March Newsletter, 2014 Rick McPherson
Every time we take a trip, deliver groceries, do an outreach, preach a sermon or give a speech, we record it in our Ministry Log at Pacific NW Outreach. By the end of the year our three ring note book is bulging. I then take each report and tally the results for our Board of Directors’ Annual Meeting. I admit there are a lot of statistics, but when you see the results I think you’ll agree that 2013 was a very busy and productive year of ministry, helping Native Americans.
For example, we distributed over 16,800 family food boxes. A family food box is a cardboard banana box that you’ve seen many times at the grocery store. Did you ever wonder what they do with the boxes when the bananas are gone? Well, we get as many as we can and use them to pack groceries for needy families. Did you know that you can pack enough groceries in a banana box to feed two people for a week? So, double the number of boxes and you see that we helped feed over 33,600 people last year. That’s a lot of groceries! And it includes other necessities, like boots, clothes, household supplies and anything else that we can fit on the truck for delivery to the reservations.
To put this in perspective, let’s talk about value. Specifically, let’s talk dollars. How much money are we talking about? If you value a food box at just $25.00, (and that’s a conservative number if you’ve been grocery shopping recently) you get, $420,000.00, and if you double that value to $50.00 a box you get, $840.000.00. As I said, that’s a lot of groceries! And remember, everything was given free of charge.
Additionally we had over 265 people involved in our outreaches, travelled over 13,000 miles and attended or spoke at, an even dozen Pow Wows, churches and civic groups.
But, I’ve saved the best for last. You know that our mission statement is to help Native Americans, physically and spiritually. We look for every opportunity with our ministry partners to tell the story of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.
And when I get reports like this I just have to share them with you:
"We have seen close to 100 professions of faith and about 20 baptized this past year. It is a blessing to have you as a vital part of our ministry. May the Lord bless your work."
That report comes from a local pastor who receives surplus bread from our ministry after we have served local Native Americans groups in the greater Portland/Vancouver area.
Again, we give God the glory for His blessing and favor. This is His work and we are privileged to be a part. From the Quinault reservation in western Washington State, to the Crow Nation in Crow Agency, Montana we have crisscrossed the country and because of people like you who have prayed for us and supported us financially we have made a difference. Thank you.
So the next time you’re in the store, pay close attention to those banana boxes. Think of 16,800 of them stacked up and filled with groceries. You’re right, that’s a lot of groceries!
January Newsletter, 2014 Rick McPherson
When I saw the new bike and wagon I couldn’t wait to load the truck and get them delivered to the Reservation before Christmas. This year we were one of the charitable non-profits selected by Les Schwab Tire Centers and KGW TV 12 to receive toys and gifts for children. I knew that I had just enough time to make one last trip before the Holiday. With half the truck loaded with groceries and household supplies we packed all the toys and filled every space with action figures, puzzles, games, dolls and of course the bike and wagon.
When I exited the Interstate past The Dalles, Oregon, I made the turn back to the Celilo Indian Village on the Columbia River. The Yakama Tribe have lived on these banks for generations and fished for Sturgeon and Salmon. But on this particular afternoon the streets of the little village were empty and the Gorge wind was biting and cold.
Karen and Fred Whitford, our friends and contacts on the Reservation greeted me and were more than excited with the full truck load. Several times as we emptied the truck, Karen came over and put her head on my shoulder. She didn’t say a word but her gesture spoke volumes.
Several days before, Lana, one of the ladies from the village had stopped by our office in Gresham and visited with us. When she saw the truck she came over to help with the work and soon the groceries, household supplies of blankets, pillows, comforters and towels were safely off the truck and stacked neatly in the carport. The toys were handled like gold. They were taken in the house to be sorted and then distributed to the children on the reservation.
I asked Lana about her Christmas plans. She explained to me that her family was gone and no one was planning to be with her. She hoped her grandson would stay but was not sure that he would. She went on to say that one of the family had been murdered and her relatives were scattered. In a brief moment of time I was reminded again of the violence, family abuse and hopelessness that characterize reservation life.
I spoke to Lana of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness. She told me that she was a Believer and Christ was in her heart. I encouraged her to take groceries, supplies and toys for her grandson and family and reminded her that I would be praying for her.
As I dropped the big Detroit diesel into gear and headed down the street for the highway, Lana came down her driveway and stopped me . She had two coffee mugs, one for Charlote, my wife, and one for me. On the mugs are pictures of the original Celilo Falls with Natives, precariously perched on boards and logs by the rapids, fishing. I held more than two coffee mugs in my hands, I held her heart.
Now the New Year has arrived and we are fully engaged with our mission, helping Native Americans both physically and spiritually. There are so many “Lanas…so many Karens…so many Freds” who need our help.
Will you help us by praying for us? Will you help us financially?
Your gifts make all the difference in the world. Thank you and God bless you!
December Newsletter, 2013 Rick McPherson
This casual picture was taken at the end of our recent Christmas dinner for the staff and Board of Directors of Pacific NW Outreach, Inc. It was one of those, “Hey, everyone line up over here for a picture,” moments. The results convey a lot of joy and love. We have so much to be thankful for at this Season of the year. The past year has been filled with ministry, hard work and results. We all join together to say, “To God be the glory, great things He has done!” And to celebrate!
So, let’s celebrate with full voice that it’s Jesus’ birthday! Tune up the orchestra, line up the choir. Gather your family and friends. Bake the cookies, wrap the gifts, decorate the tree, hang the lights, put a log on the fire, read the story of Jesus’ birth. Enjoy!
And, as we put a bow on 2013, let me say, “Thank you!” So many of you have helped us financially through this year. We could not do this ministry, helping Native Americans, both physically and spiritually, without people like you.
Many thanks and God bless you!
Finally, from our hearts and homes to yours...have a Merry Christmas and a blessed and happy New Year! May 2014 be your friend!
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.