Poplar Members Thank God for Gift of Volunteers

February 20, 2019 | volunteer | Leigh Van Asperen

During the Christmas season, church members found themselves thanking God for every volunteer who has given of themselves and their resources for supporting the building project in Poplar, Mont. For those who may not be familiar with the project, this new multiuse facility has been named the Living Hope Center and will serve as a local church in addition to providing a place for continued outreach to the people in and around the Fort Peck Reservation in eastern Montana.

For Leigh Van Asperen, it has been a busy few months traveling back and forth from Sandpoint, Idaho. But he and other local members rejoice for what the Lord has done.

Many witnessed Gary Marsh’s presentation at camp meeting this summer showing the 74-by-52 basement ready for construction to begin. After a week of cleanup from heavy summer rains and finishing the remaining footings, things got under way. Van Asperen met a concrete contractor, Dan, and his son, David Johnson, from Eagle Point, Ore., who drove out and poured the footings for the basement. “It was a busy week forming things up, tying rebar and pouring the concrete while working along with John Materne, a plumber out of Colville, Wash., and Dennis Tefts, a licensed plumber from Williston, N.D., who installed all the plumbing in the basement floor and got our plumbing signed off,” explains Van Asperen.  

The following week Reuben Vincent and Gary Marsh hauled in all the base rock and prepared the basement subgrade for concrete. The new 6-inch sewer line was also connected from the street to the site before the city installed all new sidewalks and paved the street on the south side of the property.

This prepared the way for a group of 15 volunteers organized by Pastor Ron Kelly and Dennis Page of the Village Church in Berrien Springs, Mich., to come out. In one week this efficient group, under the direction of Jim Hippler, a contractor from Michigan, made short work of the task at hand. They stacked the 11-inch-high foam blocks, tied all the rebar and poured the concrete in the walls. They also installed the moisture barrier on the outside of the foam blocks, installed all the foam insulation in the floor, and installed the rebar and hydronic tubing in the floor. They also poured and finished the cement floor In the basement. It was a huge undertaking, but they got it done.

Once the concrete was cured, the basement walls were up and the concrete floor was completed a few weeks later, things were ready for a second group of 10 people from the Village Church area to complete the next phase of construction. This ambitious group of volunteers built all the interior walls, set the steel beams, hung the floor joists and installed the floor in the week they were here. God in His goodness held the cold weather off until this group was finished. “We have no words to express our gratitude to the Stevensville, Mich., and Village Church of Berrien Springs for their support — not only their physical labor but also their generous financial contribution,” says Elden Ramirez, Montana Conference president.

The following week another dirt contractor, Jerry Riggle of Grand Junction, Colo., drove up and helped Van Asperen install the drain tile and backfill the basement to prepare for winter. They finished work with the temperature dropping to -10F that week but were grateful to be able to complete the work before the ground froze. Currently the floor is covered and sealed off for the winter. Another group will return in May to stack the foam walls and pour the remaining concrete walls. 

This building mission project is scheduled to proceed as far as possible subject to funds becoming available. “We pray that God will continue to provide so this mission project designed to minister to the community will be completed,” says Matthew Kirk, Montana Conference vice president of finance and administration. Next summer the plan is to complete the framing of the interior walls, setting the trusses and drying in the building before winter in order to continue to work inside during the winter months. 

The Montana Conference would also like to thank our local church members Van Asperen, Kevin McDaniel and Merlin Knowles; architect Martin Smith from Andrews University; Monte Church and Steve Huey from the North Pacific Union Conference; and Ken Denslow from the North American Division, for all their unconditional love and support for this project. 

For more information on this mission project, visit montanaadventist.org/ministries/native-ministries. We invite you to partner with us in helping us see this local mission project complete. Your prayers and financial contribution is greatly appreciated. Please send your donations payable to the Montana Conference, 175 Canyon View Rd., Bozeman, MT 59715. Under memo please write Poplar Living Hope Center Project. 

If you are interested in volunteering with any part of the project, please feel free to contact Merlin Knowles at 406-599-4314 or Leigh Van Asperen at 208-610-3004.