Alipio Amaral

Alipio Amaral came to Idaho Falls last March, and is the discipleship pastor of Watersprings Church.  Alipio’s excitement for inductive Bible study is contagious, as is his enthusiasm for ministry in Idaho Falls.  You can hear him share much of his testimony in a sermon he preached at Watersprings November 30, 2014, “A Life of Impact,” available from the webpage http://calvaryif.org/tvMedia/guestSpeakers.php.

Alipio grew up in Hawaii.  One day when he was five years old, he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle.  The truck that struck him was going twice the legal speed limit, and sent him flying twenty-five feet in the air.  Landing head first into the base of a stop sign, he cracked his head wide open, and bit off his tongue.  He was flown inter-Island to the capital city of Honolulu, where at Queens Medical Center he was put on life support.  He had slipped into a coma, and his entire right side was paralyzed.  His church flew his mother over to the hospital where she commenced a vigil of prayer.  The doctors explained to her that Alipio’s worsening condition would render him immobile, inoperable, and incapacitated for the rest of his life, and recommended that she have them pull the plug on the life support equipment.  Believing that God had already healed him, his mother told the doctors “no” and waited and prayed for nine days until the night that Alipio woke up.  When he awoke, his mother asked him if he remembered anything, to which he confidently responded with his tongue that had grown back, “God told me He wants me to tell people how He healed me.”  He walked out of the hospital two months after he entered, on a Christmas day.

As Alipio continued to grow up in Hawaii, the hedonistic culture of the Islands began to influence him, and he walked away from the Lord.  His family life was focused on God, but by high school Alipio had become a rebellious teen. Yet during those teen years God did not forsake him.  Alipio was involved in 15 car accidents, some in which he could easily have been killed, and he walked away from every one. The nearness of death in some of these accidents, plus a friend’s remark about his self-centered behavior, brought him to a point of clarity about the direction his life was going, and one day at home, alone, he rededicated his life to the Lord.  From that time on, Alipio has had an insatiable desire to understand God’s word, loves to study it and teach others how to study it.

When he was 18, his family moved to southern Oregon.  Alipio attended Southern Oregon University for two and a half years, and then Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, California for a year and a half.  He has skill painting murals, and used that skill to finance trips to Israel and then Austria.  In Austria he was taking some training that included a mission trip into Hungary and Serbia, a few months before NATO started bombing the country.  When sharing his testimony in a high school in Serbia, he saw how the Lord can work, as every student in six consecutive classes accepted his invitation to receive Christ.  Yet what impressed Alipio just as much was the willingness of two Christian teachers in that school who were risking their jobs to allow the gospel to be preached there.

For the next 13 years, Alipio served the Lord in Europe, sharing the gospel, planting churches and starting a Bible college.  Most of those years were spent in southern Portugal, and he will tell you that the soil of people’s hearts there is very hard.  The Lord also sent a girl, Ashley Carlyle, to Portugal whom Alipio had first met in Hungary, who happened to be from Idaho Falls, and who would later become his wife.

Less than a week after returning to the States in 2010, Alipio was asked by his church to go to Brazil to take charge of a Bible College and Conference Center.  While willing to go wherever God would send him, Alipio wasn’t eager to go to Brazil immediately, and stayed in Oregon a year while Ashley went to Bible College.   Shortly after getting married, Alipio and Ashley went to Brazil, and were there for two years.  However in July 2013 when his mother was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, they returned to the States to take care of her.   His mother passed away on October 14, 2013.

A few months later, God opened the door for Alipio to join the staff of Watersprings.  God is using his love for studying His Word in various groups he’s leading or teaching here.  Also, Alipio is working on preparations for a discipleship school that will start September of 2015.

Missions to an unreached people group

Two Idaho Falls churches are currently involved in efforts to bring the gospel and plant reproducing churches to unreached people groups in an Asian country.  The following is a brief account of one of them. Because of sensitivity of this work, names have been omitted.

(the following was taken from a letter written in 2013, and will later be updated and expanded)

In 1998, one of the larger churches in Idaho Falls felt burdened to adopt an unreached people group somewhere in the world, with the goal of working for them and with them until, by God’s blessing, a healthy, functioning group of believers was established.  In 2000 the congregation selected a particular indigenous minority group in an Asian country.

This project has been ongoing since that time.  As of 2013, there was not a full Bible in the language of this people nor a self-sustaining group of believers, but there has been progress.  When the church decided to adopt this people, there were few known believers, save for a tiny remnant from missions activity 50-some years earlier.  Now there is at least one functional church in one of the two province where this people group reside, and perhaps as many as several thousand believers scattered around a 200,000 square mile area.  A translation of the New Testament in the native language was published in 2008 and translation of the Old Testament is underway.

The initial primary connection of the Idaho Falls church to this unreached people group was a family from the church who lived among the people in Asia for six years, getting a feel for the challenges to reach them, making friends among the people, studying languages, and assessing what resources were already in the area for spreading the gospel.  During that period, the church also formed and sent also sent five groups of short-term missionaries who taught English camps during the day and built relationships as best they could.  As of early 2013, 30 different people from the church have gone to Asia as part of these mission efforts.  During the 2011 trip, the team was able to attend a festival that culminates with sacrificing a lamb.  This set up the opportunity for one of the team members to present to a small group the redemptive analogy of the Lamb of God. Additional trips were made most later years.

The church is committed to reaching this people group.  The majority of the people in this group are animists and do not know the God of grace.  When the church took on the challenge, no one knew how long it would take to see God establish a reproducing native church, which is their ultimate goal.

Glimpses from My Life – Rebecca Mitchell

The pictures of ideal characters in fiction even under the most artistic hand, or the power of the greatest imagination, can never surpass in portraiture or characteristics the reality of individual experience.  Thinking people are loath to give out to the world their sacred experiences, hidden away within the Holy of Holies of their lives, where none dare intrude.
Rebecca Brown Mitchell

What busy days they were, spinning the wool to be woven into cloth for the winter’s clothing, caring for the lambs of the flock, driving in the sheep and cows at night, no idlers, nor drones, but each did his or her share of the daily work. Behind the farm house was the blooming orchard, laden with its perfume, or rosy with fruit, which was a never ending source of delight.

The country was new and school privileges scarce, while but few books were available, but Scotch-Irish blood and convictions in a deacon’s household made all the family Bible students.  From this Christian home I went in my nineteenth year to be a farmer’s wife, but only a few years passed when death entered the home and took the husband and father from my side.  Though I was but a child in experience, yet now I must take a woman’s responsibility with a world to face alone.  It was at that time when coming in personal contact with existing conditions, that I was awakened and took in the legal restrictions of my sex, which has been as a fire shut up in my bones, permeating my whole being and making me what I am along the lines of independent thought, and willingness to endure hardness, that citizenship for women might be won.

According to the law of the State, the Court appointed appraisers, who came into my house, overhauled trunks, drawers and closets, putting a price on my own goods which I had brought from my father’s house, with one exception, my Bible and hymn book, which they handed me, saying, “These are exempted by law.”  Thus I had to buy back that which was my own by personal right.  But if I had died, my husband would have gone on in full possession of all the property, to use or to keep as he liked regardless of the rights of the children.  This unjust discrimination of the law against women, seeing that they were not consulted as to birth, having no choice as to sex, color or country, was to me in the light of my new experience, heathen and not Christian in any sense of the word.  This was to me a violation of the sacred rights of self-government and of the oneness of the marriage relation as taught in the Bible.  I was like a prisoner in the iron cage of the law, while I studied and tolled, ever lifting my face upward to a Father which I could never believe cared less for His daughter than His son.  The voice of God and of humanity was in my soul, but I chafed in silence, for at that time women were to be seen and not heard, but still the cry from the great mission fields was ever sounding in my ears.  I sought the path of duty and opportunity along the lines of the church, but was hedged out by public opinion and sex prejudice from active service into which the Lord called me. When my two boys were grown and married, I went to a missionary training school in Chicago for a few months, in preparation for work, and in June, 1882, turned my face toward the Great Unknown West, not knowing the whereabouts of my final destination, but was led by God, and so I found myself in Idaho, in the town of Eagle Rock, now Idaho Falls, coming as a self-supporting missionary of the Baptist Church.

What this new territory was at that time can hardly be understood by people in the Old World, a part of the Great American Desert as given in our geographies of forty years ago, but the kiss of nature has transformed the desert into fruitful fields, dotted with thousands of homes, and many schools of high grade as well as primary.  Through this wild country, the home of the Redman, came a few trappers and hunters, who were largely squaw men, and miners heading to the great mining country to the North.  This road crosses the Snake River at this point.  The banks of the river are solid walls of lava rock, and the river looks like a great crack in the earth made by and earthquake while in some places it is claimed that the bottom cannot be found, the current is very swift, dashing the water upon the rocks with such force that it lashes into foam and roars like the sea.  The town was then a row of company houses, built by railroad employees, with shanties here and there, besides a few business houses and the ever-present saloon plying its trade.

It was the morning of June 5th, 1882, when I stepped from the train and into the new world.  No hotel or furnished room could be found where I could find shelter and rest.  All day long I waded the sand shoe top deep in some places, going from house to house, where I found a welcome, but no room.  Late in the afternoon I found a shanty that I could rent, which had been used for a saloon, into which my daughter and I gladly moved our trunks and were at home, amid such surroundings that a change of world could hardly be greater.  I bought a candle, and for a candlestick used an empty beer bottle.  After sweeping out the room, I spread a comfort on the bare floor for a bed, and committing our souls and bodied to the care of the ever-present Father, we slept the sleep that faith alone can give.

I found no church or church organization on this line of road from Ogden, Utah to Butte, Montana, a distance of four hundred miles.  Neither tree, nor grass, nor bird was to be seen on the streets, but sand, sand everywhere.  But when the sandstorms came, it was beyond description.  My first work was a day and Sunday school, which I named Providence Mission, because by unexpected and unplanned journeys the Lord had transplanted me into this needy field.  As nothing better could be found, I transformed my shanty into a chapel and schoolroom of the most primitive kind imaginable, having no furniture same two benches, which served at night for a bedstead and by day for seats for the larger pupils, each having a box in front for a desk.  The smaller children had two boxes, one for a seat and one for a desk.  But how those children did study, making progress not without standing for want of everything needful in the way of equipment.  I never halted, doubted or hesitated, accepting every privation without murmuring or looking back to the world left behind with regret.  My motto was “all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 8:23).

Before the end of the first month my purse was empty, the cost of living was much more than expected.  I had sent home for funds, but the expected remittance had not arrived.  My daughter had been sick and craved some pickles.  I had given her the last nickel with the assuring promise on my lips, “The Lord will provide.”  That very day at noon, a prominent railroad man and a patron of my school, (Frank Reardon) who had laughed at me for saying “Providence Mission” came and handed me the tuition for his boy.  I said with choked emotion, Mr. Reardon, why did you do this?  Did you know that I had spent the last cent, and now you come and pay your tuition before it is due?  What do you call this but the Lord’s direct provision for our need?”  He said, “It does look like it,” and ever after while he remained in this country, he and his family gave me many a comforting word, and more substantial help.

Early in November winter set in, with deep snow and severe cold, which made it impossible to live longer in the shanty.  But by this time, a better place, though very small, was secured, which served me to the end of the first year’s work, after which reasonably good accommodations were opened for my school and home.  I began at once to raise money by writing letters to people in the East who were interested in Home Missions, to build a church.  I was greatly aided by Rev. Dwight Spencer of New York, Superintendent of Baptist Missions in the West.  In this work I happily succeeded during the third year, and in November, 1884, the little chapel was dedicated.  It was the beginning of a new era in Snake River Valley when the bell rang out the hour of prayer.  The Sunday school had prospered; good attendance and faithful co-workers had made the school a landmark to be seen afar.  By this time people were coming into this new country to take land and make homes.  It was slow work, but year by year the population increased as emigrants realized the fertility of the soil and the healthfulness of the climate.  In 1886, a national organizer of the W.C.T.U. came to Eagle Rock and organized a local union of which I was president. Some months later a convention was called at Boise City, when the unions were organized into a territorial union.  I was a delegate to that convention, and took my first lesson in convention work.  I still followed my school work, but in 1891 I was elected State organize and Superintendent of the Franchise, which put the legislative work in my hands.  My daughter being now married, a pastor of the church located, and a public school running, I was free to drop the school work and enter this open door, which gave such opportunities not only to come in contact with people, but to learn much of the social, political and religious condition of the State.

My first legislative work was securing the passage of a Bill raising the age of consent for girls, from ten to eighteen years, at the same time working for an amendment to the constitution granting the right of suffrage to women.  In this I failed at first, but kept on knocking until the Bill passed the next session of the legislature.  The amendment aroused many women outside the ranks of the W.T.C.U., and much help was given by them, writing letters and personal interviews with the members.  But the great battle was to be fought at the Polls at the next general election.  In the meantime, earnest prayerful work was to be done.

 

Justice and truth are fixed eternal principles.  But the world of mankind has leaned away from this tower, until the standard of right in heathen lands lies prone upon the earth at right angles with justice.  The will or the passions of men being the recognized law.  Thus the man holds the life of his wife in his hands as absolutely as the life of his beast, or as any tyrant the life of his meanest subject.  Women are bought and sold and driven like cattle or even worse.  Then this Heathen Standard moves up a little place, where a man may not kill his wife, though he can sell her.  She may eat in his presence and speak to him.  It moves again, the woman is consulted as to her husband, though a slave in every way afterward.  Thus step by step a whole humanity is now being lifted by the Law of Righteousness and truth out of the deepest degradation and moved upward toward the perpendicular.  But as yet there is not a nation in all the world, Christian or non-Christian, that gives to the daughter the same moral, legal, educational and parental rights that the son claims for himself and keeps.  But Election Day dawned upon us, with all its momentous possibilities, cold and stormy, but the club women and W.T.C.U. were abroad at work.  Coffee rooms were opened, and by every means courteous, we urged upon the voters the justice of our cause.  In one place the women hired two boys to go out with placards on their breasts, with this petition “Vote for your Mothers.”  A day of deep anxiety and trial to many of us.  As I stood as near the polls as possible, speaking to the voters as they went into vote, I said to one of the old pioneer citizens of our town, as he was passing in, “Mr. A., won’t you vote for the amendment?”  “It’s not my ticket, it’s not my ticket,” he replied and pushed on and left me.  Afterwards a colored man, who was servant in a household opposed to the amendment came along, and I said, “You will vote the amendment, won’t you?”  “I don’t know, Mrs. Mitchell, I don’t understand it.”   “Do you understand the rest of the ballot?” I asked.  “I think I do.”  “Well then why can’t you understand this?  It is just doing for us what was done for you.  You must be willing to do that.”  “Don’t know, Mrs. Mitchell, don’t understand,” and so he went in and voted.  Some men said, “Women have too many rights now,” and some said other things cruel and hard to bear, cutting deeper than the cold wind.  But we won by a good majority, though the opposition tried to claim that it must be a two-thirds vote to amend.  So the matter went before the Supreme Court, which decided that the majority carried and the battle was over.

When I first asked for the position of chaplain in the Legislature, the men said, “We never heard of such a thing,” but I said, “Why not Idaho do the unheard of thing and set the example for other States?”  But by the next Session I had learned how to work along this line.  So I wrote letters to the members elect urging my claims before the opening of the session, was nominated in joint caucus by the Democrats and Populists and elected in open session by unanimous vote.  Was re-elected the next session in the same way and by the same political parties.  The members and officials have always treated me with all due respect, except in a very few instances where prejudice overruled courtesy.  One of the most interesting events occurring while I was chaplain was when the Idaho legislature accepted an invitation from the Utah Legislature to visit them in a body.  We were very kindly received and toted around with much honor, receptions and speeches with a band concert at Fort Douglas was Saturday’s program.  On Sunday, I found my way to the State Prison, where I talked to the prisoners, went to the Tabernacle in the afternoon, and in the evening out to Fort Douglas to preach to the soldiers.  Monday morning went to Garfield Beach, and in the afternoon a joint session of the two State legislatures was held to play at lawmaking, but had the opening rollcall as usual.  To my surprise when all was ready, Idaho’s chaplain was called to open the session with prayer.  I rose and went forward hardly knowing where I was, but I opened my mouth and the Lord filled it with large petitions, as the hush of the vast assembly was something to be felt.  The after comments were all on the side of the woman chaplain.

During all the years given to legislative work, I have held service in our State Prison at Boise, and often between sessions when in the city.  The service was always favorably received by the men, winning the attention and the hearts of some to receive the truth and strive for a better life.  One man in a letter said, “I am glad I am here, for I have learned about Christ and to read and to love His word.”  The “boys,” as I called them, were especially grateful for the parole law which I had helped to secure, they always manifest great pleasure when I visit and preach to them.

My own women were astonished at the boldness of my forward movement in seeding the position of Chaplain, but when they saw that I could fill it all right, they rejoiced with me in the victory.  Letters of congratulations poured in upon me from all over the United States, and worn as I was with the long battle for citizenship, I was cheered by the honor given me in my old age, a kid of compensation for long weary miles of stage travel and storm and cold.  The jeers of men were forgotten, the haughty looks of women who had all the rights they want, faded away as a cloud before the sun.  Not for myself did I care so much, for I had learned to labor and wait, but for womanhood was the victory dear to my heart.  History will record that work done for humanity, the helpless and unprotected legally or otherwise pays a dividend far greater than any other investment, even though the recipients may not at the time appreciate the sacrifice and labor which it cost.

 

People, Geography, and Businesses

The People of Idaho Falls

Let’s start with the people, who have lived in Idaho Falls or are now living here.

About 32,000 have been buried in 24 cemeteries in Bonneville County. A little more than three times that amount, 104,234 people, were living in Bonneville County as of 2010.  The 2010 census shows the population of the City of Idaho Falls to be 56,813. More than 12,000 people from outside the city commute to jobs in Idaho Falls. The growth of Idaho Falls and the nearby communities of Ammon, Lincoln and Iona has in effect integrated these towns, with a combined (additional) population of 19,266, into Idaho Falls. Populations of Swan Valley, Irwin, and the part of Ririe within Bonneville County are at most a few hundred each, leaving a sizable rural population in the county.  A large part of this rural population can be considered part of Idaho Falls either because of geographic proximity or social, religious and business connections.

Between 1883 and 1885 the population of Eagle Rock exploded from 550 to 1500, when the railroad house came to town.  But by 1890 it had plummeted down to 472 as the railroad jobs were lost to Pocatello. The population more than tripled in each of the next two decades.  The next largest period of high population growth was in the 1950’s, in which the population grew by 73%, due to formation of the National Reactor Test Site, the forerunner of the Idaho National Laboratory.  The growth spurt of the 1950’s was followed by the slowest growth, of 7.9%, for the decade of the 1960’s.  Since then the population has grown by 10-15% per decade.

In recent years, the fastest growing segment of the Idaho Falls and Bonneville County population has been Hispanic, increasing from about 2% of the population in 1980 to nearly 12% in 2010.Based on the 2010 census, 57% of the people living in Bonneville County were born in Idaho.  It’s highly probable that most of those were born and grew up in Idaho Falls.  In our highly mobile society, that’s a high number, suggesting strong attachments to the city or area. Based on the same census, 37% of Bonneville County residents came here from other states, while 5% were foreign born.

In contrast, in 1880, only 12% of the population of Eagle Rock and Willow Creek had been born in Idaho, about 33% in Utah, 27% in 22 other states and 19% in eight European countries or Canada.

In 2010, there were 2,412 births in Bonneville County and 890 deaths.  The net in-migration from other states to Bonneville County from 2000-2009 was 8,057 people, but in 2010 turned negative as 107 more people left than came.  The net in-migration of people born outside the United States to Bonneville County was 853 from 2000-2009 and remained positive in 2010, when 128 more came than left.

The geography of Idaho Falls and the surrounding area

Geologically, the most obvious feature of our city is the river that runs through the town, and supplies electric power to most of it.  Not quite so obvious is the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer, of which Idaho Falls sits on the eastern edge. One reason water is so essential to the city is the dryness of our climate, with an average annual precipitation of only 10.5 inches.

Located near the eastern edge of the Snake River Plain, the terrain of Idaho Falls is nearly flat.  The elevation at different points in the city varies in an irregular pattern from about 4,700 to 4,735 feet.

While many Idaho Falls residents enjoy recreational opportunities in mountains within easy driving distances in any direction from Idaho Falls, the closest mountains are the Blackfoot Range, southeast of town.  Taylor Mountain, rising to 7,414 feet, is included in this range, named for James “Matt” Taylor who built the first bridge in what became Eagle Rock.  The highest point in Bonneville County is the top of Mount Baird, at 10,025 feet, in the Snake River Mountain Range.  The highest point in Idaho, 12,668-ft Borah Peak, is 96 (cross-country, straight-line) miles from Idaho Falls.

Idaho Falls Businesses

Once canals began supplying water to pioneers in Eastern Idaho, agriculture became the economic base for Idaho Falls and remained so until the early 1950’s.  As early as 1869, geologist Ferdinand Hayden, who led numerous expeditions in the West and has left his name in numerous places in Yellowstone Park, reported that the Snake River Valley “was composed of a rich, sandy loam, that needs but the addition of water to render it excellent farming land.”

A 1920’s brochure included the following in its description of Idaho Falls:

“It is in the center of one of the greatest irrigation districts of the West, and the trade center for 1,300,000 acres of irrigated lands, exclusive of hundreds of thousands of acres of dry farming, grazing and forest lands.”

“[Among businesses] located in this city might be mentioned the largest sugar factor in the West, grain elevators, feed mills, wholesale grocery houses, three strong and successful banks, wholesale potato houses, bonded warehouses, cheese factory, bottling plants, bakeries, oil distributing plants, some of the finest garages in Idaho, planing mills, steam laundry, one of the largest wholesale seed pea companies in the world, honey shipping house, several lumber yards, cream buying stations, ice cream and candy factories…”

The above quotation mentions four of the agricultural products (potatoes, grain, sugar and honey) – two of which are now largely forgotten – that were important in the history of Idaho Falls.

To some, Idaho is synonymous with potatoes; Idaho Falls along with other parts of southern and eastern Idaho is a center for marketing and processing potatoes grown in the area. In recent years six billion pounds of potatoes have been grown in Idaho leads each year; potato processing in Eastern Idaho accounts for 44% of the total in the state.

Idaho also leads the nation in barley production, and two of the three barley processing facilities in the State are in Idaho Falls, Anheuser Bush’s Idaho Falls malt plant and the Idaho Falls Modelo malt plant.

In 1903 some Idaho Falls citizens formed the Idaho Sugar Company and constructed a sugar factory in Lincoln.  The History of Idaho, published in 1914, reported that this sugar factory was the largest in the world, processed sugar beets from 10,000 acres, and disbursed a million dollars annually in payment for beets and labor.   It’s original capacity of 600 tons of sugar beets a day was expanded to 4400 tons/day.  Over 75 years of operation, the plant produced over 4 billion pounds of sugar.  As late as 1970, the plant was the second largest sugar factory in the nation, employing between 350 and 400 workers, and producing about 150 million pounds of sugar a year.

In the early 20th century Idaho Falls was recognized as one of the largest producers of honey in the world.

1863

1863 was a significant year for the future city of Idaho Falls.

On January 29th of that year, General Patrick Conner led his troops in the slaughter of 300-400 Shoshone and Bannock Indians at Bear River.  In the words of an early Eagle Rock resident, this battle “settled the Indian question,” opening southeastern Idaho for both travel and settlement.

Only five days later, on March 3rd, the Territory of Idaho was created.  Meanwhile, the “United” States were at war, and by summer, Confederate troops were winning victories in Virginia.

Gold had been discovered the previous year on Grasshopper Creek in Montana, and in 1863 prospectors were flooding into southeast Idaho on their way to Virginia City, Montana.  To accommodate their crossing the Snake River, Harry Rickards (sometimes spelled “Rickets”) and William Hickman began building a ferry in May at Flathead Crossing, approximately 7.5 miles by river north of the present Broadway Street Bridge.  William Hickman is also known as “Wild Bill” Hickman, a guide for General Conner, and earlier a bodyguard for Joseph Smith and a confidant of Brigham Young.  Hickman wrote an account of his life that was published by J. H. Beadle with the title, Brigham’s Destroying Angel: Being the Life, Confession and Startling Disclosures of the Notorious Bill Hickman, Danite Chief of Utah.

Besides building the ferry, Hickman and Rickards erected a log building which served as their living quarters and shelter for travelers.  When the ferry, which would shortly be called the Eagle Rock Ferry, opened on June 20, 1863, 230 people were eager to cross.  By the end of the year, 500 wagons had crossed.

As if this wasn’t enough notoriety for the beginning of Eagle Rock, on May 24 of 1863, Henry Plummer was elected sheriff of Bannock, Idaho Territory, which included the Snake River Plain and hence Eagle Rock.  On Sept 2, 1863, Sidney Edgerton, who had just been appointed Chief Justice of Idaho Territory by President Lincoln, crossed paths with Henry Plummer in Eagle Rock and was favorable impressed with him.  Conversations with other travelers quickly changed Edgerton’s opinion of Sherriff Plummer.

And in 1863, the Eagle Rock Ferry was a favorite loitering place for hold-up men, waiting for wagons carrying gold from the north.  The robbers could make an easy escape into the desert to the west or mountains north or east. Perhaps for this reason, as well as lingering fear of Indians, General Conner sent some of his troops to guard the Eagle Rock Ferry.
The events of 1863 in what would soon be called Eagle Rock are the backdrop for the work of Jesus.  There was much to be done!  The blood of the land cried out as did the injustice and greed that had taken root.

HE CAME (or REFLECTIONS ON HIS COMING)

By Rachel Barnes (links added by Todd Wood)

What a special day it was for us when Joseph Martin showed up at our choir rehearsal, and then the next day at our first two presentations of our choir cantata “A Classical Christmas”. To have him physically present to experience the “Pietà” [last year’s youtube example here] which he himself had composed was exceptionally heartwarming. Truly we have always loved singing and playing the piece for 3 reasons:

  1. It is written so skillfully that the music tugs on our hearts.
  2. It reminds us through the mothering heart of Mary how blessed we are that Jesus came and died on the cross for us (as well as for her).
  3. He wrote this piece specifically for our choir under the direction of Penny Dixon.

I think we all feel some degree of awe to have this personal relationship with a really good composer, so we delight to sing and play this piece with all our hearts, as well as other pieces he has composed. They are like specially crafted treats. (Musical truffles?) I also think we all experienced some degree of tearfulness when he expressed his stunned pleasure after hearing and seeing his piece brought to life, both through our singing and playing and embellished with our live “Mary” and young “Jesus” fleshing out the story line. Hearing his response was especially rewarding and endeared us all ever the more to him. And then having the privilege of hearing him pour out his music at the piano just for us reminded us we were truly in the presence of a master of high quality.

But his coming touched me at a yet deeper level. It spoke to me of Jesus himself in several ways. For one thing, Joseph exemplified the humility of Christ, that he came to “little old us in Idaho Falls”. He didn’t have to show up here. Certainly he has many grand things in his schedule…big-time concerts, working with publishers, constant composing projects…the list must be long. But he chose to come sit in a pew and listen and watch US, carving out a piece of time to fly all the way from Texas…up at 4:00 am…even with a huge concert coming up in another day or two. How much more amazing that Jesus came to us. “God in flesh appearing”. He came for US. Personally. Wow!

I must confess as the accompanist for the choir, when I first heard that he was coming, I felt a momentary emotional reflex of panic. (Yikes! What if I mess up? Right in front of the composer?! Where can I hide?!) But love took over, because we love his music and he composed this marvelous piece out of holy love for Penny and our choir. And I personally love playing this music, especially for the reason of the level of musicality and challenge. It doesn’t leave me bored sitting on the piano bench. So maybe I will mess up or crash, but I’ll give it all I’ve got and expect he will see that we are at least making our best effort. We want to do our best for him because we love him. So people were asking me the day we were expecting him… “Are you nervous?” I suppose in a way I was, but not like when playing for an adjudicator. He wasn’t coming to judge us. He was coming to love us, and what a difference that makes. I think of Jesus. He has prepared and created for us many good works to do. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” While doing the things, the works, that God has given us to do, we are blessed to have the presence of Jesus within us spiritually through his Holy Spirit, because of a love relationship He has established with us. His works are fleshed out through us, though we still exist in imperfection. “He is at work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

One day Jesus is “coming” BIG-TIME, in his physical absolute awesome presence. Yes, He is coming to judge the earth. But for us who have entered into a love relationship with him and have accepted his act of love to die on the cross for us, for our nasty sins and imperfection, it’s not something to be nervous about. We can look forward to His throne as the place where He will say “Well done”. The greatest reward for any efforts we have made will be to see the delight in his eyes and hear it in his voice. Because he loves us and we love him.

Christmas in Idaho Falls

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7