“Are we there yet?”
My husband Hank jokingly asked the childlike question again, as our friend Karen took a turn driving part of 1,858 miles (2,990 km) from Oklahoma, USA to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We were part of a twelve-person mission team, headed north to share God’s love with the people of this huge, international city of 1.3 million people.
We drove through many miles and hours of bright, golden canola fields as we crossed South and North Dakota. On the third day of driving, after a 75-minute delay at the Canadian border, we finally crossed into the Saskatchewan Province. Cities were few and far between, and our tummies grumbled as we searched for “signs of life” so we could stop for lunch. We’d brought sandwich materials and had stopped for roadside picnics the first two days (to save money), but now our picnic supplies were depleted.
On this particular stretch of farmland (and more long stretches of canola fields), there was not a McDonald’s or Subway sandwich place in sight.
So, I searched on my phone, and it showed there was a family restaurant nearby, in the little town of Borden, Saskatchewan, only minutes from our location. As we followed the phone’s directions, both Hank and Karen began to question its accuracy.
The frontage road led us to a little gravel side street, where we beheld what looked like an 1800’s era saloon.
“Okay, Becky, I hope you know where you’re taking us,”, my nervous husband chided, as I opened the squeaky front door.
We cautiously walked into what seemed a deserted 150-year-old motel. The foyer was full of furniture, but the lights were off, and not a soul was in sight. Now I was beginning to question my search engine’s accuracy! It had been known to take me to places that had long since been shut down.
“Hello? Anyone here?” I asked… but no one answered.
We walked into a nearby room where a small table with chairs was visible. To our great relief, there were people in there — FIVE people, I quickly counted. We were greeted by a friendly young waitress, seated at a table, and given menus to peruse. She laughed when she learned how relieved we were that there actually was a restaurant there! She admitted that many people have the same questions when they drive up to the quaint old structure.
Still wondering why God had brought us here, we listened intently as “Jen”, our waitress, described the day’s special: Applewood smoked turkey sandwich with a cup of homemade broccoli cheese soup. It sounded wonderful, and we each ordered the same thing. We quickly learned that they didn’t serve “iced tea”, so I ordered Pepsi.
Since there were only two other customers (at a table together) in the restaurant, we had plenty of time to visit with our waitress. We shared our excitement of this being our first ever visit to Canada (except Karen had visited as a child), and that we were doing mission work in Edmonton, helping a new church, giving a free baseball camp, block parties, a free parenting conference and more. Jen was thrilled to hear that we were Christians, and immediately began to open up to us with a story that broke our hearts, but also inspired us.
Jen had immigrated to Canada three years earlier from the Philippines, and had to leave behind her (now) 14-year-old daughter behind. She couldn’t hold back the tears as she spoke:
“I’m praying that God will make a way for me to bring my daughter here from the Philippines. I miss her so much!”
Jen talked lovingly and longingly of her homeland in the Philippines, and with tears and thankfulness for the legacy of her late grandmother.
“My grandmother was a missionary in the Philippines, and taught hundreds of people and children about Jesus. She is the reason I know God, and I want to be like her!”
Jen shared her longing to be in a church with “Christians on fire for Jesus, like you guys”, referring to Karen, my husband Hank, and myself. She said there were only three churches in the small town, each with less than twenty members, and she was the youngest one — at the age of 34.
“I know that God brought you here today to encourage me, and to remind me that He had not forgotten me!”
Jen’s words brought tears to each of our eyes! With hugs and quick prayers, we assured Jen that we would continu to pray for her and her daughter, that God would provide their needs, and make a way where there seemed no way, to bring them back together.
Before we parted, I gave her my newest CD (worship songs) to encourage her, as well as our contact information.
The food was delicious, and the service was personal and professional. We also enjoyed when the owner, a retired lady, began to “play” the old player piano in the rustic old restaurant. I resisted the urge to go play it, myself!
Now we KNEW just why God had brought us to this ghost-town little restaurant, and we each left rejoicing in His compassion and providence.
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 #inspiringhopeblog Click To Tweet
We had a wonderful time in Canada, full of “divine appointments”. I can’t count how many times various Canadian people told us, “I KNOW God brought you here, and I’ve been SO encouraged to meet you all!” One grandmother, raising her four young grandchildren (who came to our free baseball camp every day), gave a tearful and riveting testimony of the providence of God that would bring her seven hours from her home (for her grandchild’s medical treatment) the very week that WE were there. We met people from Egypt, Sudan, Germany, and Africa. I gave away 30 CDs, and people were very grateful :)) THANK YOU to those who helped send me and my husband (and the rest of the team from First Baptist Church, Tahlequah). See more PHOTOS and details of the incredible things that transpired at the following places: