~~chapter 18 - 2 + 2 = family
We were totally committed to our church family. It was far more than just going to church on Sunday mornings. Our social life was centered around this group of 3 to 4 hundred people. We had a home group that met in our home on Wed evenings. There were 4 couples on a regular basis with others coming and going over time. We did life together.
At Christmas time each year we had a huge party with everyone participating. We had a meal followed by entertainment. Lots of singing, but the best were the comedy routines. Pastor John always did a Mr. Bean routine with my friend Elwyn playing the straight part. It was so much fun as we all laughed our heads off.
At the 1991 party I met someone who would change my life. One of the families who came to our home group regularly had adopted 4 Haitian children over the previous few years. This couple had raised their biological children, who were all now adults, and we're giving the rest of their life to these orphans. On this evening they brought their newest son, number 5, to the party. I fell in love with this little 2 year old that night, with him spending the evening in my arms. I had so much respect for Sandra and Albert Knopf for their sacrifice. They were both in their 50's and working to support their growing family. At the end of the evening I told Sandra that we would pay for her next trip to Haiti.
We went back to doing life until about 6 months later when, much to my surprise, Sandra knocked on the door, informing me that she was off to Haiti in a couple months. She was going with Lyza, our counselor, to help at the orphanage. I wrote the check and wished them well.
They started to meet together to plan and pray for the trip. During one meeting they had a sense that God was saying that Ken and Patsi should adopt. The thought of kids had crossed our minds about a year earlier when we considered helping raise a family of 4 foster kids. We knew their grandparents. The mother was a single parent with drug addictions. We met with the social worker and quickly changed our mind. When Sandra and Lyza came to us with this word, both of us said the same thing at the same time. "NO WAY!" We had our problems getting along at times, but we were living a very satisfying life with long holidays whenever we wanted and I loved my life in business. So when the idea of adoption was raised, I said that unless it was God who showed me that He wanted us to adopt, it wasn't going to happen. I needed a way to ask God. I decided to do a fleece (a religious way to test if this is God's will). I told them that if there were 2 sisters for adoption we would take that as a sign it was from the Lord.
Sandra and Lyza went to Haiti and returned 3 weeks later. On a following Sunday morning at church, Lyza spoke about their trip, focusing on a little girl they had met in the hospital. This child was so undernourished she needed to be hand fed. She had a balloon that she asked the nurses to blow up. None did, so the head of the orphanage, Gladys, reached over and caressed the little girls head, took the balloon, and blew it up for her. The child smiled with such a simple joy that Lyza and Sandra both cried as they felt such love for this child. Everyone in the congregation wept as they heard this story. We had all been affected by Sandra and Albert's sharing their lives with their Haitian kids and now, hearing about this little girl, we were broken.
After the service Lyza came up and told me that she and Sandra wanted to see me after church. Patsi wasn't well that morning and had stayed home so I met with them by myself. They told me about the trip and said they may have found the girls I asked for. They reached in an envelope and pulled out 2 pictures, putting them in front of me. I looked down at these little girls and my heart broke. I started to cry as they said these girls can be your daughters. I wept uncontrollably as they did too.
When I got home I asked Patsi to come into my office where I played a tape of Lyza's message. I then took the pictures out and put them in front of her saying they could be our daughters. We were in this huge home and crying our eyes out for the next 20 minutes. When the emotion died down, reality started to take over. How do we do this? How much would it cost? How would our lives change? Fear took over my thoughts as I found every reason that said that this was impossible.
The girls were sisters aged 3 and 6. They had been taken to the orphanage because the grandmother, who was raising them for the mother, couldn't provide for them anymore. The pregnant mother had 10 children. The father was only home often enough to keep her pregnant.
The girls were only to be in the orphanage temporarily but were soon put up for adoption when the mother realized that she could never raise them. To give the girls a chance for a better life meant being willing to give them up for adoption. Esther, the 3 year old, had been put into the nursery while Jonie (6) was in the juvenile section.
A family from Basil, Switzerland had committed to adopt Esther. Jonie was too old to be adopted, as the age limit was 5, so she was to be raised in the orphanage until she was old enough to be on her own. While Lyza and Sandra were there, Esther had been brought over to the Juvenile section. As she entered the yard she saw Jonie and ran to her. The girls were hugging and crying with such joy that Gladys realized she couldn't separate them. Isn't it ironic that Lyza and Sandra just happened to be in the yard to witness the reunion? When Gladys told them about the plan for Esther being adopted to Switzerland and the dilemma she now had, my words about 2 sisters came to their minds. They told Gladys they might have the answer and here it was now in our hands.
We had to make up our minds in 3 days. It was insane as we vacillated back and forth. Patsi's family thought we were nuts as did some of my friends. Of course anyone from the church encouraged us.
The day before we had to give our answer, I was driving home after work from Langley when I heard THE VOICE. I was reminded of the scripture that said, "NO GREATER LOVE HATH A MAN THAN TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR ANOTHER." I always had thought that referred to someone falling on a grenade in a war or somehow losing your life to save others. It came to me that it said giving up your "life", not your death. It meant to live for someone else. I drove the final mile home and told Patsi I was in. We held each other as we called Lyza with the news.
The adoption program was put in process. It included a substantial payment to the orphanage. We got a deal because we took 2 girls. Some friends have said that it was because I bargained with them as I do in business, but alas no. We were told how much and we paid it. It took 9 months from the day we said ok to when they arrived. We had to fill out 100's of pages of forms for both countries' governments.
Everything we did had to be translated into Creole (the Haitian language) before being sent to Haiti. Everything cost money. We had to be approved by the British Columbia government which entailed attending meetings with a private counselor who had the power to put a stop to everything. We went through hoop after hoop until it came time for them to travel to Canada. We had made arrangements to have the founder of the orphanage travel with the girls. In the last week there were so many foul ups at their end. It seemed like we would get call after call from the Haitian lawyer saying that we needed to pay this account or this person to get another paper stamped. I am sure we were just being scammed, but there was nothing to do but pay and pray.
Finally they left Haiti on the 24th of August 1993. They flew to Montreal where they stayed the night and came to Vancouver the next day. There were a lot of us at the airport when they came down the stairs in the arrival area. They were so small, wearing matching red dresses that a lady at the orphanage made for them. Each had a plastic bag with a toothbrush, a change of underwear, and a book titled "How to Speak Creole in no Time". They came into the middle of a group of excited adults not knowing who anyone was. Jonie was kind of aloof for the first few days while Esther was a typical 3 year old, cuddly kid. Our lives were never to be the same again.
Patsi's mom had one of the bedrooms while the girls shared the other for the first year. Jonie was 7 by the time she arrived. We put her in grade 1, holding her back a year so she could have a chance to learn the language and adapt to her new life. We somehow made a mistake in Ester's age, believing she was a year older than she was. Patsi enrolled her in preschool, but the teacher soon told us that she wasn't keeping up with the other kids. We then found out that the problem was that she was a year younger than everyone else.
Patsi adapted to motherhood incredibly well with only a few small breakdowns. She had lots of help from Sandra, Lyza, and her mother.
Black hair was the one of the biggest problems for her, which she discovered the first night. She bathed the girls that night, removing the little twists that were all over their heads. As she did the hair exploded in front of her into these huge Afros. Patsi was overwhelmed, but the problem was soon solved with multicolored bows and barrettes that the girls loved.
Jonie's class contained only 13 girls and no boys. They all gravitated toward her and she soon came out of her shell. I spoke some French so she and I communicated for the first few months like that. But both girls were so smart that they learned English by Christmas.
As Jonie blossomed in school, Ester bonded with her mother. I was so proud and happy with all the love in our home. Patsi and I seemed to have more patience for each other, but we still had the same problems with my anger and her stuffing her feelings, it was just hidden for awhile.
The first year went by so fast and it came time for Esther to go to school for real. After the first 2-3 weeks the teacher came to us saying Esther just wasn't getting it. She was falling behind very quickly. One of the things she suggested was that we get her eyes checked.
Patsi booked the appointment. I often sat with Esther in my lap, reading to her. She would put her face up close to the book, but I thought that it was normal. The day of the exam came and we found out she was as blind as a bat. She had a strong astigmatism in one eye and poor sight in the other. They told us they could correct it, but she would need real thick glasses for a few years. We ordered the glasses and waited a week for them to arrive.
The 4 of us went to optometrist's office. They had us all in the room when they put the glasses on Esther. She let out a yell and then said, "JONIE, LOOK AT MY LITTLE FEET!" She had never seen her feet before. It was just like the blind man that Jesus healed. Everything was new to her. All the office staff, the doctor, and the family were all in tears as we experienced this moment together. It was one of the greatest moments in my life.
Esther went back to school the next day. Lidia was not only the teacher, but the wife of my friend Ryochie who was one of our pastors. She took the time to help Esther to catch up. Esther was right on schedule by Christmas.
By then we were very involved in the llama business. Each of the girls had different chores around the barn. Jonie was to feed the llamas oats each day. She was to take a pail of oats into the field and dump it in a few spots to spread it out so they all would get some. On one occasion, she forgot to dump a bit as soon as she got in the field, so the llamas started to follow her, trying to get at the pail she carried. The closer the llamas got the faster she would run away. It was a Catch 22 moment. Jonie was screaming, Patsi was yelling at top of her voice to drop the pail, and I was running to get into the field. She finally let go of the pail and ran to safety. The llamas would not have harmed her. They just wanted the oats. We still laugh about it all these years later.
There were competitions for lamas each year at the Fraser Valley Fair in Abbotsford. We would always do well especially with a male that I had trained to do almost anything. It would walk up and down stairs, under tarps, over creeks. He would back up on command. He was so tame a child could ride him. I would always take first place with him so I let Jonie use him to enter the youth division. She did real well and we have this picture of her with the big ribbon and a smile from ear to ear.
chapter 19 - Llamas sink like a rock
The llama auction in Red Deer was so successful that a guy in BC tried to copy it. He did a sale in 1994. He tried to make it some kind of black tie affair, which offended a lot of the farmers. We were just ordinary people who had some expensive animals. His auction was a minor success and he sold some llamas.
At one of the shows an American told me to sell as soon as I could as the market would fall. The llama market was holding its value because the border was closed to importing any animals from the US. The value in Canada was almost 5 times that of the states. I didn't believe him and neither did anyone else. We were all blind and wanted to stay that way.
As an auctioneer, I knew I could do a better job, so Patsi and I decided to hold a sale ourselves. It was to be in May of 1995. We choose Chilliwack as the site. We rented the hockey arena and started to promote the sale. I attended every event in Alberta and BC to promote the sale. We sent invitations to every llama farmer in Canada. We charged a 500 dollars entry fee and a 10% commission. We sold advertising in the catalogue, which covered the $5,000 it cost to produce it. It took one year of work but when auction day came, we grossed $350,000.
Our prices were lower then Red Deer and their prices had been lower than the year before, so there was a downward trend happening. Some people refused to believe it, but one farmer was smarter than the rest of us and held a dispersal sale at Henry Block's farm soon after. Those prices were lower still.
I had about 40 llamas by then and decided it was time to make a move. We held another sale in 1997 for ourselves with just a few consignors. I did the sale and was determined to not take any animals home. I had a male who had one of the best bloodlines in the country and had produced a young male, which I was going to use as a stud. I decided to put him up first to set the standard for the sale. There was a buyer who had decided to get in the llama business at that time. Bad decision, but he was there to buy and bought the male for $5,000 (it would have sold for $20,000 2 years earlier). I sold 16 of my llamas, all I wanted to sell, to him for $25,000. Only one of the other consignors wanted to sell when they saw the prices.
The llama market fell like a rock after that just like it had with ostriches a few years before. It has never recovered. Some llamas were eventually sold for 50 bucks apiece at the local auction. Over the time I think I broke even on the venture, but I was able to keep the farm status for property tax purposes for over 20 years.
chapter 19 - A big loss
On the Saturday morning of the first weekend of August in 1995, I had got a call from my brother-in-law in Peterborough, saying that my mother had had a heart attack. My father had had a stroke 2 years before and lost most of the mobility on his left side. He had always been very demanding of my mother, but it had been become insane for her since the stroke. I think she just wore out at the age of 69. She died later that day.
I flew home the same night. My sister Anne had made many of the arrangements for the funeral already. In Ontario, most people choose to have traditional funeral with a viewing followed by an interment. My mother's viewing was from 2-4 pm and from 7-9 pm. We were in the room with her body when some people came in to express their condolences. There started to be a line that grew and grew until it was outside the building and then going around the block. I was totally blown away as several 100's of people came in and told me how much my mother had meant in their lives. This happened at both viewings.
My mother had been a member of many organizations and had even formed a charity to provide teddy bears, that she and others had made, to kids when a fire had damaged their homes. It seemed to have touched many people. I was not aware of how loved she was. I was stunned as the day wound down at how little I knew of my mother.
I was both proud and sad. Mostly I was sad that I had been robbed of this knowledge until that day and now could never tell her how proud I was of her. She had had a tough life with many painful moments. She had come back to Jesus late in life so I have the assurance that we will spend eternity together. It only seemed just that my aunt, who had been so hurtful to my mom, had to sit there and watch all these people give her such praise.
chapter 21 - We get to share our story
Our church was at its peak in the late 90's. We had around 400 members with the Sunday service filling all the seats and some of the balcony. One member was Elizabeth Price who was the Canadian President of Women's Aglow and had many contacts among the Christian community. She had arranged for Patsi to sing and me to speak at Full Gospel Dinners (like the one where I came to Jesus) to share our story.
I had attended many lunches with the FGBM in Abbotsford and knew what to expect while Patsi had only one experience when , the founder of FGBN, spoke at a meeting in Langley in the early 80's.
It was memorable as it was before Patsi had committed her life to the Lord. Demos, who was a quiet speaker, shared his message ending with an alter call. Hundreds of people, including Patsi, went forward to have Demos pray for them. As he stepped down the steps from stage the people closest to the stairs started to fall over under the power of the spirit. As he moved through the crowd everyone in his path fell to the ground like a wave. There were hundreds of people laid out on the floor. Patsi freaked as she saw this and ran back to our table. It would take another few months until she prayed with Fred.
Elizabeth had arranged for our first FGBM meeting to be in Maple Ridge. Patsi would sing a couple of songs and I was to give a message. It went well, ending with an alter call for healing. Elizabeth and her husband Jerry were there. Jerry came forward for prayer. Jerry had been on a missionary trip to the Philippines a few years earlier where he had been in a severe car accident. He had serious head injuries that cause him to be in rehab for a long time. Whenever we pray for people we make sure someone is behind the person to catch them if they fall. I put my hand on Jerry's forehead and he went down like a log. The guy behind him went numb and just let him fall. He forgot to catch Jerry. Jerry hit the floor, banging his head hard. I went into shock as I bent over to see how much harm I had caused. Jerry just lay there, praying and praising God. I left him there as I moved along the line. I went back to Jerry only to see him up and feeling great. I will never know why God allowed that to happen, but I know He had a purpose. Perhaps that was His way to heal him. We went on to share at several meetings and prayed with many people but never experienced anything like that again.
A couple from the US, who had a ministry for children, spoke one evening at our church. We had brought friends who had a 7 year old son. I found the service one of the most boring I had ever heard. It seemed to go on forever, only ending when the man asked for all the kids to come forward. All the kids rushed to the front where the man started to lay hands on each kid. To my great surprise, kid after kid fell down under the power of God. I was in awe of what was happening when his wife came up to me, telling me that she could see God's hand on me. She called her husband over. When he touched me on the forehead, I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. I lay there for a minute sensing God's presence. I got up and started to pray for others. As I laid my hand on them they too would hit the deck. Over and over it went on. I started to pray for kids and they went down as well until I prayed for the boy we had brought. He just stood there not moving. I didn't understand it until it came to me that he had never asked Jesus into his heart. I asked if he wanted to and after he had prayed, I touched him and he was down. What an experience.
Patsi had been having some medical problems around this time. She was having severe pain in her back. It turned out to be her gall bladder and needed to have it removed. Operation day came; I took her the hospital and went home to watch over the kids. Lisa went to the hospital soon after the operation bringing a big bunch of flowers. She was shocked by Patsi's appearance, she looked awful. Hair stuck flat to her head, no makeup and a sickly pallor to her face. As soon as Lysa left the hospital she called to say all was well but informed of how Patsi looked. I loaded the kids and headed for the hospital. We got a gift at the shop and rode the elevator to 3rd floor, swung open the door to the room. Patsi was in the first bed on the right, laying on her side and looking terrible. I knew I had to show that all was well so I bent over and kissed her cheek. Just as my lips touched her cheek Jonie called out, "DAD, MOM IS OVER HER" I just kissed a total stranger who was a very sick lady. I have never been forgiven for this one.
chapter 22 - Help I need more help
The girls had been in Canada for 7 years now and were doing so well. We were a family like all families with growing pains. The girls had assimilated into their new life with little trouble. But I still had to deal with my underlying anger issues. I would blow and Patsi would stuff. Every so often we sought Lyza's help. Together we would work out the issues as they arose. It turned out that we were just putting bandages over the hurts without actual healing them. It would all come out at the turn of the century.
On December 31, 1999, we went to friends with the kids to bring in the New Year and next century. We all had a good time and so it came as a huge surprise that when we got home all hell broke loose. I left my jacket on the back of a chair, setting Patsi off. She told me to hang it up. I said I would in the morning. Somehow that hit her between the eyes like a bullet. She went off like never before, letting all the hurt that she had been stuffing out all at once. She told me she hated me and wanted out of their marriage a.s.a.p. I was stunned, striking out in my own verbiage. It became a war in just a few seconds as we sunk into the abyss.
There was no solution to our situation and the house was quiet for a number of days. I was in despair when I heard Patsi say she didn't want to continue and "sure didn't want any more counseling."
We finally contacted Lyza to mediate. We met with Lyza 2 or 3 times with little or no progress. Lyza suggested we meet separately for a while with Patsi starting first. They met a few times with Lyza suggesting to Patsi that she just do something nice for me that week. Patsi said she didn't even like me and sure didn't want to do anything nice for me. That evening, as Patsi was doing dishes, she was telling God how angry she was. She kept muttering until God spoke to her. She rarely experienced hearing Him, but knew it was Him when He told her to do something. He said, "I WANT YOU TO WASH KEN'S FEET." She said no way and tried to stuff it. She was so angry that He would tell her to do something like this. She argued with Him for a while before finally giving in. She got out a huge bowl, filled it with warm water, got a towel, and headed for the living room. I was sitting in my chair wasting time, watching TV. I saw her come in with the bowl and panicked. I grabbed the phone. She told me to put it away, saying that God had told her to do this. She knelt at my feet, taking off my shoes and socks. As she started to wash my feet tears were rolling down both of our faces. We cried and cried as our pride was washed away. We both asked each other for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit ministered to us both, healing the brokenness inside. We learned to love that night. True love came into our lives because Patsi obeyed God. Our lives changed as we started to live for each other.
The next day Lyza called Patsi to ask how things were going. When Patsi told her what she had done there was dead silence for a few seconds. Lyza was in absolute shock as she heard Patsi describe the events of the previous evening. Lyza told Patsi that she had meant was for her to bake me a cake or maybe to make me a special meal. Never in a hundred years would she have predicted that as an outcome. Only God can heal our pain.
chapter 23 - Heart Attack City
Patsi was leading worship one Sunday morning and I was really sensing God's presence. There is always an anointing on worship for me when she is leading, but this day seemed to be special. I felt the Lord tell me to move forward, toward the front. I was sitting on the right side about 10 rows back so I moved up about 5 rows, staying on the outside. I stopped and immediately felt the physical presence of the Lord. I felt His arm around my shoulder. In that moment every bit of pain, shame, fear, condemnation, and guilt was evaporated. In His arms there is only Him. He is the Truth and the Light. He is Love. It was the exact opposite of what had happened those years ago when the enemy attacked me, the night when I saw hell. This was the first step to heaven. I now have seen a glimpse of both. God does not waste His efforts. I was going to need His presence later that day.
After we had gone for lunch with friends I went home to work on my books for a while. During that time I got a call from Cindy calling me every name in the book. We had been on a cordial level for a while, but now we were headed for disaster again. Scott had a dog that had a broken leg. The vet told him it would cost $1500.00 to fix. I had told Scott I would pay half and for him to ask the vet if he could pay the rest over time. Cindy thought I had committed a crime by not just paying the whole bill. It ended with her losing it , and going off for another hiatus from me. This one lasted 6 years. As she screamed I started to go into depression until I remembered what had happened that very morning. God knew what was coming and had prepared me by telling me how much He loved me.
On January 15th, 2001 Patsi and I were sitting together in the living room watching some TV. The girls were in bed and all was peaceful. In the midst of the quiet I had this thought that I had to call Marlene's mother and apologize for all the pain I had caused their family. Much like Patsi's word to wash my feet, I really wasn't anxious to do it, but I knew it was the Lord so I picked up the phone and made the call. Adele was taken by surprise when she heard my voice. She had never spoken an evil word to me through all the turmoil I had caused. She had every right to hate me but that just wasn't her character. I told her how sorry I was and asked her to forgive me. All she could say was how I had been such a big help when Debbie had died and she said she forgave me. After the call I felt a peace in my spirit but didn't understand why I was told to make the call. I was soon to know.
I got up the next day and started my exercise routine. I have always been a little heavy but carry it well and enjoy workouts that include weights and cardio. On this morning Patsi had taken the girls to school and then gone upstairs, in the same building, to the church office where she was the church secretary.
On this day I used the Nordic Ski Machine, one of the more strenuous exercises, for about 40 minutes. I built up the program until I was really sweating and breathing hard. I finally stopped and I sat on the couch for a few minutes to catch my breath before heading for the shower. While under the water I felt a little pain in my chest that slowly got worse. Then my left arm started to ache. I knew what was happening, but I wanted to deny it. I got out and sat down hoping it would end. I finally knew it wouldn't so I headed for the truck to drive to the hospital. As soon as I got in the truck I started to throw up. I went back into the house, dialed 911, and waited. Because of the fire hall across the road, I was surrounded by paramedics within minutes. When the ambulance arrived I was strapped in a gurney and heading for the hospital. The ambulance attendant called Patsi at work and calmly told her that I was having a little pain and that she should meet us at the hospital. I was rushed into the ER with several attendants shoving needles everywhere, attaching electrodes top and bottom. A doctor came and asked questions as they drew blood. The monitors didn't show any abnormal activity so the panic subsided. We were told we would have to wait until the blood work came back before I could be released.
We waited for about 31/2 hours when they burst into my area and started to push my bed towards the elevator. They told me I had had a Myocardial Infarction or a heart attack. We were heading for the Intensive Care unit where I was again surrounded with nurses and doctors. I was given a shot of a clot busting drug, but it didn't work as it is only of value if used in the first 3 hours.
I stayed in there for almost a week before I was sent to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster for an angiogram. It showed I had 4 blockages with one being 100%, which caused the MI. My heart was permanently damaged but not too severely. They told me that they would bring me back later for an angioplasty where they would open the blockages and stent the arteries to allow blood flow.
The days can get really long when you are stuck in an Intensive Care Unit. I met lots of people as they came and left, leaving me behind to wait for the stenting. One man came, who did not have any family visit him. It was so sad to watch him when all these other patients had visitors. I took to spending time with him as he lay in his bed. I was feeling great by then, up and walking all over the place at will. It was 2 days before I realized he didn't have legs. The bed was empty just below his waist. Patsi had brought me a little TV to avoid the 10 dollar a day cost of renting one. I asked Patsi to get me another one and I gave him mine. We got to know each other over the next few days. When I told him my story of how the Lord had brought me from the depths and set me free, he asked if and how he could get free too. Another soul set free. Wow! They are everywhere. Everyone needs to hear the truth and to meet Jesus.
As I waited I remembered how God had me call Marlene's mother the night before the heart attack. I really didn't understand His purpose at the time but after, when I realized how close I came to death, I see how He gave a chance to repent for the harm I had done. The bible talks about not taking communion when you have something against your brother. We are to make it right before we partake of the elements. I can only believe He had a specific purpose for me to make that call. God knows all things. His timing is perfect.
After another 7 days I got the news that I was to be transferred to get the angioplasty done. Patsi and I had been told that the stents would restore me to almost perfect health. Any reports we had read all showed a huge success rate so we were looking forward to a new start.
I was given a sedative and taken to the waiting room before being rolled into the OR. My turn came and they transferred me onto the operating table. There were lights everywhere and the monitors were all on. The nurses were laughing in the corner until they came and gave me a shot in the crotch so they could run the wires up the artery and into my heart. I would feel a warm sensation each time they would shoot more dye. The doctor was working away as I stared at him. I was a little stoned as I watched the monitor showing my heart beating. As they shot the dye, I could see all the little arteries light up, showing exactly where the wires were. After a few minutes I could sense frustration in his voice. Soon after he said, "DAMN, I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS." I knew this was not good, but the drugs kept me a little calm. They withdrew the wires and unhooked the monitors. I was soon on my way to the recovery room.
As the sedative wore off I asked what was going on. They told me that the blockage was too long to open and they had to stop before they tore the wall in the artery. I was stunned. Patsi and I had just known that I was going to be healed. We believed what they said. They said I was going to be as good as new and now I wasn't. I sunk into a deep, deep depression as I lay on the bed.
I was unable to move for 4 hours, until the hole they made in my crotch to open the artery made a scab and started to heal. I finally called Patsi who was driving home from work. We both cried as I told her I was in trouble. I was released the next day and went home for the first time in 2 weeks. I was so sad as I started to live again. I didn't have as much energy as before but could walk and work. We started to accept the situation knowing God would see us through. Life would be a little different, but we still had each other and the kids. Our church family was very gracious and caring.
I would go to bed a little earlier then I used to, but I had no trouble sleeping. On the 10th or 11th night home, as I was sound asleep, an electric shock hit my body just as if I had been hit by lightening. I was lifted off the bed about 4 inches and landed not knowing what had just happened. GOD IS WHAT HAPPENED. I may have an artery that blood could not pass through, but that didn't stop Him. He made or opened a collateral artery to carry the blood pass the blockage and into the bottom of my heart to feed it the oxygen it so desperately needed. A small part of my heart had died, but the surrounding area was still alive. It just needed more oxygen. The new artery provided the blood and I was made well in a fraction of a second.
I gained all my strength back and was normal for the next 5 years. In 2006 I was scheduled for open heart surgery as some more blockages appeared. I really didn't want the surgery. The thought of my chest being cracked open and having them handle my heart was not something I wanted to experience, but I was told that it was necessary. We had bought a new lazy boy recliner for me to recoup in. The surgery was scheduled for a Monday morning, but on the Friday we got a call I had been bumped for an emergency case.
That evening we went for dinner with Roichi and Lydia. After I told him my fear and reservations about open heart surgery, he told me about a member of their church with a similar situation. He too didn't want the surgery. He had done some research and found a new tool being used in Japan that was able to go through difficult blockages via angioplasty, to avoid open heart surgery. He found out that St. Joseph's Hospital in Bellingham had started using it and he had the procedure done successfully, being released the same day. Open heart surgery requires 6-8 weeks recovery time.
I was so excited that I called the hospital the Monday morning. They told me to come down to see them and to bring a copy of the video of my blockage. Patsi and I showed up the next day. We were taken into an office to meet a young doctor. He was very pleasant as he asked for the video. He excused himself and went to view it.
In about 10 minutes he returned with a big smile. He told us that it would not be a problem to open up the arteries and stent all the blockages. He said they could do it the next day. I asked how much and was told $25,000.00 US. We thanked him and headed home to make a big decision. We decided that we would borrow the money and do this rather than have the open heart surgery. I went to see my cardiologist to discuss the decision. When I told him the story, he wanted to talk to a colleague. The end result was the colleague was able to do the surgery for me exactly as it would have been done in the states. I had to wait a couple of months, but the cost was - $0 - nothing! Our Provincial Health covered it all.
I have inherited heart disease from both sides of my family. Every 5 years or so, I will need a stent or at least an angioplasty to keep me at 100%. I had another stent in 2011. I live an active life, far from what we thought was ahead before God opened the collateral artery.
chapter 24 - Growing old - Harley Davidson - Knowing He will meet all our needs
The business moved on over the years with some highs and a few lows. When the dollar lost its value against the US dollar I stopped buying in the states. I was never able to get back up to that level again. We had to move to a new location when they sold the auto dealership location. While in the new location I received a call from Sears Canada offering to sell us all their clothing returns for 10 cents on the dollar. I took the deal and Cash-2-U became a clothing liquidation store. We struggled until I started to buy new clothes. They were seconds, overruns and samples from a number of factories and importers in the Vancouver area.
God seemed to always meet our basic needs, but there were times I needed more so I asked Him for it. On one occasion, I needed the sales for the month to be $25,000. As the month progressed I could see that the goal was in sight. By the second to the last day we needed more than I thought possible but then a large sale put it within reach. When the last day came we still needed around 1000 dollars. The difference started to shrink as the day progressed so that at closing I thought we would be close. I took the money into my office and began to count. The total for the month was $24,987.00. I thanked God for His provision. I then had the audacity to say why didn't He just do it to the exact amount. HE SAID, "WHY DON'T YOU COUNT YOUR CHANGE." There were 26 days that the store was open that month. Some days there would be 30 cents change while on others, it was 70 cents. The average was 50 cents a day. 26 days at 50 cents per equaled $13.00. It added up to exactly $25,000 for the month. With God all things are possible.
On another occasion, I had placed lots of ads for a one-day sale, asking for $5,000 for the day. It seems crazy, but that was exactly the amount of the deposit that night.
On another occasion, I asked for $1,000 for the day. A bill came in during the day that had to be paid on the spot. I changed my request, adding the $160.00 to what I needed. At closing I took the cash into the office. It was 3 minutes to closing and we were $6.00 short. The last lady was at the till and the doors were locked. Her bill was…guess…$6.00…Crazy! I know that's what happened. He is the God of all our needs.
When I started to buy in Vancouver it turned everything around, but the big jump came when we got the deal to buy seconds from Western Glove Works in Winnipeg. They were a major jean manufacturer, producing many top brands including Silver Jeans. We were able to start doing well again and moved into a main street location in downtown Langley.
In the summer of 2000 John and Lyza had decided to take a one year sabbatical after having served the church for 30 years. They arranged for a replacement pastor to cover for them. Burt Demurton had served for many years in a number of churches in the Vancouver area as a lead and associate pastor. John was a very charismatic preacher with many spiritual gifts. The church was a strong Christian presence in the community. John's main goal for the church was unity.
Burt's gift was more practical as he was a pastor who focused on each individual in the church, visiting them at their homes on a regular basis. Many members appreciated this approach and voiced it to Burt. He began to think he could do a better job than John and laid the foundation for a takeover of the church.
The year passed quickly with the Clarkes returning refreshed and motivated to take the reins. They had lots of new passion and wanted to focus on the new ideas they had gleaned over the year.
Soon after their return there was an uprising in the church, led by Burt. He had motivated a few of the leaders to come along side with him with the purpose of replacing John as lead pastor. This action played its way out over the course of the next couple of months, ending with the dismissal of Burt, but not before he had scooped up a few of the members.
With the end of the coup John started to share some of his new plans. During the first daylong leaders meeting, he showed a video featuring the Jabez Prayer by Bruce Wilkerson. I had prayed almost every day since coming to the Lord, but this shone a new light on how to focus my prayer and to line it up with God's purposes for me. It is based on an obscure passage of scripture where Jabez prayed, asking God to bless him. It goes like this
BLESS ME LORD, BLESS ME INDEED
FILL ME WITH YOUR SPIRIT
INCREASE MY TERRITORY
PROTECT ME FROM THE ENEMY
DO NOT LET ME CAUSE HARM
He talked about how God had blessed Jabez because Jabez had asked for blessings and that it is God's joy to bless us. He taught how to personalize the prayer for our own lives. My prayers, until that time, had been scattered and unorganized. I began to follow the lead of Jabez. Not to use it as rote but simply as a guide. I pray for blessings in my family, for friends, my marriage, and any needs that my friends or I might have. I ask for the Holy Spirit to daily fill me more and more with His presence and to guide me in my thoughts and actions. I ask for Him to increase my territory by creating opportunity to be of use to the kingdom, to guide me to people who need to hear of Him. To open the doors that need to be opened and to close doors to places He doesn't want me to go. I pray for His protection as I go about life, to keep me from temptation and that I can take on the full armor of God on a daily basis. That I not cause harm to anyone and, finally, have wisdom, to be wise about what I say and do, so that I know what could harm His kingdom.
I have followed this guideline since that day accompanied by studying MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST. I can only tell you that this has helped me to keep my spiritual life in line with what I believe God wants for me. I would recommend this for anyone seeking to get closer to God.
2006 was also a tough year in our personal lives when we lost Norma, Patsi's mom and best friend, to cancer. The loss Patsi experienced was so great. They were so close as only a mother/daughter can be. She still morns all these years later .My father passed away later in the same year. I had been back to see him a few months earlier. He and I had never been close, but in the last couple of years he started to attend church services in the rest home. During the last time I saw him we held hands and prayed. I had prayed for him for several years and can only hope he made peace with God before he passed away.
Our church made a major change in 2006 when John and Lyza wanted to step down. They had hired a young couple as youth pastors a couple of years before so it was their desire for them to take over. The transition was not without difficulties as some members didn't agree with the decision.
In the end their plan went ahead and Jeff and Kelly were placed in charge with John and Lyza acting in a supporting role. I was a director with 7 or 8 other guys. I resigned soon after. Many changes took place in a hurry. The first was a change of name. White Rock Christian Fellowship became Life Church. A new format in preaching and worship soon followed. Many more people soon left. Patsi was soon let go as church secretary as the finances were floundering. It never seemed to "get a grip", sputtering for a couple of years, until a bomb dropped. There was a major sin exposed in the new leadership group. Jeff was going to step down as Kelly had been involved in the failing. At the last minute Jeff decided to stay on. The church was down to around 60 or 70 people on a Sunday morning from the 300 or so when John was leading. We were spending our winters down south by then and avoided much of the turmoil. But upon one of our returns home, we were shocked at the disorganization and had to leave.
Just before the church imploded a couple of new guys had started attending. They both showed up on big Harleys each Sunday. I would watch them leave with their loud pipes, "playing a song to my spirit". I didn't realize how much I missed the freedom of 2 wheels. I was able to resist until Fathers Day, 2007. As I sat in my chair waiting for the service to start, the side doors opened and they rode their bikes into the front of the church, parking them by the pulpit. I couldn't handle it anymore. I looked at Patsi and said, "THAT'S ENOUGH. I AM BUYING A BIKE THIS WEEK." I had received an inheritance from my father so I had some cash to buy the bike.
I got to know the guys and they helped me to find a 01 Harley Electra Glide with 9000 km on it. It was 7 years old and like new. It took a couple of harrowing months to get back to my riding level of 30 years before. I joined up with the guys who had formed a church for bikers. We met at our building on Wednesday evenings for a service with a ride after. On the back of our leathers, we had a patch showing a cross made of hardened steel. It showed our faith and that we had an edge. Our goal was to represent Christ in the hardcore biker world. We would attend fundraising rides put on by Hells Angels and other 1% clubs.
It sure was a lot of fun but doomed to failure because we tried to be a church for bikers while dictating who could wear the patch. If you didn't ride a Harley or fit in, you could attend the church but not be apart of the inner core. I left after a couple of years. I had tried to change the opinion of the leaders but wasn't success.
When Patsi and I started to go to Phoenix for the winter, we bought a home in a complex with over 1000 units. Among the 40 different groups is a motorcycle club with old guys like me, riding every kind of tour bike made…Harleys, BMWs, Gold Wings and now trikes.
For the first 2 years, I would go on 3-4 day trips and I would leave Patsi behind because she didn't feel safe on the bike. I would try to arrange for one of our girls or a friend from home to keep her company. Last year one of the guys had bought a brand new Can Am (a new type of 3 wheel bike with 2 wheels on the front). He had a stroke after only having it for a short time. He tried every way to sell it and lowered the price to where it made sense for us to buy it. I could sell the Harley for about half and come up with the balance. We did it and now we are riding together.
On our first trip we spent a week with 18 other couples, riding from Phoenix to Vegas, to Death Valley, to Bakersfield, to the California coast, down to near Los Angeles, on to Palm Springs, and then home. We had a great time together and with the others. We now have something that we can do together in our retirement.
We ride with people from all over the US and Canada, guys from every walk of life. Some are wealthy while others not so much. There are car dealers, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, and now one auctioneer. One of the riders is a pastor from the church in our community. We now have 2 lives, with two sets of friends. One in Arizona and one in BC. One in the winter and the other in the summer. What often happens now is we have summer friends visit in the winter while several winter friends spend time with us in the summer. As one of my winter friends describes it, "We are doing life together"
I was always addicted to auctions and garage sales. A few years ago on a Saturday I bought a box of books for $5. The Internet was in its early days with Yahoo offering free auctions.. I put up these books one at a time and they all sold out. I bought more and they all sold. I turned the garage at home into the base for the book business.
The store we had rented in Langley was being torn down to build a casino. We had to move again. I searched for a location for 3 months without any success. It looked like we were going to have to leave Langley. I found a smaller store for reasonable rent in Coverdale, the next town over. It was a bookstore loaded with used books and shelving. The guy wanted out bad, so I took over his lease and bought everything in his store for $2,000. I moved the whole bookstore into my barn at home, setting up the clothing store in the bookstore's location. The clothing store went downhill in a hurry, as the location wasn't anything like Langley. After a year, I did a closeout and liquidated the entire inventory, ending our time in a retail store for ever.
The book business had been increasing daily. I moved the business to Amazon soon after which resulted in a huge jump in sales. I had no rent, minimum of staff, and no public to deal with. It grew to a point where we did more sales from our barn then we had in the stores.
Our lives as a family have been totally blessed. As teenagers the girls each had about a year of insanity, but we all survived.
I ended up in an anger management class where I saw where anger could take you. There were about 20 guys who had similar stories, some who all had let their anger carry them to its end. Many had been charged with spousal abuse and had restraining orders against them. Some seemed to not to hear what they were saying as they blamed everyone but themselves for their problems. It is a real eye opener to realize we are the source of much of our pain. Everyone in the world has problems. It is how we deal with those problems that shows who we are.
God has blessed me in my life. He kept me alive for all those years before I surrendered my life to Him. Patsi and I just celebrated our 30th anniversary with a long holiday together in Hawaii. We have learned to put each other first. My life has been full and I am truly a happy man as I get to enjoy my senior citizen life.
Scott turns 41 this year and is a true free spirit, living life by his own rules. Cindy has over the years had her problems with me. She has decided for the 3rd time to not have me in her life. It hurts but I have a peace knowing that God is in charge. I pray for them both every day, claiming them for Gods kingdom. I have owned what I did in their lives and have asked them both for their forgiveness for the pain I caused. Many years ago I had a long talk with Marlene. I apologized for all I had done to her and her family. I asked for her forgiveness. We don't see each other very often but when we do it is cordial. Her partner, David, has been with her for many years. They appear to have a happy life.
I turned 65 on a Thursday, the 26th of January 2012. We were in Phoenix and Patsi had planned a party for all our friends for that evening.
In Arizona, Thursdays are estates sale days. I always get up bright and early, as my addiction for bargains has not diminished as I grow older. I get the list from the paper, spend a while loading the GPS,, and hit the road. I grab a coffee and snack as I start the trek. It takes 4-5 hours to complete the journey so by 1 pm or so, I'm hungry. On this day I recalled having seen an ad for a Chinese buffet, one of our favorite stops. It had said, "EAT FREE ON YOUR BIRTHDAY." I called Patsi to see if she wanted to come, but she already had had lunch so I was on my own. I went up to the counter to tell the girl it was my birthday and I was here for the free meal. She looked at me with great pain and said,"Sir you have to have 10 people with you." I guess I missed that part in the ad. She looked at me with compassion and said that she would give me 10% off my meal. I was there and hungry so I quickly said thanks and headed to my table. I feasted by myself for 20 or 30 minutes.
I was about to get up when a girl came around with a special plate of cakes for me. I didn't realize it was a gift for me and I passed on the cakes. I stood up to leave my cash payment when the sound system suddenly started to blast out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!" The doors from the back room swung open with a line of waitresses, following the leader who had a cake with a sparkler blazing on top and heading for my table.
All around the restaurant people are looking over at this poor friendless man who is celebrating his birthday all by himself. This all happened in a matter of seconds. I panicked and headed for the door to escape. I got in my car, thought about what had just happened, and started to laugh as deep I ever have in my life. I called Patsi and related the story. She was laughing so hard she was crying and then she said, "KEN, IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN TO YOU!"
God gave me second chance as a father, as a husband, and as a man, and I passed. He is not finished with me as I still mess up too often. "For we all fall short of the glory of God". We all are growing towards being who He has called us to be. I am a good father, which is not how I saw myself in all those years before. Both girls have wonderful men in their lives.
Patsi and I have 2 wonderful grandbabies who are the most important part of our lives. I am an even better grandfather then I was a father. As much as I have learned to love over the years, I never really understood unconditional love until these little babies came along. I know how much God loves me because I love those little ones without reservation. I just love them period. Not because they have done something to deserve it but because they are my grandbabies.
That is how God loves us all. We can never earn His love. He just loves us unconditionally, no matter where we are or what we have done. All He wants is for us to surrender our lives to Him, confess that we need Him, and ask Him to forgive our sins. He has given me a full and wonderful life, not because I deserved it, but because He is God.
He will chase us until we surrender. When you hear His call, STOP whatever you're doing and respond. He is always there, but we become duller to the call the longer we wait to respond. He loves you just as you are. Come now. He will do the rest. I truly know that this is true.
If you are ready to surrender and make Jesus "Lord of your life" today,
Pray this prayer from your heart.
I believe you are God.
I confess that I am a sinner.
I ask you to come into my heart today and make me new.
I believe you died in my place
To pay the price for my sins.
I surrender the rest of my life to you.
In Jesus name I pray.
If you have just prayed, you are a new creation.
The Holy Spirit has come into your heart and has started a work in you.
You should tell a Christian what you have done and
find a bible believing church to attend.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you have prayed this prayer or have any comments, please let me know. I would be very glad to hear from you.
My email address is email@example.com
I want to thank Patsi for putting up with me all these years. She helped so much
as I would read each page to her, correcting timelines and wording before I would move on.
To Jonie and Esther for being such wonderful daughters
To John and Lyza for walking me thru all the darkness and helping to see the light.
A special "thank you" to Kathy Silver and Dwight Tachiyama for reading the rough copy, and then for taking the many hours to edit all my spelling and grammar errors. I really appreciate you both.
Finally to my friends in Surprise Az., especially Kathy Bond and Kathy Silver, who encouraged me to write down all the stories I would so often share over the many meals and times together.