June 2022 Rick McPherson
To my knowledge he wasn’t a mule skinner, but he was a cowboy, a real one. We had seen the ads for trail rides in the Animas River valley near Durango, Colorado. Being a pretend cowboy my whole life, I’ve always been ready for a horseback ride. This one featured a cookout with steaks and baked potatoes, iced lemonade and a cobbler of some sort to finish. Before long I was talking to the old wrangler who asked if I would rather ride a mule than a horse.
“They ride a little different, smoother gait,” he explained.
“And, they’re a lot smarter than a horse. Truth is, a mule saved my life, right here in this valley. And, I know this place like the back of my hand. I was born and raised here,” he continued.
“What happened?” I asked, eyes wide- open.
“Snow storm. Blizzard. White out. Couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Totally lost. Freezing,” he explained, squinting and serious.
“So, I laid the reins on the neck of that old mule and he walked us to the barn and saved my life. Been partial to mules ever since.”
The cowboy’s story piqued my interest in mules. First, I learned, they are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. They combine characteristics of both horse and donkey parents to create a tougher, more resilient working animal. They are hardier, eat less, live longer and have more stamina than horses. They are smart and cautious and aware of danger, making them safer to ride when crossing dangerous terrain. And, finally, the skin of a mule is less sensitive than that of horses and more resistant to sun and rain. It’s no wonder that a good mule team costs thousands of dollars. Worth every penny, I imagine.
Okay, that’s all well and good. But what does any of this have to do with Pacific Northwest Outreach, and helping Native Americans? Good question.
We have a “mule” in our ministry. And true to its name, it’s a hard worker.
Our mule, is a 1993 Ford, E350. The old girl has a 12’ stake box, V8 engine, automatic transmission, dual rear tires and a one ton chassis. She’s lived a long life and is held together with bailing wire and bubble gum. She doesn’t complain, but it’s obvious, the end is near. She has been tremendous, helping with this ministry, travelling thousands of miles and carrying tons of groceries and supplies. Our local ministry depends on her constantly.
Now, I know, things are crazy these days. Inflation is soaring. Gas and diesel prices are obscene. Our economy is volatile. Current events are worrisome. Supply chain shortages are affecting everyone. Is this the time to be asking for “extra” giving to replace an old, worn-out truck? Well, yes!
None of us can do everything. But, all of us can do something. Will you do something? That’s all I’m asking. If we all do something, together, we can replace the old mule and keep on, keeping on.
This ministry exists and continues, because of the faithfulness and generosity of people like you. People who love God. People who love people. People who love ministry. People who love Native Americans! So, if we all do something “extra” this month, we can reach our goal and purchase a new, used mule for this ministry. Your gift will be very much appreciated. Thank you! God bless you!
In the meantime, think I’ll head down to the corral, saddle a mule and hit the trail.