By Jeff Rogers
Each spring Marantha Volunteers sponsors a group of volunteers to help with projects around Camp Yavapines in Prescott, Arizona. At the conclusion of the 10-12 days of work the camp staff and management holds a banquet to thank all the individuals who gave their time and effort to beautify the camp. Some of the projects are “flashy” as new paint and windows get installed while other projects like roofs are not as visual.
“Roofs are boring,” jokes Scott Blake, Camp Yavapines manager. “But we have 68 buildings on the property and we are now almost done with replacing all of them.”
Other projects this year included installing decking and skirting the bottom of two trailers, enclosing the “outdoor” kitchen by the Willows district, trimming trees around the property, weeding the various landscaping elements and installing new windows in the cafeteria.
The group was smaller this year but the amount of work produced did not diminish. “We has 51 volunteers this year,” says Angie Blake, Camp Yavapines Manager. “We usually have more but the cost of airfare prevented some from the east coast from traveling this year.”
When addressing the group at the banquet, Scott Blake noted the amount of work that got done. “I was hoping to get one deck done but we had the materials and you got them both done. You are such a blessing to us.”
Charlie, one of the Marantha volunteers commented on the fellowship that is experienced at the event, “This was special. We enjoy each other and we enjoy nature. Thank you so much for the opportunity to know all of you.”
Carolyn who organizes the volunteer group each year expressed her gratitude at the banquet “We love coming here. We have our repeated attenders that come back four, five or more years. We are blessed.”
At the end of the banquet another volunteer proclaimed, “We are family...friends and family that we made here at Yavapines.”
By Jeff Rogers
Arizona Sonshine recently held an event in Cottonwood, Arizona at the Verde Valley Seventh-day Adventist school gym. The Cottonwood, Sedona and Camp Verde Seventh-day Adventist churches worked together to make this event possible.
It is probably the smallest event center the organization has ever used but God blessed and it was a wonderful event. Over 190 guests came through the doors on March 23rd and 24th. Each guest received either dental, vision or medical services plus had the opportunity to have counseling on healthy living and diabetes education. Over $152,000 in free healthcare was provided by the 63 volunteers.
Of the 194 guests served, 153 were first time attendees and a large majority were women between the ages of 40-70. Nearly half of the guests received some form of dental care in addition to the 96 individuals who were seen by one of the two volunteer optometrists.
Yavapai County was also a participant and was very pleased with the interaction with their booths and were able to give out materials for what is available for the underserved in the county.
North American Division Vice-President for Multilingual Ministries Elder Minervino Labrador was the guest speaker for the annual Multilingual Ministries Convocation January 27 & 28 held at the Thunderbird Adventist Academy Auditorium. His message centered around encouraging the congregation to believe in Jesus. The members from all the multilingual ministry congregations were represented and participated in the event.
Further south, the Stronghold International Seventh-day Adventist Mission Group is experiencing a lot of growth in the past few months. The group was formed within the last year and has now purchased a facility to house the congregation and welcomed a new pastor who hasn’t wasted any time in growing the membership. On April 29, Pastor Ric Biscaro baptized Rachel Stearman in the newly installed baptistry at the church.
Recently group members lead by Rudy Martinez went searching for a piano for the new church. John, a retired law professor in the community, was selling a piano. When church members arrived to purchase and pick up the piano John learned the purpose for the piano and he then returned payment and offered the piano as a donation.
Over 500 young adults from all over Arizona attended the FESJA retreat at Camp Yavapines April 14-16. Several of the Hispanic Ministries Pastors took part in panel discussions. Several baptisms were held at the conclusion of the event as young adults desired to make a public commitment to Jesus.
Thunderbirds in the Arctic
By Nic Owens
As the plane slowly descended towards the expansive tundra, 17 students anticipated where their home for the next 10 days would be. As a few shining roofs, surrounded by ice and snow, began to emerge in the sun’s setting rays, the students were unsure of their ability to handle the frigid temperatures of the subarctic north. Thus began our Mission Trip to Bethel Alaska.
For months, Thunderbird Adventist Academy students had been preparing for this moment. Meeting after meeting, students asked questions about how they could survive in such a place such as Bethel. With the ebbing of time, students replaced that fear with expectancy and a conqueror’s attitude. As the wheels touched the ground, the reality of all our planning came into sharp focus.
Bethel SDA Church welcomed us with open arms and though our dwelling was small, it was warm and ably housed us for the next week. Students hit the ground running; checking out the local digs (the local AC, Brown’s Slough, snow and ice, etc.) as they settled into their new home. We spent Sabbath worshiping with the local church where our students put on the program and Juliette and Rebecca shared the Word with us. It was a blessing to us and the community.
Sunday started off early and we encountered our first obstacle of the trip. Our contact at the homeless shelter (Bethel Winter House) became ill and was unavailable. We kept looking to make sure we weren’t in the wrong place and eventually gave up. Going back to the church a little discouraged that we had missed something important, we retooled and started to prepare for our VBS program that was starting that evening. The rest of the day was spent in preparation for that and when we finally connected with the Winter House, all was explained and we developed another plan to begin our work at the homeless shelter on Monday.
The week went by quickly with morning work at the Bethel Winter House and VBS in the afternoons. Students cooked for the homeless community, deep cleaned the facilities, and organized many things that had been overlooked due to being short staffed. The VBS program brought us 22 young children eager to learn about The Creation Story. For seven days, Thunderbird students shared the message of God our Creator. This involved songs, skits, activities, and snacks all to show how awesome The Creation Story is. The culmination of the week was on Sabbath demonstrating how a loving Creator set a special day aside to spend time with us.
All good things must come to an end and Sabbath saw us heading back to the airport in the evening. We said our goodbyes to the children that we had bonded with over the week and wished everyone well. Soon the tundra faded into the distance as night fell on Bethel, but the memories and experiences were forever etched into our minds. Our mission complete, 17 students started making their way back to the deserts of Arizona forever changed.