Watterson's Whereabouts

The Watterson's ministry adventures with ReachGlobal Crisis Response

The Week of October 6

Kevin came home late Saturday night, in time to get some sleep before heading to church on Sunday morning. But because of the schedule he had while away, he needed desperately needed a nap. So we missed the monthly fellowship meal and enjoyed our last carbs for the week.

I knew I was not eating as healthy as I could be. Kevin and I both enjoy good food. And in our definition that may or may not mean healthy food. I had done the South Beach diet once before and figured the first two week detox from carbs, sugars, and saturated fats would be good for me. As much as the recommended diet is not Kevin’s preferred meals, he asked me to wait until he got home to do it together. We have eaten a lot, I mean a lot, of chicken. And salad greens. But the chicken is partly because Kevin prepped an entire family pack of lean chicken meet and didn’t freeze any of it. He’s doing great losing weight. Me, not so much. But as long as it helps undo the bad habits and weight I picked up on all of those road trips, it will be worth it.

This week was another slow one for me. Baby steps on getting items done to clear them off of my list. Kevin got to catch up on emails and phone calls he couldn’t take care of last week. Some of those were related with people wanting to come on staff. Some of those were about the next level of a Dorian response. Some were about other parts of ministry.

I cancelled meetings for Thursday so we could go to Cruising The Coast in Mississippi. It’s a week long car event along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. He was hoping to catch part of the auction and also get to the car corral in Biloxi. It’s fun to admire some of those old vehicles up close and in person. But record breaking temperatures in the 90’s had us questioning whether or not we wanted to go in the old ’66 Ford “Happy” truck with no air conditioning. After a video meeting that lasted until noon, Kevin went to get “Happy” ready for the trip and found it wasn’t so happy. Instead of going, he ended up spending the evening flushing out the radiator and this morning ordered a new fuel pump. More of those repairs will be happening over the weekend. We discussed whether or not to go today, but with weather conditions still being hot and muggy and other work to be done, we opted not to. As much as Kevin was overdue for more then one day off in the last two and half weeks or more, it wasn’t worth being so uncomfortable.

My Friday mornings start with a 5:30 am internet based Bible study. This morning, I also needed to be at the church by 6:00 to meet the voting machines for tomorrow’s election. Our church is the polling location for one of the precincts. So, I called in by phone and muted my phone while driving to the church and preparing to meet the machines. After those two events were over, I spent a little bit of time in the office cleaning up some archived media resources before heading home for the weekend.

We are expecting to have a “normal” weekend. Maybe join some friends tonight to watch their son on the high school football team. I’ll do my custodial duties for tomorrow’s elections, And we will see what Sunday brings.

With both of us anticipating a few weeks at home, I plan to slow down on this blog. It’s hard to keep sharing the same type of week over and over, and I’m sure it gets boring to read. I plan to be back when there’s a bit more to share. Thanks for understanding.

Week of September 29, 2019

If Kevin were writing this, you’d have highlights, lowlights and stories about his week in Minneapolis. About the gathering of ReachGlobal leaders from different divisions and ministries gathering in EFCA’s National Offices to worship, learn, and meet with others in large and small meetings. About a “forced fun” night. About renewing relationships from previous years and events and about creating new ones. About the challenge of getting laundry done before he ran out of clean clothes to wear around a packed schedule. And about all of the other things that help you understand what Kevin does in his role as a missionary with ReachGlobal Crisis Response.

But I, Babette, am writing this. I stayed home. I didn’t sit in meetings except for one monthly one. I didn’t gather with leaders. I didn’t renew relationships from previous gatherings and create new relationships. I stayed home and had more much needed time in ReachGlobal Crisis Response’s Covington, LA office.

I did get to work with our Volunteer Coordinator and review how I was able to take the SmartSheets she set up for 2020 teams and pull needed reports from them. I did get to help her refine the reports she would need that should help her serve volunteer teams better in the future. We stayed at the office late excited with the progress we were making.

I did get to do some more electronic and paper filing. I did get to communicate with other staff about vehicles and other questions that come through me. And I met with two staff members to determine how to best track the maintenance on one specific piece of equipment. The result is one more Smartsheet to set up for the Covington warehouse.

And I stayed home. I freshened up hanging baskets for the approximately two months of flower friendly weather we would have and I watered them almost daily because of the hot, sunny weather we were having in the 90’s. I did some sewing. I did some cleaning. I enjoyed hummingbirds and chick-a-dees at our back porch – even if it was from the air conditioned comfort of our house instead of being outside with them.

While it would have been nice to be with Kevin, I appreciated being home. Even if it means I don’t have the stories to tell, it was just good to be home.

Wrapping up September 2019

Life in Covington, LA is quiet this week, but, of course, still busy. The quiet is nice. I, Babette, have been able to make some strong progress on some long overdue projects for ReachGlobal Crisis Response. That progress started last week.

I left the last blog with us having a day off on Saturday, Sept 21. There was so much to catch up on around the house that it kept me going all day long. But it was good to continue to stop doing “deferred maintenance” and be doing some routine cleaning, washing, outdoor work, etc. There remains plenty to catch up with, but re-establishing home routine was nice.

Monday evening, Jen and Adriano returned from their quick trip to Florida and were able to pick up the parts he had ordered for his truck repair. By Thursday the truck was 100% and Adriano was cooking us an authentic Italian Chicken Parmigiana supper as he learned to make it from his Italian family that run a restaurant. It was nice to have supper started and in good hands when I came home from a long day at the office when Kevin was also too busy to be those good hands having it started. And the food was a delight. On Friday morning we said good-bye to Jen and Adriano as they resumed their travel and ministry schedule. It was a joy to have them spend a few days with us.

My week mostly consisted of time in the office, with the normal exception of Monday and Friday. I have had some organizing projects that have been on my To Do list for way too long. It’s been a challenge to make any progress on those projects while on the road. Times at not traveling over the last several months have been just long enough to get more urgent needs addressed before hitting the road again.

One of the areas I focused on was cleaning up the sharing links with the files stored in OneDrive. We had the pleasure of learning of several new staff members being approved to join ReachGlobal Crisis Response over the last few weeks. As I set them up with some files and other needs, I took the time to do some electronic file clean-up. Not exciting. But needed.

At the end of 2018, one of the ReachGlobal Crisis Response staff members introduced the rest of us to Smartsheets. It has some strengths that other computer programs have not had in helping to keep staff organized and communicating with basic functions of the ministry. I had started moving some information in my areas of responsibility over to this internet based program: vehicles, trailers, heavy duty equipment, and other information that relates to vehicle insurance and DOT requirements. This program has been a great way to make sure staff spread across multiple sites not only has access to current information, but also a way to help keep the information up to date while tracking projects related to that information. I also have had to help Jessica, the Pre-Field Volunteer Coordinator, figure out how to best set up the 2020 Volunteer Calendars so that we can best pull some helpful and some needed reporting out of those calendars. Those reports became challenging when we stopped using Excel at the beginning of 2019 for the volunteer team information. But with a few tweaks after learning from our 2019 experiences, we were hopeful that we could smooth all of that out and even strengthen the reports available.

Last week saw some of those Smartsheet projects come to fruition! The vehicle Smartsheet is fully loaded with the maintenance history of each vehicle as well as all of the current registration, insurance, and inspection paperwork! I was able to utilized Jessica’s 2020 Volunteer Calendars to create tools and reports that we hope will enhance her needs. And I also was able to utilize those calendars to create other worksheets and reports that will help others in ReachGlobal Crisis Response with real time information related to volunteer teams. Thursday was an exciting day. I was checking off major needs, one right after the other, and then came home to a wonderful supper.

In the meantime, Kevin was in a “taking care of urgent needs” mode. Much of his days were spent on the phone and on the computer. He was also trying to catch up on some course work that all members of ReachGlobal lead teams were required to complete. In between, he was trying to repair his Grasshopper mower so he could get the grass cut before leaving again. He also was trying to get the drive shaft on his truck repaired before taking it on a road trip pulling a small trailer to help the Lewis family gather the last of their daughter’s belongings that were left stored in Minneapolis when she finished college and moved to California. The mower needed parts that had to be ordered. The truck drive shaft was removed to take to a shop that specializes in and is excellent at rebuilding drive shafts.

Thursday ended up being a great day for him as well when those two major projects were completed and the last blades of grass were being cut as dinner was about to be placed on the table! Our dinner ended up being a nice celebration of completed projects: Adriano’s truck, Kevin’s truck and mower, and some big needs projects for me. Jen also had a project near completion. It was pending approval before being able to truly cross it off.

On Saturday morning, Kevin left for Minneapolis. Logan had used the trailer Kevin needed when moving back to Ruston to start his sophomore year of college. There had been no opportunity to get it back home since that move at the beginning of September. So Logan towed it to Jackson, MS and met Kevin there. They were able to spend some time together over lunch before Kevin had to continue on his trip. Kevin will be in Minneapolis all of this week for ReachGlobal Divisional Lead Teams meetings. It’s an opportunity for all of the leadership teams of all ReachGlobal Divisions and supporting ministries to come together for learning from ReachGlobal’s top leaders, for meetings with other teams and with staff at EFCA’s National Office, and for community building with each other.

My weekend consisted of trying to get some of my personal goals for September completed around the house. You can read more about those on our second blog, Watterson’s Workshop.

On Sunday, Trinity Church in Covington, said good-bye to our interim pastor, David McMartin. It has been a blessing for Kevin and I to know David and his wife, Lois, for so many years. Lois was the director of ReachGlobal’s member care until a few years ago. When we came on board with ReachGlobal, they were also the couple that cared for the staff of ReachGlobal Crisis Response. And this is David’s second time as the interim pastor for Trinity Church. While Trinity may have been saying good-bye, we took the approach that serving in this ministry has taught us, “Until we meet again”. Or as David put it, “Until we meet here, there, or in the air”.

And I think I’ll close with those words, “Until we meet again”. Which hopefully will be in about a week with another blog update.

What a month! – And it isn’t over yet.

 Pennsylvania, New York, Pennsylvania, Knoxville, Louisiana, Houston, home!

Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Imelda.

We’ve been busy.  Busy traveling for ministry.  Busy catching up at home.  Busy connecting with people.  Busy being at the events where we should be.  And busy even in trying to have “down time”.  In the midst of all of this busyness, we realized we had not put out a newsletter in over six months.  And I realized we had not blogged in over three years.

Honestly, our newsletters are our blogging.  But, if I (Babette) can get disciplined in blogging here more often, the gaps in our newsletters will be easier to fill.  Since we just sent out a newsletter yesterday, the things I should be blogging about are technically covered.  But I know me.  I need to “strike while the iron is hot”.  If I wait until the timing might be better, I probably won’t start.

This past week was a reflection of being busy.  We arrived home Sunday night refreshed from our weekend camp ground stop outside of Lake Charles.  I spent time in the camper sewing.  Kevin spent time catching up on emails from Haggerty and other recreational types of emails.  Of course most of those were about cars, specifically vintage models.  He also did some assigned course work on which he got really behind.  And we listened to college football games, specifically Louisiana Tech’s game and LSU’s game.

It was nice to come home to extra hands to help us unpack.  Adriano and Jen Ferris, two other ReachGlobal Crisis Response staff members, were staying at our house while their truck was getting some much needed repairs.  The quiet house also gave them a chance to have some alone time together after being away from each other for over a week and not really be able to reconnect during a week of meetings.  While at our house, they also restocked the fridge with their favorite foods.  While I would have loved to have everything ready for them and to be a good hostess, reality was they had to treat it as a bring your own stuff kind of vacation home since we had barely been home.

An hour after arriving home, we went with the Ferris’ to meet another couple, Pete and Patty Havens, at a local restaurant for dinner.  Pete and Patty are new staff still working on their ministry support development so that they can come on board.  Once they have the required support funding they will be transitioning to new roles on staff.  They were visiting staff and operations in Covington to explore where they might best fit in.  We were asked to host them for Sunday dinner.  Our schedule meant that we would not be prepared to have them over to our home for dinner.  So we went to plan B.  And ended up at our house afterward.

Monday was a day of trying to get our feet back under us.  Laundry.  Shopping for foods we like to have in the fridge.  Catching up on the crazy amount of emails that we each received over the weekend while we were “off”.  And Babette had another meeting with the Havens to go over what she does as part of ReachGlobal Crisis Response ministry.  Meanwhile, Kevn was beginning to watch this crazy little tropical depression that popped up in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas.  Two of three ReachGlobal Crisis Response sites were potentially in the storms cross hairs.

The rest of the week brought long hours for Babette at the office while she worked to get some projects done that have been hard to work on while traveling.  A small dent was made.  And she had some work that needed to get done this week as well as several other meetings.  Kevin continued to track what became Tropical Storm Imelda and was forecasted to stall over Houston dumping as much rain as Hurricane Harvey did two years before.  And he continued with other work that meant days of phone calls and emails.  In the midst of all this, the Ferris’ left with a rental car for a pre-planned ministry partnership development trip to Florida.  They had to wait for parts to finish the repairs on their truck and decided the best use of the waiting time was to continue with their planned trip.  They will return to us early next week.

By Thursday Tropical Storm Imelda broke the limits on computerized rain gauges with the unprecedented amount of rain it left in Winnie and Beaumont, Texas areas when it took a slight turn to the east from Houston.  By Friday it had looped itself back over Houston leaving more rain there before moving north and weakening.  Kevin’s days became filled with more phone calls about what, if any impacts, the storm had at the response sites in Houston and in Friendswood including impacts to staff homes and homeowners properties.  Thankfully, any flooding was minimal.  But there may be a few homes to re-repair after this storm.  He also had conversation with the pastor of an EFCA church in Beaumont that ReachGlobal Crisis Response had helped for a short time after Hurricane Harvey.  The pastor expected a better of assessment of their church body’s needs by Sunday afternoon.  So those conversations and plans will continue into next week.

And we focused on our way overdue newsletter on Friday.  This is Saturday morning.  I promised myself a day off – starting after this blog.

The rest of September leading up to this week was time on the road.  We started in late August by flying up to Rochester, NY.  Kevin’s brother, Kurt, picked us up and brought us to his home in northern Pennsylvania.  We enjoyed the time with him, his wife and kids while the men finished repairs on Kevin’s new-to-him Ford F-250.  (How the truck got there for the repairs is another story).  Kevin even got to run a wagon and manure spreader which he hadn’t done since graduating high school.  I got to ride a 4-wheeler up to the top of the mountain and appreciate the view from up there.  I wish I could take more computer work breaks like that.  But almost as soon as we arrived, we learned the Hurricane Dorian was forming and might be threatening Florida.  Kevin had several long phone calls with ReachGlobal Crisis Response leadership over what plans might look like for Dorian.

After a long phone call with the Director of Crisis Response, it was decided we should continue with our planned trip until we knew what the impact of Dorian really was.  Others were called in to be ready to go to Florida as soon as needed and to prepare the trucks, trailers, and tools at the Covington warehouse.

We left Kevin’s brother’s place in Kevin’s now repaired and road worthy truck for an annual get-together of my college friends in the Rochester, NY area.  In the 12 years we have lived in Louisiana, I only made it once and that was seven years ago.  Kevin never made it during that time.  Prior to moving to Louisiana, I had never missed one and never missed having Kevin or the kids with me as each became a part of my life.  It was great to be part of that get together again.  But Kevin spent much of it calling churches in Florida, staying in touch with leadership and some others, and staying on top of the weather reports.  The changing forecasted path of Dorian and it’s crawling speed allowed us to keep moving forward with our planned trip.  But it was hard to see the Bahama’s being hit so hard.

From Rochester, we traveled to Pennsylvania on Labor Day.  While staying at my mother’s home, we criss-crossed Pennsylvania meeting with a new staff member who planned to join us at a response site in January, a couple and their children applying to join ReachGlobal Crisis Response, and another young couple praying about joining ReachGlobal Crisis Response.  We had hoped to visit some of our supporters also, but Hurricane Dorian took our focus at it was being forecasted to become a Category 5 storm before hitting the eastern coast of the United States north of Florida.  ReachGlobal Crisis Response already had an active response site in Morehead City, NC after Hurricane Florida, so much of Kevin’s phone calls included plans for the staff and equipment there.  This change in the storm’s projected path resulted in an intentional one-day delay for us returning home in case we would be needed in North Carolina sooner rather than later.  On Thursday morning, we started the trip home.  Dorian was still moving too slow to know where or if we would be needed.  And it’s potential impact was being downgraded although still concerning for Morehead City, NC.  We met up with Adriano at a beautiful lake home in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Adriano was towing a shower trailer that was in Morehead City to get it out of harms way.  A pastor from Two Rivers Church in Knoxville helped connect us with the owners of the lake home.  Sadly, we could only enjoy the home and our hosts’ hospitality for a short evening and one night’s sleep.

We finished the trip back to Covington on Friday with Kevin taking over towing the trailer when Adriano’s truck started having more and more issues while towing.  We weren’t sure what we would be returning home to.  Our son left for college while we were gone.  He did a great job leaving the house in good condition and we had encouraged him to not leave us any left overs in the fridge.  He followed through with that request.  We pulled into the driveway with Adriano following us as well as another staff member, Kat.  Kat was staying at the warehouse until she knew if and where to go as part of the potential Dorian response.  Kevin defrosted some food and pulled together a supper while I worked on getting a room ready for Adriano.

By Saturday, Kevin gave Kat and one of the regular early responders, Gene Johnson, the news they could return home.  Dorian’s impacts on Morehead City were minimal.  Yes, there would be roofs to re-shingle and re-tarp, and there would be siding to replace, but nothing like the damage Florence had done a year earlier.  We praised God for those reports while the church partner in Morehead City, One Harbor Church, looked at ways to help their neighbors in the area known as Down East.  The worst hit area on Ockrakoke Island was a three hour trip from Morehead City including a ferry ride.  At home, we spent Saturday catching up with what we could:  laundry, mail, cutting grass, unpacking from our trip and packing our camper for the next week.

On Sunday morning we went to church at Trinity Church, Covington, with our camper already hitched to the truck and ready to go.  Adriano was driving a borrowed truck since his was now partly torn apart so he could repair it.  When church was over, we got in the trucks and started the trip to Houston for the twice a year meetings for all ReachGlobal Crisis Response staff.  Everyone was to arrive Sunday.  That was probably the fastest trip we made to Houston simply because traffic was light in all of the cities along the interstate where traffic is normally heavy or even crawling.

Monday through Wednesday was three good days of well done Personal and Team Development meetings.  It’s always good to be together in person with most of the staff.  While our camper was used for a few side meetings, the need wasn’t as heavy as in times past and we were able to enjoy some down time in it in the evenings.  On Thursday, I and a few others met with a Microsoft consultant to sharpen our understanding of Teams, a Microsoft app we are using more and more.  Kevin participated in the ReachGlobal Crisis Response Lead Team meeting that afternoon.  Wrapped around that week’s meetings, Kevin had side meetings about responding to the Bahamas after Dorian.  Later he learned that the church with which we were connected was not ready for a group from Crisis Response to come.  We are still waiting on them to be ready for a few people to come meet with them and consult with them.  Conditions in the Bahamas have been preventing that so far.

Adriano and Jen left for our house on Thursday night.  Jen had been in Japan with a team that is preparing for next summer’s EFCA Challenge youth conference where the mission field in Japan would be highlighted.  A typhoon delayed her return to the USA until late Tuesday night.  She was still tired from the trip and Adriano still need to work on the truck.  We left for a campground outside of Lake Charles, LA on Friday.  And that brings us back to where I started this blog with details of this past week!

Now for that day off before we have to focus on what God has in store for us in the coming week.

Kendra’s Post High School Plans

The past few months have been a non-stop flurry of activity as my senior year drew to a close, I graduated, and summer plans have begun in full swing. At this stage of life, one question continues to arise: what’s next? Mom encouraged me to write something about my future plans to provide an answer and explanation, especially to those of you who we don’t see often.

Serious college searching began at the beginning of junior year. Touring campuses ranged from calm family weekend getaways to (more often) a complex interworking of logistics confusing enough to make my friends dizzy. Mom and Dad were incredibly supportive throughout the entire process, from buying plane tickets to making pro and con lists on a napkin in a McDonald’s booth, they listened and encouraged, but never pushed.

My final choice came down to two polar opposites: Bethel University in St. Paul, MN, (the private Christian school 14 hours from home) or Louisiana Techincal University in Ruston, LA (the public university four hours from home). I love Bethel’s mission and campus feel (plus that spring weather was wayyyyyyy better), but not the large amount of debt I’d be graduating with. Tech had more options and a full ride, but I wasn’t ready to give up the firm Biblical foundation that Bethel offered. After discussing things for the umpteenth time, Mom proposed a gap year, similar to what Dad did in attending Word of Life after high school. This began a whole new search and after logging hours on Google, we found Ecola Bible School. Well, Dad knew about it. And I heard the name from Mom and looked at her as if she were crazy while the TV was filled with news of the Ebola outbreak (the Lord has to have a sense of humor in his timing). The school, named after a nearby state park and not “as if E. Coli and Ebola had a child” as I have begun referring to it, is in Cannon Beach, OR, a quaint little beach community about an hour and a half west and a bit north of Portland. It’s just about smack-dab in the middle of the coast line. The school’s campus is actually a Christian conference center and is about two blocks from the beach, but also incredibly close to hiking and trails. Ecola teaches the Bible by both topic (AM class) and book (PM class). Each subject series is two weeks long with a different speaker for each. I’ll have had over 50 teachers by the end of my time there. They also stress local church and ministry partnerships, something I appreciated after so much time with a ministry that has the same values. While they define themselves as non-denominational, they mostly align themselves with Baptist theology. The maximum size for the student body is 150, providing some options while maintaining close connections. Here’s my personal kicker: I don’t know anyone there. I’ve never visited the school. I’ve never been to that part of the country. But that’s not stressing me out; I have peace about it. It’s so obvious this is the Lord’s plan because this peace is not my normal personality. My driven, type-A, “gotta know it all now” personality usually rebels against not knowing and the introvert in me desires deep connections before diving in. But none of that is here now. Simply knowing I’m following His path and His will makes stepping out of the safe boat into the unknown waters much easier.

After Ecola, I’ll be attending LA Tech. Though it is a public university, the Christian presence on campus is undeniable. When we toured, there were prayer request boxes in the bathrooms and bible study lists posted on dorm room bulletin boards. Tech has five  major campus ministry organizations, the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) being the largest. The BCM also has a wonderful setup for discipleship, something I hope to be able to do in applying what I’ll learn at Ecola. At Tech, I’ll be double majoring in business management and business education. I love working operations and management, which is what I do now at Chick-fil-a as a team leader and what I did on a slightly smaller scale as drum major. The education major would give me my teaching certification and I could test and earn certification in other subjects through the Praxis exam (mostly because I don’t see myself teaching high school business and keeping my sanity). I love teaching and had the unique opportunity to complete an independent study on trends and issues in education this past semester, exploring why grades are necessary, alternative grading systems, social commentaries on education’s purpose, standardized testing, and computer-based learning. The double major is about nine extra classes, which is easier to achieve thanks to Tech using the quarter system.

Thank you so much to those of you who have sent cards and gifts for graduation. I’m so grateful for your generosity and thoughtfulness. Money given first went to some big-ticket items, like a laptop, then has gone into savings towards my tuition for next year, which is around $9000 including room and food.

I’m so incredibly excited for this next step in life and cannot wait to see how the Lord will use me. While these are the plans I have now, I know His will is the most important thing and I pray I’ll be able to yield to Him rather than chasing my will. These next five years are going to be full of learning and lessons and experiences and I’m so thankful to have such an awesome God leading me through it all.

California Wild Fires

 

Burned out home in Cobb, California

Burned out home in Cobb, California

“It was like an out of control locomotive barreling down the mountainside.” Dave (name has been changed) struggled to hold back the tears as he recounted the words of his houseguests. Dave, a retired janitor at the elementary school in Cobb, housed two evacuees overnight at his home in Lake County, California before they were all forced to leave his home the next day as the fire grew larger and rapidly burned the dry, drought stricken grass and scrub brush of the hill country. “They came through the neighborhood with bullhorns telling us we had to leave NOW!” he shared as we sat at the Red Cross shelter at Grace Evangelical Free Church in Kelseyville, California. “Before I knew it, they ran saying, ‘We’re not going to wait for that fireball to come at us again!’ I don’t know where they are or where they went.” lamented Dave. On top of that experience Dave shared how his heart sank to hear the news that his friend Leonard was among the missing, then despair as he found out Leonard had died in the fire. “He lived in a dangerous place. I was afraid for him living in that box canyon, but how can you tell someone that where they live is dangerous?”

Like so many others, Dave is both directly and indirectly affected by the wild fire. Dave is dealing with both grief over the loss of his friend and survivor’s guilt because he can eventually go home to his house unlike those he housed before he needed to evacuate.

The valley fire in Lake County, is currently ranked as the 3rd most destructive wildfire in California’s history, as it has claimed over 1200 homes and taken as least 3 lives. Others are still missing. Lake County is the poorest county in California and has been described by some as the Appalachia of California. There are approximately 65,000 residents of the county and at least 25% of them have been displaced and are now living somewhere else.

Burned out apartment complex in Middletown, California

Burned out apartment complex in Middletown, California

Grace EFC is housing about 35 of those displaced in conjunction with the Red Cross, and the church will continue to work with the Red Cross through October 10th. The fires affected the church itself in that four or five homes of church attenders were lost, and at least 30 families were evacuated and displaced. Associate Pastor Chris Sherwood and his family had to evacuate to another church member’s home, as the fire threatened their home. “We didn’t see flames, but we saw the brooding, ominous orange, almost spiritual glow on the horizon, and we decided to go.” he said. “In our church, I think there is a lot of emotional sensitivity and trepidation. Even if you weren’t directly affected, you know people who were. I feel like I’ve experienced something traumatic, but I have people telling me I’m OK.”

As ReachGlobal Crisis Response, we have staff on the ground assessing the situation and in discussions with church leadership as to how to help them heal from the physical and emotional trauma as a church and also how best to reach out to meet the needs of the community within Lake County. Because as Pastor Chris said, “God has people’s attention right now.”

PRAY that we would have wisdom in how to move forward. GIVE, as the need is great.* Prepare to GO as we look to help meet needs of those in the church and in the community.

*You have two options on how to Give:

  1. Give to ReachGlobal’s ‘Crisis Response Account’  2170-39284
  2. Help support our family as we are part of the staff that is responding to this and other crises.  Mark checks with Watterson’s IMA 1517.

On-line donations can be made at efca.org/give Or checks can be mailed to EFCA ReachGlobal, 901 East 78th St., Minneapolis, MN 55420

We are not equipped to handle donations of clothes, household goods, or anything other than financial donations.

These Tornadoes Are Getting Personal (Life of A Missionary Wife in 2014, cont’d).

Yesterday was a “catch-up” day for me.  After traveling yet again while the kids had a school break, it felt good to make a productive dent in my ever growing “to do” list.  We had spent the previous week visiting family in Pennsylvania.  That visit included packing up many of my mother-in-law’s personal belongings while we tried to decide what to keep and what to give away.  It also included some time with my mother and a “belated” Easter dinner with my family.  Food, especially when cooked by my mother, is always a great incentive for my family to get together.  The second half of the week was spent in New Jersey.  An awesome team from Montvale, NJ came to help us there.  We all had a chance to reconnect with them, reconnect with staff there and with so many from Beacon EFC that we have grown to love.  But I came back to a house and life that needed my attention.

Then last night as I was preparing dinner for my family, Kevin received a text saying that friends of ours in Athens, AL had been hit by a tornado.  The text did say they and their house were okay.  Our hearts immediately went out to them and our prayers went up for them.  This family, along with several others, had become dear to our family after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that went through Harvest, AL and other communities near Hope Church in Madison, AL.  They were part of the Hope Church congregation that welcomed us into their lives and still continue to provide us encouragement and support in mulitple ways.  They were a part of that congregation that worked alongside of us in helping restore their community after both the April 27, 2011 and March 2, 2012 tornadoes.

April 27, 2011 damage in Harvest, AL

April 27, 2011 damage in Harvest, AL

I still remember how, as a family, we were able to join Kevin and John Horst on their initial evaluation visit to Hope Church just a day or two after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.  We entered an area with no electricity and night time curfews.  In the morning we saw amazing devastation.  As we drove over downed (and dead) high tension power lines and viewed the twisted metal that used to run those power lines into the area, we learned of closed, guarded neighborhoods and of deaths.  A day later we working side-by-side with a crew from the church to help clean-up Harvest, AL.  The kids and I were quickly educated in how tornadoes can remove the front wall of a house and leave the rest of the house, including pictures on the wall and items on a shelf, intact.

Kevin and Logan's tent while camping in Athens, AL.

Kevin and Logan’s tent while camping in Athens, AL.

Last night those memories came flooding back  to me as I learned that an area our family fondly calls “our third home” was being hit again.  Good Friday, Kevin and Logan had camped overnight and rode their dirt bikes on the property of our friends in Athens.  I shook my head thinking that Kevin had taken time to trim back trees and brush from the dirt bike trail.  Now that trail would be covered with downed trees and debris.  Our friends in Athens now have a tarped roof and messy yard.  But they are safe and have a church family ready to help them.  Our hearts sank to learn that a trailer park down the road from them had been wiped out.

As I type this, ReachGlobal Crisis Response is looking at how to help this area once again.  We are also looking at how to help a church in the Little Rock, Arkansas area.  And we are not yet sure what other churches will ask for help before this week is over.  Weather reports are calling for more severe storms in many of the same areas.  All of this while work continues in New Orleans, New Jersey, Staten Island, and Colorado with limited staff.  I’m sure that God used safety concerns and our children’s school schedules to keep us from packing up a truck with supplies last night and from starting the six to seven hour trip north.  And I’m thankful He did.  And I know He already knows how He will use ReachGlobal Crisis Response for His kingdom and His glory.  For now, I’ll continue to do what God has called me to do: supporting Kevin and the ministry from home and the office.  Kevin will continue doing what God has called him to do.  And we will both continue to lean on God for strength, clarity, and direction.

But this time, the potential response is more personal.  We now know these people.  We know the people whose property was hit and we know others who were completely spared.  Not only am I thanking God for protecting all of them through last night’s storms, but for enriching our lives through them.  And I’ll be praying for their continued safety in whatever storms happen.

Kevin’s Tribute to His Mother at Her Funeral

We meant to have this posted several weeks ago. Sorry for the delay to those who have been looking for it. This is the tribute Kevin gave to his mother at her funeral service:

What can I say about mom… she wasn’t just mom. She was and always will be a whole lot more.  Many of you knew her before I did.  I have heard many of you describe her as… an open book, unfiltered, a hoot, determined, Life of the Party.

She was always an intense person, almost always moving, rarely sitting still.  She was a doer and a “get it done now” kind of person.  Some might even call her impatient.  But the fact of the matter is she knew how to get things done.

To many of you she was the life of the party.  She was jovial, so much so that one of her cousins told me, “Her laughter rings like beautiful music in my heart and mind.”  She knew how to laugh and her laugh was contagious.  I sometimes enjoyed sitting back and watching how her laughter rippled out to those in her presence.  There were many family get-togethers where she had the whole room roaring, either by what she said or by how she reacted to what others said.

I think all of us Watterson’s will remember the Christmas dinner where someone mentioned that they were going to keep a low profile for one reason or another by traveling incognito.  That in itself was funny, but the exchange that happened after that had us roaring for many Christmas dinners to come.  When Mom asked what incognito meant, the reply was given, “It means to go in disguise.”  Mom had a puzzled look on her face and asked, “So the next time I fly on an airplane I’ll be going incognito?”  “No Debbie, in disguise, not in the skies!!”

She was an open book.  She wore her emotions on her sleeve.  There weren’t too many times when you didn’t know what she was thinking or how she was feeling.  No matter what the emotion, it was on display.  I think she was more open about her emotions with us immediate family members than with others, but maybe not.  I know that when she was mad, we knew it.  When she felt wronged or mistreated by someone, we knew it.  When she felt down and depressed, we knew it.  And when she thought we should do something a different way, we knew it.  But by the same token, when she was proud of us, we knew it.  When she was excited about our accomplishments, we knew it.

There were times though when English words were not enough to express her true emotion and feeling.  Those were the times when she just made up expressions.  I know she made them up and that they aren’t really words because my spell check didn’t know what to do, and my auto correct kept trying to change them while I was trying to write this.  Words like:

  • “Woofdy”- Used in a sentence like: isn’t that just woofdy. Meaning that the situation was bad, no good could come of such a situation such as this.
  • “Heeva Hava” – Used in a sentence like: Why must you boys be so heeva hava?Meaning that you are not more than a half a step beyond redneck. For instance: if you sand blast your pick-up truck fender panels in your basement, you might be heeva hava. Or if your mini bike catches on fire because you used cheese cloth as a replacement air filter, you might be heeva hava.

And there were other expressions like:

  •  “You Gooka-mer!” Or
  • “You’re talking like a man up a tree!”

We weren’t really familiar with those expressions either, but she was still able to communicate what she meant.

I think the reason she came up with these expressions was because her sons just about drove her out of her mind as she tried to raise us.  She was given a monumental task to carry out when our Dad died.  I know she felt overwhelmed trying to raise us without a “man in the house”…because she told us so.  She did her best to be Dad as well as Mom to us.  She put up with a lot of crap while she was trying to raise us, but she still allowed us to be who were as boys even if it drove her nuts.  I know there were times she wished we were girls so she could relate to us better…yea, she told us that too.  But she did the best that she could, and would often put us in situations where we would have a good Christian male role model.

Mom also sacrificed a lot for Kurt and me.  She put aside her desire to “find a man” and remarry until the right man came along.  I remember her having many suitors, but ironically, none of them suited.  In fact at one point she joked that “my first husband died of cancer and my second husband must have been still-born”.  She was picky about whom she would marry because not only was she looking for her next husband, she was looking for a man who would be a good father to her sons.  I’m sure there were times that we scared some eligible suitors away, but she didn’t stop looking.  It wasn’t until Kurt and I gave her the daughters she never had by marrying Julie and Babette, that she could feel comfortable finally remarrying.  She didn’t need to try to fulfill both needs with one person anymore.  She finally found her second husband, who was not still-born by the way, and married Homer after we were out of the house and starting our own families.

Her biggest concern for us was not that we would necessarily grow up be successful, but that we would grow up to love Jesus.  She taught us the Bible, took us to church, sent us to camp, made sure we went to any Wednesday night youth program that was available, all with the intention of training us up to be Men of God.

Mom loved Jesus and I know her relationship with him is what got her through so many difficult times, and why she was so joyful.  Just as David could proclaim in the book of Psalms, so Mom could say, “ The joy of the Lord is my strength”.  I wasn’t sure if that would hold out after she was diagnosed with cancer.  I have a sense that she knew cancer would eventually take her life, but she was determined to fight it and to do on her terms.  She chose to fight it without chemo, radiation or by any other means that would compromise her quality of life.  The method she chose made her feel better than she had felt in years, even better than she felt before she contracted cancer.

I was blessed to be able to spend most of the week with her while she was in the hospice facility before they sent her home.  We had some great conversation sharing memories and even talking about her future.  She still held out hope that she would get better, but had made peace with the fact that barring a major miracle, she was going to die.  But she had hope – the same hope from which she drew her strength in the other dark hours of her life years before.  Not a hope like, “I hope I win the power ball,” but rather a confidence in what comes next after life here on earth is over.

You see Mom knew Jesus.  She had a personal relationship with Him and knew that because of that relationship with Him, she was going to heaven when she finally passed away.  She shared with me her concern that some of you, her friends and family, don’t have that confidence.  She was concerned that some of you don’t have that personal relationship with Jesus like she did.  She wanted to make sure you understood how important it was that you have that relationship with Jesus, so that you can have that same hope and confidence that she and others of us here have, knowing that when we die, we will see her again and spend eternity with her and Jesus in heaven forever.

I don’t know if you realize this or not, but death was never what God intended.  Way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were perfect beings, made in the image of God, but Adam and Eve made a fatal mistake.  That mistake wasn’t just eating an apple.  It was being disobedient to God by eating a fruit that He had specifically told them not to eat.  In their disobedience, they sinned against God.  Because they ate it, sin entered the world for the first time.  Because they sinned by disobeying God, they created a problem.  God is a perfect God, in Him there is no sin, and He cannot tolerate sin in His presence because He is perfect.  Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” That’s when death came into the world.  You see Adam and Eve were created as eternal beings, and now since God had created them as eternal beings, God sort of had a dilemma.  He had to separate them from Himself.  In essence He had to break the relationship with them.

The first half of verse 23 in Romans chapter 6 tells us that the wages of sin is death.  So since Adam and Eve were created as eternal beings.  They and all of their children down through time, (meaning you and me) would now carry the “sin gene” and we would have to pay eternally for the sins we commit.  But God in His mercy could not allow us to remain in a sinful state forever.  Sin causes us to be separated from God forever, and God doesn’t want us to be separated from Him.  God still loves us even though we aren’t perfect.  So He had to make a way for us to be able to have relationship with Him again.

So, according to Romans 5:8, God shows us that love He has for us and His desire to reconcile our relationship with Him.  The verse says, “But God shows His love for us this way; while we were sinners Christ died for us.”

The only way that reconciliation can occur is through Jesus.  We can’t earn our reconciliation, we can’t plead for it and we can’t buy it.  The only way to be reconciled is through believing and accepting that Jesus provided it for us.  Jesus being both fully God and fully man lived a perfect sinless life and became the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  He “paid our wages” for us through His death.   Hanging on a cross, He became separated from God and died for us so that we no longer need to live separated from God. When we accept that Christ is the only way to be reconciled with God and believe that, it ends our separation from God – once and for all.  That’s the other half of what Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death, but God’s gift to us is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Contrary to what society and other religions say, this is the only way have a relationship with God, to get to heaven and have eternal Life.

Jesus tells us this in his own words in John 14:6 when he said, “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the father except through me.” He makes it pretty clear, there is only one way.  Why would he make a claim like that if it were not true?  Once we accept these truths, we are then able to have what Jesus, in John 10:10, called “abundant life ” here on earth and eternal life with him after we leave this earth.  We were created as eternal beings and we will spend that eternity somewhere; either with God in Heaven or separated from him (that would be Hell). Heaven or Hell.  One or the other.  The choice is ours.

Death is a reminder that we are sinful creatures.  Death separates us from the ones we love and the ones who love us.  God loves us so much that He couldn’t leave us separated from Him forever.  He has provided the way.  But we have to accept it.  He won’t make us choose the path that leads to abundant and eternal life.  He leaves that in our hands.  Which way have you chosen to go?  Will you walk in His path or go your own way?  His way leads to life.  Our way leads to death and separation from God for eternity.

To me the choice is obvious.  It was to Mom and it has been for many of you here.  There are others here that mom was concerned about.  Concerned that you may have not yet chosen the path that leads to life, both abundant and eternal.  Are you sure you are on the right path?  If you don’t know for sure and you want to be sure, then we need to talk.

Kendra’s Tribute to Her Nana Debbie at the Funeral

Debbie and grandkids

Nana Debbie was one of the best grandmothers anyone could ask for. There were candy stashes left and right, favorite books saved for nap time, tea times where I would run to the staircase to “refill” the teapot, cramming the four grandkids and both grandparents into the car listening to enough sing-along Bible song cassettes to make anyone crazy. But she did it all abundantly and enthusiastically, showing her love. Some of my favorite memories are from being with her in that basement apartment.

When I was little, I’d call Nana after she got home from work. She’d ask if I wanted to come and take a nap at her place. Through the phone, I’d nod yes (I was never much of a talker). There was another point where I ran into a post on mom and dad’s bed. It was minor, but serious enough to require a trip to the ER. But Logan got to stay at Nana’s. I found this totally unfair and quickly became grumpy as we drove to the hospital.

They were all simple acts, simple memories. “Picnics” in the front lawn, complete with a picnic basket and bubbles. “Swimming” in a Kidde pool, Nana always having an extra change of clothes ready when I got wet. Standing on a step stool, stirring lemonade with the same wooden spoon every time. Sitting in the old restaurant at Dutch-way, splitting a grilled cheese, looking for Dad’s truck, coloring on the placemats.

One couldn’t help but catch onto her interesting idioms. While working on an activity in Pre-K, I became frustrated, exclaiming “for crying in a bucket!” Imagine my dismay when that wasn’t an actual phrase that people knew. Years later, I checked our dictionary of idioms, desperate to understand what she was saying, only to find nothing.

She loved us all deeply, and one couldn’t help but return the love. But even more so, she was concerned for our spiritual well-being. The ring I wear as my purity ring was her original engagement ring. But at the same time, it serves as a constant reminder for me to keep Jesus first, to love Him most. My Bible was given to me by her. She looked at our success by how much we loved and served Jesus. There wasn’t pressure, even question, to have a boyfriend, a job, to meet the world’s standards of success.

In return, that fills me with hope. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt she’s in heaven, praising Jesus. After seeing her for the last time, my Bible reading for the night included Job 19:26- 27
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.”

Nana is free from all pain and suffering, complete through God’s great love and mercy. And to me, that’s greater than any memory.

I Kissed Mom Good-bye for the Last Time Tonight.

Kevin’s “journaling” a few hours after leaving his mother’s hopice room to travel back to Louisiana:
I kissed my mom goodbye for the last time tonight. It didn’t play out like I hoped it would. I wanted to have a few minutes alone to tell her how much she means to me, how much I love her and share a few final thoughts. I wanted to tell her to say hi to Dad and Grandpa and Grandma Hershey, Grandma Watterson and Gratz. Instead I’m in a room full of family and all I can do is hug her, kiss her and say I love you all while sobbing uncontrollably. We embrace for what wasn’t long enough, but what felt like a long time. She kept saying,” It’ll be ok. It’ll be ok. This is probably the last time you’ll see me alive”, and in my heart I know it’s the truth- but I don’t want it to be.
I want her to be there reaching for the hydrogen peroxide and band aids when I wreck my bike. I want her to be there sleeping on the couch when I come home late from a date during high school. I want her to loudly announce ” and this is going to be my new daughter in law!” when I bring Babette to her 50th birthday party. I want her to proudly show off her grandkids to all of her friends. I want her to jump up out of her chair, hug me and exclaim ” you made it!” When I come through the door after a long drive in from wherever I was. I want her to be peacefully lying in the hospital bed when I quietly open the huge door to her hospice room. But none of that is going to happen anymore. The next time I see her body will be neatly dressed and primped for her final trip- but she won’t be there. Praise God she will no longer be experience the pain and disease of this world- instead she will be more alive than any of us could ever dream, running and jumping and giggling, romping in the green pastures and beside the still waters of heaven. Greeting family and friends who have gone before, singing with the angelic choirs and bowing down with the saints and elders of heaven worshipping the Lamb and saying holy holy holy is The Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! Because of Jesus I will one day join her there, and she’ll probably run up hug me and proclaim ” you made it!” once again as soon as I walk through the pearly gates into her new home.

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