Saturday, July 25, 2009

Interesting Week

This week has been extremely interesting.

Monday was our son-in-law's (Shawn's) birthday. We went over and had cake with him and Crystal. Shawn just turned 33 years old. It was a special cake because Sondra made it that day. She made a German chocolate and it was delicious.

On Tuesday, I attended a Homecoming Committee meeting for California Baptist University in Riverside, my alma mater. It was the initial meeting of all alumni who might be interested in helping plan and coordinate the events for the annual homecoming of the school. The homecoming will be next year, February 12-13, 2010.

I showed up, just out of curiosity and wanting to help where needed. There were ten of us in attendance and we talked in general terms about themes and ideas for that weekend. Towards the close of the meeting, the school alumni director asked me if I would take the position of Chairman of the Homecoming Committee for 2010. I was taken aback as I was not even aware this might happen. However, I am excited and look forward to making the homecoming for Cal Baptist students a great time next February.

On Wednesday evening, we hosted our former Praise & Worship Leader, Mike Yeamans, for a night of singing and sharing. As most of you know, Mike was on staff here for seven years, and he is now the senior pastor of La Sierra Baptist Church. It is always a blessing when Mike and Corky can come back and lead us in song and praise to lift our hearts to heaven. In addition, their church keyboard player (Lois) came to play and sing with them.

Thursday, Sondra went to Myers school to get some last minutes things done and some other things cleared out. Just before leaving the school, she was walking across a grassy area, fell and severely sprained her right ankle. Her left ankle has previous problems, as there is no cartilage and may need surgery on that ankle sometime in the future. She is scheduled to get a foot brace for that left ankle next Tuesday. Anyway, we went to Urgent Care that evening, had a cast put on her right ankle, and she is now on crutches for two weeks.

But yesterday God really intervened for my health needs. Since Sondra retired early without enough years for continued paid health insurance (through Kaiser), I lost my health benefits. We are paying a monthly premium to keep Sondra on Kaiser, but we simply cannot afford the Kaiser premium for me and we were trusting that we might be able to look elsewhere to meet that need. So, yesterday (Friday) I went over to the Veterans Hospital in Loma Linda and applied for health care. Because of my recent heart bypass surgery, they immediately enrolled me and had me see a primary doctor that very afternoon while I was there. They even sent me upstairs to get an immediate blood draw to check my blood thinning level. What an answer to prayer, as there are some veterans that do not qualify for immediate care due to the case overload with returning vets. God opened all the doors and I do not have to worry about or pay for my health coverage now.

I continue to be amazed at how good God is to me and all his children!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anniversary Day of Sorts

Today is July 21, 2009. On a moonlit night in Mettler, California, on July 21, 1971, I proposed to a teenaged young lady named Sondra Elane Langdon. I was 21, she was 18 and had just graduated high school. We had been dating for about a year and a half by this time. Four months before this marriage proposal, I had been drafted and was serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era of hostilities in Southeast Asia.

On that night 38 years ago, I got down on one knee and asked her to be my wife. She said yes, and I gave her an engagement ring. Going into her house later to ask her dad's permission, he jokingly said, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Years later, I am reminded that that is a fair question to be asked, even if in jest.

It is important to know our honest thoughts and intentions and life goals. Whatever would lay ahead on our journey of life, I wanted Sondra to be a part of all of it. Now, many of you know we have had some bumps in the road. But that is life. That is part of the journey, to make right decisions and hard turns and march forward together in love and unity.

This past month, I was reminded of how important it is to give honor to our mates. When making a decision to be gone three Sundays in a row at church to take vacation, I had a hard time making that choice. My devotion is to the church, and yet it is also to my wife. She asked me to take the time for an extended vacation. I struggled with that.

If I said yes to her request, was I compromising my devotion and attention to the ministry that God has given me? Through much prayer and deliberation and insight, the Lord was gracious to show me that I was not compromising my time between my two highest priorities. I was giving honor to the one that came first. My commitment to Sondra came before my commitment to The Vision Plus Church.

I began to feel a peace. I was giving honor to my wife by choosing to take the extended time. I was not neglecting one for the other. God had (and still has) his hand on the life of our church, most of all by bringing wonderful individuals to take the places of responsibility for the work of the ministry.

It was the peace and contentment that I needed. I showed and gave honor when it mattered. There is no compromise when honor is shown. I hope others have learned this lesson far sooner than it took for me to learn.

Today is July 21, 2009. On this date 38 years ago, Sondra and I promised to love each other to the end. And the end has not yet come!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Back from Vacation

Wow. What a wonderful three weeks we enjoyed. Way too much to tell in one blog!

I will just share some of the highlights. We arrived in Shawnee, Oklahoma, in time for the annual Family Gathering (Pow Wow) in which my mom's lineage and family heritage was being honored. We are from the Bergeron line of the Potawatomi nation of Native Americans. It was great to see so many relatives and family members. While there, my mother had me teach her Sunday School class of senior citizen women at her church in Tecumseh. I have so much fun teaching them when staying there.

Then we went to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee to visit some dear friends, Randy and Vicki Smith. This couple (and their kids) were part of our church in 29 Palms many years ago. They live in an RV park high among the woods and the trees. So peaceful and nice.

We made the decision to try to be in Boston for the Fourth of July, so we drove to Philadelphia and spent the night on July 3. Got up and headed for Boston and arrived early afternoon. Went to the Fireworks extravaganza on the banks of the Charles River listening to the Boston Pops orchestra and Neil Diamond in concert.....for free, as well! We enjoyed it with 200,000 other people crazy enough to spend Independence Day there!

The next day we went to Plymouth to see the famous Plymouth Rock and the town that the Pilgrims settled when they arrived in 1620. Saw two villages that were reproductions of a Pilgrim town and a Wampanoag Indian village. Also boarded a reproduction of the Mayflower ship, which they sailed from England to Plymouth in recreating the actual trip.

Day Three was a tour of Boston, with a wonderful guide on the Freedom Trail. This trail, which starts at the Boston Common, is 2.5 miles and has red bricks to guide you past 16 historical places. Our guide only goes the first mile and talks about the first 11 historical sites. He was great! After lunch, Sondra and I walked the rest on a self-guided tour and we were tired and wore out that evening. We also went downtown to the Cheers bar and had dinner.

Day Four was a day in which we have now seen that God had prepared for us to have a special blessing. We decided to tour Harvard campus and while there in Cambridge (just on the outskirts of Boston), and in doing so we found a good friend and pastor from many years ago. Our friend, Paul Kim, is pastor of Berkland Baptist Church there and has a passion to reach the best and brightest minds of Harvard and M.I.T. universities. Previously in California when I first met him, he was the pastor of Berkland Baptist Church in Berkeley, California, while I was going to seminary. He had started the church there to reach the Korean community of students at Cal Berkeley. In his early start, he had asked me to come preach a revival for his church because of a recommendation from our Area Missionary, Buren Higdon. Pastor Kim's church gave me a Love Offering that was almost the exact amount I needed to go on a mission trip to the Philippines. Sondra related that story to him, because I had never shared that with him. He was moved and asked me to come next year to preach at his church there in Boston in the late part of October 2010. We had such a blessed time of sharing and renewal of friendship. It really was the highlight of our trip.

Day Five we checked out of our Boston hotel and headed for Cape Cod. Drove all the way to the end of the peninsula and had lunch. The previous night I booked a room on Priceline for Providence, Rhode Island. Wow. For $64, I was able to get the Renaissance Providence Hotel, located right next to the state capitol building. It was awesome. Words cannot describe how nice this place was.

After sightseeing in Providence, we headed to Springfield, Missouri, to see my brother Noel, wife Janice and son Mark. It was special. I took Mark to the Dollar Store to let him get birthday gifts (his birthday was July 4) and we also stopped at Krispy Kreme for some donuts! Spent the night there and then on back to Shawnee.

Spent a night with my mom and taught her Sunday School classs again. Then spent a couple nights with son Jason and his family (wife Shelly and our grandkids Jace and Kylee). Took the kids to see the movie "Up" in 3D. Very good movie!

This past Tuesday, we arose early, left at 5 am, drove straight and got home at midnight in Rialto! It was the trip of a lifetime. Sondra had wanted to see Boston and Plymouth Rock since she was in Fifth Grade. Great memories now of a wonderful time with hundreds of pictures to bore you with when you see us!