Utah - September 2011

Utah 2011What a blessing it was to visit the great state of Utah! We spent time in several national parks taking in the sights by car, shuttles and mostly on foot. We spent two and a half days in Zion, a day in Bryce Canyon, another day in Arches and also some time in Canyonlands. The splendor cannot be described. If you ever have the opportunity to visit these incredible places, make sure you take it!

Zion National Park
This place has a very fitting name – Zion – meaning “promised land.” The cliffs of Zion stand resolute surrounding the water flowing in the Virgin River. It is indeed a place of indescribable beauty and sanctuary. Zion’s colors can stop you in your tracks and an amazing array of plants and animals thrive in this unlikely dessert place. The annual precipitation in Zion Canyon totals a mere 15 inches. Elevations in the park range from 3,600 to 8,700 feet and provide very different environments.

We saw the canyon from the bottom one day and then from the top of the cliffs the next day. We spent a day hiking what is called the Zion Narrows. The “narrows” of any canyon refers to the place where the parallel walls squeeze down to their most slender dimension. This hike follows the Virgin River north into Zion Canyon. As you hike, the 1500 to 2500-foot sandstone walls of the canyon slowly encroach upon the river, a mere ¼ mile wide at the beginning of the hike and squeezing down incredibly to 22 feet in breadth at a portion of the canyon known as “Wall Street.” No road or trail can take you to this awesome place – you must walk through the river to see it for yourself.

The next day, we hiked Angels Landing. This epic trail is one of the top two attractions in Zion National Park. The path winds its way up steep switchbacks through many fascinating geologic formations. Once the trail gains the ridgeline, it continues to narrow and steepen as the ridge ascends 1500 feet above the valley floor below. It is a challenging hike. But your effort is rewarded when the trail ends at an incredible perch giving you an unobstructed view of Zion Canyon below.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce boasts its unique pillars of rock – in fantastic shapes – called “Hoodoos.” The Visitors Center will explain how geologists say these pillars were formed over 10 million years ago as forces within the earth created and then moved massive blocks known as table cliffs and plateaus. I believe God had a lot more to do with forming Bryce Canyon than these geologists give Him credit for! An 18 mile park road with many overlooks helps you take in the stunning sites of this park. On a clear day, they say you can see over 100 miles from many of these overlooks. Unfortunately, it was far from clear the day we visited Bryce – and it was difficult at times to see through the clouds and rain and the temperatures dropped to about 40 degrees. Because of the rain, hiking the trails going down into the Canyon was being discouraged by the Rangers. But God did give us a few hours in the middle of the day when the rain stopped and we were able to hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop trails to get a view of the Hoodoos from below. Another amazing park. What a creative God we serve!

Arches
This park is filled with sculptured rock scenery. There are over 2,000 cataloged arches in this park that range in size from a three foot opening (the minimum to be considered an arch) to the longest, Landscape Arch – which measures 306 feet base to base. This is also the home of Delicate Arch that stands on the brink of a canyon with the dramatic La Sal Mountains as its backdrop. We were told this is one of the most photographed spots in all of the United States. Towering spires, pinnacles, and balanced rocks – perched on top of seemingly very inadequate bases – only add to the spectacular scenes in this park.

We hiked trails taking us to most of the accessible arches in the park – Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Windows, Sand Dune Arch, Landscape Arch, Broken Arch, Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches – and several others. One of my favorites was the fascinating double arch – and we spent quite a bit of time climbing around on the huge boulders beneath. A highlight of this park was hiking the 3 miles and elevation gain of 480 feet over slick rock to get to the Delicate Arch. As you round the last corner of exposed rim of the trail, you step out onto a landing in front of this massive sight. Simply spectacular!

Check out the photo gallery

~ Donna

 

Campliters - May 2010

CamplitersKICKING OFF THE SUMMER WITH CAMPLITERS

I started off the summer by spending Memorial Day weekend with the Campliters. This is a Christian multi-denominational camping group that meets three times each year for fun, fellowship and food while camping together. On Memorial Day Weekend, they camp at Woodcrest Retreat in Ephrata, PA. On Saturday evening they have a delicious pot-luck supper followed by a concert in the Indian Rock Fellowship Hall. They invite people from the community to join them for the concert and always have a great turnout. They are a sweet group of folks and always treat me to a hot dog roasted over the campfire after the concert. And based on some of the rigs I see, I think even I could do camping in that style! If you live in Northeastern PA and love camping, let me know. I can get you in touch with this great group! Check out the photo gallery

~ Donna

 

Alaska - April 2010

Alaska 2011I was honored to be invited to minister in several churches in Alaska alongside evangelist Al Whittinghill from Ambassadors for Christ. We spent five days in Anchorage where Eskimo and Native Indian churches came together for evangelistic and revival services. There was a total of ten sessions and it was exciting to see the Holy Spirit move as music was shared and God’s Word was opened. Many persons responded by giving their lives to Christ or with new commitments to follow Him more closely. There are many needs in the communities and villages of Alaska and God is raising up leaders who have a passionate concern for the lost. Pray for the leaders and pastors in the churches of Alaska!

While in Anchorage, we stayed in the home of a native Alaskan man named Billy. He was a gracious and generous host who warmly welcomed us. Each night after the church meetings, a large group of Eskimos and Indian people would come over to Billy’s house and we would cook, fellowship and sing until 1 or 2 AM. We got to try many of their specialties – like moose, ox tail, and Beluga whale. My favorite … the fried bread!!! I met so many wonderful sisters in the Lord and treasure the time we were able to spend sharing together. My prayer is that my music and friendship was an encouragement to these dear ladies – many of whom live in very challenging circumstances.

After leaving Anchorage, we had four days to take in the majestic sights of Alaska. We covered a lot of miles in those four days and I can’t begin to describe the incredible landscape. We enjoyed a whale watching boat trip – and several whales greeted us with a show of their massive beauty. A highlight was a flight-seeing tour over Denali National Park and to the peak of Mt. McKinley. With tears running down my cheeks, my heart was singing “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee. How great thou art! How great thou art!” We were told that up to 70% of people that visit Alaska do not get to see the peak of Mt. McKinley because of clouds and overcast weather. What a blessing God gave us of a beautifully clear crisp day – the mountain was “out” in all her glory!

At the end of the week, we traveled further East in Alaska and spent our second weekend at Victory Bible Camp where we had the privilege of visiting with dear friends from our home town who now make their home there. I sang in the morning service at Glacierview Bible Church in Sutton and then shared a concert that evening.

God is good! His arms reach wide and His family is large!

Check out the photo gallery

~ Donna

 

Liberty Ministries Benefit - April 2010

Liberty Ministries BenefitIn April, I had the honor of performing another benefit concert for Liberty Ministries. This is a wonderful ministry that brings the message of grace, hope and regeneration to those in prison and recently released. Liberty Ministries shares God’s love and the redemptive message of the gospel with men and women in prison. They also operate a residence for men recently released from prison where they learn practical job skills, receive education, participate in mentoring programs and, most importantly, receive support and encouragement for their Christian walk. Jesus said “…the spirit of the Lord is upon me … to proclaim liberty to the prisoners.” Liberty Ministries continues to proclaim liberty to men and women in prison, giving them hope and a chance to start over through the life changing power of Jesus Christ. It is always a joy for me to support this incredible ministry that loudly proclaims the amazing grace of Jesus. If you’d like to learn more about Liberty Ministries, visit them at www.libertyministries.us.  Check out the photo gallery

~ Donna

 

Harmony Sound Travels - Fall 2007

Harmony Sound It was a busy few months for Harmony Sound Quartet.  We have been in Missouri, Illinois, Texas and Oklahoma the last few months.  God blessed us with safety and wonderful worship experiences.  We made new friends and had opportunity to catch up with some old friends too.  We even had a couple “days off” when we took in some sight seeing in St. Louis, enjoyed hours of fun on the backs of four-wheelers in Southeastern Oklahoma, and even did a little fishing!  Check out the photo gallery

~ Donna

 

A Day At The Beach - August 2007

Day at the BeachLast Sunday, Jeff and I took a day of R&R in Ocean City, New Jersey.  We attended the morning worship service at Ocean City Tabernacle and heard a challenging message by Rev. Dr. Paul Kirbas, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, IL.  If you are ever visiting Ocean City, make sure to stop by the Tabernacle at 550 Wesley Avenue – what a wonderful place of worship and Christian fellowship (www.octabernacle.org).  Our true reason for choosing that particular Sunday to make the drive to Ocean City was because Allison Durham Speer was the guest musical artist at the Tabernacle.  Allison and her husband, Brian, have been great friends to me as well as a source of encouragement and support for my music ministry.  We enjoyed having time to visit with them that afternoon.  Then we heard a great concert by Allison that evening! Check out the photo gallery!

To learn more about Allison’s exciting ministry, go to www.allisondurhamspeer.com.    

~ Donna