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?"


"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!

"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!