Been a while since I blogged last. I know you missed me.
I’m stuffed into a U-Haul and headed out of Sacramento. But perhaps I should start at the beginning.
We’ve been job searching for three months. In the meantime, we had packed a few belongings into our mini-van and headed out to Little Rock, AR to work in the ministries with a congregation there. We had left the bulk of our belongings in a 10X25 storage unit in Folsom. We figured that whoever hired and moved us would have to move us from Sacramento rather than paying a few thousand to move ourselves only to have to turn around and move again.
We’ve been living with my older sister. She and her husband have an enormous house and eight kids. Two of which have since married and moved on. But, hey! What’s five more?
It’s been great there. We’ve managed to get to know the church in a way that you wouldn’t if you had just stopped in and visited from time to time. We’ve dug in and got to know the congregation… worked alongside and long enough to really get a glimpse of just what makes this family tick.
These guys have no elders, deacons or youth minister. Really, the Lord has worked through the preacher and the treasurer to keep the church rolling. It has been through quite a bit in the last few years. More on that later.
We worked hard for weeks writing and phoning churches looking for what it was God wanted us to do. We received a few return calls and Derek did a few phone interviews. Nothing really materialized from it all. However, our work with the church there did spark something within them. We accompanied them on their medical missions trip to Mexico. After we returned, we met with the church staff hiring committee. They decided to hire us on a temporary/probational basis.
Derek is working until January as the Associate Minister for our church with a focus on youth and young adults. After January, the congregation will decide if they want to keep Derek and whether or not they can afford to. And, we are both grateful for the work and for the opportunity to apply much of what we have learned in recent years.
The church does come with some issues. (As I’m sure, so do we.) They aren’t able to completely afford what Derek requires as far as a salary goes. And, as with many congregations who have trouble, people have spoken with their cheque books.
So, I am working as the church secretary to offset some of what Derek needs in the meantime. This, too is temporary as I’d prefer to allow Derek to do the breadwinning, and me to do the bread-baking if you know what I mean.
The congregation has paid for our move from CA to AR… and so we flew on Monday to retrieve our things. We rented a truck, loaded it and are heading back from CA.
I missed CA like you wouldn’t believe. Just stepping off the plane and breathing the fresh air… light, cool air… sigh. I was even chilled a bit! It was great seeing neighbourhoods I once knew intimately. Wondered with every passing road how “so and so” down there was doing.
We visited one of Derek’s mentors. Curt is an old, self-taught preacher who really has taken Derek under his wing. He met us in his overalls under his carport. So glad to see us… and we were so glad to see him! He invited us in for a coke, and we sat in his little living room and tried to solve all the world’s ills. Well, the church’s anyway. We visited much longer than what we had time for. And, he encouraged us in our work in AR, though he made it clear that he wanted us back here in CA. He reminded Derek to preach the truth unashamedly… boldly. We expressed what this congregation had been through… and he thought a good dose of truth spoken in love would be just the prescription for their ills. We prayed together and made our way out the door. The brother seems to be in better health than when we left, so I am confident that we will see him again before too long.
We’ve already gone through some culture shock in AR. Everyone goes through it I’ve heard. We’d lived there for a year and secretly vowed never to return. But… God has ways of making you eat your words. Hehe. I haven’t become accustomed to the accent. And, I’m used to being able to read people… but in AR EVERYONE is sweet.
We’re driving down Highway 99 passing eucalyptus trees, almond groves and palm trees. The weather here is soooo much nicer. Yes… it’s hot, but not oppressively so.
Yesterday, Derek decided to take the U-Haul to our former church to see the kids at the learning center where we both used to work. Everyone was puzzled to see the big, orange truck pull up. Once Derek hopped out, the field of playing children cleared and he was rushed by a team of sweaty 6-10 year olds. We hugged kids as fast as we could, calling each of them by name. It was Jimmy’s birthday, Brandon had a birthday too, CJ had lost his two front teeth and Danika had dyed her hair pink. She was in trouble. We really love these kids. Missed them tremendously.
I’ve napped a while and decided to start writing again. Just went through the most interesting landscape. There is a part of CA that just takes you by surprise. We turned off of Highway 99 and headed directly east to the mountain pass. As we approached, the plains turned golden, interrupted by the greenest of grape fields. Not too long afterward, we were in the most golden rolling hills. A few dark green oak trees dotted the landscape, looking almost too perfect to be real. We wandered our way up through the pass and found ourselves in a town nestled in a small valley – Tehachapi. The tops of the rocky hills here are peaked with hundreds of massive white wind turbines. Most of them not turning. After the pass, we settled out onto a very flat desert area. The Mojave. The cactus trees here are thick and awkward with what looks like thick grasses poking out the ends of each twisted branch. The dirt is covered with clumps of sagebrush and the road seems to go on forever. In the distance a few purple lumpy mountains have staked their claim. My rearview mirror is half filled with blue sky and half filled with dusty mountain peaks. My cold has gotten the best of me and my ears are painfully plugged. I’ve yawned until my jaws have turned sore. Dunno when I’ll be able to hear it all again.
Guess it’s time to wrap up this one.
You’ll hear from me again soon.