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!