July 30, 2020

The School, the Church, and Scores of Jars of Applesauce

Myken McDowell, for Canadian Adventist Messenger

“So, when is the next workshop?”

The question was echoed many times over as instructor Vicky Ford, wife of Maskwacis Seventh-day Adventist congregation pastor Peter Ford in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada, helped place 15 apple crisps and more than 180 jars of freshly made applesauce in boxes for workshop participants to take home.

The project had been ambitious — to preserve more than 180 kilograms (400 pounds) of apples harvested in the 2019 season and brought from British Columbia to Maskwacis by Vicky and Peter’s son Andrew.

“The idea wasn’t my own,” said Vicky, who has become well known by many women in Maskwacis over the 12 years that she and Peter have been leading the First Nations congregation. “Workshop ideas are always sourced from within the First Nations community.”

The idea became a reality, in part, because of a CA$1,300 (about US$975) grant from the Women’s Ministries department of the North American Division. Women of the Maskwacis congregation recognized Vicky’s abilities in the kitchen, and they and their friends wanted to learn how to preserve healthful, nourishing food for their families too. Repeatedly, they asked for a canning class.

Vicky Ford, canning workshop coordinator in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada, surveys more than 180 kilograms (400 pounds) of apples. [Photo: Canadian Adventist Messenger]

Ensuring the success of the class has been no small feat. Still, to Vicky, the long drives to the reserve, the many trips to second-hand shops to find supplies, and the challenge of locating an event space have all proved worthwhile. The event space — the kitchen at Mamawi Atosketan Native School (MANS) — while adequate, was distant from the reserve where the participants live. This added a layer of complication with transportation issues, but congregation member Arvin McCarty volunteered to drive his van, and Burman University students who volunteer with Sabbath services at MANS stepped up to assist in getting workshop participants to and from the event.

MANS staff also got involved. For teacher Darlene Thiessen, who was born and raised in British Columbia, the workshop was an opportunity to relive the applesauce canning bees of her childhood. In addition, Vicky was glad to have her regular Sabbath church meal assistant, Audrey Hirschkorn, who also works at MANS, and Vicky’s daughter, Rainbow Ford, to provide experienced assistance.

Practical community-building events like this bring people together and promote healthful living, local leaders said. With a vested interest in fulfilling community needs — and seeing a clear demand for more events like this — Vicky and Peter said they look forward to holding other workshops. The goal, they said, is to meet the felt needs of their congregation and other community members in a space that’s accessible to more Maskwacis community members.

The original version of this story appeared in the July 2020 issue of the Canadian Adventist Messenger.