29 Nov


RMCNews with Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico … La Vida Mission is thankful for the two large donations of food, supplies, and household items received in November to distribute to the Navajo Reservation.

The first donation included 26 pallets of items from the Partnership with Native Americans organization. The items included assorted food and groceries, hundreds of cases of bottled water, personal care items, personal protection equipment, cleaning supplies, and essential household commodities.

La Vida Mission staff and volunteers prepared boxes and bags from the donated items to give to 200 families at the November 19 drive-through Thanksgiving giveaway.

Dorie Panganiban, La Vida Mission office manager, expressed gratitude for the donations, saying, “Thank you, Partnership with Native Americans, for always supporting us in all our community outreach programs and initiatives and for making this possible.”

A week after receiving the considerable donation for the Navajo community family, another wave of donations arrived from the annual RMC La Vida Mission supply drive.

The annual drive, organized by Cathy Kissner, RMC Adventist Community Service director, allows churches in RMC to donate items to help with the operation of La Vida Mission.

Items ranged from office and school supplies, assorted food and groceries for the cafeteria and dorms, health, hygiene and personal care items, laundry and cleaning supplies including paper products like napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels, clothes and bedroom articles, furniture and appliances and other miscellaneous items.

“Words are inadequate to express our gratitude and thanks to Mike and Cathy Kissner, the administration of Rocky Mountain Conference, and our awesome brothers and sisters from the different churches in the conference for supporting this project and initiative,” Panganiban said

RMC members can continue to support the work of La Vida Mission by donating items throughout the year by ordering through Amazon. Please use the following address for donations:

La Vida Mission Annual Drive
700 County Road 7730 Lake Valley
Crownpoint, NM 87313

To view a video of the Thanksgiving drive-through give away, please click here https://vimeo.com/651177536

–RMCNews with Dorie Panganiban is La Vida Mission office manager; photos supplied

18 Mar


[Updated Friday, March 19 at 6:45 a.m.] RMCNews with Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico … La Vida Mission is in mourning. A mighty warrior of God and a stalwart of faith is fallen. Pastor Steve Gillham, a retired minister and director of La Vida Mission, lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday, March 17, at the age of 74.

Dorie Panganiban, La Vida office manager recalls Pastor Steve and his devotion to the work of the church while battling physical illness. “Illness may have taken a toll on him and defeated his physical body, but his spiritual body was kept from the evil of this world and remained pure and strong and victorious until his last breath.”

Pastor Steve, who served several churches in Oregon and the Rocky Mountain Conference, had been battling cancer for many years, but that didn’t slow down his passion to reach the Navajo nation with the gospel.

Pastor Steve began his RMC ministry in Wyoming serving Douglas, Wheatland, and Casper churches where he gave spiritual leadership for 11 years and played an important role in Mills Spring Ranch. “He was an integral part of Mills Spring during his time in Casper.   The Upper Room, above the shower facility, he built as a connection to Jesus and the Disciples time in the upper room,” Liz Cornett, Pastor Steve’s daughter recalled.

After serving many congregations in Wyoming Pastor Steve moved to Colorado to serve many districts including Alamosa, Monte Vista, Cortez, Dove Creek, and Nucla.  He also served as coordinator of Cowboy camp meeting.

“He was the coordinator of Cowboy camp meeting for many years and looked forward every year to seeing friends, singing together and worshipping in God’s nature,” Cornett added.

Eric Nelson, RMC vice-president of administration, recalls his friend with whom he became acquainted in college. “I had the privilege of attending Walla Walla College with Steve. After college, we served together in the Oregon Conference. We then had the privilege of sharing our ministry in Rocky Mountain Conference together. We worked and prayed together as we served the Lord in our given churches.”

“On a personal note,” Nelson added, “it was always a joy for our two families to visit together and share memories. This will surely be missed.”

Pastor Steve’s friendship was also special to Panganiban. “My husband and I and our little family will terribly miss him, although I feel that I will miss him more as I remember the many times and occasions of meetings in his office or my office or in the board room, the long phone calls when he was traveling, talking and discussing challenges and opportunities for ministry at the Mission, the joy of working together for the Lord in this place,” she said.

Pastor Steve will be remembered for his time and investment in La Vida Mission. “Upon retirement, he was invited to take leadership as director of La Vida Mission,” Nelson explained. He has done a wonderful service [and has] blessed the mission with good solid organization and direction. It is a much stronger institution because of his work. His passing will impact the mission greatly. He will be missed for his godly example and service and for his outreach to the Navajo Nation,” Nelson said.

Panganiban added, “He will surely be missed by everyone at the Mission who has known him and his friendship and leadership. The void and vacuum that he has left can only be filed by the grace of God.”

His latest venture, described as visionary, was to assist Adventist World Radio in creating a Navajo language radio station at the mission to broadcast the Good News of Jesus to the nation. Back in August 2020, Pastor Steve commented, “You see, we have been having this dream of winning the reservation for Christ.”

Working on the project was Allen Steele, former vice-president of AWR. “Steve was an integral part of our Navajo radio outreach to bring the Gospel to this largest Native American Tribe.  A man of vision, he quickly took on the challenge of establishing a radio production studio at La Vida to bring God’s message to the Native community that he loved,” he commented.

“Steve Gillham’s support and expertise in devising ways to make the Adventist message attractive to the Native tribes will be greatly missed as we work toward accomplishing the dream he had for this very important project,” he added.

A memorial and celebration of life service will be held at La Vida Mission on March 19.  He is survived by his wife Carol and four children–Stephanie, Liz, Angela and Stanley.  A celebration of life service will also be held on Sabbath, March 27 at 3:00 p.m. at the Casper church where he served as pastor for 11 years.

Liz Cornett remembers a special time when the family would depart after spending time together.  “Whenever we parted, he would always gather us together in a circle, clasp hands and in unison say, ‘May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.’”

“We will carry on the legacy of a faithful, godly life that you have left us,” expressed Panganiban. “We will persevere like you till the end. I believe with all my heart that you can boldly say, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’”

–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

05 Feb


By Dorie Panganiban – Crownpoint, New Mexico … People have different reactions toward the Covid-19 vaccine. While some are hesitant and skeptical, others look forward to being vaccinated and are waiting patiently for their turn after the healthcare workers, frontliners, and elders are served.

Who would think that the staff at La Vida Mission would have the privilege of receiving their first dose of the vaccine without even planning for it? “It was a sweet surprise to several of us to be included in the process through the courtesy of Indian Health Services Healthcare Facility in Crownpoint, New Mexico,” said Dorie Panganiban, La Vida Mission office manager and outreach director.

“On the afternoon of Wednesday, January 27, I got a phone call from IHS-Crownpoint Healthcare Facility offering vaccines to our mission staff. I was told they have been working with La Vida Mission and recognize the Mission as their partner in serving the community through its many outreach programs and its school that serves their children.”

The Health Services Center thought about us and reserved some shots for those of our missionaries who wish to receive one. The list of those wanting to be vaccinated was gathered in less than an hour so that it could be submitted to the hospital for the morning of the following day. “We went and received our vaccines along with frontline workers and Navajo elders,” Dorie explained.

Our organization was recognized for its ministry because of the partnership with the Navajo community that La Vida Mission Community Outreach and Healthy Lifestyle Education Programs has created with the different services of the Navajo Nation office. “There are times when the community recognizes us in a surprising way,” Dorie added.

“The Mission is grateful to the Indian Health Services Crownpoint Healthcare Facility for their service to us and thanks God for making it all possible. When asked for the cost to our staff, the representative said, ‘You will not pay because you serve our people,’” Panganiban said.

–Dorie Panganiban is La Vida Mission office manager and outreach director; photo supplied

12 Jan


By Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico … On a cold, frosty morning in December, the staff of La Vida Mission embarked on their twelfth and final COVID-relief operation of 2020.

Outside the mission gym, the staff was ready to distribute 150 Christmas bags filled with goodies for families in need.  Along with the bags filled with surprises for the families, the mission handed out free propane refills, almost a ton of potatoes, nonperishable food, and much-needed diapers for families. This was made possible by the many organizations who donated toward this need.

The staff is thankful the Lord has sustained them. “The Lord has strengthened our faith during this pandemic. Whenever we think that we’re out [of things to give] and done [with being able to help], He sends us more. Truly His coffers are full and will never run out [of things with which] to bless His people,” Dorie Panganiban, outreach director at La Vida Mission, said.

Later in the day, students and families from the La Vida Mission school arrived on campus to receive Christmas gifts from “Toys for Tots” and from student sponsors and mission donors.

La Vida Mission received a holiday gift of its own when, through the cooperation of Cathy Kissner and the Rocky Mountain Conference Adventist Community Services, the mission was awarded a ten-thousand-dollar grant from the North American Division to help improve infrastructure to better serve the needs of the reservation. The mission hopes to build a bigger Community Outreach and Service Center at the end of the gym with a bigger storage area and a larger packing area with better access.

The mission hopes to continue to serve the many needs of the reservation in 2021 and asks for prayers from RMC members for several staff who recently contracted COVID. The mission remains on lockdown because of Covid affecting the mission workers.

“We do not know what is ahead, but we trust that God is in control and we will come out stronger and even more ready to continue serving Him and our Native American community. We have nothing to fear for what tomorrow will bring as we look back on what God has done for us, to us, and through us in the past days and months of this pandemic and this Mission’s existence,” Panganiban stated.

Dorie Panganiban is La Vida Mission office manager and outreach director; photos supplied

03 Dec


By Dorie Panganiban … A song I love to sing goes like this: “How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved, yet You gave to prove Your love for me; The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee. To God be the glory!”

In the sentiment of this song, I want to share my testimony of God’s miraculous working in my life and why, on Dec. 13, 2020, I will be celebrating my seventh birthday. Yes, my second chance at life. How can I forget that Friday? It was about 9 o’clock in the morning and I was walking from the parking lot of the La Vida Mission office to the pathway that leads to our church building to wrap and pack Christmas gifts for the community with my volunteers. That’s when I was run over by a big dually diesel truck. It backed up over me and then drove forward, running me over twice.

When the truck backed up on me, the tires stopped on my left shoulder, as if an angel was telling it to stop there so it would not crush my head and my face. When it drove forward, it left me lying on 3-4 inches of snow that had fallen the night before, which served as my cushion and prevented me from being completely crushed.

The first several minutes, it didn’t hurt, and I didn’t feel anything. But after an hour of lying on the snow-packed ground, the pain hit and I lost my sight for three days. Airlifted to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico, I was subjected to various tests and X-rays, which showed that I had 15 broken bones, from my clavicle to my ribs to my pelvis, leg, and ankle bones. My kidney was also cut, and my left lung collapsed. In addition, I suffered PTSD for at least two months.

One alarming part of it was that I didn’t have health insurance. The workman’s comp insurance at the mission had expired and the vehicle insurance for the truck that ran me over, was minimal–certainly not enough for my almost $150k hospital bills, helicopter ride, and rehab expenses.

How was I able to pull through this whole situation, I was asked. God pulled me through these difficulties. I was weak and helpless and knew not what to do, except to cry and pray.

I was aware that many, many people from all over the world were praying for me. I received hospital visits, texts, calls, messages from family and friends, childhood classmates, and my Navajo community family—all assuring me they were praying for me. That was a great encouragement, so I trusted my God and depended on Him for healing and for financial and hospitalization needs.

And God did care for me. After being confined to the hospital for two weeks and being at the Rehabilitation Center for ten days, spending both Christmas and New Year’s away from home, I was on the road to recovery. Miracle of miracles, after four or five months, my hospital bills were all paid off and I was debt free!

It took almost a year for me to walk with no help, but my journey from hospital bed to wheelchair, to a walker, followed by crutches, a cane and finally my own feet again was truly a miracle of God’s love. For that, I give thanks and tribute to Him.

In all these things, I have come to know my God more and to trust Him more! Our God is not some fantasy or fairy-tale hero. Our God is real, and we can always depend on Him. Our God is omnipotent and all-powerful. There’s nothing that He cannot do.

It is not what we know but Who we know that makes the difference He gives peace and joy, color and meaning to our lives. Do you know Him?

Dorie Panganiban is office manager and outreach director, La Vida Mission, Farmington, New Mexico

25 Nov


By Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico …Amidst the ongoing pandemic, many in New Mexico, including the Navajo nation, may be asking what is there is to be thankful for, especially after the latest lockdown was announced on November 16.

La Vida Mission staff were asking themselves the same question after their school was required to hold classes remotely under the new guidelines, making a challenging situation even more difficult.

“All schools, including private systems, were mandated to transition to remote learning until December 6, which could be extended. As a result, we have temporarily suspended our face-to-face classes, a difficult situation as our students depend on it and benefit so much even from our one-day-a-week, face-to-face instruction,” Dorie Panganiban, La Vida outreach director said.

Staff immediately began planning their 11th relief operation, knowing the new restrictions would make life very difficult for members of the reservation.

Stores, gas stations, and all other essential services on the Navajo Nation reservation operate now on limited daytime hours. People are struggling, some are complaining, and many are desperate as this virus seems to spread uncontrollably. “We have to keep doing what we feel we need to do to help alleviate the people’s plight,” Panganiban added.

For two days after the mandate, La Vida Mission staff organized pallets of fresh produce, donated through the Partnership with Native Americans organization. Navajo Strong also donated a hundred gallons of hand sanitizer to distribute and donors provided the funds to again offer free propane refills.

Upon arriving at the Crownpoint Flea Market, redesigned as a relief distribution center, 200 cars were waiting for assistance.

“As I looked at all those vehicles lined up and waiting for 4-6 hours for a propane refill, food, and other essentials, I told our La Vida staff, ‘If these people didn’t need what we’re giving, they wouldn’t stay this long in line to receive it,”’ Panganiban reflected.

The Navajo police, Crownpoint Reservation Chapter officials, and Crownpoint Fire officials joined the La Vida Mission staff prior to beginning the relief operation for a prayer of thanksgiving for the donated items and for the families receiving the needed items.

By the end of the of the day, La Vida mission had provided food, sanitizer, and propane refills to more than 250 families.

Panganiban left with a heart filled with gratitude, saying, “I thank God for many reasons that words can’t express.”

La Vida community is grateful for all the individuals who make the opportunity to minister to the Navajo reservation possible and would like to remind everyone during this season of Thanksgiving that there is so much to be thankful for despite the pandemic.

Dorie Panganiban, is La Vida Mission outreach director and office manager; photos supplied.

12 Nov


By Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico … The dust cloud rose as two U-Haul trucks entered the road leading to the La Vida Mission. Inside were hundreds of donated items from local congregations around the Rocky Mountain Conference to help the Mission and the Navajo community.

Despite challenges with social distancing and the financial crisis facing many members, donations in this annual drive were abundant and appreciated.

“Thank you, Mike and Cathy Kissner, for your commitment to the La Vida family. Thank you, brothers and sisters of RMC for your love and support for what we’re doing here for our dear Navajo community,” Dorie Panganiban, La Vida Mission outreach director expressed.

The items were quickly unloaded by La Vida staff. More than thirty pallets were needed to store the donated items from this 30th annual drive.

As the staff sorted items, their hearts were filled with joy at the outpouring of love to the Navajo Nation which La Vida Mission serves.

“Again, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to express our thanks and appreciation to all our RMC brothers and sisters from the different churches that sent these items. They’re much appreciated and will help our ministry and operation,” Panganiban stated.

–Dorie Panganiban is La Vida Mission office manager and outreach director; photos supplied

12 Oct


By Dorie Pangananiban – Farmington, New Mexico … La Vida Mission continues to provide basic needs for the community, even though the Navajo Nation is under another lockdown.

The Navajo Nation has been an epic center for the pandemic.  In the months of April and May, they had the highest per capita COVID infection rate in the country, surpassing even New York City.  While the lockdown is an attempt to provide safety, it undeniably makes life harder for Native Americans to get around and to secure food for their daily needs. The loss of numerous jobs and the resultant income left many families struggling.

During these difficult times of lockdown, La Vida Mission campus has never shut down but has continued to bless the Navajo community through its emergency relief operation, supplying food, fresh produce and propane refills to those in need who are impacted by this ongoing, seemingly never-ending, pandemic.

How is La Vida Mission able to continue this?

The mission has held eight community outreach events, giving them the ability to help more than 1,200 families with food boxes and propane refills.

La Vida Mission has become a “depository” of God’s blessings sent through numerous partners in ministry.

Most recently, the Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA) delivered twenty pallets of groceries, other essentials, personal care items, and 200 cases of fresh produce, which filled the gymnasium.  These donations were used during the month of September to provide relief at three community gatherings.

In late September, PWNA donated another 200 cases of fruits and veggies allowing for another food giveaway to the community during the first week of October.

“While many services around us are closed (we’ve received several calls from people and agencies who have told us that they are closed, but that they’re happy we’re open and they would channel their donations through us), we truly praise the Lord for keeping La Vida Mission, this “light on a hill”, shining and making a difference by impacting the lives of our Native community in this dark time of global pandemic,” Dorie Panganiban, La Vida outreach director, stated.

The annual La Vida Mission drive is taking place in November.  Click for a list of needed items and pick-up locations.

Dorie Panganiban is La Vida Mission office manager and outreach director; photos supplied.

19 Aug

La Vida Mission’s First Drive-In Church Service

By Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico … For the first time since March, La Vida Mission Church welcomed, August 8, some 25 community members on to worship together again.

While New Mexico eased the restrictions on gatherings in June, the Navajo nation remained under a stay-at-home order on weekends to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

On August 6 when restrictions were eased, places of worship were allowed to resume Saturday gatherings since the lockdown was still in place from Saturday evening through Monday morning. The gatherings, however, had to be drive-in services.

La Vida staff immediately began to plan and organize the first-time-since-March event to welcome the community back to the mission. Word of the gathering began to spread around the reservation.

The staff received an early morning text message on Sabbath asking if church was still happening.  When an affirmative reply was sent back, a new message was received: “We’re coming. When I told my husband that La Vida is doing a drive-in church service, he jumped in and said, ‘We’re going’”.

As cars arrived for this unique event, their occupants were greeted by the sight of a flat-bed trailer used as a platform. With a portable sound system installed and a keyboard configured, La Vida worshipped God amidst the surrounding nature.

“I feel so blessed that I can worship with my fellow church members even if it’s just in my vehicle. I’m so happy to be able to sing again and listen to a live sermon,” a community visitor said.

When an offering appeal was made, people left their vehicles one at a time and dropped their offerings in the basket on the flat-bed trailer.

During the service, people waved their hands out car windows and honked their horns to show appreciation for once again being together to worship their Creator.

After the worship service, fellowship lunch boxes were given to attendees allowing them to fellowship together even if they couldn’t sit around the same table, but remained in their cars.

The La Vida Mission Church plans to hold drive-in services through the month of August.

When hearing how the staff talked about the August 8 Sabbath service, you could not miss an excitement in their voices about seeing their fellow faith community believers together and worshiping as a family once again.

–Dorie Panganiban, is La Vida outreach director; photos supplied.

23 Jul


By Dorie Panganiban – Crownpoint, New Mexico … La Vida Mission blesses the surrounding Navajo community of Crownpoint with basic needs at Crownpoint flea market.

Arriving at the flea market on July 22, the long line of cars and trucks waiting for relief and help was impressive. The line began to form four hours before the give-away was scheduled to begin.

During this sixth relief operation, individuals were offered bottled water, basic food supplies, and propane refills. The mission and church initially planned on serving 125 families, but the number quickly increased and by the end of the day, 250 families were blessed by their generosity.

This event couldn’t have taken place without the help of the Crownpoint chapter team headed by chapter president Rita Capitan who arrived early to set up, organize, and direct the flow of traffic.  Nations Gas provided propane to fill the 170 tanks for the families.  Adding to the fair-like atmosphere, the Crownpoint Fire Department brought two engines and firefighters to help with the distribution.

The relief options, which originally began with handing out rice and beans, have expanded due to the donations generated by Facebook fundraisers and the area churches, Montrose and Pagosa Springs, as well as the private entities, Southwest Paleontologist, Sharing Ministry, and other private donors.

After the last community relief event held at the La Vida church parking lot, which included food, water and propane, organizers thought it would be the last such help provided.

“We received several texts and messages from Crownpoint, a small town 30 minutes away from La Vida, where the Mission has conducted an outreach program. People expressed their needs and requested prayers for the Mission to consider extending help in Crownpoint as most of the individuals had no way to get to the Mission,” explained Dorie Panganiban, La Vida outreach director. “I prayed when I received the texts and requests and, in my heart, I felt that it would happen.”

Assistance came from the Rocky Mountain Conference ACS director Cathy Kissner, who promised that the conference would contribute funding for purchasing food. Then, another generous donation from a Facebook benefactor arrived.

“With those donations, we thought that we could do another COVID-19 relief operation in Crownpoint. God is not done yet opening the windows of heaven. He opened them really wide when Restore-a-Child Ministry sent us generous booster funds to help in our relief operation for the Navajo families, providing food, water, and propane,” Panganiban added.

Dorie Panganiban, Outreach Director, La Vida Mission; photos supplied