Wednesday, November 30, 2011

See what we're doing together!



Pastor Sam and the 8 orphans who live with Sam and his family.
Time to give you some new pictures so you can see our orphan children in India and the folks caring for them. 

Please note that Indians believe having your picture taken is an important happening and they are taught not to smile so as not to look silly in pictures for posterity.  However, we have managed to capture a few with smiles.
There is no school in the village where our tsunami orphans live, so we provide a teacher and the school meets in Pastor Sam's church.
Pastor Sam and his family care for the tsunami orphans in their village near the coast of the Bay of Bengal.  


Satish, Age 6, 2nd class (grade)

Joseph, age 7, 3rd class
Satish, Joseph and Venkatesh live in the Agape Home we built adjoining Pastor Daniel's home in Vijayawada. 
Venkatesh, 7th class

Kwandama "mom"
Kwandama, one of the church members, cares for these children as a "mom" to them.  Pastor Daniel and his wife Esther are around to oversee and help as needed.  Esther, God bless her, does all the cooking for the children as well as her own family and some church children that they have taken in to feed and educate.


 
We believe that love and nurturing in a family environment are important!

Raja

Babi
Education is foundational as is the love and care of a whole church community where they live. 

Several of our children have graduated already and have gone on to college or even graduated college.

Two of our orphans in Vijayawada, Raja and Babi,  are currently receiving partial support from us as they work their way through college on India's equivalent of work-study. 


Most of the original 54 tsunami orphans newly found.
We initially began caring for orphans after the tsunami hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh in December of 2004.  We started with 54 children.  Thankfully, Pastor Sam and his family were able to find relatives for many of the children and the numbers dwindled little by little as the children have grown up.  Several have gone on to another Christian ministry that has a highschool for the village children. Now we are caring for eight of those original children and 3 additional children in Vijayawada along with supporting three pastor's children. 


We are supporting these three pastor's children so that they may attend Christian school.  All state schools in India are Hindu and teach the Hindu religion intertwined with everything they do.
Grace, age 9, 6th class
Most pastors in India have a very difficult time supporting their familes because most Christians are very poor and are treated as even lower than the lowest of castes among the Hindus.  It is difficult for them to get good jobs in a Hindu society unless they have education. 

Jessi, age 4, Kindergarden



We are happy to be able to help these children receive an education in a school where Christ is honored.  They are also learning English which will help them in the future.  Grace and Jessi will both be going into full
Santhi, age 5, first class
time ministry following their parents into ministry.  Santhi plans to go to college and get a good job to help support the family and the ministry.



Thanks to all of you who are supporting financially and in prayer.  These children are blessed because of Jesus and YOU.

If you're new to Full Circle and want to know how to help the orphans just send me a note at directorfcmi@sbcglobal.net or call 608-577-fcmi (6432) and ask for Sherry.

Monday, December 27, 2010

UNDER CONSTRUCTION......change for 2011!

As we begin a brand new season, i find my thoughts traveling in wonder. So often, our vision is limited to the scenery and circumstance that is right in front of us. We get caught up; swept away in the day-to-day of our busy America. As 2011 inches near, it is common for us to press on toward change. What can we do differently? How can we love more? What can we do without? and the list goes on....yet somehow.....these intentions often slip by as quickly as the days on our desktop calendars.

 FCMI, like a quaint farmhouse full of history and charm, has weathered time and tales. In the process of reconstruction, FCMI is currently facing structural transformation, tearing down a few walls, shifting foundations in leadership, planning for the new, and making way for those who will come join in the gathering!


 When the Amish co-labour together for barn raising time, each person has their role to play. Please accept this invitation to join with FCMI in prayer. We are looking for intercessors who will seek the Lord for blueprints to build  His kingdom to the ends of the earth. Will you pray with us for the children; God's tiny treasures, hidden beneath the dust? Will you pray for those who have served so faithfully? And for the laborers that God is sending in? Pray that we would follow the leading of God's compass, moved by His Holy Spirit.

We welcome your encouragement, your vision, your prayers! May your hearts be ignited with a flaming passion for our Lord.  Blessings as you enter the gates with praise!

Shine on!
Michelle L. Trehey

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Waking from a long winter's sleep

Dearest friends, it is beginning to feel like spring is coming, at least in my life. I see some signs, at least some days, that God is beginning to bring a bit of strength and the desire to break out from these 2 years of hibernation. I am perhaps the caterpillar who is beginning to eat it's way out of the cocoon and I will not know what I shall be until I am free of it and have spent a day in the sun.

I still do not have strength for those long overseas trips (as in 48 hours to Vja, India) but I am sensing the Lord's inspiration and moving in little ways blessing the small things I am doing now. I have learned to crochet with the Holy Spirit's leading with very individual differences in each winter cap He has inspired for over 50 friends and family. I have yet more hats to make, but I'm not sure if the cold weather will last long enough for each of my dear friends to appreciate wearing them this winter.

I am feeling deeply drawn to express thoughts, memories, things I've learned, things on my heart both in art and writing. My health is not consistent, so my times of doing these things are also not consistent. Some days fixing dinner is my accomplishment for the day, a few days not even that, but then comes a day that I am energized to paint and out comes a wild canary amongs the flowers.


Each week I look forward to a free writing class at our local library on how to write your memoirs. Just having fun learning to put down bits and pieces of my experiences and share them in a way that others can enjoy as well. Perhaps I'll share a few with you sometime soon.

My great thanks to all of you who have prayed for me, encouraged me, come and helped me, taken me out for coffee or just plain put up with me in my grouchy moods.

Special thanks to Laura Jacobson who has carried on the daily work of Full Circle Ministries Intl. staying on top of the needs of the orphans, overcoming flash flood damage to the orphan's home with Pastor Sam near the Bay of Bengal, sometimes stressing over whether we would have enough to feed and keep them (so that I didn't have to), handling the paperwork and bookkeeping and banking and all with added responsibilities in her own family. By her labors, God's work through FCMI continues. The picture here is Laura with our youngest orphan.

I look out the window and see snow blowing from todays fresh snowstorm. The days of outreach ministry in the cold on State Street seem very far away at the moment, almost as far away as those trips to India where the Lord opened up a whole new world to me. I'm learning to trust and rest, rather than to fight my limitations. But I wonder where the fire in my heart for the lost and "the least of these" can continue to burn. The embers seem to be dying. It is hard to fan the flames when I can not walk in the heat of them. There has grown a wall thicker by the week between me and hurting souls for whom I have wept and worked. It separates me from the pain of their situations. Too hard to feel it and do nothing.

I do not know where God will lead or whether Full Circle will continue (with or without me). Perhaps we will continue but with some different local outreaches including art with the homeless, or perhaps something less strenuous than keeping a Day Center for the homeless, perhaps coffee shop outreaches as my health permits, perhaps some writing. I also feel a tug on my heart to encourage Christians to become more involved in caring for creation.

I do believe God has begun a good work that He will continue. The orphans and poor children in India will not be deserted. I so miss my dear friends and family in Christ there. It is my hope and prayer that God enables me to return, but I do not claim to know His plans at this time.

I have very good news to report concerning Roger and Richard who were the foundational volunteers for our Day Center at Monroe St. and then at God's House on Jennifer St. Roger completed his program at Mt. Zion House in 2007 and has remained alcohol free. He supports himself doing handyman work and has a small apartment on State Street where he reaches out to help his neighbors find the Lord. He recently had throat surgery which went well and showed no signs of cancer. He has also quit smoking and is learning to speak again as his voice recovers from the surgery. We just recently celebrated his birthday and thanked the Lord again for Roger and the blessing he is in our lives.

Richard has been staying up north on his home lands caring for his two aging parents, keeping bears out of their yard and filling the freezer with venison and fish. Please keep him in prayer as the lung infection he caught working in the south has flaired up again and is getting progressively worse. He has been such a blessing in the church on the reservation there and is sparking some revival among the Christians up at Lac du Flambeau. In addition, the Lord has given him inspiration to create beautiful hand carved peace pipes, one of which he has designated for sale to support the orphans in India.

We look forward to seeing what God has ahead for us and what He will enable to do as we work together across denominational lines to accomplish the things on God's heart. Please be listening to Him and have courage to step out to do whatever He sets before you. Pray that we will do the same.

I hope to write more soon to update you on our orphans and preschools and whatever else God gives.

My love to you all,
Sherry

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Roger is on his way!!


Roger made the transition last Wednesday to Mt. Zion House, a Christian drug and alcohol treatment center for men, in Lake Geneva, WI. We had good weather for the drive over and a warm welcome from Pastor John LaGalbo who leads that ministry.

Roger made the decision to take the time he needed to get himself well and break free of the pull from alcohol and cigarettes. This is no easy feat quitting both at once. Please keep him in your prayers.

He would love to hear from you and words of encouragement and your prayers and just daily news and life would be good boosters for him as he goes through this process, especially this first month when he cannot have visitors or make phone calls.

His address is:
Roger Jorgensen
c/o Mt. Zion House
2330 Hwy. 120
Lake Geneva, WI 53147

He'll be involved in a wonderful program that includes daily Bible Study and prayer times, group classes and meals and work around the Campus and church complex. After the first month he'll also begin working a job in the community. The program is a 26 week commitment.

If you'd like to see pictures of the place (It's beautiful) and look at the daily schedule and program info just go to: www.mtzionhouse.org

After the first month we can visit on a Sunday afternoon, so maybe several of you will want to carpool with me for a visit then.

We're missing Roger here but we're with him all the way as he's getting ready for this next level of ministry and spiritual warfare that is ahead for Full Circle Ministries Intl.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

What's happening at Full Circle now?

Dear friends, family and prayer warriors:

Full Circle truly needs your prayers now in this time of transition. It is a time of two transitions for Full Circle, our location and our leadership. One is dealing with the question of where we'll be located, the second is dealing with my passing on the baton to those who have been truly doing God's work at Full Circle.

Our landlord has ordered that we be out of our current location by the end of August. We have not yet located a new home for Full Circle. Richard has had some discussion with Ruth, who owns The Mission. She is elderly and her health is bad. She will not be able to continue to run The Mission. Perhaps, if it is God's will, this old white church on North Street, will become our new location.

It is also possible, but only with God, that we'll be enabled to stay at God's House by our landlord having a change of heart. It is losing money for him, which he says is his motivation for selling the building out from under us. We know this is not the full picture.

We have put in over $20,000 worth of capital improvements and labor in fixing this old church (More than I could have imagined or hoped for). It was not usable when we moved in. We had to work on the place for two months before we could even consider opening. So it is a little hard to just leave.

Finding another location of at least 1,500 square feet for $400 or less a month that is in walking distance of Peace Park on State Street in Madison is not easy. We know it will have to be a God thing for us to have a new home for Full Circle. Either God will help us to locate a new space that fits in our current budget ($400/mo. or less) or He'll provide increased funding for the $3,000-$16,000 needed to rent a commercially zoned space (C2 or C4). Please pray with us for clarity in seeing God's plan and in doing all things in His timing. We need a place to continue pouring out God's love into the lives of the lost, the unwanted, the homeless, the unlovely that He has been bringing to us at God's House. So many lives have been changed and many are coming "full circle" and now reaching out with God's love to others.

The second transition comes because God is calling me to take a two year sabbatical from leading the work at Full Circle. I'll be stepping back to be obedient to God in taking the time and self discipline needed to take care of myself (so I can continue on in this race) and so that I can do the writing and visual arts (painting, drawing , sculpture) He has been calling me to do for nearly two years now. I have not been able to do these things while leading Full Circle.

God is calling the rest of the crew to carry on the work of loving the poor, the lost, the unwanted, the orphan and widow.....
They have done their jobs so well that He is giving them more responsibility.
The reward for a job well done in the Kingdom is more work, harder work, stepping up to the next level.

I'm not quitting, I'm just fighting on a different battlefield until that "land" is taken. Please pray especially for my dear team mates who will be carrying on without me.

We also need practical help during this time. Help packing and moving, financial help for the costs of moving, new rent and deposits, extra gas in the van, much prayer support so the enemy is not able to discourage us from going forward.

We also need your financial help and prayers for completing the work in India. I've been so amazed as God has provided over $20,000 for the first Agape Family home (orphans and widows). We only need about $4,300 to finish it off and completely furnish it! Our recent India team: Alissa, Curtis, Jordan, Emily and Emma, have all returned safely and with many stories of God's work in them and through them during their time in India.

This photo is the most recent one I have of our first Agape Family home almost completed. Here you can only see half of the first floor entryway and the balcony for the second floor and the stairway in progress. I'm hoping for more photos soon. It doesn't look like much at this stage. As you can see, their construction methods are quite different from ours here in America.

The parapet around the church roof making the playground for the children is also completed. All of the major work on the house is done. It still needs some cement work on the roof and painting, plumbing and electrical fixtures etc.

Please pray that God will provide just the right Christian widow who would love to give her life serving the Lord as a mother for 5-7 of these tsunami orphans.


Pastor Sam is willing to keep 6 of the children himself if we can find sponsors for them. That is as many as he can possibly fit in his home. The children staying with him and his wife seemed happy and healthy, except for the one girl with a hole in her heart. She will need surgery.

Pastor RajaShekkar and Ratna would like to take in the brother and sister. They also would need financial help to care for the children. They have no children of their own, so I believe this would be a blessing both ways.

If you would like to sponsor one of our 15 orphans who lost all of their relatives in the tsunami please email or give me a call at 608-577-3264. Or perhaps God has given you a heart for the widows and you'd like to help sponsor a widow who will give her life caring for the children.

We are also moving forward with plans for helping to clean up the wells of India. Dave C. is going to receive training in producing the probiotic that will clean the wells so that we can produce it in India. We are all excited about the potential for the people of India receiving this blessing from the Lord in His name. We are also hopeful that this will become a means of supporting more orphans and widows. What a blessing that God has given us Dave C. who believes God is calling him to give his life to this work for at least the next few years.

It has been such a joy being a part of this work God is doing at Full Circle. It will be a time of transition for me as well. I am very much looking forward to time to paint and write. I am not looking forward to the self discipline needed for getting in shape and losing weight, but I am looking forward to having more energy that should come from these disciplines. I also need to be getting more restful sleep and have doctor's appointments that need to be made and kept. Please keep me in your prayers that I won't become isolated. The writing, the painting and seeking the Lord simply for Himself (not for ministry needs) are usually solitary works for me. Having others around in the process is distracting. I also am hopeful that somehow this will be a season of having more time for friends and family. I'm not sure if this is God's plan or just my desire.

You can continue to reach us at the office phone 608-251-0555 at least through the end of the month (maybe longer?). Please pray for Richard and Roger, John Howe, Curtis and Laura, Doug and Julie, and the others who will be taking on more work to give me the freedom to obey in stepping aside for this time. If you have any good leads on a place please help us out by doing a bit of follow up to see if they would be willing to house a ministry to the homeless in a way that would fit our budget before calling us.

Lots of love to you all,
Sherry

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Team arrives Safely in India

Just received word today that our team, Curtis, Emily, Jordan and Emma, arrived safely in India and had a dry highway (no rain, no flooding) to Vijayawada where they joined Alissa who has already been there for a couple of weeks.

Pastor Daniel said they all are happy and doing well and have drawn up a tentative itinerary of all the fun things they'll do while they're there.

Please continue to pray for minimal rains while they are there, enough to keep the temperatures down, but not enough to cause flooding of roads and homes. Pray for their health. They're looking forward to a Youth Conference among other things and good traveling roads will be needed for all the youth to come together.

7-5-07 Update on the local front

City zoning officials rescinded their ultimatim of last week and have issued a new order, presumably because we are able to provide them with our corporate paperwork and because we are a church as well as a ministry.

NOW they have ordered that we: "Discontinue use of the property located at 1103 Jenifer Street in a manner which is inconsistent with the permitted or conditional uses listed in the city of Madison Zoning Code for the R4A zoning district, including but not limited to, providing a homeless drop-in shelter, providing counseling services, and providing job location and referral services."

It is an integral part of our Christian beliefs and of who we are to love and serve the poor and oppressed. The government, whether federal, state or local, does not have the right to tell us that we cannot open our doors to the homeless or otherwise undesirable people in this city.

The R4A zoning does not specify the restriction of the above activities, it only states that we cannot be a "Mission House" which is an organization that provides lodging and or meals, as defined by the city.

We do not provide counseling services, but even if we did, the city has no right to limit a church from giving Christian counsel to those who come for Christian counsel.

We do allow the homeless and other local residents to come in, have coffee and fellowship with us, to share their lives and receive prayer, to use our phone, computer and internet connection to get a job. (Would they rather the people remain unemployed and on the streets?)

We located our ministry at God's House on the corner of Ingersol and Jenifer Streets not to bring undesirable people into the neighborhood, but because this is where this neighborhood was already full of these people needing help.

Neighbors have complained that the number of undesirable characters in the neighborhood has increased in the last two months. This is inversely proportional to the number of people we have been serving. We served many more in the months of January, February and March and the numbers of people coming to us now is far smaller. It would seem that the more people we have inside, the fewer problems the neighborhood has.

We are in the neighborhood to transform it into the kind of world our God intended us to have, a place full of peace and love and beauty. We are working to clean up unkempt parks and other areas. We are fixing up the building where we rent. We are here to improve the neighborhood through prayer and presence and God's love for all.

If you are glad we are here in the Marquette neighborhood to help bring improvements, please call or write
our alderperson: Marsha Rummel at 608-255-2728, email:
mrummel@sbcglobal.net
or Matt Tucker at City of Madison, Zoning Commission 608-266-4569

Please pray that the Lord will open the way for us to dialogue with neighbors who are fearful of the "undesirables" roaming our Marquette neighborhood, and that the city and neighborhood will stop hassling us and join us in making this city and their neighborhood a better place.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Finally - A Madison Update

June 25, 2007

Hi all,
No good excuses for why I haven't written for a while. Just seems hard to sit down and write lately. Maybe because so much is going on and so little seems settled.

The question of whether or not we will be able to remain at God's House is truly in God's hands. The city zoning office is pestering us, but we know who our real enemy is.

The latest is that we've received a notice from the city stating that we must "Provide information substantiating that the Full Circle Ministries International and the God's House church operations located at the facility at 1103 Jenifer Street are legally incorporated as churches OR Vacate the premises." We are incorporated, but as a Christian mission organization, not as a church.

We are an arm of the church, so it remains to be seen how this will turn out. As for their requiring us to be incorporated as a church, churches are not required to be incorporated, so I don't see how that can hold up. However, I suppose we would have to go to court to prove them wrong. !!???!!

They have requested we meet with them tomorrow afternoon, Monday, June 25, at 4:00 in the City County Building. The head of the Zoning commission, the local police, our Alderperson, our landlord and, hopefully, the Pastor of God's House will be able to join us. Please pray that he'll have the childcare he needs to free him to be there.

Also please pray that I'll be at peace and able to speak as the Lord wills. Pray that this will all be resolved according to God's plans.

In the meantime we have begun a new work in an area of ministry that has been growing in my heart: healing the land. Richard volunteered to bring crews of volunteers under his direction to weed, trim and clean up a few city parks that the city cannot afford to care for. These parks are in our new Marquette neighborhood, mostly at the ends of streets along the lakeshore. They have already removed over 20 bags of weeds and debris from 2 parks and made them welcoming places again. We'll continue this through the summer. If any of you locals want to join in just call Richard at the office, 608-251-0555.

FULL CIRCLE ARTS COMMUNITY

I've shared with some of you that for quite a while now the Lord has been pressing me to get back into drawing and painting and other forms of art work. He has recently filled in the picture a bit more and is leading us to form a Christian Arts Community in Madison.

We are currently looking for inexpensive studio space either in the Willie Street area near our offices or on the south side near my home and on a bus line. Either location would make it easier for me to take time to see what God would have me do in the Arts. I have three others who are definitely interested and we will form a beginning core.

Please pray especially for an affordable studio space that we can quickly occupy as Cathy, one of our very gifted artist friends needs space for teaching portrait drawing asap. If you have leads for us or are interested in this ministry yourself, please email or give me a call at 608-577-3264. We are praying that the Lord will provide some patrons who will help fund at least the beginnings of this ministry.

At times I struggle with depression (it seems to be the malady of those in ministry in Madison), so please keep me in your prayers. I know that I am not adequate to lead this ministry and am amazed that God just keeps it going and even growing.

Oh, yeah, a big thanks to a couple of Sandi's who have really blessed us. The Lord sent us a librarian named Sandi who is cataloging our Christian lending library and getting it all in order. Another Sandi, all the way in Georgia, is working on getting our website up and going again. If you check it now you'll see info from 3-4 years ago, but the basic format is there and we'll be learning how to enter in the updated information and photos.

Roger and Richard are fine and we have several other volunteers who jump in on occasion to answer phone, help our visitors, fix computer problems, or bring in just what we need right when we need it.

Roger had a tough start to the day on Wednesday when our internet connection went down. With several waiting to use the internet he was eager to get it up and going again. The power source to our router was fried and not replaceable. We needed new equipment and, praise God, it was given to us that very afternoon! God sent us an "angel" with the answer to our prayer.


The Tuesday outreach on State Street goes on and is bigger than ever. Sure glad to have Lynn back cooking her popular taco salad. Have you ever made taco salad for 100? God bless you Lynn! Amy and Kelly and Dave and the rest of the crew, it is a blessing to work alongside you!

Thank you all for praying for us. So many of you have mentioned that you have been faithful to keep praying even when you didn't know what was happening. It is often when I don't communicate that your prayers are most needed. I am blessed by knowing each one of you and by your willingness to pray for us.

Love from all of us at Full Circle,
Sherry

Youth on Fire set sparks in India and Israel


Curtis will be bringing Emily, Jordan and Emma into India. This is the first team that Curtis has led to India and a first for Full Circle, having a team go without me!! Yeah!! It is far too limiting if teams can go only when I can go.

I'm so pleased that the Lord moved Curtis to take a team this summer and I'm looking forward to wonderful reports of all God is doing through them. Please keep them all in your prayers.

We are so blessed to have such a great team of firey young Christians with a heart and the courage to go where God leads. They know how to worship in the intimate places with their hearts open to God's love and they're learning how to pour that love into the lives of others.

The team will be presenting a Youth Conference, preaching, teaching, giving music and Christian dance lessons, praying, laying on hands for healing, and leading worship in several of Pastor Daniel's churches. They are also expecting to get their hands dirty joining in the construction work on the Agape Family house. They may get to meet our orphan children who are still living near the Bay of Bengal when they take a day at the beach.

The younger team members will be returning home to the USA in mid-July.

Curtis will remain in India and minister with some of our other pastors in other villages in Andhra Pradesh. Please pray especially for a translator to accompany him on his second leg of the journey and for his safety out in the wild National Forest areas.


TAKE NOTE:
Curtis and Emily are now in Jerusalem praying, worshiping and sharing Christ. They'll leave Israel in time to arrive in India on July 4th meeting the rest of the team, Jordan and Emma. Please pray for their safety in Israel, in travel and in India. Temps have been breaking records in Israel this week. Yesterday it was 115 F. Much of their time is to be spent out-of-doors.


Our Indian Christian friends help build the Agape Family House


Many of our brothers and sisters in the church have been helping with the heavy labor work of carrying all the sand, gravel, water, bricks, blocks, etc. Below you see the rock and water barrels and some of those who have been helping with the work. Everything is carried by hand.

You also get a glimpse of the street where the first Agape Family will live.

The house is located right behind Pastor Daniel's home. The back doors adjoin. It will be easy to help the new family adjust while living so close to those who will help them.

1st Agape Family Home reaches 2nd story


Lots of good news on the India front.

The building of our first home for orphans and widows, our Agape Family house is well under way.

Here the Lord will bring Christian widows to live in family as mothers to the tsunami orphans He has given us to care for.

The cement framework for the 1st floor is completed and the 2nd floor framework is near completion. This means that most of the cement is poured and stairs and main walls are all in place. I've included a couple of pictures here so you can see what I mean. It doesn't look like much yet as all the "forms" are still in place.

You can see in the picture at top right where the door from the house will open out onto the church roof. The whole church roof will be a play area for the children and roof garden.

Pastor Daniel is acting as the general contractor and overseer. It is not an easy job to keep the paid workers working in the heat. He said they tend to sit down as soon as no one is watching. Thank God we have several who help watch over the work with him.


Welcome First Nations Peoples!


We had the wonderful privilege of hosting Dr. Iglahliq Suukiina on Wednesday evening, May 9th. Suuqiina, as he is known, spoke on "Restoration of Honor with First Nations Peoples". His message of learning to honor one another and the customs of our cultures that give respect and honor to the leaders of the land is one that truly hit home for us at Full Circle in our new neighborhood.

It was easy to see that we have some of the problems we have because we did not get to know our neighbors and those on the Neighborhood Association before we decided to move in to God's House. It all seemed so simple and intuitive - we were looking for a place to minister and this neighborhood flies a banner that says "A Place for All People". It seemed such a wonderful fit for those of us who minister to people who often aren't accepted by society.

I see now that if we had known the need to be known and accepted by the leadership in this neighborhood before moving in, I think many misunderstandings and problems could have been avoided. I hope that perhaps the Lord will enable us to give honor where it is due even now. It is our hope along with the Marquette Neighborhood folks, that this place be a safe and welcoming place to live and grow.

Thank you, Dr. Suuqiina, for making this clear to us. It was truly a blessing to absorb your teaching. Our hearts are connected with you and you and your wife are in our prayers. We look forward to many more hands extended in brotherhood with our First Nations brothers and sisters around the world.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Inspector holds to April 15 deadline

Quick update: just got word from the owner that our building inspector refuses to give us more time to meet the requirements of having a new archetectual plan, building permit and have an electrician pull an electrical permit from the city by April 15.

He also said that we do not have the option of just stopping the work. Once work has begun it must be completed or the building shut down until it is.

We do not have to have all of the work completed by the 15th but having the plans, the electrician willing to sign and a new building permit by then will definitely have to be a God thing.

To complicate matters, the owner's representative is in Florida on vacation, but still is very willing to work with us on this, however, he doesn't have phone numbers and contact info with him for the people he needs to call for help on this.

Thanks again for all your prayers. We know the Lord wants a place for the unwanted people to be wanted, loved, respected and given the tools they need for transforming their lives.

What the Building Inspector Said

Dear Friends,
Please keep praying. Thanks to your prayers and God's response, Full Circle is still open and running (Yeah!), but we have some requirements that will be pretty tough to meet, especially by the deadline we've been given.

1. Please pray that we'll be given an extension on the deadline, currently April 15, to no less than May 15.

We are being required to apply for a new building permit which means having plans drawn by an architect by April 15. Neither we nor the owner of the building have the money to do this.

2. Please pray that the Lord will provide us with an architect pro-bono.

We are also being required to have a licensed electrician come in and inspect all the work that has been done and complete any further work to be done. We aren't concerned about the work being up to code, it has all been done under the direction of a licensed Master Electrician, but he cannot sign off on the paperwork for us because he doesn't own the company where he is licensed and they would not be willing to be legally liable for the electrical system in such an old building.

3. Please pray that the Lord will bring us a licensed electrician or electrical company that will be willing to sign off on the electrical work. Again, neither we nor the owner have money for accomplishing this. If the electrical system is not signed off on we would have to cease operations.

4. Please pray that the owner, a pastor's wife in her 90's, and her daughter, will be in agreement with us and her son who manages the building for her that the old piano that is rotted and the old non-working organ can be disposed of so that we can comply with the building inspector's requirement of having free and easy access to the exits. It has been hard for Mrs. Olson to let go of things that hold so many good memories for her.

5. Please pray that we'll have the manpower and the insight needed to complete the moving of everything for 3 ft. clearance on all sides of the electrical box (in our main storage area) and for the re-arranging of significantly heavy hospital wardrobes, piano, organ, and lots of old chairs and stuff that will have to go. We do need to have this completed by April 15. We also need to re-arrange my office to keep things out of the flooding water and make it easier to mop up when it is leaking.

6. Please pray for strength and insight on what to do about the current flooding we've been having in my office and in the large main room. It has taken two men working constantly with shop vac and janitors mop to keep from ruining everything. Four of our guys worked until almost 1:00am Saturday night to keep up with the water pouring in from the heavy rain that night.

The owner thought that the installation of the rain garden on that side of the building would have taken care of the problem. It was designed to do so. But it obviously hasn't worked. It seems that what would be needed now is to dig out all around that side of the building to the bottom of the foundation and seal-coat the whole thing. The owner said that we would need a backhoe to do that and the expense is out of range for them (and for us). But God may have a solution in mind, so please pray.

I am so thankful that the water didn't start running in until after we finished worship Saturday night!

7. Please praise God with us that we have a building inspector who is reasonable to work with and that he did not close our doors.

8. Also please pray for our upcoming inspection from the Health Department. I must return a call to them today to set up a time for the health department inspection.

9. Most of all, please pray that the city will allow the Lord to do whatever He wants to do in this church building, department by department and person by person of all the city departments we will have to deal with before this is over.

1
0. And pray that we'll have wisdom and patience, being enabled to deal with all involved showing the love of Jesus to them as they inspect us and set limitations and make demands that may be difficult for us to meet. Pray that we'll remember that the battle belongs to the Lord.

My love to you all,
In Jesus,
Sherry Oliver
cell ph. 608-577-3264

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Come Pray with us tonight!

God's House, FCMI's home,
1103 Jenifer St., Madison, WI 53703
Entrance on the front left side
608-251-0555
Hi All,
Just in case you missed the invitation on the bottom of the last update, I'm inviting all of you who are local to come and join us for fellowship, prayer and worship tonight at God's House (FCMI's home). Of course those of you at a distance are welcome, but don't worry about the "shoulds" of coming -- no pressure.


Come join with us tonight
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Potluck 6:00 pm
Come without food if it's not convenient - we'll have plenty
7:00 or 7:30 pm worship & prayer
Come when you can, leave whenever you need to.


Tonight Al and Joyce Anderson from Beloit will be leading our worship time! We're definitely in for a God's House (maybe even His favorite house) experience.

Next Week: Doug and Julie Anderson from Albany will lead worship!

Worship here each Saturday night with a growing circle of brothers and sisters from several churches as we come together to seek God and glorify Him, enjoy His presence and fellowship as we share a pot luck dinner at 6:00pm with worship following.

Informal worship (dress comfortable)
starts about 7:00 or 7:30 and ends whenever you need to leave.

Love from all of us,
Sherry

Sherry's cell ph. 608-577-3264

Directions to God's House - FCMI's home
Gods House 1103 Jenifer St

What's Happening? Keep Praying!

Dear Friends,

We need continued prayer, but had a cordial meeting with the building Inspector yesterday morning. He let us know that he is a church going Lutheran himself and that he is just doing his job which he hopes to keep until he retires. The order for him to inspect us came from the city zoning commission and he does not know what complaints might be behind it.

What the Inspector said:
He told us some simple and some not so simple but do-able things that need to change like 3' clearance around the electrical box in all directions and that the hallway must be cleared of the traffic directing dividers and all other furniture to make easy access to both exits from the hallway as well as from our space. Richard's cubical will have to be reworked so that it is not so tall as to block view of the exit sign from any part of the room and it must be more open around the exit. Upstairs where the 2nd exit leads there must be signs more clearly marking where to go for a quick exit. These are things we can work with.

He said he fears that we will have to install handicapped access and an automatic fire alarm system with pull handles and that these would be extremely expensive. He is going to check over the codes to see exactly what is really required for this building and this situation. He said that since the occupancy has changed it changes the requirements on the building.

Also we learned that the owner's building permit is expired (the inspector didn't even know there was one) and that there has been a new building code established since that time which has greater requirements. He let us know he would have to do his job regardless of his personal feelings.

He said that because he wants to research the history of this case and search the codes to find what most exactly applies in this case that it would probably take him a week before he would have written recommendations for us and that he would probably call and meet with us again late next week.

Please keep our inspector in your prayers.

We thank and praise God for those joining with us, including you, in this battle for the Lord's work to not only continue, but bring the kingdom into this part of Madison that has been so resistant to the Good News.

Come join with us to
eat together, worship and pray:


When: Saturdays (especially this Sat. March 24 to pray together)

6:00 pm pot luck dinner
7:00 or 7:30 pm we start worship
(worship ends whenever you need to leave)

Worship here with a growing circle of brothers and sisters from several churches as we come together to seek God and glorify Him, enjoy His presence and fellowship as we share a pot luck dinner at 6:00pm Saturdays with worship following. Informal worship (dress comfortable) starts about 7:00 or 7:30 and ends whenever you need to leave.

Love from all of us,
Sherry


God's House, FCMI's home,
608-251-0555

Entrance on the Left front side.
God's House 1103 Jenifer St.
Madison, WI 50703

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On your knees for God's House




Dear Friends,

Please keep Full Circle Ministries in your prayers as we have a potentially difficult
situation that could close our doors to the homeless here at God's House in Madison, WI.

We were under the impression that everything was resolved early in February with the building and zoning commission here and that there was no problem with what we are doing. Yesterday another Inspector from the commission stopped in and said that he thinks he will have to shut us down.

He arrived just as our special speaker, Jim Brashear, arrived to share his testimony and mission experiences in Mexico. I asked if the inspector could come back later, as our speaker was on a tight schedule and had to catch the bus for Midway in Chicago.

The inspector began asking questions about our entrance into the building, about what we would do if we had more than 25 people in our space and about whether we are cooking meals or not. I indicated that the side entrance was the main entrance we use and that there are exits also through the other side of the building and out the back. I told him I hadn't thought about what to do if we have more than 25 people. It hadn't occurred to me that there was any problem since our space is so large, 1500 sq.ft.

I also told him that our meals are pot luck. People bring and share what they have. Generally we're just warming up casseroles or spaghetti or something in the microwave. I did tell him we'd cooked on Sunday the 11th for our India Adventure. al and Roger made chicken curry in a nesco roaster for that day.

The entrance to the building is a door that is only 6 ft. tall. We've nicknamed it "The Hobbit Door". There are steps and no handicapped access into the basement. There is a ramp access to the upstairs. The owner was told earlier when they applied for the permit to remodel the basement that they would only have to put in a ramp for the upstairs and the rest would be considered okay, grandfathered in, because of
the structural changes it would require to make a handicapped entrance to the lower level.

The inspector said the entrance was a problem (no explanation) and he wanted me to call him to set another time for him to come back and see everything. His parting words were, "I think I'm going to have to shut you down." I was to call him at 7:30am this morning.

I called this morning and he said that he hadn't realized that others had already looked into our situation, so he wanted to talk with them before proceeding. We made arrangements for him to come at 8:30am tomorrow (Friday) morning to do the inspection.

Every day we serve somewhere between 30-50 people as they come and go in our
Day Center. We are open to everyone, not just homeless. We have many who come
who are on disability and are lonely or bored with their lives. We have others who
come who are not homeless who are looking for friendship or a chance to make a
difference. We have people who have housing but who have emotional or mental
problems and are looking for acceptance and love. People come who are looking for a place to be valued for who they are and given an opportunity to use the gifts God has given them.

Like the old country hymn asking the question "Will the circle be unbroken" when we one day we all stand in God's presence. Will all of our loved ones be there, all of our friends. Well..... the circle will only be unbroken if everyone is there, even the people who are not so easy to love.

When you stop in you may see 2 or 3 sleeping because they were not able to sleep
at the shelter last night. You may see some playing scrabble or chess or checkers, a bit of stress relief. You'll see people working on filling out job applications or learning to use the computer. You'll see the poor who have worked and could not get to a meal site come in to make a sandwich to take for lunch at work tomorrow or toast a bagel or eat whatever we have on hand because they're hungry after working with no lunch today. You'll see people quietly talking or laughing or studying the Bible or reading books from our Christian library. On Thursday afternoons you'll see everyone relaxing having a good time watching a movie, a movie that Jesus can use to speak to them about the problems in their own lives and about what really matters in life.

God has been moving marvelously on the hearts of those who come. We are seeing
lives changed and people who have nearly given up are feeling encouraged and ready
to try again to make something better of their lives. The lost are finding Jesus. Homeless and lonely Christians are growing in Jesus and are given opportunity to serve others. There is a growing sense of family and community where each person is loved and encouraged.

They come in to make phone calls to get a job or reconnect with family they have left
in their past. They search the internet for jobs and check email. We take phone
messages so employers or helping agencies have a way to connect with them. They
send and receive mail. In Madison, you cannot get a post office box unless you have
a physical address where you live, making it difficult for prospective employers or family to connect with the homeless. Many ask for prayer or want to talk out tough situations they are facing.

We rejoice with them as we see so many prayers answered. Faith is contagious.

Please pray with us that God will determine it is time to come to the aid of His people;
that He will hear our prayers of repentance for the people of this city and especially
those in the Marquette neighborhood/Williamson St. area and that He will have mercy on us here in Madison. Please pray that God will rise up and resolve this issue and keep the doors open to the lost and lonely, the poor and the hurting.

Please pray that God will help Al Vorhees, the city Inspector, to see this building and the works happening here as God's works and that he would fear to stand in the way of what God is doing.

Vorhees is planning to come at 8:30 am tomorrow (Friday). Please pray that God will grant us wisdom and solutions for any problem that needs to be resolved. This truly is an issue of whether or not Christians can do what God is calling us to do in a church building. Do we not have the freedom to open our church doors to anyone who wants to come? Must we be licensed as a Mission House to invite the poor and the homeless to come in. Can we not cook in the church kitchen? Can the city ignore grand-fathered rights because they don't like the people who are coming in the building? Would they rather have the homeless and the lonely out on the streets begging for spare change or looking for someone to love them? Would the city close down the building because we are letting the poor come as they are, not dressed in Sunday best? Would they shut us down because we are open during the week and not just on Sunday?

Please pray that Al Vorhees, the code enforcement officer/building inspector, will do as God would have him do. And please pray that this issue would be put to rest, that we would not be continually having to deal with one building inspector after another.

We are trusting in Him through whom all things are possible.
Love from all of us at Full Circle,
Sherry

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Safely Home and Greatly Blessed

February 19, 2007

Dear Friends and Family
,

Thank you so much for your prayers. We had no sickness to speak of and nothing that kept us from being where the Lord wanted us to be and doing what He had in mind. We arrived home safely and on time and with all of our luggage! O'Hare which had been under delays and falling snow just an hour before was sunny and dry when we arrived. God answered our prayers so specifically with sunshine and clear dry roads all the way home to Madison. Katherine's dad who came to pick us up saw 15-20 cars and trucks off the road from slippery pavement and accidents on his way to O'Hare. We have a Big God!

Team works

How amazing it was to see His plans unfold as He used the four of us as a team though we'd never all worked together before.

One night that stands out as proof of God's leading us as a team is the last night of village meetings in the coal mining area. At the evening meetings usually only two of us spoke, but this night we felt that all four of us were to speak. This could be very tricky, since whatever time we speak is doubled by the time the interpreter uses. A 10 minute testimony becomes a 20 minute message.....

We were told that there would be many unbelievers invited to the meeting that night and that we should share the gospel. As the worship began Katherine was moved to dance and took a few of the children out the back door with her to dance in worship by the entrance to the church. They laughed and danced worshipping with streamers our friend Debbie had made and sent as a gift for the churches. The children were exhuberant worshippers!

When it came time to speak Katherine felt let to share about fathers and children, especially daughters, and how she is building her own relationship with her father and how our fathers affect our relationship with God as Father. Ron thought he was going to share about a mountain climbing experience but ended up sharing about his own father and his own weaknesses as a father and how God is growing him in that area. Laura and I went on from there following the Spirit's lead with the whole evening centering on father child relationships and the father heart of God. Each of us just spoke from our hearts as God gave us words.

When the meeting started only Katherine knew what she would speak on, but God gave each of us a message following His theme for the night. It wasn't really a theme aimed at nonbelievers, but centered around encouraging fathers to love their children, spend time with them and follow God's example of parenting. For a brief few minutes we wondered about the turn the message had taken, why God had led our thoughts and words in that direction rather than a gospel presentation with a call for salvation.

After the meeting the local pastor maneuvered us back up on the platform with about 15-20 men for a photo shoot. I then learned that this crowd of men were all pastors and they and their families were most of the attendees that night. We didn't know who the audience was, but God did and He knew what He wanted those pastors to hear. When I told the rest of the team we all just burst into big smiles of understanding and joy at being so free to be used as God wanted, not as we planned.

Preschools
Katherine was able to spend a morning with the children in one of our preschools for poor children. The children are so adorable, you can't help falling in love with them, even the ones full of mischief. We were happy to be able to bring funds to continue the two preschools through April. What a bargain we get for our money! $150 funds a preschool for 25 poor children for a month. This pays the teacher (giving a job to a couple of wonderful Christian young ladies to help their families survive) and not only enables us to teach the children Telugu and English alphabets, numbers to 100, colors, shapes, fruits and vegetables (that they have never seen or tasted), animals and Bible stories, but we get to share God's love in practical ways like providing food, an egg and milk for each child 6 days a week, the only protein most get in their diets. This will enable them to have more normal growth of brain tissue as well as giving them the skills they need to enter public schools. If you, your Sunday School class or group would like to help fund a preschool for a month or two please contact Sherry or Laura. We'd really like to see this continue year round as many of these 2-5 year-olds are otherwise left home alone while parents work.

This year we'd also like to give a new outfit of clothing to each child just before Easter and again at Christmas time. Some of these children have to borrow clothing to have something to wear to preschool. If this need touches your heart please let us know. About $10 buys new clothing for one child, a dress for girls, shorts and shirt for boys.

Tsunami orphans
If foreigners were allowed to adopt children from Andhra Pradesh I think I'd have brought them all home with me. The first two we met were beautiful 13 and 11 year old girls, the oldest ones, who were living with Pastor Sam and his wife along with an 8 year old sister of one and Pastor Sam's children. 15 of the children have agreed that they would like to come to Vijayawada to live in our Orphan Widow home as soon as we are able to take them. We've debated renting a house and setting up a temporary home until we can build, but funds won't allow us to do both. As it is we're hoping to be able to send some money to Pastor Sam on a regular basis to help feed and clothe the children, but this does not give them stable places to live, they bounce from family to family or sleep at the school or anyplace else they can find.

The building commissioners in Vijayawada have made it very tough for us to build up on the church and use one floor for the orphan widow home, but it seems that God is opening doors to be able to purchase lands. One parcel adjoins the church owned vacant lot behind the church and if we are able to purchase that we could build up 2-3 stories and have enough space that way. Another possibility is a parcel a few blocks away that is 4 adjoining lots which would give us 250 sq. yards of land, enough to build on and have room for a playground and garden as well. It is also on the edge of the "suburb" and has open lands around it with fresh breezes. We are awaiting a call from our partner pastor there to find out the true costs and give the go ahead. We have enough funds to buy the second parcel, but would need more for the first as it is in a higher value district. We'll need to make and meet a commitment of funds for three years to apply for preapproval from the government for us to donate the funds directly. This means we'll need a good solid idea of what the Lord is going to supply through us for this work.

We purchased materials enough to get the building started and have gained much understanding and good wisdom on how to proceed in our partnership in this project without creating any legal problems for our local partners there. The Indian government is sensitive about foreign involvement and wants to protect foreign investors from local charlatans. We are blessed to have such wonderful Christian family in India in whom our trust is proven.

We may be taking a small team to India to help with the orphan home construction this summer. If you are interested please talk to either Laura or myself. We'll be working alongside the local Christians who are also volunteering their time. We may have to hire a few skilled workers there to make sure we are able to meet all the standards necessary for a safe, comfortable and usable home for the children. Katherine believes that the Lord would have us also start a School of Worship for the children and youth there. Some of the children were very excited about the possibility of learning music and dance for worship. This fits in the overall vision of what God is calling us to do there in India. We'll be watching for His confirmation in this.

We're praying for a gospel jeep (actually a Mahindra Bolero - it has real doors), one large enough to transport the orphans and things we'll need for taking care of them as well as heading out into the back country on adventures with Jesus. Looks like we can get a good one for about $7,000-8,000 US dollars. Pastor Daniel is keeping his eyes open for a good deal and will let us know when he finds one. The "jeep" will also be a big help in the construction and for team transportation.

Big Surprises!

How wonderful it was to enter our new FCMI guest rooms for the first week of our stay in India. They were beautiful, far beyond what I had imagined. Exquisite tile floors, real windows, doors and paint that keeps the heat out and repells and exterminates mosquitos. Amazing stuff, that paint. The rooms were comfortable, very large, large enough to be divided into two rooms each should we want to do that. We also had our own western toilet and shower room. There was a balcony all around and a wonderful view from the roof, now another story higher. It was so beautifully finished. The room Ron and I stayed in was made ready for air conditioning, something we hope to be able to buy before I return this summer if possible. We also have our own common sitting room complete with propane stove for making chai if we like. Did I say the rooms were beautiful? They are beautiful! Cudos to Pastor Daniel.

But the biggest surprise came on Sunday morning at the end of that first full week in Vijayawada. My husband Ron and I were pronounced "married" Indian style as he presented me with a gold chain during worship that morning. Wedding rings are not common in India, but all married women receive a gold necklace from their husband which he places around her neck at the wedding. She then wears it as a sign that she is married. All these times I've gone people have wondered that I am not married and I've had to explain about American customs and wedding rings. Now it is plain for all Indians to see that I am not available! It truly touched my heart that my husband would do that for me, especially in church before all my brothers and sisters there. The whole place broke out in applause.

Want to get your share?
Katherine, Laura and I are happy to come, complete with saris,
and share our trip and God's work with you (maybe Ron too?). Give us a week or two and we'll have lots of pictures ready to show. You probably won't want to see all 3,000+ pictures that we took. We're still listening for reports from the pastors on the fruit of our labors as they follow up on those God touched through us. Laura and Katherine worked on preparing a "Sari Slide Show" of all the beautiful colors and women in saris wherever we went. We saw some pretty fancy saris, especially at the wedding we attended in Hyderabad.

We had a wonderful time in the coal mining area, despite our expectations of the worst as we were told we'd be staying in miner's quarters. Miner's quarters turned out to be a little duplex, freshly whitewashed inside, on a street with lots of families with whom we quickly got acquainted. It became hard to get time for a nap after lunch with neighbors and school children stopping by. Katherine and Laura shared the front room of our "house" and one afternoon were quite determined to not answer the door and to catch a bit of quiet time. However, the children were more persistent and won out in the end. Three girls had brought a birthday cake for all of us since we would not be there for our birthdays. They wanted to celebrate now! We gave in and ate birthday cake and fruits. We were invited for lunch the next day, way across town, at one of the girls homes. Her father is a doctor, a nonbeliever. We were able to bring a touch of Jesus into his life and left his home with our arms filled with gifts. Please keep praying for the doctor. We encouraged him to read Luke's gospel since it was written by a doctor. His wife came to Jesus on one of our earlier trips.

Laura and Katherine were thrilled that we did not schedule another trip into the coal mines.

FCMI and Problems at home
Well, wouldn't you know it, we thought to pray all kinds of things about and for Full Circle's work in Madison while I was away except neighbors trying to shut down our work because of a parking violation. Turns out it is illegal to park on an unpaved place. We had been parking in the side yard as the church has done for years. This was especially necessary while we were working on the place. The police received a complaint and served papers to shut us down in 10 days. They notified the owner of the building and said that we would have to cease operations.

When I heard the news I went to prayer. What could I do 13,000 miles away? God spoke clearly to me, "This is My ministry, not yours. Whether you do anything or don't do anything will not make a difference. I will take care of it." So I took Him at his word and did nothing. Two days later I received a phone call from Roger, our Day Center manager, telling me it was all resolved. The owner, Mr. Olson, and a wonderful man from Heartland Credit Union (just met Robin Marhon the day before I left for India) had gone to bat for us and things are all set until some time this spring when we presumably have to do something about paving our parking area. We were also told that the pastors at God's House and neighbors in the area stood up for us as well. We don't know who signed the complaint but we're praying that God will soften their hearts and take away their fear of the people we invite into our ministry home.

Nice to know that God is in charge!

A big thanks to all of you who help fill the circle at Full Circle. Some of you pray, some of you give, some of you serve, some do all three. Together we can fill this circle with God's love and see Him transform lives here in Madison and in India or wherever else He leads us. I know the circle isn't complete yet, but someday we'll all be in that unbroken circle with Jesus shining in the middle and no more night, no more tears, no more pain -- what a celebration that will be!

Well, now back to the everyday adventures here in Madison as we reach out to the lost and the lonely, the homeless and the disposable people. It sure is cold here! My blood was just getting thinned with all that curry and chili spice adjusting to India temperatures. Now I can't seem to get warm. May God have mercy on me and keep me mindful of my blessings.

Those of you praying for my daughter, please keep the prayers coming. The struggle with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia still goes on. Anxiety and fear rides in on top of these sicknesses. We're hoping to see the tide turn one of these days soon. Pray that she'll keep holding on to Jesus as she has and that she'll see his love expressed to her in practical ways.
My love to you all,
Sherry

Thoughts for the future:
We'd like to teach on nutrition in India. we'll need to do some research to find nutrition info on foods used or available there. If any of you have good sources please let Katherine or I know.

Sherry O. FCMI Director - office 608-251-0555, cell ph. 608-577-3264, email sheroliver@sbcglobal.net
Laura J., FCMI India Coordinator- home ph. 608-833-7921, email lauron@charter.net

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Front Porch Pleasure

Howdy!

Ambiance..
The weather was so pleasant the early evening of Tuesday, October 17 - last week. The atmosphere at "our" park was like a warm fire. That could be partly because of the large amount of grilled chicken and potatoes prepared and delivered in several large oven looking sort of serving containers. The steam and the warm air radiated outwards from the serving line.

Perhaps it was that I was late, I had brought cookies and little debbie treats for desert, and they really depended on my contribution to round out the meal. My heart raced a bit, my blood pressure elevated. Or maybe it was that there simply were so many other people there, strangers and friends alike each glowing a bit from the warm food in their bellies and the obvious community that this weekly supper brings.


The main course..
This is what I like about our weekly dinners at Peace Park. I see my homeless friends. I see my full circle volunteer friends. I see the community of people that regularly volunteer to share a meal with the homeless and hungry. We eat together.

I meet new people and it is exciting and sometimes a bit edgey. This is the street after all. Not every one is coasting along through life hiding their "issues" behind a well kept front lawn and a locked door. Sometimes there is profanity, sometimes there is a scuffle, sometimes there is a broken heart weeping with no locked door to hide behind. But always, ALWAYS there is Jesus.

I also like to contribute to the meal one way or another. I have had a lot of chronic illnesses over the last few years that have limited my ability to contribute in the more obvious ways. If I can, I am proud to participate with the meal. I am blessed that they depend on me each week in some small way. This is the glue that delivers the message. Hungry people depend on the food for dinner. We depend on volunteer contributions to coordinate and provide the supplies. All of us depend on the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Hope. All of us depend on the goodness of God through the presense of the Holy Spirit to guide us, protect us, and draw the lost to the message of the Gospel. Of all the things I like about our weekly meals, this is what I LOVE the most. The ministry.


Take a load off..
Wow. Last week the best part of the meal was the "hanging out" afterwards. The weather was cool, early autumn like. The breeze was mild. The aroma of the grilled chicken lingered. There are stone ledges and cement benches to sit on and digest. It feels just a "bit" like I am just wandering about "wasting" my time. Do I love to "waste" time at peace park? Yep. The chatter was easy this week, the only anxiety I had was that i wouldn't have enough time to get around to visit with everybody I saw. Ah well. Next week. Depend on it.

Mind what matters..
Day to day whether we are living out our lives working and taking care of a "home", or searching for a place to take a nap where people won't throw stones at you or call the police to make you "move along", we all must depend on faith. If your faith is in Jesus and His blood, no man or woman on earth can steal your "inner fire". Your purpose.

As we have been told that God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, we know that there is a Center within each believer that we can abide in and return to when lost. Life is NOT futile.

We have One who is faithful and proved His power by His resurrection through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to make His "Home" in each of us when we turn our heart to Jesus. This daily walk by faith in the Gospel and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is miraculous and amazing, infused with purpose. As we look toward the heavenly reward and the blessing of the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit our circumstances and the things that "man" uses to measure success fade, fade, fade.

If we live our lives by faith in material success and our own accomplishments the struggle will end in dust. Dust. Everything on the earth is passing away. Pleasure in our own skins and our "reputation" is pleasure only in the shallowness of the natural world. Who do you blame when your castle crumbles and suddenly your home is a window well in the back of a condemned building?

If your friends desert you and fail you, especially if you really deserve it, you have failed. Your faith in yourself and your accomplishments have emptied out. Even when you are at the pinnacle of success or wallowing in mediocrity, your faith is STILL dependent upon the "whim" of circumstances and the content of your character. All you will have is what you perceive when you look in the bathroom mirror.

I would rather be "homeless" with the mystery of the Holy Spirit as the Power within and my constant companion than living in the lap of luxury, scorning the miraculous and believing only in what my natural eyes can see.


Invitation..
Living on the streets is literally a question of life and death every day. Do you have the vision to see the potential of Life on the streets? Come and see.

Harriet Esther :)