By: Grace Rajballie | February 15, 2022
With Valentine’s Day approaching, it is only fitting that the February edition of the Crown includes some love content. Redeemer has always been known for its community, where students know their professors on a more personal level. However, dual delivery and virtual learning has posed some barriers to the feeling of community. Hopefully these stories allow you to get to know some of the Redeemer faculty a little better!
Dr. Timothy Epp
When I was twenty years old, I moved from Saskatchewan to Hamilton to volunteer with a program called Mennonite Voluntary Service. I started a two-year term of serving at the Welcome Inn, an inner city community centre. One of my responsibilities while working with the organization included volunteering at New Horizons, a thrift store which is still operating today. One day while working at New Horizons and taking out the garbage, I ran into a beautiful young woman folding used clothing. I learned her name was Karen. We struck up a friendship, and she invited me to her house for supper.
Karen worked for L’Arche, an organization where people like Karen come to live in community with people who live with developmental disabilities. What I thought might be an intimate candlelight dinner turned out to be supper with everyone living with Karen! One of my first lessons was how to share. I had to learn that to be in a relationship with Karen I had to be in some kind of friendship with the people she was supporting at L’Arche as well.
The second thing I had to learn was patience. Karen and I became good friends and remained friends for about eight years before we decided to start dating. The desire to serve others—and the grounding in communities like L’Arche and the Welcome Inn—gave us a foundation for our relationship. Now I tell my daughters: eight years of friendship first, and then you can start dating!
While the Welcome Inn has remained a historical site for us as it is where Karen and I were married, our oldest daughter was baptized, and our younger daughter had her adoption party, it was not where I ever envisioned myself. Hamilton was the last place on earth I had wanted to come to. When the Welcome Inn had called me initially and asked if I would be willing to serve with them, I said, “no” and had made up my mind that I would go hitchhiking to BC. However, I kept hearing a voice inside my head saying, “go to Hamilton,” and the voice would not leave me alone. I am grateful to God for talking to me about that, as this experience at the Welcome Inn led me to Karen, my wife of twenty-six years!
Dr. Marie Good
The love story I thought I would share is actually the story of falling in love with my first baby. I thought it was appropriate, particularly for this time of year, because it was ten years ago on February 13 that my daughter Anna was born.
Growing up, I had never been around babies or kids that much. As a teenager I didn’t like babysitting, and I was never the kind of person who would just go over and pick up someone else’s baby. During my pregnancy with Anna, I remember wondering how I was going to feel when I became a mom.
I remembered a story that one of my youth leaders shared with me back when I was a teenager. I was probably seventeen or eighteen years old, and my youth leader had just become a mom. When I asked her what it felt like to be a mom and how she felt about her kids, she responded, “Well, the best way I can describe it is that it’s like falling in love. It’s the feeling of missing the person you are in love with. That visceral feeling, almost like you ache because you miss them so much, that’s what it feels like with your baby.”
I knew what it was like to be in love. I had a serious boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband. However, I just couldn’t wrap my head around my youth leader’s response and thought, “No, that’s not possible.” Even as I was pregnant with Anna and reflecting on this story, I still doubted it was possible.
When Anna was born, I didn’t get to see her or hold her right away, as I had some complications and had to have a C-section. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I was able to finally hold her. I will never forget this moment; it is seared in my memory, holding her and instantly falling in love. It truly was love at first sight, with the same intensity of love that I had felt falling in love with my husband—obviously, it was a different kind of love, but it had that same quality of not being able to be apart from her for one moment. It was the only moment of my life so far that has felt like magic—and I don’t use that word lightly, but there is no other word to describe it.
Although my husband and I have had two other kids since then, nothing has been as intense as that first experience of becoming a parent. I was shocked by how much it really felt like falling in love. Following Anna’s birth, I remembered what my youth leader had shared with me and realized just how accurate her description was. When I think about falling in love, I think about holding Anna for the first time. Some people say love at first sight was seeing their future spouse, but for me, it was holding my daughter!
Dr. Lisa Devall-Martin
In 2019, my husband and I were empty nested and had recently moved out of our big house into a lovely townhouse condo. About six months into being empty nesters, I was pretty much losing my mind. We had previously had a wonderful dog named Mitzi, who had passed away from liver failure. I had brought Mitzi home unannounced when my children were young–my husband was not thrilled, but he grew to love her!
This time around I decided I would ask my husband before getting a dog! One night we were talking about potentially having a dog, and my husband said, “Oh, what would you call it?” and it just came to me: Sherlock. My husband LOVES Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, and he just lit up when he heard that name! We found Sherlock on Kijiji right before COVID-19, and while my husband seemed to be warming up to the idea of getting a dog, he hadn’t said “yes” yet.
That same month, he was stranded at Pearson International Airport trying to get to Arizona before a conference. He had arrived at the airport at 6 a.m., and his flight didn’t end up leaving until after 9 p.m., giving him a lot of time to think. At around 5 p.m. I got a text from him saying “buy the dog.” He didn’t have to tell me twice–I immediately put a deposit on the dog.
A week later, we drove in an ice storm to Peterborough to get our Maltipoo-Fox Terrier from a beautiful old farm. We spent the day with the farmer; he gave us a tour of the farm, and we got to meet Sherlock’s dad and the rest of the litter.
He has been pure joy through COVID-19. He is a wonderful lap dog–and who would have thought–my husband lets Sherlock sleep with us! My husband is so smitten with Sherlock that he recently bought him little booties for his outdoor walks!