Monday, July 31, 2006

Cook-Out Buffet

Last night was the biggest night we have had outside. We served an estimated 175-200 people. Our menu was large as we had some great last minute donations. We had hotdogs, corn on the cob(200 plus ears), mac and cheese, cloe slaw, potato salad, pork and beans, a veggie tray, banana's, apples, grapes and cookies. Unbelievably we did not run out of any food except the fruit near the end. In the over 90 plus heat we had 39 volunteers. We had the senior citizen class and the youth group from Grace UMC join us. It was our first intergenerational group. The Older folks served the food, the youth played with the kids, helped them with their plates, walked them home, and even fed some little ones. Along with the two groups from Grace church(21) we had folks there from McGrawsville UMC(5), Russiaville UMC(1), FaithUMC(1), Crossroads Community(3), Abundant Life(2), St. Lukes UMC(3) and Trinity UMC(3).

We were also blessed with produce from the community garden we gave away zucchini, cabbage and cucumbers- the Crossroads group brought fresh green beans which was gone in a flash. Along with our regular bags of food(cereal, juice, peanut butter, pasta, sunflower seeds, and jello), we gave away about 75 loaves of bread and 125 bags of assorted chips.

It is amazing what God is doing outside the church walls as many churches come together to be missionaries in their own community. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Just an update on the K.I.C.K. Starters (see article below dated 7/17) we have received most of the items for the pack. Mike the pastor of St. Lukes UMC emailed and asked about book bags. I am not aware of anyone in town giving away book bags, so after exchanging email thoughts we decided we would try to collect 150 book bags and place the hygiene items in it. An email went out to local churches yesterday morning by afternoon we had 20 bags delivered. God is so good. In our neighborhood the month of July is a bit too long. We have been blessed to help neighbors with what we have in the way of food but we have little. We are giving away cheese that was left from VBS, peanut butter, cranberry juice, a couple of cans of vegetables and a bag of chips. Bread does not come until tomorrow and food stamps start coming next Tuesday, depending on where you fall in the alphabet, food stamps are disturbed from the 1st-10th of each month. Some folks have about two weeks to wait.

Each day, we are distributing sack lunches to children under the age of 18. The school system was providing lunches with their program ending last Friday. We picked it up on Monday. The lunches are catered and are funded by IUK. When the school provided lunch the largest group ever served was 50 kids the average was 30. We received 50 lunches on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We served 49 on Monday, 51 on Tuesday and had to turn 10 kids away and lock the door early on Wednesday. We upped the order to 70 starting today (Thursday). A stereotype of people living in government housing is that those folks don't work. That is untrue. Many do work. The welfare to work program provides mothers with two years of benefits and then helps them find jobs or mothers are required to work for local agencies to continue to receive government aid. Several of our neighbors have jobs in a meat processing plant in Logansport (about 30 miles away). Problem---gasoline is over $3.00 a gallon. It is becoming difficult to get back and forth to work. The Outreach nor the church has the funds to help with any kind of gas assistance and local agencies are running out of resources. Carpools are being organized and gas sharing is happening, pop cans are being collected to get people to work, those working in Logansport are becoming a community. That's cool.

Other mothers without cars walk to work, we are seeing a need for bikes. Several bikes have been donated and they are given to people with jobs who need them to get to work. Working bikes are scarce so we can only give bikes to those who need transportation to work. We have several broken bikes, that do us little good as we have no one right now who knows how to fix them nor the resources to purchase the parts. Enough rambling. Please keep everyone here in your prayers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

59 cent mission trip

They came pouring in at about 11:15 as the U haul was being loaded with bags and bags of food (the truck was being filled by some of the young adult guys next door). They huddled downstairs making a plan ready to divide and conquer. Two of them blind, most of them girls which the one guy didn't seem to mind and then there was their leader(a board member and a regular volunteer). The "they" were some youth from Crossroads Community Church who had volunteered to join the other 6 of us go door to door for "Groceries and Prayer". After a time of prayer we left to church to begin the work. At first a bit neverous , the youth's confidence increased as bag after bag of food was taken from the truck and brought to the door. It became evident that the youth could sense they were being used by God, as they became louder and louder as they knocked on the doors and yelled, "Groceries and Prayer from Kokomo Urban Outreach." Residents would come to the door to accept food and many took them up on the prayer offer too. It blessed me when I saw one of the blind girls praying for an older neighbor who has trouble walking, and the neighbor praying for the blind girl. There was church going on, on the steps of the apartments. We also found some families that were desperate for help. Like the woman who had a miscarriage the day before and had no toilet paper or soap in her home or the father and son who has had to borrow food for the past five days. We prayed with the sick, the despised, the addicted, the confused and the hopeless. By the time we were finished we had a group of children following us and "helping" us carry the groceries. After we visited the nearly 200 apartments in Garden Square we moved on to Pine Valley where 100 more families received bags of food. Believe it or not each youth only paid 59 cents for this mission trip to buy a coke at BP as they traveled to the second apartment complex, however, I believe even the 59 cents became a gift from their leader, making this "mission trip" a freebie. Thank you youth from Crossroads for helping to create a culture of hope in a seemingly hopeless place. Thank you Kokomo Rescue Mission for donating the food that we distributed to nearly 300 families. I would also like to St. Luke's UMC for donating the money to pay for the U-Haul Truck through their leftover gifts to our VBS. Thank you to our friends at Russiaville UMC for helping us sack groceries the day before we delivered. A special thanks to the residents who came across the street to help us bag groceries and load the truck. And of course, thanks to all the "regular" volunteers who give time to the "Outreach" event after event. Thanks to all of you for the prayers. Jeff

Monday, July 17, 2006

VBS and other assorted items

VBS went well. We didn't have huge numbers but the 20 plus children that came had a great time. We had the best of the best from every church. It was a good time. I hope to have some pictures. I took my camera to vbs and took quite a few pictures. There was some sort of writing on the screen, however, I could not see it without my glasses. I later learned it said, "No memory Card". So much for my carefully planned pictures. I presided over some very good friends daughter's wedding on Saturday, which I enjoyed. On Sunday we had a nice crowd in church and we had a good cookout. Today I spoke at the Kiwanis Club and was very well received. They are helping put together some personal hygiene kits to give to the children before school starts. The kits are to give kids a K.I.C.K.(Kids Individual Care Kits) Start to caring for themselves. It will contain toothpaste and toothbrush, a comb, shampoo, a bar of soap, and toilet paper. We want to have 150 ready to go. Before I left I had commitments of all the toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap. Someone brought us about 40 packages of toilet paper. We are well on our way. Thanks for the prayers especially as we pack food tomorrow and pass it out on Wednesday door to door.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thank you note to St. Lukes UMC

Wow!! What a great few days in VBS. We had so many wonderful volunteers from churches like Crossroads and Abundant Life(boy did we need them) and we received items from Grace UMC. The folks at St. Lukes UMC approached me about doing VBS and working with us to plan and to provide the resources to make VBS happen. St. Lukes sent many volunteers, provided the food, the decorations and the finances needed to make the VBS successful. We had a great song leader from Crossroads Karen Malone, also from Crossroads was Stephanie who brought her usual band of wonderful helpers and of course our Children's Outreach Director Mary Ingle was present along with Intern Patric Newton. The Storyteller, the Registration coordinator, the kitchen crew(including youth from St. Lukes) and the actor in the skit were all from St. Lukes. We also appreciated the Children's Bibles donated by Bebe Doris from the Kokomo Rescue Mission. Following is a letter sent to St. Lukes Church:

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for making a difference in the lives of 25 children at our VBS outreach. I wish you could have met the children that were so touched. Few of them attend any church and for some it was the first time they heard about Jesus. It has been neat to walk through the apartment complex a week afterwards hearing the children singing the songs they learned in Bible School. It has been a blessing to work more one on one with the children than we are able to do in a large cookout setting. Thank you for providing workers, cookies, food, decorations, finances and prayers. I want you all to know that the neighborhood has been buzzing since VBS asking when we are going to do it again!!! You have been salt and light to a community that needs both. I also wanted you to know that your gifts not only helped the children at VBS, as the leftover food was used at Sunday's cookout. Leftover money was used to rent a U Haul truck($25.00) to deliver groceries to 300 families in two apartment complexes and will be used to purchase much needed shelving($40.00) to hold food until it can be distributed, our little plastic book shelves that surrounded our distribution room walls collapsed under the weight of the food. I would especially like to thank Jean Tarner for organizing and preparing VBS for us so it ran well even though she was called away.

Thanks again.

Jeff Newton Director of Kokomo Urban Outreach

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today is our first day of VBS. We are doing a mini version, three days for 1.5 hours. As usual we are blazing new trails into unknown parts. Please pray for us as all our volunteers are arriving at about 12:30 it starts at 1:00. We have to organize them and move them where we need them. We do have the five main areas story, games, crafts, music and food covered with the best of the best leaders. I not sure I have ever seen so much talent in each area. What is interesting is that they are all from different churches. The primary church helping is St. Lukes which has supplied a great deal of materials. I hope to get some pictures today and will post as I get them. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Nice Weekend (Part Two)

Wow!!! This week flew by. I thought I would have part 2 of last weekend up long ago. But, alas, time slips by. Last Sunday we had several nice visitors in the church, we had folks from South Carolina, Texas, and Florida. The cook out was nice because it only rained for 15 minutes instead of the usual whole time we are out there. It has rained on us every week for about 5 weeks. It was nice to have enough volunteers and we even had some missionaries from Guatemala.

A couple of weeks ago I had been in conversation with a 23 year old man who is living with his 26 year old girlfriend with their three children, about marriage(he wondered how important it really was). I explained about commitment, the example being set for the children, the importance of promising to stay true to one person, honoring the children's mother etc. He asked if the time came would I do the service. I told him I would. I have had many conversations with him and her and see them everyday as they live across from us. Their children participate in our outreach. He and his girlfriend are very nice. Thursday I heard a knocking at the door when I opened it he was on the porch with a license in hand, saying lets do it now. I agreed. However, his wife to be felt she could not get married in a t-shirt and blue jeans which is all she had. They found some money and she went to buy a new outfit. He too found his best clothes and they dressed the children up the best they could. Two of their neighbors got dressed up to be witnesses. While they were getting ready I went out and bought a cake and got some sodas on ice. A friend, Steph. had just the day before brought some plastic silverware wrapped in napkins tied with a ribbon and a tablecloth to the church. At 8:30 the two were married, he was very excited, and they both had a good feeling, like they made something right. They crossed the street and went home. Patric and I quickly picked up the cake, drinks, table, plates etc and we set up a reception in their front yard. It was the exact spot where a gunshot rang out a few months ago, the space was being redeemed with a wholesome party. All the neighbors came out to congratulate them and to grab a piece of cake, meanwhile Patric and I slipped away into the shadows. From my picture window I would occasionally glance across the street to see how things were going, it went well. The party went on for about an hour and for the first time I saw a community come together, without drinking, screaming, fighting just friends having a great time. The children were playing and dancing and at least on this night life was good.

Tonight we are going to a Pastor's family picnic, unbelievably I think all three sons are going with us. Tomorrow I speak at New Waverly United Methodist Church which is just west of 31 off of 24. Patric will be speaking at Trinity as part of his internship. Tomorrow night the children will be treated to some Gospel magic.

Next week, I am not teaching at all. I taught 3 days this past week(the Academy boys go year round). I will be focusing on VBS. If you received our newsletter, you read that we were looking for some Bibles to give at VBS. We got them. If you are not getting the newsletter and would like to, you may subscribe to it by typing your email into the box at the top right hand side of this page.

Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Nice Weekend (Part One)

This weekend was a nice weekend. It was nice because I was able to hang out with some very nice people. On Saturday afternoon we had a baby shower for a young woman in the apartments. She is due at the end of the month and had nothing for her child. We collected clothing, diapers, lotion, a car seat, play pen, toys, everything she needed, she did have a bed. We also bought a cake, made punch, had peanuts and mints. Then there was the card table with a baby shower table cloth, with matching napkins and cups and we had some folding chairs. We set all of that outside of her apartment under the shade of a large tree and knocked on the door. The woman was surprised!!! I don't think she ever has been to a shower, and surely didn't expect one. She was very nice, humble, and appreciative. She opened each package very slowly and looked at each item. She would comment about the softness of the material, the stitching in the bibs and the practicality of the diapers. She didn't want to eat the cake(the cake was important to her, not sure she has had many just for her) because it was so beautiful. She savored every bite. We helped her carry her things into her apartment and noticed she had no furniture, none!!! There were plastic grocery bags of clothes around the walls. We asked her about the furniture, she said she was going to rent some after the baby was born. We told her not to, that we would be on the lookout for some. She needs everything but beds.

At the shower we met two very nice boys on bikes one was 6 the other 5. The five year old stopped at the shower as we were setting up. He was quiet, kind, polite. We we put the peanuts on the table he asked if he could please have some, we said sure. He grabbed handfuls and began to quickly eat. He obviously had not had anything to eat for a while. His brother joined us, these two little guys ate two pieces of cake, two glasses of juice, a bunch of peanuts and a couple of mints. It may not have been the healthiest meal, but they went away with food in their stomach.

On Saturday night I visited a parishioner who is having surgery today. They have only been coming to the church for a few months. Very nice folks. I arrived at dinner time and they set down a plate....good food. Our whole family spent the rest of the evening at the home of some good friends, laughing and watching our six adult children play together. It was strange as our kids live everywhere and really haven't been together for years. As we watched them play a game called "Ladder Ball", it seemed as if we were looking at them as if they were in elementary school again when we gathered our two families together often.

This post is getting kind of lengthly and I have to be going to teach at the academy(they go to school year round). We will just call this "A nice weekend pt. 1". Thanks for the prayers. Jeff