We’ve Started Home! #travel #church #ice cream

September 29   Day 31

Without little Alex to visit with, we slept in till 7:30 this morning. Both of us would much rather have enjoyed Alex than extra sleep.

Mount Paul UC - a busy place
Mount Paul UC – a busy place

After breakfast we visited two very different United Churches here in Kamloops. The short journey to  Mount Paul Pastoral Charge required a winding trip down the mountain from the hotel into Kamloops and across the North Thompson River. The mouthwatering aroma of possibly home made soup welcomed me when I opened the door of the church. Straight ahead I could see a small army of Grandma’s, hard at work in the kitchen. Down the hall, I found the thrift store. Three more seniors, busy sorting used clothing greeted me. One said, “This is our bag day. You get to fill a bag with anything you want, except jewelry, for the paltry sum of $2.00.” A second woman lifted up a baby’s cuddly lion’s costume. “Any little ones in your house,” she asked. This church, obviously manned by seniors runs a soup kitchen twice a week, and a thrift shop and the list went on. “Yes we’re busy,” they said. “We even have day care here.”

Kamloops United Church, God's Doing New Things Here
Kamloops United Church, God’s Doing New Things Here

I thought, Gone are the days when small churches were locked six days a week and opened up on Sunday morning for four hours. The churches in towns and cities across the west that I have visited are beehives of outreach. When I arrived at Kamloops United (my second church of the morning), I found a billboard announcing condominiums for sale with only six left. “Come inside and talk to the sales people,” the sign said, it’s arrow pointing to the door marked church office. Once inside, I asked the administrative secretary, “what’s happening here.”

She grinned and said, “Big changes. We used to have a gym and now there are condo’s under construction. It will be lovely when finished. We’ve already done the renovations to this part.” She pointed out the almost circular sanctuary with chairs instead of pews. Down that hall are Sunday school rooms, and a kitchen. When the apartments are built we’ll have the church office on the ground floor along with our thrift shop. This church right in the center of town is stepping out with new ideas and yet is still caring for the community in traditional ways as well.

Rev. Bruce was there. We had a good conversation. He bought all three books – I’ve started calling it my $40 package deal. (Dipping Your Toes, Fireweed and Spectacular Stella)

St. Paul's Anglican Church - Welcomed on the church steps.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church – Welcomed on the church steps.

After Kamloops UC I walked up the street to St. Paul’s Anglican. I introduced myself to Verna who was sitting on the steps. “The church is locked,” she said.

“Your minister isn’t here?” I questioned.

“We don’t have a minister, only an interim,” Verna answered. “I’m a church warden . Maybe I can help you.”

“Yes, you can,” I declared and sat down on the sidewalk beside her. We had a great conversation. I showed her my books and explained about them.

“I’ll buy ‘Dipping Your Toes’ ,” she said. God must have wanted you to come today. I’d like Fireweed but I can’t afford two books. Have you any information on these that I can bring to the meeting tonight.

Sure do,” I said, and handed her my info package. We talked a bit more and her husband arrived to take her home. Thank you God, I said as I walked back to the car.

2015-04-26 23.59.35

Camera Close up showing Glacier

Picture through front windshield - camera on closeup
Picture through front windshield – camera on closeup

Tom returned from visiting his mother’s cousin who is in hospital in Kamloops. We had crackers and cheese for lunch in the car and headed off east, thinking we might get to Lake Louise. Once again the drive was absolutely breath taking. For me, believing in a loving Creator is easy when we journey among these mountains, some of them so high they are snow-capped. We stopped a few times, once for ice cream at the Sicamous dairy.  Wonderful treat but we’re still both Kawartha Dairy fans.

Fabulous Ice Cream at Dutchman's Dairy in Sicamous
Fabulous Ice Cream at Dutchman’s Dairy in Sicamous

We arrived in Golden at 6:30. The sun was dropping fast. We had gained an hour so we moved our watches to 7:30. “Let’s forget Lake Louise and stay here,” I suggested. Tom immediately agreed. Neither of us want to be driving through the mountains in the dark. Besides the animals that might be wanting to share the road, we’d miss the scenery. We’re settled into the Ramada Inn – the same room we had two weeks ago and the same price. We’ve had another excellent meal at “The Bear’s Den” and enjoyed the hot tub.

It seems that God is a part of every visit I make to a church. Whether or not they buy books, I feel the joy of the Spirit with each encounter. This is truly a blessed journey.



An Ending and A Beginning #travel #family #hotels

Sept. 29  Day 31

Today was a day of ending and beginning. Last night we said goodbye to Chris and Boris. Today, Alex and Bonnie received one last hug. The time in Vancouver has been awesome and it’s hard to see it end. Even baby Alex seemed to know we were leaving. This morning our active grandson who is usually too busy for hugs, crawled up onto Grandpa’s knee and stayed there. Every time Tom tried to put him down he objected. Thanks to Bonnie and her efforts at Skyping Alex knew us before we arrived. What a wonderful blessing.

A Dry and Thirsty Land
A Dry and Thirsty Land

The trip home has begun. We arrived in Kamloops about 4:30 ready to stop for the night. Our frustration mounted over the next hour. On the way west we had stayed five nights in four different Choice hotels. They have a fall special that offers one free night after two separate stays in a Choice hotel. We went on line to book our free night at a Choice hotel in Kamloops. Neither of us could remember the Password, so we called instead. Patiently we found our way to a representative. After giving all our information, he informed us we did not have enough points for a hotel in Kamloops. The advertisement doesn’t mention points, I said. It states that two nights in two separate hotels earns the free night. This representative just kept saying “not enough points.” I asked to speak to a supervisor. After about 15 min. on hold, the call cut out. Obviously, their system timed out. Needless to say, tonight we’re in the beautiful new Fairview Hotel which is connected to the Marriott hotel chain. Their rates were less than a Choice hotel as well. It will be a long time before we look for a Choice hotel. We don’t do business with company’s that put out false advertising. I’ve already sent a note to the head office of Choice rewards and tonight I’ll email Trip Advisor.

Just a few drops of rain would help.
Just a few drops of rain would help.

In the grand scheme of this trip, that frustration is barely on the radar. We had a lovely drive today. This part of BC is quite desert-like. Everything is a faded yellow. Even the weeds look thirsty as you can see in the picture. Still the naked mountains felt magical as we winded our way through them.

After we checked in to the Fairview high up on the side of the mountain, Tom and I drove down into the heart of town. Kamloops is spread out over a huge valley and meanders up the sides of the mountains as well. It’s a beautiful city. During our drive we checked out possible supper spots. In the end we chose “The Noble Pig”, just because I liked the name. Turned out it was a brew pub with a young clientele. The dining room was partially separated from the bar area, which made it quiet and secluded. The food was fabulous. The menu said that all beer and food were produced on the premises. Supper was an experience, a wonderful experience. We started with a bacon potato soup and a buttery cheese onion biscuit. Wow. That soup had just enough bite to make it interesting. The smooth texture and warm orangey color brought comfort to our souls. I had a delicious salad with a fresh Pacific red salmon steak on top. Tom had curried bison with cashew nuts, green beans, cilantro and much more. Both meals were artistically laid out on the plate, melt in your mouth yummy, fresh and tasty. We would recommend “the Noble Pig” to anyone who travels through Kamloops.

Where was God today? For sure God was with us helping us to say goodbye, and keeping us focused on the next stage of our journey. The mystical mountains with trees dotting their sides certainly spoke to us of God’s amazing creation. Tonight, at the restaurant, we felt God’s warmth and joy in the friendly, extremely competent waitress who served our dinner. When we raved about the soup and asked about a recipe, she happily talked with the chef and brought us the ingredients. I stretched out my knees and arms as I swam in the pool an loafed in the hot tub tonight. Now we’re both doing our “computer thing”. Tom says, “Maybe God intended us to be in the luxurious hotel tonight. The comfort and exercise has helped with the sadness that comes with goodbyes.” This is definitely what we need tonight. Tomorrow will be a new day, a new walk with the Spirit. God is good, all the time.

A Church on the Move! #travel #church #refugees #family

September 27   Day 29   A Church on the Move.

This morning we returned to St. Andrews-Wesley United Church for Sunday worship. God’s Spirit filled that sanctuary in a very tangible way. Fabulous music poured forth from the organ and gospel choir. Today, they presented Bibles to all the children who were in grade 4. Today they were having a special congregational family meeting to discern how they were going to help in the world refugee crisis. Today the Very Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson spoke about his experience as Moderator over the last three years. Once again I heard God say, “I am doing a new thing.” Our United Church is on the move. Yes, we’ve struggled over the last ten years, but there are glimpses, “tiny green shoots of new life” , bursting forth across this land. New life for our church is beginning. Tom and I experienced it first-hand this morning.

As we were walking back to our condo after church, we talked with two women, one from Windsor and one from London. We shared our experiences of the church service and of Vancouver. When we said goodbye at the corner, I gave them each one of my cards and suggested they check out my books. God continually gives me an opportunity to promote my books.

Tom spent the afternoon with Alex and Bonnie and of course had a wonderful time. I ran errands with our 23 year old grandson, Chris. He’s great company, a wonderful young man. We had lunch together and shared ideas and opinions. At supper time, Bonnie, Boris, Alex, Tom, Chris and I gathered around the table in Bonnie’s apartment for a family dinner. Before and after supper, Chris played with his toddler cousin. Alex laughed and laughed as he and Chris made funny noises, played catch, and built with the duplo blocks. Tom and I are so blessed to have a blended family that is full of love. Oh yes, God was definitely present with us tonight sharing our joy.

Three Days in One #travel #unitedchurch #family

September 23, 24, 25  Days 25, 26, 27

I have three days to report on – Wed, Thurs, and Friday. So what’s been happening?

Gilmore Park United Church, Richmond B.C.
Gilmore Park United Church
Ladner United church
Ladner United church, Delta, B.C.

Wednesday we visited only two churches, Ladner and Gilmore Park United Churches. Both of them, are thriving. Ladner has just completed a million and a half dollar renovation and expansion project and paid it off in eight years. Gilmore Park has seniors apartments, a parking building and a youth/children’s minister, Rev. Yokko Kihara. I enjoyed my conversation with Yokko and certainly experienced her lively and welcoming personality and her passion for young people. She is truly a faithful presence at Gilmore Park. For me, both of these churches underline the fact that the United Church is doing well. Yes there are a lot of closures happening especially in our isolated pastoral charges as well as in some of our urban congregations.  Still, there are many United Churches across Canada’s Western provinces that have growing innovative ministries. God’s Word is being spread. We can be grateful.

We spent the rest of the day with Alex, Bonnie and Boris enjoying our family time. After Alex went to bed, Bonnie and her friend Leah came to our place for tea and blueberry cheesecake.

St. Andrew's Wesley United Church, Vancouver B.C.
St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, Vancouver B.C.

Thursday was our opportunity to provide Alex’s day care. We had a wonderful day. Alex and I went to play group at the YMCA. While Tom had the car serviced. Alex had a grand time with all the other children and with Grandma. At first I sat on the floor to watch. Then one of the staff came and suggested that I could ride on one of the little push cars like Alex was using. It was a little small as my knees were folded up to my chin but that didn’t keep us from sliding around the room and collapsing with laughter. On the way home, Alex and I stopped in the park for a picnic lunch. A man in a wheel chair came along and dumped two bags of bird seed on the ground for the pigeons, perfect entertainment for Alex and me. Alex fell asleep on the way home and slept till 2:30. Tom of course took over the child care while I visited with Dan Chambers at St. Andrews-Wesley United Church, another of our alive and growing congregations. I enjoyed my conversation with Dan Chambers. He made it clear that he valued and respected my writing ministry and also me as an individual and colleague.

Thursday night, Bonnie came again to our house for tea, brownies and conversation.

Today, was another good family day. Bonnie took the day off and Boris went in later this morning so we could treat them to breakfast. There are a multitude of places to eat down on Davy street, just a few blocks walk away. Alex woke this morning at 4 a.m. He went to sleep on the way home from a doctors appointment and slept till 1:30. So the rest of us had a nap too. Because the day was threatening rain, we returned to playgroup at the Y. Alex played for 3 hours. Tonight Tom and I were babysitting so Bonnie and Boris could have some time together. As grandparents we obviously have the magic touch or he was exhausted because he was bathed, storied, in bed and sound asleep by 7:15. It’s been a good day.

"Fireweed" by Janet Stobie
“Fireweed” by Janet Stobie
Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals
Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals

Where was God in all this?  God is our constant companion. My books are my service for God. They bring me to interesting places and amazing people. They open the way for faith conversations like the one I had with Yoko. And then there is family. Every time I watch Alex laugh, I feel the joy of God’s laughter. Just as the pangs of homesickness and absence of sunshine, were combining to darken my world, we had the opportunity to SKYPE with Connie, Ellie and Vanessa. It was wonderful to see them as we talked and hear about all that has been happening at home while we are away.

Tom and I are so blessed to have this wonderful family of five grown children, their partners, and eight and ½ grandchildren. They are all God’s gifts of love.

Church Tours #travel #church #family

September 21   Day 23

As we remain here in Vancouver, the travel items are fewer because of course we’re here to see family. We’ve been enjoying that totally. Problem of course will come when we leave. For the moment it’s wonderful. Yesterday we did have a fun afternoon square dancing with the Century Place squares. As always the square dancers were welcoming and friendly.

We had sort of skipped lunch in order to get to the dancing in time, so afterward Tom enjoyed fruit from the grocery store and walked over to pick up Alex from his child care worker, Markie. I decided that all the dancercise qualified me for an ice cream cone. Finding hard ice cream served in a cone in the downtown core of a city is a challenge. I walked Davie Street searching. After a couple of blocks, I stopped at a corner to ask a group of three young adults for directions. I guess ice cream isn’t in style. They had no advice to offer. A homeless man heard me ask and came over.

“You lookin for ice cream? They just got ice cream in that Mac’s milk across the street,” he said. “They’ve got about seven kinds – chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and…”

I thanked him and then asked him a question about himself. Tonight I can’t remember what that was. He gave me a long story about his life and why he was homeless. I gave him some money and thanked him again before going to Mac’s for ice cream. Mac’s had soft ice cream not hard. My helper followed me into the store to make sure I found the ice cream. When he realized it wasn’t what I wanted he gave me new directions.

“Oh you want an ice cream parlor. That’s about four blocks that way. Just go down to the bottom of the hill.”

When I heard the word hill, I knew I should have settled for soft ice cream. By then I was determined. I found the ice cream parlor about 8 or 9 blocks straight down at the ocean. The cone was expensive and delicious and gave me energy for the climb back up the hill. On the way I passed another hungry man and gave him some money too. I’d say that was the most expensive ice cream cone both in dollars and effort that I have eaten in my life time.

Last night we left Bonnie and Boris’ early. We were both exhausted.

September 22  Day 24

West Point Grey United Churcch
West Point Grey United Churcch

Today, we visited three very interesting churches(ministries) as we promoted my books. The first, West Point Grey United, located in a multicultural area is a busy thriving ministry. Their children and youth minister, Lorna was enjoying her first day on the job. Rev. Valerie, Rev. Lorna and Janis the office administrator all welcomed us. They shared a bit about their ministry and bought books.

Our second stop, University Hill United doesn’t have a building. The search for the Vancouver School of Theology where they have their office took quite a while. The old building has been sold and is being renovated. The new building isn’t yet completed. After asking several people for directions we found the church office, with only the administrator present. We had a great visit with Marjorie who took our information and promised to pass it on to the interested people. She also bought a copy of Fireweed for herself and gave us their Salt of the Earth Calendar. Even though the year is nearly over, we will enjoy the beautiful artwork.

Salt of the Earth - Christian Seasons Calendar - Fundraiser for University Hill UC
Salt of the Earth – Christian Seasons Calendar – Fundraiser for University Hill UC

Our last stop for the day was Trinity United. Trinity is a church in transition. We met with their new minister, Rev. Rhian Walker, at Heartwood Community Cafe. Trinity United’s vision is to “live out the Christian values of equality, justice and compassion in their neighborhood by creating an inclusive community living room space that supports people working on social and ecological justice, culture and the arts. The café, located in the heart of Mount Pleasant in Vancouver is a safe place for LGBTQ, youth, families and more, offering both physical and spiritual nourishment. Mt Pleasant’s diversity, density and its need for public space made it a great choice. When Trinity United Church’s lease expired, they leased the café with a new mission. www.heartwoodcommunitycafe.ca   Tom and I both enjoyed learning about this new vision of ministry.

Heartwood Community Cafe - Home and Outreach Centre of Trinity United Church
Heartwood Community Cafe – Home and Outreach Centre of Trinity United Church
Heartwood Community Cafe
Heartwood Community Cafe

We don’t often think about visiting churches when we travel to new places unless it’s a famous cathedral. I’m glad I have my books to promote. As God leads us to a variety of churches, God is teaching us that our United Church is a very deep well of spirituality and vision.

Three stops and our time was gone. We picked up Alex and returned to family life. Tonight we enjoyed grandson Chris and the movie, “A Walk in the Woods”. It’s been a grand day.


God’s Life Insurance – a Gift #life insurance #spiritual #travel #rivercruise

God's life insurance1

When Tom and I planned our “riverboat cruise,” the travel agent assured us we needed trip cancellation insurance. “Just in case,” she said. “When you book something a year ahead you never know what will happen.”

My mind slipped back two years. I was walking across my kitchen floor when my heel came down on a few drops of water. I fell and broke my back. In less than one second, my life changed drastically. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if insurance money could actually fix any problems that might crop up between now and August 2016? But of course there is nothing that can compensate us for the illness, accident or death that would cause us to cancel this trip. Still, we set up the insurance to protect our financial investment.

As Christians, we have something better than insurance, and it’s free. We have faith in a God who has promised to love us no matter what we do, when we succeed and when we fail. God forgives our mistakes and give us the gift of new life. We have faith that no matter what happens, we are not alone. God is with us every step of the way. God gives us strength and wisdom to carry on, if we choose to receive it.

Our insurance company sent us a package with a glossy brochure that carried all the details of our policy. God has given us the Bible. It too carries details of God’s promises for us with no limits to liability or escape clauses. Just as we seldom study the insurance brochure, we often neglect to read our Bibles.

And that’s the problem. Our faith is a free gift. As is often the case with something that is free, we can choose to leave the gift all wrapped up, sitting within us waiting for us to open it. Faith is a choice. For some of us a hard choice, because we don’t do well with mystery. When we take the risk, when we step out with the assurance of God’ loving presence and strength, we are amazed at the results.

God's life insurance - open the gift - accept the love.
God’s life insurance – open the gift – accept the love.

“and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:22)

A Windy, Rainy Sunday #travel #church #grandchildren

September 20  Day 22

St. Andrews Wesley United Church
St. Andrews Wesley United Church

Usually the highlight of Sunday for me, is worship. Sunday morning with my home congregation is always special, not just because I enjoy seeing our friends, but also because the strength of the faith and love we share lifts and carries me.

Sunday morning in a strange church when we’re travelling carries its own brand of the extraordinary. This morning was no exception. St. Andrews-Wesley United Church must be the biggest United Church if not the biggest church building in Vancouver. The beautiful sanctuary with it’s traditional pipe organ speaks of the awesomeness of God. This morning a men’s choir (about 30) from New Zealand were guests. Between the regular choir, men’s choir, and that organ the music was amazing. I felt like I was part of the heavenly hosts that sang at Jesus’ birth. A young girl (about ten) read the scripture with the assurance of someone who felt totally at home in her church. The entire service lifted me and filled me with energy for the week.

Inside St. Andrews Wesley - The service over, the organist stays to visit.
Inside St. Andrews Wesley – The service over, the organist stays to visit.

Before church, there was Alex (age 18 months). Our grandson is an early riser. Bonnie texted us at 6:00 a.m. to tell us we could come over anytime. Happy, and content, Alex is a joy even at 6:00 a.m. We had a lovely time with him and his mom and dad. Actually, all day Alex has been a delight.

This afternoon we had a nap to compensate for our early start. We talked to Grandson Chris (age 23). He suggested we get together after his work tomorrow. Our phone call done, we returned to Bonnie’s for another wonderful dose of Alex as well as a yummy supper. Now it’s 9:00 p.m. We’re back in our condo and thinking about an early night. Tom is checking out places to square dance tomorrow afternoon while everyone works.

Once again, God was with us. I felt God’s presence every time young Alex smiled but especially when we arrived early this morning. He came running to Grandpa his arms outstretched so happy to see him. I believe God put us together in families so we could love and care for one another. We are totally blessed.

God’s Call to Relationship

I have no pictures to share tonight. For some reason I cannot get the SD card to relinquish any of the pictures taken on September 18. Today, I took only family pictures on my phone. They are not for distribution.

September 18 Day 20

We’ve had a lovely quiet day. I think we managed to pack all our belongings this morning without forgetting anything, leaving any droppings behind as my sister Sharon says. After saying goodbye to Ross and Carol we set off for Vancouver about an hour late. For the next four hours we enjoyed mile after mile of mountains and valleys with lakes and switch backs to add spice. We arrived in Coquitlam about 3:30 just as the afternoon rush was beginning. I set up google maps on my phone to lead us to the owners of the condo we were renting in Vancouver so we could pick up the key. Neither Tom nor I have used a GPS before. We learned that it is difficult to trust a voice from our phone to lead us through strange city streets and 4 o’clock traffic. We did arrive at the right place and the owner was waiting with the key. Of course we still had to let the phantom voice lead us back to the highway and then to grandson Christopher. We discovered that this GPS does work. It will get us where we need to go although it is a stressful exercise.

We were an hour late arriving at Christopher’s house. All the traffic and stress disappeared when I saw him. He’s been here in Vancouver since last March and we’ve missed him. In fact our whole family has missed Chris. We unloaded his stuff and climbed back into the car. With Chris being our GPS we headed for daughter Bonnie’s apartment in North west Vancouver. We’ve missed Bonnie and Alex and Boris over the last year. With them we have skyped regularly which has helped. We’ve watched Alex as he learned to walk and all the other developmental steps he has taken. After about an hour and a half visit, it was time for the three of them to go to bed. The three of us walked up the street for a very late supper. Now we’re settled in our beautiful condo. We’ve unpacked everything. I’m sure the car must be taking the same deep breath I am tonight. I’m happy to be in one place for a while.

Tonight I am grateful once again for good roads, amazing scenery and a safe journey. We are grateful for that GPS voice even though at times we wanted to scream at her. Most of all, I’m grateful that our loved ones who live here in Vancouver are healthy and happy. Tonight we are blessed.

September 19 Day 21

I’m aware that for the next week, we will mostly be doing family things. Today was no exception. I had a special time with Chris and Tom his individual time with Bonnie and Alex. Boris cooked roast chicken for dinner, and Bonnie made Carrot lentil soup for supper. Both were delicious. It rained all day which is normal for Vancouver except this year. They’ve had very little rain so this was welcomed. We both had time with Chris and with Bonnie, Boris and Alex – a wonderful family day.

We’re enjoying the condo rental. Not only is it considerably less expensive (which is an important factor in Vancouver), it is wonderful to have a fully equipped kitchen and lovely livingroom. Being on the sixth floor, we look out over English Bay from the bedroom and out over the city from the livingroom. Tonight the city lights are beautiful.

Where was God today? Right here with us. At the YM/YWCA I was surrounded by beautiful children and loving parents, enjoying the brightly coloured play room on a rainy day. For me it was a tiny glimpse of heaven, as children and adults enjoyed the facility and each other. The blessing of God’s call to us to live in loving supportive relationships descended upon me all day, as I enjoyed our grandsons – 23 year old Chris and 18 month old Alex. I’m sure God smiled upon us as we talked and played. Tonight the quiet of this lovely apartment and the blessed opportunity to write this blog, tells me that God takes care of our needs even before we know we have them. We are truly blessed.

Abundant Life

Long post, lots of pictures, wonderful full day!

September 17  Day 19  Abundant Life

View from the mountain above Ross and Carol's home.
View from the mountain above Ross and Carol’s home.

What a lovely day, we’ve had. Ross and Carol Leef are gracious hosts and good friends. We share our faith, our commitment to the church family and our own families, and our love of life. Although we got up at 7:30 (a reasonable hour), we still had a slow start because there was no rush. We were all able to do our own morning routine which for me made my day start off well. About tenish we loaded into Ross’ truck and drove up the mountain behind their home. On the way we saw deer on the meadow. They obviously were as interested in me as I was in them. At the top we had a grand vista that overlooked their subdivision. Many of the trees were scarred by fire. Everything here is so very dry. Coming back down the mountain we saw more deer, this time it seemed as if they had taken over a pasture.

Forest fire remnants and beauty
Forest fire remnants and beauty

deer at side of road

Deer in their meadow
Deer in their meadow
Carol and Ross's Church
Carol and Ross’s Church

Part of our itinerary had to be Ross and Carol’s church, Okanagan Falls United church more commonly know as “The Blasted Church”. Their love for this church and it’s tiny congregation touched my heart as we wandered through the building. It began its life as a Presbyterian Church in the mining community of Fairview. When the town’s fortunes declined, the church was not being used. The Okanagan Falls congregation and their minister decided in 1929 to dismantle the church and bring it to their community.  It is the “dismantling” part of the church lore that is shared as a great story, and that named a winery.

The practice in those days was to board over the windows and seal the doors of a building in which a stick of dynamite was suspended. The resulting force loosened all the nails so that removal of the boards was accomplished more easily and with less damage to the wood. The material was then brought to Okanagan Falls, reassembled, and the church was reopened with a dedication service on January 19, 1930, with Reverend Feir officiating.

It was an interdenominational church for several years.  Many of the furnishings and stained glass windows are dedicated from and to the pioneers of the area. The pews were originally made circa 1902 for use in Elliott’s Hall in Fairview, and were in place for the visit of the poet Pauline Johnson.  They were sawed by hand, the bench from one solid piece of lumber, and the backs of two pieces. When Elliott’s Hall closed, the pews were given to the church in Fairview, and subsequently came to Okanagan Falls. A beautiful baptismal font, made from a tree stump and roots grace’s the front of the church with the wonder of creation.

Unique Baptismal Font
Unique Baptismal Font
historic pews
historic pews

Next we drove to the “Hidden Chapel Winery”. While we sample a number of their wines, we heard the story of the “Hidden Chapel”. The former owner was a solid woman of faith, who loved to attend worship. Her son, had the tiny chapel built and moved to her property as a special gift of love. When the present owners developed the property into a vineyard, they retained the beautiful little chapel hidden in the woods behind the main buildings. Intrigued by it’s story of love they decided to make the chapel the theme for their business. Each kind of wine is named with the same theme. They make Nun’s on the Run, St. Vincents, Merry Monk, Soul Sister and more. I like St. Vincent the best. After we had tasted and purchased we rambled over the grounds and up to the chapel. I went inside and prayed for the winery and gave thanks for the wonderful visit we are having here with our friends. We walked past the wine cellar built in the place of an old swimming pool. Our eyes squinted in the sun, as we looked out over the lake and mountains. This is truly beautiful country.

Hidden Chapel at winery
Hidden Chapel at winery
Prayed inside hidden chapel.
Prayed inside hidden chapel.
Wine cellar at Hidden Chapel winery
Wine cellar at Hidden Chapel winery

Our winery tour wasn’t over. Ross took us to the Silver Sage Winery where we enjoyed the exquisite rose garden. We did no more tasting there as we’d already bought our wine and our tummies were beginning to feel empty.

Rose garden at winery
Rose garden at winery
Maybe they're watered with wine.
Maybe they’re watered with wine.

The last stop on our wine tour was the Infinity Vineyard for lunch. Wow, it too was very impressive. We had a delicious, gourmet lunch and we enjoyed the art work. Two pieces that I particularly liked were  “The Shattered Sphere” by Brent Comber of North Vancouver, BC, and the Mountain Dandelion by Mark Baltes &Ken McCall of Boise Idaho. Brent Comber used wood from old growth trees that had fallen during a heavy storm in Vancouver’s renowned Stanley Park to create a dynamic Shattered Sphere, symbolizing the transformation of a community’s sadness into reverent artwork.”

Tom, Carol and Ross at Liquidity Winery
Tom, Carol and Ross at Liquidity Winery

Dandelion scupture at Liquidity

Lunch over we headed back home to Ross and Carol’s. On the way we saw more beautiful deer. They are truly a joy to watch. We rested a while until our lunch had settled somewhat and then we drove down to Tinkleberry’s for ice cream. What better way to end a day of sight seeing.

Chocolate Peanut butter Ice Cream - Absolutely Scrumptious!
Chocolate Peanut butter Ice Cream – Absolutely Scrumptious!

This evening we watched and listened to the leader’s debate on television. Carol and Ross’ son, Ryan, is the incumbent for the Whitehorse Yukon riding. We decided that not one of the three leaders said anything that would help us decide how to vote. After some lively discussion and great conversation, everyone but me went to bed. I still had my blog to do.

Where was God today. I started with God, as I had time for prayers and journaling. The sweet beautiful deer, wild and yet not afraid, kept me focused on God’s creation. We stood on the mountain looking down at the blackened tree stumps and the parched brown earth, and still we were surrounded by the beauty of God’s spectacular creation.

God’s Spirit danced with us as we listened to Carol and Ross talk about their lovely little country church and congregation. And, every time I take communion I will remember that lovely little chapel in the woods, a gift of love for a cherished Mom, that was part of our winery tour. Through it all we were led by our dear friends, Carol and Ross, faithful and committed. Even the leader’s debate, reminded me our intention as a nation is to care for people both here and abroad. Of course, the meal and the ice cream, delicious ice cream brought joy and laughter. Jesus said, “I came that you might have abundant life.” Today we have had abundance.


A Different Kind of Day

Sept. 16 Day 18

Fall is here in Salmon Arm. This is the first bit of red I've seen.
Fall is here in Salmon Arm. This is the first bit of red I’ve seen.

Today was a very different day. I awoke with the bites on my arm enflamed again and several new ones. I had waited for healing and it hadn’t happened. We went to the pharmacist who recommended an antihistamine but didn’t know what had bitten me. She suggested I go to the clinic next door and ask the doctor. My wait at the clinic was short but the results the same. He didn’t know for sure. Take some antihistamine and use some hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itch. Wash all your clothes you had in that hotel in very hot water and dry them in the dryer to kill whatever is in them. The bites will go away in a few days.

I drove Tom to the laundromat so he could begin the washing while I talked with Rev. Jenny Carter the new minister at the United Church in Salmon Arm. Jenny and I had a good conversation. She bought both Fireweed and Dipping Your Toes. When I returned to the laundromat Tom and I decided to buy a new suitcase rather than search for chemicals to kill whatever might be in there. He wanted to continue the washing so I shopped for the suitcase. By the time I returned the second time the laundry was washed, folded and waiting. The old suitcase had disappeared. Tom said, “I put the old suitcase on top of the garbage can for disposal. While I was tending to the washing machine, the suitcase disappeared.” We packed up and left.

The drive to Salmon Arm was uneventful. We snacked on crackers, cheese and grapes in the car. Once again the mountain scenery was gorgeous. The road wound around the mountains. With the speed limit at 100 km per hour, and the drop off considerable, I had trouble focusing on the beauty. My heart raced as I encouraged Tom to cut back to 80 km per hour. Even that felt fast. Of course the cars and trucks gathered behind us in a long parade. Every so often a passing lane appeared and our following roared by. I couldn’t take my eyes off the road, even though Tom was actually driving. So there aren’t many pictures tonight

We arrived at Carol and Ross’ home about 6 (I think). They greeted us with hugs and welcomed us, bugs and all into their home. Now that is friendship. Actually I think we’ve won the battle of the bugs. At least I’ve no new bites and the itching and redness is beginning to recede. Carol and Ross served up a delicious meal. Barbecued pork chops (a favourite of mine), potato and lettuce salads, carrots, and applesauce made a colourful plateful. Dessert was ice cream cake. The food was good and the conversation delightful. We’ve had a good evening together.

Was God with us today? Oh yes! I’ve never had such fast service at the clinic. I’m sure God smiled when our old suitcase was claimed so quickly. The new one came from Canadian Tire. I asked a young man in a white shirt for directions to the luggage. “Just this way,” he replied and started leading me to the back of the store. In transit, I told him our sad story about the bugs and bites. He showed me a Swiss made suitcase. “This is an excellent brand,” he said. The full retail price was over $200. It was on sale for $150. When I shook my head, the young man who happened to be the store manager said, “Let me see what I can do.” He went off to his computer and returned. That’s an excellent brand of suitcase,” he said. Back in July we had a huge special on these that’s why there’s only the one here. I can give you the July price of $67. “That was a bargain I couldn’t resist. We now have a brand new four wheel suitcase. I’m sure God had a part somewhere in that transaction.

Now it’s time for sleep. The antihistamines are supposed to be non-drowsy but I’m falling asleep as I type.