It could be that Monday was the longest day in my life so far. Technically it wasn't longer than any other Monday, but boy did it seem like it. As of 6:30am most of what I saw for the next 13 hours was the back of a 17ft. UHaul truck which held all of my possessions...so I had pretty much all day to reflect upon my last Sunday in Loogootee. Well, the first three hours in the truck were spent singing duets with Marley. While she isn't really one for Copacabana, we rocked it out to I can see clearly now...
The refrain went something like this:
It's gonna be a bright.....mrow.
After the valium kicked in, for the cat, not for me, the meows mellowed out and she no longer attempted to open the carrier. The quiet gave me all day to think about what God was doing in my life...and when I began to think about it I began to be overwhelmed.
It all began Sunday morning.Worship was wonderful...some tears during worship, but some smiles too. We began with the Thanksgiving for Baptism and I was able one last time to sprinkle the congregation with water from the font. I, too, was reminded of my baptism as the acolyte made sure I didn't miss out.
I truly broke down when it was time for the Godspeed and Sending part of the service. In a similar pattern to the installation service, I went from the font, to the table, to the pulpit and to the congregation to, in essence, give back these sacred places the congregation had entrusted to me as their pastor. It was at the end, however, when I stood in the middle of the sanctuary and asked them to lay hands on me and bless me on my way that I couldn't stop crying. A youth member up in the balcony even stretched out his arms during the blessing. I know there were lots of tears and hopefully some closure for our time together. I know there will be a time of grieving for them and for me, but we have had the opportunity to truly say goodbye to the mission and ministry we have done together.
We then headed downstairs for tasty fried chicken, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, salads and desserts...I did not leave that place hungry :) I received two pictures...from different folks. In both of them I'm making funny faces....hey, at least I wasn't shoveling food into my face, which is usually my MO. As people headed home, there were teary hugs and last minute waves. It was sad to walk out of that sanctuary for the last time.
I am very thankful for the Loogootee folk who helped load the moving truck that afternoon. One person arrived and was grumbly. He wasn't gonna lay a hand on my stuff until the folks from PA showed up. I thought to myself, that's okay, you don't have to help, the other folks here volunteered to be here...you don't have to be here. I tried to shake it off, but it bothered me because the last thing I wanted to do was put these people out. The truck was loaded in 2.5 hours. (Not too bad)
As folks left the house, the one who came in grumbling, gave me a big hug. I was about to say thank you, and he began to pray...to thank God for my presence here and to ask God to guide me on my journey....(tear)
A few hours later the PA crew arrived. They were ecstatic that the truck was already loaded. We ate some pizza, watched Marley and called it a night.
Because, we were gearing up for the 12 hour journey the next day.
I'm still amazed and completely gracious that these 4 fellows drove from Pennsylvania to Indiana and back again in 2 days. The crew at the house in Robesonia had the truck unloaded in no time at all.
All my stuff is in one room as the extreme parsonage makeover crew does as much work as they can. There is cleaning, painting, hardwood floor finishing and carpeting all to happen over the next several days. I did a quick walk through on Monday night, but couldn't remember much of it Tuesday morning after a solid 11 hours sleep. I almost cried in the house when I saw all these people and all the time and effort they are putting in to turn this house into my home. Marley and I are graciously staying with the Vicar until the house is ready. While Marley was a little freaked out after a day in the carrier in the truck...she had a fear of ceiling fans the first day or so....she is becoming more and more comfortable here. :) I'm happy to say, she'll reside with the Vicar while I head to see family for the weekend. (yet another moment of God's grace)
Yesterday I saw my office and the corner is full of pantry items...canned goods, paper goods, cat food and enough diet coke to last quite a while. :) The grace continues to abound.
I was able to have lunch with the cluster group today and to see folks I met on internship. It's great to reconnect and feel comfortable even in a new place and in such a transitional time. I am still excited, anxious, and sad in this transitional time, but God is present in the midst of it. Marley is settling in...I'm beginning to get my bearings...and there is a long road ahead with great ministry opportunities and places to see God at work in our lives and in the world.
In the meantime, with proof of new residency from the Post Office, I decided to get a library card. :) I'll register the truck and get a license next week...but for now...it's books, cat and family.
I'm thankful for all the folks in Indiana who helped me get to where I am today...both personally and professionally. The last 3 years would have been impossible if God hadn't placed you all in my life.
I'm thankful that I have some down time between calls to visit friends and family and to start unpacking my stuff. And truly thankful for the open arms in Robesonia...just waiting for me to get here so we can begin ministry together.
Until next time...