Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Category Archives: Stories from my life

Thank you War Amps

My wife’s keys came home in the mail today. They went missing two months ago; it must have happened between our car in a mall parking lot and the Tim Horton’s inside the mall where we had dinner. There was a keychain with a car key, two house keys and a War Amps tag.

This will make sense to Canadians. Since I’m not sure if a similar program exists in other countries I will explain. The War Amps is an organization founded in 1918 to help soldiers who had lost limbs during the war. That work continues today, but now they are also providing prosthetic limbs, encouragement and support to children who have lost a hand, an arm or a leg.

In a stroke of genius in 1946 they began the key chain program which provides work for amputees, raises money to provide prosthetic limbs for amputees, and provides a valuable service to all Canadians.

The key tags are produced in sheltered workshops and are mailed to all Canadians. Donations are optional, but everyone should have one of these tags on every keychain that they use. Each tag bears a number that is linked to the keychain owner in the War Amps database. Someone who finds a keychain and has no other means of identifying the owner can put that keychain in the nearest mailbox. Canada Post will send the keys to War Amps who will identify the owner from their database and mail the keys back to the owner, at no charge.

That is what happened to my wife’s keys. We had one other key for the car, but the rubber facing had broken off and I needed to use the point of a ballpoint pen to push the buttons. So I bought a new key, at a cost of over $500. That is extravagant, but I really needed to replace my key. Now we once more each have a fully functional key.

We have used War Amps key tags for as long as I can remember and know that they return thousands of keys to their owners every year. This is the first time we have been a beneficiary and are thankful there was a War Amps tag on that keychain. We are also thankful to the person who found the keys and dropped them in a mailbox.

Bad choices, happy ending

We left home yesterday morning for a shopping trip to Saskatoon, fully aware of the forecast of an Alberta Clipper, a fast moving winter storm that would pass through this area in the afternoon. The forecast of the time and the area affected were still a little vague in the morning and we though we had time to get home before it hit.

I don’t think that was bad reasoning, but then we stopped for a cappuccino at at my favourite coffee shop in the morning. Later we decided to give the fast food places a miss and opted for a meal at Boston Pizza. All was well when we went into the restaurant, but noticed snow begin to fall outside as we were eating dinner. It was snowing heavily, but so far no wind. By the time we left the restaurant the wind had arrived. We quickly did some grocery shopping and left for home 10 minutes before 2 PM.

At first, traffic was moving almost normally and visibility was reduced but still good. Conditions became progressively worse as we travelled and traffic was moving more and more slowly. When we got to Delisle visibility was almost zero. We still hoped that things might be better once we turned off onto highway 45, but when we got to where the corner should be, I couldn’t see the corner or the highway. Chris got out to direct me and I managed to back up and get turned around.

We made it back into Delisle. What now? We sat in the running car to warm up and let the windows defog and considered our options. Finally we texted friends who live in Delisle to see if we could come over for night. They texted back that they were storm-stayed in the city, but they gave us the code to get into their house and garage.

Their home is in an exposed area on the north-east edge of town. We drove over there, going very slowly because it was difficult to see where we were, and got stuck in a drift that we did not see. A little rocking of the car back and forth got us free and we made it to their house, parked in their garage and were thankful to be safe in a warm house.

Soon we heard from our daughter that she was storm-stayed in Rosetown. Her husband thought at first he could come and get her, but decided it wasn’t worth the risk. She booked into a motel, getting the last room available in town. So we all had a warm place for the night.

The storm ended around midnight and at 5 AM the town of Delisle was clearing streets. Our son-in-law left home at 5:30 to clear snow for some businesses in Delisle, then moved on to the town of Vanscoy to clear the streets there. We waited until our friends came home and visited a bit before heading home. Our daughter got home in time to drive children to school, which didn’t begin until 10:00 this morning.

I haven’t read of any serious accidents or injury, but a lot of people spent the night in places they hadn’t planned to be. We are thankful to God for His protection and for good friends who let us into their house even if they weren’t there.

Best wishes for 2022

Image by MegLearner from Pixabay 

It was -35° yesterday evening. The brightness of the lights began to fluctuate around 11 PM and at 11:30 the electricity went out altogether. I started a fire in our wood stove (which doesn’t look quite as nice as the one in the picture) and we entered 2022 to its warm glow.

The electricity came on again shortly after 1 AM and we got some sleep, and some more through the day. We made it through that little crisis, I trust the Lord will have a way for us through all the crises that we will face in 2022. We look forward to good times, but crises are a part of life, too.

Happy New Year to all who read this. May you trust in God and have a thankful heart to help you through all the highs and lows this year may bring.

I’m still waiting for the police to come

I received a phone call today from the Canadian Border Services Agency informing me that there was a warrant out for my arrest, due to the discovery of forbidden items in a package addressed to me. I received the same call yesterday, and the day before, just about every day for the past two months in fact. Before that, for half a year, it was Service Canada warning me of an arrest warrant because my Social Insurance Number had been used in an illegal transaction.

I ignore those calls, no government agency works in such a way. I don’t think the people behind them mind at all that I hang up before I hear the whole recorded message. I’m not the kind of person they want to talk to anyway. They are trying to extract money from vulnerable people who are not able to discern that these calls are bogus. The calls come from offshore, somewhere beyond the reach of Canadian law enforcement agencies. The calls are automated, the costs are minimal, so if they hook one person for, say every 10,000 calls, it is a money making business.

Today I received an email saying that my subscription to Norton anti-virus has been automatically renewed and my visa account debited. The amount quoted in the email was ten times the amount charged by Norton. The email gave a number to call if there was any problem. Beside the price, there were a couple of other hints that this was not a legitimate message: spelling, grammar and punctuation were erratic, and it came from a gmail address.

Those of us who notice such things can laugh. Maybe we shouldn’t . The people who fall into these traps are vulnerable people who can not afford to throw money away to support shadowy offshore scammers.

The other epidemic

Image by picman2 from Pixabay 

There is an epidemic stalking our land, people are dying, others are left incapable of working or maintaining relationships. No, I’m not talking about COVID, this is an epidemic that was around before COVID and will probably still be afflicting people long after COVID is gone. Since this epidemic only affects people hooked on street drugs, the rest of us may think we can ignore it.

Last Sunday my wife’s sister was found dead in a city several hours from us, with drug paraphernalia on the table in front of her. She had no phone, no one in the family knew where she lived. My wife had been able to locate her and visit a few times in recent years, but she kept moving and did not keep in touch with any of her family.

Sometimes the opioid epidemic ceases to be just an item in the newspaper, comes this close to us and robs us of a beloved family member. The people selling street drugs are not pharmacists or chemists, the drugs they sell are not uniform in effect. When a person uses such drugs for years they are sooner or later going to get something that gives them a bad trip or something that turns the lights out for good. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids, but it appears no one was with my sister-in-law when she took her last hit. No one to rush her to the hospital or to find a street worker with a Naloxone kit.

What can we do to help such people? We feel compelled to do what we can to fix broken lives. The tough reality is that we can do nothing to rescue people against their will. They made choices, choices that seemed small and insignificant at the time, that led them into being trapped in a lifestyle where nothing: family, job or home, means as much as getting another hit. They must start making small choices to break free from that web. No one else can make those choices for them.

What can we do to help such people? We can pray. We must pray. We cannot manipulate God, God does not manipulate people. But we can pray that at some place and moment a connection can be established between God and the person we are praying for. We can do our best to maintain a connection with that person. It won’t be easy because addictions lead to broken connections, or connections solely for the purpose of getting money to buy drugs.

Above all, we must keep ourselves in the love and peace of God, without anger or bitterness. A loved one who is an addict has probably betrayed our trust, lied to us, maybe even blamed us for his or her problem. But this addict is still a person whom God loves and so must we. If we feel angry or bitter, our loved one will know it and that will be a barrier between us.

COVID confusion

The people who are opposed to the COVID vaccines point to the fact that vaccinated people are getting COVID anyway. That’s true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The statistics here in Saskatchewan show that if you’re not vaccinated you are five times as apt to get the disease and 20 times as apt to need hospital care. In other words, if vaccinated people get COVID, it’s usually a mild case.

The really scary statistic is that only 10% of people over the age of 60 in Saskatchewan are not vaccinated. But that small segment of the population accounts for 75% of the people hospitalized with COVID.

Now this is just a personal observation, I don’t know what the statistics are. But there is a possibility of getting myocarditis from the vaccine. I don’t know anyone who has, but I know at least two people who have suffered life-threatening cases of myocarditis as a result of having the disease.

Have you ever seen it this hot?

The high today was 40°. That is 104° on the Fahrenheit scale. Someone asked me the question above. Well yes I have, I remember a family picnic 70 years ago when the temperature hit 105° F. I was shirtless much of the day and got quite a sunburn, but I survived that and other weather extremes.

I remember a hot, dry summer when Mom hung sheets over all the windows in an attempt to keep the dust out of the house. I remember a summer when all the ditches were full of water. I remember winter mornings when the thermometer showed -50° F, I wore two layers of clothing to walk a half mile to school and had to step lively to avoid frostbite. I remember blizzards that lasted two or three days and stopped traffic on highways and railroads.

I believe I was six years old when a passenger train was trapped by a blizzard a few miles outside the town of Mossbank. The people in town carried food through the blizzard so those trapped on the train could eat. When the blizzard ended, it took a small army of men with shovels to dig the train out.

Saskatchewan is a land of weather extremes. I remember spring floods, droughts, dust storms, grasshopper plagues, prairie fires, hail, tornadoes. Solomon said: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9.

In between the extremes there has been a lot of good weather, good times, a lot of beauty. Saskatchewan is one of the most productive agricultural areas in North America and a good place to live. I have lived in other places, but always came home; the last time was 23 years ago.

Recovery

Chris had been on a waiting list for surgery since last October. The last time she enquired it sounded like she would have to wait a few more months since the medical system has been occupied caring for COVID patients. Then out of the blue came a phone call saying the surgeon has an open slot on May 25, due to a cancellation. Do you want it?

She jumped at the chance to be done with the waiting. We got to the hospital by 7:00 last Tuesday morning and the surgery took place three hours later. After the surgery she was given Tylenol and morphine for the pain. She came home the next afternoon with instructions to take three regular strength Tylenol every four hours. They gave her a prescription for morphine, in case the Tylenol wasn’t enough.

We didn’t know what to expect, but her recovery has surprised both of us. She never needed to get the morphine prescription filled and by today hardy needs Tylenol either. She should not lift anything over five kilos nor do anything too strenuous. She asked me to change the sheets on the bed yesterday, but is able to do almost all of her normal activities. Best of all, the surgery has corrected the original problem!

At the same time, today is the first day of the first stage of reopening Saskatchewan. If all goes well, stage two will come in three weeks and if that goes well, stage three will follow in another three weeks. That will mean the end of all COVID restrictions.

It’s beginning to look like an enjoyable summer ahead of us. We are thankful to God for bringing us safely thus far and this double recovery is extra cause for rejoicing.

Requiem for Tuffy

Tuffy came to us unexpectedly November 17, about a week after our first heavy snowfall. Chris opened the door early in the morning, a four month old kitten walked in, explored our home and decided this was his home. We delighted in his lively presence all winter, then he left us just as unexpectedly March 26, before our snow was altogether gone. He went out the night before and never came home. I found him lying by the roadside in the morning, stiff and cold, no doubt a victim of a passing motor vehicle and his own trusting nature.

He was friendly and fearless, curious and cuddly. The other two cats in this house hissed and growled at him that first day, he took no notice. In time they realized he meant them no harm and accepted him as part of the family. He loved to explore outside, climb trees, chas mice. Indoors he came running when the computer printer began to whir and watched in fascination as sheets of paper appeared in the output slot. When his enthusiasm went too far and he was scolded, he promptly sat flat on the floor to consider this new information. He learned not to walk on the table and to wait his turn when treats were being given out.

He grew rapidly. His size, his colouring, the shape of his head, his long hair, all pointed to mostly Norwegian Forest Cat ancestry. So did his congenial nature. No matter what we were doing, he could come along, jump on our lap to be cuddled and loudly purr his appreciation.

A few weeks ago two neighbour cats were in heat at the same time and came to our yard every day, trying to attract the attention of our cats. By then Tuffy was a eunuch, like the other two. Angus avoided the two females, Pookie chased them away, but Tuffy loved the attention. Looking on, we saw that he had no idea why they wanted to be close to him and no clue about what they expected from him.

He made several visits to the Vet clinic with me: to check for a microchip; to be immunized; to be neutered; and one last time to be cremated. A little later in spring I could have buried him here at home, but the receding snowdrifts of winter still occupy much of the yard.

Tuffy quickly found a place in our hearts and brought us much joy. We miss him. Do we expect to meet him again in heaven? No. Yet I believe that all the beautiful and lovely things that bring us joy here on earth are a foretaste of heaven. The Bible may describe heaven as being made of gold and precious stones. Hard and lifeless building materials do not warm my heart or make me long for heaven. I don’t believe that is all that heaven holds for us. God has endowed the earth with wondrous living beauty: the subtle fragrance of Sweet Williams; the cheery song repertoire of Brown Thrashers; the shimmering of Saffron Winged Meadowhawks on the lawn; the purring of a cat on our lap. Won’t we find beauty and joy beyond any of these in heaven?

I wonder – if I believed an animal unworthy of my love, would I then believe that people needed to fulfil certain conditions to be worthy of my love? I have no regrets about loving a little four-footed creature. We always knew it would only be for a time, yet never expected it to be such a short time.


(The Saffron Winged Meadowhawk is a mosquito-eating dragonfly with a red body and wings of translucent gold.)

Rulers are not a terror to good works

I received my first injection of COVID-19 vaccine this morning. That means that I have chosen to ignore the warnings of well-intentioned friends who send me emails revealing the malevolent conspiracy behind the vaccination program. That means I have chosen not to live in fear.

Image by DoroT Schenk from Pixabay 

I have chosen to believe the information provided by Moderna, Health Canada, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and other competent authorities showing that the vaccine is safe and effective. I have chosen to do what I believe will protect my health and the health of those around me.

What good do conspiracy theories do? Do they help us live happy and productive lives? Do they helps us to comfort and encourage those around us? Jesus said “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 9:32). Conspiracy theories claim to be the truth, but they lock us in a prison of fear, a prison that we build for ourselves.

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