Tuesday, June 23, 2009
My goal this summer is to get the kids back to nature, to get away from neon lights and schedules and life in the fast lane and computer screens and electronic devices. As one mom calls it-to "get away from manufactured fun".
Each week I am making a commitment to do something outdoors, some kind of adventure, some kind of new park, new hike, new outdoor area, new natural area.
Last week was the first week of summer (well, the kids had school on Monday), and my friend Jeanie told me she was going on a hike to Multnomah Falls so we invited ourselves along. It was great fun seeing that amazing waterfall, walking –sometimes running--up the hill to the top of the falls, and looking down, meandering along the trail with the big cliff to our side.
So, this week, the second week to do a new, non-neon light adventure took us to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Sherwood, Oregon. I had read about this in The Oregonian sometime back and have been wanting to take my children.
As my friend Nancy Trumbo and I had talked about getting together this week it was a perfect time to suggest going to the Wildlife Refuge. Nancy had first suggested a local park near her Tualatin house but I wanted something different and she was thrilled to go with me.
Wow, amazing spot right by the City. We saw pelicans, bullfrogs, tree frogs, a creek, lots of birds, woods, and our kids walking along the path talking up a storm. It was just a mile walk on the path to the lookout area and we saw another group—a camp for kids- exploring the refuge.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Dale Ebel, founding pastor of Tualatin’s Rolling Hills Community Church, was returning to Oregon with his family in 1975 for graduate work at Portland’s Western Seminary when he sensed a call to start a church.
“We were driving on I-5, and right at Exit 290 – the Lake Oswego/Durham exit – it was like I heard God say to me, ‘You are going to start a church in this area,’¤” recalled Ebel, a native Oregonian and a West Linn resident since 1978.
After Ebel finished his Master of Divinity degree, four families, who were friends of the Ebels and had been commuting to church in Portland asked him to be their pastor.
When Ebel agreed, the families established Rolling Hills Community Church on Feb. 1, 1978, meeting in family homes.
Their first public service was Easter Sunday, 1978, when 120 people gathered in a bank building in Lake Oswego. Then they rented Lake Oswego’s Palisades Elementary School for six years, before moving in 1984 into their newly constructed Borland Road building on land found by Paul Sundstrom,a founding member.
“There were no other churches in the area, and we saw it was where we needed to be, and it started to grow,” Ebel said. “Now, there are so many other churches around there.”
Today, between 2,700 and 3,200 attend the two Sunday services.
Ebel, who stepped down last month from his role as senior pastor, recently reflected on why Rolling Hills grew so much.
“We are rooted in the reality that we are weak and God is strong. There’s something about that that resonates with people, that sense oftransparency, that we are all in process, and that brings authenticity,” Ebel said, adding that he also held fast to “teaching the word of God.”
Original member Cheryl Doerr believes the church’s multigenerational feel is appealing: “So many people are still here who have been here for 31 years. I think that stability is an attraction for young families.” Her son Aaron, is music pastor at Rolling Hills.
Though Ebel acknowledged you want to grow, for Him, “it’s never been about the numbers. I’ve always said, it’s about the people.”
Church member Deana Ruppel of Oregon City credited Ebel with what she called huge people skills. “He has a way of making people feel important,” she said.
And Paulette Jones, Ebel’s administrative assistant from 2005 until he stepped down, noted, “He’s been instrumental in marriages and raising kids. He has poured his life into people.”
In his three decades of service, Ebel has also made strong ties outside the church.
Jerry Nihill, principal at Tualatin’s Bridgeport Primary School, where Rolling Hills members help with various programs, said, “Rolling Hills has been a fantastic community partner with Bridgeport, making it a better place to be.”
Yet, in the midst of his devotion to ministry, Ebel has remained dedicated to his family.
Bill Towne, the church’s interim senior pastor since June 1, who has been on staff in various roles since 1983, said of Ebel, “He was an entrepreneur in starting this church, but he was not sacrificing his family to do so.”
RECEPTIONS JUNE 27-28:
Receptions honoring Dale Ebel’s 31 years of ministry at Rolling Hills Community Church will be held after church services scheduled for 4 p.m. June 27 and 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. June 28at the church, 3550 SW Borland Road, Tualatin
WHAT IS NEXT FOR DALE: Dale recently established the non-profit Dale Ebel Ministries. He plans on continuiing to mentor pastors, disciple others and teach as well as write a book. Reach him at www.daleebel.com
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
When she saw us waving at her past the security gates and we all started calling out her name, Rachel, Rachel, and Augustin was holding a tulip and a balloon and the twins and Ryan were holding a tulip each and several of her friends joined us at the airport and we had homemade Welcome Home signs and she started running towards us with her arms wide open. She had a backpack on and a smile as warm and bright as her large heart.
It was sweet to watch my SonnenscheinGirl interact with her adoring brothers. Augustin who is 6 just loves his older sister and Rachel told him they would go on a walk soon to Coffee Nook and it was neat to see each of her brothers share about a few details in their lives. School projects, church and school musicals and girls they liked. And in signature Rachel fashion, Rachel listened with sincerity.
She’s back with us all. My daughter dear. We all took turns hugging her and embracing her and I told her Coffee People was open after all this late- past 9 pm so we walked over and got coffee mocha milkshakes and talked and Rachel’s brothers surrounded her and took turns sharing with her as her friends asked her lots of questions and Rachie asked lots of questions and it was just a moment that I had been waiting for for so long. And now it was here.
After arriving home, the seven of us gathered in various rooms to talk to Rachel. We ended up in her room talking on her bed. We stayed up talking until 3:30 the next morning. It was neat being gathered in her bright cheery room as she unpacked a few items and talked and shared. She had a Milka Schokolade for Chris and me and Kinder Schokolade for her four brothers. We were finally back together as a family. Finally complete again.
P.S. I always try to credit the photographer: Thank you Brandon Porter for shooting the picture. I love Augustin's face in this one.
Monday, June 1, 2009
It is a warm, blue sky, sunshiny Thursday about 1 p.m., and Mauro Cettina is driving back from the Grocery Outlet in King City with 10 dozen eggs, a bunch of carrots and celery and other items for the potato salad he will be preparing for tonight’s Transitional Youth meal. He plans on cooking for about 100 youth, but the numbers vary each time.
“Tony Slyter, the Grocery Outlet owner, donated these items,” Mauro shares.
Mauro decided to make potato salad for dinner for the kids because potatoes are what he had the most of.
“I was walking around downstairs in the church and I saw the 100 pounds of potatoes that Tony had donated a while back,” Mauro explains. “I thought I’d make potato salad and serve it with hot dogs. It’s a nice picnic kind of summery food for the day.”
“I try to make homemade stuff. This isn’t Sisco potato salad. It has pickles, celery, eggs,” Mauro, the church’s facilities manager, a former professional chef, explains. “I am always getting the word out to every ministry in the church that I need food for Transitional Youth nights. Like if we have a ton of ham left over from an event, I will freeze it and use if for another event, but you cannot keep ham that long, and I will ask the ministry if I can use it for Transitional Youth. It is a great way to not waste food. I can pretty much make something nice out of anything.”
Recently, after the high school ministry’s All-Church Old-Fashioned Spaghetti Feed for Missions that I organized, Mauro used the left over sauce that he had made for that event for a Transitional Youth meal night.
“Tony had donated stew meat and I braised it with onions, chicken broth, garlic and simmered it for a while, then added it to the spaghetti sauce and put it over pasta. The kids just loved it.”
Mauro has been using his culinary gift on Mondays and Thursdays for Transitional Youth for about six months. Sometimes he is just there while another group has prepared the meal.
He loves getting to know the youth.
“You focus on the kids that you have a little bit of rapport with. The thing that I have to remember is it is not about me. Sometimes I don’t get any response, not even a thank you, but that’s okay. You’re not doing it for that. It is easy to compare with our kids, how we’ve taught them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for everything. But at Transitional Youth, sometimes it’s just, ‘Where’s the mayonnaise, where’s the mustard?’”
At 3:30 that Thursday, the potato salad is completed. A 100 to 110 pound potato salad.
“Linda Saxton and I cleaned them and pealed them yesterday, and today we sliced them and put together the salad. I have a lot of people helping me,” Mauro notes.
He has to be at the First Baptist Church in downtown Portland, where Transitional Youth now meets, by 4:30 to start the set up for the youth who will start arriving between 5:30 and 6 p.m.
“It’s neat knowing that the kids get a home-cooked meal. And just seeing the volunteers who feel called to serve the kids. The humility behind that. No one says thank you. We don’t expect it. I love to see the community of servants gathered.”