Monday, December 3, 2012

A Dueck 6 Year - by the Numbers

When trying to look back over a year+ of life in our home, it is hard to decide where to start filling in what has all happened. What to share? What to leave out?  How I can I organize it?  Going chronologically is a good place to start, so beginning last August, and going "by the numbers" here is some of what we have experienced as a family seeking to live to glorify God and make him look great. 
5- this is the number that the Dueck 6 was reduced to after Lorianne left for a 3 month German exchange trip in August 2011.   She flew with her Omi to Toronto and then our adventurous 14 year old girl flew all by herself to Vienna, Austria and then from there to Salzburg where she was picked up the Rempel family (making them now a family of 5 as well!).  God had orchestrated the whole trip and it was amazing to see how God blessed her and them over the months she was there living with them in Bad Reichenhall.  All her courses at the school were in German except Spanish and French, so she learned a great deal, and had a great view while doing it since the school was up in the mountains. But the highlight of course was the many places that they traveled as a family.  From France to Germany, Bucharest to Vienna, Lorianne just loved seeing wonderful new places. 

1995 -More than a number, this is also the year that Lois and I moved to Tadoule Lake, Manitoba to teach on the Sayisi Dene First Nation reserve. After two years there we had made a lot of memories and a lot of friends, seeking both to be teachers and people who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. After dropping Lorianne off at the airport in August Lois and I and the three boys drove to Thompson and flew out to see our friends, do some fishing, and hold a church service. It was encouraging to be so well received once again, and to see our boys having fun fishing, drumming with new friends, and enjoying ATV and back of the pickup rides.  Lois was blessed to be able to pick some blueberries and to receive cranberries, while I was thankful to have chances to pray with so many of my former students and their families, as well as friends we had made over 15 years earlier.

375 -This is the amount of money Joseph earned/saved up/received as a birthday present so that he could buy his very own goalie gear!  After much searching on Kijji God answered his prayers and provided a set that was affordable and the right size, enabling him to have a very fun year of recreation hockey on Saturday mornings.  He even got to play in two "real" games against the rec team from Rainy River, and he did a great job, earning himself a shutout in one game.  Joe still loves hockey, and for his joy (and the exercise benefit of our other two boys!) we go play shinny hockey at the local arena almost every Monday after school. 

2  -the number of budgies that Stephen received as a present for his 9th birthday last December.  Because we know that he is our "phase" boy, liking first one thing and then something else, he had to prove to us that he could look after birds.  So he did the research, shared with us what he learned, talked about the benefits of owning birds and how he would train them, etc.  Satisfied, we let him buy Murphy and Eddy, back in November.  Little did we realize that while they do sound nice, budgies make a great deal of noise almost non-stop!  So it didn't take long for the budgies to move from their central location in the living room to the upstairs rec room.  That however still wasn't quite removed enough at times.  So when, as it usually does, Stephen got out of his bird phase (he did manage to train them as you can see by the picture), the whole family was very encouraging in his effort to sell the birds.  He did sell them, paid us back for some of the money it cost us to pick them up in Winnipeg, and still had enough left over to pay for his latest pet phase - fish! 

1 -the amount of 12 year olds in the Borderland Orchestra last year.  One of our prayers as parents has been that God would provide our children with opportunities for them to use the talents he has given them.  Caleb is a good student, and was not being challenged at school, so it was a real blessing when the opportunity came for him to use his drumming skills (and learn a variety of new percussion skills) playing with the 30+ member community orchestra here in the Rainy River District.  With rehearsals on Tuesday nights during the fall and winter, and the need to practice at home, Caleb was kept busy last year, for which we are very thankful.  The biggest blessing was that he had the chance to learn from and play with Allison Barron, a friend from our church.  Percussion is a tricky thing in an orchestra, since the mistakes you make are very obvious to the rest of the group.  Caleb did well under the pressure and enjoyed the chance to perform both here in Canada and across the river in International Falls.  This year, there are a few other younger violinists who have joined the group, but Caleb now "leads" the percussion section as Allison has moved.

Caleb is up for the challenge though, as he loves the stage. He recently performed with the Donald Young School Glee Club, and in the Spring played the role of Jafar in the Aladdin Musical.  Stephen also had his debut in that play and it is clear that the two brothers love the whole song and dance routine! 

40 -  Yes, midlife has come upon us!  Lois turned 40 on March 17th and we celebrated with a games night party at Church.  Almost have the church turned out and it was just fun to celebrate with friends, especially with Olive Friesen, whose birthday is also on St. Patrick's day.  Lois' Mom and sister Ruth were the for the fun, and to help set up as well.  I joined the 40 club this past fall, and we celebrated with another games night.  For both of us it wasn't a big deal to reach this "milestone" as we have continually much to thank God for, and also have a healthy dose of perspective here since a friend of ours turned 100 a few weeks before my birthday! One thing I was thankful for was that God provided (via my generous parents) a new fuel efficient vehicle for us to replace our old mini-van.  We love our 2003 Matrix, not just because it uses 40% less fuel, but because it is a standard and fun to drive.  Lois says I can call it "my car," which surprisingly makes me feel younger and sportier!

7 -the size of our family once Sarahya joined us in April for her three month part of the Exchange.  It was a definite adjustment having another teenage girl in the house, and if we thought things were loud and crazy before, well now things were at a whole new level!  As she adjusted to life with three brothers, and we adjusted
to someone who didn't grow up in our home, we could see God's hand in bringing us together as we all learned a lot.  And we had a lot of fun moments too, including helping Sarahya catch her first ever fish, girls shopping dates, learning to appreciate dancing, and serving together at the Walleye Classic Tournament in Emo. 

God obviously thinks 7 is a good number for our family, since currently we are a still a family of 7, at least on Saturdays.  Gage is 5 years old strong little guy, and Saturdays till Sunday after church he joins the Dueck 6 to have fun with us, learn how to work and interact in a healthy family setting, let loose in the great outdoors, and make us smile and laugh.  By being a part of our family for the day we can give his Grandma (a friend from church) a days break from looking after him, and give our kids another opportunity to grow in thankfulness and their ability to serve, so it is a win-win for everyone. 

5154 - the minimum number of kilometers we would have traveled (without any side trips) on our 16 day road trip to New York City! For some strange reason Lois wanted to see the Statue of Liberty for her 40th birthday present, and with Sarahya needing to be shown something slightly more exciting than the Bemidji Mall, a big time Dueck 6 road trip was in order!  Most of you know that we love long driving trips (this blog was started 6 years ago because of our 17,000km Adventure with God trip), and this one was no different.  While many people thought we were crazy for traveling with 7 people (including 3 teenagers!) for this long, God really blessed us with a great trip: safety in travels, everyone working together, great accommodations ranging from tents to posh apartments, and amazing sights to see.
A few highlights:
Duluth: camping at Spirit Mountain, enjoying the waterfront, free old time car show, coaster cars and no more vertigo for Dad (I had had my first bought ever that morning)
Chicago: hotel in the heart of downtown, rented bikes for a 20km ride around the waterfront, Lincoln Park Zoo, free fireworks at Navy Pier, and the start of the heat wave. Stephen and Lois went to the Shedd Aquarium where he was picked out of the crowd to be a dolphin trainer - amazing! Oh, and of course - deep dish pizza!

New York City!: 3 room apartment/hotel room at a hotel connected with Calvary Baptist Church NY for a "miracle" price (did I mention it was 2 blocks from Central Park?!), going to Redeemer Presbyterian Church and hearing Tim Keller preach, great food, Times Square fun, Statue of Liberty and a day of subways and seeing things like Wall Street and the UN Headquarters.  Both Sarahya and Lorianne got to see musicals on Broadway, and I was fortunate enough to be there with Lorianne when all the piano music she had been playing for years came to life as we watched "Phantom of the Opera"!

Ottawa- We met my sister Sonia and her family here for 2 days of family bonding.  We enjoyed our campground and their hotel pool, and had a great tour of the Parliament Buildings, even getting to stand on the House of Commons floor!

Dorion (small town just east of Thunder Bay) - we were blessed to stay at the home of our good friend Josh Pawluk's parents.  Besides getting to sleep in a monstrous log cabin, we enjoyed good times with their family (and the many golden retrievers they have!), as well as a trip to this secluded waterfall for a swim. In Thunder Bay, we enjoyed Fort William with people in costume acting out history.

These pictures give just a brief glimpse into a really amazing couple of weeks, for which we are very thankful.  It re-confirmed our love for traveling, the fact that God has his children all over the place (and they are very kind and generous) and that our van definitely needed new shocks once we were done!

3+1+7+30+9+18 -these numbers represent Lois' chicken raising experiments during the summer of 2012.  Yes, what was once a little venture (let's get 30 chicks to raise for meat) turned into a full blown rooster crowing at 4:00 am and little chicks hatching in our rec room and flock of wild chickens eating the garden!

 These three looked great strutting around the yard, and were helpful cleaning up leftovers - but the boys didn't like cleaning up the porch after they were finished their "walks"!


These were from the batch that hatched in the rec-room.  Fun to watch them grow, but they wrecked the garden which we weren't excited about.

And finally, our 30 meat birds in their new pen.  Needed to be fed twice a day, and you still have to butcher them (with help from some expert farm friends and their 5 kids, it only took us 2 hours!), but boy, do they taste good!  And 28 of the 30 "made it" into the freezer, a substantial improvement from last years 19 out of 30, so the work was definitely worth it.  So, if you want our advice, stick to raising the "feed them and freeze them" variety.

3 - The number of tents required to sleep the Dueck 7.  On our test camping trip to Caliper Lake Provincial Park, about 40 minutes north of Emo (and now sadly closed due to Ontario Government cut backs) in May we eased Sarahya into Canadian camping life.  She did great, and the whole family realized again that we enjoy camping.  With a girls tent, a guys tent and a mom and dad tent, everyone slept great.  And it is always a treat to relax by the lake, eat yummy food (everything tastes better outside!) and enjoy God's beautiful creation.

1200 - weight of the food flown in half way through a 9-day CSSM canoe trip that Caleb and I went on this summer.  42 people, 21 canoes, and a whole lot a fun went through 8 lakes near us in late August.  Caleb was 13 and old enough to go, and I was thankful for that since I had been wanting to go on this trip since we arrived here almost 5 years ago.  It was encouraging to see young people growing in their knowledge of Christ and adults who love Jesus doing their best to make that happen.  I had some good talks with the 5 youth in my tent, caught some nice bass, and saw some amazingly beautiful clear lakes less then 100km from our house. 

The dad of one of the guys in our tent worked for a local fly-in fishing camp and often "buzzed" us while were paddling from lake to lake or on the islands for the night.  Sometimes it got down right scary how close he came!

A serious amount of canoes in the pristine (but no longer quiet!) wilderness This was no small "Father Son/Daughter" canoe trip like I was used to from my GMC days!

My tent crew.  A couple of Christian Reformed youth with the Baptists-surprisingly, this made for some interesting talks on the subject of infant baptism vs. adult baptism!

20 -was the amount of hours spent mowing our trails over the summer.  We have probably around 2 km of trails on our property, and they bless us all year around as we hike, take guests for walks in the woods, hunt on them, and snowmobile and ski on them in the winter.  God has blessed us with a great property, and also with great friends who lend us their cool machines like this Bobcat.  I am no expert driver, but this year I managed to mow the trails myself with this machine, for the first mowing of the year. The stress level is way higher using a borrowed machine, but it does a great job of handling the first cut of 2 foot high grass.  After that I get a great workout pushing a $40 mower! 

9 - was a huge number for Caleb this year as it was the number of points on his first ever (and our families first ever) buck!

Actually, it was Caleb's first deer ever, so I am not sure how soon he will improve on this monster.  God answered lots of prayers really quickly, as the buck was down less than 15 minutes after we were in the stand on the very first day of the season.  You might find it interesting that this buck was shot less than 150 meters from the house!

Calvary Baptist Church Emo16 -is the number of pages in our church phone directory.  That might not seem like a big number, but it represents God's grace in a big way as he continues to bring people through the doors of Calvary Baptist Church.  Having been serving at this church for almost 5 years, it is truly amazing to see the transformation that God has brought about both in the facility, in the types of people coming, and in ministries we are a part of.  We are grateful to God for his mercies, and continue to pray that he leads us as we seek to fulfill our mission of  Growing in our love for Christ, his Church and our Community.   (If you are curious as to more of what is happening at our church, check out our new website )

This year was also our church's 90th anniversary.  We celebrated in spring and had a chance to meet Tom Oshiro, pastor at CBC from 1956-60.  He is 80 years old, still loves Jesus and serving him daily.  He was encouraged with the church body and the church spirit, and really blessed us all with his sense of humor and winsome way with people.

12 -is the number of hours Lois works a week at her new job at Sunrise Meat & Sausage. (I know what you are thinking - Lois works at a meat shop?)  The owners of this shop go to our church and they needed help during their busy season, and this is a way God is providing for us and some of our financial needs.  It is only a short 10 minute drive away, and Lois enjoys the opportunity to not have to lead, organize, or think deeply on what she is doing, but just follow instructions and work hard. 

There are a few other numbers we could use a second time.  5 is the number of piano students that Lorianne is teaching on Tuesday nights.  She loves her job, and appreciates the opportunity to earn money for her upcoming band trip to Cuba in March.  She is also turning 16 on Christmas Day, and Stephen is turning 10, meaning all our kids are now in double digits! 

We are thankful to God that he continues to be faithful to us as a family, and we seek to serve Him and honor him, both as individuals, and as a Dueck6 team.  We are grateful for the many people who pray for us, and are excited about the Advent season, which allows us to focus in on the precious gift of Jesus our Savior.  We rejoice that he is the one saves people from their sins (as the angel promised in Matthew 1:21), and that is more than enough reason to praise him every day.