Dear Friends, 12/13/1998
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Christmas season has arrived again and so we send our warm greetings to you. We pray that this finds you in good health, in body, soul and spirit.
We have some snow on the ground now, about six inches, so it will probably stay until spring. We will have to pen up the chickens and the rabbits, which have been running loose, as they want to stay on, or near, the porch if they are free. Not much we can do about our peacocks as they sleep high in the ponderosa pines and come and go where they please.
This year we began daily church service, in addition to our usual Sunday morning service, and found it to be a wonderful blessing to us. Each evening, just before supper, we gather together in a room to pray, sing 16th century Anabaptist songs and read 17th century Hutterite sermons. The songs and sermons are strong spiritual food that we didn't realize that we were missing until we started being fed with them. We believe that God calls people out of the world, away from the system controlled by Satan, to live in an environment where one can learn to become the kind of person who will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. This requires, as we understand the Bible, a personal transformation, a change in ourselves in which we go through a process of shedding our old nature and acquiring the nature of our Creator. This process requires a daily crucifixion of our flesh, a daily walking the narrow path to the Kingdom of God, which, the Lord said, few will reach. As we desire to be among those who do reach the Kingdom, and not be cast into the lake of fire, we eagerly seek the discipline and guidance of the Lord, given through the Word that we hear preached daily to us, and from our brothers and sisters who struggle along side us on the Way of the Lord.
Being admonished daily to live a holy life does have an effect, just as one would expect. We don't go into town much, do not have television, daily newspapers nor news magazines, so our focus is not diverted from the Lord but is directed to the Lord by the daily reading and preaching of His Word. If we believe that if we are to live a Christian life, we must do so in all aspects, not just on Sunday morning; Christianity should be a full time occupation.
This year has been very eventful for us. Our son Patrick, who helped found this community, moved to the James Valley Hutterite community in Manitoba last month. We miss him very much but we know that he must be in God's will and doing God's work.
Bill and Pamela Lee and their three children, Matthew (7), Andrea (4), and Nathaniel (3), moved here last August from Michigan. Pamela had an operation on December 3rd, they removed her gall bladder, and scraped off the scar tissue that resulted from her previous operation last spring (she has Crohn's disease). She is recovering after a week in the hospital.
James Whitacre moved here in October from Alaska. His wife died last January, his children are grown, so he came to find Christian community. He recently returned from visiting his son in Colorado.
Peter Forde, from Manchester, England, flew over for a six week visit, arriving on 10/1/98. He speaks with a funny accent but wants to learn about the Anabaptists.
Also in October, Michael Flynt and his Korean wife Hyeok flew out from their home in Oklahoma for a week's visit. They are planning to come back for an extended visit later this month. They have seven children (ages 2-15). We pray that the Lord God will keep them here.
Mark Clement, a friend of Bill and Pamela Lee, came out for several weeks this summer. He helped with the setting up a mobile home for the Lees on our property here. We also set up another mobile home for the other new people. We had help from our neighbors, Frank Darnell and Rick Schmidt, who moved the Lees home onto the pads with a tractor. A couple of Hutterite men, Wally Walter and George Gross, also helped and even supplied some of the material. Our sons Patrick and Jim also helped with the work. The work crew included Bill, James, Peter and John Washburn, a hired handyman who lives nearby. We ran a water line from the spring (all underground) to the houses so they have good spring water with no pump involved but with enough water pressure to take showers and run the clothes washer. That good, free water is a blessing from the Lord God!
We thank the Lord for the help He has given us with all the work involved in putting up the two new homes, it was no small undertaking. We do not know what the future holds, if we are to continue living here or move to a more suitable location. We have been looking at various properties, including a small girls boarding school located in a valley about eight miles north of Spokane (we are now about 26 miles north of Spokane).
On October 16th, fourteen Hutterite elders came down from Canada to see how we are doing. They approved of our church services and of our desire that our people make a covenant (as is done among the Hutterites) nevermore to sin against God, to accept brotherly punishment and admonition and also to apply the same to others in the community when it is needed, to consecrate, give and sacrifice ourselves with soul and body and all our possessions to the Lord in heaven, and to be obedient unto Christ and His church.
We thank the Lord God for the interest and care shown our little community by the Hutterite elders from Canada and by our local Hutterite leaders, especially Jake Gross of the Espanola colony. It would have been easier (less work, less stress, more fellowship) to join an existing Hutterite colony (except for the language barrier - their church services are in German). However, our chief supporter and mentor, the late Samuel Waldner, minister at Raley colony, was convinced, based on past experience, that the ethnic Hutterites are not able to take in converts, the best way is to start an 'English' colony where all are equal. So he and the Hutterite senior elder, the late John Wurz of Wilson Siding colony, sent us off to start an English speaking Hutterite colony in 1989. We have had our struggles since then to follow the course laid out for us by the elders.
Kathy Johnson and her 13 year old daughter Promise visited us for several weeks again this fall. She is a Sabbath keeper which is not too compatible with us. This was her third extended visit here.
Shelly Brauer has been with us six years now. She continues to be a good cook and cares for the chickens, rabbits and peacocks.
Naomi Murphy has been out of her wheelchair most of the year but back on it recently as she changed medication and is having a bit of a problem adjusting. She has a pet cockatiel named Dandy that is a joy to her.
Michi Murphy is very busy with cooking, canning and helping with the disabled women who live here. Currently she is also helping to care for the Lee children while their mother recovers. Michi is blessed and encouraged by the Hutterites who always show us much love, she looks forward to visiting with them, as we all do.
Don Murphy has been struggling with a heart condition (arterial fibrillation) that keeps him humble and aware of the shortness of life. He enjoys the small children that the Lord brought here (the Lee children).
We did some logging again this year, took out about 100,000 board feet of large ponderosa pine (31 logging truck loads). We are considering cutting large Douglas fir trees this winter, perhaps about 20 loads as we may want to put up another home in the spring and need the money to do so.
Our computer software business is always keeping us busy, we are blessed that Bill Lee is here to help. We have our own web site now, www.pma2000.com, which we invite you to visit. Most of our hard work is in perfecting our Windows 98 accounting program (PMA-2000). Our DOS program (CBS) is doing well and we receive many compliments on it. Our office work consists of helping our customers who call for technical support, shipping orders, creating and updating the programs and maintaining our web site. We had to modify our programs to support the year 2000 (the Y2K problem), which we did last spring.
This year we have been giving away copies of a new book titled 'The Secret of the Strength', written by a conservative Mennonite named Peter Hoover who lives in Costa Rica. It is about the 16th century Anabaptists and how they managed to be strong in the face of the heavy persecution that they had to endure. The book seems to be very popular among the Hutterites. If you would like a free copy of it or of other books, such as 'Brotherly Community the Highest Command of Love', and booklets that we have, please let us know. We do not charge for our books.
The Christmas season means different things to different people, but many do, at this time of the year, have at least some thoughts of the Gift that God sent into the world, His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us consider what God has done and our response to His Gift. Surely, as our own time to leave this earth draws nearer, we should be giving more attention to the Lord and more obedience to His commands.
We invite you to come out to visit us.
Peace be with you. May you rejoice in the Lord always.
Don, Michi and Naomi Murphy
From the Anabaptist Hymnal, James Lowry,
13531 Maugansville Rd, Hagerstown, MD 21740