Friday, January 4, 2013

Wow! Four years have flown by! Follow our blog again as the Vons are on to the next adventure! Love, mercy, and hope will (God willing!) fill our pages as we move into the next chapter of our lives. Since returning from our round the world trip, we have been BUSY! Here is a quick recap of what has taken place: Upon our return, Jerry went back to teaching. We opened a retail store (BackCountry Fly Shop). We built a house! Yes I know...number 4! We launched one boy to college, and the other one into high school/junior college. After four years of retail, we sold our shop! Cathi has a new profession, she is now a doula! Jerry has started writing for "InfoBarrel" and loves it! Keep up with us as we move forward into 2013!

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Hiding Place

Cathi and Micah, standing in the Hiding Place

Micah, at the entrance to the Hiding Place

Dear Family and Friends,

After 30 hours of travel, with every flight delayed and one case of motion sickness (thank goodness for barf bags!), we are home safely.

The highlights of our time in Amsterdam were many. The Anne Frank House was so sad, yet inspiring. We repeated our bike trip to the cheese factory/shoe factory. The day was beautiful and the group was fun.

The most meaningful experience was our visit to the Corrie ten Boom Museum in Haarlem. We took the train to this charming little town. The guide told Corrie ten Boom’s story so beautifully in English and Dutch. The ten Booms were a Christian family living in the Netherlands during WWII. They offered refuge for those escaping from the Nazis. They were leaders of an underground organization that provided "safe houses" for Jews and others on their way to locations outside of Haarlem. A small secret room (the Hiding Place) had been added to Corrie's bedroom to hide people in case their house was raided.

We sat in Tante (Aunt) Jan’s room (this is a sitting room directly above the family watch shop) along with about 25 others from all over the world, including an elderly Jewish couple from Israel. We all went upstairs to see the actual hiding place. The guide asked 6 of us to step inside. Micah and I quickly volunteered along with 3 women. We climbed through a hole in the brick wall. The 6th person to join us was the Jewish man. The space was claustrophobic even with the hole in the wall. The people who actually hid in the Hiding Place entered through a 3’ x 2’ opening in the bottom of the linen closet. (Micah is sitting in front of the opening in the photo above.) It had a weighted door that slid down to cover the opening. At the time of the arrest of the ten Booms, there were 6 people who quickly dashed to the Hiding Place. They were in the Hiding Place for 2½ days. I shudder just to think of it. They had no water and just a few biscuits. All six survived their time in hiding. The ten Booms were taken to prison and then to a concentration camp.

“There is no pit so deep that he is not deeper still.” This was Corrie’s message to the world. I just finished reading “The Hiding Place.” Such suffering, but so inspiring. Many times, Corrie described her love for Jesus, and His power to do things that she just could not. As an international speaker, who talked about forgiveness, she met up with one of her former SS guards who asked for her forgiveness. She just could not bring herself to forgive, however she prayed, “Jesus I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.” As she prayed these words, she felt Jesus’ love for this man that almost overwhelmed her. She wrote, “And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When he tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."

There are many "Corrie ten Booms" at Hope Children's Home. They have experienced pits so deep that we cannot even comprehend and yet they know the presence of God in such real ways. Their love and joy come from knowing Jesus and his love.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Your comments and emails have meant so much.

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Friends, Finances and Fly fishing




Dear Friends,

I have been a fly fisherman for over sixteen years. Both of my sons are fly fishermen, too. I’d like to say that the roots run deep, with fathers and grandfathers and great grand fathers, but that isn’t true. In fact, my dad is a bait fisherman. So much for pure bloodlines.

Fly fishing is an elegant, aesthetic and solitary sport. It can become one’s passion very quickly… or one’s obsession. There is an instant camaraderie between fly fisherman, a commonality, and brotherhood.

Interestingly enough, I have not found fly fishing to be popular in Uganda. In fact, most of the indigenous people fish by netting, no rod, reel or fly. My friends in Kampala, had no idea why we would fish for sport, and could not grasp the “catch and release” concept. I explained to them, poorly at best, that this was a conservation effort as well as an eco-friendly endeavor. They could not understand why one would release a fish that was caught! I tried to speak metaphorically, using clever analogies, but in the end they thought that I was crazy! I remember reading once that we in the West treat our relationships similar to a catch and release fly fisherman. Catching when in need and releasing when difficulties arise.

Which brings me to the topic at hand, On Belay Ministries Inc., our non-profit corporation that is helping solve the poverty problem in Uganda one person at a time. To date, we have micro-financed a taxi for Richard, financed one year of college education for Kenny (and one more year to go! Yeah Kenny!), and are assisting Douglas in a micro-business/cottage industry by training him to help train others. We have a commitment to these young men- not a catch and release mentality. We are in this for the long-haul, our commitment isn’t just to these young men but also to their families. Another part of our mission to help the poor involves aiding widows and orphans. On Belay Ministries has partnered with Show Mercy International working at Hope Children’s Home, loving, supporting, and caring for the orphan children. Our future goal is to provide financial aid to those who “graduate” from the home and assist in school fees and living expenses. As our Board of Directors meets to finalize our goals, please visit our website ( to keep updated and to prayerfully consider your commitment to the work of On Belay Ministries.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Micah's Blog!

Hello! In the picture above you see my two great friends (left to right) Solomon and Bonny. I am going to write about Bonny. He is 13 years old and speaks English really well for his age. Since birth his right hand and his left foot have had limited movement. He has trouble going up and down stairs and walking long distances. He has never been able to run and jump and play with the other kids. He has been living in the home since approximately 2002 but I am not sure.

One day I was sitting on the steps with him and I asked him his story. He only got as far as telling me his parents had died in a car accident before he started crying. I was not expecting that response and was shocked and saddened. I told him he has a family here and that he has people at the home and in America who love him and care about him. I told him that he is God's special son and that God has a big plans for his life. I said I would pray for him.

In spite of his background, he is a happy boy who loves Jesus with all his heart, and is a great friend to all who meet him.

by, Micah

Blog by Jess

One of the days while I was at the home I was talking to a boy named Hebrew. While I was talking to him the subject of food came up in our conversation. I asked him if he had eaten today. He said "No." So I gave him my Power Bar. Instead of eating the whole thing by himself, he shared it with everyone around him. I thought this was pretty amazing.


Sunday, June 22, 2008


Let me introduce you to Gerrold. He was my special helper when we worked at Hope last fall. He was my "tell me their name" friend. With the many children at Hope, everyone should have a helper like Gerrold. I would quietly point to a child who I knew but could not remember their name. Gerrold would discreetly whisper their name to me, again and again.

He is a quiet and gentle boy. I got to know him better during this trip. He has an older sister, Gladys, who also lives at Hope. There is much pain in their eyes and I don't know their whole story. He would like to be a Religious Studies teacher because he loves Jesus so much. Almost daily, Gerrold would slip a piece of paper in my hand with a carefully written note, telling me of his love and prayers.

On the day we left, Gerrold was helping with the photos of the students. Note on the photo above the little white bracelet on his wrist. These children have very few of their own possessions. I don't know where Gerrold got the bracelet, which is really a hair band. As we finished the final photos, Gerrold called me to him and said that he would like to give me his bracelet. I was so moved and humbled by the love of this little boy. He has next to nothing and gave me what little he had. I am wearing it now and will remember to pray for Gerrold and be inspired by his selfless love.

I want to love others the way that Gerrold loves.


Mama Regina

Hello from Amsterdam!

We were not able to add many blogs from Uganda, so I will be adding them while we are here! I want to tell you about a very special person at Hope Children's Home. The wonderful lady in the photo above is Mama Regina. She is the cook at Hope Children's Home. Not only does she cook, but she loves Jesus and all the children. She has a true servant's heart. She cooks three meals a day for the one hundred children who live at Hope as well as lunch for the school children who do not live at Hope. This is well over 200 kids! All prepared over an open wood fire. She is one of my heroes.

The day that we left, I brought a couple of jars of peanut butter to her. The Santiam Team had given us their leftover peanut butter and I consolidated then into two jars. You would have thought I gave her the world! She did a little "Thank you, Jesus! dance" and gave me a big hug. Her joy was contagious! All for two small jars of peanut butter.

Here is Mama Regina serving the children lunch.

We love these children and take care of them for the short time we are with them. Mama Regina and the other mamas love them and care for them everyday throughout the years. They are the hands of Jesus.

With love, Cathi