It was a blessing to visit my parents' church twice during my brief visit to the States for their anniversary. Our family "met" Grace Baptist Church of Lancaster during our 11 1/2 months of stateside ministry/furlough. During that time, a previously unknown-to-us congregation became dear friends and supporters. In a weekday morning Bible study and my mom's Sunday School class for adult women, I was blessed by the fellowship of sweet ladies from various backgrounds who truly cared for one another and expressed sincere interest in our family's story. In youth group, AWANA, Sunday School, choir and Sunday morning services, each of our children found encouragement and friendship. We were challenged individually and as a family by the practical, Biblical messages by Pastor Greg and the fleshing out of those messages within the church through ministries such as Discovery Recovery which was new and encouraging to us.
I love to listen to my mom teach, and was happy to be able to do on this visit. She is sincere, self-effacing, studious and sympathetic. She has read the entire Bible many times through, yet continues to have a teachable spirit and refreshing wonder at the truths contained therein. She spills this interest and excitement onto her listeners as well, never assuming vast knowledge but seeming to learn right alongside them. I love my mom so much!
On this trip, I also treasured Sunday morning breakfast prepared by my dad. There are so many memories wrapped up in this one simple meal! I don't think I exaggerate when I recall that throughout our growing up years, Sunday morning breakfast was the only meal I ever knew Dad to cook. He had one recipe: scrambled eggs, a bit on the dry side. Sometimes we'd enjoy bacon with our eggs with a strict limit of two pieces each. Often buttered toast rounded out the meal. It wasn't until later in life that I pondered the idea that preparing breakfast for us on Sundays - a pastor's working day - was an act of prioritizing our family before focusing on "ministry." Certainly doing so now is not an easy task for my dad with his struggles to stay on his feet and balancing/fine motor skill issues due to challenges from MSA (Multiple System Atrophy.) But in honor of two of his girls being home, there he was carrying out the task we witnessed hundreds of time in our growing up years. How I love my dad!
Dad's MSA has limited his lifestyle in recent years, restricting him to use of a walker as his legs often give out and sapping his energy so that he does not venture far from home for long periods of time. This made it all the more meaningful that he put out so much extra effort on our visit, summoning the desire to join us on outings that certainly taxed his limits physically. On two occasions we enjoyed theatrical productions together. Servant Stage brilliantly presented the musical "My Fair Lady" which brought back family memories from my sister Jenn's role as Eliza in a high school production. And as Lancaster residents, my parents were able to purchase half-priced tickets to Sight & Sound Theatres for their magnificent musical "Jesus." I am so thankful for these special moments shared together.
|Sight & Sound Theatres, Lancaster, PA|
|Servant Stage production of "My Fair Lady"|
It was a blessing to have so many family events packed into a short while, so that we were able to see extended family more than once during our two weeks stateside. The birthday of our niece Carey and the graduation from masonry school of our nephew Sabastian allowed us a pleasant afternoon with them and other friends and family members. Our former missionary colleague Crystal drove to spend the day with us and it was a joy to reconnect with her!
While at Terri and Dave's for this celebration, many hands made "light work" of crushing galletas de vino that Jenn had brought from Chile and mixing those with manjar to later roll in coconut, creating delicious Chilean cocadas for the Fisher commissioning service and dinner. The beauty of the body of Christ but especially those of us who have connected across countries and cultures is the ability to pick up not only where we left off, but also incorporate shared customs and tastes that bring back so many sweet memories!