Brazil Mission Update 2

 
It’s encouraging to build things because you get a concrete vision of what your labor accomplished at the end of each day.  Our team (with no surprise) spontaneously evolved into a highly efficient “amorphous blob” (Ron Waterman’s term) that does everything and anything with the constantly changing combination of people and skill sets to get the job done. We’ll explain further when we can.
The local people learned that I am a doctor. Each day a few will approach and ask if I can help with an ailment or two. Our robust first aid kit is all that I’ve got, and it has helped a lot. In two occasions I was asked to follow someone home because someone there was too sick to come to me.
 
Once it was to see a man if 59 years old. Decades of untreated diabetes made him appear more like 75 years. He was super sick. That was immediately evident from the horrendous stench of decaying flesh that surrounded him. He was sitting in a chair with his feet elevated on another chair in front of him. Both feet were wrapped in bloody gauze. Frank pus oozed from under the bandages. His legs were tremendously swollen, to the point that edema fluid dripped through the skin. Blood and pus were all around his left ear. His abdomen was hugely swollen with fluid. He clearly had end-stage kidney failure with massive fluid overload, and was horribly infected as well.
 
The scene of suffering and the overwhelming smell of dead flesh was too much for the New York nurse with me. She left her meager supplies and had to go. The Brazilian girl who brought me to him had to leave the house and sit outside.
Somehow I was able to talk with him and change the dressing on the foot that hurt the most. It was terribly infected, deep into the flesh and bones, draining pus and dark blood.
 
I gave him all of our narcotics and a few supplies. Then I stretched the limits of my comfort zone and asked him if he wanted me to pray with him. He said, “yes, definitely.”  So I knelt by his side and held his filthy contaminated hand that id watched him pick at his wounds with and began to pray out loud for him. He started to sob deeply as I did so. It broke my heart. I had to go be alone for awhile. Much later when I was able to share this with Mike, I told him that I was doing OK until Jesus walked into the room and blessed us both. It was intensely powerful.
 
By Mission Team Leader – Don Skillman


Brazil Mission Update 1

Our Mission Team has sent another great group of disciples to Brazil this February to help build a church.  However, a church is not all they are building.  I learned from Don Skillman our team leader that the relationships they are forming, the personal care, and mostly the prayer they are providing are building bigger things that churches.  Don described praying with a person riddled with disease and the powerful experience of sharing grace and love with another.  Continue to pray for the team and enjoy the pictures.
 
 

by Pastor Tyler



With Comfort Food, Everyone Wins!

By Kit Johnson – Team Leader of our winning Comfort Food Challenge Team
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About three weeks ago Marcia Armstrong asked me if I would help cook for the comfort food challenge. I was honored to be asked, and always up for a good challenge. Comfort food; the first thing that came, to my mind was home made chicken pot pie. Visually stimulating, and palate pleasing. We assembled a small but efficient team, Marcia, Susan, and myself. Cooking went well into Saturday night, and final prep Sunday afternoon. Then the big event, Susan decorated our table beautifully. The pies were served at a feverish pace for two and a half hours.
 It was a humbling expirence seeing the outpouring  of generosity from local churches and businesses.  And the biggest winner of the night was Family Promise and people in need.
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February 21 2016 Pastor’s Corner

We continue our Lenten Study on Discipleship with a focus on prayer. Prayer is something Jesus taught to his disciples and is deeply rooted in Jesus’ Jewish tradition. This ancient practice is something that people seeking God have continued to struggle with.

Take a minute and imagine a complete stranger walking up to you and asking, “What is prayer?”

Prayer is hard to define. Is prayer a conversation with God? Is prayer listening for Jesus’ call in our lives? Is prayer simple meditation that is good for our blood pressure? All of these questions could be answered with a yes.

However, as a disciple of Jesus we should look to his answer when he was asked how people should pray. He answered with the Lord’s Prayer that we say every single Sunday. In it I think is what Jesus’ believed prayer to be, a way to step aside from the craziness of life and remember to be in relationship with God and with others. When we live a life that embodies prayer we are being mindful of our relationship with our God who loves us and binds us together, and mindful of loving our neighbors.

Just like any relationship there are many ways to pray and I invite you to search for the form of prayer that fits you the most. Perhaps it is reading scripture each day, taking a few moments to say the same prayer each day, following a devotional book, say the Lord’s Prayer, say a quick prayer when people cut you off in traffic, perhaps its sharing and praying for others through sharing on social media, but most especially to find something you do each and every day. By practicing praying each day you strengthen your love for God and for all those around you.

To help us to pray more as United Methodists in Helena we have created a Facebook Group where people can share their prayers throughout the week. This is a way for us to build a community of people in constant prayer for one another and our community. If you want to be a part of this please go to this web address and request to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HelenaUMC/ All are welcome in this circle of prayer and community.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



February 14 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Today is the first Sunday of Lent which is perhaps the oldest season of the church. Before Christmas was celebrated, Christians celebrated the Great Three Days or Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The death and resurrection of Jesus have always been at the heart of the Christian story. Gradually, the days leading up to the ‘Triduum’ were extended and the entire season became important as a time of preparation. At some point, the length of the season was set at forty days (probably reminiscent of Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness). The word itself – ‘Lent’ – comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” So, just as spring is a time of preparing the soil for planting and growth, so is Lent a time Christians have set aside to till the soil of our lives in preparation to more fully follow Jesus.
 
For many of us, Lent has also traditionally involved personal discipline or practices. Here are a few suggestions of ways you might make this season special . . . there are countless more ideas than these. This is just to get you started!
 
Grace & Peace, Marianne
 
 
10. Try an electronic fast. Give up TV, Facebook, texting, tweeting, e-mail and all things electronic for one day every week. (Or everyday of Lent!) Use the time to read & pray.
 
9. Start a prayer rhythm. Each day of Lent, go to the Upper Room Prayer Wall and pray for another person. You can find the prayer wall at: http://prayer-center.upperroom.org/prayer-wall.
 
8. Go deeper into the Bible. You can perhaps begin by reading a psalm or reading through all four gospels over the course of Lent..
 
7. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. Study a book on forgiveness, such as The Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes.
 
6. Give up soft drinks, fast food, tea or coffee. Give the money you save to help folks in a different part of the world who are in crisis.
 
5. Create a daily quiet time. Spend 10 minutes a day in silence and prayer. Read a daily devotional like the Upper Room (found in the foyer of the church) or online at http://devotional.upperroom.org/. You may find it can help you add spiritual practice to your daily life beyond Lent.
 
4. Cultivate a life of gratitude. Write someone a thank you letter each week and be aware of how many people have helped you along the way.
 
3. Participate in a Lent Photo-a-Day practice and pray each day with your camera in your hand.
 http://alivenow.upperroom.org/2016/01/22/lent-photo-a-day-practice/
 
2. Volunteer one hour or more each week with a local shelter, tutoring program, nursing home or Food Share.
 
1. Pray for others you see as you walk to and from classes or drive to and from work.


A Freezer for Food Share

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 On Valentine’s Day 2016 we want to send some LOVE to Food Share by collecting enough dollars to purchase an upright freezer. After a conversation with the staff at Food Share, it became evident that their current ‘biggest need’ is an upright freezer to help store food. We decided that instead of our traditional Souper Bowl Sunday we would raise funds to buy that freezer! If each of us gave $5 we would probably have enough! Let’s join our dollars together to help Food Share. Mark your checks “Food Share Freezer”.
Donations of food are always welcome and can be placed in the Food Share bin in the Foyer anytime.


February 7 2016 Pastor’s Corner

First, let me affirm that it is truly a joy to be back at St. Paul’s! Between Lyle’s surgery in Missoula and my journey to the Holy Land with our large group over the past 3 weeks, I have been away from St. Paul’s for a month. Even for me it seems like a long time! Much has happened in our lives – yours and mine – and in the life of our church. Much has happened in the world. During my long trip home from Tel Aviv on Tuesday, I had plenty of time to think . . . and over and over, I pondered just how blessed I was to have a community like St. Paul’s to come home to!
 
Thanks so much for the many ways you have supported both Lyle and me as we have met the challenges of the past two months. Lyle’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery happened quickly as you know. Your prayers and generosity have meant the world to us.
When we decided that I needed to accompany and lead the Holy Land journey as planned, we knew we would need extra support for Lyle while I was away. Again, you stepped up in ways that we can only describe as overwhelming and gracious. From phone calls to providing rides to bringing food, Lyle was well cared for . . . and we are continuing to enjoy the abundance of food you have provided!
 
In addition to the support of our congregation, our St. Paul’s staff has been amazing. Not only have they been supportive and helpful with the challenges in my life, they have been instrumental in helping our active congregation continue to thrive. I know that my absence over the past month has put additional pressure on our staff and they have risen to the occasion. I offer my gratitude to them all – Associate Pastor Tyler Amundson, Sue McNicol, Meladie Brandle, Renata Strauss, Lois Neal, Lynn Van Nice, Dave and Fay Buness, Nancy Trudell, Tanya Anderson, Ken Girton, Rob Bonnes and Phyllis Michelson.
 
The next weeks and months will hold new challenges as Lyle and I both adjust to new habits and a ‘new normal.’ We are grateful to share life with all of you in this community of faith.
 
Gratefully,
Marianne


January 24, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Tomorrow night in the Helena Middle School Auditorium there will be presentation of Paper Tigers at 6 PM. After the film I will be on a panel of community members speaking to how we can respond to ACEs in our own community. The goal of tomorrow’s event is to get 100 people to additional training on ACEs. Through these trainings we hope to change the way our community relates to children in schools, social service agencies and in our general community to reduce ACEs and help those who have ACEs to overcome their adversity.

“Paper Tigers is an intimate look into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, an alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Set amidst the rural community of Walla Walla, WA, the film intimately examines the inspiring promise of Trauma Informed Communities – a movement that is showing great promise in healing youth struggling with the dark legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).”

Many of you know about our commitment during our 150th Jubilee to work with Intermountain and Childwise to explore ACEs (Learn more: stpaulshelena.org/aces-awareness-for-good). From the ACEs study we understand: There are 10 ACEs that are adverse experiences people might experience in their childhood. Four or more ACEs puts you at a higher risk for mental illness, chronic disease, and even early death. We may think that adverse experiences happen predominantly in cases of people in poverty but the stressors happen across socioeconomic lines. Montana ranks poorly with a majority of our children having 4 or more ACEs.

Over the last 4 months of studying ACEs I have become aware that ACEs is a language people of faith can use to let the community know what adverse experiences do to all children and to be clear that it happens right here in our hometown. This language then leaves people wanting to know how they can change this reality and every speaker I have heard says, “Adversity is not destiny.” The gospel message is that adversity is not the end, new life can happen, and we can work to help children and adults overcome ACEs. The truth we learn from ACEs is that we have to create community systems of healing in order to help people overcome this adversity.

I invite us as Jesus followers to listen and learn about this ACEs language, so we can continue to share it in our community along with the good news that new life is possible.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



January 17 2016 Pastor’s Corner

As United Methodists one of the incredible gifts of connected ministry is being able to collaborate through pooling our resources to support ministries in diverse places. This is the Sunday that United Methodist Churches recognize Human Relations Sunday. On this Sunday we all collect a special offering to benefit ministries in the United States and Puerto Rico that encourage Social Justice and works with at-risk youth. The gifts we share help to build community across all races and people and help to embody Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a beloved community.

Human Relations Sunday offering is distributed in 3 areas:

“Fifty-seven percent of the offering goes toward the Community Developers program, related to the General Board of Global Ministries. These persons work in racial- and ethnic-minority communities in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Another Global Ministries-affiliated effort benefiting from the Human Relations Day offering is the United Methodist Voluntary Services Program—UMVS, for short—which gets 33 percent of the offering. Essential to this program are grassroots organizations that work through youth and young adult volunteers to challenge oppression and injustice.

Also benefiting from the Human Relations Day offering is the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program. Related to the General Board of Church and Society, it receives 10 percent of the offering.” (umcgiving.org)

So on this human relations Sunday I invite us to be seek ways to share in this offering and in our own lives to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “All life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied to a single garment of destiny.” King’s dream is modeled directly on the words of Christ and is at the heart of St. Paul’s mission of good.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



January 10 – From Our Parish Administrator

As we begin the New Year, I am excited to introduce you to our newest staff member, Renata Strauss. Renata became a member our team on January 3 and is quickly acclimating to St. Paul’s and her role as Administrative Assistant.

A conventional “first day” for a new employee at St. Paul’s might include an introductory brunch with staff, a tour of our buildings, an overview of our various programs and ministries and perhaps a chance to settle into the workspace. However, as we all know, St. Paul’s is not exactly conventional. Consequently, let me describe Renata’s first day at St. Paul’s. She arrived at 9 AM to an office bustling with activity. Two volunteers were hard at work assisting with office functions and the pastors were meeting with coordinators of ministry and worship to plan for upcoming services. Staff were bouncing from phones to computers trying to address immediate needs and schedule events. All the while, Renata was patiently observing, asking relevant questions and greeting new faces. At some point she did receive a tour and an overview, however the best part of her orientation came from you…the St. Paul’s community. It was exciting for me to watch Renata experience the vibrant energy of St. Paul’s in action. Our office was abuzz with people dropping by to sign up for classes, deliver donations, and provide assistance in preparation for committee meetings and so much more. Renata was blessed with an opportunity to meet our remarkable Christian community in action…FULL THROTTLE!

No employee handbook can begin to describe the activity and culture of St. Paul’s. It must be experienced. The past few months have been especially challenging for staff as we have struggled through busy times and learning new tasks. It has been all of you who have made the work of St. Paul’s possible through this transition and who continue to make St. Paul’s an extraordinary missional community. We have selfless volunteers assisting us at every juncture and as a result are able to weather change and provide continuous service and ministry. My heartfelt thanks to all of you.

I invite you to stop by the church office and introduce yourself to Renata (she works 9 AM – 1 PM). Share your name, but more importantly, share with her your involvement with St. Paul’s. You are the living, breathing handbook for those new to St. Paul’s. Please join me in welcoming Renata, her husband Eric, son Mack (age 5) and daughter Ada (age 6) to our community.

Forever grateful –

Sue McNicol – Parish Administrator