Making Jesus Happy

by Kathy Marson

Earl joined the walking group in April and is now walking quite well and hardly needs his cane.
The joy that Fran has in watching her garden grow is contagious.
One of the 4x4 gardens with 16 varieties of vegetables. 
Merlene Olmsted with the garden boxes just before delivery.
Mark was so appreciative of receiving his garden that healthy changes are in process.

Airway Heights, Wash., July 17, 2014  -  Merlene Olmsted and Carol Matlock were invited to the Spokane County Christian Summit in April of this year. Sherriff Ozzie Knezovich, and leaders from a variety of churches met together to challenge the faith community, asking what they could do to make Jesus happy, what things are going on that make Him sad, and what we can do about it.

Walking with Seniors
The two decided they wanted to do something about the quality of life for seniors so they went to the senior meetings luncheon. They learned that there is no senior center in Airway Heights and there was nothing to do. A group wanted to walk together but had no leader so Merlene and Carol stepped in.

Through the Parks and Recreation department they began a walking group. They walk three times a week choosing nearby streets to walk on.

When Earl, in his eighties, came on his first walk, he shuffled with a cane. Carol was worried about him as he walked down the hill so she helped him. Now after a few weeks of walking, he can walk two miles and no longer shuffles. He says his legs don’t hurt now, an unexpected perk!

Two weeks ago, Mary starting walking. In her mid-50s, she was out of shape, shook quite a bit, and could only walk three blocks slowly. Last week she walked three quarters of a mile and is very pleased with her progress. Merlene and Carol find great joy in their walking group.

Growing Gardens
Merlene was involved in cleaning up a community garden where there are 11 plots for the community. She had an idea that people who could not get to the community garden or who don’t know much about gardening, might like a 4x4 garden box and assistance with planting.

She researched 4x4 gardens and applied for a grant. She produced a pamphlet that described the free gardens. The criteria was that it had to be for low income, they needed to have space with enough sunlight and it was for families who had children or elderly folks in their home.

Church members from the West Plains Adventist Church got together to mix the soils in a cement mixer, bagged it up and built the boxes. On the first of June they delivered eight gardens to the people.

“Giving out the brochures to people was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” said Merlene. “When people learned we just wanted to help them make gardens, it opened up the floodgates. People asked questions and it was just a delightful experience."

With produce coming on, Merlene plans to hold a meal, using the same vegetables they are growing in their gardens. They gave each new gardener 16 kinds of vegetables. She plans to prepare some tasty recipes at a meal at the local fire station.

When two ladies set out to make Jesus happy, they certainly made both Jesus and their neighbors happy. Galatians 5:14 tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves.