These past three and a half weeks in Michigan have been what I might call, a "wonderful whirlwind." The Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary defines a whirlwind as "something that involves many quickly changing events, feelings, etc." and I think that sums it up pretty well! It has been a special time of reporting to churches, reconnecting with friends and family, and remembering our love for all things Michigan. We have enjoyed the wide open spaces and beautiful parks and the sight of deer in the vast open fields of green and gold. Our kids have drunk Vernors ginger ale and devoured Koegel hot dogs and marveled at buttery Michigan sweet corn. This post is an attempt to remember the many special moments of these busy - but blessed - few weeks!
Week 1: June 18-24
On Sunday morning we said our goodbyes to family after a wonderful week of vacation together in the Poconos. A long day in the car led us to our hotel in Maumee, Ohio where we attempted to relax (and stay safe!) in a pool with some rowdy young guests before ordering pizza and heading to bed in preparation for the next day's travels. On the top of our list the following morning was Tim Horton's coffee and donuts for breakfast, not having savored this treat for nearly five years! It was exciting to cross the border into Michigan and begin recognizing exit names and road signs as we drew closer to Flint and Lapeer. We paused in the former for another long-awaited treat - Qdoba's Mexican Grill, which holds special memories for us from the times we took our young girls there on pre-field travels many years ago. It was memorable on this occasion because not one, but two people in line offered us coupons for our large family to make the meal more affordable and this was much appreciated!
|pit stop on the Ohio turnpike|
|Qdoba's did not disappoint this crew|
Greg and Debbie Jones were our hosts during the weeks we were in Lapeer, and these generous souls did something really incredible for our family: they moved out of their house so that we could move in. We had never even met before, yet they chose to bless us in this amazing way so that our family could be "comfortable" while staying in the area. "Comfortable" would be an understatement! Their home truly became truly a haven for us as we traveled to churches, yet could return and relax in such lovely surroundings. Many a whiffle ball game and wagon ride for Silas took place in the Jones' yard, and with their blessing we were even able to host friends on several occasions and reconnect in this way. In fact, that first Monday night in Lapeer we welcomed Pedro's cousin Jared and his family to the Jones' home and it was a joy to catch up with them and have room for our combined eleven children to spread out and play!
|Garcia cousins reunited|
That first week in Lapeer was a busy one, with Vacation Bible School at our home church on Tuesday and then two days of VBS at a supporting church in Mayville on Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, Pedro and our kids also went to a birthday party for some cousins so it was a full day! Wednesday we were at Mayville and perhaps because it is a small country church and similar in "feel" to our own church in Iquique, our boys really clicked there and quickly made some friends. We were sorry we could not be in two places at once, as we would have loved to allow them to participate longer and especially in the Friday night carnival that was planned. On Wednesday we enjoyed lunch at the pastor's home after VBS and it was encouraging to talk with Pastor and Mrs. Reece about their faithful years of service for the Lord and the experience of raising a large family while in full-time ministry. That evening, we returned for the Wednesday night meeting at church and had the privilege of sharing our ministry update for the first time this furlough. I say "we" but in reality it was Pedro alone who could speak because I had literally lost my voice! The church hosted an ice cream social after the service and the kids had a great time running off their sugar high with races and games in the yard between the church and pastoral home. The next day Pedro dropped our kids off to VBS followed by an afternoon of swimming at the Reece's home. This was a tremendous blessing for us because it allowed me to rest at home while feeling unwell and Pedro to invest a good day of study in preparation for weekend ministry, all while the kids were having such a great time as well!
Friday was a fun and full day also. Our boys were back at church in Lapeer for VBS and excitedly returned home with a bunch of candy and stories to tell! We had the privilege of hosting longtime family friends and personal supporters Mr. and Mrs. Anthony for lunch, and then being hosted ourselves for a delicious dinner by the Jewell family in their home. In both cases it was so special to revisit shared memories and become current on family/work/ministry/future plans/etc. We are so very grateful for the friendships God has given us, many of them right here in Lapeer from our earliest days as parents and beginning full-time ministry. Saturday gave us the opportunity to see even more familiar faces as we attended an open house for Lyndi Shepard. Our kids were excited to be back by "their" house, the neighboring home rented to us by the Shepard family during the first half of last furlough. All in all, it was a rich and full first week in Michigan with many experiences to remember!