I have thought often about updating my blog recently but realized that for me, blog-writing isn't as much fun when you don't have pictures to post. Since our camera broke this summer, I haven't had any way of taking pictures, so my motivation to blog hasn't been huge. However, I am going to borrow a few pictures from folks to make it more fun...
The weather here has been unbelievably cold for Western Washington! I think the low tonight is supposed to be in the teens and we're not supposed to get above freezing today. For a temperate climate, that is pretty cold! We got a bit of snow on Saturday, which has melted and re-frozen, making the roads a bit messy. On Saturday, Jesse and I spent the day at my parents where I made Christmas cookies with mom and then watched a movie (The Bishop's Wife with Carey Grant). Here are a few pictures I snatched off my mom's blog: These were taken Saturday night in front of their cute house
On Tuesday, Jesse and I took the day and went over to Yakima to celebrate with the Granberrys, the new little Hope Christian Fellowship, and their friends and family. They held their sixth annual Christmas Feast, which is an amazing occasion that God is clearly working through. Last year we were just beginning to increase in our interest in what He was doing on the reservation out there, so we watched the videos with awe and excitement, even though we couldn't get over there. This year we headed over, helped prepare food for around 200+ people (although there were "only" 180 or so there this year), wrapped gifts, folded bulletins for the service part of the celebration, loaded trucks, and had great fellowship with the Granberrys and folks who had come from around the state (mostly the western side) to come help with this massive outreach opportunity. Mary prepared 4 big hams, a turkey, stuffing, and more. Members of our church (fepc.org) brought fruit salad and potato salads while another church or two donated desserts for everyone. One of the hunters on the tribe shot an elk the day before and prepared that for us all as well. It was delicious!
Celebrating Christmas in the traditional longhouse is, as Chris says, a potential minefield of challenges. Christmas is not a traditional Yakama holiday and to celebrate it in the longhouse would be akin to having a Ramadan celebration in one of our churches. Many people think of Native peoples as a) having no outlined religion or b) pantheistic, nature-worshipers, both of which are untrue. The Yakama people do not worship nature (or if they do, they are not following the traditional Longhouse religion) and believe in one God, just as we do. The Longhouse tradition has many specific laws and guidelines that in many senses make me think of the Pharisaical religion of Christ's day without the benefit of the specific Messianic scriptures to guide their understanding of Jesus. Therefore, to not only allow, but to welcome in "white people" and their religious holiday celebration is truly a miracle of the Lord. It is so exciting to be even a small part of the tremendous glory God is revealing on the Yakama Indian Reservation. He is bringing hope and light to these hurting and cast-off peoples through the Granberrys and through all of our continued prayers.
My favorite part of the evening must have been the gift-giving; churches and people from around the country donated a variety of gifts for women, men, boys, and girls, which may be the only gift these children receive for the holidays. It is difficult for us to understand the poverty culture that surrounds these children, and difficult for us to imagine, surrounded by our wealth and comfort, that one of our children would be satisfied with "merely" a Hot Wheels car as their only gift of the year, but this kind of gift is common - for birthdays, Christmas, etc, a Hot Wheels car or Beanie baby is joyfully received. This video was posted by Chris on YouTube and I can't watch it without tears of joy at the happiness this simple gift has brought these children. These children may not yet realize it, but Chris and Mary's work is to bring knowledge of an even greater and more lasting free gift than even this: the grace and salvation Jesus Christ bought for us and donated to us at no cost. I pray that these small gifts to each person that came may open wide doors for the gift of Christ to be communicated.
More thoughts and doings to come later, I hope!