Joined: 30 Sep 2006
Location: Minford, Oh. (KABC)
|Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:27 pm Post subject: NWT of Canada/January Report
To King's Addition Baptist Church, and Supporters of Canadian Mission Work,
I cannot express in words how it feels to be writing this from my 'office' in the Mission house in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, Canada, with snow falling, and a temperature outside that is incomprehensible to an 'Aussie".
I drove 2521 miles to get here, through the most treacherous driving conditions that I have ever experienced(including Africa and the Outback). The first leg of the journey was from Roseville, California, to Portland, Oregon , on Wednesday, December 8, 2010.
I preached Wednesday night for Pastor Clyde Jones and Bible Missionary Baptist Church, in East Burnside, Portland Oregon. They have been faithful supporters, and I wanted to meet them, face to face.
The Lord blessed, and we had good services. I want to thank the church, and Pastor Jones and his family for their generosity, and sacrificial hospitality. Bro. and Sis. Jones gave up their bed for me, and slept on a piece of foam in their living room! A gesture that personifies the 'love of the Brethren'. I was very appreciative and humbled.
I then made my way the next day,Thursday, to Naples, Idaho, to preach on the Sunday for Pastor Paul Sandelin, and Bible Believers Baptist Church.
They had lovingly prepared the vacant Parsonage for me to stay in, and showered me with sweet fellowship and warming hospitality. It was such a blessing to have a couple of days to recuperate, and prepare for attempting to cross into Canada on Monday morning.
The Lord blessed in services, and we had some wonderful fellowship together, both with the church, and especially the close-knit Sandelin Family.
I was impacted greatly at just how hard this whole family works, especially Bro. Paul.
As we sat watching a DVD, I could see the strain in his face, with the long hours he works in his tree logging business, and his dedication to serving the Lord as Pastor of the flock there. He had just experienced a tremendous financial setback, with damage to some of his vital equipment.
I prayed a heartfelt prayer for him as we sat there in his living room watching that DVD, that the Lord would be gracious in somehow allowing him to work only in the Ministry.
I was also thankful to be able to spend some time, albeit brief, with Bro. John and Sis. Chris Wineford, two very dear friends that also live in Naples. I was served 'Moose spaghetti', and warm fellowship and hospitality!
I was thankful for the offerings I was given as services finished on Sunday, and I will just say this, that at least part, if not all of the offering was extremely sacrificial.
Again I was humbled.
I set off again around 8:00am Monday Morning, December 13, knowing that the prayers of the faithful were riding along with me. I approached the US/Canadian border around 9:50 am. I pulled up to the red light, and waited.
After a few minutes, the Immigration Officer hit the green light, and motioned me forward. He said "good morning', and I said "G'day mate", as I handed him my passport and US Permanent Resident card.
He asked where I lived, and I told him. He asked where I was going, and I told him. He asked what I did for a living, and I told him that I am a Baptist Missionary, and he asked if that is why I was heading to Fort Smith, and I said "yes".
He asked if I had any alcohol or tobacco in the vehicle and I answered "no". He asked if I had any weapons in the vehicle, and I told him that I had one of those multi-tools in the cab that has a knife on it, and he asked,"does it take two hands to open it?", and I answered "yes, and two people to close it!".
He laughed, and asked if I had anything in the vehicle that I would be leaving in Canada, and I said "yes, some motorcycle parts", and after a couple of questions he said, ''we might have to have a look at the motorcycle parts, move forward and park over there, and there will be an officer with you shortly".
As I moved forward, I thought, well at least I am in Canada!.
I opened the back of the truck, and brought the small box of parts to the back of the bed, and waited, and prayed. It was probably about ten minutes, and then the same guy came out, walked over to the box of parts and looked at them and said, "is this all?", and I said "yes", and he said, "no problems", and then he asked, "will you be doing any hands on work in Fort Smith, or just the preaching?".
I answered and said, " well, the preaching can be hands on, but no, just the preaching!". He laughed and said "I hear ya!". He then handed me my passport and, card and said, "have a good day Gordon, and drive safely".
I said "thank you", and as he turned to walk away, I asked, "what's your name mate?", and he said, "Graham". I shook his hand and said, "Graham, thank you again, and there'll be a lot of people praying for you, including me!".
He seemed 'taken back' and said, "well thank you", and walked away.
I drove off and wanted to get away from there as fast and as calmly that I could, and look for a phone to let Karen know that I was across the border. My ceelphone stopped working just before entering Naples, Idaho.
I stopped at a gift store about 1/4 mile from the border, paused for a prayer of thanks, then went in and asked if there was a public phone that I could use, and she said,"yes, back at the border".
I reluctantly turned the truck around and headed slowly back. I did not have a cell phone that worked that far North, so I had to use the public phone. I called Karen and told her the good news, and to let everyone know.
As I watched the border grow smaller in the rear view mirror, I continually gave thanks to the Lord for all those answered prayers. For at least the next two hours I was constantly overcome with emotions, including elation, thanksgiving, relief, and euphoria. I took some migraine medicine, just in case. Those that suffer migraines know that there are many 'triggers' that bring them on, one of them sometimes being euphoria.
I made it to Edmonton, Alberta at around 7:30 that evening. I tried to set up the cellphone that we had bought from Wal-Mart, which, I was assured, would work in Canada. I rose early the next morning, called the cellphone company, and they informed me that it would not work in Canada, so now I had two cellphones that were useless!
I made contact with the lawyers as we had arranged, and we discussed future logistics of the paperwork process, and then I went to exchange US dollars for Canadian, purchased a few items, and then made my way North around 12 noon.
Just North of Edmonton, I gassed up, and de-iced the truck as much as I could, got a free coffee for the journey, and set off with the words of the attendant ringing in my ears, "you might run into a big snow storm headed this way".
If I ever see her again, I will compliment her on her powers of understatement!
About an hour and a half into the journey, I stopped at Whitecourt for something to eat , and as I set off again, it began to snow, and then it began to snow harder, and then it began to snow harder and harder, until I was driving at about 15mph behind a truck that was about 100 yards in front of me, and I could just barely see it.
I will cut a long story short here, and just tell you that it was an experience that I could never have imagined.........but worse was yet to come!
I had set my sights on making it to High Level that night, which would have made it around a six hour journey to Fort Smith the next day. The snow had cleared to intermittent flurries, and it had gotten dark around 3:30pm. I was driving at about 55mph in reasonable, but very windy conditions, when a gust of wind hit the truck and blew it completely sideways, instantly.
As I wrestled with the steering wheel, and the truck still at the mercy of the wind, I believe that the Holy Spirit guided my finger to the '4WD' button on the dash, and as the four wheel drive kicked in, I was able to regain control of the truck, but not of my heart, or my bodily functions.
The next phase was to drive through 'ice crystals', not snow, but ice crystals. Even in four wheel drive the truck was very 'skaty', and as I slipped and slided my way into Peace Rriver at around 6:30pm, I gassed up, and headed for a Motel.
What an experience........but worse was yet to come!
It had snowed profusely during the night,and as I unplugged the block heater in the truck(110 volts), started it to warm it up and then ate breakfast, I was advised by a friendly local that there were some pretty bad driving conditions ahead for me, and to keep the truck in 4WD, and drive steady.
The conditions were atrocious, with very low visibility, and the road, a lot of the time completely obscured by snow. The worst part was when a truck would pass going the other way, and I was completely blinded(whiteout) for four or five seconds at a time. A couple of times I found myself on the wrong side of the road when my vision cleared.
I pressd on, and arrived in Hay River around 4pm. I called ahead and informed them in 'Smith' that I would be leaving Hay River at around 4:30pm. It is usaually about a 3 hour drive from Hay River to Fort Smith, and if I didn't arrive in a reasonable amount of time, they would come looking for me. With temperatures able to reach well below minus 40, it doesn't take long to perish if exposed to the elements.
I had emergency supplies, extra gasoline, food and water, blankets etc, that are essential for travel in the prevailing conditions. I drove through very heavy snow and, at times, blinding conditions, and arrived to a very warm welcome at 8:40pm, Wednesday, December 15, 2010.
It took me until the following Wednesday to fully recover from the journey that I had undertaken.
Since being here, it has been a blessing to be studying, counselling, and conducting services, with attendances being around 14 in the mornings and eleven in the evenings, with 9 to 11 on Wednesdays.
That may drop a bit as students visiting for the holidays return to college.
I have had four of the regular, faithful visitors, inform me that they would like to be baptised, and become members of King's Addition. The studies and protocol of those processes are underway at the moment.
We had a visitor from Hay River (a friend of one of the members) attend morning and evening services on Sunday,December 26, and express a desire to attend again when possible. Hay River is 3hrs North. His name is Ralph, and he is head of the Fire, Rescue and Ambulance service, based in Hay River. Please keep him in your prayers
I am making plans to visit the three out of town members of the Mission when I can, one in Fort Chipewyan, which is 3hrs away in the winter, and 20hrs away in the summer, because of the winter 'ice road' across a lake. Ralph has volunteered to drive me there, as the road conditions are extremely bad in winter.
The other two members are Bro. and Sis. Brooks, and they live in The Pas, Manitoba, a couple of days drive South East. Bro. Dennis just recently underwent major heart surgery.
I am so thankful that the members here have remained faithful, and they are looking forward to us moving forward together in the spreading of the Gospel. The potential here in Canada is tremendous.
The visitor's visa that I was given at the border is valid until February 13, but now that I actually have a visa stamped in my passport, I can apply for an extension to that visa, up to an extra four months, which is exactly what we will be doing, while the remaining government paperwork is still in process.
In the meantime, we are praying that our application to the government will be approved, and that we can remain here permanently.
We are so thankful to all who have remained faithful in their support of us , and the work here, and we know that this is where God intends for us to be. It has been a tremendous strain on all of us, for what seems like an eternity, but we know and understand that we serve a loving God, that is always in control.
It is through His strength, and His strength only, that we are able to carry on.
The number here at the Mission house is 867 872-2418, if you have any questions, or just want to 'touch base'.
I look forward to hearing from the supporters of the work here in Canada.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
In His Service
In Christian Love,
Jim Hobbs, Jr.
" Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need"...Hebrews 4:16