We live in a dark world...a world that suffers the affects of sin and evil. Yet this is the world God send his Son, Jesus Christ who is the light of the world bringing us deliverance from the darkness of sin and evil. But Jesus also gives us his Word to light our path, to guide us, and to take to the far reaches of the earth. As His word says, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Expanding Ministry - Part 1

It's hard to imagine that it's already the day after Easter, or, Resurrection Sunday as I like to call it.  The time between Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus, and now, celebrating Jesus' resurrection from the dead has gone my at warp speed.  Part of that time warp was due to travel to northern communities this winter.

Yes, the ministry to the people in these remote First Nation communities is expanding, especially with volunteer missionary teams desire to make additional visits beside just teaching a week of Vacation Bible School.

The first group that went north this year was the Cross Lake, Manitoba team from Billings, Montana.  The first week in January a group of 9 volunteers went back to visit and minister to the children and families.  Last year as you recall, there was a huge suicide epidemic going on there.  I met the team there during Holy Week to minister to the children in the schools and the staff.  This year, thankfully, things are much better though they still deal with the same issues of poverty, joblessness, and isolation.  Unfortunately, I was unable to go and be with the team and community due to a personal family situation.   But that didn't stop the Lord from working through them to bring the encouragement of God's Word to the people of Cross Lake or other communities.

That includes Shamattawa, Manitoba.  Three members of the team along with one of the team member's spouse and I traveled there the week of Valentine's Day to visit the children in the school.

The Shamattawa team: (L to R)  Leon and Lori Dawkins, Shawn and Dave Schneeberger
During our 3 day stay, we camped out in the school (literally!) and were able to minister to the children along with the staff.  Christina, one of the teachers who organizes and runs a breakfast program put the gals to work in the morning.  As the kids arrived, they served up the menu for the day.   A number of the children greeted us with hugs recognizing us from our previous visits with them.

The guys pitched in with cafeteria cleanup after breakfast.  Dave was an expert with table wiping.

We then started visiting the classrooms from preschool through high school.  The team brought an arsenal of item for the children including glow-in-the-dark  "Jesus is the light of the world" necklaces.  Leon brought his guitar for singing and Lori introduced us and our purpose for our visit.  I piggy-backed off of the 1 John 1 passage that was on the necklaces about how Jesus helps us overcome darkness with his forgiveness and presence in our lives.  Dave managed all of the handouts.

The group singing one of the kids favorite VBS song, "I just want to be a Sheep".
We also had the opportunity to support the teachers in the school.  Many of them appreciated us coming and supporting them in their faith as well.

Leon chatting with the 2nd grade teacher after our time with the kids.

One of the teachers reading the booklet we handed out to all the kids on bullying.

A number of the VBS children helped out with the songs.

It was so obvious that the LAMP missionary team has made quite an impact on the children in Shamattawa over the years they have been serving that community.

One of the items on our agenda was to conduct a Family and Parenting workshop.  We had planned everything out to the last detail and were ready to go...or so we thought.  We unfortunately didn't know that we needed to arrange for transportation to the school especially with the frigid temperatures outside.  Well, the Lord had a different plan for us.

The school basketball team was going to Churchill, Manitoba for a tournament.  They needed to raise money for their train tickets and accommodations.  So a few of the teachers organized a Valentine's Day banquet at the school as a fundraiser.   We all pitched in over the course of two days before the banquet assisting with preparing the food...turkeys, roasted potatoes, moose & caribou, appetizers, and desserts.

Denise was our head chef and organizer of the banquet.

John, one of the teachers was busy preparing the stuffing for the turkeys

Shawn, Leon, and Dennis cooking up sauces and gravy

The decoration committee!!!
 The day of the banquet, we all went into high gear to not only prep the food but to decorate the cafeteria for the 40 Plus people who had made reservations.

Pastor/Pilot Dennis putting the banquet theme on the bulletin board.
Leon and a couple of the children decorated another board
The dessert table
The crew all ready to start serving the banquet
Let the feast begin!
Leon singing a song to the banquet guests
Pastor Dennis was asked to open the banquet with a prayer.  Then Leon provided entertainment by singing a song he had written for the occasion.  It was quite an evening that everyone enjoyed and appreciated.  It was a lot of work, but also a way for us to be a blessing to the parents and families of the children.  

The next and last day at Shamattawa was busy.  We finished up visiting the classrooms, made a visit to the local radio station, and got to go out on the "winter road" a few kilometers.  We also got to visit with the basketball team before they headed out that afternoon.

We received "Thank you" notes for coming from the preschool class.
The basketball team as they prepared to leave for Churchill via winter road and train.
The team out for a morning walk before we left to head home.  The school is behind them.
Dave dropping off Christian music CD's at the radio station.
On the beginning of the winter road crossing God's River!
The winter road on the other side of the river.
(L to R) Rylee Gilbert, ,the Vice-principal, Obu, the phys ed and basketball coach, and Denise Richardson
Our time in Shamattawa was special.  We were able to touch more people than we imagined.  It's always hard to leave a community because you leave a little of yourself behind.  But then we also leave behind the most important thing of all...the love of God through Jesus our Lord.