Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Home for the Holidays - almost

It has been a hectic road trip so far, but we are officially back in Canada for the Holidays. After leaving Koinonia on the 19th we have stayed near Atlanta, Independence Missouri, Sioux City South Dakota, Brandon Manitoba and Regina, Saskatchewan. Tonight we should be in Taber to visit with Trevor and my extended family for Christmas.

From Dec 27 to January 1 we plan to be in the Calgary area visiting with friends and family. Then we will head for Vancouver Island and move into our new house there.

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our home and native Land!

Well, it is official.... We are back in Canada and currently in Brandon to visit with Jan's extended family.

Roads have been good and we hope to head for Alberta tomorrow to see Trevor and my family.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Koinonia Christmas Party - and Farewells...

Well, today was the last day of our internship. Koinonia celebrated with a big Community Christmas party and all the interns were recognized for their service over the past 3 months. There were many emotional farewells with our new friends and suddenly Koinonia is now a fascinating set of memories.

Krista was singled out for an intern award - even though she officially was not an intern for this term. Her special recognition was for starting a daily aerobic work-out class at Koinonia that will continue in her absence. She will definitely be missed.

It took much longer than expected to pack and move our trailer over to storage at Sunny acres. Even longer to get out of Americus and onto the highway. Tonight we are in Forsyth Georgia. Tomorrow perhaps it will be Independence Missouri - provided all goes well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shaking Trees

Our internship at Koinonia officially ends tomorrow (Friday Dec 19th) and we start our journey back to Canada. This timing also coincides with the completion of the pecan harvest.

In earlier postings I mentioned the process of sweeping the pecans into windrows and picking them up with the harvester. Most of these nuts had fallen from the trees during high winds or rainstorms. These pecans are called free-falls.

Unfortunately, the big majority of the nuts prefer to stay attached to the branches. This means you either need a very long step ladder or some way to persuade the branches to release the pecans so gravity can do it’s job.

The solution to this problem is a tree-shaker. This machine, as shown in the photo, simply grabs the trunk of the tree and then shakes the living daylights out of it. Nuts come raining to the ground, along with masses of leaves and branches.

We have just completed the second round of tree shaking. The first round was done while the trees were green - as shown in the photo. The second round after the leaves had all fallen and the trees all appear dead.

The other day I noticed something quite profound. Pecan trees tend to be quite brittle and whenever they are shaken, weak branches break off and fall to the ground. This can mean alot of work to pick up the fallen sticks - which otherwise cause chaos for the harvest machinery and unloading process - when the trees are leafy and green. Unfortunately, it is alarmingly more work when the trees are leafless and dormant.

As if that isn’t bad enough, dead trees are very dry and brittle and they shed limbs at an alarming rate. Naturally you can avoid shaking dead trees in the early Fall since they can be easily recognized. In the Winter, the live trees and dead trees look pretty much alike. At least until you shake them! Bud found this out the other day when he accidentally shook a dead tree at the end of one of the rows and major limbs and branches went flying everywhere.

I suppose this might be alot like people. When everything is going along smoothly, we all appear the same. Until something comes along to shake us. If we are spiritually alive, I suppose we should come out all right. If we are spiritually dormant, who knows what parts of our life will come crashing down!
This current round of oil supply/demand driven price chaos and the resulting economic instability, job losses, etc. will certainly be shaking lots of trees in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Thought

Even though the weather has been beautiful with temperatures in the 70s, you can still sense the days are getting shorter and you can believe that Christmas is on the way. Today it was my turn to give the noon devotion - or the lunchtime spiritual thought - and this whole idea of Christmas had been very much on my mind. While it has become a major holiday for us, the early Christians didn’t give it any thought. In fact, there is solid evidence that suggests that the origin of our Christmas celebrations came from pre-Christian times.

Our ancestors were completely dependent on agriculture to provide for their livelihood. Without modern technology, they were keenly aware of the cycles of nature. Each year they observed the coming of Spring and waited for the best time to plant their crops. The increasing intensity of the sun brought the Summer season. Plants flourished, matured and began to ripen. Then the sun would slowly seem to recede again - days grew shorter until the Fall equinox. This was marked with harvest festivals with thanksgiving for the abundant harvest. Then in steady progression the nights would get longer and colder until it seemed that cold and darkness would overcome the entire world. Leaves fell from the trees, grass turned brown, and it appeared that all of nature was dying with the receding sunlight. Would death and darkness win? Would the sun disappear completely leaving the earth to die? Rituals and sacrifices urged the sun to return again. Until a few days after the Winter Solstice, it could be observed that the daylight was increasing again, bringing with it hope for new life.

It seems that the Roman Church found it too difficult to stop people from celebrating this Winter Solstice festival so they simply shifted the focus to the birth of Jesus. This is why we celebrate Christmas on December 25 - four days after the solstice and the first day that you can be sure the days are beginning to lengthen again. Perhaps this is as it should be, since the birth of Jesus also brought hope for new life.

Each one of us has a strong personal tie to this cycle of nature. We are all born, and then barring accident or illness, we grow to maturity, then slowly decline. The events, people, places and ideas that we experience during this cycle of our life create our own personal world-view and our individual reality. From this perspective, our death marks the end of our world. However, God exists in a completely different Reality. One that is not bound by time nor by space.

The other day I was studying Hebrew again and I ran across something that truly amazed me. In reading the first chapter of Matthew I found a fascinating passage describing Joseph’s encounter with an angel as he was dreaming. In English we are familiar with the statement “His name will be Jesus because he will save his people”. In Hebrew it goes something like this “shemu Yeshua kee yeshua et imu”. OK. So most good bibles already have a footnote to say that Jesus means “Jehovah saves” - or even “he will save” - and it can mean either. What that footnote didn’t say is that “Shua” or “saves” actually comes from a Hebrew root YSHA that suggests “the action of being delivered from a tight, narrow place of danger to a wide open place of safety”. Perhaps the early Israelites were claustrophobic? Actually we preserve some of this same thinking in our English expressions like “I was really in a bind” or “feeling cornered”. When we are in a tight space we have limited choices and no room to move.

What did Jesus come to do? Perhaps he comes to us in our narrow and finite individual realities (which are bounded by birth and death, distance and time) and delivers us into the wide-open, unlimited Reality of God.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

PS. In support of my spoken devotion, Bud Styles - with support from Norris, Donnie and Emma Sue favoured us with a couple of Bud's favorite spirituals. This one was called "Jesus, He's gonna fixit - Oh yes He will now!"

I really wish you could have heard it - It was truly amazing!!

Used trailer, Anyone?

Things have been hectic lately. Jan has been swamped in the shipping department and the pecan harvest is just now coming to a close. Now the more urgent priority is that we are rapidly coming to the end of our internship and our return trip is very complicated. We really want to be in Brandon for Dec. 23 to visit Jan's relatives and in Taber for Dec 24 to see my folks and Trevor. This means we have to cover over 2500 miles between Friday afternoon (Dec 19th) and next Wednesday. Should be interesting!

On top of that, we have had a very difficult time getting straight answers from the RV dealers down here. We thought we had a solid consignment and warranty service arrangement and then the dealer changed terms at the last minute.

Now we are working on plan D (Plans A through C sure didn't work). It goes something like this:
1) Park the trailer here at Koinonia and leave it behind for now
2) Pack what we need in the truck and head for Canada on Friday afternoon
3) After Christmas holidays, drive to Vancouver Island and get settled in our new house
4) Research the most cost-effective solution for the trailer
5) Drive the truck back to Koinonia in March or April and pick up the trailer - then drag it back to Canada.

So - if you know anyone who wants to buy a good used trailer - just let us know!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back to Canada

As you can see in this photo, Koinonia has enjoyed some beautiful sunsets lately. Perhaps it is the best way to symbolize that we are officially in our last week in Georgia. By lunchtime on Friday, we should be hooking up the trailer and making our way back to Canada.

As for plans, they look something like this:
1) Try to arrive in Taber for Christmas. Spend a couple of days with Keith's family and hopefully connect with Trevor.
2) Spend a few days in the Calgary area, connect with Jan's family and friends.
3) Some time, close to New Years, we should point the truck West and make our way to our log house on Vancouver Island. Krista wants to start high school there at the beginning of February.

As for Koinonia, it is been a very rich and powerful experience that will take a very long time to process. It has certainly been a learning experience - and you know the old saying "some days you live and other days you learn". It has been learning for the entire 3 and a half months!

(As for the trailer - we are looking to leave it in Georgia on a consignment lot - we are sure we won't need it in the long-run. Know anyone looking for a good used trailer???)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Koinonia Product Season!

Life at Koinonia is crazier than usual these days. While we are still busy with the Pecan Harvest, a second activity has roared past in intensity and attention. This is affectionately known as Product Season and it is the time of year when all the pecans, bakery products and Clarence Jordan's Cottonpatch Translations are sold and shipped all over North America.

To arrive just in time for Christmas! - hopefully....

It can be a little daunting - we work for weeks harvesting pecans, and several months to process the all the nuts. Then the folks in the bakery work for months to turn the nuts, chocolate, etc. into delicious delicacies, package them and store them in cold storage. Then within a few short weeks, filled with thousands of phone calls and web-based orders, the cold storage is emptied and the products find their way - via Fedex - all around the continent.

This amazing mail-order business is nothing new. Clarence Jordan came up with the idea almost 40 years ago when the KKK boycotts made it impossible to buy or sell in the local area. They needed some way to survive and Clarence dreamed up the idea of a mail-order catalogue with the catchphrase " Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia". Since the launching of this idea, the mail-order sale of pecan-based products has been the primary revenue stream for Koinonia and has provided jobs for many of the locals in an area with few other opportunities.

This experience has been especially interesting for Jan, as she has had the chance to bake and package lots of goodies over the past few months. Then she worked for several days in the pecan processing plant and now she has moved on to shipping where she is filling orders with the all the great stuff that she baked and packaged.

So - let me put in a little advertisement for Koinonia. If you are looking for some great peach cake, fantastic chocolate, fresh pecans or fascinating reading material for Christmas - please follow this link and see what's on offer:

If you order soon, it should get there for Christmas. Don't delay too long or the folks in shipping (and this means Jan too) will get overly stressed out trying to get it there on time...

And I'm not on commission - honest - (except for the chocolate and peachcake samples that show-up in the coffee room from time to time).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Which reality?

The 2008 SOA vigil was a sobering event. The most profoundly moving part was a role call of the names of victims who have been killed in Latin America by graduates of SOA training. Several hundred names were read and for each name the crowd responded with Presente! As the role call continued, a massive funeral procession, more than 20,000 strong, made it’s way slowly past the fenced-off entrance to Fort Benning. As each mourner passed the gates they deposited a cross bearing the name of a victim in the wire mesh fence. The process continued for more than 2 hours and they only covered a small fraction of the more than 10,000 documented victims of US intervention in Mexico, Central and South America. These people’s lives are the price of keeping Latin America safe for Corporate America.

During the entire vigil, US military helicopters hovered overhead and police officers lined every foot of the street. This constant presence insured that Fort Benning, with its’ several thousand trained soldiers and its’ incredible variety of state-of-the-art weapons of death and destruction, would remain safe from the peaceful, unarmed demonstrators who gathered outside the walls. Why were they so afraid?

Perhaps it can be summed-up using the words of Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine, who spoke at the beginning of the rally. Rabbi Lerner suggested that the SOA vigil represented a conflict between two realities. The current reality contends that we are born alone, helpless and afraid into a hostile world. There is a shortage of resources so we must compete for our very survival. Only the strongest can obtain the resources that are required for life, so we must support the powerful who will protect us from others and help us obtain the goods that we need for our survival.

Whether Rabbi Lerner realized it or not, he paraphrased the thesis of the 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes who argued that human life in a state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” because each person would think they have a right or a license to everything in the world. According to Hobbes, this necessarily leads to each person being in a perpetual state of conflict with everybody else; or a condition he called the “war against all”. Hobbes framed the concept of a “Social Contract” in his masterwork “Leviathan (1651)”. This “Social Contract” theory, where citizens cede their natural individual rights to a powerful (read forceful and violent) sovereign in return for protection, is still widely accepted as the basis of civil society in the Western world. Interestingly, Hobbes also noted that the inevitable abuse of power by this sovereign must be tolerated as the “price of peace”.

While this fear-based reality may seem all too familiar to most of us, Rabbi Lerner went on to suggest that there is a powerful alternative view. He asked us to think our best thoughts about how the world could be changed for the better. Then he asked us to envision the convention center auditorium, which was full of people thinking these same positive thoughts. He called us to imagine the people who were already outside Fort Benning who held the same positive and loving thoughts. Then the people of the city, the people of the state of Georgia, people of America, the entire world and all of this within a beautiful and amazing universe that is ruled over by a loving and merciful Creator. A Creator who gave us a world with more than enough for everyone if we take according to our needs and not according to our unrestrained desires and irrational fears. Of course this second world view must be taken mostly on faith. We see few expressions of this reality in the headlines of our daily newspaper. Nevertheless, I have personally witnessed expressions of this reality in rural Honduras, Bolivia, Jordan, Palestine and Indonesia. Places where people have next-to-nothing and yet are willing to share everything they have for the sake of a stranger in need.

So, what does this have to do with the drama that played out at the Fort Benning gates? Inside Fort Benning there were people armed with guns, airplanes, helicopters and tanks who have sworn to uphold and sustain an abusive power structure that provides enormous benefit for a privileged few at tremendous cost to the many. Most of these stalwart defenders feel justified in their position because they are certain that chaos will break out if the existing “social contract” is questioned. Outside the gates were people armed with faith, hope, love, joy and a certainty that the resources represented by the 1.0 trillion dollars of annual US “defense-related” spending could be better used to bring sustainable food, water and shelter to the people of the world. I suppose we truly do represent a serious threat.

What would happen if the vast majority of US citizens woke up tomorrow and refused to allow 50% of their hard-earned tax dollars to be spent on the military-industrial complex? What would happen if they demanded health care, improved education, a living wage and justice for themselves and the other citizens of the world? What if they chose to live in a world of faith rather than a world of fear?

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus started his ministry with these words - “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. I suppose we are so familiar with this phrase that much of the meaning is lost. Clarence Jordan, New Testament Greek Scholar and the founder of Koinonia, pointed out that “Repent” in the English translation comes from the Greek words meta and noeo. It is very similar to our familiar word metamorphose - where meta means a complete and utter change and morph means form or shape. By the same logic, metanoeo - “Repent” - means a complete and utter change in your way of thinking. If we all did this, wouldn’t the Kingdom of Heaven be a whole lot closer?

I know it won’t be easy, but would you ever imagine that a caterpillar could fly?

Friday, November 21, 2008

SOA Watch and Vigil

It has been quite the week. Pecan harvest is still the big concern but nothing stands still at Koinonia. Yesterday Al Zook and his friends from West Virginia dropped by for a visit. Al and his family moved to Koinonia in 1968 and they were close friends of the Jordans, Fullers and Mosleys. Most of the Koinonia community sat in the museum and listened intently as Al recounted his stories about the golden era of Koinonia Partners. These people - Millard and Linda Fuller, Don and Carolyn Mosley, Al Zook are truly the spiritual elders of Koinonia. We have been blessed to meet them - and saddened that they have been called beyond Koinonia in their personal spiritual journeys.

We are now coming up on the SOA (School of the Americas) watch and vigil. School of the Americas (SOA) - now named Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) - is responsible for training Latin American soldiers in commando techniques, torture and psychological operations which they often use in the suppression of their own countrymen. The SOA is located at Fort Benning - about 60 miles from Koinonia - and for more than 30 years Koinonia has been active in drawing attention to the abuse and injustice that originates from these programs.

In recent years, more than 20,000 people descend on Fort Benning during the weekend of Nov 21. They come from all over the US and Latin America to call for an end to the injustices and the interventionist programs. Koinonia has been a launching pad for these protests for decades. Today we have seen a multitude of people come, pitch tents, sleep on floors, etc. Tomorrow we will drive up to Columbus for the big event.

For more information on the SOA - please check this site

(In the photo: Nashua - Koinonia's Peace Clown, veteran of several SOAWs, Prisoner of Conscience, and our dear friend - getting ready for the big event.

Jubilee Partners

Well, what can I say. Life at Koinonia is anything but dull!

Since the election and Millard's visit, lots of things have happened here and there has been no time to add to the blog!!

Among the highlights - On the weekend of November 9th the Kiononia intern group went up to visit Jubilee Partners. Jubilee is a daughter community of Koinonia that was formed in the late 70s. Koinonia Partners bought the land - about 250 acres near the town of Comer in Northern Georgia - and three families from Koinonia started the community. Don and Carol Mosley were among the original families and they still live in the community. In fact, Don gave us a guided tour of Jubilee and also a very personal history of a vital period in the life of Koinonia and Habitat for Humanity.

It was the height of the Arab oil embargo and Koinonia was a leader in exploring alternatives: solar techniques for energy - and ferro concrete for house construction . In fact, it appears that one of the main reasons that Jubilee was conceived was to bring this technology to Northern Georgia. As Don pointed out, God had different plans for Jubilee.

Once the land was acquired, the Mosley's, Wier's and Karis's moved from Koinonia and began to homestead at the new site. For the first few months they camped on the land, bathed in the cold creek and struggled to build houses before winter settled in. Increasingly they began to feel as if they were refugees trying to survive in a new land after being driven from their homes. At the height of their experience, the news media started daily coverage of the plight of the Vietnamese boat people who were fleeing the fall of South Viet Nam. The two realities came together in a powerful way and Jubilee Partners heard the call to assist refugees and help them get established in the USA.
As of today, they have helped more than 3500 refugees learn English and get a fresh start in America. These people have come from every major conflict zone over the past 30 yrs. More details about Jubilee and the Mosley's will follow, but for now you can read more here

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BCC water network receives YMCA Peace Medal

We were thrilled to receive word that Trevor and Janaki were recognized by YMCA Calgary as the winner of the 2008 Peace Medal for International Group efforts. This award recognizes the amazing accomplishments of the Bolivia Canada Clean Water Network which has helped to bring clean water to more than 1500 Bolivians over the past year.

Move information, including a video presentation is available at this link:

Well done Trevor and Janaki!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Evening with Millard Fuller

This evening our intern group had the privilege of meeting with Millard Fuller, the second leader of Koinonia. Millard, who is better known as the founder of Habitat for Humanity, shared his story and perspectives on life in general.

Millard was born in Lanett, Alabama, near the Georgia border, in 1935. He grew up poor and milked cows to earn money for his schooling. Millard graduated with a degree in economics, followed by a law degree. He founded a marketing firm with one of his college friends and by 29 he had made his first million. He married Linda Caldwell in 1959 - and according to Millard - he brought her home and ensconced her in a big, beautiful, but empty house. He was so busy working that he was never home.

Within a few years their marriage was on the rocks. Linda had left to live in New York and Millard went after her. They decided their life was not making sense, so they sold everything they had and gave the money to the poor. Then they dedicated their lives to serving Jesus.

They came to Koinonia for the first time in 1965. They came to visit friends, who were living here, on their way back from a family vacation in Florida. Their intention was to stay for one hour, but during lunch Millard had the opportunity to talk with Clarence Jordan and they ended up staying for a month. Millard’s experience milking cows turned out to be very valuable because he could volunteer to help Clarence milk the cow two times each day. These are the times when Millard would sit and talk theology with Clarence. To this day, Millard tells people that he is a graduate of the Cow Seminary.

Life took them different directions but they came back to Koinonia in 1968. By that time, Koinonia was almost finished. Clarence related that Koinonia was already in trouble in the 50s due to internal bickering. The KKK shootings and bombings had forced the community back together in the face of a common enemy. Once that threat was gone, the community began to dissolve. Only the Jordans and Whittkampers remained on the farm. According to Millard, these were four of the most Godly people he ever met and yet their relationships had deteriorated so badly that they would not talk to each other without a tape recorder running. That way they could insure they wouldn’t be misquoted.

Shortly after Millard and Linda returned to Koinonia they began working with Clarence on a project called the Fund for Humanity. They surveyed out some lots on the North end of Koinonia Farm and began partnering with black sharecropper families to help them build their own home. This was the beginning of Habitat for Humanity.

Unfortunately, Clarence Jordan died suddenly of a heart attack on Oct. 29, 1969. The first house was not yet completed. Most people credit Millard with taking over leadership of Koinonia after Clarence died, but he shared with us that Clarence asked him to lead the community shortly after he arrived. Clarence was a theologian at heart and in Millard he recognized someone who was born with the gift of leadership.

Millard shared his unhappiness about the direction that Habitat for Humanity has taken. In the beginning, he and Linda founded the organization on the same principles as Koinonia. In fact, they had the organizational meeting in an abandoned barn here on the farm. In the early days people were paid according to their needs, not their position in the organization. For example, a janitor with a larger family made more money than a director with a smaller one. Today Habitat is a darling of Corporate America. The director now makes an impressive salary and a large percentage of the income goes to salaries and overheads. Disagreements between the Fullers and the Habitat board led to their dismissal in 2005.

Shortly after this, Millard and Linda founded the Fuller Center for Housing. In their new capacity they are responsible for building affordable houses in countries as diverse as North Korea, the Congo, El Salvador and Armenia. In August 2009, the Fullers are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Fuller Center is celebrating by coordinating a build of 100 houses, 50 for Millard and 50 for Linda, in locations all around the world. What a way to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

At 72 years of age, Millard is vibrant and active. He attributes this to a belief that God calls us to wear out, not to rust out. He shared some other gems of wisdom.
1) Successful communities rely on two things- good leadership and Faith in God.
2) Legalism is an ever-present danger to authentic Christian Community.
3) People and Communities must have vision and direction. People need to feel that they are working towards something.
4) God made you the way you are - with all your personal strengths. When you dedicate your life to Christ, your personality really shouldn’t change - only your goals.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hope over Fear

Live from Sumter County Georgia:

From the town that imprisoned Martin Luther King, almost destroyed Koinonia Farm through boycotts and bombings for their belief that the great commandment extended across racial divides, and a past stronghold of the KKK we are celebrating the election of the first black president of the United States.

Jan, Krista and I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer for the Obama campaign. We worked side by side with a group of white and black democrats to telephone, canvas houses and drive folks to the polls. While it looks like Georgia will remain a red state, Sumter county was carried by Barack with lots to spare. This is no small thing. In fact, one of our fellow African American volunteers compared it to putting a man on the moon!

So tonight is a time of celebration. When someone asks where we were when Barack was elected, Jan, KJ, Krista and I will have the memory of sitting in the backroom of Woods Swinging Chicken Wings - the headquarters of the Obama campaign in Sumter county - with a collection of young and old, black and white, veterans of the civil rights movement and those of us who never experienced anything remotely like racial discrimination in our lives. It is truly a momentous day for Sumter County, America and the world.

Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia, would be truly pleased.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pecan Harvest - Gathering!!

Once the pecans have been swept into windrows they must be separated from the leaves and trash and collected into wagons. This work is done by the harvester - which performs much the same function as a combine in a traditional grain operation. Except in the pecan business the harvester is pulled behind the tractor and a wagon is pulled behind the harvester. If you think it looks difficult to maneuver, you are absolutely right. Not only is it long and awkward, it is also designed so the front wheels of the harvester must be lifted up from the ground when the tractor is turned around. Otherwise the front rims can collapse.

Fortunately the man operating the harvester in the photo is an expert. Bud ran the farm at Koinonia for over 30 years, and now he provides us with consulting advice. He had no problem moving the tractor with its entire train through the orchard rows. Only major problem was that he expected me to take over and run it for the rest of the day. Miraculously I was able to pick up (pun again) where Bud left off and continue harvesting the lower orchard. Surprizingly, it was not much more difficult that running a baler! Good thing we had that hay farm for the past few years...

For the most part, harvesting pecans is alot like harvesting grain - or even similar to harvesting hay. In each case you gather the crop into windrows. In the case of hay, you use a hay rake. For grain you use a swather and for pecans you have the sweeper. Then you gather up the crop into something so you can pick it up off the field and take it to market. For hay you have balers and bale wagons. Grain farmers use combines to separate the grain from the straw and chaff and store the grain in hoppers. When the hoppers are full, the grain is dumped onto trucks which take it to the storage bins. Pecan farmers use a harvester which picks up the windrow, uses a blower to remove leaves and trash, and a conveyor belt to move the heavier nuts, sticks and sometimes snakes (not joking here) into the trailing wagon.

Now you are probably thinking there is one major difference - and you are right. For hay and grain you have to cut or mow the crop before you start gathering it into windrows. For pecans, you take advantage of the rain, the wind and gravity. Except - these natural processes only bring a fraction of the of pecans to the ground and this happens over the course of weeks or even months.

Pecan farmers have recognized this problem and once again technology provided a solution. The TREE SHAKER!! This little machine moves along the ground, clamps its’ jaw on the tree trunk and literally shakes the nuts down. We don’t bring it out until we first harvest the naturally-fallen nuts because the shaker will run over the pecans and crack them.

While I have agreed to run the harvester, and even the sweeper, I think I will leave the shaker to Bud. Somehow I don’t think he will argue too strongly. The last two times they let someone other than Bud run the machine they forgot to release the jaw after shaking and managed to snap off the tree trunks as they drove away!

Pecan Harvest - Sweeping!!

OK - Norris was right. Harvest time is upon us and everyone is going nuts (pun intended).

So, how do you get those pecan nuts out of those 60 foot tall trees?

Well, thankfully you don't need a 60 foot tall step ladder - and if you thought that was the answer, don't feel bad. We thought the same thing when we first got here.

Harvesting Pecans? First thing to remember is that gravity is your friend. Norris was right about the rain, within a couple of days the nuts started falling to the ground. Now you just need to gather them up. This can be achieved in a few different ways, like the traditional method of walking along and bending down to pick them up. This is the way it was done in Clarence Jordan's time and this is still the preferred method for people who own small orchards.

Now if you are lucky enough to have well over a thousand pecan trees, like we have at Koinonia, then the bending down and picking up can take a massive amount of time. This is where technology enters the scene with a dazzling array of custom harvest machines.

First you have the sweeper, as demonstrated in the photo by Brendan, Koinonia's permaculture supervisor. The sweeper moves along the orchard rows and literally sweeps the nuts, branches, leaves and everything else into neatly organized wind rows. This prepares the way for the harvester to come along and harvest the nuts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pecan Harvest?

Now the days are turning colder here, and Koinonia has seen the first of the Fall rains. Norris Harris, our chaplain and resident pecan expert, led us in a Harvest song at chapel yesterday morning and he left us with the prediction that the pecans would fall with the rain. Pecans are still the life blood of Koinonia - and we are still shipping the nuts out of Georgia - repeating a cycle begun by Clarence more than 50 years ago. The bakery operation is in full swing, the pecan processing plant is almost clean, and the machinery is serviced and ready to go. Tomorrow we may be rushing headlong into the business of the harvesting, sorting, cracking, cleaning, baking, smoking, selling and shipping pecans. Tomorrow the whole cycle could begin anew.

But for today, we simply enjoy the beauty of the pecan orchards and experience the peace of that same Spirit that led Clarence Jordan to invest his life in this place.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of Peace and Pecans

Pearl Harbor had been attacked and America was rushing off to fight the Enemy overseas. Somehow, in the shadow of this historic military escalation, the Jordans and Englands decided it was more important to fight the Evils of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation in their own backyard. Instead of guns and bombs, they were armed with a radical faith in the teachings of Jesus as described in the Sermon on the Mount. This faith led them to create a “Demonstration plot of the Kingdom of God” in South Georgia, which they named Koinonia Farm (Koinonia is the Greek word for community as used in Acts 2:42) in November 1942.

From the beginning, Koinonia was challenged by their neighbors for their views on racial equality and pacifism. Initially, thanks to Clarence Jordan’s quick wit and successful agricultural innovations, Koinonians were largely dismissed as crazy but harmless. This amused tolerance quickly exploded into violent hatred when the federal government outlawed the system of racial segregation that permeated Southern life. From 1955 to the early 1960s the Koinonia was the victim of bombings, drive-by shootings, beatings and vandalism. When the attacks proved ineffective, an economic boycott was imposed against Koinonia in 1956. This boycott was enforced by the KKK and they demonstrated their seriousness by bombing a local store that had sold to Koinonia.

Where the threats and violence had failed, the economic boycotts nearly succeeded in ending the Koinonia experiment. In this dark time, Clarence was inspired to create a mail order business - with the slogan “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia” -that sold pecans to friends of Koinionia in the Northern states. This mail order business, based on pecans and related products, became the economic lifeblood that sustained Koinonia until the violence subsided and the boycott ended shortly after the passage of the civil rights act in 1964. While Koinonia had survived, the violence and boycotts had taken their toll. By the late 1960s, only the Jordan and Whittkamper families remained on the farm, Clarence had grown tired and restless, feeling that God could better use his talents elsewhere. Serious plans were made to sell the farm and move to Atlanta.

Once again, fate - or God - intervened and the Millard and Linda Fuller family made an unexpected visit to Koinonia. The Fullers had realized the American dream by becoming millionaires in their early 30s. Realizing that their material success had resulted in empty lives and a failing marriage, they had recently sold everything and given the money away in a radical commitment to Christ. By 1968, the collaboration of the Jordan and Fuller families led to the start of a new project at Koinonia called the “Fund for Humanity” - later named “Habitat for Humanity”.

Clarence Jordan died suddenly in October 1969, at the age of 57. After Clarence’s death, Millard recalled a recent Christmas dinner at Koinonia. Clarence had unexpectedly disappeared from the festivities in the middle of a cold and rainy day. Millard and one of the visitors went outside and found him planting pecan trees in the orchard. The visitor asked Clarence what he was doing - after all, he would never live to see those trees bear fruit.

Clarence replied that he was planting the trees for those who would come after him.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I was in Prison...

Lumpkin Georgia is a quiet little town of about 1400 people. As its' claim to fame, Lumpkin is the seat of Stewart county, which lies in SouthWest Georgia - right up against the Alabama border.

Interestingly, the population numbers for the town of Lumpkin do not include the 1900+ Latino men that are detained in the CCA (Correction Corporation of America) private prison that is located less than a mile out of town. These men were arrested by ICE agents in the anti-immigrant sweeps that have been cleansing the Southern USA from “illegals” for the past 3 years or so. For those of you who are not yet fluent in Newspeak, ICE stands for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which used to be the INS - or Immigration and Naturalization Service - before the GW Bush era of fear and xenophobia.

What were we doing out in Lumpkin? Well, it turns out that Koinonia is associated with Alterna, which is a faith-based organization that gives assistance to Hispanic immigrants and their families. Alterna has been monitoring this facility since it’s grand opening and trying to assist the people caught in this terrible trap. To learn more about Alterna and the Lumpkin detention center, you can click on this link:

From a more personal perspective, Jan and I went along with Sanders and Kurt from Koinonia to join a vigil at the detention center. It had come to the attention of Alterna that many of the men inside the facility were being denied access to counsel and due process of the immigration hearing process. Most of these men were swept up in workplace raids, or stopped for minor traffic violations. Without any delay, they were sent from all over the SE USA to fill the beds of this brand-new for-profit prison. Once they are safely in the Lumpkin facility, the men are offered a choice. Those with a claim to US residency or citizenship - through family, marriage, etc. are given the opportunity to live inside the Lumpkin facility for several months, or perhaps years, until their immigration hearing date arrives. For those who wish to stay elsewhere, they are promised if they sign a “no-contest” deportation order that they will find themselves free and outside of US territory within 8 days. Problem is that many of these men are still in the Lumpkin prison up to 6 months after they have signed the “no-contest” deportation agreement.

The inmates are allowed one visitor per week - with a maximum stay of 1 hour. There is no physical contact, as a soundproof plate glass window separates inmates and “guests”. We had the opportunity of visiting with Jose, who was arrested a few states away. Jose has family there, but they can’t afford to travel to Georgia to visit him. Jose signed the deportation order as soon as he arrived in Lumpkin. When we spoke with him, he had been inside almost 2 months - and he was very concerned about getting his car, which is being held at a impound lot up north - and it will soon be sold at public auction.

I guess these folks have committed a crime by coming to America to look for work. Obviously they are taking jobs from hard-working Americans and that can’t be right. The good folks at CCA are doing a fine service for the American tax payer too - as their signs on the reception area walls attest. While the US taxpayer spends an average of about $88/day to keep a person in prison (from, these generous folks are doing the same work for only $ 56.69/prisoner/day (from CCA June 2008 annual report). As a further lesson in private sector efficiency, the kind people at CCA are employing the detainees to do the janitorial and food service work inside the prison. Their wages range from $1 to $3 /day. This innovation helps CCA keep their costs down to $39.46/prisoner/day (an operating margin of 30.4%) so they can provide a good return for their share holders. CCA's Net income was $37.5 M for the 2nd quarter of 2008 - not bad for these troubled economic times!

On the other hand, the jobs that were promised to the citizens of Lumpkin have not yet materialized.

Sorry for the rant. Perhaps I am just being self righteous because I was trying to follow the teachings of Jesus. Didn't He say, “I has in prison and you visited me”.

Perhaps CCA are simply fellow Christians. After all, didn’t Jesus also say, “I was a stranger and you took me in”?

(Matt. 25:35-36)


Well - we thought we were on the road for the drive home - until about 1 hour out of Independence - our truck suddenly lost power steering, power brakes, and began overheating. Fortunately we were only about one mile from an exit on the Interstate, so we limped the truck to a Stuckies. Turns out a pulley tensioner chose this moment to spin off the mount and this sent the fan belt to explore the inner regions of the engine compartment. Good thing we bought the extended warranty!

Well, the rest of the Koinonia crew - including Kailee and Krista - were able to fit into the van and continue on. Except for Billy who had relatives in Marshall Missouri - where the nearest Dodge dealer was located. We had to stay overnight in Marshall and wait for most of the next day for parts. Once the parts arrived, it took only 30 minutes to get the truck on the road again. We arrived back at Koinonia a day and a half later than expected - on Tuesday night (Oct 7).

Then again - Jan and I had a full day and 2 full nights alone together. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Koinonia or bust - the trip back home

The Peace Colloquy was a wonderful experience. Thanks to our good friend - and Western Canada Mission President, Darrell Belrose, Koinonia folk were even able to tour the Children’s Peace Pavillion, which is normally closed on Sunday. I also had the opportunity to re-connect with Billy, my friend from the Pine Ridge reservation who coincidentally needed a ride to St. Louis. Nevertheless, once this was completed, we faced the reality of a 16 hr. drive back to SW Georgia.

Goodbyes said, pictures taken and we bid farewell to the folks in Missiouri. Van and truck were loaded and we were on the road again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oct 3 - 5: Peace Awards and Signal Communities

Almost three weeks after the event, writing this blog entry still causes me to struggle deeply. On one hand, the Community of Christ’s fifteenth annual Peace Colloquy could not have been better. The theme of the conference was “Signal Communities: Hope of Zion”. According to Steve Veazey, president of the Community of Christ; “Signal communities ... reveal a way of living that is a glimpse, demonstration, foothold, or foretaste of the peaceable reign of God on earth. Such communities provide a shining witness that the hope of the gospel is not wishful idealism. Conditions in creation can become better, more harmonious, and peaceful when we give tangible expression to the vision of Christ.”.

The program was outstanding, the speakers were inspiring, the audience was engaged and motivated. There was even a wonderful live performance of the Cotton Patch Gospel musical. In fact, you can visit this link and read or listen to the keynote speeches and judge for yourself:

Some of the sights are also recorded in the photos shown at this link:

As we approach the environmental, economic and political challenges of the 21st century, what could be more important than finding ways to live together in a global community of peace and justice?

Koinonia was recognized as an outstanding Signal Community and the winner of the 2008 Community of Christ International Peace Award. The award ceremony could not have gone better. There was a large crowd in the auditorium and the Koinonia introductions were very warm and insightful. Norris Harris (Koinonia’s Chaplain) and Bren Dubay (Director) gave truly inspired speeches detailing Koinonia’s history, current directions and future plans. Then there was the amazing musical performance, a day full of incredible workshops and a Spirit-filled final worship.

So - Why the struggle?

How can I hope for World Peace when my 15-year-old daughter won’t even speak to me?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Missouri or bust

Early on Thursday morning (Oct. 2) we loaded our luggage and then we piled almost half our community into a 15 person van and a 6 passenger truck. Finally the day had arrived. With prayers, thanksgiving and no small amount of disbelief, we headed off on a 16 hour drive to Missouri to receive a major international Peace Award.

The whole experience seemed a little unreal. Koinonia was started in 1942 as a radical experiment in Christian discipleship which boldly confronted the racial segregation, economic exploitation and militarism of its day. Today we are still seeking to follow the teachings of Jesus as an alternative to racism, materialism, environmental exploitation and militarism - and it is wonderful that Koinonia is recognized for these efforts. Nevertheless, it had been a very stressful week of preparations for this trip.

Problem is that for any group of people, there is always a wide range of opinion. For some of us, our commitment to a simple life means sleeping in the van or on the street. For others, it is a budget motel - and this type of disagreement and misunderstanding goes on for every decision on a trip like this. To add to the confusion and complications, our trip organizer came down with serious health problems just a few days before the trip, and everything had to be rescheduled. Fortunately, Kurt - who is only 21 yrs. old - stepped up and took responsibility for arranging the final details. His open and compassionate leadership helped to bring peace to an otherwise turbulent situation.

Thanks also to our good friends in the Community of Christ in Marion Illinois. On very short notice they opened their church to us and we were able to arrange for our group to sleep there on Thursday night. They even made us a lovely breakfast in the morning so we could continue onwards to the Kansas City area in comfort.

Ten hours to Marion - Six hours to Independence - and we were finally at the temple - with almost 3 hours to spare before the award presentation!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Koinonia travels to Missouri for Peace Award

The preparations have been made, and tomorrow morning we will travel, along with 8 other Koinonians, in a 2 vehicle caravan from South Georgia to Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. This completes an amazing cycle for us. We decided to act on our feelings to explore Christian life in Community at the 2007 World Conference of the Community of Christ, which was held in Independence. Then we learned of Koinonia for the first time at last October's Peace Colloquy, also held at the temple in Independence. Now we are travelling to Missouri in the company of our Koinonia brothers and sisters to watch them receive the Community of Christ Peace award. If you would like to watch this event (maybe even see us in the background), you can tune in via the internet by going to this link:

If you would like more information about the event, check out the following:

We never could have imagined that this happy coincidence could occur. While Community of Christ has made a significant annual Peace Award for the past 15 years, it has always been given to individuals.

This year they made a major exception and recognized a Community. I'm certain that Clarence Jordan would approve!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where are we now?

Well, I guess it goes without saying that Change doesn’t come easy. I suppose that’s why most of us go so far to avoid making significant changes to the comfortable routines of life. About this time last year, we decided to make some profound Changes to our familiar routines. So far, our change in lifestyle has resulted in one of the most difficult and stressful periods of our lives. Fortunately, we are finally beginning to experience some of the benefits we had been hoping for.

Sorry for the long delay in the blog. We hope to keep you posted on our adventures.

So long from Sunny South Georgia!

Just another day at Koinonia

Continued Sept 30.

Well - once again the writing was interrupted. Community life can be very busy and full of life. That can make it difficult to take the time to focus and write. I had taken the laptop to Clarence Jordan’s writing shack - a place of refuge out in the middle of the pecan orchards that Clarence built so he had a place to get-away from all the activity of Community life. This is the place where he worked on his Cotton Patch New Testament translations - which accurately brought Jesus and his story to 1950s Georgia - and his other famous writings.

While I was typing away the door flew open and an elderly gentleman walked in. Turns out that he is a professor of New Testament at Mercer college, specializing in the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables of Jesus. He had heard Clarence speak at the college back when he was a young undergraduate in the 1960s. Clarence made quite an impression on him, and to this day he uses Clarence’s book on the Sermon on the mount, the Cotton Patch Translation together with the works of Deitrich Bonnhoffer to clarify the Gospel message for his students. I stopped typing and took him to Picnic Hill where we could visit Clarence and Florence’s resting place and contemplate what God had done through the efforts of these amazing people.

and That was just another typical day at Koinonia.

It's been 3 Months

Sunday, September 28

This is a bit of an anniversary for us. Three months ago, we were just wrapping up our nearly 10 year careers at Hamspon-Russell Software. Two months ago, on July 28, the moving vans arrived at our executive acreage property about 30 miles North of Calgary. This marked the end of several months of strenuous work that prepared our exit from a life-time of familiar routines. After the vans loaded up and left at the end of a very long day, it still took 2 more days of incredible effort before we could actually leave that property behind. August 28 we had just moved our 5th wheel from a campground near Waterloo Ontario to a campground near Findlay Ohio where we could rest and recover over the labour day long weekend. It also marks the beginning of our 4th week at Koinonia Farm near Americus Georgia.

So much has happened since we arrived here on Sept 3. We hoped to spend the first few days recovering from a long and unbelievably stressful trip. Unfortunately, we came during a stressful time of office moves and looming plans for a garage sale that had been designed to benefit our African American neighbors. We launched into gathering goods for the sale and setting them out in the yard. Then early on Saturday Sept. 6, the sale started. It was an amazing experience as carload after carload of neighbors and friends came from the Koinonia villages and surrounding Sumpter county. It was truly overwhelming experience to visit with these joyful people - many of them telling stories about the role that Koinonia played in their lives or the life of their family. Then on Sunday, Sept 7, we went to Maranatha Baptist church in nearby Plains Georgia and listened to President Jimmy Carter teach a Sunday School lesson on Christian Community.

The next week, Jan, Kailee and I were able to informally explore some of the work possibilities at Koinonia. Jan found a wonderful niche working in the bakery which uses pecans, fair-trade imports, and other products from Koinonia Farm to make wonderful delicacies like chocolate pecan bark, date nut loaves, organic granola, etc for the mail-order business that is the life-blood of Koinonia. Kailee really took to working in the organic garden where she shared weeding duties and pest control with a friendly group of wandering ducks. Krista started her internet-based home school program and struggled to find time for her rigorous physical fitness routine. As for me, I had lots of opportunity to practice my mechanical skills - helping to replace a starter motor on one truck, brakes and wheel bearings on another, started brake lines on a third and then found a way to start the engine of a long-dormant, gas-powered portable saw mill.

In addition to the new surroundings and environment, the weather was a real challenge for the first couple of weeks. Temperatures were frequently in the 100 degree fahrenheit range with humidity close to 100%. Nights were not much cooler, and this made sleep a big challenge.

Two weeks ago, on September 15, we formally started the intern program. For the first week we got a chance to sample the various activities and missions that are a part of Koinonia. Monday we had a tour of the various parts of the 600+ acre site, along with an introduction to the history of the farm. Tuesday morning we learned about site maintenance and for practical experience we started demolition of a small storage shack is now being converted to a new green house. Added excitement came in the form of cock roaches and in the unbelievable number of variety of spiders that had used the shed for their long-time residence. One of those displaced spiders found it’s new home on Jan’s neck - and yes - it really was THAT BIG!!!

In the afternoon, we visited the Koinonia Community Outreach Center (KCOC) which houses the home school program, pre-school, after-school programs and programs for the elderly residents of the largely African American Koinonia villages. Then we returned to Koinonia Campus to learn about the kitchen, hospitality and housekeeping operations. Wednesday morning we worked in the organic garden and learned about plans for expanding organics and permaculture programs. Wednesday afternoon we worked in the pecan orchards, mostly picking up dropped limbs and branches that have to be cleared before the harvest season starts. were introduced to the bakery and shipping operations. Thursday found us working in administration and helping with a mail-out that will go to approximately 10,000 addresses on the Koinonia mailing list. Friday morning we learned about shipping and products - the area that sustains the community so that donations can be used to assist the neighbors. Finally, to round out the week, we worked in the Koinonia bakery. For someone who likes chocolate as much as me - it was certainly the high point of the week.

Last Sunday we attended the Americus Mennonite fellowship. On Monday we received our work assignments. Jan will continue to work with her new friends in the bakery, where she enjoys listening to Gospel music - and maybe will learn to dance. In the busy product season - during pecan harvest and the Christmas shopping season - she will also spend some time in the shipping department. Kailee continues to work in the organic garden and helps with child care for two or three afternoons a week. Keith will continue to work on the maintenance team and help with the farm operation. Krista continues her studies through distance learning - but also will spend more time with the other community kids in the home school program. In addition to the business of work - and of living in community with approximately 30 wonderful neighbors - we started our intern study program on Tuesday night. This includes a detailed review of the history of Clarence and Florence Jordan and Koinonia Farm..............

In the Beginning

We had wonderful careers in the oil and gas industry, a very nice - and way too big - house, family, friends and a supportive church community. In spite of all of this, we felt something lacking. Increasingly we felt that our lifestyle wasn’t authentic. As Jan put it, “we didn’t believe what we were living and we wanted to live what we believed”. In addition to this, we felt a creeping uneasiness that this comfortable lifestyle was not sustainable in light of peak oil predictions and it could quickly come to an end - perhaps on a much bigger scale than for just our family.

We were caught between a yearning for a new, richer life and a profound fear of the impending consequences of a collision between our materialistic, consumer culture and the earth’s limited natural resources. So we decided to try a radical experiment. We sold our house and property, quit our jobs and have committed a year to experience life in intentional communities that focus on a simpler, more sustainable and spiritual life.


It seemed like a very reasonable proposal. We have 3 children. Our oldest, Trevor, is independently pursuing his masters degree at UBC in Vancouver. Kailee just graduated High School and was willing to take a “gap-year” before starting university next year. Krista is just beginning high school, but she agreed to enroll in a distance learning program where she would complete grade 10 over the internet. We were very fortunate that the property market in the Calgary area has been very good over the past few years. We just had to sell our house and farm properties to provide the funds for our journey. This is where the problems started.

To put things in context, we have felt the calling toward alternative, sustainable and spiritually centered community for almost 20 years. However, it always seemed that careers and every day life always got in the way. Until April, 2007 when we were at the World Conference for the Community of Christ to receive the Words of Counsel that are now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants Section 163. These words had a profound effect as they linked environmental degradation and world conflict to humanity’s refusal to accept Christ’s radical call to the Kingdom. It also contained a call to support Signal Communities that act to demonstrate the potential of the Kingdom of God on earth. We made the commitment to act and began researching communities.

In September 2007 we were back in Missouri at the Community of Christ Peace Colloquy. We attended a workshop on Signal Communities and we were introduced to Koinonia Farm through community member Sanders Thornburg. This community was founded in 1942 by Clarence Jordan, the Georgian prophet in blue jeans, his wife Florence and their friends Martin and Mabel England as a radical experiment in pacifism, communal Christianity and racial integration. Incredibly, In spite of KKK attacks, gunshots, boycotts and even dynamite, the community has survived. The more we learned about the farm, its history and its current directions, the more we felt that we should apply for a 3 month intern assignment.

Soon after we made the decision to come to Koinonia, things began to happen in our lives. Jan had been very active in the Peace and Justice community and her efforts helped to re-form the Canadian Friends of Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam. November 11 saw the Community of Christ host the second annual Prayers for Peace which brought together the local Jewish, Ismali Muslim and Christian communities for a night of inspired thoughts and words. Then in late November, Jan's mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. From November until January we helped to move things from Jan’s Mums apartment and out of storage in our house to distribute them to her family.

In addition to all of this, we also faced a constant pressure to prevent a small investment company - that had no drilling experience - from drilling a potentially catastrophic sour gas well near our community. This struggle intensified until February when their application was finally withdrawn.

Then we began work to put our house on the market. Living in a huge house on a large acreage for the past 8 years had allowed us to accumulate an astonishing amount of stuff. An incredible amount of organization, de-junking, minor repair work and cleaning was required before we felt ready to list the house. After finding our agents, we had a professional stager come by and provide suggestions that would make the house more sellable. This list provided so much additional work that we hired an old friend to come and help us with all the tasks. This included painting, cleaning, repairing floors, light fixtures, deck railings, and much more. We also purchased pillows, bedspread sets, stools, and towels to make sure the house looked just right. We packed all our books, photos and personal possessions and removed much of our furniture to insure the first impression would be the right one. Finally the house was ready. We listed and waited. There was a realtor open house and the showings started. Sometimes there would be 3 or more in a week and still no offers.

During this same time period we decided to shop for and purchase a 5th wheel that would be our home for the next year. The fifth wheel also required a Dodge 3500 diesel to pull it.

In the background to all of this, I was continuing my work for Hampson-Russell. Frequent international trips and training courses added to the work load and the stress. Finally, at the beginning of June, while I was overseas on a business trip, the house finally sold. Then we knew we would have to move and we were hit with the realization that we were still drowning in possessions. Fortunately we had a truck for the incredible number of trips to the good will, recycle center, church sponsored garage sales, and garbage dump. With additional help from friends, church and the local homeless shelter, we were finally in a position to get moving companies to come over and make a estimate on the cost of our move.

Fortunately I completed my work at the end of June and this left July to get everything ready to leave the house. Kailee had just graduated from High School and her boyfriend was visiting from Ohio. There was a memorial for Jan’s Mum in Brandon Manitoba at the beginning of the month. Shortly after returning back from this, we took the girls to a church camp on the saskatchewan border. The movers had finally given us a date of July 29 for the move and we were getting increased pressure to give them a final address. This required a trip to Vancouver Island to look for property. Fortunately the first house we looked at was in the perfect location and completely met our needs. This gave us a day or so to catch our breath before we returned home to face the final packing and hauling away that was needed before the movers came. I honestly don’t think we ever worked harder or slept less for an entire week. We were completely shattered by the time the moving van arrived. After the van left, we were faced with the final clean-up and we finally pulled the trailer away from the property just minutes before the official possession time.

Our first foray with the trailer was a trip to Waterton for my parents 50th anniversary celebration on August 1. Then came a quick succession of trips to the Calgary Airport. The first was on August 3 to pick up my mothers cousins from Denmark who came for the official anniversary celebration on August 9. Then another trip to Calgary on August 6 to meet Trevor and Janaki who had been in Bolivia for the past 8 weeks. We moved the trailer from Waterton to Taber on August 7 to help prepare for the celebration on the 9th. After the big anniversary celebration we were committed to convoy the truck, our Suzuki Jeep, two cars, our bicycles, some farm equipment, the danish relatives, Trevor and Janaki to Vancouver Island. Did I mention that we dropped Kailee at the airport so she could travel to Ontario to attend a church camp for 2 weeks? Coincidence that her boyfriend was also there? The primary purpose of this trip was to meet the the movers and receive our goods at the new house. August 13 we were on the Island and we completed the house purchase.

On the 14th the moving van was supposed to appear between 830 and 900 AM. Hours slowly passed, punctuated by frantic phone calls, until it became obvious that the move was not going to happen. We spent an unsettled day or two in Victoria with our Danish relatives and then began our trek back to Calgary. Our trailer had more than its share of teething pains and we had left it at the dealers in High River. We rushed back to pick it up and then hauled it to Taber for an overnight visit with my parents. Next morning, Krista, Jan and I started our mad dash across Canada so we could pick up Kailee at camp near Sudbury on August 22. Regina, Dryden, WaWa and finally Monetville. Only around 800 km/ day. Then we had to get Xanth to Winsor Ontario (about 7 hours 1 way) so his family could drive him back to Ohio to start University. Since I couldn’t bear pulling the trailer one more day, we decided to drive round trip in one day with the truck. When we arrived back in Monetville we hooked up the trailer and hauled it down near Waterloo where we could collapse for a few days.

Our stay near Waterloo gave us a chance for much needed sleep. We also had the chance to visit the congregation there and were able to see our good friends Al and Hazel Wygood. Al had been our shepherd during our World Accord trip to Honduras where we had worked with campesino villagers to build a school in their mountain village. This trip had been a life changing event for us, as we learned 3 important lessons from our Honduran hosts. These were the importance of community, the value of a simple life, and complete trust in God. We certainly would not be on this adventure without their example.

The labor day weekend was quickly approaching and there was no camping space available in the area. Kailee wanted to spend the weekend with her boyfriend in Ohio and this would also give us the chance to meet his family. So we found a campground with space available near Findlay Ohio. We hooked up the trailer on the Wednesday before the long weekend and made our way through London enroute to the border crossing at Sarnia. Krista made the border guard’s day complete when she surrendered her armful of vegetables to him. That one load of confiscated greens was more than he usually disposed of in an entire week. Our journey took us on a pilgrimage through Flint Michigan - home town of Michael Moore - and then South to Findlay. We arrived late in the evening, set up the trailer and then returned to Findlay for groceries and to meet Xanth.

The campground filled to capacity during the long weekend, but it still afforded us the chance to relax around a couple of small spring fed lakes. Swimming was good and it was probably more rest than we had for more than 2 months. Trouble with the sink draining added stress to the stay, but fortunately we got it sorted out. We were also very fortunate to visit with Xanth’s family at their home in Findlay. They are terrific people.

The campground quickly emptied after the long weekend celebrations. we had intended to move the trailer from there to Kirtland Ohio for a few days stay near the temple. However, we discussed this further and decided that we really needed to get settled into a more stable routine and get some rest before our internship at Koinonia began on Sept. 15. So we called Koinonia and confirmed we could arrive early. It took two long days of driving, but we finally arrived in Americus, Georgia on the evening of September 3. All together, it had been almost 9000 km of driving (including sidetrips) since we had left Victoria on the afternoon of August 16. That gives an average of more than 450 km/day, with much of the drive through the mountains or on two lane highways along the North shore of Lake Superior. And we were pulling a 38 foot trailer - What an introduction to RVing!! On top of that, we were already completely exhausted from the house-move before we even left Crossfield at the end of July!