(Final) thoughts about the Alberta Wildfires, Part 8.
Well, in less than a week, Fort McMurrians will be able to return home, though whether or not they can stay home is still an open question. I intended to head up on June 1, the first day of the “Return Schedule” published by the government, though I don’t think I will even spend the night there. Even our mayor says that she intends to go up (with her family?), grab personal items, and head right back down to Edmonton. This is likely what I’ll be doing, in addition to checking out the condition of the church.
In my last instalment, I left off with me, Neil, and Joseph arriving in Edmonton in the early morning of May 4. We were able to check in to our hotel, which is where we spent the next few days, as we still had that conference for the Regional Fellowship to attend. The timing of that conference was so perfect that it must have been a God-thing. One church in a fellowship of about 30 (Fellowship Prairies) is in the middle of an evacuation, and it just so happens that the pastors of the majority of those 30 churches (along with various church leaders) are meeting in the town where most of the evacuees are headed? It blows my mind to think about it still.
So we arrived at the conference, and one of the questions asked was whether or not they will hear from the Fort McMurray church, and what they can do to help. Well, within a few days, our church leadership was in meetings with our denominational leaderships. We had a “call centre” set up to accept both offers of accommodations and requests for accommodations at the regional office, and we have pastors and board members offering to help. This was especially fortunate for me, Joseph, and Neil because we were a group of evacuees that needed a place to stay. And a place to stay we found…
Within an hour of the conference ending, we moved in to the home of a wonderful couple, Phil and Juliet (Lily) Richardson. Phil is a board member at Regional, and at one of its churches in Edmonton. And so, it was yet another item off our list to worry about.
Soon, we settled into the routine of living and working down here in Edmonton. We even met new friends through the church we were attending here (Fellowship Edmonton, lead Pastor: Jason Hagen.. haha). As I’ve already mentioned in my previous posts, I had the chance to spend a day in Vancouver, and a week in Toronto. Throughout these, we continued to meet as a church here in Edmonton, and even set up a meeting in Calgary. Life, for the most part, moved on, even as we “lived in exile”. And that’s really where this story ends… Maybe I’ll blog some more about our return. But if that turns out to be anything like what our stay in Edmonton has been like, it will likely be uneventful and just move smoothly back into the daily grind of ministry.