Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer adventures - Part 2, South East

Last week, I came down for a quick stop in my hometown, and got to connect with my friend Richard, who has made the Hobbit Hole his home away from home for the past two years. He told me about his plans to go to Africa in the fall with YWAM, which I was just thrilled to hear. While he's still at home, he isn't wasting his desire to serve in ministry - he's been volunteering with World Relief and also has had good friendships with the exchange students at his school. We talked about Fort Wayne, and all the people we both love there, and he took me over to visit the World Relief office in High Point.  I got to talk to the volunteer director, and hear about the refugees who have settled in the area, and how the local Church has been so involved in reaching out to them. We asked about any needs or concerns, and got to pray with the director before we left, and once again it was good to be reminded of God's work in even unassuming little places like this.

Next day, Mom and I went down to Florida and stayed with my Grandpa Jack in Jupiter. My Aunt Lori had invited me to speak at her church small group, so I did that Saturday night. I shared about what God is doing in Fort Wayne, and after the meeting many people wanted to share with me what God has been up to in their lives. It was a "mega-church" - the kind I'm always pretty suspicious of - but the things I got to hear and see and be a part of for a few hours were very encouraging. The group leader talked to me for a while, and then impulsively reached in his pocket and stuffed some dollar bills in my hand. "I just feel like God wants me to give this to you," he said. "I don't even know how much, He just said to give you what I have. Not really sure why, except that your story blessed me." I waited until we left to even look at it and count it, and carefully tuck it away.

The next day, we got to visit with Jenni, a dear friend and mentor to me, someone who has greatly impacted me and my desire to live in organic, intentional ministry. She told me about her family - her kids, who are like cousins to me, and her 16 (and counting) grandkids - and about the ongoing ministry she has at her house, as an open door and a safe place for people in need. I always love my visits with Jenni, though they are never long enough.

That night I hurt my ankle pretty bad, so the next day we drove back to NC, where I went to the doctor, got X-rays, and learned that I had sprained and bruised it, and with ice and elevation it would be ok. Of course, my insurance is in Indiana, so I was going to have to pay for my visit. And would you believe it, when the receptionist told me what I owed, it was the amount that the group leader at my aunt's church stuffed into my hand. What a blessing and relief that I could count out the amount in cash right there and have it taken care of!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer adventures, Part 1 - North East

You know what I really love? I love travelling around and seeing how God is working in different parts of the world. I've driven 4,000 miles in the past 4 weeks. In my van, of course. My wheelchair, Svante, is about to reach his 1100 mile marker though, so I think that's worth mentioning too. I've had a hard time knowing how much of this travelling I should report "vacation" or "business," because it all feels related to my responsibilities as a servant of Jesus, but to me, my work is fun and a dream come true.

Hannah and I took a trip to New England recently. We started by driving to New Jersey and visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty - amazing places that I definitely wanted to see since I love and serve international refugees. It reminded me of two important things - that for a long time, America has been a place of hope and freedom and new life for people all over the world, and that as great as America is in that respect, my home is with Jesus and he is the truest source of hope and freedom and new life for anyone who turns to him.

From there, we went to New Hartford, Connecticut, to visit our friend Amy, who is home on furlough from ministry in Uganda. She's raising support and getting ready to go back out later this summer for another long stretch of service. Her dad is the pastor of a small church family that meets in an old historical building, and we got to worship with them on Mother's Day and share lunch with her family. It was a lot of fun, but also very good to hear from Amy about what is going on in Uganda and learn more about the needs there so we know better how to pray for her and support her. We got to talk through some things she's struggling with, I helped her come up with some fundraising ideas.

We left Connecticut and went on to Portland, Maine, which I think is the furthest northeast corner of the world I've been to so far. It was so refreshing to be by the ocean, and the seafood was incredible. But we went there primarily to visit a ministry called The Root Cellar. Located downtown, it offers a lot of different services to the people directly in that community. We got a tour of the facility, I got to visit the ESL program, and talked with a few of the staff members for a while. Again, it was good to hear how the ministry has grown out of the faithfulness and prayers of the workers, and to hear about ways we can pray for and support their work.

We drove back to Fort Wayne, ending the first part - the NE part - of this summer's adventures!