Last week, I worked with another pastor in the area on the program for an upcoming Men's Retreat which will be held the first week of June. It is always a sweet time of fellowship and bonding and spiritual growth for the guys in the church. Sadly, we are still in an economic slump in which many of our families are hurting financially, and this impacts the ability for many to be able to attend. We are trying to find ways to assist those who cannot go because of money issues. We are trusting God to show us his providence and grace in this situation.
Last Tuesday evening, my friend (Pastor George Nelson) went with me to visit the young man (Carlos Vasquez) who was in the hospital after being severely beaten in a robbery. After surgeries to alleviate some head trauma three weeks ago when it happened, we had seen Carlos with all the tubes and when he was just barely out of an induced coma. We had seen him a week later and he had improved greatly, but he was still barely able to speak up and could not walk. This past Tuesday, however, we walked into the hospital room and he was up and walking and quite alert. More importantly, we found out quickly that he was doing so well that he was being discharged to go home! What an awesome recovery. We told him how much we (and our churches) had been praying for him, and he smiled and hugged us. It was amazing!
On Thursday, I had my checkup for Coumadin (blood thinner) at the VA hospital, and my numbers were good. Then, Sondra and I took a drive down to San Diego for the express purpose of visiting some friends (Bruce and Margaret Wahlen) for a short while and then to go sit at the beach and relax for the day. Well, we arrived at our friends' home and Margaret was working a long day. So, we knew Bruce had been having some deep health issues so we stayed and talked. It was a time ordained by God for us. We had such a good, long talk about a lot of things about life. He needed us and we needed to be there for him. We didn't leave the house until four hours later. We were blessed to share in friendship that day. Bruce and Margaret are such dear friends, and it meant so much to spend time with Bruce at such a place in life's journey.
Sondra and I then went over to the beach, found a little diner by the ocean and had a wonderful dinner. We drove home, just happy and relaxed and fulfilled (and filled.....ha ha).
Last Friday, our church had a trip planned for Hollywood. There is a new Fran Drescher show (called Happily Divorced) coming out on the TV Land channel, and they were taping the first show of the season. Our church was paid $15 per person to be a part of the audience (and therefore part of the laugh track) for this sitcom. There were 9 of us who went and it was a fun time. One person in our church group won a huge teddy bear during the evening, another won a script autographed by all the cast members, another won a T-shirt and CD, and even Sondra was chosen and won a chance for a prize (but alas did not win the prize)! The taping of the show did not start until about 5 pm and did not end until 11 pm. We stopped quickly for a bite to eat (drive-through) at a Jack-In-The-Box and continued home. Sondra and I did not get home until 2 am. I am not young enough for that.....ha! I was wiped out physically for most of the day.
Saturday evening, though, Sondra and I went to a church member's house for a surprise Anniversary Party for a wonderful couple in our church. The couple was celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary and we had a great homemade Mexican dinner. The lady (whose anniversary it was) almost broke down in tears, saying she had never had a surprise party in her life and that this was so special. The little things we do make such a difference!
On Sunday, we had a good time of praise and worship (and, of course, an awesome sermon.....ha ha). Anyway, after the service a young lady named Cynthia sat down and talked with me. She had been absent from our congregation for some months. She explained that she had messed up again and gone back to drugs, but then she had been sent to a rehab center in Hemet (about an hour away) to get clean. She had been doing some reading there at rehab and happened upon a devotional book. On the inside cover, there was a written inscription to someone and it had had my signature! When this lady read "Pastor Galen" at the end of the incription, she began to cry and knew that it was meant for her to be there. She looked at me Sunday and said, "Pastor, it's like you were there reaching out to me while I was there in rehab." What a powerful moment fo rme. My gift of a book to someone else (apparently a person who had been dealing with addiction) with my written encouragement was used again for someone else! God is awesome! Incredible!