Gift of the Heart School Bags

Today at worship at Bethany Presbyterian Church, we prayed with our hearts, minds, and hands. We had a participatory sermon when we stuffed Gift of the Heart school bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to distribute here in the United States, and throughout the world in case of disaster or violence that leaves school children without access to school and school supplies. International assistance is provided through Church World Service.

This is what the sanctuary looked like when we arrived this morning. Instead of the regular configuration of pews facing forward, the seats had been switched around and tables had been added. Each table had a printed responsive reading, and a scripture from Proverbs, extoling the virtues of Wisdom.

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Here’s the view from above.

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All the supplies were stacked on a pew at the back of the sanctuary.


Folks came in, and found “new” seats at tables – sitting somewhere they don’t usually sit.

The first part of the service followed our regular order of worship, with announcements, opening hymns, prayers of confession, scripture readings, and a very short reflection from Pastor Sarah.

Then we watched a short (about 5 min) audio/visual presentation about some of the places the school kits have been distributed in the past, and where they might be going in the future.

Sarah invited us to share our experiences of honoring God with our minds, as we began the process of stuffing the school bags.

10-12 bags had been pre-placed on each table, along with a “recipe” for what went in them.

1 — pair of blunt scissors (rounded tip)

3 — 70-count spiral notebooks or notebooks (total 200-210 sheets of ruled paper; no loose-leaf or filler paper.)

1 — 30-centimeter ruler (12″)

1 — hand-held pencil sharpener

6 — new pencils with erasers

1 — large eraser

1 — box of 24 crayons

1 — cloth bag, 12″ x 14″ to 14″ x 16″ finished size cotton cloth bag with cloth handles

The folks – young and old – proceeded to gather the ingredients, and stuff the bags.

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A very short time later, 100 bags were stuffed, and ready to be packed and shipped to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, care of Ferncliff Disaster Assistance Center in Little Rock, AR.

We prayed over the completed bags as we collected the offering and sang the Doxology.

Following the Prayers of the People, we sang our final hymn, and were dismissed to go and serve the world – especially the children, who desperately need our love and assistance.


Emergency Preparedness

(This is a guest post from Big Al, who attended the presentation last week.)

Senior University at Franke Tobey Jones presented a program from the Mt Rainier Chapter of the American Red Cross. They discussed the actions residents can take before, during, and after a natural disaster to eliminate or mitigate the problems they might face. Fortunately we, in this area, don’t have to worry about most natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, but we are at risk for earthquake and wildfire.


The representatives first explained the chain of help should an emergency situation arise: local fire and rescue, state disaster response teams, and federal emergency management.


Earthquakes occur when two sides of a fault line move due to plate movement. Earthquakes can occur in this area either as part of seismic activity or as discrete events.

In the event of an earthquake they stress three points:

  1. Have an emergency plan for what you and your family will do. This includes a potential meeting point in case of home destruction and a person out of state (preferably) that everyone of the family, if separated at the time can call with the status of the caller. 
  2. Try to earthquake proof your home to include ensuring hot water tanks are strapped to the wall and anything else that could tip over possibly on a person. Also have a place in the home to go that is structurally stronger like the cubby hole of a desk or under a table.
  3. Try to have an emergency kit with emergency clothing, food, and water for approx. seven days.
  • Clothing shouldn’t be anything fancy or new but things you can do labor in.
  • Blanket and something to keep warm at night.
  • An old pair of shoes so that you are not barefooted and having to walk on glass or other sharp items.
  • Food should be canned and/or dry.
  • Matches for a fire.
  • A mechanical can opener.
  • About two gallons of water/person/day. Food and water would be rotated out and used and replaced periodically.

Wild Fire

Generally the suggestions in case of wildfire are the same as for earthquakes, except that you usually have more time to prepare in case of a wildfire. In any case be ready, AND WILLING, to evacuate if you are threatened by a wildfire.

In addition to all this good information, the representatives referred us to several Red Cross Apps that you can get for your iPhone and Android to remind you of what you need to know.

Wildfire App



Earthquake App


The hour-long presentation included numerous questions with helpful answers. Attendees were encouraged to call or visit the Red Cross if they had further questions.

Get a Kit

Make a Plan

Be Informed


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

Goodness gracious, where on earth did June go? July has totally snuck up on me!

I didn’t do much about “Providing” in June, except to be one of the eight people required in order for Franke Tobey Jones to take the bus sightseeing. It may not sound like much, but I can’t tell you how many really great sounding trips get cancelled because we don’t have enough people to go.


Early in June, Big Al and I took the train, and spent the day in Portland. I thought I posted about it, but apparently I didn’t. We didn’t have any particular plans or sightseeing aims, we just went down for lunch – left at 8:15 in the morning and were back at 5:15 that evening. Portland is a great little city with easy-to-get-around trams, and lots of “street art.”




I know I’m in the Pacific Northwest because the public drinking fountains bubble water all the time.

The flowers and plantings in the public parks and on the streets were beautifully tended – it was the Rose Festival the following day.

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The train station has great mission architecture, and has been refurbished/well-maintained, and the views of the sound from the train were reward enough for our tickets.


On Friday that week, the FTJ Lunch Bunch went to Seattle for lunch at Sky City at the Space Needle. (Good Grief! I never posted the pictures from there either.)


It was a beautiful day, and I overwhelmed myself taking pictures, as well as eating myself stupid on clams and mussels. We had great views of the sound, of the city and of Mt Rainier.

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I KNOW I did posts about FTJ’s trip to Northwest Trek and Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad.

I think I remember now why I hadn’t already posted about Seattle and Portland. I spent most of May and June doing a photo-a-day in anticipation of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). You can find all my post by searching here for #journeytoGA and/or #PCUSA. Also during the week of deliberations, I followed the proceedings on Live Feed and on Twitter and Facebook. GA will be in Portland in two years, and I’m determined to go, even if it’s only as an observer.

At church, I continue to provide leadership as a member of the session and as the chair of the Hospitality and Outreach Team. Summer is a busy time for us as we are the organizing group for our National Night Out Street Party in early August and our Annual Picnic in mid-August. Additionally we will be trying an activity during worship in July when we will pack “Gift of the Heart” School Bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Church World Service. If that goes well, we will do a similar activity in the fall, making hygiene kits for a local homeless shelter.

Now that I talk about all the “stuff” I’ve been doing in June, I understand why it seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke.

On a related note, the deer continue to demolish many of my flowers, and Big Al and I are off to the nursery to see if we can find something that they won’t destroy. I’m thinking maybe Foxglove (digitalis). I understand it’s as poisonous to deer as it is to people. Bwhahahahaha!!!!!