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Archive for June, 2013

We don’t know anything about doing a basketball camp but we’ll do one anyway…

When I was in High School I flunked P.E. One of the many reasons was because the P.E. teacher was a basketball coach and all she wanted to do was play basketball.  I love to watch basketball but I did NOT want to play it…so I sat on the bleachers with a couple of other girls and watched.  Needless to say, when I visited the Cheyenne River Reservation last Fall and was told that what they really needed this summer was a basketball camp, I didn’t think much would come of it. However, we all know that God works in mysterious ways AND has a sense of humor so this P.E. dropout got a group together to do a basketball camp.

Don’t get me wrong…I didn’t play basketball…that would have been an attempt at too little too late…but I did recognize that God was calling me to make this happen. So, after arguing with God for a few days, I gave David McCormick with North Monroe Baptist Church a call and he began the process of putting together a great team. Now, David is not exactly a basketball guru himself so it was like the blind leading the blind here.  But God is like that…He uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.  All He wants from us is obedience and it’s a good thing because that’s all David or I had to offer in the form of basketball.

David McCormick, David Tidwell and Coach Delmar Pippins proving that God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise!

David McCormick, David Tidwell and Coach Delmar Pippin proving that God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise!

North Monroe Baptist Church is a church that can be depended upon to put everything together, provide everything needed and work like their lives depend upon it. I knew this camp was in good hands.  David’s nephew, Blake Bosely, began working and training and so did Lee Ainsworth, another go getter. They were all working hard to provide Cheyenne River with the best they could offer…but God had other plans.  Two weeks before the camp began, through a series of circumstances that only God could have put together, Coach Delmar Pippin and his wife Lori came on board.  Delmar and Lori don’t even go to North Monroe but isn’t it like God to surprise you at the last minute?  Also coming on board at the last minute was Derek Griffon, the youth minister at Simpson Baptist Church, who is also a gifted basketball player.  Two weeks before takeoff God put together the perfect team.

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Front Row: Toni, Shelly Lockwood, Rachel Tillman; 2nd Row: Lee Ainsworth, Melissa Cassiere, Evelyn Tidwell, Jason Bonner; 3rd Row: Richard Ainsworth, Brittany Bosely, David Tidwell, Terry Tanner, Megan Williams; 4th Row: Deborah Golmon, David McCormick, Coach Delmar Pippin, Lori Pippin, Blake Bosely, Derek Griffon

As always, this team worked hard!  We once again had Richard Ainsworth with us to prepare all of our meals and lunch for the kids.  The man is a genius in the kitchen! He was sick most of the time we were there and he never quit working.

Richard and Lee Ainsworth

Richard and Lee Ainsworth

The group slept on air mattresses in the church activity building.  Each morning, we awoke to a great breakfast and the day would begin…but only after David and Derek sang “Who Let the Dogs Out” when they saw me each morning! 😛

We started the day by picking the kids up. We worked with Grades 1-6 from 9:30 -12:00…

Grades 1-6

Grades 1-6

…and with Grades 7-12 from 1:00-3:30.

Grades 7-12

Grades 7-12

Jason Bonner, Brittany Bosely, Lee Ainsworth, Evelyn Tidwell, Deborah Golemon, David Tidwell and Lori Pippin had the job of picking the kids up and bringing them home each day.

We began by checking the kids in….

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Then they would spend hours in a hot gym learning drills.  Coach Pippin was GREAT at holding their interest.  These kids wanted to excel!

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Toward the middle of practice Brittany Bosley would introduce a team building activity that was always a lot of fun…

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We ended each group with a short devotional from David and a testimony from one of the younger adults on our team…

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Then we would feed them lunch…

Jason Bonner dishing up hotdogs for lunch!

Jason Bonner dishing up hotdogs for lunch!

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Lori Pippin is dishing out fajitas to the older kids!

There’s always going to be some children who just don’t want to play basketball.  We were prepared for that. Thanks to my last mission in Washington State (and Twin Bridges Baptist Church) I had craft supplies, face paint and bubbles to keep those kids busy.  Shelly Lockwood and Melissa Cassiere were great about working with them…

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Sometimes the crafts weren’t enough so they would make do with hula hoops and alot of love…

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We also took the opportunity to introduce them to Christ with the “Wordless Book” I told you about in my last blog entry…

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Mrs. Sally Jezek, the Pastor’s wife and Megan Williams, their summer missionary from Alabama teaching the girls about Christ with the Wordless Book.

On our last day of camp some of the players were recognized for their outstanding abilities with certificates…Coach’s Award, Outstanding Player, 3 point Champion, Best Hustler, Best Ball Handler, etc.  These kids were so excited to be recognized for their hard work but this young man really touched my heart.  When the coach called his name, this tough teen jumped up grinning…his excitement was obvious.

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One award that brought tears to my eyes was a special award from the Coach.  Kansas Ghostbear had only made it to camp for two days so he didn’t get a certificate recognizing his abilities; however, he and Coach Pippin had a special bond.  The coach gave Kansas a Cypress Knee with “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me” written on it.  Kansas was all smiles.

Coach Pippins and Kansas Ghostbear

Coach Pippin and Kansas Ghostbear

Kansas even had the Coach write down all the drills for him so he could continue to practice what he had learned.

This basketball camp was incredibly successful.  We gained attendance each day, starting out with 37 on day one and ending up with 52 on day four.  We ministered to a total of 65 children and teens in a community that is extremely small at a school that usually only has 4 or 5 graduating seniors each year.

From time to time I was concerned that we weren’t getting enough of the Gospel to them but God made me realize that we got the chance to show them the Gospel through our love and guidance in ways many of them never would have encountered outside of a basketball camp.  He also showed me that we had paved the way for the upcoming VBS and Women’s Ministry happening the next weeks.

There was a lot more to this week than just the basketball camp.  The first Sunday we were there, North Monroe sang in the morning service…check out my Facebook page to see the video.  I gave a brief testimony about Mission Ventures and the Pastor gave a powerful sermon.  One Native lady said she felt as if she had experienced heaven that day.  The beauty of the service brought new life to their little sanctuary on the reservation and with it a renewed joy.

After the service we had grilled burgers and fries with everyone and got to fellowship…

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Then, on Monday, I got the honor of a lifetime.  A lady who had been in the service on Sunday told her husband some of the things I had said about God using the Native American community and he came to the church to speak with me.  This isn’t a common occurrence and I am still in awe that God put me in that place at that time.  What we discussed is not something I can publish here but it’s something I’ll never forget.

This is Mr. Ronnie, the gentleman who honored me with a visit.

This is Mr. Ronnie, the gentleman who honored me with a visit.

On Wednesday night North Monroe again participated in the service with songs.  This time they also included sign language by Rachel Tillman.

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And then came Thursday night. We extended an invitation to the adults and children alike in the surrounding communities to join us at the church that evening for some Louisiana fun…gumbo, music, etc.  Pastor Jed feared that we would be disappointed with the number of people who would come…we weren’t!  110 adults and children joined us that night!

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The room was filled to capacity and then began to spill outside.

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The line for food was long…

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…but there was plenty for everyone thanks to Richard and Deborah! The gumbo was a big success as well as the spaghetti they prepared for those not brave enough to try the gumbo.

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After the meal we headed over to the chapel where we sang and shared stories of Louisiana and they shared stories of the reservation history.  It was loud and boisterous and crazy and wonderful!

We presented Sally and Jed Jezek with a framed photo of a Louisiana Bayou in the Fall that the talented Deborah Golemon had taken.

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We also left behind two more framed photos, also taken by Deborah, for the Jezek’s to give to the school and to a dedicated member of their congregation.

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Cheyenne River shares many of the same troubles that other reservations have…low or no income, health issues, suicide, alcoholism, drugs and spiritual attacks. I also see God moving here, just as I’ve seen on other reservations…proving that God has something amazing in store for the Native American community.

What happened on this reservation was a mighty work of God.  The Native adults don’t usually participate as much as we experienced here at Cheyenne River.  It’s also unusual to have that many teens participate. The ministry that took place here was nothing short of a miracle.

I’m so grateful I listened to God and pursued the idea of a basketball camp.  I’m grateful that Sally and Jed Jezek obediently answered the phone and invited me into their home to discuss the possibilities of working there this summer.  I stand amazed at the fact that two weeks before we left God provided a Christian coach so that these kids would get a “true” basketball camp.  My mind is still reeling at the fact that an unprecedented number of adults and children joined us in this ministry. And I am beyond thankful that David McCormick and the team from North Monroe said, “We don’t know anything about doing a basketball camp but we’ll do one anyway.”

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Five small pieces of felt and a safety pin…

Vicki and Fred James of Morning Star Ministries have been ministering to the people of the Colville Reservation for over 10 years.  The people here are their family and their love for them is obvious.  The love goes both ways…the people of the reservation love Vicki and Fred as well.

Vicki James and some of "her babies."

Vicki James and some of “her babies.”

Fred James

Fred James

You don’t hear much about this reservation in the North/Central area of Washington State…

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…and there are only two churches that work with Vicki and Fred. These two churches offer the children a VBS during the summers.  There’s no building yet so everything has to be done during the summer. The good news is the tribal council is leasing them a piece of land and we are looking forward to seeing God provide the funding for a building that will enable them to have year round ministry.

And now they have another team from Louisiana to work with them as well!

Front Row:  John Philips, Zeb Mathews, Kim Stalsby, Kristy Robertson, Tyler Adams, RoAnn Nichols, Leta Faye Pittman, Terry Tanner...Back Row:  Pastor Josh Adams, Frank Pittman, Garland Nichols, Fred James

Front Row: John Philips, Zeb Mathews, Kim Stalsby, Kristy Robertson, Tyler Adams, RoAnn Nichols, Leta Faye Pittman, Terry Tanner…Back Row: Pastor Josh Adams, Frank Pittman, Garland Nichols, Fred James

What started off as a sketchy summer (as you read on my last post) became a mission I’ll never forget. Everyone arrived Sunday evening and started work first thing Monday morning. We had to get the park ready for the Back Yard Bible Club we were doing so that was our first order of business.

There was lots of mowing…

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Picking up trash…

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Sweeping up broken glass…

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Picking up the broken glass…

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And weed eating.

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The ladies and the teens were done with their part of the clean up job after Monday but Pastor Josh Adams, Mr. Frank Pittman and Mr. Garland Nichols spent the next three mornings continuing to mow the remainder of the property.  Mr. Frank and Mr. Garland also helped Fred put up a new basketball goal. This property would not look nearly as good as it does if not for those guys!

On the evening of the first day we all walked the neighborhoods in the area handing out flyers. The next three days saw the ladies and the teens splitting up into teams of 2 and 3 and prayer walking each neighborhood in the mornings while the men continued cleaning the park. The pastor did take a break from mowing to go prayer walking with us on Thursday.  He and some of the others hiked up a mountain to a waterfall and prayed for all they could see.

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After prayer walking each morning, we would head back to the hotel to get ready for the Back Yard Bible Club that evening.

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Then we would head back out to the park and start setting up.

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The kids started coming before we even got finished!

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We had three stations.  Bible Study…

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You would be amazed at how much they want to participate in Bible Study when you start throwing candy to those who participate! 🙂 Our lessons were based on Genesis 1:1, John 1:1 and Revelation 1:1.

Then it was time for crafts.  Each craft went with the Bible lesson.  Kim Stalsby, the youth minister at Twin Bridges BC in Alexandria, and her youth group worked hard at providing them.

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Brother Josh Adams of Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill led the kids in recreation…and they loved him!

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All of his activities consisted of these…

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…needless to say, many of us got wet every night!

We had snacks every night as well.  Mrs. RoAnn Nichols and Mrs. Leta Faye Pittman, both from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill, took care of this for us.

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Thanks to the ladies of Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill, we had gifts and prizes for everything…

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But this young man got a huge master blaster water gun for his dedication in picking up the trash every single night!

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The kids played basketball (basketball is always a big deal on every reservation)…

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They enjoyed the swings and slides in the park…

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And they all enjoyed the sidewalk chalk but this young man had a special gift with that chalk.  I think I see a graffiti artist in the making…

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We had bubbles to blow, 4 square, and as many dogs as we had kids (almost).

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On Friday night we had a fry bread fellowship!  I am a devoted fan of fry bread and was quite excited about this.  However, as most of you know, it is best if I don’t participate in cooking.  So…Vicki taught Mrs. RoAnn, Mrs. Leta Faye and Kim how to make it.

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Kim even made Louisiana’s version of fry bread…beignets.  The kids loved them!

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Everything was eaten and I didn’t even get any fry bread!!!! I did get some beignets though and they were SO GOOD!!

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The kids had fun playing with face paint while waiting for the fry bread to cook.  Some went with the traditional look…

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…and some not so traditional.

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Some tried their hand at it with the adults…

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…and with each other.

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Friday night, like every other night, was a great success.

We ministered to approximately 60 children all total and more importantly, we had 17 children ask Jesus to be their Savior!

We all bonded with these children…

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We were blessed to be a part of their lives if even for a brief moment.  I was blessed in many ways…to share this ministry with such a great team and to make new friends I’ll have forever.  I was also honored when this man told me that he liked how I taught the kids.  He said, “You know how to handle them.  You sound like an Indian woman.  They know they better listen.”

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I almost cried when these children brought me a basket full of roses and a bracelet they made for me.

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These are beautiful people…

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…and I was honored to serve them.

But I am most honored that Jesus sent us there so that we could bring the Gospel to them.

Thanks to Mrs. Yvonne Stockman  I have lots of little “Wordless Books” that tell the Gospel with a simple color scheme.  Our team wore these little books and used them to present the Gospel in a way that a child can understand.  Many of these children had never heard of Jesus Christ and now, because of five small pieces of felt and a safety pin, they have heard and can tell their family and friends.

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