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"Dad taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, he didn't teach me everything he knows."
– Al Unser  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 6 June 2018  

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Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  A faith-filled journey
  By Bill Radford

   A family crisis first tested Breck Merkle's faith –- and then confirmed it.
   
   "Faith has always been a huge part of my life," said Merkle, a family and mission pastor at First Baptist Church in Black Forest. "I grew up in a Christian home with parents who were very active in the church, and they loved the Lord, so that passion I saw from the very beginning."
   
   Merkle, a Colorado Springs native, is a graduate of Wasson High School; he also attended Palmer High School. He and Candice, his wife of 13 years, met at church while they were in high school. It was also in high school, during his freshman and sophomore years, that Merkle had a defining moment concerning his faith.
   
   "I went through a struggling time as to who I was,” he said. “I was actually anorexic for two years. God just pulled me out of that through a miracle, as he reminded me who I was, who I was in Christ."
   
   After that, he said he committed himself to missionary work "wherever the Lord might lead us." He attended Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, where he majored in intercultural studies. Merkle then went to Southeast Asia, where he and Candice were church planters in Myanmar — formerly known as Burma — for 10 years.
   
   "We were the guinea pigs, so to speak, for living outside the capital city," Merkle said. No foreigners had done so before. In Myanmar, they started a school and then a community development training center called Sowing Seed.
   
   While in Myanmar, they also grew their family. The Merkles have four children: Cynthia, age 7; Judson, age 6; Chloe, age 3; and Elijah, age 2. His faith was tested when Candice was pregnant with Elijah.
   
   They were visiting stateside when they found out Candice was pregnant. Doctors warned them that Elijah would be born with severe health problems. "The first thought was he wasn't going to live outside the womb,” Merkle said.
   
   They decided for Elijah's sake to stay in the U.S. — a tough decision for both.
   
   "It was a very difficult time," Merkle said. "Living 10 years overseas, it's hard to pull yourself away from that. And then not knowing for several months where the Lord was going to lead us, our faith was definitely tested."
   
   But Elijah, who was born in April 2015, has stunned doctors, Merkle said, "In regard to how well he's doing and the strength he's got. ... God has been blessing him." Merkle said they were led to the Black Forest church, where he started as a children's pastor in late 2015. "That since has morphed into the family and missions pastor role," he said.
   
   In that role, Merkle oversees and supervises the children's department, from preschool through elementary school age. “Then, I function as the pastoral person for our kids, so that means when we do children's worship or elementary, I lead that; I teach that with a great, fantastic team." He also oversees an overall strategy for reaching families with the gospel.
   
   Last year, the church celebrated the completion of its Treehouse Children's Center. This year, it is advancing its Trailblazers special-needs ministry — a classroom will be renovated this summer into a sensory processing classroom for those with special needs.
   
   Just as schools have individual education plans to help special-needs kids reach their goals, the ministry will help them reach their spiritual goals, Merkle said. "We're also ministering to parents because they don't get a break much."
   
   Elijah is a special-needs child, so Merkle is keenly aware of the challenges.
   
   "We have that heart, we see the need there and the struggle," he said. "So we're able to connect with hurting families in a deeper way."
  
Breck Merkle is a family and mission pastor at First Baptist Church Black Forest.
 
First Baptist Church Black Forest completed the Treehouse Children’s Center last year. Photos by Bill Radford
 
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  Stroke and Heart Attack Awareness
  Submitted by Stanley Beckner

   At the Feb. 14 meeting of the Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100, Jim Rebitski, Black Forest Fire and Rescue assistant fire chief and paramedic, presented a comprehensive program on Stroke and Heart Attack Awareness to AARP members and their guests. The discussion covered the physiological aspects of a heart attack and a stroke; plus, the physical, hereditary, lifestyle, age and dietary elements that contribute to becoming a high risk individual. He also answered many questions from the audience. The presentation was especially germane since more people in the U.S. die of heart disease than cancer annually, and about one-third of the population currently exhibits some kind of cardiovascular disease.
   
   The chief stressed that immediate emergency action is required in every case of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or stroke (ischemic stroke) because of a lack of blood flow or hemorrhagic due to bleeding — or even if a TIA (transient ischemic attack) commonly known as a mini-stroke, is detected or experienced. He also said that most paramedics in El Paso County now have the capability to measure, record and phone ahead a person’s vital parameters, such as blood pressure, EKG recording, medication history and observed trauma data, to both major hospital systems in El Paso County. The result is that the doctors and emergency technicians at the hospital can immediately take the patient to the optimum treatment facility in the hospital upon arrival.
   
   The chief also discussed the technical advances in Medical Alert Systems, and recommended that senior individuals who live alone or are prone to falling should consider acquiring one.
   
   He concluded the two-hour instruction by discussing the causes and symptoms of heart failure, the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), and demonstrated CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) techniques on a mannequin.
   
   The chapter’s potluck lunch featured the usual array of delicious and special dishes with a large predominance of special “Valentine” desserts.
   
   The highlight of the business meeting that followed was the presentation of a special “Past Presidents” lapel pin to the outgoing chapter president, Charles Karlstrum, by the 2018 president, Ray Rozak. The membership was reminded and encouraged to sign up to help at the many upcoming community service events scheduled this summer such as the annual free shredding event on June 2, two Silver Key activities in March and four Senior Resource Council Golden Guidance Series events, also scheduled for June.
   
   Individuals interested in learning, socializing and doing community service should contact Ray at 719-495-6767 or visit the chapter web site at http://aarpchapter1100blackforest.weebly.com/index.html.
  
Jim Rebitiski, Black Forest Fire and Rescue assistant chief, leads a comprehensive discussion on stroke and heart attack recognition and the emergency actions required to ensure the patient receives quick and effective medical attention.
 
Chapter 1100 President Ray Rozak, (left), presents an AARP Chapter Past Presidents pin to Charles Karlstrum, in recognition of his long and distinguished tenure as president of Chapter 1100. Photos submitted
 
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  No fee senior social

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
   
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road.
   
   The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.”  Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
  
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The next meeting of the Black Forest Women’s Club is March 8 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church at12455 Black Forest Road. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. The March program features a presentation by Leif Garrison from The Black Forest Foundation.  Last month, Steve Mohan presented a program on train history and how he got started collecting them. The Black Forest Women’s Club support local charities and Wolfred School children at Christmas time. Visitors and guests are always welcome.  Any questions call 719-495-3846.   
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  Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild Scholarship

   The Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild Scholarship was created in 2006, and is awarded annually to a graduating senior attending a high school (public, private, charter or home school). Applicants must physically reside within the boundaries defined in the application. Applicants must demonstrate academic competence, strong community involvement and school participation. Eligible students should intend to enroll in an accredited college, university or other institution of formal education by the fall of 2018.
   
   The Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild was established in 1964 and is the longest, continuous craft guild in the western United States. It consists of local artists and crafters who annually donate to groups and individuals that enhance the Black Forest community. Members of the guild, the local community and patrons of our spring and fall craft shows, fund the scholarship program.
   
   Applications can be downloaded from the Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild website: http://bfacg.org/scholarships. All applications will be reviewed by the scholarship committee — members of the guild. If interested, complete the scholarship application and postmark on or before, Friday, April 27. Late applications will not be accepted. Please submit applications to Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild, P.O. Box 88222, Black Forest, CO 80908.
  
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  Pronghorn sheep

   A resident of Black Forest suggested the NFH research the loss of habitat for the pronghorn sheep. We have been in touch with Julie Stiver of Colorado Parks & Wildlife, and we are working on an article for April. We are also looking for comments from Black Forest residents regarding the pronghorn sheep situation. Email marylou@kekotiledesigns.com to leave feedback or information.   
Photos by Sheryl Lambert
 
 
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