Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pitfall to avoid: Bill

It's amazing how doing a good deed can bring misunderstandings. Even in the best of circumstances, you can find yourself in bad situations, as I did this morning. I feel I handled myself well and avoided a confrontation without appearing weak. Minutes later, I over heard several black guys speaking of a white volunteer who didn't handle his situation well, and he did show weakness. He lost their respect forever while becoming prey to the stronger, if he ever returns, hopefully he won't.
A couple of the same black guys uplifted me for the extra work I did to make their job easier in the name of team work. They know I'm there to work and will stand up for myself. I made a couple more friends in a place where opening yourself up is so difficult to do.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arctic Village: Gardening Project 2010

The ripple effect of the 2009 project has been amazing. We have had visits to our blog from folks living around the globe. They flew to Arctic Village to be flown to different points in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They were told not to walk into the village unless invited so the only way to meet and speak to them was to walk to the runway. Occasionally we would walk out and we were so surprised at the number of people that would say " Bill and Penny, We have heard of you two and your garden project". Then they would say when and where in Alaska they had heard of us.
This project now has a life of it's own and we now must try and keep up. The grant money is going to produce jobs in the village like we had only dreamed of, many jobs! More money will go towards this effort than we even prayed for and Penny knows that I will not let this opportunity pass us by. Even if it means we must move to Alaska we will. How often does one have a chance to be a part of history. We have sacrificed so much time, and money, and more. Now we are seeing why we were called to this mission. Three years ago Penny asked "out of six billion people, why you, why us"? Because they trust and believe and care for us. Penny and I are, and will always be a part of the people of Arctic Village.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Decatur Habitat For Humanity: Bill and Penny

Working on Habitat housing is so much fun for Bill and Penny. Starting a home in Decatur began in the Spring, Bill and Penny were right there to help with the framing. Meeting new like minded people while seeing old friends is what this effort is all about. With so many willing to help, it wasn't long before the frame was constructed. Unfortunately, that's when Bill and Penny could no longer help out. It was May and time to head north to Alaska knowing there is so many loving folks in the area to continue this effort.
Thanks to so many the house is near completion for another family to have a home. We look forward to another start to do it all over again.

FT. Wayne Rescue Mission: Bill

Giving of one's self is such an easy process. It's a matter of making a conscience decision that you will follow your heart and God's plan for your walk in life.
I now know part of my job is to cook and serve the homeless. I've began by arriving at the FT. Wayne Rescue Mission at 5:30 am on Weds. and Fridays. I help prepare breakfast while hearing so many stories of folks that are evolving as I did. Learning that there is help for each of us when we're ready to realize that Jesus is waiting for us to simply ask. Some of us wait longer as we slide into yet further trouble and heartache before we just trust that we all have a path to happiness. I listen and am so thankful I believe in the path I'm walking.
Mike speaks that after 24 years he has a drivers licence. That he has finally stopped walking alone and has gave it all to Christ. Mike has so many jailhouse tattoos, so many years in prison. Mike has been reborn. I so enjoy uplifting him as we work together.
The food being prepared is fresh and nutritious. I wish everyone had such a breakfast. By 6:30 am the folks staying at the shelter line up to eat. At 7am the doors open and the "street people " and the working poor arrive. The conversation isn't that different from most breakfast eatery's. They speak of current events and over night happens. Talk of their planned days and struggles fill the air, yet they're so different, so looked down upon.
I so look forward to sharing the stories of these unique people and what I've learned about myself as I do my job.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Arctic Village: Garden Project 2009 Success Story

We have so much to share, but we wanted to post some of the pictures of what was such a blessing. The summer in Arctic Village was cool to say the least. The temp. stayed in the sixties most of the time. The outside gardens were just beautiful, but greenhouses would provide the best finished product. We were so concerned that our effort would be in vein because of the Summer that wasn't. Last years heat made the lake the place to be. This year no one went swimming while we were there. We felt so fortunate to have the harvest we did. We began eating fresh veggies on June 18. We had the first salad on June 28, and began giving away two salads a day on or about July 15.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In a Perfect World: Bill and Penny

In a perfect world there's no misunderstandings or problems of any kind, I've not been there. We are so welcome, yet as outsiders we are the last to know when a problem does arise. Three times problems arose with us right in the middle. By the time we heard about each one it had grown out of per portion. What these nice people were reminded of was when you involve me you had better be ready for me not only to defend myself, but to be in your face. Rocky found that I will not let go and I will be ready to follow him village wide until he gives in and listens to reason. Marion found out it's best to back off and mind her own business and also to remember not to lose her temper. Sarah found that when you start something I will finish it. And most important, you may think you are getting the best of me, more often than not I will win. When it was all said and done Penny and I are like one of the family, and we all know for better or sometimes worse. But we are part of the family and we are already planning our 2010 Summer trip to Arctic Village.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Arctic Village: Out of my comfort zone

This harsh and beautiful place and the people who choose to live here is like home to me. The day to day struggles makes one wonder why don't they just sell out to the oil companies. Life here would be so much easier, that's the point. If this was like most cities in our country, so many more people would live here. The Gwich'in do not want change, nor are they interested in how white people come to " help " them. Having said that, I'm so welcome here and folks want to know when will Penny get here.
I count the days until Penny arrives and fill my days with sixteen hours of work preparing all the gardens throughout the village. I average ten to twelve miles a day carrying water, soil, and supplies to each garden. Plus creating a large garden in Mary and Todd's yard where our camp will be again this year. It's clear to everyone that Todd has lived in Fairbanks throughout the winter, so much needs to be done to clear the area for gardens. Sixty below zero weather can detour most men for keeping on top of yard work. With Todd in Fairbanks, nothing was done in his absence. Within a day or two the yard is ready for what will be as the elders described it as the most beautiful sight they ever seen in the village. Both greenhouses are filled with almost three thousand plus starts that will be planted throughout the village. Plus a dozen trays with hundreds of starts such as lettuce, spinach, and other leafy veggies. I have five times the number of starts from the 2008 project, which was such a success.

The people are warm, the weather is not. Sleep is near impossible due to the cold and twenty-four hour sunlight. We talked about a four season tent, yet our Coleman three season tent is still in good shape. Oh good Lord is it cold, yet I'm so joyful to be here, so far out of my comfort zone. I lost twenty pounds by the time Penny arrived fifteen days after me. We joke of the perfect weight lose plan, we call it " the Arctic Village diet "

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Gathering: Arctic Village -Bill

Upon my arrival in Arctic Village I was told the twenty year anniversary of when all fifteen Gwich'in tribes sent elders to Arctic Village to make decisions concerning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was being celebrated the following week. Representatives from each village would be traveling to Arctic Village along with state and national media. Also a production crew from Los Angeles would be taking an aerial photo to be used in Bonn, Germany at a conference on climate change and global warming. What I wasn't aware of is we would be used to make this aerial photo. This four day event was so informative, interesting,and just amazing to see all the love shown to so many in the Gwich'in nation. People in the Government, environmental groups and the Garth Brooks of native Americans Mr. Robby Romero was there. Daryl Hannah (movie star ) had planned to attend, but a minor injury prevented her from traveling to the gathering. I feel so fortunate to be present at this event, and so many went out of their way to thank me for coming so far out of my comfort zone to do this work. The question I was asked over and over again was, WHERES PENNY?
To see all the people from the village in a prayer circle at the runway was incredible. As Tremble Gilbert ( Village Priest ) said, " never before and probably never again will he see this site" , then we prayed

Monday, August 31, 2009

Garden Project 2009

Flying into Arctic Village in May is just spectacular. Beginning this long process, knowing so many entities in Fairbanks are watching and pulling for us is helpful and intimidating. Yes, we are nervous, so much is at stake, so much has been sacrificed in the name of this effort. So much support and money have been given by people who believe in us. We don't want to let them down and we know if success is achieved it will bring jobs to the village.
In the first hours and days I renew friendships and share what's been going on in my life and enjoy each of their stories. These really are interesting people who must resign them selves this is a life full of hardships when you choose to live two hundred miles north of Fairbanks in a fly in village. That's the biggest draw for me, when that plane takes off, your here and you have no place to go.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Arctic Village : Gardening Project 2009 Bill and Penny

After months of planning Bill traveled to Fairbanks, wondering, hoping, for a successful summer. Two days of meetings, plus all of the gathering of supplies went as expected, now the unpredictable part begins. It wasn't long after arriving at Wright Air I was made aware that this is in fact so unpredictable. I'd seen someone who made us feel so welcome, yet that person won't even acknowledge me. It will take weeks before I learned why and then I understood, but for now I thought here we go again. I had to remember I'm not in charge here, be led and everything will be fine.
Over the next few weeks we will share about our time in Arctic Village and how it has changed our lives. It will take that long because we are learning daily just how wonderful this experience has been and how it will effect our decision making for future plans.
We are continually amazed at how, as Christians we can be used as tools to change and inspire people as history is changed forever.
As I have shared so many times, my job is to make connections and seize opportunities to help others. If we take what our pastors teach us, all the love, support, and wisdom from not only our congregations but denomination wide, apply it to our own lives and the road we travel, we can be
used as tools to accomplish anything.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Disaster Response- Greenwood Indiana

Penny and I were part of a group from PleasantDale Church of the Brethren to travel to Greenwood Indiana to volunteer with home repair from last years floods. We were in Alaska when the floods hit last year and were shocked at the damage and joyful our denomination choose to set up a site. Since last Nov. groups have traveled from all over the nation to show their love to folks in the hardest hit areas.We spent the week in four homes doing major repair and more importantly listening to peoples accounts of that horrific night in June.
Several spiritual events filled this week , they will be posted soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For More Info: Alaska Projects

For more information concerning our Alaska projects please check The Decatur Daily Democrat's web-site. Check May 27, 2008 and Sept. 27, 2008. You will find front page articles on both service missions. In the May issue it states 15 out of 15 plants were successful. That should have stated 15 out of 15 varieties, several hundred plants.

In the Sept. issue it stated the number of hikers not the number of planes. There are 100 hikers on average a day landing in Arctic Village during the summer months.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Miracle Hill: South Carolina

Penny's mom, aunt Linda, Penny, and I drove to Greenville, So. Carolina to spend a couple days service work at Miracle Hill Ministries. Linda's brother-in-law, Gerald Lehman, guided this act of love decades ago which is now run by his son Reid check it out! Penny and I found this to be a much larger operation then we imagined. There are several facilities around the region housing hundreds of homeless. The annual budget is in the millions with one hundred fifty employees, and many volunteers.

We were welcomed into Reid and Barb's home and were so comfortable there. Penny and I worked with Reid at the Spartanburg Rescue Mission. We cut plywood strips and installed 6-ply plastic on windows throughout the building. They are saving to pay for new windows to be installed in 2009. The nice folks were very appreciative of us before they heard we traveled from Indiana to volunteer; we were treated so well. We ate with the homeless instead of leaving for lunch to hear so many share their stories. Each member of the staff had their own testimonials which made the trip that much more meaningful. From the outset we found ourselves surrounded by need and joy as we shared in hopes of inspiring clients to love themselves and be happy, to help them believe in the path their walking to begin to understand God's plan for them. My life and its mistakes are perfect examples that everything happens for a reason. Take those life experiences and make yourself a better person. Put yourself in a position to help others walking the same path and show them your new spirit. Show them their plight is NOT a life sentence if they surround themselves with loving people...that's why we were there, installing plastic kept them warmer and heating costs lower, which is good.

We plan to help from afar (towels are needed). I so look forward to a return visit. They have six thrift stores so much can be sold for needed funds. It would be so wonderful to be heading south and know you could be a carrier of Love by dropping off donated items to Miracle Hill in Greenville So. Carolina on the way. If that fits you as a friend to the folks helping the weak and needy please contact Penny or me to make this connection.

To be used as a tool to do the Lords work is wonderful; to learn so much about myself and my faults makes me a better Christian to help others and have a more rewarding life. Win, win again, how great it is to do the Lords work!!!