PART SIX– Harvest Haven to Surprise Visitors (cont.)
John Schussler planned to ride a recent wave of agricultural opportunity, the saskatoon berry. He planted a few acres of them and designed a self-propelled harvester from an old combine to eliminate the high cost of handpicking labor.
Saskatoons, also known as juneberries, are native to western Canada, a delicious, deep purple, pea-sized fruit growing in clusters on bushes 2 to 24 feet tall. They were a staple with the natives before the Europeans came. The natives would make pemmican, a mixture of dried buffalo meat, fat, and sometimes Saskatoon berries.
Saskatoons can be eaten raw and also used for pies, muffins, jams, shakes, wines, cereals, trail mix, and snack foods. They are delicious and nutritious. As children in Manitoba, we did our annual pick and my mother canned them with some rhubarb in quart jars for an enjoyable fruit dessert.
Domesticating the berry, farms sprang up throughout western Canada to meet a growing demand. Europe was interested and John was told that a business in Germany was giving him a standing order – “Supply us with all you can and name your price.” I thought, “Wow! That is some order, some opportunity! How is it we always seem to miss out on all these opportunities, agricultural or otherwise?”
So often we heard of farmers getting in on the ground floor for something or other – Katahdin sheep, llamas, ostriches, whatever – and even receiving provincial or federal government grants, but we would find ourselves laboring away at the less productive, less profitable, and more difficult tasks of farming, while falling between the cracks when it came to government subsidies for any of them. Either we were too late or too small or too unspecific or whatever.
Not John. He obtained substantial grants and went to work building a large commercial kitchen and freezer and storage facility for his berry business. Some grants he even received after building, which is not always possible. He began to make jams, jellies, and even tested winemaking. To add salt to our wounds, while it was our taxpayer’s money that he was getting to build his enterprise, we had to pay fees to use his commercial kitchen, which was supposed to be available to the public, that being one of the conditions of his grant money.
Yes, it looked very good for John. I confess I was envious. Why couldn’t I think big? Why couldn’t I see and take advantage of opportunities when they came? Why couldn’t we receive grants and go big? But was the Lord with us or not? Was it not foolish of me to “covet my neighbor’s goods”? And how well would John do? It would only be a matter of time before we found out.
In the fall of 1996, likely October, Marilyn had a vision. I had prayed and asked the Lord if there was any sin in our midst. As I was giving thanks for supper, she saw surroundings of soft darkness, a darkness representing not evil, but mystery. In the midst of that darkness, there was a breathtakingly beautiful and smooth sea of transparent gold, such as the sea of glass mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6; 15:2). Nothing on earth could describe it.
We had no idea what the vision meant, but we would know in time.
We set aside some time one day, wherein I met with each individual in our company, one by one, privately. I remember Chris, Nathan, Erin, and others crying. I cried too, but I was also looking forward to my future; it was intriguing.
While we expected I would be going soon, it didn’t happen as soon as, or the way, we expected. Though I was unaware of her activities, Lois researched and made arrangements for burial, without being robbed by the traditions and merchandising strategies of funeral directors. I told them all it was only my body and that it was silly to spend money on an expensive coffin or anything else to be buried only to rot.
On October 1, 1996, Kerri came to our home, where I prayed for her to receive the Spirit, which she did. I recall speaking a prophecy that Kerri would see the subtle or finer things that others would not see. It happened.
Looking for organic apples for ourselves, we saw an ad in the Lethbridge Herald, which transitional organic growers, Elvin and Wilma Strand of Creston, BC, had posted. We ordered seven cases at first, then decided to order more at wholesale and sell to others. I recall meeting Elvin at the highway junction of the Moon River Estates road and Hwy #3 to pick them up.
Initially, when shopping for an acreage for Archie, we had no intention of being in business. As things unfolded, we thought of continuing Mokoski’s market farm, but as organic, and selling only items we grew ourselves. However, it seemed that things were quickly headed in the direction of a store with imports from organic suppliers.
I recall the day Paul followed Kerri to the farm after selling the house in Florida. He went out to work in the strawberry field, as did I, only we went separately. While there, he was at one end and I at the other, and he wouldn’t make an effort to join me. I wondered how so, since we had not seen each other for so long. I found his attitude contemptible. I wished to talk to and fellowship with him, but there was none of that to be enjoyed. Was he resentful? Or was he just dead in his marriage, as I had expected? We would know.
Paul records: “In the fall of 1996 at Harvest Haven, I saw my past life as a believer as one of great loneliness. I did not see anything specific, yet I saw the true nature of my life. It is like the saying of people who experience close calls with death, when they speak of their lives flashing before their eyes. I realized how utterly pathetic my life had been, yet I did not feel sorry for myself and I knew there was purpose in the desolation. There was the promise of something far, far better. Then I heard the words, ‘No more shadows’.”
As we all sat at dinner one day at the farm, Kerri playfully spoke up saying, “Well, Victor, do you remember saying that one day I would fade away? And here we are! What do you have to say now?” There she sat, beside, and married to, Paul. (He had sold the house in Florida and was now at the farm.) I replied, “Well, it sure looks like I was wrong.” Though I wouldn’t have minded being wrong, I had no sure conviction I was.
One day as we sat at the table, I was troubled and perplexed, and thus asked a public question: “What does the Lord want of me?” Kerri spoke up saying, “He wants your life.” It was true and I knew it.
In the fall of 1996 some new customers called Harvest Haven to purchase a lamb from us. No problem; we had lambs for sale. Then they asked if they could slaughter the lamb on our property. I told them the responsibility for the animal would be all theirs because we couldn’t sell meat without slaughter inspection. I asked them why they wanted to kill it on our farm. They replied they were Muslims and needed to kill it according to their religion. We were familiar with Jewish kosher killing procedures, and I could identify with the need for proper bleeding of the animal.
I wondered about all of this at the time, though I knew next to nothing about Islam. I didn’t consider that “Allah” was a devil and not just an Arabic term for the same God Jews and Christians worship. I didn’t know about Sharia law or that Islam was marching ruthlessly for world domination. Where had I been? Though I had red some of the Koran years before, I had yet to be keyed in to the central conflict of this age that would dramatically burst onto the world stage in the near future.
So, being asleep to the conflict and encroaching danger, I ignored their ignorance of the true God and permitted them to buy the lamb and slaughter it at Harvest Haven. I watched the Muslims from a distance as they prayed looking up, on bended knees, having slit the throat and bled the animal. They left shortly after without a word.
Why wouldn’t I have at least tried talking to them of the Lord Jesus Christ? I don’t know. I conclude I simply wasn’t given to speak to them. It wasn’t time.
This happened only weeks after the prophecy of my being taken by the Lord came forth from Marilyn and, within the year, the Lord removed me from the farm, setting me aside for preparation in fire.
I was very frustrated with everything and everyone. Danny was lying and misbehaving. Ben was careless and irresponsible, as well as lying. Erin was disinterested, apparently lazy and shirking responsibilities. Kerri was dreamy, flippant, sloppy, disorganized, unkempt, and presuming to have equal say in most, if not all, things. Chris and Nathan were hard. Lois was her usual miserable self. Marilyn and Sean were doing their own thing, and I was still dismayed by Paul’s lack of understanding and spirit. He was simply following Kerri, even as prophesied. In other words, everyone was doing his or her own thing. There was anything but unity, cooperation, or desire to do right.
One day, I resorted to force, hoping that somehow, I might get it through the minds of everyone at the farm to get serious. I called a meeting in the living room and had Archie bring the sheep whip. I asked him to whip Erin, Danny, and Ben before all. I then asked Paul to whip Kerri. While the women didn’t cry (Kerri smirked), the boys did. Sean too expected to get it, and likely deserved it, but I had no thought or intent of having anyone else spanked. Chris, Nathan, Paul, Archie, and Marilyn were also spared.
That day, right or wrong, I determined I would never try using force again. I figured that if people weren’t willing to cooperate and work together, I would rather dismiss than punish them corporally. I would sooner even dismiss myself. As I have looked back at this event of physical punishment to correct, I have often wondered what in Heaven’s name possessed me to do what I did.
Understand, I’m not against corporal punishment or spanking of children, not at all, despite our cultural norms and customs. I believe the Scriptures are clear on that point, but I haven’t believed it was my place to administer physical punishment to change someone.
On October 12, 1996, at our home, Chris asked that we pray for him to receive the Spirit. Present were Paul, Kerri, Sean, Ben, Marilyn, Jonathan, and I. While Chris was honest, confessing any and all sins he could think of, he seemed to us to be coming in his own righteousness. His idea of a relationship with God was based on right-doing in his own power. I couldn’t reach him on that point.
Nevertheless, based on his request and confession, Paul and I laid hands on him (perhaps others did as well), and prayed that he would receive. Nothing happened, but we decided to simply leave it with God. I had no peace about it in terms of anything having happened.
Believing Marilyn’s prophecy of the Lord taking me and resigned to what I had been seeing going on between Marilyn and Sean for several months already, I began to talk to Sean about taking Marilyn as his wife when I was gone. “She is a woman of God,” I said to him, “and that’s more important than age or beauty. I’ve been very thankful to have her. She has been faithful and pious all our married days. She has guided me with godly counsel, she’s trustworthy, and if it means anything, she’s also a good organizer, cook, and housekeeper. Think about it.”
How little had I known that there was no need for the talk I had with Sean of marrying Marilyn, and how they were way ahead of me!
To anoint Sean as spiritual leader in my place. After all, Moses anointed Joshua, David Solomon, and Elijah Elisha. Besides, were they not going to marry when I was gone? Perhaps it was God’s will that Sean take over the spiritual leadership. She coached me to pray for him, to lay hands on him, and to prepare him in any way I was capable.
“I love you,” was an expression I rarely, if ever, used with Marilyn, since a discussion about it shortly after marrying. I began to use it now, liberally, repeatedly, sincerely. I “knew” I was leaving, found that I was attached to her, and wanted to express it. Would I be surprised!
With the prophecy came a resignation on my part, with sadness. In this circumstance came a song which expressed that God does have a place reserved for saints. It is the destination of every believer, the goal of his spiritual trials and journey.
There is a place not far away
A place for which saints long and pray
And when they go, they’re there to stay…
There’s little here that we can bring
There is no doubt death has its sting
But what awaits will make us sing…
Goodbye to what has been before
Hello to what is held in store
We cross the sea to a glorious shore…
We must let go of near and dear
He’ll wipe away our every tear
In Christ we know we needn’t fear…
There is a place not far away
A place for which saints long and pray
And when they go, they’re there to stay.
Moon River, Oct. 27, 1996
I tried so many times to reason with Trevor. He simply seemed bent on doing his own thing. At this time, he was in Abbotsford, BC, working as an engineer. On October 29, I told him I had nothing more I could say to him. Reluctantly, he disconnected himself from us. By that time, he had found yet another unbelieving girlfriend, Kirsten Rice, a student at Simon Fraser University.
Somewhere before that time, Trevor had a vision. He was one of a flock of sheep, and strayed away from the flock and the path for some grass on the wayside. The Shepherd, whom Trevor later said was the Lord, used His crook and pulled him back into line. When and how this was to be fulfilled, we would see.
It seemed that sooner or later, I was sending everyone away. I had little idea whose turn was next.
On November 4, 1996, Archie came to Marilyn while I was away, saying he was leaving. He said he couldn’t talk to me directly because I would be angry. It was true. I had been very angry, often, and about many things. Anger ruled me. I couldn’t rule my spirit. Even when Archie would come confessing having lied to me, instead of being grateful that he was confessing, or encouraged for him, I’d be angry.
As well, a spirit of fear ruled Archie, a spirit that had taken him over many years ago in his childhood. It was cast out in October of 1985 when he and his family came to Lethbridge, and now it had returned with companions. I didn’t realize this until later.
Matthew 12:43-45 MKJV
(43) When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest, and finds none.
(44) Then he said, ‘I will return into my house from where I came out.’ And when he has come, he finds it empty, swept, and decorated.
(45) Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and live there. And the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so it also shall be to this evil generation.
I was angry when Marilyn told me of his visit. I was hurt that he wasn’t straight with me, hurt because he was leaving, and I also suspected that the enemy was working through him to undermine and divide our relationship. He also told Marilyn that the day they moved into the farm, he knew it wasn’t for him, yet he said nothing. I was very angry and thought, “Okay, let him go if he chooses. I’ve had it with him.”
As time passed, I was still at the farm, but Marilyn was spending more and more time with Sean. He would call and they would talk about many things. There was a jealousy working in me. I would inquire about their conduct and conversations and they would brush off not only my questions, but also my wisdom or right to question them. Everyone still believed I was going, including me, so I thought that perhaps these circumstances were necessary, so I made no significant move of any kind to interfere or discourage them.
There was a horticultural conference in Edmonton 300 miles away. We knew there was much to learn and this conference was reported to be a place to start, not only for the information but also for the contacts. It was decided that Paul, Lois, Marilyn, and Sean would attend. They were gone for about three days, and Archie and I were able to visit somewhat.
I was greatly saddened, and in spirit I knew something was happening that was hurtful. I suspected that it was between Marilyn and Sean. I felt the discard. I was supposed to be leaving this world, life was going on, and it seemed like I was shelved or contained, waiting for delayed shipment. I felt quite useless, rejected, and very lonely.
Nothing came of my visit with Archie. When the foursome returned, as they walked into the house, I knew something had happened, but didn’t know what, and nobody was about to say. I was to learn later that Lois and Marilyn were withholding from me. Marilyn was upset that I was disturbed, treating it as inconsideration for her at her arrival. Little did I know….
We had a meeting at the farm, discussing all the trouble and division we were having with one another. I wanted to know why. I don’t recall much prayer in those days at all, which one would conclude to be a big mistake; however, I think it was more a matter of little prayer because of where we were at, not the other way around. As we met, the following Scripture came to Paul:
“Cast out the scorner, and fighting shall go out; yes, quarrels and shame shall cease” (Proverbs 22:10 MKJV).
The question was, “To whom did that verse refer?” We then met at our home in Moon River to pray and discuss this matter. I believe we met on November 10th, as the calendar record indicates. Present were Paul, Kerri, Sean, Lois, Marilyn, and I. Lois insisted Archie was the scorner, the one to go.
We had asked Lois to come and live at the farm, too, but she wasn’t prepared to do so unless Archie and Cathie weren’t there. Marilyn agreed with Lois that Archie was the one. Paul, as I recall, was temporarily noncommittal, though eventually went with the flow.
I said to them, “How can you say Archie’s the scorner? You want to kick him out. What has he done? What can you say is his sin?” Nobody could say. “How can we kick him out if he isn’t guilty as you say? What will you declare as his offense?” I asked. None could come up with anything specific; however, Lois and Marilyn insisted it was Archie, and Paul acquiesced.
Sean was sitting on the couch with arms folded, his nose up in the air, fast asleep. I thought, “There’s the scorner, if anybody.” I remembered his sarcasm about the prophesied coming storm, for example. However, the mood and consensus with the rest was that Archie had to go for there to be peace among us. I let it go.
On November 17, I asked Archie to leave. I left it up to his children, Christopher, Nathan, Erin, Ben, and Danny to each decide for themselves what they wanted to do. Chris and Nathan decided to remain on the farm. Ben elected to go, with our encouragement.
While Erin tried to stay for a few days after Archie left, we advised that she wasn’t content to remain with us (there had been problems) and should go. Archie spoke strange words to her before he left, saying, “You need to come with me. You are one of us.” I knew he wasn’t speaking of flesh-and-blood family – it was a spiritual statement. I believed it was devils speaking. Erin was resisting leaving, but also not decisive, not at all like Ruth of the Scriptures, who earnestly refused to leave her mother-in-law. At any rate, Erin left with Archie. Danny wanted to stay; Archie let him, we let him, and he stayed.
I declared that Archie would become our greatest enemy after he was gone. This prophecy wasn’t based on logic of any kind. Yes, he had been with us all those years and knew us better than almost anyone else; therefore he was in an advantageous position to do harm. People can be expected to become resentful when opposed or rejected, which can drive them to bitter reactions and revenge; but I had a spiritual conviction beyond these things. We would soon see if I was right.
Days after Archie left, he returned to pick up his goods and we met in a shed to talk. Archie began to express all his complaints over the years. He remembered many offenses I committed or was perceived to have committed against him, much of which he never discussed with me. He had the details in order. I was surprised.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was guilty of many, if not most, of the things he was saying. I came to the conclusion, however, that I had just met the accuser of the brethren face-to-face. I was addressed, tried, and condemned. I had little to say in my defense. There seemed to be absolutely no room or opportunity for reconciliation, not even apologies on my part. The door was shut tight.
I recalled Martin Luther writing about how Satan once came to him, listing his many sins. His reply: “Guilty of all! And they are all under the blood of Christ. Get out of here, Satan.”
The final parting was messy. Archie wanted to remain at the farm until the end of the year. We decided that since he was a scorner, there was no point or wisdom in delay. We let him stay until the 29th of November, allowing him time to arrange for a home.
He had possessions at the farm that he wished to take with him, and some he wished to sell. He named his price for several articles and I agreed. There were some home school supplies, like a microscope and books, which I believed he should leave for Nathan and Danny, who were remaining with us and receiving schooling. Archie didn’t see it that way.
One evening, I loaded the truck and dropped off some of his possessions at his place. He had become another man, the same old Archie I had known before his conversion in the seventies – dark, angry and threatening.
This was after all those years with them, and despite the apparently unfulfilled promise from the Lord in 1985 when they arrived from Toronto saying, “This time they will make it.” It was very grievous. But while these terrible things were happening, seemingly far less important business was keeping us all preoccupied, the occupational activities of the farm.
Was Archie’s expulsion his fault or ours? The fact remains that he was removed for a reason, if we trust God is sovereign over all things, both good and evil. Had Archie prevailed in the trials we were all facing, he could have received the benefits that would come in due time. It could still happen.
It’s curious how, during all the years Archie was with us, we were never a “cult,” but perhaps only days after he left, we were now a “cult.” As we were dealing with Archie and his belongings, Ben went to see Danny, urging him to go with them because we were a “cult.” Danny didn’t want to leave, and we left it up to him. He stayed.
I mention the event with Ben and Danny because the time would come when Ben would change his mind.
Our policy was to get out of the public school system with its influences of humanism, evolution, sex education, pagan philosophy, holiday celebrations, and other un-Christian, un-Biblical elements. Cathie had been home-schooling her children for a few years. While we initially planned to continue Danny’s education at home, it seemed we were unable to do him justice with the little time available to teach; we were swamped.
We also experienced social and psychological problems with Danny and came to the conclusion that he needed a more rounded public exposure, hoping the good it would do for him would outweigh the bad. We were also hoping we could neutralize the bad with our influence and teaching. We enrolled him at Sunnyside, a country school a few miles from the farm.
In the past months, several Hutterite colonies came to harvest our strawberries. They saw that our plants weren’t so vibrant, and that the land needed rejuvenation. The head gardener of Riverside Colony persistently urged me to consider Grander Living Water for our farm. “What is that?” I asked him. He really couldn’t explain it, except to say it had energy, changed the water somehow, and made things grow better.
“Get a hold of Peter Nickel; he sells it,” the fellow said. Again, they would come and repeat the suggestion. I was overwhelmed with the many things I could understand and with which I was familiar and had to deal. Who had time for strange, new things?
I called Peter and he came over. He wasn’t much better at explaining Grander technology than was the Hutterite. We found out that it was Johann Grander, a naturalist in Austria, who developed the technology, and that it had been proving its worth in Europe for several years, though not understood by conventional science. And Johann wasn’t about to divulge any secrets as to how it worked. “Experts” were pooh-poohing it, but they made fools of themselves simply because it worked. Several eventually recanted of their criticisms after ample investigation. Who could argue with the results?
What to do? I believed Grander was legitimate, but Marilyn was skeptical. As we arrived home and pulled into the garage, we asked the Lord if we should get Grander. Marilyn heard, “The sooner, the better.” To do some due diligence, I asked Paul to check on others, such as Hutterite colonies, who had things to say about Grander; however, there was little to go on.
So… based not on information or proof primarily, but on the Word we heard from God, we bought Grander, not only for the home, but also for the entire farm. We would irrigate with Grander and the animals would enjoy it as well, and we would enjoy the animals.
As Peter spoke to us, I picked up on a curious action of his. While sitting with his elbow on the table and his hand upraised, he was comfortably rubbing his thumb with the first two fingers of the same hand. Months later, after installing Grander on our farm on December 17, 1996, I understood why he was doing so.
This was our first foray into the world of subtle energies, aside from acupuncture, which deals with the body chakras and meridians, whereas Grander deals with other energies, earthly and cosmic.
With me gone, who would take the leadership on the farm (not that I had shown any capability)? Paul had quit A.G. Edwards and we tried to place him in charge for a while. He was entirely clueless. We may as well have given him a Jumbo 747 to fly. Who then? Archie was gone. We believed there needed to be a man taking responsibility. If not Paul, the only other possible alternative was Sean. Frankly, as I look back, I think Archie would have been the best one for the job among us, but it wasn’t about my choice, opinion, or even who was best.
Sean was more than happy to take control. He was quite sure of himself, though he knew nothing of farming and hadn’t proven himself capable of leadership in any setting. It wasn’t only the farm that needed direction, but also the people, particularly spiritually. I knew Sean was a novice, and therefore wide open to Satan’s condemnation, yet it seemed we had no other alternative. Marilyn had already begun to groom him to take over (for more reasons than were obvious).
Archie had recruited Hugh Lumley to work on the farm. Hugh was handy and willing to take on a variety of tasks. We were thankful to have him. He was happy to be there because it gave him a measure of independence, he was paid as much as his former job paid, and he was out in the fresh air and sunshine, though I don’t know how important those were to him.
One day, I made a simple comment to him, saying that God was behind the whole operation. Surprisingly, he looked at me with masked alarm, so I asked him what he thought of what I just said. He said that if he had heard me say what I said only a year or two ago, he would have bolted on the spot, never to return. “What a strange reaction!” I thought, but didn’t say or ask any more. Within days, he was phoning in with excuses and not showing up. He never came back.
I felt bad about that, not believing his reasons for absence, convinced I had frightened him, and wishing I hadn’t said anything. What would we do without him? However, Paul had a Word concerning him: “Be thankful he was here, and be thankful he is gone.”
Sean informs me, referring to an entry in his journal as I write this Part, that in December 1996, I said that the Lord would destroy our enemies, among them, Arnold Willms, a farm neighbor down the road, who opened his mouth wide against us in the audience of many others. Would it happen?