Someone asked Mike recently how we keep up with "community" as we itinerate. We are no longer a regular part of a church body, and it can be difficult to feel connected and to experience fellowship as we are busy traveling. Our answer is simply that we have to work at it. We try to spend time with friends and family as much as we can. We continue to stay connected with our church family on facebook, and will try when we can to attend events and fellowship opportunities. In ministry, we feel it is vital to maintain relationships with others as they can bring encouragement and accountability, as well as some laughter and fun, which is also good for the soul!
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The first was a response from a missionary friend who has already gone through this process and who is currently serving on the field. She encouraged us to look at visiting new churches and meeting new people as expanding our community, not decreasing it. We don't lose the community at our church, but we do gain community with other people. I thought this was a great way to look at things.
That email was complimented by a second email, which was sent from a partner church who already supports us. It was a simple reminder that the community we became a part of at that church is thinking about and praying for us. What an encouraging email! This email proved the validity of the first email.
Polly and I really have felt so blessed at each church we have visited. The people we have met have been so warm and friendly and caring. It has been nice to connect with people we would not otherwise have connected with. Every time I leave a church, I'm sad to think that I won't see the new members of our community for a while. But each new week, we're blessed to keep adding to the scope and size of that community. It is easy to see how true that concept shared with us is. We just hadn't really thought through it to that degree.
Armed with this realization of that truth, I felt like we embraced the community we were blessed with this weekend just a little bit more than we had. On Friday, Polly went to a women's event at the church I grew up at. The ladies were so welcoming to her, really making her feel a sense of belonging. Yesterday, we had an opportunity to fellowship with some of the people at the church we visited. We really had a great time. I don't think we were treated any differently this weekend than we had been treated to this point. In fact, I know that's not the case. We just recognized and appreciated it more than we had to this point.
And even though, as I mentioned, we will not see many of these wonderful people for a while, we feel like the blessing of intercessory prayer (from us for them and from them for us) keeps us unified and connected. This is where we find our sense of community, as a body of believers. We just get the privilege of meeting different members of the body these days. God is so good!