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