A Walking Paradox
Dealing with the contradictions and challenges of faith, disbelief, and living and dying
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I would first of all like to thank each of you for
your devotion in prayer, personal support and
financial giving which allowed me to lead the Cal-Pac
Conference Young Adult team to Lake Charles,
Louisiana. We took six members on the team, including
Nick Gallegly (president of the Conference Council on
Young Adults), Billy Stempson (Maintenance Manager at
Camp Lazy W), Simau Tuiali’i (from Maywood UMC), Beth
Rhodes (from Santa Clarita UMC), Becki Maldonado (from
Palmdale UMC), and David Camphouse (from Del Rosa UMC)
who served as the project leader.
We did some amazing work, even before we left. Becki
was able to arrange a large amount of materials and
goods for the quilting ministry of Oak Park UMC (where
we were housed). Billy was able to coordinate a large
supply of tools, which made the work much easier.
Especially useful was the screw gun, which we used to
screw down new flooring in one of our projects. Beth
Rhodes and David Camphouse were able to round up a few
tools to help round out some of our supplies, which
Becki then drove cross-country and met us on site at
Oak Park UMC in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Simau and Nick were tireless workers throughout the
week, while Billy provided a knowledge base that made
the work much more manageable. Beth and Becki were
fantastic to pitch in wherever they were needed and
were always on the lookout for where they might lend a
hand. David did a lot of driving to Lowe’s and back,
and spent a lot of time on the phone coordinating
people and locations.
We owe a particular thanks to Elaine Amerson,
Conference Director of Leadership, who was able to
help us deliver a check for $1000 over and above our
project costs to the UMCOR office in Southwest
Louisiana. Those dollars will go directly into the
community for families who have needs that fall
outside the jurisdiction of FEMA or other agencies.
Elaine also helped to keep us on task, as did Ryan
Warner, from Palmdale, who helped get the trip off the
ground, and was unable to go with us due to a deadline
What I want to stress to people is just how easy it is
to lend a hand. Currently there is a need for
volunteers, health kits (Contents include: Health Kit
Items: Value: $12 per kit; 1 hand towel (15" x 25" up
to 17" x 27", No kitchen towels); 1 washcloth; 1 comb
(large and sturdy, not pocket-sized); 1 nail file or
fingernail clippers (no emery boards or toenail
clippers); 1 bath-size bar of soap (3 oz. and up); 1
toothbrush (single brushes only in original wrapper,
No child-size brushes); 1 large tube of toothpaste
(expiration date must be 6 months or longer in advance
of the date of shipment to UMCOR Sager Brown); 6
adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages; Important Kit
Assembly Information: All items included in kits must
be NEW items. All emergency kits are carefully planned
to make them usable in the greatest number of
situations. Since strict rules often govern product
entry into international countries, it is important
that kits contain only the requested items—nothing
more. Do NOT include any personal notes, money or
additional materials in the kits. These things must be
painstakingly removed and will delay the shipment.),
and rebuilding dollars. If you are able to contribute
any of these, here are some numbers and people you may
want to know about:
Send Health Kits To: UMCOR Sager Brown Depot;
P.O Box 850 131 Sager Brown Road; Baldwin , LA
Louisiana Storm Relief Center:
Southwest Louisiana Storm Station
3501 Patrick Street
Lake Charles, La 70605
(337) 480-9911 (337) 480-9944 fax
Brandi L. Russell, Director
ALABAMA-WEST FLORIDA CONFERENCE DISASTER RESPONSE:
• Web: http://www.awfumc.org/page.asp?PKValue=158
• Toll-free Information: 866.340.1956
• Sign-up a volunteer team online:
• Team leader packets:
FLORIDA CONFERENCE STORM RECOVERY CENTER:
• To schedule teams: http://www.flumc.org/, click on
"Forms and surveys", then on "Disaster Response"
• Fill out and fax in the "Team Application" as
• Toll-free: (800) 282-8011, Ext. 149
• Fax: 863-688-7233
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MISSISSIPPI STORM RECOVERY CENTER:
http://www.mississippi-umc.org/ - Click on "Hurricane
• Toll-free: 1-866/435-7091, 7092 or 7093.
• The fax number is 601/486-4248.
• Email: email@example.com
• Team leader packets are available at
• Teams are needed now to work on 21 UM parsonages on
MS Gulf Coast damaged by Katrina in the Seashore
District of the MS Conference.
TEXAS CONFERENCE/UMCOR Disaster Relief Call Center
• Contact 409-225-3136 to sign up a team.
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (Insurance):
Cal-Pac Coordinator: Rev. Sara L. Armstrong
California-Pacific Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
110 S. Euclid Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Additionally, I think that each of us who went on the
trip is committed to making another trip either with
our local congregations, a group of friends or some
other means. The devastation is breathtaking and
heartbreaking, but the people in Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama and Texas are amazingly
appreciative and hospitable. I hope to share more
stories and pictures in the days ahead.
Grace and Peace,
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Devotional for today
I had a date a couple years back where the girl was really cool and I wanted to get to know her better. I had a house where I lived with several roommates and we all did different entertaining at the house from time to time. I like to cook, especially when it is for more than just me. Plus I thought I might be able to impress this girl along the way. She is the type that I wanted to talk to a little bit more than usual and she also likes to cook, so we worked it out such that she would come over and fix dinner together.
We made rolls and some pasta roni type stuff. I also prepared a cheesecake before she got there. I figured this would be the thing to do. She brought a salad and we considered it a fair trade. We made everything well and it tasted excellent.
Dinner went well with good conversation and I got dessert out and cut pieces for each of us. She was still eating some of her salad so I started in on my dessert. Boy am I thankful that I was the first one to take a bite of that cheesecake. I had used salt instead of sugar in the crust. The cheesecake part was fine and we ate that. But boy was the crust bitter.
Because we didn’t all have the same ingredients among everybody in the house, I grabbed someone else’s container of salt. I thought it was sugar and failed to taste it before I put it in the recipe. Oh well, she and I laughed about the incident and are still talking.
Salt is an important ingredient and Jesus shares a message of Salt with us in Matthew. I give you two sayings about salt and a conclusion that I drew from these two sayings. How does your life reflect the message of salt that finds its way into everything (including cheesecake).
Old Chinese proverb: Tale everything with a grain of salt.
Matt 5:13-16: We as Christians are the salt of the earth.
Therefore: we as Christians should be taken with everything