Crystal and Shawn asked us (me, Sondra and David) to meet them at the sprawling Pumpkin Patch farm in Yucaipa (30 miles from our house) last Friday morning. There were hundreds of children on school field trips, so it was rather busy but fun. There was a petting zoo, a display of thousands of pumpkins of different varieties, and a castle made of hay bales. It was a very nice outing, with great sunny weather and all.
After spending a few hours at the Pumpkin Patch, we drove up to Oak Glen (about 15 miles north of Yucaipa in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains) to the apple farms there. We ate at Apple Annie's and had some delicious apple turnovers (David had an apple empanada!). Before leaving the area, Sondra went inside at the Los Rios Rancho apple farm store to buy some apple butter and pumpkin butter.
Sunday was indeed set aside for Pastor Appreciation Day. One of the ladies in the church (Lynn Peters) coordinated a thoughtful time of presentations, not only to the pastors on staff (all volunteer) but also to the ministry teams that serve faithfully throughout the year. I was given a gift basket with "goodies" in addition to a couple of beautiful cards. One card had a gift certificate for Black Angus Restaurant and the other had a gift certificate for a local Mexican restaurant.
My message was on the topic of the Pastor -- the call (personal and divine), the work (encouraging, equipping, evangelizing, praying), the risks (burnout, not feeling worthy or qualified or appreciated, low pay, misunderstandings), and the rewards (joy, peace, satisfaction, treasured friendships). At the end of my sermon, I proclaimed my joy in my calling and my joy in pastoring this very church in Glen Avon. Spontaneously, members began to stand and give a rousing time of applause. It was special and heartwarming. I feel so blessed.
Following the worship hour, we all gathered at the nearby Heritage Park for a church picnic. There was so much food, it was unbelievable. One person even commented aloud about the amazing spread of food we were able to share. It was a bright, sunshiny day with a awesome time of fellowship with everyone.
Today (Monday), Sondra's brother Alden had his hernia surgery. We got up around 4 am to get him to the VA hospital in Loma Linda by 5:45 am, which they scheduled for his check-in. All went well with his surgery and he was back in his room resting comfortably by 10:30 am. Around 11:30 am, he was ready to be discharged, so I went down to get the car to bring around to the entrance to pick him and Sondra up. While at the entrance, there was a crowd gathered. In the middle of a group was none other than Colin Powell! I quickly got my cell phone and took a photo. I was about 5 feet away from him and got a great picture. It was rather exciting.
That's it for now.