Tag Archives: Work and Witness

Claude McCool

26 Apr

 

 

A great faith is like an oak that spreads its roots deep
and is not easily blown down.
Colossians 2:7

 

There are a some things in life that are constants. You can always expect them, and they are consistent so that time and circumstances never change them. On this journey we call Life, the same holds true regarding just a handful of people we have met along the way. Our friend, Claude, was at the top of that list.

Claude and Mary Jane

Claude and Mary Jane

We could always expect him. Every October during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Claude, his wife, Mary Jane, and a small delegation of others would make their annual trek across country to Nazarene Indian Bible College. In 1997, as brand new Work & Witness Coordinators for NIBC, little did we know that they had a life-long repeat appearance scheduled for every October. This made for an interesting collaboration of teams on occasion as other W & W teams from around the country also desired to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. No matter what, we could always expect Claude and his small entourage to happily join right in and get the job done!

Claude was always consistent. He came to help us work at NIBC every year. If Tim was working on a special project, sometimes Claude would come a second time that year. His desire to be of help to others was always consistent. Claude was consistent in always wearing a hat, except in church. He always wore his hat tilted to one side … every time. Claude loved to drive. Claude loved to love. He loved people. Claude loved Nazarene Indian Bible College. Claude loved the students and staff of NIBC. Even when his beloved wife, Mary Jane, was no longer able to make the long trip to Albuquerque, Claude came a few times without her. He continued to love, and continued to love Jesus through his ability to help others.

As the pages in our own life’s story narrates, the property of Nazarene Indian Bible College was eventually sold and the mission that brought Claude into our lives ended. But time and circumstances do not change some people, and Claude was one of those. He made a point to stay in touch with us and to see us wherever we were. As life often does, it threw several curves along Claude’s pathway, but he remained steady, always loving, always caring, and always helping. Always with his hat tilted to one side.

While Claude and his son, Steve, were recently visiting his granddaughter in the state of Tennessee, he suffered a major stroke. After so many miles here and so many miles there, Claude answered the Ultimate call to serve and finally made it safe and sound to the presence of Jesus. For all of us who are left behind, our hearts will never be the same. We are eternally grateful for knowing Claude McCool, for laughing with him, loving him, and for having the privilege of working for Jesus along side of him!

Won’t you join me today in celebrating those who have made an eternal difference in our lives?

Until next time,
Debbie

The Spirit of God has so firmly printed Heavenly truths upon his heart
that you may as well remove the sun out of the firmament as remove him
from those holy principles he has imbibed. 
Behold here a pillar in the temple of God. 
Revelation 3:12

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Throwback Thursday and Thanksgiving 1998

21 Nov

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
Psalm 100:4

It’s Thursday.  Often in my world of Facebook friends, pictures will be posted that entertain and add a chuckle to the day as we enjoy seeing photos from the past.  Memories of the heart will sometimes be tugged on, and a sigh of “where has time gone” will escape our lips as we smile and shake our heads in disbelief.  In preparation of this fun day called Throwback Thursday, I found myself upstairs digging through boxes of Kodak moments, hunting for some Thanksgiving past.  My search was successful!  As I looked through the pictures and saw the faces of my precious family, my mind took an immediate journey to November 1998.  We were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the time ~ Work and Witness Coordinators for Nazarene Indian Bible College.  In October, we had just moved from one home to another on campus, and were still unpacking boxes and getting settled.  Ryan was 12 years old and from the looks of his bright white smile, he must’ve just gotten his braces off!  Kimberly, our gorgeous 15 year old, was still sporting her new summer short haircut.  And how crazy to realize that Tim and I were still in our 30s … oh my!   Since our family was planning to travel the many miles back east for the Christmas break, we decided that for Thanksgiving we would take a family trip and go somewhere new and exciting and close by … and the Grand Canyon it was!

With plans to only post these pictures today on my Facebook, the thought hit me that I could actually pull up my weekly newsletter from that very same week and post it in my blog.  As a busy missionary family back then, I wrote a newsy letter full of Van Hook life and emailed it to a gazillion people every week.  I did this for many years … and all of these posts are safely stored on an external hard drive, waiting to be put into a book someday!!

Having just driven a few hours into Ohio to visit our friends, Mike and Norma Johnson 2 weeks ago, how fun it was to sit here and be reminded that they were quite the blessing that year to Scottie-sit for us!  In their earlier years, they had already hiked down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon and knew that it was no place for a noisy Miniature Schnauzer!

So, with Thanksgiving 2013 just one week away, I share with you today Thanksgiving 1998.  Enjoy!

     ~~~                 ~~~                 ~~~                 ~~~                 ~~~

November 29, 1998
Sunday evening

Dear family & friends,

We’re home!  We are unloaded, unpacked, and unwinding.  Kim, suffering from youth-group withdrawal, keys in hand and orders to call home as soon as she arrived, went on to church tonight.  The rest of us are munching on junk food, doing laundry (well, I am), and enjoying ‘no place like home’.  Scottie is also relaxing in the comfy-ness of his home.  Praise the Lord once again for His perfect timing!  Last Sunday, another one of our volunteer couples who come each year to NIBC and help with the Christmas festivities, pulled into the campus with their motor home…guess who very willingly agreed to Scottie-sit?  Mike & Norma Johnson opened their home to our little guy, allowing this Mom much more enjoyable Thanksgiving travels.  There were a gazillion signs prohibiting pets on the Canyon trails – on a leash or in a back pack!  And now since I have hiked back up a trail, that in a 1 ½ mile distance, the elevation rose 940 feet, I guarantee none of us would have wanted to haul Scottie’s heavy 14 pound dog body on our backs, with him barking the whole way, no doubt!  We probably would have been tempted to just leave him on the cliffs…  Just kidding!  No, Scottie celebrated Thanksgiving with the Johnsons, and we are very grateful for their kindness!

This past week was NIBC’s Thanksgiving holiday break.  After putting in so many extra hours of work throughout the Work & Witness season, not to mention preparing for the 50th anniversary celebration earlier in the year, I planned on taking off as much time this week as possible.  I went in on Monday, hoping to be home by noon … ha!  Once you’re in the door, watch out!  I was able to tie up loose ends by 5:00 pm, not setting foot back in the office until an hour before we left on our trip on Wednesday.  I did have to make several phone calls and check in with Kathleen a few times, but I managed to do so from home.  Miraculously, by the time we pulled out for our trip, the house was freshly interior decorated, cleaned, and looking good. How satisfying and refreshing to know that piles of clutter from several months were filed or trashed, stacks of pictures, shelves, and pretties were now hung,  that the ½ inch of dust had been happily wiped away and the carpets vacuumed…    SIGH!  If my house is in shambles (I mean long term stuff!), I am grouchy… if my house is in order, Mom smiles!  It’s a woman thing, I guess.  I am so thankful that I am smiling!!

Once the kids got home from school on Wednesday, the last minute packing finished, and instructions to the Scottie-sitters given, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon.  Squinting as we drove into the setting sun, we stopped in Navajo land, Gallup, New Mexico, for the  Wednesday special at McD…29¢ hamburgers!  We stopped for the night just a couple more hours down the road at Sun Valley Indian School outside of Holbrook, Arizona.  Extremely cheap accommodations are always available there for our NIBC staff.  We do the same for their people while they are traveling through Albuquerque … this time it was our turn!  We truly appreciated their hospitality!  Waking to a beautiful Thanksgiving morning, we continued our journey to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  Unless you have seen this wonder, words will never ever begin to describe the immense, breathtaking, … And you know what?  Last week, while hiking at Sandia with the family, in mid-picture, my camera died…needing 2 of those tiny round batteries to make it work again.  Being the procrastinator that I am at times, I figured that we would drive by a K-Mart or Wal-mart somewhere between Albuquerque and the Grand Canyon.   Little did I know that Indian reservations make up most of the miles of space between here and there…and the biggie?  You are lucky to find a gas station or a restaurant opened on Thanksgiving Day, let alone a K-Mart, at least on an Indian reservation! I then thought that maybe I could just purchase one of those handy disposable cameras at one of the gift shops … $25 for 17 pictures?  I don’t think so!  Yes, you guessed it!  I was unable to take any 35mm pictures of our day at the south rim of the Grand Canyon!  Thank goodness for the video camera, but it’s just not the same!  Sigh!  When we were able to stop the following day at a Wal-Mart, which was extremely busy with Christmas shoppers, I not only bought the two tiny round batteries that I needed for the moment, I purchased two extra ones for future emergencies!  Good planning, I thought – until Tim spoiled it by saying that they would probably be dead once I needed them in a year and half…

Despite the fact that we have no pictures to show from that first day, what a beautiful day it was!  It is truly hard to fathom the depth, the vastness, the distance of this thing!  From a beginning  elevation of around 7000’, we hiked a trail along a rim, down an elevation of 940’ in a distance of 1 ½ miles.  The round trip took us 2 hours.  Going down made my legs feel wobbly and shaky, but going back up nearly made my lungs explode and my back ache!  But it was great!  To see the views, to experience and make memories … it was all worth it!  Following an exhaustive day of travel and touring, we headed to our hotel, where we swam in an indoor pool and relaxed in the churning waters of the whirlpool…ah-h-h!  Suddenly realizing that it was indeed still Thanksgiving and that there just might not be any restaurants opened, we quickly cleaned up and went hunting for a place to eat. Denny’s was still opened! It was ok…nothing AT ALL like Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner!   Such was our Thanksgiving Day …

Free continental breakfast – Tim always reminds us that a Continental car is nice, really big, and is worth a lot of money…why do they call this pitiful and skimpy idea of a breakfast ‘continental’?  No, we are always grateful for the powdered donuts, toast, Fruit Loops, milk, juice and coffee.  I don’t usually eat more than that anyway!  Every little bit of $$ savings helps!  This was the day for a new adventure.  We had already conquered the south rim of the canyon … on to the north rim! However, what is no more than 10 miles via a crow, is a total of 215 miles via our Saturn!  And usually the medium dots on a map signify sizable towns with Burger Kings, McDs, Taco Bells, but that is not the case in Arizona!  They are simply marking points for travel, with maybe two or three homes in the area.  Finally, we spotted a Chevron gas station which sold hot dogs!   More fun memories for us all!  The miles clicked by, but as we drove through the Painted Desert, traveled across the Navajo Bridge, which safely took us over the Colorado River, which flowed 480’ below us, journeyed beside the Vermillion Cliffs,  then headed into the Grand Canyon Park – North rim…the miles did not matter.  God’s creation is absolutely breathtaking!   With my 35mm camera in hand, we hiked 2 different trails, one having several inches of snow in sections of our path.  The fun of crunching hundreds of pine cones, throwing snow balls, and wondering what belonged to the paw prints we passed … what a day!  Heading north to Page, Arizona, we  treated ourselves to Pizza Hut and a good night sleep.

Being only 10 miles from the Utah state line, we drove just that far, took a picture by the sign, and then  headed southeast.   We drove through the heart of the Navajo Nation, finding it quite interesting to see the sort of homes they live in.  Usually beside a relatively decent home, was a traditional hogan.  This is a small ‘round’ home, made of logs and mud thatched roof.  We saw many herds of sheep and cows … and more beautiful scenery.  Arriving in Chinle, Arizona, we made our last tour stop at Canyon de Chelly  (pronounced de shay).  Due to a rain shower that lasted the rest of the evening and was forecasted not to stop until sometime today, we postponed our hiking until another time.  We did drive through the park, however, and enjoyed many awesome views of another magnificent canyon area, which is  still inhabited by a Navajo community in the lush valley.  Signs that warn of 600’ and 700’ sheer cliffs startled my heart as I then looked up to see my son balancing on all fours on the barrier wall along the cliff’s edge.  Little did I know that there was at least 5’ of rock ledge beyond the wall…sigh!   With a fine mist of rain over us all, we headed to the hotel where our reservations were made.  Much to our dismay, we found out that their indoor pool was not working…on the road again!  With four hours of travel between us and home, we stopped after two hours and checked into a nice hotel at a discounted rate – indoor pool, whirlpool and that free Continental breakfast!   This morning, following a rousing game of Scrabble, through a mixture of sunshine and snow flurries, we headed east for Albuquerque.  Our hearts are very grateful to those Work & Witness teams this past year who lovingly gave our family gifts of money.  We are able to make these special memories with our family because you all gave from hearts of love…thank you!

Gracious!  Two whole pages!  Please keep in mind that these letters are also pages in our family book…memories are priceless, and I love to document them!  Hey!  December arrives this week!  Time to drag out those boxes full of holiday cheer…ugh!  I just put boxes away!  Oh well!  More memories!!  Until next week…

With my love,
Debbie  

Tim

Tim

The kids and I

The kids and I

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan and the Grand Canyon

Ryan and the Grand Canyon

Kimberly

Kimberly

November 1998

Tim and I on the Navajo Bridge

November 1998

Tim and the kids on the Navajo Bridge

November 1998

Kim hiding out

November 1998

Grand Canyon

Mike and Norma

25 Oct

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:3-4

 

We meet all kinds of people throughout our lives.  Some are brief acquaintances while others leave lasting impressions on our hearts.  We are truly blessed to say that we have several that fit into that category, for we have many cherished friendships.  One such couple is Mike and Norma.

The Johnsons walked into our lives, and back out rather abruptly the first time we met … the day our family drove onto the campus of Nazarene Indian Bible College in late July of 1997.  They had been helping to keep Work and Witness teams busy, and no doubt entertained, until the new W&W Coordinators arrived in Albuquerque.  Once the big yellow truck pulled up, and the weary travelers from Pennsylvania crawled out, introductions were made, handshakes were exchanged, and no doubt Mike greeted us with his life-time motto, “I’m filled with the joy of living!”  Gracious to have helped out in the pinch, Mike and Norma were anxious to get back into their vehicle and head to their next missions assignment.

Mike with Ryan and Kim
Christmas 2000

The next few months were busy as we hosted several Work and Witness teams, and before we knew it, the Christmas season was upon us … as was the arrival of Mike and Norma Johnson.  Faithfully, every December, Mike worked along side of Tim while Norma spent the entire month of December sorting through donated items and putting together a large gift bag full of Christmas presents for every student of Nazarene Indian Bible College and each member of their family.  Including several years before we were on staff, Mike and Norma served NIBC for a total of 13 Christmases.  In time, as the educational structure of the Bible College changed, their own personal mission remained the same as they continued to volunteer their time and efforts towards the on-going ministry in Albuquerque.  As the history books now recite, the campus was sold and everyone who once called NIBC home disbursed and moved elsewhere.

Apparently, the lasting impressions were also made on their hearts, as the Johnsons found their way to the hills of southeastern Indiana where we were then on staff at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center.  It was so good to catch back up with our friends and to once again visit on the front porch swing that Mikie had made for me several years before.

The ladies … Carol, me and Norma

Having their home base located in Hondo, Texas for over 10 years, we wanted to visit our friends in their world, but the distance and our own responsibilities prevented that from happening.  This past winter, however, they made the decision to finally retire and move back up to their old hometown in northern Ohio.  Excited that a 6 hour weekend jaunt was feasible, we began making plans for a road trip.

Our mid-October drive through the mountains of western Pennsylvania into the northern hills of Ohio provided a most colorful canvas for our trip.  It was a blessing to finally meet family members and put faces to the names we have heard so much about through the years!  Mike and Norma’s home, their keepsakes, their community, church, and even Miss Kitti was a joy to share with them this past weekend.  It was also a special treat to visit with another NIBC family member, Carol Hileman.  What fun we had at Sunday dinner!

Mike and Norma’s love and dedication for God has been expressed by their love and care for people.  While raising their boys, they were caretakers at a Holiness campground for 22 years.  They later traveled all over the country, serving in various ministries, including Nazarene Indian Bible College in Albuquerque and a Navajo mission in Rough Rock, Arizona.  Endless stories, a song thrown in here and there, and countless moments of laughter and enjoyment filled our hearts as we visited.

Mike and Norma

Now, I’m sure that most of you do not know Mike and Norma.  But I do imagine you have at least one Mike and Norma in your life.  Is there someone or a couple, age not important, who has walked across your heart, leaving imprints of love?  Time and circumstances have brought changes to visits, but relationships remain strong.  Although you do not share the same name or blood line, you know that you are still family.  I know that I am a better person today for knowing and loving Mike and Norma.  Won’t you join me today in thanking God for such people?  We just spent an entire weekend with ours … why don’t you call yours or go visit them.  You will be glad you did!  You will be “filled with the joy of living!!”

Until next time,
Debbie

        I have found a wondrous Savior, Jesus Christ, The Soul’s Delight
        Ev’ry blessing of His favor Fills my heart with hope so bright
        Jesus is the Joy of Living, He’s the King of Life to me;
        Unto Him my all I’m giving, His forevermore to be.
        I will do what He commands me, Anywhere He leads I’ll go;
      Jesus is the Joy of Living, He’s the dearest Friend I know.