Neighbourly New Brunswick


Motorhome Meandering #4:  No matter how big and strong and amazing a vehicle is, it will still be, er, affected, by objects that are embedded into the earth and not meant to move or be moved.  Like a street sign.

Don’t worry, the piece of our motorhome that was somewhat, umm, removed, upon impact with said street sign is small.  And easily replaceable. (Sigh.)


They say good things come in threes.  

Well, we have just completed a stint in our third Atlantic Province and we are unanimous in supporting this claim.  Good things do indeed come in threes. Our week in the truly picturesque Picture-Province herself, New Brunswick, has just come to a close.  And it was another absolutely blessed time.

Jer received an email a few weeks before we arrived in New Brunswick from the World Renew contact there, Margaret van Oord, who reminded him that he had attended Redeemer University College with one of her daughters some years ago.  She then invited us to park our motorhome at their place for the duration of our visit. They apparently lived about 20 minutes outside of Fredericton and even offered electrical and water hook-ups for our motorhome. Jer made mention of this invitation to another contact who knew the van Oords, and she made an off-hand allusion to the fact that oh, we would then be staying at the “old dairy farm.”  Jer took this to mean that Margaret and her husband, Dirk, literally lived on an old dairy farm...

I’ll be honest.  The look on my face when an overjoyed (read: frugal) Jer relayed this invitation--and information--to me did not match the look on his face, to say the least. While I appreciated the (amazing!) spirit behind this offer, I was not too keen on actually accepting it.  I was picturing us parked in front of a barbed wire fence, in the middle of an overgrown field sporting little but an overabundance of cow patties and ticks. And me trying to keep my 5 and 9 year old free from both of these things.  While simultaneously trying to embrace the philosophy of “Let’s go learn from and live in and enjoy nature, kiddos!” I spent a considerable amount of effort trying to find other frugal options...

But Jer persisted.  And then he pulled out his trump card: “Hon, I just have that feeling in my gut.  We need to go there. And it will be a blessing, you’ll see.”

Well.  Crap. That was it, then.  We were going to the dairy farm. See, when things really matter to me, I can argue until the cows come home.  One of my university professors even characterized my reasoning skills as “Jesuitical,” which is not really a compliment, even if he may have meant it as such for that particular assignment.  I often talk circles around my poor husband. I process things by talking. Quickly. Often. And a lot. But he figures things out by thinking. Silently. Slowly. Okay, strike that. Deliberately.  ;) And he communes with God in a really unique way. A lot. But especially when we need to make a decision about something.

And the Holy Spirit communicates with my husband in a way that I have learned not to argue with.  No matter how hard I need to bite my tongue!

So, we were off to the dairy farm…

And when we arrived, Jer looked over at me with raised eyebrows that spoke volumes.

This was not the overgrown, decrepit and abandoned dairy farm I had been (erroneously) picturing in my mind.  This was a bit of paradise.

Van Oords


And the hosts themselves (Dirk and Margaret van Oord) were angels.  Absolute angels:


Quote-to-Note:  “Mrs. Margaret and Mr. Dirk are the best people in the whole wide world.”  Kiara, holding my hand and skipping along beside me as we headed across their lawn to explore at the bank of the Mactaquac River that flowed by some twenty feet behind their house, while Jer and Isaiah borrowed their kayak to go fishing together for a Father’s Day treat.

Dirk and Margaret welcomed us with utter generosity, grace and peace.  They swiftly became an unofficial “Pake and Beppe” (Grandpa and Grandma)to Isaiah and Kiara. ;)  Their playroom became Kiara’s favourite place to be, and their frog-laden pond swiftly became one of Isaiah’s.  We enjoyed meals and baked goods and games and laughs and stories...and the occasional adult beverage together. And we were so deeply blessed by the feel of “being home” when we were with them.  Thank-you, Margaret and Dirk, from the bottom of our hearts! We will not forget you or what you provided for us (and I don’t just mean the shower and laundry facilities, although they also were deeply appreciated.)  The sense of belonging and home that you created just by being you nurtured our souls. May God bless and keep you both!


Again.  We were overwhelmed by the community of believers that welcomed us in New Brunswick.  Fredericton CRC opened their doors for a delightful Dinner-and-Dessert Coffeehouse on Saturday night and then hosted Jeremy as Worship Leader on Sunday morning.  We so appreciate the efforts of Amanda and the many others who made that happen. Thanks also to Pastor Neil and Ruth for the delicious meal and time together. A huge thanks to all of you at Fredericton CRC for the wonderful time together and for all of your support.  God bless you all!


Here Are a Few of Our Favourite Things...About New Brunswick


Jeremy:  My favourite thing was finding out that a couple drove all the way from Maine, USA to come to both the Saturday evening concert and the Sunday morning worship service after reading about the I Am Not My Own Tour in The Banner.


Lara:  The view of the pretty Mactaquac River each day, all day while we camped out at the van Oord homestead.  And playing card games with Margaret and Dirk… the Schats are big gamers, too, so it felt familiar and dear to me at a time when I didn’t even know that was exactly what I needed.

Isaiah:  Going to Science East (Field Trip!) and fishing.  They’re tied.

Kiara:  Meeting the new family (Dirk and Margaret) and going in a kayak with Daddy.



This past week’s experience of my initial resistance to staying at the Van Oords, and then being so abundantly blessed by our eventual stay, continues to resonate deep within me.  “Let go and let God” was something my grandmother used to say to me. Often. And, actually, my dear 95 year old Grandma still has occasion to say this to me. God continues to work on this with me and this past week was another reminder of that.  Perhaps you can relate. I am truly thankful that God disciplines those He loves. Even when it’s humbling, painful or incredibly difficult in any number of ways.

And so, I leave you with a section from Jesus Calling that speaks to this far more eloquently than I can:

“Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life.  Give up your striving to keep everything under control--an impossible task and a waste of precious energy.  My guidance for each of My children is unique. That’s why listening to me is so vital for your well-being...Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.”


Teaching Q&A 1


Colour Run