Just what is up with the Dueck 6 this days? While I had hoped to never start a blog post with "I'm sorry we haven't posted in a long time." it seems I have to. Please accept our apologies, and know that we are still alive, well, and living out our Adventure with God.
It has been four 1/2 months since we moved into our new place, and we are beginning to feel like we are putting down some roots here, are not getting overwhelmed by daily tasks, and are really, really looking forward to a summer of (Lord willing!) working on our yard, enjoying some fishing, and just living a "normal" life. The whirlwind of the last year took a lot out of us, and we are grateful that each day we are getting stronger.
Over the last four months, as you can guess with the way we do life, a whole lot has happened. We hosted most of my family over Christmas, and were thankful to discover that 7 extra people can sleep in our house no problem. We had our Housewarming Party, and over 80 people including friends, church members and curious community members came by to check out our place. And we even made it into the paper again! http://www.fftimes.com/node/230013.
Our weekends fill up with all sorts of activities. We made a trip to Winnipeg to see family, shop (Lois was getting glasses and the kids tried some on at the shop!), and enjoy a brief taste of big city life. Joseph enjoyed his Saturday morning Recreational Hockey, and did really well, getting Most Improved Player award. It was great to see him enjoying himself so much. He really is the athlete of the family, and loves all kinds of sports. Part of the improvement came from the many hours he spent practicing on the rink that we made our the concrete pad of our old house. We had some great games as a family, and many friends also came over to enjoy the ice. I learned a lot about how to (and not to!) make ice, got tips on making a home made Zamboni from a friend, and we even had lights set up so they could skate at night.
Caleb and Lorianne were involved in the Beauty and Beast Musical. Caleb was expressive and loud as Maurice, Belle's father, while Lorianne got to sing all of her lines as Madame de la Grand Bouche (aka The wardrobe). Surprise, both of them had their pictures in the paper! (Picture of Lorianne) I had the chance to again help as prop guy, and Lois was involved in painting the sets. The play is a whole community effort, and quite an opportunity for kids in elementary school. There were over 25 actors involved, and they performed 5 times to over 600 people!
The blessings of our new home are evident every time we host people. Our bonus room above the garage is great for hosting parties. The projector we bought from my brother Paul has been a huge hit with our family for movies and playing Wii, but it really shone during the Olympics. We don't have TV service, but do have highspeed internet (which not everyone does out here!), so we could watch the big Gold Medal game with friends. We have had many different people stay in our guest room, and it has proved very suitable. Families who come over for dinner enjoy our house and the yard, as the kids play and we visit. Hospitality is a ministry that Lois and I enjoy doing as a couple, and our kids do a great job of making people feel welcome as well. And the fact that we live a ways out of town means that not everyone knows when and who is over for dinner!
A reality of being a bit further removed from fun kids type stuff (5-bowling is in the Fort along with swimming, while we need to go to the States for 10 pin and movies!)means that you need to create your own outdoorsy type kids fun stuff. We have a lot stuff that we can do right next to the house, but our hiking/cross country ski trails are also getting expanded which adds even more possibilities. The fact that they lead to Humble Hill, with its great view and climbing and camp out options, makes them even better. Caleb was the first kid to have a sleep over birthday party in the new house, and he and the 6 guys he had over loved the forest where they played Mantracker, and enjoyed eating s'mores on the hill. Some of the friends he had over for the party are church friends, and the rest are from school. Some of them also curl with him on Tuesday nights during the winter, or most go the Calvinist Cadet Corps with him at the Christian Reformed Church every other Wednesday.
While most of you know we did do a trip to the Domincan Republic in March (see next blog entry), you might not know that we went to Winnipeg for part of the Easter weekend where my entire family was together for the first time since last summer. It was great to visit, reconnect, and watch the cousins have fun together. I am thankful for my family.
Lois also helped organize an art show at Calvary Baptist over the Easter Season. It was an idea that she got from our days at GMC in Winnipeg. It was encouraging to see both adults and children worship God by using the creative abilities God has given them. Stephen really enjoys painting and drawing. Here is his underwater scene:
Lois painted a picture celebrating the amazing character of God by looking at his different names.
Lorianne was just at the computer with me, learning how to upload Odyssey progams on iTunes (she is 13 but still loves to listen to them!). She is heading off this weekend with her girls Sunday School class to go to a Youth Conference in Winnipeg and she wants to take our our iPod with her. That, compiled with her taking Gr. 8 grad pictures, are clear signs that she is growing up! She is an outgoing, energetic and godly young woman, who loves school, being with friends, her cats, and playing piano. She competed in the local music festival in Fort Francis, and had received first place in all three classes she participated in. She also enjoys playing on a worship team at church along with Caleb and Mr. Barron, a godly and gifted musician.
We realized today that this is our first "settled" spring in 3 years, and the first one here in at our property. We have enjoyed the warm days, and felt especially blessed to do some things around our house. Lois is very, very happy that she has a clothesline again! All we had to do was chainsaw down 1/2 a dozen trees or saw, screw two of the larger spruce together for stability, and attach a hook to the house and viola - instant NW Ontario clothes line! Lois is also excited by the start of our garden which is going to be behind the house. We have some raspberries, chives and rhubarb planted right next to the house already, and hope to get some soil/manure to actually make a larger plot. Another 15 or so trees had to come down to make sure sunlight gets through. (I still find it amazing that I can fire up a chain saw and cut down as many trees as I want, whenever I want!). I am happy to do some trail clearing, and am very thankful that we managed to get our little bit of open space seeded with grass and packed down.
Hey, did you here the one about the doctor, the logger, the truck driver and the pastor who tried to cross the border on their way to a Gospel conference?! A few weeks back I (the pastor in the above joke!) had the privilege to attend the Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky with the other three Elders from our church. We had a great time getting to know each other on the 17 hr drive, and were blessed and challenged along with 7000 others by speakers such as John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, C.J. Mahanney and John Piper. God has blessed me with great friends and fellow servants here at Calvary Baptist - it is a joy to work together with them.
In the midst of the many new and different events that have happened recently, we have maintained one tradition that we began on our 5 month road trip in 2007. Yesterday our family finished reading A Peep Behind the Scenes, a classic Christian tale originally published in 1878. It has been republished by Lamplighter Books a company introduced to us by friends from Gospel Mennonite Church that publishes absolutely outstanding old books that promote godly character traits and a love for the Gospel. As we read this book we were reminded of the incredible love that the Good Shepherd has for his sheep, and the amazing lengths he will go to rescue us from our sinful selves. We are so thankful to be found by the Good Shepherd, and that He has led us through these past 2 years in Emo and gives us direction for our future. We don't want to do life without God as our Good Shepherd, and are so thankful we don't have to!