “Emo Tour Guide,” which included pictures of why Emo is an excellent place to visit.To allow each contestant time to get ready to perform, the pageant committee had asked various entertainers from across the district to be part of the evening festivities.As such, next up was an energetic and creative group of brothers and their sister, called the “Dueck4,” who were inspired to perform while watching a Christian mime group perform in San Diego, Calif.The Dueck4 danced to the tune of “We Are Family.”

So our kids had the chance to do their thing in front of four judges and 200+ people, most of whom have never met us, or set foot inside Calvary Baptist Church. The people really enjoyed them, and our kids enjoyed the watching all the different talents displayed by the girls. The video is pretty much the same as last time, though the kids thought the smoke machine and lights that the sound guy had along made them look pretty cool!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiyjWliFIz4

"First Time Float wins First Prize!"


The Rainy River Fall Fair has been running for 108 years, and while we "happened" to be here on Fair weekend last year, this year we enjoyed it in a big way. A few years back we had attended church on Hecla Island, MB on summer Sunday, and then stayed to watch the float parade, which included a float from the church. As a family we thought it was a cool idea to be part of the community, and to show that Christians enjoy being creative and having fun. So, when we moved to Emo, we felt that it would be a great thing for CBC to be a part of, and the church agreed.

Lois and a team from the church spear headed the project, and we as a family joined in. We received a lot of positive feedback from those involved from the church, and discovered afterward from other Christians in the district that never before had a church had a float in the Fair.



The theme of the float was "Give thanks to the Lord" and we decorated the truck and trailer with giant vegetables, seed bags, and kids! We also sang songs as we travelled the route from the Hospital to the Fair Grounds.


We had kids dressed up as everything from pumpkins to tomatoes. Joseph is all dressed in blue in the middle there - can you guess what he is supposed to be? (right, a blueberry!)



Stevie, the happy carrot!

We had a whole basket full of "strawberries" ranging in age from 3 to 7!

Lois and I had the chance to play farmers, and together with Lorianne and and a few of her friends we went around handing out candies in envelopes with invitations to church and Sunday School. Caleb wore a big pumpkin shirt with a "Smile Jesus Loves you" sign on the back. He also pulled our red wagon with the extra candy bags! It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. We brought smiles to many faces, and I believe God was glorified in the process.

First Move to the Country!
It was a glorious sight to see Roy St in Emo packed full of pickups and vans as 15+ people from church came to help us move 2 miles down the River Road (officially known as Hwy 602) on August 18. Our gracious church did an amazing job of bring out boxes and furniture and moving them into our new place. While we had made about half a dozen trips with our van, we saved all the heavy stuff for moving day, and I am glad we did! With all the help and support, we got way more moved than we thought, and actually cancelled our 2nd moving day which was to be on Thursday.

The guys who packed the trailer said to keep stacking it - so we did! It was quite a sight to see our furniture piled high on a trailer travelling in a caravan of 8 vehicles down the road - we even held up traffic for a bit! All in all it was about a 2 1/2 hour process, and very humbling to have so many people from church come and support us. (Of course this is now the 2nd time in 6 months that they have moved us so we had to promise not to move again for a long time!)

First Time Owners of "The Big Cabin in the Big Woods"


God has blessed us with an amazing house. It is far bigger and more beautiful than we anticipated getting, and we are so thankful. We love the fact that there is lots of pine throughout the place, including the furniture (thanks Mom and Dad!). This is a picture of our "basement" which isn't really a basement, but our main floor, since our house is a two storey built on a concrete slab. The kitchen is upstairs, along with a really large living room and dining room, and three bedrooms. The main floor has a huge rec room area, a nice size guest room (which has been used three times already!) and a laundry room.

Having a two car garage is something that we never thought we would have, but comes in handy for the pets and my workshop (I assume we will put the van inside for winter, which will be a first for us). The garage is insulated, drywalled, painted and has a vent into it, which means that our "zoo" (back up to 2 kittens, 2 guinea pigs, a hamster and Kelly, Caleb's dog) should stay warm all winter.

Here are a few other pictures of our amazing "retreat center."


The family (especially Lois!) really appreciate the big kitchen!


The living room has enough space to host 20 people, which means that if we do youth groups or care groups, there is space for girls and guys or adults and kids to have their own place to share and connect.


Fire pit #2, just off the house!

A God designed Basketball court!

First Time walking the lane to catch the Bus
Summer is over now (I started this entry a week ago!), so we have experienced another first (and I am sure there are many more to come!). The past two mornings we have walked to the end of our "parkway" (that is what the bus driver calls our driveway), and wait for a ride to school and/or work, depending on the age of the rider. It is novelty now, and means less trips in for our van and a few less minutes of sleep for the kids.


We continue to see God's providential and sovereign hand in our move, and are enjoying the blessing of country living and a larger house. It truly is amazing to think that one year ago we were beginning our "Adventure with God" trip across North America, and now are settled in our new house, enjoying ministry, and seeking to faithfully serve God where he has brought us. Taking steps of faith don't make us heroes, because it is the one who we have our faith in that is the Hero. God is faithful, and we have seen his hand of blessing upon us. We don't deserve it but will take the advice of friends and enjoy it!