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“COOTCH”

April Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

As soon as we passed Hood River, in the Columbia River Gorge, the clouds cleared, the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly on the water.  I was thinking of the contrast from the winter months when the weather had been so brutal and had closed the access to the Celilo Indian Village.   Now, spring had arrived.  I rolled down my window on the Peterbilt and inhaled the fresh clean air.  I pulled off the Interstate and headed for the Village. 

We had a good group turn out to help unload the truck.  One of the Natives climbed inside, stuck out his hand and said, “My name is Jim Bill.  But, you can call me, Cootch.  That’s my Indian name.  My grandfather gave me that name.”

“Nice to meet you, Cootch.  Thanks for the help.”  I replied. 

We worked hard and emptied the truck.  Karen and Fred Whitford, descendants of the Chief, were thrilled with the load of groceries, clothes, pet food and household supplies.  Karen led the prayer time and said, “My tears are tears of happiness, God.  Thank you for blessing my people!” 

I came back to thank Cootch for his help and asked him about his name and its meaning because I had never met a Cootch before.  It means, “I will greet you in a good way and make sure you have a place to sit,” he said.  Again, he told me that his grandfather had named him.  I was impressed and asked about the phrase, “…a place to sit…”  I knew that sitting was an honor in the Native culture.  The Elders sit.  You sit in a talking circle.  You respect people and abide the obligations of civility and good manners.  Having a place to sit is an honor.  So, you greet people in a good way and honor them, were the meaning of his name.  I was even more impressed.  Pretty smart grandfather, right?

As we were leaving I heard a banging on the driver’s door and looked down to see Cootch.  He had a banana box full of groceries under one arm and held his other clinched hand up to me.  In his hand was a knife.  He nodded and said, “For you.”

I took it and said nothing.  I was speechless.  The knife, a lock-blade hunter, was engraved with a beautiful Bull Elk.  It was a gift, from Cootch.  I finally stammered, “Thank you, but I can’t…”

“For you,” Cootch, repeated.

I knew to refuse the gift would be an insult.

The knife, pictured here, will always remind me of him.  It will remind me to greet people in a good way and honor them with civility and good manners.  It will remind me of a smart grandfather who taught many people a life lesson simply by giving his grandson a name with meaning.    What a reminder!

*****

Many, if not most, who read this newsletter will never see an Indian Reservation. 

You will never know a Cootch.  You will not experience what I do.  But, you are a part of this ministry and a vital ingredient to enable us to reach and serve the Native American culture with the message of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.  So, thank you for your generous support, prayers and love!

***

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Newsletter

How Cold Was It?

March Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

It was just flat cold, brutal, numbing, and frigid.  It was the kind of cold that makes your teeth hurt.  It stings your eyes and your bones ache. It was   cold, cold.  It was the kind of cold that when you go in from the cold, you’re still cold.  Your ears hurt.  Your skin is raw.  Your toes and fingers have left your body for somewhere else.  You can’t think.  You can’t talk.  You can’t breathe. 

Now, I grew up in Canada and remember some pretty nasty cold weather as a boy.  In those days we still measured temperature in Fahrenheit degrees and it was often in the teens and twenties below zero,  for days.  People would leave their vehicles idling for hours rather than shut them off and not be able to restart them.  Parking lots at the malls, schools and churches often had electrical plug-ins to keep the engine blocks warm.  One of my dark memories was leaving a ‘66 Volkswagen in the college parking lot during a “cold snap” and trying to start it after several nights of sub-zero temperatures.  You can only imagine the sound that little four cylinder, horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine made when I turned the key!

Here in the Pacific Northwest we had some real challenges this winter.  The east wind that blows through the Columbia River Gorge can reach speeds up to 75 mph at vistas like Crown Point and the snow fall can be measured in feet.   I-84 was closed recently because of snow and freezing rain and some motorists and truckers were stranded for eighteen hours.  Many had little food, water or fuel.  None had bathrooms.  In another incident one young man was stranded in his vehicle and lost for five days.   He survived by eating taco sauce.   

Now, the grip of winter is loosening.  Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend.  The tulips, daffodils and crocus are pushing through the cold, wet soil to announce the new season.  The sun and blue sky are the main topics of conversations.   Dispositions and moods are improving daily.  Before long, people will be complaining about the heat!   

The new season   is a welcome relief for us at Pacific NW Outreach because it means that our ministry to Native Americans can proceed, unhindered by the weather.  Our outreach plans include truckloads of groceries, boots, household supplies, clothing, Bibles and literature being delivered to the Nez Perce, Quinault and Yakama tribes on reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Each truckload is the result of generous people like you who enable this ministry by giving financially and generously.  Diesel fuel is still $2.99 per gallon.  The big engines are thirsty and when you say, “fill-er-up,” it’s expensive.  One hundred and fifty gallons of diesel fuel is a chunk of change!

Our greatest mission is the Great Commission, “…go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”

Matthew 28:19, 20

So, that’s what we’ll do.  We’ll, “go!”  It doesn’t say anything about a balmy 72 degrees, it just says, “go.”  Your gifts help us do exactly that…and for that we are very grateful.  We’re also grateful for polar fleece and goose down! 

*****

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Life Comes At You, Fast!

February Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

We really weren’t expecting to hear, what we heard. 

“Go home, pack some things and head over to the hospital… get  checked in… we’re doing surgery in the morning…” is what the doctor said. 

It was the Friday before New Year’s Day and we never imagined that we would be singing, Auld Lang Syne,  in 403- B, to bring in 2019.  Nonetheless the podiatrist said it was necessary to do the surgery immediately and showed us the X-ray and the migration of the infection in the bone in my wife’s foot to prove it. 

“Bacteria doesn’t take holidays,” he said.  “We can’t wait.  The infection could spread to her blood stream and threaten her life.” 

Two young (!) orthopedic surgeons arrived early the next morning and performed the surgery and removed not only the infected portion of bone but also the soft tissue surrounding it.  The procedure required the amputation of her small toe. 

“We couldn’t be happier with the results,” the lead surgeon said.  “On a scale of one to ten, it’s a ten!  She’ll be off her feet for four to six weeks and should make a full recovery.”    Okay! 

The first days of the New Year had certainly hit us hard and fast.  We had every intention of soldiering on and getting through a rough patch.  Little did we know what lay ahead.   First we had a non-compliance issue with a state agency that had to be resolved, then a serious legal matter with a property dispute.   For nineteen consecutive days my work schedule began before daylight and ended late at night.  When my head hit the pillow, I could only recite a verse from my childhood that was written on a plaque and hung in my parent’s bedroom, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3.   Nothing fancy, but it got me through.    I also remembered an old Texas cowboy who told me, “You’re goin’ make it.  You won’t look like much, but you’re goin’ make it!”

As the calendar turned over and the new month arrived, I was glad (read ecstatic) to say good-bye to January.  Then, our daughter called, bright and early, telling us that she had fallen in the night and broken her ankle.  Now that the swelling has subsided we’ve learned that surgery is needed, including a steel plate, pins and screws.  And, she’ll be off her feet for three months. 

Did I mention that life comes at you, fast?

You see, no one is exempt from trouble.  It arrives.  Ready or not, your life can be turned upside down and inside out, in a heartbeat.   With that in mind, consider the following truths, taken from the Book of Job, The MacArthur Study Bible.

  1. There are matters going on in heaven with God that believers know    nothing about; yet they affect their lives.
  2. Even the best effort at explaining the issues of life can be useless.
  3. God’s people do suffer.  Bad things happen all the time to good people, so you cannot judge a person’s spirituality by his painful experiences or successes.
  4. Even though God seems far away, perseverance in faith is a most noble virtue since God is good and one can safely leave his life in His hands.
  5. The believer in the midst of suffering should not abandon God, but draw near to Him, so out of the fellowship can come the comfort—without the explanation.
  6. Suffering may be intense, but it will ultimately end for the righteous and God will bless abundantly.

*****

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Newsletter

Is It About Giving or Getting?

January Newsletter, 2019  Rick McPherson

“So, what ‘cha get for Christmas?” asked the nosey neighbor kid. 

“Ah…stuff…ya’ know…underwear and a dorky shirt and a gift card from a friend in Florida,” was the answer.

Across the land, the gifts, the wrappings, the music, the parties, the shopping, the trips and the headaches have all come and gone.  All that’s left are the memories and maybe some fruitcake.   Why is there always one piece of fruitcake left on the platter?  Maybe it’s the seed for next year’s offering.  Nonetheless, Christmas and all that it means, is over for another year.  Or is it?

I’ve been thinking about that question, “What did you get for Christmas?”  I have yet to hear anyone ask, “What did you give for Christmas?”  Is it about giving or getting?   Does anyone keep score?  Is there a big tally board in the sky, somewhere?  Is it a good, better or best Christmas if you get more than you give?  Does anyone really love to give anymore?  Like, you can’t wait for the person to open their gift that you’re giving because you’re so excited you can’t stand it?  Does that ever happen?  Does giving trump getting?  Depends.  Depends, on your heart.  One wise man said, “Guard your heart, out of it come the issues of life.”

The tradition of giving at Christmas is not original with Charles Dickens.  The act of giving is love that desires to express itself in a tangible and physical way.  “Here, this is for you!  I was thinking of you and wanted to get this for you.  I love you!  I hope you like it.”  It’s all about “you” not “me.” 

What caused the three wise men from the East to bring gifts to the baby Jesus on that first Christmas program, I mean night?  They wanted to give something of value because of Who He was.  Gold, frankincense and myrrh seemed appropriate for a King.  We’ve been giving gifts ever since.  But, when you think of it, they were simply mimicking what the King’s Father had already done. “He loved someone (us) so much that He gave His only Son to us.  He promised that anyone who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”  All because He loved us and gave His gift to us.  The greatest gift, ever!  The greatest love the world has ever known was an action, not an emotion. 

When I think about last week’s trip to the Quinault Reservation with toys and gifts for Native American children at Christmas, I’m reminded of how good it feels to give and how good it feels to love.  Loving is giving, right?  You can give without loving but you can’t love without giving.  Thanks to people like you and others who gave through the Les Schwab Tire Centers and TV12 Toy Drive, many Native children had a very merry Christmas!  You can see the big smile on my face and my newest helper, Ted E. Baer, as we packed the truck for the trip. “We” agree that giving is what Christmas is really all about!  And you friend are a big part of our giving!  Thank you!

*****

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Newsletter

IT IS THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

December Newsletter, 2018  Rick McPherson

Even though there’s been a push to reduce this wonderful season of the year by encouraging people to say, “Happy Holidays!” I have steadfastly resisted and deliberately said, “Merry Christmas!” to everyone, everywhere, every time.  It is the most wonderful time of the year!

On the other side of this page are the pictures of people who serve this ministry throughout the year.  Our Board members and staff are great people.  And all of us want to say, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”   May your Christmas celebration be filled with blessing and joy.

The Christmas season is all about giving and you have demonstrated that, not only now, but throughout the entire year.  Native Americans have been helped physically and spiritually, because of your special gifts.  Thank you and may God bless you for your generosity and love.  Be reminded that Heaven has recorded every gift.  If that’s not enough…you can receive a copy of your giving for 2018 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 2018 credit, year-end giving must be postmarked, no later than December 31. 

*****

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“We Haven’t Even Gotten to Dessert!“

November Newsletter, 2018  Rick McPherson

There are some newsletters that are favorites of mine.  You guessed it, this is one of them.  It doesn’t take much for me to get in the Thanksgiving mood, because I love this season of the year.  I love the weather, the time-change, warm sweaters and the food.  I especially love the food!  Just the thought of Thanksgiving dinner, makes my mouth water. Garlic mashed potatoes, green bean salad, jellied and fresh cooked cranberries, buttery yeast dinner rolls, roast turkey with stuffing and gravy are some of my favorites.  And, we haven’t even gotten to dessert! 

I made the mistake recently of suggesting that we might eliminate the work and preparation of the Thanksgiving dinner and just go to a nice restaurant instead.    No, was the booming one word answer that came down from my family!  No way!  I made a mental note to never again suggest such a thing.

Thanksgiving is about family and traditions and, well, thanksgiving!  It’s about giving thanks.  It’s the time of year when we focus on expressing our gratitude to God, family and one another.  You would think that we would do that all the time, but sometimes we forget.   Sometimes we’re like the child who has just received a gift and our parent says, “What do you say?” 

Therefore, here’s what I want to say…THANK YOU!  On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and volunteers, I would like to give thanks to you for your ongoing support of this ministry helping Native Americans, spiritually and physically.  Throughout the year as truckloads of groceries, clothes, boots, household supplies, Bibles, toys and candy are delivered to reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond, people like you have prayed and given financial gifts to enable us.  Many have heard the Good News message of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness because you cared.    Simply put, this ministry could not do this vital work without your help.  So, thank you, dear friends!  Your prayers and gifts have made a big difference.  Although you may never see the Native American child or adult who has been the recipient of your gift, Heaven has recorded your kindness and generosity. 

“…I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…”

Ephesians 1:16

*****

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Newsletter

Start With Why

October Newsletter, 2018  Rick McPherson

Recently I was introduced to Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why.”   He tells how leaders inspire others to take action, stating, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”  Companies like Harley-Davidson, Apple and Southwest Airlines have discovered this truth and they have followers who identify with them on a personal level and who are loyal through thick and thin.  It’s not so much about the what  or the how, it’s about the why.  Start with why.  The why must be clear and precise.  When you describe the how, you’re telling the values and principles of why you do what you do.  These are disciplines.  When people see and hear what you say and do they will discover the what of what you are doing. 

So, I thought about it. I realized I talk more about how and what than why.  Yet, why is the main thing.  Why are we doing this ministry? Why?

There are three answers.  The first is found in a directive that Jesus Himself gave to His disciples…”But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me… to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:8 

The second is an experience  that the founder of this ministry had in a horse corral in British Columbia.  Overwhelmed by the dire need of Natives he cried out to God asking, “Why don’t You doing something?”  His answer was, “Why don’t you?”

The third is my personal encounter on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho.  After speaking to the Tribe in the city park I watched the distribution of grocery boxes from the back of an 18 wheeler.  I asked if I could help and while doing so sensed the Lord impress on my heart, “This is what I want you to do.”  The what and how became my why.  That why was 12 years ago and continues to this day.  Start with why. 

Many who read this newsletter every month are interested in our what and how.    But more important is the why.  The why causes prayer.  The why causes giving. The why causes loyalty.  The why explains that we are taking the message of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness to a people group, a culture that is often forgotten and ignored, Native Americans.   They deserve to hear that Jesus is the Savior of the world …that He is God’s Son and whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.  How’s that for why?  Let’s start with why.

*****

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

When our driver, Brad, backed in to the loading dock, the brake pedal went to the floor.  Alarmed, he jumped out of the cab and saw smoke billowing from the rear dual tires.  After extinguishing the fire he called me.  He was safe and no one was injured but the rear brakes were another story!  After a 50 ton wrecker delivered it to the repair shop I got the brutal news that the repairs would be $2,300.00, which included the tow! 

On the positive side, all this happened in town and not last week coming home from Hermiston on I-84.   Nevertheless,  the estimate took my breath away.  The shop is willing to work with us and take three payments, but it’s still a shock.

In the past, certain people have asked to please let them know when we have a special and unexpected financial need.  Well, this is one of those times.  Thank you in advance if you’re able to help us with an extra financial gift this month.  And, God bless you!

*****

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Newsletter

“School Days”

September Newsletter, 2018  Rick McPherson

After all these years, I still remember my first day, at Lambton-Kingsway Public School, Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada.  It was special to me because my parents allowed me to ride my bike.  Although a kindergarten student, their thinking was that my older sister (third grade) would protect me.  This assignment lasted until we turned the first corner and from then on, I was on my own. Granted, it was a different world in 1953 than now, but I shudder to think of any child aged five, riding their bike to school.  Busy streets?  No problem! 

Now, children are ready with new clothes, shoes, backpacks, haircuts and any number of electronic devices to face the school year.  It’s a rite of passage as vacation fades and assignments, homework and test schedules replace the dog days of summer.   And of course, every student must be prepared for recess and lunch. 

Although each mom reading this is praying a, “Oh thank you, God!”  that school has started again let me remind you that it doesn’t last long.  One day your children will be graduating and you’ll find yourself parked in your SUV near the school yard, drinking a small, drip coffee and watching strangers deposit their kids in the same spot you did.  And, it will happen in the blink of an eye.  So, enjoy the moment!

The Labor Day schedule always affects us here at Pacific NW Outreach.  The heat of summer is replaced by crisp morning air, diminished daylight hours and leaves in lovely shades of yellow, orange and red.  It really is a beautiful season of the year.  But for some in the Native culture, it is anything but beautiful.  The blessings that we count for our own children are not transferred to every school across the country. 

In a recent television interview I heard a well-known celebrity talk about Rose Bud and Pine Ridge as two of the poorest areas.  These are reservations in South Dakota that we have served for many years.    She has transferred her words into actions and contributed financial gifts to help.  Yet many children still do not have school supplies, clothes and food to succeed.  Unemployment is a staggering 80%.  To say the need is great is an understatement. 

We are committed to helping Native Americans and their children both physically and spiritually.  When we deliver a truck load it is always free.  Groceries, boots, household items and yes, school supplies and toys are provided because of people like you who help us financially and prayerfully.  It would be impossible to do this work without your help!  God bless you and thank you!

So, what motivates us to keep doing this ministry?  Well, there is a story about Jesus and His disciples.  He was talking to them about hunger, thirst, sickness, clothing and jail.  He said that when you help people who are suffering like this; you are in essence doing it to Him.  The disciples were shocked.

 “When did that happen?” they asked. 

Jesus said, “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”   St. Matthew 25:31-40

*****

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Newsletter

REMEMBER TAHOLAH?

August Newsletter, 2018  Rick McPherson

I was on vacation and happened to check my phone.  The text was from Stan Lien.  “Long time, no see…” is how the message began. 

He went on to write that he and Michelle had relocated to Hoquiam and wanted to minister again to the Quinault Nation in Taholah.  Would we be able to help?

Taholah is a small village on the Pacific Coast, in Grays Harbor County, Washington, north of Aberdeen.  It is so remote that Hwy. 190 literally ends there.  The sign says, “No improved road past this point.”  Named after a Chief in 1905, it is now the headquarters for the Quinault Indian Nation.  The population of 840 people is 93% Native American.  There are 240 households and 45% of them have children less than 18 years of age.  Sadly, the community has 35% who live below the poverty level. 

Not only are the social and economic realities severe, the spiritual and emotional challenges are daunting as well.  The message of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness needs to be told.  Someone needs to tell it.  Someone needs to go. 

 “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: 

       ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”

Romans 14:14, 15;  Isaiah 52:7

Since Stan is a longtime friend, I know his heart and love for Native Americans.  I know he’s the “someone” who will “tell it.”  He’s the “someone” who will go.  And we’ll help him.  That’s what he asked for and that’s what we’ll do.  We’ll help.

Pacific NW Outreach has been helping for a long time.  People like you who read this Newsletter every month and help us with prayers and finances are the reason we are able to do, what we do.  You’re the team.  You’re the family.  You’re the people.  The Nez Perce would say, “Niimiipuu”…One Great Nation. 

On behalf of the Taholah Natives who will receive help….THANK YOU!  May God bless you for your prayers and your gifts.  Although you may never visit this small village, your gifts will make a difference and you’ll REMEMBER TAHOLAH!

*****