Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Brunswick Adventure

I will never forget the week I spent in New Brunswick—and neither will the people of Alma. Tuesday morning went well. I left Vancouver to lead a Pastor’s Conference, and landed in Moncton at about 8:00 pm EST. After getting my 2008 Impala from Avis, I stopped at Tim Horton’s for a bowl of soup.

Finally on my way about 8:30, I adjusted my rear view mirror. As I did that I accidentally pressed a button, which I soon discovered, connected me to ONSTAR. The lady spoke kindly to me, I apologized for disturbing her and our conversation was over.

At Tim Horton’s I’d pressed into my GPS the address I wanted to find in the small village of Alma on the Bay of Fundy; then checked off “shortest distance”, and I was happily on my way.
It was dark on the road my GPS chose, and cold outside. I’d not brought a winter coat or shoes because I knew my work would be all inside the retreat centre.

About forty minutes into the drive, I realized the route chosen for me by the GPS was a short-cut through an unpaved mountain road, but I was making good time and Beverly (the lady who talks to me on my GPS) seemed to be pleased with the progress I was making.

As the snow got thicker on the road, I did wonder where I had gotten myself; and before I knew it everything was white under my car and all around me. I hadn’t passed another car or seen a house in the past thirty minutes—and by then I was carefully balancing on a snow track not more than ten feet wide. But I couldn’t turn around—I knew I would get stuck on the soft snow on either side. I certainly didn’t want to get caught in the middle of nowhere in sub-zero temperatures.

I was only fourteen kilometers from my destination when the unthinkable happened. My front tire slipped into a hole, and before I could move, the car had sunk to the frame. I was immovably stuck, at least fourteen kilometers from the nearest street light or human help.

Turning on my Blackberry, I saw that there was zero reception. My hosts were expecting me in thirty minutes, but I had no way of contacting them and no way of moving.

Then I remembered ONSTAR. I pressed the button and within seconds a kindly lady named Kathy, from Ontario, was on the line. We chatted about my dilemma for a while, then Kathy worked at getting me a tow truck. By 11:00 or so she’d found one about forty kilometers away, and had also contacted Susan as well as my hosts in Alma. She was able to pinpoint my position within fifteen feet!

By 12:00 pm, Kathy told me neither the tow truck nor the RCMP could get near me. I’d gotten onto a road only used by snowmobiles, with four feet of snow underneath me.

Meanwhile my friends in Alma had woken up the local Snowplow driver and he’d gotten the Fire Chief out of bed to come fourteen kilometers on his snowmobile to rescue the dumb city boy from BC. Unfortunately Dave, the Fire Chief was blockaded by a stubborn moose for several minutes, so he didn’t arrive till about 2:00 am. Finally he pulled up beside me and told me to hop on. It was a sight to see, me in my spring season duds, holding desperately onto my suitcase with one hand and briefcase with the other, hoping to God, I wouldn’t fall off the big machine and embarrass myself further. Dave drove very fast over the bumpy snow, but we made it.
Finally we pulled up to the tow truck and the RCMP officer who greeted me, “Now I’ve got to write you a ticket for not having a helmet!” (He was joking with New Brunswick humour.)
George, the tow truck guy was concerned because another man had frozen to death a while ago after walking from his truck that was stuck around the same spot. He also told me that ONSTAR didn’t usually work from that location.

By 3:30 am they got me safely to the home where I was staying. My car would have to be hauled out by a tractor later that morning. All my friends were waiting with a week’s supply of GPS, moose and BC gringo jokes at my expense. By daylight the Foursquare preacher from the west was the talk of the local Post Office.

There’s probably lots of lessons I learned that night, but one to remember is to always know if the person you are following in life really knows where he is going! Wandering off the right path can be very dangerous!

Trip to Toronto

February 22, 2009

I spent my 62nd Birthday in Toronto this year, and had an inspirational visit with hundred of Foursquare friends.

On Saturday morning I met a couple of Indian brothers about churches in Toronto and India.

In the afternoon, the Ontario Churches rented a large facility to celebrate what they call Februworship - a grand celebration of many ethnic churches. We sang, danced and celebrated for 3 hours together. I loved it all but was mesmerized by the children who did a mime in the dark. With their white gloves they spelled out the story of our salvation.

On Sunday, February 22, I spoke at Praise Christian Family Church, a Foursquare Filipino congregation. I can't think of a happier more hospitable family to spend my birthday with. And there's always a feast that follows church (the picture below is just my dinner!).

I shared my birthday with Pastor Gina's twin 19 year-old daughters (theirs was on Feb. 21st).
One of the happiest birthday greetings I received this year was from my dear friend Papa Nazem Demian.

Nazem adopted me as his spiritual son several years ago. With his greeting, Papa Nazem sent a picture he'd had taken when I'd published my first book, Life Journey. The church put on a party for me in 2000. I was so honored to have my dad (who passed away in 2007) and Papa Nazem there to encourage me. Here's the picture we had taken that memorable day.

Grace Campus

January 2009
In January of this year, it became official. Another church in our Port Coquitlam neighborhood pastored by Doug & Laurel Fortune, became our 3rd Campus at Northside. Doug has been the Lead Pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship for 5 years and we are so delighted that he and the Grace family are part of our family now. If you are interested in more info regarding Campus Churches, search my blog for my previously posted article: "Multi-Site Churches".