Reflection on the Sermon on the Mount passages from the Twelve Scriptures project

Carol Whitney

As most of you know I was not raised in a Mennonite home. My moral upbringing included many biblical stories, songs, and principles. It also included some not-quite-biblical principals of Yankee stoicism, handwork, pride, honor, and personal dignity.

We were taught to be kind and giving, to “walk 1000 miles in the other’s moccasins” before casting judgment, to be selfless and neighborly, but not to go too far. “After all, you don’t want to be a doormat all your life.”

I am a fan of the works of J. D. Salinger (with the exception of Catcher in the Rye, of course). In Seymour: An Introduction there is a description of a birthday party debacle. A younger brother has been given a brand new bike for his birthday. He goes out for a ride and returns home without the bike. He explains, to the horror of his father, that he met a boy who had never had a ride on a bike, so he gave his bike to the boy. “The whole bike to a stranger?” howled the father. “Why not just give him a ride on the bike?” “Because he wanted more than just a ride,” replied the boy. Seymour then proceeds to explain to his father the purity of the religious act that his brother has performed.

Face slapping, indentured servitude (commentators suggest that going two miles when asked to go one refers to a custom of Roman occupation wherein a soldier would commandeer a passerby and force him to carry the soldier’s gear for him for a mile), possession abandonment, and birthday bike giving. I am challenged. Surely there must be some boundaries here. What if the hitchhiker doesn’t just want a ride, but wants my car?

I all too clearly can envision the expressions on the faces of my parents if they were to read the previous query. But search as I might I can not find the boundaries. At times words of trusted friends seem to enlighten a fuzzy image of a boundary. Further readings of the words of our Lord cause the faint boundaries to summer and disappear. The longer I live in faith the more challenging these verses become.

Perhaps I am called to be a doormat after all.

The mat that lies before the door.

The mat that lies between the dust, dirt, and mud of the raging storms of the world, not completely apart from them or the debris they stir up, but right next to the door, under the overhang, the light from the doorway flooding over me.

The mat proclaiming Welcome.

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The weather was gorgeous for our annual camping trip to Groton Lake. It was a quieter weekend than usual (far fewer kiddos this time!), but there were still many, many rounds of Hand and Foot, great conversations—and, of course, s’mores, kayaking, duck-watching, and general relaxation.

In the photo is about half the group that gathered for our Sunday morning service. (You’ll notice that some of us opted to hike barefoot.) Richard and Ruth Ann invited us to reflect on Psalm 104 and the ways that we see God’s hand in creation.

All in all, an excellent weekend of celebrating God’s creation by both enjoying it and meditating on it.

No church service at Taftsville Chapel this Sunday, August 18, 2013. We’re going camping!

Canoe races at Groton lake

Canoe races at Groton lake

 

Please join us for the Saturday evening potluck fellowship and campfire (5:30 at Richard and RuthAnn’s site, bring your own hotdogs!) We’ll be singing and making s’mores!

Or come to our Sunday morning service (10:30 at Owl’s Head Pavilion, Stillwater State Park). Bonus: take an easy hike to the top of the mountain with its stone tower and amazing view, and then stay for a lazy afternoon at the lake!

For Taftsville, Lake Groton means more than just a long weekend away.  It means Community.

We’re excited to have Laura back from her year in Nepal! Join us for worship on Sunday, August 11, at 9:30 and hear about her time there. Afterward, she will be treating us to a Nepalese meal.

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During the Lenten Season, 2013, we had a series of sermons on the intimidating Book of Revelation.  Although this idea initially caused trepidation for some, our interim pastor, Ted, reassured us that there was much good to learn from this daunting book.  During the weeks of Lent, and even on to the end of May, he boldly preached from this text and, true to his word, provided many marvelous insights.

The worship committee had invited Elinor to create banners for this series.  Many images in the book of Revelation are disturbing as well as confusing.  Our hope was that depicting this book positively in some way would help to dispel the uneasiness and allow us to connect to the deeper truths of Jesus rather than focus on the unpleasant and scary parts. This is what Elinor had to say:  “Several times in the past I have created a series of seven banners/posters for Lent [and] I enjoyed making them. The thought of doing this for the book of Revelation, though, immediately felt daunting and difficult. Revelation is not my favorite book, however it does have abundant visual descriptions. Many of them are bizarre—beasts with multiple eyes or seven heads and ten horns. It is a vision after all, full of lots of symbols. I felt quite overwhelmed at even attempting to portray any of it.”

She went on to say, “I sat down to read Revelation, making notes of things 
I could include in banners. Out of these many images and symbols I chose ones that I was attracted to or ones that I thought I might actually be able to draw. Many of the images felt like they were beyond my artistic abilities. The result is a mural of many different symbols and scenes.”   

Elinor made her seven-panel mural into a large scroll, which was unfurled across the front of the meeting room, one panel at a time, over the seven Sundays of Lent.

Each symbol, or scene, has the biblical reference printed on it or near it, so that you can look them up if you wish.  There are also a few symbols or scenes from other books of the Bible which tie in to or are parallel to verses in Revelation.   Elinor did not emphasize the weird beasts and terrifying scenes, although she did include a panel representing the “darker” events described in Revelation.  She also incorporated an image from a poster 
by Pat Marvenko Smith, which shows up near the end of the scroll, with her copyright on it.  Below are images of the separate panels, with their corresponding list of Scripture verses.

This mural blessed each one of us for the four months it hung across the front of our meeting room, inspiring much meditation.  There were so many images to ponder, beautifully portrayed and thoughtfully put together.  It helped to de-mystify the book, motivated us to dig deeper, and instructed us in the beauty, power and hope found in Revelation. Elinor stated, “I hope the mural will help all of us to find positive images tucked away in the book of Revelation among the more startling and bizarre things that are described,” and for all of us, she succeeded.  Thank you, Elinor, for your ministry among us. 

FIRST PANEL

Rev Panel 1-b

The Alpha and Omega – Rev. 1:8
Creation – Gen. 1:1, John 1: 1-3, Rev. 4:11b
The birth of Christ (The Word made Flesh) – John 1:14
Behold he is coming in the clouds – Rev. 1:9
7 Lampstands – Rev. 1:12, 16
7 Stars – Rev. 1: 12, 16
Tree of Life – Gen. 2:9, Rev. 2:7
Behold I stand at the door and knock – Rev. 3:19
John – Rev. 1: 9-10

SECOND PANEL

REV Panel 2

Heaven’s door open – Rev. 4:1
Descending Dove (Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – John 1 29:30)
Lamb that was slain/Emerald Throne – Rev. 4:2-3
-Lion of Judah – Rev. 5: 5
-Lamb Rev. 5:6
24 Elders with Gold crowns – Rev. 4:10-11
Angels circling the throne – Rev. 5: 11-13

THIRD PANEL

REV Panel 3

Sing a New Song – Rev. 5:9, 14:3
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain – Rev. 5:12-13
Harps –  Rev. 5:8, Rev 14:2b-3
Golden Bowls of incense (prayers of the saints) – Rev. 5:8b
Angel with a censer (also prayers of the saints – Rev. 8:3

FOURTH PANEL

REV Panel 4

4 Horses (white, red, black, pale) – Rev. 6:2-7
7 Angels with trumpets – rev. 8: 6 – 11:15
-Eagle (woe) – Rev. 8:13
-Star falling/ key to the Abyss – Rev. 9:1
7 Angels with 7 Golden Bowls (God’s wrath) – Rev. 15:7-8-16:1

FIFTH PANEL

REV Panel 5

Angel with the chain – Rev. 20:1
Angel proclaiming the eternal Gospel – Rev. 14:6, Luke 2:0-10
The Book of Life – Rev. 20:12
The River of Life with 2 Trees of Life – Rev. 22: 1-2, Rev. 22:14
The city – Rev. 22:5
Come all who are thirsty – Rev. 21:6b, Rev. 22: 6

SIXTH PANEL

REV Panel 6

The Triumphal Entry – John 12:12-15
Rider on the white horse – Rev. 19: 11-16
Great Multitude with palm branches –  Rev. 7:9
The Root of David – Rev. 22:16 and Rev. 5:5
The Bright and Morning Star – Rev. 22:16

SEVENTH PANEL

REV Panel 7

7 Blessings – Rev. 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 14
Communion Symbols – Remember his death until he comes – Luke 22:19-20
Hold on to what you have, I am coming soon – Rev. 2:25,  3:ll
The Alpha and Omega – Rev.  21: 6, 22:16 (and Rev. 5:5)

At the front of our Meeting Room

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BLESSINGS from  Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship

The Beidler Family  [Beidler Family Farm] recently returned from a marvelous adventure in Indonesia.  Besides growing organic wheat and milking cows in Randolph Vermont, Brent Beidler also serves on the Board of Health-in-Harmony, an organization making a difference in people’s lives in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.  Regina shares with us about their experience.

March 2011

We were hosted by our friends Cam and Kinari Webb who made our time in Indonesia very memorable.  Cam is a rain-forest ecologist who does research and also teaches field courses for students from Harvard.  Kinari is the founder of Health in Harmony and is a doctor and visionary who oversees the work of HIH.  They have been our friends for over 15 years and it was a pleasure to see their work first hand.

Our minds are full of impressions and things we want to remember as we return home from Indonesia. Here is what we saw and did during our time in Borneo.

Regina, Brent and Erin Beidler with Dr. Kinari Webb on the docks in Pontianak, the gateway city to fly through into Borneo

Gunung Palung National Park – The work of Health in Harmony is focused on the villages that surround this 200,000-acre national rainforest park, which is home to 10% of the world’s remaining orangutans. This forest is the watershed for 60,000 people and is an important and challenged resource. Illegal logging is monitored in the park and although there are incentives to not log it continues unabated. We saw several factors that impacted the continued logging.

  • West Kalimantan (regency or equivalent to our states) was recently divided in two with Sukadana (where clinic is located) as the new seat for one of those halves. This has created a bit of a building boom and, in the absence of Home Depot, wood is needed for building.
  • Birds Nest Soup is a delicacy in Asia with premiums paid for the bird nests. Local folks have discovered that 3 story swallow houses can be constructed and insulated providing cool habitats for swallows that allow them to harvest the nests. People are paid $1500/kg which is huge money compared to what they earn in the local economy. These houses are mushrooming up everywhere and are taking building materials plus making an undetermined impact on the local swallow population.
  • People continue to run into huge medical care bills for care at hospitals outside of the clinic. These bills are way out of whack with what people earn and what they can pay. For instance, one woman had some complications after a c- section that required her family to cut down 90 Durian trees (averaging 30-50 meters or 100-150 feet tall) to pay the bill. Trees are part of a family’s savings account and people often destitute themselves in order to pay for medical care.

We heard from Cam that rainforest trees grow, on average, 2 mm per year. If you figure out the replacement time for first growth forest we are talking hundreds of years. Conservation efforts are happening but the impact will be long term rather than short term.

We had the chance to go hiking in the forest one weekend. We traveled 45 minutes by motorbike to the trailhead and then had a two-hour hike up to a camping spot. The first third of the hike was moderate hiking and we were lucky to spot an orangutan high up in a tree- a rare spotting. The second third was up more steep terrain with some scrambling required. The final third was aided by knotted ropes that one could use to pull oneself up. We were glad to get to the top at dusk and spent the night in a treehouse listening to the night noises of the forest. We also saw red leaf monkeys, gibbons, a hornbill and lots of insects and plants that showcased the diversity of the forest. Coming down was much easier and we were able to admire the series of waterfalls that flanked the trail.

The big question that underlies much of the rainforest conversation is the difference between our first world mentality about maintaining forests for future generations which is undergirded by our ability to financially meet obligations in other ways and the developing world thought of needing to meet family needs today and the opportunities that exist to benefit families in the present rather than unknown opportunities in the future.

Health in Harmony – ASRI – The centerpiece of Health in Harmony is providing high quality, low cost health care to the people in the region with alternative means of payment available to all. Since its beginning in 2007, HIH has seen 17,000 patients for 25,000 patient visits. All of this in a very modest building with a very dedicated staff. Plans are underway to begin construction of the hospital, which is the next step. This will allow additional services to be provided long term at a local level and with better results than at the national health care service. Two cases we heard about the first day illustrate the success and continuing challenges faced by HIH. In one case a woman came in with very high blood pressure. She was quickly examined and by afternoon’s end had things well in hand. In the absence of HIH’s clinic she would not have had access to this easily managed issue. The same day a 22-year-old woman with three young children came in and was determined to have uterine cancer. The current facility has no ability to do endometrial biopsies (lab not available for testing) or to perform a hysterectomy. The woman currently has the choice to go to a national hospital but we were told care would probably run about $5000 – well beyond what she can afford. In effect, she has a death sentence because care is not available to her. When the hospital is complete this issue as well as many others can be dealt with locally and affordably. If anyone wants to make a big difference to the long-term health of the residents served by Health in Harmony money sent to the hospital fund raising campaign is a great idea. In spite of all of this we can say that the health care program at HIH is a raging success.

Ancillary programs at HIH – A number of other programs compliment the mission of affordable health care and rainforest conservation.

  • Organic Farm Training – The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and slash and burn agricultural techniques were and continue to be quite common in Indonesia. HIH has done and continues to do organic farm training and the results are very encouraging. Most of the farm training relates to vegetable production and residents are not only seeing improvements in their soil but also are finding markets for additional vegetables to be very profitable even without a premium price.
  • Goats for Widows – Widows were identified as a very vulnerable group and a program was instituted to give goats to widows. The first two kids and 5 bags of manure are returned to the program to be shared with other widows, which will ensure the program’s continuation. Most of Brent’s time and some of Regina’s was spent at trainings held for these widow groups to talk about what is going well and what challenges they are facing. The age of the widows ranges from very young to women in their 60’s. They were delightful and Brent found that many had found good solutions to issues and were willing to share with each other. The conversations were lively and as always, with animal husbandry, good nutrition, clean housing and access to shade and water go a long way in ensuring good health. We were able to visit a number of widows at their homes and they were happy to show us their animals and their areas. Scabies is the main health concern and Brent helped to access Ivermectin for the worst cases where animals were in danger of dying as well as starting some experiments with local leaves and remedies that could be advantageous in addressing scabies if caught early. The manure from these goats is an important element in compost and the organic farm training.
  • Reforestation – There is a sobering PowerPoint slide that shows the massive deforestation of Borneo in the past 50 years from almost complete rainforest cover to almost none. One of the alternative methods of payment for health care is seedlings, which are then used for replanting areas that have been cleared. Unlike the states where trees grow back in areas that are untended an invasive grass comes in to dominate instead. This grass is not edible by animals unless grazed at a very tender stage so it takes over with no advantage to anyone. HIH has replanted 20 acres so far with 38,000 seedlings and will continue the intensive long term work of continuing to replant areas that have been cleared. We were lucky to be at a Green Day celebration at the current reforestation site about 2 hours from Sukadana where 200 local residents came out to plant that day and to celebrate the current work being done. Local buy in from communities is essential to the continued success of reforestation.

Regina, Brent and Erin with Cam Webb

Other experiences and thoughts

The end of many days brought a swim in the South China Sea – a 10-minute walk from Cam and Kinari’s house. The water was perfect bathtub temperature and after hot and humid days was a refreshing way to end the day.

The last evening Cam took us out in their dugout canoe. It was an interesting experience – tippier than a Western canoe and low in the water with 4 of us in it. Another interesting way to see the islands just off of Sukadana.

Cam and Kinari’s house has been made very comfortable. Rural Indonesia has electrification and although power outages are common most of the time there are lights and fans to keep one comfortable. We have photos of their house and bathroom facilities if anyone is REALLY interested in those.

The people of Indonesia are warm and welcoming. We were treated with great kindness and will always remember the people. Days started at 4 am with the calls to prayer (multiple mosques in town) and had a rhythm that was very fluid and warm.

Our last two days we spent in Singapore which we appreciated on a basic level for regular bathrooms, hot showers and air conditioning. We have to say that it is an AMAZING city, spotless, high tech and manicured to an inch of its life. It has the highest per capita income in the world and you can tell. We spent one day at the Singapore Zoo, which is unparalleled. Many animals are minimally contained so one can literally almost reach out and touch the animals. The orangutan exhibit in the middle of the zoo allows the orangutans to traverse the area by climbing along vines and nets above your head as you watch.   Health in Harmony is working in cooperation with a comic book that talks about deforestation and the impacts on environment and health.   Sales of this will benefit HIH’s work.

Visit Health and Harmony at http://www.healthinharmony.org/

In the little village of Taftsville, Vermont,  anyone out and about early on EASTER MORNING may notice a small cluster of pilgrims silently carrying a large wooden cross up the hillside behind the Chapel.   They may even hear strains of familiar Easter hymns echoing through the valley.

Each Easter morning for nearly 30 years, we have gathered at the Chapel for our sunrise service, or Resurrection Walk. We take turns, usually two at a time, shouldering the heavy cross as we make our way up the road. We stop from time to time to join our voices in song,  to meditate on the scripture story,  and to share the burden of bearing the cross.   It is a quiet and solemn journey, reflecting on our Lord’s burden on our behalf.

As we read of Jesus sealed in the tomb, we reach the end of our walk, and pause. Then, we read of the women on Sunday morning who found the tomb empty, and we turn around to the sunshine.  The  glorious valley opens out before us in the fresh morning light and we joyfully proclaim  “Lift Your Glad Voices!”   He has risen indeed, and we shall not die!  It is a joyful journey back down the hillside,  to enjoy a hearty breakfast and fellowship together, and gather for our regular worship service at 9:30 a.m.

This Easter morning, April 24, we will be leaving the Chapel at 7:00 a.m.  for our traditional Resurrection Walk.   We hope all who are able will join us for this special time together.

On an annual basis, usually in January, we at Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship have the opportunity to reconfirm our commitment to Jesus Christ and to renew our covenant of membership together.   It is a time to confess together what we believe, and what we do about what we believe.  It is also the way in which we include anyone new to faith in Jesus Christ, or to membership at Taftsville.  We invite you to read and consider your personal response.

 

STATEMENT OF FAITH

 We believe God is the Creator and Master of all things.

 We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and displayed all the fullness of God in human form.

 We believe that Christ’s coming announced the Kingdom of God; His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin; and His resurrection makes sure both our present freedom and our future hope.

 We believe each individual must personally accept the salvation offered by Christ, and show that decision by repentance and baptism.

 We believe God’s Holy Spirit gives life, direction and wholeness to everyone who receives salvation.

 We believe the life of the Lord Jesus and the Word of God (the Bible) reveal the truth of God, and are our guides for daily living.

 We believe that the Church is the Family of God with Christ as the head, where all members are called to share their love, time, possessions and spiritual gifts.

 We believe Christ will come again to fulfill the Kingdom and bring his people into eternal joy in the world to come.

 

 

MEMBERSHIP COVENANT

As members of Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship
We covenant to:

 Live a life of simple obedience to the will of God.

 Open ourselves to the guidance, direction, instruction and encouragement of the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

 Be willing to be used for the strengthening of the Body of Christ, including the willingness to boldly tell others of salvation in Christ.

 Labor together in understanding and meeting human needs in our local community and in our world.

 Refrain from the use of violence, and be peacemakers in our time.

 Regularly meet together for worship, study, prayer and encouragement.

 Give systematically and generously of our financial resources, our time and our spiritual gifts.

 Annually renew our commitment to Jesus Christ and affirm our covenant with one another.

Hard to believe, but we are less than three weeks from the end of our term. Even as we see weather reports of more snow in New England, it feels like mid-summer here. Today was 82* and we were working on a roof. :O( We know better than to complain about the heat. It’s supposed to moderate back into the 60s next week. That’s better working weather for us, but the locals call it COLD!! (They wear parkas and scarves when it’s in the 50s)

Last week we spent the entire week on one electrical upgrade for a 42 year-old woman with cerebral palsy. Virginia is confined to a wheelchair, but is trying to live on her own, and in her own home. She is unable to work and has a yearly income of less than $8K a year. Our first task was to upgrade her electric service panel. (where the power comes in at the meter) The existing panel was very likely the original – which would make it 60 years old. The box had only two screw-in fuses and only 12o volts. One of the things Virginia had hoped for was an electric cooktop, so that she could reach the controls and the pans from her wheelchair without reaching over the flame of her gas range. Because she didn’t have 240 volts required for a cooktop we had to first upgrade her system. Some of the wiring was so old that when we removed the old panel the insulation on the wires going into the house just crumbled, and when we tried to reenergize the lines, the new circuit breakers tripped. That meant half a day of repairing the old wiring, which was inside the concrete block walls.

Since the walls were concrete (and houses don’t have basements down here) Eli ran the wires for the new cooktop on the outside walls through metal conduit, then through the wall into the kitchen. First she fitted and attached the conduit, and then we had to pull all the wires through. Scott was able to find a used cooktop (donated) and another CHRPA worker came and installed the cooktop in a new countertop.

Since the electric service panels in Arizona are installed outside (and are usually 6 feet high) Virginia would not have been able to reach the circuit breakers, so we installed a “sub-panel” in her bedroom wall, low enough that she can reach the breakers from her wheelchair. That job was probably more complicated than the new outside panel since every circuit had to be rerouted through conduit and into another new panel mounted in an interior wall in the house. When the work was done and our mess cleaned up, Virginia allowed us to take a picture of her with her new cooktop. (She was practicing her stirring)

Virginia

This week we started another upgrade for a young couple in South Tucson. They are trying to work on their home themselves and are doing a nice job, but the electrical system had been “monkeyed with” and was beyond his ability (or finances) to correct. We started that job yesterday and reached the inspection stage today. Assuming that our work passes we will return late tomorrow to begin connecting the existing wiring to the new service panel. Just so you understand what I’m talking about every time I mention a “service panel”, here’s a photo of one of our earlier jobs:

New Service

This afternoon we went to look at our next upgrade that we’ll begin tomorrow morning. The family currently has no gas to their home, and consequently no heat – and from what we saw, it’s doubtful that their furnace would have worked anyway. That seems insignificant after my mention of 80* temps, but earlier in the winter months the temperatures can get into the 20s and teens, and homes here, especially those of the people we work for, are poorly insulated, if at all. A leak was discovered in the gas line (imbedded in the concrete floor) and they didn’t have money to have it repaired, so the gas company shut off the gas and removed the meter. CHRPA will soon be replacing the gas lines AND the furnace. The family’s water bill was in arrears, and so the water was shut off too. A “good Samaritan” (sort of) neighbor, came by and turned the water main back on for them, but the water department discovered the “good deed”, and now the water has been shut off again and a lock placed on the main. That problem will have to be addressed by the family. So at the moment the family has no gas, no water, and a dangerously defective electrical system…AND a leaking roof. So Eli and I will repair the electrical problems, CHRPA will repair the gas line and replace the furnace, and CHRPA will contract with a roofer to replace the roof.

About three weeks ago we worked for Melvin, who lives in a very old mobile home, also without heat, and with only an extension cord run in his bedroom window for power, and to run an electric heater. Our “nightmare scenario” here is hearing the client tell us that a neighbor down the street “who knows a lot about electricity” came and tried to repair his electrical problems. That always sets our teeth on edge. Well it seems that Melvin’s “friend” came by to repair not only the electrical panel, but also the furnace. He tore into both, got in over his head on both, and then left – never to return. Melvin said his furnace hadn’t worked for over 5 years! And more than half of the plugs and lights in his home hadn’t worked for about the same period. Eli and I tackled the electric and found it beyond repair, and so we replaced the entire electric panel, and the feed into the home. When we were done and began turning on the new circuit breakers Melvin walked around the house and kept repeating: “I can’t believe it…I can’t believe it.” You mean THIS works now? My microwave will work? The lights work? Later the next week Tim, one of the staff workers, replaced the furnace with a new one. Then he replaced Melvin’s front door. The work request that we had received from the county “Council on Aging” said to “Repair or replace” the front door. Which option would YOU have taken?

Rundhaug Door
Melvin’s living room floor also had a few holes, so another CHRPA crew was there two weeks ago and repaired his floor.

CHRPA has been in existence for 22 years, and there seems to be no end to our job security.

And on the subject of CHRPA….here’s a link to their website. Take a look! http://www.chrpaz.org/

Thanks for your continued prayers and financial support.

Ted & Eli

With a little help from Toby and a steep learning curve for an aspiring geek, here are some photos of the CHRPA “campus” and a few shots of our jobs so that you can visualize where we are and what we might be doing. First, is our present “home”.

Home

The CHRPA office is the green building behind the red van. They just moved in last summer. Before that the “office” was a large closet – now a laundry room – in the VS (voluntary service) house. Our RV, our home, while we are here, is behind the Cholla cactus in the foreground. Our truck that was stolen was parked right where the van is in this photo – and we were in our RV at the time! (The guy wasn’t timid. It was 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.) The shop is on the left, and that’s where we keep all the tools and supplies when they aren’t on one of the trucks. A Curved Billed Thrasher lives in the Cholla and sits on top of the plant and sings for us almost every day, if we are around.

Below is another perspective. Looking from East 30th Street, the Shalom Mennonite Church is on the left, the VS house is straight back, and our RV is obscured by the 5th wheel trailer on the right. You can see the shop beyond the hedgerow on the right.

Shalom

Things have come together for us here now, our new truck runs well and provides us with more room and more tool storage than our stolen one did. It’s much more comfortable on our backs too.

Our New Truck

The word went out after our truck was stolen, and as of today CHRPA has two “new” (old) trucks to replace it. Last week TEP (Tucson Electric Power – the local electric company) came by with an enclosed utility body truck that they donated. Meanwhile the pastor at Shalom Menno Church who comes from Ohio contacted some friends in Kidron and the Kidron Electric Co. donated one of their vans to CHRPA too. The question of how the van would find its way to Tucson came up and a local Sunday school class decided to use some of their mission funds to finance the trip and a couple from the church drove the van down. It arrived two weeks ago, and is already part of the “fleet”.