July & August: 

Doug and Keegan arrived late Saturday, June 27. Well, it was really already Sunday by the time we got back to the house in Landmark. Sunday morning we were all up and ready to go to church at Heartland, where they were having their Sunday School Tailgate party! Kiddie carnival games with candies for every participant, followed by a BBQ’d hot dog lunch. Fun and yum! The next day we headed into Winnipeg to renew Doug’s passport. It was critical we got this done immediately after his arrival as three weeks later we had plans to be in the US for my parents’ 50th anniversary celebration! Thankfully, it arrived just two weeks later, which was earlier than we were expecting. Yay!

A couple of days later we had the E.K. Barkman family get together to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 75th. This was hosted on Doug’s parents’ yard. We enjoyed a BBQ and visiting together with cousins, aunts and uncles who came from Manitoba, Ontario and B.C.!

Two days after this, we went to Brandon for the EMC convention. Doug’s parents made it possible to stay at a hotel in Brandon with a pool and a waterslide, which the kids got to enjoy several times. We enjoyed the time at convention hearing from a man who was a missionary with his family for many years and whose youngest son attended BFA! Small world. :) It was also great to see and chat with other members of the missionary community. Convention ended on Sunday and we headed up to Ditch Lake for one night to visit with some friends who made the trek out from Saskatoon. They were spending time with their family at the lake and we got to be a part of it, which we always enjoy!

July saw more coffee dates, playdates and dinners with friends. We also enjoyed meeting with and visiting relatives! We noted that if we lived in Manitoba we might not see these people in this way. Funny how distance can create a stronger bond between ourselves and our family! We had two different come and go events so we could chat with our churches and supporters, Doug spoke in three different churches (and had hoped to be in at least two others!), and the Barkman men plus Keegan and his cousin Leyla went to a Bomber game (and they WON!!).

We spent three days in Pinawa at Wilderness Edge with Doug’s side of the family. We went on a little rafting adventure, did some fishing, played at the beach, played pool, and had fun just being together!

Every summer for as long as I can remember, the extended Giesbrecht family has gotten together in the summer for a “beach party”. It started off on the banks of the Assiniboine River, on my uncle and aunt’s property. Though there’s no longer a beach involved, the Giesbrechts are still getting together. This year, there was a fantastic turnout at my cousin’s house - family from Belize, Alberta, New Brunswick, Germany, and from way up north in Manitoba (which is just as far away as my brother in Alberta!) all came to enjoy a day (or two) together. The day always includes brunch with crepes, fruit sauces, whipped cream, fresh fruit, and a breakfast strata. After this meal, we are all stuffed for several hours. For our next meal together my cousin's chef-husband BBQ'd some delicious pork for us! To round out the meal, everyone else brings a salad and/or dessert. I love salads and this event has sooo many! Yum.

One of the highlights of July was celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary! To do this, our Giesbrecht clan went down to Grand Forks for a weekend. When my siblings and I were all kids, we used to head to G.F. for the weekend and stay at the Ramada Inn. This was a little throwback to those good times, but this time we stayed at the CanadInn. We - kids and adults alike - had a blast in their water park. The kids, ranging in age from 6 - 18 (not so much a kid anymore!), had so much fun together, but we did miss not having my sister's kids there with us as well. It was neat to see the way they interacted with one another, and the way they interacted with all the aunties and uncles. It’s not often that we are (almost) ALL together since we are spread out over three provinces and two countries.

We said goodbye to my brother and his family from Alberta, and my sister and her husband from New Brunswick at the very end of July, and at the beginning of August, we said hello to Doug’s brother Derek from Toronto! Sadly his wife couldn’t join us for this visit as she had a family funeral in Thunder Bay she needed to attend. We were so excited to see Derek! Keegan especially loved having him around. We spent a day at Star Lake with Doug’s side of the family. Before the boat arrived, we used the canoe to tow the tube around a bit. The guys were pretty swift, but not really swift enough for someone to go tubing! It was funny to watch. :) We enjoyed having the littlest cousins play together. Nadia and I built some little sandcastles for Erica to smash - one of E’s favourite things to do! And then we built her a personal foot bath to splash in. We finished the day (which happened to be one of Doug’s niece’s birthdays!) by celebrating Natalie and Grandpa B.’s birthdays.  It was a great day!

Our last Sunday in Manitoba Doug spoke at Prairie Grove, and we headed over to Prairie Rose EMC right after that was done to see whether we could chat with people we know and attend part of their service. We had a couple more coffee dates in the last few days, but most of our time was spent packing, taking care of some yard work and being with family.

From start to finish, it was a busy visit! We had such a wonderful time. We are thankful to all those who opened their homes and tables to us. We really enjoyed visiting with all of you! You have all made this a very special summer for us. We look forward to seeing many of you out here! ;)

Some numbers from our time in Canada:

Funerals: 2

Family weekends: 3

Anniversary parties: 3

Churches visited where Doug spoke: 3

Days spent on a beach: 5

Birthdays celebrated: 6

Coffee dates: 9

Meals with others: 19!!

THANK YOU for such a great summer!