There Came A Man

There Came A Man

Scripture: “There came a man who was sent from God ; his name was John.He came as a witness to testify concerning  that light  so that through Him all men might believe. John 1:6,7 (NIV)

There was a man sent from God whose name was Jim. God chose him to testify to the reality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God s0 that all men through Him might believe and receive the gift of Eternal Life. When Jim said ‘Yes’ to the Lord, he made a  complete commitment of his life to serve the Lord in any way His Father requested.

Thus, the Lord equipped him with many specific gifts and talents in order to carry out his divine assignment  .

To begin with he was filled with love by the Holy Spirit, and he shared this love unconditionally and generously with all he came in contact with. And the love was always wrapped in a warm hug.

He was gifted with a special charisma that attracted people to him so he could share his Lord in any number of ways.

If anyone had a need and Jim heard about it he was there to help, be it in a material way, or a spiritual way. He was given a scholar’s mind ,and he loved to study the scriptures, which he shared  in teaching Bible Studies, counseling and always in his everyday walk with the Lord.

He was a family man and the primary desire of his heart in this situation was that each of his children would come to know Jesus Christ as his/her Saviour and Lord. And God answered his prayer.

He was never sick and he cared for his body in the same manner as he cared for his spirit, because he knew that his body was the temple of the Living God.(2 Cor.6:16).

At age 73 he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. For two long pain-filled years many hundreds of people prayed for his healing and we believed God would answer that prayer.

However, the day after we had shared a wonderful Christmas family celebration in 2012, he fell and struck his head ,which resulted in a massive brain bleed. He never regained consciousness, and that same evening the Lord called him home. Never once during all of this time did he utter the words so many of us tend to say when our suffering is intense and on-going, namely: “ Why,Lord?”.

His wisdom and his beliefs were summed up in the single sentence he lived by.

“Everything that comes to us in this life is Father-filtered.” Living with the certainty of that knowledge is a wonderful source of comfort , encouragement and peace .

I am proud to say this man was my brother-in-law, and I loved him deeply.

Prayer: Father, teach us to accept all that comes into our lives, whether for better or for worse in our estimation, as your perfect will. Help us not to question or become bitter but to live in the truth of

Romans 8:35;37 (NIV) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

 

 

 

THANK YOU FOR THE SALT AND PEPPER

Aside

When a group of us in our church were discussing how we came to know Jesus as our Saviour, one of the men shared the following story.

Our six-year-old daughter had been begging me and my wife to take her to Sunday School for so long that we finally gave in and dropped her off at the church where all of her school friends went to Sunday School.

That evening when we were sitting down to dinner, she piped up and asked to say grace to thank God for our food. She explained that they had learned a verse in Sunday School that said to be thankful for everything, and if God said it, she wanted to do it. Then she asked us to bow our heads and began.” He smiled as he quoted her grace the way he remembered it. It went something like this

“Thank you for the meat, God,” she began, “and thank You for the potatoes, God, and thank You for the carrots, God, and thank You for the milk, God, and thank You for the butter and the bread, God, and thank You for the plates, and the knives, and forks and spoons, God. And thank You for the salt and pepper, and … ‘

At that point, I interrupted, telling her that I was sure that God knew by now that we were thankful and that He wouldn’t want us to have a cold dinner. Then,” he said, clearing his throat loudly, “these are the words that changed my life:”

“Just one more thing, daddy. Thank You, God, for my mommy and daddy who love me so much they took me to Sunday School today. And God, please show them how much You love them, and tell them You’d like them to come to Sunday School with me.”

He continued, “This really choked both of us up, and to make a long story short, we did go to Sunday School with her. And it wasn’t long until both my wife and I came to know the Lord. And we are learning every day, in answer to the prayer of our daughter, just how much God loves US.

It’s Farewell but Not Necessarily Goodbye

How do I begin?

How do I begin to say Farewell to the friendly people, laughing children, ancient rugged scenery, vividly blue sea, unexpected adventures,  feasts , scarlet sunsets, homey community stores, a new friend, and finally the longtime friend I have stayed with  during my time here in Ulukhaktok?

Where do I begin to tell about this hamlet? Ulukhaktok, means ‘place where the ulu is made’.

The ulu is a razor sharp, semi -circular  scraper with a strong handle made of  caribou or musk ox antlers. They may be made from a variety of materials found on the land including quartz , or copper .The Inuit  use ulus for  skinning, scraping and cutting up the caribou, hares, beaver, seals, musk ox , arctic fox, polar bears and any other type of prey they might happen to trap or shoot.

 

Because the Inuit of Ulukhaktok made their ulus of the copper they found  in abundance  around the sheltered u-shaped bay  they moved into about 50-60 years ago, they were originally called Coppermine Eskimoes.

Most of the Inuit in Ulukhaktok speak English although they still talk in their native language of Inuinnaqtn much of the time.It is important for the parents that their children continue speaking the language so it is taught by an Inuit teacher in their local school called Helen Kalvak School . I was privileged to tell an Inuit legend to demonstrate the art of story telling to a group of grade 7’s in this school.

The school was named after a lady by the name of Helen Kalvak who was famous for her print making. As result, tour ships make regular stops here during the warmer weather of July and August for tourists to purchase some of their world famous prints .These are done by many of the residents along with a variety of other excellent crafts made from the skins and furs of the animals they trap.

From June to August the people also enjoy fishing for huge fish called Arctic Char, which taste similar to salmon. They are trapped in nets, or caught on lines, and many are frozen for future feasts during the long, cold, dark days of winter when the skies are lit up with the wonder of the dancing northern lights.

In mid-August a huge barge arrives with winter supplies.This is an exciting time since   prices drop while the shelves of the two grocery/hardware/clothing stores are well stocked. . Regular food stuffs are shipped to Yellowknife in the winter then flown into Ulukhaktok which makes everything over twice the price of what their southern neighbours pay.

Like every town, or city, living in Ulukhaktok has its pros and cons.  However, I know that     I have been blessed during the time I have lived among its people.

And how do I end? For end I must since my return  home is immanent.

I think I’ll simply say, “Farewell Ulukhaktok, place where the ulu is made. May you never lose your uniqueness.”

Another Special Experience in The Land of the Midnight Sun Part 8

 

The size of the ship.or rather the Yacht, as it was called ,was mind boggling. It was named the WORLD, likely because it traveled around the world on a regular basis carrying well- to -do passengers in luxurious accommodations beyond the means or imagination of the average person It stopped at an innumerable number of ports from the mundane to the exotic, and several passengers remained on board for as long as ten months in their elaborately furnished million dollar staterooms. Indeed it was a travelling hotel prepared to supply the slightest whims of its guests.

It pulled into the Beaufort Sea and anchored off shore about 8 a.m.. Passengers were conveyed by small boats into the hamlet of Ulukhaktok where they were greeted by the Community with a typical Inuit meal of hot bannock, freshly cooked char chowder , coffee, tea and cookies. They were decked out in their waterproof gear just in case the partly cloudy, partly sunny  day should give way to the threatening heavy, grey cloud coverage moving in from the Arctic Ocean.

The Community  offered a choice of activities which included transportation to the ‘most northerly golf course in the world’ ,a  class in making seal skin mittens , and a walking tour of the area, and the school.

At the Cultural Center the visitors were treated to a Drum Dance depicting a variety of  Traditional Inuit Customs and a display of local crafts which were available  for purchase.

At the school I met a charming lady and her husband ,originally from Sweden but now living in San Francisco.When the husband decided to return to the ship early , his wife stayed on, and she and I had a lovely time touring the school,while discussing the area ,as well as our own interests and back grounds. It was one of those rare and exciting experiences when two people just seemed ‘to click’, and we ended up exchanging e mail addresses. She even invited me for a tour of the ship, but the Master (Captain) of the World, had to  regretfully refuse her request because of Canadian Customs’ Laws dealing with tour ships. We were both disappointed but parted, promising to be in touch..

The threatening rain  finally came in the form of wet snow as the last of the tour group boarded and waved goodbye. It was another one of those unexpected events that I was fortunate enough to experience on my visit to Ulukhaktok , which I call ,”The Land of the Midnight Sun”.

Busy Days

If I thought that this was going to be a lazy vacation  I have discovered on a daily basis, how wrong I’ve been. If you have read the blogs I have posted to Facebook I’m sure you will agree with me.

As my days in this delightful community are quickly racing by I feel I still have a lot of things I want to do before I must leave. So i find that my days are getting even busier. Each day I go to the school and work on editing my manuscript ,”See You in the Morning”, which is due at Friesen Press Publishers in September.

There are still plenty of activities going on so there is rarely a dull moment.

Yesterday a cruise ship with many passengers from Germany docked briefly at the wharf.They were heading for the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic.The residents ,who normally set up their crafts for the tourists to purchase, were very disappointed because of the unusual afternoon departure of the ship. Since most of them have daytime jobs in the community , they did not have this usual opportunity..At least we got some pictures.

However, this morning helped to take the sting out of their disappointment as the teachers put on a pancake breakfast for the whole community. I had to be there by 8 o’clock if I wanted a good seat. By 8:15 the lineup was stretching out of the school door and down the steps. I think every person in this hamlet was there.

I don’t know how many times the teachers on cook duty had to whip up a new batch of pancakes, along with sausages , and make more coffee, but they certainly didn’t get much of a break.

Others were kept busy adding tables and chairs, and still others were on cleanup. It was a busy way to start one’s school day. But all in all ,everyone had a great time. Well, remember I speak as part of the community. Not good for the waistline but deliciously sinful!

Then I was off to Catherine’s grade 7 group , and ‘back in the saddle again’ , so to speak. There I did a session on the art of story telling  by dramatically presenting an Inuit legend called The Fire Owl.  And I was  thrilled when the normally passive, or inattentive students began to lean  forward in their chairs , becoming actively involved in the story by asking and answering questions..(Pictures of this famous ‘happening’ will be posted in due time.).

Later in the day the  barge carrying many new products for the community docked.When it unloads tomorrow,students from 12 years of age and upwards will be paid to unload the countless items and take them to a storage facility for the Co-Op.

 

As the week progresses I will be telling  puppet stories in some of the primary grades dealing with social skills.

Sad to say my delightful involvement with the people and activities of this hamlet of Ulukhaktok will soon be drawing to a close and it will  be  time for me to fly south. Like the geese I will be escaping the cold weather that will shortly begin to take over the land as the hours of sunlight are already noticeably diminishing.

However, until that time I will continue to share any events of interest.

 

Summer Picnic (Land of the Midnight Sun part 6)

It’s sunny and 12 degrees, as the kids begin to pile into the backs of the  pick-up trucks that are taking us to Oopilik Lake for a day of fishing, berry picking, eating and just ‘doing your own thing’, generally speaking.

Some of the younger teachers get in the back with them but the seats in the cab are reserved for the elders (anyone over 50) so I am riding in the R.C.M.P. constable’s truck.

As soon as we arrive at the lake everyone piles out and scatters. .t’s so exciting to have  a  day off school just for fun.

The first thing I set out to do ,with Cathy’s assistance, is to go berry picking; supposedly for blueberries. It takes time and skill to navigate the rough terrain in an effort to find some of these elusive berry patches.. By ‘rough’ I am talking about huge hummocks of dry grass and  large sharp rocks  which seem to have been turned over many eons ago, and have created  deep gouges in the ground. Cathy being more agile than I goes ahead to warn me off the dangers lying ahead of us. We finally find  a berry patch and we settle down to searching for the tiny red berries hidden underneath the leaves. I taste one anticipating a sweet juicy bite, but I find it to be flat, and sort of blah.,,,,very disappointing. We see very few blueberries. The ones I do happen to find are as tasteless as the red berries.

Why would anyone want to eat these unpalatable  things I wondered? Our friend Marlene, said she put them into her Christmas cake. She said she’d make us one to sample. She picked 4 medium storage bags full .to use in her baking. Cathy and I picked 1/2 bag between us, and gave our meagre offering to Marlene.That was quite indicative of our enthusiasm about this fruit.

We thought he water was too wavy for us to fish ,yet later in the day  one of the boys caught a 20 inch lake trout ,clearly showing  us that persistence eventually pays off .

Then came the exciting part…   eating!

Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers tucked between  slices of bread and topped off with cheese and mustard made a tasty start to our meal ,and fish and vegetable stir fry completed  our main course. Bannock  was served in two forms, do nut shaped  and long thin shapes with weiners in the middle of them. The kids said they were ‘pigs in a blanket’,

Hot chocolate, tea, coffee and pop looked after our thirst; while cookies and individual little cans of fruit such as pears, peaches and fruit cocktail made up our dessert . Roasting marshmallows finished off the meal if you still had any room left in your stomach.

Then the kids began to kick around soccer balls , play some baseball and try to catch minnows in styrofoam cups. Some of the older  high school students went rock climbing,  while others went for a long hike with their teachers and a few die -hards even tried to fish despite the waves.

I sat on a comfortable chair one of the boys brought over for me and chatted to the various young people who came up to ask my name , or age.. Of course Cathy got lots of pictures which I will eventually be posting on Facebook.

Finally the R.C.M.P. constable sounded the siren on his truck to indicate that it was time to clean up and leave.

Since the Inuit don’t use tables when they “go out on the Land” the  cans of  fruit, packages of cookies and marshmallows ,and other various boxes  were scattered around on the ground waiting to be picked up. The teachers have been told  not to try and change their culture so no-one suggests they do it the southern way and use  tables. After all they could hardly lug tables with them when they go out hunting “on the Land”.

Just as we arrive back at the school we see a group of young men and women   leaving to go hunting for geese and caribou. However instead of taking the dogs to pull their loaded sledges, they used their ATV’s.  Later on when the snow piles up they will return to the dog sleds, or maybe a few will use their skidoos. Either way the whole family will be loaded up along with the fur blankets  and other necessary  supplies, Then they will be off to catch meat for the  coming season.

Since many of the adults have full time jobs in the community they will be back early Monday morning along with their sleepy children who will stagger into their classes.,and sleep on and off during the day. The teachers understand this and will likely assign the unfinished lessons for homework.

Today has been another interesting aspect of Inuit culture which I have enjoyed immensely..

 

 

I Love it Here. ( The Land of the Midnight Sun (Part 5)

It is hot and humid in Nova Scotia and it is 4 degrees Celsius, with a chilly wind here in Ulukhaktok. We actually had snow flurries when we were walking to the Co-op to do our shopping this afternoon. So I bought a warm winter coat which is reversible and rain resistant to accommodate the ever changing weather. The snow only lasted for about 5 minutes so I didn’t get to give it a fair try, That is today. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

I already know what it is SUPPOSED to bring. The teachers , (including me) ,are going out to an island to complete the Cultural Day that we had on Thursday. ( See my last blog.)  We were supposed to go on Friday but the water was too choppy.  When we eventually  go we will fish and pick berries which is what the Inuit do when they ‘go out on the land’ . Then we have our picnic, (probably bannock and fish chowder.)

Some may want to go seal hunting as well. I am excusing myself from that activity.

Friday will be a similar day for the whole school when they have their summer picnic, but they won’t go out in the boats with the children. They will walk, (elders get a ride), quite a distance to a lake where they will fish, and pick berries ,which they collect in baggies. There are prizes for the students  who catch the biggest and  the smallest fish, and a prize for the student who gets the most berries. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold on either of these days. That will not stop us from going because ‘cold’ is a part of the Inuit culture. Now you know why I bought that winter coat .

When they have the school spring picnic in May it’s cold too, but they make a fire right on the ice and have a barbecue. Then they go ice fishing. What a different life style to that which I am used to, but I’m still loving every minute of it.

And the people are a great part of the reason I am enjoying it so much up here .

Today I met our neighbour Agnes when I was walking to the school. She smiled and asked me how I was. In retrospect I think she might have been smiling at the way I was dressed. I was all bundled up with my red jacket that I wear at home in the winter, a hat, a scarf and gloves .  I even had my hood up to break the wind. Her head was bare and her coat was open at the neck. She didn’t even have any gloves on.

I said to her in my amazement, ”Aren’t you cold, Agnes?”

In response, she chuckled and patted my arm as she said, “No, Sharon, I am not cold. You forget that I was born in an igloo” .That is just one example of the good natured humour of these people.

Everyone speaks to me as I walk along the gravel road. Some smile and say,“Welcome to Ulukhaktok”. Others ask how I am. People coming out of their houses will wave and smile. Even the man who drives the water truck waves and smiles at me.

The children run out to greet me. Some who have not yet met me come up and ask my name. I tell them, then ask what their names are.  Of course the little ones are rather shy at first, but once they recognize me as ’Catherine’s friend,’ they also say “Hi!”

Then it’s ”Bye”, possibly shouted out  two or three  times  as I continue down the road.

 

A Cultural Day at Helen Kalvak School Land of the Midnight Sun ( Part

Today has been like no other day I have ever experienced, I am thanking God for the unbelievable amount of energy He is supplying me with and I am not even aching from the exertion.

The Cultural Day began sharp at nine with a talk on Residential Schools and all of the related scars they left behind. Agness Kuptana and Annie Goose gave an emotionally charged presentation  of the horrors of being dragged away from their screaming parents by government officials  when only 5 years of age, along with many children from their village , then taken to the mission school of the Anglican church located on a nearby island.

Here their traditional clothing was taken from them and they were  forced to don what these misguided  individuals  regarded  as civilized clothing .They had to live in tents where they huddled together against the bitter cold.  Struggling to hold back their tears  they told us of the indignities heaped upon them  to teach them to be  like the white men.They were forced to learn a strange language and were strapped if they were caught speaking in their native tongue Being used to tasty native fare they found the bland food  given to them utterly repulsive

It certainly left us feeling very sad for these individuals and as for me, almost apologetic for the atrocities committed against such a gentle race of people, all through ignorance.

In order not to leave you with a bad taste in your mouth I shall skip on to a more pleasant and enjoyable topic called Print Making by Mary  Okhenna,

We watched the lady make a lovely print of an inukshuk, then we were given materials to make our own. I will be proud to show you mine.

There were two more presentations, one dealing with the Final Agreement between the Government and the Inuit and one on Traditional Hunting. But they are too lengthy to include in this account.

A lovely lunch was supplied  by the community which included char chowder and bannock, which looks like a donut but tastes like bread. Both were delicious.Since this is stretching out I shall summarize the afternoon activities.

Story Telling as a Traditional Way of Life by Elsie Klegenberg, and the History of Ulukhaktok involved how this village came to be developed over the years .

Then we had a lesson on the Inuinnaqtun Language. And of course I was right there trying to learn some of the words, but it was hard without my hearing aids which are currently out of action as some of you know.

The afternoon ended with a “bang” ,quite literally ,as we were fascinated to watch two types of Drum dancing.

After all that I went fishing for 3 hours, and my friend took me on a tour of the area on  her ATV. Wow!    Sure got some great pictures which will be posted soon on Facebook.

 

Fishy Fun (Land of the Midnight Sun part 3)

sygreer1:

This experience at the top of the world is rejuvenating me, and allowing me to share with my friends the wonder of a very old and different culture.

Originally posted on sygreer1:

It’s another near perfect day for me since I love this cool weather.After the heat wave I endured before leaving home this is paradise.

Last night we were invited out for dinner, and guess what we had? Fresh Arctic char of course, along with  a variety of vegetables .Good for weight loss ; at least the first course was.The ice cream and cookies probably weren’t.

Today I went out with one of the teachers ,an avid fisher woman, to catch my own char. For those unfamiliar with this pink, delicious fish, similar in appearance to salmon, but not as strongly flavored, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Right after lunch we trekked out across the field and down to the ocean. After a fair walk along the beach we came to our destination.It was a rocky point where the char loved to congregate .

A typically short, elderly Inuit couple…

View original 526 more words

Fishy Fun (Land of the Midnight Sun part 3)

It’s another near perfect day for me since I love this cool weather.After the heat wave I endured before leaving home this is paradise.

Last night we were invited out for dinner, and guess what we had? Fresh Arctic char of course, along with  a variety of vegetables .Good for weight loss ; at least the first course was.The ice cream and cookies probably weren’t.

Today I went out with one of the teachers ,an avid fisher woman, to catch my own char. For those unfamiliar with this pink, delicious fish, similar in appearance to salmon, but not as strongly flavored, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Right after lunch we trekked out across the field and down to the ocean. After a fair walk along the beach we came to our destination.It was a rocky point where the char loved to congregate .

A typically short, elderly Inuit couple were about to set out a long line of nets near the place where we planned to test our skill with the old fashioned rod and reel.

I was so fascinated with the procedure that I leaned my rod on a rock and walked over to watch them,

The were very carefully folding the net back and forth until it was ready to be loaded into their boat..The lady turned and smiled at me as I said, ” Hello.”

Her face was deeply wrinkled and brown from constant exposure to the sun, but her eyes twinkled when she spoke.

“You fishing for char?” she asked.

I nodded and replied, “I’m sure it’s better your way.”

“Yes,” she said ,chuckling,”much faster and catch more fish this way. Now we go to put out nets.” Her husband had anchored the one end of the net with a large boulder,then they climbed into their boat. He pulled the cord on the outboard motor and it sprang to life.Moving very slowly they carefully let out the long net over the side of the boat. Then the man lowered a huge boulder to anchor the net, marking the location with a white buoy.

I wondered how many  hundreds or even thousands of years this same act had been repeated.,possibly even from this very spot , Of course their ancestors used kayaks not outboard motor boats which made it much easier today.

When they pulled back up onto the shore I asked the lady how long they had lived here. She smiled once again, showing her nearly toothless gums.

‘My husband and me, we grow up here. Our mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers too, forever I think”

‘You must work very hard to catch the fish and the caribou and the muskox,” I went on. I was very impressed with these hard working people and wanted to learn all I could about them while I was here .

“Oh we have easy life. Ancestors they had hard life. They had to make igloo every year and keep warm and cook with little dish of oil,  and then make the  tents from the caribou skin for summer .They had to melt snow for water  or  get it from ice fishing holes.We have nice warm house and stove and water.” . Then she started to laugh..”We have the inside toilet too.They had to go out  and freeze the bottom in winter. Not so bad in summer..Like I say, easy life for us.”

Her husband called out, “We go now. More nets to do. Talk  later.”

The little lady waved and smiled once again.” Bye, Bye ” ,as she headed for the boat . “You go catch fish now..” Then she climbed into the boat and they were gone..

My teacher friend came over at this point carrying a big 5 pound Arctic char. “Isn’t it a beauty? It’s your turn now,.” she grinned, passing me my rod.

Well ,my turn consisted of two snagged lures ,and a nasty back lash.So much for my fish dinner . But tomorrow is another day, and I never give up.