December Daze

Dec. 3: We left Saturday for our six-hour trip to Sandusky, Ohio. Pastor Richard Mick and the Lighthouse Baptist Church were holding their anniversary Sunday Western style, with all the decorations, music, and outfits to boot. We provided special music all day–morning services and afternoon service. There were a tremendous amount of folks who crammed into the fellowship hall for the noon meal. This church seems excited about what the Lord is doing in the work. We returned home following the afternoon service. Dec. 7-8: We kicked off another busy week with a meeting at the Blessed Redeemer Baptist Church in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. We came on the end of a meeting the church was holding with Eddie Wyatt who had been preaching all week. Pastor Smokey Grisom and the church family were very receptive to the music. It was also nice to see our good friend, Jesse Kraigel, along with Peter Van Sant, another old friend of the family. Dec. 9-10: After dashing about trying to put Christmas orders together, we headed to Reston, Virginia, to visit Mom’s sister, Arlene Ballard. We were able to spend only a few hours with her before dashing away again to Greenville, Pennsylvania. We barely made it in time for the hour concert tonight at the Grace Baptist Church. Pastor Keith Troyer did not seem unduly alarmed. It was probably one of the quickest P.A. jobs we’ve done recently. There was a fellowship time afterwards with refreshments. Interestingly, one of the church’s pastors had been Nate Saint’s brother. The church was celebrating fifty years in existence, and what a blessing it was to see the work going on for the Lord. We held morning services at Grace and a meal was served. Then it was necessary to make haste to Mercer, where we were holding evening services. Dec. 10-11: We took part in the Christmas program of the Bible Baptist Church in Mercer, Pennsylvania. Pastor Chuck Schwartz and his family always treat us right. After the evening services we had a small fellowship in the (amazingly enough) fellowship hall. Monday evening we had one more service with the Bible Baptist folks before moving out the following morning. Dec. 12-14: Tuesday morning found us in Marienville, Pennsylvania, with Pastor Pete Zengel and the Forest Area Baptist Church. There were quite a few missionaries and full-time workers in attendance at the Fellowship Meeting that morning. It was exciting to hear the testimonies from those in the services of how God was working in the various ministries. Great meals were served throughout the day. On Wednesday evening we provided a small Christmas program for the church. This year our Christmas repertoire was quite limited. Somehow in all the rush we managed to tuck a few songs under our belt which we pulled out at just the right moments. It’s hard to justify learning 1,000 Christmas songs when you will only use them for a month. Needless to say, we did our best, and we hope those who had to listen were not too depressed. Pastor Zengel had asked us about coming to sing at a prison where he works. We had already filled out the papers and information he needed for us to be allowed clearance to hold services there. On Thursday evening we made our way over to the SCI. This was a new experience for the girls, although they had sung at a jail before. After security checks on us and our instruments and P.A. system, we walked through a huge door, down a long hallway, through several more doors near central security, and out into the courtyard. The inmates were lined up waiting for their turn at the mess hall. In the process of our march across the courtyard and to the chapel, the cart’s contents (P.A. system) decided to shift in flight. Somehow we managed to keep things in check and make it into the chapel in one piece. It was a good thing, too, as some of the inmates were getting a little perturbed at our interruption. There were close to several hundred that showed up. They listened intently. We sang for a while, then Dad preached. We sang several more songs. On one of them, before we had finished the song, the men were on their feet, clapping and shouting. You could tell they really understood the message of “He Gave Himself”. What a service we had that night! It was wonderful to know that God was working in hearts. We hope to return to minister to these men, many who had heard our music before–Pastor Zengel having ordered some CDs for the bookstore. Dec. 17: Sunday morning at the Calvary Baptist Church in Mannington, West Virginia, did not go so well. In Sunday School, we got up to sing, but Monica was nowhere around. There was an awkward space, and then Pastor Lee Bowman suggested we sing a congregational. On one of our songs, we managed to mess up the intro a good deal...that’s how it goes sometimes! The rest of the day seemed to go more smoothly. We had a wonderful meal and relaxing afternoon at a couple’s house, and the evening service was much better. Dec. 20: Took a quick jog up to Homer City, Pennsylvania, tonight to do a special Christmas program for the Victory Baptist Church. Pastor Gary Albarding and the church seemed to really enjoy the service. It was good to see the Bourque Family, who live nearby and are always faithful to come and see us. Dec. 24am: Pastor Bennie Moran and the Faith Baptist Church in Morgantown, West Virginia, were gracious enough to ask us back for their Christmas service. We had a slight problem last year, as one of our group had a nasty cold which rendered them almost incapacitated. This year, Dad was the one with the cold. The Lord enabled him to preach, anyhow. We sang our meager Christmas songs. Jonathan and Jessica Marshall were with us today (oldest son and family), and we forced them to sing one number. They did a tremendous job! In the evening we attended our home church’s Christmas Eve service. It’s always great to be home for a break....whew....made it safely through another Christmas season!