In 1977 our family left Southern Africa, where my parents served as missionaries, and settled in Three Hills, Alberta, for what we thought would be a one year furlough. Instead, we stayed in this small town on the prairies, which provided many opportunities for my personal faith to grow and flourish. Along with memorizing hundreds of Scripture verses, studying the Bible, listening to world-renowned missionaries like Dr. Helen Roseveare, and experiencing majestic music nights, I discovered not everyone wanted to follow Jesus Christ. (In grade 7 some of my classmates gave me the nickname, "Saint R.B.") During my grade 8 year I renewed my commitment to Jesus Christ and was baptized.
In grade 9, I entered Prairie High School. That year our language arts teacher asked us how she could pray for us. I was shy, so I asked her to pray that God would give me boldness and help me welcome all the new classmates who had joined us. I also joined the high school band. Our conductor was a former RCMP member who walked through the halls of our school with no emotion 😐 on his face. I made it my goal to make him smile every time he saw me. After several attempts, I was successful 😃.
High School provided many more opportunities for me to grow in my faith. I enjoyed the weekly youth events, including the "Sing-and-Share" nights where we were encouraged to share what God was teaching us. In grade 10 I thrived under the instruction of my volleyball coach. I related well to her because she wanted to be back in South America where she had served as a missionary, and I was still working through not being able to return to Southern Africa. At the end of grade 10, I spent the summer at Ross Haven Bible Camp as a junior counsellor. The campers challenged me to explain my faith clearly. I also learned how to play almost any chorus by ear on the piano as I was the only pianist at camp and printed music was not always available. One week I received a phone call from my parents, informing me that our family was moving away from Three Hills. I was devastated! I prayed that God would allow me to stay at Prairie High School. He answered by having my grandparents offer to host my sister and I so that we could attend school there.
However, the next year my parents wanted us home. My sister and I attended Hines Creek School - a small K-12 public school north of Grand Prairie. What a culture shock! I was the only one who had not been in the class since Kindergarten. I missed my friends. I grieved not being able to graduate with them. I cried myself to sleep. I prayed that God would bring at least one person to saving faith that year. God answered when one of my sister's classmates accepted Jesus Christ as her Saviour.
There are many more memories I could share of Canada and opportunities to grow in my faith. However, my prayer is that God will help each of us to continue to grow in our faith, that we will be lights, and that God will keep Canada glorious and free.
How are you celebrating Canada150?