Ramblings from the Cove...

May 2017

By Lars Gren

Widow’s Mite Mission

Gone from my mind was the exact year that Elisabeth and I had been at a conference in Flagstaff, Arizona, but it had not escaped the mind of Betsy Frazier who was now 80 years old. I had called her a few days earlier just to see how she was doing and whether she was in fact still at the Widow’s Mite Mission. When she answered, it was as though I was talking to a person at least half her age—as quick and enthusiastic as she was when we met her in 1970. A few days after we had the phone conversation, a letter arrived—notable for the printed script just shy of a half inch high—telling me she had made a mistake, in our conversation, as to how she and her husband moved from Brooklyn, NY out to the deserts north of Flagstaff, AZ where the Native American Indian reservation was located. But that may be getting ahead of the story, for you need to hear about the mission and our first visit there.

We were in Flagstaff for a conference when Elisabeth and I decided to have a drive, and why not, on the way, visit Betsy Frazier? Someone had sent us one of her mission letters. It was probably the simple and carefree way she wrote about some of the happenings at the mission and the way she and her husband lived that drew our attention to her. All we had was an address, but what else does one need? It was prior to the displacement of maps for some gadget named GPS, whatever that means (yes, I’m still without one), so in full confidence we set out- no doubt, with me assuring Elisabeth that it was no problem, for after all, the address was in hand. An aside here: In our years of travel I cannot ever remember Elisabeth suggesting or telling me how to get from point A to Point B unless I asked for help. She just sat back, relaxed, and took in the view.

One thing that I knew was that there was a trading post on the road leading north. We passed scattered houses as well as what appeared to be small farms. In what seemed not far, it was desert for sure, yet I drove on with a faint hope of seeing someone. I believe that I had driven about 30 miles or better when I said to Elisabeth, “I best turn around; we must have passed it.” Nearly into the outskirts of Flagstaff a building came into view on my right and “yup” it was a Trading Post. I asked the simple, “Widows Mite, happen to know where it is?” “Sure, the drive at the end of the building; just drive up a ways into the desert, you’ll run into it.” Elisabeth was kind and did not say, “Why didn’t you see it on the way out?” It seemed that his “up a ways” was about a mile.

Jim and Betsy were New Yorkers working in ministry when Jim somehow began to think of the Navajos in Arizona and felt that the Lord was directing him in a new ministry. One day he said to Betsy, “That’s the place for us!” There seemed to be no long discussions or seeking others’ opinions but rather, “Here is a need we can fill.” When they arrived at the place for their new home, the only hint of civilization was the Trading Post and desert sand to view. As to basics that we take for granted, nothing-- no running water, electricity, or phone, and to this day it remains so. It is hard to convince a utility company to run in a mile and a half of lines for one family. I do not know how Jim had chosen to build a cabin there. At some point in time, that caught fire. Rather than build again, they got an old bus to live in. (Imagine the heat in the summer and the freezing cold in the winter!) Unfortunately the bus also caught fire. Her husband Jim took in all in stride and said, “We’ll just get another trailer to put on the lot.” But someone in Flagstaff, who had gotten to know them, gave out the news of this missionary couple who were working with Native American Navajo Indians that they had suffered a second fire. A Flagstaff group banded together to do the basic construction and then a concrete company volunteered to build the brick structure giving the exterior protection from further fires; and it is there that Betsy resides to this day.

From that time on, they worked, serving the people who came to them for help with their needs, be they physical, emotional, the necessities of life or just to have a listening ear. It was their goal to do so and beyond that to open to them God’s message of love and new life through Christ. For their own physical need they requested donations that they would pass on. By the time that we were there, a structure large enough to fit the trailer of an eighteen wheeler had been built. That’s where they put all of the donated goods until people arrive and could pick up clothing or groceries, Bibles, books, tapes, and now, of course CDs. During the two hours or so that we were there, I suppose 6 or 8 different cars pulled up with Native Americans hoping to have a need filled. Betsy was out there and seemed to know everyone and was just a loving and caring friend who was there to help them, which she continues to be.

Whenever I receive her newsletter (about twice a year), I read of her encounters and then, always with a smile, look at the list for possible donations for the ministry. No other such letters requested green or yellow stamps along with the more understandable pots, pans, tapes, books, and Bibles, etc. Betsy would in turn give the stamps out, enabling the recipients to get a discount on what they purchased. Some old timers reading this might remember such so-called premiums or “Give-a-ways.” Today it is a sticker to paste on a game board or to bingo cards in order to receive a free product or a prize. Theirs was the only mission that requested such items as the stamps. This is how she concludes her most recent letter:

I especially appreciate all who say they are praying for me. It’s what keeps me going. I’ll be 80 years old this year! I am so thankful for good health. Also, please pray for those with special needs such as the following: a person who was not their normal self and said that their life was in jeopardy, I’ll not go into details. Another friend called me to tell me that “God told her to pray for Betsy, that life is in jeopardy.” I was so awed. I certainly need God’s help but felt God’s peace through it all. Jesus promised to give us His peace if our minds and hearts are stayed on Him. Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.

Another difficulty that Betsy had was with her eyesight. Since our visit, her eyes have become progressively worse, and yet she said on the phone, “I still enjoy getting out into the garden to dig around to see some growth.”

Since their arrival 47 years ago, they have laid down their lives for the people, and she has continued running the mission with some family help ever since Jim died on February 19, 2003. Along with the work, she takes personal time with anyone who needs a word of counsel or is at a loss of what to do. Her first step in that direction is to take them to God and His Word and how He can change their lives. I have often read in previous newsletters about common experiences of fighting within a family or family splits, and domestic violence that is told to her. In response Betsy talks and counsels them telling them also what Jesus can do in their lives. And as one who came to her, who had been physically abused, said, “Now I am a Christian and I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart.” And Jesus took all of the heavy baggage off her shoulders and she felt so light and so free. She is witnessing to her 4 children and to her sister and to anyone who will listen. There would be countless life stories from the years in serving others.

Perhaps this gives you a taste of what one couple can do in serving without expecting anything in return. When you do something, it’s so easy to receive credit or accolades, but what about Jim and Betsy who would never have thought of accolades? Elisabeth’s words were these, “It’s in the places where nobody sees and nobody knows that the rubber meets the road.” This is surely the way they lived.

By now you may wonder why I bothered to go on this long “trek”. It is simple, for each time I receive her biannual letter, I wonder how she is doing and whether donations are still coming in or not. Knowing how people are these days with giving and the need for a tax-deductible receipt or looking for a charities that are 501(c)(3) designated, let me state that they do not issue such. I knew this earlier, but curiosity made me ask at the end of the phone conversation and I said to her, “I suppose you are still not tax deductible”. Her reply was to the point as she said, “No,” and then added one line which I found exceedingly enjoyable to hear: “In response to such a question Jim said, ‘Jesus paid His taxes and we should too.’” Can you imagine what this country’s economy would be and what our debt would be if all would live out that creed?

So to end this tome and before you call me to stop, here’s how Betsy concludes her letters:

We provide and can always use food, seeds, clothes, shoes, bedding, furniture, school supplies, gospel cassettes, cassette players, candles, misc. and Navajo Bibles.

If you are interested in sending supplies, please send via UPS to the address below. The post office does deliver but it is a mile and a half down the road. She does not drive and has no car, depending on friends or relatives to bring out whatever is there when they visit, hence, USPS is not the best choice.

Widow’s Mite Mission
Betsy Frazier
RR 3 Box 432
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

God bless y’all. That’s it from the Cove.

Lars

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