Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Granberrys!

(Each member of the Granberry family has put a thought on the past year in writing for you, I hope you enjoy!)

Putting this Christmas card and letter together has reminded me of the joys and blessings of raising our 4 children and serving with Chris. I enjoy the "young adult" phase our kids are entering into and hope you get a glimpse of them as well. Chris has been studying for the last 2 years for his licensure and ordination in the PCA. We were so proud of him when he passed all examinations and was approved by the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest! At that point we began planning the ordination service to be held here on the reservation. I am proud to be a Pastor's wife this year, and proud of Chris. We continue to seek wisdom together in the ministry of Sacred Road and in raising our family here. I am grateful for the opportunity to have Marisol and sometimes Stephen as part of our family. I am grateful for all the Covenant Christian Middle School families for their ministry to our family. I am grateful for this past summers' awesome intern team and the future growth of the Sacred Road team! We have experienced so many blessings through our connections with the Body of Christ. Thank you all for your love. ~ Mary

This year I have really enjoyed community. I feel that all throughout the year the community in my family has been growing deeper. This year I have really enjoyed just hanging out with Beth, Morgan and David. I’m only their older sister but I have seen the Lord work in them in so many ways. They all have amazing gifts, and they all really know how to love well. I see their ability to love especially when they interact with the kids on the reservation. God has given us so many little blessings this year, little blessings like community, and family.

As we go into the Christmas season I think of the reason Christ came, and I am thankful that now we can be a part of a greater community and bigger family with Him.

~ Ann Marie (15)

Through out this year there have been many things that I have so loved and enjoyed. One of which are the memories that I have had with the native kids at Totus Park. Their lives are filled with tragedies and still they run to us for the bubbles, kickball, or crafts. But in the meantime they learn about Jesus and his love for us. Coming into the Christmas season, I love to think of these kids that don’t know what God can do for them in their lives. They trust in us to bring the toys and snacks for them and we trust God to bring them to Himself. We don’t get to see the kids very much in the winter, but I know they are being watched over by the Lord. And I trust Him to take care of them for the coming year.

~Beth (13)

One week this May we went to a place in Colorado called MTI, they held a week long training session called DAR (Debriefing And Renewing). We went and met lots of different missionaries from all around the world. It helped a lot for us kids to be with people who understand us entirely without having to be an intern or come on a team. They understood how most people who hear of us think of church planting as only done by the parents, but that the kids are also as involved as the parents and we love the people of the Yakama tribe like our own family. Now as more people come to hear about us, more people come to realize that. Our job as missionaries is hard and not easy for many to handle. We don’t get to live a normal everyday life, there is no way of saying what is going to happen next. The plans will change from needing to set the table for teams to fighting a wild fire that would devour everything around you. But I love the reservation and couldn’t stand being away from it for a month.


One of my favorite memories this year was playing football. I was defensive tackle. I played for the Wapato wolves, we played six games, we won three and we lost three. I enjoyed practicing with dad and getting tips.

It was fun playing defensive tackle because I’m on the line and all the action is in that area. My dad said that I averaged three tackles a game.

Some more of my favorite memories from this year are going on road trips with the interns this summer. We went to the Yakima river canyon, the Columbia river gorge in Oregon, Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and we went sledding on White Pass in June.

I liked going in the Box Canyon in Oregon and swimming under a freezing cold waterfall.

~David (10)

I’m the type of guy that thinks in “key words”. I often find myself in the midst of chaos for some reason. I don’t know if I create chaos or simply attract it or some combination of both, but in the midst of chaos, key words help me stay oriented and enable me to keep moving forward. When I think about the words that float around at Christmas time I remember words like “wonderful”, “manger”, “tinsel”, “Macy’s”, “gingersnap”, and many other great words, but my favorite Christmas word is not just a Christmas word (it works great in mid-February and in the summer and everyday). My favorite Christmas word is the simple, non-assuming, little word “with”.

Believe it or not, that little, sort of bland sounding, word can reorient me any day of the year as fast as any other. It reminds me immediately of “Emmanuel”, the name Gabriel told Mary to give Jesus. That name literally means, as you know, “God with us”. That little word “with” makes all the difference. Notice the difference between these situations: a mother with her child versus a child without a mother; a man with a life jacket versus a drowning man without one; a soldier with his family versus a soldier on a battlefield. “With” makes all the difference. What if God had instructed Gabriel to have Mary name baby Jesus something slightly different. What if He was not “God with us” but was “God has forsaken us” or “God against us”! Can you imagine what your life would be like? Can you imagine what this world would be like?

“With” makes all the difference.

Many days, in the midst of the chaos of life and ministry, even in the midst of times, as Paul called them, of “despairing even of life itself”, that simple word “with” can remind me of the fact that God has not abandoned us. On the contrary, He had remembered us and has “risen up to take action” on our behalf, for His Kingdom and His Glory. Jesus, Emmanuel, came to “live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died” (enduring on that cross the ultimate abandonment of the Father, the opposite of “union”, for the first time in eternity past) so that we could be “with” Him, in the presence of the Father, for all eternity!

We are united, inextricably, with Christ, by God-given faith. Dr. Bryan Chapell calls our union with Christ “a knot tied in Heaven that we cannot untie or even reach”. We are with Him because He came… to be with us… forever.

In the midst of the chaos…

Take heart.

Take courage.

Fight… for Him, for His Kingdom.

He is with us.

~ Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 2008 Christmas Feast

Well, all in a blur, the “Sixth Annual Hope Fellowship Christmas Feast” has come and gone again. The first year we started this event it was a simple Christmas dinner to which 22 people came. We were shocked at the “huge” turn out! We had only been on the reservation for seven months at that point, which was long enough to learn, among a few other things, that Christmas was not a “traditional holiday” for the Yakama people.

A lot has happened in the last five years as you know. Last year between 350-400 folks came to the feast and, miraculously, there was more than enough food and gifts for all. There were even left-overs!

Heading into the Christmas Feast this year, I had a strange mixture of excitement, amazement, fear and dread. I know what you are thinking, “missionaries are not supposed to feel fear and dread”. I agree. Honestly, I’ve found myself feeling, thinking, saying, and doing a lot of things over the years on the rez that I’m not supposed to. What can I say? Sorry. Pray for me.

Anyway, I was excited and amazed by the incredible response of churches and individuals all over the nation who send gifts for men, women, and children of all ages; money; food; encouraging emails; and assurance that they were praying for us and the people who would attend the feast. Beanie babies, hot wheels, hand tools, etc flooded in everyday! Also, helpers from the northwest came to cook, load and unload the box trailer, wash dishes, haul trash, pray, listen, learn, smile, fold programs, cry, etc. Once again, the “appropriate response” of the people of God to our “first neighbors” left us blessed and optimistic and hopeful as we “stood in the friendly crossfire”! The Kingdom is growing larger, wider, and deeper all around us and all around the world! Any day and every day is a great day to see it grow but Christmas is an especially wonderful time to see the Kingdom (that Christ established, lived/lives for, fought/fights for, and died for) grow in us, through us, and around us.

We were also encouraged and amazed at the leadership that Wendell demonstrated before when we were out of town (in Alabama visiting family, friends and churches). He called two meetings with the Hope Fellowship “core group” to make plans, select songs to be sung at the feast, organize the children’s drama, etc! The core group really “stepped up” and took ownership of this the biggest outreach event Sacred Road hosts all year long! They also went to great lengths to make sure the whole event was Christ-centered and that the folks who attended knew that they were welcome at our weekly Bible study (which will resume in early January). This is all the more amazing when you consider that many of the members of the “core group” do not actually claim to be Christians yet themselves!

Now, I need to try to explain the sense of dread and fear I/we felt going into the feast. The short version is that the whole thing is a virtual minefield culturally. What you in this event is basically white folks hosting a feast in the oldest longhouse on the reservation to celebrate a non-traditional holiday and bring a “non-Indian” message. There are a multitude of ways to step on toes, offend elders, break cultural rules, etc. Also, as our “core group” attempts to take ownership and “pull off” certain things there are many opportunities to fail, get frustrated with each other and/or us, etc. On top of that, I have to lead the singing of Christ centered Christmas carols for up to 400 traditional people in the longhouse… and I can’t really sing! A great word for all this is “angst”. I think faith is the willingness to move forward/follow in the midst of angst not in the absence of it… but what do I know.

In the end, the preparations went very smoothly. We had a lot of great help (as I mentioned above). The turn out at the feast was smaller (in the neighborhood of 180 folks) which was actually kind of a relief (350+ was over the top). The meal was fantastic and everyone loved it. Many women came to Mary and others thanking them specifically for such a wonderful meal.

The program went great too and was very Christ-centered by His Grace. The children came forward to form an instant children’s choir and sing “Rudolf” (which is a song they all know and can sing without the lyrics). As we sang “Do You Hear What I Hear?” a few of our children from Hope Fellowship walked around the room dressed as shepherds. When we say “We Three Kings” three more kids paraded through dressed as the magi. I shared a few thoughts on Jesus being the light of the world and the “ultimate” Christmas gift. From my perspective, the adults who were present seemed to be very attentive and encouraged by the message (understandably, the kids were too excited about the piles of wrapped gifts behind me to sit very still!)

We asked the teenagers that come to Hope Fellowship to pass out the gifts after the message. They really enjoyed it and did a great job. The folks who were there were encouraged to see teens doing something good, I think. You normally only hear bad news about teenagers in White Swan, but here were several who want to be different. Having said that, please pray for “our” teenagers. They are all “at-risk” in the extreme. It is literally “touch and go” for each one. While you are praying along those lines don’t forget to pray for Chuck and Neena Clevenger and the one/two year interns who are coming as they begin youth ministry and discipleship in earnest in January 2009. We desperately need each one of them and time is of the essence.

It was wonderful to watch children open up the beanie babies and hot wheels with huge smiles. They often turned immediately to the adults that brought them to show them their new gifts then jumped on the floor to play with their new toys. The adults and teens were more reserved as they opened their gifts but were obviously happy with them. The women and girls opened their fancy lotions to smell them and passed them around for others to sniff. The men checked out the assortment of tools. Some laughed and told me that now that they had tools they’d have to work. Jokingly, they said we should have given the tools to the women. The teenage boys received footballs and some of those were already flying back and forth across the room. After all the gifts were opened the our teenagers passed out brown lunch bags filled with an orange, hard candy, candy canes, and peanuts. This was a new idea to us but our folks from Hope Fellowship had said “out here it would feel like Christmas with out the brown bags” so we did it. They were right, everyone loved it and dug right into the oranges, etc.

As the gifts were being distributed and opened some of the elders stood up to speak and a Christian man we know (who happened to bring his trumpet) played some Christmas carols. Most of the comments from the elders were very Christ-centered and they thanked all of us and encouraged everyone present to remember the real meaning of Christmas as it approaches.

In the end, I think all of us were blessed. I felt silly for my previous sense of fear and dread. The Lord answered all of our prayers! Thank you so much for praying in general for us and specifically for this event. Thanks also for all the gifts and money that you sent to help with this. May God repay each of you ten times over!

Merry Christmas!