what a weekend!

Wow. What a weekend. We are overwhelmed, humbled, and so very grateful for the outpouring of support, love, and encouragement for our family.

Friday night was the Wine and Cheese Soiree at Club Roma in St. Catharines. Over 200 people came to share wine and cheese (of course), peruse the silent auction and enjoy the music of Doyles Point and Ninth Street Swingers.

Doyles Point (named after the place in P.E.I.) includes two familiar faces - Sandi, on of our first midwives when we moved to Niagara in 2003, and our family doctor, Dr. Brian Kerley. A special thanks to them for their beautiful sound, as well as their time (a late night!) and energy.

Ninth Street Swingers included all familiar faces - members of our church (Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed). They too created beautiful music together, and the two bands complemented each other in a way that was not competitive or radically different. Music to our ears.

Equally entertaining were the antics of Floyd and Brenda who announced the evening as well as Special K (Klaas Hoekstra) who provided late night dance music.

We enjoyed being with so many familiar faces, but we also loved meeting some new people. One older gentleman walked in with a donation only because he had read the article in the newspaper and wanted to give.

The entire evening felt a bit like a big party or a wedding reception. In fact, there was a group there from the Ancaster area to celebrate a 30th birthday. Happy Birthday, Krista!

Ralph and I had a chance to speak with everyone at once; I guess this photo was taken while we were talking because everyone looks so very serious. A special thanks to the helping hands that decorated the hall, helped with the reception area and silent auction, worked with the Club Roma staff on managing the food, and helped with the sound system.

Tim and Jess Brand got a peek at the Staal jersey which is being raffled off until the celebration at Agape Valley in September. Click this link for more details.

Saturday was a full day that started with final soccer games for both Sophia and Emily. It was a great time to be with the teams, and we were thankful for nurse Bridget's help with Rachel and Janneke.

By 3:30, we were ready for the Pork Roast. Ashley came along to help us, so the whole family could attend. We were joined by 300 people at the Harvey and Carol Pot family farm in Smithville. It was great to reconnect with family and friends. A special thanks to the many helping hands in roasting two pigs and tons of sausages, preparing salads, desserts, games, organizing a "penny sale" table, running the raffle for the Staal jersey, providing drinks and helping with parking.

The Veldstra train was by far the most popular event for the day for the kids. The train meandered or zipped (depending on who was driving) through the farm, keeping the kids entertained and away from playing in the tall corn.

We love hearing the stories of kids helping kids. Whether it was the deHaan girls selling lemonade for our family or this GEM (photo below) asking for no birthday gifts but money for our family instead, we are encouraged - and we hope those children will lead others into a compassionate way of living.

It is challenging to adequately express thanks over and over when words seem to fall short. We will continue to live thankfully - a lifetime of being thankful. We are moved sometimes to tears with the financial gifts. It is emotional to be the recipient.

Both nights we shared some words - ours and words taken from Jean Vanier (book Becoming Human): We all have a need to belong. In belonging, we become vulnerable and we acknowledge that all of us are disabled. We then let go of the shell of self-preservation and isolation that protects us but also isolates us.

We belong to a common broken humanity.

When we share with each other and carry each other, we demonstrate God's grace - his divine love and protection - and we testify to the faithfulness of God's promises.

We appreciate and are forever grateful for your support. This dream of our van and our home modifications will be realized soon. That is amazing.

As the final numbers are still being calculated, the amount raised over the weekend exceeds $20,000. That brings our total over $100,000. We are absolutely thrilled.

The money that is raised will buy the van and help us with our home modifications. Whatever is not initially used will be stored in the girls' RDSPs for future needs.

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Looking ahead to September, there are two more events as part of our Appeal for Wheels. There is a celebratory picnic planned at Agape Valley on September 17, and there will be a wonderful evening in Hamilton on September 23 with Southern-style food, story-telling, and bluegrass/jazz music. Click this link for more information.

Today was a day of rest. Both Rachel and Janneke napped in the afternoon, and they were in cheery moods after their rest. Rachel was discovered almost upside down in her bed, and I noticed we were falling behind in laundry - Janneke wore her sister's pants (at least her feet kept warm).

We had the girls outside for a swing in the afternoon. It was good to watch them swing and smile while reflecting on the amazing journey we've experienced these last few months. It is truly overwhelming to receive so much financial support. We ask that you continue to remember our family in your prayers because ultimately your prayers strengthen us in a way that money cannot.

May you image forth His love to others in your week. Thank you. If you don't receive a thank-you card at one of our events or in the mail, please email the appealforwheels address.


P.S. Thank you, Ashley and Christina, for helping us with our girls this weekend. That made our attendance much less stress-filled.

P.P.S. The cupcakes were made by SweetArt by Elizabeth - yummy and beautifully-decorated.