Sunday, August 30, 2015

Two Years

Two years! We arrived in Dulce two years ago this week! It's hard to imagine that it's already been two years, but as my husband shared in his reflections, we have experienced much here in these two years.

When I think of two years here, it makes me look ahead to the next 8-12 years. We planned to stay 10+ years here in Dulce, which means we're already almost 20% "done," whatever that means.

Ministry, like glass work, is a process. You start with a pattern, a plan. For me, most of the planning in ministry here has to do with the children. We've had two years of Sunday School experiences and one year of AWANA experience. Our plans were clear-cut and simple: Bring God's Word to the Jicarilla Apache children of our church and community.

The first year, our Sunday School teachers prepared their own lessons, a month at a time. Sometimes this went well, and sometimes it didn't. In my own teaching month, I realized that I had to adjust my expectations in many ways! For example, our children ranged in age from 2-12. And the number of children varied from 1-26!

In the second year, we tried a video curriculum. This was a total bomb. There were about 2 children who were interested in the video regularly. It was only a couple of months into the year that we went back to plan-your-own-lessons.

This year, we have a prepared curriculum for multi-aged groups. We are hoping to meet the needs of our children better this year. I imagine that we have some surprises in store for us this year, as well! My plans are building on what I've learned each year, and hopefully I will continue to improve the planning for Sunday School.

Our AWANA ministry has learned from mistakes, as well. We moved our meeting time at least twice last year, which cut down on attendance. We also have learned that we shouldn't give t-shirts to the kids on their first visit! Again, building on what we've learned...

I'm actively involved in a homeschool co-op, and we're developing a network of homeschooling families here on the reservation. This isn't directly connected to our church, but ministry isn't always in the context of a church!

Like glass, the picture of ministry here in Dulce continues to develop, and I look forward eagerly to what is to come in the next years. We pray that God will guide our work here, bless our efforts, and bring much fruit from the ministry of His church on the reservation.

And like glass, the process sometimes changes what is planned. I pray that I will remain malleable like clay in God's hands. I pray that God will melt me, mold me, fill me, use me... all the days we are here (and beyond)!

For ultimately, it is His work here that matters, not mine. The work He does through my hands and the hands of others, not my plans. I need only be faithful and trust His work and His timing. And a beautiful, finished creation will be completed. That's His promise.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015


As we come up on two years here in Dulce, I was considering how to express our lives so that our friends, family, and others can know what ministry and life look like here. I decided that simply sharing a day would be a great way to let you in on my day-to-day reality. So, here goes:

Today, a Wednesday, I got up at about 6:20 and met a Jicarilla friend to walk together. We walk at the high school track, which is about 3/4 of a mile from our home. I walk to the field, then my friend and I walk another 3/4 of a mile on the track while we chat. Today I learned that a member of our congregation was ill, that some people were traveling, and that the wildfire was still burning. A second fire crew was being called to fight it. The fire is about 4 miles from our house, and as of tonight has burned over 160 acres just on the other side of a ridge and across a river from the parsonage and church. I must admit that wildfires scare me! Hand me a tornado any day; I know what to do during a tornado!

I returned home about 7:40 and got ready for the day. I wrote a letter to one of my parents while I was waiting for school to start.  By 8:25, my second student arrived. I am home-schooling our 8 year old daughter, and this year I added a 7 year old Jicarilla boy. It has been a delightful addition! My daughter loves having another student, and the two of them learn very well together. We spent the morning doing lessons and reading, except for the quick trip I took to the post office to mail a package containing a glass piece I had finished yesterday. Brad took a few minutes away from his sermon-preparation and hung out with the kids while they were on a short break. While I was at the post office, I chatted with a woman from our congregation, finding out that one of her family members needed prayer.

On another break from our lessons, I returned a call to a friend and found out that she was going to homeschool one of her children. She wanted to chat about homeschooling, so I made a plan to meet with her later today.

Following school, the two kids headed out to the backyard pool while I made some lunch. We usually make lunch together so we can discuss nutrition, but there are so few pool-days left that I let them go swim. They ate under the trampoline, delighting in being outside with their lunches. I ate in the kitchen, window (and ears) open to the pool and trampoline, while I continued to read "Half the Sky" by Kristof and WuDunn. If you haven't read this book, you should! It is an excellent discussion of the oppression of women around the world, and of how to turn that oppression into opportunity.

By 1:00, another homeschooled Jicarilla boy arrived to join the swimmers. The three kids had a wonderful time swimming, jumping, and playing while I sat under a tree, crocheted a Christmas present for a granddaughter, and chatted with an elderly widow who happened by and saw me outside. She stayed till suppertime.

At 3:00, I taught a science lesson to all three children, and wrapped up their playtime. They were picked up by family before 4:00. I then made a quick supper while our daughter practiced her piano lesson. We ate early so that Brad could take our wee one to her soccer practice from 5:30-7:00. I've been helping the coaches with the kids, but tonight I stayed home so I could meet with the new homeschooling family.

Before supper, I also shopped, bought, and drop-shipped two magnetic door alarms to one of our grandchildren's family after their two toddlers managed to open the chained door and get outside. Thankfully, a neighbor found them immediately and returned them home. Their mother was distraught, as was I. It was this kind of situation which caused the death of another of our grandchildren in February.

I spent from 5:30-7:20 with the newly homeschooled child and family, doing a quick assessment of the child's reading ability. Following that, I made some recommendations to the family about what strategies would be effective for the student. When our daughter arrived home from soccer, all the children went outside to jump on the trampoline. I finished my visit with the adults in the family, and they went home. Our daughter came in for a bath and bed. After tucking her in, I started writing this post.

This was a very typical day for me. It is busy, but I am rarely overwhelmed. God has provided the patience, energy, and enthusiasm for all my activities. Sometimes, I don't feel like I'm doing much ministry, but when I examine this day, I see several interactions that could be considered ministry. This is what God has called me to, and I am blessed to live each day in His grace and providence. I am delighted that my education and experience as a teacher are being put to use. I am blessed by several friendships. And I love serving the people here.