I grew up in the heart of the city of Vancouver’s west side in a little neighborhood called Kerrisdale. But although I am a city boy, my father, a family physician, taught my twin brother and I how to live like we were from the country. I think it is because my father wanted his boys to know how to do a lot of different things, just like he did while growing up on the farm in Manitoba.
When my brother and I were 11 my father bought a vacant lot in the Okanagan on Kalamalka Lake. We spent the next three summers as a family building a cabin on the lake. I have some great memories of these summers and learned more from my father during these days than many of my peers who stayed in the city.
I remember one dark night we ran out of water. My dad told me I had to go down to the lake in the pitch black darkness and start the water pump to fill up the tank which sat 100 feet above the cabin. We were the only cabin on the lake with running water, a septic tank, electricity and a generator. I reluctantly went down to the lake and my 12 year old brain imagined all of the animals which could attack me in the dark while I waited for the tank to fill up. By the time the tank was full I was scared half to death of the dark. I threw the canvas tarp over the gas motor and ran upstairs as fast as I could. About 20 minutes later my mom went outside on the deck and started yelling and screaming that the pump was on fire.
There are three things I learned from my father after that event.
First, I remember my father walking outside calmly, looking at the fire, sitting down on a chair on the deck, and then putting on his shoes. I yelled, “What are you doing?” He calmly replied, “Son, you can’t fight a fire without your shoes on.” I learned that preparation trumps panic.
Second, I remember how the fire was put out – the plastic water pipe burned up and the fire was put out by the water from the tank 300 feet above. It is funny how some problems solve themselves if we have the patience to wait a little.
Third, I remember my dad saying, “Son, I guess tomorrow I’ll teach you how to rebuild a Briggs and Stratton Motor.” He could have been angry at my stupidity, but instead he used it as a chance to teach me something practical.
Fast-forward to my work at ACS and my Dad’s lessons still ring true. Often, students and children learn best from godly teachers who spend significant time with them as they make mistakes and learn from them. It’s the way they learn, not just what they learn.