Monday, November 03, 2003

Okay I feel a little guilty about the ramblings that are bad about my church so here is a longer ramble about the good stuff.

Here is a recap of the blessings God has given us through HCBC since we arrived on July 3, 2000. Most of the time I love Hollis Center Baptist Church. It is a Godly, caring congregation where I am blessed to be one of three pastors. Three and a half years ago, the church called my wife and I to be the first Youth pastors they have ever had. The Senior and Associate Pastors have been much more than supportive of me. They compliment me from the pulpit, stand behind my decisions and have become father/mentor figures to me in the faith. (I also had a WONDERFUL relationship with my last SP and I know that I am blessed for that).

Before our arrival the church found us a nice apartment, paid the moving expenses and our first month's rent and security deposit. They offer me four weeks of vacation a year (of which I took three last year and am busier this year and may only take 1.5 but EVERYONE nags me about taking more time off so I can be refreshed). After seven years of service I am offered an 18 month sabbatical. They also encourage any kind of developmental meetings I see the need to attend.

When we got here they pounded us with non perishables and "meated" us with so much meat we could put nothing else in the freezer. We didn't have to buy anything but liquid products at the grocery store for three months!

On our third week here Kendra was in a car accident that totaled our only vehicle (Jasper's beloved Eagle Vision TSI). That Sunday the needwas presented in church and by 1PM that afternoon we had a car given to us.

It was the Hooptie of our dreams and Jasper was a madman behind its wheels.
With the insurance money from the Eagle we were able to purchase a van that we use frequently for youth outings. In November of our first year, we had a problem requiring $700 to repair. It happened right at Christmas time. We scraped the money together and got the van fixed. One night we came home and found two fifty dollar bills in a card on the wreath on our door. The card insisted we spend the money ONLY on Christmas presents for each other and was anonymous. The following Sunday at church I was given an envelope. When I got home in it was a note from the board of elders saying they all chipped in and gave us the $700 as a gift. This was above and beyond my Christmas bonus (my first ever in ministry).

Our first mission trip here was in July 2001. Jasper took 10 students and two leaders out of the country! (okay it was to New Brunswick, Canada but it was his first international trip) We painted a lot and bonded even more. It was really this trip and this time away with the students that became a turning point in the ministry here. The kids began to accept us and we felt like we had begun to establish deep relationships with them. IT ROCKED! However on that trip, I had an accident in a borrowed van. The damage was $1700. No one yelled. No one threatened to fire me. The board voted unanimously to pay for all the repairs. No questions asked. A blessing both to me and to the family who so graciously gave us their vehicle. It is running fine.

Another Christmas came and with it came another Christmas bonus!

In April 2002, when Kendra's father passed away somewhat suddenly, we had to travel at the spur of the moment to Missouri from Maine. This was not a cost we saw coming. When we returned, the church had taken a collection that completely paid our airfare and expenses. No questions asked.

Our apartment was not working out. Even after the first year we were frustrated with living there but had no other real options. We had a landlord who is kind of a modern Jekyl and Hyde and over charged us for EVERYTHING. A family in the church heard about some of our struggles there and offered to let us move into the brand new 1300 square foot apartment they were building over their garage. Not only are they former youth leaders with a pool and a black top basketball court in their backyard which have been open to the youth group whenever we want it, they are wonderful people whom we have wanted to get to know better since we came here. Everything in the apartment is brand new. They even let us choose the countertops, carpet and appliances. We moved here in June of 2002 and now pay $170 a month less in rent. God bless Steve and Lori!

Our church is not full of rich people. We are a medium sized working class congregation. The people here just give from their hearts and sees that the Lord's blessing comes when they do that.

Boundless love and support have been shown to us in these nearly four years. Not every day has been perfect. I have had struggles with teens, parents, youth workers and other church members but always God has worked out the problems with little long term issues. There are somethings I have still to work out as far as my theology versus the theology of my church. Still I do see Jesus in these people!

Recently, when we thought God may be calling us away from here, the leaders of the church embraced us and encouraged us to follow God's leading. They did not wish for us to go but they were eager for us to see what God's plan was for us. We ended up staying. We were welcomed with enthusiasm and love as if nothing had happened.

Another free car became ours a couple of months ago. Another church member knew the Hooptie had gone to Hooptie Heaven and generously gave us their second vehicle when they got a new one! WOW!

Not everything the church has done for us is listed here. That would take up WAY TOO MUCH time. Our church is not perfect as I have stated before, Utopia does not exist. It ain't perfect, but I see Jesus in this congregation EVERYDAY.

The first three and a half years have been exciting. We have flown more than ever before and have become quite good at it! We do miss family, friends and food from the Midwest here we are. The safest place to be is in God's place, under His protection.

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