Archive for August, 2008

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Therapy Animals

Last year Billy came to Family Retreat. Billy is a black lab trained as a therapy dog. This means he has passed animal “good citizen” tests and is approved to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other similar situations.

We watched non-verbal kids who usually show little emotion meet Billy and open up their smiles to him. We saw children connect with each other with Billy as the catalyst.

Dogs aren’t the only animals that can be trained as therapy animals, but this year we have with us something I’ve NEVER heard of–a pair of therapy llamas.

I’ve got pictures (of course), but it’s late and the Internet is very slow for me tonight, so maybe later.

Thanks for praying for us here.

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Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

They’re here!


Our campers arrived today (yesterday, really, since it’s after midnight).

We volunteers finished our training with a prayer walk in groups around the campus, praying for God’s work in the sorts of activities that would occur in each place.

Katy Thuleen, JAF-MN Director, painted a picture to help us get ready to greet families. She reminded us that many families haven’t had vacation for a long time. Perhaps a family member is disruptively loud and unpredictable. Perhaps he or she is medically fragile. Then imagine pulling up to a hotel with all the equipment the family requires. This is not the kind of guest a hotel is eager to host.

But today it was different–a place where a family is awaited, then announced and cheered as they arrive. Volunteers unpack their cars and take everything to their rooms. The one-on-one volunteers show them where they’re staying and get acquainted, including finding out pertinent info that helps give good, loving, reassuring care.

Now, friends, this is for you. One mother told me she knew all too well what I meant when I asked you to pray that God would help our families through the moments when it seems easier just to stay home. “But this time,” she smiled, “I never felt that way, so please thank people for praying.” And lest you minimize the power of prayer, you should know this is a family with 8 children, several with disabilities.

Tomorrow is our first full day of Family Retreat. Please pray for STMs as they connect with their charges. Please pray for kids to have a good time in their groups and to understand as much as they are able what is being taught about Jesus. Please pray for parents to be able to relax and enjoy the time in the Word and with each other–a rare time of not being on duty for a couple of hours.

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Volunteer Training


Talitha and I arrived at Castaway Club about 4:30, along with most of the other volunteers. Talitha is especially happy that her cousin, Betsy, came up from Chicago to work and brought along her friend, Hannah.

The hours before the campers arrive are filled with information and instruction to get us ready to be most helpful to campers.

For example, Tony Skie talked about wheelchair etiquette–”Please ask before you help me. I may be glad for help, but I may want to do it myself.”

Some of us have been to several JAF Family Retreats. Many are first timers. All of us feel a mixture of excitement at being here and anxiety about what it will be like, connecting with people whom we may not already know and who have special needs that we’re not yet familiar with.

And if WE feel anxious, imagine the family who is attending for the first time. They have spent money for registration, they’ve poured energy and emotions into getting their family ready to travel, and yet they may have little idea what to expect. They’re probably wondering, “Will it be worth all the effort?

If my Internet connection cooperates, I hope to post photos at the end of each day. Just ignore the sign in and click “View Slideshow.”

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Go! — Ready! Set!

I’m sitting in the middle of a puddle of packing. Talitha and I leave in about 3 hours for camp.

All of us volunteers arrive this afternoon and for 24 hours are getting ready for the campers–mostly getting OURSELVES ready. Campers arrive tomorrow afternoon.

I remember the challenge of taking a trip with our children when they were small. How much greater is the effort for a family affected by disability.

So while we’re loading the car and driving, I’m praying for the campers–that God will overcome the feeling of “It would just be easier to stay home”; that God will protect health; that he will hold away any events, behaviors, mishaps that would keep someone from coming. I don’t know all the contingencies to pray about, so over-all my prayer is that God will bring to camp everyone who should be there.

We are so eager to see them!

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Monday, August 11th, 2008

Volunteers! On your mark! Get set!

Talitha and I drove home today from our vacation, leaving my husband behind to have a few more days of quiet and retreat on his own.

Vacation was great. But we two needed to do laundry, repack, and be ready to leave tomorrow for Family Retreat. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.

We know that more than 100 others have their own stories today of wrapping up one set of activities and responsibilities to get ready to go tomorrow to Joni and Friends Family Retreat to work in some capacity in the name of Jesus on behalf of families affected by disabilities.

Please pray for us all as we prepare and travel.

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Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Trouble Posting a Comment?

A couple of people have mentioned that they’re not sure how to post a comment because they’ve forgotten their sign-in info or don’t want to register.

Here’s my solution when that happens. I click on “anonymous.” That lets me through without having to sign in.

Then I always sign my name at the end of my comment, because I don’t like truly anonymous comments.

Feel free to test the procedure by commenting on this post–nothing profound required; “test” is fine.

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Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Talitha’s Thoughts

Hey Everyone!

I am so excited for Joni and Friends Camp. I would love to give you guys some reasons why I am so excited.

Okay, the first reason is that this is my very first time volunteering at Joni and Friends Camp. Last year, when my mom went for the Minnesota Joni and Friends Camp I didn’t really feel like I was ready to go to one. But now I am ready.

Reason two: I get to bring my violin and play music for people. I just love being able to minister to people that way!

Reason three: I get to take care of an adorable little friend I know!

Reason four: I get to room with other girls from my church!

Reason five: Some of my friends are going from church!

And finally, Reason six: This is a great opportunity for me to serve others and to be like Christ and his image in Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I get to serve others maybe even in the smallest ways like playing violin, but the bigger thing is that I get to be like Christ.

I most heartily look forward to seeing you there if you’re going! I really can’t wait to go, can you tell?

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Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Almost Time for Family Retreat


Families and STMs (Short-Term Missionaries=volunteers) are getting ready for Minnesota’s second Joni and Friends Family Retreat next week. We’ve put together a photo book to help campers know what to expect at camp. Near the top right-hand corner you can choose “play” for a slideshow or you may arrow through at your own pace.

I can hardly wait to see all of you who are coming!

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Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

The Difference a Chair Makes

Imagine that you must lie or crawl or be carried, and you have no hope that anything will ever be better. Then, you are offered a wheelchair. Imagine that, for the first time in your life, you can look at people almost eye to eye, that you can see the world face-on.

These are just 3 of the 100 people who received chairs during the wheelchair outreach I was part of in January 2007.


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Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Wheelchair Outreach

In January 2007, I was part of a team distributing wheelchairs in Cameroon, West Africa. This was a combined ministry of JAF and Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Team members raised their own support. Internet connection was spotty, but we were able to post a few entries in a team blog.

The wheelchairs were provided by JAF. People in the US donate chairs to JAF and then the chairs are renovated in a shop in one of several prisons around the country.

In many countries of the world, wheelchairs and walkers and other equipment are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Also in some countries, disability is viewed as a curse. This means that people with disabilities receive little or no assistance and perhaps never leave their homes. Physical and occupational therapy is largely unavailable.

The gift of a wheelchair can change a life, and when the wheelchair is fitted by a person who shows care and prays with the recipient, Jesus’ name is glorified in the gift. Each person also receives a Bible and other Christian material in a language they or a family member can read.

I was going to post some photos from the Cameroon Project, but the Internet is giving me problems right now (not just an African problem!), so I’ll save that for another time. Be sure to watch the video on the JAF Wheels page.

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