Goodbye 2021!

Categories: Léo’s Insights 2021-2022

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As we near the end of this tumultuous year, I would like to provide an update on our corporate and personal state of affairs.  I apologize in advance for the length of this blog.

I want to be clear before I proceed that I am not sharing this personal information with you to get sympathy.  Rather, many of you have been actively following, supporting and encouraging our efforts to keep Education Unlimited alive and well.  Most see EU as a sanctuary of freedom and a breath of fresh air in a world that is becoming increasingly authoritarian and manipulative.  You have come to appreciate that we are vigilant in protecting your autonomy, particularly in regard to the education of your children.

The second motivation for this review is to comfort you with the knowledge that you are not alone in this crazy world.  Everybody seems to be hurting in one way or another.  This is not a time to pretend everything is “great”.  This is when we need real people with real answers to real issues.  Sometimes, all we need is a hug.  We have received a multitude of hugs during this painful year and this is my way of thanking you and “hugging” you back.

I am not going to mince words.  This past year has been the absolute worst year of our entire lives.  So many things have happened to Faye and me; we are amazed that we are still standing, let alone doing okay.  Please allow me to briefly walk you through what we have experienced and then share what we have learned on this most difficult journey.

January started with hostility from our associated school.  Seemingly overnight, due to the ridiculous demands of one parent who was disgruntled with us for having failed to do HIS job, our entire team and organization was dismissed and an attempted takeover was made of what we have built over the last thirty years.  This insanity continued until mid-July when a threat of court action finally got us paid for the services we had provided during the previous year.  I need to thank you all for having walked through this awful time with us and for all the support and encouragement you gave us.

During this battle, we lost our favourite cat to another predator of the four-footed variety.  We also suddenly lost a very dear friend who was much too young to die, in my opinion, and left behind a wife battling cancer and six grown children and grandchildren.  However, we rejoice in that he had his way to heaven purchased with the blood of Jesus.

Along with a team of dedicated individuals, we invested an enormous amount of time and energy to get our own charter school.  All the meetings, nearly a hundred pages of documentation, and constant communication with the Department of Education proved futile as there is a clause buried deep in the Education Act, that we simply did not see, which prevents charter schools from being able to sponsor home education.  We had to start over with the new objective of obtaining our own private school accreditation rather than a charter school.

Then, our world turned painfully dark and lifeless as we got word that our youngest son had also gone to meet Jesus.  There are no words to express the depth of anguish and grief we experienced and continue to struggle with nearly every day.  If we were the only couple to have had to face such a tragedy, maybe we could ask for sympathy, but unfortunately there are other EU parents who also experienced profound loss this year.  We grieve with you from a truly empathetic understanding.

I have to mention that during this incredibly difficult time, the rest of the world kept turning.  The grass still needed mowing and all our other problems and projects continued on, in spite of our pain.  Our wonderful staff, family and friends came to help and encourage us, for which we remain truly appreciative and eternally grateful.  (We also got encouragement through a song by Kenney Chesney called Better Boat.  I recommend you listen to or watch it on YouTube if you are also grieving a loss.)

Not surprisingly, we continue to deal with problems and issues associated with our son’s death.  We ask for your prayer support as we negotiate waters parents and grandparents should never have to navigate.  Thank you.

As mentioned, we were seeking our own school accreditation when we determined it could not possibly happen for September 2021.  At the recommendation of the Minister of Education, we then embarked on the most frustrating job of finding a new sponsor school.  Not only did we rediscover that the dominant characteristic of almost every private Christian school is fear, but we had major opposition from a particular bureaucrat with a vendetta, who saw our dilemma as an opportunity to put Education Unlimited permanently out of business.  I spent nearly every day and many hours per day negotiating with schools while dealing with the antagonism of this individual.  I was reminded of the story of Nehemiah who was asked to build the wall around Jerusalem with both God’s and the government’s support, yet found much opposition from two individuals obsessed with obstructing the successful fulfillment of the job.  All of this was in addition to the relentless grief of our profound loss.

Finally and at the last minute, we managed to associate with a new school.  The Airdrie Christian Academy had experienced similar negative treatment from people professing faith in Christ so we were able to strike up a deal to have them sponsor us for at least a year, or until we obtain our own school accreditation.  The purpose was truly a mutual effort to help each other through trying times.  I would love to say that life became easier at this point, but it actually got more complicated for three reasons.

First, although the frustrations associated with finding a new school had ended, everything was brand new for everyone and many changes had to be made to continue with our system.

Secondly, the new school knew nothing about home education, nor about how to deal with such a large number of students and banking using EFTs. (Sorry about that one folks.  Please know that we were seriously engaged in helping the school move forward on this file).  And our “favourite bureaucrat”, still bent on eliminating Education Unlimited, was bullying (and continues to bully and hassle) the school regarding our association.

The third reason things got more complicated is that once we got our sponsoring school, Faye and I worked 12 to 16 hours per day every day for the entire month of September as we processed, removed, and reprocessed students. This was the most intensive September in our history, all brought about by the confusion associated with Covid-19 protocols.  Still we grieved the loss of our son.

Once the September 30 deadline was past, we received another blow, which I will refrain from describing as things at this point seemed to border on the insane.  Suffice it to say it was neither anticipated, nor appreciated.  Neither did we know what to do.  We carried on with our facilitation duties which greatly uplifted us as we ministered and were ministered to.  I believe we have a group of fantastic families.  Still and throughout our visits, we grieved the loss of our son.

Would you believe that after dedicating over two weeks in non-stop ministry to families, we came home to find our new cat, the one a friend gave to us to help us cope with the loss of the previous one, gone?  I must admit this was something that pushed me temporarily over the edge.  It didn’t seem fair.  We ended up with another cat, which we pray will not become prey!

You know, I could go on.  I could talk about all the technical difficulties; administrative issues with the new school; having to deal with lawyers, accountants and bureaucrats; making repeated applications for the private school; battling over words in the regulations; being treated with insults and indignities; and continuing to deal with the loss of our son, whenever there has been enough time to do so.  Life has been crazy!

It would be easy at this stage simply to give up and quit.  Trust me when I say I have repeatedly entertained that thought, but every time I get a call from a parent or I’m given a chance to share my experience and wisdom, I am reminded that we are never alone and that we have a job to do.  Even though I at times thought God had allowed me to be tempted and tried beyond what I could endure, I am still here, still breathing, still working, still rejoicing in the promise of a better place.  You know, I am comforted by the thought that God knows what it is like to have a Son die, and He continues to comfort me as I grieve the loss of my son.

I wanted to share my journey with you so you could know that without your encouragement and support, Faye and I would never have been able to endure this tumultuous and tragic year.  Thank you.

I would like to remind you of this one thing:  Without faith, we have nothing.  It is faith that brought us through this awful year and it will be faith that gets us through the next, God willing.  Never allow fear to trump your faith.  By all accounts, we should have perished under the enormous amount of pressure, sorrow, frustrations and disappointments, yet we remain standing and praising God for his faithfulness.  We carry on without shame and without regrets as God has provided us the way out.

One last thought.  I mentioned freedom is our basic desire as human beings in the last blog series and that we need to be vigilant in defending it.  I recently read an interesting version of what that looks like.  It sums up this awful year and what we needed to carry on.

“We stand in the gap.  We silence lies that are coming at us fast and furious.  We oppose “the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.”  We protect the sheep from the bullies in the world and the wolves in the midst.  We wear God’s armour, all of it.  We tear down strongholds, those lofty ideas raised up against the knowledge of God, with the one weapon that defeats every lie of the devil: the word of the Spirit, which is God’s enduring Word of truth.  And we are doing it in shrewd and creative ways.” (Greg Koukl, Stand to Reason)

And, God had us do this while grieving the loss of our dear youngest son.  No, not a loss.  Just a change of venue.  Our family is hurting still, but we anticipate joining our son in that venue when our time on earth is done.

This Christmas season will be hard for us and for the many other families who have suffered the loss of children, parents, grandparents, husbands, wives, in-laws, friends, neighbours, homes, pets, etc.  Let us determine not to let the losses overshadow the gains, particularly the salvation we celebrate at this time of year.

Goodbye 2021.  Merry Christmas and may the new year bring happiness to us all.

With love, from Léo & Faye Gaumont

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