Feb15ThuGod Preparing Us (when we didn’t even know it!) February 15, 2018
I went to Nanisivik, North West Territories, on January 21. It was dark 24 hours a day. Sandy was 6,400 kilometers away. And my first day in the Arctic would be a day I will never forget.
Your first days are usually good days. People welcome you to the team and are generally happy to have you there. That was not the case for this job. I went to the power plant on a small bus, and basically no one talked to me. I got off the bus and walked into the power plant. The first thought that went through my mind was, “What have I gotten myself into now? I am in way over my head.” Before I could finish those thoughts, a man came over to me and asked me to follow him. I did. I thought he was going to welcome me, but instead he looked me straight in the eye and said these words: “You took my job and I am going to get you for that.” What?! I had no clue what he was talking about. How could I have taken his job? I was hired by Jim in Toronto. What was going on here?
Before I could process all of this, my boss, George, showed up and told me to follow him. He proceeded to inform me that he didn’t want me there either and at the first mistake I made they were putting me on a plane out of there. This concerned me because we had signed paperwork that obligated us to around $20,000 if we didn’t stay two years. I was a young 26-year-old. I was devastated. How could this have happened? Why didn’t they want me there?
At 10:00 that morning I had a meeting with the mechanical engineer who oversaw all the mechanical departments. I sat down and, while he was nicer about it, he basically said the same thing: “We don’t want you here. The management company hired you.” He went on to clearly say that the first mistake I made I’d be gone.
I wanted to get back on the plane that day, but I prayed and told myself that I just wouldn’t make a mistake. That’s how I would ensure job security. I had enough faith in God to know that he would walk through this dark time with me, and I clung to that.
Three weeks after I began my new job, I got a call from the mechanical engineer and thought, “This is it. I am done.” To my surprise he told me, “I have been watching you. We didn’t want you here because of your age, but you are mature and you know your stuff.” He told me to keep doing my job and I would be ok. He told me to go get my newborn son, my daughter and my wife and get them to Nanisivik so I could get back to work. I could only thank God. He had helped me through this challenge; it was a very faith-building lesson.
We had moved Erin across the country when she was 10 days old and we didn’t want Ryan complaining that he hadn’t experienced that so we arranged to go back to Nanisivik when he was less than two weeks old! His move would be more complicated. We needed to fly to Montreal first as everyone had to have a medical before we could make the six-hour flight into Nanisivik. I prayed that the weather would be good as it was not uncommon to fly the six hours and have to turn around and go back to Montreal and try again two days later. Once again, God answered my prayer.
The trip was stressful simply because we had a newborn baby, but other than that, it was uneventful. This was the beginning of a three-year adventure in the Arctic! Our contract allowed us to come out every 13 weeks for three weeks. It turned out we would only do this once as it was just too stressful. Rather, we would typically stay there for nine months and come out for the entire summer. This worked much better for us.
There were many things to get used to and to learn living in Nanisivik. It is inside the Arctic Circle which meant for three months of the year we had total darkness; for three months, it never got dark; and the rest of the time we were in transition. There were lots of highlights living in the Arctic: discovering broomball, working many hours, paying more income tax in the first year then I had even earned the year before! And my job was challenging. I learned quickly that it was not just big diesel engines I’d be working on. It was big air compressors, waste heat boilers, and there were five engines that I maintained single-handedly.
Remember the ten conditions Sandy had that had to be met before we’d take this job? The last one was that there was a church. There was indeed a church, and we attended every Sunday. It was multi-denominational, and our involvement birthed a home Bible study in the community. This turned out to be the highlight of each week as many people came to the Arctic searching and left having made a commitment to follow Jesus.
While our time in the Arctic wasn’t always easy, it was another part of God preparing us for missions. During this time, I often thought of David’s journey and the challenges he faced with Saul. God didn’t forsake David, and he wouldn’t forsake me. He taught us that we could be a light in a dark place, that he had prepared the way for us and that he would be with us. God showed us that he was walking with us, regardless of the situation.
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