A field trip to Staples!

November 22, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Posted in God's obvious goodness | 4 Comments

United Methodist Church of Staples Minnesota. Ever been there?   I hadn’t either until this weekend.

Staples UMC

Here’s the story:

Last year, Anne,  a young woman from Minnesota decided to go to Africa as a  volunteer.    She enlisted her whole congregation in her little church in Northern Minnesota to be her support team and she ended up spending two months in Jinja, Uganda caring for babies at the Amani Baby Cottage.

Upon her return, she gave the standard post-missions-trip slide show and challenged her little church to continue supporting the kids at Amani by creating a regular milk-money offering that the children of Staples would give to support the children of Amani.   Now in it’s second year, this little fund has grown and also enjoys the support of the church at large.   They donate to babies they’ve never met and through their generosity, they’ve raised some serious dough and have kept the babies at Amani supplied with their much-needed milk.

Some of the little ones that benefited from this milk money campaign were our very own Philip and Zachary!    And since we’re a real, live Amani family that lives sort of close by, Anne (and her family) asked us if we’d be willing to come to her church, tell them our story and let them meet our boys.

So, yesterday we loaded up and drove three hours north to go to the Staples United Methodist Church.

It was like stepping back in time or into a small-town fictional novel.   For this gal who’s only lived in bigger suburban areas and has attended mega-churches for 25 years, it was eye-opening.    The tiny 150 year-old sanctuary was beautifully adorned with stained glass windows and dark wooden pews,  upholstered in red velvet.    It was both charming and breath-taking all at once.

The people were genuinely glad that we were there and I think EVERY single one of them told us so!    They were friendly and gracious and welcoming.   We talk about ‘community’ a lot in big churches.   We are hungry for it and try all kinds of things to ease the isolation that so easily happens in big churches.   There – they were ‘family’ to each other and extended that heart-felt love to us.   It wasn’t hard…. It was natural community and it was really beautiful.

We spoke to their Sunday School classes and then again in their ‘missions moment’ in the main service.    Philip and Zachary were the stars!    The people were so glad to actually meet some of the babies that their funds had supported.

I was humbled.

Here was this tiny, tiny church WAY up in northern Minnesota.   We had nothing in common except for Anne and the cross.   But that was enough.

These people provided for my boys before I ever could.   Anne cared for them and was a mama to them before I could be.    The UMC in Staples has just a couple hundred people in it (maybe??).    And God connected the dots to call them to be involved for the cause of orphans almost 8,000 miles away.   Don’t you just love the way God works?

Anne holding Zach at Amani

Today, as we sat in the children’s Sunday school, they passed around the little coffee can that they collect the milk money in each week.   I saw that it was coming my way, so I reached in my purse and gave Philip a few coins to put in the can.   When it arrived at our pew, I noticed that the can was covered in bright lettering spelling out ‘Amani” and there were pictures glued all over it… pictures of the children of Amani.   And there, on the little coffee can, was my son, Zachary’s face.    And as I choked back the tears, the reality of it hit me:   Philip and Zachary were once the orphans.   They were on that side of the fence.   Today, they sat in church with me, and Philip put money in that little can to serve and benefit those who are still orphans.     P & Z are now on the other side of the fence.     They are now the ones contributing to the relief effort.    God is good in so many ways.

Thank you, Staples UMC!   Thank you.



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  1. Oh, you have me wiping my tears again. God is mysteriously good, and intimately connecting the most obscure dots. What a wonder.


  2. Our God is truly awesome and what a blessing that runneth over! Adele

  3. What a precious God story. A faith builder to see once again God in all the details.

  4. That is an amazing story all planned by an amazing God! By the way, I grew up in a church like that – a small Southern Baptist Church in a small Southern town. Everyone knew everyone and they had great community. The pastor would just stop by and sit on the porch, drink iced tea, and visit with you. It is, to me, a world away. My heart often longs for that kind of church and community. Maybe it is only possible in a small town. Anyway, it is good to hear that there are churches like that still around.

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