Thursday, August 28, 2008

Believing in the path your walking: Bill and Penny

I was just contacted by a professor from Chicago. I heard him speak on National Public Radio six months ago. I felt called to write him after hearing the years he spent on his efforts to help folks realize their potential. I shared that after a death in my life, I strayed from the life I was leading to a path of self destruction. After several years of having too much fun being unhappy, I began rewalking the same path with a whole new spirit.

He would like to write an article about Arctic Village and why I've earned seven Gov. Special Tribute Commendations. I find it amazing that in each path of service I've walked, the new people I've met are wonderful, while at the same time the people closest to me question me and my character and call me horrible things.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Special Thanks: To the Gilberts

Having Tremble Gilbert ( Village Priest ) show interest in a garden kicked off the project on the right foot. Then his son Albert wanted a garden, followed by Bob and Anette Gilbert. With the Gilberts on board others wanted to follow. I know we were sent there for a reason, and I know without so much interest shown by the Gilbert family our job would have been so much more difficult. It is so clear God's hand was in control of this effort, Penny and I were along for the ride and what a ride it has been.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Week in Arctic Village: Bill

The first eight hours in Arctic Village was a continuous roller coaster ride. This included finding camp unsuitable twice, angering two council members whom I had never met, witnessing a collision between a motorcycle and a four-wheeler that sent a teenage boy flying twenty- plus feet as he did a three-sixty and flipping the four-wheeler with two teenage girls on it--all of this while I was reacquainting myself with so many friends. By day's end I was reminded again what happens when there's too many white people in Arctic Village. I'm also reminded again of how many friends I have in this special place, because not too many white people could pull off what I've done today. My words carry so much weight because I care enough to show I care, year in and year out for my friends so far from my home.
Snow fall was constant the first week, but the greenhouse kept the seven hundred plus starts warm; it didn't do a thing for me! Our three-season tent provided so much ventilation with each corner being screen, in fact twice the snow was swirling in the tent with the same intensity as outside. Bringing the greenhouse was the single reason for such a successful start.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Meeting Candy: Bill and Penny

The free time we were given had us travel and learn so much about Fairbanks and Alaska. We walked into a Historical Museum in downtown Fairbanks and met the owner, Candy. She asked us to sign the guest book so she could see the scope that folks travel to visit Fairbanks. We struck up a conversation and spoke for over an hour. She understood tent camping in Fairbanks was so much softer, but why do it. She asked if we would like to stay in an apartment in her home saying we would have a separate entrance. We spent a week at Candy's home and felt so welcome. We will see our friend each year, not for a free place to live, but to catch up as friends do.
Thanks Candy!!!
Bill and Penny

New Friends in Fairbanks: Bill and Penny

One of the many blessings returned for acts of service is new friends. We left Arctic Village sooner than planned because folks took home-ownership of their gardens. Heidi Rader ( Tanana Chiefs Conference ) was glad to hear of the success in Arctic Village and asked us to attend a meeting in her office that week, saying it was so fortunate that you were in Fairbanks. The meeting was with a grant writer from Washington state. The meeting lasted two hours, each avenue traveled had Penny and I sharing on our experience in that line of service. It was like we were meant to be there, which is so true. Gi Gi wants a copy of our upcoming DVD and a power point to present for grant funding. We left the meeting with Gi Gi planning to return the following day for a workshop Heidi and Cara were presenting. The three of us went to the Farmer's Market and enjoyed learning more about crop production and each other. We dropped Gi Gi off at the Ag. Dept. on the campus of Univ. of Alaska at Fairbanks. We made plans to meet and spend more time together later, then meet the Dean of Ag. the following day. We never would have met Gi Gi had we stayed on schedule. This trip is not about us.

Fairbanks Habitat for Humanity: Bill and Penny

Meeting our friends from home made this service week as unique as any. Seeing the site made me realize why we were called, Penny and I would be working on the same home we helped frame. It was so important for each one of us to be there, both at the job-site and everywhere we traveled. Once you're called to a specific act of love you must answer, because the service would be incomplete without you. The work Penny and I performed was necessary for the success the following week for those who traveled so far.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gardening Project: Arctic Village Bill and Penny

The 2008 project was full of challenges and changes from Day One as the community concept changed to home gardens. The village was on edge as more "Outsiders" entered and disrupted the flow of their home. This began each morning at 7AM six days a week as the new school is being constructed. I would spend, as planned, the first three weeks camped at the runway. I positioned camp so each plane would pass directly over me as it landed. WOW!!! This was my first spring-time visit. Seeing snow-covered mountains surround this place is enchanting. Throughout the summer and fall these same mountains are the last few that completely melt off as you enter the Brooks Range. As you cross the Junjik River at the north end of Arctic Village you enter the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Highlights will began being posted as we share how we were used as a tool to change a 10,000-year culture, and as we put together a very interesting DVD of this effort and so much more. Next year's project is already in the works and will be expanded not only to home gardens, but a large community garden surrounding a much larger greenhouse.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peru, Penny

I have had the opportunity to visit Peru, South America twice. Tom Hough, a high school teacher/coach of mine quit teaching to continue the mission work of his father in Pucullpa and along the Ucayali River. They now have a Bible institute in Pucullpa where folks come to be able to teach and witness in their own villages and communities. During my first trip in 1996 our group worked at the institute painting, hanging ceilings, and other odd jobs to improve the school building. It was an eye-opening experience to see life and the culture of this South American town. An overnight stay at a village along the flooded river had an even bigger impact on me. To see people living with so little and being happy made me realize how "easy" life has been for me. My desire to have "stuff" dwindled in exchange for simply being happy for what I do have. One exciting part of the trip was going out alligator hunting at night.

The second trip in March of 2001 had the group working out at SAM Air a little drive out of the city. This part of the mission has the planes, land and water, for easier access to the villages. Part of our group rebuilt a dock for the float plane. My part of the group helped to dig trenches, cut and tie rebar for a fueling pad, and painted the aviation service building. We once again visited a river village, but returned in the boats that night. The smell of the jungle at night is an awesome fragrance of the blossoms opening up after the heat of the day. It amazes me of how blessed I am when I serve others.

Nicaragua, Penny

In August 2001 I traveled with a group from Cross UCC, Berne, IN to a small mountain community in the middle of Nicaragua. It was the end of the work for hurricane recovery. We participated in a few educational seminars, but for the most part we worked with the people to help build homes, care for their community farm system, and shared in faith activities with them. The children were happy to receive one crayon and one paper to color which occurred every afternoon. Personally, I helped tie rebar together and gather rocks for foundations and I worked out on the farm making supports for tomato plants. The women slept indoors and the men outdoors. The host family made our meals for us. This trip once again showed me that we have so much, but could probably be happy with less.