In the predawn light the scene is deceptively peaceful. Another snow storm to shovel through. Sigh. I do enjoy cross country skiing but, the snow starts to get old when one has to keep trudging through several feet to get off the front porch,or make steps up the snow piles on either side of the driveway to heave more snow on the back side. But life goes on. And here, snow doesn’t last long.
The wind was ferocious. The sun had set so I turned my skis back towards the car, across the trackless landscape as quickly as I could, hoping I was moving in approximately the right direction. It was hard to see with snow stinging my face, but the sculptures beneath my feet, the sparkle of flakes in the waning light, were too delicious an aesthetic feast to quit until I had to. What a beautiful evening, and what a blessing to be able to enjoy it!
There was one other person out that evening besides myself, hence the photo.
Blessed New Year to you all! I just returned safely from a wonderful, refreshing visit with my sister and her family (the Ben & Esther Luna family) in Dallas, Texas.
“Sometimes I feel isolated,” the Native student shared. Other young people spoke up, speaking openly about what they experience in the high school where we were meeting. “I look around at all the art and murals and don’t see any Native art,” another student expressed quietly.
A co-worker and I were attending the first of what is planned to be a series of forums called “Indigenous Voices.” This Flagstaff city-wide initiative will attempt to provide a place for local Native people to express their concerns and propose solutions. We heard students express feeling like outcasts, heard stories of racial profiling, and of being stereotyped as stupid drunks. Ouch!
Darkness is descending on us. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Many ofthe trees are now standing naked in the wind. A pivotal national election looms ominously on the horizon. I must admit I’ve been through a personal storm over the past week or so, at least partly as a result of these events.
The inner needles the Ponderosa Pines are turning a rusty brown. Aspens have begun to display their golden glory and Rocky Mountain Maples burst into flaming red. I love this time of year when temperatures hover around freezing at night and warm up to a perfect 65 degrees during the day. I have been frequently overwhelmed by a sense of God’s great mercy and kindness toward me as I continue to bask in good health, great stamina and energy, the blessings of continued growth and development in my faith, and the deepening of relationships.
Sorry this is late! I honestly just forgot!
Well, my sabbatical is officially over today. It has been a busy two months of study, working around the house, Vacation Bible School, piano and flute practice, and personal study for enrichment. Now it is time to work on preparing for fall classes at IBC. I still have 3 weeks left to finish up my CIU online course, History of Mission. August 9-12 we will be on our staff retreat in Phoenix again. Lord willing, after the retreat my friend Juanita and I will be hosting an open house for my 60th birthday. I can’t believe how old I have become . . . but there are distinct advantages.
I just realized this morning that I forgot to send you all an update for the month of June! And it’s already July 8!
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck” (Prov. 1:1-2).
Prayer time with Larry, Bachelor Graduate
Certificates, Associates, and Bachelor Graduates
I thought of these words at the graduation reception for a high school graduate and then another similar reception for Larry, the IBC bachelor graduate pictured in the center of both these photos. How often young people are left without the wisdom accumulated through generations, or, the “wisdom” that is offered is not wisdom at all but foolishness. At both these receptions, however, there was wisdom offered both from the culture and from the Bible. Come with me for a minute . . .
How would you ever learn to handle money if your mother was a gambler and your dad an alcoholic? Hopefully, you’d catch on in the Personal Finances class at IBC, But if not . . .
One of the students I have had for several years in my Spiritual Formation group in the past is currently struggling to make it on her own. Her classes are completed but one of our support staff has been pouring a lot of time and effort into helping her establish her own business using her art work. Unfortunately, so far, she isn’t making it financially. She is in crisis and needs intervention immediately.
April 1, 2016, and this ain’t no joke!
Missions’ conference is behind us again for another year. I don’t know that anything earth shaking occurred, but I think the Lord was blessed.
We’re gearing up for the annual IBC mission’s conferenceto begin tomorrow. I’m excited to hear Daron Butler, long- time friend from Broken Arrow days. Daron is unique among all the Native people I have known in thathe is the mission’s pastor for a large urban church in Wooster, Ohio. Here is an excerpt from his bio:
After graduating from the reservation Christian boarding school in 1983, I left NM for IN. I graduated from Grace College in Winona Lake, IN with a B.A. in Psychology in 1987, an M.Div. from Grace Seminary in 1991, and an ThM in Old Testament in 1992. I praise God for the Christian education that I received. The education I received prepared me for the future that God orchestrated.
I am a full blood Diné [Navajo]. I married an Anglo girl from Smithville, OH. Melissa and I have four children who live with us in Wooster, OH. I serve as the Next Steps Pastor at Grace Church. I get to help people take their next step to serve people in the neighborhood and to the nations. I praise God for allowing me the opportunity to bring Him glory by ministering in his local church to impact the world by influencing His global church to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
You probably wouldn’t vote for Ben (not his real name) as “most likely to succeed.” He sits slouched over most of the time, eyes downcast, his clothes disheveled and poorly fitting. He is overweight and has a hard time getting his homework done on time, if at all. He seems disorganized, depressed, downtrodden, and undisciplined. When he speaks his voice is barely audible, but if you can understand him, he reveals concealed humor and untapped intelligence.
What an adventure I have been on since the last letter! The recital, for which we prepare all semester, was held on December 8. The students did quite well. Classes ended December 11. We enjoyed shortened office hours December 14-18 but were plenty busy with wrapping up the semester, working on more accreditation assignments, and attending our annual staff Christmas party.
On the outside they look pretty much like all other American 20-something-year-olds. But every now and then I need a reminder that, inside, some of these IBC students come from a different world.
He sat in my office to report on his ministry progress. He preaches at a local Native church on weekends. I probably brought up the subject of Native religion, since I’m doing a paper on Peyote for my on-line class at Columbia International University. This started his telling me about his background. I had no idea.
He’s an older student and struggles with hearing the beat in Western music. The second week of guitar lessons I asked if he had much exposure to Navajo traditional music. The tell-tale signs were all there. “Yes,” he replied. His father still sings cultural songs while he works, and hums chants around the house.Also, this student attended some traditional “sings” (ceremonies) during his growing up years. Traditional music was his “heart” music.
Everyone is scurrying around, preparing for the Kampout. Well, almost everyone. All students and staff involved in Spiritual Formation are preparing for this weekend’s camping trip to Camp Verde, AZ. This is primarily an opportunity for Spiritual Formation groups to get to know each other better, be exposed to some new ideas, get away from the formal classroom and into God’s original classroom, and just have fun. Would you pray with me that all the staff will be well prepared spiritually and that God would use them effectively in the lives of the students? Thanks!
We are keenly aware that one year ago, as we began the school year, a new student decided to end her life. But this is a new year with all new in-coming freshmen. Our hope is in the Lord. We were praying for 15 new students but the Lord saw fit to send 9 full time plus several new part-timers. As far as I know, this it the first time we have had a minority of Navajo incoming students. Nez Pierce, Yakima, Hopi, Creek, Zuni, Modoc, and Klamath are all represented in our incoming freshmen student body. They range in age from 19 to 65, so even though our numbers are relatively small again, they are quite a diverse group in terms of cultural background and age.
I was hiking out behind my house when I tripped. Down I fell, smashing my phone and bruising and messing up my legs. Those rocks! They are nearly invisible against the tan soil and loose gravel. As I continued on my way, grateful to have no broken bones, I began thinking how the rocks were either stumbling blocks or something solid to place your foot on to keep from slipping. Ah yes. Kind of like having absolute Truth to rest in when the culture around us is slipping and sliding on the gravel of relativism. The Rock of God’s unchanging Truth either causes people to stumble or gives solid footing in the midst of chaos. We must not lose heart when everything around us is determined by the latest polls and the everchanging opinions of men. May God grant us grace to stand firm on His Word!
|This year, for the third year, we featured the IBC students’ creative works before commencement ceremonies. I had the privilege of sharing some closing remarks at the end of the Student Ministry Showcase event. Here they are in edited form:|
Thank you so much for responding to my urgent prayer request for the Pine Ridge Reservation and the group from IBC who joined the On Eagle’s Wings Team there this past weekend. What an encouragement to know I can count on you all to rally behind us when we are in need!
Thank you so much for your prayers and continued support. I’ve put together some photos of the missions conference and Creative Ministry Class that just finished up last week. Currently the students and three staff members are in Hemet California ministering on and around the Soboba Indian Reservation.
Spring is here, maybe. So many of you have had amazing winters with severe cold and deep snows, but we’ve had another mild winter with only two significant snow storms so far. As I write this it is snowing—ah, raining, snowing? We’ve had about 6” or so as far as I can tell, and lots of rain, too.
The students this semester continue to amaze and encourage me. All the music students are still faithfully practicing. One is taking off on the bass guitar and another on classical guitar.
The conference in Orlando, Florida that I attended last week was excellent. I was challenged by Gordon McDonald, blessed by Fernando Ortega, and informed by several sessions on issues related to writing a self-study report for accreditation. I was privileged to attend.
He is an adjunct professor, meaning he doesn’t work full time at IBC, but he takes a real interest in the students while he’s on campus. Each day he works out with several of the guys. A few days ago he shared with them that he had just received a call from his wife informing him that her mother had passed away. Compassionately, the men rallied around him and prayed for him!