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You’ve come a long way baby…

When I was a kid they used to have advertisements for cigarettes and although the Marlboro Man was clearly my favorite (if you don’t understand why just google his picture), I still remember the famous slogan for “Virginia Slims.” Launched in 1968 (I was 5 years old), it was one of the most famous advertising campaigns in US history.

“You’ve come a long way” (sometimes with “baby” added at the end) was the provocative tagline for a new, thinner cigarette marketed specifically to women. The phrase became a national catch-phrase overnight.

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The advertising focused on the emerging feminist and the rise of  “the New Woman,” a woman who was independent, self-sufficient, and eager to demonstrate her confidence.

I’m not here to promote cigarettes.  I never smoked and don’t plan to start. Nor do I see myself as a “New Woman.”  But the phrase does come to mind as I contemplate the ten weeks, 7,800 miles and 140 hours spent in my car this summer.

From Louisiana to the Choctaw Reservation in MS.  From MS to the Cheyenne River Reservation in SD. From SD to the Colville Reservation in WA. From WA to the Hoopa Reservation in CA. From CA to the Navajo Reservation in NM. These, with all of the places in between, made for a summer that changed me. I dare say it changed my teams as well as the people we ministered to and who ministered to us.

The teams….Pisgah BC from Forest Hill, North Monroe BC, Twin Bridges BC from Alexandria, Old Saline BC and New Life International Outreach from Woodworth. Good people.  Hard workers.  Dedicated followers of Christ. My friends. 

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There was beauty at every turn.

The real beauty though was found in the people.  Strong, smart, able, broken, filled with joy and sadness…America’s “First Nations” people.  A people loved and desired by God. A people tied to these beautiful lands and to one another.

Then there are the children. For me its all about them. We had plenty of sports and outdoor fun.

There was Bible Study…

…along with singing and dancing in some cases!

There were always crafts for the little ones…

…along with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, face painting, manicures in the salvation colors…

…and snacks for everyone. Some even got a full meal each day!

Each camp ended with an awards ceremony…

…as well as a Family Night.

There is always a great deal of work on everyone’s part in putting all of this together. The teams, the churches we are working with on the reservations, those who contribute gifts, prizes, and sports equipment, those who contribute through prayer and donations…everyone has a part to play.  Allowing God to work before, during and after each of these camps is crucial to how each individual will be impacted.

We even had a couple of construction projects this year. Some of the guys from North Monroe BC built a Noah’s Ark themed swing set for the kids at Cheyenne River and a team of Pisgah men and youth built the front steps and deck on the front of the new church building that is in progress on the Choctaw Reservation. The team from Twin Bridges BC saw the chance to minister to the owner of the motel where we were staying by offering to repair the roof on one of the motel buildings. The owner is from India and is not a Christian but this simple act of kindness opened doors for our team members to minister in ways that only God could have arranged.

Some of the people who work the hardest get the least recognition. They are the cooks for each of our teams. Their job never ends. They cook for the team, they cook for the camp…they never stop cooking! They do an awesome job…sometimes too awesome. I was trying to lose weight and they were cooking like we all needed fattening up!

Joining our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship and fellowship as well as taking time to enjoy one another as a team is all part of the experience. From worship services, to playing games, having poolside devotions, checking out the local scenery, passing out flyers and eating out…we always have a great time and return home with new friends and a desire to return. Lives are always changed when doing this work…especially mine.

I’ve taken a multitude of roads in this ministry and I’ve loved every one.  Yes, I have “Come a long way baby,”  but the most exciting part is knowing that there are always new roads ahead.

The next road leads to Wisconsin in September and then on to the organization of the Christmas shoeboxes. I hope you plan on joining me!

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Better late than never!

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.

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.

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

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.

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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.

BAAD smallerBeing 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.

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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

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

Working the check in table

 

Shane preparing Gumbo

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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...

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.

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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! 

It’s all about the math…

2 teams. 2 missions. 32 missionaries. 35 teenagers. 101 children. 5,600 miles. All these are numbers that make an eternal difference in the lives of the missionaries and those they ministered to.

First there’s the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State.  Twin Bridges Baptist Church from Alexandria returned with me this year to help  Fred & Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries clean the park where the summer ministry takes place. We also provided another Back Yard Bible Club for the children as well as prayer walking and another Fry Bread Fellowship.

Then there’s the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.  North Monroe Baptist Church from Monroe returned with me this year to assist Sally & Jed Jezek’s ministry at LaPlant Baptist Church with another Basketball Camp. Like last year, we had a Louisiana Night where we served Gumbo to the people of the reservation.  In addition to these ministries, we also added a Ladies’ Bible Study & Crafts as well as church repairs & yard work.

The experiences were multiple and read like an extensive list of the seven dwarves…tired, dirty, hot, cold, grouchy, happy, sleepy, scared, excited, overwhelmed, irritated, sore and exhilarated. But always blessed.

There are other numbers to consider as well….these are the numbers that make all of this possible.

18 monthly contributors to Mission Ventures. 1 church that provided 72 Bibles to hand out at the Colville Reservation. 1 family that provides my cell phone. 1 brother, 1 sister in law & 1 niece that take care of my dog while I am gone.  1 Mother that takes care of my finances while I am away. 1 Daddy that makes sure my A/C is turned on before I get home. 1 Friend who mows my grass out of the goodness of his heart. 1 sweet lady who provides me with literature and wordless books. An abundance of others who provide me with finances and prayers to make all of this possible.

Finally, I am providing all of you with 2 videos….1 of the ministry at the Colville Reservation and 1 of the ministry at the Cheyenne River Reservation.  I hope you are as blessed by knowing you are a part of this ministry as I am by having you be a part of it!

 

Buffalo Gals…

I’ve never been a big fan of women’s meetings/conferences.  There always seems to be tears and hugs, prayer circles and holding hands and lots of  “touchy feely” emotions running high. I quit saying I wasn’t a fan because a good friend at the Baptist Building told me she wished I would quit saying that…of course, she worked in women’s ministry so who can blame her?  Because I didn’t want to offend her (and because I’m a BIG people pleaser-that’s for another post) I did quit saying it but it sure didn’t stop me from feeling it.

So, God being who He is (He likes to mess with me a lot), He sent me to….you guessed it….a women’s conference. But to make it even more interesting He decided to mess with me just a little more and have me work on something else I don’t like…repetition.  See, I not only helped with the women’s conference, I also helped with the women’s prison ministry and the Juvenile Detention Center girls’ ministry and they were all the exact same teachings. Lots of repetition.

It was all as I expected. Lots of tears and hugs…

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Prayer Circles…

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And the same lesson three times. (I only have photos from the first conference because I couldn’t take pictures at the prison or the Juvenile Detention Center)

PR Ladies Conference 6 smallerPR Ladies Conference 5

God also put me in more uncomfortable territory. I shared a trailer with two very Godly women. Linda Grajewsky, pictured above, has a ministry called Gaits to Heaven and this was her mission.  She does Horse and Bible Camps for kids and Recovery Ministries for women and girls.  I met her four years ago here at Pine Ridge and she has become a good friend.  With her was Pam Hollaway.  I didn’t know Pam before this trip but I’ve made a forever friend there as well.

So, what was the problem? Why was I uncomfortable?  Well, I’m a pretty jovial person and I love Jesus. I love to tell others about Jesus. I enjoy quiet time with Jesus. I want Jesus to be a part of all of my life. But, I don’t hold hands every time I pray with others.  And I don’t break out into song. I don’t wake up all happy, happy, happy either.  And, right or wrong, I don’t have a spiritual attitude all day long. These two do and are all of these things!  I told Pam that if I had to hold hands and pray again that I was going to make a scene! Yes, I know, I wasn’t being very holy. But then again, have you met me? Some of you may remember that when praying over me I won’t allow you to put your hand on my head because it might mess my hair up. And all the hand holding made me want hand sanitizer desperately!

Now that we have confirmed that I am not very “touchy feely” let me go on to say this. I needed this time at Pine Ridge.  I needed to be made to feel uncomfortable. From the run down trailer with the leaks and spiders that frolicked in the tub all night…

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To sharing it with these two horse women who are happy ALL OF THE TIME…

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To lots of hand holding and hugs.

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I needed it all.  I needed to hear those same lessons three times because God spoke to me about different things each time. I needed to spend time with ladies who are able to break out into song (someplace other than the car or the shower) just because they are happy to be alive and children of God.  I needed to knock down a few walls and be willing to hold hands in as many prayer circles as God (or Linda) put together. I needed all of it because God’s not finished with me yet. If He were He would take me on home!

I wasn’t the only one who needed it. For the first time, the ladies of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the ladies of the Cheyenne River Reservation (only 3 hours apart) came together to pray and learn and to begin a healing process that has been a long time coming.

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The young women in the prison needed it to prepare them to depend on Jesus while in prison and when they return home to bad situations.

The girls at the detention center needed it for the same reasons and to help them avoid a future that could consist of more prison time.

There’s a lot of hatred on these reservations…

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and a lot of hopelessness.

Waiting for the bars to open or for the drunk to wear off before they head back...

Waiting for the bars to open or for the drunk to wear off before they head back…

But there’s also a lot of wisdom…

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a great deal of love…

Restoration Church on Sunday...a Native church with a white pastor recognizing that all men are the same!

Restoration Church on Sunday…a Native church with a white pastor recognizing that all men are the same!

people with servant’s hearts…

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LaDonna, a Lakota Native, preparing the meal for our ladies.

and an abundance of natural beauty.

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There are lots of lessons to be learned here…for myself and for you as well.  Do you need to step out of your comfort zone?  Do you recognize that God has things for you if you will step out of that comfort zone?  Do you avoid certain people or circumstances because they are not who or what you are comfortable with and if so, are you willing to let God break you? Are you willing to be “Broken bread and poured out wine” for Jesus?

These are things God is doing in my heart and life. God is in control of my life and I, for one, am happy He put me here at this moment in time to share it with these two.

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Just call us the “Buffalo Gals!”

I could tell you…

Oh the things I could tell you about the latest adventure God sent me on. I could tell you about the beauty of the land in all of it’s tropical glory…white sand beaches, deep blue waters, bananas and coconuts hanging from trees and rich vegetation with vibrant colors.

Or I could tell you about the people. Children who don’t care if you speak their language because laughter is the same in any language.  Loving children who just want you to play with them. School children interested in the Anglo people making balloon animals and sharing the Gospel with a cube and a bracelet.  Children amazed at a church baptism because they had never seen a swimming pool before…not even the blow up pool we used. Old women making tortillas from scratch, offering your whole group a tortilla filled with eggs and peppers. Young women playing with their babies. Men helping in the installation of a new wood stove. All of them offering a beautiful smile and a simple but generous hospitality.

I could tell you about a way of life that you and I usually only see in movies and magazines. Houses made of sticks with grass roofs…a few of which also had satellite dishes for entertainment.  An entire family sleeping in hammocks in one room.  Ceilings black from the soot of fires made in the center of the room for cooking.  Pens made of stones piled high to keep in a hog.  Untreated water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.  Laundry rooms consisting of a shallow tub and a water hose. Electrical wires run randomly to support a light bulb or even a fan or a television. Chickens running loose in every yard.  And corn everywhere….the main staple in their diet.

Perhaps I could tell you about the ministry there.  About Pastor Doug Millar who ministers to the Mayan people as well as to the Mexican and Anglo people in Playa Del Carmen and Paamul. About the three services he does in two different places on Sunday mornings and the one service he has on Wednesday nights as well as a worship service for the Mayan people on Fridays. Services that are held in open air churches with concrete floors and grass roofs as well as one in a hotel in the city. I could tell you about the 8 Mayan men and boys who were baptized as a result of this ongoing ministry in the Mayan villages. And the women, who all wear white dresses with brilliant, colorful embroidery, who were too embarrassed to be baptized in a blow up swimming pool so they came the day after we left to be baptized in the Gulf of Mexico.

I would surely tell you about how Doug’s ministry is providing wood burning stoves with exhausts that extend outside in as many Mayan homes as possible. And how these stoves make it possible to breathe a little more freely in a home once permeated with a strong smoky odor.

I could tell you about the humidity of 100% and the heat index of 120 degrees on a 90 degree day. The floors of an air conditioned hotel room sticky from the humidity outside.  Lizards…big and ugly.  Winds that never stop blowing.  Me sweating and drinking water, sweating and drinking water, etc. The group fearing I might die on them.  Mayan children turning fans on the big lady with the red face.

I could also tell you about a group that grew quite close as a result of this mission.  Six unlikely people thrown together by God’s hand to discover and re-discover a ministry unlike any other.  Six vastly different people with varying personalities who were able to laugh and even bicker with one another.

Finally, I could tell you about the trip home.  A two hour ride on a Mexican bus after an hour’s wait in the heat. A line at the Mexican airport in Cancun that wrapped around and around and around.  A rush to make a plane that was delayed three times, cancelled once and then finally arrived.  A connecting flight in Houston that was long gone and the possibility of spending 12 hours in the Houston airport until “someone” found a hotel with a shuttle. “Someone” who would have given $1000.00 for a shower and a bed but all she had to pay was $70.00.  “Someone” who was deliriously tired.

I could tell you all of this but I believe you would get more out of it if I showed you….Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Won’t you join me?

A lot has happened since my last entry.  I’ve spoken in a few churches…

Randy Carruth and I both spoke at Cedar Grove BC in Lecompte

Randy Carruth and I both spoke at Cedar Grove BC in Lecompte

I’ve decorated for Christmas and I’m sure I’ve gotten a few cavities from all the saccharin Christmas movies I watched!

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I’ve sent and received many Christmas cards. I’ve prayed for all those I received cards from and accepted the blessings that came with the cards I received. I’ve visited with friends and family and participated in three Dirty Santa’s and we’ve all opened a shameful number of gifts…

Christmas Collage

…and I’ve participated in the whole Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty defense. I’ve been told that I should be their P.R. person…I’m game if they are! 🙂

phil

I’ve had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas season. However, the best part of my season had nothing to do with me but with all of you…and with two young adults from Twin Bridges Baptist Church…and with the children and leaders of two Indian Reservations and one Indian community in Mississippi.  The best part of this season was the Christmas Shoebox ministry that many of you made possible.

I sent out a request for help in providing our Native American children with Christmas gifts and the response was wonderful!  Ten churches and six individual families participated in this ministry providing a total of 395 shoeboxes!  180 of the boxes went to the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin while 161 went to the Colville reservation in Washington State and 54 boxes went to Corinth Baptist Church, a Choctaw church in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

One little boy in Mississippi is happy to receive his Christmas backpack from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

One little boy in Mississippi is happy to receive his Christmas backpack from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

It was a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground when Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries delivered these gifts to the children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

It was a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground when Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries delivered these gifts to the children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

This ministry began last year at the request of two young men, John Phillips and Zeb Mathews, both of Twin Bridges Baptist Church.  Their simple request provided approximately 100 boxes last year and turned into something we never imagined this year!

This year John and I were joined by Heather Dix, also of Twin Bridges, when we headed to the Lac du Flambeau reservation to deliver gifts and participate with the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church in ministering to the Ojibwe people there.

John Phillips and Heather Dix getting boxes ready.

John Phillips and Heather Dix getting boxes ready.

The church members provided a luncheon of Creamy Beef Fricassee, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and homemade Bread Pudding.  The room was full.

The community at Lac du Flambeau joined us for lunch.

The community at Lac du Flambeau joined us for lunch.

Then we handed out gifts to a group of very excited children. We enjoyed watching the kids open their gifts…but we had even more fun watching them enjoy their gifts!

 

This little girl had a box full of goodies but her very favorite gift was this small silk plant. You just never know what will appeal to them the most!

This little girl had a box full of goodies but her very favorite gift was this small silk plant. You just never know what will appeal to them the most!

There were lots of jump ropes and the kids loved them!

There were lots of jump ropes and the kids loved them!

There were lots of bubbles on hand

There were lots of bubbles on hand

Then it was time to brave the cold, head out into the snow and deliver the remaining gifts. The wind chill that day was 25 below but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. You could hear some of the kids squealing inside when they realized they were getting gifts. 🙂

John and Heather braving the cold to deliver more gifts.

John and Heather braving the cold to deliver more gifts.

Pastor Bill Earl, his wife, Bridget and their kids, Taylor, Zayne and Tallen are so wonderful about making us feel at home and allowing us to turn their home upside down.

The Earl family are wonderful about opening their home to us and helping us make a huge mess while we are there!

The Earl family are wonderful about opening their home to us and helping us make a huge mess while we are there!

The land here is as beautiful as the people and we three Louisiana natives were in awe of that beauty.  There really are no words…the pictures say more than I ever could…

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The Lake of Flaming Torches...not so flaming right now...frozen solid!

The Lake of Flaming Torches…not so flaming right now…frozen solid!

We worked hard but we did take some time to enjoy all of this beauty.  Heather and I even had the distinct pleasure of (and excuse me for this) having our snot freeze right in our noses!  Everyone should get to experience that at least once. 🙂

Look how deep the snow was!

Look how deep the snow was!

The trip was a fast one and one we will never forget.  Yes, the beauty of the land is something we’ll never forget…and the cold is something we’ll never forget…as well as the long drive and the great conversations we had in the car and the friendships we formed. But more than anything we will never forget how great it felt to watch a child open a gift and know that someone in Louisiana took the time to minister to them through a simple box and a few toys.

 

So, what is next on my agenda?  I’m doing some contract work for the Louisiana Baptist Convention for the next month.

Then I’m going to be contacting reservations and groups I worked with last year and making arrangements with them for this coming summer.

I’m also going to be meeting with new groups and new reservations and Native communities to discuss adding to the summer ministry. That means I have a lot of planning to do. I hope to have it all done by the end of February because in March I’ll be going with “I Am Able Ministries” to Mexico to minister to the Mayan children there.  When I return I will be collecting ministry supplies and preparing for the summer.  It all seems a long way off but it will be here before I know it!

I traveled a total of 15,161 miles during 2013 and I hope to cover even more territory in 2014! Won’t you join me?

Happiness comes from your circumstances but joy comes from God…

It’s been a while since my last blog entry. A lot has happened. I was home for a couple of weeks after I got back from South Dakota. I then headed out again in July to meet Open Door Missions in Farmington, New Mexico. The drive there was incredible…

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Colorado Plateau Mesa on Scenic Hwy. 550 in New Mexico

Part of the beauty of driving everywhere is the chance to enjoy what God has created and Red Rock Country is always my favorite!

When everyone arrived we had to hit the ground running.  We had to prepare for, set up, and begin a VBS all on our first day there! Thanks to Jessica Dubea, David Anderson and my good friends at the Louisiana Baptist Convention, I had the literature for everyone when they arrived or we would have been even more overwhelmed than we were.

We had VBS during the day.  We did this year’s Lifeway VBS, Colossal Coaster World, for an Anglo church in Farmington.

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Then, each evening, we held revival services and handed out backpacks with school supplies in several Native American churches in Bloomfield, Aztec and the surrounding areas.

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Tammy & Morgan Hanson handing out backpacks to some of the children on the Navajo Reservation

My mornings consisted of this…

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The three fifth and sixth grade boys in my class during VBS

And my evenings looked more like this…

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Loving these babies!

Bro. Lavelle Spillers,  a pastor in Homer, LA as well as a board member of Open Door Missions was our leader.  I always enjoy working with Bro. Lavelle and his wife Diane.  This year I got to room with their daughter, Pamela Mathews, and their two grandchildren. Poor Diane broke her arm while we were there and the woman never quit!  Bro. Lavelle was preaching, pouring his heart out each night.  They are both devoted and determined to share the Gospel with everyone they come in contact with.

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Diane & Lavelle Spillers

16 adults, youth and children accepted Christ while we were there!  Here are a few of them from Gospel Victory Baptist Church on the Navajo Reservation.

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Some of those saved at Gospel Victory Baptist Church on the Navajo Reservation

Before heading home I made it a point to visit Monument Valley, part of the Navajo Nation landmarks in southern Utah. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go ever since I saw my first western movie as a child.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Driving in I got my “Forrest Gump” shot.  You know the one where he was running and he just stopped and turned around and went home?  Here it is…

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My “Forrest Gump” shot heading into Monument Valley

Then I proceeded on.  It was hot. The sun was high in the sky.  It was dry and dusty.  The road through the valley is only 17 miles but is a terrible road.  I had red dirt covering everything…inside and outside of my car.  And I loved it all!!!!!

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A picture I had been waiting my whole life to capture!

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Monument Valley did not disappoint!

The summer didn’t end here though.  After a couple of more weeks at home it was time to join my friends at the annual “Gathering” at the Bible Baptist Church on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin.

These north woods are as different as night and day in comparison to red rock country but none the less beautiful.  For as much dirt and rock as you see out west, you see just as much grass and water here.

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North Woods country

Fall was even beginning to show it’s colors in a few of the leaves and the underbrush…

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The underbrush was already beginning to change colors

I’m always at peace on this reservation.  There are cool, dry breezes that make the leaves sing and being here is like slipping back in time.  But the true peace that pervades my soul while at Lac du Flambeau is found in Christ who resides in these good people.

Our days were spent attending discipleship classes in the morning, gathering in the evening for jam sessions outside and services at night.

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Evening jam sessions

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The kids would just do their own thing during these jam sessions…

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Sometimes I would just sit back and marvel at the mixture of races coming together…all of us one because of Christ.

The best part was that the leaders for this gathering were also Native American. Pastor Wesley Castillo of Pine Hill Baptist Church and his wife, Paulette, their daughter and three young brothers from their congregation came all the way from the Navajo reservation in Cuba, New Mexico. We were blessed by what God did through them.

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Pine Hill Baptist Church from Cuba, NM

They ministered through music, testimony and sermons that left me in tears each night.  And just when you thought everything was coming to a close, the Holy Spirit would keep it going.  I won’t soon forget any of it.

The group of believers at Lac du Flambeau are strong.  Pam and Dar, Kevin, Mrs. Virginia and Mr. Ed, Mrs. Judy, Bernadine, Mr. Buddy, Pastor Bill and Bridget and their family…they’ve all become my family. But upon returning home I found out that I lost a member of that family.

Mr. Ed Seneca, probably one of the most original men as well as one of the most devoted Christian men I’ve ever known (Red, Yellow, Black or White), went home August 27, 2013.

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Ed Seneca…an original!

Mr. Ed loved Jesus, Mrs. Virginia and music…in that order.  Last year I sat with him in the hospital and found myself amazed that he rejoiced at being there because it gave him the chance to minister to the doctors and nurses who attended him. I’ve listened to him sing in English as well as in his native tongue and each time it left me in tears.  I recorded some of his stories and his songs because I didn’t want to ever forget his voice. I spent as much time with him as I could but it’s never enough is it?

My heart grieves for Mrs. Virginia but rejoices with Mr. Ed because I know he was dancing a jig at the throne!  It makes me smile every time I think about it.  I look forward to seeing him again and I’m grateful God allowed me one more visit with him before He took him.

Mrs. Virginia & Mr. Ed being silly after his stay in the hospital in the spring of 2012

Mrs. Virginia & Mr. Ed being silly after his stay in the hospital in the spring of 2012

This has been a summer filled with beauty, sadness, tears, sickness, frustration and overwhelming joy but more importantly it has been filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

I’ve traveled 12,560 miles. I’ve had the privilege of ministering and being ministered to on reservations in Washington State, South Dakota, New Mexico and Wisconsin. I never had to worry about finances and there were some obstacles but they pale in comparison to what I  witnessed God doing.  I saw lives changed, people saved and experienced God at work in my own life.  I was allowed to minister with some amazing groups…Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill, Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria, Vicki & Fred James of Morning Star Ministries in Washington State, North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe, Open Door Missions and Jed & Sally Jezek at LaPlant Baptist Church in South Dakota.

The best part? It never ends!!  I’m so thankful to all of you for being a part of this ministry!  I appreciate and pray for you all.  I’ll keep you posted on what’s next. Until then, I hope you are all happy, happy, happy but remember…happiness comes from your circumstances but joy comes from God! 

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