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Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church!
      In a fearful world, there is still a Fearless Church!

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What We Do…

Kingdom First

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Unleash Compassion

“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10

Build Community

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” Ps 126:2
Weekly Blog

Christmas Caroling Etiquette

One of the things most people like about the holiday season is the music. And what better way to share it than by going door to door with a group of friends and singing your heart out. Just remember to bring your manners with you. Not doing so can ruin the holiday for others.

Know the Words

If possible, practice before singing for others before going caroling with a group. For anyone who doesn’t know the words, provide printed lyrics. It’s never a good idea to fake it because your audience will get the wrong message and possibly think you are making fun of something they hold dear to their hearts.

Dress Appropriately

Make sure you wear something that is appropriate for the weather, your audience, and your fellow carolers. You may choose to go in costume, but it’s a good idea if your entire group goes along with it. Otherwise, you will stick out and call undue attention to yourself. It’s fun to see carolers dressed in Victorian era outfits that set the mood yet show respect for what they are doing.

Be Safe

If you are caroling at night, bring flashlights. Avoid candles with real flames because they can ignite someone’s hair, mittens, or sleeves. Wear reflective clothing and try to use sidewalks when they are available. Use the buddy system to make sure everyone is accounted for.

Be observant of time and avoid going during mealtimes or after most people go to bed. You are much more likely to be greeted with smiles if your audience is relaxed and not stressed about dinner getting cold.

Some people won’t want to listen to your caroling, even if you do sound better than Bing Crosby. If someone asks you to leave or refuses to stick around, accept it and move on. There are plenty of other people who will enjoy the holiday cheer.


No one wants to listen to a grumpy caroler. If you look happy, you’ll accomplish your mission of bringing joy to others, even if your music isn’t perfect and hit a few sour notes.

Bring Cheer to the Infirm

Take your group to the local hospital and sing to sick children. Or stop by the local nursing home where grandmas and grandpas will be able to sing along because most of them probably know the words. Before going to any hospital or health care facility, get permission from the administration.

Be Thankful

When someone takes the time to listen to your song, offers a treat, or contributes to your charity, thank him afterward. The person is doing out of the kindness of his or her heart.

Don’t Expect a Reward or Donation

Singing Christmas carols should be an act of goodwill. Never expect anything in return. After all, you’re there to spread goodwill, not beg.

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

Sing a couple of songs and then move on. Otherwise, the audience may get fidgety and annoyed.

Don’t Stay Out Late

Most communities and cities have noise ordinances. Learn what they are and obey them. You don’t want your good intentions of spreading Christmas cheer to get you into trouble with the law.

Be Welcoming

If a group comes to your door singing Christmas carols, and you aren’t busy, take some time to listen to them. Call for your children to join you and use it as a teaching opportunity to show them how nice others can be.

Give Carolers Some Applause

Applaud the carolers after they finish singing and offer something small. Even passing around a bag of store-bought cookies is a nice gesture. If for some reason you’re not able to listen to the carolers, wish them a Merry Christmas and be kind. Perhaps you can invite them to return later, after dinner or when you have a few minutes to spare.

If You Must Decline, Do So Politely

If you are against Christmas carols for any reason, be kind and politely decline before closing your door. You don’t have to state your reason unless you want to. If you do, keep your comments appropriate for the season and never insult the carolers.

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Surprised by Christmas

Christmas is yet another invitation to see life differently. To be surprised by a new, unpredictable plot twist, to see the world from a cosmic perspective and be elevated beyond the daily rush and grind, to the level of an archangel. What a rare privilege indeed! As Christians we need to be reminded that there’s more happening, a lot more, behind the obvious and the expected. After all…

A traveling rabbi may be more than just a rabbi.

An unexpected pregnancy may be more than just an inconvenience or embarrassment.

Maybe your job, boring though it is, will meet with the Creator of the universe today.

Maybe that annoying, homeless wackjob on the corner wearing goatskins really does have something rather profound to say to us.

Maybe those wandering immigrants, either from South America or the Far East, know far more about God’s plan than we do.

The Christmas story is a strange one to be sure, and certainly not one we would have created. For those who lived it, it obviously really didn’t make sense at all. Which is exactly why it can give you hope when your story doesn’t make sense either. Maybe when we understand their story a bit better, we’ll understand ours.

This year I invite you to see Christmas with different eyes…with Fresh Eyes. Because how you see Christmas, changes how you’ll see everything else.

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Steve Gedon


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Charles Rich III

Charles Rich III, [1966 – 2012]

The events of the last several days have rocked our world and changed our lives. No one here will ever be the same nor should we pretend that we ever can.  Life has a strange way of reminding us what deep down inside we already know to be true but often forget. When we open ourselves to others, when we let them into our lives and give them a place at the table of our heart, we should expect their parting to cause pain and tears. Grief is the price we pay for having someone to love.

When their parting is premature and unexpected, the pain is all that more intense and we feel like we’ve been thrown into another world we are not prepared for. Grief is a reminder that we are not in charge after all. Yet we must somehow find our way through The Valley in which we find ourselves. I have looked for answers this week and found few. I’ve tried to find the right words and came up empty time and time again. So when I don’t really know what to say, I write something down hoping that in all this there is a nugget of truth and a bit of comfort.

There’s a lot I remember about Chip, about their trips to Pennsylvania from Colorado for Grange Fair, about dressing in kilts for a wedding, a reception at the Brown Palace Hotel, Stuckey’s restaurants, George (the dog), park ranger, and so many other bits and pieces that make up the mosaic in my mind. But it’s really what Chip left in my heart that continues to roll around today. In my opinion, Chip was the best of us all and brought out the best in us all. He possessed a unique, optimistic, energetic spirit that was always so gentle and inviting he bridged the gap the miles created.  He made friends everywhere he went and I can’t imagine him without a smile, a twinkle in his eye or the gentle word on his tongue.

Chip didn’t have character to offending anyone, it just wasn’t his nature to be demeaning or demanding. Although I suspect as a prosecuting attorney there may be one or two who will take exception to that. We lived apart for most of our lives, yet whenever he was in town or our paths crossed at a wedding or a funeral, we could pick up just like it was yesterday. He was never pretentious, pompous, arrogant or rude. He epitomized the gentleness, grace and authenticity we all needed in a friend and we longed for in our own lives. With Chip, there was no hidden agenda or hypocrisy, he was genuine. I know that there are still many questions that remain unanswered but today I also feel there are many things about Chip I want and need to celebrate.

So if you will bear with me, let me begin…

  1. I want and need to thank God that Chip was part of my life at all. They say you don’t get to pick your family, so I’m grateful God picked Chip to be a part of mine. I suppose he could have been in many other families, but he was in mine.
  2. I thank you God that Chip brought love and untold adventures to my Aunt Jan and Uncle Chuck and especially for being a big brother to Mike and Jen. The adventures they shared together are beyond my ability to tell, but part of me is a tad envious.
  3. I thank God that Chip saw the best in us all, held no grudges and somehow made us all better people just by being there.
  4. I thank God that I am who I am today because of the bit of Chip that continues to bear fruit in my life.
  5. I thank God he lived with integrity, faith and love. Never forget that!
  6. I thank God that Chip had such a gentle, compassionate spirit who felt our pains deeper than perhaps we knew and who seemed to walk in when others were walking out.
  7. I thank God that Chip gave me my first cousin-in-law, Deb.
  8. I thank God that Chip was an amazing father to Kate and Ellie. I particularly remember him dancing with them at Mike and Jen’s wedding. He radiated love in his smile, his embrace and his actions.
  9. I thank God that in a world marred by arrogance, privilege and pain, Chip lived a different, better way. I will always remember that.
  • I thank you God that you are God and not me. Just as You gave Chip to us as a gift we treasured and loved, we now return your child back to you. We trust his soul to your care, until the time we will join him.

Since you’ve gotten this far, there are three favors I would like to ask of you…


  1. Please don’t ask “Why?”


As a personal favor I beg you don’t demean or even trivialize Chip life by thinking you can in any way understand the depth of his spirit. We don’t. We can’t. No one does. We cannot reduce anyone’s life, the sum of their relationship, experiences, fears, and joys to a nice neat little package that we can look at and comprehend. This is an eternal question that God does not answer for a very good reason.

In the Book of Job, Job suffers horribly but does not curse God as he is encouraged to do. Instead Job struggles to understand and wants to ask God ‘why’ these things are happening to him. “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul,” [Job 3:20] But God never answers Job’s questions because what we need is bigger than the answer, we need hope. The answer Job receives is a personal encounter with God’s majesty, grandeur and power. If you look for answers you may find them, but they will be cheap substitutes and come at the price of hope. 

The ‘why’ questions will tear your soul apart and leave you bitter, angry and with a dim, skewed memory of the joy we were given in Chip. The depth of a person’s soul, their struggles, their dreams, and even their life belongs to God alone and as my family is fond of reminding me, I’m not God and neither are you. My soul and yours is beyond the limits of my understanding. You might as well ask why the universe exists.  It is, therefore, to God, the infinite, incomprehensible, pure radiant light, purity of Love and Purpose that we must yield the unknowable and the unanswerable questions that press on our hearts.

Chip was always a deep well of emotion and feeling for which we are grateful. I saw the face of God reflected in his eyes, expressed in his optimism and the tenderness with which he cared for his family. I will not, therefore, tolerate having that memory diminished with an endless string of pointless questions that lead nowhere. Every life must take its own path, perhaps not the one we would prefer, but a path marked by pain and joy, mistakes and wisdom, redemption and faith.

Instead I believe the most important question we should now be asking each other is “What now?” In his book, The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck begins with a statement he says is the beginning of all good mental health, “Life is difficult.” Reject this basic truth, he says and you’re sure to find yourself on the road to depression, disillusionment and despair. We are vulnerable people, we are all getting older, we’re all showing the miles and we all have grief we’re trying to deal with. What we should be asking is ‘what now’? How can we love one another better, deeper, with more honesty? How can we get past the superficial pleasantries, the games and posturing and embrace one another because of our shared need? The events of the last week have become a megaphone for the pain we all carry around beneath this veil of skin. But though we hear it, will we listen?


  1. Please don’t dwell on “What if?”

“What if…” — I had been there, done that, seen that, said that? What if I had been there. What if I had been a better friend, cousin, co-worker… Again, these questions are endless, destructive and meaningless questions that consume our energy but never have answers. They are however, like a rocking chair when confronting grief. They take up a lot of energy and give you something to do, but they never really get you anywhere. What they really do is reinforce the notion that someone is to blame and that someone may just be you.

This grief is the worst! Not only is our loved one gone, but perhaps we’re partly to blame. How many people carry around a crushing weight of guilt because of what might have been. Many people do not recover after a death partly because they really can’t forgive themselves and must punish themselves. We punish ourselves by cutting ourselves off from others, from happiness and from life. In many respects, it is a cancer that will slowly devour you. Recognize it for what it is, a lie!

This is not from God and therefore not worthy of our time. They are instead incredibly destructive questions. They will leave your soul in tatters, broken and bleeding and ultimately alone in the dark. They create scars no one ever sees but you feel constantly. They whisper evil thoughts in the dark recesses of your mind late at night, and they drive a wedge in many healthy relationships. Life is far too complicated to imagine all the “what if” scenarios. We all want to play ‘god’ but we’re not very good at it, and will fail every time! I plead with you to be vigilant against this horrible form of soul-cancer. When we do battle with these questions they consume our strength, our hope and our memories, leaving us only recriminations, resentments and regrets. So, when you hear these questions begin to be raised in conversations, put a stop to it. Don’t let them get a foothold. Go on the offensive and fight to keep what is good, honorable and worthwhile.

  • Don’t be afraid to say “Thank You”

‘Thank You’ is an expression of gratitude for a gift you neither deserved nor expected. It expresses genuine humility and an appreciation for what has been given. It shifts the focus from scarcity to abundance. It values the Giver and the Gift and accepts the love with which they are offered. It is the open palm rather than the closed fist. “Thank you for the time we’ve had,” rather than be miserable what you didn’t have.

I have always found that the best healing comes through the doors of gratitude. Our ability to see not just the loss, but the blessings. It focuses not just on what might have been, but it embraces the reality of what is. It releases the anger, resentment, bitterness and despair so that is can be replaced with joy, peace, wisdom and hope. Thank you that we have been loved so well and so deeply for so long.

So let us give thanks for the people in our lives (living and eternal), thank you for the struggles we face that remind us we are spiritual beings on a journey the end of which we struggle to understand. Thank you for the love we receive despite failure, faults and foibles.  Thank you that we are able to be loved by others.  Thank you that despite the seemingly endless days of sorrow, grief and sleepless nights, the Promise of God is for an eternal dawn.    

“Say not in grief that he is no more but say in thankfulness that he was. Death is not the extinguishing of a light, but putting away the lamp because the dawn has come.”

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Zimbabwe Day 6

Day 6: During breakfast we were able to visit again with Rogers, and also with Justice.  He is a student at Africa University and was a former resident at Fairfield Children’s Home.  Breakfast is the same each day…eggs, stewed tomatoes, bread and porridge. Porridge tastes much like cream of wheat, and is eaten with brown sugar.  A couple of mornings chicken gizzards were offered, but we passed!
I was able to check blood sugars and blood pressures on the moms.  Two of the moms have diabetes and hypertension.  One every was well controlled, the other had a blood sugar over 400!  I was alarmed and planned to talk to her after I checked all the other women.  She left for a shopping trip in town, and I did not get to recheck her until hours later.  Her blood sugar was still 360.  I asked to see her medications.   For my medical friends…she was taking a sulfonylurea I did not recognize, and glucophage for her diabetes.  Amlodipine, lisinopril and hydrochlorthiazide were being given for hypertension.  She insisted that she was taking her medications.  I gave her some diabetic education and advised her what to eat for her dinner along with drinking plenty of water.  I told her the signs and symptoms to watch for.  I suspect her blood sugar is often this high, and will advise her to go to the local hospital/clinic to get further treatment.
Several women from our church family at home had made yarn caps for babies.   Jeff and I had the joy of giving these to the mothers and newborns.  There were seven new babies, only one was a boy.  Two of the babies had been born this morning.  All the women and babies stay on a ward together.  Since women live far away from the hospital, they come to the hospital weeks before their delivery dates.  Currently 60 waiting mothers live in a facility built for this purpose.  This space is overcrowded!  A new building is being constructed to house more waiting mothers.  The hospital delivers 80-100 babies a month.
I spent much much of the rest of the day taking pictures of the children individually.   We have a Polaroid printer that prints wallet sized photos.  We give a printed picture to each child and mother.  Taking pictures and making sure to get everyone is a challenge!!  The children are in school, out playing, visiting another house.  It is amazing how well they take care of one another.  The children care for the little ones…even preschoolers watch out for the babies.
Jeff went back to Old Mutare to try to find more materials for projects.  He was able to get a water pump for the hospital, metal to repair storage building roofs, sealant for the roof and valves for water leaks.  Steve was able to look at beds stored in one of the houses that are in need of repair.  A water storage tank was checked…it needs a new part and hopefully we can obtain this.   Steve checked the mill that could be used to grind corn..if this can be repaired the corn could be ground on site and this would not be an extra cost to the mission station.    He and Jeff have spent a lot of time looking at the water supply for the hospital and the children’s home.  If we can get needed supplies, Steve can teach employees what needs to be done, and they can often complete projects after we return home.
It it was another blessed day.  Please continue to pray that we can obtain supplies.

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Zimbabwe Wednesday

Hello!  I’ve had difficulty accessing the website to continue the blog.  On Wednesday we attended chapel services at Africa University.  Rogers, the student on scholarship from the West Virginia Annual Conference, joined us.  The student choir provided beautiful music…I love the drums and the African rhythms.  The message was about Ruth.
After this Steve went to Old Mutare to work and Jeff and I stayed behind to tour the University.  Wesley was our tour guide.  The University has around 1500 students, and has the largest first year class this year.  They have had students from as many as 33 African nations, but currently students represent 22 countries.  At graduation all the flags are flown.  We saw the classrooms, hostels (dormitories), library, and archives.   The University is doing amazing research on malaria and is one of the few facilities in the world permitted to breed mosquitos for research.  The hostels are being remodeled, and the new ones  look nice.  It was surprising to only see 2 showers for 15 girls.   Also, laundry is done by hand.  They encourage study abroad, and I am sure that hand laundering clothing would be a challenge for many!!
In the afternoon I spent more time with children and mothers at Fairfield.  I continued to do some health assessments and rechecks on mothers with elevated blood sugar or blood pressure.    I spent some time just playing…passing a ragged, partially deflated ball and devising a bowling game out of broken tongue depressors stuck in the dirt.  I started to take pictures of each child.  We have a small printer, and are able to give a wallet sized photo to each child and mother.  
When I was with one mother, she was called and said she was going to get chicks.  I joined her, and this turned out to be the time some chickens were removed from the coops to be butchered for the briaa (cookout) we were providing for Fairfield the next night.  This brought back childhood memories of butchering chickens at my grandparents…a task I did not like.  Somehow all those chickens just disappeared and I never saw them killed.  I know one was under a basket on the porch of one of the homes, with a rock on top to keep it from escaping.
Jeff returned to town with Cecillia.  Sheet metal was needed for repair of storage buildings, and they went to a junk yard for this.  Jeff said it was quite an adventure!   It is so difficult here to find basic supplies needed, and it requires multiple trips to town going to many different stores.
In the evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Larry and Jane Keis.  Larry is originally from Iowa.  He is the agronomy professor at the university.  Jane was born in Zambia and has lived in Botswana and England.  She teaches English as a second language to many of the university students.  We went to LaRochelle–a place originally owned by an English couple. Jeff and others who had come to Zimbabwe before had lodged there.   Although it was dark, we strolled the gardens closest to the buildings and they were beautiful.  It was too dark to walk the path Jane said I saw lined with roses and lavender.  I am sure I think is lovely!  I had bream for dinner…a local fish that is delicious.   
The Keis shared some fascinating stories.  Snakes can get into homes…and once a spitting cobra was in their bathroom!  Larry removed it with a very long stick!!  Jane once saw a black mamba in a field.  The snake is able to raise the front of its body up…and she said it was as tall as her.   She backed up very slowly and finally the snake went to the ground and slithered away when it no longer felt threatened.  The black mamba bite contains a neurotoxin that paralyzed the diaphragm and can kill in 15-30 minutes.  Larry said several people survive this each year with bystander mouth to mouth and transport to the hospital to be put on a ventilator until the neurotoxin wears off.  I cannot imagine encountering one of these snakes!!!

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Zimbabwe 2018 Day 4 & 5

Sunday October 28, Day 5

 We attended the church service at the Old Mutare Mission church.  The service was 2 1/2 hours long.  The choir had been to a chorale competition for church choirs and won first place out of almost 200 participating choirs.  The music was beautiful.  The sermon was in Shona, and interpreters helped us to understand.  Two young ladies had just returned from a conference on empowering women, and spoke to the congregation briefly about it.  There was a lot of singing, and dancing, and everyone actively participated.  It was a blessing!


 After the service, we were invited to lunch, along with a family that had just joined the church.  The church treated us to a sandwich, cake and a soda.  The hospitality is amazing here.  


 In the afternoon we went to Fairfield.  We set up one of the solar cookers we had purchased and brought with us.  We started with heating water, and it worked well.  We are going to cook potatoes and try making bread later in the week.  The cooker attracted several people who were curious  what it was.


 Jeff and Steve met with the two maintenance men to discuss possible projects for the week.  I played with children during this time.  There were several students from Africa University known as the “Fairfield buddies” who had come to play with the children.  They played group games and brought the children chips (French fries) and an orange soda.  Several of the children came over to me and were content to hold my hand or lean against me.  Two young boys discovered my phone and quickly discovered a tennis game I had and started to play.  


 Monday October 29, Day 5

 At breakfast we saw Rogers, a second year student a time Africa University who has a scholarship from the WV United Methodist church Conference.  He just happened to be wearing a WVU shirt he had been given by a mission team In Kenya.  An awesome young man with a touching story.  He is studying agriculture and plans to return to Kenya to farm.
 We then met with the Vice Chancellor of Africa University.  The University is adding courses with a plan to eventually add a medical school.  Students attend from all over Africa.
 Next we met with the hospital administrator of Old Mutare mission hospital.  She faces incredible challenges.  There are frequent power outages lasting as long as three days.  There are several problems with water supply.  With the current inflation in the country and the shortages it is difficult to find food to feed the patients.  When we met with the nursing matron we discovered that I have as much or more medical supplies with me than they have in the whole hospital.  I plan to donate a otoscope, ophthalmoscope and pulse oximeter given to me by my nurse practitioner co-worker Tammy Crookshanks.  I will be able to give them 2 stethoscopes, a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, blood sugar meter with lancing device, strips and lancets, gloves, alcohol swabs, and hand sanitizer.  It is so sad that they have so little supplies.
 In the afternoon we went to Old Mutare to shop for supplies for several projects.  On the way I saw two primates along the road…I am unsure what type….but it was amazing!!  The car barely made it up the hill, so the first place we stopped was an auto repair shop.  Luckily it was a simple fix with a new spark plug.
 We treated Cecillia to lunch.  The guys went to hardware stores looking for the supplies needed for their work, but there were many things they could not find.  Cecillia and I purchased some medicine for one of the children, then went to grocery stores.  The first store had no bread, flour or cooking oil.  Right now these staples are difficult to find, and everything is very expensive.  A snickers candy bar was $3.19.  A box of tissues was $7.15.  We were able to find some flour at the next store,  but still no cooking oil.  Both of us purchased a small bag of flour, since the limit was one.  We purchased baby formula, and Cecillia had to plead with the store manager to buy several cans…since the limit was one.  The check-out lines were very long.   There is a gasoline shortage and many gas lines.  Several gas stations are out of fuel.
 Please pray that we can find supplies to do repairs needed.   Pray for the economic crisis to resolve.  Please pray that we can be Jesus’ hands and feet.  

 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27

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