Didn’t see that coming.

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Hello, friends!  I hope today finds all is well with you.  For me things could be a bit better.  When I left Tennessee, I knew there would obstacles in front of me, but there were/are a couple I didn’t see coming.

Day 1 of last week’s Creator Camp offered an opportunity for a benign game of kickball with the kids.  Things were going well until my first kick.  I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point between striking the ball and about half way to first base my upper thigh/hip area was in pain.  I did my best to walk it off and chose to play catcher next inning.  For the second kick I decided I would kick then walk or trot to first base…NOT!  Upon striking the ball the second time, a pain like I have never felt ran the entire length of my leg.  All I could muster was to stand there hunched over and then slowly walk over to a place where I could set down.  Seeing how my Tennessee Blue Cross works in Montana was not on my to-do list.  I didn’t really let on how much pain I felt or how bad it could potentially be.  There was definitely a pull or sprain in one of the muscles, but I also felt like there was possibly an issue in the hip area.

I began icing it when I got back inside (along with ibuprofen) and decided to baby it as much as I could.  I should have stayed off of it completely, but there were things to do! Day 2 there was no bruising so assumed that was a positive sign.  It still hurt and my gait was obviously affected.  While I avoided recreation for the day, I was on it too much.  It felt no worse at the end of the day, but my back muscles were tight and tired. I felt completely exhausted.  Day 3 it felt a bit better, but the day ended with the same results.  Fast forward a week and I am thankful to say the leg is much improved.  I am choosing to avoid stupid moments.  I would guess I’m 90% better.

I am pretty sure there was a crossover between the kickball disaster and the second obstacle.  Day 2, 3 and 4 all ended with me feeling completed wiped out.  I assumed it was all the result of the injury.  But as the leg was improving, the exhaustion wasn’t.  I began to wonder if something else was going on.  You see, Tennessee saw the Spring Festival of the Yellow Dust Ferries a couple of months ago.  The Ferries are just now in the midst of their Montana event (hopefully near the end).  Pollen counts have been high since I’ve been here, and my head finally started seeing the effects this weekend.  Based on prior experience, this debilitating exhaustion was undoubtedly the intoxicating effects of one of The Fall’s most vicious consequences.  And, unfortunately, the attack on my head is currently giving me a multi-day hangover.

Despite the unforeseen obstacles, last week was a good one at Pablo Baptist Church.  A team representing Madison, Alabama’s Haven Baptist Church came and did a marvelous job presenting Creator Camp.  “Why is it not called Vacation Bible School (VBS) though since that’s what it is?” you ask.  That’s a FANATASTIC question!  In VBS 2 of the 3 words have negative connotations.  Why would anyone want to go to school in the summer? I don’t like it in the fall, winter, and spring (a simplified version of a more complex answer).  Also, I’m not interested in the Bible because it’s the religion of the white man (another simplified answer).  So Creator Camp was born 4 or 5 years ago.  While the native creation story is different, they do believe in a creator.  It’s appropriate this year’s camp spoke of God creating, mankind falling, God’s plan being unveiled in the birth of Jesus, and the restoring of our relationship with the Creator through Christ’s death and resurrection.

With that bit of the history out of the way, this is what last week looked like from a people perspective.  Kelly and Erika were expecting a team of 15 or so to be here.  A week prior to camp starting, a dozen had to drop out. (Don’t concern yourself with how that could happen.  It just did. Lol.)  The three people who were still coming, Steve, Cindy, and Sierra, were thankfully able to add Jared to their ranks.  Can I just tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out and serving with this group?  I feel I now have family in Madison, Alabama!  So along with the Mitchells and me, we were a gung ho group of 7 ready for whatever lay ahead.

The nice thing about this story is the additional help that God added to our team.  First, we had a handful of teens that were along for the ride this year.  While they weren’t keen on crowd control and teaching, they were here to help serve lunch and participate in recreation.  Second, and a huge blessing, was the help we received from 4 native ladies.  Again, while they weren’t teaching, they were here for helping with preschool, cleaning up, and crafts.  This was a FIRST for Creator Camp!  Pray these relationships will continue to grow and will be a key part of PBC’s future.  If we had 15 to 20 people serving, there may not have been an opportunity for these ladies.  All the glory (and planning) belongs to God!

Every year there is always the question of how many for which to plan.  There are a couple of summer programs that had the potential to affect attendance, but because there wasn’t a direct time conflict, they didn’t.  If I’m not mistaken we held or increased in attendance each day.  When all was done, I think we had a chance to touch 60+ young lives at some point.  Many of these are not regulars at Wednesday night activities either.  Pray that we would know how best to engage in both new and old friendships.  Finally, we are thankful to have had 70+ individuals come to family night.  We served a meal, and while many left before we presented the short program, that was not a failure.  This was a learning experience concerning timing, but the important thing is there were adults who came through the church doors who don’t do church.  There were people the Mitchells know and new faces as well who came for the first time.  Pray that the circle of influence Pablo Baptist, and the Mitchells specifically, has will grow quickly and exponentially.  Pray for protection over them and their ministry as well.  The enemy WILL do his best to destroy it.

That’s an update on the past week and here is what’s coming up.  Next week Kelly, Erika and the kids will be in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, for vacation/family reunion.  Pray for their safety, but also that their time together will help rest and restore them.  Ministering here can be both hard and lonely.  Pray that my time will be productive while they are gone and that I can hold down the fort.  I will be leading Bible study Sunday morning so pray I will be prepared and that my words will be a blessing.

Kelly was also asked by the local YWAM ministry if PBC would be able to host a VBS next Monday through Wednesday.  If I were not here it would have been an obvious no.  But having a relationship with YWAM, and because of my presence, we are praying this will be a good thing.  Please join in praying that this will be another opportunity to build or make relationships.  Pray those in attendance will hear and receive a gospel centered message.  Pray things will go smoothly and that I will be able to just hang out with the kids and not have to put out fires or be a significant part of the details.

The Arlee Pow Wow will begin next Friday.  This is a major event on the Flathead Reservation.  PBC participates in this event to build relationships with both individuals and the Tribe.  The Mitchells have been able to receive favor from the tribe because of the willingness to simply go and serve at events like the Pow Wow.  Pray that a continued presence will not only increase that favor but will also lead to spiritual openness and conversations.  Pray the scales which keep tribal members blinded to the one true Creator God would be removed.

During Pow Wow, Westwood’s youth/adult team will be arriving.  Pow Wow will end on Tuesday and the camp we are hosting in St. Ignatius will start on Wednesday and run through Friday.  Please pray for this camp.  We don’t really have a presence in this community other than being there last year.  With the founders of this camp no longer being involved, pray that God would send the kids in spite of their absence.  Pray that key and lasting relationships will begin.  It is only God’s hand that makes any of this possible.  Our plans will only bear fruit as a result of his blessing and favor.

Well that’s a not so brief update on what’s happening in Pablo, Montana.  I am generally settled in, but I will admit I’m still trying to figure out what in the world I’m doing.  So for now I listen, observe and contemplate…and I think that is good.

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