Monday, March 12, 2012

Birthday Week

It was bound to happen!  Everyone had been sick -- my wife, my grand-daughters, folks at church.  So, yes, I finally caught whatever it was that was going around.  Last Monday I began to sneeze, cough and have a runny nose.  All that with a slight fever as well.  I was hoping it would go away quickly, so I could feel better by my birthday (last Wednesday, March 7).

Well, it didn't happen!  I was tired, sick and dragging all week.  But I tried to get several things accomplished anyway.

Last Monday, I had an appointment here at the house with Torie Anderson, a friend from my early college days.  She and her husband have been close friends for over 44 years.  Torie helped Sondra get her first teaching job here in Rialto in 1997 as well.  Torie is retired and has been working with an organization that helps train teachers in China, specifically in the region that was ravaged by a huge earthquake a couple of years ago.  She goes with the hope that her faith in Christ will shine forth and be a witness to those who are living in sadness and hopelessness.

Torie came over last Monday to have me help her rework her written presentation and PowerPoint presentation.  She has been asked to lead teacher-training seminars in several places this year in China.  In April, she is to lead a seminar that will have materials (that she is developing) that will be used to train teachers in all of China!  There is so much to tell, but there is not enough time or space to go into all the details.  Torie just wants to be used by God in this opportunity.  I was humbled to be asked to assist in putting it together.  I worked with Torie on Monday and Thursday on these materials.  I spent much of Saturday putting it together and sending it to her by email.

Tuesday I stayed in and was more miserable with the cold/flu symptoms.

Wednesday was my birthday, and I didn't feel much better.  The only time I went outside was to have dinner at Dickey's BBQ with Evan/Callie and Shawn/Crystal/Bailey/Brynnlee.  Evan and Callie gave me cards and gifts after dinner.  It was fun, but I didn't feel up to par.

I felt so blessed throughout the day, though.  I got phone calls from Jason and his family.  I got to have some Skype calls on separate occasions with Noel, Marti and Mom in Shawnee.  I had a fun talk on Skype with David and Meche in Chiapas.  On Facebook and in emails, I received a ton of birthday wishes.  I was amazed at the Facebook entries and notes from friends -- from old friends, from new friends, from 29 Palms, from San Diego, from Rialto, from Riverside, and on and on.  I tried to keep count, and I came up with over 75 messages.  It was rather exciting.

On Thursday, I did not venture out of the house until that evening again.  Evan and Callie took me (with Sondra, of course) to the local Philly's Best sandwich shop in Ontario.  I do love Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and it was a good choice.  Afterwards, we went over to Callie's house in Corona to show Evan (and Callie) the DVD that I just had made of our kids when they were young (Evan was 2 years old in the little home movie).

Friday came and went, and I was beginning to feel better.  The only thing I did that day was go to dinner with Shawn and Crystal and the grand-daughters to the nearby Outback restaurant.  They gave me cards and gifts that night.

On Saturday morning, I woke up from a good night's sleep, but by 9 am I was feeling just worn out with no energy.  I called a man I had met a couple of weeks earlier at the Evangelism Conference and asked him to come and preach Sunday (yesterday).  I did not know how I was going to feel, and I had not done as much as I usually do for sermon preparation during the week.

Sunday was eventful.  The man I had asked to come and preach has a nickname, "Hitchhiker."  His name is James McCollogh, a former Marine and retired government worker who felt a "calling" to be a hitchhiker for the Lord since 1978 when he was saved.  He has hitchhiked all across the U.S. many times to arrive at appointed destinations.  He has hitchhiked in Iraq, Haiti and many other foreign countries.  He loves the Lord and uses every opportunity to share the gospel with those who pick him up.

Well, here's why yesterday was so eventful.  He was hitchhiking to our church in Riverside from the east L.A. county area, about 30 miles away.  I called him at 9 am (our church starts at 10 am) to remind him that he was free to call me to pick him up when he was close.  Well, he called at 9:55 and said he needed a ride.  I told my assistant pastor and Praise & Worship leader to take over the service until I returned!  I picked up the "Hitchhiker" preacher, brought him to the church, arriving around 10:55 am (almost an hour into the worship time).  The assistant pastor was leading a Praise & Testimony Time ("happy dollar" praises in the offering plate), and I came up to the platform area.

After a brief introduction, "Hitchhiker" preached and we were blessed by his message and testimony.  In over 37 years of hitchhiking to churches and preaching engagements, he had NEVER had trouble getting to his assigned place.  He told me I was his first church that this happened to, so the Devil was working overtime to keep him from being with us!  I told him this was the first time I had EVER left a church service to go pick up the preacher!  We laughed after it was all over, but I sure didn't know what to think when I was on the freeway going back and forth during my worship hour!

All in all, it is a treasured memory for what God does in spite of our plans!  It ended up being a truly blessed day at church.

After lunch, we went home and relaxed.  At the end of the day, Sondra made me a German chocolate cake for my birthday (late) at my request.  It sounded good and I enjoy it so much.

She did it, we ate it, we got full!  A perfect end to a great day and a wonderful week (in spite of being sick).

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