Music, they say, is the universal language. Unfortunately, it is only such in a very limited sense. Rhythmic patterns, scales, vocal production, what is considered desirable and beautiful, and instrumentation all vary widely from culture to culture.
Music transcends words. It is a language in its own right, but, more than that, an expression of emotion, the unique expression of a specific people. In a sense, music is the fleshing out of our innermost cries and longings. God is the inventor of music (see Job 38:7) and when we make music, we express our likeness to Him.
Fall seems particularly hesitant to settle in this year. I am thankful to be riding the bike to work still, though the darkness may soon be more of a problem than the cold.
Fall is in the air. The students and some of the IBC staff have returned from their annual Kick-off camp out. I haven’t heard reports yet of how that went since I’ve been enjoying time with my brother from Indiana. It’s quite unusual for a relative to visit, so I’m trying to show him as many of the thousands of “sights” that I can during the 3 days he is here.
“He was only 8 years old!” the student exclaimed incredulously in reference to the young boy’s gang-like saunter. The IBC student was sharing about some of the kids she worked with over the summer on her reservation. She told how one day when she was driving the van she used for picking up kids he requested that they stop for a beer and how he talked about his goal in life being to go to jail because that was “cool.” My heart broke to hear how desperately needy these kids were. The IBC student lamented not having training to work with such troubled youth and how she felt like a failure. But I saw her passion for their souls, her love and compassion for kids growing up with no adult role models that were worth emulating, and her ability to empathize because of her background.
Whew! Quick stats:
I drove a total of 8,980 miles this summer and made 50 visits (individual, church, or small group).
By the grace of God I am home safely and taking a little time off before school begins. I’ll be back full-time in the office starting next Tuesday and then leave for staff retreat on Wednesday. First full week will be August 14-18 and classes begin the 27th.
So, I forgot to include any prayer requests in that update last month. Sorry about that!
A brief summary of what I’ve been doing so far is:
- I’ve visited individually with 13 supporters.
- Had 15 different meetings at 9 different churches.
- Put 4,611 miles on the car
I am feeling very blessed by all the gracious people along the way, especially the Kowalskis who continue to put up with me staying in their home, now going into the fourth week . . .
I’m beginning to wonder if I have a sign on my vehicle that says something about being a bird killer!
Yes, I am on the road. I think it was in Oklahoma, maybe, that I encountered a Turkey Vulture that was a little bit too slow flying out of the way as my car barreled down the highway at 70 mph. It spread its wings just a tad late and caught the right side of the car, promptly depositing the contents of its stomach on my wind shield. Eww. Nasty stuff! And then in Tennessee an owl swooped out of the dark forest to my left, flying low, and slammed hard into my right fender. Another dent, but who’s counting at this point? I think the owl sustained a bit more damage . . . Then there was the little bird at the restaurant in Maryland or somewhere. Poor little thing seemed to have a damaged wing and, of course, hopped under my car when I approached. I prayed that God would protect it as I pulled out, and to my relief, it was still intact after I backed out, sitting precariously about where the center of my vehicle had been.
We were on the trail for a second day, about 15 miles from nowhere in any direction when I felt increasing pain on my right side. It was nearly debilitating before I expressed my dilemma to my backpacking companions. Our experienced leader whipped out some Tylenol and Aleve, xplaining the recommended doses, how long they take to take effect, and what the results ought to be. I don’t take drugs, ordinarily, not even Aspirin unless I’m desperate, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I took the drugs, and after resting for a few minutes, we were off again.
As I type this the students and three staff members are on their way home from the ministry trip in Lapwai, Idaho. They’ve made it to Salt Lake City, Utah so far, and are looking forward to being “home” tonight. It has been a long week of ministry for them but I hear God has blessed. He has worked in and through them.
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.