Time for some updates! Emily and I have been on the road non-stop for the past couple weeks, and we are just getting back and settled in! We had an absolutely amazing couple of weeks. It all started two weeks ago yesterday (and today). We had the opportunity to head over to the NRBFC Spring Conference in Millerton, NY. Millerton is the last town headed East before getting to Connecticut. Literally. We actually drove the last half-mile to the border before coming home, just so we could tell you all we visited Connecticut. We brought my Father-In-Law with us on this trip. He pastored up in Maine for a number of years, so he was able to renew acquaintances and friendships with a number of the other pastors up in New England. We stayed the night on Thursday night with Pastor Lewis and his wife from Highland, NY, one of our supporting churches. We had a great time with them as well. It was really neat to meet all those pastors and find out about some of the connections that we already had up there with some of them. It was very encouraging.
We headed home on Friday night, and got home about midnight. Nate and Kari Barkley, Missionaries also sent out from our sending church, had spent the night on their trip through the area, so we got to see them for a few minutes Saturday morning. Then Saturday afternoon we headed down to the Binghamton, NY area for our Sunday meeting with South Vestal Baptist Church. We met Pastor Hurley and his wife for dinner that evening, and had a great time of fellowship with them. Sunday morning we presented the ministry to the church family there in South Vestal. A number of folks there in the church were very encouraging to us, and we enjoyed our time with them in the evening. The evening service was laid back, and the fellowship was great! Again, many of the folks were very encouraging to us and we enjoyed our time with them very much.
Sunday night we headed down to Thompson, PA, not too far from Binghamton. We were going to attend the PARBC Spring Conference over the next couple days in Hallstead, PA, representing Grace Baptist Bible College (and ourselves, of course! 🙂 ). We had visited Thompson Baptist Church and the Sandaus last year, and they opened their mission house to us any time we are in the area. It was only about a half-hour from Hallstead, so we took advantage of the opportunity to spend some time with them as well.
The PARBC Conference was very good, very encouraging. By now we are very familiar with almost all of the pastors who were there at the conference. So it was like meeting more extended family! The preaching and theme of the conference was very good as well. We were able to touch base with several pastors whom we will be visiting with over the next few months, as well as see several whom we had already visited.
After the conference, on Wednesday morning, we headed down to Philadelphia with Pastor and Mrs. Hicks from FBC Ogden (another supporting church). We had arranged to stay in their mission house for the remainder of the week and spend the Wednesday night service with them as well. That night went really well. It was fun to see the youth group again, and touch base with a number of folks from the church.
Thursday night we had several people from the church over to the Mission House for a Brazilian dinner. We had feijoada with them. Emily and I had found a Brazilian store earlier in the day and done a lot of shopping there, stocking up on all sorts of goodies both for dinner that night and general use over the next few months. So we had plenty of fun getting everything ready for the night.
Friday I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time chatting with Pastor Hicks about the ministry; it was a very profitable time, and good time of fellowship. Emily went out yard-sale-ing with Mrs. Hicks, which is a little more down her alley. 🙂
Saturday started out with a work day at the church. I found my little niche rather quickly, behind a jack hammer in the basement of the parsonage. Good times! We left Philadelphia around noon on Saturday to head across the state to Brownsville, PA. Pastor Smith at Bible Baptist Church is the son of one of the Deacons at FBC Ogden, so there were connections there between the churches. Anyway, when we left Philadelphia, it was sunny and about 78 degrees. Beautiful. But as we drove across the state we drove through a couple of fronts. As we drove through the first, I watched the temperature drop about 20 degrees in the space of a few miles and minutes. It was very sad. And the temps kept dropping. By the time we got to Brownsville, it was more than 30 degrees colder (not cooler, colder) than when we started out. We met Pastor Smith, his wife, and their two daughters that evening, and had a great time with them that evening. More feijoada!
Sunday was a good day with Pastor Smith and the church family there in Brownsville. Brownsville is a small town not too far from Pittsburgh, and Pastor was very encouraged to note that as Pittsburgh continues to grow, so does Brownsville. The church was small, but the folks there love the Lord and Pastor Smith was very optimistic about the church and its potential. Sunday evening we were able to go over to Waynesburg and say “hi” to the Roofners at Faith Baptist Church. We had visited them early last year, and thought about them often. It was good to see them again and hear how the Lord has been working in their ministry in Waynesburg.
We stayed the night in Brownsville, as they were anticipating some rather nasty weather that evening. We had made plans to meet up with friends up in Northern PA on Monday, so it worked out really well. Monday, as we headed north on I-79, the weather got worse and worse. It was snowing by the time we got to Edinboro. We stopped by Union City to see the Baltichs. We had visited them last year as well, and really enjoyed our time with them. Pastor Baltich and I have had regular conversations since then, as we rub ideas off on each other. We then headed over to Spartansburg and stopped by to see the Gutberlets and the Zinz. We actually stayed the night with the Zinz, as the snow kept falling and falling. By the time we left on Tuesday morning, there was a nice blanket on the ground. But was we headed home on Tuesday morning, things warmed up and by the time we got home there was no snow to be found. And now it’s Friday. Busy couple of weeks!
Be praying with us for Pastor Hurley and the folks at South Vestal Baptist, as well as Pastor Smith and Bible Baptist in Brownsville. These are both smaller churches, but the Lord is definitely working there and both Pastors have a good vision for what the Lord can continue to do in their communities. We are very thankful to have been able to spend some time with them, remind them of God’s work in missions around the world, and be encouraged by their work of missions in their communities.