Enigmatic Emo

Motorhome Meandering #9

We love Mabel.  That’s all there is to it.  Tried, tested and true.  Even the Border Guards who tromp through her, big boots on (sigh), can find no fault, no cause for suspicion, no reason for alarm.  She. Is. Awesome.  We continue to be so incredibly, deeply grateful to God for providing her for our use this trip, and to Wayne Hiemstra for being the generous and gracious conduit for this provision.  Ach, God is good!


Emo is a beautiful enigma.  If you blink for too long, you’re through it.  It appears to be a straightforward town centred around farming and a few core families (the Dutch Kaminghs being one of them.)  Its population reads as 1200 year-round.  However,  a myriad of layers and unexpected curves and a rock-solid depth belies the apparent simplicity of this place.   


We were, once again, absolutely overwhelmed and blessed by the generosity in deed and in spirit of the people we met in and through Emo Christian Reformed Church.   For starters, the Chair of Council, Gerald Wierenga, invited us to stay at his farm for the duration of our visit.  Then, unbeknownst to us, he had a 30-amp hook-up installed strictly for the purpose of enabling us to power-up Mabel and plug in for our stay.  His wife, Colleen, an avid horse-lover and one of the hardest-working women I have ever met, allowed our children to roam through her horse-barn, bond with her horses, love-up her cat and dog, climb on her hay and alfalfa bales (stacked up high by her very own self!) and make themselves so at home that I was hard-pressed to get them out of her barn and into Mabel for meals and bedtime.  She also allowed Isaiah and Kiara to ride her beautiful bay, Lyle…their very first time on a horse!  And she let me use her laundry facilities—which is no small thing for the mama-in-a-family-of-four.  Then if that wasn’t enough, Gerald also booked us an absolutely oh-my-stars-amazing bush plane ride at Nestor Fall’s Fly-in…and provided us with double-scoop-ice-cream-cones-for-lunch afterwards.  


Another member of the congregation, Richard, invited us to attend a Pow Wow at Naicatchewenin First Nation.  As the owner of a construction business in the area, he had been hired to build the circular tribal pow wow buildings for many of the First Nations in the area.  A Pow Wow is a social gathering held by many different indigenous communities that brings various indigenous groups together to socialize, sing, dance, and honour their cultures.  We were thrilled with the invite and headed there with Richard and his wife along with Pastor Kasey of Emo Christian Reformed Church and his lovely wife, Liz (after sharing a delicious potluck supper at Richard’s cottage, with a large and delightful assortment of his siblings, children and grandchildren and sundry other relatives.  Thanks so much, y’all!)


After some of the raw truth about how indigenous people have been treated—and continue to be treated and viewed— by many of the WASP persuasion, it was a privilege and a blessing to attend the pow wow.  It was pretty powerful to witness indigenous peoples celebrating and sharing their culture with such joy and depth and richness; to hear the drums and voices raised in sound, to watch the glorious cacophony of colour and motion as dancers of all ages whirled by.  We ended up sitting beside an elderly man whose grandson, about the same age as my Isaiah, was one of the dancers decked out in full regalia.  The gentle pride on his face as he watched his grandson dance around with an inexplicable mix of frenzy and grace and then come and collapse, exhausted and smiling, on the bleachers beside him is etched in my brain…and on my heart.  I know, sappy, but true.  (To me, and to the moment.)  Kiara loved the bright-and-beaded clothing as well as the dancing, and mimicked the steps she saw executed before her as she walked—danced—back to our vehicle at the end of our night.   It was a pretty special moment, a pretty powerful evening.  And a welcome study in contrasts.


Sunday morning found us being greeted by an elegant and dignified woman (with a delightfully unexpected sense of the absurd and decidedly undignified sense of humour) who declared her desire to take us out for lunch at the Emo Inn.  And then after hearing how Kiara had bonded with a sweet young lady at Richard’s place the day before, proceeded to invite this sweet young lady and her entire family to this luncheon as well.  And then had all of us, as well as Pastor Kasey and Liz, over to her country estate (think Tara-meets-the-White-House-meets-a-forest-nymph’s-treehouse) to whittle away the afternoon…before taking us on a trip to find some bears.  Er, yes, real bears.   In the, umm, wild.  Kind of.  Sigh.  Don’t ask.

We were hosted with an unparalleled intentionality.  Thank you, all of you.  Pastor Kasey, Harold Kelly, Lucas Koomans and Gerald Wieringa for all of your hard work.  Thursday night's concert was packed and we're still waiting on the final number, but it looks like this small community has set a new record for the fundraising as well.  We are thrilled that Emo CRC chose One Hope Canada as its local mission and it was great to hear from Mark Mast during the Thursday night concert.  In short, we were, yet again, utterly humbled by your generosity, your thoughtfulness, your warmth and your support for us-as-a-family and us-on-our-journey.  May God bless you and keep you all!


These Are a Few of Our Favourite Things….About Emo

Jeremy:     The whole sense of welcome and community here.  These guys made a real effort to make sure we were taken care of and had great things to do.  And they promoted a concert, which they’d never done before, and they pretty much filled the house.  Amazing.

Isaiah:         Riding on Lyle and going in the float plane.

Kiara:           Petting Belle (Colleen’s gentle and gorgeous palomino) and riding on that kind of horse. (Lyle)

Lara:           Sitting in the charming tree-fort-parlour at Helen and Elmer’s place, watching my kids playing with their new-found friends, listening to the thunder of an approaching storm and enjoying good conversation with absolutely lovely people on an altogether delightful Sunday afternoon.


Signs that our children have already had far more than their share of big exciting adventures and just might have difficulty adjusting to run-on-the-mill-regular-life upon the completion of our cross-country tour:

Quote-to-Note: “Going on a float plane can ONLY be topped by if we go bear-hunting.”  Isaiah, reflecting on his time in Emo.  

Oh boy.  


“Worship Me in the beauty of holiness.  I created beauty to declare the existence of My holy Being.  A magnificent rose, a hauntingly glorious sunset, oceanic splendour—all these things were meant to proclaim My Presence in the world…Declare My glorious Being to the world.  The whole earth is full of My radiant beauty—My Glory!”     From Jesus Calling, Sarah Young.


A small but mighty team for Sunday morning!  

Allysa Hettinga and Jeremy


Pastor Kasey with wife Liz and Lara and Jeremy.




Mark Mast of One Hope Canada.