Carleton to Colchester

Conference

The last day of February opened a missions conference we’d been invited to. Our arrival didn’t begin auspiciously. We hadn’t had a long drive, but I’d hadn’t told Erin that we were going right to the church and supper at the pastor’s home, rather than to our host family’s house as we often do. Our GPS took us into town over a dirt road, which the rain in this case had converted to mud. It also found us a gas station to stop at so we could finish the kids’ naptime, get them a snack, and feel ready to arrive.

We dug out of the garment bags and suitcases all the appropriate clothes for the service, getting ready for a quick change once we arrived at the church. As I got in and out of the van in the rain, my *newly dry-cleaned* suit jacket slid off the seat and onto the parking lot by way of the muddy running board. Groan! The gas station didn’t have a bathroom so I could try to wash it out right away.

But Erin turned hero and sponged the mud off with paper towels in the church nursery while I got the kids dressed and wondered whether I’d need to find a dry-cleaner’s with same-day service and how far I might have to go for it – we were in farm country.

Things improved rapidly, and we had a really great conference at Carleton Community Baptist Church. They took such good care of us, including a field trip to the Henry Ford Museum. We were especially glad to see our friends the Delaney family, who were also at the conference. They’d been in Taiwan for about 3 years, and now serve in the home office for Baptist World Missions.

Bella drives the family

We also enjoyed helping with the children’s ministries.

Children's Church at Carleton

I’m convinced their good care is due, at least in part, to the fact that the pastor’s daughter is on the mission field. They know all about what deputation, missionary service, and furlough involves and how churches can best help.

Campfires

Everywhere we’ve been this spring we’ve heard how mild the winter has been. Between meetings we stayed about a week and a half in Pennsylvania. Some friends have an apartment they make available for missionaries to use. The location was perfect: lots of space for the kids to run around and play without being near roads. They had so much fun, especially with a “fort” they discovered at the edge of the woods, a leftover from our friends’ grandchildren. Though they were initially scared to death of the tiny dog, they warmed up quickly and kept asking if the she could come out.

Bella enjoys watermelon

Bella enjoys watermelon!

Twice, because the weather was perfect, we made a campfire and toasted marshmallows for a snack. The first time we even had watermelon, too! (Not toasted, of course.) When we’d had as many marshmallows and s’mores as we wanted (or were allowed), we sat on the bench swing and sang songs with our children as the sun set and the light faded.

Guinea FowlAnother feature of our visit was the flock of four guinea fowl. Funny looking chicken sorts of creatures. Our friends had gotten them to cut down on the tick population. We were glad for that with our kids running all over outside. No trouble with ticks. But the birds were so funny. One of them, with a couple splashes of white (can you have splashes on feathered animals, or just on fur?) on the breast, was always getting separated from the other three. We’d hear a lot of noise, and look around. That one bird would be on one side of the house, or across the road, calling loudly to the others. “Hey, where are you girls? Come back!” They’d all keep up a constant reply which must have been something like “No, you come over here. We’re over here!” Or maybe it was more sympathetic than that. But it was a very funny, birdy sort of Marco Polo game.

Colchester
From that wonderful setting, we went to visit Erin’s sister Trista and her husband Josh in Hartford, CT. We had lots of fun there, too, though in different ways. We always enjoy elevator rides until a fight breaks out over who gets to push the buttons this time. And we had a picnic in a park. I enjoyed playing disc golf again, which I’m starting to like very much. And since the girls had watched the children while we did that, I watched the children the next day so the girls could talk and go shopping.
Our visit wasn’t just pleasure; it was also work. Although in many ways the work is pretty pleasurable. A church just outside of Hartford, Colchester Bible Baptist Church, supports us and we’d jumped at the chance to revisit on a free Sunday and get to know them better. Unexpectedly we were invited to present our ministry in the evening when we visited church with Josh and Trista. The people at Truth Baptist Church have already been praying for us because of the family connection, so we were really glad to tell them more.
Our visit over, we headed back to Pennsylvania, this time to a missions house at another church we’ve been in before – for our 19th meeting if I counted correctly. We really enjoyed our first visit and were glad to return. The pastor invited me to speak for the Wednesday evening service. He suggested I talk about what deputation is like so that his people could pray with more awareness. Responses were very positive, so I trust that was a real service to them.