by Becky De Oliveira—
My grandmother came to pick me up for breakfast one morning when I was visiting Seattle from my home in England. I was at least 30 years old. It was a dreary day, overcast, maybe drizzling a bit. Not warm but not bitterly cold. I chose to leave the house in a long-sleeved t-shirt.
“Where’s your coat?” grandma asked.
“I don’t need it,” I said.
“I don’t feel all that cold.”
My grandmother rarely lost an argument. This was down to her unique set of dialectical skills. “Don’t be stupid,” she barked. “It’s snowing in New Jersey!”
Left speechless by her unassailable logic, I went inside and got my coat. Zipped it up to my chin. Would have donned a pair of mittens and perhaps a thick wool scarf if I’d been able to find any. Grumbled—half laughing at the absurdity of the whole situation—in my head, “Why does she treat me like such a child?” (She yelled at me in Hawaii for wearing the wrong shoes on the beach once too, when I was 20.)
How many times do these kinds of scenarios play out in interactions between the generations? Behind door number one, we have an older person with wisdom to dispense who gets angry or hurt when it is disregarded. What do you know about life? You’re only a kid. People die of pneumonia. Behind door number two, a younger person who kicks against the unmistakable feeling of bondage and disrespect. What do you know about life? Times have changed. Ever heard of a miraculous invention called penicillin? Nothing good comes of this. We talk across each other. Dig our heels in. Either someone gets bullied or someone else’s feelings get hurt.
I few years ago, I came across a simple printed sheet of paper with a row of tear-off contact details on a community bulletin board, wedged between flyers for eco-friendly house cleaning services and yoga classes. The advertiser, a 75-year-old man, offered to share the “wisdom collected over a lifetime” in about 15 different areas ranging from “staying married for 50 years” and being a “published author” to “gun control” and “auto mechanics.” The man promised that this service was entirely free, that he had no intention of selling anything, and that he guaranteed he had no “get-rich-quick schemes” to suggest. This last point, I must confess, I found enormously disappointing. Still, I gazed at this ad for a long time, feeling suddenly and desperately sad at the idea of an old man alone by the phone, hoping for a call from a stranger in need of advice. I felt so sad I actually contemplated ringing him up myself, but I couldn’t think of a good question to ask. It’s not that I feel I have all the answers, but few of my big questions concern gun control and even fewer relate in any way to auto mechanics. Anything else seemed too personal—and far too specific to my own circumstances. Knowledge is not always directly transferable; how one couple stayed married for 50 years might not work at all for another. Also, I was only passing through this town. No possibility for establishing a permanent relationship with this individual (probably not the smartest thing to do via an anonymous flyer anyway)—which I sensed was the thing he was really looking for.
Genuine relationships between the generations are, I think, extremely valuable—but not so much in terms of the giving and receiving of wisdom or advice. While this can sometimes work out rather well, more often it is the love, acceptance, and understanding between people that gives us strength, in spite of our different experiences and world views. It is about abiding together through whatever life throws in our way. What I learned most from my grandmother—what I’ll remember as I grow older myself—are all the things she never talked about at all but simply did. She denied herself treats so she could treat others. She made herself presentable and put on a cheerful face no matter what kind of day it was. She bragged—shamelessly—about the people she loved. She adopted people that no one else cared about and acted as though they mattered. I’m sometimes bad about remembering my coat—and utterly hopeless at selecting the right footwear for the beach in Hawaii—and I have probably failed to do most of the things my elders in general have ordered, but I’ve been watching and learning all the same. I still believe it’s within me to do them proud.
Becky De Oliveira is a doctoral student in research methods working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.
by Becky De Oliveira—
My husband and I were in London for a few days just before Christmas. We stayed in the city center and enjoyed the parks, the Christmas lights, and shopping—although on many occasions it was mere window shopping. To get to Selfridges, a large department store on Oxford Street that features what I consider to be the finest food hall in the city, we wandered along Old Bond Street that later turns into New Bond Street. These two streets are lined with luxury shops such as Hermés, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & CO., Gucci, and the like. I was mostly dismayed to note the closing of Bateel, a shop that sold stuffed dates (the kind of luxury I can afford), and fascinated to try to quantify the value of the inventory along these two conjoined streets that together comprise less than a mile and that do not include Selfridges itself, not to mention Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, or any other of the countless purveyors of luxury goods that exist in London—or every other large modern city in the world.
“It has to be millions,” I kept saying. Earlier in the week, we’d stopped at Harrods and noted several Rolls-Royces parked outside the store with the engines running. There are people in the world who are driven to Harrods in Rolls-Royces by people who wait for them to finish shopping and take them home again. The drivers of these cars are neither waved off by angry police officers nor ticketed. This is how the other half (half?) live. I’ve often tried to think of a way to estimate the value of the goods in Harrods alone and given up. Who knows? A lot.
While browsing the food halls at Selfridges, I came upon the item that I decided earned my vote for the most crazy-expensive thing I’d seen this trip. In the past, the honor has gone to a pen for $20, 000, a vase for $90, 000—you get the picture. This was, in comparison with those items, quite affordable at just around $1, 700. But here’s the deal: it was a jar of honey. A smallish jar of honey, one I could have easily fitted into my handbag had it not been encased in protective glass (kidding—about the shoplifting, not about the glass). Obviously, this was no ordinary honey, as the price tag suggests. It was mānuka honey from New Zealand, produced from the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium, also known as the mānuka tree and believed to have medicinal properties. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is no evidence for any medicinal benefits, by the way.
Of course, I began to scoff and judge anyone who might make such a purchase. “Not even if I were a billionaire,” I said, affecting a sort of Bernie Sanders accent for the word billionaire as I seem to do these days to amuse myself. But then as a thought experiment, because there is little I love more than a thought experiment, I began to wonder under what circumstances I might purchase that jar of honey. It had, it must be noted, an MGO (methylglyoxal—the compound that makes the honey so prized) of 1700, whereas the average mānuka sold in shops in New Zealand and Australia, according to my friends from down under, is more like 100-200 MGO. So, we can agree it’s “better” when assessed according to these terms. I found this particular honey online and learned more about it, not least that only 1, 000 people “will be able to possess a jar.” Unless, of course, one of those people buys all the jars.
Now, I say nothing could persuade me to spend approximately the equivalent of a mortgage payment on honey that has no proven health benefits—but what if I or one of my children had a health condition that was painful and debilitating and that did not respond to conventional treatment? Might I be willing then? Out of desperation? Hope? And just to continue the experiment, how much easier would it be for me to make that decision if the cost were not the equivalent of a mortgage payment, if I were in fact a billionaire? Maybe even I, sanctimonious as I am, would buy all the jars and hoard them selfishly. It’s a sobering thought.
This week on the radio there was a segment on the news that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave a million dollars to help the Australia fires. The hosts pointed out that when you compare that donation to his overall wealth, it is the equivalent of an “average” person donating about six dollars. But, of course, the million will go much farther in addressing the fire efforts than six dollars would. Is it the amount of good the money does that matters or the amount of pain it costs the giver?
Jesus seemed to suggest the latter when He praised the widow who gave two worthless coins (Mark 12:41-44). He said the rich “all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had” (NET).
It is interesting to think about how we assign value, how we determine affordability. In The Wealth of Nations, economist Adam Smith outlined the water-diamond paradox: namely that while water is vital to life and health and diamonds are merely ornamental, diamonds are much more highly valued. One of my goals for this year is to reassess what I assign value to and question that rigorously. How will this affect how I give and what I put my efforts toward?
Becky De Oliveira is a doctoral student in research methods working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.
All God’s People S4:E2 – Young Adult Retreat; Churches Celebrate 150th Anniversaries; Remembering Dr. King – for the week of Jan. 17, 2020
Young Adults Gather for Retreat in Central California
A retreat in Oakhurst, Calif., brought 300 young people together for a weekend of Bible study, fellowship, and seminars in mid-December of last year. This Central California Conference-hosted retreat drew young adults from all over the Pacific Southwest and even Canada. This year the focus was on “Surviving Eden”-a provocative title that brought interest in the Garden of Eden story. Praise the Lord for our dedicated young adults!
Are you a Young Adult? Follow the CCC Young Adult Retreat Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YoungAdultDept/
Northern Calif. Congregations Celebrate 150th Anniversaries
This past fall, two Northern California Conference congregations celebrated their 150th Anniversaries! Santa Rosa and Healdsburg were the first Adventist churches founded west of the Rocky Mountains. On Sabbath, Oct. 26, the Healdsburg congregation came to church prepared for a full day of anniversary celebration, but the Kincade fire changed their plans.
The entire city was to be evacuated by 4:00 pm. So the Healdsburg church members went home to prepare for the evacuation and then took their celebration to the Santa Rosa church. On Nov. 16, they continued the celebration at their own church, thankful that it was still standing.
On Nov. 15 and 16, the Santa Rosa congregation celebrated their anniversary during a weekend of events themed “Milestones of Grace and Providence.” We are so grateful for these two vibrant churches! Read the history of missionaries John Loughborough and D.T. Bordeau and how they started these two congregations back in 1869. Read the full story in the January Recorder (pg. 38-39) via the link below:
Reflecting on the Work of Dr. King
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was born on January 15, 1929, and the Federal Holiday next Monday offers us a reminder to reflect on the important work to which Dr. King devoted his life. Join us in this week’s episode as we share an excerpt from the sermon Dr. King preached in October of 1954 on the parable of the New Wine in Old Bottles found in Matthew 9:17.
Learn More about Dr. King: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/biographical/
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How can we be “Now” and “Not Yet?” How can we live out our faith so that it’s relevant in the world we live in today—and yet are looking for the world to come, and the return of Christ Jesus?
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, let this be our challenge and our prayer—to be both “now” and “not yet!”
Have a beautiful sunset you’d like to share with others? Send us your sunset photos: News.Desk@adventistfaith.com
by Faith Hoyt, with Julie Yamada
Over 20 Pacific Union early childhood education (ECE) directors met together at the Ontario Airport Hotel in Ontario, Calif., this last November during their 2019 ECE workshop to focus on “Creating a Culture of Collaboration.”
Marie Alcock, president of Learning Systems Associates, presented a seminar for educators on understanding and shaping a school culture. Alcock also addressed personalized learning, brain-based learning environments, and instructional practices.
At the workshop, ECE directors became more familiar with the process of accreditation for early childhood programs during a training provided by Evelyn Sullivan, the North American Division early childhood education director. Many of the teachers attend local workshops or online trainings to help keep their Pacific Union Professional Achievement Recognition certificate and state permit up to date.
Workshops like these are hosted every other year to keep ECE directors updated on ECE Adventist accreditation, California ECE legislation, and childcare licensing regulations. Additionally, the workshop provides Adventist educators with resources and training to help young people on their journey to excellence. Recently, the Mauna Loa Preschool in Hilo, Hawaii, received the first ever preschool accreditation by the Adventist Accreditation Association (AAA). They also received a renewed accreditation from the National Council for Private School Association (NCPSA), who partner with the AAA on accreditation.
“Accreditation helps ECE programs meet a higher standard and gives recognition for the great work they are already doing,” said Julie Yamada, associate director of early childhood education at the Pacific Union Conference. “More Adventist preschools in the Pacific Union will soon go through this process.”
In the Pacific Union, 29 early childhood education (ECE) programs provide a safe and fun learning environment for over 1, 000 children ages 2-5. Of these programs, five ECE centers also care for infants ranging from 3 months to 23 months. Most ECE centers are located throughout California (25 total), and four operate in Hawaii. Many operate on the same campus as Adventist K-8 or K-12 schools—and some are found at local churches.
“ECE programs are important for children who enjoy a social atmosphere where they can learn from and play with peers,” Yamada said. “In our SDA programs, they learn about God and the Bible. They learn basic math concepts, language sounds and early concepts, simple science, and social and emotional skills.”
To look for an ECE program near you, visit: adventistfaith.com/education.
Are you an ECE Professional? Join the Pacific Union ECE Professionals Facebook Group.
Top of page: Some of the over 20 early childhood education directors from around the Pacific Union Conference work together on an activity that helps groups learn collaboration techniques. This and other activities were part of the 2019 ECE Directors Workshop.
Photos by Julie Yamada
Pacific Union Conference early childhood education (ECE) directors meet together for the 2019 ECE workshop hosted at the Ontario Airport Hotel in Ontario, Calif. At the workshop, educators focused on “Creating a Culture of Collaboration” with main presenter Marie Alcock. Workshops like these are hosted every other year to keep ECE directors updated on ECE Adventist accreditation, California ECE legislation, and childcare licensing regulations. Additionally, the workshop provides Adventist educators with resources and training to help young people on their journey to excellence.
by Antoinette Alba—
As an artist and writer, I go through a process of deciding which ideas are worth making into a completed piece. I brainstorm, I scribble, I make studies, and I choose which ideas I want to pursue. I assign value to those ideas: which are good, which are bad, and which desperately need to be thrown in the trash. Beyond that, I decide which is the most important and which is the least, and often by the time I get to the last on the list I don’t care about that idea anymore.
Other times I try to force certain ideas to work, and because of that force they are more resistant to come to life. I have notebooks filled with bad ideas and maybe five good ones. I scribble thoughts on Post-it notes or in my phone, only to return to those ideas later and realize that I can’t remember where I was going with that or why I thought it was a good idea in the first place. For me, ideas are easily discarded because I know there are so many rattling around in my mind that I will have lost nothing by throwing this one away.
Because I experience this in my own process of creation, I am all the more awed that God never did that to us. That He didn’t just crumple up the ball and toss it in the bin. That He not only pursued what any of us would consider a terrible idea, He considered it a wonderful idea, an idea worth all the trouble it was going to bring. He assigned a value to us that is more precious than a sea of jewels. He deemed us worthy enough to ransom from the chains of sin.
I am amazed that He let His creation take on a life of its own and made something beautiful out of us, even though we’re broken, even though we’ve been made ugly by a life separate from Him. I am astounded by God’s commitment to us, like an artist working through a challenging area of a painting struggling to be born. Better than the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel, God makes masterpieces in the sky out of pollution and golden hearts out of hardened stone.
I am grateful for the identity God clothes us in—an identity in which we are loved, in which we are pursued, in which we are worth being saved. Because without this identity, it is too easy to be what others deem us to be, what others try to make us. Because we are blessed by an incredibly strong, exciting, and empowered identity as the children of God, we don’t have to be what people say we are or believe we are. We can simply put that down, walk away, and be who God calls us to be.
Antoinette Alba is an artist and writer based in California.
by Julie Z. Lee
In November, Maranatha Volunteers International and the Paradise church celebrated the completion of an ambitious community outreach project. In just three weeks of intense activity, volunteers constructed 202 storage sheds (surpassing the initial goal of 200) for survivors of the Camp Fire, a devastating wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018.
“It is a real sense of blessing to see what so many dedicated volunteers were able to accomplish in less than the original time allotted for this project. Each shed represents hope and a measure of love delivered to people that have experienced so much loss this past year,” said David Woods, director of North America Projects for Maranatha and construction coordinator for the project in Paradise.
The shed project, as it came to be called, was a joint effort between Maranatha and Love Paradise, an outreach organization of the Paradise church. The idea came about in early September, when Joelle Chinnock, director of development and disaster recovery for Love Paradise, heard about the need for safe, dry storage sheds for the 2, 000 plus people who had moved back onto their properties in Paradise. Most of the residents are living in trailers, with no place to store their personal belongings. In one situation, a woman on dialysis was having to store her medical supplies outside in cardboard boxes.
“I was thinking, let’s build a couple [sheds] in our parking lot, and get our local contractors and some church members, and we’ll be done,” Chinnock said. “But Garrison [Chaffee] remembered that Maranatha had stepped out right after the fire and called our church and said, ‘What can we come up and do?’” Chaffee is the associate and youth pastor for the Paradise church and director of Love Paradise. “So he put two and two together and made the call, and Maranatha was on board. They came up within a day or two of that phone call, and we met in the parking lot. And it was all thumbs up from there.”
The two organizations set the goal at 200 sheds, with the project scheduled to begin in November in hopes of providing the sheds before the start of the rainy season. Over the next eight weeks, Love Paradise rushed to secure funding from a variety of charities, corporations, and local businesses. They also worked with local leadership in Paradise to create an application process for recipients of the shed. In the meantime, Maranatha designed a shed, developed a construction plan, and recruited volunteers. Leadership also sought lodging for the volunteers—no easy feat given that Paradise is still essentially a disaster zone. Few places have running water or electricity. An attitude of flexibility would be a must, along with quite a few generators.
On November 5, 2019, volunteers from all over the United States began arriving in Paradise. Participants parked their trailers at Paradise Adventist Academy—which has been closed since the fire after suffering partial damage—or camped out on cots in the classrooms. Northern California Conference loaned the project a portable shower trailer. Two classrooms were converted into a kitchen and dining hall. Multiple generators were borrowed or purchased to power construction tools, kitchen appliances, and lights for the volunteers.
Across the street from the school campus, Maranatha established a construction site in the parking lot of the Paradise church, which had been destroyed in the Camp Fire, setting up an assembly line with stations for the base, walls, roof, and paint for each 10- by 12-foot shed.
The next day, the project was off and running, with approximately 80 volunteers and less than 100 applicants for sheds. Thanks to several reports on the project from local newspapers and news outlets, more than 100 volunteers arrived by the weekend. The number of applicants also began to soar. By the end of the project, Love Paradise had received more than 700 applications.
“Shortly after the first shed was built, the word spread through town immediately,” said Kyle Fiess, vice president of projects for Maranatha. “Everybody was aware that the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church was building sheds and giving them away. The media attention spread the news throughout Northern California, and pretty soon we had volunteers showing up to help from two to three hours away. Some of these people had never heard of Maranatha or were not familiar with the Adventist Church. And we used that opportunity to make friends with a large group of people that we would have never met otherwise.”
In total, 377 volunteers participated in the project, including several survivors of the Camp Fire who had lost their homes. Americorps, a federal service organization for 18- to 24-year-olds, sent a team of volunteers. Several members of Cal Fire spent a few days at the project. The neighborhood Lowes Home Improvement store not only offered discounts for materials but employees came by on multiple days with pastries, warm drinks, and gratitude for the volunteers.
By the end of the second week of the project, Love Paradise started delivering the first batch of sheds, thanks to the generosity of several organizations. With each shed weighing 2, 500 pounds, delivery was not a quick process. But it was certainly a joyful one—full of gratitude from the recipients.
“This shed means space, a little bit of freedom inside of my little trailer, a little bit of normalcy. I’ve been thinking all night long about what I’m going to put in it, stock in it. It really does mean a lot and I’m really grateful to everybody who’s helped put this together—the volunteers that have come from far and wide, out of state, that have helped build them and the volunteers that are bringing them and delivering them,” said shed recipient Andrea Hitt, a Paradise resident who lost her home in the fire. “We’re very grateful to Seventh-day Adventists and everybody that’s helped put this together.”
“This project was unique for us in many ways, but ultimately it was special because we had an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of more than 200 families who are hurting. At every delivery we hear a story of why the shed is so important to the recipient. And every story makes you realize how desperately needed these sheds were. So we are grateful that we were able to help make this project a reality,” said Fiess.
Love Paradise and Maranatha are planning a second shed project for Paradise in April 2020. To donate or volunteer, check out loveparadise.net and maranatha.org.
Maranatha Volunteers International, based in Roseville, California, is a non-profit, Christian organization that organizes volunteers to build churches, schools, and water wells around the world. Established in 1969, Maranatha has constructed more than 11, 000 structures in nearly 90 countries and mobilized more than 85, 000 volunteers.
Top of page: Susie Fox, from Cottonwood, Calif., cuts pieces of the trim board for the sheds. Fox has been on multiple Maranatha projects around the United States, volunteering with her husband.
Photos by Tom Lloyd
Maranatha volunteers celebrate the completion of 202 storage sheds for Love Paradise, an outreach ministry of the Paradise church. The sheds will go to survivors of the Camp Fire, a wildfire that devastated the town of Paradise in November 2018.
Rebekah Shepherd, from Roseville, Calif., paints the completed storage sheds. She works for Maranatha and took a day to volunteer on the job site.
Volunteers with AmeriCorps, a federal service organization, spent several days at the job site, helping on all aspects of the construction. They were already in the Paradise area, working on other projects, when they heard about Maranatha’s work and decided to help.
Ashley Gilmer stands in the trailer that has been her home for the past year. She lost her house in the wildfire. She has no storage, and most of her things have to be kept outside—including boxes of medical supplies for her dialysis.
Bonnie Ammon-Hilde, from Woodburn, Ore., cuts lumber for the Paradise storage shed project. Nearly 400 volunteers came from all over the United States to help build 202 sheds for survivors of the Camp Fire.
Lois Clark, from Ardenvoir, Washington, works on the roof of a storage shed. She was one of nearly 400 volunteers that helped to build 202 storage sheds for the survivors of the Camp Fire.
by Faith Hoyt—
When my twin sister and I were 7 years old, our grandpa gave us a special gift. It wasn’t something we could use right away—we were still quite young. But he knew we’d be old enough eventually, and he saw an opportunity to teach us.
The gift was a workbench. He had built it himself and painted it a bright white. It was a sturdy thing. Hanging from long nails on the back wall of the workbench were two sets of tools. Grandpa had carefully traced around each tool with a black marker to help us remember where they went. (The outlines helped us keep things tidy—not that he was anticipating messes!)
I remember beholding this amazing gift for the first time. I reached up to inspect each treasure: my own hammer, pliers, screwdriver, tape measure, wrench, and hacksaw. The gift came with a few stern words about safety, a gentle smile, and a lesson on how to use the C-clamps he’d secured to each end of the bench.
The workbench sat in our garage for a few years, occasionally getting used when mom or dad was around. When my sister and I were a little older, we started using our tools more often. The freedom to do what we wanted was exhilarating. We started simple at first—nailing together scraps of wood and assembling all manner of castaway materials into treasures. Our tool sets helped us take our forts to the next level. Working at our workbench helped build confidence, sharpen skills, and reinforce lessons (such as how not to use a hacksaw). Cuts and scrapes reminded us that our tools were the real deal and that we’d need to handle them more carefully next time.
Over time our tool sets were used for more practical purposes. Each time I reached for my hammer, I thought about my grandpa and his own workshop on my grandparents’ property in Grass Valley, California. Of all the places my sister and I would explore, the long building with the chicken coop at the end was my favorite. I would wander through his workshop staring wide-eyed at all the marvelously shaped everything’s that filled his workspace. He was a masterful builder, carpenter, and inventor. He was my role model for building good things and taking good care of them. Because of his gift, we had our own workspace and the chance to do what grandpa did.
The only thing that remains of his gift is the workbench, which has since been refinished and repurposed. Also, I’ve held on to most of that wealth of practical knowledge my grandpa willingly imparted to a couple of kids who wanted to learn.
I appreciate so much about this memory. What stands out for me now as an adult is the trust my grandpa (and my parents) gave my sister and me. We were trusted to use our tools safely and wisely. Our workbench and all its accessories were entrusted to our care. It’s an amazing feeling to be trusted—even more so when that trust comes with responsibility.
As a young person in the church, I long to feel that same trust. I want to approach a role knowing there’s someone behind me to guide me, encourage me, and let me grow into it. If I’m lucky, I might just have the chance to build something good—and bless my community in the process.
Faith Hoyt is the assistant editor of the Pacific Union Recorder and a communication specialist with the Communication and Community Engagement Department of the Pacific Union. She is pursuing an MBA at La Sierra University.