Motorhome Meandering #10: Mabel is big. 30 feet long. Pretty tall. Fairly solid. Seemingly impenetrable. However: pebbles. They are, we've learned, her Achilles heel. And when they ricochet underneath and around her while we're traversing an unexpected unpaved road, they wreak havoc. Sigh. Note to self: Do not take Mabel down a gravel road. Ever. Again.
Folks, we are tired.
We have reached the halfway point of our cross-country tour, and we are feeling it. We aren't regretting this trip or anything about it; however, the theoretical understanding we had prior to leaving that this trip "wouldn't always be easy" and would "be really hard at some points, I'll bet" became a bone-deep reality for all four of us about a week ago. We've all taken turns having the expected bouts of loneliness, fatigue, frustration, boredom, over-peopled-dom, done with coming and leaving and packing up and packing out, etc, etc, etc., at different points over these three months. However, this time we all hit the wall at the same time. Aiy yaiy yaiy.
I once saw a fridge magnet that read: "If mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy." I remember thinking of my own dear mama (God rest her beautiful soul) and laughing knowingly at the perhaps-unfair-yet-no-less-true reality the sentiment represented. Well. I wasn't laughing last week. And no one else was, either. Sigh. I'll be honest: At times, I find the reality of being the emotional centre of my beloved family a bit taxing.
Especially while on the road, without dear know-me-within-and-without friends around to fill me up, you know?
But my responsibility doesn't change, simply because my circumstances do.
I can't dissemble to save my life. My husband says my moods are, er, transparent and that my face communicates every thought and emotion I have, even if my words attempt a cover up or diversion. So I can't pen this blog at this place and at this time without being honest with y'all. Thanks for listening. And for the prayers many of you have shared you are sending up on our behalf. Please keep 'em coming...
Quote-to-Note: "Sometimes I feel grumpy because we're always going from place to place. And once I get to know someone, I can't really stay with them and I have to leave and I feel lonely." Kiara, during the Family Meeting I called last week after a particularly, er, tumultuous morning. (Preach it, daughter!)
Marvelous Medicine Hat. Bountiful Brooks. Lovely Lethbridge. Our past two weeks found us traversing Alberta and visiting these three cities back-to-back. They were wonderful places to visit. Medicine Hat found us living in Mabel on the property of Albert and Angie Cramer, whose vegetable greenhouses yielded the yummiest burst-in-your-mouth-with-flavour little tomatoes I have ever tasted (along with delicious peppers and cucumbers, all of which Albert lavished upon us in abundance.) Medicine Hat also gave us our first glimpse of the fascinating landmark that are coulees. Wow. What a vista these provide! And Medicine Hat also introduced us to the work of the Prairie Gleaners, the local mission Medicine Hat CRC elected to support through the I Am Not My Own Tour. Local farmers take "seconds" of vegetables that can't go to market, dice them up, dry them and turn them into healthy soup mixes, thereby diverting perfectly healthy food from the landfill. These soup bases are then used to feed millions of people internationally. Incredible! Angie and Albert, thank you for letting us stay on your beautiful property and for opening up your home and hearts with such genuine care. (Isaiah and Kiara still talk fondly about their time at your peaceful place...) Pastor George and Emily Koopmans, thank you also for the delicious dinner and all you did in organizing both Saturday night's concert and Sunday's worship services. (And kudos to Emily for learning the piano part to I Am Not My Own in one day. Amazing!)
While in Brooks, we stayed in the spacious basement of the homestead on Karl and Linda Slomp's farm, where we enjoyed hearty and delicious breakfasts the likes of which I've never seen before, as well as a sweet kayak expedition where Isaiah (who, like his Schat uncles before him, can make ANYTHING into a competition) promptly challenged me and Kiara to a kelp-catching-contest. We learned about the crucial work that the Crossroads Clinic is doing to safeguard and promote the holistic health of women with programs for unplanned pregnancy, parenthood, sexual health and education, and post-abortion care. A huge thanks to you, Linda, for having our family in your home, for your generosity and thoughtfulness and all of your efforts to have Brooks CRC be a part of the I Am Not My Own tour. Special thanks to Tessa Weenink and Marvin Sagert for all of your support and advocacy as well. Before we left Brooks, Jer traveled to Taber, where he had the privilege of witnessing the harvesting of one of the Canadian Food Grains Bank's fields there. He met the amiable Andre Visscher, Southern Alberta's co-ordinator for the Canadian Food Grains Bank, who also joined us later in...
Lovely Lethbridge! Here we enjoyed a retreat in an RV park tucked right into the middle of the city. Maranatha CRC in Lethbridge is deeply involved with the Canadian Food Grains Bank, and chose to support this ministry as their local cause. Kari DeRaaf, you are a marvel! What you get done in a short amount of time with apparent effortlessness boggles the mind...thank you for all you did for the concert and the worship service and the grace with which you did it all. Thank you also to you, Jodi Havinga, and to you, Pastor Paul Van Stralen, for your welcome and efforts...and beautiful prayers. And a very special thanks to the Prins family who invited us, complete strangers yet again, into their home for a diverse-and-delicious Sunday lunch and blessed us deeply with the peace and love that simply fills their house and lingers upon all who gather there.
Janna Prins, you made quite an impression on my boy:
Quote-to-Note-# 2: "She loves fishing. She loves hockey. Best girl ever!" Isaiah, after spending some time playing lawn darts and talking with Janna Prins, who recognized the need for my active boy to get outside and, you know, be active, while Jer and I sat and had coffee with her husband and parents-in-law. God bless you, Janna!
Truly, these smallish-but-mighty cities are a terrific trio. We were deeply affected and once again richly blessed by all we witnessed and experienced through our interactions with the congregations of Medicine Hat CRC, Brooks CRC and Maranatha CRC, Lethbridge. Thank you, everyone. And may God bless and keep you all.
These Are a Few of Our Favourite Things...About the Terrific Trio
Isaiah: The hospitality in Medicine Hat. Albert let me have all kinds of veggies, and the two (animal) bones I found there. And going in the kayak (Brooks) and winning the kelp contest 30 pounds to 2 pounds.
Editor's Note: Isaiah might have inherited his mother's penchant for the overstatement.
Kiara: Swimming in the pool (Lethbridge), sleeping in my own bunkbed (Brooks) and playing with the dolls in Miss Angie's house (Medicine Hat.)
Jer: Our family hike in the coulees at Albert and Angie's place, and learning about the work of the Prairie Gleaners. Powerful.
Lara: The sight of Isaiah, backpack full of survival gear he packed himself, tromping off to explore the coulees. The sound of Kiara, dolls and stuffed animals arranged lovingly (yet precariously nonetheless!) in her bike basket, bicycling full-tilt around Albert and Angie's driveway, singing at the top of her lungs. They both absolutely epitomized the pure happiness that comes from being a free child-of-the-wild and it was beautiful to behold.
"I continually call you to closeness with Me. I know the depth and breadth of your need for Me. I can read the emptiness of your thoughts when they wander away from Me. I offer rest for your soul, as well as refreshment for your mind and body...Waiting in My Presence keeps you connected to Me, aware of all that I offer you. If you feel any deficiency, you need to refocus your attention on Me. This is how you trust Me in the moments of your life." From Jesus Calling, Sarah Young.
Andre and Jeremy at the Taber Harvest.
The banner is a reminder of why we're working so hard.
Pastor George and family in Medicine Hat.
Our Medicine Hat hosts, Angie and Albert Cramer.
The local ministry we supported in Brooks, AB.
The Slomp's farm in Brooks, AB.