On October 1, 2013, Dave and Daphne Bakker’s dream was realized with the establishment of Haven of Hope Farm Bed & Breakfast in St. Catharines, Ontario. The couple’s past work experience has shaped their mission and plans. Dave, 51, has a background in horticulture and Daphne, 49, worked in the social service field. Christian Courier interviewed Dave and Daphne to discover why they established Haven of Hope Farm B&B and what it has to offer.
Christian Courier: What is Haven of Hope Farm B&B and what is its mission?
Dave and Daphne: Haven of Hope Farm B&B is located in the heart of Niagara. We provide accommodations for patients and their families who are receiving treatment for cancer or other medical conditions. We also provide a retreat for those who are seeking respite from the stresses of everyday life. Our desire is to provide our guests with a setting and hospitality which they personally or their loved ones will need in a time of stress or crisis.
We offer 12 acres of beauty and tranquillity on a working sheep farm. Although we are a farm B&B, we strive to create an atmosphere of compassion and hospitality, giving our guests rest for the journey.
How did God lead you to establish your B&B?
The desire and dream were formed and cultivated over a period of many years. Dave and I have always wanted to have a ministry outreach on the farm. With my mom having had severe arthritis and our daughter having a blood disorder, we as a family have become very familiar with hospital stays, treatment and disability. Six years ago the dream and desire came together. We prayed for the Lord’s leading in terms of what to do with our lives. God has been so faithful!
Was the establishment of Haven of Hope Farm B&B a solo venture or did others help you?
With many hands and hearts, the dream became a reality! For five months, a crew of skilled men worked on recreating the farm and our family home. It truly was an Extreme Home Make Over! (We are thankful to say that we gained a son-in-law out of the deal.)
What kind of accommodations and services do you offer?
We provide a private, fully accessible suite – master bedroom, private bathroom, lounge and fireside room. As well, we have a private guest porch with a view of our farm animals and beautiful sunsets!
Each guest receives a full, farm-style, healthy breakfast and a complimentary welcome gift. They take care of their own lunch and dinner, though we do fill the fridge with healthy snacks to carry our guests over until the morning. When requested, we also provide full housekeeping services.
Who are your guests?
Our guests have come from a wide range of circumstances and cultures. We have welcomed guests who were receiving treatment for cancer, along with their families; guests who have disabilities, such as MS, ALS and Parkinson’s; guests who are grieving the loss of a loved one; and guests needing time alone with the Lord due to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. We also receive tourists who are visiting the Niagara region.
How do you interact with your guests?
Each guest is unique, so how we interact with them depends on how receptive they are to us as their hosts. We greet and welcome them, invite them to join us for breakfast, and give them the opportunity to come and talk while I’m working in our farm-style kitchen. Depending on how a guest is feeling, many love to chat upon arrival and share our breakfast table with us. It truly is a great way to build trust and have a wonderful time of getting to know one another.
How have your guests responded to the atmosphere, facilities and opportunities provided by your B&B?
We have been overwhelmed by God’s goodness. The response has been so positive and encouraging! We want to share two messages left in our guest book:
“Words cannot express how thankful we are to have been welcomed into your ‘fold.’ We truly have had a time of refreshing in the presence of our Lord (Acts 3:19). We have experienced ‘days of heaven on earth’ (Deut. 11:22). May you, your ministry and your entire family be forever blessed. We pray you will always remain true to the vision God has given you! With love and appreciation.”
“Thank you so much for your hospitality! It truly was a restful stay! All of your special extra touches truly made us feel at home! Keep doing what you do. You are making a huge difference! God bless you!”
Has the presence of sheep and alpacas on your farm been beneficial for your guests?
The quiet surroundings and the beautiful setting as well as the presence of the farm animals has been so therapeutic for our guests. They love to spend time talking, taking photos, collecting the eggs from our chicken coop and playing with the lambs in the spring. We have watched some of our guests go from being tightly stressed to laughing and crying tears of joy! Animals are such a gift from God. They understand our emotions more than we are aware.
What impact has Haven of Hope had on your walk with God?
I could already write a short book! Ephesians 3:20 comes to mind: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”
Over the past two years, what God has done in and through the work of Haven of Hope Farm B&B has exceeded our expectations! We are humbled by the testimonies of our guests. Many who are not Christians sense such a peace and serenity. God has taught us to listen, pray, encourage and trust that he will work. He has been so faithful!
It is so awesome to wake up each morning eagerly anticipating what God will do and whom he will bring to Haven of Hope Farm B&B. We are also thankful for quiet days that give us time to rest, pray, spend some personal time together and prepare for our next guests.
God has taught us to trust him, depend more on him, give thanks for the abundant blessing he has given us and praise him for his amazing love and faithfulness!
To learn more about Haven of Hope Farm B&B or to reserve accommodations, check out Dave and Daphne’s website: havenofhopefarm.ca.