The Attack: a story of a brave young knight's INSIDE FEATURES
quest to conquer "the devil of all plants" Order and
BY TOM WUEST Chaos 2
The other day, while gazing over the hill beyond the Whaler Bay house, I noticed a hundred or so
Scotch broom plants ready to drop their seeds. This was not a sight I wanted to reckon with, for Jacob’s Well
Scotch broom, a non-native invasive species on Galiano Island, will grow and reproduce until it News 2
dominates the landscape, choking out the life of the tender mosses, ferns and other indigenous
species. Should these seeds, which can lie dormant for eighty years, reach the fertile soil of our
garden and be left untended, we would soon have a bounteous perennial plot of this leguminous Recipe 4
shrub, Cytisus Scoparius, not good for much save making old-fashioned brooms.
When it comes to Scotch broom on Galiano, you can deal with it by putting on your work pants Red Clover
and boots, rolling up your sleeves, and grabbing your shovel and leather gloves to pull it up. Or Farm 4
you can try to ignore it and just let it grow rampant, pretending perhaps to enjoy the beauty of
its golden yellow spring blooms along the hedgerows. However, before too long the landscape
would be limited to a monoculture of broom An Arts
instead of the vast array of beautiful species Offering 5
that have been thriving on this island for thou-
sands of years.
And so, on this particular afternoon, while Kids 5
Arbutus napped, Isaiah and I prepared our-
selves for the battle ahead. Battle language,
as you may well be aware, is very compelling A Different
to children, because it taps into the very hu- Kind of 7
man longing for clarity between good and Homelessness
evil and the desire to see the world in black
and white. As I charged down the backside of October 8
the hill with my shovel and weed whip, Isaiah Workshop
garbed himself in (continued on p. 7) Knights Arbutus and Isaiah photo—Tom Wuest
A Season of Change Jacob’s Well
BY JOYCE REES
Some of you may have heard that there are changes afoot at Jacob’s Well this summer. It’s true. Things are
changing. I’m having a baby sometime in August and inevitably, as many of you know far better than Calum and I,
this means big changes! I have also decided to take a one-year maternity leave, and return to work in a somewhat
different capacity at the end of that leave. This has meant that rather than just replacing me as the Executive Direc-
tor for an interim season, we have been looking for a new Director, and of course this will mean more changes. My
change has the ripple effect of creating a variety of changes for the whole Jacob’s Well community.
Change can cause a plethora of mixed emotions in us. For some, it brings a rush of excitement and anticipation.
For others, it brings a sense of discomfort, even sometimes a fear of the unknown. Change affects all of us, but de-
pending on the type of change, we are affected to greater or lesser degrees. For instance, (continued on p. 3)
Order and Chaos
BY LANCE KRAAI
How do you politely let someone know that you need to get into your van when they are using your driver side mir-
ror to locate a vein to inject themselves? This was my “Jacob’s Well question of the day.”
I had filled up my work van to the brim with woodchips that my friend Marty had received for free when a large
Douglas fir was removed from his backyard. Apparently the wood chips make an excellent cover for garden paths
since their freshness quickly composts any plant that attempts to grow in it, a fact I was reassured of when the pile
steamed as I shoveled it into the back of my van.
I am learning in my first spring season of gardening at Jacob’s Well that gardening in rich fertile soil at times is
more about bringing about the death of plants than it is about bringing life. The gardener’s real task is to try and
organize life, not to create it. This truth was especially apparent to me after Dave and I both went away on vaca-
tion during a week of thirty-degree weather in June. I returned a week ahead of David and found a jungle instead
of a farm. Six-foot tall kale and asparagus plants had grown beyond themselves and had fallen on the surround-
ing beds. Spinach and arugula had flowered before sprouting the leaves that we had hoped to eat. Between
these overgrown plants was an abundance of weeds. And adding more seeds to the garden beds were the plants
covering our footpaths, especially the grass, with seeds sprouting from their tops. As I looked down I could feel the
wind blowing these little seeds of evil into our swiss chard.
The scene reminded me of the Hebrew phrase, “tohu we bohu,” which is translated in Genesis 1:2 as “formless and
void.” The bouncing rhythms and rhymes of the words suggest the deeply dark and discombobulated chaos of the
dark earth before God spoke words of light to it. The words imply not so much emptiness as they do a turbulent
planet with no rhyme or reason.
The woodchips in my van were meant to be my words of order to the tohu we bohu of the farm. After spending two
hours chopping down two months of growth with a hoe, it was now time for me to move my van into the alley so that
I could begin filling wheelbarrows to cart the chips to the front of the garden. And this is what brought me to my
aforementioned dilemma of the day… (continued on p.6)
Ja c o b ’s We l l N e w s . . .
The Loss of our Friend, JP Joyce away on maternity
We grieve the loss of our friend JP (John Paul), who As noted in her article, Joyce will venture into her ma-
passed away early this month. JP has been a friend of ternity leave in the beginning of August. Joyce and
ours for the past 8 years, since the inception of Jacob’s Calum are expecting their first child around mid-August
Well. We have fond memories of playing cribbage, and while it is an exciting and joyous occasion, we will
roasting chestnuts, and drinking coffee. We’ll miss his be sad to lose her daily presence at the Jacob’s Well
JP-esque sharp jabs followed by his penitent apologies storefront.
left on our voice mail.
Joyce has discerned that when she comes back to
Jacob’s Well after her maternity leave she will not
continue in her role as the Executive Director. There
simply isn’t enough time in the week to be a new mom
and an executive director at the same time. That said,
Joyce is not leaving Jacob’s Well, just shifting in her
We will keep you informed via the next newsletter with
an update on the newest member of the Rees family.
Joyce and Calum, we wish you God’s blessing as you
enter into this new stage of your lives together as a
We will also keep you informed of any developments
Above: JP in front of Jacob’s Well, helping out with our concerning the executive director position and who it is
“sharing” (free clothes) table. that will be taking on this role.
Change (continued from p. 1)
pushing a lunch meeting ahead 15 minutes has a much different level of emotional response than moving to a new
city. But change is not an option. It is a part of life and daily we experience it. To experience change is to be
human. The question we are faced with is how well we respond to the changes life presents us.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their
melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of
ourselves; we must die to one life before we can en-
ter another.” ~Anatole France
Eight years ago, when Jacob’s Well was first beginning, I came to the grand opening at the invitation of a friend.
Little did I know that on that June 2nd Saturday, my life would change. I met Pauline Fell, who founded Jacob’s
Well, and immediately took a liking to her. I asked if I could come on a walk with her in the neighbourhood some-
time. Two days later we met at the Jacob’s Well storefront and set out on a walk that eventually led me to a deep
love for this neighbourhood and a sense of belonging unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. But that isn’t to
say it wasn’t without discomfort, and even, at times, fear. It was only a matter of weeks before Pauline sat me
down in our local community centre, The Carnegie, and simply stated, “I think God sent you here to run this place.” I
resonated with her thought, but I had no idea what exactly Jacob’s Well was going to be, so you can imagine it
was a bit daunting. Perhaps being twenty-nine helped. I was full of vision and courage in ways that only someone
in her twenties is. And so I embarked on a journey that has led to significant personal change, as well as the forma-
tion of the community we now know as Jacob’s Well.
Becoming a mother may be the most significant personal change I’ve ever experienced. Already my body is com-
pletely “other”, blooming with life. I feel this little person inside me moving around, responding to sounds, even hic-
cupping. (Never in my whole life did I imagine what it would be like to have another person hiccup inside me!) The
alterations I’ve had to make to my diet, my pace of life, my sleep habits, and my plans have already called me into
the surrender that is motherhood. And this is only the beginning. Every parent I know has repeatedly assured me:
“Your life will never be the same again.” This is change – ready or not, here it comes.
Having a baby also brings joy into the world. It is, as my friend Sharon says, a sign of hope. New life is an an-
nouncement of good news in the world. There is innocence, and beauty, and sweet tender moments with a little one.
And, as we can all recognize, there is a whole lot of surrender.
“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you
must always be displeased by what you are. For
where you are pleased with yourself there you have
remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep ad-
vancing.” ~Saint Augustine
Jacob’s Well may not be having this baby, but in our own way our community is birthing something new. Alberto
reminds us regularly that this is what the Holy Spirit seems to be doing. Perhaps God has our community in its own
season of gestation. It remains to be seen what exactly this life that is being shaped will look like. How will we be
different a year from now, or five years from now, or a decade? How will this summer of change have shaped us?
Only the Lord knows. Our response-ability is to live well into the change – to be surrendered ultimately to the plans
God has for us, to trust Him to lead us in all things, and to be faithful to what we know He has given us to do and
be. I think it’s going to be an interesting journey. It sure has been for the past eight years. We look forward to
sharing our ongoing story with you in the months to come, and hope you will pray for us as we navigate this season
Fr o m O u r K i t c h e n ( s ) t o Yo u r s . . .
PURE CHEESE CAKE… FROM BOARD MEMBER SIMON PATEY
This recipe comes from a recipe book which was in- blender with a spatula. Blend at the same speed for
cluded with a blender that my parents purchased about another minute (until light and fluffy). Open the
sometime in the 1970s. The blender is no more; the freezer door, and catch the pan before it falls on the
cheese cake lives on. It is easy, appears to be fool- floor. Pour the mixture from the blender into the
proof, and produces a cheese cake as good as any pan. Put the pan into the oven which you have heated
other cheese cake you are ever likely to taste prior to to 350 F. Leave it in the oven for 30 minutes. Use a
Jesus making you one (cf. The Bible, John 2:1-11). spatula to get the mixture which remains in the
blender into your mouth. (I am sure that you could use
A. The First Act: The Crust a bowl and beater to mix this layer of filling and the
1 1/3 cups graham wafer crumbs second layer, but the recipe comes from a blender
1/3 cup melted butter cook book, so I need to use a blender. It's contrary to
2 tablespoons white sugar my personality to use a mixing bowl when the recipe
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon calls for a blender.)
In a bowl, combine the graham wafer crumbs, the C. The Third Act: The Second Layer of Filling
melted butter, the white sugar, and the cinnamon. The 1 cup sour cream
recipe says that you only use the cinnamon if de- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
sired. In my opinion, you should desire it. Mix these 2 tablespoons white sugar
ingredients together. I use a fork. Take one 9” glass
pie pan. Pour the graham crumb mixture into the pan Put all the contents into the blender after you have
and spread evenly. Build the crust up the sides. Put pulled the pan out of the oven. (Pulling the pan out of
the pan in the freezer. the oven while you make the second layer of filling
allows the cake to cool a bit before you put the second
B. The Second Act: The First Layer of Filling layer on it.) Blend ingredients thoroughly. The recipe
1 pound or two 250 g. packages of cream cheese says to mix about 5 seconds, but I always find it needs
1/2 cup half and half (i.e. light cream) a longer time. Pour the second layer of filling into the
1/2 cup white sugar pan. Spread the second layer evenly over the first
1 teaspoon vanilla layer with a spatula. Put the pan into the oven, and
2 eggs bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. If you are wondering
whether the remainder of the second layer in the
After you have balanced the pan in the freezer, put blender is worth putting in your mouth, it is. But, a sol-
all the contents of the first layer of filling in a emn warning: it is not as tasty as the remainder of the
blender. Break up the cream cheese into pieces as first layer. Take the pan out of the oven, cool, and
you put it in. Blend for about a minute at a suitably refrigerate after wrapping in saran wrap. Don't let
high speed. Stop and wipe down the sides of the the saran wrap touch the top layer. Eat and enjoy!
News from Red Clover Farm
Rats. They have decimated our gardens this
year. The pictures on the left and right are
evidence that our potato and swiss chard
patches are all but gone. Included in the list of
casualties are the carrots, beets, lettuce, beans,
corn, cucumbers, onions, and cabbage.
As you could imagine, this is quite disheartening.
What looked to be a promising harvest year
turned out to be nibbled away by now the
healthiest rats in North America. Who knew
rats like veggies so much?
Not all is lost, though. We have had a gener-
ous harvest of zucchini, peas, blackberries, gar-
lic, potatoes, and turnips(!). We’re crossing our
fingers with the tomatoes. The rats seem to be
interested in them, but not yet feasting on them.
A n A r t s O f f e r i n g. . .
BY BETH MALENA
Photo: “Garlic can be beautiful” (garlic plant from the Wuest’s Whaler Bay farm)
Ju s t fo r K i d s …
Find the words below in the puzzle to the
animal forest mountain
bird harvest pond
bush hiking river
camping hill stream
farm insect tree
field lake waterfall
Order and Chaos ( c o n t i n u e d from p. 2)
A young woman had climbed under a fence into the parking lot in which my van was parked and was using my mir-
ror to search for a vein around her collar bone in which to inject herself with heroin. To disturb this private act felt
like invading someone’s bathroom. I tried to keep myself busy with other activities, but after 15 minutes it became
clear that I would need to ask the woman to leave (she had been there for over an hour total). I approached the
van and at a distance and as politely as I could I said, “Excuse me, ma’am, I need to get into my van.”
“Oh, so sorry, one minute.”
“Of course,” I responded. “No worries.”
I turned, trying to offer her privacy, and waited. After a minute she left, apologizing to me. I got into the van,
pulled it into the tight alley and began shoveling. In a couple of minutes it became clear that the woman had lo-
cated a vein, as she was singing and dancing wildly in the alley, deep in her own world.
Shortly after I would again have to try and politely ask her to move when in her dance she began to block alley
traffic. Cars would approach the woman and have to stop, blocked by the oblivious woman and my van full of
“Ma’am, excuse me, there is a car there.”
“Oh, so sorry.”
Again she would move. I thought about how odd the two of us must have looked—the woman dancing in the street,
me shoveling my wood chips.
But the moment was hardly amusing. I wish it could have been. After the woman’s fifteen-minute dance, still within
her own world, she huddled in on herself and wept uncontrollably, only to repeat this cycle every fifteen minutes as I
shoveled just ten feet away.
What was I doing here? What should I do for this
woman? Is there anything I can do?
The chaos of weeds seemed so trivial to the tohu we
bohu of this poor woman’s mind. What life of chaos
had brought her to this point? What horrible acts had
been committed against her that had forced her to
vainly try and find peace—shalom, the Hebrew word
that stands against chaos—in heroin? I felt humbled,
and in a sense, mocked. All I could do to speak against
the chaos was to add woodchips onto a pile of weeds.
In this space the only answer that came to my mind
came through the rhythm of one of Tom Wuest’s songs:
Photo—Joel Anderson “Oh Lord have mercy, Oh Lord have mercy, Oh Lord
have mercy, have mercy on us.” Tom’s words of order made sense here, and this was to be expected; he had
started tilling this land three years before me. His songs often reflect the pain of this chaos and the hope for its
Despite the sensation of being mocked I continued shoveling my woodchips to the rhythm of Tom’s song. I would
meet several people who appreciated my work. Dave would join me later in the day and harvest raspberries the
size of strawberries, and with Berto’s help, the three of us would harvest black currants, small berries I had never
eaten before. A handful of these berries with some strawberries and rhubarb would make a wonderful jam.
My year-long experience at Red Clover Farm has often brought me back to the word ‘humility’. It is a word that is
connected to the earth (derived from the same Latin root that has given us the word ‘humus’). Genesis tells us this as
well. Humanity (adam) has come up from the dust (adamah) and will again return to it. My humble act of shoveling
woodchips that day was far from saving the Downtown Eastside. It was far from deeply impacting the chaos of that
woman’s life. Yet I know not what else to do. Perhaps as a creature of dust there was nothing I could do except
tend the earth. I do know that in this state of humility (or was it humiliation?) I was forced to sincerely pray for
God’s salvation, something I hadn’t done in quite some time.
The Attack (continued from p. 1)
chain mail and collected his cache of swords. Before long, we were heartily fending off the enemy from our fort,
freeing the wild roses, Oregon grapes and tender mosses from the tyranny and oppression of broom's suffocating
stranglehold. As I struggled to bring the largest of the broom shrubs to its demise, Isaiah clutched his sword and
jumped from the rock clefts above onto the weakened plant, and when the long taproot broke free from the dry
earth, we celebrated jubilantly. Though this story proved more than adequate for holding Isaiah's six-year-old at-
tention through our long bout of work, my adult motivation remained pragmatic.
After spending several days in battle with what some have referred to as "the devil of all plants," I cannot help but
draw metaphorical relationships between pulling Scotch broom and weeding our lives of sin. Every day, whether we
live in the Downtown Eastside or some other part of the city, province or world, we see the personal and the social
outworkings of sin: greed, lust, envy, dishonesty, pride, self-serving, gluttony, hatred, murder, and adultery (to name
only a few). The Scriptures teach us, through instruction and story, that the result of sin--of giving our lives to the
short-sighted and temporal delight in sin's pleasures rather than following the good, righteous and loving pathway
of Jesus--leads us along the strangling path of death.
In the opening sentence of Seeds of Contemplation, a book that has long shaped my spiritual journey, Thomas Mer-
ton writes, "Every moment and every event of every[one's] life on earth plants something in his [or her] soul." He
continues, "For how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire
of God if I am filled with another and opposite desire?...If I were looking for God, every event and every moment
would sow, in my will, grains of His life, that would spring up one day in a tremendous harvest."
What kind of seeds are we sowing? In a fragile, complex and sin-sick world, this question demands our ongoing
attention if we are to grow in faithfulness, love and fidelity. If we take a good look "down the back hill" of our
souls, can we see any Scotch broom thriving? It is never too late and always a good day to take on the fight. Let us
learn from Isaiah, grab our swords, put on our chain mail and prepare for 'the attack.'
A Different Kind of Homelessness
BY AMY HUNTER
I was thinking the other day. I was thinking about home—about what home is. And I did some counting. In the last
ten years, I have lived in twelve different homes in seven different cities, four states, and two countries. And I could-
n’t even begin to count the number of housemates I’ve had in that amount of time.
Most days, I long to be done with this transitional time of life. I long to be rooted in a place and to belong to a
group of people. This in-between-ness is incredibly lonely. The funny thing is, the more people I talk to, the more I
realize how common this feeling is.
Nowhere do I see this more than in the Downtown Eastside. We have many friends who are truly homeless—who
deal daily with the question of what they will eat and where they will sleep. But we have many more friends who
have housing, but who deal with a different kind of homelessness. Though they have a roof over their head, they
are far from finding home. Many live in SROs—small dorm rooms hardly big enough for a single bed and a sink—
with little ability to make dinner or store food. And for various reasons, many folks down here move from one SRO
to the next with a dizzying frequency. Most are far away from family or estranged from family because of addic-
tion and/or mental illness. We see friends go to detox, start rehab, relapse, and repeat the whole process again.
Right now we are in a season of transition at Jacob’s Well also. Each summer, many of the students who volunteer
go home or find jobs for a few months. Many of us are in and out with summer travel. And we are praying and
asking some serious questions right now about what will happen next at Jacob’s Well in light of limited finances and
the search for a new Executive Director.
In the midst of so much change, where do we look for hope? Being in transition really means that we are on a jour-
ney. We are moving from one thing to the next. It’s ironic, because sometimes in transition we tend to feel para-
lyzed, especially if we are walking toward an unsure future. But we are nonetheless walking forward. In Psalm 84,
the writer says this: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass
through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from
strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”
These verses have the beautiful imagery of springs and pools welling up in the desert as we (continued on p. 8)
Infor mation A b o u t Ja c o b ’s We l l . . .
Visit our website: Jacob’s Well is a faith community located in the downtown eastside
www.jacobswell.ca of Vancouver, Canada. This neighbourhood has complex difficulties
some of which are extreme poverty (the poorest postal code in
Email: Canada), drug addition (more than five thousand needle users),
firstname.lastname@example.org widespread disease (highest HIV & AIDS infection in the western
world), and prevalent mental illness (estimated more than 50% of
Phone: area residents).
We have a unique, relational approach to sharing life with resi-
Address: dents of our neighbourhood. We value creating meaningful friend-
239 Main St. ships whereby we can both give and receive from one another. This
Vancouver, BC guiding principle we have inherited from Pauline Fell who founded
V6A 2S7 our community in 2001. She is a remarkable ninety-three year old
Canada woman who has spent over thirty years building friendships with
countless people in this neighbourhood.
To make a donation please mail us a cheque Our life together is shared in a variety of ways and places. We
or donate online by visiting canadahelps.org. spend our days visiting people, gardening together, gathering
Visit our website for more information. around the table, worshipping, praying and serving. If you would
like to know more about our community we encourage you to visit
We are a registered non-profit charity. our website or write to us.
A Different Kind of Homelessness ( c o n t i n u e d from p.7)
walk through the Valley of Weeping. We are taken care of. We have a God who longs for us to find home in
him. And though in this life that feeling of being at home will
never be complete, we see pieces of it along the way.
At Jacob’s Well, I think of our friend Stewart who used to sleep in
our doorway, but just a few weeks ago was given a room in the
Jubilee, the SRO upstairs. It’s all he talks about, and the joy of
having a place of his own is all over his face. I think of Helena,
who in the last year has been able to talk about nothing other
than her newly-born grandson. Every chance she gets, she shows
us pictures and videos and tells us how he’s doing. And I think of
Friday afternoon coffee time. A mishmash of people gather from
all different walks of life, but as we sip tea and coffee and eat
freshly baked brownies or cookies, a kind of belonging happens.
It’s a wonderful thing to see.
So, though we aren’t there yet, while we are still in many ways Our good friend Stewart, who just got a home in the Jubilee
Rooms (above Jacob’s Well) after being without a home for
homeless, there is hope along the pilgrimage. We must cele- five years. Photo—Alberto
brate the gifts of belonging that we do have and place our hope
in God, who will quench our thirst and give us strength as we walk toward the fullness of his kingdom.
‘ L i f e i n t h e M a r g i n s ’ Wo r k s h o p i n O c t o b e r
On October 2nd (evening) and 3rd (day) we’ll be having another workshop here at the storefront and we’d love
for you to come if you’ve not been before. To sign up please email email@example.com. The cost will be $20.
‘Life in the Margins’ is a workshop geared to introduce you to some of the values and visions we have as a commu-
nity located in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Life-giving relationship is our highest goal at Jacob’s Well.
Through friendship we seek to encourage and strengthen residents and workers in the neighbourhood in practical
and spiritual ways.
We will talk about possible ways to build friendship with those who struggle with addiction, mental health issues,
loneliness, terminal illnesses etc.. We will also talk about the theological mandate to live life alongside those who
find themselves in the margins of society, not only in the DTES, but in all the places where we live and work.