Summer is a busy and exciting time for us on the Olympic Peninsula. While the Lower Elwha Reservation isn’t set up to host long-term volunteer groups, most opportunities to volunteer are held on weekends for one or two full-day work details. During the summer when the Tribal Canoe Journeys are going on, we are in need of many volunteers. They come from the surrounding community and can return to their homes when they are finished. Others schedule their vacations around the Canoe Journeys. This year, Lower Elwha hosted two days and nights as the canoes made their way toward the final destination, which this year was in Tahohla, the Quinault Nation. On the first night we fed about 1,500 people and about the same number on the second night, plus breakfast one morning.
This year we had more than 100 volunteers, both Native and non-Native total. About 30 were young people from our local college, including exchange students.
We love recruiting volunteers to serve at Lower Elwha during this time. The tribe appreciates the selflessness and sincere spirit of humility that the volunteers bring with them. They have such compassion in their hearts for the Natives. They work long hours serving and building relationships with the people of Elwha and other tribes that are present.
One teenaged girl from Port Angeles said, “This is so much fun, and the best part was serving the elders.” A woman who served dinners said, “I was so surprised at how polite everyone was, most everyone said ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ or ‘God bless you’!”
One of our Native people from Elwha explained, “Words can’t express how much we appreciate all the volunteers that came down here to work side by side with us. We couldn’t do this without them.”
Marie, who attends our home group at Lower Elwha and is a member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, learned there was a flood on her reserve. More than 500 people, including several of her relatives, were left homeless and lost everything. She wanted to help them but didn’t have the means. Prayer went out and funds started to come in. While at Makah Lutheran Church for Sunday worship, one of their own volunteers heard me pray for that nation, and he felt the Lord wanted him to help. Marie was then able to purchase a bus ticket and leave with a huge box of new socks, towels, underwear and blankets.
In August we held our school supplies give-away. July is the month that our Hope House collects school supplies for families of children. One of the churches chose our ministry as their missions project for vacation Bible school (VBS) and collected a huge amount of supplies. This was a great help to our people!
God continues to bless the Hope House and it continues to increase and grow. God has also blessed us with a dependable vehicle that enables us to deliver larger amounts of food to the reservations farther away. This is a tremendous burden lifted since it is so much more spacious and dependable.