Greetings from the heart of eastern cowboy country, Sebring, Florida. The MidMaine District UMVIM (Volunteers in Mission) team is three days into our contribution to Hurricane Irma recovery. Highland County suffered more damage than any other part of Florida except the Florida Keys. More than 13,000 homes were affected. We’re working on Nirmalla’s, a pretty one-story house surrounded by gardens with plants that we Mainers usually only see in a garden shop. Her family is originally Indian, by way of Guyana, and our construction coordinator, Hank, is from the central Texas cow culture, so we’re having a truly cross-cultural experience. (We have yet to hear the complete story of how Hank’s van was badly damaged by an angry alligator but have been promised details.)
Since 5am Sunday morning our intergenerational crew of 10 has flown 1,600 miles, driven another 2 hours, set up base camp in the beautiful Sebring UMC, been oriented to who we’re living amongst for the week and how Irma disrupted their lives, sanded the drywall mud in 4 rooms, learned to spray wall texture, hung dry wall in one room and cement board in another, taken down a ceiling to get at bad wiring, and miscellaneous carpentry projects. We are sleeping well. And so far we’re well on our way to achieving our three goals:
Bring back stories
Each evening we gather for reflection. We’re following themes from “Five Means of Grace, “ by Elaine A Heath. (Highly recommend). Heath’s packet sized guide is in the series that began with “Three Simple Rules.” It expands on Wesley’s ways of “Stating in love with God.” Helping us “consider how each of the five means of grace help us as communities of faith to pray more deeply and live more missionally as followers of Jesus Christ. These means are the ordinary channels that God uses to draw us into a fruitful relationship.”
These five means or channels are:
2. Searching Scripture
3. Receiving the Lord’s Supper
5. Conferencing (communion, fellowship)
We miss you all, can’t wait to share our stories with you when we get home, and THANKYOU for the generous donations to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) that make this recovery effort happen.
In God’s Grace, Karen
Greetings my new friend.
This week my mind has turned from fussing over things I wish I’d done last year to producing promises I’d like to make to you, the New Year. Now here you are, 2018, twelve months of pristine possibility. I’m looking forward to our time together. I have a lot of thoughts on how we might spend that time together. They’re pretty ambitious to tell you the truth (more on that soon). The landscape ahead is so enticing and so grand that it seems every moment must count to make the most of the time we’ll have. But that’s where things got tricky with 2017. The weeks flew by and there didn’t seem to be enough hours, enough space, for all that I needed and wanted to do.
Already pebbles of possibility are tumbling in to fill the clear future container. What large stones must I put in place now to safeguard space for hopes and dreams I’m carrying into your arms, 2018? What practices will sustain me when interruptions, necessary or nagging, scatter the best intentions of one of our weeks? I confess that one of my own temptations is noodling around, so I can't entirely blame others for the disruption of my best laid plans.
Accounting for essential things in each week’s 168 hours, you can plan on us spending about 49 hours sleeping, 7 in devotions, 7 in exercise, 1-3 in communal worship, 7 reading, and 50+ doing the work of the MidMaine District and New England Annual Conference. That means we need careful planning to include family and friends, seeing the beauty in the world, eating, errands, housecleaning, art, gardening…., Thinking about the fullness of time reminds me of God’s generosity in providing the time I need and of my responsibility for choosing how to use it each day.
On the mountaintop, Jesus reminded his disciples, "and can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?" (Matthew 6:27) The answer is clearly, no, I cannot. So, 2018, let’s make the most of the time we have by checking each evening on how well our time was spent, in quality, not just quantity, and by persistently putting the “big things” back on tomorrow’s horizon when the "little things" pile up. Let's notice when little things turn out to be big things and when some things must be let go.
Let’s be confident that interruptions we’ll encounter may be practice for the greatest interruption of all, Jesus showing up in surprising ways…you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Matthew 24: 44).
Will you be my partner rather than my taskmaster this year, 2018, a guide for living and accomplishing what God asks us to instead of the stop watch of an urgent race or an hour glass of limited measure? I hope so, I’m counting on you.
In God’s Grace, Karen
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.