|Eastern Oregon, near Pendleton.|
For someone who lives in East Africa and has made multiple trips to various points along the East Coast of the United States, I hadn't actually traveled very far east in my own home state of Oregon. Until this weekend.
My parents and I just finished a four-day road trip of 1000+ miles over to Oxbow, Oregon, a small unincorporated town right on the Snake River and the border with Idaho.
How God connected me to Oxbow is a cool story. Jodie, who also grew up in Clatskanie, and with whom I was acquainted in my growing up years, reconnected with me on Facebook a couple of years ago. She became interested in the ministry in Uganda and presented information to her church, Oxbow Christian Fellowship. This year, this tiny church began supporting me on a monthly basis.
I was mystified, but also incredibly blessed to be taken up by this congregation, none of whom knew me, except Jodie, whom I had not seen in quite awhile. Immense gratitude and admittedly curiosity motivated me to visit Oxbow to meet this amazing group of generous Christians.
|The Wallowa Mountains stand guard over an eastern Oregon valley.|
Driving the nearly 450 miles from Clatskanie to Oxbow allowed us to take in the incredible fall foliage of eye-popping reds and yellows, and the varied scenery of Oregon - from evergreen tree-encrusted hills to tall sheer rock walls, to snow-dusted mountains and rolling farms, to riverside towns, and communities nestled in barren hills. We were awed at God's creation, showcased in our beautiful state. This trip confirmed again to me how beautiful Oregon really is and how it is displayed in the state's amazing contrasts. (I admit, I am biased, but non-Oregonians also say it is a beautiful state.)
|Can you see the towering canyon wall reflected in the river below?|
Jodie and her family graciously allowed us to stay in their comfortable vacation home, near the small, but rushing Pine Creek and situated in a canyon, with towering hills behind and in front of us. Oxbow, just a mile away, is primarily populated by employees of Idaho Power and their families. Idaho Power owns a several dams on the Snake, including the two closest to Oxbow - Hell's Canyon and Oxbow dams.
The Howard family loves to explore and a 45-minute Saturday jaunt took us to nearby Hell's Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America at nearly 2.5 miles deep. Again, we were awed at the rugged beauty, and the canyon's immensity spoke to me of God's unmatched power. Only He could carve rock walls miles high into a beautiful river gorge.
|Hell's Canyon - more beautiful than its name suggests.|
|Dad and Mom in front of the canyon.|
|Hell's Canyon Dam|
Later, we went off the beaten path to the ghost town of Cornucopia, an old mining town, which was a happening place in the late 1800s. At one time, Cornucopia had one of the six largest mines in the U.S., and it is believed there are still rich deposits of gold and silver and other minerals in the hills and mountains, waiting to be discovered. Anyone want to go mining? :)
|An old building in Cornucopia.|
|The Cornucopia Jail.|
Because of the warm welcome of the Oxbow people and the folks at the church, we immediately felt at home and the sharing on Sunday was made easier as I felt like I was speaking to a group I already knew, and thus was put at ease.
|Me with Pastor Bill, wife Shelly, and little Nathaniel.|
|Oxbow Christian Fellowship|
|Looking over to Idaho. (Still amazing at the bigness of those rock walls.)|
How God connects His people - those in a small, hidden town in Oregon to others on nearly forgotten islands in Lake Victoria - only He really knows and I still can't wrap my head around it. But, just as His incredible creation marveled us this weekend, His weaving of lives and stories to accomplish His greater purposes, puts me in awed reverence at His wonderful love and grace.
We serve a God who takes our breath away.
|The stunning fall foliage.|