Monday, February 15, 2010

Life in Elk

it is interesting here in Elk, Wa.
It has been a while since I have been here. I still have land here, family, freinds, etc but I feel like i am in a stange land.
While seattle and spokane are in the same state in the same country most of the people I talk to internationaly do not get the difference between the two places. allow me to demonstrate.
Seattle is filled with tree huging earth freindly liberals who while being totaly against the Gospel and Christ tend to have better educations and engage in activities like earthday clean-up activities.

Elk,Wa is north of spokane in eastern washington and has a heavier christian influence, but also has a lesser education system and tends not to be as concerned with apearences. Somewhat like this country gentleman.

After being away for so long it is interesting to return. I had forgot what the area was like after being gone so long. It is like being in a 3rd world country inside of one of the richest countries in the world. When I talk to people from outside the USA who only know our country from television and news the don't grasp the culture in rural america. Often the countries I was in that are much worse off than the USA had better civil infrastructure than my town. In most place I have been in the world there is some form of public transportation, and there is the possiblity of walking to go to a store to get food.
In this area if you have no car your done. often it is at least a 5 mile walk to the nearest convieience store and to get from elk to deerpark you would be walking at least 6 hours one way. Often a persons place of residence is far enough from the road or the nearest cell tower that phone is not an option at the house, But because land is cheap there is plenty of room to store stuff.
The result is that since you MUST have a running car, and jobs are few and low paying you keep every car even after it has died because it may have the parts you need to fix the next cheap barely operartional car. Add this theology to all other areas of life and many of the working poor have land that looks like a strange hybyd of Farm/Garbage Dump/Auto wrecking yard.
there are advantages in that when times get tough people here have chickens laying eggs in old junk cars, and tomato plants growing in dirt filled tires out on thier front porch. where the city dwellers in seattle who are renting, or have high mortgage payments are in danger of not eating and being homeless if they miss a paycheck.
There is a difference in politiacal positions as well. While over in seattle they are mostly liberal and against private gun ownership. here in elk most have 5-6 around the house and are used to stepping off the back porch at least once a year to shoot at dinner (some in more desperate finatial times shoot a few more deer than the law would normaly allow). Well in short there is about as much difference between the culture in Seattle and Elk, as between downtown london, and rural ghana.
In this setting much of the ministry is focused on helping people to prepare their lives to survive. After church fellowship for the men is often centered around Car,Truck, tractor repair, or on things like where the best hunting is, how to fix a chainsaw or other things that make it possible to survive here.
In the city much is about communications technology like cell phones better places online to network for business, and how to grow a buisiness or find a better job. I enjoy the country at times because with the lack of infrastructure provided by a centralised government people learn to create relationships with thier nieghbors because often billy bob next door with his gunrack in his pickup will respond to you call for help sooner than the police who may be as far as 50 miles from you. When you are out of food and a blizzard hits and your snowed in you may not be able to get to a store, but norma jean next door may have a garage full of home canned goods that she can use as trading stock for your help shoveling out her walkway to the chicken coop.
Anyway you get the idea. I have become used to the amout I can accomplish in a short time when I am in seattle and other large cities with international airports, reliable phones and internet, but I miss the slower pace and deeper personal relationships that are forged here in Elk,Wa. I am enjoying this time away from the faster pace of life in the citys and I wonder what God's short term plans are for me at this point. one of the main reasons I am here is to slow down a bit so I can just listen to God and shut off some of the distractions. I have had a good productive run for a few years and I have learned that down time is good for refocusing. Often we loose sight of who we serve even in ministry when it becomes all about the works, and we loose sight of the relationship that began them.
Just as city life tends to make people relate in a way that promotes a lot of shallow relationships and an enviroment where you barely know people in the next apartment. when ministry itself becomes to busy with works often we loose the deep personal relationship we should have with our God. City life look good and clean on the surface. People seem more productive and cutured in the city, but what are they producing and is it worth the price. are cleaner streets, more civil infrastructure and better schools worth the price of broken families, high divorce rates, self absorbed behavior, and the rat-race it creates.
While I have a feeling I wont be here long that God has other plans for me, there are still a lot of good lessons we can all learn from even the most uncultured redneck living in his school bus, or trailer home in the puckerbrush of Elk Wa My home town.
Yours in Christ,
Donald C Phinney II

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back to Elk

today my brother showed up here in seattle with all the kids in tow,
it is my understanding that we will be going to the seattle aquarium with the kids followed by other family fun. when it is all over I will be hiching a ride with him back to Elk, Wa. I am somewhat looking forward to this ,and at the same time I feel a bit of trepidation at what I may encounter. there are many at home who want to see me, but I feel it may not be a very long visit as I lack many of the things I need to function well there. most of the places I have to stay (many open invitations) have limited internet connectivity, and horrible cell reception. it is amazing how much my life has changed in the last 3 years.
Not long ago I lived in elk with no power and only a pager with voice mail. I would check the messages once a day via a cell phone. I had to raise an antenna up on a pole and connect the wire to the phone to get a signal, and I would charge it up with a solar panel. I ran my whole minsitry pretty rustic with karosene lamps and solar, and shake flashlights. I had simplified life down a lot, but then i had a few recovering alcoholics or drug addicts living with me all the time, and I also had to prepare bible studies and sermons that i had to give at other churches and ministries so phone, power, computers, e-mail and the rest were just distractions.
Now a few years later communications technology is the core of my ministry. Right now my largest project is setting up infrastructure for gyspsy ministries the largest of which right now is it is amazing how fast this is growing, but of course there is a really good core group running it. I am also doing a lot with helping different missionaries, and churches connect on a golbal scale. All of which now means I need to be reachable it would seem that the old days of checking messages once every day or 2 and getting back to them in a week or so are gone.
It will be nice to return to the sticks for a while. It has been a while since I have spent any realtime with english speaking christians that know me well. I really miss the acountability and fellowship. I hope to spend at least a couple of weeks there and renew ties to a home church I have not seen in almost 3 years now for any real time. I will also get a chance to meet with Steve Anderson and possibly Adrian Simila, and potentialy aid them with contacts and connections for thier upcoming trips, but mostly I could use a bit of time to refocus, and perhaps work on the book about the kazakhstan trip, and do some maintence on my website as well as help the Lord's Ranch with some of thier infrastructure needs.
I feel like the Lord is preping me for another big thing, but I have no Idea what is coming. I am excited to find out, and I think it will be revealed when i get back to Elk. I hope to be posting more about this, and and some of the exciting things going on in the gypsy ministry when I get there. I am excited by some of the indicators. Well until next time I remain.
Yours in Christ,
Donald C Phinney II