T H E U P S A N D D O W N S O F S P R I N G: We have hopes; then it snows!
On one of the TWO spring mornings we had in April, we were finally able to “enjoy” a walk in our neighbourhood. We discovered a Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Church. We learned that there are actually 23 particular catholic churches, yet of the same faith that operate under the Pope of Rome but they have their own rites shaped by geographical culture, languages and history. 14/23 are Byzantine, originating from catholic churches in Greece and Asia Minor. Apparently, this Holy Spirit Parish church extends services in English but often with some Ukranian “flavouring” thrown in from time to time.
And here is an even better “spring” photo…. from Calgary: granddaughter Autumn with our daughter in law, Andrea.
EVENTS at LAKELAND COLLEGE
On the last day of our service with indigenous students at Lakeland College enrolled in the OTO (Oilfield Truck Operator) Program, we had a young married man from the Cree Nation come up to us and ask us a curious question. “Hey! You guys are millionaires, aren’t you?” We really were curious as to why he drew that incorrect conclusion. We had to think about this and several weeks later at the graduation ceremony for the OTO students, we came to a conclusion. READ ON.
At Lakeland College, the West side entrance of the Vic Juba Theatre has a very interesting mosaic mural entitled, The Buffalo Twins. Created in 2005 in remembrance of the Centennial of the town of Lloydminster (1903) and Lakeland College (1913), the mural contains 336 painting by 270 artists.
Closeup of individual paintings. Mural from a distance; sorry photo taken in bright sun with a shadow on the bottom rt corner.
The Theatre is named after local resident Mr. Victor Juba who had a long and successful career with Husky Oil and is well known for his deep commitment to the community of Lloydminster. He was instrumental in the development of a community theatre at the College.
The CEO of FIELDS, the non-profit we serve through travels from Idaho to have meetings in Alberta. Doyle Anderson has lunch at our apartment.
Sam, Jeannine and Doyle
In the evening, we attend an event at Lakeland College’s, Vic Juba Theatre with Elder and Sister Rhoton and Doyle Anderson.
The six of us are enthralled by speaker, Clara Hughes an Olympic Medalist who trained and competed in the games while battling depression. The event is in support of the Health Foundation in Lloydminster.
Clara is a six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating; she’s the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. For Clara, success meant more than earning medals. It meant having a voice and using the opportunity to reach out and help others. When she uses this voice, it’s loud, clear and very uplifting.
FYI: In 2006, Clara donated $10,000 of her personal savings to the “Right to Play” programs. This donation challenged Canadians to support the cause, raising over half a million dollars for the international humanitarian organization that uses sport for development. In 2010, she donated her $10,000 medal bonus to the Vancouver inner city school program, ‘Take a Hike’, which uses adventure based learning to give youth at risk a better direction in life. Clara was given the great honour of being the Canadian Flag Bearer for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, proudly leading the home team to its historic medal winning performance.
She is the National Spokesperson for Bell Canada’s Mental Health initiative and the ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign. By sharing past struggles with depression, Clara has helped break down the stigma associated with mental illness. She grew up in Winnipeg coming from a troubled home with an alcoholic father that lead to her parents going through a divorce. As a teen she followed her sister into the streets filled with drugs and alcohol until she saw a TV ad with a guy competing in the olympics. She turned her self around and became an athlete but all the while struggling with ups and downs of depression. She is a dynamic speaker. Clara had us on the edge of our seats. Now retired from competing, she’s an avid adventurer and enjoys bike touring, distance hiking and exploring with her husband Peter.
BANNOCK COOK-OFF at Lakeland College
During Aboriginal Week at Lakeland College, we attend a Bannock Cook-Off. The judges include the Aboriginal Representative Clint C. with whom we’ve become acquainted, Lakeland College President and two locals.
SUNDAY FUN – TEACHING PRIMARY CHILDREN & CHANGES
Elder and Sister McCollum spend 45 minutes Sunday mornings teaching these 4 year olds, Sunbeams in one of the Lloydminister Branches children’s classes. ALSO big church news: Creation of the 5th Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Edmonton area. Lloydminster Branch members join with other distant church units via webcasts to be part of a historical church meeting as the Edmonton Sherwood Park Stake boundaries are announced. Our new stake includes 3 wards (congregations) in Sherwood Park (just East of Edmonton) and 7 other units in Northeastern Alberta up to the Saskatchewan border: Cherry Grove Ward – near Cold Lake(the largest in membership); Fort Saskatchewan Ward, Wood Buffalo Ward (in Ft. McMurray), Tofield Branch, Vermilion Branch, St. Paul Branch and Lloydminster Branch. The new stake does include a small part of SK since the city of Lloydminster includes parts of AB and SK and our branch spreads out into the farmlands to the East to include various villages/farmland in SK near Lloydminster e.g.: Paradise Valley.
FYI: A stake is the name for an administrative unit in the LDS Church composed of multiple congregations and includes a geographic area. When members say they are going to the Stake Centre, we are not going to a Steak House for a beef dinner!
HIGH HO, HIGH HO, ITS OFF TO EDMONTON WE GO…Again
NOTE: Senior Missionaries do not need permission to travel within their mission boundaries. If we leave CEM boundaries, then we request permission from President Pattison.
At WEM on our “preparation Day” to meet up with our son Andrew, his wife Andrea and our grandchildren who travel from Calgary.
NORTH BATTLEFORD – HIGH SCHOOL – SAKEWEW
On a Friday morning, we travel East 2 hours to North Battleford to meet students and staff of this Indigenous High School with youth from four different reserves. Darwin and Andrea Rhotons have been preparing students to be Mentors for the Fall 2017 with incoming grade 9 students.
ACTUALLY, this sign reminds students to listen and learn from their “Elders“. Each first nation school has a senior member of their community that visits the school on a regular basis to share traditions and legends.
There is a lot of beautiful artwork lining the hallways.
GRADUATION PROGRAM FOR “OTO” STUDENTS
We are invited to the graduation for the Oilfield Truck Operator Program.
We had helped tutor these students in preparation for taking the testing for their learners permit for SK Class 1 professional driver and Air Brake “A” Endorsement. Here we are receiving a thank you card and handshake.
As mentioned above, a few weeks earlier, one of the students spoke with us and said, “Hey, you guys are millionaires, right! Our class director told us that you don’t get paid for tutoring us. She told us that you are volunteers and do this for free. Is that right? ”
It seems strange for these young adults from Onion Lake to learn that there are actually people around the community of Onion Lake and Lakeland College that give service and expect no financial return. We now understand why he considered the possibility that we were MILLIONAIRES. From their life experiences on the Cree Nation, they know that everyone gets paid for any “work” they do at Onion Lake. Volunteerism is not a part of their culture.
Now if this student asks us this question again, we will answer, “Yes, we are millionaires.” Why? We are receiving MILLIONS of BLESSINGS in our lives as we give service and extend our arms of friendship and love to the Cree Nation people.
OUR MISSIONARY APARTMENT
No we are not living in this tent!
But we have decorated a wall in our apartment with this Aurora photograph that is printed on a large canvas; a scene of a frozen lake with an ice fishing tent in the foreground and the dancing northern lights in the night sky.
FYI: Jeannine has signed up to receive from U of Alberta an email-alert when there is a 90% probability of sighting the Northern Lights in our area. So….. Jeannine sees an email at 2am: “90% chance of Aurora Viewing”. She awakes Sam, they get on their coats, mitts, hats and boots and drive North on #17 highway just until they leave the city lights behind, just a five minute drive. They get out of the warm car and stand out in the darkness of a COLD winter night, gazing into the cloudless northern sky above them. All they see a SLIGHT glimmer of white lights streaking above them in the sky BUT no beautiful green dancing lights. Any recent signs? No, just cloudy skies. If we have had a “good” view, we would have phoned The Rhotons, the other missionary couple serving here in Lloyd. They are anxious to have another viewing before their April 19th departure, the end of their mission in Canada. Sam and Jeannine will keep trying and keep you posted.
More on our apartment…..
Sam came up with a way to give us easy access to all the lids for our cooking pots. He just installed handy hooks (you know the kind that are removable by pulling the sticky pull tab.) Sure is a nice quiet way to find and store our pot lids. Thanks Sam!
FAREWELL TO ELDER & SISTER RHOTON
Just one of several good-bye dinners with the Rhotons (Darwin & Andrea). Joining them for dinner are the Martinez family (Aristides, Nancy, Max and Amelia originally from Mexico) along with Sam and Jeannine.
Then a birthday celebration for June Hudy of the Lloydminster Branch of the LDS church and final farewell luncheon. The McCollums and the Sister Missionaries: Gambler, Baloo & Morris bid farewell to the Rhotons.
FYI: all the missionaries in this celebration photo are from ARIZONA except McCollums!! After our service in the Hawaii Honolulu mission, we felt most “missionaries” came from UTAH. Here in the corner of the Canada Edmonton Mission, Arizona wins!
As a farewell gift, Sam and Jeannine give the Rhotons a framed poster of the 13 virtues represented by the poles of the TIPI. The elementary school education program at Onion Lake focuses their lesson-planning around these virtues. The Rhotons assisted in the classrooms, often sharing activities and stories about these virtues.
We will truly miss the Rhotons who have been our mentors in showing us the way to serve and love the Cree people. They have also been an example to us of enduring through the harsh Canadian prairie winter of 2017, especially since the Rhotons are returning to their homeland of southern USA, the state of ARIZONA. So Long. Farewell. We will certainly keep in touch with our new dear friends!
TRIPS TO ONION LAKE
Making the drive north from Lloydminister, we head out of the city on #17 highway. Even though the April skies do not show signs of spring with so MUCH snow in April, the North Saskatchewan River knows it is spring because the river is flowing! All the ice is gone. Have a look! Keep watch. Maybe those hills will soon turn green.
We continue on the road to Onion Lake to serve at Atoskasotan/Adult Career and Education Centre and also in the adult Upgrade classroom. As Jeannine enters the building, she notices a different poster on the wall advertising educational and training opportunities. Have you ever seen this career advertisement? A UNIFORM WITH YOUR NAME ON IT IS WAITING FOR YOU.
Check it out at: rcmpcareers.ca
You can choose to take your training in Saskatoon or Regina SK. (Years ago, actually 51 years ago, when Jeannine lived in Regina SK taking her Medical Librarian Course, she saw so many recruits for the RCMP round-about the city, easily recognized by their very short hair cuts. ) Looking for a new career: Go online and check out the Basic requirements and pay scale.
Sam meets with Lydia (Onion Lake-Career planner & Industry Liason) and a young adult from the reserve.
Sister Missionaries: Cheyenne, Ella and Leeta tutor in the upgrade classroom. Just recently, when upgrade teacher, Jacqueline B. was speaking to her students and also thanking these three young women (who are actually mormon missionaries but also serve under the FIELDS non-profit group) for the great assistance they give. She went on to refer to this trio as, “these virtuous women that serve in our classroom”. Indeed, a beautiful and descriptive compliment.
Here is Sam working with Jorell to help him manage his study time in the classroom.
Have you previously heard the name Jor-El? Yes, it is the name of Superman’s birth father. Good name. We have noticed many unusual first names amongst the Cree Nation people. We don’t hear many “common or well-used” names like: John, Peter, George, David etc. Perhaps, we will begin to keep a list that we will share with you in another blog. In Hawaii, we kept a list of countries that students came from; we collected 46 countries. So we’ll being with the list of Cree Nation Students. Of course many of them have interesting First Nation family names but name with names of European heritage.
SHARING FAMILY PHOTOS and NEWS of GRANDSONS
Grandson Hunter (16 years old) of Okotoks AB has an amazing school trip with the opportunity to travel to Japan.
Grandson Thayer (17 years old) of Fort Collins CO is part of a school club, Alpine Robotics. He and his team get to take “Hugh”, their robot to participate in Championships in Houston TX; he and his team worked hard for this tremendous opportunity.
In our “spare” time, Sam and Jeannine are preserving electronically a bin of old photos we brought with us, in preparation for our 50th upcoming wedding anniversary. We use a tool called a “Scan Jig”along with a cell phone. The photos then go to our main computer/ into iPhoto where we crop and edit the pictures. Amazing quality. Here are two shots of how it works. It will do all sizes and colour and B&W.
Two photos that are “blasts from the past”. Actually from 1966: Sam with his parents and siblings; Jeannine with her parents, siblings, a brother in law and sister in law and a few nieces and nephews.
Are you able to find Sam?
How about Jeannine?
ANOTHER TRIP TO EDMONTON
We will probably average at least 1.5 trips each month to Edmonton! As “Elder and Sister McCollum” we make a 3-part day trip to Edmonton to:
#1 Attend the Edmonton LDS Temple
#2 View the displays at a Preparedness Fair
#3 Visit Elk Island National Park
Following a 10am-noon session at the Temple, we attend a Preparedness Fair and find most interesting and helpful displays. Here is an idea we’d like to try out when we get the opportunity.
TO DO: Use a chain saw; make 2 cuts in a tree stump BUT make sure the stump is well secured so it cannot move while making the cuts. Next, place the log is on a metal stand or place a few rocks just underneath so that air will circulate under and up into the opening of the cut. Start a fire on the top of the log, in the “hole” using tinder to get it going. Place a frypan on the flame to cook your dinner! The fire will burn for HOURS. What a great source of heat to store for emergencies! The couple with the display call this the “Swedish Cooking Log”.
After the fair we set off for our first visit to ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK.
FYI: Elk Island Nation Park received its official designation in 1913; in 1930 the Canadian Parliament passed the National Parks Act. The park is 35 km east of Edmonton, along #16, the Yellowhead Highway, which actually splits the park into two parts. It is Canada’s 8th smallest National Park in area but largest fully enclosed national park. The park is representative of the northern prairies plateau ecosystem with a mix of native fescue grassland, aspen parkland and boreal forest. If you are blessed, you will see the largest and the smallest terrestrial mammals in North America, the wood bison and pygmy shrew respectively. The larger and more aggressive Wood Bison with a hump on the back of the neck, live on the south side of the park; the more docile and smaller, lighter in colour and with prominent busy beards and manes you’ll see the Plains Bison/Buffalo on the north part of the park which is open to the public with a drive-through roadway.
The fenced park also keeps in a large herd of Elk and Moose. Elk from this refuge have been sent around the world to help other populations recover.
There has never been any permanent First Nations settlement in the park boundaries but there are over 200 archaeological remains of campsites and stone toolmaking sites of Blackfoot, Sarcee and Cree peoples.
A variety of mammal species including coyote, plains bison, moose, mule deer, lynx, beaver, elk, white-tailed deer, porcupine, and bison are year-round residents. Occasionally Black bears and timber wolves have been spotted living in the park for a time.
Over two hundred and fifty bird species that can be found in the park at various times of year. Most notable among these are the red-necked grebes, American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, American bitterns and the trumpeter swans.
EXCITING SIDE NOTE: After a successful translocation of bison from Elk Island National Park to Banff National Park in February 2017, the first calf was born on what is perhaps the most fitting of days – Earth Day. It is the first time bison calves have been born in the national park in over 140 years.
Now you are thinking, “Enough of the nature lesson. Show us some photos.”
Now it is time to leave the park for we still a two hour drive back eastward to Lloydminster while it is still daylight.
AND time to finally close this BLOG posting of April 2017. Sending you greetings from the border town of Lloydminster AB/SK. We appreciate this opportunity we have been given to serve, learn, grow and love Heavenly Father’s family in this area of the Earth. Please be in touch. We enjoy your comments and emails.