Great time with Jay and his band of volunteers from Grace Place yesterday. Despite the threat of cold and rainy weather, over us was it just beautiful. Got some new plants in, raked up fallen leaves and generally spruced up the place. Early this morning before dawn, I had a blessed quiet time with the Lord on and around the island while enjoying the beautify of this place and his presence.
What a wonderful day we had again on Prayer Island. Jay and his group of wonderful ladies and men spent hours raking, planting (even one handed), and even risking their lives on the high seas (Lake Elijah) to pull up some overgrown cattails. Though not up to it's former glory (grass is not doing too well and some plants have been lost or trimmed down), it is coming back and now has some fresh new color as we get ready for Easter Sunrise service. The area around the cross has been redone. New grass and new benches now surround the center of the island and what represents the center of our new life in Christ. The older benches had rotted and were dangerous to sit on but the new ones will last a lifetime. For those that donated the former benches, I plan to have the plaques that didn't fare so well also replaced and a new memorial sculpture made to attach all of them and even more as needed.
Check out the updated photos.
This past Saturday, Jay brought some familiar and some new folks from Christ Fellowship Singles group to work and give in service to the God of the garden. And work they did. By the time I got there, they were already hard at it raking the fall leaves and hauling off debris left over from the quite needed but severe trimming that the Dunklin landscaping crew had begun already last week. While I was initially shocked at the changes, I accepted that this temporary pruning was for the ultimate health of the garden. I began to see that there was a greater lesson in this for us as well. Routine weeding and feeding are required to have a beautiful garden, but once in a while, perhaps just before the change in seasons, trees and shrubs have to be cut back in order to prepare for even a greater growth in due time. The old and dead growth is removed so as to let the sunlight in to nourish the soil and the plants living below the trees. It is no different in our own lives. What we often see as painful and of no sense, may be a situation loving applied to us so as to remove the dead and unproductive areas in our heart or spirit, making room for God to then grow us and shape our character to more faithfully reflect that of the Lord.
Before they left, plans were already being made for their next Prayer Island Workday. What a blessing. Thanks to all!
Yesterday, we were blessed again with a group from Christ Fellowship that gave of their Saturday to come out to Dunklin and work hard on Prayer Island to spruce it up for the upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration. We have new flowers in baskets and planted in the ground to add to the beauty of the garden. Another gabezo with table and chairs is now added to the southeast patio area and will be utilized by many a man for his journaling time, or families for time of healing and fellowship. Bernard is doing a wonderful job in keeping up with the garden and we are blessed to have him oversee the garden on a daily basis. Looking forward to the Homecoming!
If you missed it, you really missed it. What a glorious day was Easter this year. It was a cool and clear morning that put to rest a beautiful full moon from the night before and greeted the rising sun in all its blazing glory. The birds and the cows joined in with our voices of praise as we sang Amazing Grace. More than 160 people rose up early to join together on Prayer Island and celebrate with communion our risen savior Jesus Christ. It was an anointed message by pastor Terrell that reminded us of the price that was paid for our sins and the love of a God that made the way for a restored relationship with him. If you missed it, check out the recorded service and I hope you can make it next year, if the Lord doesn't come first.
What another great time and blessing to be with all that came out from Christ Fellowship on Saturday. I prayed that God would meet us there and make this experience one that went beyond any just feel good about helping, to one where he as the master gardener would also cultivate the fields of our hearts, removing that which hinders us, creating within us a fertile place that brings forth more fruit in our lives. We were gifted with a beautiful day and after all the planting was done, at the end of the day, God sent the rain to water them all in. What an amazing and loving God we serve, on Prayer Island and every where we go!
Wow how time flies! This coming Saturday, the CF Singles group will return again for a workday on Prayer Island as we prepare the garden to celebrate and worship our risen savior on Easter Sunday. My friend Dick Smith generously donated more plants to be placed in areas that need something and I can't wait until Saturday to get my hands in the dirt and again fellowship with such a beautiful and dedicated group who come out to serve the Lord in this place.
Yesterday we were blessed again to have many from Christ Fellowship Singles group join us for a workday on Prayer Island. What a great time we had working together and the the gardens are looking wonderful, graced by the love of those who gave up their free time on a Saturday to come pull weeds, salvage tree limbs from the lake, plant new plants, rake leaves and spread mulch. It is always such a blessing to have this group come and minister in God's garden and prepare it for Dunklin's Homecoming celebrations.
Over the last few weeks we have had hundreds of fish die from what we suspect is a combination of low water table, high temperatures, low oxygen levels and overcrowding. We are working on a plan to put in a large amount of marginal water plants to help stabilize the oxygen and nutrient balance in the lake but this will take some months. In the meantime, it is disheartening to see such loss of life from the lake.
Author Dean Evans
Growing up at Dunklin, I was there before there was a lake Elijah or Prayer Island. Over the years, I've seen many transformations but none so drastic or exciting as the current one. I am so grateful to have been a part of this project. Just the experience was healing for me and I know will be a place of healing for many others and making it all worthwhile.