Dorothy Delorme, teacher (and more!)
The date: September 1919. The doctor had just delivered a skinny five-pound baby girl, whose parents would name Dorothy Bonnibel, at the Davis homestead, a few miles out of Creelman, Saskatchewan. Because of the infant’s sickly appearance, her grandmother quickly placed her on the oven door of the iron cookstove in the kitchen to keep her circulation going. Three days later the doctor returned to check on the new arrival, but his expectations for her survival were low. “Don’t tell me that baby’s still alive!” he exclaimed, as he dismounted from his horse. More than 97 years later, Dorothy Delorme still chuckles at her grandmother’s immediate retort, “Well, you didn’t think we were going to let her die, did you?”
Dorothy recalls: “My grandfather had homesteaded on the farm where I was born since 1900. He owned a quarter-section of land but bought three quarters later. I lived there till I was eight.
“When I was born, right after the end of the Great War, a lot of folks were dying from the Spanish influenza. My mom came down with it soon after she and my dad were married. She was quarantined, and my dad never got to see her again for six weeks. The Red Cross would put soup at the door of houses where people were sick, and whoever in the family was healthiest could crawl over to get it.
“I didn’t have any siblings for 11 years, then I had three brothers. I didn’t start school till I was seven because I wasn’t that healthy. And then my mom took me out of school for another year, because she went to Ontario to look after her father. It was three miles to get to school. I rode there on a little saddle-horse called Midgy; I had learned to ride when I was between three and four years old. One day I was just racing down the road, using the whip on Midgy, and my dad was coming out of a side road, but I didn’t see him. I got into trouble over that, but he says to my Mom, ‘Don’t ever worry about Dorothy, she’ll be ok.’ We moved to Alberta when I was about nine, near Camrose, south of Edmonton. That was just at the beginning of the Depression, and my Dad had rented a section of land. He didn’t have enough money to buy the seed, and the lady that owned the land wouldn’t provide it, so he gave up and took his livestock, eight or ten milk cows and some horses, to a place called Rochester, north of Edmonton. But it didn’t turn out so good, the horses died and the cows got diseased, so he lost all the stock.
“But one good thing about the Depression was that people helped each other out — it didn’t matter if you were strangers, even. There was relief, but you got hardly anything at all from the local council. They might give you salt, and some flour or something, but then they wouldn’t give you any yeast so you could make bread. Neighbours would give you a little food if they had some. Lots of times when people didn’t have anything for Christmas, they’d just come to my mom and dad’s place and my folks would share whatever they had. But then if they got a parcel of food later, they’d share it back.”
“There wasn’t any church. There wasn’t anything for young people. Even at school, kids were using brown wrapping paper to do their arithmetic on. A teacher would come in September, and quit after Christmas, because she wasn’t getting paid. They couldn’t even afford to pay her board. My folks would send five gallons of high-grade cream on the train to the dairy in Edmonton, and they would only get $1.49 for it. By the end of the Depression, in 1939 — when things were looking up a bit — I managed to get my grade 10. So my folks paid my board west of a place called Clyde, for me to finish grade 11 and 12. My dad paid 15 cents a meal for board, but to save the cost of nine meals over the weekend I would ride the school bus two and a half miles east, then walk the rest of the way home, which was 10 miles east of Clyde. My dad would take me back on the Monday morning. Sometimes in the winter he would get frozen hands, a frozen nose. I nearly froze too! I did a year of study at the university in Edmonton and got my teaching certificate. I started teaching in the wartime, 1941, at a place called Crossfield, just out of Calgary, in a little country school. I was two years there. My next school was west of Three Hills. I had been there for only a year when the inspector came and said ‘How would you like to go into a two-room school and be the principal?’ So I did that, and wound up teaching with another teacher. She taught grades 1 to 6, and I had grades 7 to 10. We lived together in an eight by 10 foot shack, mice would run in under the door! We had a four-foot bed and a little table with two chairs and a big old iron wood-burning cook-stove in there. In the winter I could reach out and touch the water-tank on the stove and on top there would be a thick layer of ice. There was just a pipe going up through the roof, we daren’t make a fire and go to bed. Eventually it did burn down, but not when I was there.
“I had known my husband, Jack Delorme, for 17 years before we got married. His folks’ farm, near Clyde, was just a mile away from ours. I was friends with his younger sisters. He was 16 and I was 13 when we first got to be neighbours. He joined the Army, the Loyal Edmontons, when he was 24 — by that time I was in university — and he asked me to write to him. I said, ‘As long you write to me first.’ He did his training in New Westminster. But then I heard he had a girlfriend when he was getting ready to go overseas. So I thought, ‘I’m not going to write to him.’ He served five years in the war, without a scratch, in France, Holland, Italy and Germany. After the war he hunted me up, his girlfriend had broken up with him right away. We corresponded for four years, and then we got married. We were married for 54 years. I used to attend the United Church when I was in high school. My dad would read the Bible aloud every night while my mom knitted. I became a Christian at 16 after I had experienced a dream about the Second Coming of Christ, and that’s when I started reading the Bible for myself. Jack was a Christian before we got married; his faith had been helped while he was in the Army. We were married in a United Church in Elnora, east of Red Deer, by a Baptist pastor. I had taught school there, as the vice-principal in a four-room school, teaching grades seven, eight and nine. After the war Jack went into oil drilling. One day, six weeks after we were married, he was at the head of the well where they bring the auger up. They were trying to hammer a new pin into the drill when it shattered; a metal sliver damaged his left eye and it had to be removed. He was in hospital for a long time. They put in a really good eye that was supposed to connect with the muscles, but it got infected and they had to replace it with a regular glass eye. That was the end of oil drilling for him. After his accident, we rented a small grocery store in Edmonton, on the sharp point of a flat-iron building on Jasper Avenue. For five years we lived in a small apartment behind the store, sleeping on a couch. That’s where our first son and daughter were born. After the building’s owner sold out, we moved to Stony Plain, 22 miles out of Edmonton, and bought a B.A. [British American] service station franchise. Jack had taken mechanics courses in the Army, and I ran a coffee shop as part of the operation.
I worked from four in the morning to ten at night in the coffee shop, while looking after our five children as well. It was a 24-hour deal, all the time. The only day we had off all year was Christmas Day. We sold that business because his health started to break down.
“We came to B.C. in 1959. First we lived in Port Coquitlam, in a little unfinished house. Jack got work on a chicken farm, carrying sacks of chicken food upstairs on his shoulders — hard work — before getting a job on the maintenance staff at Riverview Hospital; eventually he became a supervisor there. I went to work for the Salvation Army at their Sunrise facility in Sapperton, but before long I got into Como Lake Seniors home as a pastry cook, making muffins and desserts; after that I retired.
We came to Surrey in 1992; by then Jack was in a wheelchair because of his arthritis. We bought half a house with our daughter, later we owned the whole house. After looking around at two or three different churches we came to Johnston Heights, when Pastor Dan and Pastor Ed were there. Jack died in 2003. After he was gone, I thought I should get into a Bible study group. Ethel and Larry Giesbrecht lived nearby, where they held a regular home Bible study. A couple called Ellen and Robin, whose home church was in Coquitlam, were part of the group. One evening they had to leave early to help out at an ‘Ortona Dinner’ for the Seaforth Regiment. I said ‘Ortona, in Italy? My husband fought there in the war.’ They insisted on taking me along, and that’s how I got involved with the Seaforth Regiment, who adopted me as the ‘Corps Mother’ of their Cadets, and even honoured me with a special award.
“You know, I learned something from Pastor Ed: how to pray aloud on the phone for people. And how to speak up in public: at my 90th birthday party I said, ‘When the Lord was on the cross, I was on His mind.’ And at a dinner for the Seaforths, when they asked me to speak, I said, ‘If the Lord hadn’t protected Jack, I wouldn’t be here, and my son wouldn’t be sitting over there.’ I didn’t know I was going to say those things.”
Elder profile: Bruce Douglas Flegg
“I WAS born July 9 1949 in Vernon, BC, the third of four children in a non-Christian family. My dad was a logger, so we moved around; my first year of kindergarten was spent in the small town of Falkland. In 1956 we moved to Cache Creek, where I stayed for the next 18 years. Before the Coquihalla Highway opened, everybody had to gas up there on their way north or south; the town had 14 gas stations and 10 motels.
“When my dad started to work at the Ashcroft mine, we moved there; Judy lived across the street. We got married in 1971 and lived in Ashcroft for a year, then I came down to Vancouver to work on my apprenticeship in steel fabrication. One of the guys I met at the trade school worked for a shop that was hiring. I needed the extra work because I was still keeping a place in Ashcroft, and at the end of the month they offered me a full-time position. I promised Judy we’d move down to Vancouver for one year only, just to see how the job went, but 44 years later we still haven’t moved back. That was in November 1972.
Actually, we tried to sell that house and move out of the area because there were too many religious people around! Our neighbours attended the Full Gospel church, a pastor lived down the street, others were Christian Reform, JWs, you name it — we just said “Enough of this, we’ve got to move,” so we built a house a block and a half away.
“A month and a half later I was without a place to live, because our house had sold and our new place wasn’t going to be ready for a month. Meanwhile Judy had taken the two youngest kids to Ashcroft to stay with her mom and dad. So Doris invited Alison, our oldest — because she was still in school — and me to live with them for the month.
“The first night at the dinner table, Doris said to me, ‘John and I have decided to study the book of John with you while you stay here,’ so what was I supposed to do? They’d been gracious enough to offer me a place to live and to look after my daughter while I worked, so I agreed.
I said, ‘Jesus, I give up. I need you in my life. I want to see my wife and kids again.’ I accepted Christ into my life right there, at Spences Bridge. Thirty miles later, when I got to my father-in-law’s house — how I made it I’ll never know — Judy said, ‘You accepted Jesus on your way up here, didn’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes, I did, how did you know?’ She replied, ‘I felt it.’ He got hold of me then, and He didn’t let go!
“We share a house with our daughter now, in East Clayton. We’ve attended Johnston Heights since 1980; it’s the only church we’ve ever belonged to, though we’ve visited a few. When we moved further out, people asked us ‘Are you going to leave the church?’ and I said, ‘I drive 45 minutes to work every day, I can drive 20 minutes to church.’
“My steel fabricating career ended around 1972, then I went into the hydraulic industry and that’s what I do now, install hydraulic and air systems on sawmill equipment.
“This past year I was credentialed by the E. Free Church to officiate at the wedding of one of the apprentices from work. He had said, ‘I’m not a Christian; we don’t believe in the Bible, but we’d really like you to officiate at our wedding,’ so I asked the church and they credentialed me to do it. Actually, there’s six young guys at the shop that call me their ‘work dad,’ and if they have problems, they’ll come to me and ask for prayer, even though they’re not Christians, and when they call it a coincidence when things work out, I tell them, ‘No, it’s a miracle.’ It’s humbling to have their respect. It’s going to be hard when I retire next July, but I tell them, ‘I’ll come back and see you.’ All our three kids (Alison, Susan and Brian) are walking with the Lord; all are married to Christians. We have eight grandchildren, five boys and three girls. One thing Judy and I have found is the importance of tithing. When Pastor Lawrence was here he had a class for new Christians, and told us ‘If everybody in the church was on welfare, and tithed 10 per cent of what they received, the church wouldn’t be in debt. We’d meet our budget.’”
Called from sunny Bali to serve in rainy Port Alberni
Church planters Nori and Shelley Anderson recently returned from the Indonesian island of Bali, where they had pastored an international church for two years before returning to launch a church plant in Shelley’s home town of Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island. Ted Staunton spoke with them about their missional hopes and dreams.
“Before going to Bali we felt compelled to have a conversation with Pastor Rob Stewart [Superintendent, EFCC Lower Pacific District] about the feasibility of planting a church here in Port Alberni,” says Nori, “but we’d already spent time in Indonesia and had learned the language, and knew God was leading us back to Indonesia for that next chapter. We had intended it to be a long-term ministry, but our youngest son, who we’d left back home, was going through some challenges — he was 18 when we left — and was asking us to come home, so we did a lot of praying and talking with the leaders we were accountable to, and at the end of the day we sensed that we needed to come back.”
“I was born and raised here in Port Alberni,” says Shelley, “but from the time I was seven until I was 18 we’d moved 25 times. I stayed home a year after high school, as did Nori; we met at Millar College of the Bible in Saskatchewan. We got married in December of 1989 and began our life-journey together. We soon both knew that we were called to vocational ministry. However, early on we really felt that Nori needed to get a supportive trade. So we spent time in Alberta where he earned certification as a welder. After that, we both attended the Alliance seminary in Regina, where Nori graduated and I completed a year of my Master’s degree. “Our first church context was an Evangelical Free church in Ucluelet (on the Pacific Rim), then the Lord opened up some opportunities for us back in Alberta. We were with the Christian and Missionary Alliance church for most of our ministry years to date, both locally and internationally. After leaving a fruitful ministry in Fort Saskatchewan we departed to Bali for a couple of years. When we knew we were coming home, we reconnected with Pastor Rob again, conversations were restarted, and here we are in Port Alberni!
“God has blessed us with a home which will enable us to host ‘church’ in our basement,” Shelley continues. “We’re having a ‘soft’ opening on December 4th. But that’s only a means to an end; our goal is to be in a rented facility. We feel compelled to start holding a service, even if it starts small. However, we can’t begin to envision moving into a rented facility until some funds start coming in. Right now we’re still trying to raise basic support for our own salary, but there is interest, desire, excitement. People want it, so we’re going to go for it. We can fit probably 20 people in the basement, so we’ll see what happens; we already have 12 people as part of our core team. It’s an incredible journey God’s called us to; it’s stretched us more than any journey we’ve ever been on. Port Alberni is a struggling community in many ways. We want to bring the hope and love of Christ to this part of our broken world. We’re writing updates that are short and succinct, supplemented with pictures, that talk about how God is working and what He’s doing, believing that God will stir the hearts of His people to join us in this adventure, and support us both prayerfully and financially.
“I said to Nori recently, ‘I really believe with all my heart that when all’s said and done, and we actually have a church that’s self governing and self-sufficient, we’re going to look back in awe to see how God really took care of us.’ Even though living like this month-to-month is definitely a stretch, it’s an incredibly faith-building experience. We’re privileged that God has given us the grace to be able to do it.”
“Here in the Valley when the rains start coming in, it can be a very challenging place,” adds Nori. “It’s considered one of the more difficult places on the Island to plant a church. With the levels of rain and the greyness in the Valley, depression is a challenge for many. There is a very real sense of spiritual, physical and environmental darkness. It is going to take time, and therefore we desire to live our lives and ministry with a mix of patient, methodological-yet-