The Chapel of Hope Connection

unnamedI realize for some of you new readers…you might be wondering why I chose the title for my blog as: Chapel of Hope Stories. It’s a good question and the answer is one that produced a life-altering detour in my journey.

I will have to take you back in a time-capsule to July of 2010…the year I first saw St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope in Trust, North Carolina. I had been fighting breast cancer for two years at the time…having already had two surgeries, two rounds of radiation and chemo. It was an uphill battle. But, quite honestly, my thoughts were not on treatments but on my new grand-daughter, my first grandchild, little Miss Eva Cate.

She was born April 27, 2010 and you couldn’t budge me from her side. I thanked God day and night that He let me live long enough to see that beautiful symbol of new life and hope. So when my friend, Honey Burrell, called and asked me to come spend a few days in the mountains with her and her husband, Mike…I kept thinking of excuses why I had to stay home.

Finally Mike got on the phone and told me that he had discovered a special place with a special story…that he had already shown it to Honey and they both agreed that it would prove even more special to me.. He had caught my curiosity and wonder…how could I not go see this place?

From the moment Honey and I drove up the gravel driveway and I first laid eyes on the little doll-house sized chapel…I was in love. When I entered the chapel I immediately felt a presence there….warm and inviting. Newspaper articles about the creator of the chapel lined the walls and I began reading.

Beverly Barutio, a cancer victim herself, had built the chapel as a “thank you” to God and St. Jude, the patron saint of improbable (but not impossible) causes. She and her husband, Bill, had moved to the little community of Trust, North Carolina on a leap of faith. She had advanced cancer which had spread throughout her body.

Beverly prayed for time to be with her husband and family and she got it. Her cancer went into remission and stayed there for over fifteen years. Today St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope has visitors from around the world and has changed lives, like mine, for the glory of God.

When I returned home from my first sighting…I wanted to share my experiences with others whose lives have been touched by this little chapel in the woods. My son-in-law first explained to me what a “blog” was and then helped me set it up…the rest is history.

Come join me on my quest to honor Beverly Barutio for her special chapel through stories of self-discovery with God as our guide.

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15 Responses to The Chapel of Hope Connection

  1. Jessica Martin says:

    Beverly was my mamaw, it’s so awesome to see this. It warms my heart & I know she would love it too!

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      Oh my goodness Jessica…what a wonderful surprise…truly a God Wink! Your grandmother’s chapel changed my life back in July of 2010 and I rarely look back to those lost days before stepping into a new calling in my life based on my first visit to St.Jude’s Chapel. Those other lonely days I simply refer to as the “Pre-Chapel of Hope” period of my life.

      The day I first walked into that beautiful little chapel I felt a light come into me that I knew, intuitively, would never leave…and it hasn’t. I live in Summerville, South Carolina (near Charleston) so I don’t get back to the chapel as much as I would like…but I am planning on returning next month if at all possible.

      Things looked pretty dark for me in 2013 when the cancer started spreading…and the surgeon and radiologist said they had both done all they could. My oncologist asked if I would be willing to try a new drug…not intended for breast cancer patients…but he felt it might help me….I told him I would be glad to try anything that would help others along their own personal cancer journey…( I refer to cancer as “little c” because it doesn’t deserve the respect intended with a capital “C”)

      The new drug, to date, has kept my breast cancer in check…at bay…and I feel that part of the reason is to give me time to continue sharing your grandmother’s story….and oh what a story it was and continues to be through sharing my daily life stories through “new eyes.”

      Thank you so much for writing me…it makes me feel validated that Beverly’s grand-daughter took the time to write such a kind comment. My only regret is that I never got to meet your “Mamaw” in this life…I think we would have been good friends.

      If, at any time, you ever want to share a memory of your special grandmother with our loyal readers…please do so…your “Memaw” has changed many of these readers’ lives.

      Appreciatively, Becky

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    • Meg woodcock says:

      This story has inspired me to do something to ease others who also are battling cancer..I was lucky they foundmine early and taking medication to stop it from becoming invasive…although it is not without many side effects..I am very blessed.. I starting to crochet somelap blankets for those at the local hospital that they can take home with them to feel comforted by others who have been there..

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      • Becky Dingle says:

        Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to be able to give back once we have traveled down that bumpy road called cancer or “little c” for me. As pioneers we know the ruts in the road and pass it on down….love the crochet lap blankets….great idea! Thanks so much for taking time to comment. Happy Valentines Meg!

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  2. Christina Petersen says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words Becky about our beloved Mamaw and the chapel. It is so wonderful to see how something she was so passionate about has touched so many lives. She truly was the best.

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      Well Hello Christina…I love this wonderful surprise…having Beverly’s (MeMaw) family contact me, especially now, with my birthday arriving this Thursday… is a true Happy Birthday God Wink… for sure! I know I am feeling (each birthday) what Beverly must have felt during her remission…that each day we are given IS our “birthday” …with blessings from heaven falling like confetti.

      Please know that one wonderful “bonus” to this blog created in Beverly’s honor…is that many readers have made the “pilgrimage” to Trust and St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope after hearing her story and they all come away with more than they entered…

      In one class I taught at CSU (Charleston Southern University- a few years ago) a student remembered Beverly when their family would go to the mountains each summer when she was a teenager…she remembered the “Kiss the Cook” apron she wore and how their family traveled many miles to have one of her fruit pies…for which she was famously known for “in dem dare parts of the mountains.”

      I am just happy that God, in all His Wisdom, used friends to get me to the little chapel of hope and learn about Beverly’s story…I have emails from New Zealand and all parts of the United States talking about the influence of St. Jude’s on their lives….amazing.

      Margaret Mead’s famous quote comes to mind: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’

      Like I told Jessica…if ever you feel like you would like to share a story with our wonderful blog readers…I know they would be thrilled. Let Jessica know also my email: rebecca_dingle@hotmail.com and I would be more than happy to insert your warm, wonderful, poignant, or funny story about your MaMaw!

      Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness in this response.

      Happily, Becky

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  3. Katy Cobb says:

    How would a person reserve the chapel for a very small wedding? ūüôā

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      Hi Katy!

      How exciting…Congratulations! Your best bet is to call Trust General Store and Cafe (located very close to the chapel) Tel: 828- 622-7400 Tell them what you are interested in and they will probably give you the contact number of the owner of the Chapel of Hope now. I think he sets all that up.

      Again…congrats! Would love to see some wedding pictures and put them in the blog for all our readers who also love this beautiful, mystical little chapel of hope. If you would like to share…send a couple to me and we can all enjoy your “little” wedding vicariously!

      Have a great day! Hope this information helps.

      Becky Dingle

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      • Katy Cobb says:

        Becky,

        It does! Thank you and I will let you know how it works out for us.

        Hope you have a great day also,

        Katy

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  4. Becky Dingle says:

    God bless you Katy on this new exciting adventure in your life!

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  5. Meg says:

    Who owns the chapel and how can l contact them?

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      Meg, If you contact the General Store & Cafe (Store Phone: (828) 622-7455) in Trust, NC (adjacent to the chapel they can help you answer any questions and/or make contact with the person who bought the property after the Barutios left…and is now the caretaker of the chapel which he takes very seriously.

      Hope this helps. Becky

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  6. John LaBarbera says:

    Folks, this was/is the Chapel my mother & father built many years ago when she was battling cancer. The kind words shared here make me humbled & appreciative of her, and YOU folks that have written here and in the book that is kept in the chapel itself. As I read & reflect on her on this Mother’s day, I thank God for her, and the kind people that have passed through that door. God bless you all!

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      Oh my goodness John….you just made my Mother’s Day. From the moment I stepped into St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope six years ago my life changed…including writing this blog. Your father and I have emailed some and he sent me Beverly’s book of poems which I cherish. So many people who read the blog have made the pilgrimage to Trust, North Carolina to see and feel the spirit of your mother who still dwells there.

      Stories from as far as New Zealand and Dubai….lives changed by this chapel in the woods. What wonderful parents you were blessed with and no better model for all of us to live by….I think Beverly and I would have been great friends….at least that is at Bob Hurly/columnist (Greenville News) who interviewed Beverly and later me said. Just sorry time here on earth didn’t permit this but one day it will.

      Happy Mother’s Day John. I know the readers would cherish any anecdotes or memories about your mom and the chapel you would like to share.

      Again….Thanks for making this a Mother’s Day I won’t soon forget.

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  7. Lynn Gamache says:

    Hello dear Becky,
    I have been reading and relishing your blogs for some months now. Love story-telling too! And now I have my own “cancer story” to share with you….
    Sisters in Crisis by Lynn Gamache, Quadra Island, 1997?
    As I look at the photo there I see,
    Someone who looks a lot like me.
    ‘That must be your sister’, several have said —
    Which makes me smile, but I shake my head..
     
    For we’re not related by birth or by blood
    But we do both belong to the family of God.
    So if you have time, let me tell you the story;
    I hope it will bless you and bring to God glory.”
     
    Yes, as I look at the photo now, it reminds me of that day so well…the morning of Saturday, January 4, 1997.¬† I’d looked forward to this holiday for awhile.¬† Just being in Victoria with my husband was a treat.¬† Now, this morning, he was coming with me to the home of my friend, Dorothy.¬† He would meet Dorothy and I would finally get to meet her husband Jack and sons, Jonathan and David.¬† This was a day that I’d eagerly anticipated for some time….a happy day!
     
    This reunion, I was sure, would be so different from my very first encounter with Dorothy, just one year earlier.¬† Then it was December — December 15th, 1995 and just ten days til Christmas and one week until my 49th birthday.¬† But that damp, grey winter day I was not really excited about either Christmas or my birthday.¬† Somehow these dates, once so special, were only that — dates on the calendar.¬† They were days that I hoped I would be able to enjoy, but sometimes I wondered and worried too.¬† For on this Friday the 15th I was scheduled to begin my chemotherapy treatments.¬† It was my very first appointment at the Jubilee Hospital Cancer Clinic in Victoria, B.C.¬† I dreaded going — hated even the thought of going!¬† Tales of “chemo” are usually awful.¬† Besides, I’d visited this same hospital before — years before when my mother, still in her forties, lay dying of cancer.¬† Now, here I was, some 28 years later, entering this same clinic with the same dread¬†disease.
     
    My prognosis was not good.  The lab report which returned after my first mastectomy had clearly indicated that I was a high risk patient.  Thus when I met with my oncologist the week before, she had offered me two options for treatment.  I could choose to be part of a select study group receiving high doses of chemo as well as a bone marrow transplant, or I could opt for the more usual method of treatment involving four months of chemotherapy followed by severals weeks of radiation.  It was a huge decision, but without too much deliberation I chose the more routine and simple plan, trusting God to carry me through the days and months ahead. 
     
    Still, the prospect of weeks of treatment and all the possible side effects was not a pleasant one.¬† I went to that first chemo session with uncertainty and fear gripping my mind and body.¬† My questions were many as I climbed the flight of stairs and walked into the nearly-empty waiting room.¬† It was a very lovely room especially arranged for cancer patients and their families.¬† I was so thankful for my mother’s youngest sister who was there with me.¬† And I believed that God was there too — but somehow I longed for some special evidence of His presence and personal care at this time of great need.¬† And¬†so I waited, watched and prayed.
     
    Finally it was my turn and I was ushered into the chemo room by a nurse named Dorothy Reimer.¬† She was tall,¬†slim, smiling¬†and very efficient too.¬† Soon I was seated in a comfortable chair and the intra-venous needle was in place.¬† I tried to relax while Dorothy proceeded to carefully and very thoroughly explain exactly what she was doing and why.¬† She also informed me about many of the possible and probable side effects.¬† I might be nauseated, lose my appetite, develop sores in my mouth and for sure I would lose my hair, but probably not my eyebrows — a small consolation along the way!
     
    Finally the subject changed and we talked about other things.¬† I needed that diversion — any distraction¬†from thinking about the potent chemicals which were silently dripping into my body.¬† My aunt had her own diversion.¬† As Dorothy and I chatted she sat quietly knitting.¬† I knew that she was trying to stay calm and courageous with me.
     
    In time our conversation detoured again as Dorothy inquired about my aunt’s handwork project: “Are you knitting something for Christmas?” Dorothy queried.¬† But the answer was not in the affirmative, for the knitting project this day was a simple toque destined to go to the Vancouver Seaman’s Mission.¬† This we explained to our nurse was a special maritime mission with the goal of reaching out to foreign seamen who sail into port and find themselves alone in a new land.¬† “Oh, do you mean that it’s a ministry like the Shantymen?” Dorothy responded.¬† Then she eagerly went on to tell us all about a book that she had recently been reading which told of the work of the Shantyman’s Christian¬† Association on Canada’s west coast — a book entitled Splendour from the Sea by W. Phillip Keller.
     
    As Dorothy rambled on, my aunt and I looked at one another with wonder.¬† Or had we really heard right?!¬† Hesitating for only a few seconds, my aunt then turned to Dorothy and quietly replied, “Well, Lynn is his daughter”….We instantly¬†found ourselves with tears in our eyes.¬† Dorothy was astonished and overcome with awe and amazement.¬† Calling to the other nurse in the room that day she exclaimed, “Mary, this is such a delightful surprise!¬† This lady is Phillip Keller’s daughter.¬† I’ve been reading his books for years.¬† He grew up in East Africa and I think we even attended the same boarding school there in Kenya because my parents were missionaries too.!”¬† Soon her excited monologue changed to more of a dialogue as she plied me with questions about my Dad, his many books and my life too.¬† As we talked, I relaxed.¬† More than this, my own doubts and fears were replaced by a very real sense of joy and peace.¬† Obviously God had directed my steps along the way, bringing me to this particular chemotherapy room at this precise time on this dark December day.¬† I was not here simply by chance or doctors orders!¬† I was quite convinced that this was not some strange coincidence.¬† Rather I saw this meeting with Dorothy as a wonderful gift from my heavenly Father.¬† It was a special reminder of God’s personal care for me and it also meant the beginning of a beautiful new friendship with a nurse named Dorothy who looks a lot like me!
     
    Added note:
    ¬†But the story goes on.¬† In August of ’96 Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer and proceeded with months of treatment similiar to mine.¬† So the letters and phone calls have continued as we eagerly share notes on our health care and cancer concerns.¬† When we visited on that day in Jan. ’97 I was finished with treatment and Dorothy was in the midst of hers.¬† Dorothy now wore the wig while I had my own hair back again.¬† So there we are (as we look at the picture taken that day) — two women with cancer but not just sisters in crisis.¬† We are sisters in Christ, both so thankful for our very first meeting and the unique friendship which has blossomed over the past years.

    DO TRUST THAT THIS TRUE STORY FROM OVER 20 yrs. AGO WILL BLESS, HELP, UP-LIFT AND ENCOURAGE YOU AND ALL WHO READ THIS. (II’d love to hear from any who might care to be in touch. There are other writings and stories I’m eager to share, for Jesus’ sake.)

    In His love, Lynn Gamache, British Columbia, CANADA

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