Friday, October 17, 2014

Danita's Children

A Haitian boy in the market
Children in school at Danita's Children


Francia Dervilus

Robenson Talabert

 I received a lovely color pamphlet from Danita's Children  a couple weeks ago. Danita's Children is an organization down in Haiti that runs an orphanage, a school and most recently a hospital on the compound. In 1998 Danita Estrella came to the Dominican Republic with a group of doctors in order to translate for them. Several weeks later she traveled to Haiti. When she saw the orphans, the people sleeping in the streets, the abject poverty, her heart was broken. Two months later she said goodbye to her family and moved to Haiti by herself. She opened a home for orphans and one month later she had fourteen children she was caring for. She started a charitable organization called Hope for Haiti and has since renamed it Danita's Children.I'm not sure how many children she's taking care of right now, but as you can see in the second picture, there is quite a few of them. They have a saying at Danita's Children- there's always room for one more. Somehow they have been able to take in so many needy kids. It's not just a temporary fix either. As Danita states, this is a lifetime commitment to feed, clothe and educate these children. With the hospital she has opened she hopes to provide medical care for the entire island,so that no one in this desperately poor country will have to suffer because they can't afford it.As she states in a video, when we get up in the morning we wonder what clothes we will wear, or what we will fix for dinner. When Haitian families wake up, they wonder how they will survive. She mentioned that there are one hundred and forty eight million orphaned children in the world. How will they know that they have value as human beings? How can they know that God hasn't forgotten them, that He loves them if those who are Christians don't step up to the plate? Who does God use to meet the needs of these kids?  He uses us. It's not up to the United Nations or UNICEF or some government funded corrupt organization to feed and clothe these kids. Its up to those who call themselves Christians. It takes money to run a place like this. Sorry, but it does. An orphanage or a church or a hospital needs  money, just the same as you need money to buy food or medical help or heat for your home. A lot of folks are turned off  by requests for money when it comes from the pulpit, but as she mentions, in the Book of Proverbs God says, those who give to the poor, lend to God- He will repay. Will the king of all the universe repay grudgingly? Will He default on what you have lent Him? No way! I know that there are a lot of very worthwhile charitable organizations. If you aren't in the habit of giving, I hope that you will start a new habit. I can attest to the fact that you can not out-give God. It doesn't have to be this organization, though I believe it is certainly worthwhile. I hope you will prayerfully consider supporting a Christian charity, whether it is feeding the hungry or teaching prisoners or visiting the elderly. We have so many needs in this world, and if Christians don't step up who will?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lost Opportunities

  I took these pictures out back this morning. For those of you who can't tell or aren't familiar with the flora of Southeast Alaska, these are blueberry bushes. As you can see, there aren't any blueberries on them. In years past, I wouldn't even bother to pick any berries until now because of all the leaves. I kind of like to wait until after a frost so that in the process of picking I don't end up with more leaves than berries, plus there is a little white worm that inhabits some of the fruit, and I think the frost drives them out or at least kills them. In any event, I had planned on going out picking several weeks ago, but the fishing season was extended, which was a good thing, and the weather was really foul with lots of wind and rain, which wasn't such a good thing, and I missed my opportunity to go picking. Blast it! I really wanted to have a gallon or so of blueberries so I could make a few, or I guess more than a few, batches of those blueberry sour cream muffins. I still can, but now I'll have to buy what I want, at a fairly steep price. If you snooze you lose.
  I've been thinking more about the limited time we have on this earth lately, and how everything has a season, just like it says in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 To everything there is  a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. It's not just berry picking or fishing that has a season. Obviously you won't find farmers in northern climates out trying to plow the fields when there is six inches of snow on the ground, it doesn't make sense. You plow in the spring when the ground is ready. Here in Southeast, most people try to take care of outdoor projects when the sun is shining. You can paint in the rain I guess, but it probably won't turn out too well. Same with mowing the lawn or washing the car.
  Without a regular job to go to, I have a lot of flexibility in my day. I can go work on the boat or do a load of laundry or spend the whole day watching television. For one reason or another I missed out on a chance to put in a winter's supply of halibut. Usually I catch a few incidentally when I'm trolling, but it didn't happen this year. I should have set a subsistence long line earlier in the summer when the halibut were more abundant, but I didn't, so I missed out. The same thing with the berries. I don't think I was goofing off when these opportunities arose, I just didn't take advantage of the chance when it came up. With that in mind, I figured I'd go hunting yesterday. I don't usually go this time of year because the brush is so thick, and frankly, I'm scared of running into bears in the woods. I asked a friend to go with me, but he had other things to do, so I just figured I'd go out and hunt the road system. It won't be long and the roads will be filled with hunters from Juneau and other places bringing their campers and four wheelers and running all over tarnation shooting everything in sight. When that happens the deer become a lot more scarce and harder to find, so I kind of wanted to beat them to the punch. As I was driving past a wooded area I saw a small deer cross the road and walk into the woods, so I parked the truck in the area and went to see if there was a bigger one hanging around. There wasn't, but the day was so pleasant- sunny and warm, that I didn't care. As I walked I was just enjoying the sounds of nature- the Junko's and Chickadees in the brush, a squirrel up in a Spruce cutting the cones and letting them drop to the ground, and all the little rivulets of water running down the hill. It was all very serene and peaceful, and I was really enjoying myself. However, as much as I liked the hike, I was hoping for a deer, so I got in the truck and traveled down the road a little further to a spot that I hoped might harbor a few decent sized deer. I parked the truck and started walking. There was muskeg on either side of the road and clumps of trees and scrub brush scattered along the muskeg. I didn't go far, maybe a half mile or so. I was coming up a small rise   when I looked down the road and saw a rather large brown bear with it's head down walking up the road directly towards me, maybe fifty yards away. I know the bible says that a spring can't produce salt water and fresh, I guess referring to your spiritual condition, but I'm here to tell you, I produced a little of both yesterday. I don't know if my first words were "Jesus!' or "Oh Shit!" but I know I spoke both in rapid succession and then started backing down the road. Once the rise hid the bear from my view I turned and rapidly started walking towards the truck. I kept looking back and saw that the brownie had topped the rise and was still coming. Brown bears can cover a lot of territory in a short time. They have a very purposeful stride and if they should decide to attack you, they can run like the wind. You can't out run one. As it was, my heart was pounding in my chest just with the rapid pace I was walking. I wouldn't have been able to run if my life had depended on it.   When the bear came into view again and didn't show any signs of changing course I turned and yelled at it. Fortunately for me he stopped and looked in my direction and chose to amble off into the muskeg. Had he decided to charge I'm not sure my .270 would have made much difference. I might have gotten one shot off, maybe two before he would be on me. I'm so happy that I didn't have to find out. Today would have been a good day to go hunting. It's kind of sunny and warm, but I don't think I'll go. There are other things that need done while the weather is good, and I don't want to miss the opportunity to do them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where does the time go?

   Have you ever sat down at the end of the day and asked yourself, "Where does the time go?"  It's something that happens with more frequency as I get older. I used to rush around like a madman doing this and that, looking forward to the next project, but not so much any more. I move a lot slower now, and if I don't have something that needs done right away, I'm pretty much ok with that for awhile. The problem is, I have all kinds of projects that need done, at least right now, but either I don't have the time or the energy. or something of equal or greater importance pops up that takes precedence. Case in point. Today is the last day of the summer troll season. I had planned on possibly going over to Homeshore for one last hurrah, but instead, I had to take the truck up to have a diagnostic test done on it. Par for the course, the mechanic said-" this is the only vehicle I've  ever checked that this tester won't read." Go figure. Last week my daughter borrowed my truck. When she returned it, it didn't work right any more. Now, I don't really believe that what happened is her fault, it was just  her luck, much like my own, that it decided to go belly up while she was using it. I have a friend who listened to the truck and determined that it needed new plugs, wires and a distributor cap and rotor. For less than $100.00 in parts, my truck was supposed to run like new again.... only it doesn't. I'm not too mechanically inclined, so my friend was doing the work at no cost. Well, I can't very well go inside and work on something that I need to do while he's helping me, so I spent about six hours fiddling around in the rain trying to lend moral support. That of course put me behind in other projects.  My wife is off visiting her mother, so I have to take care of the dog- that's another few hours every day just trying to reason with him. He's a tremendous drain on my time and energy, needing to go outside to the potty at least four times a day. I wanted to work on something else yesterday, but it was finally sunny after a week or more of rain, so I had to stop and mow the blasted lawn, but of course I couldn't just do that, I had to go on turd patrol first; so here I am, an old, grey haired, 62 year old man waltzing around in knee high grass with a garden trowel in one hand and plastic grocery bag in the other looking for poop. This is what my life has been reduced to. When I finally got done with the scavenger hunt, it was time to crank up the lawn mower; well, almost. I mow the lawn of the abandoned house next door in an attempt to keep vermin from making a home there and eventually migrating to my yard. Because the lawn is nice, the neighbors behind me use it as a place to play and store stuff that they may want to find in the next week or so. As a result, I have to toss toys, blankets, pallet boards and assorted and sundry other things back into their yard. That all takes time. The mowing itself is a monumental task, especially in tall, wet grass. I have a self-propelled lawn mower, but the belt that makes it self-propelled is broken, so it's like pushing a 200 lb engine on square wheels uphill. So far I've avoided having a heart attack, but it's only God's grace I'm sure. Of course I have to eat, or I think I do anyway. When I'm out fishing I don't mind opening up a can of corned beef hash or popping a Hungry Man dinner in the oven, but when I'm home, I'd prefer real food. With Momma Jan gone, and the dog being totally useless as a chef, I have to cook for myself. With the prep time and the actual cooking, there goes another hour or more. I don't  have any paper plates, so I have to wash the dishes, another time consuming chore. So, as you can see, twenty four hours a day isn't enough to accomplish all that needs done. Between the cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of the dog, paying the bills, shopping, working on the truck, the boat, the lawn, the tool room, attending to my hygiene, tending to my other bodily functions and other unexpected tasks, I feel like I'm always behind. As I've said before and I'll say again, it's no picnic being me. It's a full time job and the pay isn't that great!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Friend is Dying

    My friend is dying and I'm sad about that. In the past few weeks we've had three people pass away here in Hoonah. Two were pretty well advanced in years, one was my age or perhaps a little younger. All three succumbed to cancer. It's the same thing that is working its way through my friend's body. I believe it started in the pancreas and has moved through the uterus and other internal organs. She is dealing with a colostomy and has shaved her head, I suppose because her hair was falling out in patches because of chemo.She writes a blog and has included all of this factual information in it, as if it were happening to someone else and she were just an observer, recording the facts. Up until now she has been very strong, very stoic, at least outwardly, but her last post revealed  a sorrow that  has been kept private. Frankly, I'm glad that she shared some of her feelings. As human beings we sometimes hurt. We get scared or lonely or sad. We need each other to share our feelings with, to know that someone out there in this cold, indifferent world does care about us. More than the three folks who have passed away, this lady's illness has had quite an impact on me. We're friends, but not real close. Jan and I had dinner with her and her husband once, a meal I still remember. She had cooked clam chowder and I was so afraid I might not be able to choke it down- I hate clams. As it was, I had two bowls, and might have had three if I weren't afraid of appearing to be a horrible glutton. She's an incredible cook, but that's only one of her assets. She's worked in the medical field and in mines. She's a great writer and has the gift of putting you right into the scene of whatever she's writing about. She's fiercely independent and loves solitude. At one point in her life she lived down  Chatham Strait in a little hole in the wall harbor called Warm Springs Bay. She just recently purchased some property in Freshwater Bay and I believe she intended to build a cabin there in the woods. I'm not sure that she would have stayed, she never seemed to light in one place too long, always desiring to be deeper into the woods, to a place more remote. I'm struggling with the fact that she's so young, in her fifties I believe, and that her plans and hopes for the future have been dashed. She's leaving behind three daughters and though they're all adults, I'm sure she'd like to see how their lives will play out, to share in their joys and provide comfort in their times of sorrow. Barring the second coming of Christ, we're all going to die some time. Most of us know that, we just don't have an idea on any given day when that might be. With pancreatic cancer, the time is always short. I'm not sure how I would react if given the same diagnosis. It doesn't seem fair that some folks blessed with an abundance of talent or good will or kindness can pass through this life so quickly, and others whom I would deem less than worthy of long life seem to go on and on. It makes no sense to me, but I have to believe that God knows exactly what He's doing and what we can't begin to understand, He does. If we could peek into the future and see the wisdom of what He is doing, our questioning would seem quite out of place. A few years ago I had another friend who had cancer. It was brain cancer, and when she told me it was terminal, I rather glibly said, "we're all terminal." That's true. From the day we're born we start dying. It's the time in between that matters. Let's live our lives in such a manner that when we go people will mourn our passing and if there is a celebration, it won't be because we're finally gone, but because we lived a life worthy of celebrating, and when we breathe our last our savior will say of us, "well done good and faithful servant" and we'll be welcomed into eternal joy. I have one last thing to say about this. I sent an email to my friend and asked if I could do a post on her condition. For whatever reason, I never heard back. So Rene' if I have done something you would not approve of, please accept my apologies. Let me know how to erase this and I will. God bless you gal.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What the heck is this?

  A few weeks back I was coming home from church when I noticed this unusual craft anchored in the bay off of Graveyard Island. I didn't know if it was a submarine, a boat or what. I was surprised a week or so later when I saw the same boat on the Anchorage news. It is named simply, A. According to the Sun Sentinel it is owned by a Russian billionaire  who named it after himself (Andrey Milnechenko, and his super model wife, Aleksandra. It is reported to be 394 feet long and having a price tag of a cool $300 million. I can think of other ways to spend $300,000,000.00. That's just the initial cost. As the owner of a boat that initially cost me a cool $16,000.00 I can promise, that no matter how much you spend on a boat, it will just be the beginning of sorrows. The difference between him and me is that he can afford to make the repairs. Oh, he may be a billionaire now, but by the time he gets done owning the boat, he'll most likely be in debt to some shipyard or another. From what I can gather, the boat interior is lined with, I believe shark hides, dyed white and the chairs are comprised of alligator hides and kudo horns. I think if I were to spend that kind of money on a boat, I'd want it to at least look good. This thing looks kind of goofy to me. He ought to at least have put some trolling poles on it. Then he could write it off on his taxes

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

You'll Get Through This

  Those who know me know that I can take the smallest of life's trials and blow them up into earth shaking, catastrophic events in my mind.  Fortunately I've been blessed with the ability to find humor in most of life's daily struggles. After my initial frustration or anger over an event has passed, I can turn it into a fairly humorous story. Losing six fish in a row to an aggressive sealion is terribly frustrating. The humor comes the next day when it surfaces with one of my flashers stuck to his head. Hopefully it will serve as a warning to any fish in the area. It would be better yet if it attracted other sealions thinking he had a fish and they all attacked him. Poetic justice I would say. In any event, whether it's losing money to predators or medical emergencies or children making choices that you know will not turn out good, we all have something unpleasant to deal with in this life. Jesus said it pretty plainly-" In this life you will have trouble, but fear not, for I have overcome the world." That's hard to remember when you're going through something unpleasant. If you are a believer, you start to wonder- "where is God in all of this? What possible good can come from______________." Fill in the blank. It just doesn't make sense. Last Saturday I went fishing with my daughter Jennifer. We had a good time, even though the morning didn't start out so great. I was angry and frustrated that I was unable to get some ice from the cold storage either Friday evening or Saturday morning. Oh, I could have gotten some if I had been patient and waited an extra thirty minutes or so, but time is money so I left without it. Anyway, though fishing started off slow, it started picking up as the afternoon wore on. We were catching cohos and some of them were pretty good sized. By 6:30 I figured we better get back to town before the cold storage closed so we could unload these fish. We were about two miles off the beach, well on our way into our hour and a half trip across Icy Strait when there was a tremendous loud bang, the boat shuddered and the engine started screaming. I didn't know what had happened. I slid the gear into neutral and looked around to see if we had slammed into a log that may have been partially submerged. No, nothing around. I put the boat in gear but a loud grinding sound was the only response. Not what I wanted, to be stuck in the middle of Icy Strait with darkness not far away and many of my friends already back in Hoonah. I was unable to reach any of the boats that I knew who would be large enough to tow me in. As it was, Bill Williams on the F/V Searcher, a man I didn't know, heard my call and stopped what he was doing to tow me in. It was a move that probably cost him more than a few fish and several hours of his time, to say nothing of the extra fuel. The bottom line is, I wasn't abandoned. God made sure of it. This past weekend my daughter Liz's husband had a bout of kidney stones that required several nights in the hospital and a stint in the emergency room. I'm sure that wasn't part of their plans for the weekend. "hey I've got an idea- why don't you suffer with kidney stones for a few days and take a little vacation in the hospital? It will be great!" Nope, don't think so. Doesn't sound like fun. Stuff like that never is, but life happens. In this book by Max Lucado he asks a rather profound question. Is God always good? When the outcome we're looking for doesn't happen, is He still good? Or is it only when we get what we want that He is? When the promotion or raise comes through. When the cancer is in remission or your son or daughter is accepted into the college they were hoping to go to.  Is he good when the transmission breaks down in the middle of a large body of water? Is he good when your job has dried up and the bills are piling up and you don't know where the next month's mortgage payment is going to come from? It's easy to say yes when everything is going well. Just recently Hoonah lost two of it's long time residents. Both had terminal cancer. If you were to ask their families if God was good, would they answer with a resounding YES!? I don't know. If I were facing that, would I answer yes? I'm not dealing with the death of a loved one right now. I hope I don't have to in the near future. What I do know is that in my life, God has been very good. When we left the farm He provided a place to stay and work so I could support my family. In multiple storms He's always brought me home safe. He plucked me from the icy waters of Lynn Canal after the plane I was in crashed one February day. Did I like listening to the silence of an airplane engine  as we descended down to the cold, pewter colored water below? Nope. When I heard the rescue helicopter coming to pick us up though, had anyone asked, I would have said, "you bet God is good." Right now I'm writing this from the comfort of my home. Liz's husband is on the mend, the part for my transmission is on it's way and He's even provided me a fellow in the harbor who knows his way around engines and transmissions and assorted other mechanical things. Anyway, the bottom line is, through all of our trials and problems, as the book states, with God's help, you'll get through this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Walk With God

   I was perusing my large stack of paperwork today when I came across this picture. It is from the good folks at Radio Bible Class. I wish I had the name of the photographer. He did a delightful job. When I was living out at the farm there was a very different doctrine being preached than one that I could embrace and I was in constant turmoil mentally trying to wrap my head around what was being said and what I felt was reality for me. There was a small library in the tabernacle there. I can't recall ever seeing anything but religious titles there- no Alexander Dumas or Robert Fulgham or William Shakespeare for that matter. However, I happened to find a copy of Our Daily Bread, put out by  Radio Bible Class. When I looked through the devotional it was like someone turned on a light in a dark room. I understood and agreed with what was written in that pamphlet. When we left the farm I started receiving monthly copies of Our Daily Bread and have been supporting them ever since. However, this post isn't an advertisement for RBC, although I think everyone would benefit from their materials. I was looking at the statement in the picture- Walk With God. How profound. It should be incredibly simple, and I'm sure it is, except that so often I find that I don't want to. Well, that's not totally true, I do want to, but it's more like I want God to walk with me. I want to do what I want, and have Him bless it, whatever that may be. Guess what? It doesn't work that way! Even things that we might think are a good thing, like fishing in my case. "Well Lord, if you just bless this season, I'll have more money to give to charities." Seems like a good plan to me, but for what ever reason, it's not His plan right at the moment. It's not that He doesn't want to bless me, but He wants the blessing to come when I'm doing what He's got planned for me. Sometimes that's catching a boatload of fish, sometimes it's something else. Sometimes its something that I wouldn't view as a blessing at the moment, but I'm seeing with a very limited vision. Like He says In Isaiah 55:8 " My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are my ways your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts and my ways than your ways."
  Walk With God. If we all took that statement seriously, how different would our world be? Would we be dealing with all the social ills that this world is experiencing? There's an awful lot of hate in the world, and unfortunately a lot of it is being generated by those who think they are walking with God, and perhaps they are, but it's not the same God who created this world. He's a creator, not a destroyer. He came to save people, not kill them if they didn't believe what He said. He made beaches and clouds and sunsets and water.... and us. Lets strive to walk with God. He's got the answers we need. It may not be what we want to hear all the time, but it's what we need. I'd like to end this post with my favorite verse. I've used it before in other blog posts, but we need to be encouraged, especially in difficult times. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." Yes Lord, let your plans for us become reality here and now.