Our House Is On Fire!
by Arnold Stobbe with Naomi Epp
One Saturday evening while our youngest son, Nathan, was in Grade 11, I attended a hockey game with him at our local arena in town.
Upon arriving home, we were excited to tell my wife, Helena, that Borden had a
shutout game. A fantastic win!
After a few minutes, I went down into the basement and put some firewood into our wood furnace. Then I went back up and got ready for bed.
"I smell smoke," Helena said.
Nathan came running down from his upstairs bedroom and exclaimed, "I smell smoke!"
I had added wood only 10 minutes earlier and had not smelled smoke then. Opening the door to the basement, I saw that it was already heavy with smoke. Quickly I shut the door! To me, it smelled like an electrical fire. I checked. Sure enough, the power was off in the addition to our house. That was where the smoke was coming from.
Our house was on fire!!! This was the house I had grown up in. It had been a white, two-story farm house on the prairies of Saskatchewan about twelve miles from the town of Borden. As a boy, I remember my mother cooking on the wood cook stove, kerosene lanterns giving light, and two oil space heaters providing warmth.
Some years later, as a newly married man, I lived with my wife in a small whitewashed log shack about 10 miles away. However, after 5 years my parents moved to Saskatoon and my youngest brother, who was recently married, rented the farm. After not making much income that winter, he decided to move, and my parents offered my wife and I that we could buy the farm. We had to decide very quickly. There was a lot of snow, and it was melting fast. We moved on a Friday and Saturday at the end of March. If we had waited another day, the roads would have been so muddy that we would never been able to drive onto my parents' yard.
Well, we thought, we'll rent for one year. That will give us time to put in a furnace, add sewer and water, and fix up the house the way that we like.
However, there was a terrible hailstorm that summer, and the crops were hailed out 100%. Although my parents didn't get any money to pay the taxes, we had cattle and that helped us meet our expenses. We worked out a deal to buy the farm. I borrowed part of the down payment, and the rest my parents financed. Even with paying interest to both my parents and the bank, we were thankful that within a few years we were able to pay my parents all we owed them.
By the time we settled into my parents' house with our four little children, the house already had electricity but there were many more improvements I wanted to make. First, I installed an oil furnace, then put in sewer and running water, and built a new drive way. Having a knack for carpentry, I made new kitchen cupboards, furniture, closets, insulated the house, and installed new windows.
Since we had six more children while living on this farm, we eventually built a large addition onto the house. It was a home that saw many tears and much laughter. Helena and I thought that we would be content to live here for the rest of our lives!
But now, our house was on fire!!! Grabbing the closest large container, I began dumping water down a cold air return into the basement.
Helena dashed to the cupboard, snatched up her treasured photo albums, and carried them swiftly and safely out to our car.
Meanwhile, Nathan phoned the fire department. The policeman's daughter answered. Initially, she thought he was just joking, that is, until she heard the smoke alarm start screeching. Nathan phoned a neighbor and asked him to contact people who were still up after the hockey game.
Soon neighbors arrived and began hauling some furniture out of the house.
However, within 15 minutes of Nathan's phone call, the policeman drove onto our farmyard and ordered that all the doors of the house be kept closed. The fire men arrived in 30 minutes. It was the coldest day in February, -35°C, and their hoses were frozen!!
Soon about a hundred people gathered around. Because the doors were closed, the house didn't really burn for two hours. . .
Finally, the fire department got their hoses thawed out and started knocking out a wall to get to the fire. Then, all we could do was watch the house burn.
Oh, I remembered. The camera is in the car. I snapped picture after picture as the flames from the fire soared into the sky and swallowed our house, the one in which we had wished to retire.
Family, friends, and fellow farmers were very helpful. Graciously, a cousin took us in for 18 days. After the house fire, we needed to quickly sell all our feedlot cattle as the watering system for our cattle was in our house.
Then a couple who had recently built a new house, heated up their old farmhouse and let us rent it. The community put on a shower for us and gave us lots of gifts. It was humbling, and we felt the love of these dear people.
"Lord, what now?" we prayed. It was no use building a new house as we were getting older and a new house would not increase the value of the land when we sold it. Where should we live? What should we do? we questioned.
Taking care of our farm while living at the old house we were renting was not what I liked. Someone helped themselves to our tools.
After much prayer and discussion, we decided that we would sell the farm, pay off our debts, and invest the rest. In a little over a year, after Nathan finished Grade 12, we would move.
At first we had considered farming from a town about 50 miles from our place, so
I had told my wife that she could choose a town within a 50 mile radius of our
farm. Three weeks later, she said that she thought she would like to move to
As it seemed that very few people in that area had a close personal relationship with God, I thought that moving there would give me many opportunities to tell others about what God had done for me.
Knowing about houses for sale in all the other surrounding towns, but none in Blaine Lake, we decided to make a trip to Blaine Lake. "There are 35 houses for sale," we were told. After more praying and more trips, we made an offer on a house. It was accepted. We sensed it was God's time for us to move to Blaine Lake.
Why did God allow us to have a house fire? To this day we do not know why, but we are not bitter against God. God ways are higher than our ways. He had a reason for allowing the house fire, and we trust Him.
Other testimonies by Arnold Stobbe:
I Would Like That JOY!
Overworked, BUT - God Said...
The Burn Patient Who Laughed
"Visit in the Hospital? . . . Not Me!"
Serve Faithfully - God Can Use You!
A New Church in Town
Going to Heaven?
Working with Western Tract Mission
Back to Index of Hope Testimonies
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