Summer has given way to a glorious fall (and this morning winter made a brief, early!) For many of us, fall offered more sunshine than this past summer did, and the extra rays were so welcome!
So much Three Oaks progress has been enjoyed since our last update. Partners in our community again amazed us with their support and generosity. In September the Lambton EMS organized a golf tournament with proceeds going to Three Oaks. It was deeply impactful to attend their event and experience the special bond they cultivate among their members as they serve together to keep our communities safe. Thank you to all our first responders for the commitment to and sacrifice you make for all of us.
We were surprised with a knock on the door a few weeks ago and being presented with a beautiful handmade quilt by some talented neighbour ladies. The quilt will serve as a reminder that when we come alongside each other like the pieces in the quilt we too will make beautiful patchwork of community. It even has oak leaf designs in the stitching. Thank you, Village Stitchers!
On the construction side of things, we are so excited to share that Wattel Masonry arrived and applied the chinking in very short order. It finishes off the logs beautifully. Thank you, Wattel Crew!
The other major exterior cabin progress items we want to tell you about is the perfectly suited entry sign created by Metal Barn, and beautifully mounted by Ted Schouten and his people at Fast Signs. We are so grateful for their generosity but also the effort they put in to make it “just right.” We are sure that everyone driving in the lane at Three Oaks will feel welcome by the beautiful solid sign at the road.
The septic system also was installed! Thank you to Bob Shaw Construction; your contribution will not be seen often, but surely the system working well will be appreciated by everyone!
Please, do follow us indoors! The long-awaited kitchen arrived! We thank Windmill Cabinets for their generous donation and all their effort in getting the kitchen installed before our Open House. No kitchen is complete without a sink, nor bathrooms without showers and baths. Plympton Plumbing took us “shopping” in their beautiful showroom, and with their gift, we now have all the remaining plumbing needs waiting in the cabin ready to be fitted into place.
Several weeks ago, the owners of Multi Construction approached us with the gracious offer to oversee the construction to its completion. We are so grateful for their expertise, and suggestions, and taking over the coordination of trades and timing. They have been busy completing the interior pine walls, and will soon be installing the flooring from our generous partners at McNaughton Home Hardware. Heartfelt thank you to both businesses!
And that brings us to the Open House portion of this little write up. With the help of many to get Three Oaks construction as far along as possible, we were able to welcome many guests on October 21, to get a sneak preview of the cabin and catch ‘the vibe’ of the building and the woodlot. It was an impactful and comforting day being surrounded by family, friends, neighbours, farmers, police officers, EMS, and fire fighters.
I will close off this section with the speech given at the Open House. The words of gratitude penned there extend to all of you! Thank you for being there in so many ways! We treasure you.
Well, here we are. A beautiful time of the year! Harvest is happening all around us, gathering in the bounty of the earth, and the trees displaying their most glorious performance. A time of the year for giving thanks, and reflection of things that have grown, seeds that have been planted and events that were planned. Even the trees in all their glorious colours remind us that seasons come and go, and that letting go is a definitive part of seasons and a necessary part of growth.
Here we are, 1062 days later; almost three years in from the day our family’s world stood still, and our new normal ensued. In some ways the bewilderment of that day seems like yesterday, and simultaneously its span of sorrow is limitless. Time has stood still, and has flown by.
But today, we are so grateful to stand here together with you. Our family is able to stand because of the support you offered. And together we can stand because of who Jesus is. You might be familiar with the poem “Footprints”; how in that poem we are reminded that Jesus never, ever deserts us, and that if we are faced with moments or seasons that are so heavy that we stagger under its weight and we stumble, then Jesus lifts us and carries us. As we gather today, we want you thank you for being the Hands and Feet of Jesus to our family in our season of great need. You have been there to listen, to cry, to encourage, and to infuse hope and even joy. For all those gestures, words, and moments, we are profoundly grateful.
Born out of immense loss, Three Oaks signifies hope, and resilience. While loss can be painful beyond words, put in the perspective of eternity, and ultimate renewal, it can have a place of planting seeds of new life, of courage, and anticipation. And that is the vision of Three Oaks.
Dalles was our treasured number 3 son and brother, and Dave Williams’ and Dawn Euphemia Fire Department’s brave #3 firefighter. Initially, that is where the “three” in Three Oaks came from, the Oak being a tree known for its endurance, strength and beauty. But in search of depth and significance for the name, we were reminded of the words in Ecclesiastes 4.
9Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
A cord of three: you, and us, and a God who changes everything.
You and God: you changed everything for us, and with His strength and blessing we will together bless many lives and offer hope and support to those who need us. As a reminder to us all, we will also plant three oak trees today. One will be planted by the family, called “faith”, one will be planted by Dalles’ brothers at Dawn Euphemia Fire Department representing all first responders. It will be named “Hope”, and one will be planted by farmers close to Dalles, it will be called “love”.
This structure behind us represents hope, it signifies renewal and resilience and community. And that is what we celebrate today. Over the past few months, we have often spoken of “progress”, “taking shape” and “mile markers”. In order to give progress meaning we need momentum, and growth needs energy. Today we want to thank you for your part of being the wind in our Three-Oaks-sails, and the rudder on our course. This building and its future endeavors may have been our dream, but it was your contributions that has brought it to fruition. Today, we stand before you humbled by your generosity and caring. All of you, the builders, the excavators, the hardware stores, the roofers, the flooring suppliers, the electricians, the plumbers, and the list goes on, some seasoned companies, but also some just starting out, do not have words to convey our appreciation of your support, and we thank you also on behalf of all the people that we are privileged to serve together.
I suppose there is no human that does not have burdens to carry, since we live in a broken world. So today is also a reminder that the burdens we carry must periodically be checked. We are not created to carry an ever-increasing load. Let today also be a day of commitment to each other and from each other, to take time to check our backpack of burdens. The things we stuff in there because they feel too heavy to deal with today, the things we allow to drag along in there because they are too painful to let them surface, and the memories we allow to fester in there because it is easier than dealing with the emotions associated with them, those are not weights that we are meant to carry indefinitely. In support of all the farmers and first responders and frankly all of the people in our lives, including our own, can we today also resolve to dump out and check all the weight in our virtual backpack in a safe place but very regularly?
Some weeks back many of us sent excited children back to school for a year of learning and growth. We sent them with healthy lunches, and expected to have their backpacks return full of evidence of growth and learning. However, if that backpack stays closed or continually has the weight of the future days added in, then even the best packed lunches would spoil, and the best academic accomplishments on take-home papers will never be acknowledged. Remember that! Our accomplishments should be celebrated, humbly and gratefully, but celebrated for sure! And our opportunity for nourishment and growth ought to be renewed every day. So please, if there is a practical message for today, take note of the urgency and necessity of emptying the “stuff” we tend to carry and find ways to encourage your loved ones to do the same. In acknowledging our vulnerability and need for community we do not expose weakness, but rather we strengthen our resilience, and our bonds in our relationships. And it is within relationships and community that we have the privilege of serving one another.
So today we together celebrate service of and love for each other. Let this building always testify of the beauty of relationships and community, let it always be a reminder of the obligation and God-given privilege of being a “neighbour” to the people in our lives, and let it always be filled with integrity to ourselves, our families, and our community. And let’s continue on this journey…. Together, with Hope because we don’t stay shattered, faith because it allows us to move forward, and love, because it is the oil that makes our relationships work well. Together…. because a cord of three is not quickly broken.
Image below: Speech by Lauren VanEwyk (National Farmers Mental Health Alliance) at Open House