To help celebrate their 100th Corps Anniversary, The Salvation Army in Fort Frances Ontario
(Canada) invited Bermuda's West End Community Church Band
as special guests. Bandmaster Jerome Astwood
and bandmember Steve Bean documented their experience to share with THEMEonline.
Thursday 3rd April 2014
We all met at LF Wade International Airport. Whilst there we were greeted and supported by Divisional members. Even though we had issues in the preparation to travel, we had no issues with instruments once we arrived at the airport. God was working even now! Everyone was upbeat about the trip ahead. We left on an Air Canada flight to Toronto. Bandsman Ronnie Astwood who is in school in Toronto met us in the airport. All were excited to see him. After a two hour stop over, we flew to Thunder Bay on Air Canada Jazz. Upon our arrival there was light snow falling and the ground was wonderfully white. After a quick detour for food, we settled in for the 4 hour drive to Ft Frances. At 11pm we arrived at the hotel (2hr difference from Bermuda) cool and tired but all were well.
Friday 3rd April 2014
Everyone was upbeat for the ministry ahead. The group was greeted by the Lts Maybury
(Fort Frances COs) and Demara (daughter). After this we Met our drivers – Doug and Mr McTaggert and the leaders for the weekend – Majors Bungay
(Div Officers) Great officers that have a heart for the Lord and His People. It was so good to greet them all. The group had breakfast and a devotional together led by bandsman Dennis Astwood. Then we were off to Rainy River Rest Home. We were amazed by over 100 residents. It was a really nice facility. The Band played the March – Morning Glory and the Hymn Tune Arr – Llanfair. We also accompanied the signing of Holy Holy Holy. Major Curtis Butler (WECC CO) brought a stirring devotional. During the visit they honoured long serving Soldiers who reside at the home – for their faithful service and commitment. They were two ladies 80+ still attending the corps. The local Newspaper and TV media conducted interviews with the Mayburys, along with B/M Astwood, Major Bungay and bandsman Steve Bean.
We were then whisked off to share in a March of witness in the town. It was cold but very effective. We had to watch out for puddles and ice along the route which was a challenge. The band, soldiers and officers did well and received a warm reception from the town folk as they played some good old Hymn tunes. The March ended at the corps with Pictures taken outside with our OPP Police escort. There was a real respect for the Army in Fort Frances and the Mayburys. After a quick lunch the band conducted afternoon assembly concert at the area High School. Over 250 students were in attendance. WECC ladies singing group Jabulani led a sing song. It was an awesome sight to see the teenage students interact with the group. The Band played upbeat numbers like the Festival March – Maidenhead 125 and Saints Alive! There was a standing ovation, which concluded with Bill Himes’ -This I Know. Many parents thanked the band for lifting up the name of Jesus there as prayer is not allowed at the school.
We then went to New Beginnings Church to set up for the Saturday concert.
The sanctuary and facilities was very immaculate. After the set up and sound check the band carried out a short rehearsal. By this time we all were tired but in good spirits as we focused on the grateful people that we encountered throughout the day. That evening we were informed that the march was already getting positive hits on YouTube!
Saturday 5th April 2014
The band had the morning off. Folk took the time to sleep in a little. We had a late morning devotional after breakfast led by bandsman Eldon Lambert. Some of the group rested while some ventured out to do some shopping at Walmart and Canadian Tire. By this time the weather really cleared and warmed up. After this there was Saturday afternoon concert in support of the area volunteers. This concert was well attended. Band played the Festival March Maidenhead 125 and Renewed after prelude. Lts Mary and Dennis Maybury led the concert. It was very spiritual and inspirational. Also featured was a Guitar/vocal soloist from the town and Jabulani
sang bringing the house down with Richard Smallwoods ‘Jesus you’re the center of my Joy’. Lt Mary was the soloist. Fort Frances corps honored several dedicated volunteers and Major Bungay brought the Word. The WECC Blacklight Mime Ministry was powerful and wowed the crowd. Also during the concert Demara Maybury danced and joined the band in Erik Silverberg’s cornet solo – People Need the Lord. The group from Bermuda took time to share little gifts of the island with the guests as well. The Band closed concert with Give to Jesus Glory and the Tribute March – Ft Frances Centennial. Everyone stayed and fellowshipped in the church hall over food and cake to honour the 100 ann celebrations! Later that evening we shared in a dinner at La Flambee which is owned and operated by a former chef from Morocco who used to work in Bermuda. The Food was awesome and the ambience was welcoming.
Sunday 6th April 2014
Sunday was a full day of worship which started with an 11am worship service at the Ft Frances Corps. It was well attended and the Lts mentioned that this was the largest Sunday attendance in their time there. The band prelude consisted of worship songs like His Provision, Holy Spirit Rain Down and Be Still for the Presence of the Lord. Lt Dennis welcomed folk to the Centennial service. One of the eldest corps members faithfully read the scripture from the book of Matthew. During the offering and tithes the band played Give Thanks. B/M Jerome shared his testimony and played a trumpet solo of To God be the Glory by Doug Court. Major Bungay brought the Word – based around the Easter story and Christ’s redemption for the world. We had a quick lunch and then afternoon multi denominational community service at New Beginnings Church. Jabulani led in song and a rousing chorus sing which was enjoyed by all. There were Tributes to the SA by clergy from Evangelical and Anglican churches. It was a true blessing to hear about the good work the Army is doing in and around the community. Also an Envoy from Minnesota shared early stories of the Army in Fort Frances and her conversion testimony. Mrs Major Bungay brought the Word and challenged us to remain faithful in the Lords service. The Lts were grateful to the Majors and the band for their support and Christ like love over the weekend. It was hard to believe that the Weekend was over. We then packed up and shared dinner together on the Riverside overlooking the Canada / USA border.
Monday 7th April 2014
This morning we checked out and left Ft Frances on the bus at 12pm. What a great and Spirit filled weekend. Major Curtis prayed for safe travels and for Gods provision over the Lts Maybury and the Ft Frances corps folk. There was Bermuda Gombey music played on the bus stereo for the Mayburys as they left the bus after thanking us again. After a relaxing 4 hour bus ride, we arrived in Thunder Bay and caught the plane back to Toronto. We arrived late at night and everyone nestled in at hotel due to an early start the next day.
Tuesday 8th April 2014
This day we left for Pearson Intl airport airport at 5am. Hard to believe the weekend was all over already. We were all changed and all felt fulfilled from the ministry trip. We arrived back in Bermuda met by the midday sun and family, corps members. The WECC Band and corps thank God for the great things He has done in and thru us over the Ft Frances 100th anniversary celebrations. For His Glory! - Submitted by Bandmaster Jerome Astwood Personal Views on Fort Francis - submitted by bandsman Steve Bean
First of all, I thought the entire experience was a huge success. Thanks be to God! Every detail of the trip was thought out and each event was well organized, which allowed our time to be maximized for the benefit of everyone. We were busy, especially on the Friday, performing at one place then right on to the next. This was great because we had opportunities to
witness to so many. Up early mornings, get your breakfast, have a devotion, then out of the hotel ready to carry out the mission was our daily routine.
Secondly, I was somewhat amazed at the response that we received at each event. The people at Fort Francis, young and old, came out to support and demonstrated their appreciation by getting involved in the singing, loud applause when appropriate and offering words of gratitude after performances. I could tell that they were blessed and I thank God for using
us. On the other side of the coin we were equally blessed. Surprising how The Father orchestrates it all, allowing his servants to be used to uplift others and in doing so the servants are uplifted also. I definitely came away from that experience feeling that I received more than I gave. If and when the band considers traveling again you can count me in.
Another benefit received while traveling with our church members was the opportunities to interact with each other in ways that you do not normally get when at home. While traveling we could sit and talk, we shared meals together, walked to and from Wal Mart and Canadian Tyre and while sitting in the lobby it gave us time to develop our relationships. I appreciate Leeann and Buddy now from a different angle, I know that Joanne Fubler is cold blooded, Dennis loves to get up early and go for nature walks, if you need a button sewn see Mrs. Pringle who happens to carry a needle and thread, Major Curtis is a kid at heart and still loves to throw snowballs at people, and if you have any kind of illness go to the Astwoods because they can help. I now have a closer connection with each person because we shared the experiences and the memories will remain with each of us for a very long time.
The opportunity we had of reuniting with Lieutenant Maybury and family was precious. I believe the Good Lord arranged the reunion for reasons that no one even knows the extent of at this time. The look on their faces when we met on the first day and the expression on their faces when we left said it all. Especially, sister Mary who shows all her emotions. I thought it was very hospitable of the Maybury's to invite everyone to their home for chips,dip and drink which turned into a pizza party. I enjoyed the time of fellowship because we all crammed into the kitchen area and talked and laughed late into the night. Also, we got to meet and were very encouraged by people, like 90 yr old, Mr. Taggard and Doug who sacrificed daily to transport us and did so with interest, enthusiasm and love. The elderly lady who reads the scripture every Sunday and has been doing so for years, demonstrated a level of commitment to serve, that all of us need to follow.
Lastly, I thought the band outperformed ourselves especially at the concert on Saturday. From the first piece, Magesty, I knew we were at a place in our playing were only God could have taken us. From that point on in the service the stage was set. I felt so different while playing. I could actually, for the first time, hear the different parts being played and my confidence was soaring. I was blessed by my own playing and left feeling that there is hope for me. When the band played, " Oh Canada", I could not believe how good we sounded. Proves that if we show up and do our part than God will take over and do the rest. How He takes what little we have to offer and multiplies it so that all needs can be met is a miracle in itself. I know that everyone who went on the trip was blessed immensely and I only hope that if we get a chance to do something like that again the rest of our band members can accompany us.