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An Extraordinary Year at First Steps Preschool

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The 2020/21 school year for First Steps Preschool is now in the books, and what an extraordinary year it was! Every step this year was with a deep breath, constant prayer, and careful consideration. With an amazing teaching team beside me, and a supportive church behind me, we didn't just survive this school year, we thrived. God provided for us every step of the way. I trusted God would protect us, but I also knew we were not above COVID-19. It wasn't a matter of "if" COVID would impact us, it was "when" COVID would impact us. Whether it was our Fraser Health COVID inspection, annual facility inspection, preschool families going for testing, my own son receiving a close contact/self-isolation letter, and then a functional closure of our 4-year-old program, we navigated all of the ups and downs with deep faith and trust in God.

In September 2020, I knew First Steps had to love like Jesus throughout this school year. To do this well, we had to lead with a calm and peace that only exists because of our faith in God. I will admit, there were times I felt like a duck in a pond...calm, cool, and collected on the surface of the water, yet my feet were frantically paddling underneath trying to stay afloat! An obvious challenge for this year was navigating and pivoting to meet the requirements of the Provincial Health Orders. These health and safety regulations looked great on paper, but the reality of implementing them with preschool-aged children was a completely different story. Creating an environment for children to feel safe and loved, while still learning and having fun was priority number one. This definitely proved to be challenging at times.

Reflecting on the past ten months, it's easy to remember all the things we couldn't do and fail to see the many things we were able to accomplish. I challenged myself and the other teachers to change our perspective and not get stuck in the "we can't do this" mindset. Rather, my desire was to have a "we can do this" type of thinking. This kept us positive and moving forward. One of my favourite memories this year is from December. A little girl in our 3-year-old class had show and tell and was ready and excited to share her items from home with the class. The day before, we were given new regulations that no one was able to enter the preschool unless absolutely necessary. Up to this point, we were able to welcome the parents of the child who was the special helper into the classroom. After informing the parents we were not able to welcome them into the classroom, the news devastated the little girl and deeply disappointed the family. Refusing to let another part of our program be taken away, we moved show and tell outside onto our playground. It happened to be -2 degrees that morning, but the smile on her face while her family watched was absolutely worth it! It would have been way easier to just say no, but instead we chose to be creative. This is how we love well. This is how we set our preschool apart. It's not always the extravagant and grand things we do, but the little details that make the most lasting impact.

September will be a fresh new school year, with new children to teach and families to love. We ask you to please pray for First Steps Preschool over the summer, for our teaching team, the children, and their families. We still have some space available in our 3-year-old program and we desire to have both classes full in September.

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You can also listen to our new podcast episode that features some of the First Steps Preschool team including Katie, Megan, and Kaitlyn. You'll hear about the challenges they faced as they operated the preschool during a pandemic, and you'll also hear how they continued to love like Jesus despite the global health crisis. When you listen to this podcast, you'll hear a story of God's faithfulness and goodness through the story of First Steps Preschool. Visit our website to listen now or find us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Posted by Katie Yakiwchuk

Meet Our SDBC Elders: Rob Bogress

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This week we hear from Rob Bogress! Follow along as he outlines how long he has served as an elder and what originally prompted him to become an elder. We are blessed to have Rob as an SDBC board member!

How long have you attended SDBC and how long have you served on the Board of Elders? 
I have attended SDBC for 54 years, my entire life. I have served on the board for five years.

What was it that prompted you to join the Board of Elders?
When a member of the nominating committee asked me if I would be interested in being on the board, I was honoured to be considered. After much reflection and prayer, I felt God's nudge to seek eldership and participate in guiding the church as a further step in my Christian journey.

What is your specific role on the board?
I am the board secretary and a member of the audit and board effectiveness committees.

What does it mean for you, personally, to be a part of the Board of Elders at SDBC?
For me, it has been inspiring to be a part of a group of men who want to see God's church flourish. As we share ideas and discuss important topics, it's encouraging to be a part of a group of Godly men working together with the pastors to guide the church in the near term, while planning for the future and seeking God's will for SDBC.

How does being on the board both challenge and encourage you in your life and walk of faith? 
Being on the board has challenged me to be purposeful in my faith and to explore that on a personal and board level. Listening to the wisdom of other board members has been a blessing and an enriching experience. What I have come to understand is that although we as a board may have differing opinions at times, through healthy discussion we are able to make the best possible decisions to help carry out the mission and vision of the church.

Please remember to pray for Rob as he continues to serve on the SDBC Elder Board. You can send an email of encouragement to Rob by clicking here.

Posted by Mary Grierson

What Do We Do with Canada Day This Year?

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I am a naturalized Canadian citizen, meaning that I did not acquire Canadian citizenship by being born in Canada. Rather, my family immigrated here and chose to make this our home. I love Canada and I regularly pray for our beautiful country. However, in recent weeks, it has become difficult to express my love for our country without coming to terms with some of the shameful parts of our history. As we continue to discover more burial sites and remains of children that suffered under the residential schools, I have been asked this question several times: "Is it appropriate to celebrate Canada Day this year?"

I cannot answer this question for everyone—this is going to be a personal choice for all Canadians. I believe it is appropriate to grieve and mourn with the Indigenous communities that are grieving. I also believe we must listen to our Indigenous friends and find a way to be better neighbours. God calls us to be good neighbours, and we have failed in this regard, so we must lead the charge in becoming good neighbours for everyone in our nation.

However, grieving looks different for each person. Just because someone has a Canada flag up, it does not mean that they are insensitive to the national tragedy that we are processing together. Conversely, just because someone is not celebrating Canada Day this year, it does not mean that they do not deeply care about our nation. We sometimes hastily pass judgment on others when they do not express grief or love in the same way we do. When they look different, we tend to judge rather than seeking to understand. One of my mentors recently reminded me of an important truth: Seek to understand before judging others. The bible also warns against judging others (Matthew 7:1-5).

As we celebrate Canada Day this year, let us choose to be gracious to one another and seek to stand in unity rather than to be divisive. Our country needs healing and unifying, so let's pray toward that end. I pray you will have a meaningful Canada Day.

Posted by Paul Park

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