Part of Something Larger
Last Thursday, our pastor, one of our elders, and I drove to Hubbard, Oregon, to attend a Pacific Northwest Mennonite Church (PNMC) gathering. The larger church (MCUSA) is divided into area conferences. Our church—as well as the church in Anchorage, Alaska—is rather out in the middle of nowhere, but we have been warmly embraced by the other churches in the conference, most of which are in Oregon with some in Washington and Idaho.
Jeryl, our pastor, is the moderator of the PNMC board and I am a member-at-large. Libbie, the elder who went with us, was our delegate to the meeting. Jeryl and I attended the board meeting on Friday and all three of us attended the meeting on Saturday.
I have come to really love these gatherings and the people there. It’s a way to get a sense of what is going on in the denomination regionally and nationally, something that I think we lose because we are so isolated. (There are other Mennonite churches in Montana, but they belong to more conservative groups.)
We met at Zion Mennonite Church in Hubbard. Zion’s property is also home to the MCC Material Resource Center:
This is where things like school kits, the comforters that we tie at Thursday quilting, and other donated items are sent and organized. During lunch on Saturday, we had a chance to walk over there with Bob Buxman (he’s standing in the doorway there), who coordinates all of the donated items. A couple of times a year, he puts everything into huge boxes on pallets and arranges for a truck to come pick them up and take them where they need to go.
It’s just a barn, yes, but seeing this was really a highlight for me. We gather and make all these things at our church and when someone is heading to one of these collection centers, we load everything into their car and send it with them. This is the first time I’ve actually visited one and I like knowing how the whole process comes together.
Across from the resource center is the Mennonite Heritage Center:
This is the repository for all things Mennonite in the Pacific Northwest. It’s rather amazing the amount of information stored in this little building.
This is the front of the barn, facing the road:
I took an MCC comforter with me and got the binding sewn down during the board meeting, so I left it there with Bob to be added to the collection in the barn. Our district pastor, Cecil, had requested that I bring a prayer shawl from our church, so I delivered that, too. He is going to give it to a friend. It’s nice to know that our little church is involved in ways big and small.
We were a bit concerned about getting back to Montana—while we were at the meeting, the weather forecast went from “snow on Sunday” to “winter storm watch” to “winter storm warning.” They were predicting snow with a back-door cold front coming down from Canada with plummeting temps and high winds. We get these storms a couple of times each winter. We got one last year, when I was in the ICU, and the husband had to drive the whole way to town with chains on his truck.
Our plan all along had been to leave right after the meeting ended on Saturday and drive to Pasco, Washington, about two hours south of Spokane, to spend the night. (The entire trip takes about 11 hours.) We left Pasco on Sunday morning, intending to stop in Spokane to reassess the pass conditions before heading into Idaho. I was driving. Libbie had the pass webcams pulled up on her phone so she could see how they looked. It was raining until we got to about half a mile from the top of Lookout Pass, on the Montana-Idaho border, and then it changed to snow.
The thing about being able to drive in these conditions is that in order to get experience driving in snow, you have to drive in snow. For all that I am rather a speed demon in the BMW in good weather, I am a very conservative driver in bad weather. I’ve got 25 years of living in Montana under my belt. The conditions as we dropped down over the pass were not great—only one lane of I-90 had been plowed—but it wasn’t what I would describe as white-knuckle driving. It was snowing and very windy. My big concern was that the counties don’t generally plow on weekends, but I was happy to see that they had been out clearing and spreading sand liberally on the roads.
It had been 37 degrees when we left Spokane; by the time we got to the Flathead, the temps were down in the single digits. Things are going to warm up a bit toward the end of the week, but not much.
I’ve got an appointment with the accountant this week to drop of tax stuff and we have quilting on Thursday. The husband is home for a few days because no one is going to be pouring concrete when it’s 4 degrees outside.