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Zion Free Methodist Church

Thursday, January 7, 2010
We’ve had two wonderful connections with friends from the Zion congregation in the last two weeks. When service was cancelled at Charlemont on Dec. 27, we decided it would be a great opportunity to enjoy worshipping with the Zion FM congregation, which is only about 10 minutes north of where we are living. And, as we were scheduled to speak there on Jan. 3rd, we were privileged to be there two times in a row. It had been about 12 years since we had been there last, and was a good opportunity to reconnect with old acquaintances and Family Camp friends. We feel a special connection to Zion for a number of reasons. We have relatives who have been part of that congregation all their lives. My father (Dean writing) enjoyed connecting with other young people there when he was a young man. And my Uncle Gerald pastored there for many years, so my earliest memories of visiting cousins include trips to the parsonage at Zion. So it was a real honour and privilege to speak there, and our hearts were greatly warmed and encouraged by the generous offering they gave us.

December

December brought a welcome break from travel. Early in the month we went to Trinity Christian Centre in Dresden, which is just up the road. I had filled the pulpit there a couple times about 11 ½ years ago. So it was nice to reconnect with old acquaintances, and share part of our story with them.

Next we had planned to travel to Bracebridge for a Christmas banquet on Friday night, a small men’s gathering Saturday morning, and then preach at Ryde Centennial at Hausey’s Rapids on Sunday. But that part of Ontario got socked with over a metre of snow in the space of three days. So, between their really bad weather (the banquet was even postponed), road closures, and our feeling a bit under the weather, we reluctantly decided not to attempt the trip. Cheryl Cooper reminded us that we should laugh lots, because that’s what God does when He hears our plans!

But staying home for the weekend afforded us an opportunity to attend Charlemont and go Christmas carolling with the Charlemont folks after church. That was a real treat, singing for some of our elderly saints, including a cousin of Dean’s father in her 102nd year, who was on her deathbed. She has since passed on. What a privilege to be part of that, and to bring a bit of blessing and cheer into the lives of others!

The rest of December was filled mostly with writing heartfelt thank you notes, setting up a new database to keep in touch with all our supporters and friends (big job!), the race to get our Christmas Letter out, starting to learn the Chichewa language, and Christmas celebrations. We were privileged to enjoy the Christmas Eve service with the Trinity congregation in Dresden, after which we took a tour of Dresden’s Christmas lights, and then had a bit of Christmas at home.

Christmas morning brought a nasty surprise. Neither the church nor the parsonage had any water! We figured we’d be fine “camping” without water for awhile, and decided not to let it ruin our Christmas. But “Babcock Christmas” was scheduled for the next day at the church’s fellowship hall. So we reluctantly called Bill Cornish, who left his family Christmas to see if he could fix the water. Now, you need to understand that our water comes from a well that is up the road on the side of a field. The pump is in a small pump house out there, and the wind was driving a cold horizontal rain right through our clothes. After many attempts over three different visits, and the pump not keeping its prime, Bill decided that the help of an expert was in order. Babcock Christmas was moved to another location, Church was cancelled on the 27th due to lack of water, and our water was finally restored on the 28th. I told Bill that he deserved to be sainted. We also need to thank Dave Huey, who came over on Boxing Day to lend a hand, and on two other occasions. (For our American Friends, “Boxing Day” is the British and Canadian name of the official holiday on Dec. 26). We had a good laugh, though, joking that this was a “dry run” for Malawi, where we’ll need to get used to interruptions in water supply and power outages being a regular occurrence. (Nevertheless, we were very happy to have running water again!). And, just in case you’re wondering, the system needed a foot valve at the bottom of a pipe way down in the well, which is why the pump was losing its prime.

And Christmas was wonderful – both our own family Christmas, and Babcock Christmas with our relatives. We weren’t able to travel to see Dean’s parents for a number of reasons, but are hoping for a visit later this year.

As 2009 has drawn to a close, we want to thank everyone who has shared our journey in any way. You have helped to make 2009 an outstanding year in our lives!

November

Monday, January 4, 2010
Well, it has been way too long since we updated our blog. It seems that there’s always something going on. But that’s a good thing, too.

To catch up we need to go way back to November. It started, of course, with getting settled in our new home, which is more of a challenge than it might seem, because everything takes too long until you get things organized. A simple office task had to begin with finding the envelopes, or setting up the computer, etc. Not surprisingly, the kitchen was the first part of the house to get set up. And we were very blessed by the full pantry that was stocked for us by the good folks at Charlemont. A few convenient meals came in real handy.

We’ve had a bit of adjusting to do regarding surroundings and physical landscape, coming from Deep River, which is a community nestled in the trees, with a beautiful view of the Laurentian Mountains across the Ottawa River, to wide open fields in Southwestern Ontario. When Jonathan woke up on our first morning here he looked out the back window at a farmer’s field. His first words were, “This is a highly unusual backyard!” The boys thought we had moved to the prairies, and have missed having woods to make a fort in, and nearby neighbours. But they’ve enjoyed some activities with a local Cub Scouts group, where they’ve reconnected with some friends from Family Camp. And we’re all enjoying living closer to part of Dean’s family. And the wide open fields give us a beautiful view of the sunset.

Our first speaking engagement after moving south and west, was back east. Pine Grove Free Methodist Church at Seeley’s Bay (north of Kingston), was very welcoming and supportive. We’ve already heard from them that they plan to sponsor us as a church, which is very good news. It was also nice to finally meet the congregation (and some old acquaintances), after having enjoyed the friendship and leadership of Pastor Jack Bradley for so many years. On our way there we had the privilege of staying with our good friends, Sean, Susan, and Rebecca Sullivan (Michael was away at University). They recently moved from Deep River to Bowmanville. At a time of such transition, it was nice to enjoy the hospitality of old friends.

We’ve been continually amazed at how well God has taken care of us. One of our “needs” right now is Internet. We have a lot of correspondence that needs to happen right now, for everything from setting up speaking engagements to getting questions answered re: preparations for Malawi, what to bring, etc., plus blogging, and just staying in touch. So, imagine how blessed we felt when the Charlemont church told us we could use the church’s WiFi, which can also be accessed from the parsonage right next door. The church gave us the password, and Dean was even allowed to use Pastor Paul’s computer or the church’s laptop so that Steffi’s laptop is free for a myriad of other uses (it’s amazing what a homeschool mom can find on the internet!). Suffice it to say that this has been very helpful to us.

It was two weeks into November when we finally got to attend at Charlemont to personally say thank you to the whole congregation for welcoming us into their parsonage. And it was great to reconnect with people that we hadn’t seen for several years.

Once the moving dust settled, it was time to begin catching up on office work that had been neglected. Sending thank you notes that we’d been forced to set aside became top priority, along with filling the calendar with more speaking opportunities. We owe a big thank you to churches who have invited us to speak – some in the future, and some on short notice.
Two such churches were Vennachar and Mississippi. Less than three weeks after receiving their invitation, we found ourselves travelling to cottage country and enjoying the fellowship of these two delightful rural churches. Our whole family enjoyed seeing pine trees again, we all made many new friends, and felt very blessed by the generosity of God’s people. To cap off a wonderful weekend, the boys were very excited to see snow when we woke up on Monday morning. So, before pulling out of Vennachar, we took a little walk in the snow and collected some Christmas greens. And then, on our way home, we all enjoyed seeing the cute, weird, and wonderful collection of animals at the Peterborough Zoo. It was a nice way to end November.