Sunday November 28, 2021: My heart is so heavy. I’m at the Matsqui fire hall for the same reason as I was two weeks ago. The real threat of flood threatens to undo all the progress towards recovery made in the past week. I keep praying God would hold back the rains and the rivers.

Helping and supporting several of our ACS families clean up and start their road to recovery has been so uplifting and encouraging. I have seen our community and God Himself shine so brightly during so much loss and despair. Seeing an endless stream of our school and church members and former students stand in front of the news cameras and tell stories of how they rescued people and animals and how their community of farmers will help everyone out that they can and that they will overcome this, is such an amazing testimony to our community. In the midst of despair, there is a bright beacon of hope and light. 

It’s 12 noon and so far, everything is holding. But the rain is still falling….

While I wait, I am earnestly praying God would intervene here. I know well from teaching Bible, that God has done miraculous things with water throughout the Old and New Testaments. I pray for our farmers and our businesspeople who lost much as well as home and property owners. For all those helping and serving our community right now. For our admin and school leadership team. For Mayor Henry Braun, Fire Chief Lee, and Police Chief Serr. I cannot imagine the pressure on them and the responsibility on their shoulders (and others in the decision-making process) right now. I pray that God will allow them to rest and sleep with His peace.

Ground Zero

Exactly two weeks prior on Sunday, November 14, we were in the same place in Clayburn Village. We sandbagged most of Sunday afternoon and well into the night. Then we were off to various calls of basements flooding, vehicle accidents etc.

School was closed on Monday and Tuesday that week, allowing several of us to man the hall and attend incidents in Matsqui Prairie. Access down here was limited with so many roads under water. The losses and damage we saw in Clayburn Village was significant but being able to help so many people was very satisfying, and their thanks and gratitude really lifted our spirits just as our presence there lifted theirs.

I spoke to one gentleman from the village a couple days later and he told me how people said our presence that night really made people feel safe. Little did we know that a day or two later, everything would hit the fan. The Nooksack River would burst over it’s banks and the Sumas levy would fail. We continued to man our hall, and I was needed for Thursday night and Friday.

The ACS admin graciously allowed me to teach my classes online from the firehall. One of my International students showed up first online that morning and cautiously asked me, “Mr. Verbeek, are you wearing a uniform?”

I responded, “yes” and explained what I was doing. I don’t think he could fully get his head around that.

Heart of the Community

Thursday, December 2, 2021: Hopefully the last “shift” at the hall. Since a 20-hour Sunday shift, it’s been 6:00 pm to 6:00 am every night but Monday. I am tired but it just makes me appreciate the endless work all those on Sumas Prairie and other flooded areas are doing and how much more tired they must be.

I love hearing the stories from my students who live on farms about saving cows, cleaning up places, and farmers getting back to business. Of course, there are other very sad stories of loss, and we pray for strength and encouragement for those who have suffered loss, some very devastating.

I am very encouraged by our community, both Christian and non-Christian. Many of the guys in our hall are not Christian, but they have given much of their time and support to help others and serve in our Hall. We’ve put in 100 to 120 plus hours here in the past two weeks as well as working our regular jobs. The compassion and passion of this crew is outstanding. It is SO good to see the waters receding and the roads open again.

I am truly blessed to work at ACS and to have the support of our Admin and our community during this trying time and blessed again to work with so many good people in the fire department. I really do love going to “work” at both. The students in mechanics get me fired up in the shop and my Bible classes get me fired up when I get to share the amazing stories and truth of the Bible with them every day.

As I write this, I just checked the weather forecast. I may have to get my skates sharpened as we may have the greatest frozen rinks to play shinny on in Sumas Prairie next week!