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Mia Mckay

2011- 2017 Board Member

October 20, 2021

Jacob’s Well – oh – Jacob’s Well

How does your garden grow?

Jacob’s Well – oh – Jacob’s Well

How does your garden grow?

With vision and hope

Hard work and much prayer…

Friends gather together to sow

My first real introduction to Jacob’s Well was through the garden on East Pender Street.  It was wonderful to see how the abandoned broken-down lot covered in brambles and garbage was bravely and imaginatively transformed into a vibrant garden and community at work. One summer, Al and I would go down the lane in late afternoon to pick up our food share—items that surprised and nurtured us… body and soul. It was an almost magical place, tended carefully by staff, volunteers, and neighbourhood friends. I began to visit other times, too, and if I came at lunch, there would be people sitting on boxes of rows and patches of vegetables, sharing food, laughter, prayer, and stories. 

Al & Mia Wedding Anniversary pic - August 2021

In 2011, I joined the Board and began a journey full of twists and turns. This was a time of significant change in how staff wanted to relate to the Board and with each other. I soon found myself as a Board co-chair. The learning curve was steep. We needed to find practices that would continue to build trust and foster respectful communication. We didn’t always get it right, but we worked at working together! 

Staff always amazed me with their dedication and resilience as well as their ingenuity and prayerful patience. There were countless surprises that required low-cost solutions and much elbow grease as well as skillful negotiating with the landlord about pipes bursting and rents rising. I remember joining Chris Hellewell (Board member) to help deal with a flood that Jacqueline Dewar had discovered early one Saturday morning. This was not a one-off event nor the “Well waters” we wished for. Later, we laughed about our wild dreams of having a huge umbrella over the desk area so Berto wouldn’t have to dry soggy computer parts in the oven.

We had generous staff who brought a whole spectrum of amazing and complementary gifting—as well as faithful volunteers and remarkable neighbourhood friends. They stayed and left, learned and gave, prayed and shared. Through gatherings and offerings from dinners to memorials; weekend workshops, prayer vigils, and Friday concerts; evening worship to family games night; food making and visiting to Yolanda’s* mural painting and pizza parties. Seeking to respond to the people and life going on around us, it often went in waves. The community grew and flourished, and then things got tougher and slower and leaner, but candles of hope kept burning, even in the dark times. The “waters in the Well” run deep.

The interesting thing about being connected to Jacob’s Well was the miracle of transformation. I thought that by participating as a helper at Jacob’s Well, I would be a giver, but I became a receiver… beyond what I could ever give. I got a glimpse of God’s kingdom on earth, meeting people whose walk with Jesus was humbling and encouraging at the same time. No two alike—yet all in the likeness of God. Each of us is a little (or a lot) broken, so we can share being wise, talented, thoughtful, and insightful, even if troubled. Jacob’s Well was a gathering place—small on ‘formal ceremony’, but big on celebrating life–with tablecloths, flowers, candles—and art on the wall. What a welcome! 

Jacob’s Well – oh – Jacob’s Well

How does your “garden” still grow?

Through floods, changes, grief

With faithful loving hearts 

God’s promise continues to flow

*Yolanda Bonkowski (staff)

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