Category Archives: Word of Life Assembly of God

Happy Feet and the Hissing Bear

 

Gargoyle, Happy Feet, Cheerie, and Whistler

Happy Feet was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through Kings Canyon National Park. He came upon two other hikers who had stopped to eat by the side of the trail. They told him to be aware that there was a bear by the trail a little further ahead.

Sure enough there was a bear, a very big brown-colored California black bear. The bear was a safe distance off to the right of the trail and appeared to be foraging for food. After observing it for a while, Happy Feet went on his way.

Some time later, he stopped for food. He took some supplies out of his pack and enjoyed a brief meal, then repacked. Before starting on his way again, he pulled out his cell phone to see if he could check his GPS location.

As he did so, he heard a hissing sound behind him. When he turned, he saw the bear he had seen earlier moving toward him hissing loudly.

Happy Feet was startled. He jumped up, grabbed his hiking poles and started clanking them together, waving his arms and yelling at the bear.

The bear stopped. He was only about 12 feet away.

Happy Feet backed off continuing to clack his poles together and make noise.

The bear just stood there. Happy Feet continued to back off.

After he had put some distance between himself and the bear, the bear walked to where Happy Feet had eaten his snack and sniffed around to see if there were any food.

Seeing that the bear no longer seemed interested in him and did not appear to be aggressive, Happy Feet continued on his way.

According to the North American Bear Center, “Bears blow and clack their teeth with they are afraid. When this is done in response to being startled by a person, it appears to be a defensive threat, but they also do it when they scare themselves by almost falling from a tree.”

The NABC website also says, “Apprehensive expressions are forceful expulsions of air accompanied by threatening body language and sometimes deeper throaty sounds.  This explosive behavior looks and sounds very threatening but is harmless bluster from nervous bears…”

So when the bear came upon Happy Feet, he was probably just as startled as Happy Feet. Once a safe distance was established and things quieted down, both went on about their business.

I met Happy Feet at the Word of Life Assembly of God Church in Burney. He and three other hikers had slept the night before in the WOLA gym and then attended Sunday morning service. After the service, I took a picture of the four of them and Happy Feet told me his bear story.

Happy Feet’s name off the trail is Phillip Hennessy. He hails from Yorktown, Virginia and left Campo on March 14. Asked why he was hiking the trail he said, “We hike to reconnect with nature, to reconnect with people, to reconnect with ourselves and the simple values of a healthy lifestyle.”

Happy Feet has spent much of the hike together with Ben Ferguson “Gargoyle” from New Hampshire who began his hike on March 16. They usually camp together. They were surprised when I said that several other hikers I had talked with had seen no bear. They have seen four bears, most recently one near Quincy.

Happy Feet and Gargoyle were excited to hear that I had met Hardcore the day before. They had hiked with her south of the Sierras but had not seen her for some time. I told them that she had gone to Redding and they may well meet her soon coming the opposite direction because she was going to hitch to Weed and then hike south.

Gargoyle said that he was hiking the PCT “to see the world, to meet new people every day, to see the nature and the many towns, communities and cultures we pass through. Also to challenge myself physically and mentally.”

One of the other hikers was Lea Bravin “Cheerio” from the German speaking part of Switzerland. She had met Happy Feet at the beginning of her hike in Southern California and reconnected with him and Gargoyle at intervals along the trail. They just happened to meet again here in Burney.

The fourth hiker was a young gentleman named Nicholas Turney from Seattle Washington. He began his hike from Campo on May 14 so he has been hiking a bit faster pace. His trail name is “Whistler.” You may hear him in the next few days if you are in the woods near the PCT.

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“Too Fast” racks up miles and smiles

Adam “Too Fast” Slobatian

Adam Slobadian from Bozeman Montana is a fast hiker. His trail name is “Too Fast,” but he doesn’t really hike too fast, just faster and longer each day than the average hiker.

Adam averages between 35-40+ miles per day on the Pacific Crest Trail. He left Campo near the Mexican border on May 15th and he expects to reach Canada by mid August. Wow! A 2600 mile hike through rugged terrain in 3 months!

Adam had been wearing his Altra Timp hiking shoes for 720 miles by the time he got to Burney. He wore down soles and the cushions so it was time for a new pair.

Before reaching Burney he checked one of the PCT apps on which people record their experiences and recommendations for PCT friendly stops. He saw that the Word of Life Assembly of God Church welcomes hikers. PCT hikers can sleep overnight in the gym. Kathy Newton is very hospitable and helpful, and church members provide trail magic. He also read that they receive and hold packages for PCT hikers.

So Adam ordered a new pair of Altra shoes online and had them shipped to WOLA. He hiked the stretch along Hat Creek Ridge on July 2. Coming down to Baum Lake, he pulled out his cell phone to check reception when he was suddenly called back to attention by a rattlesnake.

“Hey Buddy! Pay attention to the trail!” the snake rattled.

Adam spent the night at Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, and on the morning of July 3, hiked down to 299 to hitch a ride into Burney. The third car that came pulled over. Inside was Rev. Ken Frazier, pastor of WOLA, who was on his way to the church.

I met Adam in the coffee shop as he was waiting for his shoes. If the shoes arrived early enough he was planning to head back out on the trail. If they didn’t come until late afternoon or early evening he planned to spend the night at the church.

Adam is 32 years old. He grew up in upstate New York in a town near Binghamton. He attended the University of Vermont where he studied philosophy and art. During that time, he spent a lot of time hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

When he received his degree in 2009, the economy was still suffering. Adam read about Bozeman and decided to head West to see what the Rocky Mountains were like. For the first three months, he lived in a tent. His found a job as a dispatcher for a towing company. Then he was hired by a firm that trains professional accountants where he has worked successfully for the past 7 years.

Living in the East, Adam had wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Living in Bozeman, he decided instead to try the PCT. He applied to his boss for leave explaining ways in which his absence would actually benefit the development of the company.

His boss said, “Sure, take six months off and enjoy yourself. We’ll see you when you get back.”

Because Adam is “Two Fast,” he hikes the trail mostly alone. Most hikers average 20 to 25 miles a day. When he has told some of the hikers the pace he sets, several have asked to join him thinking that it would increase their pace. It did, but after a few hours they would drop behind wanting to rest or linger for a while someplace along the trail.

For many hikers, “It’s the miles not the smiles.” For Adam it’s the miles and the smiles.

“The Pacific Crest Trail has been an amazing experience with incredible scenery and extremely generous and kind people that I will remember for a long time,” Adam said.

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Weaver and Avocado on the PCT

When my daughter Hana Lyn, who is visiting from Maryland, found out that there is a lady in Burney who sells Mary Kay, she was so happy. She had run out of foundation. So Linda messaged Bobbi Frazier and we arranged to meet at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Word of Live Assembly of God (WOLA) for resupply.

When we arrived, the WOLA coffee shop and lobby were buzzing with activity. Bobbi was there and so also were two members of a 4K for Cancer Team running from San Francisco to New York. So while Hana Lyn transacted with Bobbik and got a latte, I spoke briefly with one of the team leaders for the 4K Run, Cheyenne Greenside. Kathy Newton who was organizing hospitality for the runners during their rest stop in Burney, told me that they would be having a barbecue at WOLA that evening and invited me to come take pictures for an article. (See 4K Runners Grateful for Burney Hospitality).

Bon preparing a drink for Weaver at the coffee shop

In the meantime, I noticed several PCT hikers in the coffee shop. Five more hikers were enjoying the hospitality of WOLA. Two of them were heading back to the trail that day and three of them were planning to rest, resupply, and stay for the night.

I managed to chat with the two who were planning to trek on that day.

Rebekah Archer is a charming, thoughtful young lady from Melbourne Australia who is flip-flopping (skip-hiking) the trail. Her trail name is Weaver. She began solo hiking in Campo on April 9. As she hiked through the Southern California desert she made several friends with whom she hiked. Rebekah said she saw a lot of rattlesnakes in the south.

When they reached Lone Pine (Mile 788.8), she chose to skip the Sierras and hike north from Chester. Hiking from Chester to Burney she has seen a lot of deer but no bear yet. I told her she may well see one in this area.

After she passes through the Northern Cascades to Canada she plans to return and hike south through the high Sierras after the snow has melted.

In the midst of her journey north, Rebekah will take two weeks off from the trail to spend time with friends from Australia who are coming for a two week visit in San Francisco. Then she will rejoin the hikers she met earlier in the desert and hike to Canada with them. Rebekah has planned her hike so she can enjoy, the “best of all worlds.”

Avocado from Frankfurt Germany

The second PCT hiker I talked with in the coffee shop was a young thru-hiker from Frankfurt Germany. His trail name is Avocado. He started from Campo on March 28. This is the first time that he has done such a long hike. He has hiked the mountains of Europe but never longer than two weeks.

Avocado said that what impresses him about the PCT is the “diversity of beauty full of extreme contrast” that he has experienced on his journey through the desert, the High Sierras, the Southern Cascades, Hat Creek Ridge, and then descending into the forests of Burney Basin. He is looking forward to seeing Burney Falls, and then passing through Mt. Shasta, into the forests of Oregon and the Northern Cascades in Washington.

Just before leaving Germany for his adventure, Avocado completed his undergraduate degree in sociology from Frankfurt University. As he is walking north through the wilderness, he is pondering whether he should continue his studies or begin his career.

From the point of view of a sociologist, Avocado said that the PCT culture is a “tiny special society.” It is international. There are people of all ages and backgrounds making the journey for varied reasons. There are day hikers, section hikers, through hikers, and hip hoppers. Trail angels support and encourage the hikers and businesses in small rural towns cater to their needs. Rugged outdoor adventure interfaces with hi-tech social media and special PCT apps to facilitate the journey. There is a fluid blending of individualism and group formation that enriches the PCT family. Avacado said that he may write a short paper on it in the future.

He said that he met only one person hiking through the snow in the Sierras without a cell phone. Avocado considers his phone to be not just a means of communication but a safety device insuring location and rescue in case of mishap in a treacherous area.

Weaver relaxes at Burney Falls Park

After talking with Avocado, Hana Lyn, my wife Linda, and I headed to Burney Falls to hike the Loop. While there, we ran into Weaver again, sitting at a picnic table writing in her journal. She was planning to have an ice cream before visiting the falls and heading north.

Hana Lyn, with her new Mary Kay foundation, had several opportunities to snap selfies by the falls and on the bridge over Burney Creek.

 

Hana Lyn by the lynn at Burney Falls

Selfie on the bridge over Burney Creek

Ah! The best of all worlds!

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4K Runners Grateful for Burney Hospitality

The 4K for Cancer Team NY 2018 ran into Burney on Tuesday June 19. They came for a two-day rest stop hosted by the Word of Life Assembly of God Church (WOLA). Twenty-two young adults ranging in age from 18-25 are running from San Francisco to New York City to increase awareness and raise funds in the battle against cancer.

4K Runners and WOLA volunteers

Team NY is one of three teams doing a 4000 mile run across the country beginning in San Francisco on June 17 and ending in Baltimore, Boston, and New York on Aug 4th. The run is sponsored by the Ulman Foundation. The focus is helping young people with cancer. They are building a nationwide network of support involving a wide range of charitable programs.

Kathy Newton from WOLA supervised the overall hospitality for the group during their stay, including two nights rest in the WOLA gym, a Tuesday night barbecue organized by Kaylynn Harper and prepared by the Encounter small group ministry, a visit to Burney Falls, breakfast with food provided by Anna’s Country Kitchen, and pizza dinner at Gepetto’s courtesy of owner Robert Moore.

Cooking up burgers by the gym

The runners came from more than a dozen states including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, Montana, and California.

Becca Eddy, Cheyenne Greenside, Kaylynn Harper, and Courntey Schatz

The program coordinator is Rebecca Eddy. Ms. Eddy, was raised in Eureka, Oregon and graduated from college in North Carolina, She currently lives in Baltimore where the Ulman Foundation has its headquarters.

Ms. Eddy said, “4K for Cancer hopes to unite communities in the battle against cancer making sure no one goes through this difficult time alone. Every participant has a ‘why for running.’ I wanted to run for my grandparents, uncle, great-aunt, and other family members and friends who have battled this terrible disease. I couldn’t control my family being impacted by cancer, but I could do something to make a difference and be there for others.”

Cheyenne Greenside and Courtney Schatz are team leaders. Courtney Schatz was raised in Roundup, Montana and now lives with her husband in Billings. She first learned about 4K when a team stayed at her church in Roundup.

She said, “I was inspired by the 4K bike teams that came through my hometown. I wanted to help. My parents have always taught me to help others in any way that I can so this experience is absolutely incredible.”

Montana Strummers sing “Running in the Mainstream of Love”

Mrs. Schatz is also a talented ukulele player. At the barbecue, she played and sang “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana with one of the children present. Then she teamed up with a local guitar player to form the Montana Strummers who performed “Running in the Mainstream of Love” featuring a wonderful ukulele solo.

Courtney’s younger sister, Carrie Cota, a talented landscape painter who just finished her second year at Rocky Mountain College in Billings is also participating in this year’s 4K run,

Ms. Greenside lives in Seattle and is engaged to a young man serving in the army in Georgia. She recently graduated from college in Alaska. She explained that on June 17 the team ran from San Francisco to Yuba City. On the 18th they ran from Yuba City to Red Bluff, where they spent the night before continuing to Burney. After their stay in Burney, they will be running to Vale, Oregon and then on across the country.

Several of the runners expressed their appreciation of the beauty of the Intermountain area and their gratitude to the people of Burney for their friendliness. They said they hoped to return in the future.

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Men’s Fight Club at WOLA to begin Tuesday, February 20

A new eight-week Tuesday night series of men’s Fight Club meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. February 20 at the Word of Life Assembly of God Church (WOLA).

This is not an occasion for men to engage in physical combat. It is an opportunity for men to participate in Christian worship, discussion and prayer in order to develop bonds of friendship and brotherly love that will enable them to become better men, husbands, fathers and upright members of the community.

Fight Club will take place each Tuesday night from 6:30 to 8:30  for eight weeks. The evening program will begin with worship music led by one of the members followed by a brief testimony or homily also from one of the men in the club. During the second half of the evening, men will break into small groups for an hour of discussion and prayer.

Fight Club is open to all men in the community not only members of Word of Life Church. For more information call 335-4419.

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Starry Nights shares the joy of the Christmas season

More than 150 people came to the Word of Life Assembly of God Church (WOLA) on Sunday evening December 17 to attend their Starry Nights program. This year’s program combined the annual chili cook-off with a sing-along of traditional Christmas carols.

Janyce Hamlin hit all the high notes on O Holy Night

Rev. Ken Frazier and Rev. Corey Yake welcomed people the full house to the church and emceed the evening’s program.

Rev. Corey Yake and Rev. Ken Frazier welcome guests to Starry Nights

Every table was full with more people sitting in chairs lining the room. Three wonderful singers, Tammy Allison, Janice Hamlin, and Carolyn Garrigus, led the entire group for one hour singing favorite traditional carols and a selection of popular Christmas songs such as Jingle Bells and White Christmas.

Tammy Allison, Janice Hamlin, and Carolyn Garrigus leading the Sing-along

Between some of the songs, audience members were asked if they would like to share a story. People responded with personal testimonies and heart-warming accounts of love shared in Christmas past.

After the singing, Rev. Frazier explained the process of the chili cook-off. There were 17 entrees this year. People went table by table through the line and received a small plastic bowl of each chili with a number on it.

Seventeen kinds of Chili to choose from

To compliment the chili, there was a full table of toppings and corn bread.

Lots of toppings

For dessert, there were cookies and baked goods.

Cookies and cupcakes anyone

After sampling all of the chilies, the diners wrote the number of their favorite on a card. WOLA had Olympic like medals for those who received the most votes. The first, second, and third place winners also won a can of almond rocha candy as a prize.

Pastor Frazier announced the results of the tally. Third place winner was Rick Yochum. Ron Edwards won second place. Then last year’s winner Krissi Foutch came forward to present the gold medal for most popular chili to Jennifer Penn.

Rev. Ken Frazier, Krissi Foutch, Rick Yochium, Jennifer Penn, Ron Edwards, and Rev. Corey Yake

Starry Nights is one of the programs that WOLA holds for the public throughout the year to show their love for community as part of their commitment to “Love God and love people.”

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Operation Warm Winter GIVEAWAY provides new coats and boots to 58 school children

Operation Warm Winter provided 58 elementary school children with a bag containing a nice new winter coat and winter boots at their annual GIVEAWAY at the Word of Life Assembly of God Church Gym on December 1. Pastor Ken Frazier said that the 58 children represent about 15% of the local elementary school population.

WOLA Pastor Ken Frazier, Alexus Bellino with her mom Melissa Bellino, and Kathy Newton together with five grateful children

In addition to these children, another 15 children who had not signed up in time for the giveaway are now on a waiting list and will receive coats and boots in the near future.

Alexus Bellino, a junior at Burney High School,  organized this year’s Operation Warm Winter for her Senior Project. Her mother, Melissa Bellino, came to help with the distribution.

Alexus Bellino and her mom Melissa

Ms. Bellino said, “What moved me to do this project was to give back to the community. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces after they received their gifts was definitely the best part of the project. I hope to do it next year as well.”

Melissa Bellino chatting with a child

Bellino worked in coordination with Kathy Newton and other volunteers from WOLA.

As the children were signed up, they were supplied with paper and crayons that they used to express their gratitude in creative drawings.

Kids expressing their gratitude in colorful drawings

In addition to providing coats and boots for children, Operation Warm Winter also collected donations of gently used clothing. These clothes were neatly organized on tables and made available to people in the community who needed them. Ms. Bellino said that any leftover clothing will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Gently used warm winter clothing for people in need

Adults and children who came to the charitable affair were also treated to hot chocolate and cookies by WOLA volunteers.

Cookies and Hot Chocolate

WOLA began Operation Warm Winter in 2007 under the coordination of Stephanie Pruitt. The purchase of the jackets and boots is made possible by donations from church members and the community. A major fundraiser for the program the past few years has been the concert by the Ohio Northern University Choir held in the late Spring.

See also:

Operation Warm Winter at WOLA Nov 11

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