Monday, July 11, 2011

Minot, North Dakota, Journal

Faith United Methodist Church remains underwater, but the congregation’s ministry to neighbors in need continues.
Photo: Courtesy of Lee Gale

I just arrived home from Minot. It's been a trying and emotional time. You can't comprehend the devastation until you see it for yourself.

The things we take for granted just aren't there. Water has to be boiled before use, and only bottled water may be consumed. Trash has to be disposed of immediately. Restaurants are serving their meals on foam plates, with plastic knives and forks. Coffee isn't made, and there’s no fountain soda.

It is taking citizens of Minot up to four hours to get their mail because the post office is overwhelmed. Traffic on Broadway, all the way through town, is bumper-to-bumper, and a driver can only turn off of Broadway at certain intersections.

As of this morning, there are 806 homes that are unsafe to inhabit and will be destroyed. In the end, there may be as many as 2,000 or more. Water is slowly going down, but a heavy rain on Friday night kept the river up.

Tent cities have popped up when people have nowhere to go. One person I spoke with said he saved from his basement apartment only what was in the tent. He also lost his job because his place of employment is underwater.

Another woman living in the tent city, with only the belongings she could save, went to a Red Cross facility to take a shower, and while she was in the shower, her purse was stolen with all the money she had from her last paycheck.

These are only some of the stories that have come out of this disaster. It will take years to recover what has been lost.

And out of adversity Faith UMC continues to do the mission work they're known for. The food pantry they had in the church basement has gone mobile. A local dealer loaned Bob and Ada Lower a new trailer, which they have equipped with a refrigerator and a deep freeze. With it, they are delivering food to their clients, who frequent the food pantry. They are planning to take the trailer full of food to the tent city to make sure the people there have food.

This is an amazing ministry staffed by amazing people who know the true calling of their church to reach out to the poor and hungry. The Rev. Debra Ball-Kilbourne and others of her congregation are doing what they can to apply for grants to help rebuild their church. Rev. Debra also has a story of loss and emotion to tell, as she works to serve her congregation and get ready for case management by teaching and doing.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Lee Gale
Dakotas Annual Conference
Disaster Response Coordinator for North Dakota

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

IMAGINE NO MALARIA: Squashing Mosquitoes, One Lemonade at a Time!

Molly Menamara and Logan Martens pose with their treats for a good cause.
Photo:Wendy Martens

By Nyamah Dunbar*

During the 2011 East Ohio Annual Conference in picturesque Lakeside, Ohio, two surprise guest stars from the Imagine No Malaria documentary, “A Killer in the Dark”, appeared to be moonlighting as lemonade sellers right outside the auditorium. In fact, they were not moonlighting, but presenting a live display of their child-led initiative that has raised more than $11,000 for the Imagine No Malaria Campaign and landed them a world-debut slot in the documentary.

When Logan Martens was just about to turn 7 years old, his Mom asked him if he would be willing to ask guests at his birthday party to donate to Imagine No Malaria in lieu of gifts. He accepted without hesitation. Well, except one—he would not give up having his cake! Since that day, nearly four years ago, he found a partner in 9-year-old Molly Menamara, and the dynamic duo has been pitching up lemonade stands and selling cookies and any other donated goodies, with all proceeds going to the Imagine No Malaria Campaign.

As their initiative grew, their grandfathers, retired UMC pastors, Rev. Adriel Trasash and Rev. Don Lefler, were inspired by the selfless drive of their grandchildren and each offered to match the proceeds raised from each sale: they would triple the worth of each dollar given to the campaign. That’s saying a lot for some retired pastors on a pension plan! But Rev. Trasash was also motivated, he said, by “the good that the [Imagine No Malaria projects] are doing to save lives and…the ongoing need to save the lives of pregnant women and children.”

As I reflected on Molly and Logan’s venture, I asked the youngsters how they felt about the theme of this year’s East Ohio Conference, “IF WE ARE THE BODY….” Without hesitation, Molly responded, “People helping people shows that we ARE the BODY of Christ.” Wise words from a wise child.

*Nyamah Dunbar is UMCOR grants officer for Imagine No Malaria.