Friday, November 27, 2015

A Correction


So Sorry,
For those of you who are going to donate on giving Tuesday, to get in on the matching funds the correct start time is 12 AM CT December 1, 2015.  See prior blog entry for other details.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Refugees Welcolme

May the blessings of Thanksgiving be yours.


I have been in Harrisonburg, VA one week.  My experience volunteering with Church World Services (CWS) as a General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Individual Volunteer in Missions (IVIM) has been even better than I imagined. 

As I walked down the long hall, I was happy and relieved to have arrived safely, a feeling shared by the refugees served here through Church World Service,

As I waited for the office to open, I was in conversation with a refugee also waiting.  He is 25 years old, has done a great job of learning English.

He has training and experience as a chef in a large restaurant.  He recently came to the US at the invitation of a family member.  His was a long journey, from Cuba by way of a S. American country then by car, bus, train cross country to VA.

I am staying at an Extended Stay Corporate Suites.  It is the most expensive lodging I have had on any of my four IVIM assignments, $285 a week.

This is the first IVIM assignment that allows me to have a hot shower every morning.  That feels like I am in the lap of luxury. 

Because I drove I was able to bring some of the comforts of home.  Those who know me well, know books were the coveted take along.  When I flew, I had only three personal books plus my Bible.   
Here, check out my books and innovative bookshelf.

Yes, there are some UMW book list books.

It has been pure joy, well almost.  I have enjoyed learning the background of all that CWS does for refugees.  Beyond serving at the office, I have been involved in cultural orientation classes, the women’s group, and bicycle riding class and driving lessons.  I was glad driving lessons were only book learning, helping refugees pass the knowledge part of the driving test. 

What made it less than totally joyful was transportation issues.  I am very dependent on my GPS.  I had a family all belted in and ready to be transported to the site of the bicycle class.  What a sinking feeling when the GPS would not recognize the school’s address.  Sure was glad it recognized the school’s name.

Transporting the next day to the driving class I was given the address 957.  My GPS had me turn a road too soon, but after finding the correct road, there was no 957.  I knew I was looking for an apartment building.  After knocking at three different dwellings, I found the right building and apartment.  The address error was understandable.  The refugee had given her number reading from the right to left; the correct number was 759.

The refugee I transported spoke enough English so we could carry on a conversation.  English is her fifth language.  She was an inspiration t me, I am committing to improving my Arabic.  A large percentage of the current CWS caseload are Arabic speaking.

After class she invited me into her home.  She showed me photos of her family in their native beautiful, colorful dresses.

UMC Hospitality & Service Opportunities

I attended Asbury United Methodist Church the first Sunday I was in Harrisonburg, Va.  I chose this church because they provide space for Church World Service’s needs.   
I was greeted warmly, and invited to Sunday school.  One class member moved and sat with me during Sunday school so I did not have to sit alone.  She gave me her phone number in case I needed anything during the week.

A Wednesday Community dinner is offered by Asbury UMC.  I will be a volunteer there for the rest of the Wednesdays that I am in the area.

I had Thanksgiving dinner with one of the families from the church.

I had met Kate, another volunteer with CWS at the bicycle class and driving lessons.

At a rally for refugees on Monday, Kate introduced me to her Mother, Laura.  Laura invited me to have Thanksgiving with the family.

 Wow they sure are good cooks!

This is a caring community.  I had three invitations to family dinners, two from families at the church.

The community of believers God has surrounded me with is an answer to our prayers!

The Refugee Issue

I attended rallies for refugees and immigrants.  Many in this community cherishes their new neighbors.  They are actively working for and asking for support from their elected officials for the values for which America has always stood.   

The links below will help you hear God’s heart on refugees!

Cokesbury, a publishing outlet, has lifted up the plight of refugees through an excellent video, Beyond Bethlehem.  Follow this link, click on videos, it is the second video that has a picture of Jesus as the cover picture.  In our Christian Tradition and because of the realities of that first Christmas, we are called to service on behalf of the refugees around the world.  We will not all be called to do the same thing, but we all have the call to love our neighbor.

The West Michigan United Methodist bishop, Bishop Kiesey, penned a letter and called on those in the Michigan area to advocate for the safe resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Church World Service, where I am currently serving, has condemned the discriminatory, anti-refugee bill that passed the House of Representatives.

Special Event Giving Choice: Giving Tuesday December 1st

Before deciding if and how much to give on the upcoming giving Tuesday, use the link below to see where you are placed in the wealth of our world.

Ponder your reality of where you are seen as God looks at the world.   As Mordecai said to Ester,  "Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such times as this?"  
Is our relative wealth to for donating for such times as this?   

Luke 12:48- from TNIV version, a quote from Jesus.

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked"

The General Board of Global Ministries has designated December 1 as giving Tuesday.

Their website has the following notice.  “Every gift made online through The Advance at on Dec. 1, 2015 will be matched up to $1 million see more and donate at:

Since donations of more than a million are expected, the match does not last all day.  Making donations immediately after 12: AM Eastern Time is the recommendation for being in on the matching funds. 

I have attached the list of Advance Projects in the Holy Land.  The needs are great.  Please prayerfully consider a donation on giving Tuesday, December 1, 2015.

To Do Lists

This blog has suggested some "to do" options.  Please continue to pray for the refugees and me as I serve here in Harrisonburg, VA.


Today’s affirmation from my daily devotions in the book, The Way, by E. Stanley Jones is as follows.

Today I shall have a Christianity that is Christian.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My Journey Continues


In Michigan during September and October I had the opportunity to present my mission experiences at churches, Mission U and UMW meetings.  The fall colors in Michigan are beautiful! I enjoyed  overviews like this as I drove around the state.


As I think about my ministry in Palestine, I still marvel at the grace that was extended to me by the Palestinians even when it became know that I was from the USA.  “Made in USA” is stamped on the bullets that are killing and maiming their families.  Our government policies enable the violation of International Law that is causing much of the pain and suffering of our Palestinian Brothers and Sisters. 

When we take seriously, “God so loved the world” we become a part of the dynamics of international relations.  What is our responsibility and complicity in what our government does and what the governments of our US allies do?  Seeing social and political realities that do not reflect God’s kingdom, we as Christian citizens are called to social action!

God calls us to work for justice!
Let’s humbly surrender to God for guidance.


Looking at my readings and actions through UMW Social Action lens gives much to ponder.  I am so glad that United Methodist Women renew their minds through the UMW Reading Program.

Every year, UMW recommends a diverse range of books to broaden exposure to a variety of concepts. Books are organized into five categories:
·        Education for Mission
·        Nurturing for Community
·        Social Action
·        Spiritual Growth
·        Leadership Development

The titles in each category may be obtained at

Even for those not United Methodist Women, you would gain helpful insight joining in the reading.


My mission ministry has brought new awareness of the importance of interfaith relationships.  I am so glad that the United Methodist Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships is leading the way for congregations to be involved in this important work.


As you know from prior postings, I am dedicated to service to refugees in the name of Christ.  I will be serving this winter through Church World Service (CWS).  I have this assignment as an Individual Volunteer in Missions with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM).  Donations to help refugees may be sent to UMCOR, International Disaster Response Advance Number 982450,

To donate directly to the Church World Service do so at

I will be serving at a Church World Service office in Harrisonberg, VA.  This office assists around two hundred families each year from several different countries.  The information below is from the CWS web site explaining how CWS works with refugees,

Building a Home

Before a refugee arrives in the U.S., CWS staff begin preparing for their arrival. We help to find affordable housing and furnish the apartment with all the essentials for all sizes and types of families. More than finding a physical home for a family, we also work to help newly arrived refugees navigate their local communities, from learning to use public transport to understanding how to shop and create a budget.

Finding Work

Often refugees are coming from an environment where employment was either prohibited or extremely hard to find. Finding their first job can be the fulfillment of a dream a refugee has held for years. Providing for their families and being able to support themselves is more than a paycheck, it is a step on the road to rebuilding their lives and recognizing their own courage. CWS caseworkers work with each arriving refugee to find employment and improve their own skills through various training programs.

Going to School

In many refugee camps and urban locations, schooling is not an option for children, let alone continuing education for adults. When refugees arrive in the U.S., CWS helps parents enroll their children in school. We also work with families to make sure they have the supplies and support to make education a priority for both their children and for them as adults through English and vocational training.

Cultural Orientation

Cultural Orientation begins when refugees are still overseas waiting to come to the U.S., but it continues from the second they arrive at the airport. Through formal sessions and personal interaction with CWS caseworkers and volunteers, our approach to cultural orientation helps to start refugees on the road to becoming integrated into the fabric of their new communities.


Following God takes us on many journeys.  Please pray for the refugees I will be serving and for me as I serve.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Visiting, Visits and Beyond

Visiting Chicago IL

I had the privilege of attending the United Methodist Women (UMW) National Seminar in Chicago, "Interrupting Indifference:  Jesus, Justice and Joy."   We learned A LOT about the UMW's focus on the various social justice topics that require our involvement. 

The field trips were especially meaningful to me.  

On one, we learned more about Economic Justice and the history of labor struggles and an evert, the Haymarket Massacre.

I will be telling more about "Interrupting Indifference: Jesus Justice and Joy" at the Annual Meeting of the West Michigan Conference of the UMW on October 17, in Coldwater, MI.  You are invited.  Let me know if you plan to attend.

Visiting Ethiopia

For three weeks in August I visited Ethiopia with my sister, Donna and sister-in-law, Janet.  Donna had spent 30+ years in Africa.  During her last nine years there she was part of the team that created the New Testament for the Banna tribe.

This tribe had never had a written language before.

We attended the Bible dedication, on August 9, 2015

Part of our stay was at the SIM Guest House in Addis Ababa.  We visited sites of some of the urban ministries that SIM facilitates.  Many prayers and resources are desperately needed.  Hearing the stories of these mother's and children was a challenge to be part of the answer.

  Ethiopia ACT with SIM are the organizations involved in this urban ministries.

This picture is a picture of the facility where thy teach 125 children each Sunday.

Some of the usual tourists things were done.  It was a hard walk, but a beautiful site, the Blue Nile Falls.

Our travel to the northern part of Ethiopia to visit historical sites was a learning adventure.

 There is historic research that tends to verify the "legend" that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia.  

We attended a 4: AM Ethiopian Orthodox event where the Ark was brought out, the crowd followed it to the square for worship.

A Visit to Traverse City Next Week, September 7-9, 2015

Rev. Alex and Brenda Awad will be visiting Traverse City, MI.  Their visit is part of a speaking tour in many states.  If you wonder if they will be in your area, just let me know and I will forward you the information about their schedule in your area.

I am praising God for their ministry in Palestine and Israel.  Serving with them at Bethlehem Bible College was a highlight of my service as an Individual Volunteer in Missions.  They were part of my Methodist family while I was in the Holy Land..


Rev. Alex and Brenda stand in need of your prayers as they fulfill they very busy travel schedule.

If you live in  my area,  the information is below on two of the six events that will be part of their two day agenda while here in Traverse City.

Tuesday, September 8, 7:PM at Christ United Methodist Church, 1249 Three Mile South, Traverse City, MI.  "Reflections on Israel & Palestine"

Wednesday, September 9, 10:AM United Methodist Women at Central UMC invite you to a reception , 222 Front St, Traverse City, MI , "Issues Concerns of Women In Palestine & Israel"

Conversational Spanish

The class based on the book, Who Is My Neighbor?  Learning Spanish as Church Hospitality is already a success even though it has not started yet.   

There is a class of 30, and a waiting list for the next class.

Let me know if your church might consider a class, I can connect you to some great resources.

And Beyond...

Lord willing I will be making several presentations in the next month and a half in various cities in Michigan.  


My months in the Middle East put refugee issues on my radar.  Serving in Mafraq, Jordan, I saw first hand the problems of refugees fleeing violence in Syria.  

The Palestinian refugees situation is unjust.  International law is violated, adding continued suffering.  More refugees are being created by home demolitions.  

These refugees are close to my heart.  History shows that 800,000 people living in Palestine in 1948 were ousted from their homes, lands and livelihoods as Israel was given their land by international governments.  In Palestine it is referred to as a disaster, The Nakba,

I listened to the family stories of that event when I served in Palestine.  

I was five years old in 1948, imagine with me how different life would be if this disaster had happened in MI.  Using Michigan's 1950 census data, I outlined the counties in Michigan's lower peninsula that would have been emptied if the Nakba happened here.

God used these maps and research to focus me, service to refugees and immigrants became an added call on my life.
Since returning home, March 2315, I am volunteering with Justice for Our Neighbors, at Central UMC, .

Please pray with me for refugees and immigrants.  I am praying about my next Individual Volunteer in Missions assignment.  My prayer is that I will be able to serve in a Refugee Resettlement Program.

Interrupt Indifference!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Much To Do

House and Home

It is wonderful to be home and in Traverse City, MI.

In my opinion, I am spending too many hours working in my yard.  Yes, I am remembering “green side up,” but why does the green have to be the green of weeds?

This area of Michigan has a lot of natural beauty.  Visitors from all over the world come to Traverse City all summer, but especially this week for our National Cherry Festival.  A town of about 14,000 hosting 100,000 creates the joy of summers here.

A Parade and Justice For Our Neighbors JFON

Central United Methodist Church was in a Cherry Festival Parade on Thursday.  Everyone had a great time and the youth handout invitations to their Daily Vacation Bible School.  Some of us walked with the others wearing our Justice for our Neighbors shirts advertising Central’s Immigration Ministry.

You are Invited

Mint is growing in my garden.  I would love to treat you to mint-tea or mint-lemonade the Tastes of Bethlehem served here.  Please plan a visit sometime soon, at least, within the next 3-4 months.  I am hoping to be a “snow bird” and fly south when the cold weather.

West Michigan Conference of United Methodist Church

Conference Annual Meeting

I had the privilege of being a representative of my Grand Traverse District at the Annual Conference.  The worship, preaching and teaching gave us a chance to grow, grow deep and strong.

Decisions items were considered with much discussion on the pros and cons.  We “practiced” treating each other as brothers and sisters who came and reasoned together.  Love created the grace and space needed to accomplish the decision necessary for the Church.

I was particularly interested in a resolution that passed.  It was a resolution asking next year’s General Conference to consider removing our church’s involvement with companies that are causing the pain and suffering of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.  From my perspective, it is a “no brainer” decision.  However, to our “financial types” a decision put off for years.

Christ United Methodist Church

It is my joy to worship with my church family, and it is all in English. 

Some Spanish is soon expected.  A conversational Spanish class is in the process.  We will be using the book, Who Is My Neighbor? Learning Spanish as Church Hospitality.  We are developing a roster of teachers and students.  If you live near and/or are interested, let me know.

West Michigan Conference United Methodist Women, UMW

I am so glad the Conference UMW is allowing me to serve as social action coordinator.  Wow, much to learn, much to do being God’s hands and feet bringing God’s justice to our neighbors.  At the end of July, it is my privilege to attend the UMW National Seminar.  The title of the Seminar is, Jesus, Justice and Joy.  The UMW’s web site, is a great source of information and direction as we answer our call.


A learning opportunity titled “Mission u” is happening.  One is in Mt Pleasant, the other in Gaylord.  I plan to attend both.  I hope to see some of you at these events.

Because some of us go to churches that are too small to have UMW Units, a district unit is starting.  Those of you, who do not have a UMW unit in your church, join us!

United Methodist Church

I treasure the many ways that the United Methodist Church provides resources for my actions. 

It was as an Individual Volunteer in Missions with GBGM-General Board of Global Ministries that I had my experiences in the Middle East, ten months 2013-2014.  I saw violations of international law, injustices to individuals, destruction of homes, loss of private property, and injury.  These are more than vivid memories; they are ongoing experiences breaking the heart of God.  Jesus is still crying over Jerusalem and violations of the call to Love.

The General Board of Church and Society, GBCS continues to inform me about the events in our world.  Much of the wisdom needed to fulfill our call to action comes through their web site,  Christ’s love compels us to actions for justice.

I am also gaining wisdom as I connect via the Internet with the United Methodist Council of Bishop’s Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships OCUIR.  I am reading their articles and follow them on Facebook.  It is so important to understand our neighbors as we fulfill our called to Love,


My sister, Donna  was a missionary in Africa for thirty years.  She is a linguist and helped translate the scripture into two different native tongues.  In August, my sister-in-law, Jan, and I will be traveling to Ethiopia with Donna for the dedication of a Bible she helped produce.

 Because Janet is going, We will have a lot of very good photos!

Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Called to Action

The Joy of being Home

Michigan Wild Flowers in the Woods
I have had a wonderful variety of things to do since I arrived back in Michigan.  Each day is filled with important events and my to-do list is never done.  Connecting with friends and family is an ongoing joy.  I have had the chance to meet my new neighbors.  

I love the people in my subdivision.  So many “neighborly” people willing to help each other.

I have had the chance to host family, friends.  I even hosted a couple baseball players who were here in TC as they worked their way up in the baseball world.  That was really fun!  

Watching a Curling tournament was a new experience for me. I am still not sure what is going on!

House and Yard

Now, yard work season has started here.  Yard work is not my favorite thing to do, but seeing it done is a relief.  To be honest, I look forward to rainy days in the summer so I can stay inside and read.

TC Christ United Methodist Church

Pastor Dianne Doten Morrison continues to plan meaningful worship for us.  Vespers during Holy Week are always a significant experience.  Easter’s celebrations are a highlight for me.   I am so glad we are Easter People! 

Native American Sunday was especially interesting.  Pastor’s message was meaningful and our Tribal Blessing Ceremony was fun.  

An exchange student, Shareen, completed a school assignment by setting up a display about our Native American heritage as well as providing native food.

TC Christ is reaching out to the community in some exciting ways.  

Rod Snow, a ventriloquist and chalk artist present at Christ TC.

I worked with others doing some yard work getting the church yard ready for our Garden Party.  

This is your invitation to a Garden Party Event 

at TC Christ UMC 

I hope everyone who lives close will plan to join in the fun next Saturday!

If you are coming in from a distance, let me know.  I am answering my call to hospitality, using my extra bedrooms,  

West Michigan Conference Annual Meeting

I am reading as much as possible!  It is reading with a purpose, however.  I have been reading getting ready for West Michigan Annual Conference meeting.  Important issues for our United Methodist Church are going to be voted on during the conference in Grand Rapids.

One important item, which I hope passes, is the call for United Methodists to Divest from funds that are making money from the pain and suffering of the Palestinian People.

United Methodist Women (UMW)

My new volunteer position as Social Action Coordinator for the United Methodist Women of the Michigan Conference fills my mind and heart.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be on the leadership team.  God is building my skills in many ways through the interactions with the UMW’s of West Michigan.

I attended UMW Leadership Development Days in North Carolina.  What a joy it was to witness the dedication of my United Methodist Sisters in Christ.  Ask me about my mute and un-mute lesson.

Being a part of the UMW’s Lunch Bunch at Central United Methodist Church has been a big part of the community spirit I need.  It was fun to work together getting ready for the rummage sale; it yielded funds for missions. 

Linda, the Grand Traverse District Social Action Coordinator, facilitated a wonderful social action day in Ludington.  We were presented with information about mental health and learned ways we might be able to help.

Piccola, of the Petoskey Unit created an informational display about the Grand Traverse District of United Methodist Women.

Justice For Our Neighbors 

I took the on line training and have started volunteering for Justice for Our Neighbors.  This organization reaches out with legal help for those refugees and immigrants.  
I have answered God’s call to be involved in showing love to refugees in their need.  

I am volunteering for Justice for our Neighbors in Traverse City, Michigan.  Sue and Alline helped establish the clinic at Central UMC.

It will be interesting to see where God may use the skills provided me come next winter.  I sure hope it is in a warm area.  

My Schedule

I will be making some trips in Michigan to make presentations about my mission and Social Justice actions.  I am going out of state for the UMW National Seminar, Jesus-Justice-Joy.  I have a trip to Ethiopia planned for August.