Welcome to our village of Queets on the Washington Coast Quinault Reservation. During the fall, we were asked to join a parent’s group that takes turns opening the community gym and supervising children while they play. We have sports and games to encourage exercise and teamwork, as well as art activities to encourage creativity. We also began volunteering with the local Girl Scout troop that teachers from the nearby school started. The girls from the village, including our own, have been having a wonderful time learning to be leaders.
As you heard before, we’ve been blessed with quite a few children who are excited to join us for worship each week. We decided that we would put on a Christmas program for the families, so they could see what their children have been learning. Come Christmas Eve, the families filled the church with their support and admiration of the children’s efforts. We had a full house for the children to sing their songs, re-enact the Christmas story, sing together and watch an inspirational Christmas video that encouraged all of us to renew our faith in Jesus. It was a lovely evening! People that hadn’t seen one another in a while were able to reconnect, and we were able to draw together in Christian fellowship.
Last Sabbath, we were happy to have an entire family join us for worship. Please pray that they will continue to join us and be blessed by their experience.
When we look back and see all the wonderful and amazing ways God has used us in His work here in Queets, we can’t help but be surprised by all the blessings this year! It’s had more than its share of challenges as well, but we are looking forward to so much this year! In order to recover our health and wellness, we are taking a family sabbatical later this month. When we return, we look forward to having another program for the children, beginning a tutoring program for them and hosting another Vacation Bible School this summer.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to look at how things have grown and changed in the previous year. 2022 was a year of very intense growth — that's for sure! Through our time with our friends in Queets and personal experiences, we’ve come to a more living faith in God that we have been able to share. Our friends have seen us go through some pretty trying experiences, while still growing and sharing our faith.
More importantly, our experiences have shown us how to better connect with our Indigenous friends. While we’ve faced our own trials of acceptance, it’s opened our eyes to just how important the feeling of acceptance is to everyone, especially our friends here. They face discrimination almost every day. They are constantly being told they are not good enough. A God worth knowing is a God who truly loves and accepts them how they are and gives them the power to grow in His way. That’s the kind of God they want to reach out to.
When they see that their brothers and sisters in Christ want to spend time with them no matter what their house, life or family is like, they feel God wants to spend time with them, too. He cares for them, even if they aren’t “perfect.” When we connect on a human level through attending birthday parties, working out business problems together and listening to their thoughts and ideas, they see that we care about them as a whole person, not just someone that we want to turn into a carbon copy of ourselves. We’ve come to see ourselves less as the teacher and more as the companion. The companion who encourages our friends to lean on Jesus.
Our Indigenous friends want a “walk the talk” kind of religion — a religion that you see in every aspect of a person’s life. That means humbly admitting our mistakes, being helpful, asking for help, accepting each other in love and celebrating them for who they are. They are the people that God delights in! (The rest of us, too!) With God’s help and guidance, and support from you, we are striving to give them that experience.
P.S. Want to see some videos of the Christmas program? Here are the YouTube links: