Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Almost Heaven!

From Dean Starr -

Six years ago, I became a deacon at First Pres. I previously enjoyed being part of a care team for an elderly member of our congregation so I asked to serve in the Seniors ministry. I quickly had an opportunity to put my service to good use.

Deacon Chuck Clow and I volunteered to bring monthly home communion to a 97 year old member named Belva Forster. Whenever Chuck and I arrived at her home, this spry elderly lady greeted us at the door. Even though she was using a walker, Belva always greeted us with a very firm handshake and warm smile.  She always asked how we were. Before administering communion, we’d spend several minutes talking about her long and interesting life. 

Beautiful West Virginia - "Almost heaven!"

Belva described how she was born in West Virginia, and was very proud of that fact!! She married a businessman, and besides raising a son and daughter, had lived in many parts of the world. The one point she stressed to us repeatedly was that no matter where she was, her faith and love of the Lord never wavered. After visits, her daughter told us later how much Belva enjoyed and looked forward to our times. 

Ultimately Belva died at the ripe old age of 99.  I was honored to say a few words about our experiences. Listening as everyone spoke about her, I was moved to hear how much Belva truly looked forward to finally meeting the Lord. She left behind a large extended family and all of them spoke lovingly of the daughter of West Virginia. Belva loved the Lord and her native state, which reminded me of the line in John Denver's song...almost heaven, West Virginia!! Belva showed both of us what devotion and love of God truly meant, and her faith never wavered.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

God's Gardeners

From Amy Scovill -

When I met my husband, Ken, he was living with his grandparents and helping run a business that had become known as Scovill Brothers farm, a small farm that sold produce at a roadside stand near Lansing, Michigan.   His love of gardening and home-grown vegetables never waned.  Ken even planted some tomato plants in a small patch of dirt in front of the building where he worked in downtown Skokie. 

For many years, Ken volunteered at Mobile Food Pantry of our church and witnessed first-hand the poor quality of the produce that was available from the food bank.  Many hours were spent salvaging edible vegetables from those that were well past their prime.  

With some of God's Gardeners, Ken is pictured on the back row in green!

Three years ago when Ken and I decided to rent a plot for ourselves in the Libertyville Community gardens, we saw an opportunity to solve help the problem of the rotten produce.  We rented an extra 20 x 20 foot plot, and with a small but mighty crew of volunteers from First Pres endeavored to grow beans, onions, peppers and tomatoes for the guests of our Mobile Food Pantry.  By late summer, we had two bushels of beautiful, fresh tomatoes that were shared with people in need.  With that small gift a blessed partnership was born, and volunteers from First Presbyterian Church thereafter became known as God’s Gardeners.

God’s Gardeners and volunteers from other churches plant and nurture a 2 acre garden plot where we grow a variety of vegetables that can be harvested for distribution all season long.  In 2015, we provided more than 500 pounds of fresh, locally grown, pesticide-free produce to guests of our Mobile Food Pantry.  Today, with determination, faith in God, and some guidance from a certain guardian angel, we continue to be a blessing to those in need in our community.