Whitewater – Blackwater

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In early July, my wife and I took a holiday with her parents and did a tour through north central Alberta. We had fun seeing a variety of sights from the Columbia Ice Fields to the Ukrainian Heritage Museum, from the West Edmonton Mall to the Rosebud Theatre. It was a great time of fun and fellowship and we all enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lisa’s parents drove their RV and stayed at different camp sites while we were booked into a variety of Bed and Breakfasts. These were consistently good with fun people to visit with and fantastic food. The very best food was at Rocky Mountain House where I feasted on the lightest, most amazing fresh baked blueberry scones that have ever been created. I could have eaten a dozen but had to settle for three when Lisa reminded me we had to be on the road.

Easily the most fun we had visiting was in the little town of Rosebud. This small town of a few hundred is home to a fine arts academy that trains young people in theatre and music. We watched an amazing performance of musical theatre, “The Cottonpatch Gospel”, and then the next morning were served breakfast at our B&B by the two lead performers. These two exceptionally talented young ladies were friendly and warm and a pleasure to talk to. They were both completing their studies at the academy and their enthusiasm and joy was infectious.

The whole trip was filled with wonderful moments. However, for me the most exciting was when Lisa and I spent an afternoon in Jasper going white water rafting. This is something I have always wanted to do and finally had the opportunity. We booked a trip on the Sunwapta River.

This is a glacier fed river that runs from the Colombia Ice Fields, through Jasper National Park until it joins the Athabasca and turns north to eventually reach the Arctic. The river was running very high from recent rains upriver and has some great Class III rapids. The water temperature was only 4 degrees Celsius so no one wanted to go swimming. We all managed to stay in the boat and had a fantastic time. I would definitely do it again and next time would try a Class IV.

The white water of the Sunwapta was one of the highlights of our trip. Unfortunately, when we got home we encountered a different kind of water adventure. The last weekend we were away, Moose Jaw had a downpour of 2-3 inches of rain in about an hour. The ground had already been saturated by previous rains. The storm sewers in our area drain into a little park behind our house. Some beavers had been busy there and had blocked off the culverts draining the ponds and as a result the park was soon flooded and the water backed up.

The storm sewers are set up in such a way that if they are unable to handle a heavy flow of water it is diverted into the regular sewers. These are typically able to handle any flow but not this day. Two lift or pump stations failed and then the sewers backed up. Fifty to sixty homes in our area were flooded. Including ours.

We went from white water to black water. Fortunately we only had a couple inches in the basement but it was enough. Our daughter was home at the time and she and her older brother did all they could but it was too much. Still we were blessed. The house south of us had 8 to 10 inches and the house to our north had over a foot. Our son had talked to our neighbour and by the time we got home had arranged for a disaster restoration company to come by. Over the next couple weeks we emptied the basement of all its contents, and had the carpet and the bottom two feet of gyproc ripped out. We had minimal damage to furniture and best of all did not lose any photos, memorabilia, or important papers. When we thought of what might have happened and especially what had happened in High River and Calgary we felt truly blessed.

It is always good to remember what is important. Things are just things. People matter. God matters. Our relationship with Him is what matters most of all. We need to be careful not to grasp too tightly the things of this world. They do not last. We must be prepared to let them go. The things we need to hold on tightly are not of this world. They are not things. They are Hope, and Faith, and Love. They are the Grace of God, His Holiness, His Righteousness, His Unfailing Love. This is what matters. This is what is important.

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