Sunset in Kenora as the team arrived Thursday evening
Just after lunch the team wandered out into the town and, as is often the case, instantly became a local curiosity. Here are some of the stories:
Lura: I had so much fun. I had forgotten how much fun it was to just bless people with roses. And when they would ask why, I just got all jazzed about saying, “God loves you.” The best highlight for me was the man we saw outside the grocery store (Safeway). He came over to me and I thought he wanted a rose, but he said, “No, I already have a rose. I know I got a rose, but I don’t know why.” So I told him, it was because God loved him.
Lura and Sunny share God’s love with a six-pack toting man
So then he asked where we were from and we said CA & AZ. So then he said you’re stopping in Kenora and then where are you going next? And I said, “No. This is it. We just came to Kenora.” And he said “Why?” And I said, “Because this where God told us to come to bless people.” And so he said, “I own a restaurant on the shoreline called Sunset Grill and I just love this and I want to know if you would come and bring my people roses.” I said, “We’d be happy to do that—tomorrow.” “Oh great! Come tomorrow and share your joy!” And then he said what hours he is open—11AM to Sunset.
Concerned by uniform tee shirts border agents pulled the team and vehicles aside before allowing them to pass as A Tour Of Roses moves into Canada for 12 days
Stephanie: Basically we decided to go walk to the park. And so Ammi saw a woman by her truck and she was waiting for her husband. Ammi went to her first and offered her a rose. But the woman was kind of emotional and tearing up about it. So I asked her, “What’s going on? How can I pray for you?”
And she said she had just recently moved to Kenora from Alberta and she had basically left her church and community and friends come to a new town. Still so new and she didn’t know anybody yet. So I asked if we could pray for her. I prayed she would find a small group or community and out of that make friends. And that it would happen not in 3 months or so, but quickly.
I could sense she really needed a friend. And then Ammi encouraged her to reach out and find a community and not to give up hope. Jurgen also prayed for her. And then I took a rose to a food truck. The lady was working by herself. I told her, “I am not ordering anything, but I would just like to give you a gift.” And she was very appreciative. She didn’t expect that. We also went by the pizza place—Domino’s –where we had lunch delivered and decided to leave enough roses for each person on staff. We tried to go across the street 3 times and each time Ammi found someone else to give a rose to and we had to wait.
Prepared roses arriving in town aboard Jurgen’s pickup truck
Sunny: Yara, Lura, and I were walking down the street, praying as we were going before we gave out roses. And Yara asked me if I had any impressions. I said that I felt Kenora was in the midst of transition. That this was a pivotal point, and it could go either way—to life or to death. We saw signs of hope and possibly new beginnings. But I also saw signs of destruction and decay. So just like the seasons are in transition, Kenora is in transition. And I feel like this is a time of decision—whether it will go one way or another.
Whaaaat? A rose for moi?
When we were in front of Safeway handing out roses and a young lady came out who works there. Her name was Alli and she asked about the roses and we told her it was just to say God loves you. And she actually asked where we got the roses because she is in the floral department at Safeway and she really liked that the roses were very good—excellent. And then she asked if she could get one for her husband also and we said of course. And then she asked if she could give Lura and me a hug. And we said, “Of course!”
Jurgen receives the first box of roses from 2,000 ordered for first day
Jurgen: I was amazed at the display of hearts in the city drawn by children, which had this inscription: In honor of children lost to the Indian Residential School System. Hearts of hope. We have been journeying in hope and reconciliation for the past 8 weeks, learning about the residential school history. This heart garden is our symbolic way of standing in solidarity with all whose lives have been impacted by residential schools – Kenora Catholic District School Board – May 2019.
School children’s hearts line the streets of Kenora
To me it’s amazing how the Lord coordinated our A Tour of Roses with this event and how we can be maybe a follow-up with what has been happening here already. It was fun being with Stephanie and Ammi, giving away roses one-by-one to individual people and telling them that God loves them.
Ammi: I saw the woman crying by her car and tried to give her a rose. She was almost trembling. I could see she was going through a really hard time. She had just moved and had no family, no friends. We prayed for her and I gave her my words of experience because I have gone through the same situation. I told her I moved from Los Angeles to a small city in the Inland Empire in Riverside County area. And I told her I also have no family in the area and at first it was hard to make friends. But eventually you find community and I told her I did. And I just encouraged her to try and find a community church. I gave her a flyer and encouraged her to come to one of the meetings and she said she would and would also bring her family.
Ammi shares a moment with this woman
My first impression walking through the city is what are we going to do here? Then I noticed the hope hearts and the significance of them, which was encouraging to start giving out roses later. And before we even got started two young guys walked up to us. Their names were Shawn and Denmark, and they asked who we were and what we were doing.
And then Jurgen explained to them. And they said, “Oh, we go to church too! We try to be there every single Sunday.” And Shawn asked for flowers to give to his other friends. And that was a nice encouraging thing for me. What surprised me was the confidence I had in myself to walk up to anybody with no holding back. It was funny because sometimes I would leave Stephanie and Jurgen behind because I was off looking for people to give roses to. Some people were taken aback by me walking up to them, saying, “Hi! Would you like a rose?” Especially the guys were surprised.
(L-R) Stephanie, Dave, Yara, Sunny and Joan share brief respite at local eatery
Others were just genuinely so so happy to receive a free rose and said, “Oh how lovely,” when I explained the significance of the roses. Others asked, “What’s the catch or how much do I owe you?” And I said, “It’s no catch. It’s a gift for you to keep.” I invited many to the concert. And some replied they would really try to make it. There were times I was especially intrigued by the children because they were often much more willing to receive the flower when their parents were hesitant. I liked the innocence. It just reminded me of the child-like faith to believe in the good and simple gesture that an adult will doubt. It took me by surprise when I got kissed by a native man.
Stephanie and Jurgen were witness to this. Basically I handed the man the rose. He asked what it was about and I explained to him. And I found out he was native. And then he said, “Let me show you how we natives show love.” He grabbed my hand and kissed it. I looked at him like—what’s going on? He gets his two hands and places them on my cheeks and kisses one side of my cheek and went for my mouth but I quickly turned away and he got my other cheek instead.
Joan: Today I really enjoyed visiting with new team members in the morning while doing tags and hearing Sunny’s testimony. The faithfulness of God is so astounding!
A highlight for me later on the day was greeting people who had no expectations and blessing them with roses.
I felt drawn to ‘T’ the first young women I met on main street. Although she appeared pale, sickly and had multiple visible wounds on her face she tried to smile as I told her about God’s love for her. Grateful for the rose she asked a few other questions. I answered but then I was drawn to ask her how she was. Looking in my eyes she said “Not great” …then her head fell and she began to tell her very sad story of fresh abuses and heart ache. Tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke of betrayal and living on the street.
I asked her if she would like to pray. She quickly emptied her hands and then we prayed as Father’s love was made tangible by Holy Spirit with a rose and an embrace.
I sensed she struggled with addiction so I asked her if she wanted to be free from ‘using’ . (drugs)
“Yes I’ve been trying,” she looked startled.
Talia has a desire to be free and answered with a huge smile and determination that she is going to try and wean herself and be free in 2 months. (Next to an impossible feat on the methadone program)
We spoke of the power of the Spirit of God and overcoming in His strength. I sense Father is drawing her to Himself. She seemed hungry for more of God an shared that she went to church as a very young child and that she felt she knew God and needed Him.
I encouraged her to come out to meetings for more prayer and ministry. Pray this woman finds relationship with Jesus, freedom, provision and connection in the Body.
I met other young adults that seemed deeply wounded. Please pray for one young man that couldn’t even stop walking to acknowledge the roses or unusual activity as he seemed in such an emotional overload and dead/zoned space. My heart ached for him and was moved that Father brought us here for these dear people.
Personally, I am amazed with the beauty of all people and seeing again our human likeness.
Joan and Sally chat with this woman between worship songs on street
The traffic on main street was steady and people were rolling down their windows out of curiosity to hear Sally playing and to wait for a visit at their window and the unusual offer of a red rose. Her voice carried about 1/2 way down the block and I noticed the wind was carrying it. It was so wonderful.
Every vehicle responded with gratitude, many with ‘God bless you’ a few moved with deep emotion that we would come to share love and hope with them in Kenora.
Unfortunately traffic was being slowed too much and we had to cease from sharing roses with them at the traffic lights because when the light turned green vehicles were still stopping for roses. An officer said it was best to not be on the street. We respected this.
Still many roses were given out to pedestrians in a restaurant and some shops.
These two people receive a rose with gratitude
Yara: Today we went out on the streets and gave away our first batch of roses. The people were very receptive and very happy to receive the rose. One girl we gave a rose to—her name was Shannon and she was native—was coming off of drugs and said she was in rehab, but it was clear she was still on drugs. She said she believed in God the Creator and told us a little bit about her life. I wanted to pray for her but I felt like God said, “No, not yet. She’s not ready.”
She was talking a thousand miles an hour. And me and Lura listened to her. We encouraged her in her quest for rehab and she also said she was pregnant with twins. She then seemed like she saw someone she was afraid of or something, and then said, “OK. I gotta go. There is a hit on me.” I didn’t know if that was the drugs talking or what. Because I looked around and didn’t see anything suspicious, but she took off really fast. And my heart broke. And then we prayed for her together after she left. So please keep Shannon in your prayers—that God would heal and deliver her.
Dave perched and ready to pounce with unexpected gifts for the locals
Dave: While Sally was worshiping I noticed that the traffic on the street had died down after a good while and foot traffic was scarce. But then I had noticed across the street that there was some foot traffic so I crossed the street and one young man came up to me. I said, “Hey Bro, how are you? Can I give you a rose?” And he said, “Sure.” And then he wanted to know what we were doing.
I said, “We are here just to let you know that God loves you.” And then I pointed at the rose and said, “Think of it this way. This is Something Beautiful for Someone Beautiful and that’s how God thinks about you. God bless you and have a good day.” And then he smiled and thanked me and immediately walked off.
Dave explains to a young woman what the team is doing here at the local Safeway
So I was feeling like, Ok, cool! But then as I was watching traffic I noticed a lady closing up her shop for the day. And I was going to make sure she had a rose but I saw she already had one. So she walked up to me and said, “Why are you guys doing this?’ So I told her. “We are a team that goes out. Some are from the states and some are from here. And we want to express God’s love by giving out roses.” And then I asked her, “Are you First Nations?” And she said, “Yes, I am.” Then I smiled and she smiled and I said, “I’m Native American from the U.S.”
And then her smile got wider and she said, “Oh Awesome!” I said, “Yeah. I really love the First Nations People.” She said, “That’s good.” And I told her, “My dad’s people are from Montana and I recently found out that my great grandfather was born in Canada, due to a temporary move.” She said, “That’s cool!”
And then I pointed Sally out and said, “She’s going to be singing at the Whitecap Pavilion next weekend and then we are also going to be at Jubilee Church.” And then she really got interested and asked, “Is there anywhere else you are going to be?” And so I realized I didn’t have a flyer and called out to Sally and got her to bring me a flyer. I insisted on having a flyer brought to me by our leader because I felt this lady needed to be introduced to the actual person whose leading the project. And then when she read the back of the flyer she pointed out that we will be at her church on Wednesday. I said, “Right on!” And then we said our benedictions and she left. I felt that was a divine appointment.
These two appear pleased with their rosebud bounty
That’s it for the Day 2 Update from Kenora. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts here on the blog where the team can read and be encouraged by them.