Being back in the Cariboo once again to remember and celebrate the lives of my grandparents has stirred up my emotions. The silent, vast, wooded landscape invites me into its presence and reminds me of how I am a very nostalgic person. There’s a peace and familiarity about it, and yet it still feels wild. It reminds me of the dialogue between Lucy and Mr. Beaver that so many Christians love. The two discuss the nature of Aslan, and Lucy asks if he’s safe, to which Mr. Beaver replies:
“Safe?… Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
It’s that same sentiment I feel that Mr. Beaver describes as I take in the countryside. I try and imagine what it must’ve looked like to grow up in such a rugged beautiful place through the storytelling of my Dad and Uncles and Aunt (9 brothers total, 1 sister…). The narrative I often hear is one of struggle, danger, toughness, foolhardiness, fun, and in summation, goodness.
The Cariboo + Johnsons can be a wild unsafe place. But it is good.
Anna and I arrived in Everett, Washington in the new Paine Field airport at 10:30 PM––just enough time to stress out about trying to make the 11:00 PM ferry, and missing it by 10 minutes because, turns out, I actually don’t know how to navigate Everett in the dark as well as I thought I did.
About 2 days before leaving San José, Costa Rica, Anna and I started coming down with some terrible stomach cramps, and at times feverish symptoms. During our full day journey, we filled ourselves with Imodium for the plane rides.
We finally boarded the 12:00 AM ferry headed to Whidbey, and were in bed around 1:00 AM. We woke up that morning to Anna not being able to hold down even ice chips. So we took her to the nearest Urgent Care, which was an hour and half drive from Clinton to Anacortes. She received an IV to get hydrated, and both of us started antibiotics.
The next day we completed a 9 hour drive or so from the Island to 100 Mile house in B.C. with my parents and my sister and brother in law and their two kids (9 hours could’ve been around 6, but traveling with babes and loose-stool-people can draw things out a bit).
There was a lot of pain and discomfort for the first half of our experience in North America, but it was all worth it once the extended Johnson family gathered around two small wooden boxes and a hole in the ground on the back side of the lake on my grandparents’ old land.
It was cold and drizzly, and the mosquitos were just as big and unrelenting as I remembered them, but in that moment, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
The brothers, sister, spouses, and some grandkids, all shared brief stories and impressions of Eva and Erling Johnson. Stories of their Christian faith, how they were steadfast, my Grandma’s beautiful singing voice, and about the quiet gentleness and kindness of the “silent Swede,” my grandpa. We also talked in good fun how they could be a bit obstinate at times too.
In this sacred space, I could clearly see how the lives of these two humans had directly and indirectly affected me. How their lives had in some way touched everyone gathered around. I reflected on how their life choices in some immeasurable way was going to impact my own kids’ lives someday.
After my Uncle Darrell read a prayer to close out, we swayed quietly in uncertain silence for a few moments, not really sure what to do next. Seconds later, two very large Sandhill cranes took flight across the lake, right next to us, breaking the silence of the Cariboo with their loud boisterous honking.
With tears in our eyes, and a “wow” from my mouth, Darrell chuckled and quietly pronounced, “well, I think we’re done here now.”
The rest of the afternoon and evening we spent further down the road in the back back woods––AKA my Uncle Chris and Aunt Tina’s place––eating and reminiscing.
It was a very special trip; a wonderful time of honoring Eva and Erling Johnson. I will always cherish these memories. A huge thank you to the supporters who contributed to this trip to make it possible.
In other news, Anna and I and the rest of the base staff are gearing up for the next Gap Squad that is rolling through come September 9th! They will be here with us for 3 months, and we’ll be doing ministry with them throughout.
We have been trying to develop more ministry opportunities closer to the base, that way we want aren’t needing to spend money on expensive fuel––and so that we don’t have to rely on our bus that is prone to breakdowns… Something that we are excited about is we are starting to plan a skateboard competition in the nearby neighborhood, Tirrases. We were approached by a couple of young skateboarders––one of the most looked down upon demographics and likely to be influenced by drugs and gangs––and asked if we’d be available to help plan the event. Our hopes for the event would be to deepen relationships with community and have a platform to be the love of God towards them.
Thanks for your prayers and support. We will have more updates on ministry come September!
If you would like to support us as we save for a car (currently we have about $1,200 raised) you can do so HERE. Just be sure to enter our giving code KE3463.
We also received what we needed to start the residency process with our lawyer! Thank you so much for helping us get that rolling. It will be such a huge relief to not have to leave the country every three months.