Wednesday, December 27, 2023

That time of year ~ wrapping up 2023

This is the typical time of year when one looks backward with hearts of gratitude, and then looks forward with hearts of waiting, anticipation, wonder at what the future holds.

For the ministry this marks the 11th Christmas season.  It has been a full one with the Advent Walk through (about 50 people signed up) and then with some retreaters.  And then we finished off the week before Christmas by giving me time to breathe!

Looking backwards, I see the changes that have happened since Covid.  I see that many more are coming to retreat, and working through so much emotional/mental health things. I will admit, I have not been immune to the fall out emotionally and mentally.  I have learned alot as I have sat with people, putting my Spiritual Direction training to "informal" use.

This was also the first year in 7 summers that we did NOT get a garden grant.  We just said this morning how grateful we were that it was NOT as dry of a summer as we had last year when our garden nurturer spent min 2 hours watering the trees.  However it also meant that there were more weeds than we would have liked there to have been.  It showed us that the garden is way to big for just Alvin and I to keep on top of.  Okay, at times I admit that I have to ask WHAT WERE WE THINKING!!  I am thankful for the fact that our son can supply fresh mulch every year to replenish the areas.   So if you pray for us - please pray we are able to secure a grant this year for garden caretakers.

Most of the year was slow. I also got some requests where I was thankful that during Covid, the LORD told me that we needed to go back to the basic of what it was HE called us to.  That was good because it made it easy to say no to some requests that were not within our vision.  

I think that the slowness of retreaters is also due to the fact that lets face it - financially, most of us are trying to make ends meet. (note: we are not self sufficient, even with our fundraiser and if you want to know more about what I mean, again, I invite you to meet me for coffee and a chat about ministry). But really -   I think that people are needing to decide.... 

Do I spend this $85-$100 on a retreat for myself, and to just breathe in the stillness 
Do I buy groceries for myself or my family ?

So the year was pretty slow. And then came August, it began to get a bit fuller on the schedule.  I had some groups which make life full for me, but that's all part of serving right?  And then there were people wanting to book more than one night, and a few more day retreats.  This year I had no one during this week between Christmas and New Year's.  (Last year I did have retreaters) 

And at this point, I have already been booking as far as August for some.  People do not want to be caught without an opening.  Of course, booking that far ahead means that I tell people, this is LORD WILLING, and we hold it in the calendar, but loosely.

As I also look backwards, I also think about the fundraiser event.  My daughter told me that it is very normal for me to stress, but this event felt abnormally stressful. I know full well why it was more stressful for me and those things I will keep off this blog post.  If you want to know, I encourage you to call me, and lets book a coffee and we can talk.

ANYHOW we did the event SHINE BRIGHT in September.  I am attaching the video here for you to watch.  We did the event IN PERSON, with a handful of virtual.  And we had the excellent friends @Kilcona Park Alliance Church do the audio/visual, so then Ashley my daughter put it together with music, and the different components.  

I want to again say a big thank you to the Sponsors of the event: $1000 donation
Allan & Janet Fast
Blue Jay Family Works:  Alvin & Joy Klassen
Dr. Phoebe Thiessen
World of Water:  Leanne and Rory Bochinski
Bill & Margaret Fast Family Foundation
Friends Funeral Service:  Danielle Froese & Jotham Koslowsky
Fast Insurance: Ryan Martens

as well as "Friends" donors of the event: $500-900
Waldy Derksen -  Lawyer, PKF
Fast Covers:  Neil & Lois Fast
Cheryl & Brad Klassen
as well as anonymous donors toward the event

And to Michelle Bloom, Three6Tea in Selkirk for supplying the tea table
And to Laura Wall, friend, for making the cookies that each person got

Our event brought 100 of our family, friends of The Well together for an evening of great desserts (so yummy) and good fellowship and the short program.
We are very thankful for the money that it raised towards our ministry.

Looking back, I am also thankful for the group of women who have been meeting (most of them since fall of 2013) for Bible Studies.  We do about 3 studies a year.  Unfortunately I do not advertise it any more as we are as full as we can be for a group study here.  We call one another "sisters loved by God" and I am thankful for these women who have prayed for me, the ministry, my family but also for one another, and have walked through some hard hard times.  

There are many things to look back on, and those things bring much gratitude.
I am grateful that I can still climb stairs to take up laundry.
I am grateful that I can still make beds in pretty record time.
I am grateful that I can still cook and people say it is good!!  lol
I am grateful for people who have come through our doors as strangers and leave as friends.
I am grateful for each new day and what it holds.
I am grateful to be able to pray for those who come, both in person, as well as via email, text or FaceTime.
I am grateful for being able to hold other's stories in my hands so to speak - like a treasure entrusted to me, to be a presence for the person.  Your stories have blessed me!

On that note, I will wrap up for now.  This sun shiny day at the end of December ... as we inch towards 2024.  I will plan to write a New Years post.  But in the meantime - I hope you can take half hour to watch our video - and to pray for us.  Thanks.

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