Sharing and Caring

The Pelletier Family Enjoying their Christmas in Rosenort

By: Mary Ann Funk with Cheryl Peters

On Friday December 19, my co-worker, Cheryl Peters was heading out for weekly home visitation when she noticed fire crews close to the home she was going to visit. She had a sinking feeling that these emergency vehicles were connected to the family who had just moved onto her visitation route and whom we had been getting to know since they attended family camp in the summer. “Please God, let them be ok,” was her prayer.

It was difficult in all the commotion to figure out what was actually going on; but when Cheryl was able to connect with Candyce, the children’s mom, she found out that they were all ok. Their house had caught fire and everything was lost. Needing a place to stay for the night, the family recieved no invitations from family members to stay with them for the night and were relying on a friend who helped them to stay at a hotel for the night.

It must have felt awful as a single mom of 6 kids ages 4-15 to lose everything and not have a place to call home for Christmas. We can easily compare this distressing situation to Mary’s journey on that first Christmas. Rather than a barn or a stable, the family spent those first 4 days and nights all in one cramped hotel room. With Christmas quickly approaching and still no place to go, Candyce was feeling pretty anxious and hopeless. However, just as God had a place ready for Mary and Joseph many years ago, God had a place in mind for the Pelletier family so they wouldn’t have to be separated for the holidays.

My family members, Tina and Peter Friesen with their two children Cassidy and Jayden opened their home in Rosenort and welcomed in the whole Pelletier family for Christmas. After getting everyone settled in and comfortable, I could tell they were relieved to be out of the hotel and in a big, beautiful, loving home.

The next day consisted of playing games, going outside and sliding, building Lego, playing, and more playing. I stayed at my family’s home the whole time as well and it blessed my heart to watch the connections develop. I was able to hear the children laughing and playing, watch the girls run around chasing my uncle and just basking in all the positive attention and love they were receiving. Even Candyce was able to relax and enjoy coffee times with Tina and I, which really developed a loving friendship between us.

Our Christmas family gathering carried on as always with my sisters arriving, all dressing up, sharing Christmas crackers, eating a delicious Christmas dinner, singing Christmas carols, reading the Christmas story and then playing a gift exchange game in which the Pelletier family joined and blended right in. It was so much fun having such a large group of people for Christmas and it really felt like a Christmas of sharing and caring. It is one I will never forget. Out of a very devastating time came a beautiful blessing that only the hand of God can do.

When the family was leaving after the week of Christmas was done and a home had been found in the city, the oldest boy asked my aunt, “Tina, can we come here next Christmas?” to which she said “for sure”. The very neat thing about this is that this family, though involved with Living Bible Explorers were not regular attendees and were, at times, not attending often at all. That all changed when this Christmas at LBE turned into a blur of everyone rallying together to make sure this family had what they needed. There was no question in our hearts and minds that this was what Jesus had in mind when he commanded “love your neighbour as yourself” Mark 12:31. The impact of the Christian community responding to this tragedy is ongoing as every child in the Pelletier family is more committed and excited to attend LBE and church events than ever before.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who responded after the Pelletier family’s story hit the news. People all over Winnipeg and even from other provinces responded generously with donations of money and material goods. With the funds donated, we have set up a Trust Fund for the Pelletier family that has been, and will continue to be used to provide for the needs of the family.

We also want to thank the Rosenort community for providing meals for the family and for all the donations that they dropped off for Candyce and her children. We also want to say thank you to the Oasis Church who drove all the way to Rosenort and dropped off an amazing Christmas hamper for the Pelletier family! We loved witnessing the body of Christ come together and provide for the needs of this precious family.