Saturday, January 30, 2016

Holidays and Beyond

The New Year - 2016

I started 2016 visiting my baby sister, Molly, on Bainbridge Island, WA.  It is just a short ferry ride to Seattle from Bainbridge Island, WA.

Birthdays so close to Christmas are often lost in the holidays, but mine was wonderful.  I had a safe travel birthday thousands of feet in the air on a “red eye” heading back to Harrisonburg, VA.

Virgina or Michigan Weather

I am thinking I did not get far enough south.  I was snowed in last weekend.  It gave me the chance to “catch up” on my paperwork.  Extra time in my hotel room allowed me to process through 311 emails on Saturday.  The storm caused church cancellation for 1/24/16.

My car became part of a snowdrift.  I have new appreciation for my garage.  My car is to the left of the man shoveling his out.  

Joys of Individual Volunteer in Missions

Previous Mission Ministry Service with United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries,

I praise God for the many opportunities I have had for service in many locations.  The people of Jordan and the Syrian refugees they welcomed, Palestine and Israel remain in my prayers.  Daily injustices faced with steadfastness! 
On my face book page, I shared a video by Jewish Voice for Peace, "Decoding Israel Palestine: Apartheid."   
My sister who was visiting New Orleans sent me this photo of Weeping Angels.  

My mind went to thoughts of Angels celebrating over Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus.  Now, I am sure angels weeping over the pains of people Jesus loves.   They are experiencing the pain of denial of movement at checkpoints, homes demolished, children in prison, home invaded by military, and further loss to settlers of land homes and belongings.  These are some of the pains of people God loves. 

I honor the commitment of the Palestinian Christians to the Way, the way of peace based on nonviolence and honoring of international law.  I am glad to be a part of God’s answer to their prayers. 

Many of you are part of the United Methodist Kairos Response, (UMKR).  This group of United Methodists continues to work on behalf of a just peace.  They are acting in many ways to answer the call of Palestinian Christians.  They raise awareness so that my church, the United Methodist Church, will divest from companies that hurt people God loves.  Please go to their web site, for more information.   
I am happy to report that the United Methodist Pension board has divested from some banks that were involved in funding actions of violence.  The complete story is available on the UMKR web site.

Church World Service (CWS) Refugee Resettlement Program

Praise God with me for the opportunity to be involved with the CWS refugee resettlement. 
Three mornings a week, I am involved in cultural orientation.  Everything is new for the refugees; there is so much to learn.  During this orientation, interpreters are available.  The class I will be teaching next involves orientation to banks, ATMs, Post Office, mailing, rental leases, budgeting and money values.  All these topics are covered in one hour! 

Last week a CWS Sarah Alice asked me if I could substitute, show the CWS Power-point and teach the Cultural Orientation lesson on Employment and Job Interviews.  I said yes very quickly!  At one point in my career with the State of Michigan, I had been an employment specialist for the Department of Labor.  I enjoyed the memories this teaching brought back, of the lessons I taught on the same subject back then.  I laughed when I realized that was thirty-three years ago.  “Oh My” even before Sarah Alice was born.

The second hour on the three mornings is English class.   We make an effort to teach the words related to the cultural orientation topic of the day. 
My heart continues to go out to the refugees.  They have been through so much, and now so much to learn and do.  Just getting around on the buses with babies is tough. 

I am glad I can help with transportation for some events.  My child is 49 years old, so struggling to get the child restraint seats in properly and everyone belted in is a new struggle for me. 

What fun the children have when we go to the Children’s Museum.  Mothers and I make efforts to communicate as we watch the toddlers play. 
How fun it was to find some Kurdish words that are the same in English.  The word “horn” is the same.

On the way home from the museum a week ago the mother asked me if I would stop at the grocery store.  At least that is what I thought she said.  It became obvious through our game of charades that I was driving to a store, and neither of knew the location.  I stopped driving and took the GPS out of the trunk.  However, it did not find a store with the name I think she said. 

Fortunately, she is a very smart person.  She said bike and pointed to where I had taken her a few weeks earlier for bike lessons.  I plugged the bike class location into the GPS and we found the grocery store on the way!  I am glad I was able to take her and to help at the grocery store.  Her husband works long hours and she has to be very careful when buying groceries for her family of five. 

Office work activities fill in the rest of my days.  I also do in home English lessons a couple hours week.  Next Sunday afternoon and for six weeks, I will be involved in teaching driving knowledge.  We are preparing individuals to take the written test.  

I managed the Secretary of State Office and gave road tests in Traverse City, MI in 1984.  Who could have imagined that I would be using the same skills to help refugees from Iraq, Kurdistan, Cuba, Somali and Eritrea in 2016..  

Asbury United Methodist Church

Sunday School

I am glad for new friends.  Celia made sure I did not sit alone the first week I attended.

She is very special to me.  We visited families together after church one Sunday.  She has invited some international students and me for lunch after church this Sunday.

The Sunday School class I go to is live streamed.  You can hear the same lesson by going to click on the Francis Asbury Sunday school class live stream and sermon archives.  Class starts at 9:45 every Sunday.

United Methodist Women are instant friends.  I enjoyed a tea that the UMW units put on for the all the women of the church.  It was an old fashion tea, gloves and hats optional.  Stylish women, the Supernal Salteries, entertained us and every one enjoyed the event.  I will be making a presentation to one of the Asbury Units, February 8th.


I am enjoying the worshiping experiences at Asbury United Methodist Church.  I like the dynamics of a large church.  They have two services and music is varied and wonderful, including a bell choir.

New Friends

The church is near James Madison University.  I met some international teachers who are here for a semester for the International Leaders in Education Program.  The following Sunday I provided transportation for two of them.  It started showing as we drove toward church.  Neither Victor, from Mexico, nor Reggie, from Ghana, had ever seen snow.  Their enthusiasm was contagious.  We took time in the parking lot to have our pictures taken with a few snowflakes in the air. 

It is interesting to hear about their studies here in VA and their lives in their home countries.  Reggie teaches math at a Methodist school in Ghana.  Victor teaches in Mexico and pastors a United Methodist Church. 

The next weekend there was no church because of the two feet of snow that came Friday and Saturday.  I emailed Reggie and Victor the YouTube, “How to Make a Snowman.”  I got these photos later that evening.  

I think this is a first for all of us, seeing a snowman with a Ghana scarf.

Outreach to Community

One of Asbury’s outreach to the community is a dinner every Wednesday.  I have had the fun of attending and helping.  During the program after the meal on January 13, I had the privilege of hearing a presentation by Rev. Dr. Wayne Lavender. 
Dr. Lavender is running, walking and driving across the country to the General Conference in May, in Portland, OR.  Along the way, he is seeking support from members of the United Methodist Churches (UMC) for a petition to be considered at General Conference.  His petition is to make orphans and vulnerable children the missional priority of the UMC. 
Dr. Lavender feels a focus of UMC on orphans and vulnerable children is a unifying way
forward.  See his current work with orphans and obtain more information at his

Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr

The community and members of Asbury UMC accepted the invitation of the NAACP for a memorial event in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Jr.

Rev. Laura Douglas, the music director at Asbury, led the ecumenical choir. 

I did not know until recently that Rev. Dr. Martin King’s movement had Methodist roots.  I am reading books by E Stanley Jones, a famous Methodist.  His influenced guided and guides Americans and people around the world today. In 1948, Jones had written the book, Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation.  It was his worst selling book.  In 1948 message of civil rights for all people regardless of race was not a welcomed topic.

 The quote below about that book  is from the forward of Jones’ book, Abundant Living, (a republished version available through Cokesbury) the forward's author, Professor Leonard Sweet, stated the following about Jones’ 1948 book.

 "A few years later, a recent graduate of Crozier Theological School and a doctoral candidate at Boston University was looking up some references about Mahatma Gandhi and happened upon E. Stanley Jones's unsung volume.  As he read about Gandhi's commitment to a nonviolent, yet non compliant form of protest, this young pastor and civil rights leader found a basis for forming his own resistance to abuse and oppression.  The book that Jones deemed his greatest failure was pulled from the stacks of a theological library and then had enthusiastically penned in its margins 'THIS IS IT !' by a single student: Martin Luther King Jr.  
You can still see King's marginal notation in the Martin Luther King Library in Atlanta, where the full handwritten side bar reads: 'This is it!  This is the way to achieve freedom for the Negro in America."

Our Methodist moral authority, energy and success are ours because we, with the example of E Stanley Jones and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, we walk the Way of God who is Peace and Justice and Love for all.

Rev. Laura Douglas and I walked in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day Parade.

Members of law enforcement were on hand to help the community.  It was held along a street renamed in 2013, Martin Luther King Jr Way.

As we walked along the way and over the bridge, the scenes from the past came to mind.  Selma movie relived.

There is still a lot more to do to achieve racial justice.  More people need to understand equality and walk Dr. King’s Way of nonviolence.

W. Michigan Conference United Methodist Women (UMW)

With gratitude to God, I continue my duties as UMW Social Action Coordinator with W. MI Conference.  Reading and research on Social Justice Issues has changed my life!

While on this Individual Volunteer in Mission assignment, I stay current with Michigan issues by reading the news.  I also find helpful articles in the Bridge magazine,  Another favorite resource is articles from

Prayers and social justice actions continue through the W. MI Conference of the UMW.  Members have identified their areas of expertise and action.  Many of the UMW Units are taking steps to Intercept Traffickers.  Read more about what the UMW is doing

Acting on social issues is a gifted privilege from God.  We are United Methodist Women, beloved daughters of God Almighty.  We are experiencing God as we act on behalf of the vulnerable.

“There is an experience of the Eternal breaking into time, which transforms all life into a miracle of faith and action. Unspeakable, profound, and full of glory as an inward experience, it is the root of concern for all creation, the true ground of social endeavor. This inward Life and the outward Concern are truly one whole, and, were it possible, ought to be described simultaneously.” ~Thomas Kelly (d. 1982)