Wow! We are certainly appreciating the arrival of Spring 2017. Perhaps when we receive our resurrected body, it will be similar to the amazing feeling we get when the Earth comes alive again after a long winter! The change of seasons here in the North Hemisphere is truly a miracle of the placement of Earth in distance from the Sun and the angle of Earth’s axis, not too far away and not too much of a tilt.
As Jeannine grew up, being the daughter of a southern Alberta farmer, she remembers the vast green farm fields looking like acres and acres of green lawns on the prairie land in the south end of the province. Many fields were seeded with winter wheat in the fall, which spouted and would grow several centimetres tall before the winter storms arrived. In the spring, winter wheat is the first crop to begin growing, hence the beautiful green fields. Why don’t farmers in this NE area of Alberta grow winter wheat?
Jeannine researched and read that recent developments in wheat varieties and changes in land management practices are now making winter wheat production possible in non-traditional areas, especially in the Parkland region of central Alberta. The article listed 7 reasons why winter wheat is a good crop BUT the beautification process where brown prairie land turns into acres and acres of green lawn was not mentioned!
The changes in the North Saskatchewan River and the hills along its banks certainly lets us know Summer is here. We missed getting a great photo of over 200 migrating swans, resting in a grain field. We could not pull over and stop since we had a big oil truck right behind us. Of course later in the day, on our return to Lloydminster, the swans had flown to their next “camp site”, making their way northward to nesting grounds.
North Saskatchewan River – February
The ponies with their winter coats live on a farm that we pass just as we enter the Onion Lake Cree Reservation.
TRIP TO EDMONTON and CALGARY
We left early on a Thursday morning to drive an elderly couple into Edmonton for medical appointments. It is not unusual to see a long long line of Oil Tanker railway cars (as pictured above) being pulled by 2 or 3 engines as they leave Lloydminster, heading West to Edmonton. Even with the NW address given to us by the elderly Hudys for the medical appointment, we felt it was an important opportunity to give service and help them out. We did wonder how long it would take us get out of the NW Edmonton and be on QE Highway #2 heading south to Calgary. We were blessed because even though the address was listed as NW, it was actually in the south end of the city! (Obviously the use of directional quadrants in Edmonton is totally different than the system used in Calgary.) We were thankful for the bare #16 Trans Canada Highway and in 2.5 hours, we got the Hudys to their appointment in Edmonton.
Then we make our way out of Edmonton, heading south to Calgary. Just in case you may have forgotten, senior missionaries are allowed privileges that the young missionaries are not usually allowed to enjoy. We requested permission from the Canada Edmonton Mission, President Pattison to allow us to travel to Calgary for a few days for doctor appointments and some family business.
We really do miss seeing mountains! Calgarians are spoiled having the Rocky Mountains just an hour drive away.
Arriving in Calgary, we were thankful to have accommodations at Glenda Nixon’s home (Jeannine’s sister).
THE BLESSING OF COMING TO SERVE FAMILY
Friday morning we had appointments with our family doctor; then headed over to SW Calgary to give three days of service and have fun as we tended grandchildren: Lincoln (8y), Autumn (5y) and Ryder (2y) while their parents flew off to Italy to celebrate their 10 wedding anniversary.
After exploring three playgrounds, we were all tired and headed back at the house.
Grandpa and Grandma discover they are still able to handle young children while they attend church; Grandpa does spend some time in the hallway!
Behind them on the wall, they discovered a posting of the full time missionaries from the Calgary Alberta Foothills Stake. Yes! Elder Kirkland Schmaltz has his photo posted. Kirkland is like a grandson to the McCollums; his parents are Petrina & Russell Phillips from Okotoks.
After three days, the children were loaded up and we drove them to the home of their other grandparents (Roger and Bev) so they too got to enjoy the blessings of tending L, A & R. Then one more medical appointment, and we were on the highway back to Lloydminster.
One hour from Lloydminster, our vehicle started swerving and was hard to control. Jeannine looked behind the vehicle and saw a swirling dirt cloud. It seems that we went through a whirlwind (not just a small dust-devil). We were thankful that there was not another vehicle in the lane beside us when our vehicle began rocking about. For us this is a first time experience. Has this ever happened to you?
CREE NATION – ONION LAKE SK
Next morning, we were off to Onion Lake; we enjoy the drive with the three Sister Missionaries as we prepare to serve and “play” on the Cree Nation at Onion Lake. We found this attractive spring wall decoration in the hallway of Cree Immersion School.
That evening, Audrey C. came by our apartment to get Mathematics tutoring. We invited Sister Gambler to help her. Our Math skills are perhaps… 50 years “outdated”?
A WALK IN THE PARK
Finally it was warm enough to check out the large Bud Miller park in the city of Lloydminster.
MOTHER”S DAY 2017
Sister McCollum is thankful for her sons and her daughter. She enjoyed her first ever Mother’s Day Face Time visit from Cambridge, England where her oldest son, Cliff, his wife Deanna and their youngest child, Nyah (age 16y) recently moved.
This photo card filled Jeannine with memories of the past and present! Certainly “Look-A-Likes”!
TOP: her sons Jared (who lives in Okotoks AB) and her son Robb (who lives in Kaysville Utah) wearing their superman capes that their mommy made for them when they were little boys.
BOTTOM: grandsons Samuel (7y) and Henry (4y). Henry is certain that both photos are of himself and his brother Samuel!
EMPLOYMENT WORKSHOP AT THE HALL ON ONION LAKE RESERVATION
With phase two of a heavy oil project about to take place on the northern part of the Onion Lake reservation, there will soon be a hiring process by a contractor that will build the infrastructure. The employment centre wants to give the men and women at Onion Lake a good chance at obtaining some of the jobs. An employment training session was scheduled. Sam and Jeannine were invited to give some training in: Key Accomplishment Resumes, Preparing for a Job Interview and by special request to present a portion of a FIELDS workshop, FIRST FLIGHT CHALLENGES: Change your Attitude, Fly Away from Addictions and Build your self confidence. (Read on and near end of blog there is more information on FIRST FLIGHT; this training is usually shared with First Nation high school and college students.)
Elder and Sister McCollum do not believe in good omens or such a thing as good luck, but they do know that coincidences do not just happen. Sam and Jeannine do believe in visions and signs.
As we neared Onion Lake on Thursday am, we sighted an eagle soaring above a clump of trees; our first sighting of an eagle in this area! (When we lived on Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley we often saw eagles.) We feel confidant that First Flight with its’ eagle symbolism is inspired and will become a blessing to First Nations students in this area.
We later learned that there is a very large eagle that is sometimes spotted near Onion Lake. Truly a blessed opportunity for us.
Large presentation screen in Hall at Onion Lake.
When we introduced ourselves and shared that 2017 is the year of our 50th anniversary, the group gave us a loud round of applause with cheers. Most of the attendees shook our hands following the presentation. Sam and Jeannine were very tired by the end of the afternoon after all the stress.
ONE OF MANY, BALL PARKS TO EXPLORE
Lloydminster is dotted with many baseball parks. Apparently, baseball is a very popular summer sport in the city.
Yes, in a city with an oil refinery located right in the city limits and a heavy oil upgrader plant just on the east side of town, disasters are real possibilities. Sam and Jeannine offered to participate in a low key MOCK DISASTER. Sam was assigned the roll of “Transportation Coordinator”. Jeannine served as “Scribe” to the operations chief and his assistant. It was great for them to meet city employees and community members.
SO LONG, FAREWELL
As we serve with missionaries, there is a constant coming and going, as they arrive to serve and teach and as they leave to return home and go on with their lives.
Good-bye Sister Gambler – front row, grey stripe top. She is Native American, from the Navajo Nation in Arizona. It was her last day in the Lloydminster area.
When the regular appointment for math tutoring fell through, the 5 missionaries decided to have a celebration/farewell luncheon in the small village of Paradise Hill, just a small detour, as we made our way south and back into the city. We previously had seen this isolated lovely little village on a COLD winter day in January, soon after we arrived on our mission. Now we understand why pioneers would have stopped, unloaded their carts and took up residence in the pretty little spot.
We took photos at the historic entrance to the village, a stopping point along a portion of the historic CARLTON TRAIL which was the primary land transportation route connecting the various parts of the western Canada. The main mode of transport along the trail was a cart drawn by a horse or oxen called the Red River Carts.
The stop at the sight was quick because we were feeling hungry. We head to the Paradise Hill Restaurant which is operated by a Korean family who attend the Lloydminster LDS Church branch, The Chiu family.
The restaurant served regular Canadian food and a few Korean dishes. Only Ella tried a “hot” Korean item on the menu.
HAPPENINGS AT THE LLOYDMINSTER LDS CHURCH BRANCH
At church one Sunday in May we had many Korean visitors because it was the weekend for the High School graduation out at Paradise Hill. Three of the graduates were Korean/Canadian students. Friends and Relatives had come to visit; the entire side of seats on one side of the chapel were filled with Koreans. We almost felt like we were back at BYU Hawaii with the international church family!
Last Sunday, we had Branch Conference; the church leaders from our new Sherwood Park Stake (with 10 other branches/wards in the area of NE Alberta) visit our branch and see how we are all doing. Following services, everyone brought food and we shared a pot-luck dinner. Jeannine made scalloped potatoes. Sam prepared a dessert. His culinary arts are limited, so he just had to take “step by step” recipe photos to share. See below.
A very interesting part of the Branch Conference was a “blast from the past”. As tables and chairs were being set up for the dinner, Jeannine saw a older fellow, actually about her age. She thought, “I think I know him from a long time ago.” Then the name Conrad popped into her head. So she asked, “Are you Brother Conrad? I cannot remember your first name. I know that your family ranched in the foothills near Claresholm Alberta, where my Uncle George and Aunt Melba Whitehead farmed.” When I said my family name was Jensen, Marvin Conrad remembered Jeannine’s parents and siblings.
Then, while we were eating, I heard a sister that was visiting say, “Did someone mention Taber Alberta?” I said to her, “Are you from Taber? What is your family name?” She said, “Gough.” I said, “I use to know Gloria Gough from Taber. Do you know her?”
She replied, “I am Gloria.” Well, since the two old ladies had not seen each other for over 50 years, it was no wonder we did not recognize each other! Jeannine wished she had thought to take photos.
Just a reminder that Elder and Sister McCollum as Sam and Jeannine serve through a non-profit group, FIELDS: The Foundation for Indigenous Education, Leadership Development and Sustainability.
Two months ago we received a copy of a booklet created by Howard Rainer, a Native American that supports Indigenous Youth. It is called FIRST FLIGHT, a workbook with 7 challenges. We felt it was very worth while and an excellent booklet for First Nations Youth but the booklets must be pricey in colour with high quality paper. So, Sam and Jeannine worked together to create seven workshops in a Power Point Presentation. Sam wrote a story that runs through the presentation, of a eaglet from birth, to when it flies away from the nest and to a mature adult. Jeannine has begun collecting examples of outstanding First Nations persons to help the youth relate with each of the challenges. She will share some of these true stories in later blog posts.
We took the flight exercises from the book and turned each of them into a workshop:
#1 Examine Your Attitude; #2 Test Your Wings; #3 Fly Towards Your Goal; #4 Fly Away From Addictions; #5 Build Your Self-Confidence; #6 Be a Good Reader; #7 Fly With The Creator.
RECONCILATION in SASKATCHEWAN
Have you heard of the TRC? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission was part of a holistic and comprehensive response to the abuse inflicted on Indigenous peoples through the Indian residential school system, and the harmful legacy of those institutions. Canada’s commission was established after the pattern of such commissions in Chile and South Africa. The TR Commission was officially established on June 2, 2008 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized for the role of past governments administration of the residential schools.
Individual provinces are inviting citizens to take personal responsibility to do what they can to create an interdependent and fair society. Last week, Jeannine was invited to attend a SK TRC meeting held at Onion Lake which included city and school leadership from Lloydminster and leadership from the Onion Lake Cree Nation which included Chief Fox. We met in the Onion Lake Wellness Centre, in a beautiful and colourfully painted round shaped room with native artwork on the walls and a rug depicting the sacred circle on the floor. At the start of the meeting, he went around the room and shook hands with each person attending.
Chief Fox is an impressive and personal speaker. He reminded us that the current bridge across the North SK River built 30 years ago is a symbol of the link between the people of City of Lloydminster and Onion Lake Cree First Nation’s people. There are approximately 6200 band members living at Onion Lake Reserve. He explained that when Treaty Six was signed by Chiefs of the Cree Nation that there was a big difference between the oral version and the written treaty. He told us that at one time there were two residential schools operating at Onion Lake: the Anglican and the Roman Catholic churches. These schools took away the focus on spirituality of the First Nations people which was a way of life for them and separated children from their parents and extended family. He feels the TRC should be all about forgiveness; he worries that the $250 Million the federal government put towards the TRC will just open wounds and the money will go to consultants and therapists.
Chief Fox explained that 80% of the buildings and infrastructure at Onion Lake First Nation were not government funded. He then invited each person at the meeting, around 30 of us, to introduce themselves and their role. Jeannine’s opportunity to speak came near the end of the circle so she had the opportunity to get more and more nervous. She gave a brief introduction of herself, the FIELDS organization and ended by stating, “I know that we are all spirit children of the Great Creator.” The group then picked up boxed lunches and boarded a lovely large bus for a tour of the reserve. Unfortunately, Jeannine was not able to join the bus tour of the Nation as she had responsibilities for FIELDS that were booked for the afternoon.
OK. It is time to sign off. Just before we do, here is another “blast from the past”, the end of May 2016, the last day of our Hawaii Honolulu Mission.
DO WE MISS HAWAII? Only the warm days but now that we are enjoying Spring! We do miss all the international students we came to love and appreciate. We do miss spending lots of time with our son Robb, his wife Kimberly and their sons: Samuel and Henry!