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Wilderness - How to Marry Jesus in 10 Years or Less

[]WILDERNESS

- How to Marry Jesus in 10 years or less

by Homer Les and Wanda Ring

Copyright © – Homer Les and Wanda Ring

First Edition 2017

ISBN 978-1-387-11693-5

Published by Fresh Oil Releases

41 Tharina Road

Somerset West

7130

http://www.imxprs.com/free/homerles/wilderness

WILDERNESS 1

Chapter 1 – The Wedding 5

Chapter 2 – Learning to Dance 8

Chapter 3 – Tornado 11

Chapter 4 – Selling the House 14

Chapter 5 – Arrival 17

Chapter 6 – Strange World 20

Chapter 7 – Going Down 22

Chapter 8 – Going Faster 26

Chapter 9 – It’s About Death 29

Chapter 10 – Dreams 33

Chapter 11 – Powerless 35

Chapter 12 – With Friends Like These 37

Chapter 13 – The Gathering Storm 41

Chapter 14 – Betrayal 44

Chapter 15 – Tabernacles 47

Chapter 16 – Boot Camp 52

Chapter 17 – The Adventure Begins 57

Chapter 18 – Special Birthday 60

Chapter 19 – Christian Central 64

Chapter 20 – You Lucky 68

Chapter 21 – Say Yes To The Dress 72

Chapter 22 – Kindness of Strangers 75

Chapter 23 – Out In The Cold 78

Chapter 24 – Two Bitter Nights 82

Chapter 25 – From Death to Life 84

Chapter 26 – The Right Place 87

Chapter 27 – Prison 88

Chapter 28 – Reunion 91

Chapter 29 – Mere Seconds 93

Chapter 30 – Pets or Meat 95

Chapter 31 – Follow the Trail 98

Chapter 32 – Facing Demons 100

Chapter 33 – Summer Vacation 105

Chapter 34 – Big Mac 109

Chapter 35 – Fire Ants 112

Chapter 36 – Disciples 116

Chapter 37 – A Rare Gift 121

Chapter 38 – Message From God 124

Chapter 39 – Idol Talk 126

Chapter 40 – Cognitive Dissonance 129

Chapter 41 – The Lesson 131

Chapter 42 – The Wolf 137

Chapter 43 – A Religious House 139

Chapter 44 – The Storm 141

Chapter 45 – The Rain 143

Chapter 46 – Battle with Family 146

Chapter 47 – Crucible 151

Chapter 48 – The Camel 155

Chapter 49 – You will take a trip 158

Chapter 50 – Reprieve 161

Chapter 51 – Battle with Government 164

Chapter 52 – Milo 167

Chapter 53 – Patient Endurance 169

Chapter 54 – Frozen Chosen 170

Chapter 55 – Wasted Kindness 174

Chapter 56 – Quagmire 177

Chapter 57 – Angelo 179

Chapter 58 – And I thought I was tough 182

Chapter 59 – Where a tree falls 184

Chapter 60 – Art 186

Chapter 61 – Two Kinds of People 189

Chapter 62 – Beginning of The End 191

Chapter 63 – First Nail 194

Chapter 64 – Missionaries 197

Chapter 65 – Second Nail 201

Chapter 66 – Long Walk 203

Chapter 67 – Third Nail 206

Chapter 68 – Out of the Frying Pan 209

Chapter 69 – Into the Fire 213

Chapter 70 – Battle with Religion 216

Chapter 71 – Will You Repent? 218

Chapter 72 – Ice House 221

Chapter 73 – Burial 224

Chapter 74 – The Tomb 227

Chapter 75 – Battle with Business 231

Chapter 76 – Feed My Sheep 233

[] Chapter 1 – The Wedding

May to Dec., 2003 – Sherwood Park, Alberta

  • All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

My name is Homer. With my wife Wanda, who I married in 1988, we were blessed to have two daughters Ida and Fanny join our little family. In June of 2003 they were 12 and 8. We lived in Sherwood Park which is a bedroom community adjacent to Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. It was, and still is, an affluent community with nice neighborhoods. In June of 2003 I owned a consulting business and did various consulting jobs for government and other private clients. Earlier in the year our company was successfully engaged by one particular provincial government body to do some custom work which proved to be very lucrative. Financially we were very prosperous at this time; successful in the eyes of the world.

On the spiritual side Wanda and I both had a renewal in our walk with God after years of not walking with Him properly. Even though we both went to Bible school and I received my degree there, we had slid farther and farther from the path of faith. That all changed in 1996 when God shook us up and allowed us to start again on the tried and true path of faith. Faith for us meant ‘Forsaking All, I Take Him’. It was an understanding of faith that went far beyond what we had been taught in religion. We wanted true faith as is outlined in His Word and not some mental assent to a dogma or theology.

From 1996 to 2003 we listened to His voice and followed through with the lessons He put before us. At one point in this renewal relationship, God promised me a house and also communicated that He was going to take 20 years to train us. How that training was to take place was a mystery to us but we had chosen to follow Him wherever He led us. Little did we realize where that commitment would take us!

In the year 2003 our family was attending a little church in New Sarepta a good distance from Sherwood Park. After years of time spent in stale big box churches, we were saturated with religion. We craved fellowship and spirit so we went to this tiny little country church where people like us gathered to worship. It was a wonderful time and we made some good friends. The pastor’s name was Matthew and we met other people hungry for God like Neil and Colette; the prophet Lance and a native lady named Eileen. We had a wonderful time and were growing spiritually. We felt blessed to be planted in a good spiritual family.

Earlier in the year I felt God telling Wanda and I that we were to renew our wedding vows in a ceremony in our back yard. We thought that this would be wonderful. One day, not long after we decided to have a renewal ceremony, Wanda was downstairs working on the computer. She had taken her wedding rings off and God quietly told her she would lose all of her rings. Sure enough they disappeared within hours and we never found them again despite many days of searching. God was setting the stage for Wanda to get a new engagement and wedding ring. As part of the planning for the wedding we went to Adamas Jewellers to have a ring designed and made for us. The gold ring was to have a very large (1.2 carats) diamond at the top to represent God the Father. The 24 sapphires around the diamond would represent the 24 elders around His throne and 6 emeralds on the band would represent our family walking up to the throne room. There were 6 emeralds in total as we had 2 other children that did not make it to birth. The cost of the ring would be $12,000 and the diamond alone would be $7,000.

A prophet friend of ours, named Stacey, had told us she had heard from God and that He wanted this wedding very much. It was to be a prophetic wedding and we were very excited for the ceremony to take place. We planned for a backyard wedding on June 28, 2003. Wanda bought our youngest daughter Fanny a beautiful yellow dress while our oldest daughter Ida opted for a red sari. Wanda bought a dress from a lovely East Indian merchant but it was not quite right so she went back and purchased an elegant white sari for her special day. I was to wear a black tuxedo.

For the setting we ordered a chuppah that we could be married under as per Jewish tradition. At this time, we were learning about our Hebraic roots and wanted this wedding to be a prophetic picture of God marrying His Bride. We also arranged to have a caterer feed the guests a large hearty meal and additionally we ordered the book ‘The Priestly Bride.’ We wanted to give every guest this extra special book as a keepsake wedding memorial. The arrangements plus the ring were getting very expensive indeed. However, God had prospered our business and allowed the money to be there for us.

With the day planned and all our friends invited we waited impatiently for Saturday, June 28 to arrive. There was only one small but major hiccup. On the morning of June 27 we did not have all of the money to pay for the diamond in Wanda’s ring. The jeweller suggested to Wanda that she could put in a fake diamond called a zircon and no one would know the difference. Wanda said to the lady that this might be what had to be done but was reluctant about this scenario. The problem was that God had wanted this wedding as a prophetic picture of His Son, Jesus, being wedded to His bride the church. It was His idea and His lead. If He was not at the center of the wedding, represented by the diamond in Wanda’s wedding ring, the point of the wedding would be lost. During the afternoon of June 27 Wanda got an unexpected phone call from our bank. The banker told Wanda that they had extended to our business a $25,000 line of credit even though we had not asked for it. God wanted this wedding and He was going to make sure the money was there to pay for it. Wanda immediately called the jeweller and told them that we had the money and to put in the diamond. They were shocked but we knew God was behind this wedding. After work that day we were able to purchase and pick up the ring. The lady at the jewellery store had been so stunned by the timing of God with this ring she was weeping as she gave it to Wanda. I had never seen such remarkable timing and provision before and was duly impressed.

On the evening before the wedding I was outside taking a walk when God spoke quietly into my spirit. He told me that “I had earned the right to wear white.” Now I must clarify that at this point in my life and my walk with God I still had a number of soul issues that were plaguing me. Despite the obvious God was looking at me not as I was but what I would eventually become. It was to be another prophetic act confirming His lead in this wedding. God wanted me to wear white to my wedding and I knew it. I didn’t know how this would happen. I had already ordered, and had been fitted for, a black tuxedo. White tuxedos were apparently quite rare I was told later. I trusted God. I did not tell Wanda what He had told me until after the wedding.

After a week of volatile weather, we were unsure of what would happen on our wedding day; but God knew. The day dawned bright and clear with not a cloud in the sky. It was absolutely still without even a breeze to disturb the peace of our chuppah. We knew that the afternoon wedding would be spectacular. After leaving Wanda and my daughters to get dressed in the house I drove to the tuxedo rental company. There I told them I had wanted to change from a black tuxedo to a white one with a matching white bowtie. I was not sure what they would say but they left to check. In a moment the clerk returned. Not only did they have a white tuxedo but it was a perfect fit for me! I was absolutely gobsmacked and giddy. I dressed and drove back to the house. Since I did not want to spoil the surprise God had cooked up for Wanda, I had to sneak into the backyard. To do this I had to scale our 5-foot fence in a white tuxedo. Some of my friends who had arrived earlier for the wedding helped me over the barricade and not a scratch or mark got on the white tux.

Our pastor Matthew, who was officiating, stood with me under the chuppah as the wedding music started. Wanda began her long walk up the backyard with our daughters behind her. As she turned the corner and saw me wearing white she was surprised but did not show it. She was beautiful in her white sari and her hair was dressed with roses. I was so proud to be her husband and to marry her all over again. The ceremony was simple and wonderful. Before all of our guests we recommitted ourselves to each other for all time. I put the wedding ring with the real diamond in it on her finger and the circle was complete. God had put together a beautiful prophetic picture of a wedding for us in front of our many guests. It was truly a memorable day. We made sure to tell everyone attending this prophetic wedding all that God had done for us so they too could praise Him for His wonderful provision.

After the wedding Wanda and I went on a second honeymoon. We left our daughters with babysitters and travelled to Waterton National Park. When we were first married Wanda thought I was taking her to the magnificent Prince of Wales Hotel that was in this same park. Our first marriage took place in December. It was the beginning of winter so it was not practical. This time it was summer so I took her there for our second honeymoon. We had a wonderful time in the mountains.

After we returned life slowly began to unravel for our guests. Within two weeks of the wedding Wanda’s mother’s husband died. Jeeves passed away in Ottawa while they were on a trip to his home city. Next our prophetic friend Lance got involved with an emotionally unstable woman and married her. We had opposed the wedding from the beginning for we knew what kind of a woman this was; spiritually immature and looking for a man to complete her and not God. They eventually divorced. Our friends Neil and Colette moved to Ontario and became heavily embroiled in the Hebraic roots movement and strayed from true faith in Christ. Our prophetic friend Stacey moved into prophetic witchcraft towards us and we had to distance ourselves from her. Our good friends Gloria and Theo became increasingly jealous of the wealth God had favored us with and voluntarily distanced themselves from fellowship. Finally, Matthew had an affair with a member of the New Sarepta church that had sung at our wedding. We stopped going to New Sarepta church not long after this sad situation was taking place.

By the end of 2003 all our friends from the June 2003 wedding were almost all gone and had disappeared from our lives. We did not know why. God was weaning us off of them so He could do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He was going to lead us into a great journey of faith. However, before we could embark on this great adventure of faith, we needed to learn some basics. He was about to take the area of our lives hollowed out from friends and fill it with ballroom dance.

[] Chapter 2 – Learning to Dance

2004 to 2006 – Sherwood Park, Alberta

Way back in our days in Sherwood Park we were quite well to do. We had just left the formal ‘church’ and we did not know what to do with our time. God knew exactly what He was doing though and one day He stirred in our hearts a desire to sign up for ballroom dance.

So off we ventured to Arthur Murray to learn how to hoof it around the dance floor. We were pathetic. I have partial dyslexia so I struggle with left and right, numbers and reading analog clocks. Learning just to lead with my left foot posed a difficulty of gargantuan proportions. We were as elegant on the dance floor as a pair of tractors in a shopping mall parking lot. Add to that our dance teacher was a former cocaine addict, frustrating as an instructor and not very disciplined. After a few lessons we were going to throw in the towel convinced that we were no more capable of dance than a politician is able to tell the truth. Thankfully there was someone watching over our non-progress and seeing our frustration.

The Edmonton Arthur Murray Dance studio was owned by Will. Will was a world dance champion and judge of dance competitions. You could not find a better dancer than Will but Will also had a studio manager. The studio manager was a man who was tall, dressed impeccably and the meanest hombre in all of Edmonton. He was a drill sergeant and universally feared in the studio, on the dance floor and everywhere he went. He too was a judge and a South African world dance champion. His name was Boris. To watch him on the floor was like watching silk flowing down an elegant evening gown. He was smoothness personified and for some reason he took an interest in Wanda and myself.

Now Boris saw that we were struggling and about to leave dance for good so he decided, this we had no say in, to take over our dance lessons. Now when you see dancers floating over the floor they make it look so easy, so pleasant and wonderful and you think to yourself, “Hey, that’s easy to learn,” you would be wrong, oh so wrong. Boris was a drill sergeant. If you watch movies with Marine drill sergeants in them, you get a taste of Boris. He made us work and work and work until we got it. He didn’t put up with any of our whimpering, complaining and childish behavior. When I made a mistake I would stop and he would bellow at me to keep moving. He knew I had to grow up and he helped me do just that.

The first thing Boris taught me was that whenever I stopped it wasn’t because I couldn’t do the move but instead I had an emotional block that stopped me. When I faced that block I was able to keep dancing. It was hard and I had to unlearn and grow out of my childish behavior and grow up; but I did it. The second thing my drill sergeant/dance teacher taught me was ‘make a decision’. I heard that bellowed out at me so many times I can still hear him saying it.  Every time I would get into a corner and didn’t know what move to perform he would bellow out ‘MAKE A DECISION’. You see in dance you can’t stop moving for if you do you will cause chaos on the dance floor. You have to keep moving. I always wanted to not make a mistake but Boris didn’t care about that; he wanted me to make a decision and keep moving. That lesson stayed with me because growing up requires us to ‘make decisions’ and not delay or vacillate. God keeps moving and we need to keep making decisions to stay with Him.

Every dance lesson was tough. We worked and worked hard every time. Slowly we got better and better. Unbeknownst to us at the time though Boris was tricking us. You see in Arthur Murray dance there are three major levels called Gold, Silver and Bronze. In each major level there are 4 minor levels. Bronze level 1, Bronze Level 2, Bronze Level 3, etc. For each minor level there are certain basic steps you have to learn and master before you can pass to the next level. If you don’t master the steps you don’t pass and you need to work until you learn it. So our wonderful dance teacher was, without our knowledge, sneaking in moves from Bronze level 3 when we were really in Bronze level 1 and he let us have it when we didn’t get it just right. So these tough lessons he was making even tougher and for some reason we managed to achieve that progress. Then he would give us something even tougher still!

So you might think that we hated Boris like most everyone else did but that would be so very wrong. To me he was a God send. A homosexual man that God worked through to help us learn how to grow up and face life and not back down. The word that is bandied about is the oft used term ‘tough love’ and he was our visual lesson we could look to each week to learn how to dance and how to live. We will be forever grateful for what Boris did for us. Toughened us to difficulty.

Well the day came when we had to take our first test before we were able to go to the next level. To say that we were a little nervous and scared would be like saying the ocean has a little bit of water in it. Boris kept up the pace and we learned step after step. Going over the basics again and again. All those extra steps he snuck in and taught us. There were 84 different steps we had learned in tango, foxtrot, rhumba, waltz, swing and all the other ones. He never let up but the day of accounting eventually came. Test time.

The studio set up a little table to one side where three judges sat and watched. Will, Boris and another judge. Now these are world class judges who judge major dance competitions around the globe and we had to dance in front of them. Gulp! I think I would be less intimidated if I had to give a speech before the U.N. Those were my feelings that day. Well here we were, the dance music starts and I lead off on the wrong foot! I catch myself skipping a beat and then I start dancing again because I could not just stop. Wanda and I made a few mistakes, then the song was done and so were we. We felt we had failed before we even stopped dancing. We packed up our gear and left. That afternoon was sunny and bright outside but we were dying inside. After all that hard work all we could do was cry it out. We didn’t want to go back for the embarrassment was just too great. I felt if we had passed it would only be because they wanted to keep getting our money.

Well the day came for our next class and I didn’t want to go but somehow we mustered up the strength to go regardless of the outcome. Boris brought us into his office and told us we had passed. I could not believe it and told him so. Boris left and brought Will in to talk with us. Will sat us down and in his quiet way explained to us how judging in dance worked. He said that in Arthur Murray each level has certain steps that the student is expected to master and the judges have to look for those specific steps. What Boris had done, by getting us to work on much harder steps, was to make us excel in the very basic steps. By not focusing on what we needed to pass but instead by focusing on something much harder we had managed to pass with flying colors. This astounded us. This little bit of trickery by our much beloved dance teacher over prepared us for the test ahead. We were a puddle after that. I still tear up when I think of that memory.

That lesson taught us a lot about God. In the wilderness we faced mountains that were way tougher than I thought we could ever surmount. We had to keep moving and keep making decisions even if it meant making mistakes. God has and will continue to over prepare us in faith so when the day of judgment comes we can face it with full confidence knowing our Instructor, and His lessons, intimately.

In the movie ‘The Rookie’ the main character is a high school baseball coach who has a major league throwing arm. To help his team practice he pitches fastballs to the boys. At first the 90+ mph fastballs are too much for the boys to hit. After lengthy practice they are then able to swing fast enough to hit his fastballs. When they play in games with other teams they begin to win for the other teams’ pitches look like beach balls coming at them.

God trains His team to win and He does so by giving us the hardest lessons possible so when trials come at us they seem like small insignificant troubles. We can brush these difficulties aside knowing full well that the God who trained us will always be with us.

Eventually Boris decided to leave Edmonton and retire to Florida and we needed to move on to the next phase of our training that God had preordained for us. I will always remember Boris from South Africa and how he helped us learn the ‘basics’ about God through dance. It is funny but in retrospect I have to admit that after all my time in religion, I never learned as much about life from them as I did from Boris. Religion has made walking with God a spectator sport. Something one watches from the pew while some yahoo in a fancy suit blabs away nonsense he knows nothing about from a raised platform. We quickly learned in dance that it was far more fun to dance than it was to watch it – and it is far more fun and exciting to walk with God than to just sit and watch someone else do it.

[] Chapter 3 – Tornado

Oct. 2006 to June 2007 – Sherwood Park, Alberta

In the fall of 2006 Wanda and I knew we needed help. Although I ran a successful consulting business I had an ongoing issue from my childhood that plagued me. We already had been through a great deal of healing but there was little else we could do. The next step would require us to go to John and Paula Sanford’s Elijah House. They had an incredible ministry of inner healing that we thought might help our marriage. One day in October Wanda called them up to see what options were available to us. They told us that they were booked for months in advance but by some strange twist a cancellation had just occurred. That cancellation left their schedule open and we could take it if we wished. This opening was the hand of God directing our steps and we knew it. Wanda readily accepted the opportunity and plans were made to travel down to Washington State for counselling.

We drove down to Washington State early in November and stayed for a week of intense counselling. Our counsellors kept us together for they recognized we were a very close couple. Tremendous amounts of healing, revelation and growth took place in that short period of time. We readily did our assignments eager to be free from what had been plaguing us. When the counselling was done we came home refreshed and ready to continue on our journey of inner healing.

It was late in the month of November, after we had returned home to Alberta, when the Lord gave me the most significant dream I had ever received from Him. In this dream Wanda and Fanny were at our house in Sherwood Park and my eldest daughter Ida was in school. The day was bright and sunny as I worked in the garage with the garage door open. As I looked to the northeast there was a huge funnel cloud in the sky and it was bearing down on our house. I quickly ran inside and told Wanda and Fanny to hide in the downstairs shower. They obeyed immediately and I joined them. Soon enough there was a tremendous roar like a thousand freight trains as the tornado descended and destroyed our house. Everything was gone in an instant. I was then sucked up into the vortex and taken high into the sky. I was so high up that I knew that when I finally fell down I would die. I shut my eyes hard as I started to feel myself fall. I kept falling and falling with my eyes shut. It was taking such a ridiculous amount of time for me to hit the ground I became bored of falling. I had lost my fear and so opened my eyes. I was still falling but now I could see the ground. As I looked I saw maple leaves arranged in several rows like in a simple math problem. I then heard the words, “I will take numbers from the bottom and add them to the top to make up the difference.” I also heard “590,000.” With that directive the dream ended without me hitting the ground. The dream had been tremendously vivid so we knew it to be from God and very important. We have never figured out what the words meant but the visual imagery would become abundantly clear over the next year.

Over the next few months, into early 2007, Wanda and I continued to work on our inner healing but my root issue was getting worse not better. The stress of running a business and paying down large amounts of debt had put a large strain on me. I began to crack and was not able to contain myself anymore. Events came to a head on May 15, 2007. On that day Wanda left me and went to her brother’s but she did not tell me where she had gone. I was panicked and devastated. She was rightly angry. There are few times in my life when I have been as lonely as I was on that day. I knew that things had to change for I was putting my ‘self’ over my family and that was wrong. I talked long and hard with Ida and Fanny about this and we agreed that the business had to go and we had to do something else. Many miles away Wanda was at her brother’s place trying to figure out what to do but came to the same conclusion we had at home. When she phoned the next morning we all agreed that a major change had to take place. Wanda came back that day and we reconciled. The decision was made to sell the business, house and move east to start a bed and breakfast. It was off the cuff, ill-advised, reckless and completely what God wanted.

Looking back on the past now it is easy to see God’s hand moving us, preparing us, setting up the circumstances that would cause us to move from the comforts of our home; but we did not see it then. Jesus was wooing us into the wilderness to be with Him and we were just at the beginning of our journey. Before God could mold us into being dependent on Him – He first had to remove us from the rut we were in. If He had told us up front what we would have to experience, I have no doubt our fears would have kept us in Alberta. God never fully reveals His hand. He gives only what we need to follow Him to the next step. As long as we are obedient to follow His lead we will make it through the current courses in our spiritual growth. God had seen that we had been faithful with our lessons so far so we were off to the next stage.

The transition started immediately after Wanda returned. There were four assignments we needed to tackle before we could move. The first thing I had to do was to dispose of my business. Second we would have to prepare the house for sale and then sell it. Third we needed a way to get ourselves to where we needed to go. Fourth we had to pack up all of our belongings and send them to where we were going. Where would that destination be? Wanda looked at Prince Edward Island with a naively idealistic perspective. To her it was an idyllic paradise where we could start a new life. We found 124 acres of land on the island for sale via internet (which I will call P.E.I. from here on) that was inexpensive and I thought we could turn it into a bed and breakfast. I was hopelessly naïve myself. I took my brain, placed it on a shelf in a jar of formaldehyde and went along with this crazy plan. Now that we had a destination we needed to get to work.

I need to state clearly upfront that to plunge into such a foolhardy adventure is decidedly not recommended unless the Lord is leading one into it. Far too many times people find themselves in bad situations and think God led them into it when He clearly did not. However, there are times when He will do exactly as He did with us. The key is to know and follow His lead. If one is sure it is His lead, He will confirm it with acts of provision and perfect timing. We were about to see that provision and timing unfold in an amazing fashion before our eyes.

The first and by far the easiest of our four tasks was to dispose of my business. I had started my computer consulting business in 2001. We had a few clients in the beginning and then in 2003 I landed a huge government contract. God prospered our little business and some months over $30,000 would pour into our coffers. We had gained a number of clients and lost a few. By early 2007 I knew I needed help and so I hired one employee to help with the load. He was not a good hire but he was eager. Now that I had an employee I asked him if he wanted to take over the business. He agreed to that offer and I agreed to sell him the rights to all the work and all the business equipment for $1. I am not a man driven by profit and I wanted to bless this man who helped me. It was agreed that I would stay on until June 30 and then I would be done. I took a brief holiday from my clients and then began to slowly hand over all control to the new owner letting my clients know what was happening. By July I was still finishing off a big project for a client that went over a few days so we agreed to make that private and not a part of the business.

The next order of tasks was to get the house renovated and up for sale. We decided that we needed to redo the flooring, put in new countertops and have the whole house painted. We contracted out the flooring to one company and the countertops to the dad of Ida’s best friend. For the house painting we used a friend of ours named Benny. Benny had been at our 2003 wedding and was kind to us. We had lost touch with him but recently he came back into our lives. Seeing this re-entry as being God’s lead we hired him to paint the inside of the house. Now that the contractors were assigned we went on to our next task.

Finding a way to travel all the way across Canada with 4 birds and 2 daughters that were 11 and 16 was going to be a challenge. After Wanda made some futile attempts to get a rental R.V., we discovered we had a problem. One Friday night I looked at Wanda and suggested we buy an R.V. instead. As we were looking online for R.V. ads we saw a 1989 40’ Bounder for $33,000 which we could afford. When Wanda phoned they had just lowered the price to $26,000 but they had not advertised the price. Seeing God’s hand of provision in this Wanda said we would be in the next day. The person said it would be ticketed at the new price early in the morning and to try and be there when they first opened for business. The next day we went in and were shown the R.V. It was perfect for our needs and we agreed to buy it. We knew someone else was also looking at the same R.V. so our sales guy had to quickly get the purchase documents together. Thankfully that happened and we put a down payment on the R.V. We would be back later to complete the transaction. God had miraculously provided us with a means to get to P.E.I. in short order but He wasn’t done with the mini miracles.

After we bought the R.V. we mentioned to our sales guy that we would be needing to buy a dolly to tow our car. We wanted to know where we could find one. He gave us a Car Trader magazine to look at to see if there was one for sale. Sure enough there was a dolly for sale that was exactly what we were looking for. It was the only car dolly advertised in the entire magazine. We called the person and he said that it was still for sale. He even volunteered that the ad had been in for weeks and he hadn’t gotten a single call. He wondered if he would ever sell it. We asked the man if we could come over to see it and he said sure. We hopped in the car and started driving. As we were driving we saw a small black truck in front of us. The license plate was from the province of P.E.I. I had never seen a P.E.I. plate in my entire life and here was one driving right in front of me. We were gobsmacked at the confirmation from God. We continued on to where the car dolly was. It was in excellent condition and we paid for it with cash on the spot. God had given us a way to get ourselves and our car to P.E.I. in one day with the R.V. and car dolly. God’s timing was with us and He was performing miracles. But wait there’s more.

We could not take the car dolly that day but the person said he would deliver it in a few days to our home. Sure enough a few days later he brought it by our house and dropped it off. As we talked he said, “You know it’s the strangest thing. Right after you guys bought the dolly I got so many calls from people wanting to buy it. One guy even wanted me to break my deal with you so he could have it but I said I can’t do that I already took the guy’s money!” Here God had kept that dolly just for us so we would have what we needed to travel to P.E.I. If we weren’t entirely convinced before we were now. This was our chosen destination. God’s lead was as obvious as a frog in a bowl of oatmeal.

With our transportation now arranged we started packing up and selling our goods. Some people got some really good deals from us as we sold what we could not take. We were not overly fussy about the money but were happy to pare down our possessions. For what we planned to take with us we rented a storage locker and moved our boxes there until the moving van came. Our move was beginning to take shape.

[] Chapter 4 – Selling the House

June to Aug. 14, 2007 – Sherwood Park, Alberta

We were in full move mode in June of 2007. Most of our belongings had been sold or packed up and put into storage. The house was a mess as the countertops were being replaced and the flooring was all ripped out. The contractors were constantly in and out getting the house ready for sale. Benny and his crew taped and painted most of the house but we ran into trouble near the end.

The date we had selected for the house to be up for sale was July 2. With this in mind all the work needed to be completed before June 30 so we could have the cleaners in to make the house spotless for sale. As this deadline approached our friend Benny was supposed to be finishing the trim work but he was not getting the work done. When we called him to come and finish the job he said he would be in the next day to complete it. By the next morning he had not shown up again. We had lost patience. I went out and bought some paint and completed the trim work myself. Once the baseboards were dry we put them up ourselves working feverishly throughout the day. Later that same day Benny called to say he would be in the next morning to finish the job. I was so mad at him and told him “No,” we would finish the work ourselves and that he was fired. After this incident we paid his crew for they actually did the work. For Benny we deducted from his account the price of a ladder he had us buy and a refund for some painting that we had to do over as it was peeling.

When Benny received the payment he was not happy and came over, with his father, to complain. He gave me a note that he said would help me see why I was wrong. I had short-changed him. I explained to Benny that his work was subgrade, we were not happy, and that the ladder wasn’t a gift. I then tore up his note. Benny tore up the check and then had a full blown temper tantrum on the sidewalk. He was not getting his way. There was shouting, screaming and swearing from Benny with wild gesticulations. It was like watching a five-year-old after he was stung by a bee and then stubbed his toe. I asked him point blank if he was back on drugs to which he became even angrier. In the end Benny left.

Later in July Benny would call us to try to collect on his supposed financial injury. He threatened to put a lien on our house unless he was paid. The threat was hollow as he had no legal means to pull a stunt like that. It did concern us that he would resort to threats to get his way. I never saw or heard from Benny again.

On July 2, 2007 our house was on the market. Our family moved into our R.V. and lived on the street by the house as all our belongings were either in storage or had been sold. Eventually the neighbors complained so we had to move the R.V. to a campground and come in for house showings. The month was slow but I had to do some final project work for one of my clients while the rest of the family kept busy preparing for Fanny’s Bat Mitzvah. Fanny’s 12th birthday was actually in August but since we expected to sell the house and be gone from the west by then we planned the celebration for July 21st instead.

The day for Fanny’s Bat Mitzvah was beautiful. Friends and family were there to bless her and say goodbye to us. My parents came later with my grandmother which was a surprise for I had not seen her in years. My mother had her usual fit at our last parting and it was the last time I saw my mother or my grandmother.

After that celebration we got ready to send our belongings to P.E.I. We began to bring the boxes from the storage locker to the house so they could be picked up by the moving company. One time, as Wanda and Fanny were loading up boxes, Wanda had an open vision in her head of a bright yellow car parked in our driveway. As Wanda drove back to the house she saw a bright yellow car parked in our driveway just like in her vision. Fanny came out excitedly to tell her mom the people in the vehicle were there to see the house. Wanda knew in her heart that these were the people who would buy our house. The people who owned the bright yellow car were Robert and Trixie. They were a nice pleasant couple and they loved our house and yard. Unfortunately, when we told them the asking price was $590,000 they said the house was worth it but more than they could afford. We parted but not before Wanda got their telephone number and they had ours.

The moving van came soon after and we loaded it with all our boxes, belongings and furniture and sent it on its way. The house still had not sold and we had no serious offers. I was convinced we would be leaving by August 1 so it was in faith that we sent all of our worldly goods to P.E.I.

On Friday Aug 3, when we were still at the R.V. park, Wanda went into the office to clear up an issue with the lot we were staying in. When she came out she had the most interesting conversation with an old man who introduced himself as the maintenance person. He asked Wanda if she had been helped and she said “yes”. Then he asked Wanda about herself and why was she camping at the park? Wanda replied graciously that we were selling our house. The man then asked her directly how much we were selling the house for. Wanda was taken aback by his forthrightness but answered $590,000. He then said that it was too much; that those mortgages were gone in the spring and the most people were getting now was $400,000. He then said we needed to bring our asking price down. Wanda knew that our price for the house was too high and we had to lower it. When she told me this conversation I knew this was God speaking to us. We agreed to lower the asking price for the house to $400,000.

I never knew if the man Wanda talked to was a maintenance man or an angel but I knew God was speaking through him. To us this was another sign as God was leading us on our journey. God spoke through an ordinary man in an extraordinary way to help us out. We were not about to ignore the lead.

Immediately after she had talked with the maintenance person Wanda called Robert and Trixie while they were in Vancouver. One of the first things Trixie said was that they had just been praying about the house. Wanda talked with Trixie for a bit and asked if they could come back to Sherwood Park which they agreed to do. We agreed to meet on the next Saturday night.

When Saturday night came we drove over to the house to meet Robert and Trixie after their long drive back from Vancouver. We wanted to chat with them and see if they could make us an offer. They thought it best if they looked at their numbers, talk and pray about it and then make us an offer on Sunday morning. We agreed that this would be ok.

The next morning our whole family was at our house when Robert and Trixie came by. They really liked the house and wanted to buy it. After a bit more talking they said after checking all their numbers the most they could offer was $350,000. We were devastated. We had to decline the offer as it was much too low for us. After tearful hugs Robert and Trixie parted and we were left wondering what had just happened. We thought for sure that this was the couple God wanted to own the house. We could not figure out why the offer was so low. We put the For Sale signs back on the lawn and sat gloomily in the house. We talked and prayed that afternoon but we were clearly depressed. Around 6 we got a phone call from Robert. He told us that God kept telling him his numbers were wrong. After checking and re checking their numbers they could not get past the $350,000 but then they suddenly remembered Robert’s military pension. With that factored in they were now going to give us a new offer. Robert asked, “Would we take $400,000?” We were ecstatic and shouted into the phone “The house is yours!!!”

That moment will always stand out for us as a wonderful testament of God’s hand moving through our affairs to accomplish His plans. Through our needing correction from a maintenance man and Robert and Trixie needing help to remember something they had forgotten God worked it all out. He is so wonderful that even through our errors and mistakes He weaves everything together for His good purposes. Our journey of faith was off to a good start.

Even though I had wanted to leave Sherwood Park by August 1 we still could not leave just quite yet. We had to spend a few days in August getting all the paperwork signed by the lawyers. Thankfully the real estate lawyer I used was also my client so we received preferential treatment. The lawyer expedited the house sale for us in 2 weeks which he said was “Speedy Gonzales.”

We had been short on cash for most of the month as well but God had supplied us with food vouchers from some of my good clients. There was not enough money to leave yet though. We had to wait to get paid from my last client. On August 14 I was called over to their office to pick up my check. The man I had done the job for I knew well and he was sad to see me leave. He asked if I wanted $10,000 instead of the $5,000 I had billed them for. I declined the higher offer for I had not worked those hours and did not want to gouge any of my clients. He respected that and handed me the check. We shook hands and I left.

Now that we had money we could leave for P.E.I. We had made arrangements for the sale of the house money to be sent to us on the way earlier so now we were able to drive away. As dusk was falling we drove away from Sherwood Park and Alberta for the last time and into the adventure called the wilderness.

The adventure of faith we were about to embark on certainly was foolish in the eyes of man but it was certainly God led. We had many confirmations that He wanted us to be uprooted and travel to another part of the country. It was a huge gamble for our whole family. Knowing that God was directing our steps gave us confidence to keep moving forward.

[] Chapter 5 – Arrival

Aug. 15 to Sept., 2007 – From Alberta to P.E.I.

With Alberta behind us we began the long drive across the country to our destination, the province of P.E.I. We passed through Saskatchewan in a day then headed to Winnipeg, Manitoba. We stayed to visit a few of the sights. For the past 7 years the business had been very busy and our family had not been able to take a vacation in 3 years. On this trip, however, we decided we would see as many sights in Canada as we could now that I was not tied down. After a day in Winnipeg we continued east to Ontario. Ontario is very large so it took us a good deal of time to get through the province. Eventually we made it to where our friends Neil and Colette, from New Sarepta church, now called home north of London, Ontario. We had a good visit with our friends and celebrated Fanny’s birthday there.

Our house check caught up with us and we had some fun trying to deposit it as it was such a large amount. Eventually we managed to get our financial affairs in order and pay off all our debts with the house money. We were now free and clear to start our new life. I bought an expensive camera for our family to use to record our trip across Canada and our new adventure on P.E.I. It was finally time to move on so we hugged Neil and Colette goodbye and started back on our journey.

We continued east through Ontario stopping in Niagara Falls for Wanda’s birthday. Next we headed up to Ottawa where we decided to rest for a day or two. We toured the city and took in all the sights of the capital of Canada. Little did we know that the next time we saw this city we would arrive under completely different circumstances.

Leaving Ontario behind we now headed to P.E.I. in earnest and arrived on August 29, 2007. It was a strange world we arrived in and it took us a few days to get our bearings. We parked our R.V. at a campground south of Montague close to where the land we wanted to buy was located. After we settled in we explored the area and saw the natural beauty of this island. It was far different from Alberta and would not take us long to discover just what we had gotten ourselves into.

Before anything else could take place we needed a home so finding one became our first priority. At the R.V. park where we were staying the owner wanted to sell us his sorry excuse for land but we declined. Then he wanted us to lie for him and say that we were interested in a house he owned so he could evict the tenants; but we declined that too. Next some soft drinks we left under the bus one night to keep cool were stolen by some locals. These encounters should have been an ominous sign to us as to what kind of people the islanders were. We had been led to an island of liars and thieves. Unfortunately, we did not pay close attention to the signs. God was still leading us however and was preparing to move us to the place that would be home for the next 4 years.

We decided to visit the land that we had first seen in Alberta so many months earlier. Our original plan was to purchase the property and develop it into a bed and breakfast. We were hopelessly naïve but we forged ahead confident in God’s leading. Our first sight of our much coveted purchase caused our hearts to sink. The decrepit run down building that was the sole building on the property was in such bad shape it’s only usefulness would be for firewood.

Nevertheless, we decided to take a walk on the property and explore it. The land was very beautiful. First of all, the land was a mixture of open fields and woods that was bordered by an estuary. From a visual perspective it would have made a great tourist spot but then again the whole island was full of such vistas. As we walked however my thoughts were on more practical matters.

We had just left our house and business to move to a strange world across the country where we knew nobody. We came on the premise that the land would be perfect for us but it was obviously not. With no liveable house on the property we would have to build one. We had some money but not enough to buy the land, build a house and start a business; at least not without taking on a huge line of credit. After just spending much energy eliminating our debt I refused to go back into it. This was not a good situation.

As we walked I became more and more troubled by the pit we found ourselves in. There was no way forward as far as I could see but I could not deny that God had led us here through His provision and perfect timing. It was a terrible conundrum to be in. With each step it looked more impossible and I did not know what to do. It was in this place that I remembered my dance teacher Boris yelling at me across the dance floor, “Make a decision!” In what would be the most fateful decision of our entire journey I decided to go ahead with the land purchase. After all, I thought, since it was God’s leading to get us here, He will provide for us what we needed to build. I did not understand then exactly why God had brought us to the province of P.E.I.

It is in these reckless moments where we obey God’s leading, without the understanding of where He is taking us, that builds faith. We are sheep being led to the shearer for we trust the shepherd. We do not understand the trauma that is about to befall us but we know He is good and so we follow Him. Regardless, had we known the consequences of my decision, I do not believe we would have stayed one more minute on P.E.I.

Having made our decision to purchase the land we now needed to find a place to live until the land purchase could go through. We walked back towards the highway where our car was parked and met a lady walking down the road for an evening stroll. We struck up a conversation with her and mentioned that we were there to buy the land but we needed to find a place to stay. She then volunteered that the blue house which was on the other side of the park and adjacent to the land was a rental that was recently vacated. She said she knew the landlords. Excited by this news we got the name of the landlord Angus and Irene McDonald.

Immediately after this conversation a man drove up in his car and introduced himself as Tim the real estate agent selling the land. He had just been driving by on his way home from work when he saw us and stopped. We were again stunned by God’s perfect timing. We told Tim about our intent to buy the land and that we had just heard about the blue house being for rent. Tim mentioned he knew the landlords as well. We agreed to talk more about the purchase later.

Back at the R.V., Wanda called the McDonalds and talked with Irene. Wanda found out the rental was available and the rent was $650/month plus utilities. The next day we headed over to see the rental. The blue house was right on the highway near the land. It was an office building that had been converted to a house for workers at a nearby fish processing plant. This building was as suitable for a house as a bicycle is for gardening. There was a tiny office kitchen, washer and dryer in the dining room, one toilet room slightly smaller than the size of an adult male and the shower room from Psycho. There were three bedrooms and a living room as well. We agreed to rent the blue house and soon we moved into the fishbowl that would be our home. Our R.V. was parked in the front yard like some prehistoric beast in the middle of a school yard advertising our presence as ‘foreigners’. As intensely private people it was not a good situation for us.

The next few days involved transferring our ID from Alberta to the province of P.E.I. and enrolling our daughters in school and other sundry activities. The moving van from Summerside arrived and deposited our belongings on the gravel parking lot that was our front yard. We moved as much as we could into the blue house but much remained outside where they could be easily stolen by locals or rained on. A neighbor family kindly offered us the use of their large older garage to store our belongings. Thankful we moved the rest of what we owned into this storage barn to keep it out of the rain. We discovered later that the roof leaked.

Now that we were settled in we began the process of buying the land. Unlike the sale of our house this land acquisition would be a long and painful process. Within a short while our lawyer informed us that part of the land was under litigation. The seller had been divorced and that part was in the ex-spouse’s name. It was all getting very complicated but we decided to keep going forward.

We were finally settled on the province of P.E.I. as we had wanted. God had led us across the country and plunked us down in the middle of nowhere to rest. Some mornings we would wake up bewildered wondering where were we and how did we get here? If it had not been for God’s continual lead we would have had serious doubts about staying. We were settled however and determined to see this adventure through to the end.

[] Chapter 6 – Strange World

Sept. to Dec., 2007 – Bridgetown, P.E.I.

In the fall of 2007 our heads were spinning. Emotionally, mentally and spiritually we had been through a tornado and we knew it. It would take many months for us to relax and adjust after the whirlwind we had been through. Thankfully God was bringing quiet into our world but that quietness, along with our hiddenness, would try us and expose what was in our hearts.

I was convinced that I needed to get a job soon after we got there and so went into Charlottetown to look for work. It did not take me long to get discouraged by the abysmal job prospects. The province of P.E.I. is about 20 years behind the world in technology and my skill set was way beyond anything the island had. I was also not an islander so I was automatically biased against in any job hunt. With my job prospects diminishing and discouragement dogging my every step I talked with God about what to do. He made it clear to me that after what our family had just been through I was in no emotional state to work. God wanted me to rest. His specific words to me were, “Not today Homer, not today.” I took the lead and went home.

One day I sat at the dock which was on the park property between our blue rental house and the land we intended to purchase. As I stood there speaking to Jesus, He told me, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” In those simple words He was saying that He was up to something. I just needed to rest and go through what He had prepared and preordained for us.

Shortly after we moved in we needed to get some much needed furniture so we went to Charlottetown and bought what was required. Some furniture needed to be delivered but the rest we took in our car. The car was so full that Fanny was squished in the back against the window. A local, looking at our Alberta plates, laughed at us and said, “I hope you’re not travelling all the way to Alberta like that.” It was a rather amusing ride back to the rental.

Our daily routine was determined by school for Ida and Fanny. Where we lived in Bridgetown was the farthest bus route from the school in Montague. Bussing was an hour and a half each way. It was difficult for them as they were not used to riding a bus. The gossip and foul language made them feel like they had arrived in hell and they did not like their new world. Fanny went to a different school in the opposite direction in her second year but the environment was just as negative. After being home-schooled for a good deal of her life Fanny had a very hard time with the teachers and students. Since both of our daughters were CFAs they were seen as outsiders and strange. CFA is the acronym for ‘Come From Away’ which is how islanders refer to any person that is not an islander. It is an elitist exclusionary snobbery that the close minded inbred people of the island had carefully nurtured for many years in their solitude. We would come against this attitude continually living on that island.

On November 1, 2007 Wanda was having a quiet time in the dining room when, in an open vision, Jesus walked into the room and revealed a more mature relationship with Him. It shocked her. She had just been praying about being the Bride of Christ like Ruth from the Old Testament when Jesus came. This greatly encouraged all of us. Not long after my father came to visit us at our house. We took him around the various sights and spent some time with him. The day my father was to leave for the west Wanda and I went into a book store before we went to the airport. She walked in and proceeded down a random aisle and selected a random book. The book was about a deceased curler. In the chapter called ‘My Best Delivery’ Wanda found a picture of the face of Jesus staring back at her. The Scripture on the picture was, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. Live on in my love.” John 15:9. This was a confirmation of her earlier vision and that we were in the right place and right season with God. After this my father left and I never saw him again.

As we waited in the little blue house the land purchase continued. We discovered that there was a lot of red tape and bureaucracy surrounding purchases of land by foreigners which we were ignorant about. Any land attached to water, purchased by a ‘foreigner,’ required the potential owner to live on the island for at least 6 months first. Second the land we had selected had a small creek that divided the property into a small lot and a large field. The small lot had a house but the large field did not. There was no access road from the highway to the large field. Bylaws required a bridge to be built to cross from the small lot to the field where the bed and breakfast was to be located. The delays continued but since the Lord had led us to this land and had confirmed His lead we did not feel right about leaving. We have learned that when God’s winds are blowing in a certain direction you need to stay the course. God had not changed His mind about bringing us to this place so we had to stay even with all the delays. It was not rational but it was God’s lead and His lead always trumps our finite limited reasoning.

As the summer faded from view winter began to lock us into this strange land we found ourselves. At times we did not feel like we were still living in Canada. We did not bond with the locals for we were CFAs who were quiet and private people. We did not like the gossip and rural intrigue that the islanders engaged in regularly. One day Maureen, whose husband let us store our belongings in his shed, approached me at the mailbox. She accused us of not being social. We shunned the communal banter yet we were still ‘good’ people. The way she said it made her seem like the heroine for sticking up for us. Later we realized that she gossiped too. It was a disease that affected the islanders much the same way cancer does. The insane way islanders slandered each other with their tongues was foreign to us and decidedly unpleasant.

We spent a good deal of time just being by ourselves reading, studying or being on the computer. We had no internet access so we could not connect with the outside world which was a very good thing. God was drying us out and drawing us to Himself. The only connection we had with the outside was our phone. That was not always positive.

Our extended families had a hard time letting us go. Both Wanda’s mother and my father saw us as little children and refused to let us grow up and mature. They were another reason God had chosen this island for us as it was too far away for their long hands to reach out and take control. That did not mean they didn’t try. The constant stream of phone calls betrayed their fears and frantic attempts to regain control and bring us back into the ‘family fold.’ They didn’t know that God was loosening their grip so we could be dependent on Him.

Hanukah of 2007 was a quiet affair but very enjoyable. After spending so much time away from my family in the last 7 years because of my business I had to reconnect with my daughters and my wife. I had almost lost them in May and I was not about to throw away that most precious of relationships. We spent a good deal of time becoming reacquainted. It was a ‘growing up’ season for all of us. That did not mean it was all smooth sailing but the closeness helped us bond together. God had placed us in this little house so that we could and would be forged together as one unit. He knew that this family unity would be necessary for the road ahead.

[] Chapter 7 – Going Down

Jan. to Dec., 2008 – Bridgetown, P.E.I.

As the tumultuous year that was 2007 passed into our collective memory we faced a new year on the island. We were optimistic that God was going to bring forth His old promise to us that He was going to give us a house. We did not know how that would come about but thought, by some miracle, the land deal would go through and He would provide for us a way to establish a bed and breakfast. It was a naïve presumption but we were yet learning His ways. At least we were obedient to follow His lead that brought us to this place. We were determined to continue to follow Him.

In February, around Ida’s birthday, the idea came to me that our family should visit Israel. It had long been our desire to visit the land of Jesus but the opportunity had not presented itself to us before. Now that we had the funds we decided to make a once in a lifetime trip to the Holy Land. It would be a significant dent in our dwindling supply but we were trusting God for provision. The trip was planned for May of that year.

In March it became more clear to us that the delays in the land purchase were causing us headaches. We could not go forward because of continued issues and we were falling short of the money needed to make the actual purchase. We held on in hope but each day that passed nothing changed for us. There was a great deal of confusion in our minds about what God was doing. We did not realize then that God had brought us into the wilderness season to strip us bare so He could clothe us with Himself. It was the stripping of everything that would entangle us with the world. This would be neither an easy nor pleasant process but we were unaware of this at the time. In our frustration we reached out to a well-known prophetess we had contact with when we lived in Sherwood Park. We asked her for a word from the Lord. The word that came back to us was, “Tell them that was the land but if it doesn’t go through because of ‘human interference’ then the Lord would provide other land.” What we did not know was that the ‘human interference’ was the ‘self’ nature in us that had to go. It was dark speech for the wilderness ahead. What we did understand was that God was promising us land but under different conditions.

As the winter snows melted away we prepared for our trip to Israel. Soon we escaped the island prison we were on and headed overseas. The trip was fantastic and many great memories were created during our two weeks there. Those would be the only fond memories kept from 2007-2011. We came back refreshed. We also brought back mementoes of our trip; pictures, a Canaanite spearhead, coins and other items of immense spiritual value.

When we returned the land deal had reached its final, inevitable conclusion and died. We lost our down payment and other fees we had paid. The seller threatened to sue us if we didn’t purchase but there was little we could do. This bitter pill taught us that the islanders loved to use threats to intimidate each other. Fear reigns supreme on the province of P.E.I. but the islanders have little teeth when it comes to enforcement. When we learned this simple fact it was an important lesson that would remain with us. If we stood up to the threats and bullying the attacker would back down. This scenario repeated itself over and over. Each time we refused to back down we became stronger. Eventually we came to understand this as a spiritual battle and a very basic and important tactic when facing an enemy.

During the summer we were not sure how to proceed regarding the future but we clung to the word of the Lord we had been given. We looked for other land that might be suitable. We found a wonderful place on Mink River Road that was perfect. We engaged a few locals that told us about the land and it seemed a good fit for us. The only problem was that our funds were going down too fast and we did not have the money to purchase the land. We foolishly held on to the hope that God would provide funds for us to buy land on P.E.I. We did not know that God was only using the island as our crucible.

In August we took a trip in our R.V. to Boston. We had a fun time and brought back a few things that we wanted for the house including some nice framed pictures. These purchases would be an issue for us later on. That trip would be our last in the R.V. and our last real vacation.

When we got back from that trip it seemed that our world was becoming darker. Storm clouds of trouble began to appear on our horizon as we marked one year on the island. One day as I was out walking the Lord spoke to me and said, point blank, “You have too much money.” It was a startling and disconcerting word from God. I could not reconcile it with our situation for I still did not understand the wilderness or why God had brought us to this island? He had brought us here to ‘die’ and here I was, like a drowning man, trying to prevent the inevitable. God had closed many doors around us so that there was no opportunity available to rescue ourselves. He alone was to be our deliverer. I was stubborn though and kept some mental red lines. If our money dropped below a certain point, I was going to do whatever it took to keep my family from poverty and destitution. I was incredibly naïve to fight the will of the Lord. I am thankful He was patient with me in dealing with my fear.

With our money now quickly diminishing God began to put the squeeze on us ever tighter. Our landlords, the McDonalds, demanded more money for rent so we agreed to pay the power bill instead. That agreement mollified them for a time. We had been kind to each other and there was no animosity but there were some worrying signs that these people weren’t being entirely honest with us.

School issues were cropping up more frequently as our daughters started their second school year on the island. I could see their spirits wither day by day as they faced the unbridled ‘self’ nature that ran amok amongst the students and teachers. Fanny was more tender than Ida due to her age. One issue that came up in her school was a curriculum item about ethics. The school’s viewpoint was that a non-elected government official had the qualifications to teach my child ethics. I was not about to let that happen and drafted a letter telling them I would not abide by this. The area of teaching morals and ethics was solely the right of the parent and we would not abdicate that role to a government lackey especially when they did not even believe in God. This was not the response the teacher wanted to hear but after a series of exchanges they respected my view. Fanny did not have to sit in the ethics portion of the class.

As this was going on Fanny became more of a pawn in this struggle. The teachers exercised their anger at me towards her. The other students were also targeting her and hurting her in gym class. She would come home bruised. It was a very difficult time for her. Ida too was also having problems. Soon both of our daughters were begging and pleading with us to take them out of school. One night in October we made the final decision to withdraw them from the school system. We went to Ida’s school first and then went to Fanny’s school. We walked into the reception area and announced our intention to withdraw Fanny to the secretary. She looked at us stunned. We didn’t know why. We also talked to the principal as well and told him our intent. We had decided as a family to say we were moving. He too seemed stunned by our action.

The next day we received a nasty letter from the school stating that if we did not tow their line and bring Fanny back into the ethics portion of the class that she would not qualify for marks for any of her classes. Once again the islanders were using threats to get their way. Unfortunately for them God’s perfect timing was with us. By removing Fanny from school before we even received the letter we had stymied their evil plans for us and our daughter. The enemy, satan, was more than miffed at this failure. The principal decided later to play his trump card and called social services on us.

One night Ida had a dream. In this dream she saw a lady in a red rocket that was pointed at our house. It was going to hit our house when it suddenly veered off and was destroyed while we were left unharmed. We did not know what the dream meant at the time but we knew it was a warning from God.

Not long after this we returned home and played back a message on our answering machine. The lady on the other end introduced herself and said she worked for social services. She demanded that we be in her office the very next day. There was no please or ‘would like to meet with you,’ it was a blunt command, clear and curt. Something a bullying mother would say to an errant child. Insulted by the insolent tone we ignored the message and returned to business as usual.

A few days after this call Fanny and I decided to take a drive to the Mink River Road house to do some exploring. Not long after we left a red car pulled up to the house. Two ladies came to the door, one old and one young. Wanda was doing a facial and so had a mud mask on her face when she answered. The lady introduced herself as the social worker who had called and her assistant. At the door this haughty social worker told Wanda that Fanny not being in school was very serious. She also said that we had said we would be moving and had not. Wanda countered that we were looking at homeschooling and at other land to purchase. The social worker was not impressed. With a “Do you not know who I am?” she forced her way into the house followed by her assistant. With this fact now moot Wanda invited her in to chat.

As Wanda and the social worker talked Ida and the young assistant observed. Wanda discussed homeschooling as she had experience with this from Alberta. She also informed this ill-informed social worker that parents have, up until the end of November in any school year, to choose where to send their children which includes home-schooling options. As the conversation became increasingly heated Wanda said the social worker sounded like a ‘glorified truancy officer.’ The old lady did not like this. To add to the growing momentum Wanda showed them the nasty letter we received from the school. In humility the social worker replied that it looked like the school was trying to ostracize Fanny. With all the anger of a mother bear defending her cubs Wanda said angrily, “This is nothing more than island gossip.” The social worker and her assistant left with their tails between their legs saying that there was nothing wrong at our house. About a half hour later Fanny and I came back from our little trip blissfully ignorant of the tempest we had just missed.

Ida’s dream had come true. Even though the enemy had planned great evil against us God had blunted the attack. Wanda stood up to the evil and won. God had once again prepared us to stand in the day of evil and we stood against it by His grace. It would be the first of many great battles on that island. God was training us as He trained David by getting him to fight the lion and bear before he faced the giant.

In the waning days of the year Wanda and I both sought the Lord in prayer and fasting. Wanda did a 40 day fast and mine was 21. We were not given a green light to leave the island permanently but we had funds to go for one last trip. The last trip was to Halifax for my birthday. This was at the time when there was a major economic crisis after Obama had been elected as president of the US. It reflected what we were experiencing in our own lives as we too were haemorrhaging funds. Halifax was our last taste of any freedom. From now on we would be shackled in the prison of poverty and chained to destitution. Hanukah that year was somber.

[] Chapter 8 – Going Faster

Jan. to Dec., 2009 – Bridgetown, P.E.I.

Every morning Wanda would start the day spending personal time with God. It was a refreshing time for her as she sought His face and listened to His voice through His Word. This particularly chilly January morning in early 2009 the Lord was about to fan the flame of their relationship. As I slept soundly in the bed beside her Wanda bent over to reach for one of her favorite devotional books. Her hair came in contact with one of her many candles and in an instant her hair was a mass of flames. I heard the screams of my hot headed wife and in an instant woke up and tackled her with the blankets. The fire was smothered immediately. I uncovered my wife and found much to my relief, with the exception of a small burn on her ear and a loss of a great deal of hair, she was fine. I was in shock and within minutes what had just happened caught up to me emotionally. I sobbed like a baby. God had spared my wife from grievous harm and I was very thankful. Wanda was in shock as well as being scared. The fire could have been much worse but God had protected us. It had been a hairy experience for all of us.

This incident was an indication of what the year 2009 would be like. By February all our money from the sale of our house was gone. Despite all my red lines we could not stop bleeding money. In a panicked state I rushed to Charlottetown to desperately find work but all the doors were closed. I had to admit defeat amidst a chilly winter rain. God had hemmed us in and we could not wiggle out of where He had put us. There was one slight reprieve we could use to somehow prevent the inevitable; our credit card would keep us afloat financially. This was our last line of liquidity.

We had maintained contact with our friends, Neil and Colette from Ontario, for the entire time we had been on the province of P.E.I. One day they let us know of a friend of theirs, named Roxie, who had left her husband and had nowhere to live. We offered her plane tickets for her and her dog so she could come and live in our R.V. for a season. She came in April and stayed with us for 3 weeks. During that time, we celebrated Passover. It would have been a pleasant Passover if Roxie’s pharisaic attitude had not interfered. She accused us of not doing Passover ‘right’ and with her religious attitude increasing each day it killed any fellowship between us. Our kindness was wasted and we had to send her away. We arranged for her to return to Ontario with $1,000 so she would have some funds. She did not comprehend what had gone wrong. It was a stark visual for us of how religion blinds people to their own faults.

The credit money was running out fast so we put the R.V. up for sale. There were no takers. Some people came to look but nothing serious transpired. By July 1 we were out of cash and had to live on our $300 child tax credit each month. There was no more money to pay for rent and power but our landlords did not evict us. It became evident, over time, that they saw us as a fat goose who was ripe for the plucking. Irene McDonald was especially covetous and wanted all of our possessions. She even mentioned that at the first sight of our 2007 Honda Fit car she knew it would be hers. They let us stay as long as we had goods we could give them. For now, however there was peace between us. Angus drove us into town once a month to buy groceries so we could continue to eat.

One day, in early July, Wanda was out for a run. She had her headphones on and was listening to music. She did not notice that an Old World rough border collie was trotting along with her. When she stopped she saw her little friend and petted her. The dog followed her back to the blue house. The poor thing was in real rough shape and looked hungry. We gave it some tuna which it ate up hungrily and our daughters proceeded to clean and brush her mangy coat. She came in to the house and looked at me as if to say, “Please don’t send me away.” Wanda had fallen in love with the dog. The next day a car pulled up, a door opened and the dog was called. She was reluctant to go. Wanda, in tears, spoke to the driver named Willy and asked him if we could keep the dog. He agreed and told us her name was Patches and that she was 8 years old. We now had a dog to feed as well. Only God can orchestrate a wilderness like this. The problem was that I had dog allergies. With the dog now living in the house I began to react terribly. Wanda did a little calling around and was amazed to find a little known herbal remedy called Quercetin that alleviated dog allergies. She drove into Charlottetown and with our last $10 bought some for me. When she came back I took one. Within minutes I stopped sneezing and reacting. I kept taking the pills for a time but when we no longer could afford any more I found I didn’t need it. The allergy was gone. God had cured me for He knew what we would be facing in the near future. It was a miracle to us.

Sometime that summer the government opened an Internet access site where locals could go to get free Internet. It was called the CAP site. It was just down the road from where we lived so our girls took real advantage of the service. After so long with having no contact to the outside world it was a nice break for them.

Another visual parable for our lives appeared in our back yard over the summer. We were never informed that the rental we were in was not suitable for a family of four. The McDonalds carefully omitted that fact as they were anxious to obtain renters. The unintended consequence of that omission was an overloaded septic field in the back yard. Our backyard was nothing but a weedy bunch of dirt anyway but when the septic field continually failed it became a weedy bunch of dirt with sewage. That added touch gave a certain aroma to our ‘field of dreams.’ It attracted some interesting guests namely ravens that came to drink the putrid water. After the sewage came to the surface so did the rumors and gossip. Frankly I think our backyard sewage smelled better.

By September our phone line was disconnected due to lack of payment and the creditors began mailing letters. There was nothing we could do but be quiet and take the hits. The threats took their toll emotionally. The enemy was increasing the pressure and fear to get us to move prematurely from where God had put us. We were determined not to make that mistake and instead we waited.

The parents sent condescending letters and we kept returning them. We were sick of the control and manipulation when my sister threatened us in a letter. She wrote that my father was going to send the RCMP to our door if we didn’t respond. I could handle the letters but the threats were too much. We sent her letter back. We were making it clear we did not want to be bothered or intimidated.

The $300 we used to buy food each month caused severe issues for us as the year wore on. Every one of us felt the hunger pangs as our supplies disappeared. I knew that I had to find an alternate food source. Thankfully, P.E.I. is a province that produces a lot of potatoes and blueberries. One day I was out for a walk and wondered if I could get a few potatoes for us to eat. Sure enough there was a field nearby that had just been harvested and I was able to get an armful of potatoes to bring home. I was positively giddy when I brought this bounty to my family. For the first time in days we were able to eat a substantial meal. It was clear to me that we needed to go back to get more if we wanted to stay fed.

It had been a particularly wet fall so some of the fields had spots where the harvesting equipment could not go. The farmer would just leave these areas unharvested and the potatoes would rot. We found these areas and surreptitiously gleaned what we could. One field we gleaned was located below a rise that protected us from the view of a nearby house. God had indeed “prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies.” We pulled well over 1,500 pounds of potatoes out of the ground to feed ourselves for the winter. It was not much but when we had nothing else to eat we were thankful for the humble spud.

By November we were definitely in a sorry state. We could not sell the R.V. for money so Angus agreed to take it from us in lieu of rent. We assumed this would be more than enough compensation. We also gave the landlords a large beautiful aquarium, my hand built oak worktable and all the items we had in storage. With this decided we arranged for a day to have Angus retrieve the R.V.

On November 20 I had a very significant dream from the Lord. In this dream I walked up to a church. When I walked in there were 4 ladies at tables that were all in a row. The ladies were handing out bulletins for the service. The first lady ignored me but the next one gave me a bulletin. I walked past them and into the sanctuary. There was no one there but one man who was familiar to me. He came up to me, very friendly, and said these words to me. “Homer, God is going to lead you into the valley of despair; (long pause) but then He will lead you out.” There was a Selah pause between the word ‘despair’ and the word ‘but.’ After this He gave me a hug. I awoke pondering this significant dream. I did not fully understand it but I did not have long to wait for its interpretation.

In our front entryway we had 4 bird cages with our four ‘ladies.’ Cordi our beloved black capped conure was closest to our bedroom. Next was Colors Fanny’s lovebird. Then there was Destiny our quaker. Finally, closest to the door was Lennie-girl who was Ida’s Senegal parrot. We loved these birds. On this day we would face something we had not seen so far in our journey and it was going to be the pall of death.

In the afternoon Angus came by to pick up the R.V. so I went outside to help. When I came back to the house I saw Cordi on the ground outside by the door. She was never outside so I picked her up and took her in. It was obvious that something had happened but I did not know what. As I held her in my hand and looked into her eyes she passed away. We were in shock and disbelief. Cordi was our favorite little bird and the most colorful of all. Now she was gone. We wrapped her little body in cloth with myrrh from Jerusalem and buried her on the land we had originally wanted to purchase. It had been a hard day losing the R.V. but to lose Cordi was devastating. This started 3 months of intense grief that hit us all hard. Wanda was inconsolable. It was the beginning of a number of tragedies that seemed unending. God was preparing us for the rough road ahead. My dream was coming to pass.

That Hanukah our daughters received some money that they did not tell us about. They arranged circumstances so that we could have at least the semblance of a celebration. The grief over Cordi’s death still hung like a shroud over all of us but we were thankful for the kindness of our daughters to lift our family spirits.

The year ended on a dark note much as it had begun. We were much poorer now and trapped in a cycle of poverty that kept getting worse. Had it not been for God and His Word I am sure we would have collapsed under the weight. By giving me the dream He was telling us what was ahead and it would not be easy. We thought we were having a difficult time of it then. We didn’t realize that we were only just starting our sojourn into the depths of despair.

[] Chapter 9 – It’s About Death

Jan. to Dec., 2010 – Bridgetown, P.E.I.

The head of the year brought no change to our situation. Our high hopes of being delivered had been crushed by the steady grind of poverty and destitution. It was a slow death that we did not understand and struggled with. The days blended into one another and everything became indistinguishable with the odd highlight of more misery. One day we woke up to find Fanny’s pet lovebird Colors had died of natural causes. Fanny’s grief was palpable. She hated ‘this stinking island’ and spent a good deal of time crying over her loss. We felt her pain but were powerless to help. We buried Colors next to Cordi.

I took long walks to escape the confines of that sad blue house that had become our prison. God would talk, comfort and teach me on these walks. I began to understand a little of what He was doing. I was still woefully unprepared for what lay ahead. The potatoes we had harvested in the fall had begun to run out by that spring and we had to wait for the next fall to dig more. Until that time, we needed to eat so when we went into town each month we tried to use our $300 to buy as much baking supplies as we could. One month we hit on the bright idea of buying nothing but ramen noodles. We ate those noodles for a month just like college kids. I add the disclaimer, “Do not try this at home.” Just don’t. That month we were sicker than we had ever been on the island.

One day we found a black cat around our house. We fed it and soon it became our pet. We named our cat Angel and we all fell hopelessly in love with her. Unfortunately Angel was not spayed and soon had kittens. There were two kittens from that litter, Obie and Satine. We had the distinct displeasure to discover that there was something wrong with Obie and he did not feed. We had to watch him die slowly. It was another terrible blow to our already grieving family. Thankfully Satine grew healthy and strong and we loved her as much as Angel. Her favorite place to sleep was on the pillows of our bed right between Wanda and myself.

Summer was a pleasant time as we could be outside and escape the confines of being stuck indoors all winter. Wanda and I took a long bike ride to the beach one day. As we returned we saw a huge cross in the sky. It was an ominous sign. Fanny’s birthday was coming up and we decided that we should get her a puppy for her birthday. We had seen a sign on one of our bike trips that advertised a free black lab puppy. We stopped by to inquire. It turns out this ‘puppy’ was 7 months old, full grown, had the power of a locomotive, very energetic and hopelessly wilful. We didn’t know all these things at the time so we decided to take the ‘puppy’ we called Milo. Fanny was overjoyed at her new pet but Milo proved to be a bigger handful than any of us expected.

Angel also brought us new additions to our family. She had another litter with 8 kittens. We could not give these kittens away as they provided much needed comfort and joy to our household when we desperately needed joy. They had so much fun playing we would forget what misery we were living in. Our daughters really bonded with our cat family as they had no other friends.

Not long after we got Milo we soon found out he could run and run he did. We would walk on the land while Patches and Milo chased chipmunks and squirrels. I had never seen a dog put on as much speed as Milo did when chasing something. It was fun to watch and then see him tired out after a long walk. That all changed when one day Satine was let out of the house. As soon as Milo saw her he gave chase and she was hit by a car. Our little ball of fluff was gone and once again we were devastated. We buried her next to Cordi and Colors along with our hearts in our little makeshift graveyard. Her loss was a tremendous blow to us. We could not understand what God was doing.

One morning I had a dream. In this dream I was in a classroom and trying to listen to someone but in the background there was an organ playing. The organ music kept getting louder and louder and I could barely hear myself think. Finally, the organ music stopped and I heard, “It’s about death.” With that the dream ended. I began to have a glimmer of understanding about what God was doing with us. I did not have complete understanding at that time but this is what the Lord was trying to teach us.

In the wild sometimes a raptor will lay two eggs in a nest. The first chick to hatch is by right the one the parents will feed and care for first. In some instances, if there is not much food available, the eldest chick may prevent the younger chick from eating or kill it outright. It is a harsh reality but also a valuable lesson. Inside of each person, at the very core of their being, we learn through life that there is a spirit nature and a sin or ‘self’ nature. These two are like the chicks constantly at war with each other. One must live and one must die. Whatever nature gets fed will live and whatever nature starves will die. Simple.

We discovered that if we fed our spirit nature our ‘self’ nature would begin to die and if we fed our ‘self’ nature our spirit would begin to die. We learned that spirit reflected the spirit of God with love, peace, gentleness, self-control, etc. while ‘self’ reflected everything bad like selfishness, lust, greed, gossip, etc. One had to die. The problem lay in what we understood ‘self’ to be.

We were born with the ‘self’ nature and we thought that ‘self’ was our entire being and our entire being was ‘self.’ God taught us that this scenario was not the case and that the ‘self’ nature was a distinct part of our being that could be destroyed. It took a very long time for us to understand this and many times it looked like God had given satan the power to kill us. The reality was God had set up clear boundaries for satan like He did when He put limits on the sea. Job 38:11 “And said, ‘This far you shall come, but no farther; And here your proud waves shall stop’?” God used satan to test us and purge the ‘self’ nature out of us but satan had no power to physically harm or destroy us even though he tried. Through satan’s attempts to destroy us we saw our own ‘self’ and repented of it. Each act of repentance weakened our ‘self’ nature further and further as our spirit nature grew. This is why God told us it was about death.

After this revelation we began to purge from our belongings everything that represented idols to us or things that would encourage our ‘self’ nature. It was a long process and one night after throwing out what we thought was a great deal of stuff God looked at it and said to me, “Well there’s more good than bad.” With that ‘less than glowing’ report we went back and purged even more until He was satisfied we had made a solid effort in getting rid of anything that would promote our ‘self’ nature. After this I started packing up all of our belongings. I had foolishly thought God would begin moving us soon. It turned out to be a year early to the chagrin of my wife Wanda.

The extended family escalated the pressure on us in the fall of 2010. As we had no phone my father began calling all of our neighbors to obtain any information on us. We discovered this later and were humiliated by his fear mongering and willingness to expose us to the gossip and rumor mill. We were not thrilled with the family interference. We held our ground against this assault and stayed quietly indoors as the winter weather came.

The neighbors were not happy with us because of Milo either. He was a large active dog and chewed the rubber bumpers off of our neighbor’s boat. We could do nothing to repay him but his attitude towards us was not encouraging us to try harder either. The other neighbors were cool as well. We had become a stink and an object of fascination for the gossip and rumor hungry islanders. We could do little as they stared at us.

Hungry days became more common as the potatoes we gathered ran out and before we could retrieve more. Our $300 wasn’t providing much and the time we couldn’t eat at the end of each month kept getting longer. We were being trained to accept lack.

In December we finally gave our car to the McDonalds in lieu of rent. We had bought the car new in December of 2006 and now we just gave it away. Their response was devoid of gratitude. We had only driven the car for 2 years and as it was a Honda Fit it held its value. The McDonalds had gotten far more from our goods than they ever would from rent and yet Irene still wanted more. One day she didn’t even try to hide her greed and wanted to see our extensive movie collection. In our hearts there was a resolve stirring up that Angus and Irene would get no more of our possessions.

That same year also brought our first entanglement with the province of P.E.I. tax collectors. The neighbors that had been kind to offer us their shed to store our goods, when we first arrived, turned bitter on us. They were provoked to call government and report us for not paying tax on some items we had purchased in Boston in 2008. The P.E.I. provincial government expected every citizen to report all of their off island purchases so that they could collect taxes on all those goods. We had not been aware of this obscure law so we did not report our purchase. A registered letter was delivered saying a judgement had been rendered against us. We were incensed at their complete violation of privacy and demands for more money. Once again we stood up to the bullying. Like always they had no teeth to enforce and nothing happened.

The last act of 2010 was wholly unexpected. We were quite used to the pressure being exerted on us now. That did not mean we enjoyed it or liked it. We had simply adjusted to the island and the evil wickedness that lived there both spiritually and physically. There were some nice people to be sure and we met some but overall it was, and is, a very wicked and dark place. However, what came at us next did not originate from the island but from our own families. Wanda’s mother decided enough was enough and called the police on us. That had never happened to us before so when we answered the door and found the police there we were shocked to say the least. It was to be the first of our many encounters with the police. People would continually try to use our national police force, the RCMP, as a club to beat us into doing their will. It never worked. Thankfully the lady officer we met that day was kind and understanding. After making sure everything was alright she left.

2010 turned into a very difficult year for us. With the theme of death all around us we were facing unprecedented pressure. Somehow this did not break us but simply emboldened our resolve to not give in. God had brought us here by His Almighty hand. We had waited through the loss of pets and our worldly belongings. There was no way we were going to quit now.

[] Chapter 10 – Dreams

Jan. to Apr., 2011 – Bridgetown, P.E.I.

As 2010 slid into 2011 we did not notice. The weather outside was cold and miserable as the snow drifts piled up against the house. Our situation continued to deteriorate even further as our food ran out way before the end of each month and our cooking appliances began failing. Hunger gnawed away at us increasing our misery but the antics of our pets helped cheer us somewhat. The monotony of poverty ground down our souls with relentless determination. If satan couldn’t destroy us he was committed to making our lives a living hell. Thankfully God blunted those attacks by speaking with us and giving us dreams. The dreams did not get us out of our poverty but it was God’s way of muscling past our rational mind to speak to our spirit. God had never promised He would get us out of our difficulties, He said He would be with us through them. He was. We needed the dreams from God for nothing of what we were going through made any sense and confused us.

As we followed God we discovered that quite frequently His lead offended our ‘self’ nature. It offended natural and rational thought. When that happened the steps of faith we took looked reckless and foolish to others and confused them. At the same time however God would prove that He led us as He provided for us with His perfect timing. We saw this time after time. Our extended families were offended at what we had done in faith and were now frantic as they tried to stop us. Now we do not advise anyone to break away from family, as we did, without the lead of God. It would be foolish to do so. God however gave us clear direction and provided us clear spiritual insight into why breaking away from family had to happen.

On January 30, 2009 Wanda had a very severe incident where her hair caught on fire and nearly caused her great harm but did not. In November of 2009 Wanda had a very significant dream from God. In this dream she saw our neighbor, Robin, coming to our house to bite and devour her. In the dream I told her to “Lock the door!” It was a very significant dream for Wanda as it felt so real. What stunned her was the ferocity of the attack and my forceful comment. I knew that this was the Lord telling Wanda to lock the door to her own mother who was also called Robin.

On January 30, 2010 I had a significant dream about Wanda’s mother, Robin. In this dream our family, along with Robin and her second husband Jeeves, were walking along a cliff when Robin turned and walked to the left. The rest of us continued on. We had to pass through a restricted area on the back of a donkey to get to a taxi. Once we were in the taxi and drove off I spotted Robin. I demanded the taxi driver stop for Robin but he did not. The taxi driver in this dream was the Holy Spirit indicating He had left Robin.

On January 30, 2011 we had a very interesting encounter with the landlady. Robin, Wanda’s mother, apparently had gotten her grandson Trent, a policeman, to illegally check into police records to find that we no longer had any vehicles in our possession. With this acquired information, Robin somehow managed from Alberta to find out who our landlords were and their phone number. Robin contacted them to put pressure on Irene to get Wanda to accept the offer of airplane tickets back west. There was of course no thought for our beloved pets. When Irene came over that day to put into play their plan she was condescending to Wanda just like Robin had been. The problem was that we knew Irene was covetous and just wanted our possessions. She even admitted to Wanda that life was “only about what you can get.” With this in mind Wanda easily refused this “tempting offer to renounce her faith.” It was clear to us that Wanda’s mother was no longer walking with God and was now at cross purposes with our walk of faith.

On my side I had a very distinct dream about my father as well. In this dream we were living in the blue house. My father was a photographer and had taken many pictures of us without permission. I was quite angry and told him that the pictures needed to be destroyed. The blue house was caving in and we managed to crawl out only through a small hole in the foundation. This dream told me that my father was only an observer to our lives. He did not really want relationship but only wanted to know what was going on. I knew then that God wanted me to disconnect from this relationship that was only masquerading as a relationship.

Soon my father pulled the same stunt as Robin and called the police as well. However, his tactic was completely different. My father told the police that I was suicidal and they needed to check on us immediately. The police dutifully arrived and found me in perfect health. Surprise; surprise. In talking with the officers I found the reason for the visit. Since the nature of the visit had been conveyed to them as being very urgent I asked when they would report back to my father. The police were told that they could get back to him ‘whenever.’ We all realized that this was just another ploy to check up on us to collect unwarranted information.

God was weaning us from extended family. Matthew 10:35-36 was being fulfilled in our lives. “For I have come to part asunder a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a newly married wife from her mother-in-law—and a man’s foes will be they of his own household.”

We had other dreams besides the warning dreams that encouraged us. In January Wanda had a significant dream where she was introduced to God the Father. He talked with her a bit and took her to His car. It was a simple functional car and not ostentatious. Wanda and Patches rode in the back seat. Wanda received the impression that Patches, although our dog on the earth, belonged to the Father. In another significant dream Wanda saw God the Father for a second time. He was conversing about how His heart had been broken over His wife’s betrayal and He was ‘out in the cold’ during the winter months with no home. Both were very powerful vivid dreams. In the language of the Spirit God the Father was letting us know He was with us in our very difficult time. We were in God’s perfect will.

As the winter months passed and spring warmth came back so did our problems with the next door neighbors. Our dogs had been a constant sore spot with them and they eventually called the animal control officer on us. Ostensibly, I suppose, to have our pets removed. Unfortunately for them the officer that came to the house was sympathetic to our plight. After talking at length with us and seeing that we loved our animals very much he left. A few days later he returned but this time he gave us many large bags of dog food from the animal shelter. Even if we could not eat all the time at least our pets ate. What our neighbors had planned for evil God had turned to good.

The neighbor still was not happy. He began constructing a large fence between the properties. I think it may be because our backyard had become a stinking cesspool from the failed septic field; I could be wrong. In his haste to build the fence it looked to us as if he put the fence too far over onto the rental property. We warned our landlords and they came over to check things out. Sure enough the fence line was over too far and caused a great deal of consternation with our neighbors. We began to stink even more than our back yard, which we didn’t even think was possible. So far the year was off to a fine start.

[] Chapter 11 – Powerless

May to June, 2011 – Bridgetown, P.E.I.

As May of 2011 rolled in, we had little left of anything. We were all hungry and even our pets were going hungry. At one point, rambunctious Milo was bumping Patches as she walked about and it looked like she was having problems. Wanda was in tears for her beloved dog so she walked over to the McDonalds to ask if we could get a $20 advance on our child tax credit to purchase dog food. Angus seemed nervous and Irene was not agreeable. Through the conversation the landlords made some odd comments about the power at the blue house. We had not been able to pay the power bill, which was always in the landlord’s name, for a long time and had given it back to them to pay. When we had given them the car, in December of 2010, we did so with the explicit instructions for them to sell it so they would have money for rent and power. They did not sell the car and instead the power bill was falling into arrears. No discussion or attempt was ever made to openly rectify these arrears.

Now in this little blue house power was everything. Without power there was no heat or water. By making the comments they did, the landlords had inadvertently tipped their hand and had allowed us to stockpile water if the power was cut. Once again God’s timing was going before us to checkmate the plans of the enemy to destroy us. We stockpiled as much water as we could after that.

By this time, we had been hungry for so many days we lost count. Since we had missed Passover in April, we decided to have one last big Passover celebration one month later in May. It would be our last on the island. We made plans for a big dinner and to record the celebration on video. We knew very well that we would go hungry not many days later but after so many days of hunger we did not care. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken and I made a wonderful Mexican lasagna. We all dressed in our best clothes and had a wonderful time. It would be our last real meal in the blue house.

Sure enough the hunger started not long after. We would go 21 days straight without any food at all. We did, however, still try and feed our pets. In the estuary, just behind the house, were mussel beds we dug up. We shucked, boiled and gave these shellfish to the cats and dogs. It wasn’t much but at least they didn’t starve. The involuntary fast we were under made it hard to dig. At one point, after digging for a protracted period of time, I stood up and nearly passed out. I saw beautiful colored lights and almost fell over. This surreal experience was made all the more pleasurable by our sadistic neighbor who came down to stare at us and make snide cutting remarks. We concluded that it fell somewhat short of loving support for our situation.

Our failing food situation was the topic for gossip and rumors. Soon enough social services turned up at our house one day. It was a tremendous shock for our family. The pressure was escalating. Social services were called to ‘check’ the situation and see if Fanny was being ‘abused.’ The enemy’s intention was to have Fanny removed from our home and split our family apart. Since she was only 15, this was legally possible. Her underage status was invoked to force us to capitulate to their system. Of course she wasn’t being abused but they wanted to speak to her alone which they did. Fanny must have impressed them. They left soon after seeing nothing wrong except that we were very poor. Social services were not finished with their intrusions.

The pressure continued to build. On June 15 we were engaged in our normal daily routine in the little blue house when suddenly the whole house went dark. The landlords had arranged to have the power cut. There was nothing we could do. Our misery and suffering had entered a new phase as the deprivation increased. Surprisingly this was a blessing from God. Had this not happened we would not have been properly prepared for the climax that satan had planned for us. Sometimes God, in His mercy, gives us hard things but they are to ease us into even harder situations. This gradual approach conditions us without breaking us.

Not having power in the house was difficult as the nights were still somewhat chilly. The cats also were causing health issues as we couldn’t vacuum. The carpets had to go. We had spent $10,000, when we first arrived on P.E.I., to make the blue house liveable. I was determined that this bonus would not benefit the landlords, to whom we had already given many of our expensive belongings, and had yet left us without power. I began to systematically remove all the fixtures in the house and pull the carpets. We removed the furniture as well. None of these items were of use to us now. As the piles outside the house started to grow, we carefully sorted it between what we wanted to throw out and what we wanted to donate. Soon everyone was enthusiastically purging. We were determined not to give our greedy, lying landlords any more of our belongings so the destruction continued. It was therapeutic after 4 long years of living in that prison that we were so desperate to leave.

If the neighbors thought we were less than normal when we first arrived on the island, now they thought us certifiable. Their concern was understandable for we were destroying all our worldly goods that they themselves worshipped. After all, according to our landlady, it was ‘only about what you can get’ so their concern was heartfelt and sincere. Being such a loving, kind group of people they did the only thing a normal, rational person would do in such a situation; they called the police. When the police arrived they asked us what we were doing. I mean it wasn’t completely obvious by all the piles of garbage littering our entire front yard with our belongings. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Since destroying and disposing of one’s belongings doesn’t exactly violate any laws on P.E.I. there was little they could do. I bade them a swift goodbye.

We gave away our working fridge and freezer to Habitat for Humanity to sell for it still worked but we had little use for it now. The rest of what we had, that was still valuable, we gave to a neighbor that did not act like the other locals. When Derek and his wife saw we were in trouble they came over and gave us a little food. We struck up a friendship and we offered them some of our goods. We turned over our entire DVD collection of 2,000 handpicked movies and documentaries to them for $100. It was satisfying to know that the movies would not go to Irene McDonald. With the money we received we were able to buy some much needed supplies and medicine. Derek even allowed us to use his water. This was the only supply of potable water available to us. With it we drank and used the remainder to flush the toilet. It was a messy, hard business hauling water but again it was a blessing to prepare us for what was ahead. Finally, Derek allowed me to use the power in his shed so I could plug in my machine to get Ventolin. As a severe asthmatic, I had a few narrow escapes on the island. I needed the masks to keep me breathing in the dirt and dust infested, powerless house we now called home. That power saved my life more than a few times.

During this period a kindly neighbor did make a meal one day and gave it to us much to our delight and thankfulness. Just after we had eaten this special meal social services people came back to check on us and our food situation. They had received a complaint regarding Fanny. We were again shocked and angry at this intrusion into our lives. I shouted for them to get off the property. I had more than enough of their bullying tactics. I am normally a quiet man but my ire had been raised by this constant bullying by various government officials. It was not a pleasant confrontation. Before they left they threatened that if we took Fanny off the island they would issue a Canada-wide alert for her. It was another vacuous threat from a vacuous government official that we had learned to stand up to. Once again God’s timing thwarted satan’s plans.

By the end of June, we had massive piles of our garbage sitting all around our front yard as we sat in the dark powerless house cooking cold hot dogs over a single candle. If this had been a vacation I think I would have asked for my money back.

[] Chapter 12 – With Friends Like These

Jul. to Aug., 2011 – From Bridgetown, P.E.I. to the cabin

There was a gazebo in the park beside our little blue rental house. We spent many, many hours at this gazebo over the years as we had no place to relax outdoors at our rental. The front yard was a parking lot and our backyard was a mass of dirt, slime and filth. When the power to the rental was cut the gazebo became the only place for us to congregate. We needed fresh, clean air and sunlight. The house had become a cave that was dark and foreboding plus we had cats that liked to hunt and attack us in the dark.

We were at the gazebo one day early in July when we noticed that someone had left a bowl of dog food. Our dogs loved it and ate the bounty with gusto. We were thankful for the provision. When it happened a second time we were also grateful. However, we found out from another neighbor, this manna wasn’t coming from God. An old man, who sat on his porch and watched everything in Bridgetown, saw what was going on. For some strange reason he didn’t believe we were nut cases ready for the funny farm. He came over to talk to us to let us know what was happening. Apparently a girl at the end of the street, whom we had befriended over our mutual love of cats, was coming to the gazebo and leaving the dog food. Before we were able to celebrate this act of kindness, the old man cautioned us. The food was not given altruistically but had a sinister motive. Apparently this young darling of the island had determined that we were thieves of the worst kind that had stolen her cat. She felt it was her God given right to administer justice by stealing and killing one of our dogs in retribution. It was this kind of underhanded scheming and mental instability that had us wondering about the severe in-breeding on the island. The old man had seen her try to tempt Patches and Milo away from us with hot dogs in her pockets. Fortunately, our dogs had just a wee bit more sense than to follow this inbred, morally bankrupt, pet assassin. When the old man had seen what she was doing he called her on it and she ran away. Each day these islanders were getting about as appealing to us as a bag of week old donuts.

Our dead belongings that sat in unkempt piles across our yard also brought out vultures of another sort. One poor fellow came by and started looking through our obvious piles of trash. I approached him and asked if I could help. He said that he thought we were having a yard sale. I had to inform him that, sadly, that wasn’t the case. Sometimes we found that some islanders really struggled getting that second digit in their IQ.

Dealing in garbage was an island specialty. There were a number of people that would search out all sorts of scrap to sell to recyclers. They would come by and sit in their cars across the road from the blue house. You could see them eyeing our scraps making mental notes of how much weight there was in the piles of metal, glass, wood and plastic that they could convert into cash. One of these vultures was our landlord’s son-in-law. Even as the corpse of our belongings lay rotting in the hot July sun, they were still trying to find ways to make money off of our stuff.

One day Angus came by and with his best smile said, “What have we here?” knowing full well that we hadn’t had power for over a month. Not once did our landlords come to check on us and see if we needed water or anything else during that time. Needless to say we were less than cordial at this visit. The fact that we knew his son had been reporting back to the family about our wanton destruction of the goods Irene coveted, belied his apparent surprise at what he found. Angus told us that the power bill had been paid and that the power could be restored. It was of little use now as we had emptied the house of the vast majority of our goods. Since Angus drove up in our former car, that told us that they had not sold the car. We wondered where they obtained the cash for the power bill? Wanda and I both suspected that they had milked the family for money and had received it. Now that they had the money ‘all was right with the world’ but the damage had been done. Their lying and greed had been blown wide open for us to see. Wanda called Angus a lying and deceiving landlord. That threw him into a rage and he tried to follow us into the house. When he tried to barge his way in I blocked him. There was a tussle with the door and the true Angus came out. Calling me ‘boy’ and threatening me was his last resort. When I resisted he just left.

It had been an eventful month so far and we wondered what other goodies satan might throw at us. We were shell shocked at the violent words, government interference, gossip and unkindness of so many people towards us. Some really hated us and this was not a normal hate. It truly was off the scale. One day a strange truck with two ladies inside drove up to the house while we watched from the gazebo. We were not eager to talk to more strangers. One lady got out and knocked on the front door of the house and then went to the back door. We watched in silence. Wanda screwed up the courage to find out what they wanted. I joined her after a few moments.

The lady, Laverne, told us that they were part of a prayer group that had been praying for more of God. Their group helped the poor so when they heard about us they came to bring us food. I declined their offer of charity for I found that charity was way too expensive. We had discovered that when people gave us ‘charity’ there was often a significant price tag because of the conditions attached. Usually they expected us to change our behavior or accept some egregious offer that would have submarined our walk of faith. I was not impressed with the ‘charity’ we had seen on the island and did not want more. A gift is not a gift if there are conditions attached. I refused what she was offering. This surprised her but after speaking with Wanda for a bit she went to the truck and told her friend, Crystal, that “These people know and love God”. Laverne came back and insisted Wanda accept a card which Wanda did. When they left we found that the card contained $60 and Laverne’s contact information. We managed to buy some food with the money we received.

Later, after talking with Wanda at length, we felt that God was in this connection. We decided to call Laverne. Laverne and her friend Crystal came by and that started a friendship that would change our time on P.E.I. completely. They bought us food and brought over a much needed propane barbecue. I was able to use the living room to cook cans of somewhat edible processed food on the barbecue. That went well until an overzealous flame decided to redecorate the ceiling one day. After that I limited all open flame cooking exercises to the outdoors. Wanda was relieved.

Laverne helped us dispose of our garbage from the front yard by helping me take it to the dump. It cost us $100 to unload all of the scrap but at least the yard was no longer an eyesore. Although it had given me much pleasure vexing the vanity of the locals, all good things must come to an end sometime. I rested peacefully in the knowledge that God had allowed me to thwart Irene McDonalds’s plans to take all our possessions. Irene was apparently angry, however, that she was ‘robbed’ of the money that would have come from the sale of the scrap. That gave us warm fuzzies inside. I was not entirely cruel to Irene though. I did leave her with one of our movies. It was called ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’.

Crystal and Laverne continued to provide us with moral and physical support as much as they could. Their friendship meant a lot to us and we all enjoyed the long conversations about God. We had learned much during our time in the wilderness so far and were eager to share our spiritual revelations. They had prayed for more of God and we were God’s answer to them. I would advise anyone who reads this account to be careful what you pray for. God may just answer those prayers but not the way you expect.

Since these two ladies had been so kind to us and had given us so much relief we wanted to return the kindness. We had not much to offer but I was a good cook. I thought it would be a good idea for us to prepare a Mediterranean dinner, complete with homemade hummus and pita. The date was arranged for the evening of August 10 with them and their spouses present.

On August 9 we sat out at the gazebo, as we usually did, when a car pulled up and an Asian couple came out. Since they weren’t obviously islanders we greeted them. The man’s name was Chang Lee and he was a businessman from Taiwan. He was with the Lions Club and would take long bike trips to raise money for the club. He had done a bike tour across all of Canada the year prior and had medals made of his accomplishment. He beamed with pride. Chang was taking his wife on a tour of where he had been which happened to pass right in front of our house. He was excited to tell us all about the trip and we were eager to hear. His wife took many pictures of us which he sent to us later. He even gave Wanda and I each one of his medals with the Lions Club symbol on it. His exact words were, “Homer and Wanda, lions.” That moment will stand out for me as the one moment when God confirmed us on our journey and what we had become. He used a Taiwanese businessman from halfway around the world to bless us. That day was extra special for it was to be our last day living in the powerless little blue house.

The next day we went to Crystal’s place to cook up an amazing Mediterranean dinner. All of the prayer group and their spouses attended. The meal turned out wonderfully and we were tired after all the work. We did not know at the time but this was to be our Last Supper before our crucifixion. We sat at the table with ones who would betray and crucify us but we did not know it then. That was probably for the best. When the dinner was over Gavin, Crystal’s husband, did not want us going back to the dark powerless house we lived in so he offered us the use of his cabin. We readily accepted. It was a pleasant night. We slept in warm beds and had power, running water and a fireplace. We greatly appreciated those luxuries after being without them for so long.

The cabin was a wonderful hideaway far from the road and near the ocean. We had a wonderful view there. The next day Gavin told us we could stay there for a period of time. We were grateful for the kindness and accepted the offer. We did not realize then the significance of what we found in the cabin. There was a book about Hitler, pictures of wolves above the bedrooms, a sword on the wall and Gavin’s family emblem with a sheep being slaughtered which was on a plaque above the kitchen sink. All these mementos should probably have given us more cause for concern than they did at the time.

Every few days we would go back to the house to change the cat litter with dirt from the back yard and make sure the cats had food and play time. About a week after we were in the cabin, we went back to the house. We were not there long when the police and the McDonalds pulled up. They had obviously had arranged for this and had the policeman in their back pocket. The officer spoke very rudely to me and accused us of refusing to pay rent which was not true. I countered that lie with the truth that we had paid rent and when our money ran out we paid with goods and services which included the R.V. and car. This did not fit into his narrative so basically it devolved into a shouting match between us. I dared the landlords to evict us which they agreed to do. In doing so they had to, by law, give us time to get our belongings out. The eviction was set for some time in September. That was the last we saw of the McDonalds.

[] Chapter 13 – The Gathering Storm

Sept. to Oct. 8, 2011 – The cabin

Our time at the little cabin by the sea, hidden away from the world, was a marked change from years of being trapped in the blue house. Coming from a dark, dank, miserable hovel to a clean bright cabin lifted our spirits. We thought, erroneously, that this was finally the leading out that God had promised to me in my dream of November 20, 2009. The encouragement we felt enabled us to relax for a time and enjoy P.E.I. for a short season. The island really does have some magnificent natural beauty but the inhabitants completely spoiled it for us. Being away from the fish bowl and warzone that had become our blue house allowed us to relax. We were able to spend a little time on the water on a paddle boat and to sit on the beach. That went a long way to help bring down our over the top stress levels.

While we were at the cabin, we still continued to meet and talk with Crystal, Laverne and the rest of the prayer group. We shared our testimony about how God had led us and taught us thus far on the journey. We held nothing back and could see that our faith walk certainly made the people we met feel uncomfortable. Most of the people in the prayer group went to nearby Kingsboro Baptist Church. It was early in the spring of 2011 when a few of them, along with a former senior pastor, met together for prayer in the same cabin we were living. At that time they prayed for more of God and God had answered their prayers by sending us. Unfortunately for them they did not recognize their ‘hour of visitation.’ This destitute family from out west, whom God had chosen to testify about His message of faith, was not what they were expecting. The fact that our family had caused such a stink on the island offended their vanity. It would not be long before their pride surfaced and they would begin to reason contrary to the truth. Their faith was very shallow.

One man named Andrew, who was a deacon at Kingsboro Baptist, initially had been respectful but his religious heart became increasingly offended at our testimony. He finally turned against us and began to gossip and spread false rumors. Apparently the qualifications for being a deacon from 1 Tim. 3:8-13 had changed and we weren’t notified. Throughout our journey we were continually amazed at how God would prick people’s pride, vanity, greed and lust many times over. It appeared that we were a sword in the Lord’s hand. This was a theme we would witness frequently as God shook their pride and inhumanness.

Gavin, our host, was a funeral director who owned a funeral home in nearby Souris. Gavin was committed to putting the ‘fun’ back into funerals. He was a closet alcoholic who was kind on the surface but deep inside, his spirit was as dead as his clientele. He would visit us on occasion and talk but it became clear he was a man who had a very shallow outlook on life. When we would talk about faith, there was no connection. Of course he was ‘concerned’ about us, which we quickly interpreted as ‘I have an agenda for you and you will follow it.’ We heard that euphemism often. One day as we chatted with Gavin, he began to reveal his hand that he wanted us to get ourselves out of the pit God had put us in. He quoted what he thought was Scripture, “God helps those who help themselves.” It was clear that Gavin was not a man of the Word for I challenged him to show me that ‘verse.’ Of course he could not. What he thought was Scripture was actually a quote by Ben Franklin.

What we discovered was not many people on the island actually read the Word of God they supposedly followed. Mr. Franklin’s words came from the pit of hell and they are not Scripture. Unfortunately, the lie he promoted is a cornerstone of belief embraced around the world. In fact, the dependence on ‘self,’ instead of on God, is rebuked in His Word. Believers are called to live a life of faith trusting God and not themselves or others. However, ‘self’ reliance is so ingrained in our society and religion, that any challenger must be systematically destroyed. What Gavin was asking us to do was completely antithetical to how God had led us so far. A battle of values was brewing.

As circumstances began to deteriorate around us, ominous clouds began building in the spirit. I had dreams and visions that scared me. At one point I saw the Father and Son hiding behind a hedgerow near the cabin and they ducked down out of sight. I also had a terrifying dream of a massive explosion on a yacht where we narrowly escaped death. Laverne, who had a prophetic gift, also had some warning visions. In one vision she saw all 4 of us as 4 cups being served up on a silver platter. In another she heard the word “The fire will get 7 times hotter.” Finally, in another she saw an old man facing a dark room which she interpreted as Gavin. He was being pulled up by the hair with the words, “To him who has shown no mercy will no mercy be shown,” (James 2:13). It was not looking good for us.

Eventually the time came in September when our eviction was due. The night before, Crystal drove down the body wagon from the funeral home and we loaded up the last of our boxes and cats to bring them to the cabin. The cats were not allowed into the cabin and so were put in the shed. Our two birds along with our dogs were in the cabin where it was warm. The rest of our possessions were piled inside and outside under the awning of the porch. This put an added burden on our hosts as it looked like we were moving in. The truth was we never unpacked nor did we expect to stay. Both Crystal and Gavin started talking about how they had to start getting the cabin ready for winter. It was their way of saying they wanted us out and their cabin back. It is worth mentioning that this couple also owned another home in Souris that was heated, furnished and vacant at this time.

We knew that our situation was spiralling out of control but we were at peace. I felt God’s lead to give Gavin my expensive white gold pendant with a diamond and a note explaining its significance. Wanda also had a white gold pendant with a red ruby that matched mine. We had these made when we were living in Alberta and they held much spiritual significance. Since they represented monetary value, and this was what Gavin and Crystal desired, we thought this gift would help offset the cost of our presence in the cabin.

The note to Gavin and the diamond pendant was a sign to tell him that God loved him and wanted to help him. Wanda and I took the note and the pendant and walked to Gavin and Crystal’s house. The house was completely dark but Gavin’s truck was in the driveway. We rang the doorbell and the dogs barked but no one answered. As we were about to leave Gavin came to the door and invited us in. I gave Gavin the note and the pendant with the explanation of its significance. I too had struggled with issues and this pendant represented God’s healing and my steady progress in overcoming those strongholds. Gavin was very quiet but asked if we had talked to Crystal. We said we had not seen her for some time and soon after we left as it was getting dark

The next morning Crystal came over to the cabin and spoke with us. Apparently Gavin was an alcoholic. Prior to their marriage Crystal had made Gavin promise that he would not drink alcohol anymore to which Gavin agreed. The day before, Crystal discovered he had been drinking and left him in distress just before we arrived. We knew nothing about that situation until Crystal explained it to us. When she returned home, she had learned what we had done. She said to Gavin, “Gavin, can you not see this is God?” She let us know that Gavin had accepted the pendant and admitted that we were sent by God. God’s timing was unmistakable to all of us. God confirmed who we were to our hosts and was extending to them His unconditional love.

One day in early October, Laverne and Crystal came by and gave us an envelope. Inside was $900. We were not sure where the money originally came from but it felt dead to us. It did not feel like the lead of God. Laverne and Crystal recognized, that for all of their ‘more of God’ prayers that summer, they were out of their depth with us. God had pushed everything so far beyond their realm of comfort and belief, they could not handle us anymore. We surmised that the money was meant as a bribe in the hopes that we would use the funds to scramble for an escape. They knew what was coming. I can understand their fear and concern for us but by giving us this money they were believing the same lie Gavin promoted; ‘save yourselves.’ We could not do that without betraying our faith in God.

Not long after this incident, we used our child tax credit and took a very expensive taxi into town to buy some much needed food and supplies. Our hearts sank as we saw Gavin and Crystal drive up and enter the store at the same time. Like many we saw later, they pretended all was well on the surface and in front of others but it was a lie. We despised this hypocrisy and the fear of man. It does nothing but destroy relationships between people. Crystal confided to Wanda in the store that Gavin had a ‘plan’ for us. It was a chilling, heartless warning that felt like the hand of death closing in on us.

We returned to the cabin and pondered what had just happened. We could not get ourselves out of the pit and could only wait for the climax of this drama. In the blue house, just before we left for the cabin, Ida had a vision. In this vision she saw a large amphitheater filled with people we knew and many we did not, including angels. We were on stage ready to perform some great play. As the angels smiled and donned their sunglasses Ida heard, “The show is about to begin.” We did not realize that what passes for a drama in heaven is not at all what the world considers entertainment. In 1 Corinthians 4:9, it is written, “For it seems to me that God has made an exhibit of us apostles, exposing us to view last [of all, like men in a triumphal procession who are] sentenced to death [and displayed at the end of the line]. For we have become a spectacle to the world [a show in the world’s amphitheater] with both men and angels [as spectators].” What was to follow was a drama that was beyond anything any of us would have dreamed possible.

[] Chapter 14 – Betrayal

Oct. 9 to 12, 2011 – From the cabin to the field

For many months, while in Bridgetown, I had been working on a project regarding the land that God had promised to us through the prophetess. I had revealed some of those plans to Gavin and to Andrew, the deacon at Kingsboro Baptist. This was my throwing pearls before swine. It was a mistake that caused much consternation among the religious prigs surrounding us. This community did not have faith for they lived in a closed system that had no need, or use, for God. Except for some vacuous acknowledgement on Sunday mornings, these people did not know the One they said they worshipped. When I revealed my plans, to be fulfilled after our release from captivity, they totally misunderstood, then mocked, derided and scorned what I had developed. They looked at our current position with the heartless reason and rationalism that infects the masses. Our walk of faith was a thing of delusion that could only be ridiculed and then destroyed. The ‘good’ people of P.E.I. could not see anything for us beyond a low-level life of taking welfare and living in poverty. God, however, had other ideas. No matter how desperate our situation looked, He always saw what we would eventually become. With our hope and faith solidly planted on God, we were determined to persevere in faith.

I felt a strong urging from the Lord on the morning of October 9, 2011 to make some final changes to my plans. After that task was complete, I took all the data and transferred it onto a portable hard drive. We then carefully wrapped this precious cargo in a towel with tape to protect it. No matter what transpired, our Bibles and this data would stay safe with us.

The foreboding we felt that night was palpable. We knew evil was advancing but did not know when or how it would strike. The stress of not knowing when the storm would break was almost unbearable. Wanda was committed to what God was doing and even declared she would be willing to sleep in a field rather than betray faith. It was a sentiment we all agreed with but were afraid might come to pass. Sleep did not come easy that night.

The next morning was Thanksgiving day in Canada. On this holiday we usually celebrate with cooking and eating a turkey. There would be no celebration for us on this day for we were the turkey about to be killed and roasted. Sometime during the day Gavin and Crystal made a visit to the cabin. Instead of the quiet demure Gavin we had seen so many times before, a raging bull came at us. We were shocked by his sharp and stinging words. He delivered an ultimatum that we had to be out within 24 hours with such blunt force we felt the blows physically. We were stunned by the cold, cunning heartlessness in this man and could not reply. Crystal just stood by and let it unfold. It was a nightmare. This woman, who had praised us with such glowing terms earlier in the summer, was now a cold hearted observer. She had been cowed by Gavin’s will and obediently and willingly followed her husband’s actions. She stood there like Judas, complicit in all that was happening. Pretending to care about us her true ‘self’ nature rose to the surface. There was no hiding in this storm. Everyone was exposed for who they really were.

With a deadline looming over us, like a Damocles’ sword, we did not know what the consequences would be of Gavin’s ultimatum. We did know, however, that we would refuse to kowtow to threats from islanders and would not abandon our walk of faith. If Gavin thought we could be cowed after spending four years enduring in faith, he had significantly miscalculated. God had over trained us like Boris had in dance. We had invested too much, given up too much, suffered too much to quit now. If there was anything we learned well in the wilderness it was ‘stand in the day of evil.’ Let satan make the move. Let others do all the work in coming at you. As Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” The enemy portrays himself as having great power. We have to be taught that satan is only a created being that obtains power from what man allows; man is merely a conduit for either good or evil. The enemy cannot see the future or create something from nothing. That power only belongs to the Uncreated, our Sovereign God. If we follow God’s lead He will take us down a path that will train us and thwart our adversary. Our enemy made so many mistakes with us it became laughable. We saw satan’s many failures and that weakened any power he had over us. Each attack was countered by the power of a sovereign Living God. Who we were to trust and follow became blatantly obvious.

When satan does come for you understand, that the onslaught is horrific. It will test absolutely everything in you. These tests are designed to strip you bare before God and leave you breathless. That is the intent. To have true bridal union with Jesus there can be absolutely nothing in you that would spoil the relationship. The wilderness is designed by God to take all the ‘thorns and thistles’ out of you. Too many times we encountered people that see the bridal preparation with dreamy eyes. I want to dispel that myth. It is a harsh, humiliating, soul wrenching experience but in the end a pure bride for God’s Son is brought forth. Jesus will marry the “lily among thorns” (Song of Songs 2:2).

The next day dawned and we nervously stepped out from our bedroom not knowing what to expect. The morning sun rose and still nothing appeared. A false sense of security descended over us as we started to believe that Gavin was bluffing. We were wrong.

As the day progressed, the cabin chilled so I decided to chop some firewood for a fire. Wanda and our daughters joined me outside. Now this alone was a very unusual occurrence as only a few times before had all 4 of us been outside the cabin at the same time. Milo and Patches also joined us running around the fields that surrounded the cabin. I found a spot and started chopping wood with Wanda. Ida and Fanny were in the woods looking for sticks and fallen branches.

Just then we saw Crystal drive up to the cabin. Ida and Fanny also saw this and went to see what Crystal was doing. She had gone inside and locked all the doors. As Ida and Fanny came to the door, this Judas in woman’s clothing stood there wagging her finger at them. She was like an angry school teacher. Our daughters returned and the shock of being locked out descended over us. Soon the coward Gavin drove up in his truck. After his evil, angry tone the day before, he had sent his wife to do what he was too afraid to do himself. Nothing makes me angrier than a coward who won’t face the consequences of his evil choices.

As we sat chilled in the woods with no covering, the police drove up. I believe they were waiting in the wings to help if we were to be forcibly evicted. Being out of the cabin beforehand God had spared us from any possible legal entanglement. Now the police put on their most condescending, ‘there, there’ attitude and gave us tempting offers of a “hot drink inside at the police station.” Even though I was weeping at the betrayal and treachery we were suffering, my resolve had not weakened. I would not have my family hauled away in some police car and give any type of credence to island gossip and rumors. If we had to leave, we would do it our way and not according to the will of man. Angrily I responded that I would not cave to their pressure. When the police officer said “It was obvious we had made some bad decisions” I was beyond myself livid. We had followed the lead of the Lord and it had led us here. I would not have our faith mocked by these faithless people even if they wore a badge.

Eventually they decided to leave us alone but not before Wanda demanded that Gavin and Crystal produce some blankets and her purse. The purse contained the hard drive. We were only wearing our summer clothes and our daughters were wearing sandals on this cool fall day. We were shivering from shock and cold. At first Crystal refused to even give us these basics. Her attitude was gratuitously cruel and will always stand out for us as the pinnacle of what Judas was; a devious betrayer who was devoid of love. Once the police convinced her otherwise, Crystal relented and we were given blankets and Wanda’s purse. As this was happening we saw Gavin drive away with all that remained of what we owned in the world loaded on his truck. Our daughters cried as their beloved birds were ripped away from them and they did not know if they would see them again. These pitiless thieves stole everything that we had left including our daughter’s ID and passports. Everything we had left was stripped away from us.

We had nowhere to go and now had no belongings except the few summer clothes on our backs, a few blankets, Wanda’s purse plus Milo and Patches. Instead of taking the road and heading to the highway we traipsed across the field. We wanted no one to follow us or to know where we were. We just started walking. The clouds swirled about in turmoil, mirroring what was happening to us on the ground. Despite the tears and confusion, we had been sufficiently inured to hardship so we pushed forward. As we walked Ida had a vision of a giant angel planting a cross at each place we stopped. God was making it very clear to us that this day marked the beginning of our crucifixion. It was to last 40 months and 82 moves.

We finally made it to a small clearing between two rows of dense trees and brush. Here we stopped. We laid out our blankets and rested on the ground amongst the dense reeds. We all tried to keep warm for even though the sun would come out from behind the clouds to warm us, it would just as quickly disappear again. The day grew colder and as night came we gathered close under the blanket and tried to sleep. Sometime during the night we awoke to barking and both dogs were gone. They came back a short time later and stood by us. We did not know it then but where we slept, coyotes would travel to the beach to hunt. Our dogs kept the coyotes away and saved our lives. As much as we found Milo to be a pill at times, we will never forget how he and Patches protected us on that cold bitter night.

The next day dawned warm and clear but it did not cheer us. We were cold. We did not have enough blankets to keep us warm during the night. God had kept the threatening sky from dumping any rain on our little troop. To make our misery worse, we had nothing to eat since the day before. We felt like criminals running from the law but we had done nothing but follow God in faith. This ferocity of hate we could not fathom. We knew it made us angry, especially myself.

We didn’t move from the spot we had settled on from the day before for we didn’t know where to go. We knew the betrayal of Crystal and Laverne had left a profound effect on us. We would never trust them again. Of the two, Crystal held a special place. She was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I felt committed to ripping off that hypocritical mask and exposing her true self. The seeds of betrayal had sprouted in her heart.

Sometime in the mid-morning we heard voices. We tried to muzzle the dogs so they wouldn’t bark and give our position away. The last thing we needed was more ‘help’ from islanders. Their kind of ‘help’ would put anyone into an early grave.

As dusk approached we knew that we had to face another hard night on the cold ground. It was a rough ‘baptism of fire’ but God had sufficiently prepared us for the road ahead. All the years we had spent standing up to the attacks of evil were now going to be tested and put to use. God was communicating we were now spiritually mature enough for our crucifixion even if we didn’t realize this truth. We had started the descent into the ‘valley of despair.’

[] Chapter 15 – Tabernacles

Oct. 13 to 31, 2011 – From the field to the woods

There are many joys and pleasures that God has granted to His creation on this earth to enjoy. Waking up shivering on the cold ground, in the middle of nowhere during October, certainly isn’t one of them. That was where our family was and that was our reality. Whether we liked it or not wasn’t the point, we had to go through what God, in His sovereign love, preplanned for us. As we roused our chilled bones from the ground we knew we needed to move.

With Ida and Fanny each wrapped in a blanket shivering, our little family walked towards the highway. Trudging through the dirt of the field wasn’t easy but we finally reached the pavement as that cloudy dark morning unfolded. Walking along we saw Gavin’s truck coming towards us. My anger at this cowardly, cruel man burned within me. I wondered what my response would be as he passed by us. At that very moment, Gavin saw us and suddenly stopped. He immediately turned around and drove in the opposite direction. As we kept walking we saw him return back. This time he passed by smiling and giving us a wave. I was dumbstruck and livid at this man’s inhumanity. A thief, a coward, a bully and a spiritually dead man; all these thoughts raced through my mind. I didn’t know whether to hate him or pity him. He was obviously morally and spiritually bankrupt.

We kept moving, numb to the shock and pain we were in, emotionally and physically. Suddenly Laverne’s truck pulled up. She was noticeably distressed. She told us that herself and Crystal had frantically searched for us the previous day. Laverne was completely blind to Crystal’s complicit treachery and her part in our crucifixion. I told Laverne point blank Crystal was a Judas. She kept repeating, “It isn’t Crystal, it’s Gavin. It isn’t Crystal, its Gavin.” Her friendship and Crystal’s duplicity blinded her to the truth. My insistence to expose her to this reality only made her more uncomfortable. Laverne wanted to help us but she had to leave for work. After telling us that she had taken our cats to her farm she left. We sat there bawling by the side of the road. Hearing the news of our beloved cats made us ache inside. I couldn’t bear to watch the misery of my daughters as they processed this new information. Our cat family was precious to us and now they would be exposed; vulnerable to hungry coyotes. The waves of pain, grief, loss and betrayal that washed over us on that cold, dark morning was beyond comprehension. We were in the pit of misery.

We continued to head to a little convenience store down the road that we were aware of. It wasn’t much but it was the only option we had at the moment. On October 11, Wanda did an odd thing. The $900 we had received from Crystal and Laverne earlier had just been sitting on the kitchen counter untouched. It had felt dead to us. Just as we left the cabin to chop firewood, Wanda inexplicably grabbed it. There was no reason for her to take the money except that God had impressed upon her heart to do so, so she obeyed. This again was the lead of God for that money, that was originally meant for an escape, was now needed for our survival. Many times when God gave us some extra blessing the purpose of it was not immediately obvious. It took time for us to learn and adjust to the manna we received. This meant that if we did receive a sizable amount of money, the situation and circumstances would require that amount. This was one of those times. That $900 would be used to keep us alive for the next 40 days when we would receive little help from man.

We arrived at Eliot’s Grocery as the islanders were heading to work and getting their morning coffee, oblivious to the tragedy of our family. We immediately bought some chocolate bars and other sugary treats to boost our lagging energy. It has always amazed me how sugar can perk you up when you are cold, hungry and tired. While the ladies ate outside, I went back in and purchased some supplies. Since there was no building open to us on the island, and we desperately needed shelter, it was clear I would need to build one for my family. I bought a tarp, some rope, 4 long spikes, an axe and some matches. I also grabbed some flyers that were available. I figured that as the weather was still relatively warm during the day, we could at least camp for the time being.

As I was inside the store Wanda, Ida and Fanny were just outside eating. One island man came by and noticed my bedraggled family. Instead of making cutting remarks, waving cheerfully as if nothing was wrong or ignoring them, this man decided to do something. He looked at their sandals and blankets and said, “You’re not dressed for this weather.” With that he made them promise not to leave until he had returned. It would be one of the easiest promises for us to keep. Shortly thereafter he returned with an odd assortment of shoes and warm clothes. That man’s empathy was a blessing to us that day and a credit to who he was. Very few islanders ever showed us such consideration. We expressed our deep gratitude and after he told us where he lived, he left.

With supplies in hand we walked up the road to a nearby community center where there was a gazebo we could sit down and rest. The Eastern Kings Community Center also had a CAP site so we could go inside, warm ourselves and get free Internet access. As we sat in the gazebo beside the community center, pondering what to do, the police showed up. Our life had turned into a bad movie from which we could not escape. The same police officer, who had been so condescending to us when we were locked out of the cabin, came back. They were sent because of a complaint of ‘people in blankets walking along the highway.’ What the islanders lacked in intestinal fortitude at least they made up for in predictability. I had wondered if Gavin had called them again. The officer said he wanted to ‘help’ but his kind of help meant that we abandon our faith journey. His psychobabble may have worked on others but I was in no mood to go nine rounds with him again that day. I told them both angrily that we didn’t want or need their ‘help.’ “If we are doing something against the law arrest us otherwise just leave us alone.” They saw there was no point in continuing to talk so they left.

The hand and help of man is as useless as a broken stick to a person in the wilderness but man doesn’t ‘get it’. They cannot understand a person who walks by faith and trusts in God. Equally a person of faith cannot understand why man insists on relying on other weak, created creatures. For us it began a divide that would grow larger with each step of faith we took. Only when we had peace letting God come through a chosen vessel to offer help, would we accept; otherwise it was rejected. Many wondered how we knew the difference between what was from man and what was from God. Later people would even start to tell us the story of a man, a house, and a flood. As the story went many forms of help came to save him but the man rejected them all waiting for God to provide. The insinuation was that we could not tell the difference between the help of man and the help of God. We knew that those telling us this story were not able to understand the difference between presumption and true faith. It was as arrogant as it was insolent. We had spent many years learning to hear God’s voice and how to discern His ways. What we learned was that anything that came from man with conditions attached or had an agenda behind it was decidedly not from God. We knew that conditions or an agenda was an attempt to control and sidetrack our faith journey. Whatever was freely given to us, to be freely used, was a gift from God. We made many mistakes as we learned this truth but God kept us from major harm.

After this encounter our family decided that we had enough of the intrusions of man so we needed to disappear. Behind the CAP site were open fields but beyond them was nothing but forest. Thankfully for us, most of the east side of P.E.I. was forested. We walked through the fields and found, deep in a far corner, a place where we could secretly enter into the forest. As we walked further into the woods, there before us lay a perfect place for a camp. I constructed a rudimentary ‘tent’ with the tarps, spikes and ropes between some trees. I found as many pine boughs as I could to make a primitive mattress so we could be off the ground when we slept. It wasn’t much but it was the first ‘home’ I could give my family that wasn’t a rental. With that done I made a little area for a campfire then went out to chop wood for a fire. Now at least we had a place to sleep and a fire to keep us warm. This little ‘tent’ outside, in the fall, would be where we would spend the Feast of Tabernacles. We did not know it at the time but our little camp was directly north of Kingsboro Baptist church. God had put us right in the backyard of religion. Our presence was going to raise a stink in that area that would smell for the duration of our stay.

A day or so after we moved into the woods, we were once again resting at the CAP site. Two ladies from social services drove up to harass us again. Fortunately, God had held the worst part of our horrible P.E.I. experience until after Fanny had turned 16. When Fanny turned 16 in August, the government had no legal right to continue to interfere with our family. This clueless government still tried vainly to help us ‘see the light’ and take their weak, ineffectual ‘help’ with all of the conditions, caveats, clauses, etc., etc. The two ladies that came waved paper forms in our faces like some would-be evangelists trying to convince us of the error of our ways and the pre-eminence of their ‘assistance.’ The only thought I had was that these forms would be useful in starting our campfire. We did take the forms and we did use them to kindle our campfire. I had finally found a use for government paperwork. The government, however, had finally given up on us as a lost cause. I can’t say we were unhappy about that outcome.

Soon after arriving, we discovered we needed more than what we had available. In order to stay clean, warm and eat it was clear we needed a pot. With this goal in mind Wanda went over to Eliot’s Grocery to buy some food and a camp pot. The lady owner didn’t have one for sale but said she would leave something for us near the CAP site. Later that day we did find a nice pot from her with wash cloths and soap inside. We were now able to boil water for food and cleaning. We did need to haul a lot of water into the makeshift camp and so I rigged a pole with string and 2 liter bottles. With this rig over our shoulders we managed to haul a lot of water from the CAP site back to our camp each day. I chopped a lot of wood for the fire on those days. There were lots of downed trees nearby so we had plenty of fuel to burn.

As I chopped wood, my axe became increasingly dull and chopping became more difficult. I found that my anger was being released in the chopping. I was hitting the wood harder and harder trying to vent my frustration at Gavin, Crystal, Laverne, the McDonalds and God. I knew that God had allowed this hardship and suffering we were enduring but I could not understand why. I was in a dark place and couldn’t see any way out. One day, as I battered and beat a poor helpless branch to pieces, the Lord spoke to me. He showed me that the betrayal of Judas and Peter caused significantly more suffering to Jesus than the physical crucifixion did. The pain in Jesus’ heart at the betrayal of someone so close was the deepest one He ever carried and yet not written about in Scripture. God revealed to me that only He, the Father, could heal that wound in His Son’s heart. After Jesus was resurrected and returned to heaven the Father healed Him. It was an amazing revelation to me. The Jesus that was presented in religion was too sterile and too distant for my liking. Now God was showing me that the bitterness of heart we were going through, Jesus Himself experienced. That revelation went a long way to begin the process of healing our broken hearts. God was giving us the same visceral experiences of betrayal as His Son had lived through, so we could understand Him and come into perfect union with Him.

One day Crystal drove up in her SUV and saw Fanny and myself at the gazebo by the community center. She came over to talk, knelt down and spoke with such a condescending haughtiness I wanted to smack the glibness right off of her treacherous face. Words cannot describe my anger at her but she was about to say something to me that would put me in such a state of fury that I felt my head would explode. She told me that her and Gavin had taken our birds into their home but that her dog had attacked our bird Destiny. They had taken Destiny to the vet but she was now lame and could not walk. I hated Crystal. Her calm, cool, inhumanness, that found its roots in the depths of satan, reached out and touched our hearts with the icy chill of death. I screamed in pain at Crystal for her to leave and vented my full wrath at this Judas. Her treachery and deception was so exposed, no false expression of concern for our bird’s plight would cover it. I could not stand the sight of her face and turned away. Fanny and I bawled as we walked back to our campsite. The pain got even worse as the realization of Destiny’s condition muscled its way past the shock and into our hearts.

When we told Wanda and Ida, Ida let out a shriek of pain and despair that was otherworldly. Wanda knew immediately what to do. With a steely resolve she marched to Eliot’s Grocery and asked for a ride to Crystal’s place. She was determined to wrench our birds away from that den of vipers even if she had to face satan himself. As they drove up Wanda saw Crystal was sitting casually in her front room. When Crystal answered the door she made small talk with the lady owner from Eliot’s as Wanda got Lennie-girl and our lame Destiny from that hell house. The dirty, uncared for cages was beyond despicable and Wanda’s anger burned within her. It was all she could do to just extricate our birds and leave. Our family discovered later that Crystal was trying to rid herself of our birds and the responsibility to care for them. She was devoid of compassion and could not enter into another’s pain. This was a stellar example to us of the ‘self’ nature that is pure evil.

After the birds were safe the mother of the lady owner from Eliot’s agreed to take our birds into her home for a week. During that week Destiny died of her injuries and the lady owner from Eliot’s buried her body in her backyard. It was more than we could bear as our grief overflowed. Destiny was named for a reason. We couldn’t bear the thought that our Destiny would be buried on P.E.I., so I dug up her body and brought her to our camp. Now Lennie-girl was safe with us and snuggled inside Ida’s coat to stay warm. We were miserable but at least our two dogs and our remaining bird had rejoined our family. Patches, however, was showing worrying signs of sickness.

October turned out to be truly a month when all of hell was launched against us, yet somehow we had managed to survive. Other than the hand of God, I have no explanation as to how we made it through. Lest anyone think that we survived by some internal strength alone, let me forever dispel that myth. We wanted nothing more than to leave the misery we were in. We were cold, hungry, angry, grieving and terrified. We would have bolted to safety if we could but we had no options. Our situation was like a steel cable that bound us to God and we could not and would not break free from Him. He had been and was our ever present help in times of trouble. He was the only One “Who would stick closer than a brother” no matter what would befall us. I could not think of a single human being that would do the same. God had wisely over trained us in faith. We would not abandon Him nor would He abandon us. This was our season of the bitter cup and we had to drink every drop.

[] Chapter 16 – Boot Camp

Nov. 1 to 18, 2011 – The woods

The daily grind of life in the woods continued unabated as we learned how to survive. When we could we kicked potatoes out of the frozen ground, then boiled and ate them. There were many hungry days for us. Nights were far worse. Cold and hungry we had to stay under the blankets when the sun went down until the sun came up just to keep our body warmth intact. Near the end we were spending up to 15 hours under those blankets shivering in the cold, turning every half hour to warm the other half and ease the pain on our hips. I did try to put more branches in bags to create some sort of cushion but our body weight just packed everything down.

One day I was learning from God what true servanthood was. We had received a dictionary from the CAP site and for some reason God had quickened me to search for the word ‘serve’. When I did I was stunned at the example the dictionary used to put the word ‘serve’ into context. This was the exact sentence we read. “Pine boughs served as a bed.” To Wanda and myself, it was a hilarious confirmation of how God orchestrates little events to confirm our walk with Him.

Strangers sometimes harassed our daughters with probing questions when they were at the CAP site to keep warm. The islanders weren’t interested in our situation except to feed the gossip mill. These backward hillbillies were about as friendly to us as a feral cat is to a chipmunk. When we did venture out to the CAP site or to Eliot’s Grocery for food and supplies, they would often stare at us as if we were in a zoo or circus freaks. We felt the stigma of being homeless hobos and I am sure rumors of our instability caused more than one person to load their guns and lock their doors at night. One day we wondered if we were somehow dropped into the movie ‘Deliverance’ with some eerie banjo music playing in the background. We, however, wanted nothing more to do with any islander so we kept to ourselves and bothered no one. Despite all of this we desperately looked for God’s leading to release us from this never ending nightmare. He was content to let us stay put. We did reach out to the prophetess who had given us the word about the land in 2008. She heard nothing further from God about our situation but encouraged us to keep seeking Him. This was very disappointing and not what we wanted to hear but we kept on doing what we had been doing.

Even though circumstances were bad for us they could always become worse. As the days progressed they did. We always thought we were farther along with God in spiritual growth than we actually were and we also felt we were not strong enough to handle what came at us. These were two lies that plagued us early on in our sojourn. First we had to learn that our pride was in direct enmity with God’s humility. We had much farther to go in spiritual growth than we realized. We truly were, in this sense, ‘babes in the woods.’ Secondly we could handle far more than we thought we could. God continually gave us harder and harder trials while we were building spiritual muscle and gaining in spiritual strength. Anything God permitted satan to throw at us, we learned through experience that we could handle it. Both lies were eventually exposed and died within us. The truth that we had a long way to grow but were stronger than we thought brought a freedom to us we had not known before.

Hunger drove us a little loopy. Our daughters spent the long hours drawing pictures of their favorite foods.

One day I put my knee down in the ‘tent’ and broke the frame of my glasses. Without them I couldn’t see a thing. Since I had no other option I had to jury rig them with some wire and cuticle snips. They held together. Another night, Fanny needed hot water. We had to get up in the middle of the night, without any light, and start a fire to boil water for her. Wanda would often boil water to clean herself in the woods, while our daughters were sometimes invited to shower at the home of the owners of Eliot’s Grocery. I can’t stand being cold so I didn’t wash. A rabbit came bounding into our camp one day and we had never seen Milo move so fast in all his life. Poor rabbit got away but it was a long chase and I am sure he nearly lost. Coyotes would often come near and we could hear them howling around us at night. After meeting islanders, we decided we would rather face the coyotes. Milo, however, kept the wildlife at bay. Rain came and that gave us the greatest trouble, for we could not get wet without it being dangerous. Hypothermia was always an ever present threat. All these mini trials were troubles that we had to learn to endure.

One night a nor’easter bore down right over our location. That storm recorded wind gusts of up to 60 mph. We huddled in our little tarp covering with 4 pathetic spikes and thin rope holding it down. The weather raged around us for hours that night. We sat and prayed wondering if the roof of our ‘little home’ would blow off and expose us to the elements. It was a terrifying experience as we felt and heard the shuddering of the tarp and the moaning and creaking of the trees above. We were as vulnerable as Daniel was in the lion’s den. Somehow the tarp held in place and no trees fell on us. We were convinced God had stationed an angel, at each corner of the tarp, to hold it down during the storm. There could be no other explanation as to why this flimsy covering didn’t blow away. Our prayers of thankfulness and gratitude to God were many and varied after we survived that stormy night.

Tension with the locals continued to escalate. Our presence in the woods stank to them like a dead skunk by the side of the road. One day Wanda and I were at Eliot’s Grocery when Andrew, the deceitful deacon, sauntered in. When he first saw us his behavior was sheepish and guilty but then he mustered up the courage to make some insincere, self-righteous comment about wanting to help us. Wanda had enough of his sanctimonious smugness and told him “Andrew you don’t know who we are.” His retort was, “Well you don’t know who WE are!” It was apparent the powers of darkness, in their pride, thought they could somehow trump the overwhelming power of the Living God. I was finished with this double dealing, pharisaical, faithless buffoon and told him sternly to just go away. The male store owner just listened and watched.

Not all our encounters with islanders were as barbed at the fishhooks they used. One lady brought us dog food which helped feed our pets. They had hungry days too, as we all did, but we always tried to feed them first. Laverne also cooked and brought over a warm pot of food and left it at the CAP site for us to enjoy. As we ate I finally understood what a guilt offering from the Old Testament looked like. After we were locked out, Laverne wanted less and less to do with us. Our stigma had a way of alienating people and on a small island, where everyone knows everybody else’s business, good standing in the community was critical for economic survival. We were bad for business.

One night I had a major asthma attack. I had emptied my portable inhaler of medicine sometime before and was hanging on to my breath by a thread. By this night I was in real danger of death. In the early morning hours Wanda ran to the house of the people that owned Eliot’s Grocery. She knocked on the door and even though the lady was irritated at being woken up, Wanda insisted she needed to use the phone. Wanda phoned Laverne telling her it was an emergency. Crystal and Gavin, when they callously drove away with our belongings, had locked them in their heated, vacant house in Souris. We were told later that they would store them until the following spring but we had no means at the time to retrieve or carry them. Amongst the possessions was the machine I used to get medicine into my lungs. I desperately needed that machine. While Laverne drove to pick us up, Wanda returned to let us know what was unfolding. Ida and Fanny helped me as we walked slowly back to the CAP site. Every step was a struggle to breathe and I almost collapsed a few times. Thankfully we made it safely to where Laverne was waiting.

We were driven into Souris to meet Crystal and repossessed the Ventolin machine. Crystal, clueless as a pirate wearing two eye patches, asked us if there was anything else we wanted. Here I was almost passing out from lack of oxygen, while she was making vacuous gratuitous gestures in front of her friend. The hypocrisy was stunning. We declined anything else from our belongings and asked to be driven back to the CAP site to power the machine. When we arrived Crystal had chosen to follow. I told Laverne that we would not leave the truck until Crystal left the area. Once she was gone we got out and said goodbye to Laverne. Laverne sped out of the parking lot with squealing tires and an anger so fierce that I am sure she didn’t need the heat on in the truck. She could not handle the truth. We never saw her again. Laverne had been kind to us but she struggled with pride. We have always held out hope that Laverne would eventually humble herself and truly recognize the amazing summer that brought us together.

We plugged in the machine with the medicine and I was able to breathe again. The relief was palpable to us all. The crisis had been averted but not before God used it to prick the pride of Laverne and expose the hypocrisy of both her and Crystal. Once back at the camp we discussed our precarious position. With my only medicine coming from the machine and the machine needing power, it became obvious we had to move closer to the CAP site. With this decision, we moved our meager belongings from the woods closer to the source of power. We left the tarps and axe behind as we couldn’t start a fire where we were now camped. I got a few boxes and we made a small shelter to keep us from the strong wind that was blowing. As night fell we were all hungry. I made the mistake of eating some of our bird food that had sunflower seeds. Since I am allergic to sunflower seeds, my body tried to throw them off. Vomiting and dry heaving outside the boxes of our camp caused my daughters to start giggling and then laughing at my predicament. I guess you had to be there to see the humor.

It began to drizzle and the wind blew harder. No matter how we tried to cover ourselves the wind chilled us to the very core. We were in great danger of hypothermia and I knew we needed to do something fast. In the early morning hours I was determined to get the tarp from our previous camp so I could keep the wind and rain off of my family. I walked alone through the muddy field in the dark, tripping and stumbling. I was cold, wet, sick and heartbroken for what we had been through. Determined to not let depression win, like it had so many times before, I started to sing Jesus Loves Me. Somehow that little song I sang was joined by the hosts of heaven. Though I could not see or hear them I knew I was not alone. I felt Jesus walking with me through the mud, fighting the biting winter wind and cold night. I managed to find my way to our former camp in the dark and get the tarp. I scrunched it up and began the long march back through the field. Eventually I met up with the sleeping forms of my family. We wrapped the tarp around us to keep out the wind and rain and our body warmth did the rest.

After this we made a little shelter with the tarp. Our temporary home only lasted a few days when a police officer showed up. It was late on the afternoon of the 18th of November, 2011. Some locals had complained that our presence near the CAP site had ‘intimidated’ the visitors. They demanded, unequivocally, that we be evicted that very day. The police officer refused to do that as darkness was approaching but countered that we would be evicted the next day. With that done, he had come to tell us. I was not happy with the eviction but was thankful for the officer’s kindness that countered the heartlessness of the locals. We had come to learn one defining element consistent with evil. People would value possessions, money and appearances over human life. This value system makes them heartless and cold and love leaves. God cannot dwell in a heart that loves ‘things’ over life. It is for this reason alone that we were able to see what was truly evil on P.E.I.

We could see that God was now going to move us on but we had no means to leave. That night as I slept God kept repeating these words over and over to me, “Do not plan, Homer, do not plan.” Whatever God was doing I was being told specifically not to interfere to ‘make something happen’ but to just follow His lead. The warning that night would guide our path for the rest of our journey. From that point forward, no matter what happened, regardless of how crazy it looked, each step had already been planned by God. All that was required of us is that we follow His lead and obey. From that moment I did not ‘plan’ a single step of our journey. In the Scriptures it is written, “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord.” (Psalm 37:23)

[] Chapter 17 – The Adventure Begins

Nov. 19 to 21, 2011 – From the woods to Salvation Army

On October 11, 2008 Wanda completed a 40 day fast. It had been hard but she persevered. After it was over there did not seem to be any noticeable change. She was disappointed but did not realize, at the time, the significance of her fast. On October 11, 2011, exactly 3 years to the day we were locked out of our last shelter. We then spent 40 days in the woods. The timing and dates were a remarkable picture of how God can work through time to accomplish His will. His ‘fingerprints’ were all over our wilderness experience. Now that our 40 days in the woods were completed, and the police had come to evict us, we knew that boot camp was over. God was moving us on.

After waking up the morning of November 19, we systematically dismantled our temporary camp by the Eastern Kings Community Center. The tarp was removed, carefully folded and put into the trash along with all the cardboard we slept on. All the other trash was disposed of and our remaining paltry belongings were placed neatly by the building. There was no way we would leave a mess for others to clean. We availed ourselves of every opportunity God gave to disprove the lies and slander the islanders spread about us. It was a grand delight when people would meet us and be surprised that we were not like the way we had been falsely portrayed.

The police drove by later that morning to confirm we were in compliance but no words were exchanged. So we sat on this crisp morning wondering what to do now that we had no place to sleep. As the morning lazily drifted into afternoon and nothing came, our panic began to rise. We were unsure if God would deliver us or if we had to do something. His lead seemed non-existent. The idea came to us that we should walk over to the house of the man who had been so kind to us at Eliot’s Grocery. He had provided warm clothes and shoes after we had been initially locked out. We walked a long way to his house and he happened to be outside doing some work when we arrived. We inquired if we could get a ride into Charlottetown. He could not do that but possibly his aunt could. He told us to go back to the CAP site and he would meet us there.

Unsure that there would be a ride we began the long walk back to our daughters and pets. The wind and snow fought us every step of the way. Our time in the woods had sheltered us from the worst of the winds and now even the slightest winter breeze chilled us to the core. We waited for a little while and then the man arrived with his aunt. Behind them was a taxi van from Charlottetown. The aunt of this man was kind enough to pay for the taxi so we could escape from our forest confinement. It was a relief to us and to them I am sure.

Our driver was a bright and cheerful man whose name was Horace. He was surprised at his cargo but helped us in with kind words of comfort. After we managed to get the dogs on board we closed the hatch and we were ready to leave. Just before we started Horace turned to us and said, “The adventure is about to begin.” It is hard to argue with God when He puts His words in an unbelieving taxi driver’s mouth. There was a quick stop at Eliot’s Grocery to fill up which the aunt paid for. After a short goodbye and thank you we were on our way to Charlottetown in a warm van.

The drive was long but we had a good conversation with Horace. He revealed to us that he wasn’t even supposed to be driving taxi that day but his cheery countenance and speech was like a warm comforting fire to our chilled souls. Never underestimate how unkind words and harsh actions can chill the soul more than the icy blast of a winter wind.

After a long ride we were in Charlottetown and Horace wondered where to take us. He dropped us off at the Salvation Army building but since it was after hours’ no one was there. We were used to being outside so we told Horace we would just stay there until the morning. At that moment we saw something in Horace that we had rarely seen out east; compassion. He was unwilling to just let us stay outside so he started making phone calls to try and get us indoors. He was gobsmacked to find that no one was willing to help. Island rumors had a long reach. He called every government official, including the mayor, who also refused to help us. A social service worker did come down to see us. She said she might possibly, maybe, find a bed for Fanny but absolutely nothing for the rest of us. We were beginning to see the utter uselessness of government services that had been hyped as the solution to all of our problems.

Horace was not happy with this and so spread the word to his fellow cabbies where we were. We called it ‘the night of the cabbies’ for every cabbie in town took an interest in our plight and wanted to help us. One brought us hot drinks, another brought uneaten leftover pizza still hot, some stayed and talked but every half hour a cabbie would drive by and make sure we were safe as we slept. It was an amazing night. Even as we got a little sleep on the cold concrete sidewalk their kindness warmed our hearts.

The next morning was Sunday, November 20. As we sat on the sidewalk a man drove up. He sat in the car and conversed with us in a friendly manner. He handed Wanda his coffee which she accepted. He let us know that he went to the Salvation Army church. For some reason, as we talked, he became hostile towards us. With violent rhetoric he told Wanda the she needed to leave me and find a new husband for I was “a bum” in his eyes. As he drove off Wanda poured the coffee out onto the ground which made him angrier. The island demons were getting riled up.

The Salvation Army church was planning to hold a service that morning. As the staff came in they looked at us but did not seem that interested. We were able to go inside and get warm which was wonderful after surviving the cold night. Wanda wandered into the sanctuary and saw a piano. Since she loved hymns she began playing those that she knew. Sylvia, one of the primary Salvation Army workers, came up to her and said, “This is unusual but our piano player is sick today. Would you be willing to play the piano for the service?” Wanda said yes. Once again God’s timing opened doors for us that we could not do by ourselves.

After the service Sylvia’s husband, John, invited us downstairs for Kraft dinner. We weren’t about to turn down a hot meal, no matter how simple. We spent the time telling our story to them. Sylvia seemed interested but John was distant. After the lunch, they let us know that there was a shower in the basement we could use. I had not bathed in over 6 weeks so for some reason my family wanted me to go first. When I undressed I was shocked to look at myself. Normally 190 pounds I was now down to about 140. My chest was so sunken I looked like a concentration camp victim. I had not realized how all the stress and hunger had so affected me. We were all appreciative for the opportunity to clean up.

John and Sylvia had another surprise for us after we had all finished showering. They ran a clothing store for the poor where we could get some new clothes. Even though the store was closed on Sunday, John let us in and we were able to choose whatever we wanted for free. We found warm winter clothing and lots of warm socks. Warms socks were a God send and we never had enough on our wilderness journey. Warm coats, hats, scarves and gloves completed our kit. The clothes from boot camp, having rendered a dutiful service, were ceremoniously thrown into a dumpster to be burned. Now properly dressed for winter, with new thick blankets, we were ready for what was ahead.

That night John and Sylvia let us sleep in their garage. Sylvia took the ladies while John drove myself and the dogs in the van. He remarked that he had signed a contract when he joined the Salvation Army that if he saw someone in trouble, he would put their needs above his own. God heard that boast and would soon test its validity. John was about to be weighed in God’s balance. The night was warm for us and a pleasant change from the cold outdoors. We did not mind the hard floor as long as we were inside.

The next day John and Sylvia brought us back to the Salvation Army building in downtown Charlottetown. That day we were able to stay in the foyer of the building. People came and went as the normal Monday morning activities resumed. We were invited to stay for the coffee and donuts downstairs. I stayed with the dogs in the foyer and they rested. Not all the people that came in liked that fact and some complained.

John came over to us sometime in the morning and handed us an envelope with $300 inside. It had been given by a family that had seen us and had decided to forego Christmas so we could be helped. That kind of self-sacrifice truly blessed us. It was also an interesting event for one other reason. Just before Christmas 2007 we put $500 in an envelope, drove up to a random house on the island and gave them the money for their Christmas celebration. It was an act of kindness God had not forgotten about and was now giving back to us.

As the day wore on John put on his official Salvation Army hat and wished to speak to us. With cold, calculated heartlessness, we had heard before and would hear many times after, asked, “So what are your plans?” These 5 words are the basis for our entire western civilization. The assumption is that you are your own god. You, and only you, can be expected to lead yourself. It is the same heartless ‘self’ speech that said to Jesus as He hung on the cross, “Save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” We were hearing that same attitude from a man who purported to follow God. Since I had heard from God, “Do not plan,” I had no reply. At that moment I was cast as a deadbeat by John and it was obvious that we had contrary values. Every system of man expects one to cooperate, and take the lead, in one’s life. A life of faith is antithetical to such systems and they have no capacity to handle people like us which leads to their frustration. At that point they just give up.

Since the doors had closed with the Salvation Army, I took it upon myself to find us a place to sleep for the night. There was a mattress that had been thrown out behind the building which was unusual. I laid it out and arranged our blankets to make a bed. It was a cold crisp night but not windy or snowy. An older lady from the Salvation Army came over to talk to us. She was comforting in her words and told us something we could not see for ourselves. We cannot hear ourselves talk but others, hearing us, can. She told us that after all of our experiences we weren’t bitter. This was a grand compliment for bitterness comes from ‘self.’ Her comments revealed to us that we were maturing in God even though we felt raw inside.

After we bedded down for the night John came out and stood over us, saying nothing. After a moment he turned and walked away. The contract that he had boasted about, where he would lay down his life for others, was as empty as a bird nest in December.

Another man also came by and stared at us for long time. I asked what he wanted and he just said he was curious. I told him to leave us but he just stood there. I have never liked being stared at and I liked it even less at that moment. I got up from under the blankets wearing my oversized security jacket and walked toward him. I told him roughly, and in no uncertain terms, that I wanted him to leave. He got the hint.

Our first lessons out of boot camp were interesting to say the least. God was giving us an intimate look at what goes on inside the business of helping the poor. Our first impressions were not encouraging. People did help but more from duty rather than love. The system we saw was also very much ‘in the box’ and there was little room for faith, even if their roots were originally based in Christianity. It was a sad and discouraging reality that we would see repeated frequently. What we did learn was that it was the individuals that were important, not the system. If an individual was moved by love it made a world of difference to us. If a person was moved by duty or ‘self’ it became very bad for us. This revelation would be a valuable insight for the days ahead.

[] Chapter 18 – Special Birthday

Nov. 22 to 26, 2011 – From Salvation Army to between buildings

We were no worse for the wear on November 22, after sleeping outside. We were inured to being outdoors, had warm blankets and clothes and we slept on a soft mattress. All things considered, we had enjoyed a good night’s sleep. For some, those facts alone would make them balk at a life of faith. God, however, had trained us to go through any hardship to follow Him.

We spent another day at the Salvation Army again getting warm, having hot drinks and eating donuts. John and Sylvia kept their distance as we talked with the volunteers and people that dropped in to visit. There were many interesting people that came through their doors. Some had addictions, some struggled with mental problems, while others were just poor. Wanda and I kept mostly to ourselves; a little shell-shocked from all our encounters with islanders. One lady volunteer that we did meet, was very kind and listened to our story. She then relayed to us that she too had been homeless once. Later this same woman would bring us a small piece of luggage with wheels. God was preparing us for the many miles of road that lay ahead. That little luggage served us well.

We often found that those who had experienced significant suffering in their life, were the most empathetic to us. Sometimes in others, however, that same suffering led to bitterness. Those people, instead of being healed of their hurt, wanted to hurt others even more. Crystal was our first exposure to this type of behavior but we would meet others that were just as memorable.

Ida and Fanny managed to become acquainted with a lot more people than we did. After many years of being alone and without friends, they got on well with those that came to visit the Salvation Army. We were not aware when Fanny had struck up a conversation with a lady named Angela.

Later in the day we noticed that Fanny had been gone for some time. Fearing the worst, we began to panic. She had not said where she was going and so we began looking for her but she could not be found. Wanda was in tears thinking that something really bad had happened but, in fact, the very opposite was true. Fanny had gone to visit with Angela at her apartment. At the apartment they continued to talk and Angela gave Fanny a treat. The time passed but Fanny did not notice the hours she had been gone. When they both came back to the Salvation Army we were in full panic mode and ready to call the police ourselves. Angela reassured us that Fanny was in no danger as she was with her the whole time.

Angela was a kind lady that struggled mentally. She was supported by social services and had her own apartment close by. Her heart was moved by our story and seeing that we had no place to go, invited us to stay at her apartment. We were overjoyed at her kindness but that was soon tempered by the realization that Milo and Patches couldn’t join us. We needn’t have been concerned for God had already arranged a solution; except we didn’t know that as yet.

As we stood outside of Angela’s apartment a vehicle pulled up. A lady emerged from the vehicle and introduced herself as Jesse. She was an avid animal lover and volunteered as an animal rescuer. She had stopped to see if we could use some help with Milo and Patches. We received her help gratefully as we needed a temporary shelter for both dogs. She arranged to have them stay at a local vet and have Patches examined.

Now that Milo and Patches were taken care of, we had a little more flexibility as to where we stayed. Angela’s place was small but warm, which was important for us. That night spent in her apartment was comfortable; but we still slept on the floor and our hips were crying out for relief.

The next day I went to the vet to check on Patches and Milo. Milo was happy to see me but not excited about being caged. Patches looked sickly and weak. She did not even rouse herself when I came by. I was very concerned about her. Our time in the woods had been hard on her small body; more than we realized at the time. I left and walked back to Angela’s apartment.

As I was walked down the street the very cold air plagued my lungs and I could not breathe. I took a few steps then stopped to gasp for breath. Every breath became a burden as I struggled to get oxygen into my lungs. I had been in this place many times before so I did not panic; but the pain in my chest was making me weak. As I stumbled along gasping, a lady pushing a stroller saw me and asked if I needed help. Slowly and with great difficulty I said I needed to walk to the apartment to get my medicine. I wondered if she would walk with me to make sure I made it. Gladly she agreed and we slowly made our way down the many blocks. She did all the talking since I could not. She told me her name was Wendy, similar to my wife’s name, and that her daughter attended the school we passed. She also said she had trouble getting up in the morning for her alarm clock was broken. After a time, we made it back to the apartment and I was able to get my medicine. I said thank you for her kindness for walking with me and we said our goodbyes. I had decided that I would reward Wendy’s kindness with an alarm clock radio. My wife and I went to the dollar store and found one we could afford. I took it to her daughter’s school and left it with the secretary for her as a thank you.

Sometime during that same day God communicated into my spirit that He had a surprise for my birthday. I wondered what it would be. I didn’t have to wait long.

On November 24 we did not do much but hang around the Salvation Army and the apartment. Ida and Fanny had made friends with Peter, a volunteer at the Salvation Army, and his fiancé Samantha. They all got along well. I think this young couple was very impressed with the depth of maturity in our daughters.

Later that day we were informed that Patches had advanced kidney failure. It was a terrible blow to all of us. Patches was a sweet dog with a wonderful personality. The vet said she had been likely having the problems for a year. Her symptoms had gotten worse and our stay in the woods hadn’t helped. It was only fair to relieve her of suffering and quietly end her life. Jesse arranged for all of this and we were very grateful for what she did. The next day was going to be my birthday and it was going to be a very hard day indeed. We did not sleep well that night.

When we awoke in Angela’s apartment on November 25, Angela was showing signs of stress from having us there. She was quite concerned that her social service checks might be affected by our stay. We did not say too much for all of us were preparing ourselves to say goodbye to yet another pet. It was even harder than our previous losses because it was Patches. She had been such a dear fine friend to all of us.

We walked down to the vet and they led us into a room with a mat on the floor. Patches was brought in and was gently laid down on the mat. She could not walk and had the tube in her, ready for the injection, that would end her earthly life. Wanda’s dream was coming to pass. Even though she was our pet here, she really belonged to the Father who created her. We hugged our beautiful girl and kissed her many times. Even though we ached inside, we wanted her suffering and homeless journey with us to come to an end. We would see her again one day in the Father’s kingdom for what we truly loved here, will be waiting for us over there. We prayed the Lord’s prayer and sang Jesus Loves Me. When we were done the vet came back and was ready to inject her; we couldn’t watch. It was too horrible to bear. The sadness and grief at our loss was overwhelming. The ladies left and I followed. As I left I turned back and saw Patches one last time. She had turned her head and our eyes locked. It was our last goodbye. I shut the door and walked to where Milo was playing outside. His liveliness and happiness to see us once again was not reciprocated. Although we were glad to see him, our grief hung like a shroud over our hearts. After the vet informed us Patches was gone, we said our farewell to Milo and walked away. Ida and Fanny went back to the apartment while Wanda and I went to Dairy Queen. It had been a hard day and the ice cream we had as a birthday celebration was of no comfort.

When we returned, Angela was at the Salvation Army. She had been talking to Sylvia to request us to leave her apartment. We respected her request. We moved our belongings back to the Salvation Army and wondered what to do. Ida and Fanny’s friends, Peter and Samantha, said our daughters could stay inside at their house; but they had no room for us. We decided that it would be best for them to go since they would be warm, fed and able to shower. We did not want them sleeping on the streets. They took some of our belongings while we took the blankets. After we said goodbye, the 4 of them left for the night.

Grief stricken and now without our daughters, Wanda and I found a little back alley between a church and The Guardian newspaper building where we could sleep. I laid out our blankets and we bedded down. We both sobbed and sobbed that night; pain was coursing through us. Losing our beloved Patches, then our daughters and now sleeping in a back alley in the winter; it was the worst birthday in my entire life. I had just turned 45.

Our daughters had a better experience than we did. Although they were indoors, warm and fed, Fanny was miserable at being apart from us. We had been formed into a team and it seemed wrong, somehow, that we should be apart. God had other plans though. Through their stay, Ida was able to bring her friend, Peter, to the Lord. Even though Peter grew up in the church, he did not really know God. He was never introduced to Jesus. He thought that joining the church when he was young was enough. Ida explained the difference and led Peter to the Lord.

The next day Wanda and I pretty much stayed put. There was little point in moving and we had nowhere to go. As we stayed in the back alley resting under the blankets, a Guardian reporter surreptitiously took pictures of us without permission from the sidewalk. I saw him too late to do anything. We faced another cold night on the hard asphalt. Something had to change but God was not giving us any clues regarding that change. I knew that our spirits and souls had been bruised and beaten. Our physical bodies weren’t in much better shape. This life of faith was harder than I had ever expected possible and yet it continued; seemingly without end. God, in His sovereignty, knew what He was doing however. What He had started He would complete; no matter the cost. The Bride has to be without thorns. We could do little but follow. True love for God had an ironclad grip on our hearts. I can say, however, that despite the hardships, our lives were preserved. His angels were encamped around us and Jesus was always with us.

[] Chapter 19 – Christian Central

Nov. 27 to Dec. 11, 2011 – From between buildings to Central Christian Church

Wanda and I roused ourselves off the pavement in the back alley between The Guardian building and Zion Presbyterian Church on that cold Sunday morning of November 27, 2011. We had slept too many nights outside on the hard ground to really be fazed by our predicament. We had arrived here by simple choice. Not the choice to be poor and destitute but the choice to follow God wherever He led. This was our bed and we were going to lie in it.

We moved our blankets and one suitcase over to Zion Presbyterian Church steps to sit and think. Not a soul moved on the streets of Charlottetown that day. It was too early and too cold to do so. We were lonely, missing our daughters who were with Samantha and Peter. We did not know how Ida and Fanny were doing but we were glad they didn’t have to sleep on the street. We had arranged to meet them at the Salvation Army Church when they would be dropped off later for the morning service. As we sat contemplating all that had happened, we didn’t notice circumstances being arranged for the next lead. As is His usual modus operandi, we had to watch God’s lead unfold in quiet simplicity.

A man walked by and engaged us in conversation and being polite we replied back. He then said, “You aren’t out are you?” We replied that we were indeed, ‘out.’ He was surprised at this and immediately he told us that nearby Central Christian Church was known in the area as having a reputation for being kind to the poor and helping house the homeless. Thanking him for being so kind, Wanda and I recognized God’s lead and His timing. We got our gear together and went over to the nearby church.

The Sunday school crowd came in early and we were allowed inside with our luggage and blankets to warm up. There was hot tea available so warming our insides became priority. We milled about trying to be discreet as possible. We said hello to a few people but mostly we just sat in the pew in the foyer and waited for someone of consequence to talk to. Eventually an elder named Richard came by to talk with us. We told him that we had heard their church helped the poor and if there was any accommodation available for a homeless family. He said he would have to talk to the pastor first. We were content to wait. As we did so another man had come off the street and into the church. He was milling around our luggage and quietly stole Wanda’s winter gloves. An usher spotted him and told him to put the gloves back. I cannot say I was pleased with a man who would steal from the poor; especially when what he stole was necessary for survival.

Richard came back to us a bit later with his friend Bradley, who was also an elder, and they informed us we could stay in the church building youth room for a time. We were thrilled to finally be indoors. Wanda now went to the Salvation Army Church to fetch our daughters and tell them the good news. They came over straight away. We were all very pleased to be together again.

We moved upstairs to the youth room, put down our gear and laid out our blankets. We were now indoors and Wanda and I were finally able to take off the coats we had been wearing since the 24th. Richard and Bradley talked with us and got to know us better. They spent a good deal of time listening to our testimony and hearing what we had to say about ourselves. We gave them Laverne’s contact information so they could verify our story. Bradley did call Laverne. She said to him, “Yes they are from God but they are not ready yet.” Laverne was correct but her pride had been pricked. She could not resist the urge to pass her judgment of us on to Bradley, thus possibly damaging any support or help we might receive.

The elders of Central Christian Church did want to help the poor and the senior pastor led them in this charity. The rest of the congregation was less than eager to follow them. Richard and Bradley tried to help us as much as they could. Richard arranged for me to see a doctor as I had developed a bad cough. When I saw the doctor I was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia. Richard paid for all my medicine including my asthma medication. He was very concerned that I would die in my condition. I told him I wasn’t that fortunate. God had a hold on me and I knew I would not die until He had finished what He was doing. It was a testament of faith trumping fear.

The elders did take us out for lunch one day and we had a huge pizza. It was the first real, hot, sit down meal we had enjoyed since the summer and it was beyond words fantastic. The rest of the time we cooked meals in the kitchen that was attached to our sleeping area. We managed to buy some food with our own money and some food they donated to us.

Once we were inside the church, we received word that Milo could no longer stay at the vet clinic. Wanda and I walked down to the clinic and brought him back to the church building. He was not allowed inside so we had to tie him up behind the church. At least he had a place to go to get out of the cold. Unfortunately, Milo has separation anxiety and soon he began barking vigorously. One of us would take a turn to sit with him for a while and then would return to the youth room when Milo had gone to sleep. This was alright for a time, but then we became too tired and all fell asleep.

Later that night a police officer and animal control officer came by; their sudden appearance startled us out of our sleep. We answered the knock at the church door. The officer was surprised to see us and immediately became suspicious. Richard had to be called to confirm that we had permission to stay. Once that was cleared up we went out to see about Milo and the animal control officer was out there. Once again an islander had called the authorities. Once we proved that Milo was ours both officers left but were highly suspicious and irritated. Wanda spent the rest of the night outside with Milo to keep him quiet. The next morning, we knew something had to be done. Richard, and his wife Carmen, told us they had a big fenced back yard that Milo could not break out of. It also had a dog house so Milo could be sheltered from the cold. We agreed to let them take Milo for the duration of our stay. Milo was very pampered there. Before we left, Richard and Carmen bought us a choke collar and leash for Milo so we would be able to handle him better while we were on the road. It would be a very valuable gift indeed during the days ahead.

We had a meeting with the elders and the pastor about mid-week and they wanted to grill us over our testimony. The pastor and the elders all sat around a big table with us at one side and them on the other. It was a polite and cordial meeting but there were questions they had. The senior pastor, Derek, was a quiet man and was content to let his elders speak. These were kind men but very rational and well versed in the scriptures. In many respects they were like the Pharisees as they questioned Jesus. The Pharisees were trying to figure Jesus out using sense and reason without the Holy Spirit; natural reasoning. Jesus, however, answered them from faith and this brought a great amount of confusion and consternation. Likewise, these elders had never seen anyone take the Scriptures and actually live by them as they were written. Words like Paul’s found in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 weren’t seen as an example to follow and yet Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Our wilderness journey, living by faith in God, completely baffled and bamboozled their natural, rational minds. To their credit, though, they did not try to “reason contrary to the truth” but instead listened. They were more like Nicodemus who wanted to talk to Jesus later. At the end of this meeting, one elder said I sounded like Paul the apostle. Afterwards they all agreed we could stay for two weeks.

We managed to stay warm, fed, clean and have some laundry done. We explored Charlottetown and discovered a little Christian Book store attached to the church. Wanda found a great devotional by Frances J. Roberts called ‘On the High Road of Surrender’ which provided great comfort for our spirits and the leading of God in the days ahead.

Richard and Carmen invited us over to have showers and then dinner one night. We were able to wash from the sinks in the youth room but a shower does a better job. We were delighted to accept and have a chance to see Milo again. He was overjoyed to see us. The poor dog had to be separated from us almost the whole time we were in Charlottetown and I am sure it was confusing for him. The dinner was excellent and we had a good time with our hosts. It became obvious, later, that our story of faith was being blocked by their natural reasoning. Richard and Carmen gave us the story of the man who was in trouble and many types of help came. He rejected them all in favor of God’s help. It was a clear sign to us that they thought the help of man was the way to go and that a walk of faith was unreasonable. I agree. Faith is unreasonable and cannot be understood rationally. Faith exists in the spirit and ‘self’ cannot understand anyone who walks by faith. I can understand their puzzlement over us but we weren’t about to abandon our journey. Richard even told me I was too proud to accept social services. I was stung by the judgment but merely told him I had already been humiliated by our situation, where was the pride? We had not taken social services for God had not led us to do so and it was not time to face the giant of government.

The pastor, Derek, also invited us out to his house one night for showers and a lovely dinner with him, his wife and their cat. We had a wonderful, non-judgmental time. The pastor confided with us he was not from the island but was from elsewhere. He said that when he arrived in the Maritimes, he had never seen a location so dark spiritually. We had to agree.

The next Sunday, December 4, the church fellowship took a special offering for us. We received over $600 and we were very thankful. A special call went out to the people to ask if anyone would open their home to us until the weather warmed. The lines must have been disconnected because they received no response. It was another door that God closed so we would continue to follow His lead. The elders were convinced that they needed to rescue us and bring us inside. God, however, was quite willing to maintain our homelessness and let us sleep outside. He was with us the whole time and everything we experienced He experienced. If God could handle our poverty and homelessness, then we could as well.

Our last Sunday at this church was December 11. Wanda and I had been mingling with the congregation and we were saying our final goodbyes. We had made a few friends there and enjoyed spending time with them. One older lady saint was very encouraging to us and could see in the spirit what we were doing. We were thankful that we had a chance to meet this dear lady who helped us stay on track in faith. After the service and after many people had left, fire trucks and firemen started pulling into the church parking lot. It turned out that Ida was making toast in the upstairs kitchen when the toaster started smoking. The fire alarm went off and she couldn’t open the window to clear the smoke. Ida was very embarrassed but the rest of our family found it very funny. No matter where we went and no matter how quiet we tried to be, we always managed to set off people’s alarms.

Our time at Central Christian Church was a test for us. The test was not hard but it pitted the cold rational reasoning of religion against the vibrant, dynamism of faith. Each side was trying to convince the other that they were wrong. Unfortunately, for the side of religion, their ‘faith’ was nothing more than flawed human reasoning that could not compare to the life giving words that come from the uncreated Living God. Even as Richard questioned the basis for our choices, it had the opposite of its intended effect. Our family was being sent to try the systems of man and we were finding them wanting. Any assaults against true faith steeled our resolve to continue our journey. As we watched the stale, ordinary lives of those that trusted in the systems of man, we felt more pity for them than they did for us. There was no contest over Who we would continue to follow.

[] Chapter 20 – You Lucky

Dec. 12, 2011 to Jan. 12, 2012 – From Central Christian Church to the Winnfield Motel

On Monday morning, December 12, Richard and Bradley came to the youth room to say goodbye. They had bought for us a large piece of rolling luggage which had the opposite effect than what they expected. My heart sank as God was giving us a clear signal that we would be on the road again. After so much hoped for deliverance, more wandering had all the appeal of a bag of nails. We thanked them again for their kindness and generosity. We packed up our meager belongings and soon we were outside and making our final good byes on that cold bright day. Bradley was emotionally torn and said it was not good that we were leaving. We tried to reassure him that we were in God’s hands and all would be well. With that we bade farewell and trundled off down the street.

We didn’t know where to go. Since no one had opened up their home, it was clear that God wanted us to move on. Charlottetown was a chapter that was beginning to close. We meandered over to a local grocery store so we could get some food to eat. It was very cold and we wanted to go inside for some hot food and drinks to warm ourselves. We stayed out front by the store for a time wondering what to do. A few people gave us food but we never asked for anything and never approached anyone. A Salvation Army acquaintance recognized us, declared that we were in a crisis situation and needed to find shelter immediately. We didn’t feel the same way and tried to reassure her we would be fine.

Our presence still unsettled the locals though and it did not take long for the grocery store management to encourage us to leave. The poor security guard that came out, clearly had empathy but he had a job to do. We were happy to comply and moved to the back of the building. There we found a little shelter away from the wind and prying eyes. We did feel for people put in hard positions due to our presence. We tried not to be a burden but our appearance often made others uncomfortable. At least we always tried to reassure the messenger that it was ok and we would leave quietly. That night we bought a hot pizza from the store and ate it behind the building. Afterwards we laid out our blankets there and slept.

The next morning, we decided we would visit the Sherwood Church of the Nazarene. Wanda kept hearing the name Nazarene many times, during our time at Central Christian Church, and now felt led by God to connect with them. She went to call a taxi van for it was too far for us to walk in the cold. After that was done, the management again came out and told us that we definitely had to leave. Even though we had done nothing wrong, our stigma offended them. Thankfully God had blunted any harm they might have tried, for the cab was already coming for us. God’s timing was beautiful and impeccable. Watching it unfold over and over again never stopped giving us a secret delight.

We took the taxi van over to the church and were dropped off on the front lawn. Wanda and I went inside to see if we could speak to a pastor. The pastor was cordial and after hearing who we were and where we came from, agreed to speak with us. We sat down to chat under a mural of Jesus beckoning Peter from the boat in their large conference room. We told him we didn’t know exactly why we were there but had been directed by the Lord to at least inquire. He told us outright that God had been speaking to him about not judging and instead to know people after the spirit. The pastor, who was not from the island, listened to our testimony and could clearly see we knew the Bible extremely well. We shared our walk of faith and our plans to have land as a refuge for God’s people at some time in the future. We had a very cordial and meaningful discussion. Afterwards, he wanted to make a phone call to a friend who owned some land and thought there might be a connection for us. When he came back it was obvious that he had failed in his ‘not judging’ lessons. He said there was nothing more he could do and that they needed to close up the church for the day. He also referenced the numerous times that the police had been called on our behalf and if we had not done anything wrong the police would not be involved. His wife, an islander, arrived soon after and was about as friendly as a rabid wolverine. She wasn’t making any attempt to disguise her hostility. She too made it very clear we needed to leave. The long arm of slander and lies had once again reached out to smack us down. In doing so they invited God’s judgment on themselves as the very thing they were being told not to do; they did. We learned, once again, that God will judge us on those petty little boasts that slip out of our mouths in moments of weakness.

We walked away from the church despondent but having completed the task God had sent us to do. We would see that repeated many times as God would send us to people simply to test what was really in their hearts. Many times over people failed to live up to the declarations they would make about themselves. It was an unpleasant business but through it we were given a stark visual of how every single person has fallen far short of God’s glory.

As we wandered along the streets we had no cognition of what season the world was in. Christmas was coming but we were nowhere near anything remotely resembling a celebratory mood. We found our homelessness and poverty to be a slight distraction. For others, however, our presence was a tad more disconcerting. A woman and her mother were getting into their car when they spotted our train of 4 with luggage and pets walking along in the snow by the road. No doubt they were off to make merry at some holiday get together. The woman called out, “Do you folks need anything?” I quickly replied, “No thanks, we’re just homeless.” Realizing this was just a normal, run of the mill encounter with a wandering homeless family 2 weeks before Christmas, they got in their car and took off. After all, pressing family parties take priority on this island.

As dusk approached, we found an abandoned mini-golf course where we thought we might be able to bed down for the night. None of us really wanted to do this but there were few options available. No homes, hotels, apartments, empty buildings, shacks or decrepit holes in the ground seemed open to us during this season of giving. I told my family that if God wanted us to be outdoors we would be outdoors and if He wanted us indoors we would be indoors.

Wanda then had an idea. We had received a free will money offering at Central Christian Church earlier in the month and our child tax credit had just been deposited into our bank account that day. With this abundant wealth she went to the nearby mall, leaving the rest of us behind, to make some phone calls. She called the Winfield Motel and asked about rooms. She found out that we had enough money for a month’s stay. When Wanda told them we had a dog the lady hesitated but said, “You come anyways.”

With this good news Wanda called a cab to pick us up where we had plunked down our belongings. She came racing back through the snow to meet us. She asked if we would like to stay in for a few days and eat or stay inside for a month and go hungry. Decisions, decisions. Fanny blurted out that she would much rather be indoors. The cold was getting to us all and we agreed to a month’s stay inside. When the taxi van pulled in, we climbed aboard and off we went to the Winfield Motel.

During our time at Central Christian Church, I had a strange dream one night. In this dream an Asian man was opening a door for us. I could not understand the meaning of the dream at the time but I knew it was a message from God. We were about to get understanding of what that dream meant. We pulled up to the Winfield Motel, unloaded, paid the cab fare and went inside to check in. The loveliest family of Vietnamese people owned and ran the Winfield. The lady in charge, who Wanda spoke to on the phone, was willing to rent us the room but wanted a far bigger damage deposit than we had. By the grace of God, this little Asian lady was willing to accept all that we had and let us stay the month with our dog and bird.

Overjoyed at being inside and able to sleep on soft beds after 2 months of sleeping on hard surfaces, our hips fell down before God and worshipped Him with mighty praise. We would have hungry days but at least we were indoors and warm.

We all had our first hot baths in months and enjoyed soaking in the hot water. The beds were as comfortable as could be and we had many good sleeps there. We needed a break from the cold, trauma and wandering we had endured for the last 2 months and God graciously gave it to us. It truly was a Christmas gift from God. No people, no meetings, no harsh tongues, no slander and no hate filled speech. It was a wonderful break. Wanda, Ida and Fanny also enjoyed a television show, called ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ hosted by a Randy Fenoli, which they watched frequently. I would quickly exit to take Milo for his walk when it came on.

Life settled into a peaceful, quiet routine that our family loved so much. One day the owner of the hotel was talking with us in her broken English. She relayed to us that she did not normally allow dogs at the motel but for some inexplicable reason she had made an exception for our family. She said, “You lucky.” We knew that luck had nothing to do with it. I also experienced this ‘luck’ personally. During an evening winter stroll one of my lenses popped from my glasses. I was despondent. Without my glasses I could not see and I began to vent my frustration at God; at the poverty; and at the wandering. I wept and repented later but a lot of anger came out that night. Our whole family prayed for God to restore the missing lens. Ida went back to retrace my footsteps and, surprisingly, found it. There was great joy in our hotel room that night praising God for this miraculous provision.

Shortly after we arrived, we called Richard and Carmen to let them know we were safe and warm. Wanda asked if they would be willing to advance us some money from our child tax credit so we could get some food to eat. They were fine with that and Carmen took Wanda into Charlottetown so she could bring back some essentials. Carmen even padded the grocery trip with some gifts of food which we were grateful for. We gave them a post-dated check which they were able to cash in January.

When we were with Richard and Carmen again, they told us that there had been some nasty rumors spreading that we were panhandling while we stayed behind the grocery store. Wanda didn’t even know what that term meant. Shocked to hear about the cruel lies and slander that had spread about us ad nauseam, we told Richard and Carmen that we had never asked anyone for money and never would. We were frustrated that we were being trashed and could do nothing to stop the malicious slander. It represented a really dark time for us at the Winfield and our friends Richard and Carmen carried it in. They had listened to the gossip and rumors but did nothing to stop it; that hurt more.

Despite this, Richard and Carmen were still kind and took us out for burgers one day. Richard was expecting that I would look for work now that we had ‘stabilized’ somewhat. I would hardly call staying in a hotel room for a month ‘stabilized’ but the expectation that “God helps those who help themselves” was still the basis of their belief system. Nothing was about to change that, including an in your face lesson on faith from a homeless family. It was hard to witness. This couple both loved God but we knew it was from a viewpoint that Paul wrote about. “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” We gave them grace for this reasoning but we also wanted them to embrace the living lesson right before their very eyes and continue on in spiritual growth.

The Winfield Hotel gave us many opportunities to meditate on God and debrief over our initial two months of homelessness. We began to have the much needed revelation of the deep seated hostility that had been directed towards us. What we could not see, before this time, was our walk of faith was a direct threat to the kingdom of satan. His kingdom revolves around man being his own savior. If someone comes along trusting in God and not man, it enrages the enemy. If that person cannot be cowed into submission, he must be discredited. The evil one will brook no challenges to his kingdom. The enemy cannot afford mankind to have sight. If the blinders are removed, the church would discover the freedom that comes from following God, in true faith. The enemy’s kingdom would lose followers for real faith has teeth and authority.

We were returning to the ancient paths and so we were targeted for destruction. The enemy threw every lie, slander, rumor and unreasonable hate against us to stop our journey but he failed. At every turn God’s timing led us through the labyrinth of pitfalls and traps that had been deceptively laid for us. Every time satan’s cruelty, through man, attempted to starve, freeze, or destroy our little family; God countered with His provision and perfect timing. Yes, we were indeed returning to the “ancient paths and good way” once again. We were re-digging these ancient wells of truth.

[] Chapter 21 – Say Yes To The Dress

Jan. 13 to 15, 2012 – From the Winfield Motel to the Carleton Motel

God had allowed satan to turn our family upside down and shake us. Hard. The sifting we went through occurred for many days straight. This is normal for a life of true faith. What had once been our belongings had been scooped up by a spiritual tornado and scattered all over the island; our beloved cat family was spread far and wide beyond our reach. We had been given over into the hands of those who were exalting in their power over us. Helplessness gripped our souls. The pain of loss and grief was tossed in with anger, confusion and frustration to make a horrific chef’s salad of raw emotions. The Lord declares in Revelation 3:8 “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My Word and guarded My message and have not renounced or denied My name.” Yet for all of our pain, God did not choose to release us from this dark night. He was content to lead us through this deep valley for His own sovereign purposes. Bewilderment was a constant companion.

With this cocktail of toxicity brewing inside of each one of us, we stepped out from the warmth of the Winfield Motel on the morning of January 13, 2012 and into the cold. The year was new but our troubles were old. We knew we could not return to Charlottetown, for the wagging tongues had burned all those bridges behind us. Our only option was to walk to the Confederation Bridge ahead of us. It was the only route to leave this accursed island but it cost $40 to cross. We had little money at that time so we were trapped. However, there were much greater considerations than the bridge toll before us. We were outside, in January, and were many miles yet from our destination. It didn’t matter to our family though. We all desperately wanted to leave this hell we found ourselves living in.

As we trudged along the lonely highway cars passed perilously close to us, kicking up snow as they whizzed by. The day began to warm so at least we weren’t freezing. Suddenly a car slowed in front of us then stopped. We had not signalled anyone to stop and, in fact, I had told my family not to signal for a ride; so this person was a puzzle. When he conversed with us he said that he thought he recognized me but clearly I wasn’t the person who he initially thought I was. He introduced himself and offered us a ride to wherever we were travelling. We said, “Confederation Bridge.” That wasn’t a problem so we all piled into his car and he drove us. In the course of the conversation we discovered he was not from the island and that made us feel more at ease with him.

It was a bit of a ride but by mid-afternoon, we had arrived at the bridge site and were dropped off. We were very grateful for his assistance and wished him well. It was obvious to us that God wanted us to be here, at the bridge, but we had no idea why. Our only thought was to get off the island.

We walked to the building where tourists can purchase tickets to board a bus to get them across to the other side. The transfer site was heated and the staff allowed us all to come in, including Milo. They were kind to us and even served us something to eat. After we explained our situation we received two pieces of bad news in return. First, they would not take Milo on the bus due to liability issues; second, the staff balked at dropping us off on the other end with no one to pick us up. Being outside in the fall is hard but in the winter it is deadly. To add to our dilemma, we didn’t have enough money to pay for the crossing. We were stuck and did not know what to do. Like so many times, before and after, we would have to wait for what God would bring. Dusk came and then night fell early. The staff didn’t want us to sleep outside in the cold, so they let us stay in the entrance area where we would be undisturbed.

The next morning, January 14, brought no further relief. We rested there that day and received a series of visitors. The RCMP patrol the bridge regularly, so they came by for a chat. They had heard we were stuck. It was a pleasant visit and these officers were sympathetic to our plight. We explained to them that Gavin had stolen all of our daughter’s ID, including their passports, and we weren’t sure what to do. The officers were adamant that we not leave the island without the ID but we had no means to retrieve it. One officer called Gavin and made it clear to him that there was a problem. Gavin told the police that he would store our belongings until the following spring. After that, we did not know what would happen.

Later in the day a social service worker came with an RCMP officer. Since Fanny was over 16, there was nothing the social worker could offer us for assistance. Once again we saw the uselessness of government services. The island derived most of its income from tourism. A great deal of the population survived on employment insurance during the off season or social services. We were not participating in either system and it brought confusion when others engaged or queried us about our situation.

Our final visitor of the day was a major from the Salvation Army. The major was very kind but we could see little use for his ‘help.’ We had already experienced what little assistance we received in Charlottetown and assumed that all Salvation Army workers were alike. We were very wrong. Some were much worse and some were much better than John and Sylvia had been. We discovered later that it really depended on the person and their own depth of kindness. I thanked him for his concern but unless he was willing to help us leave the island, I didn’t think we needed any of his assistance. After leaving me his card, the major left.

Our little family spent the night again in that little entryway, making no progress in our quest to leave. P.E.I. had drained the joy of life from us. It seemed unnecessarily cruel to bring us this far and not let us leave. We stared longingly out the window at the vehicles coming and going seemingly without effort and ease. We wanted to join them. Try as we might the door had stayed firmly shut for our escape. We didn’t know it then but we would be stuck on this dark island for some days yet to come.

The next morning, the bridge staff told us that they could no longer accommodate us and we would have to leave. We walked out to discover the temperature had dropped considerably. It was a bitter blow to our spirits. There was a visitor center nearby. We went inside to warm up and to decide what direction we should take. The obvious lead God had given, to transport us to Confederation Bridge, seemed to disappear before our very eyes like ice cream at a summer picnic.

While inside the visitor center, we discussed our options. They were as numerous as the tourists that cold January day. Ida decided to take the opportunity to call her friend Leah in Alberta to see if she could help us find the lead of God. We felt trapped in an increasingly desperate situation. Ida let Leah know what was happening and Leah gave her 4 verses. They were Matthew 7:7, 2 Corinthians 4:8, 16 and 6:9. We were greatly encouraged but no further ahead in revelation.

What we didn’t know was that the receptionist, Jenny, was quietly listening to Ida’s conversation. She had discerned that we were a homeless family with no place to go. Once she understood this, she texted her step-father and asked him to intervene. Of course we had no idea that this was transpiring as we still tried to discern God’s lead for us. It was happening right under our noses but we did not know it at the time.

Wanda decided that we needed something to eat. She went over to a nearby Tim Horton’s to get some refreshments with the little money we had left. While she was trying to select some affordable treats, she heard a conversation off to her immediate right. Two men were in full gossip mode about the homeless family at Confederation Bridge and said, “Hey did you hear that they won’t take any social services?” The conversation cut like a knife. Just as quickly, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the real life actor, Randy Fenoli from ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ step into the Tim Horton’s. It was a breath taking contrast of emotions in a matter of minutes. The staff was fawning over his appearance but Wanda knew it was a Divine Moment. God the Father was affirming the walk of faith through the wilderness to prepare a Bride for His Son Jesus. Wanda approached Randy and he said “Hello beautiful!” For a woman who had gone from the dance floor as a gorgeous beauty, to wearing homeless rags with no makeup, these were stunning words of encouragement. She chatted with him for a few moments and discovered he was going to be in Charlottetown to prepare a lavish wedding for a local bride. She reached into her purse and had him autograph her devotional, ‘On the High Road of Surrender,’ as a keepsake memorial. In great joy she returned with her treasure of food and delight for our whole family to partake. After all the trauma that we had experienced, this one event confirmed to Wanda and our family, that God had indeed led us to Confederation Bridge and His timing was perfect.

We outstayed our welcome as visitors at the visitor center very quickly. A less than friendly caretaker encouraged us to vacate the premises which we promptly did. Outside in the cold, we didn’t know where to go except to the Tim Horton’s where the amazing God moment had just unfolded.

We sat there in the fading light, shivering in the cold and wondered if anything would come. A car pulled up. A lady named Sharon introduced herself and offered us hot drinks and some muffins. We were astounded at the kindness. She had heard our plight and knew we owned a dog. Sometimes the island gossip swung in our favor. She offered to take Milo inside for a period of time to help us. That was a huge relief since having a dog caused many difficulties when seeking shelter. We didn’t like Milo being out in the cold all the time either. As Sharon was conversing with us, a second car pulled up. His name was Morton and he explained that he was Jenny’s step dad. He relayed what Jenny had told him and he had booked us in a room at the nearby Carleton Motel for one night. He also brought us some food as well so now we were indoors, warm and fed. We could clean up again and get some much needed rest.

It had been a brutal 3 days which we did not wish to repeat. Despite the difficulty of the test, God had once again confirmed our way by the provision that came to us. To meet Randy, at the exact moment Wanda did, was beyond incredible. God had set her up by getting my wife and daughters hooked on Randy’s show at the Winfield Motel. When Wanda met Randy she recognized him instantly. That truly was spectacular. Then, for God’s awesome timing to get us food and shelter right out of nowhere, at just the right time we needed it, showed us that His love had never left us even though we often felt like it had.

We ended up spending 2 nights at the Carleton Motel. The second night we paid ourselves with some funds we had been given through some good Samaritans. We were still short $10 so we gave the owner a post-dated check. He never cashed that check despite repeated requests that he do so. I believe that he thought the check would bounce and that would only reaffirm the island attitude that Wanda and I were deadbeats.

Morton and Sharon both tried to help us get off the island but since we could not leave without our pets, they were stymied in their efforts. Its seemed like a Gordian knot that no one could unravel. It was a frustrating and confusing time for us. Clearly we could see God brought us to Borden-Carleton and the Confederation Bridge but He was not leading us off the island even though we desperately desired it. Little did we realize that God was about to have us launch the biggest stink bomb of all before we finally left P.E.I. permanently.

[] Chapter 22 – Kindness of Strangers

Jan. 17 to 18, 2012 – From the Carleton Motel to Bert’s garage

For many people, winter sports and being outside helps shake off the doldrums from being cooped up inside during the Canadian winter. After spending a little time in the outdoors, they have the pleasure to come back into their warm house and relax. For our family, being outside was a tough hardship to endure, since we had no such guarantee we could come back inside. It was very risky. Instead of spending a few minutes in the below freezing temperature, we would spend hours in the biting winter winds. This was our reality on the morning of January 17, 2012.

After Sharon brought Milo back to us at the Carleton Motel, we bundled up as warm as we could. We always had to keep our core warm, if that got chilled we would die. Our hands and faces had to be covered up as much as possible; they are the parts that lose heat the fastest. Once we were sufficiently covered, we headed out the door and up the highway back into Borden-Carleton where the Confederation Bridge was located. Now that it was obvious to us that we would not be able to leave P.E.I., we were not sure where to go. There was an industrial area just south of Borden-Carleton so we stopped there for a rest. We had been walking for a long time along the highway. The walking warmed our cores but our faces and fingers still felt the chill.

We decided we were too exposed in the industrial area and needed to find some shelter. We walked back to the visitor area we were at a few days before. Since we previously had been chased away by the management, we took no chances of going inside the building again to warm ourselves. We did find one little store which was open that January day and business was a bit slow. The lady sold pet supplies so we asked about getting a box to hold and keep Lennie-girl. Her cage was very heavy to carry. We found nothing we could afford but we did have a nice chat with the store owner.

After we left we knew we needed to find a place to sleep, sheltered from the wind and chill. We found one place fairly private but it acted too much like a wind tunnel. We moved to another building. It had been cleared of snow and had an overhang which kept the snow from falling directly underneath. We laid out our blankets and prepared to rest. The temperature had risen a little and since we were out of the wind, it was actually pleasant to watch the gentle falling snow.

The lady from the pet store drove by and talked with us from her vehicle. She suggested we call social services. We declined and told her that social services wouldn’t be of any help to us. As an islander she couldn’t believe that and drove off. We found many people on the island would not believe, and could not accept, that their government was a broken stick. They of course were not using the services themselves. We found that the ones that so readily suggested this course of action, were ignorantly unaware of its hidden pitfalls.

Later as we lay sleeping, we awoke to flashlights in our faces. Police again. Complaint. Same drill as before. This time it was two lady police officers and they were just checking to make sure we were ok. They were more helpful than others and appeared genuine in their concern. After a brief check-up they let us sleep in peace.

The next morning wasn’t as idyllic and we woke up to temperatures that had dropped from -2° C the day before to -8° C. With the wind taken into account, the mean temp was around -17° C. Sitting there in the chill, a truck pulled up. In the truck was an old man named Grant. Without even asking Grant had purchased for us hot drinks and donuts from the nearby Tim Horton’s. We were very thankful for his self-sacrifice and kindness to us that icy morning. We had a chat with Grant and he was sympathetic to our plight. He was on government assistance and he agreed that we shouldn’t be on it. A rough man, Grant had a tender heart. He had been through a lot in his life. Cheated out of a pension due to an injury, he was poor. He lived on the small stipend the government gave him every month. Those drinks and coffee represented a real sacrifice. Grant told us about a ball field close by, near his own house. The dugout was sheltered from the wind. Since we were facing the wind and it was obvious we were not liked, or wanted, where we were we took his advice and went to the ball park.

The Reg Rogers ball park was sheltered but it was still very cold. As we sat there the police drove by again. It was the same lady officer who had checked on us the night before. She was sympathetic to our plight but she had a job to do. As long as we were visible, islanders complained. We lived in a world where sightings of the homeless and poor upset the delicate constitutions of the more fortunate. It was better to stay hidden. If you couldn’t manage your own invisibility, then too bad for you and move on. On the island, everything was about appearances. Even in the middle of January with not even the hint of a tourist in sight, we were an eyesore that had to be removed; forcibly if possible. The police officer told us that she would have to keep responding to the complaints as long as we were visible. She suggested we retire to a ‘boat’ at the far side of town, away from prying eyes. Not wanting to be a burden, we complied with her request and prepared to walk towards the ‘boat.’

The ‘boat’ the officer was referring to was actually a playground, in a park, right by the edge of the water. The playground was exposed to the full fury of the winter winds that chilled us to the core. We discovered this reality much to our chagrin as the afternoon approached. We knew fairly quickly that we would not survive a single night in this place without warmer blankets. The wind blew brutally hard for it was channelled by the bridge and landscape right where we camped. After spending the day outside, we were already vulnerable and the night would be too tough to bear. A man named Leroy came by in his car after hearing about us. He told us that a nearby house was abandoned and we should break into this house so we would be out of the wind. The thought was rejected outright. We would not break the law by entering someone’s house; even if it was empty and meant our own comfort and survival. God would care for us and we would not submarine our faith by illegal means. Leroy’s suggestion was not from God.

Wanda walked over to Grant’s place to see if we could get an extra blanket for the night. Grant gave her one blanket and asked where we were camping. He knew the spot and was not too pleased with the location. Wanda left with the blanket and returned to the ‘boat.’ We were all shivering very hard and couldn’t get warm. It didn’t look good. We prayed the Lord’s Prayer and sang Jesus Loves Me as we always did in these situations. The doors had closed for us here and there was nothing more we could do. We awaited our fate as we felt the evil situation bearing down on us.

Suddenly Grant’s truck pulled up near the ‘boat’ and he called out. He had talked to his friend Bert who agreed to put us up for the night in his garage. Thankful for this reprieve from certain death, we loaded our gear into Grant’s truck and he took my wife and daughters to Bert’s house. I had to walk Milo over since there was no room in Grant’s truck for everyone.

Bert had a heated garage attached to his house where we could sleep. It had a concrete floor but we didn’t care as it was out of the wind and cold. At least we wouldn’t be outside and we were very thankful for his kindness.

The two lady police officers who had visited us the night before, found out where we were and came by to make sure we were safe. It wasn’t a complaint this time. They came out of compassion which we were very grateful to receive. Wanda asked if she could pray for and bless them. They were surprised but accepted. After receiving Wanda’s prayer, they left. Bert’s family also came by to check on Bert. There were a lot of rumors and gossip swirling around regarding our family so their appearance was not surprising. Society is riddled with fear of what it does not understand. Instead of seeking to understand, it is much easier to not get involved and to kill what should be understood. When our possessions mean more to us than the lives and well-being of others, we as a society have truly lost our way. Yes, there are a few homeless and poor people that take advantage of others but most of the ones we met were kind and generous people. It was the blanket stereotyping of the homeless that we found very discouraging.

At least on this night, Bert and his family made an effort to know us a little better. Instead of the drug addled, rabid thieves and ne’er do wells that they expected to find, his relatives found us to be an average family caught in a horrible situation. We explained our life of faith so at least they knew where we were coming from. They may not have agreed with us, or liked our choices, at least they didn’t convince Bert that we were a danger and have us removed. With these reassurances, we were able to settle down and sleep in a warm garage. God’s timing and provision was again utterly perfect.

[] Chapter 23 – Out In The Cold

Jan. 19 to Feb. 19, 2012 – From Bert’s garage to the Mulberry Motel

Bert woke us up on January 19 with an offer of breakfast. Since Bert had allowed us to stay in his garage at the behest of his friend Grant, we were unwilling to impose on him any longer. We did eat a little and spent some time talking. However, I packed up our gear and prepared for us to move. I was determined that we would not be a stink to Bert by overstaying our welcome.

On P.E.I. we seemed to make a stink wherever we went, no matter how vainly we tried not to. It seems our very presence on their island offended them in every conceivable way. Our walk and testimony of faith provoked pretty much everyone we had come into contact with. Grant was the rare exception. It was a sad state of affairs and very much a surprise. These yokels seemed married to delusions of an idyllic peaceful paradise while ignoring the obvious signs of hate brewing beneath the surface. The reality was gossip, rumors and backbiting permeated every nook and cranny of their society. These people preferred the deception of lies to the truth. God was knocking on their doors.

All through our journey we had managed to maintain a fairly low profile. We did not ask for money and did not demand for our necessities. We just lived quietly by faith moving as God led. I avoided any public relations, press coverage or any media attention as we were private people and cherished anonymity. Today God was going to challenge that desire.

Grant had come by to help transport our gear and take the ladies back to the ‘boat.’ Our belongings were packed and loaded onto the truck. I had just left the house with Milo, heading back to the ‘boat,’ when Bert got a phone call. Bert called the ladies back in as they were about to leave. The phone call was for us. As I walked along the road, Grant pulled up beside me and told me what was going down. A national television news crew wanted to come and film our story.

I was unsure about this and, in a rare moment of indecision, I asked Grant what I should do. I knew I was heavily biased against the media, for the exposure can have many unintended consequences. At this point I wanted to know what God was looking for so we could follow Him. Since Grant had been so kind to us, I allowed his input into what we should do. Grant thought that we should go ahead with the interview. Not realizing what we were getting into, I told Grant to let the media know we would do the interview. The big stink was about to begin.

We stayed at the ‘boat’ for some time until the media vehicle pulled up. Dan Viau, the reporter from CTV News, drove up to chat with us. He got cold quickly but we had dressed for the weather. We sat at a nearby picnic table next to a building by the ‘boat’ so we could be out of the wind. We talked for a while about our situation. After hearing our story Dan asked if he could film us, we agreed. Dan filmed us talking and laughing as we were standing around. Wanda held up her ‘On the High Road of Surrender’ book. After all of this was done, Dan thanked us and left. He warned us that we would likely be on the news that night. It meant little to us since we would have no way of watching the segment.

As the afternoon passed and light began to dim, we tried to keep warm but it was of little use. It was -19° C with the wind and there was little chance that we would survive the night. As we huddled in the ‘boat’ trying to just preserve our body warmth, the wind sucked every bit of heat we had left. Fanny broke out sobbing at our situation and had a full blown meltdown. We all had to calm and reassure her that God would provide. We did not know how that would happen in the icy darkness. I knew that she had to stop crying quickly. Crying was an exertion of energy and warmth that would rob us all of heat. Our situation was even more desperate than the night before.

About 5 PM a Salvation Army van pulled up as did Leroy soon after. The major we had met a few days before, had come back. They were there to take us to a hotel in Summerside. They had tried to get us a room at the nearby Carleton Hotel but the innkeeper was completely opposed to our presence. The innkeeper would rather see us die than to help us. Shocked by this attitude, the major had arranged for two night’s stay at the Mulberry Motel in Summerside. We were to go with them and that was final. He was kind but firm. We were way too cold to argue, so we took our gear and put it into the van. Leroy volunteered to take Milo for us, since we did not know if the motel would accept dogs. We wouldn’t find out until we arrived at the motel. With arrangements made, we said goodbye to Milo and Leroy and got into the warm van.

We were grateful to be warm, but we all shivered uncontrollably. We had come close to getting hypothermia but God had sent provision at the last moment. Again, God had perfectly timed this encounter to meet us. This test stretched us farther than we had ever been stretched. God was strengthening our faith but not allowing us to be destroyed. He would repeat this process many times.

In the van was the major and his assistant Mary. As we drove to Summerside, Mary commented that even if I didn’t care for my family, they did. I took exception to this question. The insinuation was that I was a deadbeat who refused to work or take social services. She disrespected the choices that we had all made as a family. I knew my character was being deliberately attacked because I was the father. I rebuked Mary sharply, told her that her comment was not true and that I loved my family deeply. She backed down from her biased rhetoric. At least she knew that I would not accept such slander again.

We got to the Mulberry, unloaded our belongings and were booked into a room. Finally, we were able to take off our winter clothing. The major brought us some Kentucky Fried Chicken and we had a hearty meal. Arriving just before the evening news at 6 PM, we turned to the CTV News channel. We discovered that we headlined the news that night. They entitled the segment ‘Out in the cold.’ These were the same words Wanda had heard verbatim in her dream with God the Father. CTV broadcast our story across the entire Maritimes and in Alberta, our home province. It was a shock to see ourselves on television and we wondered what the consequences would be.

The next day Leroy brought Milo back to us since we could keep him in the hotel. The nice choke collar Richard and Carmen bought for us while in Charlottetown was missing. When we asked about it, Leroy gave us some lame excuse that it fell off Milo when he was running. I asked him to please search for it as we needed that collar to control Milo. We never saw Leroy after that incident. Once again an islander stole from us in our poverty. It was a pretty sickening place to be.

Dan Viau came to the Mulberry to interview us a second time as a follow up. I agreed to this. Dan questioned me in the interview. He said our situation had confused the islanders. I explained to him that it was about faith and trusting in God. The interview aired that night and it was titled ‘A new beginning.’ It tied up the story that we were safe, indoors and now all was well. Two little clips that tried to bookend our whole faith journey within two nights. That speaks volumes to the shallowness of our society. We live by soundbites.

Dan confided that after our story aired, there was almost no response which shocked him. We weren’t shocked for we knew God had other plans for us. Dan did receive a call from one islander who was living in Ontario. His comment to Dan was, “Gee Dan this sure makes the island look bad.” That one comment summed up the entire attitude of P.E.I. All the locals cared about was appearances.

The television news segment riled up demonic strongholds on the island. We had made the locals look bad in the eyes of others. That was unforgiveable. We had to be completely discredited and ravaged to prove that islanders were ‘good’ people. There was nothing wrong with their island. A gossip rag in eastern P.E.I. printed a hit piece painting us as drifters and thieves even when there was no proof. The newspaper never contacted us even though I said would do an interview. They weren’t interested in the truth; only slander that would protect their false image of themselves. They had as much journalistic integrity as a TV commercial. The editor quickly followed up the hit piece with an equally provocative and slanderous op ed. The article opined we were charlatans and thieves while they were the poor, helpless victims who felt ‘bamboozled.’ Those articles destroyed any hope of kindness we might receive on the island.

Another problem we had, was that our extended families were now aware of our homeless plight. Their concern was less about our well-being and more about the family reputation. Our extended family suffered from the same malaise as the islanders. All kind offers of support from extended family were actually a lure to draw us away from our journey of faith. We rejected them all, preferring instead to be led by God. Most of the contact with them was through the Salvation Army. We did not want our whereabouts known. My father, however, could not stop his busybody, interfering ways. He phoned around all the hotels in the Summerside area until he found out where we were staying. Once he located the hotel and room number, he called us. I answered and when I recognized his voice I hung up. I was tired of being hunted down by this man who had become more of an enemy to me than a father.

Salvation Army was kind to us while we were at the Mulberry. They let us stay two nights, then a week and finally a whole month. There was food given to us as well. It was a pleasant time and as the harsh storms battered the island, we were thankful not to be outside wandering around. We went to the library a few times and managed to buy our own food at a local store as well. We were left alone but we did have one special visitor. Grant came to see us one last time in our motel room. He again brought us hot drinks and sweets. He regaled us with his fish stories and the one time he was almost run down by an emu when he was fishing nearby. It was a wonderful time with a kind friend. One of the few on the island we really cherished.

[] Chapter 24 – Two Bitter Nights

Feb. 21 to 21, 2012 – From the Mulberry Motel to the Econolodge

Leaving the Mulberry Motel on Feb. 20, 2012 was not the easiest choice to make. It was -9° C and a thick carpet of snow covered every inch of Summerside. We could have stayed another month as the Salvation Army major said but we were bent on leaving and did not want the taint of leaning on the support of family after what had been done. In this case the well from the Salvation Army had dried up and we could see no other option but to leave so we did.

I had once joked with Crystal one day when she had driven us around, that we were prepared to follow God anywhere even if it meant we had to sleep in a snowbank. God was about to test my foolish bravado and see what we were made of. As we walked with our blankets and luggage we did not know where to go. We only had a little money and certainly not enough for food and shelter. We had to choose one and so we chose food. We then wandered about aimlessly on the empty Summerside streets looking for a place to rest. The cold worked its way into every part of our bodies and we thought we might never get warm. As usual there was no help, no kind offer to allow us to sleep indoors, even for a day as cold as this.

I knew that we had to find a place to hide and sleep. People are very particular about the homeless. They pretend to care but the reality is that they just don’t want to see them so they don’t have to feel guilty about their own selfishness. It is a hard truth but we saw it time and again, especially on the island. We knew this so we took extra precaution to hide where we slept so people would not call the police and disturb us. All we wanted was to rest for wandering outside is an awful lot of hard work and very tiring.

I had managed to find us a quiet park, off of the beaten path, where we could lay out our blankets on the snow and sleep. It was sheltered from the wind by large trees and in the right situation might seem quaint. It was away from houses but close enough to a local McDonalds so we could go to warm up. The girls were able to buy a coffee there to get a hot drink in them. A hot drink when you are homeless was one of the more profound gifts we received on our journey. I know we were thankful more than once for this simple act of kindness from strangers. On this night, however, there would be no kindness, no helping hand. We had to face the cold darkness alone.

We took turns staying outside with Milo under the blankets. While two people would go to McDonalds to get warm two would huddle together with Milo. Poor dog couldn’t go inside and had to spend the whole night shivering in the cold. When we were not together Milo, who has separation anxiety, would bark and pull when Wanda and I left. At one point he pulled so hard the blanket came off Ida and Fanny, exposing them to the cold winter winds. Eventually the McDonalds closed and all four of us had to retreat to the blankets to try and preserve our bodily warmth. We had learned early on in our journey that we had to huddle together to keep our body warmth up and also to keep off the ground. The ground will suck all the heat of your body in minutes in the winter even if you are dressed warmly. I used the snow for insulation and had laid down as many blankets as I could to keep us from the cold. There never would be enough. By about midnight we were trying to sleep but Milo insisted on sitting up and barking occasionally. Still trying to protect us. I wanted him to curl up and sleep so he could preserve his warmth but the poor dog was very chilled. Eventually he did curl up and fell asleep. I lay there for a long time trying to cover Milo with what little blanket I could and keep warm myself. Occasionally we all would have to do a synchronized rotisserie turn to warm the side of us that was facing the earth and getting cold and to relive the hard pressure on the hips just like we did under the tarp. Sleeping on the ground is like facing your enemy, every so often you have to turn the other cheek.

Sleep did not come easy that night. It was so cold that I did not think we would make it. Hypothermia is a silent killer and we all knew it. We had used every resource at our disposal to keep ourselves warm but the cold was relentless. The stark reality was we had no guarantee apart from God’s faithfulness that we would survive the night. I cried out to God for help but none came. I wondered if this was the end and that we would die from the cold. Even our very bones were chilled that night and sleep was tugging at us with the lure of a dangerous escape. I knew that if we got too cold when we were sleeping we would not be waking up. That thought haunted me as I drifted away into some fitful rest.

Morning eventually began crawling back the victories of darkness and the coldest part of the day spread its cloak over our sleeping bodies. With the dawn we knew we had to get up. We had survived our night in the snowbank but I do not know how. Our sleeping position would be most vulnerable and exposed to any passersby should they venture into the park. With little sleep, cold and hungry we were not in the best of moods. Our blankets were frozen stiff due to our body warmth melting the snow, turning it to ice which then froze into the fibers of the blanket. That was the last night we would be able to use those blankets for unless they were thawed and dried it would be like sleeping on ice cubes. We were stiff, tired, cranky, hungry and alive but that didn’t really feel like a win that day.

I tried to put all our belongings back into some semblance of order that we could travel with again but travel really wasn’t on our mind. That night in the snowbank only darkened our morale which had steadily fallen since we left the Mulberry. After a month inside with warmth, beds and food we did not want to have to go back on the roller coaster of being outside again but we felt we had no choice. As always we prayed the Lord’s prayer and talked out as a team what we should do next. Every one of us was in a low point and we knew without warmth we couldn’t make any rational decisions. We decided to take what little money we had and get a hotel room for one night. Facing the biting cold wind Wanda managed to arrange a hotel room at the Econolodge outside of Summerside for us and a ride to get there. The taxi driver was certainly very curious about us when he picked us up in the park to take us to the hotel.

We were glad to bring Milo into the hotel for we were all very concerned about him. Thankfully none of us, including Milo, got any frostbite damage from that very brutal night. When we got to the hotel room we immediately put down a blanket for Milo and he got some much needed sleep. As for the rest of us I think we shivered for about an hour afterwards gulping down hot tea to warm us up from the inside.

For the first time we were alone inside and we knew we needed to make a decision about what to do. The conversation was tense and filled with raw emotion. Wanda wanted to call her brother for help and Ida and Fanny absolutely refused. They were convinced we were on a journey of faith and needed to keep following the lead of God no matter where He led us. The divide between the members of our team was a sharp as it had ever been and we had to make a decision. Ida and Fanny were going to go it alone if we asked for help and Wanda was emotionally wrecked. For a long time, we talked, prayed, read scripture and devotionals to try and find the direction of the Lord. We finally concluded we had to continue our journey without any outside help as hard as that was. God is our support, not man. We also knew we had to get off that accursed island for the damage it had done to us seemed irreparable. The decision was made to walk out the next day and head for the bridge to get off of P.E.I. permanently. It was a hard decision but one we eventually all agreed to.

Never once in all our journey did any one member of our team lord it over the others. We were all equals and listened to each other, encouraging one another and sometimes challenging one another but always as a team and always with love. We had our biggest challenge yet as a family, as a team, but we faced it and went through it together. Looking back, I would say that sleeping in the snowbank was a trifle compared to the real test we had to face in that hotel room. It was in that hotel room that a steely determination fired itself in our spirits to see this thing through. It was where we came together in one set purpose to follow God wherever He was about to lead. Conflict is always the place where real character is formed and our characters took a large step forward that night. My admiration and respect for my daughter’s faith rose highly that day and I was thankful that we were all a team on this journey of faith.

[] Chapter 25 – From Death to Life

Feb. 22, 2012 – From the Econolodge to the Comfort Inn

On Feb 22, 2012, we awoke in our hotel room at the Econolodge in Summerside, P.E.I. and packed up our belongings. The previous day had been most brutal and we were glad for the warmth of the hotel room. The decision to leave the island for good had been made and we were making preparations to leave. Our blankets had been soaked by sleeping in the snow the night before and now were too heavy for us to carry. Items that we had been carrying since we had been locked out of the cottage also had to go. This included Wanda’s personal bible that had been falling apart since the start of our journey. Lennie-girl’s heavy brown bird cage was also left behind. We did not expect to survive the next night so there was little use in keeping it. These were indeed hard sacrifices to make but we needed to travel light. Everything not essential was left behind. We left everything in the hotel room with an apology note to the chambermaid for the stuff they would have to dispose of. I knew we were taking a risk as the weather was well below freezing. We could not survive another night in the snow without the blankets but we were done with the hell of P.E.I. Our spirits had been broken by this godless island and the hellish wilderness we were in. We were choosing death as our only hope for getting off this god-forsaken island because we could not stand being there any longer. At least we were going to make one last push to try and leave in the hopes that God would allow us to go. We were many miles away from the bridge, however, and did not have the $40 to pay the fare to leave. There was a steely determination in us to leave that day and not spend one more night on the island that had destroyed us.

We all dressed as warm as we could, paid for the hotel room with the last of our money and set off. Walking down the highway with the cold and snow whipping at our faces and biting into our skin with cars whizzing by with no regard for us just made the misery, and our resolve, more intense. We had learned to ignore the cars and the stares and just keep trudging forward. Islanders had long since lost their ability to surprise us with their callousness. Just down the highway from the hotel the police stopped us but all we wanted to do was keep going. I was angry at P.E.I. and their inhabitants and wanted nothing more to do with them. We just wanted to get off that wretched island. We walked into town, stopping where we could to rest, with the strange stares boring into our flesh. We were just too hurt and it took all that we had to not respond in anger to those heartless people.

As we walked down a side street heading toward the outskirts of town a van pulled up to us. In the van was the Salvation Army major who had picked us up in January and had put us up in the Mulberry Hotel for the month. He reiterated that we could stay longer in Summerside if we wished. He did not understand the journey we were on and the deep pain and wounding we had from being on the island. The wounds were so very raw that we just had to either leave or die trying and there was no other option. We knew that without blankets we would not survive another night in the snow and freezing wind. He wished us well and then drove off. To us he was just another broken stick. A person that is only willing to help out a little bit but heaven forbid if it requires any personal sacrifice.

The day had gotten gloomier and the snow started falling heavier. Each step in the snow was hard. Milo shivered as he walked. My heart went out to him but there was little I could do as we were all in the same boat. He had a hard time the night before but had survived. The storm increased as if to press the message of misery home. We knew that as the sun faded so would any little warmth we might have had to keep us going.

About a half hour down the road, the same van came back again. We were quite surprised because usually once a person had come in contact with us that was it. Very few people were brave enough to endure round 2 with us. The Salvation Army major stopped and said that he could not bear to see us in the situation we were in. He understood our overwhelming desire to leave P.E.I. so he offered to drive us off the island. We were overjoyed to the point of ecstasy. Our expectation had been death and now God had granted us life. The journey to the bridge was about 15 minutes by car with another 15 minutes to cross the bridge. We had hoped to just get across but I knew it was desolate on the other side and we would be at risk once we got across. It didn’t matter though, at least we would be rid of P.E.I. forever and I can’t tell you how absolutely wonderful that was to all of us.

The warmth of the van was wonderful after the long cold day of walking. We loosened our clothing and relaxed a bit as we sat back and enjoyed the rest. We gave a small cheer as we got on the bridge and crossed over for the final time. I had thought our departure would have been more enjoyable but it was more akin to the pleasure one gets when torture stops. We were all thinking of what we left behind, especially our beloved cats, and all that had been stolen from us. The pain kept us from enjoying the moment. As we crossed the bridge the clouds did let up, the snow stopped and the storm passed. It was as if God was letting us see that the horrendous P.E.I. storm had come to an end. Finally.

When we got to the other side the man kept driving. We were puzzled for we thought that we would just get dropped off but the major would not allow that to happen. He was one of the rare people that actually cared about us and was willing to make a personal sacrifice to help us. I could not believe it. I pray that God always remembers the major’s kindness to us. As we drove and talked he told us he was taking us to Moncton, New Brunswick and not only that, he was going to pay for a night in a hotel for us. Our day, that began on such a low note with only death on the horizon, turned suddenly into a day of victory where God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We could not stop thanking Him, totally surprised at His unexpected kindness and unsolicited generosity.

That first night in Moncton was glorious. We were given enough money to buy a pizza so we could eat and we enjoyed another wonderful night indoors. We all had baths and washed away the previous day’s hardship then rested to face another day, this time in a completely different province, and thanked God for His bountiful provision.

We learned some valuable lessons from God that day. One was to realize that every person is different and just because they are part of an organization they are responsible for their own actions. We have seen people behaving poorly and behaving well regardless of the organization they represent. We have had to realize that when God brings us to people He has to reveal the heart of that person to us. We cannot assume just because they are a part of a certain organization that they will behave a certain way. Secondly we learned that God can and will meet us when we step out in faith. Albeit our situation was very extreme, and qualifies as a life and death situation, our desperate act of faith was met by a God who had prepared a way out for us. This has not, and likely will not, be the last time God will meet us in faith but I can tell you that He is trustworthy and reliable. When you throw your life onto Him He will catch you. Time and again when we had to step out we found that God had prepared something for us to get us to our next destination.

[] Chapter 26 – The Right Place

Feb. 23, 2012 – From the Comfort Inn to Nazareth House

Having survived the brutality of P.E.I. and escaping with little more than our lives we now found ourselves on Feb. 23, 2012 in Moncton, New Brunswick. Somehow we had to make sense of this crazy journey of homelessness God had put us on. We did not understand why or what He was trying to accomplish with us but we had no option other than to go forward. We were bewildered beyond reason but somehow we had to follow the silver thread of God’s lead wherever that went. That particular morning, I felt that we should go to the Salvation Army and see what help we could get. It seemed reasonable since we had just come through two experiences with the Salvation Army in Charlottetown and Summerside.

Now in Moncton there were two addresses for Salvation Army listed in the phone book. One address was downtown and one was quite far away. For some reason it was the one farther away I felt God wanted us to go to so we gathered up our meager gear, bundled up warm and walked out into the cold, wet winter day. This bedraggled caravan of poorly dressed people with rolling luggage, overstuffed bags and a dog pulling away must have been quite the sight as we walked the streets of Moncton that day. The Salvation Army was a lot farther away than I had suspected and after many hours of walking our legs had enough. We decided to spend our last few dollars on a cab ride for the rest of the way. The cab came by, we all loaded in, and I told the driver to head to the Salvation Army. He did an immediate U-turn and started driving us back the way we had come to the downtown location. I did not understand this at first but when I realized the mistake I insisted we go to the other Salvation Army location which he was unfamiliar with. Somehow we got this straightened out and he took us where we wanted to go but it cost us more than we wanted so we were left with very little money after this.

Now there are some times when you follow the lead of God and you do not know why it is that way. We were about to find out why God had wanted us to come to this location and not the location downtown. Walking into the building we realized that it was a Salvation Army Thrift store and not the corporate office but we did not care. We started talking to the clerk Teresa and her co-worker about getting help. Their manager, Maureen, also got involved a bit later. At first they did not know what to make of us but as we explained our story to them they sprang into action. They first began to help by coordinating for us to stay at Nazareth House. Nazareth House was a homeless shelter in Moncton. The shelter, however, did not allow pets so we had to find accommodation for both Milo and Lennie-girl.

Maureen called around to see who could take Milo. One lady volunteered to take him for a few days but Maureen felt in her heart that it wasn’t long enough. She called another person and this person asked if we were the same people that had been on television. In the wilderness the word about us got around quickly for both good and evil. When Maureen said yes the lady said she would make some phone calls. Soon enough she called Maureen back as she had arranged for a vet clinic to take care of Milo free of change while we were in the shelter. We would have to deal with Lennie-girl later. Next we were able to exchange our old homeless clothing for some new homeless clothing which we really needed. It was becoming obvious to us that God had led us to the right place as we saw how enthused these ladies were in helping us.

When all the arrangements had been made we bundled into Teresa’s car and took Milo to the vet clinic where he would be staying. It was a clean, bright clinic and the people were nice. We were very sad to have to leave Milo there but we had no choice. We had no idea how hard it would be for him during the next 3 weeks. After we had left Milo Teresa took us to the shelter where we were able to stay. We thanked Teresa profusely for all the help she had given and then she was off. It had been a long day and now an even longer nightmare was about to begin.

When we went into the shelter we were told that we would not be allowed in with Lennie-girl as they had a strict no pets policy. We were devastated as we had just put Milo in the care of others and we needed a place to stay. As we sat there the grace of God moved on a man named Mari who was on guard duty at the shelter that night. He made some phone calls on our behalf and managed to work out a deal where we could keep Lennie-girl in a box in the basement that night but we had to find someone who could take her for the rest of our time there. Mari agreed to care for her but we needed to get a bird cage the next day. We had no money at the time. With that deal done we were taken into Nazareth House.

Sometimes it is important to insist on following God’s lead even when there is resistance. As we found out later not all Salvation Army offices are alike. The office in downtown Moncton turned out to be worse than useless in helping us whereas the thrift store staff went the extra mile to help. We also found that even when there are strict rules God’s grace can find ways around them.

[] Chapter 27 – Prison

Feb. 23 to Mar. 14, 2012 – Nazareth House

None of us had ever been to an army boot camp or spent time in prison before so what we were about to endure was far beyond our scope of experience. We were still new to homelessness and had yet to be fully exposed to the depths of humiliation one goes through when one is destitute and homeless. I am not sure what it is like in other parts of the world but in Canada destitute, homeless people are treated as if they had committed some capital crime or venal sin. To be poor in an affluent society is an insult to that society and the offenders must be punished with the severest degradations imaginable. To that end shelters are a means to help, and at the same time, humiliate the homeless. All the dregs of society are dredged up and placed in the same building, away from civilized and affluent society. Once that is done the citizens pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves that they have ‘helped’ the less fortunate. From our experiences shelters are highly unpleasant places but we did not know that when we entered the doors of Nazareth House. We would learn quickly.

Nazareth House was started with good intentions by Christians who did want to help the homeless but by the time we had arrived it had devolved into something akin to a prison annex. Most of the people staying there had just gotten out of prison. There were locked doors, curfews, cameras and a guard in a windowed booth that watched over the population. When you entered this shelter you ceased to be a person and you were an inmate. Meals were served in a communal kitchen and everyone was expected to help out. Breakfast and supper were at set times and if you were late you went hungry. No one was allowed in the building between 9 and 5 and lights out was at 9 PM sharp. Men and women had separate quarters. We understood the need for rules and did not argue with them but it was a harsh change from where we had come from and what we had been used to. I guess God wanted us to toughen up so he threw us into the closest thing to prison available.

When we first arrived at Nazareth House, our spirits sank to learn we could not sleep together. It was a far cry from when we all bundled up together under the tarp in the woods but it was the price we would have to pay to have a warm bed each night. We quickly got into a routine of getting up, having a shower, eating breakfast and then out the door by 9 AM. We would go to the library to keep warm, find some soup kitchen to eat lunch, back to the library and then back to the shelter by 5. Supper was cooked, served and eaten, we would spend a little time together as a family and then off to bed by 9 PM. We kept that routine for three weeks while we were there. We did little else but read and talk when we could. It was no life but we were out of the cold, fed every day, and to outsiders that was all that mattered.

On our first night we met one of the guards, named Mari, who was sympathetic towards us. He was a Samoan who had a rough life and understood the poor. He realized, as many frequently did, that we were not your run of the mill homeless family. The first night in the shelter they allowed us to keep Lennie-girl in a box in the basement but we needed to find a cage since we had gotten rid of her cage in Summerside. Ida was not at all happy with this situation after what had happened with Destiny, whose body we still had with us. It took us a long time to convince her that we had no choice and that Lennie-girl would be cared for.

The next day we walked out of the shelter and down the street. We had to deal with Destiny’s body which we had been carrying since Crystal’s dogs killed her in eastern P.E.I. Her death had been a brutal blow to all of us and we had kept her body as we could not stand the thought of her being left behind in on the island. Now we had to let her go. We laid her to rest in a small bush and released her to God. Our Destiny and our destiny was now gone.

As we moved on we were trying to think of how we could house Lennie-girl while we were at the shelter. We thought if we could get a small hamster cage it would be easier to carry and yet still suitable for her. Just as we were thinking this we looked up and saw a pet store called Global Pet Foods. This was a pivotal God led moment where He would connect us to people that would affect our lives for the next 2 months and make us stand in awe at His miraculous provision. We walked into the store and began talking to the manager, Ashton, and her staff, Sheelagh and Jess. We explained how we got there, where we were staying and how we had a bird and needed a cage for her. I asked if they had any small, used cages that we might have for free. The manager left and soon came back with a brand new bird cage just perfect for Lennie-girl which she gave to us. We were shocked. Ashton then proceeded to explain that she had ordered one bird cage a few months back to see if there was demand for that kind of thing. There wasn’t and so the cage had sat in the back gathering dust. When we came along Ashton knew the cage was for us. With many thanks to our new found friends we took the cage, put Lennie-girl in it and Mari took her home for safe-keeping. Now all our pets and ourselves were cared for, albeit in different locations.

After this highlight and affirmation that we were still being led by the gentle hand of God little else happened out of the daily routine. There were, however, one or two little instances that bear mentioning for the effect they had on us.

The people at the shelter all knew that we were different from them as we did not have addictions nor were we former prisoners. Some were kind and wanted to get to know us better and others did not. One man, a violent, demon filled rapist who had just been released from prison, decided that my daughters were ripe for the picking and wanted them sexually. The police were called and we all watched as two officers restrained this vulgar, violent man and forcibly removed him from the building. We may have had some difficult encounters with police but never let it be said that I am not thankful when the police do their job properly. Another man had tried a subtler approach by trying to get too friendly with my daughters which made them feel uncomfortable. I had to have a little ‘discussion’ with the man that this was probably not appropriate behavior. These two instances deeply affected Ida and Fanny and although God kept them safe it was still hard to bear.

One day a lone woman by the name of Rochel came to the shelter. Since she was the only other woman at the shelter she stayed in the same room with Wanda, Ida and Fanny. As we got to know her she professed to be a Christian and was interested in talking about God with us. This went on for a while but Wanda began to note that Rochel had the mouth of a one-eyed carpenter. We did not know it but we suspected that she was full of demons. Late one night she was swearing a blue streak when Wanda confronted her about her foul language and she stopped. Wanda then went upstairs to report Rochel’s behavior to Mari. Rochel must not have known Wanda had left for my daughters saw her get up and go over to Wanda’s bed. They were sure Rochel had planned to do Wanda harm but God had protected her. When Rochel did not find Wanda in bed she ran upstairs, shrieking horribly, that Wanda “would not stop her.” When she got to the top of the stairs and saw Wanda she put her hands around Wanda’s neck and began to squeeze, hard. Wanda did not resist and in a moment Rochel let go as if an angel broke her grip. The police were called once again and Rochel was taken away. The event shook Wanda hard since she saw the real, malevolent intent in Rochel’s eyes and knew she was trying to kill her.

Besides these instances we also got yelled at and reprimanded a few times by the guards for the horrible infractions of sitting on a stairwell and talking privately together, not helping out as frequently as expected and being a moment or two late for curfew. One guard in particular professed to be a Christian, but he was condescending to the poor and had control issues. Thankfully he did not work many shifts while we were there.

One final event surprised us more than anything. One night the guard called me over and said I had a phone call. I was very surprised for in the wilderness very few people, besides extended family, had taken the effort to call us and virtually no one knew where we were. When I answered the phone it was Trevor. Trevor had been Dean at the Bible school I attended many years prior. He was a kind man but I had nothing to do with him for many years. Our only connection was that Wanda’s mother attended the church where he was now a pastor. Now, because of this, I was on my guard as we did not want anything to do with extended family. After the recent events in Summerside I was highly suspicious of the timing of this phone call from Trevor, feeling it was another trap. I let him do most of the talking. He mentioned that he was from Moncton and knew the area. He suspected that we might be at the shelter which answered the question of how he knew where we were but did not tell me why he was calling. He then proceeded to offer our family a place in Calgary, a job and help. At that moment I asked him point blank if Wanda’s mother had told him about us and had asked him to make the call. Ever since Bridgetown, Wanda’s mother had been putting heavy pressure on us to return to the west. When he said that was not the case I did not believe him. I knew that all of Alberta had seen us on the evening news in January, so his story was plausible, but he was too closely connected to Wanda’s extended family to clear my mind of suspicion. I then thanked him for his offer, said that I could not accept, and hung up. For us it was a tactic of the enemy that we had seen before. Once we were in a difficult position he made us tempting offers to quit. If we had accepted the offer, we would have been abandoning our faith in God in exchange for the worthless promise of support from mere men who were broken sticks. For us this phone call was just a visual parable and example of Hebrews 11:37, “They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated.”

In retrospect, God had good reason for putting us at Nazareth House. We saw the dark side of man, and the demonic, that we had not seen before and from that developed an empathy for the oppressed than can only come from close contact. We also toughened up as we saw that God had protected us from grievous harm and tempting offers that would have derailed our faith walk. Although our stay was short it had a deep impact on us and we would not forget what happened there.

[] Chapter 28 – Reunion

Mar. 15, 2012 – Nazareth House to Maurice’s Apartment

After spending three weeks in the shelter we had developed a daily routine while staying housed and well fed. All our bodily needs were being taken care of but our spirits were slowly dying from the lack of fellowship with each other and the relentless assault by the evil one and his minions. When our time at the shelter ran out we were not eager to extend our stay. We opted to leave and face what God had for us on the outside.

On the morning of March 15 Ida and Lennie-girl were reunited and both were quite happy. Lennie-girl had been well treated by Mari and his family and we were very glad to have her back. After this tearful reunion, we stepped out into the cold day and started our journey to the vet where we were to pick up Milo.

The walk was long through the cold windy day but we didn’t care. We were all focused on getting Milo back and reuniting our troop. When we got there we waited for him to come out. When he did finally come out we were aghast. He was so very thin we could not believe it. I suspected the staff had fed him very little during his incarceration, if at all. I was not pleased but did not say anything. At the moment we were just all very glad to be reunited. Milo had his ‘pack’ back and almost wagged his tail off he was so happy. Happy that we were finally back together after 3 long weeks we left the vet clinic and headed out. We did not know what to do next but thought the best course of action would be to go visit Ashton and get food for Milo since we had none. So we started the long journey back over to Global Pet Foods.

It was dusk when we arrived at the store. Our friends Ashton, Sheelagh and Jess were more than willing to help us and Milo. Milo got a huge helping of food that he gobbled down greedily and they were kind enough to give us a big bag of food for Milo. It would be hard to carry but it would keep Milo fed as he bulked up again and that’s all we cared about.

We were less concerned for our own situation than Milo’s that day but the inevitable question of where to sleep and eat came up. It was very cold outside so we didn’t know what to do. Ashton and her staff allowed us into the back of the store and got us pizza while they figured out where we might spend the night. All these plans were interrupted when the police came to the store. We do not know who but someone, once again, called the police on us. This fear and calling the police was getting really tiresome and grated on all our nerves. Ashton and her staff insisted that they had not called the police so it was a puzzle.

Despite our own misgivings we knew we could not put any pressure on the good will of Ashton and her staff. We accepted the offer of a ride in the police car to the local YMCA to see if we could get help there. After many thanks to Ashton and her crew we all piled in, with Milo sitting on top of all of us, and took off. This was the only time in our lives that any of us had ever ridden in a police car. Soon enough we got dropped off in the dark at the YMCA.

We went inside to see if there could be any help at all but they had no facility to help the homeless. In actuality they did have a very big building that they kept heated all year round where we could have slept but due to fear and regulations heated buildings are usually out of reach to the homeless. It is a sad indictment against the society we live in where we keep heating empty buildings that are only used a few hours in the day and will not be used to help the less fortunate. After talking with the staff we accepted our fate and asked for permission to sleep in the front entry way so the snow wouldn’t get on us. We received that permission and tried to bed down in the front entryway. When the YMCA closed the man in charge, Maurice left and headed home. We spread out our blankets and prepared to spend the night when, about a half hour later, Maurice drove up and told us we could spend the night at his apartment. We were very surprised since that kind of self-sacrificing generosity was very rare and we knew it. With many heartfelt thanks we piled into Maurice’s car and took our second car ride for the night. By 9:30 we were at his apartment and safely ensconced inside. We were able to sleep in soft beds and get cleaned up as well.

It had been a very eventful day and many times, through the twists and turns of our interactions with others, we continually saw the hand of God moving on us and others around us. We had started the morning separated and facing a cold night outside and yet God had orchestrated events and timing to once again provide the manna we desperately needed. Here we were that night, together, indoors and well fed. That day strengthened our faith and we relayed this living testimony to a stunned Maurice and his girlfriend. We never get tired of giving that surprising testimony to others of how God provides for His children.

[] Chapter 29 – Mere Seconds

Mar. 16 to 18, 2012 – From Maurice’s Apartment to the Econolodge

The journey of faith through the wilderness is always full of twists and turns, hair raising events followed with long bouts of boredom. No two days are alike. Some days God threw many things at us and other days we would just sit and marinate, thinking about what had happened, and looking to God for understanding. Whatever transpired in that day we could rest assured that God would provide for us everything we needed. We didn’t understand a lot of what God was doing at the time but we came to appreciate it much later. That is the quintessential lesson of the wilderness. To wait on God, without explanation, through the dark times and then to accept His understanding about it much later. It is designed to make us dependent on Him, to trust Him when we can’t see what is ahead. When we allowed ourselves to go blindly forward, trusting Him, He always met us. God has never failed us. We have too many experiences with Him to say otherwise.

On this cold March morning we got packed up and Maurice drove us to the downtown library where we knew we could stay warm. With many expressions of gratitude, we left Maurice and continued on our way.

It was a long day and not much happened. We were in contact with Ashton and her staff through email as we tried to find accommodations for our family. As usual when we tried to make something happen it fell flat as a soufflé at a clogging festival. God had his own agenda and He was not about to allow our pitiful efforts to undermine the good work He was doing. We often found that when we tried to organize or somehow direct this journey God would always shut the door on us. It was frustrating but necessary for we cannot see the big picture so we cannot arrange events and people to make things happen. We didn’t understand then that not only was God providing for us but He was also trying to reach out to others with us as a living testimony. Many times we only saw our own pitiful needs and not others. Slowly we began to learn how to let go and surrender gracefully to God so He could work through us to reach them. At this point, however, many others were of the opinion, that we had to ‘make something happen,’ as futile as that was.

With nothing happening, and the day wearing on, I re-joined my family outside the library. On the steps of the library we met a few people and some from the Nazareth House shelter. One new person we met was Rory. I am not sure how we met or got talking but I do know that when a guard came out of the building and threatened us we needed to get moving. Rory was quite upset at the guard. He decided that we could use a meal so he took us to a nearby restaurant where we could eat and tell him more of our story. After we had shared what we could Rory, out of the blue, told us he, and his fiancé, Brigitte, would pay for us to stay in a hotel for one night. We were very relieved for it meant we would have yet another night indoors out of the cold. We thanked them profusely as they arranged for us to stay at the Motel 6. We were then given a ride over to the motel where we checked in. Once again God’s invisible hand had led us perfectly to where we needed to go after we had met with the people He was reaching out to.

We spent a quiet night alone in the hotel and the next day we prepared to leave. It had been a long month and we had grown tired of Moncton. Although there had been moments where others had helped us that was not the norm. Too often people just wanted to pass us off to organizations, absolve themselves of any personal responsibility, and let the ‘system’ take care of us. We had intimate knowledge of these ‘systems’ and wanted nothing more to do with them. All we wanted was to get out and head down the road to Fredericton. Even though it was a bitter choice between the cold outdoors and the hell that was shelter life we still chose the open road.

With that in mind we began to pack our belongings for a long trip. About a half hour before we had to leave the hotel room for good, we got a phone call. On the other end on the line was a woman who we will call Samantha who had heard about our plight from our contact with Ashton, Sheelagh and Jess. She was the head of an organization that tried to help the homeless. I explained our situation over the phone about how we could not go the traditional route of support for we were four people with a dog and a bird. We refused to be split up again to satisfy the stupid rules of others. We refused to be bullied by condescending social workers who sat in their offices and looked down their noses at the poor. I was angry and hurt by our time at Nazareth House and was not willing to make any compromise that would hurt our family. All this was taken in graciously by Samantha. She told me to wait and she would get back to me. I told her we could only wait until noon and then we would be heading down the highway.

We continued to get ready for a long walk as the minutes ticked by with no phone call. Then, with mere seconds to go, Samantha called me back with the news that she had been able to arrange for us to stay at the Econolodge for two nights. I have seen God work His perfect timing in many situations but His timing in this situation came down to seconds. We were stunned and duly impressed by this magnanimous gesture of kindness. Since we were all packed up we went downstairs and waited outside to be picked up. It did not take long for Samantha and her husband to pick us up and drive us all to the Econolodge.

We spent most of the day with Samantha and her husband. We talked and talked. They had never before seen a family like ours who were homeless so it was a real treat for them and us to talk about what we were going through. Samantha told us that we were unique and took our picture to put in her newsletter about homelessness. Later they bought us sushi for supper. We had not had sushi for many years and it was an extra special treat to get it that night.

The next day, Samantha and her husband took us, and Milo, to the dog park so he could have some play time. That was a real treat for Milo had been through so much since Bridgetown and had not been allowed to run for many months. He clearly enjoyed that day as we all did. Samantha and her husband continued to feed as and we were very grateful. We talked about what we were going to do next and what our options were. We heard that Ashton was engaged to be married and the mother of the man she was engaged to was willing to put us up at her house for a time. It was wonderful news and we looked forward to leaving the next day to go to Fredericton where Ashton’s fiancée’s parents lived.

We had been through a lot in Moncton and most of that time had been a real testing for us. It had not been easy but we had survived, with a few emotional scars, tougher than we had been before. Our faith was growing as it was being tested and the assaults from satan continued. God allowed these testing’s but never to the point where we would be physically harmed. As God had told me in Bridgetown, satan had permission to come so far but no farther. God never allowed us to be physically abused or molested to the point of injury and I am very thankful to Him for that.

[] Chapter 30 – Pets or Meat

Mar. 19 to Apr. 2, 2012 – From Econolodge to the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel

In the film, ‘Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint,’ Michael Moore interviews a woman who sells rabbits. Her sign advertised that the rabbits could be either pets or meat depending on your financial position. If you had much, you could feed and care for the rabbit and if not, you could eat it. In our journey of faith, we learned to relate to the rabbit. When we met new people we never knew if we were going to be loved and cuddled, or served up with some “fava beans and a nice chianti.” God never told us what was in the hearts of the people we met. We had to learn to observe what was in their hearts from varied, often painful, experiences. We learned to describe what we found in others, and ourselves, as the ‘self’ nature. God would continually put us into situations where the ‘self’ nature would be exposed and we could examine it in great detail. It was a brutally painful process; but absolutely necessary if we were to understand and then kill the ‘self’ nature within ourselves. The next story is one of the most painful lessons of this kind as we went from being pets to meat.

On March 19, 2012 Bertha came by to pick us up in Moncton. She was a petite lady with a nice smile and quite friendly. After saying goodbye and thank you to Samantha and her husband, we all climbed into Bertha’s SUV for the long drive to Fredericton, New Brunswick’s capital. Bertha said she loved God and seemed genuinely interested in our journey. We told her everything that had happened up to that point in time. We had a good conversation and before long we were at her house.

We moved into the basement of her house where it was private and we had a little autonomy. She gave us the run of the house, which showed a great deal of trust, and we settled in. Wanda and I took the bedroom, while Ida and Fanny slept in the adjacent open area. Milo had a nice back yard to romp around in and could sleep in the basement at night. We were very happy to be out of Moncton and in a house of Christians who desired to show kindness to the poor. We had not seen much kindness in our journey, so we welcomed this hospitality with open arms. Bertha and her husband, Stuart, were kind and generous to us and we were thankful.

Initially things went very well. We had long talks with Bertha and soon found out that underneath the pleasant, serene exterior she had been deeply wounded in her past and in her first marriage. It made us empathetic towards her. We realized that every person goes through deep waters in different ways. It was how we process those experiences that will make us either bitter or sweet in this life. We did not know what was in Bertha’s heart yet.

Everything was idyllic for the first week. We were taken to get new clothes from the thrift store and we received tickets to attend a Steve Bell concert. Steve Bell was a favorite Canadian Christian musician whose music we all enjoyed. On the night of the concert, we had to leave Milo behind in the yard. Since Milo has separation anxiety, he soon found a way out through the fence and was on the lam searching for us. It did not take long for the neighbors to start calling the dog catcher. Animal control caught Milo and put him in the slammer. Of course we did not know this until we arrived home. It was going to cost us $60 to post his bail; we did not have the money. We spent our last $60 paying for a membership to WOOF. WOOF was an organization that connects people to farms where you can receive accommodations in exchange for labor. Since we had no money, Stuart paid the bail money to spring our dog from the slammer and we were glad to be reunited. This event should have been an ominous warning since Milo, for us, is the exact representation of the ‘self’ nature; but we didn’t get it at the time.

On Sunday night, Bertha and Stuart hosted a Bible study in their home. Wanda and I were invited to join. A few couples showed up and Bertha introduced us. The conversation and study definitely lacked spiritual depth but we kept quiet for politeness sake. When we got a chance to talk, we discussed some of our journey and what we had learned. I knew we offended the religious spirit in one lady who took exception with some portions of what we shared. Since I did not want to get into any type of argument, I held my tongue and let the offense pass. I felt the comments showed a complete disregard for the path of faith. After the study, Wanda and I returned to our room; concerned about what had just unfolded.

As the next week passed, it became increasingly clear that Bertha had some sort of agenda in bringing us into her home. She seemed to be overly caring about Wanda and the girls, and less aware of me. At one point she even grabbed Wanda by the shoulders and shook her violently saying, “You need some rest!” She was projecting her own bad experiences onto Wanda thinking I was hurting her. She wanted to rescue Wanda. It was a complete misread of what we had been saying. Her own past blinded her from seeing the truth. As we talked more, it seemed that Bertha had not forgiven her first spouse. Wanda and I began to see the fruit of bitterness that inevitably comes from unforgiveness.

The next Sunday night, we did not attend the Bible study. We could not tolerate the religious spirit and lack of grace in the group. Even though they served a big meal, we chose not to go upstairs to eat. Bertha brought food down to us, later, but it was obvious that she was offended. We had made her look bad in front of her friends.

It was now clear to us that Bertha had formed a very faulty opinion of our whole family; despite our testimony and all that we had shared with her. She infected Stuart with this lie. One day, as I was making dinner upstairs alone, Bertha and Stuart sat in the living room. Stuart began by suggesting that my daughters might be best served by leaving me and finding a place of their own. Bertha had completely poisoned Stuart and they thought I was harming my daughters which they decided needed rescuing from me. With a clear, calm voice I shared that our family was a family of equals and that each member had a say. No one lorded it over the others and Ida and Fanny chose to stay with us of their own volition. This did not make Stuart happy. He began to argue, louder and louder, that I was wrong. I was, in fact, harming my daughters by this journey we were on. I knew this wasn’t true but I was not upset. I calmly asked Stuart why he was yelling at me. I had done nothing wrong. I was not about to accommodate their manipulations and allow them to ‘wear the white hat.’ That seemed to rattle him and he quickly calmed himself. They decided that they had better go for a walk which they did. Unfortunately, their hand had been exposed and was shown to be false. It was the beginning of the end of our stay with Bertha and Stuart.

It all came to a head on April 2. I had received our tax forms in the mail and Bertha brought them down; slamming the forms into my chest in complete anger. Wanda asked her why she was behaving that way but Bertha’s anger had boiled over into a violent rage. Her final words to us were, “You are all insane!” With that exchange she left the house in a huff. We knew we couldn’t stay, so we hurriedly packed up all our belongings and left her house as well.

Bertha was a bitter woman. She had not forgiven her first spouse for the pain she experienced and that pain turned to bitterness inside of her heart. It had festered and grown as her ‘self’ nature. Since this was clearly not an acceptable stance in the church, she had painted a veneer of godliness over her bitterness. Bertha pretended that she was the perfect Christian. However, she did not have a relationship with God due to her unforgiveness. As it says in 1 John 4:20, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Bertha actually hated God and because of this, she lashed out at the very people who were carrying His message of love to her. Although it was painful to experience, we realized that Bertha was not angry at us but at God who sent us to her.

It was a sad day when we left their house. We felt completely undone by the rapid erosion of good will that Bertha had demonstrated when she picked us up. We did not understand what had happened; we walked on, eager to get as far away from that neighborhood as we could. Soon we found ourselves down by the river not knowing where to go.

As dusk was approaching, a lady came to speak with us. We shared a little of our story with her. She said she cared for the poor and worked at the soup kitchen nearby. After a while she left but then she came back. She brought us some much needed food and a foam sleeping mat that folded up like an accordion. I did not realize it at the time, but that mat would be very important to me in the future. We never did see that lady again; even though we spent close to the next 3 months going to the soup kitchen. It was the only time in our journey that I wondered if we had been ministered to by an angel.

When darkness came we had to find a place to sleep. We could not lay out our blankets for it was too cold and we were concerned about the police. Behind the nearby Lord Beaverbrook hotel was an out of the way metal staircase with some dryer vents in the wall pushing out warm air. It was the only heat we could find. All 4 of us squeezed into that tiny space to stay warm and hidden. We were crammed in there tighter than a jar of peanut butter at a squirrel convention. It was the most uncomfortable night we had ever spent outside; but we had learned through our journey that God cares more about our well-being than He does our comfort.

[] Chapter 31 – Follow the Trail

Apr. 3 to May 2, 2012 – From the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel to Simon’s trailer

We were achy, grumpy, tired, cold and hungry when morning came upon us on April 3, 2012. We managed to extricate ourselves from under the stairs at the back of the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel, massaging aching limbs and joints in the crisp morning air. The ladies and I moved our belongings away from the hotel as we contemplated what to do next. It was obvious that we could not spend another night outside like that again, as it was still quite cold. We began to search around for help and eventually found out where the soup kitchen was. We brought all our belongings and parked them under a tree by the soup kitchen so we could figure out what to do. Since I felt very low that morning I took a walk alone to talk with God. The events of the past few weeks had wounded me deeply. I could not figure out what was going on and what to do. I found a quiet place behind a small building in a nearby park and began to sob uncontrollably. Waves of pain and anguish swept over me as I poured out my heart before God. That did not solve our problems but it helped to cry a bit. After I was done I walked back to where Wanda and my daughters were.

When I returned I found out that my industrious daughter Ida had been working the phones. She had contacted various social services including Salvation Army and they agreed to pay for a night at the Fort Nashwaak Hotel for one night and a cab ride to get us there. So after a good meal at the soup kitchen we packed into the cab and headed off to the hotel. To be inside again was wonderful and we slept for a long time.

The next day, we knew we would have to leave again for we only had one night at the hotel. Wanda talked with the manager at the front office about whether we could stay longer and pay when some of our money from the government came in. The manager said “no” and then paused as an idea from God was forming in her mind. She then asked if we would be willing to work for our stay. Of course we never turned down work when offered so Wanda said “yes”. The woman then agreed to let us stay for a month in exchange for spring cleaning of the hotel rooms. We now had a lengthy time indoors where we could rest and recuperate from Moncton and Bertha.

Wanda and I began cleaning the hotel rooms on a daily basis while our daughters were able to relax. We managed to get food from the local food bank, church pantries and with our own money. The odd time we walked the great distance to the soup kitchen. We celebrated Passover at the Fort Nashwaak with a very large turkey we cooked in the hotel room. When we were not working or getting food we spent a great deal of time talking, thinking and praying. The Fort Nashwaak Hotel was a marinating time for us where we could contemplate what we had been through. It was a time when I had a major breakthrough understanding my own duplicitous and hypocritical ‘self’ nature that I had to repent of. God was starting to unfold the flower of understanding for us.

We met a clerk at the front office who was a very nice fellow. He was studying to be a pastor through a correspondence course from Liberty University. He talked with us and our daughters at great length about our faith journey. He was very interested in our relationship with God and we enjoyed talking with him. At one point he gave a copy of ‘Pilgrims Progress’ to Fanny. We enjoyed the connection as he was not trying to manipulate or control us as others had been doing.

As our time at the Fort Nashwaak was coming to an end, I began to let fear overrun my faith. On our last day, I left Wanda to clean the last room as I desperately looked around for a job or some way to keep us indoors. It was not right and I had to repent of my fear and cowardice. It was not the only time I would have to repent on this journey.

The next day we gathered our gear and left the Fort Nashwaak Hotel. I did not know where to go but God told me to “Follow the trail.” Now there is a trail that runs along the length of the river from one end of Fredericton to the other. It is a greenspace area where people walk, jog and ride bikes. We had already spent many hours walking along this beautiful path. As we walked along it this day we just kept going further and further along the river. There is a point along the trail between Government house and the Delta Hotel that was just an open field. There was a tall hedge that goes up to the trail on one side and I thought we could lay our blankets down close to the hedge where no one would see or bother us. When it got dark this is where we found ourselves.

As we were getting our bedding out, we saw some cats in the hedgerow. Since we love cats we tried to pet them. Wanda walked up the hedgerow and saw a solitary figure sitting on a lawn chair by a fire pit. Nearby was a ramshackle group of trailers put together in some semblance of a home. Being as outgoing as she is Wanda went up to talk to this man about these cats. He was clearly not sober but through the conversation Wanda learned that his name was Simon and that he lived in the trailers. He said that we could stay in one of the trailers if we wanted. Wanda came back and told us and with that we moved into the dirty, dusty, run down trailer that would be our home for the next 40 days. God had, once again, led us exactly to where He wanted us to be using our favorite bait to get us there.

The wilderness journey of faith is not an easy one to take. There are hard times and easier times. God does this for we cannot take an extended period of hardship without it destroying us so He breaks up the experience. It felt like God wanted to destroy us completely but He continually provided the little support, the manna, that we needed so that clearly wasn’t the case. What we began to realize over time was that God was killing the ‘self’ within us. This could not be done by ourselves but only by the leading of God. He knew exactly what experiences to put us in that would expose our own ‘self’ nature so we could repent of it. At the same time, He would expose the ‘self’ nature of others to us so we could better understand what it looked like. We have had to learn that everything God does is for the sake of the relationship between us and Him. Once we began to learn how insidious and opposed to God our ‘self’ nature was we were able to understand why it was so necessary to kill it.

[] Chapter 32 – Facing Demons

May 3 to June 12, 2012 – Simon’s trailer

Since leaving the woods back in November of 2011 we had not been camping, which was a good thing. The experience in the woods had traumatized us all especially Ida and Fanny. Now we found ourselves very close to a similar experience of camping but with a slight upgrade. What that means was that we were not sleeping on the ground. The tent trailer we now had to sleep in had seen better days. Actually it was a piece of junk that had been so abused that it was only marginally liveable. There was one bed that was precariously propped up with wood and covered by a tarp to make a rudimentary shelter. The foam underlay, long since gone, was now occupied by blankets that were so covered with filth, bugs and debris only a homeless person would sleep on it. Since we had no choice we laid down our own blankets, fixed the roof to prevent leaks from rain and that is where Wanda, Ida and Fanny slept. There was a fridge, sink and cupboard long since abused, worn out and useless and a table with room to seat 4 people. Milo would curl up under the table to sleep at night. The cushion I was given on the night we left Bertha and Stuart’s place I now unfolded. It fit perfectly between the table and the cupboards on a thin slice of linoleum that was the dirty floor. This is where I spent my nights nose to nose with Milo. All in all, this trailer, aside from the tarps, was the dingiest, dirtiest, foulest place we slept in during our journey but make no mistake we were thankful we could sleep out of the weather.

To understand why this place was such a rundown shack you would have to understand the owner. The owner of this rundown trailer, and the other trailer which was beside it, was Simon. He was a native and the land he was living on was a sacred native burying ground. He was the only resident as the rest of his tribe lived on a reservation on the other side of the river. To understand why Simon lived alone, away from the reservation on this patch of land, you have to understand his history. Simon had a rough childhood being raised in a residential school. These schools had been run by Catholics and the abuse these native children suffered under, as the school masters literally tried to beat their culture out of them, was beyond appalling. As such, Simon had turned to the bottle at an early age and never stopped drinking. By the time we had met Simon, every store in town refused to serve him and he could not buy alcohol anywhere. He had sunk to drinking Listerine that his friends bought for him.

When Simon was sober, he was an engaging, kind and humble man who we loved to talk to but when he was drunk he was overbearing and obnoxious. Drunk or sober, Simon was never unkind to us. After we got there, and the realization that young women were living in his trailer, Simon made an attempt to stay sober. It only lasted a few weeks but we were thankful he was sober long enough for us to get to know him better. When his sister came to visit we spent a great deal of time with her. Simon’s sister lived in the US and only was able to visit him occasionally. She was glad we were staying with him as our presence helped him stay sober for a while.

The only thing that made this place bearable was the cats. Since my daughters had lost their own cats Simon’s cats helped them process their loss. Each one had a different personality and we had fun getting to know these cats and playing with them. Animals have a way of blunting the attacks of man and healing the soul that has been wounded by other humans. This is why we always had animals around us when we lived in Bridgetown and when we were homeless. I would have to question whether we would have survived the wilderness without them. Thankfully God gave us animals along our journey to comfort and support us. Simon’s cats really made a difference in our time with him.

The days at the trailer were fairly easy as the soup kitchen was close by so we ate regularly. As the camp was secluded and surrounded by a hedgerow no one bothered us either. We were able to get showers and laundry done at a facility for the homeless in the downtown area. The rest of the time we went to the library or walked around exploring Fredericton. We did sell our last valuable item, Wanda’s silver pendant, to get some money. The money we received enabled us to buy a cheap, used laptop, which was immensely valuable to us later, and to pay Simon a bit of rent. Another time, Milo got away from us again and we were concerned that animal control would get him, but he came back on his own after a few hours.

One day some men from the soup kitchen came to visit when Simon wasn’t there. One guy was about 6’ 3” and weighed about 250 lbs. and his two friends were only slightly smaller. They had gotten out of prison and were hanging out in the area. They had come to Simon’s trailer looking for him and to get drugs. Only Wanda was around at this time and she knew that these guys were up to no good. She went out to these guys and this petite 5-foot woman that was twice their age yelled at them to go away and leave Simon alone. They left in a hurry. I found out later that these guys, especially the big one, had been terrified of Wanda. I guess the spirit of the Lord in her was too much for them to handle.

On another occasion a young native man came to visit Simon. He was very bitter at life and was full of demons. As Simon, Wanda, and this young man sat around the campfire the conversation turned to Jesus. The young man wanted nothing to do with God but Wanda loved Him and spoke about Him. The young man just wanted to argue with her. It was a strange conversation. In the end Wanda started singing our favorite song, Jesus Loves Me. The spirit in Wanda and that powerful song angered the demons in that man. He got very angry at Wanda, telling her to stop but she did not. Eventually he went away in a rage and did not come back.

One day, Wanda and I were in the downtown area when Wanda saw a used bookstore. She went in looking for some Frances Roberts devotionals which we knew were very good. She looked around and asked the clerk but none were to be found. Disappointed she came back out and told me. At that moment God prompted her to go back in to look a second time. As she looked on the shelf she found some Frances Roberts devotionals she had not seen the first time. She was overjoyed. Since we had enough money at the time she was able to buy them.

A little while later, in her early morning quiet time, Wanda read in the devotional, ‘Make Haste My Beloved,’ that persecution “is a mere shadow falling across your path that is left behind as you walk on.” She did not know it then but God was setting us up. Later that day we walked to the library downtown. At a crosswalk right in front of us was Bertha and she walked right across our path without even looking to acknowledge us. We were stunned. God had let us see her one last time. I think this was a test from God for us. It seems that after we have run-ins with people and leave there would always be one last time when we would see them again. It was like testing to see if we were becoming bitter through unforgiveness or sweet by forgiving and letting go of the people that hurt us. We were tested quite a few times this way.

On a nice day in June we sat down on a park bench by the trail near to where we were living with Simon. There on the bench was an anonymous little note that encouraged the reader and let them know that God loved them. The writer wrote the name of the church they belonged to, Agape House. Curious about this, and knowing there are no coincidences when God leads you, Wanda and I went to track down the church where this lady attended. We found Agape House in a little office building and found that it had just started up as a Bahamian church plant. We met the pastor, Melville, and told him what had happened and a bit of our story. He was kind enough to us and friendly. We did notice that in Melville’s office were numerous books by T.D. Jakes and others that promoted the false ‘health, wealth gospel’ that has ruined the lives of so many people. It raised many red flags for us. We also met the assistant pastor, Daisy, and discovered that she helped the poor too. She had another ministry, God is Able, where she helped impoverished young single mothers and women.

Around this time Simon had received $5 from us so he could buy some cigarettes but instead he bought Listerine to get drunk. I was not happy about this and poured out the Listerine on the ground saying that it was not good that he had done this. Simon was very mad but did not do anything. Later, when he was sober, he said what he had done was wrong and paid us back the $5. I thought that was the end of the incident but I was wrong.

Apparently, with us living there, the tension in Simon was growing. He wanted us to leave but did not know how to tell us even though he had previously said we could stay for the summer. We encountered this many times when people were polite to us in offering help but they really didn’t mean it. There is a Farsi word that describes this perfectly and it is ‘taraf.’ It means to make polite but vacant offers.

One night as we lay sleeping in the trailer a group of men, including a cook from the soup kitchen called Revel, came over. They were drunk or high and as they talked around the campfire their conversation became louder and more belligerent. At one point they came over to tell us to leave the trailer. It was the middle of the night and I said we would leave in the morning. That was not good enough and they wanted us to leave right then and there. I was not about to do that for I was afraid they would do harm to us once we were outside. As long as we were inside they could not touch us. Revel became incensed as the demons inside him raged. He began banging on the plywood plank that was our door. I got up and sat down in front of the door using my body weight to keep the flimsy door in place. Revel then kicked the door harder and harder. Each time the blow went into my back but I held the door intact. We began to pray and sing Jesus Loves Me as their vulgar language became even more foul. The demons raged even more and they mocked us and our God. Revel spoke of raping my daughters and all sorts of other vile filth. All the while the kicking against the door continued. The escalation was getting way out of control and we did not know what to do. Finally, Wanda took a pair of scissors, went to the far side of the trailer and cut through the canvas. She snuck out through the hole to go to the nearby Delta hotel to call for help. At the same time, I engaged Revel in conversation challenging him. As he tried reaching in around the door I took a screwdriver and tried to puncture his hand but he withdrew it at the last moment. At that moment he knew I wasn’t going to let him in without a fight. I may have lost but he would be scarred if that happened.

Wanda had made it to the hotel undetected and had called the police and Melville. The police came quickly and arrested Revel, but left Simon alone as he had not done anything but push Revel to do what he did. We stayed inside until the police had cleared the area, traumatized and in shock over what had just happened. When I spoke to the police they were surprised we had lived there so long but they told us we needed to leave for our own safety. I did not need to be told that for we had experienced the demonic terror. We knew we had to go but didn’t know where to at 3 AM. Then Melville came by. It was clear he was not happy to help us that early in the morning but he would help us. We bundled up all our gear as quickly as possible and threw it into his van. Melville drove us to the church where would spend the night in peace. After we were left alone and had time to calm down, pray and debrief, we fell back to sleep.

That one night stands out for us as one of the most traumatic events in our journey. If God had not protected us I am sure we would have been killed. The demon filled rage and murderous vitriol in Revel was like nothing we had ever experienced before and it traumatized us. I was very, very angry. It took me a long time to understand what had happened and forgive. Forgiveness, as we had learned, was not about the person that hurt us, it is about us. Forgiveness clears the debts we hold against our fellow man so that we can return to fellowship with God. That is why forgiveness is so very important. If we have any unforgiveness towards our fellow man we have a major block in our relationship with God. If we have a block in our relationship with God, then we cannot receive His healing touch and satan can come in and make the pain and suffering worse. Forgiveness takes care of this and that is why we forgive.

In Micah 6:8 it is written, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?” We had to learn through this experience that our self-righteous anger was wrong and instead of being angry at Revel and Simon we needed to forgive them and show mercy. Through our wilderness faith journey God was teaching us how to love mercy and do justice, not love justice and do mercy.

[] Chapter 33 – Summer Vacation

June 3 to Aug. 13, 2012 – From Daisy’s cottage to Denise’s house

The morning after we left Simon’s trailer, we woke up in the church building still bewildered from the night before. Our hearts were in turmoil but at least we were in clean environment and away from the turbulence that being around an alcoholic brings. 40 days and 40 nights we had spent in the trailer, just like our 40 days under the tarps, and now we were free. We did not know what to do or where to go that morning but it didn’t matter. God had already arranged for us a vacation from our problems.

Unbeknownst to us, Pastor Daisy lived at French Lake and had a cottage that was on the same property as her house. When she had first met us, and saw where we were then living, God had moved on her heart to offer us the cottage. She did not do anything about it then but when we had to leave she came to us and offered the cottage to us as a place to stay. Since we didn’t have any prior engagements we said yes. We put our gear into her vehicle and were off to the lake to spend the summer.

It was the goodness of God to give us this wonderful place to stay during the warm weather after the horrible winter we had just been through. The little red cottage was by itself near the lake. It had a small kitchen, two bedrooms and a living room filled with belongings that we had to clear away before we could stay there. There was a covered porch outside where we could sit and enjoy the view, even when it was raining. The surrounding field was actually a horse paddock and Daisy’s two horses would occasionally come over and graze around the cottage, getting a pet and treat from us when they did.

It was a wonderful place to be for two months and we had a wonderful time there. When it got hot we would swim in the pool or laze on the porch. When it rained we could relax indoors. Long walks by the lake, watching the sunsets, listening to the loons across the water – It was the most idyllic time of our wilderness journey. We had little to do and nowhere to go so we were able to meditate on our experiences and marinate in God’s Word without the stress of having to move.

Like all of our experiences we had with others there were highlights that taught us about ourselves and our hosts. Although Daisy was a nice lady, and had a heart for the poor, it became clear to us over time that God was still working on things in her soul. She did not fully accept the journey we were on but at least she did not oppose it. We learned the most about Daisy by tending her garden which we volunteered to care for. She had a small garden by the road that had a small fence around it. I noticed that her neighbor also had a garden but his had a very large, sturdy fence around it. I asked Daisy about this and she said that the fence was there to keep out the deer that would frequently eat the juicy vegetable leaves. Daisy’s fence was less than ideal and knowing there were deer around, we did what we could to strengthen it and keep the deer out. We took a great deal of time to add manure to the soil and hoe all the weeds doing as much as we could do to make sure that garden grew well. However, no matter what we did that pitiful fence would not stop the deer. They eventually got in and ate a great deal of Daisy’s beloved garden. She was not happy about this but because she had not invested in a better fence the deer devastated what she had.

The visual of the fence was a poignant lesson for us as to the importance of having secure boundaries to keep out intruders. Too often we do not keep up solid fences when dealing with others and they can devastate our souls with their words and actions. We had learned in Bridgetown that trespassing was a common way satan would use to keep us wounded and hurt. When we put up fences and did not allow people to trespass against us then we began to heal. This fence, and the garden it was supposed to protect but didn’t, was another way God reached into our world and taught us a valuable lesson about life and trespassing.

One of the most difficult issues we had to deal with at Daisy’s cottage was an ongoing dental problem I had. Somehow on our journey I had cracked a tooth and this caused me a great deal of pain. I could not afford to get it fixed so I just endured the suffering. At Daisy’s cottage, however, the pain had become so bad that we could not ignore it. Since no dentist would pull my tooth for free, and we could not afford it, we needed to find a way to pay for the extraction. Daisy had graciously given us the use of her car so we drove into Fredericton to find a solution. At one Baptist church they had a fund to help the poor so we went in and explained our situation. They agreed to pay the dentist for the work done. We thanked them, told them we would pay them back, and left. A day or so later the pain got so bad I felt that my head was in a vice. Wanda and I got in the car and Wanda drove me to Fredericton where a dentist had agreed to help with my emergency. That drive was not a pretty scene. I whimpered and cried like a little girl. It was so embarrassing. The dentist did see me when I got there and soon the cracked tooth came out in two pieces. I am pretty sure the dentist was using a jackhammer and pick axe to get the last parts out. He didn’t seem to mind the difficulty and clearly enjoyed his work. Soon I was left with a hole where the tooth was. I was relieved as the tooth had set me free. The church did pay the dentist for us as they promised. It was the only time in my life where a church would pay for me to be toothless. We were able to pay the Baptist church back later with some government money we received and that surprised them.

Milo put a strain on our relationship with our hostess. She had two dogs and when they were together with Milo he would exert dominance over them by fighting. This did not please Daisy so we had to keep Milo indoors or on a leash. When we did walk him it was ok but one day a little boy was riding his bike down the road and coming up behind me. I short-leashed Milo and held him tight on my right side as I knew he did not like bikes. The child rode his bike very close to my left and Milo lunged around and bit the child. I apologized but was also angry that the boy did not have enough common sense to not ride so close. Later the mother called animal control on us and an officer came to talk with us. It was a difficult discussion but in the end he understood what happened and that we had not been at fault or negligent. The mother did not see it that way and was out for blood. She came by one day to yell and scream at me but I could not be bothered with her temper tantrum. She left and we did not see her again.

One Sunday, shortly after we arrived, we went with Daisy to the church she and Melville pastored. There was a live satellite link up with the Bahamian parent church we watched on a large screen television. As we watched the service and saw the so-called apostle leader browbeat the congregation I was not impressed. Even though the people appeared to be passionate in their praise to God, He told me that their hearts were far from Him. After that I could not be bothered to go back to their services.

Pastor Melville came by the cottage one day to talk with us about our situation and where we were headed. From the books in the office we knew he was a firm believer in the false health, wealth gospel. Melville seemed to be more concerned about wealth than faith. When he came down to the cottage and stood on the porch we were stripping the deck of paint. He asked us what our plans were. I think he believed that we were sponging off of Daisy. We proceeded to tell him of our arrangement with Daisy for our stay at the cottage. In exchange for our stay we would pay for the utilities, repaint the deck, care for the garden and buy our own groceries. We then added that we were on a journey of faith going where God led us. Melville then proceeded to tell us that God wanted to bless us and that we should be ‘doing’ something. He said that Canada was a land of opportunity and that we needed to make something happen which we knew was the exact opposite of following the lead of God. Then he waved his arm out and said that all this could be ours. At that exact moment when Melville made that gesture Wanda and I both thought of Matthew 4:8-9, “Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me.” It was a shocking statement to hear words similar to satan’s coming from the mouth of a so-called pastor. I told Melville, in no uncertain terms, that I didn’t give up everything I owned just to get stuff, I wanted God. That was clearly not what he wanted to hear so he turned and walked away. Wanda called after him saying, “You can’t serve both God and mammon.” But he ignored her and just kept walking.

It was a severe shock to us that day to have such a clear visual of how the leadership of churches can be caught up with greed and lust in their own heart. That they would reject the true gospel for some sham religion that feeds their ‘self’ nature and promote that as coming from God is absolutely repugnant. Melville was the worst we saw of the John 10:12-13 worthless shepherds that only serve for wages. It will be a real shock for him someday when he finds out that his pursuit of stuff will lead him to hell if he does not repent.

Late in July Daisy let us know that she wanted the cottage back and that we would have to leave. We agreed to leave on August 13. During our time at the cottage a mother and her daughter, Tilly and Morgan, had been living in a bedroom at Daisy’s house for a few weeks. Tilly knew Daisy through her God Is Able ministry where she helped single mothers. Tilly and Morgan also attended Melville’s church. Daisy had told us some negative things about Tilly so we never really got to know her and her daughter much. One day we did get to meet Tilly and Morgan and start talking. There was an immediate connection between our families as these beautiful ladies were hungry for God. We shared a lot of our journey of faith and they listened intently. Wanda and I even gave Tilly a choice of one of our Frances Roberts devotionals as a gift to help her in her own journey. She was very thankful for the gift. As we talked we found out that Daisy had told Tilly some negative things about us as well. It then became clear that Daisy was trying to keep us apart for her own selfish, controlling reasons. God, however, exposed this treachery and connected us with Tilly and Morgan.

August 13 came soon enough, so we packed up our backpacks, luggage and bags and prepared to head out from the cottage. Daisy came over to say goodbye and offered to drive us back into Fredericton. We declined the offer as we never go back to an area we’ve been to. We all held hands and prayed. It was a hot day but we needed to get started so off we went down the road. The sun was brutal and we needed to stop frequently for rest and to drink. We had not been walking for many days so it took a while to get used to the pace of being on the road again. Daisy drove by around noon and gave us a lunch she had made saying that God had directed her to do this for us.

After about a mile down the road the handle on my rolling luggage broke. We had been given that luggage in Charlottetown and it had seen many days of rough travel. It had given its all and now was broken. I tried to fashion a rudimentary handle from sticks and string but it was more of a nuisance than a help. We kept moving and as the afternoon wore on we were exhausted and looking for a place to spend the night. Sleeping outside was not an issue as it was warm but finding a quiet place where we would not be disturbed was a challenge. When we stopped I went to reconnoiter for a place to sleep. I looked at a nearby cemetery but thought that kind of sleep was a little too permanent for my liking.

When I came back, I found Tilly and Morgan had pulled up in Tilly’s truck. We were all glad to see each other again. She was very surprised to see us for she had not planned to go to Daisy’s house that day but God quickened her to do so to pick up her mail. Once again the hand of God was moving mysteriously upon His saints with perfect timing to bring about His desired outcome. When Tilly realized we were not heading to Fredericton, she offered to take us to her rental, in a little town south of French Lake, where we could stay the night. We took her up on the offer, loaded our bags in the back, climbed into the truck and she drove to Daisy’s place so she could pick up her mail. When we got to the house we had just come from Daisy came out. She was very upset that Tilly was driving us after she had offered us a ride to Fredericton. Although Daisy heard God she was not in step with Him. She never understood that this journey of faith we were on led us forward not backward.

God was once again exposing the ‘self’ nature to us. He exposed Daisy’s control, manipulation and treachery for she had tried to keep us and Tilly apart which would have prevented us from going forward in faith. He also exposed Daisy’s hypocrisy with her anger when we did not do what she wanted us to do. Finally, He showed us the futility of ministry that does not have relationship with God at its heart for Daisy had to shut down her God Is Able ministry due to lack of funds. Even though Daisy had done many things for the poor, God was looking for relationship and Daisy did not get it. Everything God was doing with us was a lesson to her that He wants relationship. She ignored all of the lessons God was giving her, preferring instead to label us as weird and dismissing our testimony. It was a sad thing to watch for I have seen many that help the poor but they do it as a religious act and not out of love. We could tell the difference between the two as God gave us lessons that sharply contrasted them.

One person that did help us out of love was Tilly. She was eager to help us and be a part of this journey of faith we were on. It was a long drive south to the little town but we finally came to the house she was renting from a friend and where we could spend the night. Her eagerness to be a part of what God was doing was very encouraging and refreshed us all tremendously.

[] Chapter 34 – Big Mac

Aug. 14 to 16, 2012 – From Denise’s house to St. Andrews

Tilly and Morgan brought us to a house they rented from their friend, Denise. When Tilly showed up with this homeless family, bird and a dog it was quite a surprise to Denise. She was a gracious hostess however and welcomed us warmly. As a solitary male in a small house with 6 women I was decidedly outnumbered so I kept a low profile. The ladies had long conversations and it was quite pleasant to stay there. Morgan was very generous to my daughters and gave them all sorts of beauty care supplies. Ida and Fanny were very grateful even though the items were decidedly impractical on our homeless journey. Denise saw the pitiful rolling luggage of ours with the Rube Goldberg handle made from sticks and strings and decided to give us a newer, larger suitcase that also had wheels. Now rolling luggage is a great thing, and in airport terminals they definitely have their place, but on highways with small pebbles, through thick, sticky snow and on wet grass I am sure there are more practical alternatives. Even so we were very grateful for the gift.

After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to continue on our journey into the unknown. At this point, we did not know which direction to head in. We had just been through two cities in New Brunswick and now we were very much in a rural area with nothing around but the odd house and many trees. For some strange reason, I felt we should ask Morgan where we should head and she said St. Andrews. Now for us St. Andrews has special meaning. When we first lived in an R.V., before we left Alberta, we were parked on a street called St. Andrews. We also knew that St. Andrews was the toughest golf course in the world that challenged the best golfers around. Since we knew God was toughening us up we knew we had to accept this as His lead. We made up our mind to head to St. Andrews.

So on August 14, 2012 Tilly drove us a little way up the road to a trail where we could start our journey to St. Andrews. She was very concerned for us and expressed her trepidations. We encouraged her to have faith and see that God was looking out for us. There was no need to be concerned. With a lot of hugs and tearful goodbyes we set off down the trail. After some time, we came to a little place called Fredericton Junction. Since it was late and we were tired we had a little lunch and decided to bed down on the pavement just behind the rarely used train station. The summer night was quiet and beautiful but the pavement was hard to sleep on. My hips and back got very sore as did everyone else’s. I can’t say I got a lot of rest that night.

The next day we woke early to get started. We managed to buy a bite to eat from a nearby store and then we were off walking down the highway, our money now gone. As we walked we did have the odd person stare at us. One man came out and asked if we wanted breakfast and coffee. We declined as we had a long way to go as we were headed to St. Andrews. He said, “Well you’re headed in the right direction.” His comment was encouraging to us.

The day turned from cool to hot as we walked and we had to stop on occasion to drink water and rest. At some point our water ran out so we asked a local if we could fill up our jugs. He said the water wasn’t very good so he gave us bottled water which we were thankful for. As we progressed down the road we came to a junction between two highways. Both highways headed south and we did not know which way to take so we stayed there for a bit. Wanda asked a local lady if we could get some water which she said we could. She asked Wanda if we were the family that had been on the news and Wanda replied we were that family. That television story had gone all over the Maritimes and had made us stink like 3-day old fish in the hot sun. We never were able to outrun the story. I believe it fuelled a lot of the hatred and anger at us from the locals although I never understood why. After Wanda came back from getting water a man drove up and talked to us from his vehicle. He asked where we were going and we told him. Wanda said we were on one of those ‘cut-rate’ vacations which made the man laugh. He wished us well and gave us $20 which we were very grateful for. Once again God provided manna for us when we did not ask for or seek it. I never understood why people accused us of panhandling and begging when we never asked anyone for money for that would have belied our faith in God. People never could understand that when you put your trust in God He will provide. That we do not know God like this is a sad indictment on our society.

After deciding to take Highway 101 south it did not take long for the police to show up. Maritimers loved to call the police so we got used to it after a while. The police officer, unlike others, was unusually kind. After checking our ID, as so often had been done before and nothing was found, he came and talked with us. He asked me how many times we had been stopped by the police I said, “You mean today?” but then added, “Too many times to count.” which made us all smile. After hearing a bit of our story he was impressed with what we had come through and called us pioneers. After that he drove off and we continued on down the road, stopping on occasion to rest.

By mid-afternoon the heat of the day had nearly done us in. With the heavy luggage, bags, birdcage and dog we were sun-burned and overheated. We stopped to rest in the shade at an Anglican church. As we rested there a lady from a house across the street came out to meet us for she saw that we were pooped. After talking to us for a bit she invited us over to her house so we could see her kittens and get some drinks. Over at her house we talked for a while, saw the kittens and got some cool drinks, and she then gave Ida a new pair of shoes that fit her perfectly. Ida’s shoes had given out and were hurting her so the new shoes were very welcome. God’s manna again met our need perfectly that day. We had a good time with our new friend but then it was time to leave.

Some men had been working at the Anglican church across the street and we struck up a conversation with one man who was curious about us. We said we were heading to St. Andrews and then he offered to drive us the next day. I was clear to him that I could not pay for I think he was expecting he could get some money out of us. Despite this he did volunteer to take us down the road to a nearby restaurant where we could get some food. We piled in and he drove us to Mac’s Takeout in Hoyt. There we parted ways. Being very hungry after a long day of walking we decided to spend the $20 we received on some hot food. We got our order and unexpectedly got an extra order of fries for which we were again thankful.

As we were eating a large man came over and sat at the table where we were eating. He introduced himself as Mac and said he was curious about us. Ever willing to testify about God’s goodness and faithfulness we regaled him with the story of our day and journey thus far. When we said we were headed to St. Andrews and that the man who dropped us off would take us there the next day Mac said the man wouldn’t be back. It was just another one of those situations where people offer things to be polite but never follow through because they didn’t mean it. We had seen that before with Simon.

When Mac asked where we would stay for the night, I said that we would sleep under a nearby bridge. He then said that we could stay at his cottage for the night. We were surprised at the magnanimity of his offer and thanked him profusely. After supper we piled into his little truck with the ladies in front and Milo and I in the back. We sped down the highway and into the woods, across a covered bridge, through the woods again and then to the cabin. The ride was a bit much for Milo to take and at one point when we were going slower he jumped right out of the truck. He was not injured but it scared us.

Mac’s cabin was a wonderfully solitary, quiet place in the woods beside the St. John River. It was absolutely pristine but had no running water. Mac said we could eat whatever was in the cottage. Fanny ate some questionable cheese puffs, that we felt were a Botox substitute, for her lips swelled up to an unusual dimension. It really was an allergic reaction but it added some levity to our day. The swelling did go down. Eventually.

That night in Mac’s cabin was the most peaceful we had had in many days. I think the combination of the fresh clean air, tiredness, solitude, quietness and extra soft beds made the sleep most luxurious. It was a very pleasant time which I look back on with fondness.

The next day we woke up to the wonderful, peaceful sounds of the forest. I took a long walk in the woods and had a wonderful time with God. Later we went down to the river to bathe. We got bathing suits at Daisy’s cottage so we could swim in their pool and now we were able to swim in the river. The river was very cool, clean and refreshing after the long day of walking the day before.

Later in the afternoon Mac came over to visit with a huge, delicious meal that he had cooked specially for us. That one meal was incredibly good and we were blessed to have it. He told us the man who had promised to take us to St. Andrews never showed up which was not wholly unexpected. Mac suspected the man had been stealing from him and was known in the area for growing marijuana. Since we now had no ride to St. Andrews Mac volunteered to drive us there. Again we were very thankful for the unsolicited kindness.

We sat in that little cottage and talked for a very long time that night. He shared with us stories of moose hunting and seeing a black puma in New Brunswick. Puma are known in South and Central America but are very rare in Canada. Another story he shared was about his friend that had a run in with social services. The friend just wanted money to buy a chain saw so he could get himself out of poverty. The government was so stuck in its rules that it wouldn’t get him money for that but it would pay him to sit at home and do nothing. That did not impress Mac and that is why I think he was drawn to us. We didn’t want to take social services and just sit on our duff either. He may not have understood our faith in God, but he respected the journey we were on. He also listened to where we had been, without judgment, which is a rare trait in a Maritimer.

Mac was not a believer but he was incredibly tender, kind and humble toward us more than any believer I have ever met. His kindness, coming from the heart, put everyone who claims to know Jesus to shame. He treated us with respect and dignity, not with condescension and pride. He took us at our word and accepted what had happened as fact. We met too many other Maritimers who could not conceive of not capitulating to the system and selling their souls for a bowl of pottage. These people spat on our faith and reliance on God by their acts of contempt and condescension toward us. If I ever get a chance to give testimony before God about the people we met on our journey Grant from Borden-Carleton and Mac from Hoyt would get the highest recommendation and glowing testimony I could give, and both of them are not believers. Think about that.

After another wonderful night’s sleep, Mac came the next day to drive us to St. Andrews. We said goodbye to that wonderfully peaceful cabin and left in the little truck. Since there was no room up front for Milo and myself we would have to ride in the back all the way there. That is illegal in Canada so we first had to go to Mac’s place and put the cap on the back of the truck. After that was done I laid down in the back with Milo. Wanda, Ida and Fanny got in the front and we drove a long way to St. Andrews hoping the police would not stop the truck. We got there safe and sound and after dropping us off at the park we again thanked Mac for his generosity and said goodbye. When he dropped us off, we sat there for a little while asking, “Now what?” The answer would be decidedly unpleasant with a chance of scattered kindness.

[] Chapter 35 – Fire Ants

Aug. 17 to 24, 2012 – From St. Andrews tennis courts to Oceanfront Campground

I detest fire ants. There are insidious, vicious, ornery creatures that have no respect for sensitive body parts. They also are an apt descriptor of the citizens of St. Andrews. A meaner bunch of sour-mouthed people would be harder to find. That is the reality of the world we stepped into when Mac, our friend from Hoyt, dropped us off there on the afternoon of August 17, 2012.

At first St. Andrews seemed to be a nice quiet little town but we soon realized that the spirit in this place was a lot darker and meaner than we had encountered so far. The difference was that it hid behind a veneer of respectability and wealth so it was less obvious. St. Andrews was a tourist town which meant that anything or anyone that might sully the picture perfect image of the town had to be driven out like so much rubbish. We were decidedly not picture postcard material at this point.

As we wandered about that first day we did not know where to go or what to do. I was not in a good place that night and as it got dark the temperature dropped considerably. We walked past a huge hotel and my daughters dreamed of staying there for the night as they were cold but we could not afford it. Finally, I decided we could bed down beside some tennis courts near a dumpster shed. After we had laid out our blankets and laid down some drunk teenagers wandered by. We heard a sharp exclamation and then the words, “Hey there’s some dead bodies down there.” Not quite yet I am afraid, I thought. That was our first introduction that would be the hell we call St. Andrews.

The next morning, we were chilled as the weather had cooled since our walk. There was a building nearby called Harmony House that had picnic tables so we moved our gear over there so we could rest and get our bearings. The stares and negative looks we got was about as fun as a handful of paper cuts. I wandered about to see if there was any reason at all as to why God had brought us here and could find none. We felt abandoned and alone. I did find a little park by the water, near the St. Andrews Blockhouse, where we could sit, less exposed than the picnic tables, so we got our gear and moved out. It did not take us long to situate ourselves in a small secluded and enclosed circular hedge in the park where we could stay hidden. We were very hungry and had nothing to eat. In fact, we had not eaten since the morning of the day before. Fanny went to explore the blockhouse as she was curious about it. Soon she came back and asked if she could get hot dogs and cake. I said no as we had no money to pay for it. She then said she thought it was free. I could not believe it so I went to check it out and sure enough they were serving hot dogs, drink and cake at the blockhouse and it was all free. The government was hosting celebrations at all of the blockhouses in Canada that day. We were all able to eat, be fed and not only that, celebrate with cake. It was a miracle of God’s provision again.

People often believe that God’s miracles are only when He does something supernatural, out of the ordinary. I would have to disagree for I have seen Him arrange events, time and people in such a way that it is nothing but a miracle. The problem is that people don’t see that as a miracle and the reason they don’t see it is that they don’t look at it with eyes of faith. This is one ‘ordinary’ miracle that I will explain through the eyes of faith.

There are only a handful of blockhouses left in Canada and they are all administered by the federal government. The blockhouse we were near, in St. Andrews, is a remnant of the War of 1812 and the oldest remaining blockhouse in Canada. Now one thing I know about government is that things move very slowly. For the government to plan a celebration like this they would had to have taken at least a year, if not two, to plan the logistics. They also had to pick a day and for some reason they chose August 18. Finally, they had to coordinate with all the local businesses to prepare and provide food and material for the celebration and get government staff to serve it. Next God had to arrange our travels so that we would literally arrive at the blockhouse no later than 2 hours before they were to start. We also had to be so hungry that the meal would mean something special to us and be a clear sign of God’s provision or manna for us. This miracle was no provision from nothing. It didn’t have to be. The sheer daunting task of coordinating the logistics and timing so perfect tells me that this miracle can only be attributable to God. It also showed us the sheer panache with which God can, and does, provide for those that put their trust in Him.

We stayed the day at the park and when evening came we just laid out our blankets in that enclosed area and went to sleep. In the middle of the night we woke up to rain. As quickly as we could we bundled up our gear and raced back to Harmony House. Thankfully the rain was not real heavy but we could not afford to get wet. I knew that Harmony House had a veranda so we laid out our blankets there and slept under the overhang to stay dry.

When dawn came we were quite tired. We packed up our gear but it was still raining and wet so we stayed under the veranda. A little while later the ladies who ran Harmony House came by. They were surprised by our presence but were kind enough. They went inside but came out later to talk to us. When they heard we had not eaten they allowed us to come inside and get some fish stew which was delicious. We talked and learned a lot about them and they heard a little about our story. Later the mother of one of the ladies came by and her name was Althea. Althea was a believer in Jesus and very sweet. We enjoyed talking with her and had a good time. She said she was part of a prayer group that met at Tim Horton’s and invited us to go there. Althea drove us over and bought us something to eat. We did not really connect with the people for they were aloof and distant but we were polite. Later, Althea brought us back to Harmony House where we stayed the rest of the day. We had asked the ladies if we could stay the night on the veranda again as it was covered and they gave us permission to stay.

As we sat on the veranda that night a man drove up on his bike. He was quite prideful and curt when he asked why we were there. We told him that the owners had given us permission to sleep there. He said nothing and left. After we had gotten ready to sleep for the night the man came back in a truck. He said he was one of the owners, that our story didn’t check out and that we couldn’t sleep there due to insurance regulations. I was incensed at this merciless, heartless attitude however, since we do not stay where there is no welcome we packed up. He pretended to be kind at that point and offered us a ride somewhere but Ida shut him down by saying, “Don’t even pretend to care.” Our incredulity and rage at the inhumanness of Maritimers boiled over at this point and we gave it to this man with both barrels. We could not stand such blatant hypocrisy and moral deficiency. This man’s pride and fear of man so summed up what we had experienced with many Maritimers we thought it was an infectious disease. After he saw we were off the property he left.

I firmly believe that rumors about us had been flying about St. Andrews like so many seagulls leaving their droppings everywhere. One rumor we heard, that was particularly meddlesome to us, was that we were squatters looking to take over some person’s land. I know that we had shared with some people the promise that God had given to us that someday He would give us land but He had not got us there yet. I could see how our innocent comments made in trusting faith were twisted by satan to portray us as something we were not. In many ways that was a harder burden to bear than the packs we had to carry.

Now that we were without a place to sleep and angry to boot, we didn’t know what to do. It was close to midnight and we didn’t have a lot of options. God, however, had a checkmate for the unkindness of man. We thought we might contact Althea and see if she could help so Wanda walked over to a nearby hotel and asked if we could get a ride to her place. The woman Wanda talked to said, “This is so weird. I get off in a few minutes and I live right next door to Althea so I will give you a lift.” Again God’s perfect timing went before us and prepared the way. We got a ride to Althea’s place and since we could not disturb her we slept in her yard that night.

The next morning, she saw that we were outside and brought us in. We cleaned up and got some hot food. Althea was a good hostess and we spent the day sharing with her about God and what we had learned thus far in the wilderness. She told us a lot about the area and also told us about a wonderful pastor in St. Stephen she knew. There was a lot more that we discussed as well as we could see she was hungry for the truth even though her faith was very weak.

We had received money that day in the form of a government tax credit so we had a little to spend. Since we had been sleeping outside a lot I thought it would be best if we bought a tent. Althea was kind enough to lend us her car, so Wanda and I drove to nearby St. Stephen where we were able to buy a cheap tent. Althea tried to get permission for us to stay in the yard that night but the owner of her rental refused to let us do that so Althea let us sleep indoors.

The next day, the infectious disease of heartlessness zeroed in on us once again. Althea’s daughter came by and basically told us that we had to leave. St. Andrews was a truly evil place. At least we now had a tent and some money so we decided to take up a campsite at the nearby Oceanfront campground. We were able to get two nights there and Althea bought us two more. At least we had 4 nights in one place instead of constantly moving and facing the nasty treatment of man. The campground was nice and had showers so we could keep clean. The lot we were assigned, however, was covered with fire ants. They got everywhere and bit everything. We all got bit a few times and it stung. Having a tent was so necessary to keep them out and we had to keep it zipped up tight at all times lest the fire ants crawl in.

This visual of the fire ants seemed to us a fitting picture of what we experienced in St. Andrews. Even though we were facing unprecedented nastiness around us in the form of rumors, lies and gossip we needed to keep our tent of faith zipped up tight to keep the words out. The relentless assault of the enemy drove us further into trust in God and I am thankful for that. Sometimes the enemy would come at us in the form of overt physical violence and other times he would come at us in the form of tiny stings. One sting, by itself, does little harm but added up they are far more difficult to handle. Some who have heard our story think that they could not handle our situation due to the physical hardship and deprivation. I understand that but I need to clarify that the physical deprivation was far less troublesome to us than the relentless assault on us by the tongues of man. That, by far, was the most difficult and dangerous part of our journey. There were too many times to count where people would throw useless words at us just to undermine our faith and try to cause us to stumble. We found that if we countered their lies with the Word of God and faith it would blunt and stop them. In James 3:6 it is written, “And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).” Too often faith is corrupted by evil words of unbelief. We survived the wilderness journey of faith, not by sheer determination of strength and will, but resting our entire being on God and His Word. We will not take any credit for getting through what we did, for we ourselves failed so many times. God, however, was faithful and by trusting in Him and His goodness we were able to follow His lead to the end. I still really detest fire ants though.

[] Chapter 36 – Disciples

Aug. 25 to 29, 2012 – From Oceanfront Campground to the woods

We had just spent 4 days tenting at Oceanfront Campground in St. Andrews, New Brunswick from August 21 to 25, 2012. This was around the time of Fanny’s birthday so we had splurged and spent most of what we had left in money on a small pizza a day or so before. By this time, we had run out of food and also had to leave the relative peace of a campground where we could get showers and clean up a bit. Staying clean is very hard when you are homeless and after food it became a steady challenge for us to stay as clean as we could. So the day came when we had to leave the campground.

Unfortunately for us, St. Andrews is a tourist town and the police were around regularly. Now this is an issue since the police play a dual role in the fate of a homeless family. They are called frequently by others who either use the police as a weapon or as a tool. Rarely did the police bother us without a complaint first. Whatever the case, however, the complaints were cowardly acts that kept people from getting involved with us personally. As a weapon the police can intimidate but they cannot do harm if you have done nothing wrong. We met a few that assumed we were scum of the earth and treated us as such. On the other hand, we met some police that were very kind and tried to offer help and comfort. In our case God was moving us on a journey that they could not help us with so little help could be given or received.

On this night, we had nowhere else to go but a little park in an open field adjacent to the campground. Now normally we would try and find someplace to hide and take shelter from the elements. Unfortunately, I had scouted around and found nothing suitable plus we were too tired and hungry to do much else. So we went to a picnic table in the field and sat down with our backpacks, bedding, Milo and Lennie-girl. Now strange as it may seem this particular little park had a notice posted stating that you could not camp in this field, which also meant you could not sleep there at night. In all our journey I never saw a stranger sign but as law-abiding people we adhered to it and did not sleep all night long. We sat at this little picnic table and passed the time.

The day before, both myself and Ida had a vision of 4 large beings around our tent in the Oceanfront campground. This night we saw them again and began to realize who they were. The land we were on had originally been a native settlement. The natives had lived there for, I am sure, many thousands of years until the Europeans drove them out. Since this campground was right by the Bay of Fundy the First Nations people would go fishing there for shellfish and other food. I believe these beings were the angels that had authority over this area from times past. They were very large, very stern and sat in a circle around us. At first I thought they were angry with us and then I slowly realized that they were waiting for us.

Somehow in God’s magnificent plan for our lives He has connected us with our First Nations people for a reason. After our time with Simon in Fredericton this seemed like a natural extension of this connection. We have a deep love and respect for our First Nations brothers and sisters and ache at the way they have been treated here in Canada. Here in this little field, with this small pathetic homeless family they were waiting for us to correct a wrong that had happened so many years before. So we began to pray and pray and pray. You could also say we fasted and prayed too since we had no food left. All through the night we stayed awake and prayed for our First Nations people and to repent of the wrongs done to them. I never knew the outcome of those prayers but I can tell you the prayers themselves were intense.

Sometime, late in the night, we saw a car slowly rolling by in the field. I didn’t know who it was at first but then the unmistakable profile of a police car battered its way to the front of my mind and hit such a cord of fear I just sat there numb. After so many encounters with police I did not want another one, good or bad. The car was moving parallel to us and then, as if on cue, the car turned and drove quickly to where we were sitting. We just sat there, too tired to move, and not sure what to do. The officer rolled down the window and called out to us, asking if we had seen an elderly lady in the park who had gone missing that very night. We responded we hadn’t. The officer thanked us, wished us a good night, and left. It was only later the next day we found out that the woman had committed suicide. As rough as it was for us we never went that far, even though I would be lying if I said the thoughts weren’t there.

After many long, lonely hours of prayer the sun slowly lifted the darkness from our little troop and a beautiful clear day danced above us. It was such a marvellous day one forgot the hardship of the night before. The tiredness from the night and lack of food and water however was too much for me. I took a blanket, spread it out on the grass and promptly fell asleep. How ironic I could sleep all day on the grass and not be bothered by police but I could not sleep there at night. Man’s laws don’t make much sense to me at times. As I slept my daughters found the energy to explore the tidal flats of the Fundy Bay.

I do not know how long I slept but I do remember being woken up by some excitement. Now excitement for our family is not a good thing. In fact, we have come to dread any ‘excitement’ and prefer the mundane, ordinary, plain aspects of life. Usually excitement means that someone has got their shorts tied in a knot over us for some reason or another. In this rare case it was different. Fanny in her wanderings on the flats had found a completely full and unopened 2-liter bottle of ginger ale called ‘Spritz Up’ and had brought it to us. I cannot tell you how good that drink and the sugar was. At that moment nothing else compared to it. That simple drink revived us all and gave us strength to keep on our journey.

Now some have said to us that it was just a bottle that fell off some boat and drifted ashore and I would fully agree. What they miss is the extraordinary ordinariness of God’s handiwork. That bottle would only have been there for a few hours and as soon as the next tide came in it would have vanished to some other place. Secondly my daughters had the desire to explore the tidal flats even though they were as tired as I was. So when we bring the two together, and tie them with God’s perfect timing, we have what I call a miracle. A sublime, humble, bona fide miracle and all to God’s glory for He provided for us when man could not, and would not, provide for us. I love His humble ways and how He weaves into every story His intensely personal message of love that fits our very need.

Now that we were revived we got our gear together and started heading out. We had enough of St. Andrews and knew it was time to leave. We had gotten to the golf course near the Tim Horton’s when the wonderful rolling luggage, that Denise had given us, broke. The wheels could not handle the rough terrain we had taken it through and had come apart. There was no way we could redistribute all of our belongings to other bags so we decided to leave it there for the next homeless family to come by or the ravenous local vultures that watched our moves from a distance. Most of what we left behind was the clothes and make-up that Tilly and Morgan gave us.

We stayed at that location for some time, unfazed by the stares and jeers of the locals. Althea even drove by at one point but ignored us and that was ok. Her flip flopping faith was too much for us and we could not stand it anymore. We could handle people that understood our journey and helped and we could deal with people that were unkind to us. What we could never tolerate was when people would flip from one side to the next. It was too confusing to tolerate.

As we sat there a young man came up to talk with us. He was the only person in all of St. Andrews who willingly approached us and expressed an interest in us. We sat on the grass by the road and talked with Terry for some time, listening to his story and telling him our own. After a while he went and got us a pack of hot dogs and man were they good after not eating for a bit. Terry’s kindness alone lifted our spirits and blunted some of the harsh memory we have of St. Andrews. All too soon, however, we had to part from Terry and continue on our journey. It was not long after that we cheered when we passed the St. Andrews water tower that marked the town boundary. An eviller place we have not been too, but we did survive it for 9 days. It gave us a thrashing but we held to our faith, undaunted.

Beside the road ahead was nothing but trees and rocks which was not bad after seeing so many people. We walked for some time but knew it would be getting dark soon. I scouted ahead for a place to rest down a road that said Stoneridge Estates. There, in a small copse of trees near a field, was a perfect place to hide our tent so that is where we went. We had inadvertently set our tent down on another fire ant nest so we had to keep the tent zipped up tight again that night.

The next morning, we heard a “Hello?” outside of our tent. We all froze. After what we had been through we were very tense. I replied back and the person asked if we had permission to tent there. I left the tent to meet with the person asking the questions and met face to face with a small man. The man’s name was Percy and he was the groundskeeper for the estate. I told him that we had come in late and did not know who to ask for permission. We did not want to camp illegally so we wanted to have permission to stay the night. Percy was very sympathetic to our story. He let us know that a very rich man owned the estate that Percy took care of. He didn’t think that they would be a problem but that other rich people at the other end of the drive might be. Percy was not surprised at our bad experiences in St. Andrews. He, too, had faced the rich snobbery and arrogance of the locals.

Percy was a kind soul who had led a rough life. We hit it off and spent the day with him. He showed us the estate grounds and explained the history of the area. He even mentioned that he had seen a black puma one day on the road. I was gobsmacked. God was connecting our friend Mac to Percy. They had both met with us and both had seen a very rare black puma. Only God can coordinate that.

Later in the day Percy asked me if I would help him do some yard work. I was thrilled to help so we got in his old pickup and went to mow some lawns in St. Andrews. For the work he paid me $25 which gave us money to buy food. I was so thankful for the opportunity to prove that we were not freeloaders and blunt the harsh rumors that I was sure were flying around. After that, we parted ways with Percy after he had given us permission to spend another night there. Our family slept peacefully in the tent that night.

August 28 was another sunny day in southern New Brunswick. We got up but did not see Percy much as he was working. Ida and Fanny walked up the road to a nearby creek to wash up and heard some people talking in the distance about people tenting in the area. Once again the gossip mill was working overtime so Ida came back and said that it was time to leave. It was God’s perfect timing warning us to move and I knew it. We packed up hurriedly and walked off the estate grounds. As we were walking down the highway we saw a police car drive into the estate grounds where we had just come from. God had gotten us out of there in the nick of time to checkmate the plans of satan. It was a good thing too for the next moment the police came roaring out of the estate, hurtled down the highway with his lights on, pulled over and blocked our path. The officer got out and was extremely rude to us. He asked if we had permission to sleep on the grounds of the estate and we said we did. This seemed to take all the wind out of his sails and infuriate him even further. He was determined to believe that we were criminals of the worst kind. He took our ID and confirmed that we had no record. He then said that there was no place in all of New Brunswick where we could sleep. His rough and arrogant attitude was such that we were scum and that we should leave the province but he offered us no way to do that. It was these kind of interactions with police which did not endear us to them. We had done nothing wrong and yet we were treated like criminals. The evil of St. Andrews, and its citizens, was following us like lawyers to an ambulance.

Our interaction with the police officer put a damper on the day but we were mightily encouraged by God’s timing and how He had evacuated us before any damage could be done. Sometimes the manna we received from God was the avoidance of trouble.

After the interaction with the police officer we came to a fork in road, literally and spiritually. The left fork would take us to St. Stephen and possibly a connection with this pastor that Althea thought so highly of. The right fork would eventually lead us to St. John which Terry had told us about. St. John did not seem right to us after what we had heard at the shelter in Moncton, the soup kitchen in Fredericton and from Terry. On the other hand, we could relate to Stephen, the first martyr of the church, so we decided that we would see what St. Stephen held for us. It is important to remember that it was religion that ultimately killed Stephen for his outspoken testimony and faith in God.

With our decision in mind we took the left fork and continued on our journey down the road. At one point we rested then spotted Percy’s car as he headed home from work that day. We waved but he did not acknowledge us. That hit us pretty hard for we thought that the infection of gossip had reached him and he was shunning us like Althea did. It turned out that he just didn’t see us but we only discovered that later. For now, we had to continue walking on the lonely road with a cloud of depression over us.

After many hours of walking we came to a little rest area. While there Ida revealed to us that she just had a vision. In this vision we were joined by the early disciples walking on the road with Jesus. It was clear that God was telling us then that we had become disciples. In Matthew 16:24 it is written, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Too often we see people calling themselves disciples when they are really just believers. Anyone can be a believer but only those who give up all to follow Him can become disciples. It was huge affirmation for us that God, who had led us on this journey, was declaring us to be of His party and siding with Him. After all the trial and tribulation, we had been through so far it was a comfort and a blessing to us that cool, windy evening.

We ate a little at the rest area and then continued on looking for a place to tent for the night. We did not want a repeat of the morning, or to be arrested for trespassing, so we were ever diligent to find a place to tent where no one would see us. Finally, we found a little clearing in some woods off the road where we could set up the tent and be hidden. We were extra careful not to make any noise and after we were settled in we slept peacefully.

The journey from St. Andrews had seen us put on a lot of kilometers. The long walk and moving forward allowed us time to think by ourselves and process what had happened. I can’t say it was all good which is why I think the Lord gave Ida the vision as it encouraged us immensely. It was another lesson about the manna God gives in the wilderness. Sometimes His provision goes beyond physical food and drink to include spiritual nourishment as well.

[] Chapter 37 – A Rare Gift

Aug. 30, 2012 – From the woods to Percy and Warren’s house

We awoke to a quiet, peaceful morning in our little hideaway amongst the trees. It had rained the night before and our tent was a little wet. I had to let it dry. The morning was cool and crisp but not cold. Dawn was just upon us and there was no one on the road. After we had packed up our gear, for what seemed like the millionth time, we started walking down the highway. The turmoil of St. Andrews and the interaction with the rude police officer had not left me; it occupied my thoughts as we trundled down the road in our long caravan. I was in the lead again with Milo; Wanda was a little behind me with the bird cage on her back; while Ida and Fanny brought up the rear.

As mid-morning came, cars passed us on occasion, but never bothered us and we ignored them. It had become a symbol to me of our utter disconnection with the modern world we lived in. We were in it, but absolutely not a part of it. We were strangers here and we knew it. We passed by the odd house where a local would gawk at us, but usually nothing was said. When we had first started this journey those looks really bothered me, but now I took it in stride. We tried to be polite and smile as we walked, but usually glares of hate were returned. I never fully understood why we were so hated in the Maritimes.

At one point a car pulling a trailer that had Ontario license plates passed us on the road. I saw the car put on its brakes, slow and then turn around to come back towards us. This was unusual, I thought. I was not ready for what was about to happen for it was so unexpected. Only a few times when we were walking down the road in our strange formation, did anyone stop to talk to us. When it did happen it was a big deal for us.

When the car stopped in front of me I had to stop too. It was time for a rest anyway. I put down the gear I had been carrying. A young family was travelling in the car, which they soon exited, and wanted to talk to us. They had been vacationing in St. Andrews and were returning home to Ontario that day. They were surprised and perplexed to see a homeless family walking down the road. They were Christians. When they saw us they were so moved they wanted to stop and help. I knew that this was God. In the brief time we had together, on the road, we were able to share with this family a small portion of our journey.

These people wanted to help and were very sincere, but we were seasoned travellers by then; there was not much to be done for us. We were hungry and thirsty, though, so they fed us a little of what they had and gave us some much needed drink. They then gave us a Bible for which we were very grateful. We spoke a little longer and the man went to his trailer and, after a few minutes, returned with a backpack. He told us that he had received this backpack at his wedding as a gift from his best man. It was obvious that he cherished that backpack for it was of good quality and it came from a dear friend. He was loathed to part with it, but could clearly see that we had more use for it than he did. He then gave us the backpack as a gift.

Now we have received a few things on our journey, but few items we ever received matched the quality that was in this backpack. What is more important, though, was that this was exactly what we needed. Our own pathetic packs were hurting our backs and causing pain. This gift also cost that man something. It was precious to him and it obviously hurt him to part with it; but this is the essence of self-sacrifice. Too often we received junk from people; their leftovers. This time we received something that cost. We had made a commitment to God that we would not give to Him that which cost us nothing, and here we were receiving something back of sentimental value. To say we were overjoyed and thankful would not be sufficient for what we experienced that day. It went far beyond thanks; this gift represented a connection far deeper in God. It was an affirmation of our journey, and that we had given God all of what we had that was valuable.

If that family ever reads this account, I would like them to know that their gift to us went far beyond the backpack they gave us that day. We still have that backpack and Bible and we cherish them both. That backpack has put in a lot of hours of service and we still use it. When we are finally released from the wilderness, it will be retired with much honor for the service it has rendered.

It was very pleasant to talk to this family that was very sincere about following Jesus, even if the man balked a little at our testimony. We even mentioned that our journey was described in Scripture. In 1 Cor. 4:9-13 it is written,

“For it seems to me that God has made an exhibit of us apostles, exposing us to view last [of all, like men in a triumphal procession who are] sentenced to death [and displayed at the end of the line]. For we have become a spectacle to the world [a show in the world’s amphitheater] with both men and angels [as spectators]. We are [looked upon as] fools on account of Christ and for His sake, but you are [supposedly] so amazingly wise and prudent in Christ! We are weak, but you are [so very] strong! You are highly esteemed, but we are in disrepute and contempt! To this hour we have gone both hungry and thirsty; we [habitually] wear but one undergarment [and shiver in the cold]; we are roughly knocked about and wander around homeless. And we still toil unto weariness [for our living], working hard with our own hands. When men revile us [wound us with an accursed sting], we bless them. When we are persecuted, we take it patiently and endure it. When we are slandered and defamed, we [try to] answer softly and bring comfort. We have been made and are now the rubbish and filth of the world [the off scouring of all things, the scum of the earth].”

We had gone through these things so we would have a testimony of faith; and someday we had hoped to go to the highways and byways to seek out those that God would draw to Himself.

Although this couple did not expect to have a meeting like this, by the side of the road, when they stopped, I am sure they were deeply affected. We soon parted ways with many thanks and they drove off down the highway. We repacked our gear into the new backpack and I hoisted it onto my shoulders. It was a real treat to have a pack that didn’t hurt so much to carry. We set off once again down the lonely road, thinking about this latest connection, and thanking God for His goodness to us.

We continued for the rest of the day putting many kilometers under us. Later in the day a familiar face drove by. It was Percy. We were ecstatic to see a friendly face again. We told him that we saw him the day before, but he did not see us. He said that he was not looking in our direction as he was turning a corner and so missed us. I think God kept us hidden, deliberately, so that we would meet the couple that gave us the backpack we desperately needed.

Percy asked where we were going and we told him “St. Stephen.” We had made the decision to go there the day before. It was a larger center than St. Andrews and we thought we might find what we were looking for there. Percy thought we might be able to stay where he lived. He had to ask his friend, who owned the house, for permission. We said alright to that. So Percy took off and we continued down the road in expectation that we would meet him at an intersection we knew was up ahead.

We arrived at the intersection before Percy, so we rested there for a bit. As it was late in the day, we were tired and did not feel like walking anymore. Soon a truck pulled up with Percy’s friend Warren driving. He agreed that we should stay at their place so we all piled in the truck and off we went.

Percy and Warren owned an old large farmhouse outside of St. Stephen, on a farm of several acres, as Warren owned a few horses. Their yard was massive and only a few scattered neighbors lived around them. It was a peaceful, pleasant place and we knew that we could tent their legally. We pitched the tent behind the house and settled in for the night. It had been a long, tiring, eventful day and we talked much about what had happened. We still could not believe the kindness of strangers to us that day.

In our journey we faced many extremes in people’s responses to our family. Kindness was the rarest response; but really was wonderful when we experienced it. Indifference was the most common response and troubling to us. It meant that people’s hearts had grown cold. Anger and evil was the most troubling response of all. In many instances we never understood why people would get so angry at us when we had not done anything wrong. The swings between the two extremes of kindness and evil is very difficult to handle emotionally and affected us greatly. It affected me much deeper than I expected. The journey was wearing on me; it would not be much longer before I would have a breakdown because of it. For now, kindness ruled the day, and we were glad. We needed a break from the road. God put us with Percy and Warren so we could recuperate for a time.

[] Chapter 38 – Message From God

Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, 2012 – From Percy and Warren’s house to Nelly and Roxie’s yard

Friday, August 31 found us safely on Percy and Warren’s property. This is important because of where we had come from. In this little corner of New Brunswick, we were hated and an ugly rumor was going around that we were squatters although we did not know all of this at the time. What we did know was that finding a place to tent, where we would not be harassed would be very, very tricky in the days ahead. For the moment we were safe as Percy and Warren had opened their home and hearts to us.

For the first time in 5 days we were able to bathe and get cleaned up. To wash the grime off and get refreshed meant so much to us. It allowed us to feel normal again. We were able to eat heartily as well thanks to our host’s benevolent generosity. It was a wonderful break. God had taken us though a hard experience and now He gave us some rest and company with Percy and Warren. Never underestimate the power of kindness to the poor for it is a gift greater than life some times. Sometimes even just a kind word would make our day when we were ‘out there’ on our journey.

Percy worked that Friday but when he came home he decided to take us to his usual Friday night dinner at a local Chinese restaurant in St. Stephen. The food was abundant and rich. It was so good but we could only eat so much and then we were full. We were so used to only eating a small amount every day that our stomachs had shrunk and we could only take in so much at a time.

Saturday was a lazy day and we got to ride around in Warren’s Cadillac. He took us to get ice cream and Tim Horton’s doughnuts. Fanny and Wanda got birthday donuts to celebrate their birthdays which had occurred a few days prior. It was a much appreciated act of unsolicited kindness for which we were very thankful. The rest of the day we just talked with Percy and Warren about our journey and we learned much about them. Warren had studied to be a pastor at one time but had left that profession. Percy had been through some hard times and was a rough character but underneath that exterior was a kind heart. He was not happy with the way we had been treated. He suspected that one of the people who lived down the lane at Stoneridge Estates had called the police on us. He didn’t mince his words about how he felt. The conversation went many places and we talked about the farm they had and the nearby barn. The barn was old and in need of repair. One day, not long before we came, a local pastor named Robert had come out to help and had accidently stepped on a rusty nail that went right through his boot and foot. Since he was diabetic and had no feeling in his foot so he didn’t realize what had happened. Needless to say that was the end of the help that day.

On Sunday there was a big family get together at the house. Percy and Warren cooked a huge meal for everyone. It was an enjoyable time and we got to meet some of Warren’s relatives. After dinner Warren, Wanda and I sat on the veranda and talked. Wayne was a very kind, and sensitive, man. He was very understanding of our journey and where we were going in faith. He expressed his admiration for what we had gone though and our testimony. I was thankful for his affirmation of us. We told him that we needed to be moving on but he did not want us to leave. We did not want to overstay our welcome as had happened so many times before so we thought we would leave while Percy and Warren still liked us. They had been so kind that we did not want to ruin their good will towards us. It was then decided we would leave the next day. We thanked Percy for his kindness and hospitality that night as we knew we would not be seeing him the next day. It was a sad farewell.

The next day, after Percy had already left for work, we got cleaned up and packed to leave. Warren offered to drive us in to St. Stephen but we thought we had better walk in case God had an appointment on the road for us. With many goodbyes and thanks we were off again. The day was warm and it did not take us long to get overheated so we stopped for a drink. As we sat there I noticed in a bush across the road a piece of paper with writing on it. I picked it up and discovered that it was a page from the Bible. God was sending us a message. As we read it and tried to find what message God was giving us one passage stood out. The page was from Lamentations and the passage was chapter 3 verses 32-26 which is as follows:

“But though He causes grief, yet will He be moved to compassion according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy. For He does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men. To trample and crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, to turn aside and deprive a man of his rights before the face of the Most High or a superior [acting as God’s representative], to subvert a man in his cause—[of these things] the Lord does not approve.”

God was encouraging us in our journey. We knew that the hardship we were going through went through Jesus first. Jesus had been with us on the journey every step of the way and we frequently saw Him, in visions, walking with us. God had allowed His Only Son to suffer and He was allowing us to suffer like Him. He did not willingly afflict us but it was done so that we might learn and grow into maturity as adult sons of God. The path to maturity in Christ is a hard one but so very necessary. God was also letting us know that He saw those that tried to dissuade us from our path of faith and He did not approve of what they had done. There will be a reckoning at one point I am sure.

We continued on the road and as evening was falling we found ourselves on the streets of St. Stephen. As we walked we met a woman and her daughter walking their dog. They were a friendly pair, and as we stopped to pet their dog we found out the woman and her daughter were called Nelly and Roxie. Curious about us they asked where we were going. We told them a little about ourselves and asked if they knew of any campgrounds nearby. None came to mind but they invited us to stay in their back yard for the night. We decided to take them up on their kind offer. We went to their home and set up our tent in their yard just behind the Tim Horton’s. They gave us a little food and were very kind to us. Our adventure in St. Stephen was about to begin.

[] Chapter 39 – Idol Talk

Sept. 4 to 5, 2012 – From Nelly and Roxie’s yard to St. Stephen University

We never knew, and God never told us beforehand, what we would face in any given area. Each new place was a puzzle to us that we would have to piece together later. St. Stephen was no different. In retrospect we can say that the spirit over St. Andrews was wealth and the spirit over St. Stephen was religion. These were the predominant spirits that would affect everything that would happen in their respective communities. Both are foul disgusting spirits that caused us no end of pain when we were there but of the two I would say that the religion in St. Stephen was far more insidious. The wealth of St. Andrews made the citizens so arrogant and aloof that we had no opportunity to really get to know anyone there. We just faced their hatred. In St. Stephen we were brought in close and in that close proximity they were able to stab the dagger of betrayal deep into us, wounding us far greater than anyone at St. Andrews had. There had only been a few times where we had been truly vulnerable with people and they had betrayed us so deeply. Once was at the beginning of our journey with Crystal and Laverne, the next would be in St. Stephen but there would also be one more at the end of our journey.

Now one thing to know about St. Stephen is that it is not as wealthy as St. Andrews and in fact it is quite impoverished. There is only one major employer and that was the nearby chocolate factory. The town was larger than St. Andrews and across the river was the state of Maine. Many St. Stephen locals would cross over to the US to do their shopping, for food was a lot less expensive there. We discovered that St. Stephen also had a lot of churches and it would be here that we would connect with a few of them.

At this point, however, we knew none of these things as we packed our bags and quietly left Nelly and Roxie’s yard after saying goodbye and thank you. Now that we were on the streets of St. Stephen we did not know where to go, which was a continual problem as we journeyed along. We just wandered aimlessly down the street. At one point near the downtown core we sat on a bench by a large church. A man came up to us very friendly like. He started talking to us but when it became clear he was trying to convert us to his religion we told him we weren’t interested so he left in a huff. That little event was our first clue as to what we would experience during our time in St. Stephen.

We moved on to a little visitor center to rest and decide what we would do next. We were not sure where to go so we got a map and started looking. There seemed to be nothing in St. Stephen for us so we decided to head towards the other edge of town. It was a very long walk and the day was cloudy and cool. No one stopped to help or talk to us and we felt the stares of the locals. At one point we even passed right in front of Robert’s house although we did not know it at the time.

By late afternoon, as the weather grew darker, we reached the highway overpass that marked the end of the civilized world as we knew it. I left the ladies and went ahead to scout things out. Beyond us lay nothing but rocks and trees and was lifeless as far as I could see. With little food and little ability to resupply I knew we could not go forward on this road. With a heavy heart, and feeling abandoned by God, I came back as it started to rain. We decided to camp by the overpass in a little clearing. I pitched the tent just before the rain really started coming down.

It was a miserable time in the tent that night. Our ceaseless, aimless wanderings had tested our faith and we were broken. Wanda had been hit the hardest. Ever since we had left our home in Sherwood Park she missed our old house and the beautiful yard we had spent 7 years developing. At times it was just a wistful comment she would make and other times it was a heartfelt cry. Here in St. Stephen, though, it had morphed into something far more sinister. By this time Ida, Fanny and myself could see that the house in Sherwood Park had become an idol in Wanda’s heart and if it was not removed it would destroy us on our journey. We had to face her with this issue and with the rain pouring down around us we talked it out. Wanda, at first, did not see that the house had become an idol in her heart, but as we talked she began to see it. We urged her to let it go so that we could receive from God whatever He had for us. He certainly would not give us the land He had promised if we were still clinging on to what we left behind. With a very heavy heart, and many tears, Wanda let go of the idol she had made of the house and repented. We all cried. It had been a very hard, miserable time in the tent but with this idol now booted out of our fellowship we were now free to continue.

It was a valuable lesson for us to not have any gods before God. Each of us, at different times, had our little ‘g’ gods shown to us so we could repent of them. They seemed such small, innocent, even good, things by themselves but God taught us that if they stood in the way of faith, of relationship with Him, it would have to go. As we journeyed we saw these idols in the lives of others as well. Sometimes the idol would be the Bible, a pastor, food, a piece of jewellery, a certain theology or somebody’s reputation. Idols come in many different forms but if they are not repented of they will destroy our relationship with God. It is sad to say that we never saw anyone repent on our journey, but we did see them harden their own hearts.

The rain continued through the night and into the next day until it let up later in the morning. Around this time, we heard a vehicle pull up on the road by our tent. We were scared that it might be the police but no one came down. We then overheard someone speaking on a cell phone about our tent. Soon after the person left. Since we did not have permission to tent there, and fearing another visit by the police, we quickly packed up our tent and belongings even though they were quite wet. I knew we needed to keep moving. Fortunately, no police came around and harassed us.

The rain cleared off and the sun began to dry and warm us again as we walked back to where we came from the day before. By this time, we felt we needed to do something so Wanda decided to call a person whose name was given to us by Althea in St. Andrews. We wanted to see if we could get in contact with the pastor at the Vineyard church Althea had spoken about. At a nearby gas station, Wanda went to get us some food and also make that phone call. She talked to the people, but they said they had left the Vineyard church. Wanda left the store feeling disappointed at the closed door. Going further up the road we stopped at a park for a bit where we met someone who was kind to us and wanted to help us by giving us a ride. It was a kind offer but we had nowhere to go so we thanked them and they left.

As we left the park, a police captain of the local RCMP detachment stopped us. This time he had not been called but thought we might need a hand. We told him that we were ok but we were looking to contact Althea’s pastor at the Vineyard church. He did not know how to get a hold of him but mentioned that his friend went to that church. The captain gave us the man’s address so we could contact him. That RCMP captain was very kind and let us know that if there was anything else he could do to contact him. I did mention as well that one of his fellow officers had been extremely rude to us at Stoneridge Estates a few days prior. The captain said he would talk to the officer about that. The captain wished us well and we left on good terms. He was one of the few police officers I enjoyed talking with on our journey as he did not see us as, or treat us like, criminals.

Evening was approaching as we headed over to the address we had been given. It was the only lead we had. Unfortunately, there was no one at the address we went to so we went around to the side door. A young woman answered and we asked if they knew this man. When she replied ‘yes’ we then asked for permission to put down our tent there so we could sleep. She replied that she did not have the authority to grant that so we thanked her and began to walk away into the night. We had been rejected so often that we were not about to press anyone for kindness. As we were walking away she, and her boyfriend called us back. They invited us into the house and they gave us all something to drink. The young woman made some phone calls and soon got us permission to set up our tent on the grounds of the nearby St. Stephen University. She also ordered us a pizza.

Now that we were refreshed we took our gear over to the grounds and selected a suitable spot on the grass to set up the tent. Once we were done the young woman called us over to say that the pizza they had ordered had arrived so we went back to eat. It was wonderful to eat a hot meal again. Once we were done we headed back to the tent.

Word had spread to the newly arrived students that there was a family tenting on the grounds. Curiosity came over some of them and they came over to have a chat. Since this was a liberal arts Christian university many of the students professed to be believers. When they found out we were on a faith journey it piqued their intellectual curiosity. One young man joined us in the tent and we talked for a bit. All of a sudden someone tapped on the tent and said, “This is the police.” We all froze in fear for a moment until we realized that it was just a student, appropriately named Stephen, playing a sick prank for which he later apologized. Our response, however, told me that we were very much on edge and tense.

We talked for a long time with the students about our ongoing faith journey. Eventually we tired, the students left and we laid down to go to sleep. It had been a very full day from the morning rain. We had not expected what had happened and were thankful for the kindness shown to us. God had, through a very thin, convoluted lead, once again opened doors for us that I still don’t understand. The name of the pastor would again be God’s lead for us in our journey in the days ahead. For the time being we were just thankful for a place to sleep in peace without being harassed.

[] Chapter 40 – Cognitive Dissonance

Sept. 6 to 8, 2012 – St. Stephen University

I am not a fan of Bible schools. I had gone to a Bible school after high school but after getting my bachelor degree in Theology I was farther behind in my walk with God than I care to admit. I have found that people who attend Bible schools, colleges and universities, more often than not, outwardly express a moribund Christian belief full of intellectual reason that is antithetical to faith. The product of these institutions tend to major in pride and intellectual arrogance with a minor in stupid. These schools encourage certain types of intellectual dogma that look nothing like the faith we were learning to live by. They also dismiss the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer which is far more dangerous. It was into this maelstrom that God placed us and it was going to be an interesting time. Our time at St. Stephen University would be a contest between intellectual belief versus living faith. I have to admit I would enjoy watching the cognitive dissonance of the participants.

We woke up chilled on Thursday Sept. 6. The weather had turned from a summer heat to a fall chill and our thin blankets weren’t keeping us warm enough. We had pitched our tent on the grass beside the main university building on this very small campus. We were given access to the building as necessary. There was a library, dining hall plus bathrooms where we could wash. The university people had given us permission to get as much tea as we wanted from the dining area so we got some to warm up with. We spent a good part of the day talking with some students and wandering around St. Stephen getting to know where everything was. We did notice that there were an awful lot of church buildings in St. Stephen. Aside from the pizza the night before, we had nothing else to eat besides the tea. We had no money, nobody offered us anything and we did not ask. Nothing special happened that day, for which we were glad, and we had another peaceful but cold night in the tent.

Friday morning also found us very cold in the tent. We went inside the main university building and got some hot tea to get warm. We did ask one student if they had an extra blanket we could borrow but they did not have one. It was actually very amusing in one way. The students of St. Stephen were very big on social justice and bragged to us how they would be going on an overseas trip to help the poor but they could not even help the poor that were, quite literally, in their own backyard. The irony was stunning but I am not sure they got it. Strike one for cognitive dissonance.

That day we decided we did not want to walk anywhere so we stayed around the tent. Wanda went to the library to find a good book to read. She found a book by Jeanne Guyon and started to read it in the library reception lounge. Not long after a university professor who knew about our situation sat down to talk to Wanda. After hearing some of our story the professor said that we needed counselling. Apparently we were not towing the correct religious line and thus were an offense to commonly accepted social norms. The only way he could explain it was that we were mentally unbalanced and needed help. Wanda responded by telling him that the Jeanne Guyon book she was reading was about the very faith we were living. She had found it by rummaging through the stacks in their own library. Wanda then asked how that book could be in their library and they did not believe in its contents. He had no answer. Strike two for cognitive dissonance.

We had been invited to a dance the students were having that same night. The students seemed to be less uptight about us than the staff were, so we said we would be there. Before the dance started Wanda engaged a student and the subject turned to Cain and Abel. Now Wanda’s Scripture knowledge is profound as she has practically memorized what is in the Bible and can tell you where a verse is just by quoting a line or two. I think it is her super power. She also has the deep understanding that comes from living out the Scripture in faith so when she talked with this young man he was way out of his depth. Approaching the subject from a purely intellectual standpoint, or basically sense and reason without the Holy Spirit, the young man began to argue with Wanda but was soon outmaneuvered. Stunned by this he left in a huff. Wanda was stunned by his abrupt departure and thought, “Well that was the end of that.” Strike three for cognitive dissonance.

After this befuddling conversation the dance began. Wanda and I had a grand old time on the floor ballroom dancing while the students wiggled around as if they had been struck by lightning. It was wonderful and we had not had that much fun since we left Alberta. Soon enough though we were tired beyond reason and had to go to sleep in the tent.

The next morning, the same student who had argued with Wanda the night before must have had a change of heart for he came out to the tent and invited us for breakfast. Wanda was very surprised by this as usually when we have a ‘discussion’ with someone they leave and that would be that. Since we were specifically invited we did not turn this offer down. It felt good to get even a little nourishment that morning and it refreshed us for the day. Otherwise, in our time at St. Stephen University, we did not feel right about eating the food designated for the students since we had not paid for it.

On Saturday the students had been asked to clean up the brush around the grounds. Since I had done yard work in the past, and was eager to help, I volunteered our family’s services. We cleaned out a lot of brush that day and my pants became very dirty. Now keep in mind that it was my only pair of pants and I had no laundry facilities to clean them with. I had kept them reasonably clean up to that point but could not help the dirt and leaf stains that got on them that day.

As we were working hard a woman talked with Wanda and it was clear she looked down at her nose at us. Wanda was talking about our journey of faith to which the woman replied back and her last words were, “…and to be productive.” The words were sharp and stinging, insinuating that we were lazy. It was indicative of the kind of comments we faced many times on our journey. They are little stings that cut to the heart and reveal the real belief of many believers that ‘if a man don’t work, he don’t eat.’ Here we were working hard and they still thought that of us. Again we were faced with that ever present lie that keeps so many from faith and following God. It is satanic pressure to keep everyone slaving away trusting in man, and what man can provide, so people never find true faith. Many miss heaven as a result. Too many Christians blindly twist Paul’s words, a man of great faith, to justify not walking out in faith and beat people down that do. It is very frustrating to follow God and face this kind of bigoted ignorance but face it we did. We had chosen to live and walk by faith and find out for ourselves just what the rewards of faith were.

In the evening the students had a campfire, just a little way from the tent, so we joined them around the fire to keep warm. It was a wonderful evening and all four of us had lots of s’mores to give us energy. It was a good thing for after a long 3 days there we were all hungry, tired and cold.

It had been a hard time at St. Stephen University with the clash of moribund intellect against vibrant living faith. We came to the people of St. Stephen University as a living lesson from God but they choked on their nicely wrapped hot dogma. They could not get past our homelessness and poverty for we offended their preconceived ideas and social norms. It was much like how Jesus offended the religious leaders he was sent amongst. Heaven forbid that we get offended by the packages God chooses to send to His blind and deaf people.

[] Chapter 41 – The Lesson

Sept. 9 to 20, 2012 – From St. Stephen University to the woods

There was one time in our journey when we watched God move in such an awesome way that we were stunned. This time was extra precious to us for in it God confirmed that we were on the correct path of faith but He did it in such a way that it left us in awe of His power. With meticulous preparation and coordination God performed a miracle with such subtlety that it is beyond human comprehension. The best part was that we had to do nothing but watch as God brought great honor and glory to Himself and utterly silenced His critics. This is the only recorded testimony of this amazing event. Just one of the many unsung miracles God does every day for those that love Him and follow Him in faith.

Fanny had a significant dream the morning of Sunday Sept. 9. In the dream, she was talking to someone at a desk who told her not to go past an area with some large semi-trailers for it was not safe. It was a significant dream for her and she told us on waking. We did not know what it meant but we would find out later.

We had decided that Sunday morning to attend the St. Croix Vineyard Church service and meet this pastor that Althea had talked to us about. We dressed up in our best Sunday dress homeless clothing, which also happened to be our only homeless clothing, and the four of us, with Milo, trekked off to the church service. Since we were very early we sat on the steps of the church building to await the rest of the people. When they finally opened the doors we went in. Fanny had opted to stay out in the park by the church to attend to Milo while we went inside.

The first order of business was Sunday school so we went into a small coffee room where they had tables put out. There was coffee, muffins and juice on a side table so we partook of the free bounty. It would be the only meal we would have that day. We sat down at an empty table close to the door as people filed in. Most we didn’t know but some university students that came said ‘Hi’ along with the professor who had told Wanda that we needed professional help. Apparently that same professor was also leading the Sunday school class that day.

Since it was the first Sunday back after summer, many of the people were talking and greeting one another. We just sat there in our dirty old clothes and said nothing. After the greetings were complete the leader of the Sunday school started the class. To begin the lectionary was handed out. Now we were not familiar with what a lectionary was, but later we found out that they are developed much earlier, sometimes 3 years, in advance. We did not know this as we looked at the lectionary in shock. The reading for that day was James 2:1-10, 14-17 which is as follows:

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

8 You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

As the scripture was read by the very man who said we needed counselling, we just sat there in our dirty old clothes and said nothing. I must admit the hint of a small smile was on my lips.

As they opened the floor for discussion about this very important subject, many spoke up including, the various students we had met, and they discussed how important it was to not show favoritism. It was all from a dry, intellectual well bringing up dust for all to drink, but the people lapped it up. We just sat there in our dirty old clothes and said nothing. The professor who had done nothing to help us nor given us food was the pinnacle of stoicism and said absolutely nothing. Not one person who knew us and spoke referenced us as an example.

Finally, a man by the window spoke up. We had never met him before and he had not met us, nor did he know who we were. He had been a favorite of the church in years past but had been away for some time and just today he was back. Comments of appreciation flowed back and forth. He then said, “I am a sunny day Christian but anyone who would give up their house and goods, well that’s somebody I could follow. I have to admit that I am not sure I would have the courage to do something like that, but that would be somebody I would follow.” We just sat there in our dirty old clothes and said nothing.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was amazed at what God was doing and thinking that nobody – and I mean nobody, was picking it up. It was beautiful to watch God confirm everything we had done before this intellectual snob who actually belied the faith he claimed to adhere to. The depth of his hypocrisy was being completely laid bare before him, without a word from us, and he didn’t even flinch. It was very fun to watch.

All too soon the fun ended and we had to go down to the service. We sat in the back to avoid any un- pleasantries and for a quick escape if need be. There were general greetings and the person in front of me shook our hands. When he asked who we were I said something to the effect we were on a faith journey, but were homeless. His response was classic, “You should write a book.” And he turned back around with not another word. Typical.

The service was appalling. It was so full of social justice clap trap that if there were any truth in it, you would have needed a backhoe to find it. When the service was done, so were we. We had seen that there wasn’t enough spirit in that church to snuff out a candle. We decided to leave St. Stephen for good. As we tried to leave a man came up behind us and introduced himself as the pastor Althea had spoken of. We shook his hand and left.

Back at the university, we packed up quickly and departed. We had enough of the religion and lack of spirit around us that we just wanted to leave. We headed out down the street and headed north. At one point, we had to stop to rest and who did we see but Stephen, the university student we met. He asked us where we were going and we said ‘out of town.’ He wished us well and departed. Later as we were walking, we saw him a second time. We knew then that God was speaking to us and trying to lead us but we missed the lead. We were so tired after St. Andrews and now St. Stephen that we just wanted to leave the area. The problem was that God wanted us to stay and face what was next. Thankfully He already knew what we were going to do, so He had prepared Fanny in advance.

Walking up the road out of St. Stephen, we came to a place where there were a bunch of semi-trailers parked. It was the very place that Fanny had been told about in the dream God gave her early that morning. After seeing Stephen twice and now being at the very place we were warned not to go beyond, we stopped. We did not know what to do, but we knew we didn’t want to go back to St. Stephen.

Sometimes we are dense. Now I don’t mean this in a broad, pejorative way, I simply mean that we, personally, are dense. With two very obvious leads, you would think we would immediately go back to St. Stephen, but we just sat there. Granted we were tired but we just weren’t interested in going back to that religious, intellectual septic field. God then sent us an ever so gentle nudge from one of those ‘offensive’ packages we so often despise.

A family drove up in a beat up old car right to where we were resting. The man rolled down the window and asked bluntly if we were the homeless family. I was not sure if 4 people in bedraggled clothing with a dog, birdcage, backpacks and tent were advertising our ‘brand’ correctly or not so I said “Yes. Yes we are.” He then asked where we were headed. We told him that we were thinking of heading north up that road. He said “Don’t do that as it is not safe.” I didn’t know if he meant from people or animals, but it was all the same to me, so I accepted his warning. He then suggested our family go back to St. Stephen and he mentioned a park where we could camp and be hidden. Since we were being prohibited from leaving St. Stephen by God, we took the hint. We thanked the family for their kindness and they drove off.

We walked back the way we came. This was the second time we tried to leave St. Stephen and had to come back. When God wants you to swallow a pill, you swallow, no matter how much you gag. We found the little park and a hidden area where we would not be seen then set up the tent. It had been a very long day.

We learned two things that day. The first thing we learned was that God will go before us and vindicate us in front of others when He wants to make a point and He doesn’t need our ‘help’ to do it. Secondly we learned that God is gentle and kind in His lead, even when we are not inclined to be immediately obedient. Now if we were deliberately disobedient then that would be a different story but for now we just didn’t like the Brussel sprouts on our plate.

We spent the next 12 days camping in the woods just on the outskirts of St. Stephen. It warmed up and we wandered about the trails out of sight from the locals. We got very hungry but we were able to get a little food from the food bank. At one point, the nights got too cool for our little blankets and so Wanda went to look for a heavier blanket. She went to the Catholic church to see if they would help us. After telling the priest our story, Wanda was given a heavy blanket and the priest even went out and bought us some food with his own money. After this he asked Wanda to pray for him, which she did. His simple act of kindness went a long way after all we had been through.

I was out walking one day and walked right in front of a police car with the officer in it that had been so unkind to us in St. Andrews. I stared at him hard to make sure he saw my face. He did see me but did nothing. When God is with us, nothing can destroy us. Another time, some kids came right up to our tent and looked inside. They were just young and curious, but it disconcerted us.

We talked a lot about our time in St. Andrews and St. Stephen and tried to figure out what God was teaching us. He wanted me to make a record up to that point of our time in the wilderness, so I started a chart of our travels. God likened our journey to the wanderings of the Israelites, so we began to understand where God was taking us. In retrospect, we were only halfway done. The worst lay ahead.

[] Chapter 42 – The Wolf

Sept. 21 to Nov. 8, 2012 – Zion House of Worship Part 1

In late September of 2012, we had been living in a tent in a park on the outskirts of St. Stephen, when a very angry city manager thought we were druggies and was going to have us physically removed by the police. Traumatized and crying, I could do nothing less than start packing up. After so many moves and hardships, I cracked under the strain and was unable to do anything. Thankfully Wanda had the wherewithal to leave the tent and confront the city manager to buy us a little time. The mayor, heard about our situation and soon he, and his pastor Robert, came to our tent. They were both kind and sympathetic to our situation and soon Robert invited us to stay at his church building, Zion House of Worship.

Robert was a man who started life with few privileges and soon found wealth and purpose as an enforcer for the mob. He was tough and brutal. At some point He came to Christ and God miraculously wiped his criminal record clean and sent him to bible school where he finally managed to get his degree. God gave him the gift of prophecy and soon he was traveling around with other well-known prophets speaking at various conferences. His was a truly remarkable testimony. It was this man who said to us, “It is not my church but God’s” and that we could live in the church and so we did, for a time.

At first, we felt really welcomed with open arms by the members of the congregation; the mayor even allowed us into his home so we could bathe and do our laundry, but as time passed we began to notice that something was off with Robert. After we had learned all of Robert’s testimony, we hungered for some fresh words from the Lord, but only 1 personal word came from Robert that confirmed our journey. We found that most of what Robert was talking about was old stuff that had happened to him many years ago and there was nothing new. That was a red flag for us, as well as being boring. Another issue we saw was how Robert would browbeat the congregation and verbally bully them. At one point, early at our time there, he said to the church that he could see what the church members were doing in their houses at night. He was using witchcraft to dominate and manipulate those that came to the church. He even admitted to us later that he ‘didn’t want the sheep to have teeth’ and often referred to the congregation as kids. More red flags.

One day, after living in the church for many days, we were invited to go to another church to participate in a service. I was extremely reticent, since God had moved us away from religion and we were not eager to get involved again. However, in politeness for what they had done for us, we agreed to go. The service was just another speaker and quite boring but that is quite common. After the service the people were all going forward and praying as is typical in Pentecostal services but we abstained from participating. Eventually, they formed what they refer to as a ‘fire tunnel’. This is where a group of people line up facing each other and people walk through as the ‘tunnel’ people lay hands on them and pray. We watched and carefully observed but refused to participate with good reason. The one thing we have learned from God is that unholiness infects but holiness does not. This can be translated this way, allowing someone to touch us when that person has soul issues can transfer those issues to us. We were going through one of the most traumatic experiences of our lives and we were not about to add to our burden the soul issues of people who had not been through the wilderness and had their ‘self’ natures crucified out of them. This was a lesson we had learned many years earlier and to this day, we will not let anyone lay hands on us unless we know that they have been purified.

Some short time after this event, Robert came over to the church to talk to us. This was not a common event so we began to talk about different things. Robert has pride, that we knew, but the depth of that pride was about to be manifested. We began to talk about the service we had been to and we expressed that we had not been overly enthusiastic about it, pointing out that, like most services, it did not help people mature and grow in God but just fed their ‘flesh’ or ‘self’ nature. Robert did not like this and the exchange became heated. I expressed my dismay at the so-called ‘fire tunnel’ and Wanda explained how unclean spirits can be transferred through the laying on of hands. (1 Tim. 5:22) Well this last comment triggered the religious spirit that resided in Robert into action. Before we could speak Robert said he saw a big red stoplight over us. I remember being so totally gobsmacked by this trigger that I cannot remember much else of what Robert said, but it went in the vein that we were not following God. Remember that when God exposes the ‘self’ nature in us we can ‘kill it’ or repent. At that moment Robert had chosen to ‘kill it’ and we were the target. Our time at Zion House was doomed from that one moment.

It was from this moment that Robert and our family separated. We no longer participated in their services because of the hypocrisy in Robert, even though we still lived in the building. Finally, the day came when Robert wanted to meet with us. We did so in his office and he asked what we wanted to do. I said our main goal was to follow God and that I wanted to meet God – to which he replied that he would go home and get his gun and shoot me so I could see God. Wanda and I were completely stunned at the unapologetic violence in his speech. He then proceeded to tell us that the people in the congregation, as well as himself, wanted ‘their’ church back and we would have just a couple of more days, then we would have to leave. Just before he left, Wanda said “Some of the most depressing Scriptures are in Matthew 7 where it talks about casting out demons and prophesying in My Name, but in the end He casts them out. It’s about love.” Robert shot back, “It’s not about love, it’s about truth.” With that, Robert left. We packed up and left that Friday.

We never saw Robert again and I must confess, I hope we never will. His betrayal and his repentance of his good works and kindness to us was the most painful for us up to that time. Robert chose to kill the messenger and his evil works did not stop with kicking us out of the church. We saw this man as a wolf that hunted down anyone who opposed him. His poisoned words of hate followed us to our next stay with Rochel and so infected her, that we had to leave her house as well.

We have no choice, or say, in who God brings us to, or what will come out of encounters we have. We certainly don’t know what will trigger a response or the depth of that response either. I know we have to be faithful to Him and follow His lead wherever it takes us, even if it means we will be hurt when the other’s ‘self’ nature is exposed. It is not an easy task, but it is so very necessary. If people do not see the deceptive ‘self’ nature that lurks within them, if it is not exposed, they cannot repent and they cannot change. If God takes one of His servants to do that work, then so be it.

God taught us long ago that we bore testimony of Him and for Him. The testimony we bear of Him is His love and provision when we walk with Him, of His great glory and power to deliver us from the evil one. The testimony we bear for Him is how others treated us when we were poor and homeless. God takes how we treat the poor and homeless extremely seriously and will hold everyone accountable who mistreats the less fortunate among us. If we are kind to the poor but then repent of our goodness to them because we are offended, God will also repent of His goodness to us. Never say that God is not fair in His judgments. He sent us out as His servants to bear His testimony to others and collect the testimony of how others treated us. We give out both as a praise to God and as a warning to others.

[] Chapter 43 – A Religious House

Sept. 21 to Nov. 8, 2012 – Zion House of Worship Part 2

When we left the St. Croix Vineyard Church back in Sept. 9, 2012, we had enough of religion. St. Stephen was full of churches and if St. Croix Vineyard was any bellwether, the town needed a lot of help. There was no spirit, no life, in the people at all. They proclaimed a social justice, but when they came face to face with real poor people they choked. We tried to leave to St. Stephen then, but God made us come back. He was not finished with us testing churches in the area and now we were in Zion House of Worship. In direct contrast to St. Croix Vineyard, which had no spirit, Zion House of Worship had lots of spirit, both good and bad.

When we first arrived, there were a few people that recognized us after the spirit and saw that we had been sent from God to them. Two ladies in particular stand out. Melissa and Sarah were two best friends that lived in Calais, Maine and came to Zion House of Worship for Sunday worship service. Melissa had a prophetic gift and soon after we arrived told us that she had seen us in a dream and in the dream, Jesus was finishing furniture. We all thought that this meant that He was ‘finishing’ our faith from Hebrews 12. Together, these two ladies did much to help us, feed us and clothe us. They were just very kind and we were grateful for their help. We gave them what we had learned in our faith journey and they eagerly received it. At some point during our long stay at the church, Melissa had gone away to visit relatives. When she came back she told a story about her young niece who was around 5 years old. After telling the family about us, the niece piped up that we were from God.

Sarah had a daughter named Joanne and we got to know her as well. Joanne would drive us into Calais for shopping trips on occasion and was also kind to us. She was not comfortable in coming into the church, as she was struggling spiritually. The one time she did come in, she said she saw and felt demons dancing on the roof. She was not wrong. The spiritual atmosphere at Zion House of Worship was active with demons and angels.

We had a few examples of the extremes while we were there. At one moment, in a service, God led Wanda to give some words of encouragement and hug to another woman. The lady responded sharply that she felt Wanda was trying to be something she was not. It stung deeply. Another time, Wanda was talking with a woman and mentioned that Saul had not made heaven. The woman left and started gossiping and spreading rumors that Wanda had said Paul did not make heaven. When Wanda found out she went with Sarah and Melissa to confront this woman. It turned out that she had misunderstood Wanda. Wanda had been referring to King Saul not Paul the apostle. The lady apologized, but it was a warning to us how quickly and deadly the tongue is. In the Maritimes, those rumors and gossip flew around us like flies around a dead horse.

The attempts to destroy us were blunted by the environment we were in, but there were a few attempts outside the church as well. One day a newspaper reporter walked right into the church. He said he was from a St. John newspaper, heard we were there and wanted to do a story on us. I had enough of the press after what happened to us on P.E.I. when we were on the evening news. I told him that there was no story with us and so he left. Another time we found out from our friend, the St. Stephen mayor, that the city manager who had been so rude to us in the park in September, still had it out for us. He had drawn up an extremely negative report about us that he was going to distribute around St. Stephen to discredit and destroy us. According to our friend, he wanted to warn people with the ‘truth’ about us. But our friend knew us and so he told the city manager to destroy the report. The mayor and his wife were very, very kind to us. They let us use their house to get a bath every so often and to do our laundry. They even fed us sometimes. Even though there was evil coming at us, God also gave us help and kindness so we would not be overwhelmed. I was very thankful for all that he and his wife did for us.

Our friend Percy also came to visit with us one day as well. It was a real shock to see him again as he hated religion so much he would never come into a church building. For our sake, however, he did come into the building to meet with us. We had a good talk and we shared with him what had happened since we left his place. It was a wonderful time together. When we had been with Warren and Percy we had joked that when our journey was over we would give our tent to them so they could go on their own journey of faith. As Percy was leaving, I gave our tent to him as an act of faith, as I believed we no longer needed it. We would not need to sleep again in a tent until 2014.

Another wonderful lady we met at Zion House of Worship was Rochel. Rochel was older but had just come to the Lord recently. She was very hungry for God and read His Word regularly. When she came to visit us we would have long talks with her. We would counsel her as best as we could remember from the Elijah House material we had been through. Wanda helped her understand the Bible better as well. Rochel made remarkable strides in her faith in the seven weeks when we were there. On October 8, 2012 most Canadians were celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. We were not among those that celebrated. Rochel was very angry that no one had opened up their home to us so she brought in what remained of her own Thanksgiving dinner. We were thankful for the food but I was more thankful that Rochel was beginning to see that faith had to go beyond words and move into action. By not caring for the poor, especially on this day of thanks, she saw the hypocrisy in the faith of people at the church. It was a good start and I could see she was beginning to understand how important it was to live out faith.

I wish that I could write that it all ended well at Zion House of Worship but I cannot. Robert was becoming increasingly jealous with our contact with ‘his’ church members. Rumors were flying fast and furious and God was getting us ready to move on. Our time of testing this church would soon come to an end with a bang.

As in all our assignments we learned about God, our faith, ourselves and others at Zion House. We had faced down religion in St. Stephen and had an ‘in your face’ encounter with all types of people that professed to know God. We came away convinced that whether people had an intellectual faith or tons of spiritual gifts they still had the ‘self’ nature and that ‘self’ nature will destroy spirit and faith in God. Unless people are willing to live by faith, trusting completely in God, their ‘self’ nature will ruin their lives.

[] Chapter 44 – The Storm

Nov. 9 to 12, 2012 – From Zion House of Worship to Rochel’s house

We met many people, but God brought them into our lives for only a short season to test them and us. I once read that God orchestrates our wilderness crucifixion and that is correct. He brought us to people we would never meet any other way other than by coming to them as homeless people. On this journey only a few people opened their homes to us and only one let us sleep in her bed. This is her story.

Rochel was a new Christian. She had come to the Lord only a short time before and was growing in Him. We met her during our stay at Zion House of Worship in St. Stephen in late fall 2012. She had been kind to us while we lived in the church. She drove a school bus and lived outside of St. Stephen with her granddaughter. Over several weeks, Wanda and I took whatever time she could give us to teach her about the Lord. She gobbled it all up and studied the Word.

Now the pastor of Zion House of Worship was a man named Robert. After spending 7 weeks in the church, we had outstayed our welcome and Robert wanted us to leave. We have never stayed where we were not wanted and so like all other times we packed up all our belongings and left the church building on November 9.

We wandered about that day, not knowing where to go. God had cautioned us about leaving St. Stephen earlier so we felt trapped. You see St. Stephen is in the far south part of New Brunswick and there is nothing but trees and wilderness to the north, east and west and water to the south. We had nowhere to go once again. So we walked about on this cold day, sometimes sitting, sometimes moving but not knowing where to go. These times were hard as I knew we had to find shelter again. We did not have really warm clothes to be wandering out in winter and sleeping outside but God was not giving us clues as to where we should go. He did this a lot in the wilderness and for good reason. It taught us to wait for His deliverance for it would surely come. He teaches us to rely on Him, and Him alone, for our daily bread and shelter. What we never expect is often the very thing God will use to deliver us.

So after leaving the church in the morning and wandering about in the afternoon, we found ourselves close to the outskirts of town by the school. We sat on a rock and wondered what to do. To say we were hungry and cold would be par for the course. As we sat there, God’s timing unfolded before us like a tulip on a spring day. Had we blinked we would have missed it. First a van pulled up beside us and a man stepped out to talk. He introduced himself as Michael Storm. With a name like that, and we often referred to our wilderness like a storm, we just had to listen. He offered us a ride to anywhere we would like to go. We were overjoyed but we did not know where the destination was. Just as we were pondering this very question, a school bus pulled up and the door opened. There was Rochel and she said we could come to stay at her place, but she had no way for us to get there. Well we knew this was God. Boy, were we relieved. He gave us a destination and a ride there all in a matter of minutes. Only once before in Moncton, had the timing been that close. Soon we all piled into Michael Storm’s van; dog, bird, us and all our gear and were headed to Rochel’s house.

Rochel was every bit as serious about God as we thought she was. She let us sleep in her bed as she slept on her couch. We got to have a bath again in a real bathtub and eat real food. It was real hospitality beyond our wildest dreams, as she opened her home and heart to us. At first we just settled in, got warm and clean but soon we began thinking about what was next. As homeless ones, we were never settled and God always stirred the pot. He had a plan and that plan was to test us and others so we all could be formed into the image of Christ. If we had missed that we would have missed the true value of the wilderness. So here we were wondering what was next. A lovely woman, young in the faith, opens her home to not just us but to the God she really didn’t know. She was about to be tested.

It began on a Friday night. God woke me up and began to download that there was trouble ahead in the form of a prophetic dream about a storm. It had to do with Robert. We knew that he was not following God but he had convinced himself and the rest of the church he was. It really was too bad for we did meet people at Zion House of Worship that did love God very much, but because of Robert they were heading away from the light. God was warning me so I could warn Rochel. I did so on Saturday and conveyed to her, as best I could, the warning God had given me. She felt that she would be strong enough to resist the onslaught of the enemy. We were not so sure. Sunday passed quietly. She went back to Zion House of Worship for the service, we did not. For the rest of the day and on Monday, I was on edge but nothing happened.

Tuesday morning November 13, 2012, was cold and overcast at Rochel’s house. She went to drive the bus and did not come back for a very long time. When the bus pulled up and Rochel came out, her expression had changed. This was going to be bad and I knew it right then. She had talked with Robert and due to his power over her and the prophetic gift he had, he convinced her that we were the problem. She told us that we were the storm in her life. Her betrayal of us cut like a knife. She fell for Robert’s lies and the welcome we had at her house was instantly gone. I had to tell our family that we had to leave. I was deeply saddened and very angry. Not at Rochel, but at Robert for being an agent of the enemy to spoil the fruit in Rochel. After my family had packed up, I sat at the table with Rochel to give her one last message. I reminded her of the fruit that she had seen in us, as we stayed with her a few days and had talked with her a few times before that. It ended with me telling her that she needed to hear God for herself. To rely on just one man to hear from God for you was dangerous. What broke my heart was the tears in her eyes. I knew God was speaking and the hypocrisy in her own heart was being laid bare before her. The dream beforehand and all that He had done through us, including the miraculous way we got to her house, she knew that God was with us and yet she allowed a mere man to speak into her life and destroy what God was doing. Ida then asked her, “If it was Jesus who came into your life like we did, what would you do?” Her tear filled answer was, “I don’t know.” It was one of the most heart-breaking moments we had to witness. We walked out into the rain that cold November day and walked down the highway. It would be a long, cold and wet day until our next destination. It was as if God himself was crying over the pain of the separation.

I never saw Rochel again. My heart hopes for the best, but I know two things. God is with her and she still has contact with Robert, so she will be in conflict until she chooses one. Men (and women) like Robert, who have a prophetic gift from God but are uncrucified are the most dangerous people and there are far too many of them leading the churches today. Their hypocrisy and lies wrap cords of death around all who listen to them. Unless people decide to ‘Come out of her, my people’ and learn to meet and trust God in the wilderness for themselves, many will be captivated by the smooth, but false, words of comfort. Many lives will be shipwrecked and they will never find the quiet paths of faith God would lead them on through the wilderness. Rochel will always be to me a stark reminder of the price that is paid in following after ‘man’. If you ever listen to man’s words, make sure they come from unpolluted wells; crucified souls that have gone through the fire and don’t smell of smoke. If they don’t have lives of purity, you can be sure the worm of death will crawl out from their words and into you.

[] Chapter 45 – The Rain

Nov. 13, 2012 – From Rochel’s house to Smith’s Motel

Leaving Rochel’s house was a hard experience because of the betrayal but it was about to get harder than I had ever imagined it would. We walked a little way down the road to the highway on ramp as a light rain began to fall. It was just a steady drizzle that wouldn’t let up and that is the worst kind of rain to have on a cold November day. I knew from experience how important it was to keep warm and dry, especially in winter, and now we were walking into a cold and wet day. I had hoped that the walk would not be long and that we would be picked up soon. We did not realize just how miserable and desperate the day would become.

At first we just focused on moving forward. I was in the lead as usual with Milo at my side. Poor dog hated getting wet, but like a trooper he kept going. The backpacks and bags were heavy, but we did stop from time to time for rest. When we did rest we would talk about what had happened and what we thought was going to happen next. It was a sad and lonely day for all of us.

As the day wore on, we got increasingly wetter and colder. Desperation stalked our every move. We never hitchhiked but waited for what we thought would be the inevitable pick up; the place where God would get us out of the mess we were in. Inevitably God stretched us beyond what we thought we were capable of. He has a penchant for not doing what you expect Him to do when you expect Him to do it. I was always surprised how deep the level of misery God would allow us to experience before He would do something for us. If I did not know that Jesus was right there with us, going through the same miseries we were, I could not have continued a single step. Thankfully He was always with us. Even though we never saw Him physically manifest Himself we knew He was on that wet highway right beside us.

Many cars, trucks and semi-trucks passed us that day and none stopped, although a few honked at us. We ignored what we could but sometimes people were just plain rude. I marvelled that no one hit us as we walked on the shoulder of the highway. As the day wore on our desperation grew. Soon one or two of us stuck out a thumb to see if we could get a ride but nobody stopped. By the time daylight fled, I knew we were in deep trouble. In the middle of the wilderness with rocks and trees everywhere, beside a busy highway, in the rain, we had no shelter; no place to sleep. Cold and wet had covered us. Darkness was all around us and in our thoughts. We waved frantically at every passing vehicle, screaming, pleading for someone to stop and give us a ride. We were truly pathetic, horrifically afraid and panicked. At some moment, I just gave up and walked down a bit of embankment to sit down to die. Death seemed to be inevitable. No matter what we were doing no one was stopping, not even the police. I gave up. I thought myself such a coward for just giving up, wanting to die, when my family was doing their all to try and grab the attention of somebody, anybody.

Finally, out of the darkness, a car rolled to a stop beside us. Two men who had been out hunting had seen us earlier in the day and now were returning home. They were surprised to see us still walking as they had assumed someone would have stopped to pick us up. They offered us a ride, but their car was small. I offered to stay back and have the ladies go but they insisted we all get in. Somehow we got the back packs in the trunk with all four of us, the dog and the birdcage in the back seat. Frankly it was like a Mexican cab ride, but oh were we glad someone had stopped to help us.

The ride to their house was not long and soon we were safely inside a house with kids and cooking and everything homey. It was truly wonderful, but I think we were in shock from the day. We took off our soaking outerwear and were invited to sit down to dinner. It was a feast of beautiful moose roast and chocolate cake. The family that brought us in were Christians and, for some reason, earlier in the day, the wife had felt led to pull out this large roast and also make a cake which she rarely did. She did not know why but God did. It was a wonderful celebration after a horrible day.

Although we enjoyed the hospitality immensely and we will never forget it, we knew we had to find a place to sleep for the night. We could not put any strain on the people that had been so kind to us. We had learned that people can only give so much and we did not want to overstay our welcome. To this end we discussed as a family what to do and came to the conclusion we had no choice but to call Wanda’s family. They had offered help before, in P.E.I., and we had said no. They did not understand, and we could not explain, the journey of faith we were on. On our last day in P.E.I. calling family had become such a divisive issue that our troop almost broke up. Now, after the devastating day we had and all the struggles we had been through, there was no fight left in us. Wanda made the call.

Little did we know it then but we had come through something and we were about to embark on a new course. We had been tested many times and now we were going to start testing the 4 systems man relies on besides God. These ‘systems’ are family, religion, government and business. These are the 4 safety nets we have in society that keep us from having faith, real, solid, practical faith, in the Living God. Each one, in and of itself, is not wrong but when we rely on them instead of God then they are the problem. To be truthful, when we examine these systems from God’s perspective they are not safety nets at all, but traps. When we rely on others to give us money or resources they actually have power over us. The threat of removal of those resources, and the consequences that follow, cause us, in fear, to do what they say even if it violates our conscience. We saw these traps set up and sprung many times on our journey but we were never caught thanks to the lead of God. When we chose faith over those traps, we looked to God to provide for us and therefore we were free to follow God and do His will. God wants our souls to be free from the pull of man, and his threats, for man is a created being just like we are. God alone is Lord and has the power to set people free if we will trust Him in faith to provide for our needs. The wilderness can therefore be summed up as the place where we are weaned from faith in man and learn to have faith in God.

For now, God was about to start weaning us off the first of these 4 safety net/traps which was family. Now the families we grew up in were quite normal. They were not perfect and neither are we, but they were the birth families God chose to put us in. We both love our parents but our relationship with our parents, and extended families, made it hard for us to grow up. God had moved us clear across the country so He could start, and then complete, the maturation process. It says in Genesis 2:24 that “a man is to leave his father and mother, join to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” This leaving is physical, mental and emotional. We had done the physical and mental separation but the emotional part was just ahead. To start this process God had us first reconnect with Wanda’s family so we could at least get a little support and be indoors.

When Wanda first called her brother that night, his first words to her were harsh and biting, telling her to go live in a tent. She did not tell him that was exactly what we had been doing. Instead Wanda answered clearly and calmly that we needed help for we were cold and wet and had no place to turn. His attitude changed then and he said he would help. Wanda hung up and then ate some dinner. Soon afterwards, the phone rang and it was her brother again. He had arranged for a stay at a local hotel for us. We were glad for the help.

After dinner, as we were talking about our journey, the wife told us that as we walked in the door, the Lord spoke to her and said, “These people love God.” That was a tremendous encouragement to us then and has been many times after. After being condemned by Robert God was affirming that we were His people. Soon after many thanks and words of appreciation were given and we were then driven to the Smith’s Motel in Pennfield. We were finally in a motel room all to ourselves after many, many days of being with people. It was a tremendous relief that I cannot adequately describe. One final courtesy was extended to us by our new found friends. All that we were wearing and all the clothing and blankets in our possession were soaked through. We asked if they would be so kind as to dry it for us as we had nothing else to wear and they were very kind to oblige. We spent that night wrapped up in blankets, having an impromptu toga party, drinking hot tea and wondering how God had transformed our day once again. By going before, He had prepared a feast and temporary home for us in His usual humble way.

The next day our clothing came back, warm, dry and folded. We were amazed at the graciousness. Our friends remarked that absolutely everything we owned had been soaked through, right down to our underwear. They were amazed that we had been able to endure. We told them about the journey we were on and the patient endurance that is formed in the wilderness of faith. I am pretty sure they weren’t able to take it all in but at least we gave the testimony of God’s provision and how they had been a part of that. With that our long winter sojourn at the Smith’s Motel began. It was a hard start to what would become a long, difficult winter but at least we would be indoors for the duration, and alone.

[] Chapter 46 – Battle with Family

Nov., 2012 to Apr., 2013 – Smith’s Motel Part 1

The first real battle of faith that we had against the 4 safety net/traps that satan lays out for people occurred at the Smith’s Motel in Pennfield. The first safety net/trap that we were to encounter was that of family. This was a battle that had raged for many years and finally would reach its climax in this little motel tucked away in the wilds of New Brunswick. There had been many skirmishes, but at this place God wanted us to plant our feet firmly on the path of faith, put our complete trust in Him and finally shut the door to our extended family as a means of support. After this time, we only had one other encounter with family when we were in Ottawa and then the cords of unholy alliance would be severed forever.

During our first few days at the Smith’s Motel, there were a flurry of phone calls between Wanda’s brother and ourselves as we sorted out this new connection. None of our little troop were pleased with it, but the extended family had allowed us to be indoors and we were thankful for that. We were still bewildered from what had happened with Robert, Zion House of Worship and Rochel. I would have to say we were all in deep shock at the absolute treachery of Robert. The conversations with family out west added to the uncertainty about our journey. We had long resisted this connection because of what had happened earlier. Both of our parents had called the police on us in P.E.I. and we exposed the hypocrisy of that being a ‘caring’ act. We also dealt with the constant demand for response from them both in Bridgetown and after we had been on the television news programs that had made the family ‘look bad.’ With this history we were very reticent about connecting with them. At the same time, we had a great need to stay indoors for what looked to be a harsh winter. The rains of November had led to snow and storms had blown in that were so fierce we could not be travelling.

At first we only had the motel room for a short time but before long the family agreed to pay for a stay of one month and then for 3 more months. At least the spectre of having to move was removed from us. We now had a chance to rest and recuperate from the brutal year we had been having. Soon the motel management moved us to a larger motel room with a kitchenette so we could at least cook our meals. The second room we were in had a stove that continually shocked Wanda when she tried to cook on it. It was a painful visual of our time in Pennfield. With the little, extra money, we received from government and family, we had just barely enough to stay housed and reasonably fed.

Like all manna, it was never the ease we had been accustomed to in Sherwood Park but at least we didn’t go terribly hungry. Too many people misunderstand manna and think when God provides it will be to the level they are accustomed to in Egypt. Make no mistake, there is constant hunger in the wilderness as it is never ‘enough.’ We did not starve but the lesson we needed to learn was the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. God was trying to kill our ‘self’ nature which wants, demands, the delicacies of selfishness but He gave us only what our physical bodies needed. In this way, He was always testing us so that we would let go of ‘self’ and be thankful for what we received. To this day I am exceedingly thankful to be able to sleep on a mattress for I know how easy it is to lose it.

To contrast this, at one point Wanda’s sister sent us some ‘Christmas’ money with directions for us to celebrate and buy some chocolate. The disconnect was so vivid to us for even though we had relayed the complete deprivation of our situation to them this sister thought we would use the money to celebrate. That one event alone told us so much about how little our extended family cared to enter into our struggle and connect with us. The condescension was unbelievable and God was giving us a stark lesson about the lack of empathy in man, especially in blood relatives. These people had not gone through the wilderness and had not matured in spirit. Their ‘self’ was full blown and at least this sister was wholly incapable of seeing anything else but the comforts she, herself, was enjoying. To us it was utterly horrendous, as God exposed the ugly side of ‘self’ to us.

The next event that occurred with family was with a completely different brother. This brother was well to do after having been a successful businessman for many years. Like all of Wanda’s brothers, he professed faith, went to a rich church, and thought himself a ‘good’ Christian. He had been in consultation with his pastor, Trevor, who was the Dean at the bible school I had attended and who had phoned us while we were in Moncton. Together, Trevor and Wanda’s brother made plans to get a van for us. A van had been donated by a member of First Alliance church in Calgary, which is a very wealthy church, for someone to use. Trevor and Wanda’s brother told us that this was God’s gift to us. The news was astounding and we were stunned. It seemed to be overly generous as this brother spoke of getting this van, fixing it up and driving it out to where we were. For many days, we spoke about this opportunity that God was giving us, only we did not realize it at the time that it was a trap.

For a while, we heard nothing more about the van and our hopes of deliverance began to wane. We pressed for more information but none came. Finally, in a lengthy conversation with Wanda’s brother, we discovered that after getting the donated van a nephew had done a thorough mechanical inspection on it. The van was discovered to have hundreds of thousands of miles on it and was not road worthy. To be truthful, the van was a piece of junk, whose only trip would be to the junkyard. This was apparently God’s gift to us, a piece of junk not fit to be on the road. Our anger was absolutely over the top that ‘Christians’, and that included this brother, would pass off garbage as God’s gift. It was thoroughly incomprehensible. God gave to us, in Jesus, His most precious gift and for these ‘Christians’ to say that this hunk of donated mechanical garbage was God’s gift to us was the closest thing to blasphemy as I have ever seen. Even King David said that he would not give to God that which cost him nothing. After all that we had given God in our journey of faith, the insult to us by our extended family was astounding.

Trevor also emailed us on his own as well, although I am sceptical that he did this without family involvement. He offered us a car, an apartment and a job if we came back west. The enemy was sweetening the pot to get us to give up on our journey of faith once again. It was my distinct pleasure to decline Trevor’s generous, but now proven hollow, offer and state that we had every intention of seeing this journey through to the end. We were getting wise to the attacks of the enemy.

In another conversation, with the same brother that offered us the van, there was one more surprise for us. As Wanda talked with him, he asked what our immediate needs were and Wanda responded that we needed toiletries as we did not have money for these things. His response was that he wanted to give us some business contacts he had in St. John. He never offered us any money or anything that would cost him anything, despite his boasting about the van. Once again, we realized that man would only give away that which has no value to him. ‘Self’ will never sacrifice, never give up ‘self’. Time and again we had gotten junk, leftovers from people, with this being yet another sad example. Only a few times did people ever go the distance to give us something that cost them something. Once again God exposed ‘self’ in our extended family to show us they were a broken stick and could not be relied on. He wanted to expose their weakness to us so we would know that only He, God, could be trusted to care and provide for us.

The next issue came up with my own family, specifically my father. Ever since Bridgetown when God took me up on my offer to give up even my father to pursue Him, God had been exposing my father’s hand of weakness to me. Through dreams and experiences, God strengthened me to stand up to this man whose long shadow I had stood under for too long. My father had written a letter that was so full of condescension towards me and my family, that it was hard to comprehend. My father absolutely, steadfastly, refused to allow me to grow up and live by my own choices. I had enough. With one letter I told him in no uncertain terms that I was a man and would no longer tolerate his ‘parenting’ me. That was at an end and with that letter I ended all contact with a family that had refused to allow me to grow up.

Our final battle with family at the Smith’s Motel was a case study in God’s perfect timing and preparation. It was the one of the most elegant and well-crafted set ups I had ever seen God do up to that point and would put to rest, permanently, extended family as an avenue of support for us.

Along with money, Wanda’s sister and brother-in-law had given us a letter in December. Now the brother-in-law had a Masters in Divinity and was quite intellectual. In his letter he seemed to be very interested in our journey and asked about what we had gone through. Now I smelled something funny in all of this, but I responded honestly and transparently, telling what had happened. Wanda added many scripture references to underscore our journey and its parallel in the Bible. We heard nothing back from that letter.

Meanwhile time passed and it was in late February when we were told by family that there was no more money coming. We would have to leave the motel by early March. The pressure was building and it looked like the extended family was going to leave us to our fate in the middle of winter. God knew, but we did not, that family was about to spring the trap on us.

Early one March morning, just before the time it looked like we had to leave, I was awakened by a strange thought. God seemed to be dictating a letter to me. It was not a full letter but certain sections and the exact words were flowing through my brain. I had to write them down. They were directed at my brother-in-law and were quite sharp and mocking. I was surprised as we had not heard from Wanda’s sister and brother-in-law since December but not knowing what was going on, I just let the words rattle around in my head. It seemed to me like God was preparing my sword for battle and this particular battle was done with words.

The next morning, an email had come in from this brother-in-law. We were astounded. It was a letter of ultimatum and threats that had no precedent. They had vilified our faith, demanded we use less Scripture and that we return back to the west and family. It was hatred incarnate and an open threat to basically stop the stupid journey we were on. This was their trap. To get us to such a place that we would be so desperate that we would crawl back to family like a whipped puppy with its tail between its legs. They had failed to recognize that we had gone from being slaves in Egypt to a fighting force in the wilderness and God was about to unleash us on them. They did not understand how weak they were and how strong our God was.

We were gobsmacked at the arrogance and terribly, terribly angry at the insolence and condescension they showed toward us. I refused to respond immediately and let them stew until I could deliver the perfect mortal blow. The opportunity presented itself a day or two later as Wanda’s other brother, who had been the intermediary for this email exchange, wished to know what the answer was to this dreadful ultimatum. I am sure they thought our silence was merely a sign of weakness, but they were about to get a nasty surprise.

I started the response letter very simply and graciously then wrote, in no uncertain terms, that the letter the brother-in-law had sent was the most “artful piece of humanistic propaganda I had ever read.” We would not be responding to their demands as they came from the pit of hell to derail us from our journey in faith. Everything God had dictated to me, I included in that letter and it eviscerated their every argument. God gave me the tools to fight the extended family before I needed to even use them. It was amazing to watch and be a part of. We had stood up in faith and had exited the trap set for us. We would be following God, and not man, wherever He chose to lead us.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they read my response and realized that their carefully laid trap was laying in pieces before them. I am sure their anger was profound, but we chose not to find out. Soon after my response another letter came back, but we chose to delete it instead of read it, as we were sure it was filled with more vitriol and faithless filth. God had exposed the hypocrisy and duplicity of our extended family’s hearts and there was no going back. We knew where they stood and they knew where we stood. There was absolutely no common ground between us now and all communication stopped.

This was by far the biggest battle we had on our faith journey. It exhausted and exhilarated us. For the first time we gained ground instead of just jockeying back and forth. This was real progress, where we put our trust in God then openly declared, and lived, it. As a major battle, it had no equal. Our extended family had been a giant in our lives for way too long and now we left the rotting corpse behind as we moved on. We were starting to become a muscular fighting force in the spirit but God still had three more giants for us to slay.

There was one final lesson that God hammered home after our battle with family. I was taking a long walk on the roads around the motel when God began to debrief me on what had happened and why. What He showed me in the spirit was a sword that He had given me to do battle with. This was not a toy sword but the real deal and it had one purpose, which was to kill. Every time I pulled out that sword as God directed it was to be used, forcefully, to attack and kill the enemy. This sword was meant to draw blood in the spirit and destroy the plans and purposes of the enemy. It was drawn in the battle with my brother-in-law, brought down a stronghold and afterwards it was sheathed. The lesson God taught me that day was that the sword was to be sheathed most of the time. Even though we were being trained as a fighting force we also needed to know when to fight and when not to. To fight out of our soul, or ‘self’, will cause untold damage on others, but to draw the sword in the spirit was like a surgical strike that only took out the enemy. Although the wounds looked the same, the results were vastly different. One caused wounds that the enemy could exacerbate and the other destroyed the enemy. We had to learn now how to keep the sword sheathed and not cause unnecessary harm. In the future, that one lesson would save us, and others, many times.

[] Chapter 47 – Crucible

Nov., 2012 to Apr., 2013 – Smith’s Motel Part 2

I have often told my family, and sincerely believe, that if God wants us to be inside, we’ll be inside, and if He wants us to be outside, we’ll be outside. If He wants us to be poor, we’ll be poor, and if He wants us to be rich, we’ll be rich. For no matter where we found ourselves, there was a reason for it and God had lessons for us to learn. If we were poor and wandering, then there was a good reason for it and God would use that situation to teach us and others. If we were warm, housed and well fed, then there would be reason for that too. The key was to understand the situation we were in and trust God to work out the situation for our growth, maturity and His good purposes. Whatever happened, we learned to not fight God and kick against what He was doing for that never ends well. We never liked the wilderness but we did value it.

Ida relayed to us the word of the Lord that “some places will be nicer than others” when we were living under the tarps in the woods after we were first locked out. That had been proven to be very true. The situation at the Smith’s Motel was nicer than other places we had been at but there were things we would learn, and go through, besides dealing with family, that would be very tough. As God led us there were certain times when He would situate us in places with some stability so what we had gone through would have a chance to marinate. Smith’s Motel was one of those times. I sincerely think God deliberately gave us those times to offset the unpredictability of our wanderings.

We had long ago learned that Maritimers feasted on gossip like maggots feasted on dead flesh. Nothing was private and everybody assumed your activities was very much their business. That was just the way it was. The gossip that we were people of the worst sort, panhandlers, arsonists, freeloaders, squatters, to name a few, followed us around like a bad odor. Some believed the gossip hook, line and sinker while others preferred to make their own judgments. We quickly learned who was who and did our best to avoid the worst of them. It was funny that the people who preferred to believe lies about us never bothered to talk to us to find out if the gossip was true or not. Too much like work, I suppose. Anyways after we arrived at the Smith’s Motel on November 13 we found our reputation had preceded us.

A few of our friends from Zion House of Worship came to visit us after we were situated. Joanne, who had helped us get groceries in the U.S. when we were in St. Stephen took us there one last time and also got us the clothes we had left behind at Rochel’s place. We paid for her gas as she did a lot of driving and we were very thankful for this. One day, Althea from St. Andrews also paid us a surprise visit. She had bought us a few groceries and expressed her apologies for her treatment of us when we were in St. Andrews. Wanda had given her our nascent “Three Stages” document and we had a good conversation. Althea was surprised to learn who had helped us get to the Smith’s Motel for she knew those people personally. God was working on her faith and trying to get her to see His hand in dealing with us. We parted ways amicably that day.

It was a bright, warm November day when Melissa and Sarah came to visit us at the motel room. These two women had been so encouraging to us when we were at Zion House of Worship and we were thankful for their friendship. Melissa had a prophetic gift and also spoke great words of encouragement over us back then as well. Now that we had passed through the treachery and betrayal of Robert the relationship had changed. These two women loved Robert and he wanted it that way. The side he had shown us was completely different than the side he showed them. Robert needed the money these two ladies brought to the church and as long as they were faithful followers to him he would tell them whatever lies suited him, even it meant invoking God’s name and his prophetic gift. We knew the truth as God had exposed Robert’s hypocrisy and we were not about to hide that from our friends. Unfortunately, Melissa was not ready to hear what we had to say on the matter of Robert. When I expressed my frustration with Robert to the point of wanting to bop him, Melissa took great offense, stood up and said to us, “I don’t care what happens to you!” and stormed out to the car. I went out to try and reason with her but she had repented of her good works and there was no going back. Although Sarah was sympathetic to us for a time, she too eventually repented of her good works to us and wanted nothing to do with us. We never forgot these two ladies and it pains us to this day to remember their friendship and then their betrayal.

After this, the connections with our friends dried up and we were left alone to fend for ourselves. The owner of the motel was kind to us and helped us out with food when he could which was a great help. One of the long term residents at the motel, Maddie, helped us with laundry and on occasion Wanda helped out cleaning rooms. There was also another person staying at the motel, named Mitch. Mitch had demons and boy they hated us. He would bang on the wall in the middle of the night, swearing at the top of his lungs and leave his car parked in front our window with the lights on, radio blaring and the exhaust coming into our room. He even chewed out Wanda in the laundry room once. Yeah, Mitch had demons. Between the motel owner, Brett, and this guest, Mitch, we got the extremes of hatred and kindness. This was to be the crucible we would spend the winter in.

Along with this maelstrom of emotive turbulence, the winter storms bore down on New Brunswick. Soon we were struck in our little motel room to deal with the dregs that remained. I will always remember Pennfield for that awful December dealing with extended family, the hatred of the locals and the fallout from Zion House of Worship. Our family stayed day after day sequestered in this little room and dark thoughts ate away at our souls. We all had very sharp disagreements over what had happened and one day it boiled over. After a particularly heated exchange, I just walked out the door and down the highway. I walked a couple of miles down the highway in a blizzard and was prepared to keep on walking. I could not handle the attacks coming from without and within and I was ready to throw in the towel. As I walked, and was cooled off by the snow, God began to speak to me in His soft and gentle way. Slowly He began to show me my own fault in the matter and humbled me. Broken, I realized that I needed to apologize so I turned around and walked all the way back to the motel to do so.

Humility is such an essential requirement to learn and live in the wilderness. Without humility we would not have survived. Frequently our own pride had to be broken for God to speak to us and teach us His ways. Time and again He showed us that humility is as essential to a believer as air is. It is the singular foundational requirement for relationship with God and cannot be circumvented. Example after example was given to us about how pride blinds and humility gives sight.

January was very cold and very quiet. We took daily walks with Milo as usual and the locals disliked us because of where Milo did his ‘business’ by the side of the road. Their inanity knew no bounds. Wanda and I talked and learned about God as we tried to understand what we were going through. It was a bewildering time for us and depression was more of a frequent friend than I care to admit. Having the ‘self’ nature being expunged is never an easy business. The rest of the day we just sat in the motel room and waited. We waited a lot in the wilderness.

As January rolled into February our thoughts turned to the Passover celebration which we liked to keep. This particular Passover we were able to celebrate with lamb thanks to the kindness of some locals we had befriended. It was not a big celebration but it lifted our spirits. Soon after though we were back at our routine which consisted of time sharing the laptop we had bought in Fredericton, watching television and taking long walks.

One time we were able to help out with a local business. Down the road from the motel was a little gas station and grocery store. Their prices were high but they were close and we were able to get essentials when we had a little money. Now Wanda has always been very scrupulous when it comes to shopping and always checks her bills. If she is overcharged she will correct it and if she doesn’t pay enough she will correct that too. One day as we were shopping we bought some items that had to be weighed. The store had two scales and they used one to weigh the items which we paid for. When we got back to the room Wanda found out that we had paid too little. It appeared that the scale was incorrect and had short changed the store. This could not be tolerated so, being the honest people we are, Wanda marched right back, explained this to the clerk, and paid the correct amount. The store’s management was thankful we had pointed this out as they may have been short changing themselves for some time. I think this event discombobulated the locals. They had so believed in the lie that we were cheats that any story of our honesty would not compute. It gave us a much needed laugh.

We made the acquaintance of a lady who cooked for the restaurant at the hotel and her name was Tertia. Tertia was very kind to us and would drive us around to get groceries at nearby stores and one time took me to the hospital to get some medicine. We were very thankful for her generosity. Of course we did pay her for her gas so it would not be a hardship for her. One day around Easter Tertia gave Wanda and I two crosses made from reeds. This was a very special gift for it was a confirmation from God that our journey was one of crucifixion. We kept those crosses and have them to this day.

March came and, after the debacle with the extended family who left us with nothing, we had to use what little money we had to pay the rest of the month’s rent. It meant we had less food but at least we were warm. As far as April though we did not have the means to pay and it was still really cold outside. On the last day in March I told Wanda I would not pack our belongings for God told me we would not be moving. This seemed absurd since there was absolutely no provision visible to us but then this is the walk of faith and sometimes you do absurd things. It just happened that Tertia was talking with the motel owner, Brett, about us. He said to her that it was too cold for us to leave but that we could stay for one more month if we agreed to work 100 hours for him cleaning rooms and the entire parking lot. Tertia came rushing over to give us the good news and we readily agreed to the conditions. So in the end, we did not have to move at the end of March after all.

Much evil had been said about us, I am sure, when we were in that little room at the Smith’s Motel. One of the most bandied about terms was that we were freeloaders and unwilling to work, which was completely untrue. The problem was that there were no jobs nearby and we had such a fearsome, gossip-born, reputation no one would have hired us anyway so work was not possible. We did, however, always accept work when the opportunity was offered to us just like we did with Percy and at the Fort Nashwaak Hotel. Wanda and I both enjoy working hard. We put to shame the gossipers when we put hand to broom and started cleaning that parking lot.

Every day in April, Wanda and I would get dressed and head outside to start cleaning the large parking lot and area around the Smith’s Motel. It was hard work but it gave us something to do that helped pass the time. I enjoyed being outside in the spring air and soon there was not a pebble or piece of garbage to be found on that entire lot. It was satisfying to see the work and realize that we had put a nail in the coffin of the gossip that said we were freeloaders.

Soon enough though, the winter passed and spring was indeed upon us. As the weather got warmer we spent more days outside and it became apparent that we would be moving again. We did not know where to go as it seemed that God had trapped us in this wilderness. The crucible of winter was over but it left deep scars in us even as it healed others. Whatever was about to happen we knew we were changed people. We had won our first battle with extended family but yet we felt weaker and more vulnerable than we ever had. It was not a great situation to be in but this was where God wanted us to be. We could not argue with His perfect will.

[] Chapter 48 – The Camel

May 1, 2013 – From Smith’s Motel to Harry’s house

“The Quakers were brought to New Brunswick on the ship, The Camel. The Camel arrived in Saint John on September 18, 1783. There were 247 passengers on the ship which was composed of 104 men, 48 women, 30 children over the age of ten and 46 children under the age of ten, 7 indentured servants and 12 black settlers. Pennfield Colony was the only place in all of British North America at the time where slavery was not practiced. There was a powerful sign reading “No Slave Master Admitted” erected on the edge of town.”

There is a small park on the north side of the road just west of the Smith’s Motel in Pennfield, New Brunswick with a strange sign that mentions ‘The Camel.’ Of course we didn’t know what this was about at the time but this sign was very curious to us. Apparently this little park was the location where The Camel had landed and the Quakers set up their new colony after fleeing America. It was to be our destination after leaving the Smith’s Motel as well.

The spiritual significance of camels was well known to us. We had been waiting for God to deliver us from our wilderness wanderings for a long time and there had been no end in sight. We had looked high and low for answers, but all we found was riddles and dark speech we could not understand. We knew from scripture that camels represented provision and they had conveyed the young bride Rebekah to her groom, Isaac. Well known prophets and others had written words about camels as well and how they were a sign of God’s provision so we set off in hope.

It was a nice day on May 1, 2013 and our departure from the Smith’s Motel was orderly and expected. No last minute surprises that would test us that day. As a family we did not know exactly which way to travel. The backpacks were full and heavy with what gear we could carry but we left behind some of our winter clothing. It was still spring but it was warmer and I did not anticipate getting overly cold at night if we had to sleep outside. Choosing a direction to go was a much harder thing to do. Since our attempts to leave New Brunswick bore no fruit, it looked to us that God wanted us to get lost in the wilderness. The highway east to St. John was barren with few homes plus a risk of bears and the way west was where we had come from. It did not make sense to go back from where we came since we knew what was back there. There were no roads north and the Bay of Fundy was south of us. With no clear direction we set our sights on the sign of the camel and marched the mile or two to the little park.

Blocking out everything else we set out down the road. This little train with Milo and I in front, a short way behind was Wanda with Ida and Fanny a long way back bringing up the rear. Every so often we had to stop and rest, eating and drinking a little to keep our strength up, talk and encourage each other. The road is a lonely place where you spend a great deal of time alone with your thoughts as you mark the miles. We had not had to wander since 2012 plus the winter had made us soft. This first day back on the road was not easy, but at least our destination was not too far away.

By the time we got to the little park and put our gear down to rest, it was clear that our spirits had fallen deeper than any of us had expected. The hopelessness of our situation and the constant wandering with no direction since 2011 had done something to us. Depression was looming before us and Wanda, Ida and I all fell into the pit. Fanny went for a walk to talk with God. She saw some rocks that formed a heart when placed together but still broken. God asked her if she could put the heart back together and she answered that she couldn’t. He told her that we cannot fix ourselves but we had to depend on Him to do that. When Fanny told us that, it encouraged us all. She, for some reason, was unaffected by the delirium that had gripped our thoughts and seized our imaginations with the most horrific of endings for our little band of brothers. She remained steadfast in her faith as if God had granted her some special dispense that would keep her from falling into the darkest of thoughts. She had seen Jesus and He was delighted with our progress, she said. He was wearing His travel gear and walking every step with us. Somehow we all knew this to be true but the overwhelming reality of our physical lack roared back in response. It was a battle of faith that day for all of us with Fanny constantly reminding us to be faithful.

Darkness eventually settled over the park and we laid out our blankets preparing to spend yet another night on the cold ground. It was about 1 AM when I could stand the shivering and chattering teeth of our family no longer. I had made a bad decision in discarding the winter hats, gloves and scarves and I knew it. I left the family at the park and walked up the highway to the Smith’s Motel to where we had discarded our winter gear the day before. Gathering all I could carry I then walked back to my family. After that we were warm enough to be able to get a little sleep. No provision came that night, no camels discreetly entered into our camp but I do believe that the spirit that was in that place, left over from the Quakers, helped us hold our ground in faith until the next morning.

The next morning, May 2, we were cold and tired as we always were after spending a night on the ground. Little did we expect how this day would turn out. In our entire journey little compares to this day in how speedily things happened to us. That morning we had decided as a family that we would go to St. George, which was a nearby town, and visit the food bank there. Even if we couldn’t get shelter we at least needed to eat.

Everything started with morning clean up. As I packed our belongings from the night before, the ladies headed to the nearby gas station to get warm and clean. While Wanda was at the gas station she approached the driver of a van who was getting gas and asked him if he was heading to St. George and if he was, would he being willing to take us to the food bank. He replied in the affirmative and said that after he finished refuelling he would come over to the park and get us. It was not the first time, nor would it be last, that I would be thankful for Wanda’s boldness.

We loaded all our gear, pets and ourselves into his van and headed off. The man seemed really interested in our journey and asked us many questions about where we had been as he drove. As we approached St. George, he turned off to Tim Horton’s to buy us hot drinks. We were overwhelmed with thankfulness for his generosity. Those warm drinks really helped warm our cores and restore our spirits. Soon we were at the food bank and our friend left us there with many thanks from us to him.

We talked with the people who ran the food bank and they were appalled at our story of having to sleep outside, even though we didn’t seem to think that much about it. The lady who ran the food bank, Lauren, drove us to a local restaurant so we could get a hot breakfast and we were again overwhelmed by the generosity we received. At the table in the restaurant we had a really good discussion about where we wanted to go and decided that we needed to get out of New Brunswick and head to Ontario. We decided that Ottawa would be a good place for us even though we had no idea how we would get there.

Back at the food bank, we were able to take as much food as we could carry, which wasn’t much, as we spent time with the staff thinking of a way to get us to Ottawa. Now this particular food bank hired a driver to occasionally drive food orders to recipients who could not get out. He came around infrequently but on this particular day he just happened to be across the street at a seminar. Only God can work out that kind of timing as we have seen time and again. When our family, Lauren and the driver talked he said he would gladly drive us to Ottawa but it would be quite expensive and take 14 hours. We did not know how this would happen but for the first time we saw a light at the end of our dark tunnel. We were hoping beyond hope that we could get out of the hell that was the Maritimes and back into civilization.

For the moment, however, we needed a place to stay and St. George was no place for us. The food bank staff then paid for this driver we had just met to take us to St. John so we could at least find some help and maybe a place to stay. With contact info in hand and many thanks all around we piled into the driver’s car and headed for St. John. After a long journey we were dropped off at the Salvation Army office in St. John and then we parted ways.

Being in a strange city was nothing new for us but we had to learn our way around quickly. This part of St. John was very run down and looked extremely dangerous. After what had happened in Moncton, I was not about to take a risk with my young daughters by sleeping outside in this neighbourhood. We also knew of a bylaw that prohibited such action. The Salvation Army office was a dead end and we got no help there so we took off to reconnoiter our surroundings. Not knowing where we were going just lead us in circles and no one was willing to help us.

The day grew very hot by late afternoon and we were all sweating profusely. The heavy clothes which were so necessary the night before became an excessive burden to us and we had to stop frequently to rest. At one point, we had to stop and rest on the sidewalk. It was getting late and we were hungry and tired. We were no closer to finding a place to stay for the night than we were when we arrived but we were in a nicer section of town so I wasn’t as concerned as I had been earlier. We found a small patch of grass in the front of a church and tried knocking to see if anyone was there. We wanted to know if there were any services around that could help us. I decided to look around and walked around to the back of the church. In the back I found a soup kitchen that was only open on certain days and at certain times. Without knowing anything about this place at all we had arrived at the right time and on the very day when they served this meal. Once again we were surprised and thankful for God’s perfect timing. We all walked in and had a delicious hot cooked meal and enjoyed as much as we could eat. The staff even gave Milo some extra food as well.

Our story got around to various people who worked at the soup kitchen and were interested in us. On man in particular, Harry, was kind and in the course of our conversation offered us his home so we would have a place to stay for a few days. We told him about our desire to get to Ottawa and he was eager to help us in whatever way he could. Ever thankful for his generosity we piled into his car and off we went to stay at his place. After a cold night outdoors, we had access to beds again with warmth, food and a place to get clean. I will never again take food, warmth and shelter for granted.

These two days in New Brunswick were very significant in our wilderness journey for they taught us that when God wants to move us things can happen surprisingly fast with connections being made faster that we can realize. The pace, after so many quiet and slow moves, was dizzying. We also recognized that when God wanted to move us in one direction He would block every path except the one we were able to take. It was daunting as we could not see anything going forward but God does. It is crucial that we follow His lead whenever He moves. I learned that day when something was done it was done and we needed to move on. Up until that point God still had people for us to meet in the Maritimes and a testimony to give. After these days our time in New Brunswick was done and He wanted to move us to the next phase of our journey in Ontario. What was happening was that ‘the camel’ had been sent to take us to where we needed to go. Sometimes the signs God gives are subtle and do not look like what we expect. As we learn about Him we begin to see that He uses everything around us to speak to us and teach us His ways. We ignore these signs to our own peril.

[] Chapter 49 – You will take a trip

May 2 to 5, 2013 – From Harry’s house to the Ottawa Inn

Harry was quite the character. He was tall, gangly and very high strung but had a kind heart. He brought us over to his house on the west side of St. John and let us stay in the back part where he lived. Once again we had shelter and beds but we also knew that the clock was ticking and we were working hard with others to get to Ottawa.

The next day, May 3, Wanda and I went to see a lady who ran an organization that helped the homeless. Her name was Lucy and she ran and organization called Fresh Start which was a community outreach service. Lucy was truly a remarkable character, for she was one of the rare people in social services that actually understood what the homeless go through. She too had been homeless and that had taught her to be empathetic. Far from being unable to relate, she showed real empathy and concern for our situation.

Now in most cases of homelessness, there are underlying factors of dysfunctionality that cause one to be poor and unable to stay housed. Those factors may be inflicted by others or self-inflicted, but either way the person is in need of some help. Often times governments and agencies pigeon hole people into categories to expedite the process of ‘help.’ This is wise in some cases but not others. In our case, where we had chosen faith as a journey, we often confused these workers and threw into chaos their preconceived ideas of the homeless and how to assist them. It was sometimes fun to watch these people do mental gymnastics to explain to themselves how a family of four would choose such a path. Of course, if they had a predilection for pride and condescension, then it was less fun and more like a battle when talking with them.

Lucy was different than the others we met for she understood us and cared. Our situation, however, was unique and she was not quite sure how to address it. For the first time in our journey we had a clear direction and resolve to get to Ottawa, for the Lord seemed to be opening the door for us. We had made the connection with Lauren at the St. George food bank, whom Lucy knew, and the driver who was willing to drive us all the way there. We expressed all of this to Lucy and had a really good conversation. Lucy understood our determination and told us she would do what she could and would be in touch. There was nothing more we could do there, so we headed back to Harry’s house.

Harry brought us some turkeys so we could cook something and we were able to buy a little food with what we had. When we came back from the grocery store, Lucy phoned and let us know that the driver had calculated the mileage for the trip. It was going to cost more than what we were first told. The issue was where would the money come from to pay for all of the travel. We were not concerned for God has gotten this far and He was not about to leave us hanging. One of the tricks satan would play on us was the thought that God was just teasing us; this was just a tease and we would never get free from the Maritimes. But we knew better and, with the testimony of how we left P.E.I. under our belt, we knew that God never teases. He had opened this door for us to leave New Brunswick and He was going to make sure we went through it. We banished the dark thoughts and had a pleasant night.

May 4 was a quiet day for us. I took a long walk around St. John and did a little bit of sightseeing. After all we were tourists and taking in the sights and sounds of a new city was a pleasant distraction from the heaviness of what we were going through. Later in the day we found out that between Lauren, Lucy and Harry the money for the trip was arranged and the driver was to pick us up early on Sunday May 5 to drive us the 14 hours to Ottawa. We slept well that night and in the morning packed our gear ready to leave.

Quite unbeknownst to us the wife of the driver who was to take us to Ottawa did not want him taking us on such a long trip. He was not sure what to do but God intervened in a truly marvelous way. Just before our trip was to take place our driver went out to eat. In the restaurant he got a fortune cookie that read, ‘You will take a trip.’ He knew then he was going to drive us to Ottawa. It was just another one of God’s humble miracles where He worked in mysterious ways to accomplish His will.

As we waited outside of Harry’s house for our ride we said our goodbyes to Lucy and Harry, thanking them profusely for the generosity and kindness. Then our driver came in his car and we all piled in for the long ride despite our concerns about the lack of space. One person got to sit up front, comfortable and air conditioned while three of us were crammed in the back seat with a whiny 90-pound dog that did not like car rides. Many miles went by with Milo stepping on various sensitive body parts, with the occasional moan of agony and pain, when he decided that he needed to look out the window and bark at trees.

We stopped a few times for gas and to stretch our legs from the long ride. It was strange to put on so many miles that day after such a slow pace we had in our journey the years before. We did not talk a lot and the odd time the driver made a rude remark or two but we took it all in stride. Mile after mile went by and we watched as the scenery changed. We knew we were headed for something completely new. We had hoped that this would be the end of our journey but little did we realize then that God was about to have us test the second safety net/trap, government. Where better else to do that than in the very capital city of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

Late in the evening we were all very tired and the lights of Ottawa began to be seen in the distance. By 1 AM, we were in Ottawa proper and needed to get to shelter. The driver stopped at a hotel and I called social services to see if we could get help. Lucy had given me their number before we left so I knew who to call. My first contact with these people was decidedly less than pleasant for I got a quick baptism in the bureaucratic nightmare that is Ottawa. The man on the other end of the phone chastised me as if I was some child and I was not about to stand for that. I quickly elucidated our situation to him, expressed to him my dismay at his approach and would he kindly get us a room to stay in. Thank you very much. I am sure I was harsher than that after having survived 14 hours as a canine rug but at 1 AM I was less than concerned about pleasantries. The man came back after a few minutes and let us know we had a room at the Ottawa Inn and an appointment with a social worker in a few days. I thanked him and hung up.

We drove to the Ottawa Inn and disembarked onto the sidewalk on a hot, sultry spring night. The immediate smells and sounds of the city were overwhelming. Soon after saying our goodbye and thanks to our driver we checked into our hotel room home and fell asleep. We would explore the city and our surroundings later but tonight we just wanted to sleep the ride off.

It had been a long day but once again we were in a new city and were about to face new challenges. Once again God had brought us through another keyhole backwards. We went from rural Maritimes to a bustling city of 1 million in a single day and only God can pull that off. We had no idea what lay ahead except that we were going to follow Him continually no matter what may come.

[] Chapter 50 – Reprieve

May 5 to 31, 2013 – Ottawa Inn

Being evacuated from the warzone of the Maritimes to a big city like Ottawa was a huge culture shock for us. Instead of being the focal point of so much enmity from all sides, we were now unknown and anonymous. After so much negative attention, it was a real relief to not have anyone know, or care, about who we were and where we had been. We did not have to explain our existence, or tell our story, to anyone. We revelled in the peace and relative quiet of this new place God had brought us to. It was a definite change of pace, and new spiritual territory. God, however, brought us here so we could do battle with the next system of man. The second safety net/trap we had to fight was government.

As a safety net/trap, government is a pervasive one. Canada has chosen a socialist model of government which means that a lot of basic services are funded by the government. Health care, schools and other social services are run by the government, to make sure all citizens are cared for. This burden that government has taken on has removed the individual responsibility for its citizens to care for one another. People are far less apt to care for the poor when they can just say ‘go to social services’ and feel no personal responsibility for another’s wellbeing. We have become a callous and unfeeling society, partly due to the socialist model our government follows. Our family experienced that first hand many times on our journey. Instead of kindness, people would just tell us to go get social services and walk away. We resisted that as long as we were in the Maritimes. Not once did we ask for, or use, these government services, for we were determined to stay autonomous and follow God. It was a tough trail, but God gave us the manna we needed every day.

We were about to be placed in the full ‘care’ of the government so we could see what kind of a trap it was and what people go through under this system. At this point in our wilderness, God wanted us to face this beast head on, to test us. It would not be pretty, but in the end we learned a great deal and passed the test.

Our first course of action was to meet with a social worker, soon after our arrival. It was a condition of our stay at the Ottawa Inn. We learned as we went along that these conditions are how the government controls those who are on welfare, to destroy their individuality and humanity. So soon after we got to Ottawa, we went to meet the social worker who would handle our case. The man we met was Martin. Now Martin was a surprisingly nice man in a hard job. When we met, we had to go through our story about how we got there. This was not about faith now, but the simple logistics of our travels. Martin was stunned when we said that we had been living off of $300 a month for the last 4 years. He had never heard of that before. In our society, no one is supposed to get that poor and homeless for the government can, and is supposed to, take care of them. But we didn’t want to trust in mere man for our support. We didn’t want to put any trust in government to provide for us. We wanted to, and did, put our faith in the Living God who had already provided for us for many years with manna that we needed. To live in Ottawa, however, we had no choice but to accept government help. It is the capital of Canada, the bureaucratic heart of government, and we resisted at our peril.

One thing that we learned we must do to get government assistance is to be stripped of anything of value that we owned. If we had a car we would have had to sell it; if property, sell it; valuable goods, sell them. We had to be absolutely stripped of anything of worth, before they would give us a dime. Thankfully, the Maritimers already did this for us, gladly and willingly. Let it never be said Maritimers aren’t willing to help some poor soul become destitute. For their gracious act of larceny, we were able to now qualify for social services in Ottawa.

After checking all our records and confirming that we were indeed poorer than church mice, Martin was stunned at what we had been through. He immediately gave us a check for $800, which social workers almost never do. We were amazed as we were expecting a very difficult process to get any money at all. He also set us up to receive a monthly allowance for an apartment rental and food. Of course we had to sign a contract that we would abide by all their terms and conditions and do everything they said. Some of the conditions were that we had to look for work and meet with the social worker for a review every 3 months. Nothing sinister in letting government control every aspect of our lives in exchange for a little money, is there? We signed the contract very reluctantly.

We were now rescued from faith and free to live life to the full, in impoverished mediocrity, due to the overwhelming generosity of the systems of man. No longer needing to rely on God for our daily bread, for man was going to give us all that we required to live. We were expected to revel in our new found humiliation thanks to our capitulation to the system and rejoice over the magnanimous bounty of our government.

Needless to say, that day was one of the lowest we experienced in our journey. We could not understand at the time why God was allowing us to go through this. Yes, we now had money for long term shelter and food, but man needs more than just food, warmth and clothing to live. That deep trust and intimacy with God that came from having to rely on Him for our daily bread was being challenged by this so-called social safety net. It would take a long time for our family to realize just how soul damaging welfare is, but we were determined not to lose our faith. God was giving us a long term rest from our wanderings and He was using the system of man to do it. We were not to stay there. This would only be a rest stop on our travels.

One day, we went to the food bank to get food and met a lovely lady named Gayle. We talked with her a great deal, shared with her our story and found out that we had mutual acquaintances from our days at Bible college. She suggested we might be interested in her church that was meeting across the street from the Ottawa Inn at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church. Gayle also drove us around Ottawa so we could see places where we could get food and other necessities. She even invited us to her home one day to meet and have dinner with her family.

Now that we had money for an apartment, we began our search for a place to stay that would be something we could afford and take pets. We found an affordable rental close by that suited our needs, but we could not afford to rent it. The difficulty in getting an apartment in Ottawa is that we needed both the first and the last months’ rent up front, which we did not have. At this time, Ida had a significant dream from the Lord where she heard that Gayle was going to give us the money for first and last. Sure enough, not long after this, Gayle gave us the $2,000 we needed for first and last month’s rent. We were amazed at her generosity, but understood that where government had fallen down God would provide. He proved to us, yet again, that He was more powerful than man and government and that He would provide for us.

We did go to that little fellowship across the street, but it seemed to us that it was just a dry, social justice gospel type religion that failed the test of faith. We did, however, meet a man and his wife, Justin and Amy that did seem like they wanted more of God. Justin waxed eloquent about the cross of Jesus and so we thought we could have a connection. Later we were invited over to their house for supper with some other people. In the conversation we had with Justin afterwards it seemed to me that his elucidations about the cross were far more intellectual than practical.

As the month of May wore on, God allowed us to get our Ontario identification in order. Since we moved to a new province, we needed the ID we carried to match. This took a great deal of effort but God went before us and opened doors so that this would happen. We also had to go about getting furniture for the apartment. This would be a difficult assignment since we had nothing, no transportation and little money. We took the bus down to the far end of town, to the St. Vincent De Paul Store, where they had used furniture for sale. We found a table and chairs that were suitable but out of our price range. We talked with one of the helpers and discussed our situation. The woman was a Christian and she wanted to bless us. She decided to give us the furniture we needed along with other supplies and have them delivered for free. Once again where government failed, God provided. He was doing for us what we could not do.

By May 31, we were ready to leave our little hotel room and move to 221 Hannah St. It had been a month of activity and rebuilding after the storm. We had to expend a great deal of effort to put a home together with little help. Yes, we were inside and eating regularly but life was still hard. Government did provide us with money and a bit of transportation, but little else. God was making up for the lack when it occurred. We were now going to be living in an apartment as close to normal as could be after the year and a half of wandering. It would seem to be that we were on our way out of the wilderness, but I had been warned by God that this rest stop was only temporary.

[] Chapter 51 – Battle with Government

June 1 to Dec. 31, 2013 – Hannah Street

On June 1, 2013, we moved our gear for a final time into our new apartment at 221 Hannah Street in Vanier, which is a neighborhood of Ottawa. The beds arrived from social services and the rest of the furniture came from St. Vincent De Paul later that day. Gayle, from the food bank, helped us get drapes and other things we needed to make a home. It was not much, but it was way more than we had owned since Bridgetown. For us it felt like we were normal again. There was a washer and dryer in our bedroom so we could do our laundry and a bathroom where we could wash. Others may think us foolish for mentioning these things they take for granted, but for us they were truly a gift from God. We had done without for so long that sleeping on a bed on a regular basis and eating regularly was a real luxury. To have clean laundry and be able to wash everyday put us over the moon.

Since we had been on our journey, we had kept holding to the promise that God would give us land. Now that we were in Ottawa, that promise seemed farther from us than ever but we started to understand that God had us in this place for a reason. Wanda desperately wanted Ottawa to be the end of our journey, but I had to disappoint her. One day, soon after we had moved in, I was walking around the streets of where we lived. As I talked with God about where we had been and what this new place was all about, He told me that our apartment was a ‘base camp.’ Now, as we have journeyed, God has used many images to help us understand what was happening. One image that He gave us was that of climbing Mt. Everest. I have never climbed Mt. Everest, nor am I likely to do so, but I do understand that as people climb, they establish camps at ever higher altitudes where they can rest and acclimate to the environment. They call these camps, base camps, and from them they launch out on their final assault of the summit. When God called our apartment a ‘base camp’, I knew that we were not done our journey, despite my frantic wishing it were not so. At some point then, we would make our final push to the end. These words did not please either my wife or myself, but we were committed to obeying the will of the Lord. At least, for the present, we had some stability.

One thing that was interesting about living in Ottawa is how much curbside recycling goes on. In local parlance, it is known as ‘Sunday night shopping.’ People would lay out things they no longer needed, used or wanted on the curb on Sunday nights and those that needed those things would come by and take them. It is a wonderful system as the poor get what they need and the rich can get rid of what they don’t want. It is a smart redistribution of goods. We learned this fairly early on and I was able to furnish the whole flat fairly quickly with what I was able to collect. I eventually found bikes as well which gave us even greater freedom as we were able to get around a larger area. After being on foot for so long it was quite the treat to be mobile.

We did not get to know anyone in our neighborhood except our neighbor across the street. His name was Alan and his wife’s name was Rosa. Alan was quite the character. He was a native man who sold cigarettes illegally and lived on Bingo wins. He was very friendly, helpful and kind as was his wife. Not one to be trifled with he had a large sword in his living room. When a young punk once attempted to rob Alan’s neighbor, Alan calmly got out his sword, walked outside and asked the kid if he needed any help. Alan never saw the kid again. That was Alan in a nutshell. He let us know a lot about the neighborhood and warned us about the crack house just a stone’s throw away from our apartment. He did not like the loud music from the nearby church on Sunday mornings and he once bawled out a Hells Angel biker that drove his loud bike down the street too early in the morning. Alan was always good for a laugh. One time I entered an online contest and won. The prize was a shirt that has the print of barbecue sauce all over it. Alan thought it was cool so I gave it to him. He wore it. That was Alan. We really liked Alan and Rosa and were thankful that we got to know them while we lived at Hannah Street.

The summer was hot that year, but at least we could be indoors. At one point, the temperature in our flat was well over 30° C. Thankfully we were able to get an air conditioner, with Alan’s help, so we would not bake. On another day the power in the neighborhood went off for about a half hour. I sat outside on the railing and within 10 minutes the normally empty streets of Vanier were suddenly filled with people. I guess when people can’t watch television, they don’t know what to do with themselves. It was fun to watch. The heat did crazy things to the residents of Vanier and we got an up close picture of that one night. There was a commotion behind our apartment on the street where the crack house was. Apparently the police had been called and someone thought it would be a good idea to take a samurai sword to a police car and try and ‘fix’ it. The SWAT team was called in and pulled up right by our apartment. I sat out on the railing and watched as the team got their gear on and guns out. I told them to keep safe and one guy thanked me. Too often, the police are hated. Even though we had run ins with them I realized they were just doing a tough job and I respect them for that. That night no one was hurt and they subdued the man with the sword and arrested him. Hookers, churches, drug dealers, brothel, restaurants, biker gangs, biker church, and every nationality on earth made Vanier a very colorful neighborhood.

We had a lot of free time at Hannah Street and I was thankful for the rest. Of course we had to look for work according to the condition of the contract we signed to receive assistance. I tried to find work in my profession, but God never opened that door. Many times on our journey people berated me for not looking for work or getting a job. They didn’t have the foggiest idea the hard work it takes just to survive as a homeless family looking for food and shelter every night and putting up with the meanness of man. I have no sympathy for people who tell others to just get a job. These people also had no idea just how hard it was for us to just find work with our limitations. Here I was, 47 years old, and had not worked for an employer since 2001. I left my business in 2007 and had not worked, or had not been able to work, since that time. I was destitute, had no contacts, no references, no friends, no resume, and had moved 47 times in the past 2 years. Now was it realistic to expect a business person to hire anyone with that kind of a background? I thought not, and that is why I did not expect to get hired, even when I tried looking for work. I knew that God had us on a journey of faith and that now was not the time when I would be having to face the safety net/trap of business. That would come later. For the present God gave us rest from our wanderings so we could deal with the safety net/trap battle with government.

In late September, Martin called and said that he was expecting us at a certain date to review our case for continued assistance. We knew this day would come and I was not looking forward to it. We did go and talk to Martin, but the control and manipulation was increasing. Martin was putting more and more pressure on all of us to look for work. Our life of faith was in the past and it was now time to resume the role of a sheep blindly obeying the demands of government. Government is a harsh task master. If we did not fit into the mold Martin wanted us to fit into, he would exert pressure to force us to comply. It was expected that we be our own gods and that we do everything ourselves to get out of poverty with the little stipend they gave us. As long as we were working, they did not care what it did to our souls or spirits. We found that there was no room for true faith in God when we took social services. Reluctantly we signed the contract but we all felt there would not be a third time. We would not be bullied into compliance to a system that cared nothing for us.

The days got colder, the snow came and we had to get winter gear for the cold weather. The apartment got really cold at times and we had to put insulation in the window of Ida and Fanny’s room due to the draft. We did not go out much except to get food and walk the dog. Winter was coming in the natural and in the spiritual. We would not last the winter in our little apartment and we knew it.

In December, Martin again called us in for our review. We felt that we had betrayed our faith in God by looking to government to support us and we could not continue that. As a family, we all agreed that in good conscience we could not sign another contract. Even though we knew what that meant, it was more important for us to place our trust in God rather than man. So I called Martin back and told him that we could not truthfully sign another contract and to cut us off. He understood and did so. We had money for January rent and February was already paid for. On top of this, our youngest daughter turned 18 over the summer so even the $300 child tax credit we had been living off of, prior to Ottawa, also disappeared. Our summer had come to an end.

So our battle with government ended not with a bang, but a whimper. There were no fireworks, no harsh words, no condemnation, just a simple ‘no’, but it was in saying that ‘no’ that we beat the system. We faced the lack and fear of the unknown head on and said to government that they would not save us, they would not rescue us. By saying ‘no’ to government, we were saying ‘yes’ to God and what He would do to provide for us. No longer would we be subject to what government told us we had to do, as they would not be giving us anything. When the social services money ran out, we would truly be on our own trusting God again. We had beaten the trap of government support that so many fall into and never get out of. That safety net looked good on the surface when we first got to Ottawa, and God did use it to help us, but it would have destroyed our faith in God had we stayed on it. We did not know what would happen, that it would be much harsher than any of us realized, but we were determined to keep our faith.

One last curious thing happened to us late in the year. Wanda got an email from an old distant friend she had not been in contact with since she was a teen. This lady lived in the same town as Wanda’s eldest brother and likely had contact with him. She would not have been able to find out Wanda’s email without that contact. The email seemed very suspicious to Wanda, but she responded. We soon had our answer to this strange, out of place email. Within a short time, Wanda received another email, but this time it was from her sister-in-law. We had not heard from them since they stopped helping us when we were in Pennfield in March. So Wanda’s eldest brother and sister-in-law likely co-opted this friend to find out if Wanda still had access to email. The email was trite and superficial, wishing us well for the holidays and talking about what they had been eating. Wanda and I were incensed at the brazen lack of understanding of where we had been and total utter absorption with their own inane little lives. Needless to say, Wanda let her sister-in-law know how little we appreciated her underhanded use of an old friend to find out if we still had email and to send us a letter so full of hypocritical hyperbole. After that, we closed out the email account and we have never heard from extended family again.

[] Chapter 52 – Milo

Dec. 1, 2013 – Hannah Street

Typical days at Hannah Street were ordinary, yet special for us. We liked the quiet after all we had been through, and enjoyed the slow change of pace. We were able to sleep in beds on a regular basis, bathe ourselves and eat. All things that others took for granted, we revelled in. Just making a simple meal in a kitchen was a treat, and being able to rest on the couch was another. But there was one activity that had to take place, twice a day, every day. Cold or hot, dry or wet, Milo needed to go for his walk. He would whine incessantly until he went outside.

Now the trouble with Milo was, well, everything. He is a 90 pound, fully intact, alpha male, pit-bull Labrador mix and let every other dog know it. This is fine in the rural environment he was born into; but now we were living in the middle of a city. A neighborhood with prostitutes on the corner and a brothel and crack house within two blocks of our apartment. The people around us were tough, and routinely owned tough dogs as well. In our time in Vanier, Milo was in fights no less than 11 times. Although he was always on his leash, after Daisy’s cottage, he was attacked frequently. It resembled a metaphor for what had happened to us. I don’t remember all of the incidences, but there was a memorable one that stood apart for the strong lesson it taught me.

On one cold winter morning I got dressed, and Milo ready for his morning drag race – as in ‘Milo would drag you as he raced along’. At 90 pounds, I long ago learned you can lead Milo anywhere he wants to go, and keep him anywhere he wants to stay. This particular morning was quiet and I expected nothing; so down the stairs we went to the street below.

Milo and I had walked these streets many time before, and I was cautious around areas I knew would be problematic. With this in my mind, I was walking past the nearby school; beside a fenced yard that I had walked by many times before. With a 5-foot fence beside us, I had no concerns. Suddenly a tremendous barking and howling burst forth on our right, and two large pit-bulls charged us from behind the fence. Milo was quickly agitated and barked furiously at the dogs. I kept walking and pulling Milo along, reasonably assured that the fence would be a good protection; even though the other dogs were leaping up trying to get out.

I had managed to walk to the end of the yard. I glanced to my right. To my growing horror, one of the pit-bulls managed to jump straight up to the top of the fence, grab on with his front paws, and with strength beyond reason, launched himself up and over that 5-foot fence. The shock and surprise to my senses lasted longer than it took for that dog to reach Milo. That pit bull started the most vicious, snarling, blood fest I would have to unfortunately witness.

Now when you have two snarling pit-bulls locked jaw and tooth in a life or death battle at your feet, it is somewhat hard to be a dispassionate observer. Here were two muscular, alpha male dogs, inflicting damage on one another with reckless abandon; mere inches from my legs and hands. How to separate this pile of fur and fang was a tricky question, worthy of some deliberate thought; but I didn’t really feel I had that kind of time.

Reaching into this mess of tooth and claw, I managed to pull Milo back by the collar, and in some miraculous stroke was also able to grab the collar of the other dog. Now this feat of somehow superhuman strength took some bit of time, and the last of my breath. Cold exacerbates my asthma. With the sudden action of having to restrain two dogs, that wanted to kill each other, I was now having a life or death struggle of my own, just trying to breathe.

Here I was, standing on the sidewalk with each hand on the collar of a snarling, panting pit-bull; my arms stretched as far apart as they could go, wheezing like mad, and not knowing what to do. I needed my medicine desperately. Milo and the other dog were bleeding badly, and all of us were very cold. I could not let go of either dog lest they finish their fight to the death. I did not have any energy to get home. What to do, what to do… Then just when I thought that the worst was over, the strangest thing occurred.

A lady in a truck drove up. Seeing this strange dog/man riot on the sidewalk, rolled down her window and yelled out, “Is there anything I can do to help?” I was thankful that someone in this neighborhood at least had some courage to even ask that question. I responded. Since I knew she could not help with the dogs, I thought the least I needed was my asthma medicine. Between gasps and gulps of air, I managed to say I was an asthmatic, and would she be so kind to bring my wife, so I could have my medicine? It was then I heard the most insane response I had ever heard, and it summarized our whole wilderness journey with one sentence. After just offering to help someone who was clearly in need, and who had articulated that need, the lady responded with this, “Oh I am sorry. I can’t get involved.” She rolled up her window, and drove away.

It was not much longer after this incident when the owner of the house came out and took her dog. She had just moved in, and was deeply apologetic over what had happened. I accepted her apology, and went home with Milo. Both dogs had been badly beaten by the fight. The other pit-bull had deep gashes around the face and head from Milo; and Milo had a deep puncture wound on his back leg which left a scar he has to this day. It took a long time for Milo to recover, but he eventually did. His scar has always been a reminder to me of what happened that day. In one single sentence a woman summed up for me the hypocrisy of mankind.

[] Chapter 53 – Patient Endurance

Jan. 1 to Mar. 7, 2014 – From Hannah Street to Rideau Park

The bitterly cold winter winds whipped down the streets of Vanier and into our hearts in early 2014. The government funds had been cut off and we now had no other money with which to stay inside past February. We had prayed for deliverance from God, but none came. God had other things in mind, but we did not know that then. Our resolve in saying ‘no’ to government was to be tested to the full. We told our landlord that we were having difficulties and that we could not pay to stay past the end of February. He was not happy with us anyway, since he felt we used more water than was expected and it was costing him money.

Food supplies started getting low and by the beginning of February we had nothing to eat. We went 21 days without food again, much like we did in Bridgetown in June of 2011, but at least this time there was power and heat in the apartment. Many are shocked that God would allow us to go hungry so many times and they can’t understand it. The human body can easily withstand going without food for a long period of time without it destroying the body. We had gone without food for many days in Bridgetown so we were used to being hungry in the wilderness. We had toughened up by this time and our stomachs did not rule our behavior. God kept food from us at this time to test us and to see if we really would keep faith with Him. It was not enjoyable, but we were not going to go back to taking social services just to keep our stomachs full and to stay warm We have met a few others where food is an idol and they would deny God before they would miss a meal. It really is sad to watch someone give up on trusting in God simply because they cannot stand being hungry.

During this time, we had to dismantle the flat and get rid of all our belongings since we could not take them with us. It was clear God was not going to deliver us then but we would have to endure some more hardship. I moved a lot of our belongings to the curb and they would disappear in short order. The heavier items were a bit harder but we managed to remove them as well. We got weaker and weaker by the end of the month but we still managed. By then most of the flat had been cleaned out of all that I had collected in the previous months.

March came and our landlord came by to demand money for rent which we did not have. By law he had to give us 5 days to come up with the funds, but we had none so we said we would go by March 7. During this time, our neighbor Alan had watched us removing everything from the apartment. One day he brought over pizza. I was so dizzy from hunger and all of us were starving. That pizza was so good and we were so thankful to Alan for it. He allowed us to store a couple of boxes of books that I had collected in his storage room as well. I will not forget Alan and his kindness in our hour of need.

March 7 came and during the day the landlord turned off the hot water on us. We had already agreed to leave that day and were already packed up with our gear and ready to go. Denying us one last hot bath was purely vindictive and I yelled at him when he came by later, drunk, to make sure we had left. I was not in good form that day and was bitterly angry at having the hot water taken away prematurely. We had tried to be kind to the landlord and he had been kind to us, but when the issue of money came up, we saw his true colors. It was not his fault that we had to leave into the cold, snowy March night, but he did not have to be unkind about it.

The day was not windy or bitter, but it was a cold night nonetheless and I did not know where we should go. We trekked a few blocks down to the nearby park by the Rideau River. We had visited there many times over the summer. Now, since it was already dark, I laid out our blankets on the snow under a tree to lay down and sleep. Even though this was the second night we would sleep outside in the winter, I should not have made us sleep on the ground. It robbed us of body warmth and we became bitterly chilled. There were a lot of tears and prayers that night as we did not understand what God was doing with us. We did know, however, that even though our situation was bad, we weren’t about to throw in the towel. We would endure to the end, no matter what may come.

Patient endurance is a principle that is not taught or lived out today. Early Christians understood patient endurance and the New Testament is peppered with references to it, but it is often glossed over by believers today – as if it does not exist. Even if patient endurance is mentioned, it is often misunderstood as almost no one today has personal knowledge of what it is. Patient endurance means that we walk in faith, and endure the accompanying hardships, without wavering, for as long as God desires. Patient endurance for us meant that we kept going, even pressing through tremendous physical difficulty, until God gave us rest. The patient part has to do with trusting that God will eventually bring the trial to a conclusion, but the timing of that is up to Him. The endurance part simply means that there is no quitting, no matter how bad the situation, trusting that God will not make it impossible to continue. The one thing we know for sure is that patient endurance and being a disciple go hand in hand. Neither are possible without following the lead of God and trusting Him in faith.

[] Chapter 54 – Frozen Chosen

Mar. 8 to 9, 2014 – From Rideau Park to Ottawa Inn

Waking up lying on the snow on March 8 was not fun. We had endured the -9° C night outside, but now we were chilled to the bone. We roused ourselves up and started to walk around to get a little warm. The sun would not able to help us in that regard for a few hours yet. In the pre-dawn darkness, we wrapped up our blankets, got our gear and moved to a nearby bench. We just had to get off the ground. Our lives depended on it.

The night had been bad but the morning was much worse. There had been many tears and anger that night, as we processed the bewilderment of having to leave the flat. All of us had so hoped that God would bring deliverance to us, that our night outside had been a bitter disappointment. God’s word to me that our flat had only been a ‘base camp’ was of little encouragement to us then. The feelings of being abandoned by God were huge as we sat outside. It was a sad fact for us that many times in our journey we felt abandoned by God. The cold had chased from our minds any memory of God’s previous kindness to us, as we wrestled with our present reality. There was an ongoing battle of faith where we had to learn how to challenge our temporary, present hardship with the reality of God’s continual faithfulness to us. Too often, we got it backwards where we thought our present hardship was permanent and God’s faithfulness and kindness was temporary. That was one of the major faith challenges we experienced. Once we had a history of following God’s lead, we could then look back and remember all the times He helped us. This shut down satan’s lies that we were stuck and things would never change. The reality is that situations always change. The present was never fixed for us and even in a single day, we could go from being miserable to joyful. The key was to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, for He never changed and He never left our side. Once we could see Him, we knew we would be led out of where we were. At this point in our journey, however, we were still learning this and the battle for faith was on. We were failing miserably and wallowing about in self-pity like a fat sow in a mud puddle on a hot day.

To ease the suffering somewhat, Ida and Fanny decided to go to a local 24-hour store to warm themselves. Unfortunately, some of the shoes the ladies had were not appropriate for the winter weather so when one of them walked to the store, someone had to stay behind on the bench in stocking feet. The ladies managed to make it to the store to get the chill off and even got some free crackers to eat. We had no money to buy anything, so they just went hungry in the store, but at least they were warm. After 2 hours they came back and it was time for Wanda and I to go and warm ourselves. Milo, unfortunately, had to stay outside in the cold. We had put a blanket on a bench for him so he could get off the ground and when he curled up to sleep we covered him with the rest of the blanket. That done, Wanda and I went to get warm.

The conversation between us was difficult, as we were both very cold and troubled with our situation. We did not know what to do and our emotions were clouding our judgment. What was clear that morning was that we could not be outside for much longer, but we did not know which way to turn. We knew this was the result of turning down social services, but going back to social services wasn’t the answer. We weren’t sure of where to turn, but we knew we had to find something, and quickly. After our two hours was done and we were sufficiently warm, we went and relieved Ida and Fanny. The rest of the day, we would repeat this process many times.

At some point in the afternoon, the park police came to us. Ottawa has regular police and park police. Since this is the capital of Canada, there are many parks and monuments in the city, so they have their own police force to make sure that the parks aren’t polluted by human trash such as they viewed us. Two officers came up to us during the day and asked what we were doing. We weren’t breaking any laws by just sitting on the bench, but the gear around us betrayed our homeless state. The officers did not care about that, they just wanted to bring the law down on our heads and let us know that we had to keep moving. I had to remind them we weren’t breaking any law for we weren’t sleeping on the bench at that point. Since they could do nothing of consequence to us, they just left. I was getting bolder in standing up to authority, when it was being used in a heartless and merciless manner.

The misery and hunger continued throughout that very long day, as we rotated between being too hot in the store to being too cold outside. All the time our spirits were sinking faster and faster, as desperation clawed at us to just quit. We needed a way out, a lead from God, something that would tell us what to do, but we could see nothing. At some point, I thought that we needed a prophetic word from God to guide us, but we had no contact with any other human, let alone a prophet. It is a strange thing in a city that you can be surrounded by so many people and not know a single person. To make the situation worse, God had so isolated us in the wilderness that even if we did try and reach out to others, and we did many times, we would be rebuffed and ignored. Every prophet we could think of we had tried to contact at one time or another in our journey and a sum total of zero responded to us. We were like a three-legged one-eyed fox trying to catch a rabbit. This was good for us though, for through it God taught us that all men, including us, are broken sticks and not to be relied on for anything. Only God was our Helper, Deliverer, and Savior. He was the One who authored the story of our journey before it even took place, and He would be the only One to bring it to its proper conclusion. Our faith and trust had to be in Him alone. There is no room in anyone’s life for two gods.

When darkness came, we headed back to the bench to relieve Ida and Fanny once again. It was clear that we were going to have to spend another cold night outside, but this time it would be colder as the temperature was dropping. Wanda and I decided that our daughters should spend as much time in the store as they could to stay warm and we would stay outside with the dog. When we got to the bench, we could see that they were eating. Some kind soul had just come up to them and handed them a large plastic bowl full of hot stew and another bowl of dog food for Milo. Milo was very hungry and gobbled down his food greedily. This bounty, a gift from God through man, warmed Ida and Fanny’s insides, and they saved half of the stew for us. We gobbled it down quickly and it sure was fabulous to have a hot meal inside us again. I cannot overemphasize how important hot food was to the body when we were outside in the cold. The fact that it came from a perfect stranger who we never met makes me wonder if this was another time we were visited by an angel.

After we had eaten all of the stew, we laid out blankets on the bench, then lifting our bodies into a ball we covered ourselves with the rest of the blanket. It was amazing how much that kept the warmth intact. In keeping our heads covered and bodies wrapped up we did not leak as much warmth to the outside air. It is this way that we spent the night and actually got a little sleep. In the store, Ida and Fanny went to the ladies’ washroom and laid down to sleep. A janitor came by in the night, but instead of being cruel and unkind in chasing them out, the person just warned them about when the store opened, so they would have a chance to get up in time. It was a wonderful act of kindness to my daughters that I am grateful for.

Early in the morning on the 9th Ida and Fanny came over to relieve us so we could get warm in the store. Wanda and I were very, very cold from the night before, so we took a good deal of time to get warm that day. We decided that we needed to get inside that day for we just couldn’t afford to spend yet another night in the cold. We remembered Justin and Amy, whom we had met the previous year when we first arrived in Ottawa, and wondered if they could help us find shelter. Wanda went to their house to ask what could be done. Amy was touched by our plight and said we could come to their house. She even gave Wanda some food to bring back to the rest of us. Wanda came back to tell us the good news. We assembled our little troop, and after picking up all our gear, we trudged the 10 blocks to Justin and Amy’s house.

When we got there, we were really tired. Marching in the cold with heavy gear when you haven’t had much food is terribly exhausting, and we were done for. Thankfully, we thought, we could be indoors now, but when we arrived, there was a note in the door. I ignored it and knocked but there was no answer. I then read the note from Amy that said Justin was asleep, that he could not be disturbed and he would not allow us in his house, so sorry, etc., etc. To say that I was beyond livid would be very much an understatement. Here we had marched all the way over from the park in the cold for some promised help and the promise was seen to be empty. Not only that, these weasels didn’t even have the courage to face us. It was beyond cowardly hypocrisy. I had seen us being treated badly by others, but to see such weak, ineffectual, spineless cowards who couldn’t even face the consequences of their own duplicity, was beyond the pale. I had never been so mad at the deceit of those who claim to be Christians as I was at that moment. These people are dressed as sheep, but inside are wolves.

We left that God-forsaken house to its fate and walked over to the parking lot across from the Ottawa Inn, where we had started our sojourn in Ottawa the year prior. There we thought of our options and the only choice we had was to ask for emergency shelter help from social services again. Considering our plight, the government once again put us up in the Ottawa Inn for two months. There would be no signing of contracts or other aid, so we knew it would run out, but at least the weather would be warmer by then. We moved back into the hotel shortly and soon we were warming ourselves up with hot tea and a bath. We all slept very deeply that night in warm beds that felt like we were sleeping on a cloud. Words cannot adequately express what it is like going from sleeping on frozen ground and hard benches to a warm bed. It is a spiritual experience that borders between absolute relief and inexpressible euphoria. Nothing quite like it.

The lessons we learned as we were tested in Rideau Park were very valuable. We saw some weakness in our faith that needed to be repented of and we saw too, that we were also getting tougher and stronger than we had been before. We found that God would stick us into the icy furnace of affliction to show us where our faith was really at. What we saw was a sobering reminder of how far we still needed to go in trusting Him. Thankfully, He knows all of our weaknesses and just how to set things up to test us and make us stronger in our faith. Remember that God’s focus in the wilderness is to build faith and trust in Him. As we go through these valleys we mature and our faith increases so when we come out of that valley we are leaning on our beloved, Jesus.

In learning the lessons of faith, God also took our experience and used it to expose the hearts of those who claim to know Him, but don’t. Their self-deceit and duplicity is appalling. These people need to be avoided at all costs. They proclaim Christ loudly, like Justin did, but will betray like Judas in a heartbeat. Their ‘faith’ is only in their head and it eats away at their spirit like a parasite, until they are nothing more than a shell of a human; heartless and miserable. Their hearts become cold and unyielding as they take refuge in meaningless intellectual arguments that profit no one. We met a few people like this on our journey and not one of them had any value. God was showing us exactly what He saw in His church, and it was not pretty.

[] Chapter 55 – Wasted Kindness

Mar. 10 to May 11, 2014 – Ottawa Inn

Having survived the blast of winter for the previous 3 days, it was a singular pleasure to be warm inside at the Ottawa Inn. If there ever was the impression that everything was all right in our world however, it would be very, very wrong. Our time outside had left us dazed and confused and we were about as stable as a drunk cow on a skating rink. One can hardly imagine how disconcerting it was for us at that time. We could not see God in any of what was happening, so we started reaching out to others in desperation for much needed direction. God was very patient with us at this time. He did not prevent us from getting some much needed spiritual help from others. We did not lose faith in His leading, but we couldn’t seem to get out of the fog of our own emotions and the assault of the enemy against our thoughts.

At first, we reached out to Anna Rountree, whose books ‘The Priestly Bride’ and ‘The Heavens Opened’ had been of immense encouragement to us in the past. We had given ‘The Priestly Bride’ to the guests at our 2003 prophetic wedding. Anna’s letters to us encouraged us greatly during this time and we were thankful for her kind words of support. We also reached out to Henry Falcone, after having read his prophetic words on the openheaven.com website. I had laid out our situation to him in an email and waited, not expecting a response which was the usual drill, but he quickly responded with some much needed encouragement and a prophetic word. Henry wrote, “One of our intercessor (sic) saw the enemy using all he could do to bury you under the snow and keep pushing it on you and it was overwhelming you” which was so very true. Henry went on to say that we needed to seek out a very specific church and the pastor and people would help us. The word did end up being true, in a fashion, but the way we were ‘helped’ was going to be one of our greatest tests, and theirs. After this brief interaction we heard from no one else.

God had allowed a trickle of encouragement through to keep us going and enough of a lead so that we could continue to follow Him. It is important to remember that this was a wilderness journey and thus we never received abundance. We only received exactly what we needed at any given time. It was never too little or too much. Even if it came through the hand of man, it still was sent from God. It was manna and it was enough to keep us on our journey as we continued to follow Him. We had to learn the hard way that God expected us to trust and rely on Him for our daily bread, just like we prayed in the Lord’s Prayer so often. Faith cannot grow when there is abundance. Only when there was lack did we truly learn to lean on Him for all that we needed. I love how the Amplified Bible expands the word ‘faith’ in Paul’s writings. They describe faith as “that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence.” This is so very true.

One early morning, soon after we moved into the Ottawa Inn, I was taking Milo for a walk near Justin and Amy’s house. As I walked down the street, I unexpectedly came across Amy walking in the other direction. She called out to me from the other side of the street. “How are things with your family?” At that moment, the hypocrisy and utter disassociation with how they had treated us was spectacular in its breadth. Without missing a beat, I replied, “Frankly, Amy, I don’t think it makes much difference.” I left her by the side of the road, bewildered at my response, and kept walking Milo. I didn’t have time for hypocrites and their empty platitudes.

Shortly after we got to the Ottawa Inn, we had to visit another social worker regarding our stay. Since we refused to sign any more contracts, they told us they could only let us stay at the hotel for 60 days. This was fine for us since it meant we could be indoors until the weather was warmer. We now rested at the hotel, knowing that within a short period of time, we would need to be out again to follow God’s lead to the church outlined in the prophetic word Henry had given us. Even though we were housed, we still had no money to buy food, as all our money, even our monthly child tax credit, was gone. We could get food from the various food banks on a regular basis though. At one place, the Ottawa Mission, we went to get food and we spoke with a man there. After sharing our journey with this staff member, he reached into his desk and gave us two olive wood crosses from Rome. It was a confirmation, again, that God was leading us on this wilderness journey of the crucifixion.

When we ran out of food we were sometimes able to go to the soup kitchen, which was a very long walk from the hotel. One time, Wanda walked all the way down to get some food for all of us and they not only refused her request, but also refused to give her anything. Getting food in a large bureaucratic city like Ottawa was sometimes like getting a haircut with a hedge trimmer. Despite the difficulties, we did manage to eat somewhat regularly and didn’t go as hungry as we did on Hannah Street.

While we stayed at the Ottawa Inn, we were given one assignment by the Lord that would be a complete visual of how God sees people who call themselves after the name of His Son. It would take up a lot of our time and the little resources we had, but in the end, we were thankful for the lesson.

Despite the rumors in the east that we were these free-loading, pan-handling, ne’er-do-wells, the people that took time to get to know us saw us differently. Admittedly one had to get past the trappings of homelessness, but when they did, they saw us as we really are. We were the same middle class family that had left their business and suburban home in Sherwood Park and through various circumstances had lost everything they owned. Even though we were poor, we hadn’t changed, except that we had matured and grown in faith. We still wanted to be honest, kind, generous and to help anyone we could. What was frustrating to us is that very few in the Maritimes would ever take the time to get to know us and see that. It was just too easy and convenient to believe in rumors, gossip and lies. Thankfully, the staff at the Ottawa Inn did get to know us and knew what kind of people we were.

One day, Nadine, a clerk we had befriended, asked us if we could help out an old, legally blind lady, named Michelle, that had recently been brought to the hotel. Although there were a number of longer term residents at the hotel she said she would only trust us to help Michelle. Honored by this unsolicited compliment we were very eager to do what we could. Wanda and I walked Michelle down to the food bank that night, helped her to get food, and then walked the heavy load back to the hotel. For the next 10 days, we helped Michelle with errands, food and whatever we could do to help. We gave her some of our own food as well, even though we didn’t have enough for ourselves.

Michelle needed more help later on to get to an appointment with her social worker as she didn’t have access to the special needs bus at that point in time. I offered to escort her down to the appointment and back. We continued to help out getting Michelle more food and other things. We even helped her get $20 back when she foolishly gave some of her money to another guest at the hotel. Michelle was also looking for an apartment to stay in, so Wanda and I helped her with the contacts and arranging a time to visit. I then took her by bus around to the various apartments until we found one that suited her. Eventually the day came for Michelle to leave, so we helped her pack up and get her into the cab to take her to her new residence. This was never any bother to us and we were pleased to be of service.

Now on the surface, it looked like simple kindness being extended with gratitude returned from Michelle and that would be correct. Unfortunately, life is rarely that simple and God was giving us a lesson about helping others. As we helped Michelle, we followed through with the principle of self-sacrifice that we had learned on the journey and we willingly gave of ourselves wherever we could. As we were doing this, we began to notice that Michelle was taking it all in but something was wrong. We began to learn that this woman was full of fear and loved to get. At one point, we escorted her down to the soup kitchen. As they were handing out large slices of pizza she received some extra slices. When we got back to the hotel, she said, “I suppose I should share but I just love pizza.” We didn’t have much to eat that night. Another time, Wanda went to buy Michelle groceries from a grocery store that was a number of blocks away. Wanda used Michelle’s money at the self-serve checkout when she noticed a dollar coin in the coin tray that someone had missed. Being the honest person she is, Wanda went to a store clerk to return the money but the clerk told her to keep it. When Wanda came back, she decided to test Michelle. Wanda gave her the change and then held out the coin, explained what had happened and asked Michelle what she should do with the coin. Quick as a wink Michelle grabbed it out of Wanda’s hand and said, “The more the better.”

The overwhelming sense we were getting over the 10 days we helped Michelle was that we were being used and we didn’t like it. We had bent over backwards for her even though we ourselves needed help. We went hungry so she could eat and gave up what little comfort we had so that Michelle could get what she needed. Now it wasn’t that we minded the sacrifice, but it was the response that was the problem. Michelle had a sense of entitlement and expectation. Somehow she felt she just deserved attention and that was the worst response possible for what had been done for her.

As we talked and prayed about this, God showed us that what was happening was a visual of how He sees the church and a horrific portrayal of how many see God. It was a living prophetic picture for us of how Christians take and take from God, but give Him nothing in return. On our journey we even heard people say, “Jesus has done it all for us.” In this situation, God allowed us to feel what He feels when He gives His best, sacrificing His Very Son, and all Christians can say is “Give us more. More! MORE!” In the cost benefit analysis, God is looking at His people and seeing them come up short. Many love to get from God, but what is He getting in return? In return for His Son’s sacrifice, He is waiting for us to give up all for Him. Rarely does He find that.

A little while after Michelle left, she was brought back to the hotel by the police. She had left the apartment she had rented after a couple of days because she did not like it. This did not surprise us at all. She then went to the house of a woman she knew, who allowed her to stay for a few days. Eventually the woman had enough of Michelle and called the police to pick Michelle up. She was plopped down on the sidewalk outside the Ottawa Inn and left to fend for herself. Michelle had burned too many bridges, with us and others, with her entitlement attitude and we refused to help her again. I really believe that there is a limit to how much God is willing to help us if we are not allowing our ‘self’ nature to die.

[] Chapter 56 – Quagmire

May 12 to 16, 2014 – From Ottawa Inn to St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church

Fighting, and winning, our second battle with the second safety net/trap of government had not been easy but far less emotionally damaging than facing family was. It was a simple choice to choose God and faith over man’s weak help and desire for control. We had learned so much by this time that we were not about to throw precious cargo overboard to save ourselves. God had proven to us His faithfulness time and again and we were going to continue making choices for Him. That did not mean that the next season would be any easier. We were about to find out that we were going into a place so difficult that we now understand it as the crucifixion phase of our wilderness journey. It began when were so desperate for a word from God in the Ottawa Inn hotel room that we received a prophetic word from Henry the prophet. In that word, it was clear that we needed to seek out a church for help. We did not fully realize it at the time, although I had my suspicions, that we were about to come up against the third safety net/trap which would be religion. This battle proved, in the end, to be the nastiest of all.

Leaving the Ottawa Inn on May 12 was not hard. It was a gorgeous, clear and warm spring day and we were now used to travelling by ourselves. The backpacks were much heavier now due to what we had accumulated, even though we left much behind at the flat and hotel room. At least we knew how to pack and travel as light as we could. The one thing we were not as used to, as a family, was travelling on foot. This meant that we had to make frequent stops as we built up our stamina. Since the weather was nice, we did not venture far that day, but merely went to the park by the river to rest.

Now the parks by the Rideau river in Ottawa were policed pretty heavily by the park police. We had discovered that they were as aggressive as the R.C.M.P. when a complaint was lodged against us in March, so we learned to keep out of sight as much as possible. The backpacks, dog and birdcage were a dead giveaway, so as long as it was light outside, we kept moving. On this day however, I was unsure exactly where to go, so we simply found a place that was difficult to get to amongst the thick brush in Hurdman Park.

We were not the first homeless people to have used the park to spend the night, for we found tents and other gear scattered about. That gave us some confidence that we could hide out there, until we knew which direction to go in. One particular tent we found seemed to be long abandoned, so we took up residence there. It was still easily accessible from the path, but hidden from easy view. It was a good choice as the weather didn’t stay nice for long and soon periodic showers came down. We stayed dry and since we were close enough to a Walmart, we were able to get some food and wash ourselves.

At one point in our stay at Hurdman Park, the dust, pollen and dirt overwhelmed Fanny’s asthma and she had a major attack. We had no money for medicine, but there was a hospital nearby where we could get help. Fanny and I walked slowly over and were able to address the asthma. The doctor wanted to give me a prescription for medicine, but I explained to her that we had no money and the prescription was useless to us, since we could not fill it. That did not compute with her, since she had assumed everyone either had money or government help to get such necessities, but we had spurned the government. In the end she gave us some medication we could take with us and once again God showed us that His manna was with us.

The next day in the park was ok, but the person who owned the tent suddenly made an appearance and we had to move. He was only there for a few hours and then left but not before saying that we could have the tent, since we needed a place to sleep. His act of generosity came from a place of understanding of what the homeless go through, so we were very thankful for his gift. We spent the day and night there, but I was very concerned about the park police finding us. I decided that we needed to move the tent to a slight depression in the woods where we would be a lot less visible if strangers were wandering about.

The tent was in very poor condition and moving it did not help that, but it was shelter from the rain and we were grateful for that. May 15 was a particularly wet day and throughout the day and night, rain and water build up became an issue. Water started coming into the tent and staying dry was harder. We were cold, wet and miserable, not to mention hungry, and something needed to be done to get us out of this quagmire we found ourselves in. As we talked it over, we all realized that we wanted to, and needed to, leave but none of us knew where. The prophetic word from Henry seemed to be our only lead from God so we decided to start the journey looking for the church he mentioned.

We have known for some time that when God leads, He will just as soon use a blocked door as an open one, to guide us. In this case, the rain forced our hand and we made preparations to move out on May 16th. I can’t say we were in the most upbeat of moods but we were determined to see this journey through to the end. Using the map, I had purchased when we were at the flat on Hannah Street, we followed the course of the Rideau river south. This route was a greenspace with trails, where we could travel without arousing any suspicions.

After the miserable time we had at Hurdman Park, it was nice to be moving again. As we wandered through the park, we sometimes would rest on the benches. Once as we rested, some nice people stopped to talk to us. Ever willing to give a testimony about God, Wanda explained our walk of faith to the couple who seemed genuinely interested. In the end they gave us $20 to help us out. We were overjoyed and thanked them profusely. Finally, we had some money to buy some hot food and drinks, which we needed desperately. We wandered over to a nearby Dairy Queen and ordered some hot food, which we ate hungrily. Warmed up and now well fed we arrived at St. Margaret Mary Parish at dusk. Since it was dark, I laid out our blankets on the grass under a tree so as not to arouse suspicion and we all laid down to sleep. We were fairly confident we could spend the night there as people are usually pretty tolerant about church grounds. There is a certain assumption the church staff are being charitable to the poor.

[] Chapter 57 – Angelo

May 17 to 19, 2014 – From St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church to Cornerstone Church

Getting up with the sun actually is quite pleasant on a warm spring day. As we woke up at St. Margaret Mary church, we wanted to avoid any people that might be suspicious of our presence, so we quietly packed and went about our business preparing for the day. When we were ready we started our journey north through the section of town called the Glebe. ‘Glebe’ is on old word which means ‘church lands’ and it was just another sign that we would be dealing with churches in the next part of our walk.

The Glebe is a cosmopolitan area filled with trendy little shops and all sorts of strange looking people, but even there we stood out as unusual. As we walked along, it was clear to us we were not like the people around and those people stared. We ignored this as we usually do and just continued on our way, but we could feel hostility coming at us. It must have been the spirit, as it was rare for us to see this in Ottawa where we walked. At one point, a massive Hells Angels biker gang roared down the street and caused an awful lot of noise. It really felt like we were in hell and we wanted to get out of there.

Stepping away from the main street we wandered up and down the side streets not knowing where to go. There were many old established church buildings around but they were hollow and empty inside; nothing but shells. Very few people in Ottawa took any time to know God and, in this district, they were pulling hard away from Him. At one point, we were resting on the steps of a church trying to stay warm, when we were shooed away by a nasty man. We kept walking and eventually, we were just so tired, we needed to bed down. Finding a place to sleep where it was so busy was very difficult, but eventually, when it was really dark, I found us a place to stay that was reasonably hidden. The place where we stayed that night was in the back alley behind St. Matthew’s Anglican church. It did not feel safe though for when the bars closed there was a good deal of noise in the streets. Besides being a very cold night, I was in constant concern we would be assaulted. So I spent most of the night on guard duty, watching over the ladies. I am sure Milo would have warned us if someone came too close, but ever since Charlottetown, we were careful to make sure Milo didn’t bark and bring unwanted attention to us.

It was a very long night for me and morning came slowly. We all were tired and cold, and the hard pavement did not lend itself to an easy sleep even though we used cardboard to cushion us. Rousing our aching joints off the ground, we packed and started walking. We were all eager to leave the Glebe. As we wandered, we soon realized that we were near a park. Not only was it a large park, but on that particular day, there was a huge tulip festival going on. With the warmth of the sun on us and the beauty of the flowers all around, our spirits began to brighten from the day before. God had placed us right in the middle of a large beautiful celebration of His glory. Sometimes His gifts to us were just the beauty of nature around us and on this day we were very thankful for that. We found a place to lay down our blankets and while the ladies went off to see the flowers, I slept. Many people had laid out blankets that day, so we were not out of place, but the dog, bird and backpacks did raise the odd eyebrow.

Later in the day, after we got warmed and rested, we knew we needed to move on. We headed out and wandered the streets of Ottawa once again, looking for churches and a place to spend the night. At one point, when my family had stopped to rest. I went ahead to scout out the area. I did this quite frequently as I could travel faster and farther alone than we could as a group. Looking around the streets, I came across an old theatre that had been renovated into a church. I was surprised for the building matched the description given to us by Henry in his prophetic word. I quickly hurried back to my family and told them about the discovery. We all headed over to this new destination.

The church was on the corner of a main street and a side street. On the side street there was a patch of grass by the church so we set our belongings down there to rest. We were conspicuous but we did not care and no one bothered us. A rough looking man wearing a rough Hells Angels jacket did walk by and seemed to be interested in us. I was a little concerned about him, since he looked so tough, but that thought passed. He would enter our world again two days later.

This church building, called Cornerstone House of Refuge Apostolic Church, was home to two fellowships. The main fellowship that met had posted a sign on the door announcing a shopping trip to New York. That was not a good sign and raised a red flag of concern in us. There were no pastors around that we could talk to, but we decided to wait there anyway until they came by. Since this was the weekend, it meant we would be waiting a day or two until we would see them.

The second fellowship that worshipped in the building was a small Ethiopian congregation. We met them and their pastor, Eyob, on that Sunday night as they came out from their service. Pastor Eyob’s name in English is Job. They were very nice people and we talked with them about our journey. They were puzzled about why we would willingly choose homelessness and poverty for the sake of faith but they were kind enough. They even got us a pizza which we needed and were very thankful for. Once again God’s manna filled our hungry stomachs. We felt we gave as much as we received and that was enough. We received a handwritten message from this pastor, but have not been able to find anyone to translate it yet!

We learned from God that our journey frequently overwhelmed people and so we were very careful to share only small amounts, so they could handle it. We live in such a materialistic society that real faith is neither understood nor practiced, so when one lives by faith, one is frequently thought of as insane. This happened to us in St. Stephen and at other times, but it did not dissuade us from the path we were on. In fact, this opposition only hardened our position. We figured that when the Christians who chose to oppose us looked and acted no different than the world then they, and their faith, was useless and not worth following.

Since no other pastors were around that night, we decided to find a place to sleep close by. At the back of the church was a secluded little area where we could all rest and be hidden. We found a nearby dumpster with large cardboard boxes which I appropriated and turned into a makeshift hut. It was only 2 feet tall, so you had to crawl in, but it got us off the pavement a bit and it kept us out of the rain. I was glad I did that, for it did rain that night. We were always afraid of getting wet as we had no means to dry our blankets if they got soaked. Thankfully we stayed dry the whole time we were at Cornerstone Church in that little cardboard castle of ours.

The next day, May 19, was clear and warm. We had nowhere to go to that day so Wanda and I left Milo and the girls at the cardboard boxes while we wandered around the neighborhood. As Wanda and I walked around, we found a nice uneaten apple sitting on a metal box by the sidewalk. It looked fresh and clean so we took and ate it. The cool sweetness was wonderful. As we ate, Wanda and I were reminded by God of a story that was dear to Wanda’s heart. In one of Rick Joyner’s books, he relayed the story of a man named Angelo. Angelo was a deaf, homeless man who had a rough upbringing and a rough life. He was rejected by churches but he loved God and tried to learn as much about Him as he could. Eventually Angelo gave up his life trying to keep another man warm. He was then taken to heaven and now occupies one of the highest thrones in heaven. This story has been an inspiration to us, especially Wanda, throughout our journey. It speaks of a man who was despised by others but loved by God and we could relate. In the account given by Rick, Angelo would take a cardboard box and make it into a castle and turn a humble apple into a feast of thankfulness to God. As we ate some of the apple by the sidewalk, saving the rest for Ida and Fanny, we remembered our little cardboard hut and became overwhelmed with emotion on the sidewalk. The tears flowed hard as God was giving us His blessing, that He saw us like Angelo. It was truly an honor to experience that. Even though our experiences had been hard and bitter, our tears showed us that we had not become hard and bitter ourselves.

The rest of the day passed quietly and nothing of note happened to us. That night our sleep was interrupted by the police, but when we explained that we were waiting to meet with the pastors the next day they wished us well and departed.

[] Chapter 58 – And I thought I was tough

May 20 to 22, 2014 – From Cornerstone Church to Community of Christ Church

After waiting a day and two nights for the pastor for Cornerstone House of Refuge Apostolic Church, we finally were able to meet with him. The name of the church held such high and lofty promise that we hoped we might find people who lived up to that name. We would be disappointed. Again.

The pastor drove up in his little red car and was very surprised to see us. He took us inside the building and there we had a long talk with him. He was the assistant pastor and seemed to be interested in our faith journey. Although he had no idea of how to help us, as he needed to talk with the senior pastor first, he did ask if we had eaten. We said no, so he took us in his car to buy us sandwiches and drinks. As always, we were thankful for this provision from God to keep hunger from consuming us. After this, we went to a local park, where we waited until the senior pastor came to the church that night.

After much waiting, we went back to the church, where we were to meet the senior pastor. As we were waiting, the tough looking man with the rough Hells Angels jacket came by and struck up a conversation with my daughters about Milo. I was uncomfortable with that, but just then the senior pastor showed up and Wanda and I went inside to talk with him. This pastor seemed far too interested in telling us about his fancy new building than he was about us. He showed us around and we saw all the fancy seats, ornate decorations and everything but that was of no interest to us. We wanted to know what God had for us and where to go next. After this, the senior pastor basically told Wanda and I that if we needed help we should go to Shepherds of Good Hope, a wet shelter in downtown Ottawa, as they would not help. The pastor wanted to put us and our daughters in extreme danger for he did not care, and would not lift a finger, to help. After spending two nights sleeping outside the building, waiting for this man, we were devastated and concerned as dusk was falling.

As in all things with God, events can happen fast or slow. When God closes one door, it may be a bit of time before He opens the next. Other times it happens so fast that as one door is closing, another is already opening. At the same moment that the senior pastor was telling us that we should go to a homeless shelter, Ida came into the church to tell us something. Apparently the tough looking man who was talking to them had a house behind the church and wanted to know if we would like to stay in his yard. God had put us on this man’s heart when he first saw us on Sunday night and he could not stop thinking about us. Boom! As religion was closing the senior pastor’s heart to us, the sinner was opening up his home. The contrast could not have been greater nor more obvious to us. God was giving us a visual of how He saw the uselessness of religion – and the graciousness of a humble heart.

We walked straight out of that useless building with that useless pastor and met with Jerry, a former Hells Angel biker that looked far worse for wear. He took us to his house and introduced us to his wife Aurora, a native lady, and his daughter. There they offered us something to eat and together we set up their tent in the back yard to spend the night.

Jerry was a tough guy on the surface, but had a very tender heart. A former biker, he regaled us with stories of his past and how he had been in prison and other bad places. Aurora was very sweet. A native lady, she was very spiritual with a connection to God (the Great Spirit) through her prayer dancing and welcomed us with open arms. Native spirituality was very important to her and she could relate to our own spiritual journey with God. Our connection with this unlikely couple was instant. Over the next day and two nights we talked much and shared with them the journey we had been on. They listened to all we had to say, not flinching or pulling away, even from the most violent parts of what we had experienced. There was a real camaraderie in that house born by shared experiences of very difficult times. They opened their homes and hearts to us and, even though they had very little, they shared what they could. Jerry was especially fond of Milo, even getting him treats and food so he could fatten up. Our time with them was far, far too short but we enjoyed it immensely. I think the mere fact that somebody would even listen and be interested in what we had been through was refreshing to our thirsty spirits.

Far too quickly, our time together came to an end. Aurora was going to a native dance gathering and would need the tent we were staying in. We, also, did not want to burden our new friends. With a lot of tears and heartfelt gratitude we said our goodbyes to this lovely family. I told Aurora, before we left, that I would love to dance with her in the prayer circle some time. As we were leaving, Jerry said, in response to our testimony, “and I thought I was tough!” That was a beautiful benediction for us coming from a former Hells Angel biker. God had shown us that through our trials “our souls had entered into the iron.” We were a lean, mean, fighting machine and not afraid to stand up to man and his faulty systems that trap mankind in bondage and keep them from having faith. After this brief oasis of kindness, we were ready for the next challenge.

We took the path south and just went forward. At some point, we were so hungry that we needed to buy something to eat. Wanda took the little money we had and went to the store. As she looked over the bin of half price fruit, she saw a bag of fresh, crisp apples there. When she inquired about it the clerk said that the bag of apples should not be there. Wanda said ok and was prepared to move on. The clerk then said he would stick a half price sticker on that fresh bag of apples, which he did, and we got a bag of fresh apples to enjoy. We never cease to be amazed at how God moved on hearts to bring us manna in the wilderness. Those apples were refreshing to both body and spirit that day.

The day wore on and we began to tire of the journey. We found a small church and decided to bed down. Unlike other places, we took no pains to hide our presence and just slept on the step under the overhang at Community of Christ Church. Cars passed by, the world moved on and no one bothered us. After where we had come from, we knew there was no community there and the only church present was us.

[] Chapter 59 – Where a tree falls

May 23 to 25, 2014 – From Community of Christ Church to St. Augustine R.C. Church

Early morning, once again, found us packing and then walking down the road. We found a Tim Horton’s where we rested and cleaned ourselves. Across the street was another church and a food bank. Wanda and I wandered over to see if there was anything there for us but the food bank was closed and the pastor’s car in front of the church was a silver Mercedes. After what we had been through at the Cornerstone House of Refuge Apostolic church, which was neither a house of refuge nor apostolic, but it was on a corner, we had a pretty good idea that this church and pastor were likely just as useless. Wanda and I left there, joined back with our family, and then we headed out again.

We stopped for a time at an open field and laid down our backpacks, bags and birdcage to rest. I spread out the blanket and laid down, while the ladies went to see if they could get some food. They came back after a time and we had something to eat. As we were eating, a very large storm came in and the rain came down in bucket loads, drenching us and our blankets. We rushed to a nearby bus shelter to stay out of the worst of it, but we still got wet and chilled. We knew we would be in trouble for the rain had soaked our main blanket that we used to cover ourselves.

Once the rain let up, we continued on. We were still getting a little wet as the showers continued and we looked for a church where we could go, get warm and dry off a bit. Trinity United church was nearby, so Ida had gone ahead to ask if we could come in and warm ourselves. The janitor said yes, so Ida came back and told us. We went to the church but when we arrived, he refused to let us in. I then watched as my demure, quiet, eldest daughter tore into him like a wolf to a side of beef. I guess she, like us, had enough of the hypocrisy of people who call themselves Christian but look nothing like Jesus. It was fun to watch as my daughter exposed the hypocrisy and lack of empathy of this man. I didn’t expect much in response, but I was surprised. After Ida’s sharp attack, he did not turn tail and run like I expected, but he manned up to his failure and let us into the building to get warm. For a time, the ladies were able to use the bathrooms and dry off. I stayed outside with Milo, but eventually I came into the front entrance to warm myself as well. Once we were dry, we thanked the janitor and then moved on.

We journeyed on and came to a business section of town, where there was a thrift store. We left Ida and Fanny with Milo and went to get some new blankets, as ours were wet and useless to us now. We bought some with the little money we had and were able to warm ourselves some more, for it had been cold that day. We then started looking for a place to sleep. Behind the Calvin Christian Reformed church, we managed to find a little, out of the way, place called Gilbey Park where we put our gear. We stayed in the park until it turned dark and then surreptitiously moved over to a covered area beside the church, where we bedded down for the night.

We rose early in the morning and moved our belongings back over to a table in the little park. There was a huge tree lying on the ground in the park that looked like it had blown over not long before we got there. God would use that tree again and again to teach us yet another lesson. As we sat at the bench, a man came to us and began to talk. He asked point blank if we had spent the night outside. Concerned about his forwardness but wanting to be truthful, we answered yes. He then proceeded to give us $50 and, after many thanks from us, he departed. Now that God had given us a little more money, we were able to buy some more food, which was nice. The day then passed pleasantly as we rested at the park, watching the people come and go at the nearby stores. By nightfall, we once again moved our gear to the church and slept in peace.

On Sunday morning, May 24, we once again moved our gear from the Calvin Christian Reformed church grounds back to the park. People started to arrive at the church for the service and some people stared at us. Wanda and I had decided to go to a different church nearby. A little Filipino church, called Life in the Spirit fellowship, had caught our eye on Friday night when we first came in to the area. It was on the second story of a small, out of the way, strip mall and it intrigued us. We made our way there and felt like giants among the tiny Filipino members. They were very pleasant and all smiles. During the service, God moved on my heart to give our last $10 away. It was an act of faith, since we had so little but we also knew God would provide. Pastor Joanne preached on a curious piece of Scripture found in Ecclesiastes 11:3, “If the clouds are full [of rain], they empty themselves on the earth; and if a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it lies.” Since God had given us this visual of a fallen tree at Gilbey Park, He had our full attention.

After the service, the Filipino ladies served a great banquet. They invited us to stay and talk, which we did. We shared as much of our story as we could between mouthfuls of hot, delicious food. After the meal, they packed up the many leftovers in containers, so we could take it to our daughters. We were loaded down with food and kindness as we left, grateful to have met these wonderful people.

Sunday afternoon found us travelling once more and soon we came to a very large Catholic church, St. Augustine and the attached college. The grounds were beautiful and no one was around. We decided it was a quiet place to rest undisturbed. The clouds had been threatening rain and we thought the protection of the overhang from this church would keep us dry if it did rain. We bedded down for the night and slept peacefully.

The weekend had given us plenty of lessons in our interactions with different believers. We could see God was testing their hearts and I am convinced we left a mark on every person we met whether they liked it or not. God wants His people to mature, but they often get stuck in a rut of seeing the same things in their lives day after day. We were God’s calling card, this homeless family that was used by God to knock on the door of their hearts to test if they would demonstrate the love of God to others. Some passed, some failed. God was also teaching us. The fallen tree was a significant visual lesson. The tree is a symbol of our spiritual age and when it falls, it means it can grow no more. The tree in Gilbey Park was a very large, old, fully mature tree and its life was done. Through the sermon, God was telling us that we were growing in spiritual maturity as well and He saw us as a fully grown tree. Our life was not over, but God was emphasizing that people only have one opportunity to grow in this life and if they squander that opportunity, there would not be another. It was a sobering lesson.

[] Chapter 60 – Art

May 26 to 29, 2014 – From St. Augustine R.C. Church to Emmanuel Apostolic Church

The morning of May 26 saw us waking up in the front entry way of the St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church. We were slow to start and as we got ready, staff was already coming in for the day. Obviously we were a surprise to them, but they did not treat us unkindly. As we shared our story with one man we met, he pulled out his wallet and just gave us $100. God had seen the gift of the $10 we had given the day before to the Filipino church and He now rewarded us tenfold. We were awestruck at the generosity. The man then took us to get sub sandwiches for breakfast and also took us to a local food bank to get some food we could carry. As he drove us around, he shared with us how he too had been homeless in his youth and how he cared about the poor. It certainly was a nice change to have such kindness given and we thanked him profusely. We had learned from God that we could never assume anything about anyone. The vessel He chose to help us often came as much as a surprise to us as it was to them.

After we had gotten this bounty, we headed south and by the end of the day, found ourselves at Bethel Pentecostal church. The people at this church were very kind to us that night and allowed us to shower in the church building, which felt really good. We met a pastor who was kind and got us hot drinks. He also allowed us to stay the night on the grounds. Although the people were nice it never went very deep and no one seemed really interested in our story. It seemed as if they were just more involved in their own world.

The next morning, May 27, was overcast and cloudy, but it did not rain on us. The night had been peaceful and we were able to wash before leaving Bethel Pentecostal Church. Just before we left, we were able to talk to the janitor. He was an older gentleman and was really keen on hearing what we had experienced and learned. What stood out was when he said to us, “where a tree falls, there it lies.” God once again was using code words to connect us to other believers. This time it was not the pastor but the janitor that was receiving the blessing.

We started journeying north and as the day grew hot and windy, we stopped and rested. We spent many hours by the Rideau River, as I looked around for some resting place. I finally found one at Rideauview Bible Chapel. We arrived late in the afternoon and put our gear down on the far side of the church, in a slight depression that was slightly hidden from the street. At about 7 PM, people started coming to the church for Bible study and Wanda and I decided to join them. We met, and talked with, a few people and let them know we were homeless. Afterwards, we discovered just how formal, dead and religious the Bible study was, when they split the groups by gender. Even though these people knew we were homeless, no one cared. It was not a pleasant experience and we were glad to leave. Wanda and I joined our daughters by our gear and just sat there. A little while later a man, who was at the Bible study, came out, stood on the sidewalk with his wife and just glared at us for a full minute. We stared right back, but said nothing. Eventually, they just turned around and left. We felt there was demonic oppression in this church very similar to what we had experienced near the end of our time at Zion House of Worship in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

When darkness came, we moved around to the front of the church building, where there was an ample overhang, and placed our blankets under it. Sometime early in the morning, as we were all sleeping, there was a huge crash that woke us all. Lennie-girl’s cage had fallen over and landed on our cooking gear. Lennie-girl herself had caught her foot on a sharp knife and was bleeding badly. Ida and Fanny were panicked as bird’s blood does not clot and they can easily bleed to death. We wrapped up her little leg to stop the bleeding as soon as we could. We were snapping at each other and it was very unpleasant, until we realized that this was a spiritual attack against us from the spirits around the building. We began to pray the Lord’s prayer as we always did and sing Jesus Loves Me. That calmed us all down and restored peace to our fellowship. Lennie-girl also settled down and the bleeding was stopped. With the prayer, songs and understanding God gave to us that night, we were able to endure and then go back to sleep.

The next day, we packed and then continued our wanderings. The day had grown colder and we really felt it being outside. The night before, we had been chilled and we found it difficult to get warm. As we walked around, we found a library where we could go inside and took turns spending as much time as we could indoors to keep warm. I knew it would be a rough night if we did not get another blanket. Wanda and I looked around and found a Salvation Army thrift store, where they had used blankets. We talked to the clerk and told them our situation, that we had no money to pay for a blanket but needed one badly for the night. The clerk was gracious enough to give us a thick red blanket for free, which we still have to this day. We were very thankful for the kindness this woman showed to us in our hour of need. God once again was giving us the manna we needed for that day. Wanda and I headed back to meet our daughters and Milo. Together we ventured to St. Timothy Presbyterian Church, where we found a secluded patch of grass to bed down for the night. The extra blanket was a Godsend that night, for we stayed toasty warm all night long.

In the morning, after we had packed and were sitting at the edge of the church lot, a man stuck his head out the church door and asked if there was anything we needed. I just said we were homeless and with that, he snuck back in and shut the door. Drive by Religion I call it, useful as an ejection seat in a helicopter.

We gathered our gear and were off for the day. It was a clear day and the temperature began to rise rapidly. As we walked, we stepped into the Twilight Zone. The most outlandish incident of our entire journey around Ottawa was about to begin. It started, innocently enough, with a man approaching us loudly with the words, “Well, what do we have here?” Thus began the most bizarre conversation we have ever had, before or since. Art was his name and conversation was his game. He was funny, irreverent and had an opinion on almost everything. This man could talk the hind leg off a mule. Art wanted to know about us and asked pointed questions to get the information he wanted. He then proceeded to wax eloquent, with all the passion of a television evangelist, about his opinions on faith, Jesus and religion for he “had studied them all.” According to Art, the only reason Jesus could be resurrected was that his body didn’t decompose and there was no heaven and hell because of a missing comma in the Bible. For all of Art’s wacky opinions, he was a comical soul that lifted our spirits. Art was the only one to actually journey along with us. As we walked, he walked with us, not afraid to be seen with this weird homeless circus caravan. His conversation was the most entertaining we had in many days and you could not help but laugh being around him. He even put his hand in his pocket and intimated that he would love to help us but couldn’t. We could care less about the money, for we were glad for the company, even if it was for only a short time. Art walked about a kilometer with us, but then we had to part ways as friends.

Now even though Art was way off the mark on many things, and a lot of what Art said was objectionable, God pointed out to me the bigger picture of what was going on. Art was the only one to walk ‘with’ us on our wilderness journey and that was important. We had many people help us and many people that we helped. Our lives intersected with many individuals, but what did not happen in our journey was anyone walking ‘with’ us, sharing in our journey as we walked it out. This was a key lesson for us and God used irreverent Art to teach us about it. Art had helped us forget about the physical and emotional pain and hardship we were under as we ‘discussed’ things – and that was one of the nicest gifts we received. I will always remember Art for his unassuming willingness to “walk a mile in our moccasins.”

After we left Art, we journeyed farther south. Near the end of the day, we were very exhausted and had stopped by the edge of the road to rest. We had run out of energy after the long days walk and we were still far from our destination. Just then, an off duty city bus stopped right beside us, the door opened and the driver offered us a ride. We were stunned. We got on board with Milo and the driver asked where we were going, to which I responded that we were walking to a church up the road. He drove us there in the bus and we talked along the way. He said he felt bad for us and wanted to give us more, so he shared what little he had in his lunch. The kindness he demonstrated was profound. With the little he had he shared with us and we were deeply appreciative. God had once again met us where we were at with just the right manna at the right time. I will never get tired of watching His perfect timing when He provides for His own.

After the bus driver dropped us off, we found the church we were looking for and a suitable place to spread out our blankets. We were glad there was no more walking that day. It was amusing to me that Emmanuel Apostolic church was the only church I saw that had a No Trespassing sign posted by the driveway. I don’t think God was overly concerned about that, for we were able to rest there peacefully all night long. It does, however, reflect the mentality of many religious people that think they ‘own’ the church. Thankfully we did not have to deal with any religious people from Emmanuel Apostolic, for God visited them when no one was at home.

[] Chapter 61 – Two Kinds of People

May 30, 2014 – From Emmanuel Apostolic Church to Nepean Baptist Church

Another pleasant, clear May morning began as we woke up on the lawn of Emmanuel Apostolic Church. We packed our gear and began looking for a place to clean ourselves. Nearby was the Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre which had showers we could use. After all the long days of walking it was nice to be able to get a hot shower. We laid out our blanket on the grass and while some lay in the sun the others took turns showering inside. It was a beautiful day and none of us was eager for yet another long walk. We rested there and watched people come and go. At least in this setting, besides all our belongings including the bird cage and dog, we looked pretty normal in the park. Just another normal homeless family enjoying the fresh air and warm day, relaxing in the sun.

As we rested and talked, Wanda started a conversation with a young lady who had brought her toddler to the park. We talked about many things and eventually the young lady shared details of her background which was quite sad. She asked about us and was surprised we were homeless. Too often people have such strong stereotypes about poverty and homelessness they frequently miss the fact that the poor and homeless are living, breathing people just like they are. We talked and talked with this young lady about faith, healing and all sorts of subjects including our wilderness journey. We gave her what we could from our experiences with inner healing and Jesus and she received our words graciously. In the course of the fellowship, Wanda shared the stories about her wedding ring and the anniversary band that I gave her. The young lady mentioned that she once had a ring just like Wanda’s, but it was gone. Wanda insisted on giving the young lady her anniversary ring, taking it off her finger and putting it on the young woman. Words cannot express how happy this young mother was to receive that ring, but Wanda was equally delighted to be able to be so generous to this wounded soul. By then it was about noon. We had no money to buy food and we had little to eat. The young woman left us for a bit, but soon came back with a whole chicken dinner for our family. Although she was poor herself, she took what little she had and bought us lunch. We were very grateful for this simple act of heartfelt kindness and sacrifice. We parted with sweet words of thanks and gladness to have met this little family.

Later in the afternoon, we reluctantly had to leave our simple paradise for we could not sleep in the park at night. Every park in Ottawa seemed to forbid any overnight accommodation, so we packed our gear and left. We walked to our next destination which I had picked out called, The Met, or Metropolitan Bible Church. So far the prophetic word had been of little help to us. We had not met any pastor or church leader that was of any use and would certainly not help us with our journey.

We arrived at The Met as dusk was approaching and saw that it was a large imposing building. It looked more like an industrial complex than a church. When the church factory opened on Sundays, I envisaged the Christian robots dutifully filing in and out for their assigned programming with fixed smiles and trendy outfits in place. Like most churches, and their members, I held little hope that these people would extend the courtesy of Christ to sojourners such as ourselves, but we had to try.

That particular night, there was some event that was being held in the building. The people there greeted us with smiles and were friendly to us at first. They probably thought we were there to swell their numbers and gratefully receive proper indoctrination, but we had to disappoint. I asked one person if we could get permission to spread our humble blanket on some corner of grass, so we could sleep for the night. We always tried to get permission to sleep on the grass or under an overhang at a church, so the police could not harass us like they had done before. It was at The Met we were about to find out if there was compassion or business at the heart of this so-called church. The young person I addressed did not have the authority to grant such a request, but said he would ask.

While waiting for the other young man to get an answer, we waited around and started a conversation with a recent bible school acolyte, who was zealous in his faith and church and curious about our journey. I tried my best to temper his youthful zeal for religion with a story about faith, our faith, and where it had led us. He was too enthusiastic for his pastors that he could not see much else. It was at this point in the conversation when the other young man came back with bad news for us. “I am sorry, sir, but your family can’t sleep here. Insurance regulations you see. So sorry. Bye.” and then he was off. Business as usual for this church. His, and his pastor’s, depth of compassion and empathy for our situation was about as deep as a financial discussion with a two-year-old. I turned to the young bible school acolyte who was conversing with us and laid bare for him the hypocrisy of his beloved leadership. He did not take kindly to that, but I am sure it made him think. His intention to teach us a thing or two fell flat on the pavement.

Since darkness was starting to encroach, I knew we needed to quickly find a place to sleep for the night. We could not sleep at the church and we were in an industrial area so we had to find another area to sleep. After a bit of searching, we found a place covered by weeds and a tree by the side of a seemingly deserted road. We laid our blankets there and bedded down. Soon after it was very dark, the road became alive with cars going back and forth and with people talking. It turns out we were just down the road from an industrial plant that just happened to have a shift change. Thankfully, nobody bothered us and we were able to rest peacefully in the shadows.

So, on this day, we met two kinds of people. On one hand, we met a young woman who had been injured by life but wanted healing and we were able to give her the help she gladly received. On the other hand, we met a young man who thought he had life all figured out and was going to ‘school’ us on God and faith. One was humility and the other pride. It was a stark contrast that day, but a valuable lesson for us.

The next morning was another bright clear day and we awoke with the dawn to pack and hide any traces of our sleeping arrangements. As we readied ourselves for the day, East Indian people began arriving for their service at their nearby Sikh temple. We got some odd looks, but no one bothered us.

We walked down the road into Nepean, which is a part of greater Ottawa. We were done with visiting Ottawa churches, having walked almost completely around the city in 3 weeks, and now we were heading out of the city proper. As we moved into a more business oriented neighborhood, the desire for food was beginning to gnaw at our stomachs. At one point, we resorted to finding loose change at a local Tim Horton’s coffee shop, only to be chased away by an employee looking to collect the loot for themselves. We did manage, however, to collect enough money so that our daughters could have some hot coffee.

A large greenspace ran the length of the town and we were able to casually walk along it like any other group of backpacking, homeless people. We blended right in and no one paid attention to us. Between resting and walking, we finally found ourselves at a little community park in one of the neighborhoods in Nepean. We laid out our blankets and reposed. Nearby a group of people began bringing in loads of food for what looked like a graduation supper they were going to have that night. I so much wished that they would offer just a little bit to us, but no such offer came. We went hungry that day.

As darkness began to draw nearer, I found a little Baptist church nearby that looked pleasant enough, even though we had decidedly unpleasant run-ins with Baptists in eastern P.E.I. We decided it was ok as it had a sheltered area away from the street, where we could bed down without being disturbed. So without any fanfare, we slipped under the blankets and soon were very much asleep.

[] Chapter 62 – Beginning of The End

June 1, 2014 – From Nepean Baptist Church to Dana/Nicole’s house

We had travelled far in our wilderness journey. When we first started on this journey, we were terrified, angry, sad, bewildered, along with a host of other emotions that come when one first launches out into the uncomfortable waters of faith, watching the shore disappear from view. As we travelled, we began to understand, slowly, what God was doing. We took our first awkward steps of faith as slaves, but over time, we slowly learned to fight and, with each successive victory, became stronger. We were turning into a fighting force by God’s hand. With each battle, we learned how to conquer the enemy and as we did, we then began to face the giants. We had taken on the giant of family and won. We had taken on the giant of government and had won that battle too. Each giant represented a safety net/trap that catches people and keeps them from faith. No longer would family or government be a snare to us.

Now that we had bested two giants, we needed to take on the third giant. This giant would be the most vicious and brutal of all. It was the giant of religion. We had many, many skirmishes with this enemy in our wilderness wanderings and now God was about to put us into head to head combat with this beast. It was a cunning adversary that has trapped millions into thinking that religion was connected with and blessed by God, but nothing could be further from the truth. Religion had promised millions that it knew the path to salvation, but it had seduced many unwary victims with lies. We saw these victims many times, trapped and unable to see the very ones God had sent as a sign to them. Now our family would have to face the beast of religion head on and not back down. We were determined that religion would never again be a snare to us.

God was about to lead us into the hardest, darkest part of our journey. In the end, we would refer to it as the crucifixion phase. We had been through the whipping and scourging by man’s tongue and now religion was about to drive three ‘nails’ into us with one final spear thrust to finish us off. If it had not been for the grace of God to protect us, I am not sure we would have survived. It would be the most difficult and painful part of our journey. The first ‘nail’ was about to go in.

For three weeks, we had been walking around Ottawa, looking for the elusive church Henry had mentioned in the prophetic word and had found nothing. God’s lead seemed to have led nowhere but the reality was He had led us to Nepean Baptist church on the last day of May 2014. Hungry and tired, we were exhausted from all the walking we had done. We had reached the edge of Ottawa and there was no other place to go. We had visited so many churches and no pastor in Ottawa was interested in really helping us. Discouragement and disillusion dogged our every step.

As we rose that bright, clear June morning, something inside me thought that things were about to change. It was not a word, vision or dream from God, but just a gut feeling that this was the end for us. Since it was a Sunday, we felt we would just wait in the parking lot and then join the service. We packed our gear and sat down by the edge of the parking lot and waited. The sun rose and warmed us, as trepidation camped all around. We did not know what was going to happen next, but May was over and, with this new month, we felt a change had happened in the Spirit.

The first to arrive was the pastor, Aidan, and his wife. They greeted us then went inside. In a few moments, Aidan came out again to talk to us. He quickly ascertained that we had slept the night on the property and that we were hungry and homeless. He gave me $500 from the church benevolent fund and we were all shocked. For the first time, in all our encounters, a pastor from a church actually used the funds they had been given for the purpose they should have been intended for. For once, the cognitive dissonance was mine, not theirs, as I tried to understand this very unexpected kindness. Since 2011, we had been throwing darts at the backend of the rhino and got the expected results. Now here, they turned the tables on us. I wondered if this was the man Henry had referred to in the prophetic word. There was more to come, for Aidan insisted he drive us to a nearby Tim Horton’s where he would buy us some hot drinks and something to eat. The food was wonderful after so long with not eating.

Aidan drove us back and we joined the other people for Sunday school. The people who came to the church were overjoyed to see us and have us join them. We shared what we had learned about God and faith from our journey and they were most appreciative. The spirit was so very refreshing there – I was stunned. Everyone was so nice to us and greeted us warmly. We received words of encouragement and the children even drew pictures of us. We met many nice people, including one lady named Dana Denson.

After the service, we had a conversation about where we were to stay. Dana had just moved into a house that past week and said the house was for God to use. We were given the invitation to stay with Dana, which we accepted. The invitation to lunch was next and all of us with our gear, dog and bird were taken to a nearby restaurant, where we ate another hot meal. Our strength was returning and our spirits revived from all the kindness we received. God’s manna was enough for that day and it sure felt good after the days of lack.

Following the meal and all the excitement of the morning, we were eventually driven to Dana’s house in Kanata, just outside of Ottawa. We brought our gear indoors and for the first time in many days we were inside a house again. Ida and Fanny were able to sleep in a room upstairs and Wanda and I slept downstairs in the basement. I should have clued into the visual that God was giving us then, but missed it. I wouldn’t see until much later that the bed and the basement were a prophetic picture of what was to come.

We were able to get clean properly after so many days of walking, and to just soak in a tub was fantastic. The achy weariness of the road went down the drain with the water. Refreshed from having a bath, we talked with Dana for a while, getting to know her, and then sleep began beckoning. We slept in the basement that night on the floor, but we didn’t care, at least we were all safe indoors.

The day had not turned out at all the way I thought it would. The kindness we received made us hunger for more. The money we had received would be very helpful to us in the days ahead. We had left Ottawa and now were in a bedroom community outside the city. The connections we had made seemed to be good and not bad, which relaxed us. It was all very enjoyable to receive blessing for a change.

Little did we realize that God had placed us in the heart of darkness.

[] Chapter 63 – First Nail

June 2 to 8, 2014 – From Dana/Nicole’s house to the Industrial Park

Dana Denson was not who she appeared to be. As an older native woman, she had a rough upbringing. She had been separated from her family at an early age and was raised by a white family. She had a brother who was incarcerated because he had stomped on a woman’s throat and had disabled her. Dana referred to her brother as evil. We discovered Dana often spoke negatively of others. As she grew up, she had rough times but managed to become an EMT. She had been married at one point, but all of her 9 children had been taken away from her. Eventually, her life went on a downward spiral and she tried to commit suicide. The suicide was unsuccessful and left Dana disabled. She had spent many days in the hospital and would frequently have seizures. At the point we met Dana, she was functional and improving slightly in her health, so was able to live in the little house she had invited us to. Dana also kept dogs in cages for breeding purposes and sold the puppies for income. We also found out that Dana also had complete identification with another name Nicole. So Dana Denson was also Nicole M. which was her married name. The two names were very confusing to us until we realized Dana would slip between the two to hide the truth about herself from others.

What we found out through our time with Dana was that she was a very bitter woman. She was vindictive and cruel, wanting to hurt anyone she perceived as slighting her. Her tongue was very sharp, bad mouthing everyone and she used foul language. She even belittled the pastor, Aidan, who had been so kind to us. Her belongings were very precious to her and she resented our eating what little food we did eat, even though she had offered it to us. She had lost everything in a house fire at one point in her life, and had systematically replaced everything destroyed with exact replicas she hunted down and found. It was into this very toxic environment God would place us as the next stop in our journey. He had literally placed us in a house with a woman who was filled with demons.

When we first arrived, Dana was gracious and kind to us, offering us the run of the house and food. We were careful not to use much, for we did not want to be a burden on anyone who helped us. I saw that there was significant yard work to be done. Throughout the week, I planted trees, cleaned up the yard and got rid of some ant nests in the back. Wanda helped clean her cupboards and put away her belongings, as Dana was still moving in. We both brought up heavy boxes from the store downstairs, so Dana could go through them. It was in moving these boxes that we discovered Dana had a massive collection of violent occultic movies. At one point, Dana encouraged us to watch her favorite movie ‘Kinky Boots’ with her; but the premise and movie were so vile we declined.

Throughout the week, more and more of who Dana really was as a person was revealed to us. It was very troubling. Besides bad mouthing Aidan, Dana would also speak very negatively of a woman friend who had helped her move into the house. She also spoke about a time, in the recent past where she had a seizure in her bathtub and the firefighters came to help her. She was so livid at them helping her that you could almost see the toxic venom coming out of her mouth; but then a few days later, she baked them a cake. That was the chameleon-like snake that was Dana. Another time, she relayed a story to us about a police officer. This police officer had, at one time in her life, told her to leave a park bench she had been sleeping on. Later, when she was an EMT, she had the opportunity to train a group of police offers which included this man. Dana took this man through the exercise, which caused him to lose his breath to the point he was turning blue. She regaled the story, with such glee in her voice and smile on her face, that it became clear that Dana passionately loved to hurt others. It was a singular fascination and desire of hers to see people being hurt or to hurt them.

Another thing we found out was how Dana treated money. We only had the $500 given to us by Aidan, but she had a monthly stipend from the government. We tried, as much as possible, not to be a burden to her. She had arranged for her hospital bed to be reassembled sometime before and one day when Dana was gone, the guys who were to do this work came by. After they were done, we paid them cash, about $125, from our own money for the service. Although Dana had promised she would pay us back, she never did. Wanda and I slept on that tiny one-person hospital bed for the rest of the time we were there. Dana even made snide remarks to our daughter, indicating that she did not like that we ate some of her food. One night we bought Kentucky Fried Chicken and shared our feast with Dana. We tried to be kind and generous to her. It was obvious that she said a lot of nice things, but the reality was she was beginning to hate us.

The turning point in the relationship occurred sometime later in the week, as we were getting red flags about Dana. Dana would sometimes talk about the Bride of Christ with Wanda. I honestly think there was a part of her that did love God, but the demons in her were just too powerful. During one of these talks, Wanda was clear that to be part of the Bride of Christ, one has to become holy. This was not something Dana wanted to hear and from that point on, our time with her began to worsen.

On Sunday morning, June 7, we planned on going back to Nepean Baptist Church. Dana insisted we keep Milo chained in the basement with the added precaution of a baby gate to keep him downstairs. Ida, Fanny and I left with Aidan to get a ride into Nepean, and Wanda and Dana came later in a cab. During the cab ride, Dana talked about working and the veiled inference was that we were lazy. Once Dana and Wanda arrived, Dana went into the church and basically said to Aidan that she wanted us gone. We were stunned. I asked Dana why she did not tell us this back at the house so we could pack and leave then. It would have been so much easier on all of us. Dana was apoplectic, enraged and would not talk to us. She then got a ride with the woman she had been bad-mouthing all week and left. We were absolutely terrified, for here we were, at the church, separated from our dog, bird and belongings. We knew just how much Dana loved to hurt and we feared for the lives of our pets. It was at that moment I insisted Aidan drive us back to the house, before Dana arrived. Reluctantly, Aidan agreed to take us back.

The poison from Dana’s tongue had reached out to kill us. She felt, as so many others had before her, that our faith journey was a crock and we just needed to get to ‘work’ at a job. We faced that arrogant attitude many times in our journey and each time the nail would go in deeper and deeper. People around us could not understand faith and the wilderness. They could only see jobs, jobs, jobs. Even though I would tell them how I once had a successful business, but gave it up to follow God, they just looked at the present and thought I was lazy. That hurt so very much. Our whole family knew it was not true. The trouble is that our society has no room for faith, only ‘self’ and the ‘if it’s got to be, it’s up to me’ attitude. If we wavered from that party line, people we met would use every power at their disposal to humiliate and discredit us. They had to. For if we were correct in our faith journey, then their whole system of man depending on man was wrong. I am not against working and having a job. Working is a noble effort, but when depending on a paycheck subverts faith in God, then it is wrong… very wrong.

Aidan drove us back to Dana’s house and talked to us about this, as if we had not heard it a thousand times before. That condescending, pastorally tone of ‘there, there you poor misguided soul, if you only listen to me and get a job, all this will just go away and life will be all better’ was in his speech. When he reached the point of using the Scripture of ‘Paul was a tentmaker,’ to somehow give credence to his homily, we all broke out laughing. I am quite sure it disconcerted him greatly. We had heard that term so many times before that it was too funny to us when we heard it again. It brought levity to our trip. Aidan didn’t laugh though. He was dead serious and believed what he was saying. The problem is with religion and how it works. Religion needs money to exist. If people work, they give money to religion, so religion can hire pastors and build buildings, for that is all religion cares about. Expanding the empire, as it were. If you don’t work you go from being a much appreciated ‘cost-giving unit’ (and yes, I have heard an elder use that term in referring to church members in a public meeting) to being a pariah that sucks money away from their valuable carpets and chandeliers. This is the main reason the poor stay away from religion – because they are seen as not valuable. We were not only poor, but had chosen to remain so, as God led us on our faith journey. It was not time to face the giant of business yet, as we were still wandering. Religion could not understand God’s timing and when faced with something you cannot understand, you can either ‘’kill it’ or repent. Since Aidan was deeply invested in religion, he only had the choice to ‘kill it,’ which he tried to do, but it backfired on him. We had been so inured to the term ‘Paul was a tentmaker’, it no longer had any power to influence us. We have great respect for the word of God, but when it is used improperly as a weapon against God’s people, we can only laugh.

We eventually arrived at Dana’s house, but the door was locked. Aidan left and sometime later Dana, and the woman she had been bad mouthing all week long, pulled up. We entered the house and got all our belongings, Milo and Lennie-girl together and went outside. Wanda went to retrieve our scissors from the drawer they had been left in, but Dana insisted they were hers. We knew she was lying but weren’t about to quibble about it. Even as we left, Dana was stealing from us. It would get much worse later.

Finally, as we were about to go, Wanda turned to the woman who had driven Dana and asked for her name. She replied and we knew that this indeed was the woman Dana had been so duplicitous toward all week. Neither Dana nor Wanda said anything else and we left.

The legacy of staying with Dana would have for us far ranging implications. Dana tried to eviscerate our reputation online after we left her house. She posted extremely vitriolic comments on the online article from P.E.I. that had been so vicious toward us. She insisted we stole her grandmother’s ring, that Wanda’s valuable wedding ring was something we stole and that I was a bank robber. Her hate-filled, vitriolic lies would follow us all the way to the tomb in the hope of inflicting a mortal wound. It nearly did. That, however, was on the road that lay ahead.

Stunned by the morning events, we stayed over at a local park in Kanata for a long time trying to understand what had happened. After a time of rest, we knew we needed to find a place to bed down for the night. We went over to an industrial area where we knew there would be no people to harass us. After bedding down under a starry sky we drifted off to sleep.

The first ‘nail’ had been very bitter indeed but there were two more to go.

[] Chapter 64 – Missionaries

June 9 to 11, 2014 – From the Industrial Park to The Mission

The morning of June 9 found us in a little industrial area south of where Dana lived in Kanata. Dana’s maleficence was behind us. We now had to find God’s lead going forward. As we were getting up for the day after a night on the ground, a man came walking by and asked if there was anything we needed. I thanked him for his kindness and said “No, we had all we needed.” No longer were we the terrified slaves that had been locked out of a cabin in 2011. We were a trained and muscular fighting force accustomed to the deprivation and hardships we faced. Our faith journey had changed us irreparably and we were now totally dependent on God to lead and provide. His manna for each day was enough.

There were a number of directions we could go that day, but heading back into Ottawa was not one of them. We thought it would be best if we ventured to a little shopping area for some much needed provisions before we headed out, no matter which direction we took. With that understanding we gathered our belongings, hoisted the heavy packs on our backs and started south.

We set our bags down behind a fitness center and rested for a time. Ida and Fanny went to get some food, while Wanda and I stayed behind to watch the bags and pets. It was at this time a young man came by and we talked with him at length about our journey. We shared what we could from what we had learned and he seemed fascinated by what we had done. He had some health problems, so we prayed for him. Eventually he had to move on.

It was times like these, when we were alone, that God would debrief us about what had happened and the valuable lessons we needed to learn. We were still reeling from the shock of dealing with Dana and the whole message that we needed to get a job. It was a tough assignment. We had once again faced a tremendous beating from religion and the pain was hard to process. Into this turbidity of thought, God interjected a new concept for us. His words to us that day were that we were now working for Him and were His missionaries. It was a stunning counterpoint to the lie that had been thrown at us by man that we had to just work for a paycheck. This revelation profoundly affected us and changed the whole scope of our journey forward. No longer were we just aimlessly wandering; we were on a faith mission.

Realizing that the journey forward would likely require us to sleep outside again, I took the little money we had and bought a tent at the local hardware store. God had seen to it that it was a good price for us and I was thankful we would not have to be concerned about rain again. Getting wet on the road is never a good thing as we had learned in New Brunswick. Ida and Fanny joined us later with food so we would have something to eat on the road.

With our tent in hand and a new revelation in mind, we started back on the road heading south. It was late in the afternoon when we came to the road that encircles Ottawa and the surrounding area. From this point forward, there was only solitary farms. I began to panic as I was concerned that there would not be enough resources, or water, for us in this wilderness. It was an appalling moment of faithlessness that I am ashamed of. My daughters and wife soon encouraged my faith and we continued on. As it grew late we found a patch of ground in a large expanse of tall weeds by the highway where we could camp. We stamped down an area of weeds, pitched our tent and spent the night there.

The next day, June 10, we packed our gear and started down the road early before it got too hot. Unfortunately, it was very hot that day and we had to rest often. Soon our drinks were gone and we needed to get more water. God’s perfect timing was coming to us once again as He was about to orchestrate another one of His miracles. We came upon a farm just as the owner was pulling up in her vehicle. We asked for water and she generously gave us all we needed. She said her name was Jane.

Jane was the exact opposite of Dana and was a good antidote to the very toxic environment we had come from. She was kind and curious about where we had come from and where we were going. We told her that we were missionaries for the Lord on a faith journey. Jane was very curious about this. As the conversation progressed, we asked about the road ahead and she indicated there would not be much help in that direction. She then volunteered to drive us to the nearby town of Richmond where we could camp for the night. We readily accepted and she drove us to Richmond. On the way she bought us hot drinks from a nearby Tim Horton’s.

At Richmond, Jane dropped us off at a conservation area park where we could pitch our tent discreetly that night as camping was not permitted. There was no other place to stay, so we felt we had no choice. God, however, had given us His blessing to stay there and we were not bothered. For the time being, we just spread our blankets under the shade of a tree and rested for there would be no more travelling that day. Jane left us and we were free to explore the town. We found an arena that would allow us to use their showers so we could get clean and also a place to get some food.

As the afternoon wore on, we were on the blankets just resting when we noticed a familiar vehicle drive up. Jane had come back to meet with us and this time brought her friend Sylvia, along with their children. We had a wonderful time talking about our faith journey with them. It was a real blessing to talk with them and have them be so interested in what we were doing. That conversation really lifted our spirits. Jane gave us a card so we could get some Tim Horton’s hot drinks at some point. We were very thankful for their visit. Jane told us that she would be back the next day and to not leave before she had a chance to say goodbye. We promised we would stay.

That night we set up our tent in a remote part of the park, where we hoped nobody would see us. Thankfully, God kept us at peace and the angels didn’t allow us to be disturbed, so we were able to sleep. It had been a very full and pleasant day meeting with people that were wonderful to us.

June 11 started off quietly, but quickly became busy as a school crowd came down to the area where we were for some sort of event. We had to take the tent down and pack our belongings, so that we wouldn’t be harassed. It was around this time that Ida had a brush with some noxious hogweed that burned her skin badly. It was terribly painful and would take months for her skin to heal.

Thankfully, on our journey we did not have many accidents or injuries. Fanny and I did have a few bad asthma attacks, which required hospital visits from time to time. Besides the hogweed burn, Ida had an old shoulder injury which affected her ability to carry her gear. I broke my toe in Ottawa but it was nothing serious. Overall God had protected us from bodily harm, for which we were all very thankful. What we were noticing was that the repeated strain from the overly heavy packs was starting to slow us down. We had one very good backpack that had been given to us in New Brunswick, but the rest were ill-suited for our journey.

We moved our gear under a tree, where we waited for Jane. After a time, Jane once again came to us, along with her friend Sylvia. We were very happy to see them again as we enjoyed their conversation so much. They had also brought us a surprise. Jane and Sylvia had gotten some clothes for our family, chocolates and a brand new backpack. I was speechless at their generosity. The backpack was a good one that would distribute my heavy load much better, allowing my hips to carry more of the weight. Many thanks flowed that day and we could see the graciousness of God through these wonderful gifts.

The day was getting on and even though we loved spending time with these dear ladies, we knew we needed to get moving. With that, Jane offered to take us to the next town. Not wanting to walk again, we accepted the gracious offer. We piled into Jane’s truck and headed off. As we went, it began to rain heavily. When we arrived in the next town, Jane did not want to leave us there, so decided to keep driving to the next major center, which was Smith’s Falls.

We drove into Smith’s Falls late in the afternoon and it was still raining pretty heavily. We had thought it would be best if Jane just dropped us off at a church with an overhang that we could sit under and we would take it from there. The first few churches we saw had nothing and Jane began to be afraid for us. We then prayed that God would provide for us just the right place. Just then we saw a Pentecostal church with a covered driveway and Jane pulled in. After getting our gear out of the truck and we thanked Jane for her kindness. I reminded her once again that God always provides us with exactly what we need when we needed it. With that she drove off and we stayed under the awning, watching the rain come down.

The church was open and the staff allowed us to use the bathrooms, which was a relief. They told us a pastor would be by later, so we waited. When the pastor arrived he was kind, but it was clear that he was not terribly interested in helping us. There was an outreach in town that helped the poor, so he contacted the lady in charge, Yvonne, to see if she would help us and she said she would be glad to. With a place to go to in hand the pastor drove us downtown where we met Yvonne.

Yvonne has a little place called ‘The Mission’ which helps the homeless and poor. It was a storefront on the main street and Yvonne basically said we could stay there the night. The Mission had a few people drop in that day and we got to know some of them. Later, Wanda and I went to a little thrift store so I could buy new shoes, for mine had worn out. Thankfully, we had a little money left over from what we had received at Nepean Baptist Church, so we were able to afford them. When we were gone, Ida stated that Yvonne had made some puzzling comments to them. Wanda and I were not sure what to make of this, but at least we had a place to sleep for the night, so we were not overly concerned. During our time there, Wanda cleaned and rearranged the place as a thank you for the kindness we received. The day had been long and we were very tired.

Our battle with religion would take many months to play out. There were many difficult battles, but the Lord always arranged rest times between these battles, so we would not be overwhelmed. The encounter with Dana had scarred us and there was an agony of soul in us that is beyond my ability to describe. Meeting Jane and Sylvia was a wonderful soothing ointment from the Lord to ease our pain. As Dana was still only the first ‘nail’, God had sent some relief to us in the form of kindness from others before our next trial. We were grateful to Him for this precious manna.

The next day the second ‘nail’ in our crucifixion would go in.

[] Chapter 65 – Second Nail

June 12 to 13, 2014 – From The Mission to Hannah Memorial Park

To call Yvonne religious would be like calling a great white shark a guppy. This woman had prided herself in helping the homeless and wore it like a badge of honor. Unfortunately for her victims, I mean clients, her condescension toward them in their poverty was profound. When she came in to The Mission on the morning of June 12, 2014 it was clear that she had made up her mind that we were clearly in error on our walk of faith. She felt that it was her God-given right and responsibility to educate us about the error of our ways. There was only one small hiccup. She didn’t know who she was dealing with. She also forgot that God is the judge of man and she was not.

We had shared some of our testimony with Yvonne the night before and she seemed to be sympathetic to our situation. After our initial conversations, she let us be. She had been kind enough to allow us the run of the Mission that night, which demonstrated a good deal of trust, so we thought all was well. Yvonne came back later that night to talk. She kept talking and talking while we were getting very tired and wanted to lie down. Yvonne could not seem to clue into our tiredness, which was a red flag for us. She also seemed to relish in her role as a rescuer and recited to us the many things she had done to help people. After telling us the many good things she had done for God, I indicated that we really needed to get some rest. It was late at night when Yvonne finally left us and we went to sleep.

When she came in the next morning and opened The Mission, a few poor people came in for the free coffee and donuts. We were trying to get ready for the day. Yvonne came in and started talking to us. She began to berate me for not working and not taking care of my family. With Aidan I had been in this same conversation, but Yvonne’s attitude was completely different. She had an arrogant, high handed manner that had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We were quite taken aback by it. Yvonne kept escalating and escalating her rhetoric. She was demeaning, disrespectful and dismissed outright our walk of faith. I had enough and started pushing back at this proud woman. I was perturbed at her insolence and replied angrily at her forceful, bellicose tone. She then accused me of having an angry spirit. She could not even see that it was her own arrogance and pride that was creating and fuelling this conflict. I told her that, but she could not hear. Even Ida and Fanny joined in to say that Yvonne loved talking, but could not hear. Her pride had deafened her and she would not listen to people. Yvonne cared only about Yvonne. The poor were only pawns to further Yvonne’s goal of making Yvonne look good. God had nothing to do with this woman and we knew it. Finally, the shouting had gotten too much. Wanda finally snapped and said “Yvonne, that’s enough!” to which she finally stopped and cowered down. Her ham-fisted attempt to bully us into compliance to her will was as successful as a car with square wheels.

We had to put a stop to this onslaught of evil coming from this vessel of religion. In the stunned silence, we packed. We knew we had to leave. The people who came to The Mission that morning had watched this whole encounter and were also stunned. We left the building and walked down the street. I turned back to Yvonne, smiled and said “Thank you for letting us stay the night,” then turned and walked away. It had been a momentous battle and we bore the scars of the ‘nail’ along with those from Dana.

As we left, it started to rain, so we went to a little gazebo down the road, where we could stay dry. We stayed there a little while trying to decide what to do, as well as process the altercation with religion we had just endured. It had certainly been a discombobulating day so far. After the rain ended, we continued on our journey. We travelled along the road until we came to the Detached Locks on the Rideau River. There was an area there where they allowed tents. We tried to inquire if there was any fee to stay there, but the staff had already left for the night. I pitched the tent just as the rain came back. Thankfully we stayed dry, but we were sure exhausted. The night was peaceful, but I could not sleep. I slipped out of the tent and went to talk with God. The second of the ‘nails’ had been painful like the first, and I could not understand what was going on. It felt like we had targets on our back and it was open season on us through religious people. God comforted me and finally, I was able to find rest that night.

The next day, June 13, Wanda talked with the park ranger about our tent. He said that there was a fee for camping, but that he would not charge us for the previous night. However, if we stayed another day, we would have to pay. Since we had no money, we knew we had to leave that day. God had gone before us to get a place to stay for free. By requiring a fee to stay another night, when we had no money, we could see His lead that we needed to move on.

We packed our tent and gear then headed to another gazebo to rest and dry the tent as it was still wet from the night before. It was still sprinkling off and on, so we decided to stay under the gazebo for a bit. Soon enough some people from The Mission joined us. They had watched the altercation the day before. As we talked, it became clear that they were not impressed with Yvonne’s condescending religious attitude either. They encouraged us greatly as we talked. Their humble, simple attitude was refreshing and helped ease the pain we suffered. It was like a cup of cold water offered in Jesus’ name.

After they left, we decided to hit the road, since the weather had cleared. It was a long walk to the outskirts of town. We got many stares, but we didn’t care. Our little troop had put on many miles and were numbed to the displeasure of others toward us. We would stop occasionally, as we always did, and rest our weary muscles. It was at one of these stops, by the side of the highway late in the afternoon, when a car stopped and a lady asked us if we needed a lift. We accepted readily and went as far as she was willing to go, which was Portland.

As we rode in her car, we found out her name was Gwen and that she worked at a nearby car dealership. She had watched us walk past on the road as the other staff made rude remarks about us. Gwen did not seem to care about what other people thought and wanted to help us. We were very thankful for her spontaneous act of kindness. It was a good thing that God had led Gwen to stop for us, for we passed through a massive thunderstorm that surely would have soaked us through, had we been walking.

We eventually arrived in Portland, where she dropped us off at a small park, called Hannah Memorial Park, right beside a beautiful lake. Gwen said she would be back the next day to take us to her place so we could do laundry. Portland is a very small town, but very quaint. As we pitched our tent for the night we saw a lady next door who was outside. We engaged her in conversation to let her know we were travelling through the area as missionaries and would be tenting in the park. Strangers are scary in small towns and we did not want her to be scared of us.

Later, a man came down to the park and introduced himself as the town manager. We were not looking forward to this, as we feared we might be asked to leave. Surprisingly, he was very kind and sympathetic toward us. He gave us permission to stay there and a key to a local building so we could go to the bathroom during the night. It was a beautiful place to camp as the view was absolutely fantastic and peaceful, plus the reception the locals gave us was very pleasant.

It has always surprised me how some people can be so negative of other human beings and think the worst of them. Yvonne knew very little about us, but judged me to be the worst of sinners because I had followed the lead of God on a wilderness journey of faith. The man who helped us at Hannah Memorial Park was nothing but kind and sympathetic to my family, yet he would be portrayed to us as a grumpy, rude old man by others. We saw this negativity from both ends in this lesson from God. We saw how the evil imaginations of men arise from their arrogant pride and then they speak out lies that destroy others. How many times had evil rumors gone out to destroy us; I wonder? Yet each time God found those that decided to ignore the rumor, persevered to get to know us personally and offered us kindness. Every time someone helped us they nurtured their own soul. God saw their acts of kindness and will remember to reward them.

[] Chapter 66 – Long Walk

June 14 to 16, 2014 – From Hannah Memorial Park to Crosby

The morning of June 14 was glorious. The sun was out and we could see the lake before us; resplendent in hues of green and blue. Despite the fact that we had been sleeping on hard surfaces for the last month, we could still appreciate the nice weather and beauty around us. We had settled into a routine where anything could happen and usually did. As battle hardened veterans of the road, we took what came in stride. We knew God would always provide His manna for us.

As we were getting ready for the day, an older woman, named Hettie, came down to the park with some breakfast for us. We gratefully received the delicious food. Hettie was a colourful person, with lots of stories to tell. She was kind to bring us breakfast and was generous in her offers. She let us know about an empty lot by her house. She thought we could camp there and not be disturbed. Hettie mentioned this because she said the man that managed the park we just tented on was grumpy and rude. We knew this not to be true; but we did not contradict her. This gossip, however, would eventually underscore all of what Hettie would tell us. She would listen to gossip and gossip herself. She would also lie when it was convenient which we would find out later. Even so, she was kind to us and wanted to help. I believe she was genuine in all of her proffered kindness.

After Hettie left, Gwen, the lady who had brought us from Smith’s Falls the day before, came by to take us to her house. She had promised us the day before that we could get our laundry done at her residence. It had been many days since we had enjoyed clean laundry, and we were anxious to have fresh clothes. Kind offers like this went a long way to lift our spirits during our faith journey. Gwen lived with her boyfriend in a remote area north of Portland. She had a dog that Milo was very interested in, but the dog was coy towards him. We were able to get some drinks and enjoy being inside for a little while. Our time with Gwen was very pleasant, and we shared our missionary journey with her.

As we sat there talking, Milo suddenly started acting funny and lost all control of his bodily functions. We had never seen him have a seizure before. We did not know what was going on. Fear had a face for us and it was our pets. Since losing our 3 birds, our dog, cats and the kittens, we were all too aware of the frailty of life. We prayed hard for Milo’s safety. Milo had saved our lives when we were in the woods, and now we went earnestly into prayer for his life. In all our journey, I cannot remember a time when we felt so helpless. We loved our dog and it was hard to watch him suffer in a full blown seizure. It was absolutely horrifying. Thankfully, after about 10 minutes, Milo started to come around. He slowly regained his strength and motor control. Within a few minutes he seemed to be back to his normal self; but the episode had scared us silly.

After this event, Gwen took us back to the park in Portland where our tent and belongings were left. Milo’s seizure had sobered all of us. It was decided that it would probably be best not to take Milo on the road again until after we knew if he would have another episode. With this thought in mind, Wanda and I walked over to Hettie’s house to ask permission to tent in the empty lot by her house. Hettie did not have authority over the lot, so she could not grant permission. She offered us her backyard to tent for the night.

Hettie was a gracious hostess. She let us share the comforts of her home. I set up the tent in the small backyard, as Wanda, Ida and Fanny went inside to spend time with Hettie. Hettie lived alone with her two Chihuahuas. She said she had Lyme disease which affected her as well. Wanda noticed a picture by Akiane called ‘Prince of Peace’ on Hettie’s mantle. That was an instant connection for Wanda. Akiane’s painting of Jesus is the most realistic portrayal of our Lord and Wanda was surprised to see it displayed in Hettie’s house. The picture opened up a huge conversation between Wanda and Hettie. Hettie was eager to learn about Jesus and the walk of faith. She was still a fairly young believer, but was very hungry for God. Hettie called her spiritual mentor, Keith, to come over to meet us. Keith had been a philanderer in his youth, and had once chased after one of Hettie’s daughters. This did not please the family, and soon after Keith departed. After some time had passed, Keith was said to have ‘found the Lord’. He once again entered Hettie’s life under vastly different circumstances. A platonic friend with deep spiritual understanding; so she said. Keith came over that evening and brought Kentucky Fried Chicken for supper, which we all enjoyed immensely. He also gave us $100 willingly and without any request from us; as was always the case. Despite all the lies that were spread about us; lies that we stole, begged or asked for money without repayment, we never did these things. Not once. Ever.

After dinner, we had a long conversation with Keith and Hettie about spiritual topics and what we had learned on our journey. It was clear to us that Keith was not as mature in the Lord as Hettie thought he was. It was arranged that night that Wanda and I, along with Hettie and Keith, would attend Keith’s church in Brockville for the Sunday service the following day. Eventually the evening wore on, and we got tired. After saying goodnight to Hettie and goodbye to Keith, we went to sleep in the tent.

On Sunday, June 15, Keith arrived to pick us up for the church service. We drove to Brockville and arrived as the service just started. As we sat there, the worship leader talked about the Israelites being in the wilderness and how they had lived in tents; as mentioned in Hebrews 11:9. It was a stunning confirmation to Keith and Hettie that God was indeed leading us. Keith turned to us and said that he had never heard that spoken in the church quite like that before. Once again, God’s impeccable timing smacked down the lies of the enemy and confirmed our journey of faith. We were surprised, but not surprised. Too many times God confirmed our faith walk to us; but it always came as a surprise to those around us. Real true faith is a very rare thing.

After the service, we talked to the man who mentioned the ‘living in tents’ in the service, and shared that we were also currently living in a tent. He shook our hand, but did not pursue what we said. He was deaf to understand how God’s rhema word had spoken through him. Hettie introduced us as missionaries to the pastor. He was clearly not interested in us and was more absorbed in his building program. After the service, Keith and Hettie treated us to hamburgers and drinks. As we drove back, Keith told us that he had a home in Smith’s Falls. He said we could live in that house. I thanked him for his kindness, but declined his offer. I explained that God was leading us forward and we had already passed through Smith’s Falls. In our faith journey, we never went back after going forward. There was only one time where there was an exception.

After we returned to Hettie’s place, our family decided that we should continue on our way. Milo showed no further signs of any issue with the seizure, and we did not want to be a burden on Hettie or her resources. With the decision made, we told Hettie we would be leaving in the morning. Hettie did not want us to go, but respected our decision. That night, she let us sleep in beds in her house. After a month plus on the ground, the beds felt incredibly good for one night.

The next morning, we got our gear together, said our farewell to Hettie, and started walking out of Portland. We stopped at a local gas station to get some more water and a little food; it was a long walk ahead. As we were resting, Hettie came by with her daughter Mary. Mary gave us $40 and wished us well. Hettie was all tears. She gave us all hugs, and made us promise to call her that night to let her know we were safe. Goodbyes complete; we were off.

The next town, Crosby, was 7 kilometers away. That would normally take us only 2-3 hours to walk on foot; but with a 90-pound pack and a dog to handle, I walked more slowly. The ladies also walked slower and slower. The heavy loads became harder to bear. Many times on our journey, people gave us things that they thought would help us; and we appreciated the kindness. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this kindness was that we had to carry more and more. As the number of belongings increased, so did the weight. All of that took a toll on our bodies. I significantly damaged my back carrying the heavy pack that day. Even though Jane was so kind to buy it for us, it meant that I could carry more; so I did. I was trying to keep the load on my daughters to a minimum.

After a long arduous journey, we finally arrived in Crosby at dusk. We were tired, sore and without humor. We traipsed to a small park at a crossroads to see if we could set up our tent. We approached a lady to query and as I was there, Milo began to sniff her. She was very offended at this normal dog behavior, and rudely told me to get my dog away from her. I did. Stung by her sharp impolite comments, we left her company immediately. A little further down the road, right by the highway, we saw an area where we thought we could pitch our tent for the night. I set up the tent and immediately Milo snuck in, curled up and went to sleep. Poor dog was so tired, he skipped dinner to sleep. We managed to get ourselves in the tent, but there was little room for our gear as well. It had rained on us earlier in the day, but we managed to cover ourselves with a small tarp. Now we were concerned that our gear might get wet during the night. We left it outside and tried to cover it as best as we could.

With all that done, the tiredness of the day overwhelmed us. It was the longest, hardest stretch of highway we had covered in our whole journey. I called Hettie on the cell phone we had bought in Ottawa to let her know we were safe. That done, we ate a little cold supper. We went to sleep exhausted on that hot summer night.

[] Chapter 67 – Third Nail

June 17 to 22, 2014 – Hettie’s house

It is incredibly easy to miss the lead of God in any situation. We had first learned to describe God’s lead as a silver thread when I read about it in George Macdonald’s book ‘The Princess and the Goblin.’ It was an apt description of how fine the lead from God can be. Sometimes it is visible and can be clearly seen; while at other times it is so fine you can only feel it as you move forward. This had been an apt description of His leading since we left P.E.I. and we used that term often. At times we would miss God’s lead altogether, for different reasons. Sometimes we would be in such an addled state emotionally, the silver thread was indistinguishable. At other times we had determined in our hearts that we had to go in one certain direction which was not where God wanted us to go. In St. Stephen God had warned us not to leave prematurely, and when we did, He had to bring us back. Now that we were in Crosby, on this muggy June morning, God wanted us back in Portland. Thankfully, He had a plan in place to get us back on track.

God never told us to leave Portland. We just decided to leave since we did not want to put any pressure on our friend Hettie either financially or otherwise. God, however, had His own plans and that included putting the third ‘nail’ into us. Not that He is cruel, but there was a lesson we needed to learn and a battle that had to be fought. After a brief respite, the battle with religion was about to continue. Before this could happen though, God needed us back in Portland. As with Dana and Yvonne, it would to be the ones who were very kind to us that would drive in the third ‘nail.’

We took a long time getting started that morning. After a long hard walk, and then a night on the hard ground, our muscles ached and screamed at us. The cacophony of muscular creaks, guttural groans, otherworldly moans and general words of vexation filled the tent as we roused ourselves for the day. We were ill-prepared for another day like we had the day before. Slowly we got out of the tent and faced what was ahead.

As we ate and then brushed our teeth, a car stopped near our tent. It was Hettie and she had brought us a box of oranges to eat, which we readily accepted. She told us that she had cried all night as she thought about us and was determined to bring us back to Portland. After we had a few days’ rest she agreed to drive us to Kingston. With that in mind, we decided to go back to Portland with her. We piled our gear and ourselves into the car then drove off.

There was a woman, named Karen, who lived near Crosby and was a good friend to Hettie. Hettie decided to take us to see her while we were in town. Karen also knew Keith but they had a falling out in the recent past, as Keith had explained to us. We drove into Karen’s yard and as we stayed in the car, Hettie spoke to Karen. Just then, the lady from Crosby who had been very rude and unhelpful to us the day before, pulled up behind us in her car. She also knew Karen and had come to visit. She came up behind Hettie’s car and saw us inside. She then said to Karen, “Those people don’t like me.” We had met rude people on our journey before and she was right, I did not like her. When people see only themselves, as this lady did, they are unkind to the less fortunate and that is not good. We can forgive the person, but if the bad behavior does not change, then they will continue hurting others. God’s perfect timing was there when she saw us, so she could understand the visual lesson God was giving her. Even though we said nothing, the message was clear.

Once the visit was over, Hettie drove us back to Portland and we settled into her house. We were to stay until Monday June 23, when Hettie would then drive us down to Kingston. It would be a long week, but at last we could sleep in beds, take baths and eat regularly. In many ways it was like putting a spoonful of sugar in a bottle of arsenic.

The week we spent at Hettie’s house was reminiscent of the time we spent at Daisy’s cottage, the year before in New Brunswick. Once again we were near a lake and had some free time to relax. Ida and Fanny spent many hours working on their artwork. Wanda spent many hours in prayer and talking with Hettie about the Lord. I preferred to be outside. I did some yard work for Hettie, cleaning out shrubbery and other general chores that I could do. The rest of the time, I chose to spend down at the lake, fishing. It was a relaxing time, as I had not been fishing for years.

Soon after we arrived, Hettie took us to Smith’s Falls, where we were able to stop by and say “Hi” to Gwen and let her know where we were staying. That same day, we bought some food and a small tent with the money we had been given. We felt the small tent was necessary to house our belongings at night, when we were on the road. The main tent was just too cramped for us and all our gear. Hettie was not happy that we bought the tent. Later in the week, Gwen did come by to say “hi” and chat with us, which made us glad. It was a pleasure to see her again.

Keith came by one night and we all had a long conversation about spiritual things. Sometime in the conversation, Wanda mentioned the horrible article that had been written about us when we were in P.E.I. and how the gossip and rumors had dogged us on our faith journey. Later, we talked about some of our health problems when Keith decided to pray for us. He said he had been given a gift of healing and wanted to help us. He did pray, but his prayers fell as flat as a Baptist sermon at a rock concert. Nothing happened.

On Thursday, Wanda was invited to a Bible study Keith and Hettie attended. The discussion at the study came to the walk of faith. Wanda mentioned the difference between the rich man mentioned in Luke who balked at giving up all to follow Jesus and Abraham who left everything to follow God’s leading to the land of Canaan. As Wanda was talking, she noticed Keith’s face redden as he became apoplectic. He did not say anything, but it was clear that something had changed.

The atmosphere in the house had definitely cooled towards us by the end of the week, but we did not know why and no one came to talk with us. Hettie stayed away more and more. On Saturday, however, we were invited by Hettie to visit her daughter Mary’s restaurant. It was a peaceful evening and we enjoyed the time we spent there. It was the last enjoyable time we spent with Hettie and her family.

Sunday came and we opted not to go back to the church Hettie and Keith attended, for we saw little point in spending time with religion. By the time Hettie got back we got the distinct feeling we were about as welcome as lepers at a nudist colony. It was decidedly unpleasant and we were glad to leave the next day. That night, Ida and Fanny stayed up late. This displeased Hettie and she threatened our daughters that if they did not quieten down they would be walking to Kingston. Our daughters did not tell us about Hettie’s threat until the next morning. They were very scared that they might have done something that would cause more hardship for us. It was a terrible thing for Hettie to do, especially when she had been so kind to us initially. Their sleep that night wasn’t very good.

The time we spent with Hettie was a set up for us. It enabled us to watch up close how someone can be on the surface so pleasant, but after a time their real nature comes out. It is called hypocrisy and everyone has it to some degree. What we found was that the only difference between people was how long it would take for their ‘self’ to be offended and turn on us. Some took a day and others took longer, but it always happened. Every person that tried to wear the white hat and rescue us inevitably stumbled.

These people stumbled because they only saw us with their physical eyes and not with the eyes of spirit. They could not see that we did not need to be rescued, for we were in God’s perfect loving care. They could not conceive of a God who would actually allow His servants to suffer hardship. They did not understand the path to maturity and God’s desire that His children become wholly dependent on Him in faith. This was a gospel that was foreign to them, as their religious leaders did not want them to have faith. Religious leaders want people working so they can get money to keep building their empire. Faith has no place in their thinking, even though they use the word. Real faith, true faith, threatens religion and all it stands for. This was a problem we saw time and again across many groups of people who tried to rescue us.

Hettie was no different. What we could not see at the time was why this was happening. We could clearly see the poison working its way into our connection with her, but we did not know where it was coming from and why. It was only after we left Hettie’s place that the reason would be made very painfully clear to us. It would be a very devastating ‘nail’ to endure. That ‘nail’ almost broke us all.

[] Chapter 68 – Out of the Frying Pan

June 23 to 25, 2014 – From Hettie’s house to Lacey and Doolittle’s house

Monday June 23 found us in the beds at Hettie’s house after a fitful night. Even though the day and house were warm, the atmosphere felt cold and distant. Hettie’s kindness had evaporated like mist on a hot day. Ida and Fanny told me that Hettie had threatened them the night before and I was stunned. I endured much hardship for my family, but anyone who came against my daughters would have to reckon with me. I was not happy with Hettie. Despite this, we all had to get to Kingston that day, so I did not confront her.

The last time we had left Hettie’s, she had been a puddle of tears and did not want us to go. This time, her heart had been hardened and she sounded as if she did not care about us. Such a reversal was not new as we had seen it many times before. We had met many who had repented of their good works toward us, when gossip and rumor spoiled the developing fruit of kindness. On this day, however, we had to endure the empty hypocritical speech until we were dropped off.

It was a long drive before we arrived in Kingston. At first, we were not sure where to be dropped off, since we had never been in Kingston before. Hettie drove around the Queens University for a bit, but no area seemed right. At one point, she was talking with a person outside the car and said she was just dropping off some ‘hitchhikers.’ That stung deeply, for it wasn’t true, but Hettie would lie when it suited her. We had gone from being beloved missionaries to a bunch of hitchhikers in a little over a week. The betrayal angered me even more, but I said nothing.

Frustrated by Hettie’s continual driving around Kingston and stung by her caustic reference, I asked her to drop us off at a nearby Tim Horton’s. The neighborhood looked bad, but I was so ready to be rid of this woman who had turned on us, I just wanted us out of the car. We stopped and got out despite her protestations that she could drive us somewhere else. I was sick of her hypocrisy and just wanted her to go so I said we would be fine. Once we were unloaded, we said thank you and goodbye. She got a coffee at the Tim Horton’s and left. No tears then, no protestations of love of any kind, just goodbye. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Now that we were free from Hettie, we had to navigate a new city once again. I could tell we were all getting very tired from our wilderness wanderings. It wasn’t just the physical fatigue that was against us – the mental and spiritual fatigue was also catching up. After Dana, then Yvonne and now Hettie, we had enough of religious people. We did not realize that the last ‘nail’ still had to go in farther.

We found that the road we were on, Princess Street, led straight through Kingston and out the other side. Since we did not know where to go, we just kept walking down the street. We stopped at a picnic table to rest for a while, but then kept walking. No one bothered us at all and we never talked to anyone. By the end of the day, we had come to the intersection of Taylor-Kidd Boulevard and Princess Street. There was an empty lot where we thought we could pitch our tents for the night and not be disturbed. Nearby was a Tim Horton’s, where we could get some hot drinks and something to eat with the little money we had. After the sun faded from the sky and darkness crept in, we pitched the tents under an old, large tree. We tried to put the puzzling episode with Hettie behind us and went to sleep.

The next day, June 24, we rose early and brought down the tent so as to avoid detection from the police. Each of us had a chance to get refreshed at Tim Horton’s and after we were suitably ready we started walking down Princess Street again. Since Princess Street is entirely businesses, we walked by without being harassed. We stopped for a long time beside Kingston Gospel Tabernacle and bought a little food from the Freshco store. It was a nice place to rest. Despite what had happened to us, we still tried to be kind to any passers-by. After our rest, we kept walking. By late afternoon, we saw a McDonalds and decided to rest there for a time.

Ida took her computer into the restaurant to check her email and was shocked to find a very brutal, nasty email from Keith that absolutely shredded our family. Ida sent a sharp rebuttal to Keith’s absolute farce of an email that was filled with so many lies and innuendo. Fanny came out to me to tell me what had happened. I was shocked and outraged. Fanny watched Milo, as I went in to the restaurant to find out what was going on. I checked my email and sure enough, Keith had sent his vile filth to my email as well. In his email, Keith basically said we were evil people that preyed on others. Taking the religious moral high ground as if he were some noble knighted saint, instead of the lecherous, jealous, manipulative hypocrite that he was. I would not let this affront to our family’s reputation go unanswered and told him exactly what he was. I also let Hettie know that her friend was this kind of a person and what he had said about us. At that point in time we could only surmise that he read the article about us from P.E.I. and thought the unfounded accusations against us were true. We did not realize that it was much worse.

Needless to say, the ‘nail’ went in extremely deep that day and wounded us mortally. As the emotional dam burst, the anger and frustration from the past month washed over us in waves. It was hard to think, for all the emotions that kept pounding at the gates of rational thought. We had to stay for quite a while and talk out the garbage that came at us that day. The depth of treachery we had to deal with was unbelievable and it broke us. We needed to keep walking forward, however, as there was no place to camp where we were. As we walked, the sky seemed to reflect the darkness in our souls. The clouds became turbulent and dark, threatening rain. It was as if God was mirroring what was going on inside us. For all that had happened, we could not understand why God was taking us through this much betrayal again and again. It was all too much.

After walking for another hour we found an area by the side of the road where it seemed ok for us to pitch our tents. There was a large sports park across the road and I was reasonably sure no one would bother us. We pitched both tents just as it started to rain and we managed to get inside before getting too wet. It was warm though so we knew we would not be in any danger.

We talked for a long time that night about what had happened and we were all very confused. Why did this happen, God? Why are you allowing us to suffer so much in this place? June had been the toughest month of all as those ‘nails’ went in. We did not know what would follow but we feared the worst as we drifted off to sleep.

The morning of June 25 came soon enough and we were in no mood for walking. We did not move around for a long time. Eventually, the ladies decided to walk back to McDonald’s to get something to eat and to check on what happened with the emails. I was in no mood to go that day, as depression and physical pain overcame me so I stayed behind with Milo. I tried talking with God, but I did not hear much. After a long while, the ladies came back and shared what had happened. It appeared that Hettie replied to my email. She basically stood by Keith and what he had said, saying that we were false and took advantage of old people. The ‘nail’ reached its destination and I was devastated. This last blow did it for me. All the betrayal and hardship had been too much. At that point I did not care if I physically died on the road, as my heart died that day.

I took down the tents, organized our gear and we began the long walk back into the wilderness. There was a massive storm on the horizon coming at us, but I did not care. It had all been too much for our besieged little troop. The enemy had bested us with unkind, hurtful words that discouraged us more than mortal blows ever could. We walked the dusty road through a swamp that stunk as much as the emails Keith sent.

At one point, a man from a nearby business offered us a cold drink of water and we were thankful for the offer. It was the first time someone from the Kingston area offered us any kindness. Just down the road, as we approached a small church, a van stopped ahead of us. I wanted nothing more to do with people that ‘helped’ us. I was so very tired of their treacherous betrayal that I could not stand to be around another person. Wanda went and talked with the lady in the van and her son. They wanted to offer us a ride to the next town which we very reluctantly accepted. After all that happened, I was not eager to be in that van. The lady said her name was Lacey and her son’s name was Eugene. She said she was the pastor of the Wilton Standard Church, she had Lyme disease and that she owned Chihuahuas. Knowing that Hettie had Lyme disease and Chihuahuas, our family looked at each other in desperation and sheer terror. Never in my life have I wanted to jump from a moving vehicle as much as I wanted to that day. We were trapped like mice in a snake pit.

Lacey was surprised to see us but when she did she felt the Spirit tell her to pick us up. She told us that she did not normally take the road we were on to get home. Her initial plan had been to take a nearby highway, which would have been much faster, but due to an accident, the highway had been clogged. Wanting to take another route, she took the route we were on and therefore saw us. To her, God had arranged it all. We had to admit that this was how He had provided for us before and could not argue with the lead. We did not approve of His choice that day but we could not disavow His lead.

Despite our overwhelming misgivings and red flags going up like a brawl on a soccer pitch, we persevered. Lacey did not drive us up the road and let us off as we expected, but drove us all the way to her house in Wilton. We were being kidnapped against our will. Lacey lived in the parsonage beside Wilton Standard church with her husband Doolittle and daughter, Alice. We did not know it then, but this would be the place where God would allow us to ‘hang out’ to die. After the nails went into Jesus, He was lifted up on the cross to hang and die. Now that the 3 ‘nails’ had been driven into our hearts, God had brought us to this place to finish the work. Our battle with the safety net/trap of religion would end here.

Thankfully, Lacey and Doolittle were gracious and kind hosts. They fed us a large supper that night and then allowed us to pitch our tent in the backyard. Later that night, Wanda went to the church, where they were having a Bible Study. The elders prayed for her and gave us $100. Even though it had been a brutal and confusing day, we were very thankful for the kindness as we went to sleep.

Every wilderness is different and I cannot speak to what others have experienced. God helped us understand our wilderness with two main images. One was the Israelites leaving Egypt and the other was Jesus’ journey through to his death and resurrection. Both were very powerful images that helped us to understand what God was leading us through. The fact that we see the parallel in our experiences with that of Jesus the Son does not elevate us above any man. We are just like everyone else. On our journey, we saw the ‘self’ nature and failings in ourselves many times. But as we experienced the raw unfiltered pain from the treacherous betrayal of others, it helped us understand what Jesus went through for us. It developed an empathy with Him and understanding of His agony. For that I am thankful. The bitter cup helped deepen our intimacy with God and others who have walked in the same true path of faith. If I had to do it all over again, to gain the same reward, I would do so readily. He is worth every sacrifice we could ever make for Him. The pain and suffering is never greater than the reward of Jesus.

[] Chapter 69 – Into the Fire

June 26 to July 31, 2014 – Wilton Standard Church Part 1

After the three ‘nails’ from Dana, Yvonne and Hettie/Keith, we were very much in emotional disarray and did not know what we had been brought to. Little did we know then that this time would be like the sour wine given to Jesus when He was on the cross. It would take some time for the storm to break and the crucifixion to reach a crescendo but it would, as surely as the sun rises and sets.

When we had been at Hettie’s house, Ida had a strange dream. In this dream, our family was tenting in the backyard of a family. This family was holding us and would not let us go. We did not know what the dream meant at the time and so filed it away for future reference. Now that we were tenting in the backyard of a family with the last name of Holden, we were understandably concerned.

On June 26, we gathered our gear and were ready to leave for the next town. We did not want to stay in Wilton and especially with a pastor. We had too many bad experiences with religion and knew what would happen. As we prepared to leave, Lacey and Doolittle talked to us and said we were like the Apostle Paul. They also said that they did not think that God wanted us to leave them so soon. I was not so sure, but when I saw the tears in Lacey’s eyes I knew we had to stay. They were right that God wanted us to stay, but I was wary about this assignment because of Ida’s dream.

In the last days of June, we were shown great generosity and kindness by Lacey and Doolittle. They fed us and allowed us to bathe in the house. Doolittle arranged for a tent trailer for us to sleep in, but it was decrepit and broken. We then slept in the VBS room in the basement of the church building until alternate arrangements could be made. One elder, named Damon, had a large trailer that he said we could use but it was old, wrecked and needed some work before we could live in it. Damon said he was just going to scrap the trailer anyways so he gave it to us to use for our stay. It was towed over to the church one day and repaired by myself and Doolittle who was a carpenter. Doolittle wasn’t working at this time, so he had time to complete the work. We would stay in the trailer until October 16.

We settled into a routine fairly quickly. Wanda cooked and cleaned at the church and house. Ida and Fanny spent a great deal of time alone with their artwork. I did what I could. It did not take us long to figure out that Lacey had some pretty severe emotional issues. Our time at Elijah House and what we had learned from God on the road would be needed to help her. Wanting to be as helpful as I could, considering the generosity offered, I began to counsel Lacey.

Life was not all work and we had many pleasant hours of rest. Doolittle would occasionally take us out on his boat for recreation. We spent a few times at the lake fishing and relaxing. It was nice to have some quiet time after our long, arduous journey. We also met Lacey and Doolittle’s friends Steve, Don, their pastor friend Bill and others; as well as Lacey’s mom and dad. Lacey went away for a retreat early in July, but when she came back she told us that she had bragged to her friend she had her own personal apostles. It was an error I had to correct – and an ominous sign of what was to come.

Walking many miles with heavy backpacks had done some damage to my back. Some days, the pain was absolutely unbearable. Thankfully Doolittle had a good chiropractor and his union paid for all the care. I went to see the chiropractor and he was very kind. He saw what the issue was, fixed me and did not charge us for the visits I needed to make. He said because of the injury I had sustained I would not be able to carry a pack for at least 2 months. We were not at all unhappy with that prognosis. It was a sign from God, in His perfect care for us, that He had given us a place of extended physical rest, even as we were about to enter into spiritual turmoil as the crucifixion progressed.

Most of the people at Wilton Standard church were kind and generous towards us. Some, however, did not take kindly to us being there. Damon, the elder, was kind and took time to get to know us. One day he and his wife Ermine, who was very sick, invited us to their cabin. We had a great day on the lake. Ida and Fanny enjoyed catching fish. It was an idyllic time; the calm before the storm.

Not long after we arrived, I discovered that Dana had posted some very vitriolic slander about us online. It became clear to me that this was what Keith and others had read and believed about us. This was slander of the most egregious sort that I could not tolerate. I was absolutely livid at the lies. Both Lacey and I posted comments refuting the lies that Dana had posted. We petitioned the P.E.I. newspaper to take down the article where the comments were and even tried to obtain a lawyer to counter the slander. The newspaper removed the offensive comments, but did not take down the article. I contacted the church I knew Dana was now attending in Kanata, and Aidan at Nepean Baptist, to warn them about Dana’s duplicitous nature and slander. Aidan seemed less than sympathetic and said it was none of his business. These ‘nails’ were there to stay.

Day after day, issues in Lacey’s life were being uncovered through our counselling. Lacey and myself went through many layers in her life, as we discovered that she had disassociated as a young girl. It was tough to do that much counselling one on one and very unwise of me, but I wanted to help this woman who had been kind to us. Her disassociated past made it difficult to get to the truth. We spent most days digging together for the deepest emotional roots. I did not see the danger signs that Lacey was beginning to use me as an emotional crutch. Our time together rightly concerned Wanda.

By late summer, Doolittle and Lacey were required to attend the local Bethel Holiness Camp as a part of her job description. We were invited to come to the camp, but not really anxious to be that close to religion. Lacey had her own agenda and did not like some people that were at the camp. We got drawn into this mess. One day, as we were preparing for the camp, I was left alone cleaning one of the buildings on the camp grounds. While there, God spoke to me about the sin in the camp that had been committed. He wanted me to lead the opening prayer and to speak out against the sin. It hovered in the air over the camp and had not been repented of. This was not an assignment I relished, but had to obey. The feeling was like watching a 2×4 being swung at my head. I knew it was going to hurt, just didn’t know how much.

The day came when we arrived for the camp opening. Lacey got permission for me to lead the invocation. When it was time, I went to the podium and stood nervously before this crowd of old Wesleyan, religious faces. I bowed my head and prayed a prayer that ripped open the sin of the camp and poured out the slime before them. The prayer exposed the sins of gossip, rumor mongering, sexual sin and everything else God brought to mind. Then I prayed that a heart of repentance would fall on the camp. That people would sincerely turn from their sin and pursue Him. I was a spiritual defibrillator for the Great Physician at that moment. I opened my eyes and there was nothing but a shocked and stunned audience. The spiritual jolt did not bring these people to repentance. It took the worship leader a few minutes to recover, but soon enough they shook off the somber words of the Lord and started their hypocritical worship. From that moment on, I was a marked man. Daggers were in the eyes of many towards me, as I had dared to challenge the demon of religion in his stronghold. It was determined we would not escape unscathed.

The camp lasted a week and was spiritually dead. Afterwards, we went back to our daily routine at the Wilton Standard church. I knew that it would not take long for the enemy to stir up the rumors, lies and slander. Gossip swirled around this rural community like a dust storm on a hot prairie day. As the fallout from the opening prayer was developing into a tempest, Lacey’s boss got involved. Payne Ridge was the district superintendent of the Wesleyan church in this region around Kingston. Payne could best be described as an elegant, soft spoken jellyfish. One morning, God woke me up very early and had me write a letter to Payne, outlining my background with Canadian Bible College and the former dean, Trevor, who Payne knew. In this letter, I gave Payne facts about myself that he could easily verify. I sent him the letter and he did check the facts. Just after Payne got this letter, a couple of people came to him with the slander they had accumulated to get us evicted from the church property. With the letter and facts in hand, these people left Payne’s office thwarted. God’s perfect timing, once again, with precision, stymied a major enemy attack against us.

Just a short time after this, we got a strange phone call. Wanda tried to reach the phone, but the caller hung up before we could answer. The caller was Trevor. Twice before we had refused Trevor’s tempting offer to renounce our life of faith and travel back west to a job, car and apartment. Once again, God’s timing blocked a threat from being hurled at us. There would not be a fourth time.

The battle with the giant of religion was now engaged. We now would be thrust into the next phase of this conflict.

[] Chapter 70 – Battle with Religion

Aug. 1 to Oct. 16, 2014 – Wilton Standard Church Part 2

The days of summer passed in Wilton with more counseling and some conflict. At one point, Lacey had a temper tantrum about something of no consequence and I withdrew from counseling her. I would not reward her bad behavior. As I sat in the trailer with Wanda, Lacey came from the side door of the church. She and Doolittle wanted to talk with us to resolve the conflict. I left the trailer and as I followed Lacey, I saw a snake in the grass. It was the only time I saw a live snake on that property. It was an ominous sign from the Lord about the person I was helping. We did resolve the conflict that day, but I was quite strict that I would not tolerate childish behavior and temper tantrums. They agreed to not do that again and we reconciled.

As the counseling continued, we finally came to the deepest root of Lacey’s issues of disassociation. As we uncovered the various personalities, we found they all had one thing in common; sexual abuse by her father. It was a stunning revelation. Many weeks of daily counseling were required to uncover this wound. I was surprised to find out later that another respected pastor in the area, Moody, had also counselled Lacey. He had concluded that her supposed abuse was only false memories. The desire to cover up and hide family sin was strong in this area. His dismissal of her memories, however, only added to her trauma. Once the abuse was exposed, I had no choice but to report it to Payne and Bill. They were aware of and blessed the counseling effort. After I let them know, we all agreed that Lacey needed to take a sabbatical from preaching to heal. Any further counseling would need to be taken on by other professionals. Lacey left to visit a friend.

With Lacey gone, I had to confront Lacey’s dad with the revelations of his sexual abuse. It would not be an easy confrontation. Bill was with me the day we all met. Bill was supportive of Lacey and fully believed the allegations of her dad’s sexual abuse. As we sat in the room, I recited the events Lacey had given me to her shocked parents. I had memorized the facts from her memory, so they could all be verified. Lacey’s dad was not happy. He attacked my credibility and my personhood, but I would not back down. I was not angry or unkind, but I was firm that he should face what he had done. He never admitted to any wrongdoing. We parted with our differences. I would not back down from the memories that I was entrusted with and he would not back away from his innocence. I had stuck my thumb in the eye of this family and had made yet another enemy, as I tried to help Doolittle and Lacey. This wilderness journey of ours had taught me how to burn bridges with amazing skill. It was no wonder one of the rumors that followed us was that we had burned a house down. It seemed that through my actions, God was hanging our family out there for the whole area to see – and we were beginning to stink in their eyes.

Life at Wilton was decidedly more unpleasant after these revelations. Comments about by-law fears, kept us wondering if we would be forced to leave. People at the church began to be less friendly as gossip and rumors started spreading. We did have one friend who understood us though. Don had been anonymously supporting us throughout the summer. One day, we had a chance to talk with Don at length. As we talked, we discovered that where Hettie had dropped us off in Kingston was right by where Don lived. It was clear to us then that God had been leading us to Wilton all along despite the battle that we were having with religion. Don loved to give Bibles to people and he bought us two brand new Amplified Bibles. It was a tremendous gift, since Wanda had given up her Bible 2 years earlier. We were overjoyed at this generous gift. I made short work of reading through the entire Old Testament.

With Lacey gone, we were without a great deal of support at Wilton Standard church. Lacey had been our staunchest defender, but now was absent. Her pastor friend Moody was asked to lead the church in her absence. Moody prided himself on being humble. It was an odd combination. I spotted the hypocrisy fairly soon and after one Bible study, I had a ‘discussion’ with Moody. It was clear we did not see eye to eye on issues of faith. In his pride he looked down at me as someone to be pitied. I looked at him as one who needed to have the plank taken out of his eye. After this dispute, Bill became involved to see if we could sort this difference out. Bill had given me high commendation after the affair with Lacey’s dad, so I trusted his impartiality as a facilitator. He was still a pastor though, so I feared he would take Moody’s side. Moody spoke first and laid out his intellectual reasoning for why I was such a problem. I countered with “Moody, I think you have pride.” His answer came back faster than a fat man to the dessert table; “And you would be wrong!” I told him that this was merely my opinion. My assault had wounded his pride and therefore confirmed my diagnosis. Things did not go well after that, but we both agreed to not make this disagreement public.

Sometime in September, after Lacey had returned, Damon also came back to Wilton. He had spent much of the summer away from Wilton, as his wife was sick. This had been a grace to us from God, for unbeknownst to us, Damon was the church boss. When he returned to Wilton, Damon heard the rumors and all that had happened. He was not pleased with us and was hell bent on having us evicted. The problem was that along with the naysayers in the church, we had people that stood up for us; people that knew we had tried to be kind and helpful where we could. This meant that Damon had to build a case against us and turn the elders of the church into a pack of ravenous wolves baying for our blood. He started in earnest as soon as he returned.

One night after a Bible study, the church board was to meet. We all knew that this meeting was one occasion where Damon was going to launch both barrels against us. Wanda and I attended the Bible study as Moody led. It was yet another intellectual farce and I could not stand the vacuous discussion that was about as powerful as a punch from a new-born. The time with Moody was so frustrating, for he said he loved God, but totally disregarded the walk of faith we had been on. His idea of holiness came from a book and not the Lord. At the end of the study, l closed my Bible and left. Wanda stayed for a bit longer. Later she found me at the parsonage. She was angry at me for leaving her at the Bible study. I felt trapped. It seemed like the whole world was against me and now even my wife was against me.

Internalizing all the hatred and enmity coming at me, I left. I had no idea where to go so I just walked in the dark along the highway. Angry and alone because of this situation God had put us in, I just screamed out my frustration. In trying to bring truth to the church, I was being skewered and I could not see why this was happening. I was terribly confused as to how people could say they loved God with their lips and yet be filled with lying. A church member I had helped earlier lived in a nearby town, so I walked to his place and asked to stay the night. I was in bad shape. The next day, Wanda came and found me. It was a brutal discussion, until we both realized that satan was trying to tear us apart so we would not continue our faith journey. The backlash from the invocation prayer over the sin in the camp was now producing fruit.

We learned later that the demon of religion is systematically opposed to relationship and will do anything it can to destroy marriages. In this battle, we had engaged the giant demon of religion head on and were not prepared for the subtlety of his attack against our marriage. It took a huge toll on us that day, but we recovered. We recommitted to the battle and the journey of faith we had started many years before. Even if the people at Wilton Standard church threw us out, we would still be faithful to God and not back down from the battle.

Late in September 2014, just before Rosh Hashanah, God gave me a significant dream for Doolittle and Lacey. The dream was an unflattering report card from God as to how He saw them. He was giving them this report card at the head of the year, for that is when we pass under the shepherd’s rod of God’s judgment. This was an act of mercy from God, so our hosts could repent. When I gave them the dream and the meaning of the dream, they both ignored it. They were angry at us again for another perceived slight and it was only when we assuaged their feelings, that things returned to normal. It was a worrying sign of events yet to come.

As the days began to get chilly, it was clear we could not continue to stay in the trailer. Lacey wanted us to move into the parsonage to stay, but the house was not suitable. Doolittle and I made a small living area in the basement where Wanda and I could sleep, bathe and rest. Ida and Fanny took a spare room upstairs. The work progressed quickly and soon it was ready for us. We moved our belongings over to the parsonage on October 17. The next day, Damon came with a truck and took the trailer. We believe he deliberately sold the trailer he said was junk and didn’t want so we wouldn’t have a place to stay. Thanks to God’s checkmate, we had already moved therefore it was not an issue. We have often seen where the enemy had planned something evil for us, but God had a checkmate already in place.

[] Chapter 71 – Will You Repent?

Oct. 17 to Dec. 13, 2014 – Lacey and Doolittle’s House

After many days of staying at Wilton Standard Church in a trailer, we were now safely ensconced in the parsonage. For 113 days we had spread the message of our faith journey to the church. Now our battle with religion was reaching its climax. The demon giant of religion had tried to tear our family apart and destroy us whatever way it could, but we would not be cowed. We had stood up to the hate, gossip, rumors and slander with truth and we were not about to back down. Through it all, we hung out there, like Jesus on the cross, for people to stare at and vilify. It was terribly unpleasant but we had to bear it, for this was the will of the Lord. I was angry at the hypocrisy, duplicity and treachery done in the name of God, but I could not stop what was being done.

We were no longer attending any of the services at Wilton Standard church, for they proved to be such a farce we could not stand it. As the elders held secret meetings about how to remove us from the church parsonage, we had a study with Lacey and Doolittle and shared with them what we had learned from the Lord. Our two families held together even as the elders, church and extended families hurled curses and abuse at us. The vitriol was reaching a fever pitch while we waited for the final spear thrust to finish us off.

On day in November, Payne and Bill came to the house. This was no polite visit, no meeting of the minds, no casual encounter. Payne was here to deliver the final death blow himself, to save the cowardly elders from having to face their foe. Payne had been totally swarmed by the pressure of the enemy and even though he knew we were helping Lacey he chose to crucify us. In quiet somber tones, he simply told us that we had to leave. There would be no change in that decision, but we could discuss it if we liked. He had given us a direct command and then had the absolute gall to offer us the opportunity to talk about it. I was stunned by his complete callousness of heart. He shut down any conversation before it could even start and then suggested we could discuss it. I wanted to expose his spineless lack of leadership right there, but chose not to. This was a district superintendent of a major denomination throwing a homeless family out into the winter cold. There was no way for him to put a positive ‘spin’ on his treachery. Payne then completed his humiliation of us by throwing out a sop that was as vacuous and spineless as he was. The sop was that Trevor from Calgary would pay for bus tickets for our family to return west. There wasn’t even the remotest consideration for our bird and dog. I was livid at the calculated inhumanness of this religious leader and could see, at that moment, what the hearts looked like that sent Jesus to the cross. I stared at pure evil in the face of Payne. Evil that did not care about human life, but only about religion. I looked hard at him to memorize that face. If I ever get to bear testimony about him, it will be the most damning testimony of calm, intellectual cruelty I have ever had the displeasure to witness. This man of religion should receive the same mercy he showed us. This was the final spear thrust from religion.

After that most cruel of announcements, Lacey piped up with an announcement of her own. Stung deeply by the betrayal of her boss, to the principles he claimed to live by, Lacey quit. Payne was shocked but did not show it. The elders had so calculated their hand they thought Wanda, Ida, Fanny and myself would be leaving with our tails between our legs and the elders would get Lacey back as their pastor. They were wrong. Payne accepted Lacey’s resignation and that turned the tables on the board, for they now had to give Lacey and Doolittle 30 days to vacate the parsonage. The elders lost all power and leverage once Lacey resigned. By standing with us, Lacey and Doolittle lost their standing and position in the church, but saved us from another cruel episode outside in the winter. They had wanted us to move with them to a rental house in Kingston. This family we had helped would be taking us down from the cross and from their hands, we would be placed in the tomb.

Now that Lacey was without a job, new income had to be found. Our family applied for social service assistance once again to help us all out. Wanda, Ida and I started looking for jobs. Now up to this time, I did not have the leading or the capacity to get a job. Now that we had references and a stable address, we could finally look for work. Eventually, Wanda and I both found jobs at Staples, but we would not start until after the move to Kingston. Those jobs would represent our fourth and final battle with the safety net/trap of business. It was the one giant I was least wanting to fight, but it would be a far less violent battle than the one we were having with religion.

A rental house in Kingston was found, but it needed a little work to make some new bedrooms’ downstairs, before all 8 of us could move in. This was done by Doolittle after work and on weekends. As he fixed up the rental, the rest of us began the long arduous process of packing and moving. It would take us many days to finish. Even after we moved in to the rental house, there were still belongings being brought over. Our own possessions had also increased over the past 7 months. We all became excited for the move and what God had before us. None of us wanted to be in the hell that was Wilton any longer.

One cold Sunday morning, after the treachery of the elders, Wanda and I were out walking Milo. As we came back to the parsonage, we met two of the elders that, for some odd reason, wanted to talk to us and shake our hands. They wanted to make sure we didn’t dislike them. I think that they were trying to assuage their guilt for their treacherous and duplicitous behavior, which they knew was wrong. One of the elders made a point of saying to me that he did not speak evil of me at any time during the secret board meeting where the elders unanimously conspired to throw our family out in the middle of winter. His mental contortions and moral sleight of hand to justify his treachery to me were as impressive as Bill Clinton’s. It was clear they knew what they did was wrong. However, they had no spine to stand up against the demon of religion in Damon that had a vendetta against us.

The final act in this drama with religion played itself out on one cold winter night in December, just before we moved from Wilton. With unbelievable audacity, after conspiring and coordinating a deliberate attack to throw us out, Damon came by to make peace. Doolittle, Wanda and I went outside to meet him. Damon basically wanted to hug and make up. This was the gist of his agenda. He foolishly assumed in his simple world that he could just behave like a spoiled brat to get his way and everyone would just be ok with it. I was stunned by the boldness of Damon’s hypocrisy and inability to understand the egregious nature of his inhuman cruelty. After letting Damon talk for a bit and understanding the purpose of his visit, I took out and polished my spiritual sword, then stepped forward. With little preamble, I asked him if he repented of what he did in getting the elders to vote to throw us out of the parsonage. He evaded the question, throwing out red herrings like candy on Halloween. I took none of the bait and pressed home the attack. For the first time, I was able to confront religion face to face and I was not about to back down. I pressed Damon even further whether he would, or would not, repent. With his anger now lit, he was finally going to tell us the truth. He said that, “No, he would not repent.” In his mind he did was he thought was right, protecting ‘his’ church and ‘his’ pastor. He did not see the demon behind him, patting him on the back and saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” The conversation was over for me. Damon was living for ‘self’ and God had nothing to do with him. He was merely a puppet for the demon of religion. Once I saw that, I did not need to see any more. He still claimed to follow Jesus as I did. My parting words to Damon were that we both can’t be right, so God will have to judge between us. With that, we went into the house to warm up. Soon after, a call from another elder to have a coffee with Lacey, was rescinded. Their little plan to subvert our walk of faith had been foiled. We had enough of their betrayal.

[] Chapter 72 – Ice House

Dec. 14, 2014 to Feb. 19, 2015 – Walker Court

As winter wrapped its icy grip around us, our two families moved into the house at 874 Walker Court in Kingston on December 14, 2014. It had been a long year for us, as we had come from Ottawa and walked straight into the jaws of religion. There had been fierce, pitched battles in June, then a steady onslaught of merciless attacks since July. Now all that was over. We had bested the safety net/trap of religion, not by might or power, but simply by refusing to quit.

Many years earlier, in Sherwood Park, God gave me some cryptic words. They were, “In the day of evil, stand.” I did not understand it then, but I understood His words clearly now. The battles we had faced with family, then government and now religion were won with one simple tactic. Stand. Nothing more was required. It was as simple as not backing down from faith in God, when the assault came at us. As long as we did not capitulate to fear, worry and doubt, but held fast in faith to God, we would be victorious. Our secret was that we never gave up, we never surrendered. The enemy had lost when he could no longer make us move when he threatened.

Now even though that sounds easy, it is anything but. Never underestimate the subtlety and craftiness of the enemy to find your every weakness and exploit it. It is what he is good at. Whenever he found a weak spot in us, we would crumple like a piece of paper. It took every other member of our team to help the weak one stand in faith. We all fell, we all got back up again and again. Over time we began to be thankful for these weaknesses being exposed. Each time we could then repent of our sin and ‘self’ would die. The very attacks satan launched to kill us actually made us stronger. The enemy lost power over us because each time he attacked we would turn to God in faith. This was the principle we learned in the wilderness that kept us going. We would need it for the next safety net/trap for the last one is the most insidious and pervasive of all.

The giant of business was our next battle and this one had a completely different strategy than religion. The assault of religion was sharp, violent and divisive, but the assault of business is more like Chinese water torture. The demon of business erodes faith with the unremarkable mundane ordinariness of life. It kills faith slowly and steadily by moving a man to trust in his own ability to make money, rather than trusting in God for his daily bread. With each day of going to work and earning a paycheck, the reliance in God and His provision disappears from thought. The daily routine of work replaces faith with each passing moment. There is no room for God and faith in business, for man simply trusts in other men for what he needs. It is a slow death of faith, of forgetting about God, until one day a crisis comes and man realizes that all he has trusted in has disappeared and he has nowhere to turn. It was into this desert that we were now placed. The enemy would now attempt to squeeze faith out of us by the steady pressure of business.

Shortly after we moved into Walker Court, Wanda and I would both start part-time jobs at Staples and Ida would become a part-time barista at Starbucks. Staples only hired Wanda as a ploy to get me to work and she was unceremoniously dismissed in January. I, unfortunately, was stuck in the gristmill of Staples for 2 more years. Once we started, the daily routine of shift work, the unrelenting pressure to perform, began. It was such a shock from the life we had come from, I can scarcely describe it. I hated every moment I was trapped there. However, I had to endure for the season God had chosen for us.

Living with Doolittle and Lacey started off well in the parsonage, but now that we were away from Wilton, things began to change. It seemed that as long as we were at Wilton, we faced the common enemy of religion. The attack against one of us was an attack against us all, so we could resist together. Now that we were at Walker Court, we no longer had a common enemy and satan began to destroy the relationship we had. He was very crafty and knew the ‘self’ nature in Doolittle and Lacey very well. God had shown it to me on Rosh Hashanah 2014. Their ‘self’ nature was not pretty. Doolittle had a huge amount of pride and Lacey wanted to go back to sleep spiritually. Despite all that we had done for them, nothing would stop their relentless pursuit of ‘self.’

Despite these warnings, Lacey and Doolittle still wanted us to live together in the rental house. We had little choice, since we were so invested in them. We did what we could to make this thing work. When we first set up the house, we set up a joint banking account to pool our incomes. We also set up the utilities and insurance as joint accounts as well. The attempt to do things together was shared by all and we sat down to figure out how to make things work. Doolittle and Lacey had a great deal of debt, and Wanda and I knew that we had to retire that debt just so we could afford to live. Since I had experience in what was required to pay down a large debt, I explained to them how we could do this.

By their very nature, debts will grow and not shrink, unless one makes a determined effort to pay them down. To pay down any debt requires discipline. That is both a physical and spiritual principle. Discipline is not easy, for it requires sacrifice. Sacrifice requires that the ‘self’ nature give up control. If one is not willing to sacrifice, then debt will never be repaid. Unfortunately, Doolittle and Lacey loved their ‘self’ natures and would rather destroy others, than to sacrifice ‘self’.

Doolittle and Lacey were very generous people, as we experienced when we first arrived, but their generosity was at other’s expense. They were generous to us, not through sacrifice, but by debt accumulation, which they saw no problem with. For them, debt was a part of life and was just a small annoyance to be handled. Debt was like halitosis, it only affected others. Wanda and I both knew, however, that debt was a major problem. If not dealt with, spiritual or physical debt was a string that satan could pull on at any time to make one dance. We had learned that lesson years before. Now I approached Lacey and Doolittle’s debt with the same determination; to eliminate the threat it posed to us all. With our resources all pooled, we organized a budget that would pay all our bills, supply us with what we needed, and service the debt.

At first, Doolittle and Lacey agreed to this. They said with their lips that this was what they wanted, but their hearts were rebelling. It did not take long for problems to surface. Doolittle continued his furtive trips to the store to buy overpriced snacks to feed his ‘self’ nature. He used food as a comfort and we quickly began to see how much of a god it had become in his life. We learned that Doolittle would rather destroy us, than give up any of his snacks. We had touched his sacred cow and he was not happy. Doolittle, however, was a coward and would not talk to anyone directly about this. He would pout, sulk and withdraw. He was regressing to what he learned in childhood. If he was sullen, he would get what he wanted. His behavior was cunning, manipulative and immature. I would not give in to his pouting. To us, the debt was a far more dangerous beast than their ‘self’ nature, but both of them had to go, or we would.

The tension between our families increased over this one issue. One day, Lacey and Doolittle came to us and said that our financial arrangement was not working for them and they wanted to split households. I wasn’t sure how to do this, since our incomes were intertwined, but agreed to what they wanted. It was the beginning of the end. They spent less and less time in the house and weren’t talking to us. At one point, the washing machine broke. Doolittle did not tell us what he planned to do with it and since we did not know when it would be fixed, we took our laundry to a laundromat. Later Doolittle blew up at Wanda for not trusting that they would get the machine fixed, even though they never told us what they were doing. This was the kind of asinine behavior that frustrated us so much

The communication had ceased and anger was simmering below the surface. We were not angry at them but very frustrated with their childish, immature behavior. We do not reward bad behavior, so we retired to our rooms and kept to ourselves. Wanda found it more difficult and was reacting to the flesh. The house was ice cold in spirit at this point; winter had found its way indoors and into Doolittle and Lacey’s hearts.

Ida’s birthday was on Feb 16, 2015 and Doolittle had earlier made a promise to us that they would take us out for her birthday. This promise, of course, was made before our situation had deteriorated to the point where we weren’t talking. Now Doolittle prided himself in keeping his word. It was a god to him that he had to worship. Even though things were frosty, he summoned the courage to talk with me and invite us to dinner. I think he expected that we would decline due to the situation. I was not about to do that since we held no animosity towards them. However, we were quite frustrated that they were getting angry and not talking with us. That day our family already celebrated Ida’s birthday with sushi as we suspected Doolittle would not follow through with his promise. Now that we accepted the offer, we drove their van over to the restaurant. We sat down together and Lacey put on her fake smile and pretended all was well, making nonsensical small talk. Lacey was always careful to put on a good face when around others, even if it was hypocritical. Doolittle sat at the side table sulking and not saying a word. He looked exactly like a little boy pouting because he didn’t get his way. For a grown man to exhibit such childish, immature behavior was shocking to say the least. I wondered why he even bothered to invite us when he was behaving so badly, but then I remembered the god he had to worship. Doolittle so valued keeping his word he would do anything to fulfil it; even if he had to pout, sulk and have a temper tantrum to get through it. That dinner was such a farce I am surprised we even finished our meal. I was determined, though, not to sink to the same childish behavior Doolittle was exhibiting.

Once the dinner was over, we went our separate ways, arrived at the same house and retired to our respective rooms. This experiment in living together had failed, for Lacey and Doolittle were unable to face their flesh and subdue it. It was a sad end to a relationship that could have been very fruitful and long lasting. God, however, knew what this family was like and had warned us months prior. In the end, God wanted us to see up close what happens when we bring the message of the eternal cross into a person’s life, and how they ultimately react to it. For good or for bad. It took us 8 months to get to the root of what was in the heart of Doolittle and Lacey, and when we did, they decided their ‘self’ nature was more important than us.

[] Chapter 73 – Burial

Feb. 21 to 21, 2015 – From Walker Court to Caitlin Crescent

February 20, 2015 was a normal cold, icy day inside and outside of 874 Walker Court. There was no indication of the storm that was about to blow up out of nowhere. As I got ready to go to work, I went downstairs. Lacey was quietly reading in the living room. With words that had frost dripping from them, she asked me for the receipt folder that was in our room. She wanted it back in the kitchen. You could cut the civility with a knife. I went and got the receipt folder and told Wanda about Lacey’s icy request. I had enough of this frigidity. I was about to have it out with Lacey and confront her about her attitude.

Wanda and I both went downstairs. Wanda asked Lacey why she was so angry with us. Her reply was that they did not feel they were equal partners with us. Somehow, in their pride, they thought that we should just accept their immature, selfish ways and treat them like they were our equals in spiritual growth. Now we don’t think anyone is above or beneath us. Scripture admonishes us to think soberly of ourselves. We had spent many years putting down our own ‘self’ nature and we had little desire to coddle someone’s flesh. I tried to explain this to Lacey, but her heart was closed. I then put her to the question. I asked her if she wanted us to leave. Her answer was yes. This was a far cry from the summer before, when Lacey was deathly afraid that we would leave her. With that answer, we knew we had to go and told her so. She said we could stay, but that we would have to pay rent. She had turned from friend to landlady in an instant. Now we were nothing more than a business transaction. Her words were as heartless and cruel as Payne’s had been. Haughty hostility had taken over her heart. We had no intention of staying in that house a single minute longer.

Quick as a wink I went downstairs, and told Ida and Fanny we were leaving. We all sprang into action, having been through this drill many times before. When people wanted us gone, we left immediately. I think the quickness of our action stunned Lacey, but I never bothered to ask. Wanda and I drove over to my work and let the general manager of the store know we were in a crisis and I needed the day off. He was very understanding and let me go for that day. We got boxes and tape and then went back to the house. Wanda and my daughters took time to search online for rental suites, while I started packing for the move. Later, we went out again to social services to let them know about our move. At the social service office, we found a notice for a rental that suited us since we found very little online. We then went back and quickly put all the packed boxes, bird and dog into the van. Everything the Holden’s gave us and everything that reminded us of them was left behind. We wanted nothing to do with their betrayal. All that we had worked through and gave them, they had thrown it away like trash.

By about 2 PM, we had packed up everything we owned and loaded it into the van. Lacey came downstairs one last time and said we could have the van as long as we needed it. I scoffed at her vacuous magnanimity. I was going to use the van whether she liked it or not; but I did say thank you. With that we left, and all were relieved to be out of that cold, icy grave. Rigor mortis had long since settled on the corpse of what friendship we had with the Holden’s. None of us were sad about leaving.

Now that we were outside in the cold again, albeit temporarily warm in a van, we wondered what God had for us. We had little time to wait. God already had a plan of action. We went over to one house that had been advertised at social services. At 1130 Caitlin Crescent we met with Denise who was the landlady. She showed us the basement suite that was for rent, but was a bit reticent about renting it to us. As far as we were concerned, it was perfect. It had a filthy kitchen, poor plumbing, no private entrance, no private mail and no independent thermostat; but it was not the Holden’s and that suited us just fine. We said we wanted the unit, but I was waiting on another offer, from a friend at work. We could not finalize the rental that day. After a good deal of discussion, it was agreed that Denise would consider us as renters. We would confirm that the next day, unless something else happened.

It had taken less than 6 hours from the time we confronted Lacey to the time we had a new apartment. 6 hours. That is a record that has not been surpassed for us. God moved our entire family, with all of our belongings, our bird and dog from one home to another in just 6 hours. The setup and arrangements that God had to put in place astounded us. It made for yet another testimony of God’s goodness and His impeccable timing. Even as Lacey and Doolittle thought they had us trapped, God had given us an escape. After our battle with religion, it was a stunning move of God confirming our walk of faith.

That night we needed a place to stay, so we opted to rent a room at the 7 Oakes Motel. I had wanted to disconnect from Doolittle and Lacey as quickly as possible by returning their van to them. We unloaded the van, and then dropped it off at their house by 5 PM. I left the keys inside since I never wanted to see them again. Their betrayal, after 8 months of kindness and relationship, cut deeper than any knife ever could. With Lacey and Doolittle behind us, Wanda and I walked back to the motel. It had been a full day, but we were finally free.

When we arrived back at the motel, I had to sit down and just sob. The day had been another emotional upheaval. I had to let it out. I did not understand Lacey and Doolittle’s betrayal of us, after all we had been through. Thankfully God gave us comfort. He told me two things that night that were very important. First, He let our family know that Doolittle and Lacey would have their flesh as their reward. He was making it clear to us that we had done what had been required, and it was their ‘self’ nature that had destroyed the relationship. The ‘self’ nature cannot dwell with spirit; they are mortal enemies, and are bent on destroying one another. The second thing God said to me was His promise. He said that, “We would never have to move like that again.” It is a promise I cherish even to this day.

That night my daughters and I went out to get pizza for supper; relieved that we were no longer in the icy house of death. As we walked in that cold winter air, we saw pillars of light shooting up to the sky. It is an extremely rare weather phenomenon that can happen in Canada, and it happened that night. We took that as yet another sign of God’s leading us. This time it was as a pillar of light.

A strange thought occurred to me after we had settled in for the night. I felt quickened to check the joint checking account. We had recently put $500 from Ida’s pay into the account, and I thought it would be wise to withdraw at least half of it, as we needed the cash for the rental. When I looked at the account, I was shocked to see it empty with only five dollars left. Lacey had drained the account and had stolen all our money without even saying a word to us. The woman I had spent so many hours of my time counseling, and had stuck my neck out for, was nothing but a common little thief. Thankfully, what she stole from us God had every intention of replacing through other means. He just wanted us to see what kind of a person she was and what drove her. Deep in Lacey’s heart, money was her god.

The next morning, I got dressed and went to work early. I was not sure what would happen to my family that day, but I knew I needed to complete my shift. We were now dependent on my income. The arrangement for alternate housing from my co-worker from Staples had fallen through, and so Wanda called Denise. Denise agreed to take us on as renters. God had once again provided us with a home, but this time through nothing less than a miracle. Thankfully one of my managers at Staples, Jessica, loaned us her car. Wanda, Ida and Fanny moved our belongings over to the new place. Once that task was done Wanda returned Jessica’s car, and walked back to our new apartment.

After my shift was done, I had to walk the 4 kilometers to our new home. Snow was falling heavily as I trudged wearily through the drifts that covered the sidewalks. My heart was heavy from all the pain I had suffered, and I was unsure of what I would find when I arrived. After an hour of walking, I approached this new house on foot. It felt odd to walk up to this strange house and open the door. As I wearily descended the steps a smiling Wanda opened the door, and welcomed me to our new home. Fanny had found on old soup pot, and she made a fantastic soup for all of us.

That first night we all just sat on the floor of what would be the master bedroom. There was no furniture. The basement suite was almost completely empty; with the exception of our few meager belongings scattered on the floor. This basement suite would serve as our tomb, until God chose to release us. We were all very happy to be away from the Holden’s, and to be by ourselves once again. We felt free with our autonomy and independence returned to us. During our time with the Holden’s we all felt like their personal slaves. When you are poor the rich lord it over you, and we felt that with them. It made Lacey’s claim that they did not feel equal to us even more laughable.

After a long day, we spread out our blankets and slept on the floor. It took a little getting used to after sleeping in beds for most of the year, but none of us cared much about that. It was so good to see God taking care of us again and seeing His provision and timing. We were just thankful and relieved we had finally found peace in our living arrangements.

[] Chapter 74 – The Tomb

Feb. 21, 2015 to Feb. 21, 2017 – Caitlin Crescent

God had finally placed us in our tomb. This dark cavern underground, our basement suite, would be our resting place over the next 2 years. Our wilderness wandering was at an end. No longer would we be ‘out there’ walking in faith, testifying of God’s goodness and care to others on a daily basis. Now we would have to patiently endure our joy sucking jobs as the demon of business attempted to snuff out our faith in God. There would be no need to trust in God for provision in this place. Ida and I worked, received a small stipend, and we were able to stay housed and fed. In the business world there is no need for faith. There is no reward for faith. Those ‘wise’ religious leaders said that having a job was the pinnacle of existence. We knew that this was nothing more than a faithless death; a nightmare from which we could not escape. This was the tomb.

One of the first things of note about our new home was its location. When we first arrived in Kingston, on June of 2014, we tented. The last night of tenting, before we met the Holden’s, was by Princess Street opposite a nearby sports park. That park is called Woodbine Sports Park and it is huge. If one walked from Princess Street across the park one would come to Woodbine Ave. Our new place was just on the other side of Woodbine Ave. When we would take Milo out for his walks, we would often cross the road and walk in Woodbine Sports Park. God had brought us full circle and our tomb was just a stone’s throw from where our wilderness wanderings had ended.

When we first arrived at Caitlin Crescent, we did not have the money for first and last month’s rent. Lacey had stolen it from us. Thankfully, we were able to get the exact amount Lacey stole from social services so we could stay housed. Once we were safely inside, and paying rent, we had to get a little furniture. One manager at Staples let us borrow an air bed for a time, so we would not need to sleep on the hard carpeted floor. It took a while, but we managed to find used beds online for the whole family. Staff at Staples helped out where they could. We received a table and chairs, cookware and cutlery from them as well. We were also able to afford a cheap used couch and chair at a local thrift store, thanks to the kindness of a local charity. Later we bought a couple of lamps, and other sundry items. Our landlady, Denise, let us borrow some other tables that were of use. It was a long process to acquire stuff for the apartment. We never did make enough money to pay for anything beyond the basics. It was a far cry from Alberta where I would, at times, make over $30,000 a month. Here we were living on less than that in a year. This was still God’s manna.

We managed to arrange for Internet access, and I used the router we had purchased for Walker Court to extend wireless access throughout the house. We let our landlady have our Internet access for free, as a gesture of good will. Recycled electronics came from Staples, and I managed to get us computers, cell phones and a tablet. I was amazed at what electronics were being thrown out. Perfectly good laptops, desktops and hardware, that just needed a part or two or a software fix, were available. With my background in computers, I was able to build up a complex electronic system in the house for little to no cost.

One day I felt led of God to go to the local thrift store. Once there, I saw two pictures of the garden tomb in Jerusalem which I knew God wanted us to own. I bought them, and they hung over our bed as a somber reminder of exactly where we were in our journey. The picture of the tomb was very poignant for us, as it seemed everything around us had died.

God told me that, unlike Ottawa where our flat was a ‘base camp,’ this tomb was to be our home. We would be here for some time. There were no laundry facilities in this tomb, so it became a weekly struggle to get our laundry to a laundromat. We found one close by that had just been purchased by an East Indian family the same month we arrived at our new place. Wanda had to spend a lot of energy carrying laundry back and forth every week. She got to know the manager of the laundromat, Kalima, quite well. Kalima’s family, over time, would be of very great encouragement and help to us.

Food was also hard to bring in because of the weight. We were limited to carrying and Wanda could only bring so much home in a backpack. As time went by, we were able to buy a cart to haul groceries in; and eventually I was able to afford bussing for Wanda. Basic living was still a chore, but over the next two years it became a bit easier. We never prospered in the tomb, and there was still the odd hungry day or two, but overall we ate pretty steadily. We still had to call on the food bank from time to time when Staples cut my hours back. Even though I was a part time worker, I usually got full time hours. The hours were never guaranteed however, and we were always left wondering if there would be enough each month. God was making sure we always had the manna we needed; although we could not see that through the filter of business that puts so much effort on ‘self’ reliance.

We met a few people, but nobody we met wanted to be with us long. We kept to ourselves and did not venture out much except to do laundry, purchase food and the occasional trip out for miscellaneous items. It was a tomb and therefore there was no life to it. It was merely existence. The wilderness wandering tested our physical survival with lack, while our spirits were helped; the tomb tested our spiritual survival with lack, while our bodies were helped. It was a different kind of wilderness we now found ourselves in. No longer were great amounts of conflict coming to test and try us. It was mostly just dull day to day life. On one hand we were very thankful for the rest from all the conflict; but on the other hand we missed the sweet intimacy with Jesus we had when we were “out there”. It was a hard place to be in.

Since this was the tomb, nothing prospered for us. Faith was no longer required as an essential for life for I worked, got a paycheck and we had enough to live. According to religion, I was now happy and fulfilled doing my dutiful role as a husband and father; selling my soul for a few shekels so we could stay housed and fed. We were no longer outside the box, but now were following the crowd; doing what everyone else was doing. According to religion and society, all was as it should be and happily ever after. This was not our reality. Deep inside the hunger for God and to follow Him, to rest the entirety of my being on His provision, was in turmoil within me. I could not reconcile where He had put us with what we had come through. It was a struggle I would have to face every day.

Both Ida and I would rise early, work long shifts at our jobs, and come home. Ida’s job would end in June of 2015; mine would not. The daily grind at Staples wore me out. 5 or 6 days a week I would spend 9 hours a day just talking with people. I hated it. Selling electronic garbage to people is like standing on a bed of broken glass as someone slams a 2×4 in your gut; while angry wasps sting every part of your face. Yes, it was just loads of fun, and had all the appeal of 4-day old road kill. Despite the ongoing misery I had to endure, I managed to find a way to not compromise my entire walk of faith. I was determined to only tell the truth as I sold things. If a certain item was garbage, I let the customer know this. I also helped people understand how the technology worked, falling back on my background as a teacher. Somehow I managed to be the top salesman selling over $500,000, in 2015 alone, which was almost double the other top salesperson. God’s blessing followed me, even though I could not see it.

I had friction with a manager, named Aaron, early on during my time at Staples. One day I was in the tech area having a discussion with 3 managers, when all of a sudden Aaron started yelling at me for no reason. I stared him down and said, “Why are you yelling at me?” That seemed to disconcert him and he eventually left. I did not talk with or trust Aaron for a long time after that. I refused to reward bad behavior by giving my friendship to someone who lacked such self-control. It took a long time, but slowly Aaron won my trust and eventually a mutual respect arose between us.

The one manager that had been so kind to me at the beginning, Jessica, turned out to be an arrogant, bossy young woman, who cared only about herself. She pretended to be concerned about others, but it did not take long to discover that there was little room in Jessica’s heart for anyone but Jessica. I had dealt with her kind many times before. By November of 2015, she had so infuriated me that I wanted to quit. Before sending me home early, from a fight that she started with her arrogant bullying attitude, she had threatened to report me. The next day I called the general manager, and told him that I was going to quit. He did not want me to do that, and called me to come into his office to talk it over. He listened to what I had to say about Jessica, and told me he would deal with it. Sure enough, Jessica backed off. I never had that problem again. I would not tolerate that kind of disrespect from anyone; especially someone so much younger than myself. It was bad enough that I had to endure this hell by selling garbage. I did not need that misery compounded by an arrogant, condescending boss.

The troubles that happened with Jessica, in November of 2015, put a desire within me to apply for other jobs. I managed to qualify for an interview with an insurance company that was looking for a corporate trainer. God had arranged circumstances so I had enough money to buy a suit, and time to schedule the interview. I was very surprised, and thought this might be our way out of the misery we were in. Unfortunately, they did not hire me, and I was left disappointed at the closed door. At least God had given me a new suit, tie and shoes. I did not know how important they would be in the future.

This giant of business we were fighting didn’t come at us with nails and spears like religion did. Instead it just wore down our faith. We felt buried under the mundane, and the excitement of what God had taken us through became a distant memory. This giant took away the hardship and replaced it with the deadly, faith killing, ordinary grind of life and job. This was a new tactic that we had not seen in the wilderness, but were aware of and left behind in Alberta. Business was the one giant I did not want to face again, due to its overwhelming weight and pressure. For 5 years we resisted in the wilderness. Now for two years, we were smothered under the overwhelming bulk of its unremarkable ordinariness. Our faith was dying because we didn’t need God anymore. I worked; we received money; and then we used our sweat to go out and purchase what we needed. The demon of business wanted this scenario. This is the safety net/trap that so many people fall into and never get out of. God had placed us here, and I could not understand why. The giant was winning and our faith was dying. Even though, at times, we could see God was with us, it was not the spectacular timing and provision that we had been accustomed to during our wanderings. It was just more daily manna than we had known in years prior, but not enough to break out with. As long as I was working, we could barely see the miracles anymore.

Thankfully, God was not going to keep us in the tomb forever. He had an answer for this giant called business, and had a plan to deal with it in our lives. We had to endure the tomb for 2 years, before the winds of change would finally come. God was planning to bring this giant to its knees in our lives and prove to us, once and for all, that He was our sovereign Lord.

Starting in June of 2015, Donald Trump started his campaign for the presidency of the United States. We did not follow the election much then, but by December we knew something was happening spiritually. God was bringing Trump to our attention and we knew He was doing something through this campaign. He began to show us that Trump was the man He was raising up for the position of president, but all of hell had been unleashed against his candidacy. We had experienced that kind of attack ourselves, so we could relate to what Trump was facing. We fasted and prayed during 2016, like millions of others, to beat back the enemy, so Trump could be elected. Trump was God’s Cyrus. Wanda joined a prayer line called Joel’s Army to pray for Canada and America during the same time. It was exhausting work, and there were some days we felt faithless. The attack of the enemy was so sharp. God, however, told us that Trump would be elected, and to stay the course we were on. Sure enough, Donald Trump was elected on November 8, 2016. Shortly after Trump’s victory, I again had enough of Staples, and started looking for other jobs. I applied for a gardener job that appealed to me. I had never seen a job like that advertised before. I did not hear back from any job I applied for, and soon forgot about them.

Inauguration day, January 20th, 2017 arrived, and surprisingly I got the day off. We watched Donald Trump’s inauguration from an Internet streaming website, and were very pleased that God’s man was now president. Just as the inauguration finished, I received a phone call. It was about the job I had applied for in December, and would I come in for an interview? We were stunned at the timing of God. Wanda and I borrowed the car of our friend, Kalima, who ran the laundromat, and drove to the interview; which happened to be on a billionaire’s estate. The interview went well, but I found out the gardener job only paid a little more than the job I currently had. I did not think it was worth pursuing. Later I received a call back, and the estate manager wanted to know if I would be interested in the maintenance man position instead. The maintenance job paid almost double the wage I was making at Staples. I accepted the position, and the date was set for my first day on the new job. The date chosen was Feb 21, 2017; exactly 2 years to the day from when we first moved into Caitlin Crescent. God’s timing was once again evident.

God had not forgotten us. Even in the depths of the tomb, where everything felt dead, God still had a plan and purpose for our lives. Though we could not see what God was doing, we had to trust Him. In the dreary cave, He tested us in a different way. The silence of the tomb was deafening at times. It drowned out the still, small voice of the Spirit that beckoned us to faith. As satan hammered us with thoughts of abandonment, and being forsaken by God, the Spirit called us to remember. As we recited the many instances where God had provided for us, our faith was resuscitated. Like early shoots of green poking through the snow in spring, our faith in God and His destiny for us was being revived once again.

[] Chapter 75 – Battle with Business

Feb. 22 to May 3, 2017 – Caitlin Crescent

The final battle that we had to engage in, during our journey of faith, was about to come to its conclusion. The battle with business was one of the longest battles we had to fight. For two years I had worked at Staples. There were no opportunities for meaningful advancement, and neither was I interested in what they had to offer. A minimum wage part-time job has no life for anyone. It simply prevents homelessness, and keeps the worker trapped in an endless cycle of destitution and poverty. Staples was content to just use my sweat for their own corporate greed. What I had learned was that they would not let me go. I was too good of a worker, and they saw no reason to fire me. However, I was dying inside and needed to leave. I prayed continually for God to release me from the never ending hell of sales. When the maintenance position was offered to me, I knew that God had arranged for my escape from prison.

The new job was at Mandalay Estate, 18 kilometers from Kingston, located on 250-acres by the St. Lawrence River. The house I was to care for was a 20,000 sq. ft. ‘cottage’ where the billionaire visited roughly 4 months out of the year. I was to care for the mechanical systems of the house plus the indoor pool, cars and boat. It was a far cry from the lowly tarp in the woods of P.E.I. On my first day on the job, there was a major glycol leak in the boiler room which threw the whole heating system off kilter. It was an ominous sign of how this job would unfold. The change of pace, and being away from people was far more pleasant to me than my job at Staples had been. Early on God told me I would only be at my new job a short time; but in that time His purposes would be accomplished. Fanny even relayed to us later how God had shown her that this job was ‘man delay.’ I must admit I had not seen that when I was first hired for this position.

The owner of the estate was not there when I started the job. I was the third in a string of maintenance people that they had gone through in about 6 months. I was not given full disclosure as to why the other two failed, but it was a worrying sign. The owner was described to me as ‘particular’; a euphemism the employees used to avoid the impolite truth, and keep their jobs. The truth was the owner was an anal retentive nit-picker who wanted everything, and everyone, to cater to his ‘self.’ This was an interesting situation God had placed me in.

When I first started, the estate manager drove me from Kingston to the estate. I had to take a bus ride an hour and a half across town one way just to meet her, and then after work took the same route back. These were long commutes, but since I was being paid more it was not much of a concern. The owner of the estate would be coming back in April, and was very ‘particular.’ There was heavy pressure for me to get a vehicle, and drive myself. We were able to combine pay checks from Staples, and Mandalay to buy a used car on March 15. Nine years had passed since we last had a vehicle we could drive. It seemed as if God was blessing us after all the years of lack. The first day I drove my car to the new job was the worst snowfall of the winter. I hadn’t driven much in 9 years, so it was a rather interesting experience; and another telling sign.

Even though things were going ok, I was concerned by the signs I was seeing. Twice God had to reassure me that He had brought me to Mandalay. It had been so long since I had been living by faith, I wasn’t sure what God was doing. Extinguishing faith had been the demonic tactic of business all along. Once a person gets caught in the treadmill of providing for themselves, it is hard to get off. It is how the whole of our society works. Faith in God is actually an obstacle to a person providing for themselves, so it is forcibly discouraged. As long as a person continues on this treadmill, there is no resistance. I wanted off and to live by faith again; but was torn by not wanting to see my family homeless. It was a trap I could not see my way out of. Thankfully God had a plan.

In early April we had severe rains and flooding in Kingston. The water came leaking into our basement suite where my daughters slept. This had been a continuous annoyance for us since spring started. Ida and Fanny had to vacate their room while we pulled up the carpeting, and made a rudimentary dam out of kitty litter. The water leaking into the basement formed a picturesque little lake, surrounded by an architecturally sound earthen embankment. The water was pouring in so fast, we had to work around the clock mopping and sponging. We had enough of the leak, and the basement suite that day. As God was blessing our family, it dawned on us that we could afford to move somewhere else. We reasoned that it would be wise to move so I would be closer to the new job and spend less on fuel. With this in mind, Denise was told on April 3 that we would be leaving the suite July 1. The leak had simply forced our hand. We didn’t realize this was a setup.

By the end of April, it had become clear to me that the owner of the estate did not take kindly to me. I had tried to fit in, but I am not the best person in the world to have an occupation where the job description involves catering to the ‘self’ of the owner. I was isolated from the other staff, and given assignments that would not meet his demands. Finally, after a tense time, I was let go May 3, with one extra week of pay. Since I had been on a 6-month probation, I had little recourse; so I left quietly.

Surprisingly, my family and I were all really relieved at this. I had been away from them considerably for the past 2 plus years. God had desired to give me a rest. I had no job, limited funds and we had to leave our ‘tomb’ by July 1; but at least we were back to living by faith and trusting God for our provision.

This was how our final battle with the safety net/trap of business ended. I was ‘fired.’ Now being ‘fired’ in ceramics is a good thing. It means the vessel has the glaze baked on and fit for use. Since I was ‘fired’, God was letting me know that we were ready for His use. Too many people had told us on our journey that to simply work for a paycheck is the highest calling of man; regardless of whether or not it destroys true faith. They say this because these people see no value in faith. Working for a paycheck may keep our family indoors and fed, but it does not encourage spirit or life.

By keeping me continually occupied, I had no time to spend with God in His Word and speaking with Him consistently. It was a very depressing time, as the life was literally squeezed out of me. Not my bodily life, but my spiritual life; which is far more important. I have no problem working and providing for my family, but the work cannot compromise my faith. To beat the giant of business, I did not choose to quit; I was kicked out. I stood in the day of evil until I was fired. We had followed God’s lead, and God had seen fit to close all doors; except the one open to Himself.

[] Chapter 76 – Feed My Sheep

May 4 to Jun. 26, 2017 – Caitlin Crescent

In looking back on our journey, we see that God started it with a promise. Twenty years ago He told me that there would be 20 years of training for us. As much as I wished that wasn’t true, He has kept His Word. Training in faith, and development of character is neither easy nor fast. As shown by our journey, faith and character are hard fought for and valuable assets.

God began leading us in a prophetic wedding that showed us and our guests what He was going to do. Many, including our family, missed the clues He gave us. After the wedding, He began the slow process of bringing us down, so we were ready for our wilderness. This included, for us, the loss of all things; except each other. At least we had our health. Once we were ready for the hot blast of the wilderness, God cast us away from society, where we learned to trust Him for our daily bread. Through this, our faith was built and our characters developed. Once we had learned our lessons sufficiently, God then began to train us in how to battle the enemies of faith. After we endured these battles, God set us against the giants. These giants are the 4 systems of man that are promoted as safety nets, but are really traps. These systems are actually headed by demons that are institutionally entrenched to oppose growth of faith in God.

The giant demon that covers family wants to hurt and inflict pain in families. It is the opposite of the family nurture that the Holy Spirit brings. The giant demon of government wants to control and manipulate. It is the opposite of the servanthood in God’s government. The giant demon of religion wants to divide and destroy. It is the opposite of relationship that Jesus desires with us. The giant demon of business wants to use and abuse people. It is the opposite of the giving, loving nature of the Father.

Each of these demons is at the heart of the systems that they control. Each system does their bidding on earth and their one desire is to destroy faith in God. They mercilessly encourage faith in man, rather than in the Uncreated One. In Jeremiah 17:5, God speaks clearly that any dependence on man’s strength is utter foolishness. “Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in and relies on mankind, making [weak, faulty human] flesh his strength, and whose mind and heart turn away from the Lord.” It is clear that God is calling His people to faith, and to entrust their entire lives wholeheartedly to His care.

God had us face each of these systems head on. Each time the choice was given to us to trust in man’s strength over God’s. These were not easy choices, but each time as we said no to man’s system in favor of God, our faith grew. Man’s strength failed us every time; but God’s strength never failed. The battles were hard, but God never gave us more than what we could handle. At all times, He expected us not to ‘fight’ these demons, but to stand in faith; trusting in Him to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. In that way our faith grew in strength, and the enemy was seen for what he is; weak and powerless.

We learned that our biggest enemy was our own ‘self’ nature. Far outstripping the enemy without, ‘self’ is the enemy within that we fight continually. We did not realize until we were well into our journey, that God was trying to kill the ‘self’ in us. ‘Self’ directly opposes God, and encourages us to save ourselves. ‘Self’ has to be destroyed. It took a lot of our energy to stand against the ‘self’ within us that consistently pressured us to quit our faith journey. The only thought that kept us from quitting was remembering the many times God had provided for, and led us. By doing this, we escaped the danger described in Isaiah 50:11;

“Listen carefully, all you who kindle your own fire [devising your own man-made plan of salvation], Who surround yourselves with torches, walk by the light of your [self-made] fire and among the torches that you have set ablaze. But this you will have from My hand: You will lie down in [a place of] torment.”

God led us through all of our trials so that ‘self’ would be removed from our souls, and we then would be compatible with Jesus, without “spot, stain or wrinkle.” Too many want to become the Bride of Jesus without this faith building, ‘self’ killing journey. We need to let you know that this is not possible. God will not wed His Beloved Son to one who still has the ‘self’ nature. The only path to become the Bride of the Most Holy One, is the path through the wilderness. There is no other route, no shortcut, no ‘easy’ way. Our family was sent through this wilderness to prove that the ancient paths are not blocked, irrelevant or unnecessary. Our journey was for others to see “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?” (Song of Songs 8:5) Each person’s wilderness is individually crafted by God, but the end result will always be the same. A Bride worthy of the Son.

On May 3, we finished our last battle with business. For the next month, I had a relaxing time reconnecting with my family. It had been a hard 2 plus years in business, and I was glad to be done with that part of the journey. It was much harder, in many ways, than the hardship we faced when we were homeless. The reason it was more difficult was the monotony of the daily routine that smothered the faith dynamic. Neither situation was pleasant, but we would rather see God move than be stuck in the tomb going nowhere.

God had been giving us signs, dreams and words that something big was going to happen in June. We thought, at first, this might be the resurrection He had promised us long ago. As it turned out, God had one last assignment for us in the tomb. On June 1 our toilet got clogged. It was really, really clogged; and nothing would work to get it unclogged. Since we had dwindling funds from my last job, I could not afford a plumber. I took the toilet outside, turned it upside down and flushed it out with a powerful hose. We finally removed the offending blockage, and I was then able to reinstall the toilet. The visual was a compelling, but disgusting picture of what needed to be done next.

Our story had never been told, and frankly I never wanted to tell it. It is far too private and personal to share in my opinion. God had a different plan; He wanted us to share what we had gone through. He brought forth a divine connection with a lovely lady from South Africa, Christine, who publishes online. From our email exchanges, it became clear God wanted us to give birth to our testimony that we had guarded all this time.

It has not been easy writing down all of what has happened to us. The spiritual turmoil, and raw emotions came flooding back many times as we recounted the memories, and committed them to paper. Wanda and I have sobbed uncontrollably one moment, and felt rage the next. It has been a roller coaster of emotions as we revisited all these places we had left behind years ago. It hasn’t been easy to write all of this. There are so many details I could not include, but the meat of what we went through is all here.

If you made it this far, you can imagine the heartbreak, pain and suffering that accompanies the wilderness. I know it is still very raw for us, and comes out in these writings. Please understand that this is still some of our unhealed emotion flowing out. We do sincerely forgive those that hurt us, and we pray for them. They are afflicted with the same ‘self’ nature we all have, and we can understand why they did what they did. It does not excuse them. They will still suffer the consequences of their actions if they do not repent. We, however, hold nothing against them.

Yesterday, I went out for a walk and asked God why He wanted our story told now; before resurrection, before we are healed. Our story is unvarnished truth, but it seemed too raw for our liking. As I walked the tree lined path in the park, God began to unravel the reasoning to me in His simple, quiet way.

God’s answer to my query was that this testimony stands as a lighthouse to show people the pathway to a bridal relationship with Jesus. He said that if we wrote the testimony after our resurrection from the tomb, we would likely include the great gifts He had bestowed on us. These gifts may cause taint in the reader’s desire to follow in our (His) footsteps. He wanted it made perfectly clear that anyone who chooses to walk the path of faith, must do so with only one goal in mind, and that goal is Jesus. Any other motivation, no matter how noble it may appear, will not survive the harshness of the wilderness, and will shipwreck that person’s faith. We walked through the ‘valley of despair’ to be with Jesus and only Jesus, no more and no less.

If we wrote this testimony from post-resurrection, the pain and suffering of the cross would also be blunted. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us, and somehow over 2,000 years humanity cannot seem to connect with the trauma and suffering He went through. Yet, it is exactly by going through the suffering that we become like Him. Empathy and compassion for our fellow man is gained. We are to embrace His sufferings as much as He embraces ours. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). We can’t sugar-coat the truth. To win the Bridegroom’s heart, the believer must endure the sufferings of the eternal cross as He has.

Today is June 26, 2017. We have $35 left in the bank, and have to leave our basement suite by Friday, June 30. Nothing is packed as we have been busy with this last assignment. The writing and editing of this work has continued since June 1. We have no home to move to, no job, no income, no visible means of support; we only have God, but He is enough. We are at perfect peace; eagerly waiting for God to deliver us. As seasoned veterans of faith, we have seen this situation too many times to be concerned about our future. God will take care of us, just like He will take care of you. He has seen fit to give you this raw, unfiltered account from our hands. It is up to you to decide if you will follow Him into the wilderness to become His beloved. I can only encourage you to do so, and to let you know that He will always be with and provide for you. Will you go with Him?


Wilderness - How to Marry Jesus in 10 Years or Less

The account in Hebrews about the pioneers of faith sounds otherworldly, yet this story of real faith is the record of one family's journey through 10 years of homelessness and trial, as they dared to throw their whole weight upon God's faithfulness, and follow His leading, no matter the cost. Their account challenges one's narrow understanding of the forerunner path and what a price they pay in forging a path for others to follow. As the Bride of Christ looks at the difficult days which lie ahead in an ever-darkening world, these pages provide hard-earned wisdom and encouragement for those who have chosen the narrow path that leads to life. We owe them a debt for walking it - and being willing to share it!

  • ISBN: 9781387116935
  • Author: Homer Les
  • Published: 2017-08-11 17:35:14
  • Words: 146215
Wilderness - How to Marry Jesus in 10 Years or Less Wilderness - How to Marry Jesus in 10 Years or Less