Our ministry week at Camp IAWAH

This is a classic Canadians at the lake image

Jeanne and I have a long and happy history with Camp IAWAH (In All Ways Acknowledge Him) near Westport. About twenty or more years ago, they provided a Monday retreat for Jeanne and I. On their days off, many pastors would wind up getting away from the office and the phone by going to the local mall and sitting there watching shoppers. It was their idea of a break and place to “hide-out” so to speak.

In those days, our close friends Ken and Linda were pastoring in Kingston and Camp IAWAH fell “smack-dab” between us and them. For this reason we would sometimes meet and walk around the two-hundred acre campsite talking about our issues and praying through them. If I remember, IAWAH never charged us anything. This left us with fond memories of the place and great appreciation.

I was surprised then when Jeff, the Director got hold of me with an invitation to be their Family (Splash) Camp speaker. At first it all seemed to be a long shot because it was in Canada from July 27 to August 4 and I was on my way to Europe on August 12 so it all appeared to be rather logistically tight. As I played with the details we became more inclined toward saying, “Yes.”

We arrived from Ottawa on a hot (as it turned out every day was hot) Sunday afternoon and after meeting forty or more adult campers and their families we settled into a week of morning meetings. I appreciate how they do things at IAWAH. They don’t wear people out with meetings. I have been to “FAMILY” camps where he was a hard run to make it to all of the meetings. In many camps every day there are three meetings – mornings, afternoons and evenings. People have little “family” time and leave more exhausted than when they arrived. They have a great time for the kids provided by the many volunteer young people who work there in the summers. This takes a further load off of the parents so they can relax and enjoy themselves. Many of those who attend do so every year so strong relationships have been established.

It was fun to run into Tim P. who the last time I saw him was only sixteen. Now he is in his forties, a businessman and one of the camp directors. I am pretty certain that he is no kind of fisherman but he did tell me that he landed a nine foot sturgeon in the Frazer River. This is an enviable accomplishment even for people who know how to fish let alone those who know nothing of the sport. When I bragged to him about my comparatively “puny” conquests he decided to take me out to see what I could do. In forty minutes of water time I landed the largest sunfish, the largest Rock Bass and a rather impressive small mouth bass hooked at about thirty yards away and enough distance to see him break water three times. There’s nothing like a small mouth fight. Pound for pound they turn out to be one of the most formidable opponents of the fresh water category.

Fishing with Jerry N. and Mark P. …

On one of the mornings I drove out to White Lake with Jerry N.. There in Packenham we met Mark P. for breakfast and then out to the cottage where we launched for a morning of bass fishing. Frankly, we’re never sure how this might turn out but the truth is, White Lake

All Large Mouth

has rarely disappointed me. Such was the case today as the three of us landed about ten keepers before 1 in the afternoon. When cleaning fish the trick is to act incompetent. This will mean that Jerry and Mark will take over which they did. In the end I took back to Jeanne and the skillet about three pounds of dressed largemouth bass.

Just several days before a violent storm blew across the lake knocking down huge pines and demolishing a number of cottages on the north shore.

Here’s a photo of some of the damage it caused.

Ministry in Hyde Park, Richmond

When I was last here in May a few of us met to think about a series of outreach events in Richmond, Ontario. I was invited to be the speaker at one of first meetings in the series and so I did.


It was incredibly hot on this Sunday afternoon and almost nowhere to hide in the shade. The event was planned around a group of about fifty school aged children and their mothers. All of the kids were African immigrant-refugees marshaled together by a local pastor. Since this community is designed for retired and independent living we had another forty in attendance so it all made for a good congregation. The children sang about ten songs and then I offered my twenty minute message to what seemed to be a good reception.

The Garden Party

Wood-fired pizza making

About a month ago (See an earlier blog) we were hosted by Elvira and Gustavo, Italian-Canadian friends in Ottawa. At that time they invited other guests, Charles and Diana. We weren’t told ahead of time but Charles turned out to be, amchievements, a Cordon Bleu trained chef with an entire area in the basement of his home devoted to what else, cooking and baking. That’s not all they have donated to cooking and baking. We arrived to a first class evening as they had manicured and decorated the entire backyard set-up to entertain about eighty people for dinner. In a sense, we were the “party crashers” as we knew none of the others except Elvira, Gustavo and the hosting couple.

Nevertheless, we were treated royally and met some very nice people through the course of the evening or should I say “courses of the evening.” Charles began all of us around his pizza oven handing each a ball of dough with instructions on how to make our own authentic, wood-fired, thin-crusted pizza. You can imagine that we enjoyed this event and then went on to just things as salmon, beef, home-made breads, salads, and a scrumptious whipped potato item. The weather was ideal and the setting splendid. Everyone should do something like this in their lifetime.

Chris from Ljubljana visits in the US and Canada

Chris and The North Street Band in Perth, Ontario

Perth on the Tay

Chris called from Atlanta and said that he was in the country and on the way to Virginia and wondered if we had a bed. It’s always great to have missionaries stay with us when passing through. I am always his guest when in Ljubljana so it’s nice to return the favor now and then.

He only managed to stay a day before he was in the car, roaring off across America for a month. He had just come from New Zealand and Australia. Since he was also headed to Canada we made arrangements to meet up in Ottawa for a few days.

On July sixteenth he called to say he had arrived so we spent a few days showing him Ottawa and the area. This meant that on Saturday we attended North Streets concert at the Perth Folk Music Festival.

I’ll be showing up on his doorstep on August 13 so we’ll see each other some this year.

Here are a few pictures of North Street Band who come to Europe in September and October.

Alysha, our grand daughter in Ottawa

With Alysha at Chapel Ridge

A lovely and unexpected connection. Our granddaughter, Alysha is now more than eighteen years of age, finished with high school and on her way to college. We don’t always have the privilege of seeing the Hedrick family of Thunder Bay. This means that Alysha has done some serious growing up since the last time we visited Thunder Bay several years ago.

Every year she makes her way to Ottawa where she stays a couple of weeks with her other grandparents, Pete and Pauline. It turned out that this time we were in town at the same time so we managed to have a couple of visits. Here we are at Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. See what I mean? Alysha has grown up.

The Frankish-Armstrong Family Cottage, Georgian Bay

What a hard life

Thankful for Mapquest and GPS, we made the long nine-hour drive and into the tricky country cottage area surrounding Canada’s beautiful Georgian Bay. One could take a hundred roads that lead out to thousands of peninsulas’ and bays but we landed right the first time.

The Frankishes we have known for at least twenty-seven years. I have dedicated both of their children, Ian and Allison who are now (respectively) in medical school and university. They have invited us to come each year for almost ten years but most of the time it meant a special trip, This time we arranged the trip so it intentionally went up that way without going much out-of-the-way. We arrived in time for supper.

Over the next few days we joined Chuck, Bev and Bev’s sister Laurie sit in easy chairs looking at the beautiful water in the shade of tall Georgian Pines. There couldn’t have been more pleasant weather for holidaying and for the next few days, we did almost nothing but relax with a few ventures here and there. Jeanne and I love vacations where the hostess does everything and demands nothing! We had a pleasant time accomplishing nothing and going to pretty much nothing.

Jeanne pressed me to Kyack with her and after a short time of it, using the rotator cuff complaint, I was able to whine my way back to dry land. She put on her best “northern cottage” attitude and got back in with Chuck and soon disappeared. I’m crossing my fingers, hoping she won’t take a “hankerun” to it.

Bev, Chuck and Laurie

But just think of it. How do you have friends like this where all pretence can be put aside, where they are as close as family (or perhaps closer)?

Sundown on Georgian Bay

After several days of this, we drove off toward Ottawa. On the way, a kindly OPP officer stopped me for speeding in Algonquin Park. Jeanne agreed with me that I wasn’t going in excessive speed so I must not have been since, Jeanne never lies!

Sunday, Port Dover and the Spoelders’…

Sunday morning at Bethany Missionary Church, St. Catharines, Ontario

Sunday morning we went off to Debbie and Ernie’s church, Bethany Missionary Church. By Canadian standards, it’s a large church of about twelve hundred over the weekend. Surprisingly, the guest speaker was the son of Don and Marion Mills who we knew some thirty or more years ago. Don pastored in a sister church Carleton Place, Ontario until he accepted a call to a “Evangelical Missionary Church” at Wilmot Centre and left our area. Later we learned that he had contracted cancer and after a long season went on to be with the Lord. On this morning we were pleased to hear their son (also a pastor) deliver the morning message. Don would have been pleased.

Left to right: John, Ernie, Tony, Angie, Debbie, Jeanne

Soon after the benediction we were on our way to meet the Spoelders’ for lunch some hour and a half away at Port Dover. We hadn’t seen John and Angie in about twenty years. Their family of two boys are all grown, married and on their own.

At about twenty-five years of age, John was brought to our house by the wife of a doctor in Merrickville. First, she called us to say that she wanted him to come see us but he wouldn’t do it and would I come to office and see if I could coax him over? He had just come from the hospital after an overdose of drugs she thought might have been intentional. He needed help. Though I had never met John once I laid eyes on him I knew that I had seen him around town. He was a tall Dutchman with thick glasses. After some “how do ya do’s” I invited him to follow me over to the house for a cup of coffee.

Following me over in his car, he came in and sat on the couch. Though he had no concept of the meaning of either Christmas or Easter he knew our reputation for being “Jesus Freaks” he kept an emotional distance. It appeared to me that he just wanted to have his cup of coffee and then he would go and try to kill himself again.

At the same time, my dad and mom were visiting from us from Oklahoma. My dad had one arm and I noticed this caught John’s attention though he didn’t ask any questions. It seemed to put him at ease. He, obviously hadn’t been the only one in the room that had a problem.

Doing my best to get to the gospel, I stuck a cup of coffee in his hand and went to work on using my tried and proven lures. When these didn’t seem to break through his despair, I began dragging out several young guys who had received Christ after a number of years addicted to various kinds of drugs. One after the other they told their stories but then my dad, now into his seventies, broke into the conversation saying something like this, “Well, John, I never did smoke any of that “mary-ju-wana.” I don’t know a thing about it but it looks to me like you’re carrying a big load on your shoulders. How would you like to unload it a leave it all at the foot of the cross and never pick it up again?” It just seemed that simple to me. John looked over at my dad and finally said this, “I can be saved. I’m being saved! I’m saved!” and with this he stood to his feet. We all thought he was just trying to get it over with and move on but that was thirty-three years ago and has John ever moved on? He married Angie, had two children, moved a few times and then ended up in a small town near Port Dover. Ernie and Debbie arranged for us to meet and enjoy a long overdue lunch.

Ernie picked a hotel well-known for fish served family style. After all of the hugs we sat down to a good meal, walked around Lake Erie for a bit and drove over to their house for a swim. It’s always good to see seed settle on good soil and produce fruit.

“Then after some days Paul (Tony) said to (Jeanne), “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”

                                                Acts 15:36

Back to St. Catharines and preparing to leave the next morning for Georgian Bay and the Frankish cottage.

The Jones’

We arrived in St Catharines at just about the time predicted, four PM. We hadn’t seen Ernie and Debbie Jones for some time. When we lived in Minnesota we often came-  around their way and would spend a night or two. In those days,

Niagara on the Lake

most of the kids (Aaron, Tim and Katie) were still living at home but now they are all married with Tim and his wife living on the west coast. We enjoyed a nice supper and made plans for the next day touring around the area. Our day trip would take us to some charming and favorite spots like Niagara on the Lake and Niagara Falls.

A more recent Ernie

For those that may not know, Debbie and Ernie became our friends in Merrickville during the revival that took place there between 1975 and 1979. Debbie was first to meet the Lord and her reluctant (suspicious) husband came along a few months later. Their conversion stories are quite remarkable and briefly, I will tell it here.

Debbie was first to show up being brought to church meetings and bible studies by two friends who had begun a conversation with her at work. It didn’t take long before she responded to the offer of the gospel and having been transformed, she became very active in fellowship. As in many other cases, she began to urge her husband, Ernie, who directed the regional emergency services in Smiths Falls. Ernie was also an athlete of some note and played a good game of hockey. All of his practices, scrimmages and games were scheduled on Sunday nights – for him conveniently at the very same hour that we held bible study. Debbie could be then and still is very insistent when she sets her mind to it – whatever IT might be. Finally, Ernie gave in, promising to come if ever there was a night when hockey was cancelled. This was good enough for her and it only took a couple of weeks before poor Ernie wrenched his knee. In fact, the injury was so bad that he couldn’t even walk. It turned out that he did show up one Sunday night in October. Our bible studies were held on the second floor with a long, narrow walk-up of about thirty stairs. He took one look at the challenge and said that he just wouldn’t be able to make it, but that’s when several men got the idea to haul him up in a chair. Though Ernie was a strongly built man, they sat him in the chair and toted him up to the room filled with about fifteen or so others.

Ernie now tells me that he traded mocking critiques with another skeptical visitor on that first night. Yet, in spite of this, he was curious enough (or perhaps it was just to please Debbie) to return on the next Sunday evening. On that night he committed himself to Christ and from that moment Thanksgiving Sunday (the first week of October in Canada) he has never wavered in his testimony and resolve.

Several weeks later, in late November, I was sitting at my office desk when the phone rang. It was Ernie, who had been reading the Bible and discovered that everyone who became Christians followed their decision with baptism. He said, “I want to get baptized!” My immediate thought was, where might we be able to do this?  I suggested that we call a church with a heated baptistery and ask when they planned to  have a service and perhaps we might join them. Ernie didn’t buy the idea and quickly said, “I don’t want to wait. I want to be baptized in the Rideau River like all the others.” I reminded him that these baptisms took place in the summertime. Certainly by November 28th, temperatures in the Ottawa area are near or below freezing. Nevertheless, this is what he wanted so I arranged a beach side event for later that night.

It was already dark when ten or more cars lined up with their headlights aimed at the water. I stepped into the freezing water and immediately wanted to retreat. I doubted that Ernie (even as strong as he was) would be able to endure the frigid waters. It had begun to spit snow and we could see the big flakes bouncing off of the headlights. Out we went, deeper and deeper. Once we made it to waste high water, with Bud Narraway alongside, I made quick pronouncements and down he went. There was no time for small talk or long stories. It was just in and out and then an almost run to the shore and the heated car.

As I felt my foot finally touch dry land, a rather “girlie”, silhouetted Debbie called out. “If he’s a gonna, I’m a gonna too.” I didn’t think I could manage another and delegated this one to Ross Ayling. Bud who remains to this day as tough as a boot went right back out while I huddled in the front seat of our car under the heater on full blast and wrapped in a quilt. This was their start and they meant business then, as they mean business today.

We share many fond memories over the years and it is nice that even after a five year absence when we have not met face to face, there is absolutely no getting re-acquainted. Things are just as we left off the last time, and the time before and the time before that.

The Jones’ – more to come…

No moss grew under our feet…

Ottawa Valley, Canada May 3 to June 1, 2012

From the moment we arrived we were knee deep in visits and ministry. Though not in order here’s just a few of the things we did while there. We hardly ate at home by ourselves for even one night.


Stittsville, Ontario

Sunday, May 7    Tony (Preaching) Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. Message available at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22400316

Sunday, May 7    Tony, Evangelism Planning

Sunday, May 14  Jeanne (Preaching)  http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22560856

Sunday, May 20  Dedication of Liam Michael Cordell

Hyde Park Outreach Planning Meeting

Carleton Place

Friday, May 25   Fund raising concert event

Smith’s Falls Free Methodist Church

Sunday, May 27  Two messages “The Deeper Work of the Spirit” and “Like Jumping to Capri”

Lunch and Dinner Meetings

Ken and Linda R., Bev and Chuck F.(2x’s), Bud and Debbie N. (2X’s), Andrew and Lauren R., Larry, Leslie, Nick and Janet, Paul L., Mark and Tracy P., Dave H., Sarah J., Henk, Jack M., Irene and Sam, W., Gustavo and Elvira, Steve and Wendy F., Bill and Lorna S., Kerry, Jerry, Bud and Debbie N., Larry B., and Kari Y., (Tony), Kris H., Barb S., Lori, Lilly and Pat S., Liz R., Linda H. and Rita O., Randy and Tracy H., Sandy and Doreen C. (Jeanne), Marianne D. (Jeanne).

Thanks for all of the love and good food!!!