Do you know what additional living expenses cover? This video explains the highlights.
By Lorie Lewis Ham
The Halloween season is upon us once again. Many people love the scary side of the holiday, but some prefer a gentler, happier version. A lot of churches provide an alternative for kids with some sort of festival where they still get to dress up, but with no scary costumes or events allowed. Instead of vampires and werewolves, you have princesses and bunnies. More pretty lights, instead of dark and scary decorations.
Many Mennonite Brethren Churches have gone all out with these lighter events, seeing it also as an opportunity to reach out to the community. The Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church has been a part of a large event since 1998. Not only are these events a lighter more carnival type atmosphere, but they also provide a safer alternative to families than going house to house trick or treating.
The Reedley MB carnival started out as a joint venture with the First Baptist Church in town. They call their event the Fall Family Fun Night. “Initially it was intended to be an event teaming up with other Reedley churches,” states Mike Schellenberg, Pastor of Discipleship & Outreach at the Reedley MB. “Over the years it has become more of an RMBC event as other churches have started up their own church events.”
Mike says that they realized Halloween could be a very dark, scary, and unsafe evening for the community and they wanted to bring the Light of Jesus to a very dark day for their city, especially the neighbors right around the church. “We have hundreds attend from the community and RMBC. We try really hard to keep it affordable and fun. All the games and inflatables are free! The only items that cost are food.”
The church members volunteer to serve in the booths, make food, etc. and they collect candy from the church members during the month of October. Everyone who participates in the games gets free candy, win or lose. Through the years, the food available has included pizza, tri tip sandwiches, fajita burrito, Frito boats, nachos, cotton candy, kettle corn, and pumpkin pie.
Each year they also have a live band that plays all styles of Christian music. “Last year we were blessed to have the Cruising for Jesus band and many of their beautiful cars,” continued Mike.
“We also want to be intentional about sharing the love of Jesus. We have a designated group from RMBC that walks around handing out Bibles and offering to pray for anyone that would like it. We have a prayer booth and a special kids booth with a children’s interactive kids story that leads to the plan of salvation. We have kids every year pray to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Over the years, God has used the event to build relationships with individuals from the community and break down walls.”
As for what they may be doing this year, Mike says they have been talking to the city and other churches trying to sort that out. “Whatever we do it will definitely look different this year. Some of the ideas we are discussing are taking the FFFN downtown to the park, or merchants on G Street, or partnering up with Cruising for Jesus at their outdoor location on Dinuba Ave. But nothing has been decided yet.”
If you are among those who prefer your Halloween to be something gentler and lighter, most towns do have other options available. To learn what might be going on in your town this year, be sure to check in with your city and local churches. Even if your Halloween means dressing up and staying home this year, hopefully, next year things will be back to normal.
We would love to see your photos of what churches in your area do for Halloween. Be sure to share with us on our Facebook Page.
By Lorie Lewis Ham
Who doesn’t love pumpkins and apples? With fall upon us, it is a time of year when people probably think more about them than any other time. Whether it is pumpkin pies and pumpkin spiced lattes, carving a pumpkin for Halloween, caramel apples, or apple pies for the holidays. However, why not try something different this fall. If you do a search online, you can find all sorts of ideas!
The Smart Money Mama’s website has 12 different ideas for apples including pies, peanut butter apple slices, a chicken Waldorf salad (with apples), apple butter and much more! The Sustainable Food Trust has even more ideas, such as drying or pureeing them, pickling, juicing and baking them. Kitchn has 35 different recipes involving apples that you can try out this fall. You can even do crafts with apples! Red Ted Art has 27 craft ideas using apples.
Now on to pumpkins—it just isn’t fall without pumpkin pies and pumpkin spiced lattes! Country Living Magazine has a list of 60+ recipes to make with pumpkins, including pumpkin soups, pastas, cheesecake, scones, pies, pancakes and so much more. On Christina Cucina’s website, you can learn how to cook a whole pumpkin whether you want to cook, roast, or bake it. If you are looking for pumpkin crafts, The Pioneer Woman has a list of 25 pumpkin crafts to get your home ready for fall.
If you are like me, and one of your favorite things in the fall is a pumpkin spiced latte, you don’t need to drive through Starbucks to get one. You can find many recipes online to make your own, which is cheaper, and you don’t have to deal with the drive through line.
I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready for fall and I can’t wait to try out all of these fun and delicious ideas with pumpkins and apples! We would love to see your photos and recipes of what you do with apples and pumpkins this fall. Be sure to share with us on our Facebook Page.
Do you know what renters insurance covers? This video explains the highlights.
By Lorie Ham
This has been a difficult year not only because of the fear of getting COVID-19, but the isolation has been very difficult for some as well. Many have been lucky enough to be isolated with family members, and some are now back at work so may interact with people there, however, for a large number of the elderly it has been especially hard, whether they live on their own or in a retirement community.
My mother in law has a third-floor apartment in a retirement community and until very recently hasn’t been able to leave that apartment since the first lockdown–now they are allowing short, scheduled outside visits. Her physical needs have been attended to and she has her dog, but it has been hard for her. Not being internet savvy, she hasn’t been able to take advantage of video calls, but she has at least been able to talk on the phone. My mother is in another retirement community but her apartment is on the ground floor so we have been able to chat with her outside with sufficient distance and masks after the initial full lockdown was lifted, as well as doing video calls.
Mennonite Aid Insurance Manager Jerry Linscheid has been trying to do what he can for his father who also resides in a retirement community. His father had just lost his wife in November so hadn’t really adjusted yet to being alone when Covid hit. “This has been a big change on top of a big change. The rules in place are designed to keep COVID at bay, but that translates into little or no contact with people. It seems really tragic that when people need visits and hugs, that is not possible now and may not be for months to come.”
For his father, not being one who has embraced technology either, most contact has been through phone calls—Jerry calls him every day. The only times his father has left the building have been to visit the doctor. However, he does get exercise by walking the hallways and the stairs of the 3-story building with a mask on, at times when he feels he is least likely to run into anyone.
Retirement communities are doing all they can to help the people who live there. Caitlin Gipson, Marketing Consultant at Sierra View Homes in Reedley, CA, shared some of the things they are doing to combat loneliness in their residents. More info can be found on their website.
- Daily check-in chats with apartment residents when delivering meals
- Visits from our Chaplain for prayer/connection
- Hallway exercise classes
- Individual enrichment activities: adult coloring, word searches, crosswords, writing, drawing, painting
- Playing games with our residents (dominoes, tic-tac-toe, hangman, chess, checkers)
- Walks to enjoy the sunshine
- Zoom/Facetime with families
- Zoom/Facetime visits with doctors (whenever necessary)
- Picking flowers
- Custom music headsets as part of our Music Project
- Interactions with pets
Palm Village Executive Director Jim Higbee shared that they are doing many of the same things for their residents. Palm Village is also located in Reedley. “Our Activities team and Social Services team have really been amazing through all of this. They have assisted residents with Zoom calls, Facetime/Duo calls, celebrating birthdays in an extra special way, morning wheel chair strolls around the campus, physically distanced small group activities and most importantly, daily interaction, conversation, and reassurance.”
Residents can leave their rooms to see other residents and are encouraged to wear masks when leaving their rooms. They have also been having virtual religious services streamed through their closed circuit channel. At the very end of June, there was guidance from the state health department regarding resuming visitation with strict guidelines. “We began having outdoor visits in early July under the new guidelines.”
While this isolation has impacted the mental health and well-being of Palm Village residents, Higbee feels they have fared much better overall than they initially feared. “Especially as this has gone on much longer than anyone initially anticipated. Our residents have done quite well and all the credit goes to our staff.”
Higbee stated that they are also appreciative of all the support and understanding they have received from families and residents, as well as the larger community. “Without all of the prayers and support, we would not be doing as well as we are.”
Many seniors and others who live on their own don’t have this type of support available to them, but there are ways for them to cope with the isolation. They too can take advantage of video calls or phone calls to family and friends. There are also places that have free or discounted food delivery services for those who can’t drive to the grocery store and can’t afford regular delivery costs. Some internet companies are providing discounted internet during this time. You can find other tips on how to survive the isolation by searching online. If you have a family member or friend in this situation, consider calling them more often and doing video calls where possible. If we work together, we can survive this difficult time.
By Lorie Lewis Ham
Labor Day is nearly upon us again and for many that means a three-day weekend. One way that people often celebrate on Labor Day is with some of their favorite foods. While there aren’t any specific foods associated with this holiday, like there are with Thanksgiving and Christmas, many families still have their own favorites.
“I can remember going to my grandma’s and she would have BBQ teriyaki beef skewers, potato salad, and for dessert she would make chocolate cake with a white vanilla frosting,” shares Marsha Okada, Underwriter for Mennonite Aid Plan / Mennonite Insurance Services.
“My favorite Labor Day food is just basic hamburgers, watermelon, and corn on the cob,” says another Mennonite Aid employee Dalia Jimenez.
Regional Sales Manager Vic Alemania also prefers BBQ for the holiday, and for summer in general. His favorite being BBQ brisket or pulled pork. (You can learn more about his love of BBQing in last month’s article).
Staff member Michelle Heinrichs’ family enjoys BBQ as well, but also has another unique favorite. “They really love when I do a simple BBQ beef sandwich meal with the Shredded Potato Casserole. What is the easiest part of my BBQ beef or pork ribs are they are dumped into a crockpot and are ready to enjoy later. But their absolute favorite that we do when family and friends come over is Taco Ring.”
This time of year, BBQ seems to be a very popular choice for many people. You can find a multitude of BBQ recipes online simply by doing a Google search. AllRecipes.com has a multitude of recipes to try out for your holiday or summer BBQing! Does your family have a favorite?