Friday, December 21, 2007
"Christmas on the Rez" by the Granberry Kids
I thought you might enjoy hearing how the "Fifth Annual Christmas Feast" and "Wal-mart Gift Card Drive" went as told by our kids. Sorry the report/update is so slow in coming. Our internet has been down for the last week. Anyway, thanks so much for your prayers, your generocity, and your love for us and the Yakama people. The Lord is on the move!
Merry Christmas from all of us!
“Christmas on the Rez” by Ann Marie (14 years old)
Some people believe that winter on the reservation means that my family gets a break. This is partly true, but things only slow down for a few weeks. Of course, we still have the Tuesday Night Bible Study (Hope Fellowship) but there’s a lot more than that.
Every year during the Christmas season my family holds an annual Christmas Feast. This year over 300 people came to the White Swan longhouse for food, singing, gifts, and to hear the Christmas story. Many people from all over the United States sent gifts for all ages. We gave them out to the people who came to the feast.
Churches, families, and individuals from all over the country also sent Wal-mart gift cards. These are not for the Christmas Feast. I am privileged to be on the “front lines”, to hand out the food boxes, gifts, and Wal-mart gift cards to people in the White Swan community. My dad, little sister Morgan, little brother David, and I all loaded up into one of our 15 passenger vans with 20 boxes filled with food (mac’n cheese, potatoes, oranges, apples, corn, beans, ham, etc.), gifts, and gift cards. My dad had a check list of all the families who got food and gifts. I was in charge of keeping track of who got what and where we went next. Morgan kept track of all the gifts and gift cards. David would grab the ham whenever there was one needed and give it to the family.
We gave out fourteen food boxes that night! I think we gave out 22 gift cards to different families that night too! The best thing about helping give everything out is the look on the people’s faces. As you probably guessed, we are very popular among the kids when they see gifts in our hands, even though they are not allowed to open them until Christmas morning. I always held some bubbles and craft supplies in my pockets as a small surprise to hold them over. As we went into one house there was only one little boy (about 5) standing in the room. I reached into my pocket and handed him a small bottle of bubbles. His face lit up like a Christmas tree! He immediately opened them and started to blow bubbles all over the house. Then I noticed that there were about 5 or 6 more kids (all under 5) standing in the hall. When they saw the bubbles they swarmed around me until I gave each a bottle of bubbles. The house was filled with bubbles in an instant. I ran out to the car and got more goodies for them (candy and crayons). Once again they swarmed and instantly started opening the candy and crayons.
At another home, a little girl named Kota stuck her head out the door when we pulled up. She is about 4. When she saw the candy I had her eyes got twice as big as their original size. She held out her little hands and I gave her the candy. She wasn’t even interested in the presents. Then David came up with the ham and Kota’s mom’s eyes got twice as big as their original size.
We were invited into every house, which is a big honor. One family gave us a hand-made wreath and home-made cookies. Everyone was extremely grateful for everything. “Thank you” to all the people and churches who contributed toward the gift cards and the Christmas Feast. Every little bit of it helps everyone on the reservation have a wonderful Christmas which is something they might not experience otherwise. I am also thankful because if there were no gift cards or gifts or food boxes there would be no Christmas Feast and no deliveries. Then I would never have been able to watch the joy on all the people’s faces. So, although our winter is busy, I am so glad it is, and would trade anything about it for the world.
“ This Christmas” by Beth (12 years old)
The clock read 10:07 as I got ready for bed. Dad, Ann Marie, Morgan, and David had just come home from delivering presents, food boxes, and gift cards. We had been sitting in our small living room as Dad told stories of what had happened earlier that evening. I am Beth Granberry. My family moved to the Indian reservation near Yakima, Washington. We are originally from Alabama. We had a nice home, my dad was a youth pastor and everything was going well. I was 8 years old when we drove from Birmingham to Yakima. I am 12 now and love my new home.
Working with the needy out here is a whole different deal! For example, this afternoon my mom and I took Veronica to town. Veronica is a good friend who came out from California to help us. Veronica teaches my two younger siblings Morgan and David. Ann Marie and I go to a small school in Seattle… Covenant Christian Middle School (which only meets) on Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday we have our Bible Study with the people from White Swan. My dad takes the adults into the ceremonial room of the longhouse and reads the Bible. My mom, Morgan, David, Ann Marie, and I give all the kids a worksheet to color. We also give a meal for everyone who comes.
Veronica was flying home for Christmas. Mom and I were running errands, gathering boxes of potatoes, apples, and oranges. My dad (and siblings) went to our Wal-mart and bought lots and lots of food. Then we met back at our house and put food in boxes. We has twenty boxes of food, a lot of gift cards and presents. My dad took them out to the town of White Swan and passed them out. All my siblings went with him. I had gone the last two years but not the first. Mom and I stayed home and made more Christmas cookies. After we listened to the happenings of that evening we all went to bed, for tomorrow would bring more excitement.
The next day we woke up and did our chores. We have about 30 chickens, 6 horses (wild mustangs from the mountains here on the rez!), 4 ducks, 4 peacocks, 4 dogs, and 4 cats (with 3 kittens). This morning at 9:30 we are taking four teenagers (the Broncheaus) to Wal-mart to shop for Christmas presents for their family and for each other. They each get $75, and that’s probably the most money they have ever seen.
I just got back from Wal-mart with my family, Alan, Katie, Sam, and Kevin (the Broncheaus). We had a blast! Helping Katie look for presents was fun and hard. We looked for (something) for her sister, Sam, for about twenty minutes. We found a necklace with three hearts on it, about four pairs of earrings, and a ring. All of the girls and I separated from the boys to shop. Katie is a tom boy like me. She is 19 and is very funny. Both of us were tired and hungry. We were glad to go to McDonald’s after shopping for an hour. After we dropped them (the Broncheaus) off at their house we went home.
Morgan, my 11 year old sister, helped my mom in the kitchen. My mom is the best cook ever! She serves 60-80 people at Bible Study every week. She feeds about 70 people (who come on one week ministry teams) all through the summer and more! We get about 50 people every other week in the summer from different churches throughout the United States to help us serve the community of White Swan. We help fix homes and play with the children. To me being a missionary kid is the best thing in the world. Most people think MKs are weird or different… but the Granberry children help out as much as possible… I get to orient teams with Dad and help play with kids in a place called Totus Park. Totus is not a “park”, it is a place where people live. The homes are so small that some don’t seem like houses. It is one of the worst places on the rez. There are gangs. Gangsters are not nice people at all. Totus is not the worst place, though.
Earlier in December we held our annual Christmas Feast. Everyone got a meal, sang, and got a present. Churches from all over helped to make a person there happy by sending lots of gifts. We organized it so that there were presents for people of all ages. I helped the people get the right gift for them by getting their age and size. Everyone left the White Swan longhouse with smiles on their faces.
I sat in the living room remembering the chaos of that Tuesday night, listening to the crackling fire. After dinner Dad was getting ready to “be Santa” again….
“A Gift to Everyone!” by Morgan (11 years old)
I woke up with the expectations of a normal day. I fed the animals, made eggs for breakfast, ate, and then I was told to get ready to go to town. I went with Dad, along with Ann Marie and David. On the way there we listened to Christmas music, looked out the window at the snow-frosted reservation, or sang dramatically with the music.
Soon we spied stores out of the window and made our way to Wal-mart. There we bought tons of goodies and things, taking 20 to 60 boxes off the shelves at a time. But soon the pulling and loading of goodies ended and we were soon back in the huge 15 passenger van. At home we stuffed the goodies in boxes and gift cards into envelopes, then everything back into the van.
We stopped by many houses. I gave gift cards when needed for a family. Ann Marie was in charge of the list of people. David got a ham when needed and Dad got a food box when needed. Every person in every house was thankful for the food. At Buffy’s house she stared wide-eyed at the ham. As Buffy and Dad chatted a little, we saw four year old Dakota pop her head around the corner searching everyone’s armloads with her eyes. Then those eyes turned into saucers and she spied the candy!
“Happy People” by David (9 years old)
You have probably heard about the first trip giving the gifts. It was really fun and was cute when Koda saw the candy and bubbles. But it was also fun to go on the second night. First, we went to Augustine Howard’s house. She is a really sweet lady. We gave her a food box, a big ham, and a gift card. She gave us all big hugs and smiled.
We all drove to White Swan and stopped at the Sweowat’s house. I don’t know Mr. Sweowat very well but my dad does. We didn’t get out but we could see Dad. I saw a big dog out there, real big! I knew of some of bad dog incidents so I got scared but Dad saw him and figured out that he was nice. Dad walked up to the door and knocked. They opened the door, shook hands, and Dad walked inside. A little while later Dad walked out with a pair of (elk) antlers as big as me (4’5”) with twelve points!
Then we went to Medicine Valley and stopped at a man’s house. He was a bull rider. We gave him a gift card for $100. He had two huge elk in the back of his truck. We went and touched them. They were fresh and wet. It looked like he just got them. They were so big we didn’t know how he got them in the truck. After that we went to Jim Hubbard’s house. We gave him a gift card. He was recovering from the flu and had been in bed for three weeks. I just hope he’ll be ok for Christmas.
Well, thanks for the prayers and please pray for Jim Hubbard.