Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 28

July 13, 2020

What You Don’t See Can’t Hurt You?

I was told as a child that “what you don’t see can’t hurt you.” This was in response to my fear of my basement, where I was convinced a monster hid. This monster hid between the furnace and the hot water heater. My grandmother assured me that if I did not see a monster, there was no monster.

In hindsight I am surprised that my mother tolerated this opinion. Afterall, she was an RN who knew well what micro-organisms could do to a body. She knew that some of the greatest dangers to a person were things that one could see without a microscope. How many of us have suffered illnesses, not just from micro-organisms, but also toxins that humans have placed in the earth?

I recently read a story that the city of Paris has begun a project of cleaning canals. The project has begun with the St. Martin canal. The canal was drained and workers were horrified at the amount and type of garbage that was found at the bottom of the drained canal. There were bicycles, shopping carts, luggage and mountains of discarded plastic and aluminum cans. No one knows how many chemicals were placed in this canal, not to mention the other canals of Paris.

There is a debate in Paris as to how dangerous this polluted canal was to the health of Parisian citizens and some outcry that the canal was to be so polluted for so long. Many believe that many illnesses in Paris were caused by this lack of care of Paris’ great canals.

Let us all be warned. What we can’t see can hurt us. The earth that we have is a precious gift and each of us must be diligent in caring for it. When we do not, we only hurt ourselves.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Donoharm

#TestingGod

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Do No Harm!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 27

July 6, 2020

Do No Harm!

I don’t like restrictions. They annoy me. Yes, it is annoying that our climate of social distancing precludes us from reaching out and hugging one another. Yes, I miss leaning on a lunch counter and enjoying a diner meal. I even resent having to speak to the owner of the deli through plastic sheeting. And yet, I do all of these things because the last thing that I wish to do is to contract, and carry, Covid-19 to another person. I was taught that “do no harm” applies to every aspect of life. Those of us who strive to be obedient to Jesus, have an extra obligation to “do no harm.” Jesus warned the people that he interacted with that there are heavy consequences when we harm other people. For those in the Christian faith community, we have not just an obligation to “do no harm” but also to be obedient to Jesus.

It galls me, therefore, when groups, who claim to be disciples of Jesus, don’t take this ethic seriously. When I read in the media of large congregations meeting, despite local laws, and challenging these laws of distancing, I get angry. When I hear people, who claim to be Christian, insisting that they can ignore best practices because “God will protect them,” I bristle and wish that I could do something to confront them. When Christians act like this they put God to the test; something that the Bible tell us is wrong.

I hope that those without faith, when they see such reckless behavior, and actions that put God to the test, do not lump all of us Christians together. Most of us as individuals, as well as denominations, do not put God to the test. Most of us act responsibly for the sake of protecting our neighbors. This honors God.

Please, if you ever meet such people, ask them to mask and socially distance for the sake of others. Ask them in the name of Jesus, to stop putting God to the test. These are serious matters that effect our neighbors as well as our relationship to God. Please, please, please, let us do no harm and let us never put God to the test.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Donoharm

#TestingGod

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

The Reformed Church At Its Best

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 26

June 29, 2020

The Reformed Church At Its Best

On Sunday afternoon I had the privilege of spending time with a group of people from many area Reformed Churches. We gathered at Van Saun Park, a very beautiful park here in Bergen County, NJ and our purpose was to pray together. Of course, as Christians we are socially responsible. We used social distancing as well as face masks. We are faithful, and trust in God’s protection but we also do not test him by doing stupid things and expect him to protect us from our own stupidity. Jesus calls us to be faithful, not foolish.

So, what did we pray for? Protection from Covid-19? Prosperity? The reopening of churches? Members of a political party? No. We prayed for unity in Jesus between all races and colors. The official name of our gathering was, “Prayer Gathering: Heal the Land of Racial Injustice through Unity, Reconciliation, and Justice.”

This issue has vexed Christ church since its inception. The first Christians were Jewish. It was difficult to bring Greeks into the community when they practiced very different customs than did the Jewish Christians. Racial lines were also transcended. An early conversion story in scripture is that of the disciple Phillip who was transported by the Holy Spirit to meet an Ethiopian Eunuch who wished to understand the scriptures of Jesus. The two spoke and the Eunuch was converted and baptized.

Race and culture have always been issues in the church. Sometimes we have dealt with these issues better than others. Most people with good heart don’t wish to mistreat people of other races and cultures, but that is different than embracing other types of people, respecting them and seeing them as equals. In my lifetime I have seen a huge improvement in racial/cultural relationships, but we have not reached the Christ-like standard of full acceptance.

Until then, let us all pray daily for the healing of fractures and the coming of unity. Let us also work toward this end. As we have been embraced by God let us embrace one another.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #VanSaunPark

#Prayer

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Juneteenth; Not Just For Black People Only

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 25

June 22, 2020

Juneteenth; Not Just For Black People Only

Last Friday much of the nation celebrated Juneteenth while much of the nation did not. Many of those who did not this holiday had never even heard of it. It really has only come to be known in the north about a decade ago. Prior to that it was a holiday most known among blacks in the Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma areas.

This past week in South Jersey I was at a bank where I was greeted with “Happy Juneteenth by one woman.” Another woman asked, “what is that and why are we wishing that to people?” The first replied, “Because corporate said to.”

I asked the second woman if she wanted me to explain the origins of the holiday but she declined telling me that it was a “black holiday.” I had a similar experience at a Wawa a little while later. It seems that for many whites, Juneteenth is a black holiday. I hope that we can change that perception and all Americans can begin to celebrate this day together.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. We all heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. This freed slaves in territories held by the rebellious states. Unfortunately, the government had no way of enforcing it in territories out of federal control. Slaves received the news of their freedom only when areas were occupied by northern armies.

Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant on April 9, 1865. This, for most people is seen as the end of the Civil War. Fighting, however, continued after this date. There were other confederate units outside of Virginia. The war had not yet ended. Skirmishes continued in the west and southwest. It was finally on June 19, 1865 that Union Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas. The remaining slaves heard that they were freed and had a beach party to celebrate their freedom. In my mind, this really is when the Civil War ended.

Throughout the generations that followed, black families gathered to hear the stories from the former slaves so that family history would not be lost. Young people, who were born after slavery ended, would know what there forebearers had endured. I think it is good to hear the strength of people who overcame such harsh living conditions.

Why do I want us all to celebrate this day? Because the Civil War ended and with it, slavery. They are both things that deserve celebrating. No, my ancestors were not slaves, but at least one of my ancestors fought in the Union Army to end it. I think that the 19th of June is something for us all to celebrate.

Juneteenth; it’s not just for Black people only.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Juneteenth

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

The Circle of Seven

Appropriate Anger

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 24

June 15, 2020

Appropriate Anger

May 25 rocked our nation when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. I saw the video. If I were on the jury at a trial for Police Officer Derek Chauvin, the defense would be hard pressed to convince me that Officer Chauvin acted appropriately. Many people are angry over Floyd’s death. So am I. I am a supporter of police officers and hate when I see what looks like police misconduct. I think more of officers than that and  unnecessary deaths really make me angry.

There are, of course, protests. There should be protests. Those elected to office as well as those who are hired to enforce the law deserve to hear loud protests. But I am no just angry that Floyd died, I am also angry at the destruction and harm that some protestors did. I don’t believe that destruction of property, assaults, and looting is ever  a proper response to anger.

I have read the following estimates of the results of these activities in Minneapolis and these estimates do not include lawlessness in other areas of our nation:

Between $ 100 million and $ 150 million in property damage

570 businesses were damaged by vandalism or looting

67 businesses were entirely destroyed by fire

A factory that employed 50 people in the neighborhood where many of Floyd’s supporters lived was severely damaged. The owned has decided to not reopen the business but instead to move it out of town.

Grocery stores and pharmacies that Floyds neighborhood depended on are now closed.

Since many of the protestors were not wearing masks while protesting, there is a real fear that many Covid-19 cases will emerge from these activities.

I know that those who participating in such activities are a tiny minority. The vast majority of protestors did the right thing. They protested peacefully, justified in anger. And yet, the small minority were not properly controlled, did destruction, and probably caused some people who would have become allies, to distance themselves from this righteous movement.

There is a right way to express anger and a wrong way. When we do it the wrong way, we hurt the people whom we are trying to advocate for and the cause potentially looses credibility. Please let us use anger properly that voices may be heard with credibility, changes can be made that will lead to a better America.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #GeorgeFloyd

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 23

June 8, 2020

Heroes in Hard Times

Part Ten

We are inundated with bad and scary news. During this month I will be doing blogs that celebrate heroes in our congregation. I hope that you gain some inspiration from these and receive a respite from the bad news that the media continues to feed us.

This is the final “Heroes” blog. Now that re-opening is beginning, our blogs will return to cover opinions of local news and theological issues.

Our featured hero is Rev. Dr. Pamela Pater-Ennis of the Hudson River Care and Counselling Center. After decades of working as a psychotherapist at various centers and hospitals, Dr. Pamela opened her own ten years ago on August 1. Her practice, Hudson River Care and Counseling, has grown to include associates as well as a number of students. It is multi-faith and multi-cultural with therapists and students who are Christian, Orthodox Jewish and who come from Argentina, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, China and Korea.

Since the isolation because of Covid-19, the practice has used only Zoom to hold sessions, but has also increased in client volume. The result of this quarantine for many individuals and families has been the increase of stress and anxiety. With this rise in anxiety, people who struggle against negative behaviors, often find themselves falling back in those behaviors.

Because of quarantine and folks working from home, spending more time with spouses or partners, friction between couples has also escalated. The results of these estranged relationships too often are domestic violence, substance abuse and depression. Dr. Pamela and her staff have seen a surge of intakes since the beginning of the quarantine. All of these are treated online.

In most cases these clients have insurance. In some cases, there is no insurance or families cannot afford the co-payment. The center gives many free hours of therapy for the most at risk people suffering mental health issues. In this time of heightened tensions, Dr. Pamela and her staff intercede to help lower the anxiety and to minimize the emotional effects of Covid-19 isolation; often for free.

This is a shout out to Dr. Pamela and her staff at Hudson River Care and Counseling. Thank you for what you and you staff do.

If you need help at this time be sure to contact the center: http://www.hudsonrivercareandcounseling.com/counseling

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#http://www.hudsonrivercareandcounseling.com/counseling

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Heroes in Hard Times

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 22

June 1, 2020

Heroes in Hard Times

Part Nine

We are inundated with bad and scary news. During this month I will be doing blogs that celebrate heroes in our congregation. I hope that you gain some inspiration from these and receive a respite from the bad news that the media continues to feed us.

This is a shout out to Lieutenant Coronel Kenneth Reed. Kenny did not grow up in our congregation but his wife did, so we adopt him as our own. He is a hero, but a behind-the-scenes hero. When the Navy hospital ship Comfort came to New York City to help with the inundation of Corona victims, it was Kenny whose work stocked the ship with supplies. Around the world, our military gets medical supplies because of his work. He is a hero that is never seen, but is a crucial part of all their operations. He told me about it in his own words.

The words of Lieutenant Coronel Kenneth Reed:

Thank you for the email and for the willingness to highlight my job in your blog. I have to admit, I normally don’t do this, however I will give you a brief description and will keep the explanations as sterilized as possible;

I currently work at The US Army Forces Command aka “FORSCOM” on Ft. Bragg, NC. FORSCOM is one of four – 4-star Army Commands. I currently serve as the FORSCOM Surgeon Medical Plans & Operations Officer and Medical Operational Integrator.

Essentially I nominate / source medical units for world-wide, emergent (immediate need) rotational (forecasted) requirements and anything in support of the homeland. I dialogue daily with all components of our Army (Active / Reserve / National Guard) as well as multiple command entities in order to meet the global demand and maintain a pulse on the readiness of those units; which unit is “next” in the chute and which unit needs time back at home to build readiness etc.

Most recently, I assisted with unit nominations for the DoD COVID response and worked with Army Senior Leaders to explain what capability we had available to respond, what could be provided and how fast it could respond.

Lastly, I’m part of a larger group of staff who coordinate activities with both internal and external staffs to ensure FORSCOM deploys trained and ready medical forces to combatant commanders in support of worldwide contingency and named operations.

Pastor Mark’s Words:

Not all military heroes are in combat. Kenny is a hero. In this time of crisis may we all be grateful for his work and the work of others like him. When we see him let us thank him for his service to our country. Who can count the number of lives that he has saved?

God bless you and your work, Kenny. Thank you for your service to our nation and all of humanity. May we all imitate these Kenny in the work that we do.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#UnitedStatesArmy                                                            

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 21

May 25, 2020

Heroes in Hard Times

Part Eight

We are inundated with bad and scary news. During this month I will be doing blogs that celebrate heroes in our congregation. I hope that you gain some inspiration from these and receive a respite from the bad news that the media continues to feed us.

This is a shout out to Gregg and Martha (Marty or Marte) Martin. Gregg is an IT guy working from home and Martha is a local teacher. They juggle work and guiding their two boys as they home school. They are heroes! Marty described how they do it for this blog.

Thank you for asking about this new online education process and what it feels like as a teacher. It does feel good to be able to share.

Distance learning in my house exists on many levels. I have a son who is in 4th grade, Donny, and a son who is in 8th grade, Gregg, and then of course myself, a teacher of 8th graders. Then of course my husband, Gregg, who works from home too. So, here is a snapshot of a day in our lives. 

Let me start by saying how lovely it sounds when people give the advice of “set a routine”, “make a schedule”, or “you need to have a plan for the day”. These are all wonderful, yet very unrealistic thoughts in our house. Here is why… 

My husband will wake up any time between 5:30 am and 7 am to get the dining room table set up for the family learning and log himself on to work. This consists of some kind of easy breakfast food for us to pick at (fruit, cereal, muffins, etc. and something for the boys to drink). He also puts out each person’s Chrome Book or Laptop. (We are lucky to each have our own for the day.)  Gregg has turned the upstairs guest room into his office, so he moves between there and downstairs throughout the day. I make every effort to wake up early, some days that works, other days it does not. It depends on how late I worked the night before. If I get up early, it is mommy time Yoga, if not, a quick shower, wake up the kids, and get downstairs. The goal is for everyone to be at the dining room table by 8:30 am with a fresh set of clothing and teeth brushed. Then I move to the living room for the first Zoom meeting of the day. While I am on my daily department meeting call (which I look forward to because it is outside adult contact) the boys must make a list of their assignments for the day, and check the times for their Zoom calls. Zoom calls require movement in the house so that we do not distract each other. You Zoom in the living room and do school work in the dining room. If Zoom meetings overlap, everyone shifts to find a quiet place, or mom goes to do chores (make lunch, prepare dinner, wash the breakfast dishes, etc.) while one child uses the dining room. Dad can’t move because he has phone calls all day. 

After my 9:00 am meeting, I go over schedules with the kids, check their Google Classroom on my own, and we plan who gets help first. This is what I mean about “making a schedule”. The “Schedule” for the day is completely reliant on the Zoom meetings, and Zoom meeting times change every day after mine at 9:00 am. Now it is probably 10 am and we can make a plan for …. Today! 

Then I dive in to help each of my sons with their work. Donny and I usually start with his reading while Gregg is either on a Zoom meeting or working on his daily work. Donny has to have his reading work completed by his Zoom meeting and this requires a lot of questions and typing. Sometimes to make sure he is done in time, he tells me what to type, and I type the answers for him. This way he will be ready on time. Then of course I might help Gregg with something he has to do. So while I do that, Donny will be either on a Zoom meeting, or practicing his instrument. Yes, we do that too! Practice, and record your assignments for the teacher. Sometimes I have to give up my laptop and trade for a Chrome book when we record because it does not work as easily on the Chrome books. That means closing out work and opening it up again on a new device. This pattern goes on most of the day. In between helping the boys (or when they are on their short breaks) I check in on the assignments with my students and look for emails and comments with student questions. I support my students as much as I can. 

Lunch is determined based on Zoom meetings, so we always eat at different times. If I cannot get time to make lunch, my husband comes down and takes care of it for us. 

Now the day is not just academics. We still have elementary school specials. One day is art, so Donny creates his artwork, then we take a picture of it and email it to the teacher. On Music day he has an additional Zoom meeting and then an assignment to complete. Gym is a few days a week so he has to log his activity for that. He also has a World Language class which includes another assignment on a specific website. 

Now weather permitting, we try to fit in a break outside at some point during the day. This again is decided at the start of the day when we find out the Zoom meeting schedules. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have enough time, at the same time, to go for a walk as a family. 

Now we also have Taekwondo classes, via Zoom, three days a week! This is fun, but more work. On those days, “all hands-on deck” is announced 20 minutes before class. This means we (my husband, the boys, and I) move living room furniture, vacuum, and get on our uniforms. While they get on the uniforms, I set up the laptop with Zoom. We have to use mom’s because it is the one that can hook up to the television easily, so that means me switching computers again. Class is about a half hour. Then one day a week we have a private lesson, and another day Donny has virtual dance class. 

It sounds a little hectic, but it all really works at a pretty even pace throughout the day. 

Of course, it is not always pretty. We get stressed out, and we all have moments of frustration. Sometimes I can’t help with math because I just do not understand 8th grade math. Then we email the teacher and ask for ANOTHER Zoom meeting for help. Or the questions on the reading for Donny’s science are harder than we thought. Or someone today has to work on an essay and it is hard for the teachers to help, so… mom helps. Some days mom is tired and not pleasant too. We all have at least one moment a day I think. We are learning ways to help each other through these moments too!

Then before I know it, Taekwondo (or dance) is over, the boys are finished for the day, and the house is rather quiet (unless Gregg is in the guitar -again), and I think great! My turn to do my work! Yeah! I can finally grade some papers and plan for tomorrow. But once I get set up I realize… it is time to make dinner. 

So off to the kitchen I go. I make dinner, put food in front of everyone, and head back to the computer for my work. If I am lucky I can get right to some grading without too many emails to read and respond to. If not… I start grading later. Many nights I do not stop until I look up to see that it is 11pm and I still have to post tomorrow’s work. So when I finally get to bed it is after midnight. I know I am not the only teacher up either because the shared documents show other people working, and the text messages and emails are still going. This is the time many of us help each other with learning new technology, seeing which students need more help, deciding if our plans are working, finding out how to make things more interesting, and on it goes.  

So that is a day in the life of what we call “Distance Learning”. It is not so terrible, but it is different. I love the time we have together as a family, even in the frustrating moments. We are lucky, my husband and I are employed. We have our health, we have a refrigerator full of food, we have plenty of “things” in our house to keep us from being bored, and we are all capable of doing the work that is assigned. 

I pray every day for a cure to this virus. I want to safely return to the classroom, and move the seats to surprise my students with new lessons every day. I love to see their faces when they walk in and wonder what we are going to do today because the room looks different. That is so much fun. They are interested and they do not even know it. For now I will ask my daily questions to see how they are doing and hope that I can figure out what they need. We will all do our best and hope that we are able to teach and learn what we need to for the next school year. 

Thank you for listening… 

Martha Martin 

May we all imitate these teaching/parent heroes.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#On-lineteaching                                                    #studentson-line

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:

https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 20 May 18, 2020 Heroes in Hard Times Part Seven

We are inundated with bad and scary news. During this month I will be doing blogs that celebrate heroes in our congregation. I hope that you gain some inspiration from these and receive a respite from the bad news that the media continues to feed us.

Parents with small children have hectic lives. Now with the children home and doing lessons online, the tasks of parents are even more difficult. Teachers have difficult times also, as they teach online. What happens when the teachers who are teaching online also are parents supervising the online learning of their own children? How about when both parents are teachers?

This is a shout out to Anthony and Maureen Senzamici.  Both are teachers who are rearing three boys. Somehow they manage to supervise their children while teaching others online. They are heroes! Maureen described how they do it for this blog.

Anthony generally meets online with students and assigns work in the mornings, and he grades completed tests, labs and assignments in the evenings.  Kevin and Luke are on a pretty fixed schedule with their schools in the mornings between 8:20-12:20.  Their schedule is such that they meet as though it were a half-day, and they continue to follow the typical rotating schedule of “A” and “B” days.  I have always had difficulty understanding it, but they seem to know it which is wonderful!  Connor and I generally work between 9:30-12:00, and he loves to have breaks for snacks and Legos!  My days, like Anthony’s, are a little staggered.  I Zoom with 80% of my students, and I communicate through phone with the remaining ones (Zoom is preferred, but some families have expressed preference for phone communication).  My hours can vary, but I have  few sessions between 8:30-9:30, and then I generally see students between 12:00-4:00.

In terms of preparation, the school districts had been sending out surveys inquiring as to the number of devices present in the house, how many people could be online at the same time.  At the time, I did not think of the implications of these surveys.  The older boys are essentially on their own, they report their own attendance, and they complete work.  They meet regularly with most classes through Google Meets.  As during the year, we receive a weekly summary.  Their teachers have continued to really reach out through providing extra help, and Kevin’s music teacher is putting together a virtual concert!

For Connor, the kindergarten team sends a weekly lesson plan with supplemental pages and websites.  There have been weekly, small group meetings with students on reading skills.  Beginning this week, Connor will receive supplemental reading instruction through a Basic Skills teacher (he was not formally on her caseload, but his reading skills are a little behind).  We are grateful for the support.  While the older boys are essentially independent, Connor’s instruction resembles guided homeschooling.  

Some of the blessings which have come out of this unwanted crisis which has so devastated so many beautiful souls physically and economically:

-We have enjoyed the increased family time.  There are fewer disruptions, and we have had more uninterrupted family dinners.  Although we absolutely love Little League and hope to God that Kevin can play sports this fall, there are often practices and games during the evenings.  It has been nice to have increased family time.  

-It has been a special gift to work individually with Connor.  The lessons have provided opportunities for multi-sensory experiences, and I’ve gained a sense of some of his strengths and challenges.  For example, I can see that he becomes distracted easily so we have spaced out work during his mornings.  Sometimes, when I have a work meeting, it gives him a nice break during which he can complete some independent work.  When we do reconvene, he seems more attentive than if we just worked side by side for a long time.

-This time together has forced civility.  As we are all working together, we need to be mindful of one another’s needs, i.e. who needs to sit where, when orchestra is occurring, etc.  It was a challenge initially, but it has worked out.

-The older boys alternate daily with taking Connor outside for the afternoon.  In this way, we avoid that problem of kids just “wasting the afternoons on electronics.”

-The school district has been outstanding in its response to COVID-19.  They have continued to provide the best instruction possible under the circumstances, and they have really reached out to students.  Connor’s principal at Gibbs Elementary School continues to send morning announcements, and he has joined in on Zoom meetings to wish a child a happy birthday!  The kindergarten team has worked together to modify instructions to best meet the students’ needs.  They have responded to parent requests for individual or small group meetings, and they have worked to master technology to reach out to students.  Thankfully, they have also preserved traditional instruction methods.

-At the middle school, teachers have demonstrated flexibility with learning.  They have connected their subjects to the pandemic (i.e. Kevin’s algebra teacher discussed exponential growth in relation to COVID-19 back in February, and his music teacher encouraged her students to use music to connect with one another).  They have demonstrated flexibility.  For example, Kevin’s algebra teacher is an intelligent man in his mid-60s and was clearly struggling initially with the online learning.  Kevin really likes this teacher, and he joked about how the students had to teach him the system.  He’s mastered virtual learning.  Kevin and Luke both have a social studies teacher with a 2-year-old and expecting another child, and she’s sometimes taught their classes with her child in her lap.  These are the moments that people will remember with a smile.

-This has been a learning curve for teachers.  At the outset, Anthony said we would be forced to learn technology, and it has been true.  I have never been a tech-savvy person, but we’ve all been required to learn this new method.  As a friend said, we’ve realized we all can do it.

-I believe there has been an increased sense of civility, politeness and gratitude.  I have personally been truly impressed at the ways in which the parents with whom I work, parents of children with very significant special needs, have adapted.  

-Our house is more in order.  We have done some family cleaning projects together too.

-On a personal note, I was inspired by my mom and a fellow catechist to read the Bible.  I know it shouldn’t take a pandemic for this to occur!  However, I am trying to carve out time daily for one chapter in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.  

May we all imitate these teaching/parent heroes.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#On-lineteaching                                                      #studentson-line

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Heroes in Hard Times

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 19

May 11, 2020

Heroes in Hard Times

Part Six

We are inundated with bad and scary news. During this month I will be doing blogs that celebrate heroes in our congregation. I hope that you gain some inspiration from these and receive a respite from the bad news that the media continues to feed us.

This blog is a shout out to our newest church member who is battling Covid-19 in our state of New Jersey. He is Sergeant Marco Paez. He is part of a National Guard group who is doing important work in fighting the epidemic that has afflicted the whole world but has made New Jersey one of the “hotspots” of this virus. In the past he has been deployed to the Horn of Africa to help secure a United Nation’s base. Now he defends all of us from disease.

Marco has been assigned to be part of the 57th Group Task Force 2nd 113th Charlie Company.  He is activated at the Edison Convention Center. This building is a Covid-19 testing  center. The more testing that we do, the fewer virus carriers we will have. Testing is important.

It is sad but true that security is needed at our testing centers. One would hope that under such common threat, that people would behave well. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and not everyone behaves well. Sergeant Paez is part of the security force that keeps order as people come in and wait to be tested. There would be chaos without these brave members of our National Guard.

The soldiers who have wives and children have an exceptionally difficult duty. To avoid any chance of them catching and spreading this virus to their families, they are housed near where they work. Only once a week they are allowed to go home to be a comfort to their spouses and families. These men and women spend a lot of time isolated from their loved ones as they do this work. The lives of military families is never easy!

Today we thank Marco and the members of the 57th Group Task Force for their hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. We are safer because they are diligent and self-sacrificing. Please say prayers of protection for Marco and these brave men and women.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #CoronaVirus

#57GroupTaskForce                                               #MarcoXPaez

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/