PART SIX– Harvest Haven to Surprise Visitors (cont.)
The incident: Howard had come home from work and Jason and a friend were waiting for him. Howard didn’t even have time for surprise. The son he stole from his mother turned on him with a vengeance, committing patricide on the ninth anniversary of the divorce, the day the papers were finalized. A chance coincidence? Or are all things perfectly ordered, both good and evil? You have seen and shall see – again and again.
Upon Howard’s death, I received of the Lord that the part about Him bringing Trevor back into line in his sheep vision hadn’t been fulfilled. I was also moved to contact him in his exile. We assumed he could be reached at Howard’s parents’ home at Tees, Alberta, where Howard’s funeral would be.
I called Trevor there on May 4. His grandmother answered and handed the phone to him. I told him that though we may have presumed otherwise at other times, his vision hadn’t been fulfilled. That was about all that was spoken.
On May 5, 1997, Daryl Konynenbelt, reporter for CJIL (“Canada’s first 24-hour Christian TV station”) came to Harvest Haven to do an interview. He was investigating charges from First Baptist Church member John Albiston, Pastor Whelpton and friends that we were a religious cult, a dangerous threat to the Lethbridge community. Daryl brought Anne Marie Mediwake with him, the youngest daughter of Mervin and Muriel Mediwake, and Mike Dortsch, a cameraman (there may have been one or two others as well).
I hadn’t seen Anne Marie since our visit with her parents in Brooks many years before, when she was about two years old and in a high chair. But this was no time for fanciful visits and reminiscing; she was in no mood for socializing. There were feelings and signs that we were viewed as criminals, guilty before trial, proof, judgment and conviction.
Daryl wanted us to go about some activity on the farm while they would film. One of the jobs we had for the moment was gathering nails from a heap of ashes. I was intent on having a clean farm, above and even beneath, if at all possible, and I wanted to retrieve and recycle, rather than bury, any garbage.
Danny had set fire to a large pile of lumber from an old shed torn down. He said wind carried sparks from the burning barrel he was using and ignited the wood. Given the situational elements, I had a hard time believing him, though we were compelled to give him the benefit of doubt, having no proof. It was often that way with Danny.
As we were gathering nails in our used blue Canadian Linen clearance smocks, I saw Mike Dortsch walk away with his camera momentarily, squat down at a distance with his back to us and speak softly into a recorder. I didn’t know what he was saying, but wondered at what appeared to be sinister secrecy.
Why should he hide his comments from us? Did these people profess faith in Christ? Yes, they did. Did we? Yes, we did. Why, then, the tension in the atmosphere? Why the condescending smiles and apparent game-playing? Obviously, one of us was on the “wrong side.” I was momentarily annoyed and was tempted to go over to him and ask what he was recording; however, I didn’t want to offend them and spoil the opportunity to tell our side of the story concerning the Albiston report.
I suspected the CJIL crew was there not so much to investigate and offer an objective report to the public as to develop a sensational story and perhaps confirm what they were already inclined to believe about us, as media are wont to do.
Sadly, it’s seldom about the truth so much as publicity, entertainment, and financial success, no matter that they profess faith in Christ. In fact, those professing faith in God and Christ are often the very last to be trusted, as the Lord has taught us so many times, in so many ways.
That evening, as we sat at table for the interview, several of us gave our input – Paul, Sean, Marilyn, Lois, I, and perhaps others. After hearing us out, it seemed Daryl was disappointed that there wasn’t the story they had hoped for. He realized we were innocent of John Albiston’s accusations.
But there was more. He said the report was slanderous and that I could even lay criminal charges against John Albiston and his friends for the accusations made. I agreed, but told him I had no interest in taking them to court. We knew in Whom we believed and it was enough.
“Would Jesus take people to court for evil sayings against Him?” I asked. I said that it behooved us, as the Lord’s sheep, to suffer wrong patiently, even as Jesus did:
“For this is a grace, if for conscience toward God anyone endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if you patiently endure while sinning and being buffeted? But if you suffer while doing good, and patiently endure, this is a grace from God. For were you not called to this? For Christ also suffered on our behalf, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps…” (1 Peter 2:19-21 MKJV).
I did make Daryl an offer, however. I suggested that we would meet our accusers on the air and have a public discussion of their report. Daryl seemed to be in favor of the proposition, but as it later turned out, he was unable to gather Albiston, Pat Shoenberger, Al DeLeeuw, and Chris Heynen (or any one of them it seemed) for an encounter. The whole thing blew away in the wind. That was the last we saw or heard of our accusers and CJIL regarding us.
Years later, Daryl and Anne Marie were married. We saw Anne Marie do a production with CTV, which was vile in terms of Christian context. Obviously, she wasn’t the least interested in glorifying God while interviewing music stars and displaying plaster casts of their erected penises.
These were fruits we saw to confirm the validity of our warnings to the Mediwakes many years before about tending to their children and godly values, rather than to careers and mammon. Though it may take some time, chickens always come home to roost. Granted, it’s not always true that parents are responsible for their children’s choices.
On May 5, 1997, Sean’s mother, Audrey, and husband, Vinton Goff, came to visit Sean for a short while. They were workers with Wycliffe Bible Translators and living in Claresholm, Alberta. Being pressed and not able to afford the luxury of leisure time to visit, we promptly recruited them to help out with some projects.
Vinton was a very cerebral, outspoken, and cynical man, while Audrey, educated and intelligent, was reserved and noncommittal, at least outwardly. While Audrey plainly professed faith and salvation in Christ, we were never sure what Vinton believed, but were persuaded that neither of them had genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
Audrey and Vinton came when CJIL was there with their crew and equipment. Everything seemed to be happening at once. The farm was bustling with diverse activities every day, keeping us sometimes on our toes, sometimes reeling, and sometimes flat on our faces, overwhelmed and confounded.
On May 7, 1997, three days after I contacted Trevor, he called back. I asked him if he wished to return. He said he did. At the time, he was courting Kirsten Rice, an unbeliever, planning to marry her. He had been laid off as an engineer a week earlier, and was looking for work.
He and Kirsten had been in a vehicle mishap, escaping injury. He said the Lord kept them in it (which was true). However, my response was, “Could He not have kept you from the accident altogether?” The point was that it wasn’t primarily God’s favor they were experiencing but a warning, though God limited the impact of the warning.
Many times I’ve heard people speak of how they escaped major consequences (though perhaps not minor ones) in car accidents or other crises because God kept them. They assume that because they were spared much worse, they’re right with God. The fact is these things don’t happen for nothing. Events like these are for warning and correction because of waywardness – lack of knowledge and obedience. While it’s fine to glorify the Lord and give Him credit for protection, it behooves us at such times to realize all may not be right with us, and worse could be on the way unless we repent.
You will recall my van “accident.” Indeed, the Lord kept me there, but I knew He could have prevented the event entirely. I needed humbling, and that’s why it happened.
In such cases, some like to think the devil is resisting them, presuming they’re a threat to him because their lives are so in tune with God. Or they think God is simply trying their faith. We need to realize those incidents are wake-up calls, signaling the need of a drastic change in attitude and direction.
Though we speak of the patience of Job, and though the Bible speaks of his fear of God, eschewal of evil, and being perfect and upright, Job was still self-righteous, depending on his own virtue. God had to deliver him of that illusion. By the time God was done with him, “perfect, God-fearing” Job said:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye has seen You. Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6 MKJV).
Trevor arrived at Harvest Haven on May 12, 1997. I was thankful he was returned to us. The Lord had destined some of us to come together for a purpose well beyond our understanding, but a firestorm would come before that purpose was made known to us. Indeed, it had already arrived to purge us of lawlessness and independent spirits, and to prepare us for whatever He had in mind.
Trevor told us how he coincidentally met up with his father and Jason during his time away from us. While traveling, they encountered a snowstorm in Harrison Hot Springs, BC, where they were stranded for three days in a motel, a few doors down from each other. How remarkable is that? Statisticians would have a heyday with that one. Same city, snowstorm, same day, same motel, three doors from each other?
They renewed relations and, consequently, Howard reinstated Trevor and Mark in his will (he had written Mark and Trevor off because of their association with me). That event would have significant implications, demonstrating the sovereignty of a Higher Power beyond any denial, as you will see.
Who says there is no God?
Anyone coming to visit us at the farm was invariably put to work for two reasons: one, we had little time to sit and visit, deciding that we could work and visit at once; and two, we were not a resort for “holidayers” or casual travelers. Our mission and lives weren’t for squandering on worldly visits. People needed to know that. Very few people minded rolling up their sleeves and getting involved; indeed, many volunteered.
On May 16, 1997, Suzie, Kerri’s mother, came visiting with Sarah, Kerri’s young niece. Suzie would have none of our busy lifestyle and mode of operation. She was a lot like Kerri, or perhaps Kerri was a lot like her mother.
There are those who think they can go along lackadaisically in life without any consideration for others. Suzie stayed in her VW camper and ate with us, but wasn’t inclined to do anything constructive, she had nothing spiritual or of any other value to offer us that we could tell, and she wasn’t about to receive anything we had to offer. She was soon gone, to be seen no more.
I’ve often questioned our approach with visitors. As a child, when guests came to our home, they weren’t put to work. However, they never came to visit, eat, and sleep for a few days, either. If they were friends or relations not seen for many years, even those didn’t feel comfortable sitting around, especially on a farm, where there’s always more than enough daily work to be done. They would continue on their journey after soon reaching a tolerance level of socializing.
We had enough work to keep a small army occupied, 24/7. Those who empathized with us and pitched in to help were a pleasure having around, but we had no time to hobnob with those who couldn’t appreciate our circumstances. Unless they were in need of serious help and were willing to responsibly receive what we had to offer, we busied them or they left. But we still had a long way to go before we could really help anyone as we ought – a long way indeed. I had no idea.
Jason, with a little help from his father, had turned away from Lois, in great bitterness toward her. Now, from prison, he was calling her. I don’t know that we ever found out specifically why. However, we began to drive to the Calgary Youth Remand Center to visit him, and later to Red Deer, before he was tried. What Jason had to tell us was almost shocking.
Can we say these things were true? Do we really know? Do we have evidence? I would have to answer “no” to each of those. However, I can report what he told us.
Jason said Howard had sexually abused him from the beginning. While Lois was suspicious of it when she and Howard were still living at their Stettler acreage, she didn’t really know and was afraid, at least hesitant, to investigate the possibility. Jason thought she knew what was happening, and he now questioned why she didn’t do something about it. He said Howard was also regularly doing drugs.
Furthermore, he claimed that Howard had been seeking a way to have Lois killed or committed to the mental institution in Ponoka. Howard swore that Lois would receive absolutely nothing in a divorce settlement. Jason further said that Howard had a certain RCMP buddy (or buddies) involved in these discussions. Lois recalled how when driving to work at night after Howard had left her, RCMP cruisers would frequently pull her over, asking for her documents. She felt she was being deliberately harassed, but could only trust that God would protect her.
That’s not all. Jason claimed that Howard and certain members of the RCMP of the Stettler detachment were involved together in drug trafficking, bringing in marijuana from British Columbia, apparently of desired, superior quality.
We had earfuls from Jason. I realize that in telling these things, I make enemies or develop possibilities of retaliation, even from law enforcement institutions. I see it this way: If men are innocent, they will defend my right to speak and won’t be offended; if guilty, they will react to protect themselves. The time would come when we would hear confirmations of some of these things from other unexpected, unrelated sources, though still without tangible evidence.
Besides the Lord setting up Cherie Petrie’s Or-Kids Organic Market as a competitor simultaneous to the birth of Harvest Haven, there was another simultaneous birthing just down the road from us and more similar in nature in a certain respect, though not organic.
Paul De Jonge of Broxburn Vegetables came by, complaining that he had paid good money for the prime property for his operation on Jail Road as a fruit and vegetable market farm. We had a u-pick strawberry business, already in operation before we purchased it and he was just building his. He objected to our having signs on country roads directing traffic our way, claiming we had no right to do so.
I was amazed at his chutzpah. It wasn’t as though we were setting up signs in impudence or practicing unfair trade tactics. We had no right to continue our operation because he wanted to have a similar one? He took my breath away with such arrogant, narrow-minded, selfish logic. It appeared his motto was not, “Live and let live,” but, “You must die so I may live.”
I said nothing to him except that we would like to cooperate and be fair in our practices, as we ought. But again, I was wondering why God had set these competitors up simultaneously with us. Why did things have to be so difficult?
On June 1, Turk Quathamer of Creston, BC, a stranger to me, called asking me to furnish him with any and all names of the Hafichuk family. He had married Ann Hafichuk, and was working on the Hafichuk family tree. They came to visit us one evening.
I was full of mixed emotions at that time. Marilyn and I were going through what some might consider a potential divorce situation, the farm was in turmoil, we all had spiritual struggles, and now there seemed to be a call backward, if ever so slight, to the family of my past life. I tried furnishing Turk with some information but soon they and this matter faded away.
Trevor and I drove to Red Deer to visit Jason in the Remand Center for a hearing that day. Because I didn’t frequent restaurants unless necessary, we brought lunch and stopped to eat at Rotary Park. As we sat at a table, a native fellow approached us asking for money. We saw he had drug and/or alcohol problems so I asked him why he wanted the money (I wasn’t about to supply him with drug money). He said he was hungry and wanted to buy something to eat.
I was skeptical that he was after food. “You can share our lunch with us if you wish,” I replied. We had finished our sandwiches but we had cake and fruit. I offered him an apple. He stared at it with disdain, and dismissively waving his hand, insolently replied, in slow, slurred words, “Aahhhh, I don wan dat!” as if we were stupid and offensive, “I wan dat! Gimme daat!” pointing to the cake.
I thought, “I don’t think he’s very hungry; I also think he thinks we somehow owe him.” We refused him and he went on his way.
Howard Benson had appointed a lawyer, Carol Reesor, as executrix of his estate. Big mistake. First, lawyers charge lawyers’ fees. One doesn’t need a lawyer to handle a relatively simple estate. Second, it was obvious, certainly in our estimation, that Carol Reesor didn’t have a clue what she was doing, but she still charged the estate over a hundred thousand dollars, besides the inefficient and costly disposal of some assets, part of which were sold at an auction at Wetaskiwin, AB for peanuts.
These things we knew because we were there to try to reason with her and salvage something if possible. She stubbornly refused and we could do little to limit damages. She was a covetous and bitter fool.
Why did she not allow Mark and Trevor to dispose of the assets as they saw fit, seeing they were the sole heirs and therefore owners of them already? Why could they not keep that which was otherwise squandered on strangers at auction? Why did she have to spend all her time on silly details, charging hundreds of dollars per hour when Trevor could have handled it, with help from Mark (who was in Japan at the time but available) and from us, who cared far more about their welfare than she did?
It so happens there are lawyers who look for financial windfall opportunities, pursuing them with hand-rubbing zeal, disregarding the welfare of those they pretend to serve.
We decided to have an open house to give our farm an official kickoff, slated for July 5, 1997, nearly two years after buying it. Sending out about 150 invitations, the open house turned up about 50 people. Not knowing better, I had expected over a hundred, but others were impressed, saying it was a very good turnout, which it certainly was, given the number of invites.
I have always imagined that things should be much bigger and better than they are. Often, I was amazed at the slim pickings and turnouts at various events. For examples:
When we went to hear Rabbi Meir Kahane speak in Jerusalem in 1979, an event advertised in the newspapers, I was surprised to find perhaps less than 40 people present; I expected hundreds, maybe thousands, with standing room only.
When I hear of good sales in books, I find that there were only several thousand copies sold; I would expect hundreds of thousands, or millions.
When I hear of good profits in a business, I find that the return after expenses might be as little as 5%; I might expect 20-30% or more – until I get into business and discover that if one can show a profit after expenses, the owner is not doing too badly.
When I meet famous public figures, expecting a mountaintop experience, I discover they’re only human. I suppose we’ve been fed by the media to expect the exceptional and sensational.
The Harvest Haven open house may not have been sensational by any standards, but it was good, with many happy guests, in spite of our lack of experience and diverse troubles.
While Lois and I took a trip to visit Jason in Calgary, Lois said something to me as we discussed what was happening with us all, particularly concerning my death. My allegedly imminent physical death was now a long, drawn-out affair, coupled with the conflict I was experiencing with Marilyn, and all that was occurring between her, Sean, and me. Lois said I needed to “let it happen.” I believe this was the first time I heard this. I didn’t know at the time that she knew something she wasn’t telling me.
Returning to our Moon River home, I went in to pray. In great distress, I cried out to the Lord, asking Him what He wanted me to do. The Lord promptly spoke to me saying, “I want you to lay down your life for them.”
At the time, I took this to mean I was to do so for all the people of our company. I came out and told Marilyn and Sean what I had heard. They both agreed I had heard correctly, and perhaps seemed even pleased about it, though not for the right reasons, I think. Regardless of their perspectives or attitudes, I knew what I had to do. This was on the eve of July 6, 1997.
I don’t know when I had this thought, though it was around the time just before the situation with Marilyn and Sean. I found myself momentarily imagining a young woman coming along and seducing me to marry her. My next thought was, “Marilyn has shared our trials and tribulations; she has suffered and identified with me for over two decades, sticking close by me. And I should allow some young, presumptuous woman, who has not paid the price, to replace Marilyn and to reap whatever benefits accrued? That would be evil, even if adultery itself was not (and it was). No way!” What a remarkable and timely irony was unfolding!
On July 9, 1997, while on my walk at Moon River, I had a vision wherein I saw myself lying in state in the background, with people gathered around me. In the foreground, I saw Marilyn by herself, crying. Sean approached her and put his arm around her.
Almost a year earlier, Marilyn said she received that I was going to die and that in the afterlife I would have a ministry like that of Moses when he appeared on the mount of transfiguration with Elijah and Jesus. However, she also had another part that same day, which she didn’t divulge to anyone but Lois at first.
I came home and told Marilyn what I had just seen. It was then that she revealed to me the part of the prophecy of September 24, 1996 that she had withheld. She said she would be marrying Sean after my death.
I was surprised not only for the fact itself (not that I minded if I wasn’t going to be around), but it was quite unpleasant for me to be held in the dark about it. Besides, the Bible instruction is that when one has a prophecy or a vision, it should be submitted to elders for judgment. Marilyn failed to do so.
Only Lois had known about it from nearly the beginning. Lois’ attitude and the strange things I saw in her conduct toward me since that time now made sense. The two women had been holding out on me and everyone else.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked Marilyn, in disbelief.
“I didn’t want to hurt you or make you feel bad,” she replied. I felt the perfect fool, deceived before all by my wife, who was now, in spirit, not my wife.
Marilyn said she had asked the Lord about telling me. She heard that the Lord would tell me Himself. Apparently, in the vision I had, He told me, at least as Marilyn saw it, but I didn’t see it that way. All I saw was Sean approaching and comforting Marilyn as she mourned. One could draw all sorts of conclusions from that. I felt that I had been deceived and betrayed.
While Trevor and I had gone to Wetaskiwin for the auction on June 20 and 21, Sean expressed feelings for Marilyn to her. Consequently, Marilyn also told Paul and Kerri about the part of the prophecy of marrying Sean. I had known nothing of this. Even Paul kept it from me.
I was overwhelmed by Marilyn’s confession. It so happened it was again July 10th at which time something significant and new occurred. I consecrated my life to the Lord, as He requested.
The next day, I didn’t have the heart to go to the farm. Except for some rare and brief visits, I wouldn’t be there any more for some time.
Marilyn and I have often wondered how it was we would revisit people of the past or call or visit our present neighbors (usually by my initiative), yet they would rarely initiate contact with us. One’s first guess might be that we needed to “get a life,” being unfulfilled in our world. Another would be that we weren’t generally desirable company to most, or that there was something wrong with us. Or was it that having “got religion,” most were turned off with us? That was often certainly the case.
Yet when we did make contact with some, they seemed pleased to see or hear from us, and would be talkative and hospitable, if not excited. When the visit was ending, they’d speak of how enjoyable it was and invite us to call or visit again.
When we suggested they do the same, some would give the usual insincere promise to do so; some seemed to have sincere intent, but we’d never hear from them. The most honest ones would plainly say that while they were glad to have company or receive word from or about others, they weren’t the kind of people to just call or drop in spontaneously. It seems we’re different people in this regard, or at least I am. You will recall how the Lord did deal with me in this matter.
But one did come our way, though not for the same kind of reason…
After the polite greetings and familiarization, he started in on his intended subject matter. “Victor,” Mickey exclaimed enthusiastically, “we were on the right track!” (Referring to our being together in 1976.) “I’ve been reading Walsch’s Conversations with God. We experienced what he writes about – hearing God’s voice.”
I marveled that Mickey would talk about our past spiritual relationship the way he did, as if it was new knowledge or something extraordinary. We had never doubted what the Lord had done, nor did the experience cease when we parted with the Patricks. Twenty-one years later, we were steadily enjoying what Mickey was talking about and which he apparently had lost many years ago.
We never doubted that God was involved and leading in our lives, or that one could hear His Voice; our lives were filled with constant, undeniable experience and proof of that. Second, I was aware of Walsch’s book, though I hadn’t red it, and wondered how Mickey could possibly compare what we had to what Walsch was reporting.
The reason I hadn’t red the book is because I heard enough rather responsible reporting about it to realize it wasn’t worth reading. Walsch wasn’t hearing from God at all. However, I didn’t say anything to Mickey at that moment, thinking I should first read the book for myself.
Mickey offered to send it to me. He said his daughter Rena at Saltspring Island red it, was moved by it, and sent it to him for his spiritual comfort. Why comfort? Here it is:
The second to last time we heard from Mickey was in 1976 or 1977 when he wrote, warning us that if we didn’t join a “Spirit-filled church,” we would “fall into the vicious delusion of the enemy.” He was urging us to join them at Mount Zion Christian Center in Saskatoon with Bill Kellers and Dave Roberts, the co-pastors.
The last time we were in touch with Mickey was on our trip in October 1990 when the Lord said, “I will show you what I have done for you.” At that time, we discovered that their pastors were exposed in the eighties as homosexuals (they having hid the fact for years) and the church disintegrated to the four winds, disillusioning many a soul. On that trip, Mickey and Lynn were distant and wouldn’t receive us into their home, suggesting we meet at a fast food outlet instead. We didn’t understand why, but sensed things weren’t good for them. Many things went terribly wrong for the entire family.
Since that trip, Mickey had retired from his many years of service with Sask Power and accepted a lump sum pension settlement. Lynn used that money to further her education in university, met a man there, and notified Mickey that she was going on to bigger and better things. She took off with the man to California and began a practice in her new profession.
“I crashed when this happened – big time,” Mickey emphasized. “I went into deep depression, back to the bottle and drugs, and gained weight. Everything went down. It was major.”
Mickey’s daughter, Rena, had married a welder who was working underwater in the USA and was killed by electrocution. She later wrote a book, Burying My Rage, under a native name, expressing her inner turmoil.
Their son was applying for enlistment in the RCMP but was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and was thus disqualified from fulfilling his ambitions.
Mickey was now with another woman. Together they tried operating a restaurant. He asked me for money to follow his dream. I considered and prayed about it. I didn’t have confidence that he would make good use of any money I gave. However, I did invite him to come and spend some time with us. I hoped he would. He said he would think about it.