November Newsletter, 2013 Rick McPherson
He looked to be in his mid-sixties. But then it’s hard to tell with Native Americans. The years are hard and they take their toll on the reservations of our land. His hair was greying almost white and pulled back in a traditional pony-tail with plain rubber bands holding everything in place. He wore a baseball cap and his designer sunglasses were partially hidden by the bill. As he walked across the road towards the trailer and the grocery load, I noticed his oversized blue denim work shirt, blue jeans and leather boots. He smiled broadly and greeted Babe, our contact on the Yakama Reservation at White Swan, a small and remote village, west of Toppenish in central Washington State.
“Who’s he?” I asked.
“Uncle Milan,” Babe said.
He turned to me and stuck out his hand. We shook.
“Thank you for the groceries…and God bless you for helping our people,” said Uncle Milan.
I was a little taken back because of his gratitude and his articulate blessing from God. That’s not always the case when you work with Native Americans. The culture is much more reserved and less likely to express appreciation. And, his specific wording and blessing was very rare, indeed. I was impressed.
The trailer was full of groceries and household supplies from a local store specializing in pillows, blankets, comforters, towels and small appliances. There was enough food to feed over a thousand people and provisions to make the cold winter nights in the Columbia Basin much more comfortable. It was a good load.
After several hours and lots of hard work the trailer was empty and swept. It was time to fire up the Freightliner for the four hour drive home.
“Before you go, would you say a prayer for us,” asked Babe.
I looked around the crowd at the back of the trailer and saw Uncle Milan.
“Yes, please say a prayer,” he said.
As I took off my hat and reached out my hands a prayer circle formed with men and women from the community who had worked, laughed, teased and sweat together. Before I prayed, I looked around the circle and they all had bowed their heads and closed their eyes in respect. They were contrite. Humbled. Thankful.
I was privileged.
At the end of my prayer I heard many say, “Amen!” To my surprise they lined up to say, “Thanks for the prayer … and the groceries.” Uncle Milan was the last one to shake my hand and say, “God bless you.”
It’s at times like this that I’m reminded of the Jesus style. Real time. Real people. Real world. Real needs. Real love. Real ministry.
Driving home I dropped the shifter into the tenth gear of the Eaton-Fuller tranny and set the cruise control. As I thought about the day, I was reminded about our goal of working hand-in-hand with Native Americans and helping them physically and spiritually. I thought about the people who pray for this ministry and those who give money to pay the expenses to do this work. I thought about the prayer circle at the back of the truck. I thought about Uncle Milan, said another prayer and drove on into the night.
October Newsletter, 2013 Rick McPherson
It’s only fair to admit that we all have favorite television shows. From the title of this newsletter, borrowed from songwriter, Randy Newman, one of mine is “Monk,” featuring Adrian Monk, a brilliant Sherlock Holmes-type detective with many compulsions and phobias, played by Tony Shalhoub.
At the beginning of each episode, Mr. Monk touches parking meters, steps over sidewalk cracks and pours boiling water over his tooth-brush. While doing so, Randy Newman sings:
“It’s a jungle out there,
Disorder and confusion everywhere,
No one seems to care,
Well, I do...
It’s a jungle out there…”
With those thoughts in mind, let me agree with Randy. It is a jungle out there! Disorder and confusion abound. No one seems to care is the overwhelming truth that visits us regularly. At a time when people are clamoring for a little common sense, common sense has disappeared. If you’re not careful, you could get discouraged, or worse.
Others have had similar thoughts. One older church leader said to his friend,
“…in the last days there will come times of trouble. People will love themselves and money...they will speak against God…children will not obey their parents…people will not be thankful and will not be holy…they will tell lies about others…they will be wild and want to beat and hurt those who are good…they will love fun instead of loving God…” II Timothy 3:1-5 NLV
Those words written a long time ago are no different than the commentary of today. Disorder? Confusion? Apathy? Yes, it is a jungle out there. But, it’s always been a jungle because the human condition is exactly the same.
Now, we can either bemoan the circumstances or we can do something. We can care, as Mr. Newman suggests. In my mind that is the single most important thing. Caring. The truth rattles around in our brains as the old melody line from a quirky TV show reminds us of a profound theological truth…
“No one seems to care,
Well, I do…”
In our work at Pacific NW Outreach helping Native Americans both physically and spiritually we see the disorder, confusion and apathy. The reservations we visit are often, “a jungle out there.” It would be easy to be overwhelmed and give up. But we won’t do that, because we care. And, you care. Otherwise you wouldn't be reading this newsletter.
Let me remind you today that Native Americans who are regularly helped by this ministry are eternally thankful for what you do. They may never have the opportunity in this life to look you in the eyes and say, “thank you”…but Heaven knows and they know. You care.
September Newsletter, 2013 Rick McPherson
Its been my practice for many years to pray before every truck trip. Whether alone or not, before leaving the yard, we pray. Recently I sat alone in the dark and bowed my head to ask the Lord to send a couple of big Guardian Angels to watch over me as I drove and delivered another load of supplies; salvage groceries, household, boots and Bibles to the Quinault Tribe, north of Aberdeen Washington on the Pacific Coast. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth I was a little surprised. Guardian Angels? Big ones, at that…and two of them, if available, please!
My log book was complete, the truck check was finished and I was ready to roll. But, coming over to pick up the truck and trailer I had heard that there was a wreck on I-84 and traffic was delayed. I decided to take another route and made my way to I-205 by way of surface streets. It changed my schedule by five minutes.
After a quick stop at Exit 72 for a small coffee, breakfast biscuit with sausage, egg and cheese, “ I was north bound and down, loaded up and truckin’”. As I approached my turn at Hwy 12 west to Aberdeen, I saw the lights of two State Troopers’ patrol cars on the shoulder. I slowed, put on my four-way flashers, changed lanes and drove past them. When I looked to my right I saw a terrible sight. A semi- truck, pulling double aluminum tankers was upside down and crashed into the trees. My thoughts immediately went to the driver and I said a prayer for him. I wasn’t sure that anyone could survive such a terrible wreck.
What happened? Driver fatigue? Health issues? Erratic driver? No one knows.
What I do know is that if I had not been delayed by five minutes leaving town, I would have been right there when the accident happened. Guardian Angels, big ones and two, please. Maybe the Lord reserves the Big Ones for trucks and trailers that have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 80,000 pounds or more. The Little Guardian Angels take care of SUVs and mini-vans and bicycles and an occasional skate-board.
After delivering the load to Quinault and having prayer with Chuck Coble and the gang at the church, I came home the same way. Five and half hours later I passed the accident site and the truck was still in the trees. You can imagine the traffic on I-5! It was a grid-lock for miles. To make matters worse, a street sweeper that had been dispatched to the scene for clean-up also ended up, upside down in the ditch! You can only imagine what the truckers were saying on their CB radios.
Thinking my day was almost over I continued south, bound for home. To my surprise I read on the DOT reader board that I-84 was closed in both directions at Biggs, Oregon. What? It’s August and they closed the Interstate? Why?
When I got back to the yard and backed the trailer in and parked it for the day, John Makin met me and said, “Did you hear about what happened at Biggs?”
“Tell me,” I said.
“State Trooper pulled a guy over for a routine traffic stop and the guy shot the cop. The cop returned fire and the guy jumped back in his car and drove away. They found him, dead, about a half mile away, slumped over the steering wheel. There were three children in the back seat, “ he reported.
When I got home that evening I reflected on the events of the day. In the midst of truck accidents and gun fire, our truck and trailer and driver had been protected. Another ministry load had been delivered to needy Native Americans.
Did the two big Guardian Angels do their job? I think so. Does prayer make a difference? I know so.
August Newsletter, 2013, Rick McPherson
It’s been a couple of years since we've been to Crow Fair. It’s the largest Native American gathering in the continental United States and occurs every August in Crow Agency, Montana, the site of Custer’s Last Stand and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Although the temptation is there to market the location and fill it with tourist attractions and cheap motels, it remains mostly unchanged. It is dry, hot and covered by The Big Sky that makes Montana famous.
The Crow Nation are famous for quarter-horses. They breed them, show them and race them. No horse in the world is faster in the quarter mile distance. To say that it’s impressive when you see them racing eight abreast down the front straight-away at full speed is an understatement. It is awesome! It takes your breath away. And many years ago the Crow decided to gather for a huge celebration of their culture and passion for horses. Since then, Crow Fair, which means “horses running in a circle”, has provided the Crow Nation an opportunity for families to meet and celebrate their culture. Often referred to as, “The Tipi Capital of the World,” the week-end is spectacular in every regard.
Our invitation to participate in the event, from local Pastor Ken Pretty-On-Top, who has lead the same congregation in Crow Agency for over twenty years, comes as an honor. We will have an opportunity of ministering to about twelve thousand Crow who will attend the week-end event. That’s a lot of Native Americans.
The plan is to load one of our 48’ trailers with groceries, household supplies, boots and Bibles and hook it to our Freightliner diesel truck for the two day drive into Montana. From Portland we drive to Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and then over the 4th of July and Look Out Pass summits into Missoula on I-90 east. The second day is through the state and into Crow Agency by late afternoon.
By doing this work we fulfill our motto, “working hand-in-hand with Native Americans, both physically and spiritually.” The impact of tons of groceries that are given free of charge to needy people is overwhelming. Giving blankets, pillows, comforters and linens is like the cherry on top of the sundae. And, boots? Well, they’re only second to the food in popularity and extremely practical and highly valued. The giving of these items is the physical representation of God’s heart of compassion and love. Most importantly it is a building block, a stepping stone for us as we build relationships of trust and confidence. But wait, there’s more!
The “main thing” as so many of you know, who read my newsletters regularly, is the salvation story. It is the Good News of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.
It is the truth that “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This message and reality is why we do this ministry. This is, “it!”
I have told this Truth in parking lots, on the street, in the coffee shop, on the dock, in the trailer, on Sunday morning and Tuesday afternoon. Any place, any time, anyone…it’s the fulfillment of the Message. And, the completion of our motto, “…both physically and spiritually.”
So, think of us and pray for us during this beautiful Summer month of August. Pray during Crow Fair, the third week-end of the month. And, if you see the Big Rig on I-90 give me a wave and I’ll blast the air horn for you!
That’s a 10-4, good buddy…catch you on the flip-flop!