Greetings and Welcome!

My goal is to share encouragement, grace, and hope from God’s Word, and to brighten your day. Mission trips abroad have enlarged my heart and reminded me once again that regardless of our skin color or location we all need a savior, and His name is Jesus. I pray that my articles will lift your spirits and point you to the One who loves you most.

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This Month's Message

Visions of Paradise
By Fran Caffey Sandin

Young, enthusiastic, and adventurous America! Imagine your family in 1852. They sold everything they owned, and raised the $1200-$1500 necessary to join a wagon train departing from Independence, Missouri, headed for the Oregon Territory. Why? In 1850 the U.S. Congress had passed the Donation Land Act, offering 160 acres of free Oregon land to settlers and another 160 acres to their wives. With visions of paradise--towering trees, rich soil, and unlimited opportunity-- hundreds of pioneers rushed to stake their claims before the law expired in 1854.

So you joined 100 covered wagons, made by Studebaker, and began the 2000-mile journey. The necessary provisions besides a strong wagon included 4-6 oxen to pull it, basic foodstuffs, two sets of clothing, tent and bedding, tools, candles, matches, pots, pans, cups, butter churn, milk cow, chickens, shotgun, rifle, axle grease, and other miscellaneous items. With the wagon loaded, everyone walked. One of the children was assigned the task of keeping track of the miles traveled per day by counting the number of times the wagon wheel turned. Since they knew the rotations in one mile, they could keep track. Ten miles was a good day of travel. At night they slept outside using a bedroll or under the wagon if it rained. After 1100 miles, they stopped for a few days so the blacksmith could re-shoe the oxen. For five cents you could line up and take a warm bath in a big tub, behind a hanging sheet for privacy. Whoever was first in line had the warmest and cleanest bath because they all used the same bath water. The journey was fraught with peril. Eighteen percent of those who began the journey died due to disease-- mainly cholera--accidents, Indian attacks, and other causes. My husband, Jim, and I recently visited the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, Idaho, and learned a great deal of history as the center was built on the location of an authentic trail stop.

As I pondered the pioneers’ expedition it reminded me of our journey on earth. It is not always easy. We don’t travel like they did because we now have cars, busses, trains, and planes. Thankfully, we have modern conveniences and various modes of communication. However, we still struggle with natural disasters, various diseases, and detrimental cultural and immoral influences. We can make good choices, but some problems are out of our control. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33 NIV).

The Holy Bible is our written guide on life’s journey, and a relationship with Jesus is the way to our promised land. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Corinthians 2: 9 NIV).

While the pioneer visualized utopia at the end of his sojourn, we who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior know we will someday see paradise, heaven on earth. And joy begins now. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10: 10 ESV).

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26). Our adventure through life may sometimes be rough but we do not travel alone. God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us, and that is a comforting thought.

Dear Heavenly Father, we admire the courage and spunk of the early settlers who made a dangerous and challenging decision to leave their comfort zone and explore a new land. May many who are searching for direction in life today find You as their guide. For the real Promised Land is in knowing You. In Jesus’ name, A-men