Chalk up another couple of converts from Ontario.
"We asked for a Prairie posting after spending two years in Winnipeg," said newly ordained Salvation Army officers Brian and June Bobolo, who originally hailed from Hamilton, Ont., but are now charged with the duties of overseeing the Army's busy Estevan post.
Brian, who served as a chaplain for eight years following a career as a registered nurse, met June at a Salvation Army church service in Hamilton in 1999, and it wasn't long before they realized they shared a bond that was going to take them to interesting places in their life together.
"I always loved the Salvation Army church community, their service to the community, the involvement," said Brian. "I saw how the Army worked in Hamilton with their soup vans and I just wanted to be a part of it. It was a transforming influence for me."
The couple, who were just recently ordained as SA Lieutenants in a stirring ceremony in Toronto, complete with the Army's impressive staff brass band, said it was a service they won't soon forget.
Prior to joining the Army, June said she worked as a bus driver and taxi driver. She had joined the church over 20 years ago and loved working with their volunteer base.
"I worked in the Booth Centre and at shelters and I saw first hand how, as a church, they were so open and welcoming so I heard the call in 2003," she said.
How they came to be together is a compelling story too.
"Brian sat in front of me in the church and during one service, the call went out to hold hands while we all prayed and I had wanted to meet him for some time, so I just reached out, grabbed and held his hand and we knew right then there was something between us," she said with a big smile.
Prior to their ordination, the couple were weighing options as to where to go for their first posting.
"The Army wanted to match us up with the kind of work we liked and we said we'd prefer the Prairies and a community where the citizens cared about one another and where we could facilitate some good work," Brian said.
They were also in frequent contact with Estevan's outgoing Army officers, Majors Len and Ros Millar, who were most helpful in the transition, as they packed up to make their way to their next community, Kindersley.
"There are multiple aspects to this appointment here, so they've tried to match our wishes and talents," said Brian.
"I was very excited when I learned we were coming to Estevan. We have friends who served here and they spoke highly of this community," June added.
So with most of their boxes now unpacked, the Bobolos are settling in with plenty of welcoming words and assistance. They're not here to make dramatic changes to operations.
"We're listening," said Brian. "What really hit us right off the bat was the shortage of housing. And we're talking about people who are arriving here with nothing and living in their vehicles until they get a first paycheque. We're going to help them the best we can and we'll focus on that, I suppose, for quite awhile yet it seems."
But they acknowledge that Estevan, with the reputation of being a generous city, will help them answer the call.
"We employ 15 people here in the Thrift Store and food bank and these people stay busy sorting things out, working with the space shortages we have," said Brian.
The couple also note that the state of the food bank is again bordering on desperate.
"I'd say our refrigerators are pretty well empty right now," said June.
"Some of the donors are away on vacation, but unfortunately the people who need the help can't go away; they're still with us. But, we just received a nice cheque from Clifton's No Frills food store for $1,248 that will tide us over and help us purchase some necessary things," said Brian.
The couple have conducted their first two church services and have found the congregation of about 60 or so members very dedicated and willing to go beyond the normal expectations when it comes to giving back to the community.
The Bobolos feel they'll be able to fit in and join the flow of the Energy City with a quick transition.
"The Salvation Army congregation in Estevan is marking its 98th anniversary this year, so we expect we'll be here to party at 100 along with the city," Brian said, referring to their future expectations as citizens and faithful leaders in the Energy City.