Nacogdoches & Livingston — March 2015 Newsletter

 

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out …” Matthew 5:13

 

An Old Salt

      Well, he is not all that old, he’s just not in the Navy anymore—I suppose I could call him a “seasoned” salt who, I am glad to report, has not lost his savor. I am talking about Michael Lahr who works as caretaker (of goats, chickens, fruit trees, and the grounds) and handyman (assisting Bro. June with a myriad of tasks at GODTEL’s “Farm” (where our new facilities will be built once God has completely supplied the funding).

Mike was born in Long Beach, California—the son of a Navy man, and relative of Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. He grew up in Oregon, and there came a time when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Navy. Early in his naval career, he was stationed on an LST and was stationed in Vietnam during the conflict there ferrying Marines from one port to another, including Okinawa, Japan, and the Philippines. (He still enjoys cuisine of Oriental persuasion and is himself a very good cook.)

Spiritually, he was empty and “lost at sea” and more and more turned to alcohol to numb the pain he felt from life in general as well as one failed marriage after another: a result of his growing dependence on alcohol. The Navy tried to help rehabilitate him, but after repeated failures to do so, they terminated their 18-year association with him. That may have helped the Navy, but life did not get better for Mike.

While staying at a Salvation Army shelter in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and wanting to make a change, Maxie Laird, a former resident of GODTEL told him about the Livingston GODTEL and recommended it as a good place to get help. So, on February 3, 2011, we met Michael, read him the rules our residents must abide by in order to stay, and gave him a room. We found him helpful and pleasant. He was attentive during the twice daily Bible studies and performed his chores without complaint. After three months, he left for San Antonio to try and help his daughter, but he fell right back into old habits.

This time, however, things were different. For the first time in his life he knew he had heard real truth while at GODTEL and says God led him back to the place he had first heard it. So, in September, 2011 he returned to GODTEL with a desire to get victory over the addictions that plagued his life.

He asked God to forgive him for his sins and disbelief and invited Jesus to move into his heart. As he continued to read the Bible and hear our faithful Bible Study teachers explain God’s Word and share what God had done for them, Mike began to grow. When he became convicted that he needed to give up his harmful tobacco habit, God enabled him to be set free.

After six months, we asked Mike if he would be willing to move to Nacogdoches and help us at our new location. He agreed, and on February 2, 2013, he relocated and has just completed two years as a full-time volunteer there. In addition to the duties already mentioned, he shuttles workers from downtown to the new property and back, makes an early morning run to pick up donated pastries from Shipley Donuts and Starbucks, provides Royce rides to the clinic, makes regular pickups of donated deli items at Brookshire Bros., and other errands.

With Sincere Appreciation

We delight in hearing from former residents who let us know that their time spent at GODTEL and our efforts to help them were not in vain. Early in February we received a lovely card of appreciation from a young man who in 2012 had stayed at the Nacogdoches mission for one month but was asked to leave because he violated our rule about not being under the influence of alcohol. Then, in April of 2014 he returned and stayed just over three months. On July 21, after 98 successful days, he lost his place due to alcohol use.

On July 30, just nine days later, he checked into our Lufkin mission. He quickly found a job and worked steadily until the end of January 2015, a total of six months of good behavior! On February 6th he announced that he would be moving back to his hometown of Longview. Before he left GODTEL the first week of February, he wrote notes of appreciation to Martin and Mary Baker (Mission Directors in Lufkin) and to Bro. June and myself. This is what he wrote to us:

“I know that you already know that what you are doing is not in vain and is a calling.

“I just couldn’t leave town without letting you guys know that you are making a difference and lives are changing—mine for one!!! I arrived in Nacogdoches a drunk/homeless but with hope!

I am leaving, thanks to God, you guys, and Mr. Martin and Mrs. Mary, a home owner and at least with a foundation and knowledge of what to do to be and stay in God’s grace!

“I will forever be grateful!

L.W.”

 

He wrote further:

“Reverend June,

“I really like the way you put everything in laymen’s terms and say things the way they actually are! I prefer it when people say what they have to say and do not sugar coat it! Then again, my feelings are not easily hurt anymore because (as you have taught) I do not think with them!

Thank You”

After this young man left we learned that his grandparents, who had raised him, had died and their home was going to be taken for back taxes. He did not want to let that happen so he had been sending his earnings to pay on those taxes. Once he got them paid in full, he was able to inherit the house which is where he moved. (There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!) (See the Lufkin March posting for more information about L.W.)

We would appreciate your prayers for him and for all our residents.

Until next month, read your Bible, pray, obey, and be a “salty” Christian. God and the world are watching.

 

 

Lufkin – March 2015 Newsletter

 

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6

 

Birthdays, travels to the north, west and south, guest cooks, visitors from the past and Valentine’s Day filled the hours, days and weeks of February.

EMPLOYMENT REPORT

New jobs-1

Total working-3

Mosaic Center-2

Praise the Lord!

     “Thanks for helping me see what a man is supposed to be doing. Forever thankful.” These were the words written to us from L.W. when he left early February. Arriving on our doorstep in late July, L.W. got a job with Malone Services at Lufkin Industries. He had already been to the Nacogdoches mission twice and had to leave because he broke the rules. When he checked in here we informed him that we were aware of his past and we would be watching him closely.

Not to worry-he saw the chance to make his life better and took it. He worked and saved and saved and worked. He volunteered for chores. By the time February came around on the calendar he reached his goal to pay back taxes on his grandparents home where he was raised. And now he has his own home. He left Lufkin with a home, extra money saved and a job to go to in Longview. Thank you, Lord, for sweet blessings. We pray for his continued walk with the Lord.

All roads lead to Lufkin. Or is it-all roads leave Lufkin? John had been here since November. Daily he left on rounds to find a job. He volunteered for chores. He went out on day jobs here and there. He came to the decision to return to North Dakota. He had funds for a bus ticket up north. He left on a Wednesday afternoon. I hope he had a warm coat. Brrr.

Ed came the end of January. His time was quite short. He was making plans to go west to Odessa. He, too, got on a bus and headed to the flat, brown and cold “land” of Odessa.

Matthew lived here as a young boy with his mother and older brother. A friend of his came by GODTEL one day and we started talking about Matthew and his family. The young lady told me that he was doing well and living not too far from Lufkin. About a week later-who would walk into the office and ask me if I knew who he was…you guessed right. Matthew. It was a blessing to see him. Starting in Lufkin, he has worked for Chicken Express for six years. He is living and working in Carthage now. And soon he will be going to Marshall to open a new store. His girlfriend came with him. We had a nice visit. What a treat. What a blessing.

Our guest cooks served us different and delicious meals this past month. We ate beans, fried chicken, soft tacos, spaghetti and meat balls, tater tot casserole and chili. That is only the main dish-imagine the sides and desserts that were served with these tasty dishes. God is good.

Martin and I drove south to Nederland for a shareholders meeting. Makes us sound important, doesn’t it? We own a few shares in our son’s business. Yes, we get to see our son. Yes, we get see our grandchildren. Yes, we get a yummy meal and visitin’ time with other family members. We even had a combo birthday celebration at the yogurt shop “Spoon-It”. It was a wonderful time. And, yes, we did get down to the business end of the trip. You know, business before pleasure-we followed the protocol. The day was too short, but we drove home with smiles and tales of our day in our hearts.

How do you get a “new” bathroom? Well, you start out trying to build a better urinal for the men’s dorm bathroom. And before you know it you have a major project going. The floor tiles were pulled up. Ceramic tiles have been put down-glue and grout in place. The walls have been given a fresh coat of paint. There is one row up the wall with the same ceramic tile. Toilet plumbing and shower fixtures have been replaced or tightened. The two bathroom doors had to be “shaved” because of the added height of the new tiles. The specially made urinal will soon have a home. And guess what God did? He sent us a tile man. Roger got here early February. Martin was still formulating his plan and, as they say, “you know the rest of the story”. Roger, with help from a few of the guys, mainly David, have worked hard. It is almost finished. Come by and see the work of art.

I know heaven will not be overcrowded. This month two more precious saints (that I know) have changed their addresses from earth to heaven. Judy Semlinger left early in the month. She and her husband were friends of GODTEL and the Bakers. We met Mr. Semlinger the first summer we moved here through his job with Child Protective Services. Judy taught at Angelina College. We met her through a resident who was attending her Child Development Class. Our paths crossed several times through the years. We were re-acquainted when the Third Thursday Methodist Guest Cooks started coming. Many in Lufkin knew her. She will be missed, but she leaves smiles, memories and blessings behind,

Our home church had a saint move up to heaven this month also, Sue Deaton. I know her two daughters better than I knew her or her husband, Bill. We are in the same Sunday school class. As lessons were taught many times stories were shared. Susan and Sherri would share life lessons or real life examples of their parents walk in the Lord. Pray for these families as they adjust to their loss.

Oh for the day when the rest of us saints are gathered up together and go up to heaven. See you there!

Because of Him we serve,

Martin and Mary Baker

February 2015

1st-26 people

28th-24 people

Total helped-54 people

Praise the Lord!

 

 

 

Nacogdoches/Livingston — February 2015 Report with 2014 Statistics

2014 Comes to a Steam-Filled End

             When the Nacogdoches assistant cook came downstairs to begin his duties at 4:30 a.m. on December 31, 2014, he glanced over into the office area and was amazed to see the room filled with steam and a fountain of hot water shooting up to the ceiling, then “raining” down on the mission director’s desk, computer, printer, record books, Bibles, etc. He was momentarily in shock, but as quickly as possible we got the water turned off and began the mop-up and dry-out operation.

What caused the “geyser” was the failure of a coupler from a previous repair of a broken pipe coming up the office wall. You see, the 100-gallon water heater that serves the first and second floors is located behind a screen in the office (and I must admit that on cold days we do enjoy the warmth it produces).

We were very thankful to locate a plumber who, though he was on his way out of town, came and hurriedly did a temporary fix. Just a few hours later, however, we noticed the coupler he had installed had begun to leak. Fearing a repeat “blow-out,” we turned the water off and tried in vain to reach the plumber to see if he would return. No answer.

We carefully monitored the situation for the rest of the day. After the supper dishes were washed and the nightly baths were finished, the water was turned off for the night. We did not want the office to turn into a “sauna” again.

Bro. June called our Livingston Mission and instructed our “resident plumber” there, Eric Johnson, to gather the needed replacement pipes and tools and drive the 65 miles between missions early on New Year’s Day to come to the rescue. He showed up with two assistants, Tunny Johnson who is very tall, to reach high places, and Darin Dirolf who is very slender, to crawl into tight places. They made a great team, the finished job was very professional and there has not been so much as one bead of moisture seen leaking from the pipe since then.

As everything in this 100-plus year old building ages, it definitely complies with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, going from order to disorder: rusting, deteriorating, falling apart, losing information. (Unlike the claims of those who believe that human beings evolved from lower life forms, a flagrant violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, our building most certainly is not “evolving” into something better. It only improves as we add energy, information, expense, and materials to it. Please pardon my jibe at the evolutionists who display great “faith” in the Evolutionary Model which attempts to explain away God and His purposeful creation and replace that with chance.) This experience with the flooded office was just another reminder of how glad we will be to relocate to new facilities once the funding is secured.

We are very thankful that the results of the office-wide downpour were not more damaging. Although several books were ruined, the phones were static-filled for several days and we lost a printer, the computer still works and the floor did dry! As in other areas, we know that God allows difficulties into our lives to grow us and work His plan but He limits the severity of those problems and does not allow them to crush His children.  We are very thankful.

One last thought, when we call upon our Heavenly
Father, He is always there. We never get an answering machine. We just need to keep in mind that God gives us one of three possible answers: yes, no, or wait awhile (to develop patience) but He does answer.

 Relocation Update

             So, how soon will we be able to relocate? At this point, only God knows the answer. We continue to pray and try to be sensitive to God’s leadership. Sometimes, when we get ahead of Him and try to take matters into our own hands and speed up the relocation process, God puts us on hold to teach us a lesson. He must delay His provision because we are trusting our own efforts rather than waiting on and trusting in God. (We do not want to be like Abraham and take 20 years for our faith to be right in order to receive the promise so we will pray, trust, and wait.)

Regarding the relocation, we were pleased to receive an email from Paul Bryant, City Editor of the Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches which said he wanted to run an article on our relocation project. Soon after, he toured the new location and interviewed Bro. June. We appreciate his informative article which ran in the January 25, 2015 Sunday Sentinel.

Former Resident Visits

           One day, out of God’s clear blue, a man who stayed at our Nacogdoches shelter one year ago stopped by to say hello and bring a donation of towels, wash cloths, cleaning supplies, thermal shirts, T-shirts, socks, coats, pants, shirts, snacks, toilet paper, paper towels, meat, and fruit. He had driven from his home in Woodville to thank us for leading him to the Lord and, with his gift, to show his appreciation to the staff and volunteer Bible Study teachers.

What a blessing for this young man to so meaningfully express his gratitude to us when so many of those we minister to never even say, “thank you.” It helps us know how Jesus felt when He healed the ten lepers and only one returned to thank Him.

Until next month remember to give thanks always…

–  Nancy

 

2014 Statistics

______________

 Nacogdoches Shelter Totals

 Mission Residents:          708

Nights’ Lodging Provided:            9,660

Meals Served:                              34,409

Christian Help Ctr. Clients:            5,992

Professions of Faith in Christ:     7

Livingston Shelter Totals

Mission Residents:          337

Nights’ Lodging Provided:            4,706

Meals Served:                     11,525

Christian Help Ctr. Clients:            5,509

Professions of Faith in Christ:     2

Lufkin Shelter Totals

Mission Residents:          730

Nights’ Lodging Provided:            9,349

Meals Served:                     30,783

Professions of Faith in Christ:     5

Lufkin — February 2015 Report

Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.” “Remember me with favor, O my God.”   Nehemiah 13:14&31

      New year. New plans. New year resolutions. New lives. New attitudes. Not about me. All about Jesus.

    EMPLOYMENT REPORT

New jobs-1

Total working-5

Praise the Lord!

     New year’s eve at GODTEL is not like other gatherings in anticipation of the new year. Our curfew is 9:00pm. On the last night of the year we get to stay up until 10:00pm! We supply soft drinks, colas, pops, carbonated drinks of different flavors. Popcorn is added to the evening’s fun. And then Martin finds a movie to show. Sometimes it is from the ‘50’s or ‘60’s or ‘70’s or even as current as the ‘80’s. Most of the residents stay up and watch the movie. But at 10:00pm we say good night and happy new year and go to bed.

Some of us can fall asleep with the firecrackers going off all around us and others cannot-as evidenced the next day when we drag ourselves out of bed and into the new year.

The new year jumped right into busy. I had the newsletter written, printed and mailed out by the third day of the month.  Or you could say it was the first miracle of 2015. The Wednesday morning Bible study I attend started again. We are studying Gideon presented by Priscilla Shirer. I would recommend this study to any and all persons wanting to grow in their walk with the Lord.

Our guest cooks came. January was the month of soups. It was just the right tummy warmer for the chilly days of winter. Each pot of soup was different from the next. We were, also, treated to pork chops, fried chicken, and hamburgers.

Leadership Tomorrow made a quick visit to GODTEL. I was at Bible Study that morning. Once, again, I was reminded that Martin is more than capable to host and toast the Lord’s work at GODTEL. We are blessed each time someone comes to tour and learn about God’s work on Moody Street.

Maria and Jeremy had been here before. She came in November and he came in December. There was something different about them both this time. Shortly after Jeremy moved into the men’s dorm he and Maria were married. He was working at e-tech. Then Maria got a job. It was almost the end of the month when the newly married couple moved out into an apartment of their own. They have children and their goal is to reunite with the children and be a real family. We are praying for a work from God for this young family.

Several men have been working and saving their money. Roy and Malik are two who now have places of their own. Ronnie is still here.  He has some extra financial responsibilities to tend to. But he is faithfully plugging away-reaching his goals. We praise God for Lovie, Nick, Ernest, and David who, also, are working and saving money.

In December one of our non-resident eaters came. Jane (not her real name) went to the public bathroom. Suddenly there was a loud noise. Something crashing-literally-crashing to the floor. Jane ran and got Chris and he went to check it out. The sink was pulled out and off the wall-on the floor. Chris saved the day when he returned with pliers in hand and turned the water off at the wall. For some reason Jane “needed” to climb on the sink to get a closer look at herself in the mirror. It took several weeks to put time and workers and sink together. Livingston workers, Tunney and Eric, came up to Lufkin. They had a sink and time and knowledge  to put the bathroom back into use. Thank you, guys.

January is Sanctity of Life month. We are so thankful for the first year of our granddaughter’s life. We gathered at Emily’s house. We watched her eat cake or should I say “experience” her cake. Her “hands on” attack of the mini cake was a victory for the genius one year old. I think the funniest sight was the 4 or 5 adults with cameras in hand surrounding her to record this precious event. Happy Birthday, Emily. And many more…

We said good-bye to a brother in Christ. Calvin Stewart went to be with the Lord in January-what a way to celebrate life, wow! Eternal Life with God in heaven. He and his wife were encouragers to us when we returned to the mission field almost 26 years ago. They both have hearts for missions. During one of our visits they shared stories and pictures from one of their mission trips to Haiti. We praise the Lord for this couple. We are praying for you, Helen.

God is good! No matter what time of year it is we appreciate your support, visits, and encouraging words. You add blessings to our lives. Thank you.

 Because of Him we serve,

Martin and Mary Baker

 “Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.”

 Nehemiah 13:22

 

 So You’ll Know

 January 2015 Residents

1st-31 people

31st-26 people

Total helped-62 people

Praise the Lord!

 

 

Lufkin January 2015 Report

Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”  Isaiah 48:17

     Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. Plans and parties. Christmas cards, Christmas trees, Christmas programs. Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. Jingle bells, shopping, cold temperatures. What is the true meaning of Christmas?

EMPLOYMENT REPORT

New Jobs-5

Total working-12

Praise the Lord!

     December was a fun month. December was a month filled with blessings and more blessings.

Students from Hudson Middle School came on a Thursday afternoon for a visit to GODTEL. They arrived about 1:00pm. We started the trip with a tour and plenty of questions. Then the young, able bodied students filled our warehouse shelves with canned goods that had been delivered throughout the previous weeks. It was a good visit that benefitted both of us.

I was invited to a Christmas concert at Stephen F. Austin State University. Two pieces of music from “The Nutcracker Suite” were presented by the symphony. Then Handel’s “Messiah” was performed by the combined symphony and choir. If that doesn’t get you in the CHRISTmas spirit, I don’t know what will. The rest of the month continued to keep my heart and mind on Christmas and the Christ child.

Our two Methodist guest cooks got together and we were blessed with an evening deluxe. At 5:00pm two small buses drove up to GODTEL. All the residents and a few special guests climbed into the buses for a short ride to the church. We disembarked and were welcomed with warm greetings and handshakes as we walked through the doors. The tables were decorated in holiday style. It wasn’t long before we had the blessing and “commenced” to eating the feast of turkey, dressing, gravy, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole. And cupcakes-delicious cupcakes!

Some of us were still eating when the entertainment began. The GMC Trio blessed our ears with their voices. They sang songs of faith and praise to our Lord. Then we, the audience, were encouraged to sing Christmas carols with them. The spirit of the season was strong in my heart when we returned to GODTEL.

We received canned goods from Raceway Motors and the Hudson Middle School. We were given hams from Brookshire Bros.. We received a few coupons as gifts for a ham or turkey from Brookshire Bros. We, also, received two pork butt roasts from folks who bought them through a Huntington fund raiser.

We had special guest cooks from Central Church of Christ and First Assembly of God. A family came one evening to share their cooking gifts with the residents. Due to the Christmas holiday, Believers Bible Church came a week earlier in the month to fulfill their chef service.

Martin and I had just driven to our church for business when he got a phone call from Chris saying that the gas line behind the men’s dorm had broken when a tree fell on it. We quickly jumped into the car and headed back to the mission. By the time we arrived Chris had heavy duty pliers in hand to cut off the gas flow. Martin called the gas company to report the leak. The service man came and assessed the situation. He had to go get a part to repair the break. He and another man returned. They got right to work. The repair was made and the gas turned back on before 3:00pm. I want to say thank you to all the service folks. No matter the time of day or night the men and women who ride the line work long hours and in some of the worst weather conditions.

It was the Monday before Christmas when they drove up, opened the car door and started unloading the breakfast menu items. Their smiles spread across their faces. Their eyes sparkled with joy and the spirit of giving. These are the ladies of the Willing Workers Sunday School Class of Calvary Baptist who called and got a list of breakfast wishes and then went out and bought and delivered the goods to GODTEL in time for our Christmas day breakfast. We have received their generous act of kindness for several years. Thank you, sisters in the Lord. We had a deliciously, scrumptious morning feast.

The bell rang at 10:00am Christmas morning. A short Bible study was presented. Borrowing from Charlie Brown’s questions of what is the true meaning of Christmas, Martin walked to the front of the room “griping, complaining, asking questions”. In response to his frustration I slowly walked towards him reading Luke 2:1-20. Martin summed up the message that Christmas is all about JESUS and not about me. A prayer was said and the meal was served. We also handed out gift bags. The bags were decorated by the Pioneer Club and filled with items donated by different groups in our community. Gift bags were also given by Teresa and Michele from the Texas Workforce.

Martin and I were invited to another Christmas celebration. It had an international flair to the evening. We met a student from India. Marta has been in Texas for awhile. She is from The Dominican Republic and graduated from SFA this year. The son of our hosts was in from Africa. And the metropolis of Zavalla was duly represented, too. We ate, of course. But the highlight of the evening was singing Christmas songs with music from the piano, viola and two violins.

Our family met in Spring at our daughter’s home at the beginning of the month. We had four generations under one roof that day coming from many parts of the state of Texas. THE great grandmother traveled from Lufkin to see the (5 of the 7) Baker cousins-all grown up with children of their own. The youngest generation (7 of them) ranged from 11 months to 12 years old.

Then on Christmas day our son and his family came north to Lufkin. We visited awhile and then Paul said he was hungry for Christmas tacos. I already had it planned. With mom and Jim present there were seven willing participants in taco devouring that day. We embraced the time with Paul, Kristen and Blaine. They had another obligation so on the road they went. It was a most pleasant day. Thank you, Lord.

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday. And we hope you know the true meaning of Christmas. We thank all of you for your part in making this a glorious month. We pray that we would celebrate Jesus every day of the year in 2015.

No rush, no hurry. Just abiding in the peace, love and joy of our Heavenly Father.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”    2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Because of Him we serve

Martin and Mary Baker

 “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river,

and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.”   Isaiah 48:18

 

December 2014

1st-34 people

31st-31 people

Total helped-65 people

Praise the Lord!