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ALMOST

May Newsletter  2020 Rick McPherson

 From an early age, kids learn the vocabulary of riding in the family car.   If it’s not about eating or stopping for a potty break, inevitably the question is asked, “Are we almost there?”  It seems the trip will never end and the destination will never be reached.  Parents are exasperated, frustrated and irritated.  The kids are just impossible.  Everyone wants the trip to be over.  Please!

The whole experience hinges on the word, “almost.”  Almost, as in, “not quite, very nearly, or, just about.”  It’s like telling people, “I’m almost thirteen.”  Or, “I was so scared, I almost panicked!” 

Thinking about it, life is filled with, “almost.”  The choices we make, the games we play, the food we eat, the activities we do are all affected by, “almost.”   The Psalmist said, “They almost destroyed me on earth.”   Almost!  In the midst of that “almost,” he also said, “But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.  Revive me according to Your lovingkindness.”  (119:87-88)   He changed from the unknown to the known, from the uncertain to the certain, from the unsure to the sure. 

We are currently in an, “almost.”  Medical experts and government officials are saying the pandemic is almost over.  We’re almost ready to open the country.    As exasperated and impossible as this experience has been, it’s almost over.   We’re almost there.   Or, are we?

As much as we would all like things to be normal again, they aren’t.  We’re almost there, but not quite.  In the meantime, the ministry of Pacific NW Outreach, Inc. has been affected, but we are still here and deemed essential because we are helping Native Americans with food.  During the pandemic, grocery stores have remained open, farmers have been farming, truckers have been trucking and we have too.  Currently we are planning two new trips with food, household supplies and clothes.  The weather is warm, the roads are clear and we’re ready.  And, I want you to know this is only possible because of people like you.  People who care.  People who pray.  People who give.  You have made all the difference with your involvement in this ministry.  Quite frankly, we could not do this without your help.  Every time you chip in with a financial donation you are affirming what we do.  On behalf of Native American children and families, THANK YOU and God bless you!  

*****

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Newsletter

UNPRECEDENTED!

April Newsletter, 2020  Rick McPherson

 “Well, we’ve never done it before, but let’s give it a shot,” I heard myself say to the Chairman of the PNWO Board of Directors.

“With the stay at home order and social distancing, it’s the best way to meet,” he said. 

“I’ll set up the phone conference for Tuesday at 11 am,” he continued.

“Be sure and prepare a devotional for the group,” he concluded. 

Okay!  And what does one prepare as a devotional in the midst of an unprecedented, global pandemic that has negatively affected every aspect of our normal, day-to-day life?  Maybe something out of Psalms, right? 

After forty-nine years of ministry and a lifetime exposed to ministers, pastors, evangelists, missionaries and church life, I figured I had, “been there, done that!”  Next?  To my shock the “next” happened to be, well, unprecedented.  Nothing like this has happened before.  At least, not in my lifetime, it hasn’t.  So, what do you say?  How do you answer the six journalistic questions?  Who, what, where, when, why and how, take on monumental importance.   Unfortunately they are unanswerable.  Even the experts are scratching their heads. 

However, there is truth that transcends the unprecedented.  An old Texas cowboy told me one time, “Ain’t no surprise to God!”  What is unknown to us and catches us off-guard is within His capacity as the Omniscient.  He is all-knowing and has given us provisions in the midst of everything that life throws at us.  Read these words from Isaiah 43:1; “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.   When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched…Do not fear, for I am with you.” 

There are over 80 times in the Bible that God says, “fear not!”  God is very clear.   He does not want us to fear or worry.  And, when you read the various narratives when God said, “Do not fear,” the people were facing incredible, may I say, unprecedented circumstances.  They needed to hear it then; we need to hear it now!  Don’t be afraid! 

“His oath, His covenant, His blood,

Support me in the whelming flood,

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.  On Christ the solid rock I stand.”

*****

A week ago, Karen Whitford from Celilo Indian Village, called and asked for food.  “Please, help us,” she said. 

My hesitation was that the pantry was empty.   How could we help?  How could we give what we didn’t have?  “God, please help us, help them!” was my prayer.    The picture you are seeing is the result of that prayer and God’s answer.  A pallet of insulated boots, one pallet of lettuce, one  pallet of chips and fifty-one boxes of fresh food…vegetables,  fruit, bread, chicken, beef, fish…even Tulips and Orchids! 

In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, God was still supplying groceries and delivering His loving kindness to needy people.  The state agencies are allowing our work as a non-profit providing essential service to Native Americans during the stay-at-home directives.   Thanks to people like you who help us financially, even during uncertain and challenging times, our ministry continues.    God bless you and thank you! 

Wash your hands.  Stay home.  Be safe.  Be well.  Be blessed.

*****

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Newsletter

Native American Home Etiquette

March Newsletter, 2020  Rick McPherson

The table was filled with smoked salmon, elk, berries, roots and mushrooms.  I sampled the salmon and it melted in my mouth like candy.  The Native hosts insisted that I eat more.  “Please, eat…take more food,” they said. 

I was attending a funeral in the park at Lapwai, Idaho, on the Nez Perce reservation.  The culture was a fascinating study and I was impressed with the protocol of how the Tribe conducted this special event.  The thought occurred to me that this unique experience was a privilege that not many white men would enjoy.  I was intrigued and wanted to learn more.  In my studies I discovered an article from Jamie Oxendine regarding the etiquette and manners that are evident in Native American life.  As I read I couldn’t help but see the significance of what we do at Pacific NW Outreach when we deliver food, clothing and supplies and how it impacts Natives in a big way.  Let me explain.

Native Americans from coast to coast were cordial and kind to guests in their homes.  Here are some general habits that were common among many Tribes.

THE ETERNAL COOKING MEAL

It was common to have a large container of food on or near the lodge fire.  This container was usually a very large calabash (gourd) or bowl kept simmering via hot stones and full of some kind of meat or fish stew with vegetables.   For many there was no set meal time.  Whenever one was hungry they dipped in the container and had something to eat.  Guests were always fed.  The normal greeting was not, “Hello,” it was always, “Have you eaten?”

BEING POLITE IN THE LODGE

From the Longhouses and Wigwams, to Igloos and Tipis there was a certain accommodating protocol of life in the home of all Native Americans.  For example:

HOST OBLIGATIONS

  1. Assume guests are tired, cold, hungry and thirsty.
  2. At no time worry guests with troubles of the host.
  3. Never sit while Elders stand.
  4. Compliment guests.
  5. Give thanks to The Creator for company and food.
  6. Help Elders with entering or leaving the lodge
  7. Protect guests as members of the family.

GUEST OBLIGATIONS

  1. Accept any food offered.
  2. *Be grateful for any and all offers from the host.
  3. Bestow respect to the Woman of the lodge as she is the keeper of the flame.
  4. Compliment the host.
  5. Give thanks to The Creator for hospitality.
  6. Never worry host with guest troubles.
  7. Present the host with a gift. 

Reading through just some of these is a reminder of the civility and benevolence that characterized the home life of our Native American brothers and sisters.  Perhaps we would do well to pause and reflect on some of these practices and restore them to our own “lodges.” 

****

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Newsletter

Marmota Monax

February Newsletter, 2020  Rick McPherson

After my morning coffee I walked outside and noticed some daffodils had popped through the soil.  Wait a minute, I thought, this is February.  Last weekend, Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog revealed that warmer days are apparently ahead and declared, “Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.” I don’t know about you but when a groundhog is predicting the weather, I certainly want to pay attention! Whether I’m ready or not, the time change is only four weeks away and I may not need that snow shovel, again.

But before we say good-bye to winter I want to take a minute and think back to Christmas.  It was last month that we sent a newsletter with pictures of our trips to the Quinault and Yakama reservations.  I must tell you that in the last fourteen years of doing this work and making these trips, these are the best truckloads ever.  At both locations there were real tears of joy when our Native friends saw the quality of mixed groceries, insulated, water-proof boots, bicycles and gifts from the Les Schwab, TV12, toy drive and hand-made knit hats.  I’m not talking about a polite, “Thank you, this is great.”  I’m talking about quivering lips and genuine tears.   Real emotion, you know? 

Why rehearse what happened a few weeks ago?  Well, you need to know the results of your gifts and financial help you’ve provided to do this ministry.  I can’t fit all of you into the Peterbilt and drive you to the reservation, but I can tell you that what you’ve done and the compassion and kindness you’ve shown, has made a big difference in the lives of people, most of whom you will never know in this life.  These are Native Americans who have now experienced God’s love and provision because of you and this ministry that you support.  Remember, people don’t care how much you know, but they know how much you care when you demonstrate your love in practical and tangible ways.  Long ago I learned that you can’t talk to a person about the condition of their heart, if their stomach is empty and they’re shivering from the cold.  We have learned at Pacific NW Outreach that the door swings wide open when spiritual truth follows physical assistance.  People of every culture respond to love, it’s undeniable. 

So…THANK YOU AGAIN!  Your generous gifts each month reflect your compassion and kindness for Native Americans.  Although they are often forgotten, they represent a culture of people that God loves dearly and we are committed to helping and serving.  You’re a part of that…and what you do is greatly appreciated!

Tomorrow morning when you’re drinking your coffee, take a walk outside, look for daffodils…and check for groundhogs!

*****

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Newsletter

Christmas Toys!

January Newsletter, 2020  Rick McPherson

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Newsletter

Drawing To An End

December Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

Although the year, and even this decade, will soon be drawing to an end, our ministry will not be thanks to your support!

On the other side of this page are the pictures of people who serve this ministry throughout the year and the past decade. Our Board members and staff want to say, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” May your Christmas celebration be filled with blessing and joy. Those in need have already received food and clothing for the holiday season with more to come mid-December. Native
children will be receiving toys and other goodies this Christmas thanks to the blessings from folks like you and of course, God above!

Be reminded that Heaven has recorded every gift. If that’s not enough…you can receive a copy of your giving for 2019 by contacting Charlote, who will gladly issue a receipt.

charlote@pacificnwoutreach.org
503-492-0904

Because we are a 501 (c) (3) charitable, non-profit corporation, your giving is tax deductible. For 2019 credit, year-end giving must be postmarked, no later than December 31.

*****

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Video

Quinault Reservation Trip November 2019

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Newsletter

ABOUT HIDATSA AND RED-BREASTED MERGANSER

November Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

Recently I was standing in line at the Gresham Post Office waiting to buy two rolls of stamps.  The lady in front of me was friendly and finally asked, “What kind of work do you do?”

“I direct a non-profit.”

“Really, what kind of non-profit?” she inquired.

“Well, we help Native Americans, in spiritual and physical ways,” I responded. 

In a few minutes she told me how she and her husband, an artist, had a deep interest in North American Native culture and would like to know more about our ministry.  A day later they were in the office and asked how they could help.  They offered to give an original painting that he had done and donate the profits to the ministry.  Additionally, he said he had hand-carved duck decoys and would donate one as well. 

The painting you see (approximately 16”20”) is by Harold J. Trost and features a member of the Hidatsa tribe.  This tribe is one of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.  They are often considered a parent tribe to the modern Crow in Montana.  The Knife River area was home to the Hidatsa and some of the first villages date back to the 13th century. 

The duck decoy is a hand-carved Red-Breasted Merganser and is a copy of an antique decoy from the 1920’s.

The painting is still available.  We will auction to the highest bidder at the end of the year.  If you are interested in either or both, please contact our office and give us your bid.  It will make a handsome addition to your collection of Native American artwork.  

*****

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Newsletter

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS!

October Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

In last month’s newsletter I reminded you that, “Christmas is only a few months away!”  I know there’s frost on the pumpkins, the days are getting shorter, school is in full-swing and before you know it, the shopping days will be upon us.  It’s not too early to look at our Christmas outreach schedule to Native Americans on specific reservations in the Pacific Northwest.  This year we have selected the Quinault Reservation, about 75 miles north of Aberdeen, WA, on the Pacific Coast and The Celilo Indian Village, Yakama Reservation on the Columbia River east of The Dalles, OR.  Both Reservations are in great need. 

A number of years ago, I began asking Natives and Tribal Leaders on various reservations the simple question, “What’s the greatest need you have?”  The answer was always the same “Bring us food!”  Through the years our drivers have driven thousands of miles and delivered thousands of boxes of food.  Thousands of people have been fed because people like you cared enough to donate a dollar to help us do this ministry.  It is, in my thinking, a fulfillment of St. Matthew’s Gospel (25:35), when Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me food.”  The narrative goes on to say that the righteous questioned Him regarding the time and place that it happened.  His reply was distinct.  “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

With this directive we will load the big red Peterbilt and head for the reservations.  Each load will include pallets of groceries and boots, which interestingly, are the second item asked for the most.  I know you can’t eat them, but when you deliver several pallets of water-proof, insulated boots your stock goes way up with Native Americans!  They’re so popular that I’ve had phone calls from around the country requesting them! 

Now, I have a question for you.  “What will Christmas look like for you?”

It will be different for those on reservations.  We can make a difference and help in a big way by working together.  No one can do everything but everyone can do something. 

Let me remind you that your heart of compassion and care for Native Americans and the delivery of food and boots, establishes a relationship that expresses God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.  I learned a long time ago that you can’t talk to a person about their heart if their stomach is empty and their kids are sick.  When we talk about helping Natives both physically and spiritually, we mean it.  Both are necessary. 

Here’s how you can help:

  1. The old-fashioned way.  Write a check, put it in the reply envelope and mail it. 
  2. The modern way.  Use the secure  PayPal link on our website:

www.pacificnwoutreach.org/donations

  1. The other modern way.  Call the PNWO Office:  503 492 0904 and Charlote or Scott will run your credit or debit card.  (Both Charlote and Scott are also secure!)
  2. The new way. Designate Pacific Northwest Outreach, Inc.  as your  “Charity of Choice”  when using Amazon for ANY shopping:  amazon.com
  3. The best way: PRAY!

So, there you have it.  Our Christmas ministry plans are in place and I hope you can be a part of them.   Maybe you’re humming along with Johnny Mathis and the tune is “hooked” in your head…perhaps as a reminder!  After all, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

*****

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Newsletter

The Main Thing

September Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

Don’t you hate it when you’re distracted?  You get started on a project and the phone rings.  Your computer says you have mail.     There’s a knock at the door.  The microwave alarm goes off and the children flop at the kitchen table and announce they’re bored.  Distractions can be a pain.  “Oh, look, there’s a squirrel!”

It’s no great revelation to say that distractions are a part of life.  Seems that the busier you are, the more distractions come your way.  So, you have to manage them and focus on what’s important and what’s not.  No easy task, right?

All of us get caught up with the less important things in life and forget about the most important, or what I call the main things.  I heard myself say one time, “It’s important to keep the main thing, the main thing!”  Easier said than done because the main things often get shoved aside or buried … by too many distractions. 

Looking at our ministry and mission focus here at Pacific NW Outreach, Inc., it is so easy to let the distractions clutter our focus and cause us to lose sight of the main thing.  Our main thing is helping and serving Native Americans both physically and spiritually.  It is telling the Salvation story, helping hurting people and building strong marriages and families.  It is feeding, clothing, visiting, caring, going, praying and serving.  It’s simple.  It’s profound.  It’s the main thing. 

It takes effort to keep the main thing, the main thing.  The distractions are often disguised and steal your time, energy and resource.  Like the old woodsman who learned the principle of keeping his axe sharp, there are times when you have to step back, assess what you’re doing, check your blade and work smarter … without too many distractions. 

Having said that, we want to take our own medicine and keep the main thing, the main thing.  The Quinault, Yakama and Nez Perce Reservations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho are still in great need.  We want to continue helping them, as you do.  The loads of groceries, clothing, boots, household supplies and Bibles are still vitally important and need to be delivered.  And, as I write, I’m reminded that Christmas is only a few months away and once again we’ll deliver toys and gifts to the Natives and their families on these Northwest Reservations.   Thanks to you!

Even though Labor Day is behind us, school is again in session, the days are shorter and the weather is changing; let’s not let these distractions keep us from fulfilling our mission.  Believe me, I know it takes effort to stay focused, but it’s worth it.  It’s the main thing!

*****