Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and Cuba

The death toll in Haiti is more than 400 people and 95 percent of the homes on the southern side of the country are damaged or destroyed. Beverly Mitchell, a teacher at Wesley Theological Seminary, was in Haiti teaching as part of Wesley’s Central/South American Council.
United Methodists from around the globe have a long and committed relationship with Haiti. Thousands of United Methodist volunteers have stayed at the Methodist Guest House, using it as a base for sending out mission teams.

Brulan Jean-Miichel, manager of the guest house, said Hurricane Matthew has added a new layer of despair to the country still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.
“The eye of the hurricane went directly over Jeremie and the surrounding cities. There is significant flooding, landslides, trees down, roads destroyed and 95 percent of the houses have lost their roofs,” he said in an email. “So the damage is extensive, according to reports from people who have flown over these areas. There is no phone communication and a major bridge in Petit-Goave has been washed away cutting the whole southern peninsula off from Port-au-Prince.”
Lauren James, United Methodist Committee on Relief Haiti church liaison, said UMCOR and the Eglise M├ęthodiste D'Haiti, the Methodist Church in Haiti, are assessing damage and will report soon on best ways to help.
“For now, anyone wanting to support Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in Haiti can donate to International Disaster Response Advance #982540. These funds will be available to support Haiti once we can coordinate the response,” James said.
... The hardest hit area of Cuba was Baracoa, one of the most ancient cities in Cuba. It slammed by 24-foot waves according to news reports.
Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz and some local pastors were among the first to arrive in  Baracoa on Oct. 6 to bring emergency supplies, according to the Facebook page for Iglesia Metodista En Cuba.
The churches of Guantanamo reported huge material losses but all the people escaped injury.
Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida, reported good news as well on its Facebook page.
“We received good news yesterday from our mission partner in eastern Cuba, Pastor Biosleidis Rodriguez, who reported that he and his congregation took shelter in their church building, and no one was injured by the storm,” said a church member.
Read the rest of the story by Kathy L. Gilbert and Sam Hodges
Oct. 7, 2016 | UMNS

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Community of FRIENDS (Trail Blazing #3, 2016-1016)

Call to worship, Psalm 25.11-22
Children, Acts 12.1-17
Message, Acts 6.1-7

Two weeks ago, we introduced this series of messages on the spiritual practices that help us walk with God. Last week, the focus was on the LIFE of Worship; this week, we look at the Community of FRIENDS. Next week, we’ll examine the PURPOSE of Mission. We’ll wrap it all up on October 30 with an invitation to step out on new adventures, to follow the trail blazed by Jesus and the great cloud of witnesses, and to leave a few blazes of our own for those who come after us.
      The white blaze that we show is from the Appalachian Trail, the “AT”, that Steve Ross is hiking. He told me about the tradition of “Trail Magic” – unexpected kindness and friendship encountered along the way. This is one of those stories:
      VIDEO – Steve Ross

Theme Scripture for the series:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
from Hebrews 12:1-3

We are made for connection, for friendship. Yet, we struggle with it. I had a friend in college who told me about a class assignment in which he had to list his best friends, and he named me among them. The problem was … he wasn’t one of my best friends. Awkward.
      We want to make friends, but we feel lonely. Two’s company, three’s a crowd … so we blend into the background in a larger group and remain friendless because we haven’t found the right person with whom to connect. None of us want to be a third wheel, but we don’t want to be solo either.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trail Magic at Harper's Ferry

Witness to Hurricane Matthew

By the communications director for Mission Central ... reminding me of living in South Carolina for college during Hurricane Hugo. Keep those affected by this storm in your prayers, support Mission Central and The United Methodist Committee on Relief's disaster relief efforts. And, read the full story on their site.

My family and I watched the news for several days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew.  We had a vacation planned for Walt Disney World, beginning Saturday, October 8th.
From all accounts, it appeared that the worst of the storm would hit Florida on Thursday night into Friday morning. With a Saturday morning flight and a clear weather forecast, we thought we’d be all right. Always one to prepare, though, I set up a one way rental car for Friday, just in case our flight was cancelled.
Friday morning brought news of damage along Florida’s coast, but inland areas appeared to be spared.  We thought our plans were safe, but by late afternoon, we got the call that our flight had been cancelled.
We picked up our rental car and hit the road that evening, driving through rainy weather until we were too tired to continue.  We figured we’d get a hotel room and work on a travel plan in the morning, based on the weather.
The next day, we were tracking the storm as the morning progressed. Our route had us basically coming in behind Hurricane Matthew and took us through rural highways in South Carolina.  As we proceeded, we quickly went from thinking things weren’t too bad, to realizing the devastation that people were facing in the aftermath of a hurricane.
We were travelling through some of South Carolina’s most depressed and poverty stricken areas.  As we proceeded through small town after town, we saw people wandering around, seemingly in shock.  They gathered together in front of local churches or stores, anywhere where they could find an open parking lot that wasn’t flooded or covered in downed trees.
Houses stood on the side of the road, with varying degrees of damage, but none really appeared to be spared.  Some looked to just have cosmetic damage, while others had shingles missing from rooftops.  Some of the more unlucky ones had large trees smashed right through the homes and some houses were completely destroyed.  Most yards were completely flooded and for stretches of several hundred miles, nobody had power.