Gratitude Day 144 – Mission Work

Mon., Oct. 29, 2018 

3 John 1:6 – They have told the church about your love. They say you were good enough to welcome them and to send them on their mission in a way that God’s servants deserve.

mission

I have a quick little exercise for you to perform. Willing to try? It will only take a minute.

Good. Here are the instructions.

Either grab a map or think of the geographical area where you live. Think of a community 30 miles to the east of where you live. Now, 30 miles west. How about 30 miles north as well as 30 miles south?

Draw an imaginary, or real if using a map, circle connecting those communities. Look at all the of the communities, towns and people who live in this area. Can you think of a family who might have a need? Is this need something you can help with?

When I was in seminary, I remember a professor teaching about mission work. He understood the need for people to go significant distances or live in a different area for awhile to do mission work. Yet, he was a proponent of doing things locally as well. He defined “mission” work this way: anything at least 30 miles from your house. His explanation of “mission” work in this context made such an impression on me that I shared this with Hubby Rick.

Throughout our marriage, Rick and I have been involved in a wide variety of “mission” work. We have traveled long distances with other people. We have chaperoned youth mission trips, so youth can develop an appreciation for what they have and foster a sense of helping others. And yes, we have participated in many 30-mileish “mission” trips.

Recently, Rick and I prioritized a day-long “mission” project. It was about 45 miles from home. So, according to my seminary professor, it qualified as “mission” work. Actually, we traveled to Rick’s son’s house and helped him with specific projects. Rick worked on installing a window in the basement. I worked on a huge project in the basement. Rick’s son asked if Rick could do the window. We decided it would be a good project to do together, knowing there were opportunities for me to serve as well.

We appreciate long-distance mission trips. Yet, we also value and prioritize local “mission” projects. Sometimes, it seems silly to travel two days on a bus when there are lots of local opportunities to serve. Our local “mission” projects have covered the gamut. Sometimes, it’s a repair or construction project. Cutting wood, doing yardwork or helping in a garden. Sometimes it’s cleaning, sorting and organizing. Maybe it’s taking food and simply listening.

This time, we were asked to do this “mission” project. Often, we are asked. Other times, we volunteer. We accept these projects because we can serve God, our neighbors and model our faith. These projects aren’t glamorous. f our time and abilities can serve another member of God’s kingdom, it’s a win for them and us.

Think again of the geographic area in the 60-mile radius from where you live. Is there someone that could be a “mission” project? How could you serve them? Are they willing to accept help? When are you be able to set aside time and carry out your “mission” project?

The 30-mile distance from your home isn’t magical or necessary. Rick and I have experienced lots of “mission” project opportunities much less than 30 miles. Does a shorter distance disqualify them as “mission” projects? Absolutely not. “Mission” work has less to do with distance and more about a person’s willingness to serve someone else and God in tandem.

We can get so caught up in our own “projects” that we fail to see beyond our needs and observe someone else’s needs. Every time we perform a “mission” project, I discover someone about myself or learn something new. I see these as clear opportunities for God to mold and shape me. I am always richer for the experience.

Rick and I appreciate doing these projects together when we can. “Mission” projects are great family activities. Everyone can serve your neighbor and God together while create lasting family memories.

We put in a long day on our “mission” project at Rick’s son. When we arrived home, we were tired and dirty. Yet, we had a sense of accomplishment. Rick’s son appreciated our work and the jobs accomplished.

There are great benefits in going away on a mission trip. Yet, there are also opportunities to help someone closer to home. When Rick and I enter these opportunities with the attitude that we are doing “mission” work, it changes our approach. Yes, we do our very best. But we are also aware that a “mission” attitude removes the project’s work from what we are doing to how we are serving God.

I pray you will discover a “mission” project soon within your community.

For opportunities to serve God through “mission’ projects, I am grateful.

Almighty God – thank you for the people who have serve us on a “mission” project. I pray you will bring forth another mission opportunity for us to serve soon. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 127 – Blessing Others

Sat., Sept. 29, 2018

Ruth 2:4 – Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem. He said to the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

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I love being able to bless other people. It’s one of my favorite things to do. This is one reason why I’ve become involved in a program called Blessings in a Backpack.

This is a program which helps provide weekend food to school students who might not otherwise have enough food. Our local Blessings program works with our local school district to provide this food to students who would be blessed in having this food. In our local program we provide 10 items of food a week: 2 breakfast, 2 meal items and 6 snack items.

It is amazing to watch this program work. The majority of the food is purchased through our local grocery story, who works with our program to provide the food at the most reasonable price possible. Volunteers order the food, pick-up the food, pack the food and deliver the food to the schools. Our volunteer leadership team coordinates the volunteers, finances, connection with the school, administrative roles and marketing promotion.

This past week was National Blessings in a Backpack. Here are the volunteers and owner of the local grocery store who packed the food bags that were delivered to the school on Friday.

Why do I choose to be involved in this program? Because it is providing food to students. I feel making sure every student in our school district has adequate food is my responsibility and my opportunity. Some of you may feel this is not your calling or responsibility. Yet, I feel we all have the opportunity influence kids in our community. This is one way that I choose to be involved. I envision every time a student receives a food bag they feel blessed and cared for.

Maybe being part of a local Blessings program is not feasible for you. I challenge you to become creative and discover a special way that you can support school-aged you in your community:

  • Mentor or tutor student(s) in your local school district.
  • Help cover the cost of lunches for students who many not have funds to do this
  • Provide funds for a student’s lunch break
  • Listen to students read
  • Help a student with homework on a regular basis
  • Volunteer to help with recess
  • Be a volunteer assistance in a classroom or homeroom regularly
  • Ask at your school or library how you could support local kids
  • Pray for the school, administration, students, teachers and all staff.

Whether you have school-aged kids or not, we have unique opportunities to be a part of the kid’s lives within our community. This is how we shared important things from generation to generation.

No matter your age, physical abilities or other commitments, I pray you find a way to support kids within your community.

For the ability to bless school-aged students, I am thankful.

Almighty God – thank you for the opportunities that we come along to bless others. I pray we seize the opportunities to give your love, grace and peace into other’s lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 67 – Mission Trip

mission trip image

Mon., June 18, 2018

Ephesians 6:7-8 – Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

We have arrived in the Washington D.C. area

After two days of travel from Wisconsin, our group of almost 100 youth and adults is bunkered down at a church for the week. We’ll spend our days serving people by helping repair their homes and properties. Evenings will be times of worship and hanging out. Great friendships. New experiences. Lots of laughs. Opportunities to be God’s hands and feet. Hopefully lives that will be forever changed.

Hubby Rick and I are chaperones on this trip. We’re excited that our two oldest grandsons, as well as a couple girls, are part of our smaller group. Already, we see the kids discovering new friends. It warms our hearts to observe this.

My posting maybe a little less frequent this week. We’ll see how the week goes. Hanging out with the kids and other adults will be a priority. Yet, I expect to see many gratitude spottings this week. More than I’ll be able to record.

For this, I am grateful.

Thank you for this group of youth and adults who are willing to serve You and those around us this week. I pray for all who will be participating in a mission trip this summer. May we truly experience profound ways to serve You, Almighty God, and your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 62 – Protection

Polo

Sat., June 9, 2018

Psalm 16:1 – Protect me, God, because I take refuge in you.

I never anticipated having a polo shirt with these words on it: Chaplain Vielhuber and Poynette Police Department. But I do.

This winter, our local Poynette Police Department started a volunteer chaplaincy program. I was asked to be a part it. I think it’s important to be involved in the local community, so I agreed. Along with three other local clergy, we comprise the Poynette Police Chaplaincy Program.

One day for each of the last three months, we attended training provided by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.  Seasoned chaplains guided us in our new roles. We were encouraged to ride-along with local police. This has been a great way to understand the department, local officers and our role as chaplains.

The clergy volunteer to be on-call for two-week increments. I am currently on call. Unfortunately, my first opportunity to serve was an epic fail.

My phone rang Thursday night. Hubby Rick and I were about 30 minutes from home. I had just dropped off Mr. Jeep for his summer adventure. Rick had been golfing with a couple buddies. I joined them for dinner. An officer called and asked if I could assist in a death notification to a family. The conversation continued:

Me: Sure, would love to. Unfortunately, I’m 30 minutes away. I will hop in the car right now …

Silence.  

Officer: Maybe I should see if one of the other clergy is available.

Me: OK. Please let me know what you find out. But I can start driving now.

Officer: Just wait. I’ll call you back.

He called back. Another clergy was available and was on his way to assist.

While I was thankful another clergy was nearby, I felt crappy. I had an opportunity to serve … and it hadn’t worked out.

I know. There will be another time when the on-call clergy won’t be immediately available. I will have an opportunity to step-in. But in the moment, I would have preferred to be available when the call came.

Friday, I saw the officer who had called me the previous night. He assured me everything had worked out fine. I thanked him for contacting me and asked he call again.

By becoming involved in our local police department, it has been confirmed these positions are under-rated. Law enforcement personal work rotating shifts and deal with situations no one yearns to be a part of. They are the ones charged with protecting our community. As a chaplain, I am to support them and be a safe place for them to land if need be. As God protects me, I pray that I can be an extension of God’s protection to others.

On Friday, I received my official chaplain polo shirt. I still am amazed the words police – chaplain – Vielhuber are all on one shirt. It is a new adventure I never expected.

Yet, for this opportunity, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for the people who have been called to protect and serve our communities: police, firefighters, EMT’s and others. I pray they see themselves as extensions of your cloud of protection. I lift up those families who have been lost a loved one in a line-of-duty incidence. May your grace be especially with them. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 21 – Being God’s Hands and Feet

Sun., Apr. 22, 2018

1 Corinthians 12:21 – That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet.

When God’s hands touch our hands, our hands continue the work of God’s kingdom. Our work for God’s kingdom comes in many different forms. Often outside the traditional box.

I have been blessed to serve God’s kingdom in various ways. Shortly after hubby Rick and I were married, we moved into a house provided by a church I was serving. The house was in the country and our closest neighbors were dairy farmers. We became fast friends with Mel & Doris Lohr and son Greg, who farms with them. Having grown up on a dairy farm, I dusted off my cow milking skills and put them to work a few times when we lived by the Lohr’s.

The Lohr’s have contemplated a different arrangement for their dairy operation for years. Their operation has labor intensive. Finding and keeping employees has been an issue. The buildings were worn out. It was time for Mel and Doris to allow Greg more ownership.

20180421_120641This week, the Lohr’s initiated their decision. They moved their cows into a new home. Rather than being milked the traditional way, they installed four robotic milkers. Instead of people going to the cows to milk them, the cows go to a specific place were robots handling cow-milking duties.

20180421_144322There are about 1.3 million cows in Wisconsin, where I live. In Wisconsin, dairy farms contribute about $43.4 billion to the state’s economy. Of the 9,520 Wisconsin farms, 96% are family owned. These owner-operators work tirelessly to produce a very healthy high-quality product. They take extreme pride in caring for their animals. All the dairy producers I know go out of their way to ensure the animals are well cared for, feed and healthy.

For the Lohr’s, switching barns and milking methodology cows was a huge undertaking. The cow’s office was moved. They have a new lunch room, the bathroom is in a different location, their beds have changed and their water coolers look completely different. The way they earn their keep (provide milk) has been turned upside down. The cows have more choice about when the eat, sleep and be milked.

Because everything is so different and new, early on, the cows need a little encouragement. The extended Lohr family has stepped it up this week as well as their employees. Since Tuesday, lots and lots of volunteers have become hands and feet to help the cows adjust. People have been in the new barn round-the-clock.

Saturday, Rick and I took an afternoon shift. After our arrival, we were given a 10-minute course of what to do and look for. Then, we were turned loose to find which cows were overdue to be milked.

20180421_120404The whole system is highly technical. The automation is becoming more fine-tuned each day. Saturday was day 5 since the cows were moved. Both Rick and I are amazed how quickly the cows have adapted. They are divided into four groups, based on age and milking stage. By the end of our shift, the youngest cows basically have the system figured out. Some older cows just need a little more coaxing.

20180421_120027In their brand-new hotel, the cows are so comfortable and content. In the hours we helped, we only heard one cow “moo.”

As nifty as this whole new operation is, the overarching cloud is the difficult dairy economy right now. The price dairy producers are paid for the milk they produce are at record lows. In the 1980’s, the dairy economy went through several challenging years. Many good dairy operations were ultimately forced to stop, my family included. The Lohr’s have staked their entire financial future on this new set-up. The low income only adds another layer of stress. It’s difficult for most of us to understand the significance and challenge of this. Believe me – it’s there.

When Doris called and asked if Rick and I could take a shift, there was no hesitation. Yes, we wanted to help our friends. Yes, we were curious to see their new operation. Yes, we would do this because this is how we put into action God’s call to extend God’s hands into the world. We were grateful Doris asked us.

Most people cannot be hands and feet directly for the Lohr’s. But you can help. Help them and all dairy producers by buying an extra gallon or two of milk a week. Or cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or ice cream. If your family cannot consume them, donate them to your local food pantry. Do this again next week. “Fixing” this dairy economic situation is tricky. Each of us can increase consumption and help family operations like the Lohr’s.

One of my seminary professors said that going over 30 miles to help someone is missionary work. Rick and I were more than pleased to be make the Lohr’s our little mission trip and be God’s hands and feet today.

For this, I am grateful.

Almighty God – the opportunities to be your hands and feet in your kingdom are endless. Unfortunately, we aren’t always very comfortable for asking assistance. I pray we can become see that when your hand touches ours, the opportunities for us to serve your kingdom are just beginning. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Washing Someone Else’s Feet

wash-feet-art

Thurs., Apr. 13, 2017

John 13:15 – Jesus said, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Last week, one of the Wednesday Night Church School (WNCS) kids from one of the church’s I serve lost a tooth. Sophie is in 1st grade. A sweet, sweet little girl, Sophie is as cute as a button. Even more cute missing some of her teeth. But the little random act of kindness she did upon losing her tooth should be an example to us all.

You see, Sophie received $5 from the Tooth Fairy. (Wow … the Tooth Fairy has deemed the price for teeth has dramatically increased in, well, a lot of years!) Last Sunday, on Palm Sunday, Sophie quietly brought her $5 to church and put it in the jar labeled for Mrs. Morgan. Mrs. Morgan is an aid at school. She has been going through cancer treatment this winter. As part of our WNCS, we designate a mission project each semester.  Our current mission project is Mrs. Morgan. Sweet little Sophie decided Mrs. Morgan needed the $5 from the Tooth Fairy much more than she did.

Jesus said, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

This week, a card came to the church addressed to me. I noticed the hand writing. A card had also arrived in March. With $25. Written inside the April card, along with another $25, was this: “Wishing you and your congregation all the blessings of this special season – Please add this to your mission fund – to help with the children’s costs or where ever it is needed. Thank you.” No name. For the second month in a row. Last month, we put the $25 towards the Easter Egg Hunt held last weekend at the church. This month, maybe it will go towards the WNCS end-of-the-year pizza party where kids find out who their Secret Pal is. Their Secret Pal has been quietly sending them cards all year. It’s a fun way to end the kid’s Christian education program.

Jesus said, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Tonight, we celebrate Maundy Thursday. It remembers the last night Jesus spent with his disciples. They celebrated the Passover meal together. During the highly symbolic meal, Jesus reinterpreted the meal. We call this reinterpretation Holy Communion.

Before they celebrated the meal together, Jesus first washed the disciple’s feet. This job is usually relegated to the lowliest servant present. Why? Because who really wants to wash a bunch of smelly, stinky feet? No one. Unless they have to. Except this night, Jesus willing washed the disciple’s feet. Why? Listen to his words.

Jesus said, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

It probably didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But it was. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal a little girl gave the $5 she received from the Tooth Fairy to a mission project. But it is. It probably doesn’t seem like much that some nice person decides to send $25 to the church every month. But to me … it IS a big deal. Why? Because, whether Sophie or this person know it or not, they are doing it. They are following Jesus’ example.

What little (or big) thing can you do in the next 72 hours to follow Jesus’ example and do something extra in honor of what has been done for you?

Holy God – there is no way we can ever really thank you for what Jesus did on our behalf. It is simply impossible. I pray we can find simple and yet meaningful ways to do to others as has been done for us.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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