Monday, July 6, 2009

"How Goes the World" by Mary

There are so many stories to tell of our life on the reservation. I can tell of the work, the teams, the unity of the staff and summer interns, my spiritual journey through recent trials, or interactions with my Native community here. I see so much how we are like sheep. From the pastors who come on the short term teams to the elder whose home is being worked on, we are all prone to wander. How often do I forget my Lord is so near to me and wander off trying to forge my own way! God is the Good Shepherd. He gathers His sheep from near and far through many means. I am His as are the many that come to serve here on this reservation in the summer; but He is also the shepherd gathering many in my community here. In light of His love I go forward, knowing I need a shepherd, knowing there are those right in front of me who need my shepherd too, and He will call to them. He may call through my bumbling words, or through my exhaustion, or in the midst of jump ropes or sidewalk chalk, or even a new roof! The Kingdom comes through our great Shepherd.

Some of the stories on my mind today are answers to the prayers of God’s people. On Tuesday on the Longhouse, more of Buffy’s children came. The oldest daughter Toni, has a one year old baby. She came right in and began talking to me, and she is not a talker! I offered to hold her baby, so she could work in the kitchen serving the food for our crowd of 120 for dinner that night. She was smiling from ear to ear, enjoying her time with Heather and Rebekah. I also had other youth from the rez helping in the dining room, with set up and serving the meal. It sure felt like church to me!

On July 2nd, there was a fire outside of Buffy’s house, the children and the house are safe, but it revealed some of the serious problems in the family. Please keep praying.

We have two sisters who have been coming on Tuesday as well. After the lesson time the children, youth, and adults are divided. These two, Lisa and Lateet, come together and tell each other the Bible Stories they each learned. They are teaching one another the lessons!

The pain that the youth feel often leads them to be self destructive in various ways. They can bring each other “down” so quickly. Stephen has been struggling when hanging out with his friend, so we separated them yesterday. It led to another cross roads with Stephen, who has been a part of our family for most of the past year. The Lord seems to bring Stephen to submission over and over again, but he feels so much pain and hurt in the midst of these trials. We actually moved him out yesterday to show that life with us requires submission to the Lord and family, not coming and going and choosing when to engage. Again, Stephen seems drawn back, but refuses to leave his “friend”. This friend has an arrest warrant issued for him, and will get Stephen into trouble. If God gives Chris and I more time with Stephen, our role will be to lead him to a residential vocational training center. Pray for Stephen’s heart!

The youth continually “check in” with me as the mother figure in their lives also. Angela, who is driving around without a license, gave me the keys of her car to hold; more than that she shares with me the burdens she needs prayer for. Many of these are also being mentored by our staff girls; Veronica, Heather, Emily, and Gretchen. The Kingdom comes through community!

An Encouraging Story from Our Summer Project Coordinator, "Uncle" Dave

After 17 years of missions involvement, both short and long term, I have found one problem with short term mission trips. A person on a short term trip will go to a location, work, and see that work as an improvement in the life of the person or people being helped. And, in fact, there is an improvement in many cases. The problem is, the short term missionary seldom sees the long term affect on the people they have served.

I met Tyron and Stephanie in 2008. I didn’t know much about them except that about a year before, Tyron had been attacked with an axe, severing his foot and also receiving a damaging blow to his face and neck. The meeting was short. Their kids came to the afternoon Kid’s Club at Totus Park. For 2008, the story stops there.

In 2009 I returned to White Swan, Washington, to again work as a project coordinator for Sacred Road Ministries. It is a chance for me to serve using almost all of the gifts and talents God has given me. I have grown to love the ministry, its director, Chris Granberry, his wife Mary, their four children (Ann Marie, Beth, Morgan, and David), and the staff and interns who also work here.

After a four and a half day drive from Florida I arrived at the Granberry home to the greeting from Chris, “Get in the truck. I want to show you some houses we are going to work on this summer.” Now, one may think that after a four and a half day drive the last thing I would want to do is drive around an Indian reservation. This could not be further from the truth. I was eager to get to work.

It was not a surprise when we showed up at the home of Tyron and Stephanie. What was a surprise was the condition it was in. The 6 of them were living in a small, 2 bedroom house with a living room, kitchen and one bathroom. It needed a roof and paint job. That was expected. But the rest was a little overwhelming. Most of the windows were not functional or non existent. Some of the interior ceiling was falling down. Worst of all, there was only one functioning electric socket in the whole house. It was filled with a six outlet adaptor and six cords filled every slot. It does not take much reasoning to figure out that there is no sense in putting a roof on a house that is about to burn from an electrical fire. My brain was telling me there is no way we could take on all of this plus the other home Chris wanted to paint that week. The budget was too small, the workers were too few, and we didn’t know if we had any skilled people to do any of it. There was only one decision we could make. GO FOR IT! This was a time to forget what your brain was telling you and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When the teams finally showed up, the first thing I did was greet the adult males and ask, “What skills do you have?” Most of them knew one end of a hammer from another but that was all. Two, however, had skills. One (Jim Neill) said he would work on the electric while another (Roger Anderson), a long time friend of the ministry, took on the windows. The rest would roof and paint.

The roof was completed in 2 days and the painting was not far behind. The windows were going well except for the cost. They put us about $800 over our working budget. However, the Holy Spirit was not finished. He had been working in Roger’s heart for some time and Roger obsorbed the cost of the windows himself. Jim finished the electric Friday morning. We made it through the week and achieved most of what we set out to do. But then we noticed the meter was hot. At first we thought it was because it was a digital meter filled with electronics but the problem was really a loose plug where the power line came into the meter that was over heating. It was a problem that had probably been progressing for some time and would have probably burned the house down had we not decided to do the electrical work. The power company was called that night. They disconnected the service, took the meter, and told us we could get a licensed electrician to fix it without a permit and inspection.

It is strange how people think of Native Americans. Many white people want no contact at all with them. Businesses are not much different. I called several local electricians who would not help me. “We don’t travel that far.” or simply, “We don’t go there.” After several calls I finally found an electrician who listened to my story and said he would help, but when he called me back with a price I couldn’t believe it. $2000. When I asked why it was so high he replied, “If you think you know so much do it yourself.”

To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. The family had been without electricity for four days now. It shouldn’t be this hard.

The next morning, Wendell, a Native American and good friend of the Granberry family, came to the house for breakfast. I asked him if he knew of any electricians I could call. Wendell gave me the number of a man who put me in touch with another man who was a licsenced electrician. His name was Rod. He was an Indian himself and agreed to help us out. $750 later the work was complete. In addition, Roger had contacted some people at his church and was able to raise the money needed.

How can we ever doubt God? If I didn’t ask that question out loud, I know I asked it in my own mind. But I would soon find myself being tested with that very question.

When we called for the power to be reconnected, we were told that we needed a permit number and inspection. This was the very thing we were initially told we did not need. It was late Friday, and now it would be Monday before we could do anything.

A new team came in on Saturday, and first thing Monday we were stripping roofs and prepping walls for paint. As project coordinator I had to oversee the work and could not got to town to work on the permit. After discussing this problem with Chris, it was decided that we would give Tyron the money and send him for the permit. Monday morning I gave him the cash and instructed him as to what to do. The last thing I said to him was, “Call me when you have the permit.” That way I could call for an inspection and get the process going.

Monday came to an end, and I did not hear from Tyron. By 5:30 on Tuesday I still had not heard from Tyron. I knew this was not good. We were on our way to Tuesday night Bible study and as we drove we prayed for the evening. I prayed that Tyron had gotten the permit and had just forgotten to call. I also prayed that he had taken the initiative and called for the inspection. To my shame, I didn’t believe he had done either. In my heart I did not believe God would grant my prayer.

After arriving at the Longhouse a few minutes later my phone rang. The name on the screen was familiar. Tyron. “This is bad news.”, was my thought. I said hello. Before I could say another word, Tyron was spitting out words almost too fast to understand. “Dave. This is Tyron. I am sorry I forgot to call you when I got the permit. I called for the inspection and the inspector should be here on Wednesday. “

If you were part of the team that worked on Tyron and Stephanie’s house I hope you hear this story. I hope you understand that while their living conditions have improved, more has happened. The Holy Spirit is at work in Tyron and Stephanie. He is enabling them. He is transforming their lives. He used you as an instrument in this process.

But there is more. He has transformed my life. He has shown me that in my doubt and unbelief, he is still gracious. He is still God.