Random Blog Clay Feet: November 24, 2008
Feel free to leave your own comments or questions. If you would like to be in contact with me without having it published let me know in your comment and leave your email address and I will not publish that comment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reluctant Farewells

Today is my last day in Pennsylvania. I came here over a month ago to help my sister-in-law and her husband work on getting their house ready to move into by December 1. We have been working very hard to get it ready and have accomplished a lot, but it is time for me to leave. My plane leaves early tomorrow morning and I will get home just half a day before my 31st wedding anniversary with the love of my life and definitely better half.

This last weekend I once again attended the church in Wilmington, Delaware that I discovered three weeks ago. I posted my thoughts on this at that time and was very glad to find such a friendly church. Over the three weeks that I have attended there I have to say that it has only gotten better. The study class that I visited each week was so accepting and affirming and diverse that I could hardly believe it. I continue to be amazed at how ethnically mixed this church is in its composition with a large segment of members originating in Africa and some from Europe with a good cross-section of age as well. And yet I could hardly detect any spirit of competition or jealousy in this congregation. I am sure that they are not without problems, but the way in which they choose to relate to their differences has resulted in a group of people who seem to be reflective of the spirit that God wants to use to reveal His glory in this world. Their spirit of genuine friendliness still boggles my mind.

I was surprised at how many people in such a short time of me being there actually remembered my name and would greet me at random in the hallways. (This may puzzle someone who doesn't know me, but I am not an outgoing, greeting kind of person naturally.) I ended up spending the whole day there this week and nearly all day there was one person or another who would come up and spend time visiting with me. I even ended up inadvertently playing the piano briefly for an African choir that was getting ready to practice in the afternoon before I realized who they were. Then after their warm-up with some hymns that they insisted I play for them to sing, the director invited me to practice with them as they learned a new song. Later after they started practicing a song in Swahili I decided it was time to let them take it from there and I moved out to the hallway to see what else was going on. They ended up singing and worshiping for the whole afternoon, which one member in the hallway told me they do nearly every week.

As I visited the study class for the last time that morning I came with a sense of heightened emotions. I could not help but feel a great deal of sadness for leaving such a wonderful group of people who had welcomed me so warmly over the past few weeks. In fact, as they went around the room with each person relating what they were thankful for that week as they do each week, when my turn came I found myself unable to even speak over a few words. My emotions become so intense that I began to lose my composure. The teacher was very understanding and immediately guessed what was going on and verbalized my feelings for me. How gracious and kind. I just wish that I could take every one of these people back and import them into my church at home.

But I also cannot mistake the conviction that God has plans of His own for my church and that this refreshing reprieve for my soul is for a purpose. It is giving me perspective and a model for my heart to remember so that I can have some idea of what can happen if I will allow God to use me to initiate this same kind of friendliness and kindness to those in my own church. I have been praying for a new vision and new eyes to see each person in my church through heaven's eyes instead of the filters that I am so used to using. I want to perceive what God is up to and to join Him in cooperating with His ventures in my part of the world.

I have learned many things while I have been here this month. But more importantly my heart has received fresh infusions of experience from many different directions. Having access to high-speed internet while here has enabled me to download a number of talks and videos from inspiring sources that are having an impact on my thinking and direction. And of course, being separated from my wife for a month except by phone each day always reminds me of how important our relationship is.

I have really been blessed by getting to know my wife's sister and husband better. I have wanted to spend more time with them for a long time so that I could get to know them and I have not been disappointed. They are such kind and caring people who have done everything possible to make my stay here enjoyable and have bent over backwards to provide anything I wanted or might want. Both of them are very hard-working, fun-loving people who enjoy life and are devoted to each other. I am going to miss them after I leave as well.

But though I physically must leave many behind when I return home I will also take my memories and bonds of friendship with me for further development. I have been really blessed over these past few weeks and hope that I can be half as much of a blessing to others when given the opportunity.

We are looking forward to our daughter coming home for the weekend the day after I arrive. She is very special to us and we look forward to spending time together with her. At her suggestion we are planning to get involved in some activities to help be a blessing to those in need this Thanksgiving instead of just focusing on eating alone. I look forward to seeing how that develops.

Well, I must get ready for my last day of work here. I look forward to seeing my brother-in-law's brother once again who has been working with us the whole time on the house. He is also a very energetic and friendly person that I have very much enjoyed getting to know. Today will be my last day and I need to get everything packed and ready to leave tonight. So it is time for the goodbye's and the hello's of life once again.