Two weeks ago we were packing up our kids after church to head to the Hlushko's family home for another family Easter Celebration. We were so excited to reconnect with our "adopted" family, and share all of what the Lord has been doing in our lives and hear what the Lord has been doing for them. Dana was especially excited to see his friend, and mentor, Ken. As I gathered the kids into the van, I realized Dana's head hanging low and as he told me that Ken had been involved in an accident, we both were in shock. I am so glad, now, that we made the decision to go to Regina anyways, and with permission from the family, I dropped Dana off at the hospital to be with them as they prayed over Ken. I was able to go be with Ken's niece, and my dear friend, and comfort her. Then the call, that rocked me, saying that Ken may not make it through this. I couldn't think, I sent Tiffany to the hospital with her husband and stayed at her house to watch the children and wait. Joined by another one of Peggy and Ken's "adopted" families, the Freisens, we were able to comfort each other. That was a long hard day, and we left that night knowing that it would be the last time Dana would see Ken alive. I can't even imagine what he felt, walking away from his hospital bed. Let alone all the emotions of the his family. Early Wednesday Morning, he passed away. There is comfort in knowing that he was going home to be greeted by Jesus, but we were stricken with grief. Dana started to immediately pray for his family, as he wept. I was in shock.
Four and a half years ago, we moved out to the prairies, with heavy persuasion from our new dear friends, Jen and Jordan. We have never lived far away from family and were sad to leave the comfort of their reaches, but we were hopeful of that path God was leading us on and excited about the new chapter of life we were beginning. I can remember feeling that our move would lead into something amazing. The first few months were incredibly hard, and I missed my family everyday. I sunk into a bit of a depression. I tried to snap out of it, even went to the doctor to see if there was something medically wrong with me. To my surprise he said, "You're crazy!". He laughed and told me there was nothing medically wrong with me, I have just had a lot of changes in a short amount of time and my head and heart haven't had time to catch up. He said I need to create a support network here, and the best way to do that in Saskatchewan is to attend a church. Now, this was a mini-miracle, along the way of many little miracles in our lives. This doctor to seem to be a believer, and most doctors would quickly prescribe something for my "depression", but instead he prescribed church. I still find this amazing. What was even more amazing, was what felt like the very next day, we received a flyer in the mail advertising Rosewood Park Alliance's Fall Kick Off, pancake breakfast, Sunday morning service (with childcare!), and an afternoon of activities for the whole family, and the best part it was FREE! I remembered that Jen and Jordan had said this was the church their family attended, and so I thought, I would give it a try. Dana was installing laminate that weekend and I was to keep the kids occupied while he did that, so I thought this was great. I could feed the kids, sit in service and have the kids looked after, and then have a whole afternoon of entertainment for them for free. What more could a mom ask for, right? God had something better in store for me. When I arrived at the church that morning, I was probably having one of my worst days. I literally wanted to drop my kids off in the nursery and just sit in peace and quiet in the lobby until I had to go pick them up. This all sounds horrible, but it was truthfully where I was that morning. But as I walked into the church, I was greeted by a couple who quickly found my a table, helped me get the Kynan and myself food (Ava was still nursing), and even held Ava while I ate. They were so warm, and welcoming, introducing me to more people. This couple ended up being Peggy and Ken. It came out that I was Jen and Jordan's friend from BC, and you could say that is why they were so friendly, but as I got to know this couple more I realized that it wouldn't have mattered. They would have loved on me regardless of who I was. Instead of sitting in lobby for service, I sat with them. Now, I had attended church before and had been baptized and believed in Jesus as our Savior, but this time was different. I can't explain it, but as I looked around and witnessed these people praising and worshiping together, I didn't feel weird-ed out (which I did at most churches), but felt a peace and a "rightness" that I can't explain. And of course Ken and Peggy right beside me. That afternoon, I insisted that Dana join me and meet these wonderful people who had loved on me all morning. Jen, Jordan and Abby joined us too and we were so blown away by this loving family. Ken ended our time together with an open invitation to come to his home for dinner any time. We didn't realize it at the time, but that was not an empty offer, and we would learn also how deep his care for people really ran. I remember driving away that day, feeling transformed, and Dana must have felt the same because I asked him, So what are your thoughts?" (which I still do whenever we leave a new experience). And he said, "Yup, we are going to start going to church, this church, every Sunday!". You also, have to understand, that we weren't church going people. We were sparatic in our faith, not really knowing what a Christ Centered life looked like. Thought we were doing okay by living an ok life, nothing too bad to speak of, praying occasionally. And another thing you have to know, is that when Dana says he is going to do something, he does it. And we did, every Sunday until we moved, we attended Rosewood Park Alliance Church. That decision sent us down a new path, filled with rich blessings, life altering decisions, and a deeply rooted faith, all because of one family's love and generosity with their time.
Over the past several years, Ken held true to his promise, and welcomed us into his and Peggy's home for countless meals, family holidays, special family events. Dana and him shared a mentoring relationship which led into a private bible study and eventually a men's study. I still remember the day when Ken shared with us that he viewed us as his "chosen" family, and Dana as his brother. We were so blown away by this, but truthfully had felt the same towards him, Peggy and his family. Who knows where our lives would have ended up if it hadn't been for this couple. I could have just stayed for service in the lobby and walked away never to return again, unchanged. But God knew what we needed, He knew exactly where to lead us, and I am so thankful that God loves us even when we don't give Him the time of day. That one fact alone changed our lives forever.
I could go on to share the numerous other stories of how Ken changed our lives, but I am sure there are many from many others. His echoes of his love, care and generosity run deep and wide. That is how God created him. He gave Ken an amazing partner in Peggy and together they served the Lord well. We were blessed enough to be apart of their ministry and their continued ministry. So as we mourn the loss of this man who meant so much to us, we feel incredibly blessed. We embrace the man that Ken is, the example he laid out for us, and try to let him go as he is embraced by His Heavenly Father. And in the words of our Pastor Jerven, from Ken's service, Ken will be greeted at the gates with Jesus saying, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done."