Week Four: July 9-15 (continued)
We arrived at the house on Tuesday and on Wednesday evening, we drove the two hours to a supporting church in Hastings. To make more pleasant the fact that we'd be driving two hours each way (after having driven three hours the day before!) we first stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Of course with Daddy's Mexican heritage there is always serious critique of the food, but this place passed with flying colors. All the kids gave it a thumbs up, and it was a good start to the trip.
A couple of hours later, we surprised the kids with a visit to a Krispy Kreme donut factory in Grand Rapids. Of course, that was a hit as well. (Don't tell anyone, but they pleaded to stop again on our way back home and we just couldn't say no. We only hoped there had been a shift change so no one recognized us coming in for the second time the same day, ha!)
Because the church we were visiting also had a summertime ministry of backyard Bible clubs going on elsewhere, it was a small group of mostly older adults who gathered for our update that evening. To our surprise since he has struggled with clinginess this furlough, Silas reached out to one elderly gentleman in a wheelchair and climbed up in his arms. He took another "grandma" by the hand and walked with her. I think he had his own ministry of encouragement that night! The gentleman who led the service had himself been a CEF missionary, and the people in attendance had good questions for us after the presentation. One dear lady faithfully sends our family birthday, anniversary, and Christmas cards on behalf of the church. She wrote us ahead of time to ask if we could use some of the grocery dry goods she receives and cannot finish on her own. On the drive home after church, we shared with our kids how important God's "senior saints" are to missionary ministry. Without a doubt they are His great prayer warriors on behalf of many missionaries, our family included. This is both encouraging and humbling to us!
Thursday was our one day without any scheduled activities, which we enjoyed as a family at home. I even worked up the nerve to go kayaking on the lake with our kids. It was sadly obvious what a rarity this was when Alec could not believe his eyes! He later told me we should do this kind of thing as a family more often and concluded with, "Mommy, do you know that I love you?" Melt my heart!
On Friday we had been scheduled to go to Muskegon for a luncheon visit with a supporting church pastor and wife, but they came to us instead with Subway sandwiches and freshly baked cookies in hand. What a treat! We were grateful because this allowed us a much more comfortable time and place to converse, especially because Silas napped the entire time. It was such an encouragement to both listen to what God has been doing in their church ministry and share what He has been doing in Iquique. I had forgotten that this pastor's wife grew up in the same camp ministry where my grandfather spoke each summer, and she knew my mom's family well. God makes such neat connections! It so happens that this camp also has a ministry to recovering addicts. We have come to realize there is a great need for us to be equipped to biblically counsel in the area of addiction because it is such a problem in Iquique, and as a result of our conversation we hope to follow up on some leads for literature and training to that end.
A very special reunion was scheduled for Saturday with our dear friends Phil and Shirley. (I shared some of our friendship story with them in posts from 2007 - click here and here.) We were to meet for a picnic near their home, but due to a unexpected funeral scheduled that day their time was somewhat limited. It turned out to be a sweet blessing to invite them to come to us and have the privilege of preparing a Chilean meal for them! Due to her multiple sclerosis, Shirley has progressed to using a walker and explained that they have not had a chance to "do something like this" for a long time. It was a joy to bless them with dinner on the porch overlooking the water and to reminisce about many great memories we've had together. Phil and Shirley hosted us overnight in their home as a young family just starting pre-field ministry with our two little daughters, and have been wonderful friends ever since. We thank God for them!