Sunday, February 25, 2018

Great Expectations

IMG_0255Today at Bamako International Church, we had our first baby dedication!  The baby’s name is Great Shimshon Kolawole Balogun.  He was born in December.  His father Sam is Nigerian and his mother Cecilia is from Guinea.  What a joyous milestone this has been for our church.IMG_0260

The baby’s name means:  Great (great) Shimshon (Hebrew word for Samson which means the bright sun. It’s also his father’s name.)  Kolawole (Nigerian for he comes with wealth) Balogun (His family last name.)  When John held Great to pray for him, he never woke up or cried.  It’s also the first time John’s held a baby since holding Cole.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Somebody That I Used To Know

We’ve spent several days with John’s dad.  We’ve shared a variety of activities including visiting the public library (something we haven’t done in YEARS!), walking around the mall, going to the movies, visiting the Marconi Auto Museum in Irvine, and sitting at home talking.  We’ve also shared several restaurant meals together.  We’ve had some wonderful times together and it’s been great to reconnect on many levels.  Unfortunately, there have also been many times of memory lapses and confusion.  Sometimes Dad’s very cognizant and lucid.  Other times, he doesn’t know who we are.  When he does have a memory lapse, he has some fascinating and clever ways to cover for it.  It’s amazing that as our minds shut down, God still gives us the capacity to think and process.

P1010151It’s been sad when Dad doesn’t know us, but we still enjoy sharing time with him.  We are relishing the good times and hope this is the way we will remember him.  Through it all, he hasn’t forgotten that we’re missionaries in Mali.  He continues to be very supportive and encouraging in what we do.  He is the only family member that has visited us in Mali.  He spent two weeks with us in 2005.  The trip left an amazing impact on him and he has continued to reflect back on it each time we see him. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ain’t No Sunshine

Like most of North America, we were captivated by the solar eclipse this morning.  Unfortunately we didn’t plan ahead enough to get eclipse glasses, so we watched most of it on TV.  We occasionally went outside to look at our viewer we hacked together out of a cereal box.

In the afternoon, we drove out to Corona to visit and have diner with Doug & Sharon who were our close neighbors when we lived in Anaheim.  They always fill us with a BBQ feast fit for a king.  Again, a lot of catching up and sharing in each other’s lives.  It’s hard to live so far from our special friends, but we’re grateful for times like these when we can make up for lost time.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Angels From The Realms Of Glory

Today we were back at Wilshire Avenue Community Church in Fullerton.  The Sunday school teacher for the Berean class was on vacation and he asked us to teach his class while he is gone.  They have been going through the book of Revelation and he asked John to teach about worship in heaven.  John eagerly embraced the topic and enjoyed teaching.  He incorporated several hymns and worship songs that center on the themes in Revelation.

After church, we were invited to lunch by another couple who go back to our Anaheim First Baptist days.  We enjoyed a tasty Chinese feast while catching up on each other’s lives.

Today is also Cole’s birthday.  It’s hard to be away and not celebrate together, but at least we’re currently in the same time zone.  We’re looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks when we travel up to Northern California for several days.  Happy Birthday Cole!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Blast From The Past

Tonight we had dinner with three couples who are friends from our time at First Baptist Church of Anaheim 25 years ago.  There was a lot of catching up to do!  We were encouraged by these longtime friendships and supporters that have walked through this journey with us from the beginning.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Expect The Unexpected

We had a family meeting at our home this week with John’s dad, and several of his aunts and uncles.  Due to the unusual family dynamics, John was the only immediate family member present and represented his mother and brother.  The past few weeks, John’s dad’s memory and mental capacity has quickly deteriorated.  He’s now in need of full-time care.  His oldest sister has temporarily taken him into her home.  We talked for a long time about various options and how to proceed.  We worked out a temporary schedule for family members to step in and take turns helping care for Dad.  There are a lot of things to consider and investigate as we move forward.  We plan to take things step by step to find the best solution for everyone.

As the oldest son, John feels the responsibility to care for Dad.  This leaves a lot of uncertainty in our future.  We are scheduled to return to Mali in November, however there’s a big possibility we will delay or cancel our return and resettle in California to become Dad’s caregivers.  It’s also going to impact many of our furlough plans.  We sensed there was change on the horizon, but we never expected something this big.  We would certainly appreciate your prayers during this time.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ketchup Time

Today we had a chance to share our ministry with the Berean Sunday School class at Wilshire Avenue Community Church in Fullerton.  This class has been faithful and encouraging supporters and it was refreshing to see and catchup with them in person.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Memories Fade

We arrived back from Washington yesterday.  We really enjoyed seeing Jeremy, meeting his new wife Kelly, and exploring Seattle with John’s mom.  John checked his email as we were getting off the plane and found a distressing message from another family member.  Apparently, John’s dad is showing advanced signs of Dementia and acting erratically.  From what we understand, he’s been out wandering aimlessly several times and is not able to properly take care of himself.

We’ve arranged a meeting at our house in a few days with Dad and several family members to learn more about the situation and begin working towards a solution.  We would really appreciate your prayer.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Emerald City

We enjoyed the wedding yesterday.  We’re still in Washington for an additional day, so we decided to explore Seattle with John’s mom.  We enjoyed a family trip here a few years ago with Cole and we wanted to retrace some of those steps and enjoy some new sites too.

Amazon SpheresWe started the day looking down at Seattle from high atop the Space Needle.  We had lunch at Pike Place Market and enjoyed exploring the market, including the famous fish vendors throwing fish through the fish market.  We also took a guided trolley city tour and saw a lot of interesting sites, including the Amazon Spheres.  These are parks inside three giant glass biospheres.  Unfortunately, they are only open to Amazon employees so the public is stuck on the outside looking in.

Speaking of Amazon, as Seattle’s largest employer, Amazon has been transforming the city into a Millennial landscape with new social norms that seem confusing at times.  Apparently Amazon is a very dog friendly company.  From what we heard, employees are free to bring their dogs to work or take them to one of the many nearby doggy daycare centers, a paid benefit of Amazon.  This is changing the demographics of the city.  According to one of our tour guides, dogs now outnumber children in Seattle.  Guess it’s a dog eat dog world.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Hey Baby, I Think I Want To Marry You

Soon after we returned to the States, we received surprising news that John’s brother is getting married.   We were looking forward to seeing Jeremy who’s lived in Anaheim, CA for the past 20+ years.  But he suddenly picked up and moved to a small town in Washington (AC not DC) to be with his fiancée.  Jeremy is 46 years old and never married.  Kelly is also 46 and never married.  Jeremy and Kelly met when they were both attending Christian Heritage College in San Diego (now San Diego Christian College).  They periodically kept in contact over the years but something suddenly blossomed within the last 6 months and quickly progressed to marriage.

IMG_2986Jeremy and Kelly were considering an elopement and a simple civil courthouse wedding, but both of their mothers convinced them to have a public ceremony, even if it was at a courthouse.  We both flew up to Washington with John’s mom the day before the wedding to see Jeremy and meet Kelly.  They are living in the town of Rockport, WA.  The 2010 census population was 109.  While Kelly was at work, we spent the day catching up with Jeremy and exploring the wilderness around his house, complete with picking wild blackberries.  Jeremy BBQed dinner while we waited for Kelly to get home.  After dinner, we enjoyed learning all about Kelly as we talked and played games until midnight.  That’s when we decided we should return back to our motel and let them make the final preparations for the wedding.

DSCN2499Today we met at the courthouse in Mount Vernon, about an hour from Jeremy & Kelly.  It was the closest town with a courthouse.  The wedding was scheduled at the end of the day after the judge was finished with the day’s court trials and hearings.  The judge had just been appointed to the bench and this was only the second wedding she had performed (there was one immediately before Jeremy & Kelly).  Between our two families, there were 12 of us present.  Because the judge was new, she was reading from a script that had another couple’s names.  She mistakenly read someone else’s name instead of Jeremy.  After the initial shock, everyone laughed and the ceremony continued.  DSCN2503The ceremony was short and sweet, and before we knew it, Jeremy was kissing his bride.  After the wedding, Kelly’s parents treated everyone to dinner at a local Italian restaurant for an intimate reception dinner and wedding cake.

Congratulations Jeremy and Kelly!  May your marriage be loving, passionate, and eternal.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Live In Concert…

Colbie ConcertWe’ve been enjoying some amazing deals on SoCal activities courtesy of Groupon.  Tonight, we attended a concert by Colbie Caillat at the Pacific Amphitheatre.  We have enjoyed Colbie’s music and it was a special treat to see her live on stage.  Our Groupon seats were at the back of the amphitheater, but we still had a good view of the stage.  Pacific Amphitheatre is an intimate concert venue and smaller than we remembered.  It’s been years since we’ve been to a live concert.  It was a very special night for us as a couple – one we know we’ll cherish for a long time.

The concert was part of the Orange County Fair, so fair admission was included in the ticket price.  Although we’d been to the fair a couple of weeks earlier, we wandered around after the concert and indulged in some more unhealthy fair food.  One thing we particularly enjoyed was fresh baked, warm and melty chocolate chip cookies from Cathy’s Cookies.  We also bought a batch of cookies and gave them to the volunteers working the Gideon’s Bible distribution booth.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Up Up And Away In My Beautiful Balloon

Great Park BalloonToday we went to see the Great Park in Irvine.  One of our goals was to experience the balloon ride.  Elements of the former Marine Corps Air Station were evident including runways and hangars that are part of the park landscape.

A light breeze was blowing as we arrived at the park in the late afternoon.  Unfortunately, the wind was too strong for the balloon to safely fly.  We made a reservation and decided to wait to see if the wind calmed down enough to go on the balloon.  As we were waiting, we explored a timeline of Orange County and the history of the Great Park that is painted along one of the old runways.  The timeline starts in prehistoric days and continues to present day.  We learned a lot of interesting history about the OC.

The sun set before the wind died down enough for the balloon to launch.  After two hours of waiting, we boarded the balloon.  It was worth the wait.  Although we couldn’t see as much at night, we had a beautiful lighted view of the area.  Julie wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of a balloon ride, but it turned out to be very calm and peaceful.  It is a giant tethered helium balloon that slowly rises to a height of 400 feet.  A large steel gondola securely holds 25-30 people.  It was nothing like a wild amusement park ride.

Marry MeWhen we landed, there was a large group of people gathered around the balloon despite the rest of park being deserted.  We had a sense something special was about to happen, so we waited to see.  As it turns out, a young couple boarded the next flight after us.  As the balloon went up, the young man proposed to his fiancée with lights on the ground below that spelled out “Marry Me”.  A group of their friends stayed on the ground taking pictures and cheering as the bride to be answered “yes”.  What a cool, unexpected surprise to witness!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks

PL - Big A RainbowYesterday we went to an Angels’ baseball game with Wilshire Avenue Community Church of Fullerton, one of our supporting churches.  Neither one of us really follows baseball, so walking into Angel Stadium was a lot like walking into a different culture.  Angels fans have their their own style of dress, eat different foods than we’re used to, and speak a dialect of English with a lot of terms and names we didn’t know.  Thankfully we still remember most of the rules of baseball, and although we weren’t familiar with the players, we could follow what was happening during the game.  We also enjoyed some great fellowship with people from the church.

There was an unseasonal rain as we drove to the stadium.  Thankfully it was a light rain and wasn’t enough to delay the game.  It had stopped by the time we parked our car, but it left an amazing rainbow above the Big A.  We thought for sure this was a sign that the Angels would win…and they did indeed – 7-1.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

No Boys Allowed

RDF Ladie's GroupThough John is an engaging public speaker and is in great demand at churches, Julie is naturally more qualified to speak at ladies’ groups, which is just what she did. By invitation of Laura Prickett, Julie attended a Bible Study  made up of women from Rose Drive Friends Church at Laura’s home on Balboa Island. While enjoying beautiful summer fruits and tasty summer salads on an umbrella covered patio just steps from the beach, Julie shared her personal experiences and life lessons gained from living overseas. Based on Naomi’s experiences in the book of Ruth, Julie encouraged the women not to live in a place of regret but rather to be alert and thankful for the many second chances God gives us to get right with Him, get right with others, and live out the purpose God has for each of us.

After the study it seemed appropriate on this gorgeous summer day to venture towards the ocean. Eight ladies took the ferry across from Balboa Island to the peninsula and walked down the pier to have lunch at Ruby’s Diner. Sounds like the kind of setting John would enjoy – so he did. After spending a couple hours walking along the shore between Balboa and Newport piers, and getting rather sunburned, John got his timing just right and joined the ladies for lunch. Maybe boys aren’t that bad after all.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Peace, Love And Sawdust

Sawdust Festival2Today we went to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach.  Many years ago when we were first dating, John worked at a company just down the street from the festival grounds.  This brought back some very happy memories for us as a couple.  Laguna Beach is an artist community with a very unique hippy vibe.  We enjoyed walking around the festival and looking at a huge variety of beautiful and interesting artwork.  We also enjoyed engaging with some of the artists.  Many of them are very lost in their search for the meaning of life.  We used this as an opportunity to share our faith with them.  A couple of artists really stuck with us.  Please be praying with us especially for one artist named Debra and another named Mike.  They have both been on separate long journeys which have left them very confused.

After the festival closed, we wandered through several art galleries around town and finished with a beautiful sunset together on the beach.  Sadly, another couple sitting on a bench nearby were too engaged with texting on their phones to look up and enjoy the sunset or each other’s company.

Once it was dark, we decided to cruise down PCH in our car with the top down, enjoying the warm summer air.  We stopped at Ruby’s Diner to cap off a perfect day with a rich, thick milkshake.  A couple of tables away, we saw the same couple we had seen at the beach.  As they sat across from each other, they remained silent with their heads down, still fully engrossed with their texting conversations.  This was a sad realization of where American culture is today.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

There’s Yet Another Angel in Heaven

Kimberly & LeboWe’ve run into a difficult and challenging season.  Last week we lost our good friend Daniel Tieh.  Today, we attended a memorial service for Kimberly Baker, another dear colleague of ours.  Kimberly was a missionary serving in Lesotho with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).  We met Kimberly at Rose Drive Friends Church in Yorba Linda several years ago as she was considering becoming a missionary.  It was a joy to celebrate with her as this dream became a reality, and not long after, she was serving full-time with MAF as an accountant in Lesotho.  We were looking forward to reconnecting with her as we had overlapping furloughs in California this year.  Unfortunately, tragedy struck as she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  Within a few weeks, she passed away and began a new assignment in her eternal home in Heaven.

Kimberly’s memorial service was quite touching.  There were many beautiful and fitting tributes to Kimberly’s life and ministry.  She will be missed dearly.  Kimberly has left behind Lebo, an adopted daughter from Lesotho.  Lebo in now 4 years old.  A few months ago, Kimberly had brought her to the States for the first time to meet Kimberly’s friends and family.  She had made arrangements with a family at Rose Drive to care for Lebo.  Please be praying for Lebo as she processes the loss of her adopted mother and adjusts to living in a new country and culture.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Food Glorious Food

Speaking of culture shock…

Fried A FairToday we visited the Orange Country Fair.  John loves the fair and insisted we visit while we’re in California.  The fair has a reputation for outrageous food offerings.  We were not left wanting.  We went on a Thursday when every food vendor offered samples for $3.  This allowed us to snack our way through the fair without leaving overly bloated.  We tried such delicacies as deep fried Oreos, and classics like funnel cake and fresh roasted corn on the cob.  We did pass on some of the more over-the-top choices such as deep fried butterballs (not turkey – actual balls of butter), Krispy Kreme donut cheeseburgers, and nitro popcorn.  Our cholesterol count probably skyrocketed, but we managed to leave without a side trip to the ER.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Culture Shock

Returning to the wealth and prosperity of Orange County after living for so many years in the developing world can often produce what’s known as reverse culture shock.  What used to be familiar to us has now become foreign and sometimes difficult to understand.  We also struggle to catch up and understand all the changes that have taken place since our last visit.

Frozen Pet FoodPets are not a concept in Malian culture.  Animals serve a useful purpose only.  There is no emotional attachment and they are treated like animals, not people.  Our culture shock today came as we visited a pet store while we were out shopping.  We stood speechless in front of a refrigerated food section in the store.  That idea in itself, really left us scratching our heads.  After we got over the sticker shock of the price people will pay for pet food, we were further baffled as we discovered the imbalance of human social responsibilities being transferred to people’s pets too.  Organic meat – cage free poultry – farm raised rabbit.  Really?!?! Then came the doggie strollers.  No words.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

There’s Another Angel In Heaven

Daniel & May TiehWe just learned that our close friend Daniel Tieh, died in a bus accident in Mali this week.  Daniel, his wife May, and their oldest son Darius were returning to Mali from Liberia where they were attending Darius’ graduation.
We were shocked when we received the news as Daniel has been such an important part of our lives.  His wife May was seriously injured and was in a coma.  She has awakened out of the coma, but is suffering with substantial injuries including several crushed ribs.  Darius has been thrust into the role as leader of the family and is working on the details of caring for the family.
We originally met Daniel when we first arrived in Mali in 2001. Since then, he has been our closest friend and colleague.  He played an instrumental role in many of our evangelism ministries and was a key part of our Jesus Film outreaches.  We are devastated by his passing.  Three weeks ago, Daniel dropped us off at the airport.  We had no idea that would be the last time we saw him.
Daniel was a missionary from Liberia.  He felt a strong call to Mali and has been ministering in the country for over 25 years.  He was an amazing evangelist who passionately shared the Gospel with everyone he met.  He was also a compassionate and very attentive pastor.  He planted many churches in Mali, ran a Bible school for new pastors, and operated a Christian elementary school.  He loved Malians and his life was dedicated to sharing the Good News with them.
Daniel’s family lives on very limited resources.  They now face an urgent and large financial obstacle of transporting the body back to Liberia for burial along with relocating the family to Liberia.  Due to her injuries, May will need to fly to Liberia, adding to the cost of transportation.  Please be praying for the Tieh family, Daniel’s colleagues, churches, and students.  Please contact us if you would like to donate to the family to help them in this time of distress.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

A Pier Relationship

Harveys & ClarkYesterday afternoon we met Eric and Kelly Harvey, longtime friends from John’s days of working at Ingram Micro.  We had dinner at Charlie’s Chili at the base of the Newport pier.  It was a stunningly beautiful SoCal weekend and the beach was packed.  It took us over an hour to find a place to park.  We were thrilled to finally find a parking space that was close to the pier.

Coming back to SoCal after being gone for so many years has its challenges.  For the most part, we can still find our way around, but now and then we suffer an occasional senior moment.  This happened to be one of those moments.  When we got out of the car and began walking to the pier, we were horrified to realize we were at the wrong pier!  We had parked at Balboa pier by mistake.  The Newport pier was two miles away with gridlocked traffic and impossible parking prospects.  Thankfully, there was a free beach shuttle bus running this weekend and we were able to hop on that to go to the other pier.  We arrived at Charlie’s on Africa time – 45 minutes late, but thankfully Eric and Kelly had waited for us.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening together eating, walking along the beach, stopping for Balboa Bars, and catching up with each other’s lives.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A Perfect 10

Las BrisasAfrica has been our home for close to 16 years.  Returning to California sometimes stirs up a lot of emotions as we peek at some of the things we left behind so many years ago.  Tonight, we drove down to Laguna Beach to bask in some of the best California has to offer.  We had a magical dinner together watching the sunset followed by a spectacular full moon over the water.  It’s going to be hard to say good-bye to this in November, but we’re trusting God will continue to renew our hearts for Mali.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Family Reunion

Airport GoodbyeThe company Cole works for decided to take an extended Fourth of July holiday weekend.  We jumped at the chance of spending time with Cole and flew him down from Chico to spend the weekend with us.  We packed in a LOT of activities that exhausted us all.  John did a lot of Groupon mining which saved us a ton of money.

GeoffreyOn Saturday. We visited the Fender Guitar museum in Fullerton, played a game of laser tag, then popped into ToysRUs just because.  We had the special treat of seeing Geoffrey Giraffe live and in person.  Next, we treated Cole to a special dine-in movie experience.  We saw the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (one of Cole’s favorite movie franchises) complete with restaurant style food served by waiters and waitresses as you sit in comfy leather reclining chairs.  After the movie, we joined John’s mom for a family dinner theater experience at Merlin’s Magic Dinner Theater in Orange.  We enjoyed a sumptuous meal followed by a very entertaining magic show, courtesy of Groupon and John’s mom.  As an added bonus, Julie was invited to be on stage and help out with one of the magic tricks.

John Julie Cole RosanneOn Sunday we had the opportunity to attend church together at Calvary Church of Santa Ana.  After church, we spent time at Irvine Spectrum, one of Cole’s favorite SoCal attractions.  We then challenged ourselves to an escape room experience.  We were paired with another family and together, we were able to solve all the puzzles and decipher the clues, finding our way out of the room before time expired.  We were quite proud of ourselves.  If you’re looking for something to do, we would highly recommend trying an escape room.  We had a blast.  There are several excellent deals on Groupon.  The fun and games didn’t stop there, we finished the night at John’s mom’s house playing Rummy Cube.

FireworksOn Monday, we spent the morning with Grandma again, before venturing into downtown LA.  Our first stop was lunch at Philippe, home of the French Dip sandwich.  After lunch, we walked down to Union Station.  We then spent most of the day at the Petersen Auto Museum oohing and aweing over the massive collection of specialty cars.  Once the museum closed, we headed back to the OC for dinner at BJ’s at the Block.  We finished the night by driving to Disneyland to watch the fireworks from a nearby hotel parking lot.  Cole leaves for Chico tomorrow afternoon, so we celebrated Independence Day early.

Guitar HerosTuesday, July 4th was our last day together.  We started by returning our rental car to LAX.  Cole wanted to do some souvenir shopping, so we stopped in some shops across from Disneyland where our visitor center used to be located.  We then spent a couple of hours at Main Place shopping center before taking Cole to the OC airport for his early afternoon flight.  It was sad to see him go, but we were grateful for an unexpected weekend together.  We’re also looking forward to spending more time with Cole when we travel up to Chico in October.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Little Red Corvette (ALMOST)

Sebring LimitedOn our last furlough to the States, we had a Chrysler Sebring convertible that we absolutely loved.  Our plan was to sell it when we returned to Mali, but in the end, we passed it along to Cole after his pickup truck became cost prohibitive to repair.

We enjoyed the Sebring so much, we decided to look for another one on this furlough.  After searching for a couple of weeks, we were fortunate to find an unbelievable deal we couldn’t pass up.  We found a 2004 Chrysler Sebring Limited convertible with 78,000 miles for only $3,000.  (This is the first car we’ve owned from this century!)  Since we’ll only be driving it for 5 months, we should be able to resell it in November for about the same price.  In the meantime, we’re looking forward to experiencing California with the sun shining down on us and the breeze blowing in our face.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hurry Up And Wait

We had a relaxing 4 day stopover in Paris in route from Bamako to California.  Yesterday, we arrived without incident at LAX.  We used a brand new phone app that was just implemented by US Customs that allowed us to bypass the lines for passport processing and customs and fast tracked us to the next available agent.  This reduced what is normally a 30-45 minute wait down to less than five minutes!  Unfortunately, one of our pieces of baggage was missing so all the time saved was made up hopelessly waiting at the baggage carrousel.  90 minutes later, we were on our way hoping to be reunited with our bag in a couple of days.

We picked up our rental car and headed to Tustin, where we’ll be staying for the next five months.  We’re grateful to be staying in one of Calvary Church’s missionary houses for the duration of our trip.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I’ll Be Right Here

BXC Sendoff - June 2017Today was an emotional day at Bamako International Church as we bid farewell to our congregation.  There were a lot of tearful good-byes.  Due to the transient nature of the international community, many people will be gone by the time we return.  A strong sense of community and family has been built at the church and we are going to miss everyone dearly.  Starting this church has been John’s vision for many years and it’s a joy to see it come to fruition.  But in the end, it’s not our church, it’s God’s church and we trust He’s going to continue shepherding it while we’re gone.  We are so grateful for Frank and Sharon Arthur who have stepped forward to lead the church until their retirement in November.

John’s message today focused on departure.  He began with famous good-bye movie clips from E.T. (yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of E.T.), Casablanca, and The Jesus Film.  He spoke about Jesus’ ascension, promise of the Holy Spirit, and Pentecost, fulfilling God’s promise of never leaving us alone.

At the end of the service, Frank led in the church in prayer for us and sent us off with a wonderful blessing.