Hope in Starting Again – A visit to Yola IDP camp

Contributed by Pat Krabacher

Salamatu Billi singing with the women at the Yola camp

Salamatu Billi singing with the women at the Yola camp

We arrived at the Yola camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and Salamatu Billi (wife of the EYN President, Rev. Joel Billi) seemed very happy to be with the women and she joined them in energetically singing warm songs of welcome to our Fellowship Tour. I could not help but wonder how many of the women were widows (as there were noticeably fewer men in the camp). The women’s choir, nonetheless sang with great joy. )

Michelle Gibel and Palace

Michelle Gibbel and Palace

Michele Gibbel of the Litiz, PA church shared the following “take-away” experience: “During the worship/introduction time at the IPD camp in Yola, a young girl named Palace sat on my lap.  She kept playing with my hands, trying to scratch off my freckles, noticing the small blister, and looking at my uneven fingernails.  And then she started to count my fingers.  She touched each one.  And then she touched each of her fingers. 10 – the same number. For me, this moment was so profound.  Our lives could not be any more different.  BUT, we are both created by the same loving God, who has formed each of our fingers, and calls each of us by name.  And so, we are really not that different after all.  My heart will forever remain with my new Little Sister, Palace.” hands

After the welcome singing and the remarks, we toured the camp and saw the sparse living conditions, but the concrete block homes at least were sturdy and permanent. The children were so excited to show Michelle the new water well which seemed to be a symbol of great hope.  We played games and left some mementos of our love (soccer balls, crayons and paper, Frisbees, etc.) with the camp director, Rev. Jerry Tizhe.)

Children around the well

Children around the well

 

Visit Crystal Lake

By Elizabeth Kinsey

Crystal Lake Resort sign

Crystal Lake Resort sign. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Jim and I have spent summer time on Crystal Lake at the Crystal Lake Motel and Resort for decades. Sometimes we’re there for a week. Other summers we spend just a few nights. There are numerous places to stay in the area, but this is our favorite. Crystal Lake in Beulah is about two hours north of Grand Rapids. M31 makes a great drive through several lake towns, though you’re inland a on that route. We love Beulah because it is centrally located for so many of Michigan’s treasures. Once in Beulah, take M22 up to quaint Leland, summery Sutton’s Bay, then on to Traverse City and back. You can head to Frankfurt, the beach, the lighthouse, charming Main Street. Drive to Sleeping Bear sand dunes; appreciate the scenes overlooking Lake Michigan. Climb the bear if you’re inclined. Visit Point Betsy Lighthouse.

Crystal Lake Beach

Crystal Lake Beach. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Gwen Frostic welcome

Welcome at the Gwen Frostic studio. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Near Beulah is the studio of the late artist Gwen Frostic, a Michigan icon. Pick up beautiful block print stationery, napkins, cards and books of poetry by the artist. See the printing press. Across the road stop at an interesting alpaca farm.
Gwen Frostic studio

Gwen Frostic studio. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.


Gwen Frostic cards.

Gwen Frostic cards. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Crystal Lake itself is a clear blue relaxing beauty. It’s perfect for swimming. If you’re up for more of a challenge a more refreshing dip, Lake Michigan beaches abound in that area. You can tube/canoe/kayak rivers, enjoy freshwater fish and ice cream, hike, whatever your heart desires in this Michigan goldmine. Just make sure you’re outside every sunset to enjoy the masterpieces of our favorite Artist!

Crystal Lake sunset

Crystal Lake sunset. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Things to see in Michigan

By Elizabeth Kinsey

There are many unique things to see in Michigan. Enjoy the Lake Michigan shoreline as you head north.

Lake Michigan overlook

Lake Michigan overlook. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

One of my favorite attractions is the mushroom houses of Earl Young in classy Charlevoix about three hours north of Grand Rapids right on Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. You can take a boat ride on beautiful Lake Charlevoix and see a mushroom house or two, and you can get the map on-line and drive by several. They are so interesting.

Charlevoix waterfront

Charlevoix waterfront. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Visit Castle Farms near Charlevoix. This mansion was constructed in 1918 by Albert Loeb who was the Vice President of Sears, Roebuck and Company. There’s quite a tale of ownership as it passed hands over the decades, even becoming a concert venue which didn’t go over very well with the locals, before being restored to its original beauty. Although it is currently an events venue, there is an informative AM tour to enjoy with a small museum. Look at many items from the early days of the Sear, Roebuck catalogue, a walk down Memory Lane. See posters advertising the variety of musicians who graced the stages. Some of them attracted such a wild audience that Charlevoix’s tiny upscale hospital emergency room had more than it could handle at the end of particularly wild concerts. The gardens are absolutely beautiful, especially in July and August!

Lavender Hill Farm

Lavender Hill Farm. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.


When we drove around Lake Charlevoix, we found a treat, Lavender Hill Farm out in the country, a Boyne City address. Who can resist lavender? Their little shop has everything from stationery and dishcloths to lavender sugar and oils. Hmmmm! I can still smell that soothing aroma. For a short-cut across Lake Charlevoix, take the little Ironton Ferry. It’s a quaint way to find your way to the other side. Charlevoix is a Michigan gem that’s sure to please.

Humbled by an Onion

Deb and Dale Ziegler

Deb and Dale Ziegler

By Deb Ziegler                                            While interviewing a family at Masaka, an internally displaced persons care center in Nigeria, I learned about the needs of one father.  I asked him what his needs are.  He said he would like his children to go to school and he needs a job.  I asked what he did for a job before and he said he grew onions and sold them.  Now my face and my heart demonstrated compassion as I processed this information.  But my mind was thinking:  I saw many people selling onions along the road, who would buy your onions?  Everyone around you is in crisis, who has money to buy your onions?  These were my thoughts at the           moment.

I also learned about the people returning to their homes in the northeast.  They needed to plant their gardens kilometers  away from the village for the safety of the village.  The military could not protect them if the corn fields are close to the houses, because they can not see the enemy approaching.  I grow all my own vegetables for the year in my garden. This summer as  I worked each morning weeding and harvesting, often in the  company of my neighbor, I prayed for my Nigerian brothers and sisters.  I was thankful for peacefulness of my garden, listening to birds singing and often watching the sun rise.  Thankful I did not have to look over my shoulder to see if I was safe.   And each week as I heard of people in Nigeria being slaughtered as they tended their garden,  I was brought to tears. Random weekly attacks, stealing produce, burning crops as I peacefully filled my pantry for the coming winter.

a market scene in Nigeria where onions could be sold.

A market scene in Nigeria where onions could be sold.

I harvested my onions and remembered the father who needed a job selling onions to support his family.  I used my last onion one day in October and I just started to laugh….Who would buy your onions I thought…I would…. From now til next August.  A few weeks later I was frying up some of my store bought onions, while also cleaning out the refrigerator.  I was feeling rather sad about the spoiled  food I was throwing away, thinking about Nigeria and the people starving to death each week, when I smelled the burning onions.  CRAP,                                                                                         now I need to buy another one of your onions!                                                                Once again I was humbled by an onion.

Trauma is personal. . . .

Pat Krabacher and Dr. Rebecca Samuel Dali

Pat Krabacher and Dr. Rebecca Samuel Dali

Contributed by Pat Krabacher -Pictures by team members

As we shared our Thursday morning breakfast we didn’t know that we would enter into the deep trauma of someone we cared deeply for, Joshua Ishaya. There is a saying by “Daniele Bernock, “Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams, healing can begin.”  Danielle Bernock, (author of Emerging with Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the Love That Heals)

Riding in the van to the Favored Sisters Christian Fellowship School, Joshua Ishaya, our EYN Fellowship Tour assistant, told us his story of trauma from recurring threats of attack and unimaginable violence he had experienced. First, the months of threatened attacks leading up to the BH attack on Oct. 29th 2014 at his alma mater, Kulp Bible School, Kwarhi/Mubi in Adamawa state. Joshua ran for his life on foot across rugged terrain, witnessing a friend dead in his car and hearing the gun shot and bombs all around him, arriving barefoot in a small village where help was received.

Joshua at Favored Sisters School

Joshua at Favored Sisters School

Four months later in Feb 2015, Joshua traveled from Jos to Kano by bus to stay with his sister. The bus arrived in Kano just before 3 pm, but because 3pm is the Muslim prayer time, the bus was not allowed to pass in front of the Kano Central Mosque which holds 5,000 worshipers. Three blasts went off at the Kano Central Mosque in close succession and Joshua saw bodies, body parts, and blood everywhere, as their bus was very near the Mosque. The images of death and destruction are still vivid in his mind 20 months later. The terror of retribution that was directed to Joshua as one of the few Christians in the vicinity of the Mosque was terrifying. For days, Joshua could not eat, sleep, or even write his name. He cried for hours once safe with his sister in Kano.

Four months later, in June 2015, Joshua was asked to help out at FSCF with the traumatized orphans. Their first day together, all the children could do was cry and Joshua also cried with them. On the second day he realized that he had to do something different so he began taking pictures of the children with his cell phone. They were desperate to see their own picture, so Joshua used his laptop to put the pictures into PowerPoint and show the children their pictures. Slowly the crying ended and a few small smiles emerged. Over the next two months Joshua entered the pain of the orphans and heard their silent screams, healing was beginning for many children.

Katie Ulm with the children

Katie Ulm with the children

One year later, Joshua and our FT visit to FSCF in Aug 2016 –  like a sweet reunion for many of the orphan children as there was great joy at seeing Joshua when we arrived! Our FT Visit to FSCF Orphanage & School started with sweet singing by the orphan children living at the school over the summer break. They sat in plastic chairs and seemed hesitant or unable to smile. Playing games, teaching how to throw a Frisbee, a quick football (soccer) game, painting popsicle sticks, drawing pictures, or just talking with and taking more pictures of John, Eve, Jason, Joy, Rahila, Sarah, Mary, Susan, Israel, Yuku, Vilto, and the many others was the order of the afternoon.  A simple visit that says to an orphan, ”You are important and loved, we came to see you.”,  seemed to bring more healing to the orphans and changed us as we shared in their pain. Before leaving we honored the FSCF Asst. Director and pastor Balla with the teal “We are one body in Christ shirts” for the great love that FSCF is extending in Jesus’ name to these EYN orphans. Pray for the many orphans in NE Nigeria. God is using Joshua’s deep trauma for His glory – Joshua has a calling into Youth Ministry – Praise God!

Adam Ulm with the orphans

Adam Ulm with the orphans

Take-Away Thought – Trauma is personal. . . . When someone enters the pain and hears the scream,s healing can begin. In a small way, the FT entered into the pain of Joshua and of the children at FSCF orphanage so hope and healing are taking place. We are family, the body of Christ, united in love. When our family suffers, we come together to be present and to love one another. As Zander Willowby  observed in his blog dtd 22 Jul 2016,  “A church is people stuck together by love.” http://blog.brethren.org/2016/a-church-is-people-stuck-together-by-love/

 

 

Things to see and do near Grand Rapids

By Elizabeth Kinsey

Right in the middle of the Michigan mitten near and in Grand Rapids, site of the 2017 Annual Conference, there are plenty of things to see and do. The Gerald R. Ford Museum is in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. It’s an interesting walk through Ford’s presidency.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Berries at farmers market

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey


A mile or so from that is the Fuller/Fulton Street Farm Market, open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Where but in Michigan can you buy fresh Michigan strawberries, raspberries, famous Michigan sweet cherries, early blueberries, and maybe even a few early cling peaches and so much more? Throw in artisan bread and cheese and you’ve got most of a picnic to eat along the Grand River back at Annual Conference.
Blueberries and peaches

Fruit at the farmers market. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.


Check the fresh market downtown for ethnic foods galore. I haven’t been there, but Joanna Willoughby can give you enticing suggestions for good eats there.
art prize

ArtPrize work. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey


Check around for remnants of the Grand Rapids ArtPrize, another reason to come BACK to Michigan in late September to early October. It’s when hundreds of thousands of folks enjoy art from around the country, on display all over Grand Rapids for two weeks every year.
A few miles from downtown, you won’t want to miss the award-winning Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. There’s so much to see, even a little tram that will chauffeur you around in comfort. The Japanese gardens are especially popular there, I’m told! The sculptures are unique as well.
sculpture garden

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Image courtey of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Giving Tuesday 2016

A workcamp in Kyle, S.D., international mission work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Christian Citizenship Seminar 2016. Photos by Jennifer Coale, Christian Elliot, and Kendra Harbeck.

A workcamp in Kyle, S.D., international mission work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Christian Citizenship Seminar 2016.
Photos by Jennifer Coale, Christian Elliot, and Kendra Harbeck.

By Matt DeBall, coordinator of Donor Communications

“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

God is generous. Though each person witnesses this quality in different ways, we all experience the abundant, unwarranted, and wonderful blessings of God. God is so gracious, providing all that we need, and in many cases, giving us more than we could imagine. As we give thanks to God, we also have the opportunity to share what we have received. The abundant gifts in our lives are not only meant to bless us and our families, but also the church and the world.

Though our culture is filled with consumerism and over-spending during the holidays, Giving Tuesday is a reminder that there is more to the story. As we give, we partake in the generous and gracious giving of God.

Through gifts to the Church of the Brethren, its ministries are able to provide:

  • Conferences to discern together the work of God in our midst and in the world;
  • Trainings for deacons, pastors, and licensed ministers to lead and care for their communities;
  • Opportunities to nurture existing relationships with international partners and follow God’s leading into new relationships;
  • Communications that inform, encourage, and inspire the larger church; and
  • So much more!

As we celebrate Giving Tuesday on November 29, we invite you to consider how God may be leading you to give to the Church of the Brethren. All gifts to the denominational ministries of your church support life-changing opportunities that share the love of God.

Learn more about Giving Tuesday or give now at www.brethren.org/givingtuesday.

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Beaches near Grand Rapids

shoreline

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey


By Elizabeth Kinsey

So…you’re coming to Michigan for Annual Conference? You will certainly want to make a vacation out of it! I’ve lived in Michigan all my life; it’s a treasure. I’ll share a few spots I’ve visited recently that you might like to try with your family. Any other Michiganders will be glad to give you their favorite spots, too! You won’t regret spending an extra week or two in beautiful Michigan!

Yacht

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Within an hour of Grand Rapids, there are many beaches to enjoy. My favorite is Oval Beach across the river and over the dunes from Saugatuck. It is easily accessible, especially if you get there in the morning. On the north end there’s even a boardwalk to the water for those who have mobility challenges. Beach walking is a pleasure. Swimming is a joy with Lake Michigan’s sandy bottom. Watch for waves and rip currents on wilder days, but there are plenty of days of calm. It’s a city park, $8 to use it.

paddlewheel boat

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

State parks are more for the day, but worth it! Closer to Grand Rapids there’s Holland State Park, Tunnel Park in Holland, and Grand Haven State Park is great, too. In Grand Haven and Holland you can walk long piers. From Grand Haven State Park you can walk along the channel of the Grand River, walk into town and have access to great food and creamy treats. These are just three of the beaches I love near Grand Rapids.

sculpture

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Shopping Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Haven are sure to please if the weather doesn’t cooperate, especially because they are such artistic communities.

Reflections on the August Fellowship Tour (Part 2)

by Pat Krabacher

Non-identical twins. Pat and Dr. Rebecca

Non-identical twins. Pat and Dr. Rebecca

Aug 3, 2016 – “Care for the Widows and Orphans”

I awoke at 4 am this second day in Nigeria and my mind wandered to the next time that we would interact with children at an IDP camp. A hot breakfast was ably prepared by William in the Abuja Guest House. We finished packing for the one-hour trek south to Lafia, Nassarawa and then the 4-hour trek northeast to Jos, Plateau state.

Our opportunity to serve this day was at the CCEPI Widows Intake & Distribution – Lafia, Nassarawa state. Dr. Rebecca Dali has managed her NGO helping widows and orphans for 25 years. Dr. Rebecca anticipated 240 widows would come for the assistance in Lafia (which means ‘wellness’ or ‘good health’). We drove over roads that were “typical for Nigeria”, i.e. very bumpy with lots of pot holes to miss.

Arriving in Lafia we embarked from the van and were greeted by Dr. Rebecca and her CCEPI staff. Seeing my “non-identical twin” Sister, Dr. Rebecca was one of the sweet highlights for this writer. We have been friends for 4 years now and she is one of my dearest sisters in Christ.

CCEPI staff with 3 widows

CCEPI staff with 3 widows

We were provided a CCEPI vest and ball cap to wear while doing intake and distribution to the widows. It was overwhelming seeing the several hundred widows who needed to register to receive the assistance. Doing the intake was a bit challenging since many of the widows did not speak much English. What was special was being able to spend some one-on-one time with, and hugging the widows or otherwise encouraging them.  Many were young and typically had 4 or 5 children. After intake we each took a job in the distribution line giving each widow an item, e.g. bucket, a blanket, Maggi spice cubes, cooking oil, dish soap, salt, 10lb beans, and 50 lb corn. This resulted in the women walking home with the beans and corn on their heads and often with a baby on their backs!

The Lafia’s pastor’s wife and a few friends served us a very satisfying lunch of chicken, rice, watermelon and beverages. The 4 course lunch provided by the host church was typical of the “sacrificial generosity” we experienced all along our trek thru Nigeria.

Team at the Unity House in Jos

Team at the Unity House in Jos

After lunch we departed in the rain drops for Jos, Plateau state. The 4-hour. trek to Jos, brought us to the EYN Compound and ‘Unity House’ our ‘home away from home’. We stopped along the road to buy treats, bananas, and oranges from the roadside vendors. Arriving around 6 pm we were glad to have an opportunity to cook for ourselves at the EYN Jos Unity House. We had many of the comforts of home and wonderful space for the FT to relax in at Unity House. It had been a morning of service to the Widows and the two treks to Lafia, Nassarawa and then to Jos, Plateau.

Take-Away Thought – We had the honor to meet the widows and do the intake interview by filling out the CCEPI form for each widow served. Meeting IDPs that have lost everything makes violence “real’ and puts a life into the pain. A reminder that we are to care for widows and orphans as commanded in James 1:27. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress –

You can’t rush perfection

Find worship resources at www.brethren.org/adventoffering

Find worship resources at www.brethren.org/adventoffering

 

A sermon starter for the 2016 Advent Offering written by Eric Landram, pastor of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

“You can’t rush perfection!” My dad uses that line every single time he is grilling for a cookout. When he is hard at work, our family constantly hovers around him and the pleasant aromas from his cooking device of choice. “How much longer? We can’t stand waiting much longer,” we wail. “Can’t rush perfection, sorry,” he replies. He’s right. You shouldn’t rush a good thing.

Now that Halloween is over, our society has rushed right to Christmas. In a mad dash for your consumer dollar, businesses and corporations anticipate your holiday spending with joyful glee. We rush, blazing right past the Thanksgiving turkey and straight to the Christmas tree. We want the perfect Christmas and we want it now.

In the church, we can have a tendency to fall into this same pattern. We are quick to begin singing Christmas carols that proclaim the Messiah’s birth. Our sermons, scripture readings, and youth pageants put us on the theological fast-track to the manger, complete with wise men. We would do well to remember to slow down.

This is Isaiah’s new vision of hope. The stump has sprouted and the branch is growing, but it will take time. There is a sense of “good things come to those who wait” and “trust in the Lord” going on here. Isaiah is speaking to a people that are so desperate, so hopeless, and so defeated by the state of their world. Isaiah’s words are a comfort. Good news! There is someone coming who will bring about a new vision of hope and a new sense of belonging. The best part? This someone will usher in a new era of righteousness.

This new world looks radically different. Wolves and lambs, leopards and kids, the fiercest hunters in nature will live at peace with those whom they have consumed in the past. Isaiah says, “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” The words of Jesus, and his life, from manger to cross and tomb have given us the knowledge of God’s plan for all people. Isaiah’s words are relevant and serve as a reminder for us even today. The Kingdom of God is growing. The branch of righteousness has sprung! We, as the church, are to tend the garden, to assist the branch in springing forth.

Our Advent sermons should take some time to acknowledge the difficulty in waiting for the birth of the Messiah while at the same time lifting up the significance of anticipating and waiting for this promised savior. If Advent is anything for us as followers of Jesus, it is the reminder to slow down in the midst of the clanging and gonging of our modern world, and listen for that still small voice that reminds us each year that “Christ is coming soon.” You can’t rush perfection.

The suggested date for the Advent Offering is December 4. Find worship resources at www.brethren.org/adventoffering or give today at www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)