Friday, July 6, 2012

Church Family

Our church chose this past Sunday (July 1, 2012) to throw us our first "going away" party since we decided to follow God's call on our life to serve as Missionary Associates in Costa Rica. Does this mean that we're going to leave for Costa Rica soon? Not exactly. This party wasn't a send off to Costa Rica so much as a send off from the church. This was the day the church chose to recognize our years (me - 7; Polly - 5) of service to the church. We officially ended our roles in ministry at the church the previous Sunday (June 24, 2012). It is here that we made our final step from Pastors to Parishioners.

I have blogged about this situation before as an ensuing reality. I have posited how I thought I might feel when this day came. Now, for the first time, I am blogging about it from the other side. It is no longer an event that will inevitably happen; it is an event which has already taken place. And sure enough, all my positing and theorizing was right on the money: it was a bittersweet day.

Our pastor gave us a taste of what was to come at the party with a video clip put together by our youth before having our deacons pray over us. Then he offered me the microphone to say a few words. Let's be honest here, I've never said "a few words" in my life. Still, I kept it as short as could possibly be expected for me. We got many well wishes from our church family.

After church, we went to a family in the church's house. Okay, it happens to be the same family in the church that we live with. This made things convenient. We enjoyed some delicious Costa Rican inspired food (I could eat rice and beans every day...which is a good thing considering I'll have to) mixed with some good old-fashioned American hot dogs and hamburgers. They made a beautiful cake featuring the image of our prayer card. And woven into the time of eating was enjoying time with people we have come to love so dearly. And we fought back some tears when we watched all the video clips created by the youth that had been sampled earlier. They were funny but also said some really kind, encouraging things.

Overall, the party was a wonderful end to a wonderful season of ministry in our lives. Ministry with and to some amazing people. They are not technically our family, but they're not merely friends either. They are our church family and Polly and I will always love them. We love the church's leaders and we love the church's laypeople--a group we not graciously join. The cool thing in all this for us is that we're not leaving this church to become pastors at another. We are going forth from this church, as an extension of this church, to minister to the people of Costa Rica. And we are grateful that we still get to call Calvary Assembly of God our home church. Even if we won't spend too many more Sundays there, it is our church and it houses our church family!

God bless,


Monday, July 2, 2012

Fresh Vision, New Friendships

We arrived home from our Pre-field Orientation (PFO) a little over a week ago, but this is the first real opportunity to focus on writing to catch everyone up to speed on how things went in Missouri. I already covered the first couple days of PFO in the last post, so I will do my best to cover the rest in this one.

Saying Good-bye

As I mentioned before, this was going to be the first time Polly spent significant chunks of multiple days away from Genevieve. The first Monday morning (June 11) was the first session and thus, the first time Polly had to say good-bye to the little one while we were there. You never know how most kids will do being released to a complete stranger while watching mama and dada walk away. Notice how I say "most" kids. You actually do know exactly how Genevieve will respond...with no issues. We handed her over to her "chief" Chief Ommack and said good-bye. One look at all the toys and she was off to the races. She didn't even notice us walk away. She just wanted to play. This was basically the theme of each time we dropped her off (after breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner). She did have a couple times strewn in where she wanted a hug from mama and dada first, but she was still happy to see Chief Ommack and happy to play.

Sleepless in Springfield

As suspected, Genevieve had a tough time napping and difficult time falling asleep. One night, she even stayed up until 11:30 pm. That's 3 1/2 hours after her normal bedtime. Add that to the fact that we were an hour behind and you will understand why she was pretty tired at times while we were there. She did improve as we went along. Near the end, she was wanting Polly and me to be next to her while she fell asleep which is unlike her. It wasn't until we got home that we discovered that Genevieve had picked up a virus and was not feeling well. Things made a lot more sense. Still, she was a good baby while we were out there.

Friends for Everyone

I had heard from numerous missionaries that it's common to make strong friendships while at PFO. And sure enough, it didn't long for Polly and me to make new friends. Some will be friends for life, without question. What was fun for us, however, was that we weren't the only ones developing friendships. Genevieve made quite a few new friends of her own. One little girl, Raeah is only 3 months younger and is also headed (with her parents and brother) to San Jose, Costa Rica. Then there is Daniel. He is only 2 months younger than Genevieve and they LOVED playing together. They would tackle each other and giggle. One day, when Daniel and his family was heading to breakfast (after he and Genevieve had played a little) I took Genevieve's hand to walk her back to the room. She started fussing and said, "No. No. Daniel. Daniel." It was so sweet. We felt so blessed to not only make new friends, but also with the quality of those friendships!

Regionally Speaking

The Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the first week was broken down by regions. Costa Rica falls in the Latin America & the Caribbean Region. This was our first introduction to our Regional Directors - Dick & Cynthia Nicholson and our Area Directors - Jay & Nancy Dickerson. We also met other great Area Directors and new missionaries. We went for dinner with the Nicholsons one night and had smoothies with the Dickersons the next. We enjoyed our conversations with both.

Second Sunday, Second Preaching Engagement

My friend Bobby called me on Friday to ask if we would be willing to come and share our hearts for Costa Rica and preach on Father's Day. Of course we were willing. We were obviously grateful for the opportunity and had a wonderful service. We then went over his parents house for a wonderful Father's Day lunch. It was very special to be able to spend the day with a family I have known for most of my life and love so much. In fact, we ended up having a delicious steak dinner with them (the parents) later that week. Such a simple thing, but we were so blessed by it.


We were commissioned as official AGWM Missionary Associates at a nice ceremony on Thursday, June 21st. We were so blessed by all the people praying for us and wishing us well. Earlier that night they had the Missionary Kid (MK) graduation. Genevieve was so cute and got her first trophy. She loved the program so much. Equally as important, we loved the program so much. That was a special day all around.

Hard to Say Goodbye

It was not easy saying goodbye to our newly established friends, but such is life. We are thankful for the technology that will allow us to maintain those friendships.

Dinner & Wisdom

That last Friday night, our friends Jon and Jen took us to our favorite Springfield Restaurant, Zio's. The we went over Jen's parent's house. Jen's parents are very well known missionaries in the AG and wonderful people. Her dad offered up some fatherly wisdom and gave Genevieve a Bible (as in the same one I was thinking of getting her earlier that day). We had some great fellowship. Jon and I stayed up a while catching up. It was a great night to end a great two weeks.

Home Again

Naturally, Genevieve did not sleep until we were off the plane and on the ride back home from the airport. And I will tell you this, for as much as we loved our time in Springfield, we were happy to be home again.

Right Back at it

We came home on Saturday and relaxed a little while before going to bed. The next morning, we were right back at it again with a church service (Sturbridge, MA) which went well. That Sunday night, we had a party with our youth and I shared a little from my heart one last time before we prayed for each of them. It was a great way to end our time serving Calvary AG. But I'll share more about that next time.

I want to say thanks to everyone who prayed for us while we were at PFO in Missouri. Your prayers were greatly appreciated and incredibly efficient!

God bless,