We left our house at 27 Myrtle St., Leominster, MA (USA) on the morning of August 1st.
Friends down the street from us, (Charlie and Diane Price) had given us some gifts - one of which was a tall, glass candle holder - it had the inscription: "God's grace will never lead you where His grace cannot keep you." Little did I know that would be tested so many times on our trip and for the many years that followed...but, God was always faithful to us.
Our friends (the Olsons), who lived just across the street from us, and one house farther up the hill, saw us off as we drove out of the driveway in the converted schoolbus with our eight children and everything that we owned, inside the bus.
Joe's Aunt and Uncle (Julia and Ed) Lemire, from Providence, R.I. (USA), had come to see us before we left. I had been making pinecone wreaths to sell and she had told me to save one for her. We had a good visit with them...they wished us well.
Joe's sister Patti and husband Johnny, children Michael and Michelle, came to see us, from Long Island, New York. They couldn't understand just why we were leaving, but they wished us well.
Olson's oldest daughter, Kathy Miner, had given us a lot of Tupperware goods - we were very limited as to what we could take with us, mostly it had to be unbreakable. We had sold our breakable dish sets to her, and we had bought everything plastic.
We had bought 10 sleeping bags, a cast iron heating stove, gold-colored blankets, a Coleman stove, and a few other things for our trip. My Mom had begun crocheting afghans for all of our children, when we first heard we were moving to Canada (which was in June), she finished the last one the evening before we left. (She also worked full-time for the Foster Grant company, making sunglasses.)
At the time of departure, we were planning on living in the school bus for the first winter (thank God we were told that they were going to build a log cabin for us). I had sewed all of our sheets together, much as the way pillowcases are made, so they could fit into the sleeping bags (and keep the bags cleaner - having to launder just the large "pillowcases").
I had made a HUGE batch of granola; it was stored in the kitchen, in a cupboard next to the stove, ready for our trip. But, I forgot it there and with all the hassle of going...I didn't even think about it until we were well on the way; somebody probably enjoyed it, for many weeks!
We drove over to the Rotondi's house, across town from us. Al Rotondi had to wait a few days to collect all the money owed him from work, selling his house, etc., so we parked the bus in front of their house until they were ready to leave. Rotondis had bought a new truck and small camper. They had all the conveniences - stove, frig, shower. But, they didn't have enough room for their family of 4, inside the cab of the truck. So, one of the children would travel with us (taking turns, Rick and Monica) - we also had Mona Gendreau, the nurse, riding with us. She had quit her job, sold her car and was all ready for the trip.
Rotondi's "friendly neighbor", was beside herself with curiosity, when she saw us drive up in the school bus. She didn't stay inside her house, as she usually did, it all got the best of her...she came running outside and asked where we were going. So, we told her the whole story about how we felt the Lord wanted us to live on a Christian community farm in Canada: she didn't understand just "why". But, she did want to see the inside of the school bus (just where 10 people would be living for an extended amount of time). She wished us well.
One of the assembly's families invited us over for a "good-bye" celebration: the Parker family – Bill, June and four children. They owned a small farm, a beautiful place that they had built, together, from almost nothing. June received many songs from the Lord, through the years: one was, "Come on Brother and walk with me."; another was, "We're in the Army of the Lord." She received a word that she shared with the local assembly, about the salmon and how it swims upstream to reproduce - it had meant a lot to her, she felt to move to the Christian community farm, but her husband didn't feel the same way she did. Eventually, they moved to the Ware Farm in Massachusetts, not too far from where they were living.
One of the nights, on our trip to the border, we camped out in a RV campground in Vermont. I was still very stressed-out, anticipating all the unknown; that night we had a very beautiful display of Northern Lights (aureole borealis); it was seldom seen that far south - it helped to reassure me, at that time, that God had sent us and was still with us.
This had all been a wonderful adventure to us, we were caught-up with the excitement of it all...now we were on the road. We began every day with scripture reading and prayer. Our goal was to cross the border in Montreal; it was to be a "spontaneous entry" type of immigration (at the time that was being done). We had burned all our bridges behind us: Joe had quit his job, cashed in his pension that went with his job, cashed in our life insurance policies, dropped our medical insurance, - we had even torn up our Social Security cards, thinking that we would never again work in the USA.
We were interviewed and they scored all the points towards us immigrating - we needed a certain amount of credits, and were just short of the required amount; mostly because there wasn't a job waiting for us in Canada. They recommended we go back! There was nothing to go back to...we had burned all our bridges behind us. We believed the Lord was sending us and He would provide for us.
We called Miami Revival Center to find out where one of the Father Ministries was, and he was at a convention in Pennsylvania. We called there: he said they would pray for us at the convention, and to continue our trip across the country on the USA side, making our way to a farm (the Erickson’s) in Minnesota. We could stay there until someone could write us a letter saying we could work for him (he was in Vanderhoof, B.C.).
About this time it really hit me: doubt, unbelief, fear, everything...I forgot what the Lord had spoken to us and I was a wreck. Our son David got diarrhea and he was sick in his bunk for the rest of our trip...I spent a good part of the trip taking care of him. (Later, we learned he was sick from the water change - we could have corrected that by simply buying fresh water for him.)
Anyhow, we continued our trip: I think we ate sandwiches most of the way across the country. We had the Coleman stove and a cooler, so I did make a few hot meals; basically we had to really rough it. It was extremely hot in the month of August and there were no bathing facilities - we washed off as best as we could; we had no running water. We did have a port-a-potty at the back of the bus (so, we didn't have to keep stopping). I got more up tight, as we traveled. Joe conducted the prayers every morning, did all the driving, and held the whole family together (always trying to encourage me); I was so stressed-out that meals were about all I could handle.
We followed Highway 95 (I think), around the south tip of the Great Lakes. It was during "rush traffic" that we went through Cleveland, Ohio – Al Rotondi's brother lived there, but we decided not to stop, because they had not been in touch for many years. That was the largest city we went through, as we had purposely avoided all that we could.
We had tried to follow each other, for all of the trip. One time Al lost sight of us; how, I'll never know, because we were in a big, yellow, school bus! We stopped as soon as we noticed that he was not behind us. After awhile, we saw him go by, headed in the other direction - there was a strip of grass and trees separating us. We continued to wait and he, eventually, caught up with us...we continued on.
The Erickson farm in Minnesota was a real "God-sent", for all of us. Mila, the wife (I think the husband was Harvey), was so kind to me, so loving, that it helped a great deal, just being near her. They were receiving literature from our Endtime group and also another group - they had differences on, mostly, the wilderness message (as to it being literal or spiritual)...but, their door was open to all who needed a place to stay.
We had been having stalling problems with the bus and thought that Harvey could find out what was wrong. Well, before he could look into it, a woman who was staying at their farm came up to us and said that she saw a vision and went on to describe the part that was faulty, under the hood. Harvey checked it, and that was the problem.
Our daughter Lisa had been playing out in their cornfield, along with Rotondi's daughter Monica...they came SCREAMING into the house. They had stepped in a bees' nest and been stung many times. Monica was hysterical, although I don't think she had many, if any, bee stings. Lisa had a lot of them, mostly all around her face. She began to swell...I began to think about Peter and the allergy he had from bees (of course, I should have thought about "where" I got all those thoughts from --- that old liar, the devil).
We had no medical insurance, a limited amount of money, and there were people all around us who were praying. I felt peer-pressure for a moment (from them praying), but they never tried to tell us what to do...another woman who was staying at their farm, came up to us and felt she had a word from the Lord, that Lisa would be alright and the swelling would go down in three days. Well, it spoke to our hearts, we felt what she said was the word of the Lord for us, so we knew we could stand on those words.
I put cold compresses on Lisa's face...it continued to swell. She didn't have any trouble breathing, although her eyes were swollen shut and her entire face was swelled and contorted out of shape. Three days later the swelling began to go down, although she was badly mis-shapened for over a week.
One day, a strange couple came to stay at Erickson's farm. They seemed to do a lot of travelling and had just come from the farm we were going to. They told a lot of "horror stories", about the remoteness, the flooding rivers they crossed, the one that the bridge was washed away and they had to hike through the mud in a torrential downpour...narrowly escaping with their lives, etc. etc. It sure put a scare into me, a deeper scare than the one I already had.
The woman spent all her spare time making quilts and she showed us some she had in their vehicle...she offered some to us. I didn't want to take any, didn't want anything to remind me of her, but she assured us that they would prevent us from freezing to death - so, we took some.
While we waited, at the farm, another Father Ministry came to minister. He had his wife with him and I think one or two of their children; this is the first time we met the girl who would become one of my "goat girls" (she helped with their children). The Father Ministry went right to work out in the field with the men. It always impressed me a great deal, when the ministry worked hard all day long and then ministered a word that evening (the first time I had seen that was at the Ware Farm in MA, when one had worked and then ministered).
One of the visiting women, at the Erickson farm, had told Joe (my husband), that he was to minister a certain word, at the farm we were going to (I think it was about Ultimate Reconciliation - the teaching that eventually, even the devil will be redeemed). We had never heard that one. While the Father Ministry was there, he spoke against that teaching (not even knowing what that woman had said to my husband).
Our letter promising work for us, arrived from our possible sponsor, and we were off to the nearest border-crossing, which was Emerson, Manitoba. We said our good-byes to the Ericksons. We arrived in Emerson around 5 p.m.
Our daughter Rose, had been praying and the Lord gave her a scripture - I don't remember where it was in the Old Testament, but it was about the Lord opening up the way to the sea coast. Anyhow, it showed that He was going to open the border up for us. It really encouraged us.
There was just one crossing guard, his secretary had left for the day - so he asked if anyone could help him with the paper work for the 15 of us - I did, because I knew how to type. He processed all our papers, asked where David was (because he was sick in his bunk), looked at David and then told us to wait in the parking lot through the night - and go for our medical exams the following morning.
When we saw the doctor, he was a little swamped with so many of us all at once, because his nurse was home sick. He asked if Mona, the nurse, could help with the required tests - and, she could. So, it didn't take too long before we were all processed. We had urine samples and x-rays, and then routine physical exams. All of us passed.
Another interview with the crossing guard, a hand-shake, and we were welcomed into Canada. We thanked the Lord that evening, as we crossed the border; and then the following morning during our devotional time.
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Pen Name: Aimee Love
Lisa and Andrew, when we stopped at the Erickson Farm in Minnesota.