TWR Canada President Ray Alary blogs each Thursday, telling behind-the-scenes stories and ministry updates you won't find anywhere else. Come back weekly to read the latest, or sign up to get Ray's blog delivered directly to your email inbox.
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Sandy was getting more and more pregnant. We were praying that there would not be an early delivery. I was finishing my training for an electrical generating system technician around the first of December, and Erin was due right around my date of completion. God answered our prayers, and Erin ended up being late. Her entrance into the world ended up coming with a few anxious moments.
Sandy went into labour as per normal, and all went well until the time of delivery. The same doctor who had been our family doctor when I was growing up was going to deliver our daughter. When delivery began, they realized that this would not be a normal delivery. I was ushered out of the room, and Sandy was taken away. I was left there wondering what was going to happen.
What was supposed to be a joyous time ended up being a day that no one would have anticipated. Eventually I was told to go to a waiting room and someone would come and see me. I waited and waited and waited, and no one came to talk to me. I think it was over two hours before I talked to anyone, but it seemed like an eternity. I had no idea what was going on, and of course I thought the worst.
Eventually a nurse called me and said, “Come see your baby!” I asked whether it was a boy or a girl, and she informed me that it was a girl. The next words that came out of my mouth were, “How can you tell?” Yes, I actually said that. The nurse started laughing and I realized what I had asked her. It was a moment of relief for me, but I immediately thought of Sandy. How was she in all this? The nurse smiled and told me not to worry. Sandy had had an emergency “C-section” and was recovering. As you can imagine, I was the subject of much discussion and laughter with all the nurses for the entire week that Sandy was in the hospital.
In those days, when a baby left the hospital you were given a cardboard bassinet to put the baby in when you took them home. Our home was in Nova Scotia, and it would be the way we would take our new daughter Erin back there. We actually had her in the bassinet and simply put the box on our laps when we flew with her across the country, with a stop in Kenora.
When we returned to Nova Scotia, we lived in military housing in Barrington Passage, a much larger community of around 1,000 people. Even though we didn’t have our birth families there, the church community became our family. They cared for us like we were family, and our three years there turned out to be a wonderful place to begin our marriage. We were poor, we had nothing, but no one else did either, so it really didn’t bother us for the most part. However, as Christmas time approached, we did wonder how we could manage gifts. But we found a way around that problem. We started in September and made almost everyone’s Christmas presents together. It was actually a fun project and fun to be working on it together.
Sandy and I learned a lot during our time there, both practical things as well as spiritual lessons. On the practical side, the pastor’s wife taught Sandy how to cut people’s hair, taught her how to sew, taught us how to dig clams and enjoy eating lobster. On the spiritual side, we learned that God was with us, and we saw how he provided for all our needs. He provided a family when ours was far away. He provided enough resources to get by, and he provided a sense of contentment in knowing we could trust him. We learned the reality of Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (ESV)
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and after three years there it was time to move again, but we didn’t know where. The life of a military family isn’t known for stability, after all. By this time, Sandy was pregnant again so this added an extra measure of uncertainty about our future. The military wanted me to go to a remote northern posting or to the Middle East for extended periods without my family. In our minds, neither of these were good options. With Erin and another child on the way, we weren’t excited about being separated so we decided to look at other options.