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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Stepping Out In Faith - Trip to Cochrane!

Refurbished Homes By Refurbished People - Stepping Out in Faith!

I prayed to God to show me a place to buy, and many things seemed to be pointing to the farm in Cochrane. This post is about the trip I made to Cochrane to see a potential farm, for myself and to start the Hôtel Dieu for Women, and how God uses all our experiences to good.
Ralph Whyte and Al of Cameron Community Church drove me to catch the bus in Orillia. In the Tim Hortons they prayed for me, with Al adding "If this is not the right place, Lord let the door shut quickly, so she doesn't lose time nor resources."
I was to meet the home inspector Guy Durette of Specway Home Inspections in Cochrane at the bus station around 3:30pm. It was to be the fastest Home Inspection Mr. Durette ever did. When God closes a door fast he wastes no time.
I slept most of the way, on the 1:35 am out of Orillia, but towards the end of the trip, chatted with a young woman who had lived in Cochrane 17 years, but recently had to move to Kirkland Lake and was going to visit a friend in Cochrane. I shared my purpose in going there, and she shared a bit about her background, and her love of animals. When we arrived her phone was dead , so I offered the use of my phone to call her friend. After getting her contact info, her friend came to pick her up, and we parted ways. That call on my phone was later to bring a surprising contact.

Why Cochrane?

I was told by a Mortgage broker who was working with the recommended realtor that I would not qualify for a loan due to not having any credit cards.  So I needed to buy a home outright or find a vendor take back mortgage.
When I went to Cochrane there were many things that seemed to be pointing the farm out as the place to be, but it was FAR from ideal. The home inspector, Guy Durette who also has a WETT Certificate, was going to Cochrane that same day to do another inspection, so I wasn't going to be charged extra for the mileage, as the other home inspectors cited me. (Cochrane is 1.5 hours away from all the home inspectors I'd been able to find.) Mr Durette also knew how to assess the home with the water turned off. Apparently in the north, it is quite usual to asses homes with the water off in the winter. Mr. Durette was even willing to pick me up at the bus station and take me to grab some warm clothes before heading out to the farm, and brought snowshoes for me to get into the farm.

Welcome to Hades Farm 

When we arrived at the farm, the email address for the farm- hadesfarm became even more obvious - I had hoped that it was perhaps based on a Dutch name - nope! There was gargoyle on the fence post with a wasp nest tucked into its wing. A large sign read Trespassers will Be Shot."
This place needs a good cleansing I muttered.
Mr Durette said the snow might be firm enough to walk on without snow shoes, and suggested I try a couple of steps. All went well for 10 steps then whoosh I was through up to my thigh, I needed to commando crawl to the nearest post to pull myself out, but I wasn't disheartened, and kept smiling. Mr. Durette helped me out of the hole and I started back to the truck to get the snow shoes while he headed into the house.
After 5 steps, I was up to my thigh again, I started commando crawling towards the truck, and an older gentleman approached on snowshoes. Introducing myself from the snowbank I remarked "And you must by Cris - the owner."
"No, I'm John," he replied"I'm another buyer."
"Well," I said" I don't believe in coincidences, I do believe in divine appointments.There must be some reason we were supposed to meet here today."
While John helped me get back up and get the snowshoes on, he shared that he was looking for property for his son to build a campground, and that the house was a mess, and though it wasn't important to them what the house was like, the property was way overpriced.
It was then put on my heart to share with him that if they weren't in a hurry, I'd spotted some acreage that was going up for auction Apr 11th with a minimum bid of $4,734 on the City of Cochrane website.
After I got standing, and underway, the home inspector and the owner came out to meet us. The owner - Cris appeared to be under the influence of something, and said, "Well you're too late to see the house now."
Strangely, it didn't faze me one bit. I knew that whatever the outcome, God would be with me.
Both the home inspector and the other buyer glared him down. Mr. Durette said "This woman just travelled 10 hours to see the place, surely you're not going to turn her away."
 I turned to  to John, and said,"Before you go, if you give me your contact info, I'lll send you the info I found about the piece that is up for auction."
  John replied" Let's go to the house, and it'll be easier there.'
The three of us left the owner standing on the snow bank and headed for the house.
John and Mr. Durettte pulled me out of the snow a couple of times along the way, and I finally reached the porch. From a distance it had appeared welcoming,
When I touched the post supporting the roof, it swung back and forth beneath the snow it was rotted out. The door was warped from the weather , but a good push opened into the living room.
The scene that met my eyes was a tableau of "Hell frozen over"

Hell Frozen Over

A Skeleton draped in a black shroud hung from the rafter and several other human skulls were distributed through the living room. The stairs leading to the upper level had years of paint on it - the top layer being a sickly green.  Frost an inch thick was on the inside of the windows, walls and ceiling. When this melts I thought the place will be full of mould. "Oh my word!" I gasped.
Almost reading my thoughts,Mr. Durette said" If your'e having problems with mould now, this will even be worse when this all melts." Then added, "Here come see this."
 Leading the way into the bathroom, Mr. Durete pointed out that the winterizing hadn't been done properly - there was frost in the toilet along with the antifreeze, so the pipes would most likely need replacing too.
The basement has 32 horizontal cracks and the wall is bulging," Mr. Durete shared. adding "I do inspections without prejudice. and just tell people approximately how much it will cost to do repairs to a home. Sometimes people decide to buy a house even though it needs a lot of work. However the two of the supports are rotted out in the basement as well. I would be recommending to build fresh and tear this down" 
 John added "I'm semi-retired from doing renovations, and there isn't even much I could salvage from here - perhaps a bit of the wood from the ceilings. The roof is in bad shape too, you can see it from the outside, and the horse barn is in worse shape than this. "

Paint on a Pig

"In the description it said new windows, and siding, and new electrical" I gasped.
"Oh there are some new windows upstairs on the bedrooms, and the electrical, is there. " Glancing into another living room I saw a flat screen TV taking up an entire wall.
 John examined rusty rivulets on a large box-like structure beside the stove.
 Mr Durette remarked -"Leaks from the roof - that's the old chimney for the wood stove."
 "Did you want to see upstairs?" Mr. Durette asked.
John said,"The ceilings are very low upstairs. I had to bend down."
"No if you don't have a firm foundation, it's worthless." I remarked adding," I feel sorry for them in a way - they've paid to put paint on a pig. He's got a $13K lien on the house for the siding."
Pictures of the man's estranged wife and children still hung on the walls.
John added," It's way overpriced for the land, there are 100 acre plots listed at $30K."
"You'd have to pay to tear this down and take it away, or be fined for an attractive nuisance. He may be lucky to get $15K for it to pay off his costs. He said they'd sunk over $100 K in improvements into it."I mused.
John then noted "The bath has a ceramic sink and acrylic tub."
"They put paint on a pig," I sighed.
John and I exchanged contact information, and the three of us headed out. The owner met us as we exited.
"What were you doing in there?" Cris joked, "Having a party?" He was high as a kite on something.
"Dear Lord," I silently prayed, "Please help this family." As we headed back to the truck, I prayed "OK Lord I know you can use all things to good. I don't know how you can turn this wild goose chase around, but I know you will."

God Uses All Things For Good

Guy Durette  Specway Home Inspections
On the way back to town, with Mr. Durette,we got on the topic of education, and Mr. Durette shared about how his son attends the Catholic French school in Timmons. He seemed interested in the vision God had given me for the Refurbished Homes By Refurbished People.
 "Normally, I try to highlight the positives of a place," Mr. Durette shared, adding "But frankly,"It's going to be difficult in this case. Normally a home inspection takes 3 or 4 hours, but I was only inside 10 minutes, and the owner asked - "Well are you done yet?" Any further home inspections you need done, it will be half -price - basically just covering my mileage - and advice is always free" he added. quickly.
 Wow what a generous offer I thought! We are going to be able to get any northern home inspections done practically pro bono! I had been praying for the Lord to put someone with expertise in refurbishing homes to help move the vision forward. After all, what did I know about refurbishing homes other than the house I'd refurbished in Peterborough years ago?
"I'll send you a link to the dream I was given," I found myself saying and added, "Pray on it and see what the Lord puts in your heart whether you would like to be on the board of directors."
I mentioned there were a couple of properties in Smooth Rock Falls I was considering, and asked if he had any more time that day, but he needed to get home to Timmons. When I went to pay Mr. Durette the agreed upon sum for the home inspection, he stopped me at the amount without the WETT Inspection, saying, "You didn't need the WETT Inspection, so that's fine."
"God Bless you and your family," I shared.
Mr Durette handed me a fabulous resource book about homes, and pointed out section in the back that tells how long different renovations can be expected to last. The Home inspection report I received later from Mr. Durette, was excellent with photos that highlighted the problem areas, and estimated costs required, as well as the timeline as to how soon the repairs would need to be done.
I planned to pop over to the food bank, to ask about services that were needed in Cochrane - did they need a women's shelter? However, I discovered the importance of taking off lined coveralls and putting on a dry coat. I was soaked to the skin.

Surprising Divine Appointments

So I  emailed the realtor who'd been interested in the vision I'd received and arranged to meet her for supper in the Station restaurant.
Rosemary Stevens had previously told me about Next Step Farms in Porcupine, which was being run by a friend of her son. Would Next Step Farm  be a piece of this vision? I called Clint of Next Step Farms in Porcupine and touched base. I discovered that Clint does home repairs, though the labour of Next Step Farms is farming and snow removal - activities that can be done successfully by people overcoming addictions.What a great program!
I then started started searching for homes I could afford once again. One place I called was a camp listed at $51K the woman who answered had gone to my old high school in Lindsay- I.E. Weldon! Her mother had passed away and she was looking to move to Peterborough to be close to her father. They'd just sold the camp to a friend for less than $40K, because another deal had fallen through at the higher price since it was accessible only by boat, skidoo or ATV. It was put on my heart to tell her to check for properties on the City of Peterborough website that may be for sale for back taxes. I made a few more calls and left messages asking people to call me back, then went for supper.

Two Widows Share the Need For A Women's Respite Centre in Cochrane

I feel badly that I don't recall all the women's names that I met that evening. Rosemary Stevens is semi-retired from Real estate, and used to teach the real estate courses in the northern area. Wow! God really put a great resource across my path in Rosemary! Rosemary greeted me with her friend, another widow with whom she'd shared my blog. they were both very interested in the vision. "We really need something for women in Cochrane, there's a shelter for men , but nothing for women." they shared. "Perhaps there's a place not on the market yet they mused.
 After dinner, Rosemary called a third woman over to the table, who is a realtor. The ladies shared that I was looking for a house with some property and wondered if she knew of anything. There are quite a few older women living alone on farms she shared.
When I opened my mouth , out came the words " I wonder if one of them would like to keep living on their farm if we were to buy their farm from them?" 
Where did that come from I wondered? It certainly hadn't been anywhere in my thought processes before I opened my mouth!
Rosemary said" You mean you'd look after them?"
 "Well that's what the Hôtel Dieu for Women is all about" I shared - women caring for women. "I looked after my mother and father".I added.
The three women exchanged excited glances , they seemed determined to find a place.

Hôtel Dieu for Women - Another Revelation?

Silently I thought "Is this the direction you are showing to me Lord?"
A picture of older women living on farms alone, now happy to be able to stay in their homes filled my heart with a sweet joy. How on earth could this be done? I'm just one woman, but oh what a vision from God. "Well Lord," I thought, "If this is what your will is, then I'm willing to be your hands and feet. Direct my path, guide my steps. Show me what to do next."
A surprising phone call Sunday afternoon was to connect me with yet another possible resource, and an exciting possibility.

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May God Bless you.
Suzanne