World Renew

Planet Ark

ARKCOLLAGE

Our last summer service play group took place this past Tuesday! We had such a great time for all five weeks. I’m so thankful.

We read the story Planet Ark about how we can all be modern-day Noah’s through caring for our environment.

We were able to support seven families in Bangladesh in receiving a fruit tree seedling that will provide food and income through World Renew.

The kids made leaf creatures and were awesome at the nature scavenger hunt!

ARKCOLLAGE@

Next week I would like share about the groups more personally, but for today I’m so thankful they became a reality, for all the participants, support, and amazing difference makers! And… there will be more. Hopefully forever and forever.

About Proximity formed some wonderful partnerships and we will be moving to hold more events throughout the year with Jodi Baron of Grace Episcopal Church in Holland.

Please, join our facebook service play group page for details and opportunities!

We’d love your ideas and to partner with you. I really mean that! Partnerships are what make a difference in our world. Every story and everything we did was better because we worked together as a community!  aboutproximity@gmail.com

 

 

 

Planet Ark

mimi's village collage

Last week we read Mimi’s Village and talked about clean water, vaccinations, and global health care. We supported Shot@Life, a movement to protect children worldwide, by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. We were able to support two children with a full vaccination set against polio, measles, diarrhea, and pneumonia. The kids were able to lift a jerry can partially full of water to get an idea of how heavy it is transport your own water.

We also had a stuffed animal vaccination clinic! Thank you Nurse Mackenzie, Nurse Ellie, Dr. Julie, and Dr. Rebecca for immunizing our favorite lovies!

mimi'svillage2collage

Our last summer play group is this Tuesday, July 14 at 6:00pm at Kollen Park in Holland!

We will be reading the book Planet Ark.

Bring along $1.00 if you are able for fruit tree seedlings for families in Bangladesh through World Renew. Your purchase of a fruit tree seedling helps a subsistence farm family improve their land and grow fruit to feed their family and to sell for income.

We will have a nature scavenger hunt, leaf creatures craft, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, inflatable world volleyball, and egg and spoon relays.PlanetArkPlayGroupWe have had so much fun, we hope to combine forces and continue play groups for the West Michigan area past this summer! Make sure to join our Service Play Group Facebook Page to get all the updates as we make a difference together as a community! I’d love to partner with you, contact me with ideas 🙂 aboutproximity@gmail.com

 

 

Summer Serve Play Groups

playgroup dates

About Proximity is so excited to host Summer Service Play Groups in Holland, Michigan!

Let’s come out to make a difference as a community with our families.

 

Here is our Facebook Event Page. 

 

Printable PDFs to share with others. Included are the service opportunities for each week and all the activities we have planned! 

Summer Serve Play Group Schedule Summer 2015

June16: If the World Were a Village

iftheworldwereavillage

June 23: One Hen

OneHenHungerJune 30: The Red Bicycle

TheRedBicyclePlayGroup

July 7: Mimi’s Village

Mimi's Village Play Group

July 14: Planet Ark 

PlanetArkPlayGroup

Serve Projects: 

Bringing donations is completely optional! Even if you are unable to participate in the donation part of the service project, still come out to the play group! We’ll learn together and have fun. We want everyone to feel welcome. Click on the printable PDFs to see what we are gathering for each week.

A few ideas:

  • When shopping for donations for Holland Rescue Mission and Community Action House involve your kids. It’s a great opportunity to talk to them about needs families might have and what items can be a support and encouragement.
  • When bringing $1.00 donation for Shot@Life, World Vision, and World Renew encourage your kids to earn the money by doing a small job around the house, helping will feel even more meaningful to them.

 

Want to learn more about the organizations we are supporting? 

Holland Rescue Mission

Community Action House

Shot@Life

World Vision

World Renew 

All our stories are donated by Citizen Kid Books.  

 

We can’t wait to see you this summer! 

Questions? 

Email: Lisa Van Engen at aboutproximity@gmail.com 

 

 

 

36 Hope Expands: Little White Lights

36hopeexpands

Little white lights make everything better. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break for those who celebrate. I know I am so very thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, especially all of you. We had turkey and cheesecake. I scored a few presents on Black Friday with the spectacular team of my Dad, Mom and Ellie. Kris and I saw Mockingjay, and we finished up with some Sunday puking, because what’s a holiday without someone barfing? Best of all the little white lights are up.

givingThe new expanding hope ideas:

  • Have you heard of AmazonSmile? Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Just log into your regular account and they take you through the simple steps. I was so excited to find World Renew the organization Kris works for. Our percentage will go to support their work!
  • I’ve seen Better World Books donation sites in parking lots around my area. When this business was featured in A Path AppearsI definitely wanted to learn more. You donate books which are then bought from the Better World Books on-line store. A portion of every sale goes to world literacy. Over 15 million books have been donated to non-profits, they support grants, and also recycle the books unable to be sold. Read more about their impact here. I’ll be going through our stacks this season!
  • Elf on the Shelf kind of creeped us out last year and I’m really bad at remembering to do it. I also saw on Pinterest an idea for giving elves, or something really beautiful and perfect like that. Our family variation: the kids like the concept of finding the elf. So I have a plan of what to do with him each day, but he will also have a note sharing with us an act of kindness we need to complete. (Will we succeed everyday, or will I remember? No because we are not a pinteresty sort, but we are going to try!)
  • Try this one: go to GreaterGood. On the top toolbar they have nine sections like autism, literacy, and hunger. As you click the cause, a button will appear to support the cause, just click again and you’re set. The advertisers fund the causes. Click nine times and you’ve contributed to nine causes for free. You can give back every calendar day.
  • Rice 2.0 offers 10 grains of rice to the World Good Bank for every correct answer. They offer a number of subjects. I’m loving the spanish vocabulary section right now.

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite free ways to give back on-line? 

This Freedom is a Gift We Received

statue

 

My husband Kris travels for his work with World Renew and the CRC Office of Social Justice. For the first time, I am traveling with him today to Washington D.C. We are speaking with members of congress about comprehensive immigration reform and the response of the church.

This will be my first time in Washington D.C. I have my power suit and heels on and I’m excited. I’ll write about my experience on Friday. In the meantime you can pray that I do not do anything awkward, but I advise you not to bet on it.

This is the story I will be sharing.

 

{The Gift We have Received, first appeared October 24, 2012 at G92

In Kollen Park, on the shore of Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan, stands a bronze statue.

“The Immigrants” statue is a gift from the people of Drenthe, in the Netherlands.

 

A group of immigrants journeyed in the spring of 1847 from Rotterdam to New York City’s Ellis Island. The Atlantic passage took 47 days. A group of 60 men, woman, and children traveled together, led by Albertus C. Van Raalte. They looked to settle in a new land, because of religious and economic oppression.

 

While the Dutch immigrants faced enormous challenges and overcame adversity, they prevailed. They were afforded the opportunity to make a new life.

 

You may believe the historic story found its beginning and end here.

But, is history ever that simple?

 

There are no monuments or placards to commemorate another facet of the story. Even the recorded history finds itself pieced together on the shelves of the history room of the public library, the research library of the Holland Museum, and the lower level of joint archives of Van Wylen Library. Amongst shelves of volumes lies a thin folder of newspaper clippings.

 

The Ottawa Native Americans summered in Northern Michigan in the Mackinaw area. When the season curved around to fall again, they traveled by canoe, via Lake Michigan, back to their land on the shore of Lake Macatawa, then called Black Lake. The Ottawa Native Americans had cleared 15 acres with nearly thirty huts and teepees covered in cedar bark. An early settler said he believed the Native Americans had intended this to be a permanent location.

This stood their rhythm for decades.

 

The Indians of the Western Great Lakes speaks of early encounters with the Native Americans in this way:

“All strangers that were not enemies, as well as members of their own nations, were at all times welcome to partake of the shelter of a cabin and the food available.”

 

In the fall of 1848, when the Ottawa Native Americans returned to Black Lake they found the Dutch settlers on their cleared land. The settlers were also using some of their (1,400) maple troughs.  The Ottawa Native Americans showed the settlers how to make their own maple troughs, but the settlers continued to use the Ottawa’s troughs.  Smallpox was also brought into the area by the settlers. The following spring the Native Americans sold their land to the settlers, exhumed their dead, and traveled by canoe north.

They renamed the area Ana-mah-npo-nig, the place where the Dutch live.

 

The eloquent Chief Simon Pokagon spoke six languages and authored the book Queen of the Forest, thought of as a classic in Native American literature.

 

A speech on August 26, 1897, on the occasion of a Semi-Centennial Celebration by Chief Simon Pokagon, resonates in the mind of a witness, late judge Cornelius vander Meulen. He stated that the chief displayed   “…a bewilderment, perhaps, as to why in grasping for the goals of the future we crush so much of the beauty of the past.”

 

In the words of Chief Simon Pokagon, “The same forest that frowned upon you smiled upon us. The same forest that was ague and death to you was our bulwark and defense. The same forest you have cut down and destroyed, we loved, and our great fear was that the white man in his advance westward would mar or destroy it.”

 

Why do we hide facets of history in thin folders in basement libraries?

 

If history surfaces, we might then have to admit the rhythm of our interconnectedness, that we, too, were immigrants. This land was not our own to take and give then, nor is it now.

 

This life, this land, this freedom is a gift we received.

 

A gift handed back with open hands, would be to listen to the discussion of immigration reform.

 

Bibliography

Kinietz, Vernon W. (1965) The Indians of the Western Great Lakes 1615-1760.

McClunken, James (2009) Our People, Our Journey, The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Van Voorst, Cornelia (1972, May  17). Holland’s Early Colonists Befriended by Indians but Indians Left Area around 1948, Holland Sentinel.

VandeWater, Randy (2010, Feb 21). Pokogan one of most famous Native Americans in West Michigan, Holland Sentinel. 

Where There is Injustice, There is Silence

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A Guest Post by: Rev. Kris Van Engen 

Sometimes silence speaks. Sometimes silence kills.

I’ve been in the position of a congregational justice mobilizer for two years now and if I’ve learned anything, it is that silence plus lies (or the more congenial term “myths”) equals oppression. We all know this simple equation is true but we are strangely drawn to it.

 

While Martin Luther King sat in a jail in Birmingham, his elders sent him a letter telling him to be quiet and leave the segregation issue to the courts. When AIDS was becoming an epidemic in the 1980s, the stigma was on the victims; discussing how to change the situation was considered akin to condoning sin. Pick a modern issue of injustice and surely you will find groups who, in spite of having the power to be heard, remain silent–maybe because of uncertainty, maybe to stay neutral, maybe to be a good listener, maybe for good or bad intentions. At any rate, where there is injustice, there is silence.

The scenario is as true on a small scale as it is on a large scale. Consider the family with an abusive parent. The child is scolded, “What happens in our house is nobody else’s business.” The spouse defends the abuser to critics, “Well, if our son watched his behavior he wouldn’t have these problems.” The critics say, “Oh, I guess it’s more complicated than I thought.” The abuse continues. The child waits for someone to ride in and speak the truth. The victims of AIDS, preventable famine, changing climate, racism, and needless deportations wait with him.

 

We celebrate Jesus’ birth into a land of silence and lies. The threat of his voice moved Herod to put an early ransom on his head. This is the brave voice our world needs. Jesus doesn’t fall into the temptation of silence like we do. The spirit of the Lord is on him. He sees through the myths. He is anointed to proclaim good news to the poor.

Of course, Jesus himself was silent from time to time. The most notable occasion, shortly after sharing the last supper bread and wine with his disciples, was remaining speechless before Herod. It was the death of him. A temporary death that resulted in new life.

This would become Jesus’ gift to us. Light shed on a dark scene. If we are victims, he stands with us. If we need certainty mixed with courage to break from the ranks of neutrality, he offers it through the Holy Spirit, his word, and the communion of saints. He is the prince who replaces injustice with peace.

In this new year, what is an opportunity you could take to SPEAK? 

 

KrisKris Van Engen is the Congregational Justice Mobilizer for the Office of Social Justice and World Renew. He equips people as they act on Jesus’ instructions to be peacemakers, to do justice, and to prevent the root causes of poverty and hunger. You can read his article Social Justice 101 here. 

Kris previously worked for 10 years as a pastor and church ministries director. He and his wife Lisa have two children, Ellie and Josiah.

Contact Kris by email at kvanengen@crcna.org.

 

Social Justice 101

The Office of Social Justice responds to God’s call to let justice flow like a river, especially as it relates to hunger and poverty.

I want to point you to a resource on their web page. The resource is called Social Justice 101. I encourage anyone who has wondered about the following questions to take a moment to read through the information.

  • Why should Christians be politically engaged?
  • What does the Bible say about justice?
  • What does social justice have to do with my personal faith?
  • What is advocacy and how does it connect to charity?
  • Whose role is it to care for the poor?
  • What are systems and how do they contribute to injustice?

I also want to introduce you to my husband Kris today, who works for World Renew and the Office of Social Justice! He is kind to a fault and has a huge heart for making a difference because of his faith.

Confession: The first time I told Kris that I loved him, I was driving. I got so nervous I ran a red a light. (Don’t tell the police.)

Kris Van Engen is the Congregational Justice Mobilizer for the Office of Social Justice and World Renew. He equips people as they act on Jesus’ instructions to be peacemakers, to do justice, and to prevent the root causes of poverty and hunger.

Kris previously worked for 10 years as a pastor and church ministries director. He and his wife Lisa have two children, Ellie and Josiah.

Contact Kris by email at kvanengen@crcna.org.