Monday, May 09, 2011

reaching for the community

Donations pour in for victims of Rolling Creek apartment blaze

Thursday is last day for displaced residents to collect household items

(from Colombian article)

When Jennifer Zimmerman came with her baby to City Harvest Church on Wednesday, it was after a collision of three major events in her life, one unfortunate, one tragic and one a bit glorious.
Zimmerman, 23, said she first lost her job as assistant manager of the Rolling Creek Apartments in Hazel Dell, where she lived.
Then, a roaring fire in Building F of Rolling Creek on April 21, when baby Tyryen was only 14 days old, heavily damaged the building she lived in and caused at least $1 million in damage.
No one was badly injured, but the inferno displaced Zimmerman, the baby and her fiancé, Jake Protasiewicz, from their damaged apartment.
The fire displaced 23 other families as well, a total of 56 people suddenly homeless.
But now something was in the wind. The public had heard of the Rolling Creek fire. People also knew of two other fires around the same time in Clark County that killed a total of seven people including five children.
And the tornados in the South around the same time were devastating, killing hundreds.
The sympathies of many were aroused.
“We want to help, we don’t know what to do and our hearts are breaking, all of us,” said Loris Ray, a member of City Harvest Church in Hazel Dell.
She decided she’d rally others to put the displaced Rolling Creek fire victims back on their feet.
Ray, working with local Red Cross volunteers and other church members, asked the public to bring donated household items of all sorts to the church at 8100 N.W. Ninth Ave. on Monday and Tuesday.
And folks in cars and trucks came to the church, arriving at times in lines of three to six vehicles, with donations of every type imaginable. Two came from as far away as Tigard and Salem, Ore.
“The public has just gone nuts to help us,” Ray said Wednesday “Oh! You have no concept.”
On Wednesday and again today, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., families displaced by the Rolling Creek fire are invited to come to the church and take what they need, for free. Volunteers have a list of the displaced folks’ names.
Volunteers worked hard to arrange the household items on display in the church lobby and another very large room. Clothing, beds, microwaves, dishes, toys, books, pillows, toothpaste, soaps and so much more, a very large amount.
There looked to be enough to outfit 20 or more families start to finish, all new or in clean, usable condition.
On Wednesday, Ray and other volunteers were helping parents find replacements for their lost belongings.
And babies too.
“What would you like honey? What can we get you? Want the baby bear?” Ray said to blond, blue-eyed Izabella Beaupre, 2, who was sitting in a donated shopping cart in the church lobby.
Izabella chose a gray-and-pink stuffed elephant toy, as big as she is.
Her father, Bryan Beaupre, 29, a truck driver, and the rest of their family were displaced by smoke damage and lost many household items.
“We actually found a better place,” he said at the church Wednesday. “It’s a little more expensive but I was already in line to work with a better company.”
Zimmerman was less fortunate.
Zimmerman’s baby, Tyryen, less than a month old on Wednesday, was two weeks old when the Rolling Creek fire damaged most of their belongings and forced them out.
“It felt like we brought him home and, bam, came the fire. He came early, just in time for all the chaos.”
As the fire was raging in Building F, their border collie-mix dog, Budders, was trapped inside their apartment and was howling for help.
Jake Protasiewicz, 21, was allowed to go inside briefly, grab Budders and carry him to safety.
The couple were later allowed to collect some of their belongings, including some baby furniture.
They went to the church Wednesday and were able to take home many things they need. A rug, a slider rocking chair, bassinet, baby bath articles, baby clothing — and clothes for themselves, to replace the apparel they lost to the smoky fire.
What do they call home now?
The living room of a house in Felida that belonged to Protasiewicz’ parents, which is for sale, she said.
Both parents said they are frantically looking for jobs and have experience in several lines of work.
They said they would be willing to rent, if not a house or apartment, perhaps a room in someone’s home.
“As soon as I get a job I can get a home of some sort,” Zimmerman said.
The family is in a tough spot, but Zimmerman said that’s taught her things.
“You really learn what you can live without,” she said. “And you learn how the community can really come together, surprisingly so, in such a horrible situation.”
Ray, the church member who coordinated the donations with several other volunteers, said late Wednesday that the donations far exceeded the amount of household items that displaced residents had come to select so far.
“At this point, we really want them to come in,” Ray said, adding that today is the last day the items will be available for free at the church.
The apartment manager and volunteers have been unable to contact several displaced families because their phones are disconnected.
Also, two people who lived there have moved, one to Seattle and the other to California, and didn’t want any household items.
When the donation offer ends at 8 tonight, Ray said she’s scheduled to call someone at the Salvation Army on Friday morning, to bring trucks and take items away.
Church members also plan a garage sale of some of the donated items, to help support their medical mission in Guatemala.
John Branton: 360-735-4513 or

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Mother's Day Shop n' Drop
Photo detail
Bob MacGregor, City Harvest Church senior pastor, shares some of his own experiences as the son of a single mother. The church has stepped up efforts to reach local single mothers, including a recent personal spa day. Volunteers also checked mothers’ vehicles for mechanical troubles Saturday while they shopped using gift cards provided by the church.

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A Hand Up not a Hand Out: Woman operates Food Cart with help from Church

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bible says my King is a seven-way king....He's the King of the Jews; that's a racial king....He's the King of Israel; that's a national King....He's the King of Righteousness....He's the King of the Ages.....He's the King of Heaven....He's the King of Glory....He's the King of kings, and He's the Lord of lords. That's my King. Well....I wonder, do you know Him?.... David said, "The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is a sovereign King. No means of measure can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply. No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings. He's enduringly strong....He's entirely sincere....He's eternally steadfast....He's immortally graceful....He's imperially powerful....He's impartially merciful....... Do you know Him?

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Gardner’s Guide to Avoiding Thorns


I think thorns must exist in every environment. Sharp. Prickly. Spiked. Hooked.

Some are obvious in their danger, with a red warning flush reaching up the sharp spine, impossible not to notice even at first glance, while others are so tiny and delicate, a person is often oblivious to them until too late.

The wise gardener guards against all thorns with a pair of good gloves. Different kinds of gloves are widely available, heavy leather, a sturdy canvas, or reinforced cotton; all provide different levels of protection. This is the best defense.

But often, a thorn can make it past all precautions and prick the skin. A shallow cut or a deep cut, sometimes thorns become embedded and require a careful removal and cleaning of the sight of the wound. Some thorns, by nature, contain bitterness, a slight poison which increases the risk of infection. Like any wound left untended, there can be complications from the bite of a simple thorn, leading to all sorts of maladies, physical reactions like swelling, itching of the wound sight, soreness and puss; infection can even lead to death if ignored long enough.

Words can be like thorns. People plant them in their relationships, sometimes on purpose, often unknowingly. Scattered and thrown on the wind to see what they can catch and prick, lining the stems of blooming compliments, hidden in the viney pathways of conversations. There are thorns everywhere.

The wise person guards against thorny words with awareness, ignoring them completely instead of letting them catch the tenderness of the spirit, letting them fall to the ground instead of piercing deep. Ignored prickly words will just evaporate without an echo as the worthless things they are; this is the best defense.

But we are not always equipped with our best pair of heavy leather gloves and hurtful words come at us unexpectedly. Some words just scratch, but it is a small scratch that heals quickly without much attention. The sharper words pierce, and this takes more action. A cleaning and disinfectant may be required. Some short attention must be given to the wound for it to heal. Like any wound left untended, there can be complications from the bite of a word, leading to all sorts of maladies: fear, anger, bitterness, and hate; infection can even lead to death if ignored long enough.

Today I choose not to focus on the person who spoke the hurtful words. I will look first to the wound. Find the thorns that were inflicted, and remove them.

I find grace and healing in the eyes of Christ. My Savior knows who I am, and sees clearly. Like gloves, he protects me and gaurds against sores. Unlike gloves, He can find and heal any wounds when I forget to put on the protectors He daily provides. The Holy Spirit will minister to my wound with a gentle and honest touch. Whatever truth He finds in the hurtful words, He guides me though and teaches me a new lesson, blesses me with growth in my character and my spirit; whatever lie there is in hurtful words, my Lord will reveal it, healing me through His love. The Holy Spirit will guide me through forgiveness, help me not to hold on to the hurt, prevent the infection of bitterness, and rid my mind of any harm.

Next time I forget my gloves in the garden, I will remember to clean the wound.

Like the child who pricks himself on the thorn of a rose bush and runs to his mother for healing instead of accusing the rose bush of striking him, I choose to run to my Lord for healing, instead of accusing the one who hurt me with careless words.

There are thorns everywhere and Christ is my best defense against them.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

No room on the bench.

I go to a church that has no room for people who just want to sit through a little music and a nice sermon.  I go to a church where it's not enough to drop spare change into the collection basket,  say a silent prayer no one but God will ever know about.

I go to a church were the Spirit of God is constantly pushing, reaching, seeking, calling, and singing in my ear.  Where the pastors constantly challenge, encourage, and pester the members.

It's not a comfortable place.

Should it be?

I can get away with my half-ways and half measures, if I work very hard.  But it is almost easier just to give in to the constant nagging and leave the "old flesh" behind and walk "in the light."

Without the weekly pressure from this particular "family of God" I would just do my own happy thing.  Read what i want. Write what I want, think, feel, do what I want.  None of which is particularly evil.   Oh, I could rhapsodize on how the easy life I envision isn't evil.

But the easy life I would choose for myself has nothing to do with following God or glorifying God, or knowing God.  It has nothing to do with Christianity.

There has only been one choice.  Follow God with my whole heart.  Or Not follow God with my whole heart.

No middle.

Cause, Jesus didn't half way die on the cross, or half way suffer for my sins.  Jesus didn't live a life half-way for God, still taking time for all his relationships and crafts, and book reading and shopping for new sandals and robes or a better table making tool.  I can't remember a time Jesus only said a silent prayer and walked away from a crippled man.  If he chose to heal a person He did so completely.  When He forgave sin, He forgave all sin.  When gave a promise, He kept it.  All of it.  Even the unbelievable parts.

So, it has got to be all.

Less of me, Lord. More of you.