Saturday, January 19, 2013

T minus 1

 It's Saturday morning and I leave tomorrow (Sunday) morning.  T-1.  My days have continued to be filled with making arrangements and managing details...for the kids, for the house, for my new job, for my old job, and so on.  And, of course, saying goodbye to family and friends is also a part of the schedule.

I dropped my mother off at the airport yesterday morning.  She flew in last Friday and spent the last week serving me in any and every way possible, spoiling me, and doing house projects like staining and painting.  She is an amazing woman! 
L-R: Judy King, Mary Katerberg, me, Jackie Venegas

Last Sunday, I had the widows group over to my house for dinner (have I mentioned how much I love having my own home?  It really is an amazing thing...I had no idea how much I would love it after being without one for seven years!).  It was a great afternoon and they committed to continue to challenge and support me emotionally and spiritually - which they do very well!  As Judy often says, they have my back and I really do feel it.

Noah at the Secretary of State

On Wednesday, Noah turned 18 years old.  Another amazing thing.  I now have two adult children.  Because of living in West Africa, Noah was not able to go through the drivers training that other young people take at age 16, so we have been waiting for his 18th birthday to get his learners permit.  He passed the written test and vision test with flying colors, so it was time to get some practice driving hours in quickly before I go!  He can take his driving test in thirty days but will need to get some serious practice time in.  Thankfully, some people are willing to stand in the gap with him in my absence.

The evening of his birthday, we were able to pull off a bit of a surprise party for him, with some friends from Calvin and family.  That was a lot of fun.  His friends were challenged to give gag gifts.  In the picture, long time friend, Reuben Niewenhuis gave Noah a "Rueben's cube" instead of a Rubix cube, something Noah will be able to solve without too much difficulty!  Noah's roommate gave the gift of being Noah's servant for a day...something that in hindsight might not have been the best idea!  We did our best to try to define what that means but my sympathies go to Jeremy (in advance) for that day!

Another highlight this week was an opportunity that came through another member at Madison Square Church.  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at my church, and JoAnn Swart came up to me after the service to let me know that she works for an organization called Marketplace Chaplains.  This is an organization that has over 2700 chaplains nationwide (as well as Canada and Mexico).  These chaplains are hired by companies that want their employees well cared for; the chaplains make regular site visits, getting to know employees, and are available 24/7 for any employee needs.  A typical day might be walking around a plant and talking to employees one-on-one about a sick child or parent, a marriage in trouble, or multiple other issues.  Chaplains are able to perform marriages, funerals, make hospital or home visits, and so on.  The employees of the company that employs the chaplain essentially becomes their parish.  As I am working to help churches start up Marketplace Ministries in their church, I was very excited to learn more about this model.  JoAnn connected me to some key organizational leaders of Marketplace Chaplains in Texas who happened to have a virtual training for new chaplains this past week, which they invited me to attend.  As this was a great opportunity, I quickly rearranged my schedule and thoroughly enjoyed the training.  They also were willing to share some of their training materials with me!  I would love to see whether this model could work in Kenya - there may not be companies big enough to hire chaplains where I will be working, but potentially churches could have Marketplace Chaplains working with multiple small businesses in a particular community.

One other obscure item on my list of things to do was to rediscover dance.  Over the summer, I redefined my relationship with the Trinity:  God as Daddy, Jesus as Husband, and Holy Spirit as Dance Partner.  Granted, that may sound strange to some of you and I could probably write a blog on how my relationship with the Trinity has changed and grown, especially over the last couple of years.  But I wanted to learn how to pray in a new way, through dance, and celebrate my relationship with God in this way.  Amy Stoner, another Madison member, blessed me by being willing to work with me through a couple of sessions on choreographing a dance to the song, "Beautiful Things" by Gungor.  This is a beautiful song - if you don't know it you can click on this link to hear it.  My mom happened to snap a picture of me during a practice - it was a great experience and has helped to bring a spring back to my step.  Praise God!

I wish you God's grace and peace.  I will do my best to keep this blog up while in Kenya and will be back again in the US over the summer.  Thanks for reading and thanks for your prayers!