CALIFORNIA, BANGOR CALIFORNIA…

Hey all!  Welcome back!!! Yes, it its me, Hope, using all these exclamation points… sorry Kelly!  Turns out when you have a website, you need to know how to work it, and that’s hard.  Casey has a Masters in Bible but updating a website theme can be tricky… Bless him!  We have moved to Bangor California, and after 4 months, turns out we love California!  So, now about our new digs.

Bangor was founded by two gold prospectors from, you guessed it, Bangor, Main!  Still lots of old mines around, even on land of people in our church, along with great stories,  that in a later post!  So excited to explore.  We are about 600 people in hot, mostly dry horse and quarry country.  Our church is just down from the town hub of hall, fire station, school, leading to the 4 way stop with Mennonite bakery, minimart, feed store and post office.  Sounds bigger than it is, but the muffins at the bakery are amazing, and Marjory, she runs the post office,  will call you and let you know if you have a package.  The people are fun, kind, hard working, and worshiping together is even better!

Our church is a range of ages. Of course, our family quadrupled the kids in the church, and everyone loves them.  The kids have their people, buddies that spoil them and “get” them.  Such a blessing.  Our first week here, Casey was up preaching while Elias and Levi were bouncing around in the seats when Donna, who had been smiling at the kids all through the music, leaned over and told me kids should be able to make noise in service, it means they’re there and keeps the old people awake for the sermon!  She is a sweet woman who wears black hills gold well, works in the deli at a store in town and is giving up her one day off VBS week to help sign kids in the first day.  A gem!

Rosie has her new best friend, Theresa, who’s 65, retired from work only, provides the eggs to everyone in church, and is the sweetest, hardest worker anywhere.  Finn and two brothers in church are thick as thieves, always sitting together in service and catching lizards in the baptismal pool when needed.  We prayed for specific friends for him, coming from a mostly all girl town in Mossyrock.  He is so happy.  Caleb has his buddy too, both 4 and fun to see hanging around together.  Elias and Levi in turn have their adults that kindly chide me if I need to correct them that the boys are just fine, and then give them a cookie.  Over all this, the church is so glad to have a pastor again after 2 years.  Gene, a true New York City gal young in her 70’s is his biggest fan!  He’s been adopted, and after his mom’s passing, I think we new it would take another NY gal to do half the job Mom did.  All the Aunties, you would love her!  Casey is enjoying getting to know the board members here, and their heart for opening the church and reaching the community was active even before our arrival.  The Levy had burst last fall, and a month later there were devastating fires that took over 50 homes, some in our church.  The people were there, opening the doors providing everything people could need, including love and listening ears.  Big plans as the years unfold, and with 11 acres between the church and parsonage, we have lots of room to expand.  May God’s grace and will go before us as we continue to make this wonderful community our home, See Casey lead the church and have all you amazing people serving right here with us through prayer and financial support click here!, love, and yes, visits!!! (we have a house perfect for hosting, and the church loves meeting new people!!! Hint!!!) And if you are just needing some essential oils and want to make it count, you can order from me here!

Love you all!!! Check out the updated sight thanks to Casey, and let us know your thoughts, prayer requests, and anything else you care to share!!!

Even the rocks cry out

Nature astounds me.  The trees in autumn are so wonderful to watch, I can get lost in watching a single leaf fall to the ground.  And the fact that nature, from the earth, to animals, to nature as a whole, while not predictable, follows such a beautiful, harmonious pattern makes me understand, at least for a moment or two, those that worship nature.

Now we know to worship the Creator, not the created.  That God himself orchestrated the cosmos, the wind and waves, the leaf I follow to the ground.  but the bible clearly states that the heavens display His handiwork.  That if we don’t give God his full worship, that even the rocks will cry out.  I have often pondered this.  Many hours have thought and prayed, “Lord, let me worship you in your glory, and keep the rocks silent.”  But tonight, driving home, through the wonder that is the Pacific Northwest tonight, while listening to a sermon on God’s authority, I think I finally caught a glimpse of what this all means.

“And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed,  each according to it kind, on the earth.” and it was so.  The earth brought forth vegetation…(Gen. 1:11-12a)  The earth sings God’s glory and it’s God’s glory that people hear and worship.  They are enticed by what the earth does, but miss why the earth does so.  It is because it’s creator deemed it so.   The earth pronounces God’s glory because it is doing what it was commanded.  Because in doing what God commanded, it can show true obedience to the One who has ultimate control.  It can reflect the Master.  That is how nature has it’s power.  It’s in the obedience to the master that it’s true purpose is revealed.  And it’s that way with us.

 

Why does the blossoming apple tree hold our fascination?  How is it that even though we know that after harvest season come winter and snow, and yet we still find beauty in the flakes falling???  One could think that their very predictability would cause us to lose interest in the whole process. But it’s the very predictable pattern of God’s creation that sings His praise.  The wind and the waves, the snow and apple tree are subject to God, and do exactly what He commanded at the beginning of time, and that’s it.  They do what He wants, regardless of their own will.  Now the apple tree doesn’t have will, but we do.  When do we reflect the glory of our God?!?!  When we are subject to Him, and are doing the will of our loving father, regardless of our own will.  Instead of garnering favor for ourselves, like we try to from time to time, let’s think of the apple tree, the dandelion, the oak losing it’s leaves every year.  They don’t shout about the mighty acts they have accomplished, they simply show the world, all who see, what God instructed them of, and thereby give glory to their creator.

 

In every day, there are times when we feel the Spirit calling us to something.  How about we don’t fight it, but like the snowflake falling, or the rose blossoming, we follow the authority of our Creator, and do His will, giving Him the glory He deserves.  And keep those rocks silent one more day.

Hope Holencik

loss of a Saint

When any church or community loses a loved one, it is tragic.  When you are a small community and a congregation of 120, it seems devastating.  We lost a dear woman, D.  Early Thursday morning,  the 12th, she went home to be with her Lord, after a valiant battle with cancer.  He had answered her prayers of seeing her last grandson turn 1, having thought she might miss his birth, and her last prayer, getting to the 10th of June, her 48th wedding anniversary.  Her dear husband, who loved and was with her to the end, said she just wanted to finish well.  She did.  Everyone knew her as someone who would not say an unkind word of anyone, for any reason.  She was a very avid hiker, church volunteer, and friend to many.  We know that everyone has someone battling sickness and death, so in your prayers for them, please add our community, who lost a huge part of our heart.  We know she is well, praising God in heaven, so our prayers are for her friends and family, especially her husband.  Her legacy of kindness, friendship, and love of God will continue to teach, and so she did finish well.  Let that be said of us all when our race is over.

Great things are happening!!!

Hi! We wanted to give you all an update about what God has been doing in our little valley in WA.  And, it was recently pointed out to us that we have not been posting or updating as much as we could/should be, so this is the first step in fixing that, thanks for the patience and understanding… now, on to the cool stuff!!!

I (Hope) have been teaching an after school bible club for the elementary kids every week, and this Thursday is our last day.  It has been wonderful teaching and learning from these kids the last 4 months.  One of our little guys, he comes faithfully, though his parents don’t come to church.  He is eager to learn, has the answers, and loves participating.  Recently, I got to have a great conversation with him about how when we are forgiven of our sin, God takes it away, never to return, as far as the east is from the west.  He was so happy to know that he didn’t have to keep asking for forgiveness over and over again.  What a great lesson for us all.

Another of my boys, who hadn’t liked coming, though he was encouraged by his mom, is now loving it, excited about the bible lessons and going home to share them with is parents, and is actually the encourager to his whole family to get up on Sunday mornings and get to church on time.  He is eager to hear about Jesus and His word.

Another girl, she just loves God.  She knows every answer, all the time, and melts my heart.  She hasn’t gotten the best hand in life, but she is leaning on her Heavenly father and trusting Him with a child’s pure faith that I pray carries her through her life, because life doesn’t always get easier.

When I started, there were siblings that came, but didn’t enjoy it as much.  Wouldn’t participate, sing with us, or anything else, for that matter.  now they are answering questions, smiling as they come in the door, and are right in the middle of the excitement.  I could go on about every one of these precious kids, but that would take forever.  Needless to say, I have been so blessed to work with them, learn from them, and be a better GNC teacher next fall when we start it all up again!  So during our final party on Thursday, if you hear some noise an mayhem, just know it’s us, celebrating another  Good News Club year on the books!

We also have lots of amazing things in the adult world!  We have a weekly prayer meeting with seperate men’s and women’s groups.  One such prayer has been for relatives of one of our dear friends here.  They have recently been contemplating a dangerous faith road.  Casey had the opportunity of making a connection with the man, invite him to bible study and church, and he has come to both!!!  And tonight, brought another of their relatives!!! He is searching and we are excited, knowing that God will meet him and do amazing things in his life and his family.  As an aside, the Men’s bible study, which normally runs about 10 guys has been growing, and is now at 16!!!  They are a really great bunch of guys, as Casey says, and loves that part of his job is to simply be with them, studying with them, encouraging, teaching, and learning from them.  Especially when it’s about smoking meats or learning where all the good fishing spots are.

With the sweets comes the sour.  It seems like everyone nowadays is touched by cancer one way or another.  We have a couple members of our church battling this and it is devastating to see such wonderful people suffer.  And yet in this hell they are going through, we can still see God working.  It has made our time with them all the more precious, and it reminds me of the Apostle Paul, when he talked of running the race and finishing well.  It’s easy to start strong, but these women are choosing to finish strong as well, showing faith and Grace in spades.  They are a constant testimony of God using evil for good, and trusting that true healing can only come through Christ, and physical healing may be here on earth, or when they walk with Jesus in heaven.  One of Casey’s aunts is fighting this battle as well, and is taking an aggressive faith filled and naturopathic approach, showing that only God knows when to stop fighting, and God, being the great physician, can heal us inside and out.

We are also blessed to continue working with the youth group, seeing the depth of faith and maturity in young men and women, being shown how old we really are when they don’t know who Sienfeld is, or thinking Def Leopard is classic rock.  We are getting our summer schedule together, and it is going to be awesome~ we are contemplating a weekend Christian rock concert with great speakers, as well as a overnight lock-in at the church.  We have been doing service projects around the community, weather permitting, and are about to kick off a prayer walk/ stretching our faith activity, asking people in our neighborhoods for their prayer requests, reguardless of church affiliation, belief in God at all, or anything else.  It’s part of what the ladies prayer group is doing in their individual streets, doing personal prayer while walking, praying for those around us.  We are excited to see how it challenges the kids and the neighborhood impact.

We are so blessed to be put here to help, encourage, grieve with, and serve our church and surrounding community in the Lewis River valley, and thank you all for supporting us in this, knowing that through your prayers, this is your ministry, as well as ours.  Thank you so much for all you do, helping us here, and in your own communities.

Love in Christ,

Casey and Hope

3 months in Yale!!!

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since we arrived in Yale, WA!  The months have flown by, and life is changing quickly.  In our own family, Caleb is now 6 months and crawling, Rosie has decided talking is fun and is now speaking in paragraphs, and Finn turns 4 in just two days!  We all are enjoying being out in the country, and love being outside as much as possible.

Our ministry is growing and expanding.  Casey has preached a few times, and people are shocked that he’s nervous, because they can’t see it.  He’s been helping teach the men’s bible study, as well as the adult bible study.  We have a weekly prayer time with the men and women that is also amazing.  There are some mighty prayer warriors here in the valley.  I am helping with mom’s bible study, and am teaching an after school kid’s class until the end of may for the 1st – 5th grades.  These kids are amazing and sweet.  1/2 don’t go to church at all, and are hearing some of these bible stories for the first time.  Their questions and enthusiasm are wonderful and insightful, I am learning as well as leading.

We have really been pouring into the youth group, 7th-12th grades.  We’ve shared a little about them, but they hadn’t really had much for quite a while other than some sunday school.  We have an average of 15 kids, and are growing.  We officially outgrew meeting at our house this last week and are invading the church, which is fun. These young people have lots to contend with, between home situations, school, and just being teenagers.  They are eager to learn, share, and grow, meeting our challenges to them and really taking their faith into their own hands and making it their own, knowing what they believe and why.  We just took them to the Son of God movie, and that made for interesting discussion.  They saw they knew more of the bible than they thought, pointing out missing parts of the story or conflicting events.  They are quite smart and, well, just wonderful.

We are really getting to know others in the valley, as well.  A big part of our ministry is just being with the people, visiting with them, and sharing our lives together.  One family in the congregation just adopted their 6th son, and we were able to be there with them, which was awesome!  He quickly became one of Finn’s best friends here, and our families have become close, so it was extra special to be there to celebrate with them.

There are many we are becoming close with that do not attend church, some that aren’t that interested in faith, and these are the people we have to be especially consistent with,  caring, being there when they need, and living our faith in friendship.  This is when God reveals Himself and shows His faithfulness.

We would ask for prayer for our community in some different ways.  There is not really any direct employment in our community, so jobs are scarce and commuting to Vancouver or Portland is tough on people and on families.  The kids here can spend as much as 3-4 hours a day on the bus.  Many believing women in our church community have husbands who are either apethetic toward church or outright hostile, so they are having to carry the spiritual burden for themselves and their children.  As with other older congregations, many health issues plague our church.  Cancer, heart issues, and other physical ailments keep many home instead of having fellowship with friends.  I know these concerns are not unique to our area, and your communities are facing other issues that we would love to pray for as well.  We have a prayer request page link that you could write in, or just send it directly to us, letting us know if we can/should share it in our church prayer time, here, or keep it to ourselves. This is how we can be the body of Christ for each other, no matter where we are.  Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support, which helps us do the work we feel God is giving us to do here in Yale.  We thank God for you every day.

 

A mother’s joy

As mothers, we get to share our faith with our children often.  Sometimes by reading bible stories, other times answering questions, and sometimes using life as object lessons.  With all, we pray that some of it sticks.  You know the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  I do this often, just praying that a tenth of the good I teach sinks in, not the things I do wrong.  But I was reminded this last week, that it is not what I say or do that gets to my childs’ hearts, it is Christ Himself and His word that works in their lives.  I got to see that with Finn.

I was in the kitchen, cooking dinner, when he came around the corner, cute as could be, playing a little doggy guitar his aunt had given him for his last birthday.  He started singing, not asking me to be his audience, like many other times.  He already had one.  He sang, ” I love Jesus, God you are strong, God you are the only super hero in real life, God is good for sin, He takes our sin and timeouts.  God you are beautiful.”

My 3 year old was praising God, and in his simple song, was more profound than many so called preachers in the pulpit on any given Sunday.  He, with his child-like faith, showed understanding I strive for and miss on many days.  I bent down, misty-eyed, and thanked him for singing.  He asked me, “mommy, did you like my song?”

“Yes, Honey, I think it’s the best song I’ve ever heard in my life.”  I got to see the grip God has on his life, and am so excited for his next song.

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