Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trip to Lybrook: Bill

Our October trip to Lybrook Community Mission was such a blessing, and a real opportunity to help out. Our congregation along with other family and friends have opened their hearts to fill our PleasantDale church van with clothes, bedding, towels, and toys. Along with tools and hardware and nails. The mission is two hours from any city of size, so to bring a van full of quality and new items not only to be sold at the mission thrift store, but to be given away just in time for Christmas, wow, it's like they are doing us the favor!!!
If our denomination sponsers and owns this mission, we must support it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Mexico: Penny and Bill

The time has finally come to meet two people from Circle, Ak. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then travel northwest of Cuba to Lybrook Community Mission. This is a Church of the Brethren sponsored mission that helps mainly Navajo Native Americans. This is to be a cultural exchange, and a chance to see how folks garden in the desert Southwest.
Miranda and Jason have spent a life time experiencing the harsh Alaskan weather and difficulties of village life, but had no idea how bad other natives may have to live. This eye opening experience has left a lifetime mark on our lives. Our dear friends returned to Alaska feeling they really don't have many difficulties at all, and have left Penny and I wondering if we should travel in a different direction next spring.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

LT. GOV in Circle

When a plane other than the mail plane lands in Circle we investigate. A large group came to Circle for a meeting at the Community Hall. We asked Chief Jessica if we should leave. No, no, talk to people was her response. One of the first people we spoke to was the LT. Gov. Bryan is native along with his wife and was amazed at the distance we would travel to help out, and was very interested to hear the Elders lunch program received the lions share of the food from the gardens. We traded contact info to brainstorm over the years for the benefit of natives in all the villages. Tanana Chiefs Conference President Victor Joseph said this is the only village that connected gardening and the Elders lunch program. This should be a model for all villages.


Revival in Circle

A four day revival was held in Circle that was very well received. So many Blessing came from this special time. When one witnesses unresolved issues finally put behind the parties involved, you can be certain of the presence of God. Having a missionary from Africa seemed to put so many at ease and bring out the best in the people of the village.

Ft Wayne Rescue Mission

This special place exists for the men who simply can't make it through the day without help. Whether it be short or long term hurting people come to the mission for a filling meal, a place to live or volunteer. What an opportunity to share life stories so they don't feel so all alone. A place where it takes so little to make a difference in someone's life. To hear a man say they feel God had sent you there just for him. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Brethren Disaster Response: Colorado

Traveling to Loveland, Colorado in Dec. 2015, then again in Feb. of this year was eventful. The storms and flooding that followed, were devastating, by any ones definition. The pain and suffering was real, and it was wonderful to help out. But I must say, if you have to go to a disaster site, Colorado is nice. Both trips I found myself, for the most part in one home doing trim work throughout. Photos will be posted soon, with photos also on the brethrendisasterministries/facebook. It was my 50th disaster trip and a party was thrown. The 50th trip totaling 113 weeks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Circle Garden Project- 2016

This years project was our tenth and most successful, and most spiritual as we began a whole new chapter going forward. Please google " gardening project continues to enrich nutrition for Alaskan communities" to read most recent article written on this act of Love. Also, we now have a Facebook page under Penny's name. Several posts will be published on the most interesting and exciting summer to date. We're not only planning for next year, were continuing this year by meeting two people from Circle in New Mexico. We've also accepted a leadership role in three divisions of preparations for the gathering that will began a much larger presence of our denomination in the village. We have been asked to begin having services each Sunday while we are there. This has opened the door for a whole new relationship with our Gwich'in brothers and sisters. Also, Bill was introduced to an island that has been a part of the history of the Gwich'in for thousands of years. Penny and Bill will be dropped off in June of next year to begin not only planting a garden but making preparations to live on the island a couple years down the road leading up to the gathering in 2020. This year marks a whole new beginning that reinforces why we travel so far each year, home to Circle

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Plant a Roe: Fairbanks

Plant a Roe is a nationwide initiative to help supply Soup Kitchens and Rescue Missions with fresh garden produce, using vacant properties in downtown areas. Fairbanks has such a concept and is in need of volunteers, like everywhere. We've been in contact with them since June of 2015, and have committed to start dozens of plants in Circle and have them brought to Fairbanks by our Pastor. We would like to get more involved long term as we plan for transportation that goes hand and hand with a more long term commitment.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Meeting Donavan in Circle, Alaska

By spending so much time in a Gwich'in village each summer we're allowed to experience many workshops put on by different members of the Gwich'in nation. One such workshop was caribou skin tanning led by a young man named Donavan. He was busy explaining this process as Penny and I walked up. After watching for a few minutes Donavan walked over and talked to Jessica (village chief), then went back to silently working. After a few minutes Penny and I walked off to the greenhouse to work and Jessica followed us. She stopped us and said " Donavan feels this process was for the benefit of the Gwich'in people only". She politely ask us to stay away. We know Jessica loves us and had a difficult time telling us. We told her we would respect his wishes. By morning I had been stewing on this and told Jessica' sister Alexa knowing what would happen. Alexa blew up screaming at him, telling him " they do more for our elders than anyone' !!! I asked her to please stop, saying I didn't want him to loose any sleep over this. I waited a hour or so and went up to Donavan and said "did I hear you say you're from FT. Yukon"?. He said no Arctic Village, I live with my Grandfather. I started laughing and ask who is his grandfather? He said Gideon. I said really, "What relation are you to Jordon"? he said Jordon was his brother. I said " first of all Gideon is Sarah's brother and they are both dear friends of ours. Let me tell you several things about your brother you don't know". After several minutes of me sharing he said he was so sorry for saying we weren't welcome, and wanted to do something for us. Penny, Donavan and I became good friends that day. When Jessica seen us talking, and then heard him tell her he wanted to do whatever to help us because he felt so bad, she knew we are the perfect people to be a part of their community and her family. Donavan really caught us up on what's going on in Arctic Village, including telling us our dear friend Bob Allen had passed away from a brain tumor. We sent many letters to folks in Arctic Village and really helped us reestablish relationships with so many of our Gwich'in family. Isn't it funny how things like that happen.

Canadian Embassy Visit

Our five day experience in Washington DC began on Sat. the 13th. We had a series of meetings on Sat. and Sun. preparing us for lobbying that Mon. through Weds.
Monday evening the whole Alaskan Wilderness League was invited to the Canadian Embassy for a thank you meal. We were told that our entire group had went through a background check the week before, insuring their safety from us.
The whole experience was nothing this carpenter from Michigan's farm country had ever experienced. The Arctic Room was atop the Embassy, and was made of mostly glass walls that allowed a view of this great city like I never imagined. The Arctic Room spilled out on to the rooftop of the building that was so inviting that most of the evening was spent outdoors. As night fall began Penny and I realized we would never again have such a view of Washington DC, it was spectacular!
Because of the surroundings and people that greeted us and made us feel so welcome, this experience was something Penny and I will never forget. We are so thankful that the Alaskan Wilderness League chose us to represent Indiana at their 50th anniversary.
To read more about the experience check the Decatur Daily Democrat web-site, Sept. 3rd issue, and Sept 29th for articles written on our trip to Washington DC.