Pacific Union “All God’s People,” June 28, 2019 Episode 325

All God’s People for the week of June 28, 2019
Episode #325

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Press Together Juice Bar Gives Young People New Outlet for Ministry
With help from a Pacific Union Creative Evangelism grant, an Adventist-church owned juice bar opened in downtown Ogden, Utah. In addition to providing healthful food items, Press Together Juicery is also creating unique ministry opportunities for young people like Abel and Jazmin Alvarado. Their goals for this new platform of outreach? To become the hub of community service projects in the Ogden area.
Learn more:

June 29 Offering Designated for Pacific Southwest Mission Opportunities
Tomorrow, Sabbath, June 29, is the Impact Pacific offering. The offerings are used to respond to opportunities for mission unique to the Pacific Union and are used exclusively within the local conference for mission opportunities in three areas:
Native Peoples—Projects that directly benefit ministries working with Native Americans and Native Hawaiians.
Mission in Context—Projects that are anchored in responding to specific local needs, particularly Refugee and Immigrant Ministries.
Providential Opportunities—Projects that are initiated because of an extraordinary opportunity for impacting the communities we serve that go beyond, or outside of, the scope of existing ministries.
Learn more about this offering and how it is impacting the west via the link below:

Happy 4th of July to All God’s People!
Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 243 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire. And now, those 13 original colonies have grown to 50 states! Learn about the establishment of the five states in the Pacific Union in this week’s episode of All God’s People. These five amazing states make up our Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, with over 220,000 members—the 2nd largest Union in the North American Division.

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“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17

2019-06-28T10:44:37-07:00June 28th, 2019|All Gods People|

Native American Ministries Serves Unreached Communities in the Pacific Southwest

Nancy Crosby

The Pacific Union Conference is home to over 1.2 million Native Americans, the largest population of Native Americans residing within any of the unions in the North American Division. Yet this population is the least reached by our church. We are called to witness to all nations, but Native Americans have been neglected. Native American Ministries is currently working to reverse this problem.

The Nevada-Utah Conference decided early in the year to focus on supporting the Kayenta Mission in Arizona as it reaches out to share the gospel with the Navajo people. The fruits of these efforts are now being harvested. Kayenta Mission has begun a women’s brunch ministry and has held two successful events so far. The ladies enjoy fellowshipping together at these brunches. Also, the mission received needed repairs thanks to missionary supporters from Daystar Academy, who helped with landscaping work, painting, and fence building.

Southeast of Kayenta, Chinle Mission is sharing the gospel with many whose lives are filled with addiction, abuse, and pain. Walla Walla student Rebekah Fink is currently leading the children’s ministry for the mission. Don Krimmer, an Adventist Alcoholics Anonymous volunteer abuse counselor at Chinle Mission, is another integral worker in witnessing about Christ’s love and forgiveness. At least one precious soul is currently receiving Bible studies as a part of a journey to become an Adventist as a direct result of the help, love, and acceptance felt from the church.

In Page, Arizona, volunteer Bible worker Milika Saafi is doing door-to-door work and giving Bibles studies. Moreover, the Page Mission community garden, Seeds for Life, added several new plots thanks to Pacific Union funding. Interest from the community is growing, and with the largest coal-powered plant west of the Mississippi closing in December, the hope is that the garden will help provide for those in need.

Preliminary planning stages for an Adventist World Radio station in the Navajo Nation are in motion. All conferences involved are very supportive of this project. We hope that the station will reach the majority of the Navajo Nation. Through this, we pray that many Native Americans will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and that as the work moves forward many souls can be harvested for the kingdom.

Together with North American Division Community Services, the Nevada-Utah Conference is exploring other opportunities to connect with Native Americans. They have begun using American Indian Living Magazine—an Adventist lifestyle publication that encourages healthy living. Over the next few years, the Pacific Union will supply churches with this magazine to distribute to tribal offices and clinics in their area.

There is still a need for short- and long-term missionaries. If you, your church, or your school would like to experience the life-changing and gratifying experience of serving on a mission, please contact Nancy Crosby at 217-322-2516 or


Community members gather for a women’s brunch hosted at the Kayenta Mission.

Photo by Nancy Crosby

2019-06-18T15:18:13-07:00June 27th, 2019|News|

Blythe Church Aids in Riverside County Humanitarian Crisis

Faith Hoyt

Responding to the need created by the sudden influx of homeless migrant families in Riverside County, Adventist believers from the Blythe Spanish church are providing help in the form of food, lodging, and clean clothing.

According to an article published by the Desert Sun in April, “On March 28, Yuma sector Border Patrol officials started releasing migrant families from their custody, because their three processing centers—including one in Blythe—were overflowing with recently apprehended migrant families.”

Jesus Jacquez, pastor of the Blythe church, reported that his congregation first got involved in providing help to local homeless in the spring of 2018 when the church was approached by Riverside University Health System’s “HHOPE” program about providing aid.

The church responded by inviting homeless people to their facility to take showers, to get clean clothes during the weekdays, and to eat a hot meal. This year, the church expanded their outreach ministry to include providing a place for homeless migrants to stay overnight, access to on-site social workers, and free Bibles and copies of Steps to Christ (Camino a Cristo).

The church’s outreach efforts are made possible solely through donations from church members and the local community, which have included funding, clothes, food, and volunteers. Jacquez shared that his small congregation has stepped up to help even though the church struggles to cover their growing outreach expenses.

For now, the congregation provides various services for an average of 70 people each day.

“The primary reason the church became involved was because we wanted to become active in the community,” Jacquez said. “The migrant crisis is an opportunity to help. We have the facility, so we went forward by faith.”

For the Blythe church, now is the time to apply the words of Leviticus 19:34: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself” (NIV).

Learn more about the Riverside County humanitarian crisis at:

To learn more about how you can support the Blythe church outreach efforts, call 760-922-0644.


Church members tend a booth with free books and magazines in Spanish for migrants.

2019-06-18T15:07:30-07:00June 25th, 2019|News|

The Road She Travelled

by Ray Tetz

The note from her uncle trembled in the young queen’s hands. She fought back the tears and shook her head fiercely as if to shake off the meaning of the words Mordecai had written. And then Esther, a queen far too inexperienced to be tested so dramatically, straightened her shoulders, took a deep breath, and turned back to the messenger to render her reply.

The world that she lived in was being roiled by political intrigue and turmoil. Unchecked selfishness and ego had already cost the faithful queen Vashti her life. Esther, the new queen, had been thrust into the spotlight through a series of seemingly impossible events. And yet here she stood, at the very portal of extraordinary influence. She had only begun to realize how powerful she could be, and there were those within her queenly court who were quite willing to help her wield that power—including, it seemed, her uncle and guardian, Mordecai.

But the appeal that he made in the note she held in her hands was not for prestige or power. Esther’s predicament was not about the nation; it was about Esther. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NIV).

Yes, it was a dark time for the people of God. Gone were the days when their wisdom was sought after and their character and righteousness valued and revered. The falsity of human ambition and domination could now be seen and heard in the unbridled rhetoric of the king’s court and in the callous manipulation of the law of the land for selfish and devilish purposes.

While Mordecai’s note to Esther acknowledged this situation, it was not his primary focus. Mordecai knew that God would save His people. He believed that the survival of the people of God was not in Esther’s hands. It was in God’s hands. If Esther was not the means to help bring God’s purposes to pass, most certainly another means for their salvation would be made clear.

As her uncle and her guardian, Mordecai wrote to Esther not on a matter of state but on a matter of personal importance. He sought to focus her attention on the single most important thing in her life: her own destiny.

Mordecai was not concerned that God would fail to bring His purposes to pass. He trusted God. But he was concerned that Esther would not be a part of God’s redemption and that the purpose of her life would be unfulfilled. His message was not meant to save God’s people; God had already taken care of that. His message was meant to save Esther.

“For such a time as this.” It was an appeal for Esther to remember who she was, and where she was, and the grand purpose that God had for her life. It was a call to embrace the purpose of her life. It was an invitation to view all that happened through the eyes of faith.

And so as Esther turned her attention to the response she would send to Mordecai, her eyes were shining with the recognition of God’s great purpose for her life and her heart was pounding with excitement that her destiny was truly in God’s hands.

While her earlier responses had seemed to indicate a quizzical or even reluctant attitude, Esther responded with courage and clarity to this message, just as Mordecai had hoped she would. “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15-16, NIV).

The die was cast, the pathway chosen, the decision was made. Not only would the people of Israel be saved but Esther would be counted among them as one of the faithful. Youth and beauty notwithstanding, it is clarity of purpose and personal courage that Esther would forever be known for. She saw the way forward, and placing herself completely within the abundant care of God, she resolutely took up her destiny.


Ray Tetz is the director of communication and community engagement for the Pacific Union Conference.

2019-06-24T11:36:01-07:00June 24th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” June 21, 2019 Episode 324

All God’s People #324 – Congrats to Graduates, A #FollowHim Film Contest Winner, Bria Gamble Crowned Miss Oakwood, Enactus Team at Nationals – for the week of June 21, 2019

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Congratulations, Graduates!
We are proud of all of our young people from the five states that make up our Union, especially our graduates from elementary schools, academies, and institutions of higher education. To all the 2019 graduates, congratulations! God bless you in the next steps of your journey.

Calexico Student Places in Top 3 For
Adventist Mission Film Contest
The #FollowHim contest by Adventist Mission asked students ages 18 and under to make short films telling the world how mission inspires them to follow God every day. Yakov, a student at Calexico Mission School, decided to create a video highlighting the challenges students at his school face every day. He says filmmaking is one of his passions in life. Congratulations, Yakov, on creating this wonderful, one-minute film!

Watch the Film:

Mt. Rubidoux Church Member
Wins Miss Oakwood Title
Bria Imani Gamble, a member of Mt. Rubidoux SDA church in Riverside, Calif., and senior Biology major at Oakwood University just won the title of Miss Oakwood for the next school year. Gamble credits her success at school to her involvement in church activities like the Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training, sports, orchestra, a close-knit family. In high school, Gamble was the first African-American president of her senior class and she learned, first-hand, the impact representation of Black excellence can have on the members of a community. She believes anyone can accomplish their goals with God on their side.
Learn more:

La Sierra Enactus Team Places Among
Top 3 in US National Competition
Six students from La Sierra University’s Enactus team recently attended the US National Enactus competition where they placed 3rd for their project which focuses on improving education for students. These students are using business concepts to develop community outreach projects, transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.

Learn more:

Watch the finals:

Camps Ready to Launch Ministry-Filled
Summer for Young People
In the Pacific Union, we operate six wonderful summer camps. In Arizona, we have Camp Yavapines; in Central California, there is Camp Wawona—the only Adventist camp operated within a National Park; Camp Waianae on the leeward side of Oahu is our camp in Hawaii; Northern California operates Leoni Meadows; Pine Springs Ranch in the San Jacinto Mountains is the camping destination for Southeastern California; and Camp Cedar Falls, in the San Bernardino Mountains, is the camp and retreat center operated by Southern California.

Be sure and check out the website for each camp to get more information on schedules and activities for the summer. It will be an unforgettable gift you can give to your children or grandchildren.

Camp Cedar Falls:

Camp Wai’anae:

Camp Yavapines:

Leoni Meadows Camp:

Camp Wawona:

Pine Springs Ranch:

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“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
Acts 2:17-18 (NIV)

2019-06-21T09:22:10-07:00June 21st, 2019|All Gods People|

Pacific Union Hosts NAD Asian-Pacific Pastors’ Convention

Faith Hoyt

Pastors from across North America, Canada, Guam-Micronesia, and Bermuda gathered in Ontario, Calif., from May 13-16 for the North American Division Asian-Pacific Pastors’ Convention.

About 400 pastors and spouses registered for the convention, which was hosted at the Ontario Airport Hotel & Conference Center.

“The convention brought our pastors a renewed passion for study of the Bible and helped them embrace the relevance of planting and growing healthy churches,” said VicLouis Arreola, director of Asian-Pacific Ministries for both the Pacific Union Conference and the North American Division. “This gathering was an upper room experience that prepared them to meet the challenges of these end times and finishing the work.”

According to Arreola, this is the third NAD-wide Asian-Pacific pastors’ convention to be hosted. As the host of conventions in years past, the Pacific Union extended invitations to other unions. Now, NAD Asian-Pacific conventions bring Asian-Pacific pastors together once every three years, and Pacific Union conventions continue to be hosted yearly.

For Arreola and his team, who work to provide this opportunity for those in ministry, the NAD convention is a time to celebrate the diversity of and ministry to 33 different cultural language groups. The convention is also an opportunity for the Asian-language advisories to meet, plan, and renew their mission and vision for reaching the communities in this division.

“One of the goals of having this convention is to gather the pastors in the North American Division and fellowship together,” said Bernard Castillo, administrative assistant for Asian-Pacific Ministries in the Pacific Union, “as well as continuing education for all the pastors.”

Pastors who attend the convention earn five continuing education units through attendance at various sessions hosted by professors from Andrews University Theological Seminary and the HMS Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University, as well as other guest presenters. Pastors attended courses on New Testament theology, Old Testament theology, archaeology, pastoral care and counseling, systematic theology, and church growth and evangelism. Course curriculum included SDA foundational studies, interpersonal ministry, outreach in the community, applied pastoral skills, and concepts of church growth.

Sessions were also offered for the spouses of pastors and were coordinated by Imelda Arreola. Topics by guest presenters included “How to Thrive in the Journey of Ministry,” “Serving with my Spiritual Gifts,” and “The Pastor’s Wife and Healthy Self-Worth.”

This year’s convention was themed “Redeeming the Time.” Guest speakers included Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division; Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference; and Randy Roberts, senior pastor of the Loma Linda University Church.

The pastors in attendance represented many of the 820 Asian-Pacific churches across the U. S., Canada, Bermuda, and Guam-Micronesia. For these pastors, the fellowship, continuing education, and time for spiritual renewal make these conventions both a professionally and spiritually significant event.

2019-06-18T14:58:30-07:00June 20th, 2019|News|

Pacific Union Launches Quarterly Recorder en español

Faith Hoyt

At the beginning of the year, the Pacific Union Recorder launched the first ever quarterly edition of the magazine in Spanish.

The Recorder en español features editorials, news from Hispanic ministries in the seven conferences, and information about events of interest to Spanish-speaking members. In January of this year, the Union launched the winter (inverno) edition of the magazine, followed by a spring (primavera) edition in April. The summer (verano) edition is expected to go to press in late June.

“The membership of the Pacific Union includes Spanish-speakers, and we want to acknowledge them as part of our fellowship,” said Alberto Valenzuela, editor of the magazine and associate communication director for the Pacific Union. “A Recorder in Spanish provides a good way to share the news that is coming from a large part of our community here in the Pacific Southwest.”

Prior to producing the Recorder en español, the Pacific Union Hispanic Ministries department produced En Contacto. Following departmental changes, production of En Contacto paused, and ultimately the goals and vision of the publication transitioned into the production of the Recorder en español.

“Since we stopped the old magazine, En Contacto, it is a good time to send this!” shared Jorge P. Soria, vice president of the Pacific Union. “The new magazine includes great articles that can be shared with those who are studying the Bible. It is good for churches to have it on hand to share with visitors.”

The Pacific Union Department of Communication and Community Engagement works with Pacific Press to deliver batches of the magazine directly to the Hispanic members living in the Pacific Southwest. Currently, Recorder en español reaches an estimated 20, 000 Adventist homes in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.

According to Alberto Ingleton, director of Hispanic Ministries for the Pacific Union Conference, a regularly produced magazine in Spanish shows care and meets an important need in the Pacific Union Conference territory. “We have a large community of first generation Hispanics,” Ingleton explained. “Their native language is Spanish, and a magazine in Spanish will allow for greater understanding and more effective communication. These members hold leadership positions such as elders and departmental directors, and a Spanish magazine helps us connect to the leaders in our Hispanic churches.” Ingleton shared that part of the connection includes being able to share events, news, and projects with members that, through their involvement, help to fulfill the mission of the church.

With an estimated 15 million Spanish and Portuguese-speaking people living in the five states in the Pacific Union region, the Pacific Union recognizes the need to offer more multi-lingual resources.

Read the latest edition of the Recorder en español by visiting:


Alberto Valenzuela, editor of the magazine and associate communication director for the Pacific Union, presents the second quarterly edition of Recorder en español.

Photo by Connie Jeffery


2019-06-18T14:52:02-07:00June 18th, 2019|News|

A Cure for Boredom

by Becky De Oliveira

I used to get bored. “Mom,” I’d wail, “there’s nothing to do!” My mother would always retort, “Clean your room.” This was not even remotely satisfying as a response and just made me wail harder. My mother was unmoved.

I continued to experience boredom until I was 21 years old—a full three years into a college degree. Living in Walla Walla, Washington, I’d often moan about how there was “nothing to do in this pathetic small town.” I never reflected on the meaning of my boredom—what it might reveal about my character. It seemed a given that the world should be doing more to keep me entertained and occupied. It was the world’s fault (Walla Walla’s anyway), not mine.

And then I found myself on a Norwegian train for 34 hours—all the way to the Arctic Circle (a town called Lønsdal) and back down to Oslo—with nothing to read, no paper to doodle on, and nothing to munch on except stale bread and a jar of gummy raspberry jam. I spent these hours gazing out the window and adjusting my position (dismally seated upright in a two-seats-per-row configuration) whenever my backside or legs began to feel numb. I watched Norwegian children scurry up and down the aisles with bottles of Coca-Cola, huge poppy seed muffins, and bags of chips from the snack trolley and considered the possible ramifications of distracting the kids long enough to steal their food, which tended to land on the floor anyway. I was dehydrated, but made frequent trips to the restroom anyway—just to have something to do. At some point along the way, I realized that my boredom was a fatal character flaw. You will probably never see any of this again, I thought. Soak it up. Pay attention. So I started to really look and to feel. Even now, I remember the landscape. I remember how it felt to be so hungry.

A few years ago, I was again traveling to Norway and I ended up in the Copenhagen airport waiting for 13 hours for a connecting flight to Stavanger. This could have been a boring situation—but lucky for me, I was in my 40s and permanently cured of boredom. As airports go, Copenhagen’s is pretty interesting. I had 10 Danish krone (about a $1.50) that I had received in change for something I’d bought on my SAS flight from Chicago, and I created a little game for myself in the airport. First I went through every shop, every newsstand, slowly, and made a list of everything I could afford to buy for 10 krone. That list is as follows: an apple, a pear, a banana, a packet of yeast. There were a number of items that were just out of my price range (potato chips, morning buns, candy bars). I’ll spare the suspense: in the end, I bought the pear and it was delicious. I ate it very slowly while watching all the interesting people scurrying past. I had a pretty good day.

Nowadays, I never say I’m bored. This is partly because I have raised two children and my part in this particular life sketch has changed—my line is, “Clean your room,” and I utter it with the conviction that many a classically trained stage actor would envy. But I also never say I’m bored because I generally don’t feel it—and if I begin to feel the stirrings of anything approaching boredom, I deal with it like a hypochondriac reaching for the bottled zinc at the first sign of a scratchy throat. (Perhaps I even clean my room.) I remind myself that life is a gift and my presence here in this moment is nothing short of a miracle. If I can’t find some interest in the world around me, what’s the point?

I wonder what a cure for spiritual boredom might be. So many of us struggle with our relationship with God—perhaps looking for novelty, for something exciting (but not too exciting!) to happen. We expect a lot from our lives and from our spiritual journeys—adventure, romance. It can be difficult to accept the daily plodding quality of fulfilling duties, faithfully and with joy. I appreciate this verse: “I am not saying this because I am in any need, for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in” (Philippians 4:11, ISV).


Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.

2019-06-17T09:32:43-07:00June 17th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” June 14, 2019 Episode 323

All God’s People for the week of June 14, 2019
Episode #323 – Flag Day, Refugee Sabbath, Aid for Immigrants in Blythe, Graduations, and a Special Father’s Day Message from Ricardo Graham

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A Tribute to Flag Day
Did you know that people across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption? Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation’s freedom. When you see flags flying today, take a moment to reaffirm your gratitude for this great country and your faith in liberty and justice for all.
Learn more:

Adventist Church in the Pacific Southwest Celebrates World Refugee Sabbath on June 15
The Seventh-day Adventist Church will commemorate Refugee Sabbath tomorrow, June 15, which also marks the Sabbath closest to June 20, a day chosen by the United Nations as World Refugee Day.
Learn more:

Blythe Church in Riverside County Provides Aid for Immigrants
A number of churches in the Pacific Union are ministering to immigrants and refugees, and one of them is the Blythe Spanish church in Riverside County, California. This small church of about 45 members is working closely with Riverside County officials and providing immediate assistance to migrant families who have been given an appointment with authorities and have been released from custody by the Border Patrol to travel to the cities where they will eventually settle. Read the rest of this story on page 44 of the June Recorder, or watch a video report from the LA Times/San Diego Union-Tribune linked below.

Pacific Southwest Celebrates Graduation Weekend
This is graduation weekend for La Sierra University, Pacific Union College, and many of the Schools at Loma Linda University. This weekend will be a high point in the lives of the graduates and their families. On behalf of all of us at All God’s People, congratulations and blessings to each of you!

Links for the graduation schedule for each of these three institutions below:

A Father’s Day Message

Elder Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, shares a special message for Dads on Father’s Day in this week’s episode of All God’s People.

“Father’s Day is a day for gratitude for those who have loved you and have been particularly important on your journey through life. People who have given you the attention you needed at just the right moment; who have supported you through good times and bad; who have provided direction or motivation; who have mentored or challenged you to use your gifts and become a better person; who have shared their own life experiences in generous ways…” Watch the episode for the full message!

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“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11 NIV

2019-06-14T14:18:07-07:00June 14th, 2019|All Gods People|


by Becky De Oliveira


My most finely-honed skill is waking up in the morning, and it’s probably the thing about me—other than the fact that I attended a Nirvana concert when Kurt Cobain was still alive, back in 1992—that tends to most impress other people. I get up at precisely 4:46 a.m. every day. Yes, even weekends. My birthday. Christmas Day.

“Wow,” people say. “You must be so productive.”

You would think. But no. Not really. I run. Walk a bit. Read a bit. My day pretty much goes downhill from there. I work, of course, but rarely accomplish as much as I’d planned. In the morning, the day stretches ahead, filled with possibility. There are all kinds of things I might achieve! I make lists of them while I run. I tell myself that I will spend no fewer than 30 minutes writing and that I’ll start the minute I get my kids out the door for school. This almost never happens; I tend instead to work in sporadic bursts of energy interrupted by long periods of inertia.

The fact is that I am, and always have been, a whole lot better and more productive in my head. I have had to struggle to become any kind of doer. One of my favorite children’s books is Oh the Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss. “You can think about red. You can think about pink. You can think up a horse. Oh, the thinks you can think!” I’ve thought of some great stuff. Story plotlines. Poems. Novels. Paintings. T-shirt designs. Ball gowns. How I might win the Olympics in shot put. Birch bark canoes. Ways to make my own shoes.

And as a kid, thinking was pretty much all I did. I made up stories, invented contraptions, and tunneled all the way to China, in my mind. What I disliked about doing was that nothing worked out quite the way I’d imagined it would. I could never quite pull off the intricately beaded Indian costume, the full-sized battering ram, or the igloo. Nearly every project ended in profound disappointment. In my head, I landed my round off/back handspring/back tuck every single time—to the thunderous applause of a huge audience—but at the gym, I mostly landed on my head. It took me a long time to learn how to actually do things and accept their inherent imperfections.

A large part of doing is really nothing more than making a simple decision to act. It sounds simple, but can be incredibly hard to do sometimes.

For example, during my senior year of high school, I went skiing with a group from school. About the time we got in our cars to drive home, the road through the mountain pass was closed because of concern about avalanches. I was already in the car with a woman and her daughter—people I did not know particularly well but had ended up riding with. The two of them walked back to the lodge—as did many people—and ate French fries and drank hot chocolate and generally made merry. Not me. I decided that the road would open more quickly if I hunkered down in the back seat of the car, damp and cold. I had nothing to eat and became increasingly grumpy and miserable as the hours crept by. The woman and her daughter came back eventually and ate an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies without offering me a single one, and I fumed and stewed and became increasingly miserable. The roads finally opened, and I got home in time to jump in the shower and get ready to go to school. Not a high point in my life.

Contrast that with another day—similar in many ways, but one that I consider among the best days of my life. Perhaps three years later, I was driving back to college and crossing the same mountain pass. Again, an avalanche warning closed the highway and I, along with dozens of other drivers, was diverted to a truck stop. For maybe half an hour I sat in my car, wrapped in a down sleeping bag and staring out the window. Then, for some reason, I decided to get out of the car. Just that one simple thing: I got out of the car. And magic! Lining up to use the pay phone—this being the era before mobiles were widely used—I met two other people around my age and we formed a sort of posse of activity. We three pushed cars out of ditches and drove around rescuing people. We sat in the diner and drank free coffee and listened for updates with the other stranded travelers. We exchanged stories and made friendly banter with waitresses and truck drivers and elderly people. Together all of us in the diner cheered when, near dawn, the pass was reopened and we continued on our respective journeys, never to see each other again. I’ll never forget the profound sense of community and accomplishment I felt that night. All because I worked up the nerve to do the thing that so often eludes me: Engage.

Engaging—whether with other people or with your own work—requires courage and action. It requires you to overcome both fear and inertia—for real, not just in your imagination.

Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.

2019-06-07T16:49:51-07:00June 10th, 2019|Living God's Love|
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