Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Granberrys!

I love Christmas. The Christmas story reminds me that God uses unlikely means, unlikely characters, and unlikely places to unfold the story of His salvation! Praise Him for His wondrous love which allows and enables us to be a part of His story. There are so many of you I wish I could greet personally, hug, thank, share a conversation or a cup of coffee with, this Christmas season. Also, I want you to hear from my children (who many of you have ministered to as you have been involved in our lives). Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from all of us in the Granberry household! ~ Mary

I usually enjoy history. I usually admire historical figures, and am usually intrigued by historical events. But recently, in my studies, I have been shocked and disgusted by how broken and fallen our world is. I think that the reality of the matter hits me so hard partly because of where the Lord has placed me. I am faced with broken homes, broken people, and broken hearts every day. On the Reservation brokenness isn’t just something you hear about on the news, read about in books, or watch in a movie. It is sickening to me. Racism, abuse, discrimination, and pure hatred live and thrive all over the world, even in America. It is because we live in a broken and fallen world. But there is hope. There is hope because God is a gracious God who loves to use broken tools. With the brokenness of the world comes beauty. As Christians, we know that our Father is working. As we go into this Christmas season I see the beauty. Jesus came to suffer with us and just to be with us in this broken world. There is hope because in the end He was literally broken so that we could be made whole. That is the beauty. This world is broken, but we will be taken to a place that is perfect, beautiful, and whole. So as I look at the broken things that have happened I try to bear in mind the beautiful things that are to come. ~ Ann Marie (16)

One of the names we think of during the Christmas season is Emmanuel. A normal Christmas season means playing in snow, drinking hot chocolate, and getting presents under the tree. To the Granberry family it means having loads of gifts come in while we are preparing for the Christmas feast, and handing out food boxes and gift cards to houses all over White Swan. A normal summer means swimming, soaking up the sun, and playing. For us summer means interns, roofing, loving on kids who don’t know what love is. Throughout the past six and a half years, I have learned that there are numerous ways of ministering. All these acts only lead up to the major key, seeing lost people come to know Christ, our Savior. Having groups of strangers fix your house and watching those people play with your kids really doesn’t make much sense. We can’t fix the brokenness that is going on inside of people, but we can be with them. Emmanuel means; God with us. Just by being with people we help them want the brokenness to transform into righteousness. Christmas is about being with, it’s about Emmanuel. ~ Beth (14)

One thing I have learned not only from the past year but from our entire time on the reservation is about unconditional love. Each of the Granberry children have “their kid” on the reservation, usually we have more than one; I have two beautiful girls that are “mine”. Firstly there is Lenelle who turned four this last spring, I met Lenelle two years ago when she came up to me only wanting to be held, she didn’t talk much and to this day doesn’t feel comfortable around other people. My other child is Lenelle’s older sister, Leandra, who is eight years old but cares for Lenelle and their two brothers Lonzelle (5) and Levander (10) Leandra keeps them all under her supervision even though Levander is older she feels the responsibility her own rather than her mom or grandma’s but the more Leandra comes to VBS the more she feels that she can trust the sacred road team knowing we will care for them and watch them for her. Lenelle and Leandra are not used to being loved, wanted or cared for and the first year I met Lenelle she always seemed to be worried about doing something wrong that would suddenly cause my love for her to cease but now she is comfortable around me knowing I love her unconditionally. Leandra is a smart girl who grasps every hope of something good she can get, luckily she counts God as good, and she seizes every bible story and asks questions wanting to know more. Lenelle understands very little about the bible because it is hard for her to accept the concept of someone she doesn’t even know loving her enough to die for her. Lenelle soon becomes to confused by the stories and though I would rather tell her the meanings in a way she can better understand I play with her anyway; Lenelle doesn’t learn from the stories but by God’s love for her through me I can see her feel safe in a way she can’t be at her home which is certainly the way we as Christians feel in Jesus and I know that one day she will be old enough to understand the meaning of unconditional love. ~Morgan (13)

So many blessings and so many problems happen in life. But the more I have struggles, the more I think that God is with me every step of the way. At the beginning of 2009, I feel I wasn’t as close to God. Now, thinking about it, I feel as if my faith has grown ten times its size. Even though this year God put me through my dad not working, to my mom also not having a job. But within the months of November and December my mom found a job and is very happy, and that’s all I care about, family being happy. My dad also is getting better and will soon be going back to work, hopefully by the end of January or sooner. At the end of December my sister will be leaving to North Idaho College. She will be the first Romero ever to attend college. Even though I will miss her, I am happy that she has her life together. There is still one important part of my life that I should tell and that is the Granberrys. Mary and Chris have been there for my family through thick and thin. My life would be so different right now if the Granberry’s hadn’t moved to WA. My mom always tells me I am lucky to have them in my life, I think so too. But one thing I know is that all that happens in my life is because God placed it in my path. God has blessed not only me, but also my family. I cannot wait for what is to come this year of two-thousand and ten. Merry Christmas! ~ Marisol (12)

I have been learning through many ways this year to be patient. One way I have learned this is by traveling to Seattle for school. It is good but very hard. I go to school on Sunday night and come back on Tuesday night. It is a two and a half hour drive to Seattle. My sister, Marisol, and I get back in time for Bible study at the long house. At Bible study I am now going to youth group, it is very good and I admire how Chuck Clevenger manages it. At Bible study I also have to be patient as I am going to youth group with teenagers that have not been growing up in stable homes. It is not the same as a youth group would be in suburbia because these kids are going through some really rough times right now. I think youth group is making a big impact in their lives. I have to be patient with these things but I know that they are all blessings and God is working in my life and I just have to be patient. ~Davy (11)

This Christmas I’ve found myself considering the amazing humility Christ displays in His birth and throughout his life. When someone leaves a door open after walking through it folks often tease them saying, “Were you born in a barn?” Well, Jesus was actually born in a barn! The concept of the God of the universe wearing diapers blows my mind! Ken Gire writes, “Jesus, coming as a baby, so small and helpless, willingly put Himself at our mercy.” I think Jesus’ coming is very instructive for us as His people. It makes me think twice about how I “come” to (or approach) lost, hurting, desperate people in this dark, cold place. Do I come humbly. Do I trust the Lord enough to “put myself at their mercy” in the same sort of way Jesus did? Do I recognize how baby-like I am (so small and weak) when it comes to saying or doing anything of eternal value on my own? I long for people here to come to know Christ and be saved but I cannot make it happen on my own. Thanks be to God that He loved us enough to send Jesus to do what we could not. Thanks be to God for Immanuel, “God with us”. The fact that He is with us makes all the difference. Because He is with us we can afford to humble ourselves before our hurting neighbors, acknowledge (even boast in) our weakness and inability as we look to Him to accomplish what only He can accomplish: the building of His Church, the gathering of His people, the building of His Kingdom. He loves to use small, weak, humble things (and people) to make “big” things happen! May it be so with us, Lord Jesus. Amen ~Chris

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thoughts and Reflections on the 2009 Christmas Feast

Hey Everyone!

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for taking the time to keep up with us and pray for us! As you probably know we have a big Christmas feast in the longhouse in White Swan every year. People in the traditional Yakama religion (“Wash-at” or “longhouse” people) do not normally celebrate Christmas at the longhouse or in their own homes. Six and a half years ago, when the Granberrys moved to the Rez, we knew we wanted to make a “big deal” out of Christmas. The longhouse folks celebrate many good gifts that the Creator has given: water, the sun, salmon, deer, various wild roots, the huckleberry, choke cherry, wild celery, etc. For years now, we have been inviting them to join us in celebrating the greatest of all of God’s good gifts to us, Jesus!

Every year the community is responding more and more strongly. The first year (six months after our arrival on the rez) 22 people came. We were amazed at such a large crowd! The next year we expected 75 and 120 came. A couple of years ago we had 400-450. The community is embracing this celebration, but not just in numbers. The depth of attention, understanding, respect, and joy are increasing too!

We could not do any of it without you! Your prayers, service, and donations make all of this possible! May the Lord bless each of you ten times over!

This year the most exciting thing about the feast for me was the ability to move into the background as a leader because of the willingness of the people of Hope Fellowship (our baby church) to step forward, take ownership, and lead! Hope Fellowship folks of all ages were in the “limelight”! The non-Indian Sacred Road team was able to be behind the scenes, do a lot of the “grunt work”, and help make the folks from the community successful in hosting the event!

The ever-present danger of being a white guy/team planting a church on a reservation is the possibility that the people from the community will always think of the church as “Chris’ church” rather than a church “of the people, for the people”. In other words, the community itself has to take responsibility and ownership for the church or it will die if/when the Sacred Road team leaves.

At this years feast, I saw our folks step up, lead, and take ownership way more than ever before. That fact, among others, makes me think we are truly becoming a church! May it be so, Lord Jesus!

Chris Granberry

Merry Chrsitmas and greetings to our dear brothers and sisters in Christ from the Sacred Road Ministry team here on the Yakama Reservation. We have such good news to tell you all.

We had the “Seventh Annual Christmas Feast” as scheduled on Tuesday, December 15th. We had snow and ice, but the forecast was just going to get worse, so we went ahead; and over 300 people came. Due to your faithful prayers, there were no accidents on those dangerous roads!

We had a full dinner menu of wood grilled salmon (thanks to Rex Zack), turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, potato salad, fry bread, green beans, fruit salad, and a relish plate. To top it off, we had a variety of desserts sent from believers all over Washington State. We sat everyone down to a hot meal family style, cleaned up, and prepared for a Christmas service. After a reading from the Gospel of Luke, we sang Christmas songs while our Hope Fellowship (Tuesday night Bible Study) children walked around the longhouse floor dressed as Mary and Joseph, three wise men (who strutted around the room), three shepherds, and three angels (who were extremely cute, see photos below). After the songs, the room was quiet and Chris was able to bring a Christmas message for a longer period of time than ever before. The people gathered were quiet and attentive. The message of Christmas really brought joy to all who heard. Again, this is such an answer to your prayers!

Thank you to everyone who sent the gifts. We had plenty of gifts for everyone, and they were sent from all over the country! Everyone who came received at least one wrapped Christmas gift, but went home with leftover food, and goody bags also.

Our community has gotten used to the group effort of the Christmas feast. I was asked a few times, "Which churches helped out this year, Mary?", and "Who are your helpers this year and where are they from?".

Not only is White Swan not forgotten, the Body of Christ is sending the message with us that God came as a baby for all of us who believe. God sent Jesus for White Swan also! From the cities to the reservations, we can join together to proclaim this Good News!

Mary Granberry

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Preparations for Tuesday night’s Christmas Feast at the longhouse were in full swing when we asked the youth if they would help by decorating the longhouse and passing out gifts at the feast. We set aside our usual discipleship group time, Thursday evening, to meet at the longhouse and work on decorations. However, our plans were postponed by the news of multiple funerals being held at the longhouse that weekend.

So, when Monday rolled around, we tried again. We played Christmas music on the radio and set out pizza and cookies. And everyone dived in: making a paper chain garland long enough to go around the entire ceremonial room (approximately 400 feet!), cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters, and making paper poinsettias. By the time we were through there was a half inch of snow outside. It was the first snow of the season. We hung the garland and some lights in he ceremonial room while Dennis Howard (the caretaker of the longhouse) watched. He even got a couple of ladders out for us.

The youth did a great job and many of them helped out again the next day at the feast - handing out gifts, cleaning up, putting away tables and chairs. I think the kids were really excited to have a role in the ministry and I think the community was excited to see their teenagers helping out and serving others. It was a great night and there were a lot of smiling faces when everyone left.

“Emmanuel - God with us” is the lesson we have been trying to teach in our youth Bible study on Tuesday nights. Please join us in praying that these teenagers will know that God is with them in the struggles that they face.

Chuck Clevenger – Sacred Road Youth Director

This has been my third Christmas Feast since I moved to the reservation. With each year I have seen increasingly more involvement from our Bible Study group - especially with the teenagers. My particular job during the Feast is to oversee the gift giving which is the last event of the program. Hundreds of gifts are donated for the adults, youth, and children. Repeating what we did last year: men received tools, women: lotion sets, boys: Hot Wheels, and girls: Beanie Babies.

At least a dozen teenagers were prepared to help distribute the Christmas gifts to the 300 people that attended. Ann Marie, Morgan, David, and Marisol were with me “behind the scenes” moving quickly to make sure the teenagers never ran out of gifts to hand out and constantly replenishing the plastic tubs that carried out the gifts.

I was proud to see the youth in a position where they are adding to the joy of the community. And there was excitement and happiness in my youth helpers too as they wished children and adults “Merry Christmas” after each gift.

Veronica Vasquez

The Christmas feast is big in every sense of the word -lots of food, lots of gifts, lots of tables, lots of people, lots of help, and lots of opportunities to see Christ working. If you tried to catch it all you would miss most of it. My perspective of the feast came mostly from the kitchen. We arrived at the long house 4 hours before the event to start setting up and finish cooking food. Not long after we arrived people from Hope Fellowship Bible Study showed up to help make the feast a real joy and success. Two ladies , Deborah and Leah, showed up hours ahead of time to make enough fry bread to serve everyone who came. Another man, Rex Zack, also showed up hours ahead to cook enough salmon for everyone, outside on a giant wood burning grill in the snow and ice. At one point we had more people wanting to help then we could employ. When it came time for the food to be dished up and served onto every table we had about a dozen women from the community helping serve the food along with a few others from churches around Washington State.

Although most of the feast was surrounded by the word “big” there were lots of little moments with big significance that I enjoyed seeing. During the program the children did a little skit where they dressed up as Mary and Joseph, kings, shepherds, and angels and walked around the room while everyone was singing Christmas carols. I slipped out of the kitchen and into the back of the room just in-time to see several proud parents taking pictures on cell phones as their children walked by in costume. What a good memory parents and children will now have connected to Christmas. Another moment I enjoyed seeing was after all of the gifts had been distributed and the children had all received their Story Book Bibles I saw a 9 year old girl sitting on a bench trying to get her ten month old nephew to sit still so she could read him the creation story. I hope that Baby never remembers a time where there wasn’t a Christmas feast and that he will always connects it with God being his Father and Savior.

Heather German

I was excited to see the participation and ownership shown by the Hope Fellowship regulars throughout the whole process of planning, preparing, and the feast itself. It was also great to see the youth group get excited about decorating the Longhouse and to see their sense of accomplishment after we finished. For me, the Christmas Feast was a glimpse of what Hope Fellowship will look like in the future: a church with full community ownership and leadership.

Mike Shaw

The thing that stuck out to me during the feast was the overwhelming sense that "this is good". Here are some highlights:

-boys and girls dressed in homemade costumes for the Christmas skit

-parents' happy faces

-being reunited with kids we've played with for hours at kids club during the summer

-Jesus Storybook Bibles given to each child (a supporter from Georgia sent $2000 to purchase 200 children’s Bibles for Christmas!)

-hearing Native voices singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

-enjoying melt-in-your-mouth-salmon cooked right outside the longhouse by Rex Zack

-the longhouse ceremonial room decorated with lights and homemade decorations (paper chains, poinsettias, snowflakes) made by the youth group

-working with people from all over Washington who drove to the rez (in crazy winter weather) to help us

-celebrating the BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOR with hundreds of people from all over the a longhouse!

It was a blessing to be a part of such a celebration.

Emily Schmidt

It wasn’t until maybe the day before when I started to realized exactly how big and crazy (in a good way) this Christmas Feast was going to be. There were lots of thoughts and ideas and preparations and prayer that went into that night and at times I wondered about (and doubted) some of it. Watching the boys and girls line up to get their gifts and then receive them caused everything make sense to me. Seeing the response of the community and smiles on people’s face; seeing proud parents and laughing children; getting another glimpse of what a true church “is” went beyond making everything worth it. Though everything wasn’t perfect (how we had thought things would play out), there were no surprises for our King. I hope so much that this King that we serve and celebrate was made known to White Swan that night. This Gospel is hope, it’s the only hope and that’s exactly what Christmas is about; Angels coming through broken skies, a baby coming to a broken world to be our hope.

Gretchen Becker

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update from Gretchen Becker

Hello Friends-

I hope that each of you are found in the loving grace and truth of Jesus Christ today and are blessed in knowing you are His and He is yours. Here are some things that have been happening this month...

Besides my daily work in multi-media and promotional material for the ministry, my time has been spent hanging out with four girls from our youth group here.

Jade and Tionna are sisters. The live with their auntie who they call mom and her boyfriend who they just recently started calling dad. They have a little brother named Shane who is so, so cute. He's in 4th grade and can't go to youth group events yet, and therefore will stare out the window when I pick up Jade and Tionna with the most pathetic and heart-melting look on his face. They live in a good home from what I can tell, which is a HUGE blessing and not common here. Both Jade and Tionna show big potential to be strong leaders in the Hope Fellowship youth group. I think they believe in Jesus. They've been a part of the small church here for a while now and know the story of the Gospel. However the pressures and struggles that surround them daily are overwhelming. Pray that they would have strength through the Lord to stand firm.

Lateet and Lisa are also sisters. Lateet's in 7th grade and Lisa's in 6th. They live way out on the reservation with two of their brothers, their baby nephew, their mom and their step-dad. They have so many brother and sisters, I honestly can't even keep track. There are three of them (Lateet, Lisa and their younger brother Bobby) who are full sisters and brother, and then I think there's close to 10 other half and step brothers and sisters. Lateet and Lisa are desperate for something to do. I think they rarely leave their house except for when they're in school and walking around White Swan. I took them to Sonic the other week and it was great. It was so obvious to me at that point that we were off the reservation when I was sitting at Sonic with them. It's amazing how quickly a setting and culture can change and how a place 30 minutes away can seem so foreign. I don't know how they view God. They are both learning from the Bible every week at Bible Study. Pray that from the stories, understanding would come to their hearts. They are very interested in youth group and having fun with everyone there...which is a good thing.

Eleanor Davis is an elder here in the community. I spoke with her a month or so ago about about a project that she is working on. She has been given a grant to help her document a traditional longhouse song on a DVD that has been sung for generations in her community. Many of these same kind of songs have been lost over the years as the Sahaptin language dies more and more each year, because they've never been allowed to document them. She wants to record this song in order to keep it alive as long as possible and bring back part of their culture that has been lost. I offered my help in any way I could since I make short videos out here. After talking with her the first time, I felt like we were talking different languages. I knew there was so much that she wanted me to understand about the reasoning behind this project, but I felt pretty lost. However, we met in person, along with Chris Granberry to talk about the next steps in this project. The Lord answered so many prayers in this meeting. Not only were ideas made clear, but Eleanor and her sister Marlene poured their hearts out to us. Both of these women were extremely honest about their frustration and despair of a lost culture and lost identity within their community. It was heartbreaking to hear about the lives they have lived, yet inspiring to see how they were compelled by their struggles to do this project, and in a small way, try to restore their community. The project has only just begun, but I am looking forward to working with these women and I pray that the Lord would use this to bring hope into Eleanor and Marlene's life.

The coffee table photo book I was working on for the ministry is finished. I have a hard copy sitting next to me right now. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But what does that mean, or what would those words be? I've recently gotten a glimpse of how my role as a photographer out here is a difficult and dangerous one. The longer I'm here, they more words there are to these pictures. I look at the Granberry's lives. They have been here 7 years now and there are lots of words and stories to each face they see and the words get more and more complicated to verbalize and process. I'm still figuring out what this all means and how to go about my role as a photographer here on a reservation that is overflowing with hurt and frustration and groaning. I need help in this. But I see the Lord coming to help me through the people He's put in my life and through the grace God gives me to see the Gospel more clearly.

Again and Always, Thank you so much for your prayers!

Prayer Requests:

Jade, Tionna, Lisa, and Lateet- for our growing relationship and for their relationships with Jesus (attached are pictures of making cookies with Jade and Tionna)
The Eleanor Davis project- for continued clarity on what directions to take in this project and for other opportunities to arrive to share Christ with them
The Hope Fellowship YOUTH GROUP- there are many hurting teenagers in our youth group that need the hope of Jesus Christ. Also for their safety!

Much Love to all,


"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion"
-Psalm 84:5

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anyone Want to Help Us Get a New Van?

Hey Ya'll!

We are trying to get $4000 together to buy another 15 passenger van ( to use for picking up folks for Bible Study, youth group, etc. Anyone want to kick in $50-100 to help us get this one?

If so, let me know, then send your donation (with a note that it's for the van) to:

Sacred Road
22116 SE 51st Place
Issaquah, WA 98029

May the Lord repay you ten times over!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bill Moyers - Lawless Land: No Justice on the Rez

This is a very well done program on the complex legal/justice problems on Indian Reservations today. Please take time to watch and share with others. CHUCK MURPHY: "Indians are not getting the same justice system that you or I get in Denver, or in New York, or in Boston, or Kansas City, or anywhere else. That, to me, is the most egregious element of this. Is that an entire class of people, based on where they live, is not getting the same services that you and I get."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Please Pray for this Young Family

We had company for dinner the other night. We had pizza, spaghetti, watermelon (the last from summer), Pepsi, and juice. It was a really fun time with a troubled family and we are going to see them again soon. In this family are mom and dad who haven’t married yet. They have four little girls and have been functioning together as a family for 10 years, or so, now. Mom would love to have a wedding. (We’ll be talking with them more about that soon.)

They left another reservation to find peace and a fresh start. Dad was a “gangster”/drug dealer; and what’s more, he had his foot chopped off in a fight with a drunk relative. (Amazingly, doctors were able to reattach it. But he is still in constant pain and has a lot of healing left to do. He is not getting great medical care, of course.) As they have been trying to get headed in a good direction, they have had one trial after another. The hardest trial was the suicide of a relative in their front yard this past summer. Everything in their home was to be burned or given away due to the religion of the family, but this is nothing compared to the depression and despair they have battled since then. One other relative tried to commit suicide after his cousin did. So this family has been on “suicide watch” since then.

This little family is actually not so little, their nieces and nephews are often at their little two bedroom house (the entire house is about 20 feet by 20 feet). They brought two of them to our house the other night. These two have also been at our VBS kids’ clubs in the summer with the three oldest girls from the family. Since then, they (the cousins) have been homeless and moved around so much with their mom, that they and their three siblings have not been enrolled in school yet this year.

We ate together, and talked. That night their six children and our own four played with dress up clothes, “the littlest pet shop” animals, and colored with crayons. They went to see our chickens roosting after dark and found some eggs in the hay. They swung on our swing set and slid down the slide in the dark. Then we all settled down and watched the video of their house being worked on this past summer by two teams that came to White Swan. It was a sweet reflection on good memories.

How do we love this family well? How do we know what to do or say? In order to step out in faith and believe the Gospel for them we think back on our own stories. We know that if God can save us and change us, He can do the same for them. We believe He is drawing them; and while the Holy Spirit is working, we tell them of the Good News as well as the good we see God doing in their lives. We walk with them, simply walk with them, and speak of Him who is Good!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beauty and Brokenness

by Ann Marie Granberry

I remember a lot of things from my childhood. I remember my dad's old youth house. I remember saying goodbye to him as he went on mission trips. I remember wanting to go. I remember going to Camp Briarwood when I was eight years old. I remember getting letters while I was there. I remember my grandparents picking me up. I remember when my parents told me that we were leaving. I remember telling my best friend. I remember the Sunday when we told our church. I remember Mission Training Intentional. I remember pulling out of our driveway for the last time and I remember the drive. I remember feeling lost. What I don't remember is, knowing how God would use this transition in my life.
The Lord has used these transitions to pull me closer to Him. Because of my background I look at the world in a different way than I ever could have, or did. I see the beauty and the brokenness in it. I look at cultures and I know how to analyze them and how to fit into them. Because of my background I know how to weep, how to say goodbyes, how to minister, how to fight, how to laugh, how to love, how to trust, and so much more. These are some of the things that I had to learn because of where the Lord placed me.
I've been learning a lot about World Views lately. Through this process I have been able to collect my thoughts and decide what my own world view is. Like I said, because of what the Lord has done in my life I can look at the world and see the beauty and brokenness in it. I admire the beauty, but I detest the brokenness.
Sometimes when I examine these World Views I am amazed by the early civilizations, or by famous people who did something important. In my most recent studies of the world however, I have found myself disgusted by the ways of the world. Sometimes I've felt like I was literally about to throw up because of something I've heard, seen, experienced, or read. Just in the last few weeks, I have felt this way, more than once.
It didn't always bother me so much. Maybe it was because I was too young to know much about it. But after moving to the Reservation things such as racism, abuse, sexual impurity, even cussing sicken, shock, and disgust me. These things are so real to me. I confront them often because I'm on the Reservation.
I know fifteen and sixteen year old girls who have children. I know children who have found their own parent after that parent committed suicide. I've seen the physical scars caused by abuse. But I've also seen the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual scars. I've held babies who struggle from alcohol and drug effects. I've wept with those who weep, and I've rejoiced with those who rejoice. I have felt the wounds, but also the healing. There is definitely brokenness on the Yakama Indian Reservation. But there is also beauty.
In the last six and a half years that my family has been here, we have seen so much growth. We are a lot farther ahead of schedule than we ever thought we would be. Our "baby church" still continues to meet and grow every Tuesday night. We have Kids Club in two different neighborhoods now, and sometimes have over one hundred children show up between the two sites. Our summers are full of teams who are ready and willing to serve the community, and our Sacred Road team continues to develop.
Some people believe that there is no poverty in the United States. Some believe that these things happen, but only on Reservations. Others believe that there is nothing to be done about it. All of these people are wrong. Poverty is not a foreign term. It lives and thrives in America, even today. Poverty is not only on Indian Reservations either. It's all over. Racism, hatred, and abuse are all over too. They are very real characteristics that exist all over the world, including in America. This is because we live in a broken, fallen world. But there is beauty.
I have finally begun to accept the fact that God wants me on the Reservation. For a long time I was angry with Him for making my family move. The only thing that I wanted was to go back to Birmingham. When I realized that going back to Birmingham wasn't going to help, I began to wonder how God could want me anywhere, for any reason. I began to see my own sin more clearly, and it made me realize how unfathomable it was that the God of everything could want me, let alone use me. The Lord has changed my heart in so many ways. I love the people on this reservation, and I know that the only thing I want to do in my life is serve the Lord, in one way or another.
As Christians we know that our Father is working. There is hope, because God is a gracious and merciful God who loves to use broken tools. We are broken, and our world is broken, but there is hope because Jesus' body was literally shattered for us. That is the beauty. We are to be in the world, but not of it. We do have to stay here, and live in this fallen world. But we can know that it is not our final destination. Someday soon we will be in a place that is perfect, and whole. We know this because of His covenant with us. That covenant will never be broken. Of all the things to remember, this is the most important.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sacred Road Staff Reflect on Recent Events in the Community

Mike Shaw on White Swan High's Football Game

A couple weeks back we had the opportunity to attend White Swan High’s first home football game. It was a cool late summer evening under the lights and it was exciting to see the community come out. We saw many familiar faces and had the joy of witnessing the kids’ reactions to seeing us outside of “church” or Kids’ Club. Most importantly, we had the pleasure of being a part of the community in cheering on their team. For once we weren’t outsiders and it felt good to relax and hang out in the place in which we live and work. I think our presence on a weekend night surprised a lot of people, both kids and adults, but we enjoyed the occasion to sit with friends as part of the community and watch the Cougars win.

Emily Schmidt Talks About Her Time With Youth

These past few months I've been hanging out with Aqua and her 7-month old baby, Shane. In the past, I've always had a plan for what to do when hanging out with her, but this last week I wanted to let her decide. We sat on the couch in her house, played with Shane, and just talked for a while. Then Aqua suggested that we go to "Dads", a local diner, and get root beer floats...which was the perfect suggestion. I had been wanting to go to "Dads", we both love root beer floats, and it was something that she suggested and wanted to do. It was perfect. The whole afternoon was full of goodness.

In addition to being with Aqua this past week, I was happy to spend time with some other teenagers from the rez. The Yakama Cultural Center's theater shows new movies each Thursday evening, so Mike Shaw, three youth, and I were able to go see a movie last Thursday. The movie ended up being less than awesome, but just being with the youth was so great.


Gretchen Becker Writes About The Harrah Fall Festival

Fall is approaching, which means school, colder weather, and of course, parades and festivals. A couple weeks ago there was a Fall Festival in the small town of Harrah here on the reservation. The day began at 8:30 for us as we put the finishing touches on the Sacred Road float that would be in the parade. During the parade we threw out candy to all the children, passed out invitations for Tuesday night Bible Study, and had an all around great time. As we passed by the float judging table during the parade, we heard over the sound system that our float had won FIRST PLACE! The rest of the day we walked around Harrah Park where there was music, tons of food, games, and, best of all, a 3-on-3-basketball tournament. It was great to feel like part of the community and not just by-standers. We ran into many familiar faces from the summer and from Bible Study.

I have been hoping to start mentoring two young girls that have been coming to Bible Study for a while now. Their names are Lisa and Lateet. They were both at the festival and it gave us a chance to hang out together in a very casual setting. I had a good time talking and watching some basketball with them.
From 1st place in the parade, to Indian tacos, to an Italian soda made by the White Swan Cheerleaders, to being beat horribly in 3-on-3 B-ball, Saturday was an enjoyable day for all and a good day to put down in Sacred Road history.

Heather German's Thoughts on the Back to School BBQ

A couple of weeks ago Sacred Road hosted a Back to School BBQ for the community of White Swan in Totus Park housing project. 180 people enjoyed a meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, watermelon, and pop. The highlight of the evening for the kids was a blow-up bouncy castle. Most importantly, though, we saw people who regularly attend Bible study volunteer to serve their community. As soon as the Sacred Road team arrived at Totus, kids and youth immediately started helping by setting up tables and chairs. Two men, Greg Arquette and Allen Slome grilled with staff member, Chuck Clevenger for 2 1/2 hours to make sure everyone had enough to eat. Wendell Hannigan was the Emcee for the night opening the evening by thanking everyone for being there. Several women enjoyed helping out as well. Kate Enyes helped set up the buffet table and Leah Wyman tied down 200 helium balloons donated from Little Caesars, and handed out 100 Sacred Road T-shirts with her daughter Nita.

 The BBQ seemed to be one step closer in the journey towards a functioning church in White Swan. Many people heard about Tuesday night Bible study that had not heard of it before and this past week at Bible study we had lots of new faces. The evening was one more good memory in my mind associated with Sacred Road and Christ's love, and hopefully it was in the minds of all the kids, youth and adults who came.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Photos Taken by One Week Ministry Team Member Tom Bilbro

You are invited to view tombilbro's photo album: whiteSwan
Jun 28, 2009
by tombilbro
Message from tombilbro:
Some pictures from the CPC White Swan trip.
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