Friday, August 21, 2020

 

It has been awhile since you’ve heard from me. My apologies. Since the pandemic started, life has been very different as you all know.  At this time, I would normally be driving back home from spending a summer of ministry in B.C. My head would be spinning with images and stories to share of God working through each of the teams in their communities. But the reality is . . . I’m sitting in front of the same screen that I have been at for most of my work this summer.

Since some of my talents lie on the technical side, I offered to run an online Vacation Bible School for the teams that travel North to lead VBS for the kids. (If you’re interested, you can see the different community sites at: www.lampvbs.org.) Much of my time was spent updating the videos and links to the various sections (puppet skit, Bible story, craft idea, music, etc.) to each team's site.


It has been fun to watch and hear the different songs and skits that the teams use in their community. One group even included examples with the kids from the previous summer. A couple of the teams attempted to connect via Zoom with the children and adults from their community. I anticipated lots of hits on the team’s classroom pages and maybe a dozen kids connecting on the Zoom video calls, but the numbers were much lower than my expectations.

One team wasn’t able to connect at all with the kids in their community, while another team had three people on the first day and only one for the next three video calls. A new team is having a Zoom meeting with contacts in their new community in hopes that when the pandemic lifts, they would be able to travel to meet with people who they talked to online.

Somewhat discouraged, I was reminded that my home church group prayed for at least one kid to connect to a Zoom call, and we did!  Kids and adults are viewing our virtual VBS classrooms, but we don’t know how well the message was received. It is our hope and prayer, however, that they know we and God care about each one of them!

Remember the story of the Good Shepherd, about how Jesus seeks us? The parable mentions how the shepherd cares for each sheep as if there were not another in the whole world and if one was lost, he searched for it. (John 10:11-15; Matthew 18:10-12)  We are called to be His messenger of the Good News of Jesus Christ, whether God calls us to serve one or one hundred.

This summer was not what anyone wanted or expected.  I have still been able to connect with teams and meet new people online who might have gone this summer.  Ministry is happening but in a different way.  It’s exciting to know that connecting through Zoom and a virtual VBS classroom with Bible lessons is a possibility for the communities that LAMP serves.

God works in His own way and timing. We need to trust that God is leading and guiding us as we continue to step out in faith to share the gospel with others.

Sunday, June 7, 2020


Another set of important dates have come and gone on my wall calendar. According to my trip schedule, I would have been away most of this week, visiting my communities and making summer arrangements. However, like a lot of us, I’m at home.

The one question I get asked a lot when people inquire about my work with LAMP is, “What are you doing?” There are some days I struggle to answer that question and other days, I find myself very busy. I have found a lot of my time is spent in front of my computer screen, mostly in meetings.

My home is like most where some of the family members are on a screen for work or school. Some evenings I have time to connect with friends playing games e.g. lots of Age of Empires, Definitive Edition. (My Steam handle is ducttape335.)

Since none of the teams for any of the LAMP communities can travel up North for the summer, we are encouraging them to connect virtually through the computer. While there are many ways to do this, we are hoping that some of the teams can still meet a few of the kids and people face-to-face online. We have also created a virtual VBS where kids can click on links to hear and see messages from the teams. While none of these methods are ideal, we are hoping it will provide some encouragement for the hope we have in Christ.
It’s weird that the Seattle Mariners baseball is not on the radio in the evening. It’s weird to look at my calendar now empty with travel dates. It’s weird to be ministering from a distance, but these are uncertain times.

Throughout the Bible, we read about people’s plans changing when Jesus is present. Read John 4:1-26 when Jesus met the woman at the well, or Matthew 4:18-22, when Jesus calls two brothers to follow Him.

“And there arose on that day a great persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”  Acts 8:1 (ESV)

Back then, the growing church of new believers probably had a mixed bag of feelings not unlike what I or you might be feeling. But soon the believers figured things out and “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). That crisis turned out to be a vehicle that God used to further His missional purposes. He used them to bring the gospel to the very ends of the earth.

Jesus is present in our lives and in the lives of the First Nations people that LAMP ministers to in the communities in northern Canada. The message of Jesus will continue to be shared this summer . . . just in an unusual way.



Monday, April 20, 2020


April 2020 Newsletter         

The means might change but the mission never does.

Often the year that nothing goes right, people remember as their fondest experience. Can you relate?

The summer of 2010 was off to a great start. In the middle of our church’s day camp, I received a call from Pastor Bart who was serving as the LAMP missionary in BC. Bart called with devastating news; the school where we ran our VBS program in Gitanyow would not be available because they were installing a new roof on the building. Oh no!

We were a week away from leaving the USA to go north. Half of our schedule was based on using the gym for programs and the school's kitchen for our meals. The only other available space was the small church down the street. Small as in only one bathroom, no kitchen and room for the group to sleep, plus we would have to store everything in order to hold VBS. The other options were to camp 20 minutes down the road and drive into the community every day or not go at all.

Yet all was not lost. I envisioned another option! In my conversation with Bart, he suggested that we could use his portable outdoor shower, and I thought of a way to cook meals. We would rent a U-Haul to carry all our stuff and also house a small kitchen.

With Christ the Vine’s day camp coming to an end, I gathered items for a make-shift kitchen. The church had a small upright freezer. I found two more smaller fridges on Craigslist and an older (yet in good condition) propane stove range. All we needed was a sink. Craigslist to the rescue!

However, I needed help building the unit. So from afternoon until late in the evening, my friend Tim McWilliams helped build a sink unit in his driveway. I found a small 110 volt water heater that fit under the sink, and the day before we left, I finished the sink unit. Phew!

Upon arrival at the church in Gitanyow, we discovered the back of the U-Haul was the exact same height of the church porch. There was an outside water hose for both the shower and sink unit. We ran a flexible drain hose from the sink to a hole back behind the church. Then we ran an extension cord into the U-Haul. Not once did the circuit break.

Somehow with eighteen people on our mission team, there was never a line to the bathroom. Showers were much quicker since they were outside. The only difficult part was rearranging the sleeping gear and VBS setup everyday. Oh, and by the way, this was the cook's first trip. However, if you asked everyone from that trip which, of all the years, one was their favorite, they would all answer this one!  Even the cook still talks about cooking in the back of the U Haul and visiting with the kids as they watched her cook. Despite all the adjustments and adapting, the mission still took place.

In Luke chapter 9, Jesus gives instructions to his disciples as they are about to leave on their mission trip.
“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”

While most teams would not leave home before proper planning and fundraising, we all can relate to trusting in God’s leading. This is especially true during the current situation with the COVID-19 virus.

As spring arrives and we look further into the summer, there is a strong possibility that trips will be postponed for the summer. Over the last few weeks, the LAMP staff have been working hard at coming up with ideas and ways to support teams that normally travel during the summer to teach VBS in the communities. Some of the teams have already sent care packages to communities, post a daily devotion, while others are busy organizing a virtual tea party and yet another created a CD to be used on a radio broadcast.

Please pray that the LAMP staff and our many volunteers envision different means of ministry from a distance as we look to further God’s mission with the First Nations people.  Your prayers and support are ever more critical to provide the hope of Christ and the courage to face fears with victorious faith.  Together we are the “body of Christ” today!

Friday, March 6, 2020


When I first started my travels with LAMP, my trips were. . . well, trips. Like most people, I was a little nervous about flights, and more importantly, didn’t care for the feelings I had of leaving home. Please don’t read too much into this, but the first few times I traveled, it felt like I was away from home for a long time.
Now when I travel, two or three weeks doesn’t feel like much. The communities I serve in are like a second home! The roads I travel have become familiar, and I look forward to visiting people that I know in each of the communities. But hardly do these two places overlap. When I leave one community, I enter another one.
Recently, I became friends with a youth worker in the Hazelton area. Alex has been working for the Salvation Army for a few years now. We connected through a Gitsanimx language class that we are taking. He is in the BC classroom, while I take it at home through a computer video camera in the classroom.
Last summer, I discovered that Alex really didn’t have a support group other than the area youth ministers. So I invited him to be a part of a small group of directors of Christian education/ church workers, known as the Thunderkittens. There are seven in the group one person in the San Diego area, another in North Carolina and the rest of us scattered around the northwest.

Just picture middle school aged boys and then imagine them as adults but still having a middle school sense of humor and you have the Thunderkittens. We meet twice a month to discuss books we read and podcasts that we listen to. The rest of the time we share and pray for one another.
Alex has been a great fit with the group, he even created our new logo for the Thunderkitten's t-shirt. Sorry t-shirts are for members and honorary members only.
Now, here is where my work and life back home overlap.
A few months ago, I shared with the LAMP staff about Alex and my desire for him to attend the LCMS NW District youth and family conference held every year in February. Before I could ask, permission was granted. I was excited for Alex to meet the rest of the Thunderkittens, in person, as well as the amazing group of people serving churches in the northwest.


So last week, Alex bridged my work with LAMP in northern BC with my home in Portland, Oregon. It was amazing to watch and listen as Alex shared firsthand his work with people in his home community of Gitamaxx. As Alex also shared about his struggles with depression, a close friend of mine shared for the first time his struggles with depression. Other youth workers were able to ask about working with First Nations people, and Alex was able to explain firsthand what works best. I look forward to these two separate parts of my life overlapping more. I also look forward to what God will do through Alex and my connection with ministry to First Nations people.


A couple of weeks later I was able to visit Alex and attend one of his youth programs. We also watched the final women's masters basketball game where one of his sisters played and the other was the manager. More about this trip in my next blog.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020


It is a difficult day of the year for me, the day after Christmas break. This is the day the kids go back to school, and work starts again. Most of the lights and Christmas decorations are put away until next season. The walls and rooms look empty and cold. The Christmas cookies are starting to get old, and well . . .I’ve had a few too many. Plus, it is dark, cold and rainy outside.


Christmas was good this year. My family and I enjoyed our time with other family members and friends. We did a lot, and a lot has happened. Despite only a few weeks into winter, I’m already looking forward to spring when signs of new life sprout from the trees and plants around my house.

I shared about my seasonal depression in my blog a year ago and encourage you to hit the back arrow to read the January 2018 post. In it, I offer a few tips on helping with seasonal depression. In this article, I would like to share some recent insights discovered with First Nations people in the North. I know others might have similar feelings and thoughts.

It’s easy to compare and feel as if someone else is living a life we wish we had, wouldn’t you agree? There are a number of studies, and information available about the negative consequences (lower self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc.) of identifying ourselves with others via social media. And at Christmas time, in particular, comes the reminder of what people might be missing because of the loss of a loved one or not having enough money to buy presents or broken relationships.

Some of the posts I read on Facebook reflected on people’s disappointment with Christmas, that expectations were not met. Others reflected that Christmas is a reminder that they couldn’t be with their family due to separation/divorce. A few other posts shared that, without work, they were unable to travel to be with family or buy presents.

I started to feel a little guilty for two different reasons. First, I sympathize with their pain. It’s hard to go through a time of year when things are meant to be happy and uplifting knowing that others are suffering. Secondly, it is knowing that these people are likely missing the true meaning of what Christmas is about.

God made a promise to Adam and Eve. “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:16) God was talking to the serpent about sending His Son, Jesus, who would die upon the cross for our sins inherited from Adam and Eve because they listened to the serpent. Sin would be taken away so that we could have eternal life with God in heaven. This promise is something we seldom hear much about when the focus in our world during Christmas is on gift deals and places to shop.


The Christmas message is also something that people living in First Nations communities need to hear more often. Even though some have heard this message, it is easily forgotten when surrounded by hurt and hopelessness.  A little over a month from now, I plan to visit most of the communities I serve to offer hope found in Christ and make plans for Spring Fling trips in March when others will be coming with me to share lessons of faith with the children and encourage people in the community.

I’m also starting a new prayer campaign. One of the things that helps me when I travel alone in B.C. is knowing that I have people praying for me. So here is how you can help. I’m planning to send out a biweekly email for prayer requests. If you are like me, you get tired of all the emails, but I promise to keep it short -- just prayer requests.  If you are in need or know someone else in need of prayer, please let me know. I can have the LAMP staff pray for this during our weekly staff meetings online and/or put this on the prayer list. (Be assured that only first names are used.)

During what is often a dark and cold time of the year, both physically and emotionally, be at peace knowing that Jesus sympathizes with our pain; He became like us. But Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that Hope we have in our resurrection brings joy that we can share this Good News with others!

Happy 2020

Friday, December 6, 2019

Here are some highlights of last summer. It's not too late to consider signing up for a mission trip this coming summer, which LAMP celebrates 50 years in ministry.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Here is a video from a first year team in a brand new community. God gets all the glory but these two kids did an amazing job capturing their week through video.