Blog Navigation
  • Superintendent's Corner: Mr Jeremy Tinsley

    Growing up in Abbotsford, during our Christmas Day church service each year I can vividly remember singing the Dutch hymn “Ere Zij God” (Glory to God). Although I don’t speak Dutch, singing the foreign words was a powerful reminder to me that Jesus came for all nations, tribes, and people. As the congregation triumphantly sang out those words, I thought of the faith in God that my grandparents had when they left their home in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada after WWII with very little money and nothing but a fragile plan for an uncertain future.

    These days, I watch or read the news for a half-hour most nights to stay caught up with current events but it’s been hard to take in without feeling increasingly concerned about the future. Frankly, watching the evening news has not been the greatest way to wind down my day and prepare for a restful sleep!

    The world seems far from a place of peace or certainty. The news stories seem to be a continuous list of difficult and heavy headlines.

    During Advent, we take time to reflect on the peace that Jesus brings into this world and into our lives. We remember that peace, and a deeper shalom, are not out of reach no matter how difficult the news headlines.

    The unimaginable love that God has for each of us led Jesus, in flesh and blood, to a very humble place in Bethlehem and later to the cross. We hold fast to the assurance that His great love will overcome the difficulties of this world. We trust that through the gift of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, we can experience peace in our hearts and serve as peacemakers in this world, even during these times.

    Jesus, the Lord of lords, King of kings, the Rock Eternal, was born to a teenage first-time mother with extremely limited resources and no solid plan for the future. We all know the story of Jesus’ birth in a stable - He was not born in a top-notch hospital with first-class heath care. Our Messiah’s humble and uncertain beginnings demonstrate that He came for all people. Regardless of our wealth or lack of it, our talents, or our worldly successes and failures, Jesus came for all.

    In these turbulent times when the future seems unclear, can we still trust Him? As much as we want to plan out our kids’ future and ensure their success (however we define that word), Jesus’ birth to teenaged Mary reminds us that our best-laid plans are fleeting. As my grandparents tried to do 70 years ago, we are called to seek Him instead of certainty in this world. Jesus promises us His peace in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” and also blesses those who serve as peacemakers in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”

    Despite all that’s happening in our world and the struggles of our own hearts, when we serve as peacemakers in this world the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts and Christ’s love is made evident to others. Pray that God gives you faith to trust His plans and purposes for your family, and provides opportunities for you to serve as a peacemaker in our unsettled world. All for the Glory of God!

  • Ellen Freestone Corner!

    My lifelong passion for current events has lagged a bit these past months, especially as so much of the bad news is right in my own backyard. It’s overwhelming and hard to process at times. More than ever, I find myself asking, “What is my responsibility? What should I be doing? Who’s right and who is wrong? How do I help move things forward? What should I be accountable for collectively and individually? "

    We all want to fix the world, then I remember something my mother did years ago that’s helped me get some much-needed perspective.

    My parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in the 1950s after experiencing five years of German occupation during the Second World War. The war years were very tough times but they survived and came here looking for a better life for their children. Which they did, successfully, in Alberta.

    When I was about 15 in the mid-1970s, my parents purchased a new home. They obviously did not do their due diligence because, horror of horrors, we ended up right next door to German immigrants who also came after the war. And to make it worse, we strongly suspected that Mr. Schmidt, not his real name, had served in the army.

    You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? The war had been over for about 30 years at that point!” Well, it was a big deal. My mother’s childhood home had been appropriated by a German officer. He lived upstairs and my grandparents and mom had to live in two cramped rooms on the ground floor. They had to put up with this while one of my uncles was in a work camp; the second was imprisoned for hiding Jews; and the third had died during the early war years because of a shortage of antibiotics.

    My father, on the other hand, worked in the resistance, his home turned into a hiding place for Jews, weapons, radios and an illegal printing press. Friends were arrested and shot by the Gestapo and Dad’s family lived in chronic fear for four years, expecting the knock on the door.

    So, 30 years doesn’t really seem that long when you have experienced the trauma of war. Traumatic memories have a way of searing themselves into your soul.

    My father refused to talk to the Schmidts, but it was worse than that. He mumbled the odd nasty comment across the fence and threw sour looks every chance he got. He just wasn’t nice to them. I caught on pretty quickly. Mr. Schmidt was probably a card-carrying Nazi, maybe even guilty of war crimes. He likely had a Nazi shrine down in his basement!

    I am quite sure the Schmidts were well aware of my father’s disdain and undisguised anger toward them. They scurried away back into their house any time we were outside. Even though I was a typical self-centred teenager, I did sense their isolation and they seemed weighed down by life.

    My mother, on the other hand, had a nose for sensing hurting people and her inner world of reflection was not as black and white as my father’s. And so, one day, she gathered some fresh baking onto a plate and hurried outside. I watched through the window as she called Mrs. Schmidt’s name. Before she had time to rush back into her house, my mother called her over and handed her a plate of cookies over the fence. I don’t know who was more shocked, Mrs. Schmidt or me.

    My mom never said much about this but over time, the two women shared hellos over the fence and chatted a bit about their children, the weather or whatever it is people talk about over the fence. And then there was the day my brother tragically and suddenly died. There was a knock on the front door which I answered and there stood the Schmidts. She wordlessly handed me a bouquet of flowers and I remember the tears in her eyes as she turned and quickly left. There I was, surprised again.

    I never learned anything more about our neighbours or about their role in the war. No great revelations. All I know is that my mother handed some cookies over the fence and a fence was partially mended. I gleaned something about the complexity of life even though I so yearned for the black and white. Oh yes, I also learned something about kindness, forgiveness and grace. Those little things.

    As I contemplate the news these days, I feel my mother’s nudge. I may not be able to fix the world but I certainly can share some cookies over the fence, even when the barrier seems impossibly high.

  • Superintendent's Corner: Mr Jeremy Tinsley

    Scenes of flooding around our Province are stunning. Two days of torrential rain have caused widespread destruction. The impact has been felt by families at VCS who are cut off from their loved ones while they wait for roads to re-open.  As we’ve seen in news reports, many people in communities throughout BC are suffering. This includes Abbotsford residents and families at one of our fellow SCSBC* schools, Abbotsford Christian School - homes, businesses, and farms are damaged or destroyed by the flooding. 

    During times like this, we are grateful to see people pulling together to support one another.  Some of our own VCS families have been recipients of the kindness of strangers as they are sheltered and fed in unfamiliar towns, unable to return home due to impassable roads.

    Late Tuesday night, approximately 300 volunteers responded to a call to help prevent the catastrophic failure of the Barrowtown Pump Station near Abbotsford, a failure that appeared imminent and could have led to an additional 3 meters of water covering the Sumas Prairie.  Those volunteers tirelessly stacked over 40,000 sand bags from midnight until 3:00am and their efforts helped keep the vital pump station running. 

    We give thanks to God for the hospitality and kindness of strangers. We desire that we too might show the same Christ-like hospitality to others.  Hospitality is a biblical theme that we aspire to. We pray for those affected by the floods and landslides, that the words of Psalm 46 might strengthen them:

    God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

    Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

        and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

    though its waters roar and foam

        and the mountains quake with their surging.

    We are called to serve, and if your family feels led to do more to help those who are displaced by flooding in the Fraser Valley, please have your child/teen bring a non-perishable food bank donation to school on Friday, Monday, or Tuesday (Nov. 19, 22, 23). We will collect food for the Abbotsford Food Bank, which will be delivered next week. The most needed items include rice, hearty soups, canned meats, size 4/5/6 diapers, and feminine hygiene products.  

    If you are able to deliver a car, van, or truck load of donations to an Abbotsford Food Bank location, please email Yvonne Lam at ylam@vancs.org so that we can organize our volunteer drivers.

    Thank you for your generosity and hospitality towards others.

    *Society of Christian Schools in BC

     

    Categories: Principal
  • Superintendent's Corner: Mr Jeremy Tinsley

    Across Canada and in many other countries, people gather on November 11 to honour the courage and devotion of brave people who sacrificed their wellbeing and even their lives, in defence of the defenceless, and in the protection of the freedoms, we enjoy today.

    Together, we remember people like Frederick Lee and John McLeod.

    Born to a Chinese Canadian merchant family in Kamloops, British Columbia, Frederick Lee was among 300 soldiers of Chinese descent who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI. A talented machine gunner, he survived the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but was killed in the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917 at the age of 21. Like thousands of other fallen Canadian soldiers, he has no known grave. More than a century later, Frederick Lee, the forgotten soldier, and the largely unknown Battle of Hill 70 have been brought to the fore with a monument dedicated in Loos-en-Gohelle, France, on October 2, 2019. Winding through the complex is the Frederick Lee Walkway. John McLeod, from the Ojibwe First Nation, served overseas in the First World War and was a member of the Veterans Guard during the Second World War. Six of his sons and one of his daughters enlisted. Two sons gave their lives, and another two were wounded. In 1972, John's wife, Mary, became the first Indigenous woman to be named Canada's Memorial Cross Mother, placing a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day on behalf of all Canadian mothers who had lost children to the war.

    As part of our school chapels and activities on Wednesday, November 10, we remember Frederick Lee, John
    McLeod, and all those who have served and sacrificed in the name of justice and freedom. Furthermore, we
    honour all who continue to put themselves at risk as they seek peace, protect us from harm, and come to the aid of those who cannot protect themselves. May God give peace.

    Prayer for Remembrance Day (Author Unknown)

    We pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
    and ask that God may give us peace:
    for the service men and women
    who have died in the violence of war,
    each one remembered by and known to God;
    may God give peace.
    For those who love them in death as in life,
    offering the distress of our grief
    and the sadness of our loss;
    may God give peace.

    For all members of the armed forces
    who are in danger this day,
    remembering family, friends
    and all who pray for their safe return;
    may God give peace.
    For civilian women, children and men
    whose lives are disfigured by war or terror,
    calling to mind in penitence
    the anger and hatreds of humanity;
    may God give peace.

    O God of truth and justice,
    we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,
    and those whose names we will never know.
    Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken
    world,
    and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us
    harm.


    As we honour the past,
    may we put our faith in your future;
    for you are the source of life and hope,
    now and forever.
    Amen.

    Categories: Principal
  • Carlos has Retired (sort of)!

    If you've been around VCS for more than a few years, you may have had the pleasure of encountering our beloved former custodian, Carlos Martinez. For more than four decades, Carlos and his family members have been caring for our building. This may not sound very important. However, in addition to cleaning the bathrooms and mopping floors, Carlos has connected with generations of staff and students in meaningful ways. 

    Back when I was teaching primary classes, my students would spot Carlos in the hall towards the end of the school day and joyfully announce his arrival. No matter what kind of day they had had or how much they struggled with math or reading, every child could count on an enthusiastic greeting from Carlos, and sometimes even a treat! Teachers and staff members also experienced Carlos' kindness on a regular basis and witnessed his love for the Canucks, his church, his family, and the VCS community.  

    Carlos, his wife, Carmen, his daughters, and his grandchildren have all spent time looking after our building and spreading the signature Martinez love. Over the years, Marcelo (one of the five grandchildren who attended VCS), was closely mentored by Carlos and learned from him the importance of hard work and character. And now, Carlos has officially passed the baton to Marcelo, who has earned a business degree from SFU and merged strong family values with entrepreneurship to start his own cleaning business.

    It's difficult to describe all the ways Carlos has impacted our community through the years. He has been part of countless VCS celebrations, visited classrooms, hosted parties to watch Netherlands vs Chile soccer matches, taught our children the importance of kindness, and patiently cleaned up after us every day. As a former VCS parent, I look back with gratitude on how Carlos treated my own children who as adults, still talk about his kindness and generosity to them.

    Carlos is not someone who likes to sit still for very long and fortunately, the new boss (Marcelo) still lets him come to work when he wants to! We are grateful for the many, many ways that Carlos has blessed us over the years and are delighted to see him here from time to time. 

    Carlos, we bless you and Carmen in this new phase of your life. You have embodied generosity and gratitude; may you enjoy the fruits of your labour and reap all the blessings of this world. You are deeply loved and will always have a place at VCS!

    Categories: Principal