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A Communing Community by Sue Wright

Internet technology is as “on vacation” as we two in our cabin, We Four, at Idlewilde by the River. But by some divine intervention, or if you prefer, a benevolent ether of unexpected I-Pad reception, I have received a message from Janet by e-mail yesterday, reminding me I have a blog to pen for Second. So, I sit here this chilly Estes Park morning, gazing out our kitchen window multitasking: drinking coffee, watching for a passing deer or bear, and putting a few words of reflection on paper, long-hand. 

We return to the Big Thompson River each year—just steps from our door—because, I confess, my faith is more grounded in nature than people. I need this place to stay centered. To stay a nice person. Imagine with me, you can hear the river’s roar, and I’ll try to explain. 

I find timelessness—a sense of eternity—where the river and her rushing never stops. One toe dipped into the ice cold water, and I am immersed in all I’ve learned and experienced of Christ throughout my life. I’m not re-baptized, but further baptized. I am a water-color begging more paint—the fine strokes of the Master in preparation for the clumsy daubs of humanity.  I am as old as Jesus. I am as new as Him. I am the splash He was coming to earth. I am all the sins He washed away and goes on washing. My soul is restored; my cup runneth over. Awash in this communion between my God and me, my deep-down longing for retrospection finally assuaged, I am eager to sip the bubbling drink that is community once again. To lap it up like a thirsty pup.

And just in time, for this summer, six of the cabins in our resort shelter folks we know, folks we’ll be sharing in camp side camaraderie: my niece and nephew, a family of five from Kansas who book each year to coincide our reservation, and surprise, surprise—a reunion of Chasteens—yes!—yours and my Chasteens from Second Baptist. The resort one over from ours, River Spruce, houses my sister and brother and their spouses, and a short hike up the hill, is a lodge of others among the Hon’s and my acquaintance, residing at the Y-Camp: a group from Crossroads Church in Kansas City which includes our own Charles Smith, his family, and two of my Jewell Concert Choir friends from the class of ’66.

Suddenly, comfortably, I have become aware as I write, how many on this trip besides me will have dared a toe into the same saving grace as I. For sure, we are indeed by our week’s temporary relocation, a community of toe-dipping believers, flooded by the beauty and wonder of our Lord’s world, and more empowered to be, by this brush with all creation, a better people, here in Colorado, and at home.  

at Friday, July 27, 2018
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Choices by Connie McNeill

When Nancy Reagan was First Lady, she launched an anti-drug campaign called, Just Say No! Her critics and those who worked in healthcare, law enforcement and other industries that saw the ravaging outcomes of illegal drug use, laughed at the campaign concept! I was a young adult who had been a teen when marijuana came to my hometown. 

It made sense to me that you could simply say “no” to a number of bad choices including illegal drugs. I always felt like, regardless of the pressure placed on me to say “yes” that I could say “no.” Let me acknowledge that those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol (or various other things) can certainly find themselves unable to say no on their own once they have said yes.

Now I believe that I felt that way because of the support I had from my parents, clear expectations they had of my behavior, my choice of friends whose parents were parenting in a similar way to my own, and persons I chose to guide me—teachers at school, coaches, church leaders.

Really, one could just say no. I am so grateful for those folks who re-enforced my efforts to make “best” choices; they influenced me for the good.
Hang in there parents and teachers. Hang in there church leaders and neighbors. Hang in there friends and family. Hang in there every one of us to give all the support we can as influencers for the best in the lives we touch.

Posted by Connie McNeill at Thursday, July 19, 2018
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Why Slovakia? By Becky Gossett

Why Slovakia?  What did you do?  Why do you keep going back?  

Since returning from our trip to Vazec, Slovakia a few weeks ago, I’ve answered many questions about our time there. For a variety of reasons, it is difficult to answer the questions in a way that honestly and completely conveys the experience.  

Harold Philips has planned several trips to Slovakia to support the ministry of CBF field personnel Shane and Diane McNary, who work in the Roma community.  Harold likes to say “this is the last trip” as he waits for someone to ask if we can go again. Bill and I have had 3 “last” trips now.  

Our time in the village of Vazec each year includes these components: living in a house with about 12 people from all across the US (and also from Romania), teaching English in the public school, leading a VBS-type afternoon with Roma children from the settlement on the edge of the village, meeting with the adults from the local church, and meeting with the young mothers from the settlement. The REAL purpose is to make connections with people… sharing Christ’s love, learning about them, and (honestly, for me) learning about my values. On many levels, the group that descends upon this little village must listen/learn from/adjust to its members while also learning about the people of the place. I thank God for this complicated experience each year.  

Here are some random lessons I’ve learned, and thoughts about my time in Vazec over the three visits:

  • One caring adult can bring hope and joy to another adult or child through continued involvement over time. The best example is the way the people respond to Harold Phillips when he comes in a room. He is like everyone’s favorite uncle. 
  • Music can make anyone smile. ANY music…ANYONE.
  • My limited language skills cause me frustration. Children all around the world speak more than one language. Why don’t I? I rely on translators… and hugs. 
  • I am still learning about the dynamics of this village, which traces its history to the year 1280 and has about 2,400 people. Vazec has endured communism in its not-so-distant past. The village faces the challenges of how to include a people-group with very different ways. The resilient people in the village have come through many changes over time. 
  • Christianity looks different in different communities. We can all learn from one another. 
  • There are incredible people who work every day to make life better for those in the settlement. They are led by an angel named Danka and her husband, Daniel. They created a nonprofit organization, Jekh Drom (One Way), and face obstacles unlike those we have in Liberty, Missouri to provide a better life for those who struggle most. There is now a preschool program for Roma children, housed in a nice facility built with the help of CBF. Because of the tenacity of Danka and a few others, the children who attend will have a much better chance at success in the public school now.  
  • I want to be more like these people.

For more information on the work of Danka and Jekh Drom in Vazec, follow on Facebook.

at Wednesday, July 11, 2018
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