Spring has sprung.
With spring in the air, many people are busying themselves with planting, tilling and spreading seed. It reminds me of the work that we are doing in the Lord’s vineyard. Planting the seeds of truth and nourishing it weekly with God’s word is what we are called to do. Sometimes the seed (as in the parable of the sower) falls on deaf ears, but other times it is welcomed and we have the pleasure of seeing a future servant of Christ growing. We have also had the pleasure of seeing several “seeds” of service growing in our community through programs we started last Fall.
It takes laborers to work the fields – and the Lord provided abundantly this spring with the arrival of two volunteer couples from Picton, Ontario, Canada, who each spent a month with us at the BEC. Bro.Rick and Sis. Eunice Hill were our first guest volunteers for a month spanning January/February, and Bro. Don and Sis. Marg Davies were here for four weeks during the months of February/March.
Bro. Rick and Sis. Eunice Hill at the conclusion of the Bloomington Winter Study Weekend with Bro. Ray and Sis. Dana Pratt.
Bro. Don and Sis. Marg Davies share a conversation with some BEC students before class begins.
It was wonderful having new faces at the BEC – providing extra help with classes, home visiting and women’s class. In addition to helping run the BEC on a day-to-day basis, during their stays Brother Rick, led an evening class entitled; Getting To Know Jesus and Bro Don led a class on; Studies in Isaiah. Both classes were well-received by BEC students. Bro. Rick also graciously conducted the annual Winter Bible Study Weekend in Bloomington, February 9-10 on the topic of; Behold the Amazing Gift of Love.
Bro. Don Davies leading the evening class on Studies in Isaiah.
Sister Eunice and Sister Marg also were our guest teachers for the Tuesday noon women’s class during their stay. The students greatly appreciated the care and love they put into creating and conducting their classes. We also utilized the additional manpower to do several projects like; organizing shelving in the BEC, packing SNUGGLES squares, and reorganizing the Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation Tape library located in the Bloomington Ecclesial Chapel. This was a much-needed and appreciated task since it consolidated the library holdings and made more room for the regular Sunday school class that uses the room.
Sis. Marg did a wonderful job teaching the noon women’s class at the BEC during her stay with us.
Cleaning the Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation Tape library located in the Bloomington Ecclesial Chapel.
It was wonderful to involve our out-of-town volunteers in the programs we have in place on a weekly basis such as Tuesday night dinners before class, evening BEC classes, Stitch-a-thons, home visits and volunteering at the high school. Their company was enjoyed by all and was certainly a welcome addition to our weekly routine. It was a great encouragement to students and local BEC workers alike to have the Hills and Davies enthusiasm to spur us on! We always welcome more volunteers to come join our work.
We continue volunteering and getting involved with the community on a regular basis. We had the privilege of helping with some spring-cleaning in the community for individuals that have health problems. Simple things that we may not think much of in our day-to-day life, were a matter of critical need to these individuals. We raked leaves, cleaned gutters, planted seeds and helped one woman clean off her porch. This woman, Eva, is confined to a wheelchair and without the help of clearing her porch, she may have been evicted from her home.
Bro. Ray Pratt, BEC student Stanley Matthews and myself along with Sis. Dana Pratt (taking the picture). Confined to a wheelchair, Eva was so thankful for the help we had to offer.
Another friend, June, we have helped on several occasions, now requests our group with the Faith in Action program that connects us to people in need. She has a serious heart condition that doesn’t allow for her to do the work herself.
Bro. Ray and Sis. Dana Pratt, BEC student Stanley Matthews, myself and Sis. Emilee Smith lend a helping hand at some spring cleaning.
We helped two other households of BEC students (one of whom is now a brother in Christ) move from very poor conditions into new housing which has turned into a great blessing for both of them.
The Bloomington ecclesia helps out at the local food pantry on a regular basis and I was fortunate to join them recently with this community project and plan to continue in the future.
Members of the Bloomington ecclesia and myself enjoy a moment of rest after bagging hundreds of pounds of loose pasta at our local food pantry to be distributed to those in need in the community.
Now thats a lot of pasta! Now you see it, now you don’t.
It is such a blessing when you can come away from muscle-aching hard work knowing you have made a difference in the life of someone else.
Our high school volunteering continues to go well. We have been asked by a teacher that attended our very first Stitch-a-thon to speak at the high school just two blocks from the BEC about SNUGGLES on two different occasions. We first introduced SNUGGLES to the Urbana High School Multi-cultural Club. Several students in the Multi-Cultural Club also attend the high School “Tiger Knits” knitting club that we also volunteer with – and so friendships continue to be built. She then asked us to present it to her English class who has adopted SNUGGLES as their community project for the year. It is wonderful working with the kids, and even better to see them getting involved in a community project and learning to help others in need.
Students of the local high school helping one another learn to knit for the snuggles project.
Sis. Dana helping a student learn to knit at the high school after we presented the snuggles project to their class. The students have made snuggles their community project for the year.
Our Stitch-a-thons continue to draw in volunteers from the community on a regular basis. With several TV news articles, a radio broadcast and articles in the local paper promoting our project, we continue to have new volunteers popping up from this unexpected media exposure. Our relationship with the regular participants is growing stronger each month. Conversations flow with ease and we are getting to know each person more in-depth each time we meet. One participant in particular considers us almost like family. She has no family here in the US and has found love and acceptance among us. We had fun one afternoon after the Stitch-a-thon when she invited a group of us out to dinner at a Thai restaurant. Being from Thailand herself, she knew just what to order and we all enjoyed an evening of food and fellowship.
Strengthening relationship by enjoying a meal out at a Thai restaurant with some of our regular Stitch-a-thon participants.
Sorting the hundreds of squares from our most recent stitch-a-thon to be counted and shipped to SA. We continue shipping squares to SA every chance we can, having shipped over 17,000 squares in donated suitcases to date.
Women’s Study Weekend
After being encouraged by a Christadelphian women’s study weekend last year, hosted in Guelph Ontario, we returned home with the idea of hosting something similar for women in our area. Many sisters in our neighboring ecclesias have small children or other circumstances that would prevent them from traveling great distances to study weekends. We thought hosting something in our own area could provide an opportunity for spiritual growth, encouragement and strengthening of relationship.
In a new twist, and as a means of continuing to grow the relationships we have developed with the BEC students and Stitch-a-thon participants, we have included them in our invitation to the Study weekend. So our first ever Women’s Study weekend will be titled Knit Together in Love from Col 2:2. We are very happy to host this study weekend with Sister Sharon Hill-Wilson from Arlington, VA as our guest speaker May 31-June 2, 2013, God willing. We see this as an exciting way to connect our new friends in the community to sisters from the Midwest while allowing all to be encouraged by the word of God in an uplifting, relaxed environment. We pray that our efforts will bring Him the glory and honor He deserves.
Continuing weekly/monthly events
All our regulars that attend Tuesday night Bible class each week have welcomed our implementation of dinner for all attendees before Bible class. This gives us an additional opportunity to strengthen the ties we have with each other and allows for casual relationship-building interaction before class. We can see much good fruit from this approach.
Sister and Friends
Our Sister and Friends class has been well attended over the past few months. The class continues to be hosted and taught on a rotating basis by different participants. It is a real highlight of the month for many of us.
Tuesday Women’s class
Our Tuesday noon women’s class continues to grow stronger. We have half a dozen or so regulars and have recently had the addition of a lovely women named Agnes, originally from Kenya, that has joined us with such joy and enthusiasm for learning about God.
Classes and weekly bible study
Weekly BEC Bible classes continue and are well attended by a variety of individuals – some regulars, some new to the BEC. We have had the blessing of utilizing modern technology to Skype in teachers from around the country to share their spiritual knowledge with us without having to actually be present. This has added a wide variety of teaching subjects and styles that keep learning fresh and interesting.
We hosted our third bake sale early this spring while our visiting volunteers were with us. This continues to be a great way to strike up conversation with shoppers in the mall. We advertised the event on Facebook and even took special orders this time. It has been a real blessing that benefits the SNUGGLES project with the funds raised being used to help with the costs for shipping squares to SA.