Behind the Scenes – Kristen Dawson

Judging from work experience and volunteer history, Kristen Dawson has a gift for building relationships. She is not only good at it, she loves doing it.

Kristen volunteers with the BelPres high school girls. Director of High School Steven Johnson is thrilled to have her helping on his team. “Students feel welcomed, cared for, and loved in our church because of what God is doing through Kristen,” he comments. (more…)

Creation’s Echo

I grew up in the woods. It was how I spent time with my father. As a child, my parents involved me in Boy Scouts, and it began a lifelong love of the outdoors and creation. One of my most formative faith moments as a teenager was when I was hiking the in the Grand Canyon. Every year my Boy Scout troop hiked the canyon, we called it Rim3, because we hiked from the south rim to the north rim and back in twenty-four hours. It was a forty-eight-mile loop that we started early in the morning so we could cover as much ground before the sun rose.

The thing I loved about the hike was that when we started, we hiked by moonlight and our headlamps. The stars were out, and they were beautiful. So beautiful that you had to be careful to keep looking down at your next step and not at the sky, so you didn’t take a fall. Then as the light dawned and night drifted away the color of the canyon emerged. The sunrise spayed its rays across the canyon walls, and hues of red, orange and pink began to come forth. (more…)

Consuming Injustice

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:26-27

As a kid, my family would take road trips to my hometown in Mexico every year. These trips helped educate me about my heritage, the poverty much of the world is facing, and sharing the blessings God has granted us. I loved these road trips. We would see the country, meet new people, and, most importantly, eat amazing food. (more…)

This Is Why

Born and raised in the suburbs while navigating health concerns as a child ensured that I never thought of myself as the outdoors type. Outside had sunburn, bugs, rain, and hard work (gardening, hiking, anything requiring exertion, really). I’m the girl that was on a soccer team when I was young who marched right up to the coach at half time of my first game and told him I was quitting after this game because he wouldn’t let me wear my jacket or use an umbrella as the goalie in the rain. I couldn’t keep up with the other kids in games that required running so I always lost. This drove me to spend my recess in the library playing card games with my two best friends, Brittney and Erika, throughout all of Elementary school—I was great at Speed with cards. If I’m honest with you, a small part of me was glad that my right leg started swelling up (the beginning of Lymphedema) in fourth grade because it got me out of the running part of PE class. (more…)

You Ain’t No Gardener, Kid

When the school behind me removed 30 trees, cutting the roots of my big Douglas Fir, I asked the graying logger who smelled of alcohol to fell my tree too. He did, and patches of sunlight dotted my dark backyard. Envisioning a riotous tangle of squash and big-boned Early Girls heavy with tomatoes, I thought, I’ll garden! My international students and I built a raised garden bed, the Chinese dentist expertly handling the power drill.

I went all out. Dumping bags of Black Gold dirt, digging in compost and organic fertilizer, I sang This is the Day that the Lord has Made, to my newly fertile earth. The first year, baby bunnies ate the tender green bean shoots, and to my greater horror, Lulu, my cat, got the baby bunnies. My plans to make fragrant pesto died as the basil shriveled up. Hopes of carrying boxes of giant zucchini to the food bank shrank, as I look at stunted, rotting squash. (more…)

Resilience

After the wettest rainy season on record, spring has finally arrived, and the garden is resplendent with the beauty of new growth. The flowering plums and cherry trees are laden with blooms, and the earliest rhododendrons and hellebores are enlivening our hillsides with their colorful flowers.

The brightest color pop in our landscape belongs to the flowers in the daffodil family. Although yellow is my least favorite color, I would have to say that each spring, these flowers capture my heart anew. The excitement begins in the bleak days of mid January. The holiday decorations in the house are all put away, and the winter landscape is drab except for the red berries on some of the shrubs. How thrilling it is when I spot the first green shoots emerging from the soil in the pots on our deck! Although I know it will be at least a month before I see any flowers, these first signs are great encouragement to me. (more…)

Letter From the Editor

My legs were about to give out, and, oddly, my right shoulder. My head ached and I hadn’t eaten since 11,000 feet thanks to a combination of nausea and the lack of appetite that comes from altitude.

What made me want to do this?

I was more than three-quarters of the way up Mount Rainier and seriously regretting my decision to make a summit attempt. (more…)

Serving Everyone with Respect

Every person walking into Renewal Food Bank has a story. No matter what first brings them to the food bank, what matters most is how they are first received. Making clients feel welcomed and respected goes a long way in easing their sensitivity entering into a food bank. Since 1998, Renewal has been building relationships with hungry families and the dedicated volunteers who donate time and resources to serve them.  Authentic caring relationships make Renewal Food Bank possible.  In the past year, we have continued to build relationships with clients and the dedicated volunteers who give their time to serve them.
Pat is one of Renewal Food Bank’s valued volunteers, working behind the scenes, sorting and bagging bulk food items. Pat says this support work is a great fit for her and uses her strengths. She describes volunteering with Renewal as “the most worthwhile thing” she has done. Pat’s favorite part about volunteering is “watching people come in to receive food assistance with no questions asked.” She says Renewal is set apart by how all people are served and none are turned away. When asked what she would say to someone considering volunteering at Renewal, Pat replied, “it would be very good to experience others getting their needs met without questions asked.” Pat encourages others to become involved.

Since 2013, James has been a member of Renewal Food Bank’s Board of Directors. He often takes the lead in Renewal Food Bank’s technical tasks, like managing the client database or changing burned out light bulbs. He began in 2008 to fulfill his community service desire and fell in love with Renewal’s sincerity and simplicity. He appreciates Renewal’s efficiency turning financial, food and time donations into direct support for the needy. James shares that he was honored to join the team when the director asked for his assistance in the work of this organization. As a teen, there were times when James was homeless. He keenly recalls how difficult it was to admit being out of control and needing assistance. He gets so much satisfaction from helping Renewal Food Bank feel welcoming to its clients. When asked why he volunteers he says, “because I’m selfish, and really like feeling I’m helping make the world just a bit better.”

Most often, we do not know the outcome of our work. While we have clients we see on a weekly basis, many families and individuals come and go. Our hope is to be a stepping stone for families who need temporary assistance on their life journey. We are honored to be able to play a part in these families’ lives in their time of need. With each client who walks through our door, we strive to live out our mission to feed the hungry in a caring environment with dignity and respect.

Prayer is Not a Waste of Time

A recent attendee at New Hope Revival Church is Muhizi, a young man with a wife and child, living in Tacoma. He had a job in Kent, but no car and no driver’s license. Alexis learned that Muhizi was taking the bus to work and his commute was about 4 hours each way. His wife is pregnant and this schedule was taking its toll on the family.

On a recent Sunday night, Alexis asked Muhizi to come up for prayer and the community prayed for this situation to be resolved somehow, trusting that God has many ways. Then, Alexis learned that member Olive was planning to sell her older car, which was still in good condition, to buy a newer one. He approached Olive and asked if she would be willing to sell her car to Muhizi, even though Muhizi couldn’t pay her all at once and not even right away. Olive immediately responded that she has found Alexis to be trustworthy and if he thought this would be a good thing to do, she was ready. She gave Alexis her car and keys.

Alexis called Muhizi, not telling him anything about the arrangement and asking if he could see him at his workplace. Muhizi agreed. Member Etienne and Alexis met with Muhizi, and Alexis gave Muhizi the keys to Olive’s car explaining that it was now his. Muhizi was overwhelmed and broke down in tears. When he told his wife, who is expecting their second child in August, she also cried.

You might wonder how having a car could help Muhizi since he didn’t have a driver’s license. Alexis had already been giving Muhizi driving lessons encouraging him to get his license, because “You never know when you are going to need it.”  The day before he received the car, Muhizi had passed his test and obtained his license. The prayers of the people were not a waste of time.

 

In Rwanda, there is a large evangelical church called Mt. Zion Temple. Many Rwandans have experience with that church and its many good works. Recently, it had been in the news because of serious divisions threatening the unity of that congregation. New Hope Revival meets every Sunday evening at BelPres for a two hour prayer service. A few weeks ago, Alexis brought up this serious impending split in Mt. Zion Temple, and shared, “We need to pray about this.”  They did. Within a couple of weeks, Alexis got news that the church was reconciling their differences. The prayers of the people were not a waste of time.

 

Perusi, an older woman in the New Hope Revival Church has four grown children (also members) of which two (Patrick and Etienne) are active worship team members. Perusi has been living with her children in a one-bedroom apartment. On a recent Sunday night, Alexis invited people to pray for Perusi’s housing needs. Within a week, a nonprofit housing organization provided a two-bedroom apartment with all new furnishings at no cost to Perusi and her children for as long as she needs it. Perusi was so overwhelmed when she arrived at her new home that she could only kneel beside the new bed and say, “This can’t be mine!”  In church the following Sunday, she was dancing joyfully before the Lord. The prayers of the people were not a waste of time.

These prayers were not a waste of time. Prayer is an investment of time.

 

To contact Pastor Alexis Ruhumuriza, please email:  aruhumuriza@belpres.org