Monthly Archives: June 2012

Work & Witness – Day 11

We woke up bright an early this morning in Las Vegas and, after a quick breakfast and a very Tetris session of packing the van, we hit the road about 7:30. We got lost trying to find the correct freeway (conflicting GPS information again), but finally headed out of town and toward California.
The trip to the San Joaquin Valley passes through some of the most desolate terrain you can imagine. Everything is dry and seems lifeless, but if you dig down just a little bit, you can find traces of life. It makes me think that some people are just like that: they look so dead and lifeless, but underneath it all is a spark of God’s image, just waiting to be blown into full flame by the Holy Spirit. That’s encouragement to be about the job that God has set for us, of spreading the gospel message far and wide.
After just a couple more adventures, we arrived at Sacramento First Church at 6:45 tonight, and began the process of settling in for the night. Both churches we have stayed at have been extremely gracious, and have even felt blessed that we stayed the night there. We had dinner of hot dogs and chili, and a quick devotional before everyone headed to bed. Our plan is to be on the road by 7 tomorrow morning, which should put us back home between 7 and 8 p.m.
Thanks again for your prayers.


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Work & Witness – Day 10

We got out of Sun Valley right on time – 6:30 a.m. we were wheels up headed for the Grand Canyon and points north.  The day was clear (as usual), and already warm by the time we hit the freeway.  First stop was Flagstaff, where we topped off our tanks (and, for some of us, our bellies at a nearby McDonald’s).  The scenery was gorgeous on the way to the Grand Canyon, with a constant stiff breeze batting the van around, but also clearing out a lot of the smoke that has been hanging in the air from local fires for the last several days.

We arrived at Desert View at about 10:30 for our first view of the Canyon, and it was great.  There was just a hint of haze left in the air giving the farther off cliffs a softness that emphasized the rocks closer to us.  We stopped at several viewpoints and took in all that our eyes (and our cameras) could hold.  At the Grandview Point we asked one lady to take our group photo.  She agreed, but I don’t think that she fully understood that she was going to be asked to take our picture with 7 different cameras!  She was gracious, though, and did all that we asked with a big smile.  We then returned the favor, and took a picture of her and her husband (with just her one camera, though).

Our longest stop was at Mather Point, near the west entrance to the park.  There is a super large area from which to get good pictures so, after a lunch of turkey and ham sandwiches, we all spent quite a bit of time composing our own masterpieces.  We tried to get into the area around the lodges for a few more photos, but there were thousands of people in the park, and we couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere close.  We finally made a quick stop at the Market Plaza, where we picked up some souvenirs (and some ice cream), and then headed out for Las Vegas.

We got into Vegas at 7:45, right on schedule, and were warmly greeted by pastor Javier and the head of security, John.  They showed us around, showed us how to set up the alarm system, and then left us to get ready for the night.  David, Sharla and I had a basketball game of PASTOR (like HORSE, but with more letters).  I was the first one out, and David & Sharla had to call it a draw due to dinner.  Afterwards, we had a short devotional time (led by yours truly), and most everybody headed to bed.  (I will too, just as soon as I finish this blog!).

Tomorrow we will hit the freeway at 7:00, and the plan is to stay the night in Sacramento at a Nazarene Church there.  (Special thanks to Molly Conant for arranging our accommodations!)

The group photo taken by the nice lady at Grandview Point. I think my camera was number 5.

Elissa enjoying the view.

Lunch at Mather Point. Getting it before the wind blows it away!

Just to make the hunters drool all over their keyboards. This guy was just a few yards off the main road!

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Work & Witness – Day 9

Another hot day today.  However, we didn’t have a lot of hard, outdoor labor today.  Right after breakfast, Fred took us on a treasure hunt.  We went about 2 miles south of the school on a dirt road to a place that Fred called “Treasure Mountain.”  We were promised that we would be able to find some petrified wood there, and maybe some pottery shards as well.  Well, he delivered!  All of us who went came back with a several pieces of petrified wood, and many of us found pieces of broken Hopi pottery, some painted in beautiful geometric black and white patterns, and some of  it hundreds of years old.  We all came back happy!

After we returned (and after the morning cookie break), some of  us helped Carol work on boxtops and labels.  They were able to take more than 2000 box tops to the post office this afternoon!  That’s pretty cool!  After lunch some of us caught a well-deserved nap, while others worked some more on labels and boxtops.  Meanwhile, a couple of the group painted our sign for the western “old town” behind the school (the tradition for Work & Witness Teams – sort of a “we were here” thing).  Sharla came up with the idea for the sign’s theme, and Marie and Elissa did the actual painting.

At 2:30, Fred and Vera came over to give us some parting thank you’s (including several bags of W&W candies – M&Ms upside down), because they had to leave at 3:00 to pick up the next team that is arriving from Philadelphia into Phoenix early in the morning.  They have sure been a wonderful help and encouragement to us all.

Since dinner and devotions (on Hosea tonight, led by Pastor Sharla Ann, who finished up by singing a praise song that she wrote this afternoon), we have been packing and straightening up and showering, and generally getting ready to be out of here in the morning.  The plan is to be ready to put our bags in the van at 6:00, and be on the freeway before 6:30.  We will be spending about 3 hours on the south rim of the Grand Canyon before heading to our first stop at a Nazarene Church in Las Vegas (pronounce “lost wages”).

Please pray for safe travel tomorrow.  Thanks a bazillion!


One of the “roads” to Treasure Mountain, as seen though the windshield of the school van.

Group photo up the stairs in the dorm.

All of us around the Sun Valley Indian School sign at the entrance to the school.

A bunch of us working on labels and boxtops.

The designers and artists with our team’s sign for Old Town.

Fred & Vera, our Work and Witness Coordinators. Really neat people!

A bull snake that Jeremy & Jenni discovered in the parking area. We kind of surrounded him long enough to get a picture (I stood close so you could see how big he was), but he was pretty grumpy, so we let him sulk off into a nearby bush.


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Work & Witness – Day 8

A very hot day today, with the temperature getting above 101!  But the humidity was low, so the weather channel indicated that it only felt like 95.  That’s still plenty warm.

Today was the day that we finished projects and got a lot of loose ends tied up.  Kay finished in the library, counting over 10,000 books!  Sharla, Shirley and I finished the kitchen cabinet doors and got them mounted, plus painted the living room of the house.  We can’t paint any more, because they are redoing the floor over the next few days.  Dave, Jeremy, and Jenny chipped away a bit more at the tiles (the next group will have to complete that nasty job), and Carol, Marie and Elissa worked on the soup labels and boxtops.

We finished up the day with a devotional led by David, and then joined the church’s prayer gathering, separated by only 1200 miles.

Tomorrow, Fred, half of our work and witness coordinator team, is promising us a treasure hunt in the morning – there’s a field a couple of miles from here where there is abundant petrified wood and very old pieces of pottery.  The rest of the day will be spent getting our stuff together, cleaning the quarters, and getting ready to hit the road on Saturday.

Thanks for all of your prayers!

The kitchen repainted with the repainted and rehung cabinet doors.

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Work & Witness – Day 7

Today dawned bright and early, very sunny and very warm very early.  The wind that has kept us cool for the last couple of days degraded into a fitful breeze that barely ruffled the leaves.  That made it seem way warmer than it has been.  Still, the work goes on.  Quite a bit accomplished by the team today, including building fences, painting signage, continuing the painting of the house, chipping away more on the tile, etc.

One of the interesting traditions at the school is the cookie breaks.  Every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. the whole group of staff and workers heads to the kitchen for chocolate chip cookies.  Kind of a cool thing, even though I can’t eat the chocolate.  (Yesterday they made 3 cookies without any chips in them just for me!)

This evening a group of us went to nearby Holbrook to watch the Navajo dances.  They do this during the summer every night.  When we got there just after 6:30,  we found that the majority of the dancers were kids.  They teach the kids the different tribal dances, the kids and their families make their costumes, and then the kids (and some of the adults, too) perform the dances at the Museum to raise money to pay for their school supplies.  It’s pretty cool.  ALL of the kids were enthusiastic, and some of them were really good!  Elissa came away dancing, too!  While we were there, we bought some Navajo fry bread (think elephant ear without the sugar and cinnamon – but they do have powdered sugar or honey to put on it if you want it), and everyone agreed that it was pretty tasty.  I’ll have to make some for the folks back home when we return.

Closed out the night by a devotional time by Carol, including a couple of group songs.

I would ask your prayers for a couple of our folks – oddly enough, both with some dental issues.  Shirley lost a cap yesterday, and Marie chipped a tooth (on a cookie) and is having some pain with that.  Please pray for freedom from pain, and ability to keep on going.  Thanks so much!

Yours truly hard at work on the kitchen cabinet doors & drawers for the house we are painting.

Kay, at work in the library.

Jenni loves driving the big diesel pick up truck!

Marie, Sharla & Elissa working in the kitchen after dinner.

Some of the girls performing the “Fancy Shawl Dance.” Their costume, including the brightly decorated shawls, represent butterflies.

One of the adult dancers, complete with eagle feathers and face makeup. Pretty cool!



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Work & Witness – Day 6

Big time work day today.  Everybody kept busy, projects were completed, new projects were started, and after dinner we all kind of collapsed into our chairs for devotional time and a team meeting.

I don’t know how we are doing as far as what we have accomplished compared to other groups.  Looking at the schedule it seems that teams of 20 are not that unusual, and we are only 10.  Still, we have made some really good progress on some big projects.  For example, today Sharla, Elissa and I painted a storage shed that they just finished building a couple of weeks ago.  It took most of the day, but we got it painted inside and out.  Shirley and Marie not only inventoried the food pantry, but completely reorganized it so that it is easy to see exactly what is there.  Kay is plugging away at reorganizing the library.  Carol is organizing piles of soup labels and box tops.  Dave, Jeremy, and Jenni are busy chipping up linoleum tile to the point that they will be able to start laying the ceramic tile tomorrow.

A bunch of us that finished projects today did more painting in the house that Sharla, Elissa and I started yesterday.  It’s a really big job, and important, because the staff that will be living there shows up here next Wednesday.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was our team meeting with Mardell, the school’s administrator.  She is quite the lady, with a passion for the kids who attend the school.  This place does so much to help these kids, and by doing that, to help their families as well.  More on that when we get home.

The weather has been pretty hot (mid 90’s isn’t uncommon), but yesterday and today there has been a moderate wind that has helped cool us down a bit.

Anyway, everyone here is well and strong (though really, really tired from all of the physical activity).  Love to all back home.  Keep praying!

Sharla and Shirley are our morning KP folks, shown here with some of the kitchen staff. (The food is really pretty good!)

A small portion of the playground that we weeded. (I need to take better “before” pictures. The only ones I have are ones that hardly show any weeds! There were LOTS of weeds…HONEST!)

This is the after photo. The whole playground was totally weed free. Amazing! (By the way, this was where I got stung by the fire ant!)

Carol in the administrative office, where she helped to organize and prepare box tops and soup labels to be sent in.

I look so focused because I am trying to get some paint off of my straw hat at lunch time.

A view of part of the newly organized pantry in the basement of the dining hall.

The kitchen of the house that a bunch of us are painting. Today after I took this “before” picture, I took all of the cabinet doors off. I’ll be repainting all of them Navajo white tomorrow while the rest of the crew paints the walls.

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Work & Witness – Day 5

Well, today was our first workday, and there were LOTS of projects to go around among the 10 of us.  Sharla, Elissa and I weeded a huge playground before lunch, and then painted the main hallway of a house here on the campus in the afternoon.  (We plan to do more weeding tomorrow morning, and more painting in the afternoon, and probably repeat that for the next 4 days.)  Shirley and Marie inventoried the food pantry (and will be doing that for another day or two). Kay helped out in getting the Library in order.  Carol is helping to sort out piles of Campbell Soup labels and boxtops, and will be all week.  And David, Jeremy, and Jenni had the most unfun job of all:  they spent all day chipping off old linoleum tile from one of the classroom floors, so that it can be replaced with ceramic tile.  That job has to be done on hands and knees with hammers and chisels, and will probably last most, if not all, week.

While I was weeding the playground I got stung by a fire ant.  I have been stung by red ants and black ants, but this is something special.  It started out just like a normal ant sting, but quickly escalated to the pain of a bee sting, and the pain hung on for hours.  I finally went to the nurse’s station and got some anti-sting towelettes to use on it, which gradually took away all of the pain.  Not something I want to repeat on a daily basis!

All of us have signed up for KP (kitchen patrol).  2 of us work at each of the three meals each day, and today I worked the lunch meal.  We help get set up, serve, and wash dishes when everyone is done eating.  Not too bad!

By the way, I did get my planner back today.  They called from the church to say that they had indeed found it in the fellowship hall, and had put it in a cupboard for safe keeping.  We coordinated a time, and Sharla & I drove back up to Nazlini to meet with Leonard and his wife, Maria, who take care of the fellowship hall.  We left right at dinner time, and got to the church at 8:00 p.m. reservation time.  Leonard and Maria were both very gracious.  As we got ready to leave, they asked if we could have prayer together, so we all gathered together.  But before we could pray, Leonard gave us his testimony – and what a testimony it was!  (I’ll share it with all of you when we get back.)

Well, it’s almost 11, and I have to still get a shower and get to bed.  Breakfast is at 7:00 a.m. sharp!  God bless you all!

(By the way, I didn’t include pictures tonight because our camera got locked into the house we were painting, and we can’t get to it until tomorrow.  I’ll post them tomorrow.)

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