Here's a news roundup of many ways that Adventists are making the news this Christmas in their local communities.
One of the highlights of evening was the singing of “O Holy Night” by Susan Hamilton of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and Pastor David Soden of Richmond Avenue Baptist Church. The crowd reacted with a thundering applause. ___
Nunez said that the food bank and other charitable efforts support more than 300 people a month.
As well as food, the organization provides blankets and clothing, and for people who have found a residence, St. Vincent de Paul provides dishes, cookware and other household necessities.
"We do provide some furnishings, but just not to everyone," Nunez said. "They have to demonstrate that they are working to get off the street."
Two other organizations that provide support for the homeless and needy, based upon donations, are the Seventh-Day Adventist Church through its Dorca program, and the Salvation Army.
PAW PAW, W.Va. — Rose Estep doesn’t let anyone inside her trailer.
For almost a decade she’s lived there alone, kept to herself inside the rotting, 50-year-old structure she bought for $500 from a woman who wanted a hundred more.
Dusty and sagging, it sits near the top of a mountain at the end of Cloud High Lane, a narrow dirt road that twists and climbs toward the heavens.
The winter wind blows hard up there, whips across the trees and settles into the bones.
For a couple of years, Estep lived without heat or electricity, huddling under piles of blankets, “camping out” in rooms that hadn’t been damaged by flooding.
She wouldn’t let anyone see her home — not friends or family or co-workers. It would simply cause distress. And even without running water or an indoor bathroom, Estep got along OK.
Then one day last spring a new friend from church wouldn’t back down.
Gary Kasekamp drove up the mountain to bring Estep groceries after getting to know her in Bible study and learning she wasn’t well-off. Outside her door, he pleaded for the better part of an hour to let him look inside. Estep finally relented. Kasekamp was stunned.
An elder at Cumberland’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, he saw conditions as poor as some he’d observed in Third World countries, where he’d taken at least a dozen mission trips.
“When I walked into that place,” Kasekamp said one day last week, his voice trailing off. “It was in pretty rough shape.”
He took his concerns to the church board, then, with the members’ blessing, started organizing a project to give Estep a present, hopefully in time for Christmas.
Volunteers from four local Seventh-day Adventist congregations would build her a house.
They christened it “The Rose Project” and started raising funds.
In September they painted signs with a single red rose to show the way up the mountain, past the ruts and turns, to get to Estep’s place. Volunteers agreed to meet once a week — on Sundays — to work on the house.
Unlike most Christian denominations, Seventh-day Adventists observe the Sabbath on Saturday, as described in the Old Testament.
The first Rose Project work day was Sept. 21, when two dozen volunteers cleared the site. They came from Cumberland, Frostburg, Oakland and Romney, where the Adventists have congregations, each with fewer than 100 members.
Known as a conservative Christian denomination, the church has about 15 million members around the world and participates in a “global mission” to spread the gospel of Christ. It has projects in more than 200 countries, the church’s Web site says. Kasekamp has been to Honduras and the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico.
“We go to all these places and do stuff,” said Kasekamp, a woodworker who lives just outside Oldtown. “There’s people right here that need help. It’s just finding these people and figuring out who really needs the help and wants the help. It’s hard.”
Over 12 successive Sundays, with intermittent work by a handful of workers, Rose Project volunteers poured footers, laid sewage pipe and water lines, raised the walls and shingled the roof.
By Nov. 16, they were installing doors and windows. By Dec. 14, the electrical work was done.
Almost everything was donated — insulation, shingles, concrete and lumber from a company that has no ties to the church.
“I just called them and asked them,” Kasekamp said.
One church volunteer is paying for all the kitchen cabinets. Another man from Oakland did all the electrical work for free. Another dropped off a never-used propane heater he’d bought for his own family.
Just three days before Christmas, they’d spent only about $6,800 of the $16,000 raised.
Estep, 45, is dumbfounded by the generosity.
Raised a Baptist in West Virginia, she said she strayed from the church after a difficult childhood. After graduating from a Maryland high school, she began working minimum-wage jobs, sometimes two or three at a time to make ends meet, she said.
In 2002, she quit her last job as a sewing machine operator because of lupus and other related disabilities, she said.
“I figured sitting down I could probably do something,” she said. “And it was right close to my home. But my knee gave out, then my hands gave out. And my emotions gave out, cause I was really at the end of my rope.”
Never married, she has no children and lives on the Social Security check she gets once a month.
About a year ago she began writing letters to a pen pal with a member of a Seventh-day Adventist Bible study. By spring, she had found her way to Kasekamp and the Cumberland church.
When Kasekamp knocked on her trailer door that day, she didn’t want to let him in.
“I don’t like trailers, but that one was the right price at the right time,” said Estep, who had bought about 14 acres near the top of the mountain in 1987. “You do what you do. I mean, it’s better than being homeless, out in the elements and all. It was protection against the winter.”
Estep’s new house will be simple — four rooms, about 700 square feet. Church members plan to round up donated furniture and other items so she can set up housekeeping.
Last week, Estep watched, clear-eyed and ruddy-cheeked, while workers installed insulation. From the bedroom window, she can see the mountains of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“I love to watch the snow come down,” Estep said, shifting from foot to foot to keep circulation flowing in the 20-degree cold. “And thunderstorms in the spring.”
The house won’t be ready by Christmas, but Estep should be moved in shortly after the new year, church members hope.
Once she’s settled, Estep plans to have an open house to thank everyone. She plans to hang a plaque over the door.
“The House That Love Built,” it will say. “Because God is Love.” ____
And finally, a blog poem from a retired Loma Linda Dentistry Professor:
Once upon a Tuesday dreary As I pondered thoughtless and weary That, I'd written days before Mindless drivel designed to bore There came a tapping at my door Irritating tapping at my chamber door
Opening, I thot to find a Raven Rather than Raven there was a man Garbed in brown with a matching van Packages wrapped and taped in hand Grinning as though this was something grand
But better I knew And had not to guess Santa had sent him To the wrong address.
p.s. Merry Christmas to all sufficiently dour With faces twisted to grimaces sour As nearer comes the expectant hour When relatives appear with gifts to shower Who clean the table and ice box too And ride clear of the mess hailing "Merry Christmas," to you!
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1303