Friday, April 24, 2020

The Craziest Storm!

One of the craziest storms that I’ve been in happened while I was leading Trails Away in the summer of 2015. We were riding in one of the fields across the creek when I heard what sounded like a herd of moose running through the trees to our left. When I turned to look in the direction of the noise, I did not see a herd of stampeding moose. Instead I saw every single tree bending low as if they were being pushed down by an invisible hand while a wall of rain moved through the trees and across the field. I shouted for my girls to get off their horses as quickly as possible, and just as the last pair of boots touched the ground we were instantly drenched from head to toe. We led our horses over to the barn as fast as we could, but when we opened the door so that we could take them inside every horses froze. You would think that they would want to get out of the storm as soon as possible, but they were paralyzed with fear when they looked at this unknown and unfamiliar shelter. No amount of coaxing or bribing could get them to step inside. It wasn’t until I went around and opened the door at the other side of the barn that we could finally usher the horses inside. Once that other door was open the horses could see a light at the end and in their minds they were stepping into a hallway rather than a dark abyss. They still didn’t know what would happen while they waited out the storm, but they were more willing to trust their riders because they could see it wouldn’t last forever.

How often are we like those horses? We get surprised when bad weather and the storms of life come along, and we get so swept up in our own emotions that we don’t see the shelter right in front of us. Often it isn’t until we see the light at the end of the tunnel that we finally step into the shadow of our Heavenly Father’s wings instead of turning to Him the moment that first rain drop hit our face.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

We can draw a lot of similarities between us and horses, but the truth is we’re not horses, so we shouldn’t be thinking or acting like them. We aren’t prey animals with a brain the size of a large walnut; we are made in the image of God and have not been given a Spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). We don’t need to be afraid of the fierce winds and driving rains of life because we know the One who calms the seas and quiets the raging storms.

When the storms and earthquakes and famines of life advance upon us we can think to ourselves, “This came without warning and at an incredible speed. I don’t know how I’m going to get through it, but I know where I’m going to get through it.” The world will through all kinds of curve balls and monkey wrenches at us but we don’t have to stand out in the open and try to catch them as they come. At the first hint of trouble we can run to our Father and take refuge in His arms. There is no curve ball so fast or monkey wrench so large that God can’t handle, in fact He is not surprised by anything that’s happening in our world.

Sometimes we may need the door at the end of the barn to be opened to remind us that we’re not stepping into the darkness and making our home there forever. Rather, we’re walking into a hallway where we will worship our way through the chaos as we draw closer to the Lord. Storms never last forever. While our horses were waiting out the rain in the barn my girls and I were singing songs and playing games in our tent, and before we were back in the saddle riding through the sunshine. Trust that the Lord will not only provide you shelter through the raging storms of life but that He will guide you to greener pastures and still waters on the other side.

Katherina Toews
Head Wrangler

Friday, April 3, 2020

Director Update

Hello from Camp Evergreen,

Yesterday I woke up to -20 and sunny skies, this morning I woke up to a balmy -11 and snowing.  I'm not sure I like either of those options.  :)  It's been a while since I've brought you an update and to say that things have changed since my last update would be a gross understatement!  Like you, we are experiencing many challenges as we navigate through this new "normal."  For me personally, I want to know when is this going to end?  When are things going to go back to "normal"?  When can I buy TP without people thinking I'm hoarding!  As we listen to the news, the forecast from a world's perspective is not that bright.  From what I'm reading and hearing, I believe that COVID-19 will effect our daily life longer than shorter.  And yet we serve a risen Lord, who is rock solid, and did not wake up this morning surprised at the state His world is in!  Amen?  Amen!

While it is true that COVID-19 has brought with it many (many) challenges, it has also brought with it many opportunities.  Please pray for us as a camp that as we navigate through the next several months, we will be sensitive to the Lord's leading to make use of our time, and to seek new ways in which we can see lives transformed by the power of Jesus!

What's currently happening at Camp Evergreen?  Like most other camps in Alberta, and across Canada, we have lost all our spring revenue due to guest groups cancelling.  While the good news is we're saving money on groceries, and utilities, we still have to feed our staff and keep some of our lights on and buildings warm.  (-20 yesterday doesn't help!)  For reference last year between March 1 and April 3 we brought in $28,676 in revenue compared to $0 this year.  While that in itself doesn't sound too bad, our projected income loss from March to the end of June will be about $270,000.  So while it's true that our current expenses are down compared to last year, we are still not able to keep up, and have given all our staff lay off notice.

Many of you know that we have launched (reminds me of a Mennonite joke about Mennonites working at NASA and stopping for lunch every time they said launch...) Evergreen to Go.  We are selling meal packages and delivering them to our supporters who live within an hour from camp.  The exciting part is that for every 30 meals that we sell, we are giving away 15 meals through our local ministerial here in Sundre.  We are also looking into ways that we can connect with and bless our immediate neighbours.  Our seasonal staff are also working on connecting with our campers via phone and social media.  There is no shortage of ideas for sure - picture Yodel and Hum coming right into your living room or a Zoom scavenger hunt!

What about summer camp?  Like you we find ourselves asking that question almost every day.  Quite simply what we can or cannot do in summer will be dictated to us by Alberta Health and the province of Alberta.  At this point we are planning on running summer camp and are continuing to prepare.  We are also planning on what summer camp could look like under different scenarios.  I believe firmly that we will have ministry this summer, I also believe that it will look different than last summer.

Reaching Higher continues to move ahead - albeit a little slower.  We want to continue with our water licensing as well as continuing to work with the Alberta Environment on our waste water system.  However the actual construction on site that was scheduled for mid April has been postponed, as well as any other lodge work, until September at which time we will reevaluate.

How can you help?  One would think the obvious answer would be to help us financially if possible.  And while that is important for sure, we covet even more your prayers.  Pray for the staff who are currently on site.  We are severely limiting our contact with the outside world and I would ask you to pray with us that COVID-19 would not make it's way onto our 480 acres.  Pray for us as a staff as we continue to live together, as we continue to work together that God would give us an extra measure of grace.  While it is true we have a little more "elbow" space than the regular family, we still need to live with each other.

And of course if you can help us financially that would be greatly appreciated.

As we move forward together let's all be looking for new opportunities to "tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done."  Ps 78:4

Thanks again for your continued support.

Bob "Ranger" Kroeker
Executive Director