The Lufkin August Report

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;”  Hebrews 10:16

July continued the mild summer weather conditions. I say that and then remember that we hit 100 degrees, but even that was just one day. The blessings go on.

It was on a Wednesday that Josephine and her 5 children left. Her husband came in from west Texas as planned.  He arrived early that morning. When he drove up Martin and the guys were enlarging and moving the chicken pen. Roy (Josephine’s husband) saw what fun they were having and didn’t want to miss out. While Josephine was bringing her belongings out of the dorm and loading them into her car, Roy changed into work clothes and boots and walked over to help.

When the job was finished he gathered up his family and the good-byes started. The children were sad to go, but glad to have their dad back. We were sad to see them go and glad they had their dad back and a new home of their own. Pray for this family to know and serve the Lord.

EMPLOYMENT REPORT:

New jobs-2

Total working-2

Praise the Lord!

Hot dogs, chili dogs, sloppy joes, hamburgers and enchiladas were the special meals created by our guest cooks as we hit the mid point of the summer season. Ice cream and chilled watermelon slices have been a cool respite from the hot days of July. The garden has settled in and continues to yield zipper peas, tomatoes and tomatillos. Martin makes a mean green sauce.

Our hens took a short vacation from egg production, but I think the new location and bigger “diggings” have made them a happy bunch of hens. Once again, we are getting a full basket of our daily egg collection. Thank you, ladies.

Thank you. Soap came in. Towels came in. Soap was used. And towels were put out on the shelves in the laundry room. We are glad to report that our residents are not only clean they are dry. Well, until the next time sweat appears.

Update on who is who around Lufkin GODTEL. Dolores is our faithful chef. She prepares two homemade meals a day. Come rain or shine, hot or cold Dolores stays the course. She helps with the women in the dorm. What a blessing to have Dolores here.

Lorenzo is still on board. He is the “Lorenzo” of all trades. He has recently renewed his driver’s license and now he can take up some of the driving chores for Martin. Even though he doesn’t need a license to drive the riding lawn mower Lorenzo can be seen on Thursdays cutting the grass of all heighths at GODTEL.

Chris asked if he was in the newsletter this month. So-here you are, Chris. Chris is a big help around here. He has been working in the garden. The big shop is, also, one of his hangouts as he helps Martin with lawn mower repair and other small electric motor problems. Martin says he is “his good left-hand man”.

The thankless job of washing and drying the residents’ clothes falls to Hugh and his son, Joseph. Men’s and women’s clothes are washed on set days. And the sheets get their cleaning on Wednesdays while the rooms are being sprayed for bugs. Hugh, also, keeps watch over the machines and lets Martin know when they are not “acting” right. It gets most frustrating when we are down a machine or two. The work day becomes longer and hotter as the guys do or die finishing the job.

The Smith family got here mid June. They all have health problems-physical and mental. Their plan was to get a job, save money and get a place of their own. Each day they would head out to seek employment, but to no avail. Then here and there one of them would go to the health clinic. Then the next day another one would have to go to the clinic. The father and son soon began to abuse their medicine. They were caught smoking in the dorm. Mercy was given, but they continued to be foolish. They had to leave.

It was Brenda’s second time at Lufkin GODTEL. She, once again, made the daily trips around town looking for a job. One afternoon she walked back on property with a big smile on her face. Of course, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked “why the smile?” You probably can guess the answer-she got a job. She is working at a motel not too far from GODTEL. She is cleaning rooms, working the front desk and assisting with other chores as needed. And has a room of her own. Way to go, Brenda!

Colleita came in July. She wasn’t too sure about being here. After a day or two she settled in. With daily encouragement she went looking for a job. And now she has one. She and Pizza Hut are hanging in there with one another.

These two women are the new jobs that I reported earlier in the newsletter. Brenda moved out, but Lutricia is still here and already had her job at Taco Bell when she got here. Sadly, that makes two women, Lutricia and Colleita the only two employed folks, living at GODTEL, at the end of July.

Looking ahead, August has a lot going on in it. Our grandchildren will be spending a few days with us. We hope to go fishing this time with no rain outs. Our son will have a birthday, although I know he is not counting the years any more. School starts once again. Mission trips will bless all peoples involved.

And God will be EVER PRESENT. Thank you for your ever present support of GODTEL. You keep God’s light shining at the top of the hill on Moody Street. God bless you.

Because of Him we serve,

Martin and Mary Baker

“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” 

Hebrews 10:17

 

Creamed Cabbage and Other Blessings

On the fourth Saturday of every month, Victory Gospel Church of Coldspring generously distributes food for the hungry, and Livingston GODTEL residents assist in the distribution project. Many leftovers are brought back to the mission for residents and staff to enjoy.

Last month, I was given several leftover cabbages to take home to my family. My cooking ability is limited to the handful of recipes I learned in order to survive college, and neither my skills nor my interest seemed to evolve beyond that point. (Spaghetti, anyone?)  So, I handed the cabbages over to my Mom, and relying heavily on what I hoped was my most winning smile, informed her I was presenting her with the unique opportunity to create a cabbage-based masterpiece in the kitchen. Of course she was pleased with the generous gift of food, and thanked me for the opportunity, but I’m not sure how sincere she was about that part.

In direct opposition to our German heritage, cabbage was never a staple of the meals in my family. However, having grown up with parents who survived the Great Depression, my mother is not one to waste food of any kind. She became very determined and started searching online for the perfect recipe. Later, she began cooking the cabbage while I fed my two-year-old an early dinner of veggies and macaroni and cheese, set the table, and grew silently wary of the outcome of this cabbage endeavor. I prepared myself to be polite and grateful for her effort. Although, as I observed her I was encouraged by the fact that bacon and butter were involved.

As my father, mother and I sat down to dinner, I resolved to remain thankful to God for the meal before us, no matter what it tasted like. We raised our heads from prayer and lifted our loaded forks to our mouths; we were ready for anything.

The explosion of delicious flavor was beyond words! I looked up to see the expressions on my parents’ faces, and upon seeing their obvious delight, I realized this was a meal we would all want to have again, and soon. We hugged and congratulated one another on having overcome a lifelong, unwarranted aversion to cooked cabbage.

It was like so many other blessings God brings to us; often they come in forms that are not at all what we anticipate, want, or imagine. It was a small thing, but symbolic of the larger blessings in our lives. They are the things we don’t want to happen, but do, and the things we pray will happen but do not. These are all opportunities God creates in our lives. We cannot conceive how the events that seem like doors closing, walls going up, and plans falling through, are leading us toward wondrous things we cannot imagine. He plans all this for us, if we are just willing to trust Him.

The recipe for successful living is found in the Bible, but I have included the cabbage recipe here:

Creamed Cabbage

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon

1/4 cup butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 large head cabbage, cored and shredded

1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove the bacon slices to cool.

Whisk the butter, flour, and salt into the drippings in the same pan.  Stir in the cabbage, and cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes.  Crumble the bacon; stir the bacon pieces and sour cream into the cabbage mixture.

Serve and enjoy!

News Items:

  • In June, The Junior High United Methodist Mission Program (JUMMP) from Houston provided Livingston GODTEL with leftover food that was purchased for their mission. The staff and residents were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, iced tea, cheese, lunchmeat, cereal, and much more!  GODTEL would like to thank the JUMMP leaders and members involved for their kindness and generosity.
  • GODTEL received a very kind and heartfelt “thank you” letter from a Louisiana resident who, bedridden due to illness, reached out to GODTEL when he needed help. He was coming to Livingston and was in need of shelter for two weeks while undergoing medical treatment. We told him we did not have the staff or facilities he would require, but after checking into the matter we agreed to fund what he lacked in completing payment for his two-week stay in an assisted living facility. His letter said our ministry had restored his hope and given his spirit a lift when he most needed it.
  • The Nacogdoches mission was the recipient of proceeds from The Kroger Company’s Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive. Kroger states its food drive “reinforces Kroger’s commitment to feeding the hungry in the communities in which we live and work.” Kroger stores sell pre-made bags of groceries ($3, $5, and $10) and collect any non-perishable donations. Donations are then sent to local food banks. Kroger also allows customers to make cash donations, which were collected and presented to GODTEL in the form of a “big check”. GODTEL is thankful for this campaign and for the donation of its proceeds.
  • Pegi’s grandson Larry Joe (L.J.) graduated from Sterling High School in Sterling, IL, on 5/25/14.  L.J. will be attending college in the Fall in DeKalb, IL, and will be studying Physical Rehabilitation.  Congratulations, L.J.!
  • We are excited to announce that GODTEL is registered as a charitable organization with AmazonSmile.  AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to GODTEL. 100% of the donation amount generated from your eligible purchase on AmazonSmile will be donated. There is no cost to      AmazonSmile customers. Just visit  http://smile.amazon.com/ch/75-1525357 and start shopping!
  • Happy July 4th, and may God have mercy on America.

 -Robin Nye

God Things

I am Robin Nye and I assist Mrs. Gentry in the GODTEL office in Livingston. I’ve been granted the privilege of writing the newsletter for this month, and am very excited to do so!

When I was about 12 years old, my family and I moved into a smaller house and my parents decided to downsize our lives a bit by donating boxes of household items and bags of clothing to GODTEL. I was always “daddy’s little helper” as a child, so he and I rode together into town to drop off our donations. After unloading the once-treasured belongings, Dad climbed back into our truck and handed me the newsletter he had been given. An avid reader at a very early age, I began to devour every word of it, bouncing along in the back seat for the ride home.

At the time, I was struggling with my faith as many do. Who was I to God? With all the souls in this world, why would He love somebody as insignificant and hopelessly invisible as I was? Why couldn’t I see any of His work in my life? (Of course, I just didn’t know where to look.) Upon reading that newsletter, I marveled at how the people at GODTEL could be so selfless and complete in their devotion to helping others; they were doing what God called them to do, and expected nothing in return. The people they helped were those whom most of us pretended, and often preferred, not to see: “The least of these” (Matthew 25:45).

It occurred to me that I had been worrying too much about my own place in this world, instead of thanking God for that place and using my many blessings to help others find theirs, as June and Nancy Gentry were doing.

The chain of events that led to my current role at GODTEL could only be called a “God thing.” Recalling that deep impression GODTEL made on my life so many years ago, I now sit writing the June newsletter! God truly has a plan for every seemingly small occurrence in our lives. I have endured trials, triumphs, failures, pain, and joy; all these developed my emotional and spiritual maturity and led me on a path that landed me at GODTEL. I now feel such joy in knowing that my skills, interests, and passion to make a contribution to the world in some small way are all being utilized in my work at this ministry.

God has blessed me to work with some of the most generous, kind people I’ve met. This transition in my life has served as a new chapter in the education in faith that is my life, an education that is ongoing and ever so rewarding.

News Items and Thanks:

  • Pegi’s grandson Matthew Skinas, 19, was baptized on 4/20/14 at Whittier Area Christian Center (WACC) in Whittier, CA, where Pegi is still a member. Yea, Matthew!
  • We at GODTEL enjoy our feline “pest controllers”, which also give our residents the love and affection pets can provide. However, as our cats have continued to multiply, it is often difficult to walk across our property without stepping on what we refer to as a “land mine.” Recently, we have been blessed by some caring Livingston citizens who have provided veterinary care, including spaying, neutering, shots, testing, and treatment of illnesses, for all GODTEL’s cats. They also found loving homes for a few of our extras. The couple told us they admire what we are doing at GODTEL, and saw we had a need but not a means to sufficiently care for our feline friends. They collected the cats, one by one, and took them to their veterinarian, paying for the services out of their own pockets. The couple jokingly told us, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” Then they said, “We have no children … that’s why we have the money to do this!”
  • Quality RV of Nacogdoches recently blessed the Nacogdoches mission with three pick-up truck loads of hot dogs, buns, condiments, soft drinks, ice, and other items they had left over after a function at their business. We are very grateful.
  • On April 2, 2014, Curves of Nacogdoches donated 1,400+ pounds of food! GODTEL is so thankful, and we’re hoping Curves members are successful in their endeavors to lose weight. May they collectively lose at least as many pounds as they gave us!
  • In May, GODTEL received a donation of several pairs of new shoes. The shoes came from a girl of eight years old who, for her birthday, requested shoes for those less fortunate rather than toys for herself. How wonderful that someone so young showed such love for others, and had the insight to understand what it might be like to go without the very basic things many of us take for granted. Bravo!
  • The fruit trees in Nacogdoches have bloomed. We are already enjoying the red plums and looking forward to the peaches and apples.
  • The Nacogdoches goat herd count is at twenty-two; Livingston has seven. We have male goats for sale: $50.00 each.
  • A recently released prisoner said as he checked in that we had been recommended by a fellow prisoner who told him GODTEL was a good place, and really did try to help people. That was encouraging to hear!

Success Stories: Way to go!

  • A former resident reports he is still working at the tire company where he found work while living at GODTEL four years ago. His employer has nothing but good things to say about his work ethic and dependability.
  • Two months ago, a resident of the mission in Livingston, J.R., got a job driving a forklift for a company in Louisiana. He recently called to thank us for our help, and to let us know he is still working and doing well.
  • Another GODTEL “Alumni” who had paroled to us from prison recently sent us a college graduation invitation. Since he now lives in Oklahoma we were not able to celebrate with him, but we rejoice in his success.

Rick Pensinger’s Visit:

Rick’s visit was very enjoyable but, by all accounts, it was way too short. While Rick was here, two of our former residents, D.H. and G.H., dropped by. They are both working in the Houston area and doing fine.

Upon Rick’s return to Florida, he had one more chemotherapy treatment before his doctors decided on a future course of action. He is in our prayers consistently.

-Robin

 

Life is a Process

Hello,

My pack and I are GODTEL’s Newsletters, reporting to you this month on our own. No one has ever really concerned themselves with us, knowing nothing about the ordeal we go through before you receive us.

Let me explain: we endure a taxing process which involves a tumultuous transformation. Our appearance once inside your mailbox does not even slightly resemble what we looked like from the point of our origin. Our journey begins at an office supply store in Nacogdoches, TX. We, my pack and I, are purchased by Mrs. Gentry, still in our clear wrapping. Next, we are put carefully into the trunk of Mrs. Gentry’s car (a most comfortable ride for the most part), then driven to and unloaded at the GODTEL office in Livingston, TX, which is about an hour and a half away. Removed from our wrapping and placed on a table, we wait while Mrs. G. types into her computer what will be printed on both sides of us at the allotted time. We cannot wait; we feel so empty. Then, we are neatly arranged inside the bottom tray of the copier/printer. As we are pulled into the machine and printed, we slide down to a middle tray. Whew! You have no idea how hot it is in there! After printing, we are laid out flat on a huge table in the back room to cool which allows the static electricity to dissipate. This takes many hours, usually overnight.

Break time, everyone!

The next day, after careful alignment, we are inserted into a folding machine. Wow! What a rush being spun out with such force! Not to mention what we go through when the folding machine has a bad day and mangles us into small crumpled wads. Oh, the pulling and tugging the workers put us through! Yikes! Ouch! (Sorry, I just had to purge.)

After this, we are packed into boxes where we await the arrival of two office girls. This gives us just enough time to catch our breath, but only briefly! Now the process becomes somewhat tougher. Removed from our boxes, we are stuffed with inserts Mrs. G. has prepared, and placed neatly back into boxes a second time. That’s not so bad. But then, the workers take us back OUT of our boxes, force us into white envelopes, then once again return us to our boxes. Now things are getting a little tight! A few minutes later we are pulled BACKOUT of our boxes for the fourth time. The workers tuck in the back flaps, seal them with scotch tape, and stick labels on the front of our envelopes… Guess what happens next? Yep, back into our boxes. The workers return us to Mrs. G., who removes us from our boxes AGAIN, then counts and sorts us by zip code and places us in OFFICIAL United States Postal Service mailing trays. After going in and out of boxes seven times we are completely exhausted! Wait, there’s more. The mail trays, which are a little roomier, are placed into “sleeves” then secured with pretty yellow bands. Now we are ready to be driven back to Nacogdoches and delivered to the Post Office with our CERTIFIED paperwork and payment. There another process begins. But that’s another story. — ENJOY!

by Pegi McCarthy

I hope you enjoyed this “life of a newsletter” as much as I did. It was written by my sister-in-law. She and Benita (the two office girls) are very involved in the production of the newsletter—thank you, ladies. Reading it, I realized that human beings are rather like the blank pieces of paper in this story. We are empty, waiting for God to give us life, work on us and create something usable for His Kingdom.

Though we get impatient, He does not seem to be in any hurry to arrive at our “finished product” and He repeatedly allows us to be squeezed, put under pressure, bent out of shape, hidden out of sight, uprooted, relocated and more. We must endure the “heat” of adversity and we do not understand why we must suffer.

I praise God for the liberating truth of Romans 8:28-29. This passage assures us that all the suffering God’s obedient children bear works for our good as we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (a Man of sorrows Who learned the cost of obedience by what He suffered). Knowing this enables us to endure the process and look forward to being of value to our Creator. We can also anticipate hearing Him say, “Well done” and receiving Heavenly rewards for our service. The earthly goal, of course, is for the world to be able to “read” the message of God’s love in and through our lives and that the lost be drawn to our Savior.

I thank God for simple illustrations like this which teach us great spiritual truths.

Update on Rick

After prayerfully weighing his options, Rick has decided against further radiation and surgery. He is, however, undergoing weekly chemotherapy intended to prevent further growth of the tumor at the base of his tongue. We were delighted to receive a phone call from him recently with the news that he was planning to come to Texas for a visit (in between treatments). His living quarters are still waiting for him to return, so he won’t have to check into the men’s dorm and will have a quiet place to rest.

Encouragement Received

Last month when I wrote of the notes of encouragement we received, I omitted inclusion of one from a precious Christian widow who, every month without fail, thanks us for the ministry to the poor and includes a Scripture promise made for those who help the poor and who share the Gospel with the lost. We appreciate S.B.B.’s faithful support and encouragement and pray that God will bless her abundantly as she continues to serve the Lord with her energy and substance.

Prayers for You

Though there are relatively few people (under 300) who financially support this three-county work on a regular basis, there are many individuals and groups who do much in other ways to help us feed, house and care for the poor. We thank you all and pray that God will guide and protect you daily and give you peace.

Nancy Gentry

The Lufkin June Report

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  James 1: 2&3

 

May Mayhem was the theme and “Calgon take me away!” was my cry many times during the past month.

EMPLOYMENT REPORT:

New jobs-11

Total working-7

Praise the Lord!

                Wow!  I had to double check my numbers when I first counted the new jobs for last month, but this is accurate data.  Some of the employers were Pilgrim’s Pride, Falles, AAA Trophy, Denny’s, William George, A-1 Landscaping and a few independent contractors.  Some of the residents moved out because of their work hours and others moved out because they had saved enough to get their own places.

GODTEL was blessed, again, this year with canned goods from the Lufkin Relay for Life event.  Our guest cooks treated us to treats galore.  We ate hamburgers, meat balls, pork sandwiches, steak, chicken spaghetti, sausage, and a delicious chicken casserole. And, of course, each of these meals were surrounded by sides and desserts that satisfied our appetites like you wouldn’t believe.

As if these tasty meals were not enough, we were blessed with “leftover” ribeye steaks and green beans from Outback Steakhouse.  We divided the meat into three meals.  And we have enjoyed these delicious steaks each time we have served them.  Thank you to Outback and the family who thought of us at GODTEL.

Names-we had 3 Johns, 2 Williams, 2 Kenneths, 2 Jacobs and 2 Christophers with 2 Kristys, “there went in two and two and two and two”.  Don’t forget Daniel, Joshua, Jeremiah, Madonna and Michael to round out the Biblical names.  Dallas-not Texas-and Savannah-not Georgia-Passed through our doors this past month, also.

Look up in the sky!  It’s a plane!  It’s a bird!  No, it’s a big, red balloon.  Early Saturday morning Martin got in the car and drove south for the day.  He was heading to Nederland and the great balloon adventure.  He arrived and our son and grandchildren loaded up in their vehicle and drove to the park.  The plan was to send the balloon up into the atmosphere to take pictures.  Then the pictures would be sent to my grandson’s computer.  The camera was programmed to take a photo every 4 seconds.  Martin took pictures of the ground crew as they prepared for the event.  A thousand feet of line was attached to the balloon.  Finally-lift off time arrived.

Up, up it went into the sky.  In no time at all the camera was snapping pictures.  Grass, trees, pools, cars, big buildings, little buildings all seemed to shrink as the balloon floated higher and higher.  The ballon was brought down to view the aerial photos.  Once, again, the balloon took flight into the blue sky.  And more scenery was set on film.  The ground crew brought the balloon down a second time.  The plan was to change locations and go up- again.  Alas-the big bang occurred and the balloon adventure went to pieces.  Another balloon and another adventure await.

Back to earth-our garden has not been cooperating this year.  And talking with other “farmers” I am hearing that some of their gardens are dying out.  We’ve tried one more time of planting tomatoes and zipper peas.  The good news is that our tiller and tractor and mower are in fine working condition.  They are ready to serve when called upon…Even though we enjoyed a good supply of rain in May it didn’t seem to be the source for yielding our fruits of labor.

Update on who’s who at GODTEL these days.  Dolores is in the kitchen.  She prepares meals twice a day.  She helps with the laundry and in the women’s dorm.  Lorenzo is still here.  He wears several hats around GODTEL.  He prepares breakfast in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  He sprays the dorm rooms on Wednesday for bug control.  He does yard work.  He, also, supervises the chores after the meals.  And I don’t remember what else…I am sure he will remind me.  We appreciate both Dolores and Lorenzo.

Meet Hugh and Chris.  Hugh has actually been here quite awhile.  He is in the laundry room most days.  Residents do help him fold clothes and sheets.  Chris has been helping Martin these days.  He has welded, grinded, hammered, tilled and sweat like crazy. Please pray for all our helpers-staff and support staff.

June is a busy month.  Mom’s birthday-3rd, Flag Day-14th.  Father’s Day-15th.  Several family birthdays.  And anniversaries of pivotal WWII events.  Summer begins-as if we wouldn’t notice.

As the summer days pass take time out to thank our Heavenly Creator for His blessings.  Some of us will be busy with special projects or enjoying the time with children who are out of school or going on vacation trips long or short.  Or working…Don’t miss out on the fun.  There is always work at GODTEL.  Come by.  Roll up your sleeves.  Pick up a hoe or grab a cloth, work the garden, wash the windows.  Whatever the plan-have a safe and blessed summer.

Thank you, dear folks, for those of you who call or come by or write notes of encouragement.  What a sweet fragrance you are.  Thank you for your financial support, your time and prayers.  We are truly blessed to be a part of God’s family.  Until next time…

Remember

Because of Him we serve,

Martin and Mary Baker

Consider Luke 16:1-31

Stay cool by knowing that GOD is cool.