Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Airline Ticket Scam

Our Dream

Ewa and I had a belated honeymoon once she landed in Canada with 'landed immigrant' status in early May, 1996.  I picked her up at the Calgary airport and we drove through British Columbia to Vancouver Island.  During the drive and on the island, we thought how fun and wonderful it would be to one day invite Ewa parents - who had never travelled outside of Poland - to visit us, and show them the mountains and the sea.

Once we moved to Edmonton, it looked like that dream would come to fruition.  We had a small house with extra room for them to stay, and a significant tax return to pay for their tickets.  We purchased some tickets through a Polish travel agent in Edmonton, and waited for Ewa's parents to receive them.  Here's some excerpts from my journals that document what happened next...

AirLine Ticket Scam

May 21, 1997
I have lots of questions.
I got laid off from work today.  Hired April 29 - laid off May 21.  We moved to Edmonton banking everything on this job.  Ewa’s parents are coming in 9 days from Poland.  And I thought the weekend was bad.

May 23, 1997
This evening we found out that the fellow we bought airplane tickets from for Ewa's parents trip isn’t exactly trustworthy.  They haven’t received the tickets yet, and it is a week before they fly. The fellow hadn’t even sent the money.  He said he would send it over a month ago.

June 1, 1997

Ewa' parents in front of the
Alberta Legislature
in Edmonton
God has been good to us.  Apparently, last week Saturday was the last day we could have done anything about the tickets for Mom and Dad.  God got ahold of us just in time as it might have been too late a day later.  Seats became available in economy class which was really a miracle because there was a line up for people to have a seat on the plane and it didn’t seem like the fellow we bought the tickets from was going to pay Mom and Dad’s way up to business class.  He was just leaving the phone off the hook at the store.  So, Mom and Dad are here now.... The travel agent has flown the coop.  The store is closed and he has left the city.  The story made local news.

July 12, 1997
Last weekend, we certainly saw God's faithfulness and Father heart as we went on a weekend trip to Calgary, Canmore, Banff, and the Rockies.  We had a great time and it couldn’t have worked out better.  The weather was fantastic.  Our trip itinerary filled up nicely and we saw lots of wildlife.  2 bears, a moose, mountain goats, sheep, a couple deer and lots of elk.  It was a great experience for Ewa's parents. 

Ewa and her Mom in the
Christmas store in Banff

God's Protection and Provision

God protected and provided for us.  We didn't lose the flight tickets - Ewa's parents arrived and returned safely. 

Even through that crazy summer with no job (see this post), no steady income, and other disheartening experiences, we were able to take them for a weekend to see Calgary, Banff, Jasper, and the Ice-field Parkway. 

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Phillipians 4:19

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Monday, April 11, 2022

Employment in Edmonton

Full Circle With God

There are some Biblical accounts where God does what I'd call 'a circle of completion.'  He gives a person a dream, a starting place, or a 'state of being', then a whole bunch of activities and changes take place, and in the end the people involved find themselves returning full-circle.  Some examples I can think of are Jacob and Bethel, Joseph and his dreams, Job and his story, Joshua and Jericho.  There are some situations in Ewa's and my life where we've seen this, too.  Landing full-time employment once we'd moved from Slave Lake to Edmonton is one of those stories for us.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

On The Move

Living and working in Slave Lake served two purposes for us:  

  1. Through my employment at the OSB plant there it allowed me to sponsor Ewa's immigration to Canada, and 
  2. We hoped it would serve as a springboard for me to start a more meaningful career and move us to a larger, more connected city.
While there, I tried taking a correspondence course in Accounting from the University of Athabasca, but I found learning something entirely new, by myself, while working shift work, was very challenging.  I also applied to become an air-traffic controller, and made it through a couple rounds of interviews, before ultimately falling short there as well.  I was finally successful in landing a good paying position in Edmonton at a large plant the printed milk cartons.  Around the same time we bought a small house in Edmonton and moved.

A Crazy Summer

We were so excited about this new employment and new house!  Additionally, our tax return came back for the previous year and we had some extra money so we invited Ewa's parents to visit us for the summer.  Unfortunately, events after that didn't quite go as expected.  Take a look at excerpts from my journals that summer:

May 21, 1997
I have lots of questions.
I got laid off from work today.  Hired April 29 - laid off May 21.  We moved to Edmonton banking everything on this job.  Ewa’s parents are coming in 9 days from Poland.  And I thought the weekend was bad.
On the weekend, Ewa and I realized that we would be pretty short with funds while her parents would be here for the summer (after paying for their flights).  I got paid more and put in more hours at the OSB plant in Slave Lake.  I tried to encourage myself with the song ‘God will make a way, where there seems to be no way…’  The song goes on to say  ‘... and He will do something new today…’ 
This certainly is something new.  Please understand - I don’t mean that sarcastically.  I know God has something better in store.  This route, however, kind of took me off guard.

So.... I have lots of questions.  I’m always kind of excited when I get into a situation like this because I know something has to happen.  Will I have a job a week from now?  God can do amazing things.  Who knows where I’ll be working?  I wonder how I’ll look back on this situation a year from now.

Ewa and I were talking over supper, thinking wistfully that maybe we had missed God in the opportunity with the milk-carton printing company and this move to Edmonton.  I do not believe that.  We had prayed that God would either open or shut the doors for this job opportunity, as well as this move.  God opened the doors and now here we find ourselves.  I believe that this is all part of God’s plan.  Now we just have to continue to seek Him and His direction for the next step.

May 23, 1997
God, we look to You for provision.  There is not much hope given to us by the milk-carton printing company as far as any kind of extended severance agreement or the opportunity for a choice to work somewhere else within the company.  I talked with P.K. - head human relations man in Memphis - and he at least sympathized with me and agreed that we had a raw deal here. Later I had a meeting with management here and signed the severance package we were originally given.
Saw a job in the paper last night and another on the computer in the library today.  Applied for them both.  This is all I can do besides pray.
Come and save us God...
I see lots of big bills on the horizon.  At this point, there is only money to pay into the first week of June.

June 29, 1997
Well, I have been working as a vacuum cleaner salesman for the last two and a half weeks. It has sure been a challenge.  I find that I am too concerned about what people think to do my job properly.  A salesman is supposed to sell things. Not just educate people on their product.  I am too polite.  I need to develop urgency and need in my presentation.  There are a couple of jobs as printing estimators in the paper that I am going to apply for this week.  I will continue selling vacuums until one of two things happens: 

  1. I start to sell vacuums in volume - then I won’t look for another job.
  2. I get hired at one of these jobs that I’m applying for.  
God has really been with us through this time.  The milk-carton printing company gave us an extension of severance pay to the end of June.  So as of Wednesday I am not receiving pay any more.  God knows what will happen then.  We plan to go to Canmore for 2 nights next weekend, taking Ewa's Mom and Dad with us. 

July 12, 1997
God, You are our only strength and hope.  Friday turned out to be quite a day.  We miscarried our first baby early in the morning.  I took Ewa to the hospital. She was there until 3 in the afternoon.  She had to have a DnC done.  I left the hospital at about 1 to go home, have a shower, and then I had to get insurance for the car.  That turned out to be a little surprise when I found out that we would have to pay $400 more per year for our insurance because we live in the city now.  Just what we need in the financial situation we are already in.  I don’t have any vacuum cleaner sales yet... 

Aug. 4, 1997
Lots of Old Testament stories seem very applicable to our lives this summer.  It certainly hasn’t been an easy one.  We have completely depleted our RRSP money and have had to borrow more from Mom and Dad to make it through August.  Ewa has been really struggling with her hormones and the whole situation.  We both had a different picture of how her parents would spend the summer here.  The job with the vacuum sales company doesn’t seem to be working out.  They are not completely honest in all their dealings with customers as well as with dealers.  

Aug. 14, 1997
Oh, God!!  I need Your help.  Today I gave all the vacuum cleaner sales stuff back to the office.  I am now completely unemployed.  I struggle to know what You want me to do.  Sometimes life seems really complicated.  Ewa’s Mom and Dad leave for Poland in less than 2 weeks.  God, my only hope is You.  Please show me if there is something I am doing wrong.  I can’t walk in the dark very long.  

Sept. 30, 1997

A printing press similar to the one I
worked on in Leduc
Well, I have a job now.  In fact, this is the 2nd week I’ve been working.  I’m working for a newspaper printing place in Leduc.  I’m sure learning a lot. I have been hired as a second pressman.  They are paying me $14/hour.

God's Full Circle

So where is God's circle of completion in all of this?  I had forgotten about it myself, until I read this journal entry I wrote several years later....

April 11, 2001
I was reminded of something interesting that happened before I left the newspaper printing place in Leduc.
My manager was looking to hire someone to fill my position when I left.  We were working days and he brought in a prospect, and believe it or not (my mouth sure dropped) he was showing around a fellow that had interviewed me at the milk-carton printing company

I talked to my boss later, and apparently a year after they laid us off, the whole milk-carton printing plant in Edmonton folded.  To see the hand of God on that whole situation from that perspective makes that whole rough, jobless summer a lot less of a bad memory.  This fellow had been looking for a job for a year already!  Wow!!  Thank you, God, for your direction there, even though it seemed like I was taking the only available job opportunity at the time.  

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Sunday, April 3, 2022

Car Fire!

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.  2 Corinthians 9:8

When we moved to Edmonton in 1997 we had a 1991 Olds Cutlass Sierra for driving around.  It had a lot of mileage on it and was beginning to require expensive maintenance.  We were concerned about this as it was our only form of transportation and I needed a means to get to work and back (a 25km drive, one way), so we asked God for help.

Sometimes God's help arrives in round-about, unexpected ways.  Here's an excerpt from journal entry from Jan. 9, 1998:

We have had quite the experience this past week.  Monday evening, our car burned in our garage.  Today we received news that the insurance company is going to write it off.  Looks like we’ll be getting a new car. 

Here's what happened...  Arriving home from work that day, I had parked the car in our townhouse's attached garage.  Sitting down to supper, I heard some weird noises from the garage, so I asked Ewa "What's that popping sound in the garage?"  I went to look and the garage was full of fire and smoke (mostly smoke).  I immediately shut the door and called the fire department.  They came and put the fire out.  

Fortunately, there was no major structural damage to the garage - mostly smoke damage.  However the car was totalled.  The fire investigator said they'd seen this before and the fire was caused from static-electric shot somewhere around the gas tank.  

We asked God for help in finding a newer used car for us - something that would last longer and be a bit more reliable.  God answered!  Here's another journal excerpt from Jan. 31 1997:

God has really been our provider in this whole car situation.  A week ago Thursday we were torn as to what to do with buying a car.  We didn’t feel totally at peace with the red Honda Accord here in Millwoods that we had looked at.  Then we went to look at a 91 Accord at a Ford dealership way up north Edmonton.  It turned out to be the one that God was providing for us.  It had only 127,000 km as opposed to the red Accord which had 195,000 km.  Not only that, but they offered us a great deal - no trade in - and we were able to buy a 40,000 km/2 year warranty along with it. 
THEN, we had agreed with our car insurance company that we would get $5900. for the Olds minus $500. deductible.  When we went to pick up the cheque yesterday, it was for $6313.  God’s provision!  It turned out that with a fire, we didn’t have to pay deductible, AND they added GST to the $5900.  We are truly blessed.

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