Christmas Shoeboxes. A Missions Fair. The Flu. Putting together the spring and summer schedule. A mission to Oregon. What do all these things have in common? My failure to report on any of them! My apologies to everyone for taking so long to update this blog.
Let’s start with the Christmas Shoeboxes. Once again, many of you helped make this ministry a success. There were 291 boxes sent to three different reservations…the Choctaw Reservation in Mississippi, the Colville Reservation in Washington State and the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.
There were nine churches and four individuals/families who participated in this ministry and I appreciate all of you!
John Phillips, youth minister at Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and some of his youth group preparing boxes for the Cheyenne River Reservation.
Will & Bethany Butterfield, youth ministers at The Gathering Place Church in Pineville joined the youth at Corinth Baptist Church on the Choctaw Reservation in Mississippi. Both groups went on a hayride and delivered gifts to many of the children on the reservation.
The children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State were some who received gifts from all of you!
Now, about that Missions Fair. This fair was a great experience thanks to everyone involved. Randy Hales, the DOM for the Webster-Claiborne and Bienville associations sponsors a very successful missions fair every five years. I was invited to attend this three day event after Randy Carruth was asked and unable to attend. I had no idea what I was in for and God used this event in a mighty way in my life. I arrived in Minden on Friday and was amazed at the red carpet treatment Randy and his staff provided for the missionaries.
Mike & Susan Sanders
Then I met Mike and Susan Sanders. Mike is the pastor of Old Saline Baptist Church and he and Susan were my sponsors. I stayed with them in their home for the weekend and I can safely say I have made some forever friends in those two…and their dog. 🙂 They made me feel at home with their hospitality and easy manner and they are a big part of what made the weekend so special. (It didn’t hurt that they liked the A/C on as much as I do.)
On Saturday we all attended the fair where hundreds of people came through. On Sunday I spoke at two churches, Old Saline Baptist Church and Pine Grove Baptist. Both churches showed such generosity and I appreciate them so much. After another day of red carpet treatment with dinner on the grounds and visitation with some wonderful people we ended the night with another meal at the New Ebenezer Baptist Church and a panel discussion with a packed house.
I came away with a love for the people and a new group to go with me to the Hoopa Reservation in California! There’s a lesson in everything and my lesson here was that nothing happens by chance…God always has a purpose and will reveal that purpose in His perfect timing.
And then there was the flu. I came home from Shreveport happy, tired and…sick. I spent the next month on medication for Strain A Flu and then a sinus infection. No, I did not get my flu shot. You have my word, I will next year though. Nuff said. I only mention it because that is why I took so long to update you all!
The month of February was spent finalizing all of the ministry plans for the spring and summer. Check out the page titled “Schedule” on this blog for an updated schedule.
Being B.A.A.D in Oregon. That’s Basketball Against Alcohol and Drugs. This is a tournament that has taken place every year during Spring Break on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon for the past 28 years.
As usual I am always amazed at how God opens doors. And I’m pretty sure that every time He opens these particular doors for me He is laughing under His breath. I have finally come to just accept that this girl who cares nothing for and has no experience with sports is living proof that God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. I am a missions mobilizer for Basketball Camps, Sports Camps and now a full blown Basketball Tournament attended by Indian Reservations from all over the Northwest. It’s obviously what I do. And every group I have spoken to about a potential ministry in the future have requested, you guessed it, a Sports Camp. All Biblically based but all involving sports in some way.
Weston, Walker, Kim, Kelsi, Shane & Will Cheek
So when this opportunity arose I embraced it and put out the call for a group to participate with me. Enter my good friends Shane and Kim Cheek and their children, Will, Weston, Walker and Kelsi. They homeschool and can participate in ministries like this that come up during the school year. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect family to do this with me. They show tremendous grace under pressure, calm spirits, welcoming natures and a willingness to do anything required. In other words, they are nothing like me and I love them for it!
This mission was unlike any other I have done. We weren’t going in to provide the activities. We were going in to serve at this tournament in the hopes that God would open the door for us to return with a VBS or Sports Camp or whatever they might need. I’ll admit…my biggest fear was that we were driving 5,000 miles round trip to watch a bunch of basketball games. My fears were unwarranted.
Weston on trash detail
We picked up trash, took up money at the door, cleaned bathrooms, cleaned the break room every day, organized rooms, and any other job we could find. It took a couple of days but the volunteers and staff (all Native Americans) gradually began to accept us.
Working the check in table
Shane preparing Gumbo
Shane and Kim even decided to make the volunteers and staff a Gumbo for lunch one day. That pretty much solidified it…we were officially a part of their “team.” So much so that the next night two of the ladies decided to make Indian Tacos.
Indian Taco night…notice my empty plate. In the foreground is the leader of the tournament, Lloyd Commander… a good friend and a brother in Christ.
For those of you who haven’t experienced Indian Tacos, I am sorry. You are missing out. They are made with Indian Fry Bread (I’m pretty sure this was the same bread rained down upon the Israelites in the dessert) and all the fixings for tacos…beans, meat, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. They were nothing short of divine and little Kelsi had the honor of helping make them!
I was blessed by this mission. I enjoyed the people and I enjoyed sharing this time with the Cheeks. When you share something like this with someone a bond is created. You’ve slept with these people. You’ve seen each other at your best and your worst. You’ve experienced bodily functions, lots of laughter and a certain amount of hysteria from being so tired. You’ve prayed together, you’ve cried together and you’ve trusted God together.
I was never sure about what would take place on this mission because I wasn’t “in charge.” As usual God provided everything…a great team, open doors, a chance to worship with a sweet body of believers at the Tutuillo Presbyterian Church, a chance to observe and learn about the Native customs of that area and the opportunity to work with Garry Benfield, the NAMB missionary working on the field in Oregon and Washington State. More importantly, we now have an opening to return and share the Gospel with the special people of the Umatilla Reservation and THAT is what it’s really all about.
Oh, but the trip home. It was…memorable. The day before we left Walker got a stomach virus that had the Cheeks pulling off at almost every exit on the way home. On the same day I developed another sinus infection that went straight to my ears and had me pretty deaf and disoriented. All I could really hear was a rushing wind in my ears. It was like the day of Pentecost in my head. Although uncomfortable, I decided to count my blessings because I wasn’t experiencing what Walker was experiencing. I just decided to enjoy the scenery.
Devil’s Washbowl in Idaho
Then Monday rolled around. I’d been driving home since Saturday so I was wishing God would give me the gift of teleportation because I was sick of being in that car. Well, He heard my cries. I heard a very bad noise under the hood of my car.
Let me explain where I was. THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, Colorado. Out there in the middle of nowhere it could have been miles before there was a place to pull over and get help. But I was right at an exit to one lone gas station.
What a blessing! As I was looking under the hood a man came out and helped me. Not a mechanic, just a nice man. Again, a blessing. He could have just said he didn’t know what it was but he got water and filled up my empty coolant container. Then he checked the hoses and said my radiator hose had broken. I was feeling a little less blessed but still recognizing how bad this could have been.
He then went in and found out where I could take it after he determined it could be driven. Lord be praised, blessed again! There was a Napa Parts dealer and mechanic only 10 miles back in Flagler, Colorado. He told me to drive with the heater on. I did.
My metal throne in the middle of nowhere.
I arrived at the Napa dealer (very old school, greasy mechanic kind of place, which made me happy) safely and was offered a seat in an old metal rolling chair from the 1950’s held together with duct tape and prayer in said greasy auto parts store while I waited. It was cool inside and that made me happy. Another blessing.
Even better is that there was one motel right next to the greasy Napa dealer. I didn’t know if it was a roach den or a place where teenagers went to fool around but it was a motel none the less. Another “Only God” moment. So if it was going to take longer than expected to repair my car I would at least have a place to stay. As I sat on my 1950’s metal throne I contemplated just how closely God was watching out for me. I wrote about it on Facebook singing His praises.
It wasn’t long before the guy figured out that a serpentine belt broke and knocked a hole in my radiator. The good news was he could fix it. The bad news? He couldn’t until in the morning because he had to go and get the radiator. The worse news was it was going to be 500.00. But that’s ok because God had provided me with some extra money that could help take care of it.
My oasis in the desert
I gathered the things I needed and checked in at the motel. It was an old motel owned by a very old lady and her 40 dogs and it only cost 49.00. The blessings just kept on coming. There was even a diner in the same parking lot and that was a good thing because I had eaten nothing and it was already mid afternoon. The food tasted awful but beggars can’t be choosy. It was either that or the gas station next door. By the way, each business I named is ALL that exists in this little town in the middle of nowhere. I digress…back to the motel.
Much to my delight the room was old but well maintained and it had a pretty, quaint appearance on the outside. Looks can be deceiving. I decided to take a shower and found that the cold water did not work. I put a positive spin on it and decided it was much better to have no cold water than no hot. It wasn’t scalding so it was all good.
A bed of bricks in my “quaint” room.
Then I lay down on the bed. If I had been Goldilocks I would have run from the room. The bed was so hard that I was afraid that if I rolled over I would get bruised.
Then there was the commode. No big deal that the spot the commode was in was too small to maneuver in…I managed. But then the toilet clogged. Seriously people, I didn’t use enough to clog anything! Well, Granny and the dogs next door were already asleep so there was no asking for a plunger. So I did the only thing I could. I stuck my hand down the toilet to unclog it. I discovered then where all the cold water was.
Just in case you were wondering…
After washing my hands until they were bleeding I decided to end that day and go to bed on that brick someone disguised as a mattress. And then I saw it. A bug. In the bed. I looked at it and then swept it off onto the floor. Suddenly it came to me..there was a BUG in the BED. I then googled images of bed bugs. Yes boys and girls, the bug in my bed was indeed a bed bug.
Let me stop here and tell you a little tale about some mustard. When I was about 12 I had had a very bad day. I had managed to not let it get to me until I went to the refrigerator to make myself a sandwich only to find that we had no mustard. I didn’t like mayonnaise, I liked mustard. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. I sat down on the kitchen floor with the refrigerator door still open and cried like a baby.
This bed bug was the mustard all over again. I sat down and bawled. Then I commenced to tearing the bed apart to see if there were more. I was still crying you understand. But I was fast at work picking things up off the floor and checking every inch of the bed.
I found nothing else but I can tell you this. I just wanted to go home to my crooked house with the rotten floor. I was tired of being positive. I just wanted to go home.
Me losing my mind.
I was very aware that I got my wish and was out of my car. I was also aware that all of this was gonna make a GREAT story. I was even more aware that God arranged all of those circumstances in my favor. But at that moment, I could feel imaginary bugs crawling all over me and I was DONE with that trip.
I awoke the next morning with a much better attitude and no bug bites. I collected my car and got on the road. It was all over. I told myself that the rest of the trip home would be a breeze. I lied.
I discovered a few miles into that trip that I had Walker’s virus. It was now my turn to stop at most of the exits along the way.
It took me 6 days to make a 4 day trip. I arrived home deaf and dehydrated. Three days after I returned home I finally got rid of the stomach virus. 18 days, 2 doctor’s visits, a steroid shot, antibiotic shot and a prescription for antibiotics and steroids later and I am still as deaf as I was on day one. Perhaps this second round of meds will take care of it. I leave for Washington on May 25 so here’s hoping I can hear again by then.
You just never know. You never know what adventures await when God calls. You never know who you’ll share the adventure with. You never know if the trip will be filled with laughter or tears or both. What I do know is this…God is in control and I wouldn’t have it any other way!