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Healing summer


Nadine poses with bounty from her mother’s garden. Her parents, Lillian and Norm Nicolson are Mennonite Church Canada workers in Burkina Faso and currently in Canada for a time of North American Ministry.

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“My baby is born,” proud 3 ½-year-old sister Nadine announced to anyone who would listen after her visit to the hospital to see her new brother. Nadine and baby Kenneth are the children of Lillian and Norm Nicolson,Mennonite Church Canada workers in Burkina Faso and  currently in Canada for a time of North American Ministry.

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October 12, 2012
-Lillian Nicolson

Winnipeg, MAN.  The hot sun beat down on me as I laboriously shifted my weight to pull weeds from the onion row.  Gardening was a full time job, a constant battle against birds, weeds, slugs and deer—and not so easy when pregnant. At that point, the perfectly formed produce of Costco, already washed and bagged, looked awfully good.

But that was in July. By the end of August my garden was producing and nothing could compare with sweet, freshly-pulled garden carrots or peas or the goodness of a new potato. Plus, my Costco bill was cut in half!

My husband Norm and I had not planned to be gardening in Canada this summer. In fact, by the end of May we had expected to be back at our Mennonite Church Canada ministry assignment in Burkina Faso. We intended to spend our time in Canada enhancing our French language skills, visiting congregations who support us, and taking some vacation time with our families. But we learned early this year that we were expecting another baby in September, and our return was delayed.

At first I didn’t understand the timing of our pregnancy. We had planned to have children two years apart and Nadine was almost 3 ½.  Why would God delay the arrival of our second child, holding up our return to God’s work in Burkina Faso?

As it turned out, summer gardening was therapeutic. It brought me closer to creation and gave me quiet time with God as I worked. The weather was fantastic, allowing plenty of outdoor activities and camping trips with family. Living so close to my three sisters provided fellowship and laughter and deepened our relationships.  Our daughter Nadine and I were able to make several weekend trips to my home church in Bluesky, Alberta. In familiar surroundings we had  time to interact with people at deeper levels than we’ve been able to do for many years, when the primary purpose of my rushed visits home was to share news about my ministry.

Norm, who is by profession an aviation engineer, spend most of his summer putting his specialized skills to work in Manitoba, Alberta and B.C.—skills that had been in storage for four years. Though our time of separation was hard, we were able to keep in almost daily contact via Skype and we valued our weeks together, including a family trip to Fort St. John to visit Norm’s home congregation.

The gift of this summer has allowed Nadine to develop a close relationship with her cousins, her grandparents, aunts and uncles. She had a chance to take swimming lessons at which she excelled. In Burkina, we speak English, French, Siamou and Jula/Dioula on a daily basis, but this summer gave her the opportunity to develop a good English vocabulary from interactions in a monolingual setting and trips to the library.

I realize now that God gave us this summer as a time of healing.  Summer in Grande Prairie with family was a gift from God that provided spiritual healing through participation in familiar Mennonite church services; physical healing through familiar food, work and climate; and emotional healing through affirmation of our work, and contact with family and church members.

And, of course, the ultimate gift of the summer was the birth of our son Kenneth Neil on September 21.

Lillian and Norm Nicolson hope to return to Burkina Faso with their young family around mid-November, once the paper work for their newborn son is in place.

Nicolson family grows by one  

For Lillian and Norm Nicolson, Mennonite Church Canada workers in Burkina Faso, an extended term of Canadian ministry came about as a bit of a surprise. They had expected to return to their work in Burkina last May, but their return was delayed when they learned that Lillian was expecting. 

Kenneth Neil Nicolson was born at 9:39 am on September 21, 2012 in the Beaverlodge hospital in Alta. He weighed 3,385 grams (7 lbs 7ozs) and measured 51 cm (20.5 inches).

 “My baby is born!” Proud 3 ½-year-old sister Nadine announced to anyone who would listen after her visit to the hospital to see her new brother.