Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We have come to Nova Scotia for a couple of weeks of rest and vacation with Lizs' family over the Christmas Holiday. It has been a busy year and we have very much been enjoying some down time before we get back into the swing of things.

It's Christmas Eve, it's snowy, the gifts are wrapped and we're sipping hot cocoa. Most importantly though we want to remember to honour the Lord this Christmas in all that we do. His sacrifice for us began at the manger and was completed at the cross, sometimes it's easy to forget that.

It's a fabulous time of year, we hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas wherever you are!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Festive Frolics

The Northern Canada Evangelical Mission, Eastern Field Ministry Team.

It has been a wonderful Christmas Season. We have very much enjoyed having with us these past few weeks our Eastern Field directors Len and Lorrayne Breen. They have been traveling the region visiting with NCEM missionaries and encouraging all of us in our various ministries. On Wednesday we had a meeting at Arrowhead with the whole team. Len updated us on some new policy information, some details about our upcoming training (P.A.T.H.) and we talked about how some of these things will impact Arrowhead this coming summer. It is certainly going to be a team effort with both the Strouts and ourselves away for 9 (+) weeks leading up to camp. But we are certainly up to the challenge and are looking forward to what the Lord is going to do this year at the Center.

Our Christmas meeting was punctuated by a lovely lunch brought to us by Lorrayne and a gift exchange that was a lot of fun! After the meeting, we all piled into vehicles and made a convoy to The Homestead Restaurant in Riverview. We were met there by some of our Associate Missionaries and MK's living in the area. It was not only a wonderful homestyle meal, but a very enjoyable opportunity to fellowship. A grand time was had by all. We sure do have a great bunch down this way! Thanks Len & Lorrayne for all of your work - it was a great encouragement to have you among us. We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Len & Lorrayne Breen, our Eastern Field directors. We sure do love em'.

Good Friends...

...Good Fellowship!

Secret picture taken covertly during the big meeting.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tractor Tales

We have indeed had something of an adventure with the Arrowhead Tractor. It has been difficult and required some careful stepping, but I believe we have come to a bit of a resolution, although not ideal it is the best we can do.

Late in September, Kevin called Arbing Equipment Ltd. a Case tractor dealer in Sussex. We had some work that needed to be done on the tractor and were looking at having as much done as possible. Kevin gave them a list of what to look at and possibly repair if needed (alternator, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, hoses, tires and chains). They were given this list with the stipulation that we wanted to spend no more than $2,000. Unfortunately this is where the story breaks down. Although Kevin called repeatedly in the subsequent weeks and asked for a quote or any information regarding the cost of the work, he was told that it was impossible to give quotes on this sort of work. The one piece of information that we did have was that new chains would cost $1,300 plus tax. So we expected that we may not have all of the work done from the list, but we never could find any information out from the dealer.

After six weeks of calling looking for information, the dealer told Kevin that it was ready and that the bill came in at $5,512.61. At that point Kevin asked me to find out what I could about what we could do in the situation. We had clearly asked not to spend over $2,000 and they had clearly taken advantage of us.

I spent a day on the phone. I talked to the Better Business Bureau, to Consumer Affairs at the Dept. of Justice, the office of the Ombudsman for NB. In the Province of Ontario there is legislation to protect consumers from this sort of treatment by service shops. The Consumer Protection Act demands written quotes and a deviation of no more than 10% from the expectation of the consumer without a new quote or verbal permission. Unfortunately for us Maritimers we are on our own. Each office I spoke to was VERY sympathetic, but could suggest nothing that was helpful to us. I did call Case® International as well, and they opened an incident report, but again I am still waiting on them.

I spoke to three different individuals at Arbing Equipment. Initially when I called, the service manager was out of province so I spoke to the parts manager. While I was talking to him I was aware that someone else had picked up and was listening in, which was fine really, but certainly put away any trust that might have been lurking in my mind. The parts manager informed me that the number Kevin had been given was actually incorrect as it did not include the cost of the chains, $1,469.00 after tax. He also informed me that there was a $390 trucking fee for the chains, information which had been omitted when Kevin initially inquired of the cost of chains for the tractor.

The actual total of the bill was $6981.81. We were somewhat mortified, not only that they would breech our $2,000 mandate so grossly, but that they wouldn't so much as call and talk to us about it. My suggestion to the parts manager was that, even though they had made the error, if they removed the chains and brought the labour down to a total bill of $3,500 we would do our best to work with that. He laughed in my ear.

A week passed, I spoke to the Service Manager after he returned from being away. He said he would do what he could. But none of the folks at Arbing Equipment remember anything about a $2,000 cap. Which is convenient since the majority of the bill is labour ($3,000 to be exact - which comes out to 46.153 hours... oddly specific). I asked for a detailed breakdown of the labour, what was done and how long each task took. They cannot provide information like that, all they can tell me is that between Sept. 29 and Nov. 12 we accrued $3,000 in labour.

A couple of days after I spoke to the service manager I received a call from a salesman at the office, I can only assume this is who was listening in when I called initially. I'm not really sure why they passed me off to a salesman, but that is indeed what happened. For the first time since we had delivered the tractor, I was faxed an invoice from Arbing Equipment. I spoke to the salesman a couple of times and we have come to a resolution. We at Arrowhead are not satisfied with this resolution, but I believe it is the only way we are going to get our tractor back without legislation in New Brunswick to protect us. The tractor shop is going to remove the chains at no extra cost for labour and "donate" $1,557.61 to Arrowhead, leaving our bill at $3,955.

The Canadian Consumer Handbook does talk about deceptive business practices, but basically it just says... be careful. It would be great if a local MP would champion some legislation along the lines of Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, to protect Maritimers from 'forgetful' service providers.

The tractor should be returned this week, without chains and in running condition. We are thankful that this has come to a conclusion, and that the Lord is in control. Sometime we don't understand why things must be difficult, but He knows what's happening. His grace is sufficient and his mercy is great, so we continue to trust in Him to provide for all of the needs at Arrowhead as He always has.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wind & Waves

Thursday was rainy, but promised to remain above zero... so we decided we'd make the best of it. Kevin and I have been awaiting the return of the Arrowhead Tractor so we could pull the docks up out of the water. Unfortunately the issues we are having with the dealership are preventing us from adequately getting to some of our chores. But to spite the rain, we wanted to get the docks in, so we enlisted the assistance of our field director, Len Breen. Through the wind and rain the three of us accomplished the last of our waterfront chores.

After a hot shower, and armed with a mug of cocoa I dove into the books. I'm still a rookie, but I enjoyed getting started on my new task. Roan did an excellent job of introducing me to Quickbooks, I feel quite confident in what I am doing, and have a clear picture of what is required to properly keep the books.

Friday Kevin, Len and I popped into Fredericton to visit with Venus and pick up an entertainment center that she donated to Arrowhead. It was great to spend some more time with Len and have a little visit with Venus. Friday night we enjoyed some more time with Len and Lorrayne. We had them up to our place for a little bite and a great evening of visiting and laughter...

Saturday was Christmas. Well it was for my family at least. We always gather together early in December for what we call 'Little Christmas', play games, chow down and exchange gifts.
It was a great time. We did however have a bit of a long night. We left my sisters home at about midnight, and what is usually a 1 hour drive took 5. We rolled into Cumberland Bay at 5am and flopped into bed. We're looking forward to a quiet afternoon.

This coming week promises to be full of exciting happenings. We are having an Eastern Field meeting at Arrowhead on Wednesday and will be enjoying a Christmas dinner that evening with all of our friends and colleagues. We are looking forward to seeing everyone!

I have a bit of work to do on the skirting of the mobile, before we get too much more snow. I'm also hoping to catch up on the book work this week. There are some more winterizing things that need to be done at Arrowhead and cleaning up the shop is an ongoing process. I'll post some pics when it's all done.

I'll post again tomorrow with an update on the tractor for you. We have come to a solution and should be getting the tractor back in the next few days.

Kevin anchoring ... the anchor. We tied a rope to our anchor chain and fixed it to shore, just in case the bouy lets go or there is a problem with the ice.

Ship to shore!

Len piloting the docks to higher ground.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

travels, teeth & tractors!

We're Home. Not that we've been able to say that very often over the past two months, but here we are.

Liz enjoyed her time with family while I was out West. Our Christmas errands are just about complete now and we are looking forward to enjoying the rest of the Christmas Season.

My return from Prince Albert was smooth with little adventure to punctuate the journey. I was able to chat with some very nice folks during my layover in Toronto, which certainly helped pass the time. Arriving in Moncton, I was greeted at the airport at about 11pm by Kevin, James & Ben. The guys were on a break from NBBI for American Thanksgiving, so Ben came and spent his time with Liz and I. It was great to have him with us, on Saturday Ben and I had some adventures in Moncton, through which I learned the value of keeping an extra key in the car somewhere... but for future reference, they can cut a key from two broken pieces of the original... in case you were curious! Ben was with us until Sunday afternoon, when we left once again, for Nova Scotia.

Liz had some dental work to be done in Windsor and Halifax, so we drove to Windsor Sunday afternoon and stayed with friends. Liz was in the chair at 8am and I picked her up after 12. It was a long stretch, but the work is almost complete. After another appointment in Halifax we headed back to New Brunswick.

We stopped and picked up my mom on our way by Moncton, and are enjoying her company for a couple of weeks. It is very nice to be able to have her here and spend some time with her. She, Liz, Marcia and Deanna have gone to a ladies dinner at the church tonight.

We are also very pleased to have our Eastern field Directors, Len and Lorrayne Breen with us for the next couple of weeks. We have very much appreciated their ministry to us as they have come on as our directors. They are staying at the home of Roger & Janeice Hill and will be available to us while they are here. We have a couple of meetings booked with them and are looking forward to a gathering of the Eastern Field next week. I'll snap some pics if they're not all too shy.

I do have a prayer request on behalf of Arrowhead. We have been having a struggle with our tractor, or rather, the service to our tractor. We are still working on the details, so I will not say too much, other than that our expectation of the bill from our service provider and the final tally of the bill are far different things. I am looking into the situation, but please pray that I will have wisdom and patience. Please pray also for wisdom and honesty on the part of the shop that has Arrowhead's tractor. I will know tomorrow just where the situation stands and will share more details at that time.