RED SALAMANDERS AND SNAPPING TURTLES The children had the wildest, most beautiful and educational playground in the world.  As a family, we explored its beauty often.  We went to the Cape Croker Park which was a money-making campground.  We enjoyed the swings, then walked or drove among the lovely, mature blossoming trees and the dense birch section which we dubbed the  ”birch ballet”.  In the woods near our home, we picked up pretty brown and white snail shells and watched for the small, red salamanders which I have never seen anywhere else in Canada.  We walked and waded along the beaches, collecting “fossils”.  Once, on the shale rock in the shallow water behind our house, we actually watched fish hatching. On Sunday afternoons, we usually went for a hike along the bluffs.  We parked our car near the Akiwenzies’ house, which backed onto the bluffs, telling them where we were going, and about when to expect us back.  This was because the bluffs,


  n                                    THROUGH THE FAITH OF A LITTLE CHILD                                    Our time at Cape Croker was rapidly coming to a close.   Rien began attending house meetings at Saugeen Reserve, to the south of us.   A group, often including Georgina, would carpool every Friday night.   I stayed home with our young children, but waited expectantly for reports of the meetings.             The meetings were charismatic, Spirit-filled small-group gatherings where God moved and anything could happen: healings, deliverances, utterances in other tongues, prophecies, visions and more. Rien, partly because of his formal Dutch church background, and partly because of his down-to-earth personality, was not easily convinced that God was at work in these things.               One night, the host’s little four-year-old boy became excited and tried to get his Dad’s attention: “I-I-I-I….” “Sh-h-h, don’t interrupt.” “i-I-I-i…” ‘Sh-h-h! Finally, “Okay, so


  (23 rd Psalm devotional)       JUST A BAG OF MARBLES           by Frances K. Van Mil Our family was at the farmers’ market two summers ago near Gimli, where my son lives. There were many colourful booths and craft demonstrations   on this busy Saturday morning. There were fresh farm vegetables, artists selling hand-painted cards and jewellery, knitted shawls, candles, pottery, baking and more.   My son bought us doughnuts hot off the griddle, and later a breakfast sandwich.   There were cute farm animals including a fearless baby pig who was let loose into the crowds.   There was a lovely garden and the smiling owner with his truck. I had my walker with me, and steered it into a booth, my two granddaughters calling, “Grandma!” when I forgot to stop to sanitize my hands. “Come in, Grandma”, said the smiling lady at the door.   No one else in the family was interested in this particular booth but me, as I love looking at old-fashioned things and wanted to buy something retro for m


                        A GREAT LOSS TO SOCIETY:   LACK OF THANKFULNESS             Although our family did not attend church when I was growing up, we still honoured the Lord in many simple ways which are so often lost today.  At  Christmas, for example,  there was always an evening of singing carols, and the faith in these carols was taken seriously.  I can still hear my father and my Uncle Dick each taking the part of a different one of the kings in “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, their bass voices ringing out in joy.  As we celebrated either the sumptuous Christmas feast or the autumn fruit-laden Thanksgiving repast, the host of the table, either my father or Uncle Dick, with whose family we alternated these celebrations, would at the very least utter a brief prayer of gratitude to God.  I remember that Uncle Dick always remembered those people who were too poor to be able to share such a dinner.  My father would often say a Latin grace, one which meant the world to him.  Thus th


                                                                     A Table in the Wilderness               Copyright Frances K. Van Mil      Things were dull.   Sometimes, there are periods in ministry when there is a lull, things are hard, you do not sense any direction from God nor sense anything good happening.   We were on a small reserve in Manitoba , living in a tiny, shabby box-like house in, of all places, a lumber yard. Let me tell you about our little shabby boxy house in the lumber yard. Then that will help you to understand why an inexpensive but pretty table could possibly mean so much to me.   The house, one of six emergency wartime houses bought for a song by the Wa-Wa-Taik   native lumber yard for storage, was small but classic and well-constructed, with two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs,   and a bedroom, kitchen and long living-dining room area downstairs. There was no basement, but Rien had added on a back porch area for the washer and drier.   For


                                      A MUSICAL MEMORY – AND HOW THE LORD SAVED THE DAY!             I am remembering a special time in my life, and how it almost ended in bitterness instead of joy.               I had withdrawn from university right before my second year final exams   due to pressures mounting in my life.   I was living at home with my parents, recovering from poor mental health and had not yet begun to look for a job.               My dear mother, trained in psychology and having worked with mental patients, knew that I needed something positive to occupy my time.   I took her up on that and decided to study violin at the Hamilton Conservatory of Music, only a half hour drive from Dundas, where we lived.   I had played viola in our high school orchestra for three years, but had never had private lessons.               Mr. Chertkoff, the teacher assigned to me, encouraged me to switch to violin, as there was much more music available, and so I joyfully began


                                             THAT PERSON RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME               Lord, I have missed your will in so many ways!   I think of the time that a senior gentleman had fallen on the sea of ice behind my apartment building.   Both the ladies I was driving with to church and I immediately thought of the good Samaritan story.   In front of us was an almost identical situation.   A lady from an upstairs window called out that the superintendent had been called, and, more importantly, an ambulance.   My friend threw a blanket over him, said a few comforting words, then we left.   I always felt that I should have stayed with him until help arrived.                 I was in a situation once when I was teaching in a village before I got married.   An OPP officer, the husband of one of my colleagues and a wonderful person, had answered a domestic violence call without backup, and had been stabbed with a knife, endangering his eye and career.   I lived in a cottage on a