Our family was grateful to return to Round Lake (Weagamow) July 22-25. When we visited there in February (read about it here), the church invited us to come back in July to sing at their annual church conference. They also asked if we would do a two hour children’s program on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
As the day of our departure drew near, we were aware that there were many forest fires raging up north in the area where we were headed. Two days before we left we received a call from one of the church leaders in Round Lake. He told us that their community was on alert for evacuation due to the fires and they were not sure if the conference was going to happen. We were left with a question in our minds… God had clearly been opening doors for this trip to happen, was He saying “no” now?
The day before we left, we learned that the elders of the church had gathered to pray about the fires, and while they were praying it began to rain. They took it as a sign from the Lord to continue on with the conference. So on Thursday, July 21, we left home to head for Dryden, Ontario. We stopped to have lunch with the Rasmussen family in International Falls, MN. They are the missionary family that we stayed with when we first visited Round Lake.
If you heard the story of our previous trip to Round Lake in February, you will remember that we drove the whole way… across bush and winter/ice roads. This time, we would have to fly in. The church made arrangements with Northern Youth Programs (NYP), in Dryden, Ontario, to fly us in on Friday and so we would stay at their guesthouse that night. When we got there, we enjoyed a meal with the single staff members and then settled into our comfy rooms for the night. The plan was to meet at 8:00 in the morning and then head for the airport.
At 8:00 the next morning, the weather was not the best for flying, so it was decided that the flight would be postponed until 10:00am. Our family enjoyed a relaxing morning and walk before heading to the airport with our pilot, Norm Miller.
It’s important to mention that originally we were going to fly up in a Cessna Caravan which would not only hold the entire family, but also our 14 instruments and luggage. However, the pilot who flew that plane had to leave to attend a funeral, so we would be making two trips in a Cessna 206, which only had six seats; there was not enough room for the whole family to fly together, let alone our pile of instruments and luggage.
It was decided that Deborah and I would be on the first flight along with all the gear, while the rest of the family would drive four hours up to Pickle Lake to make a shorter second flight for Norm. Three of the seats were removed from the plane and put in the back of our van. They would go to Pickle Lake with the rest of the family and be reinstalled for the second flight.
For us kids, it was the first flight that we could remember and so there was nervousness mixed with excitement.
We took off from Dryden around 11:00 and took about two hours to get to Round Lake. We enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation from a bird’s eye view… trees and lakes as far as the eye could see with very little, and even at some times, no sign of civilization. We could see smoke rising from the forest below.
When Deborah and I arrived in Round Lake around 1:00pm, it was close to 45 degrees Farenheit and raining. Jerry and Edna Quequish, a couple from the church, were waiting for us. We loaded everything in their two pickup trucks and then headed for the church. There a hot lunch of moose soup and bannock was waiting – prepared for all of the people flying in for the conference. We sat down to wait for the rest of our family, which we were expecting around 4:00 or so. As we waited, we visited with some of the ladies and were able to help with meal clean up and prep, as well as practice some songs and hang out with a couple of little girls.
We were watching the clock and began to get a little worried when 5:00 came and there had been no word from the pilot or our family. Our concern grew as it approached 6:00 p.m. and we still hadn’t heard anything. Besides worrying about something being wrong, we were wondering what we would do if they didn’t show up in time to sing that evening… we would have to do it ourselves! Then as Edna and the ladies from the church were starting to serve supper, a pickup pulled up with Mom, Abby, and Daniel inside! We were very relieved. Dad and Jonathan were not far behind. It turned out that instead of the anticipated 4 hour drive to Pickle Lake, it took them over 5 hours due to road construction. Norm was waiting at the airport for about 2 hours before they got there. By the way, Mom said that when she climbed into the pickup truck at the airport, a pile of papers had to be moved from her seat. The gal that was driving the truck said that they were evacuation orders. She told Mom something along the lines of, “don’t worry, your family is on the list to go out to first.”
After supper, we quickly got our instruments tuned and set up before the meeting began at 7:00 p.m. The meetings were being held in a large tent near the beach and aired on the Wawatay Radio network. Each night was filled with music, testimonies, and preaching. The meetings ran from 7:00 to midnight on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There was also the regular Sunday morning church meeting and a baptism service. It was such a blessing to see so many believers together, and to see and hear what the Lord is doing in the hearts of the people up there.
As I mentioned earlier, we had been invited to the conference to share our music as a family. Every night we sang for about half an hour, and usually some more songs after the message. We were also asked to sing on Saturday afternoon. Music is a big part of these conferences.
On Saturday and Sunday, we girls did a children’s program for about 2 hours each day. Saturday, we had around 10 kids who loved to sing… we sang with them for about half an hour before moving on to our lesson about Jesus calming the storm. We taught them that God has power over everything, therefore we don’t need to fear. We had the memory verse Psalm 56:3 & 4—“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear…” (NKJV).
Deborah shared the missionary story “The Wallpaper that Talked” and we played a long game of color tag outside which attracted a few more kids. We then went back inside for Abby to give a gospel presentation with the Wordless Book and sing some more songs before finishing up the program for the day.
The next day we had over twenty kids come. Deborah gave a lesson on making right choices and we did a rendition of a skit we had seen at a Bright Lights conference about two sisters who couldn’t get along. The kids absolutely loved it! Daniel and Jonathan sang a song called “I Would” about making right choices no matter whether someone is watching you or not, because “Though the world might not ever know… me and Jesus would.”
After playing a couple of indoor games since it was raining outside, we gave a visual gospel presentation of Jesus washing away our sins. Black food coloring added to water represents the sin in our lives and adding bleach turns the water clear again, representing Jesus’ blood washing away our sin. The kids were fascinated and seemed to understand the message. After that, Deb and Abby took the kids outside to play games again.
While we were there, we stayed in the Christian school… it was a great place to stay, with two bathrooms, and lots of room for the boys to run around if they needed to! We ate our meals at the church. We were so blessed by the ladies’ hard work making such good food for all of us.
Dad and Mom were able to reconnect with some old friends from when we lived in Canada and make some new ones.
The meetings yielded fruit as a number of people responded to the messages and invitations given by the speakers. God was doing a work in our hearts to. We were especially encouraged by the way that people were praying for and caring for one another publicly without reservation. We can learn a lot from the brothers and sisters in Christ at Round Lake.
We flew out on Monday evening in the Cessna Caravan (the big plane) along with another couple that had flown in for the conference. We dropped Dad off in Pickle Lake to drive the van back to Dryden and the rest of the family flew back to Dryden to stay again at the NYP guesthouse. With this part of our journey complete, we would rest, recoup, and prepare for another upcoming, big weekend.
It’s easy to look at things from the perspective of “that was so fun.” It really was. More importantly though, when we take the time to look at it from an eternal perspective we can see how the Lord used us in ways we could not imagine. Already He seems to be opening more doors as a result of our time there. When we look at what the Lord did, we can truly say “that was an amazing trip!” What a blessing it is to be able to serve the Lord together as a family!
We’ll have more on the second part of our trip (Beaver Lake) up soon.
-Sara, for the family
More photos (click to enlarge):