The Marshalls are still amazed that they even made the trip. It was a total of nine hours to Plainville, Connecticut, and the First Bible Baptist Church. Their van, although having recently been in the shop, was still not up to par.
Bro. Marshall suspected the U-joint, which was replaced with help from friends two days before departure. "It was still shaking on the trip up, so I told Jessica to keep the speed down," he said. He told her with a grimace, "I don't think we're going to make it."
But make it, they did. Arriving Monday afternoon, they found a door open, but the church building empty. In the process of unpacking the van, they set off the alarm. A few quick calls to the pastor and the pastor's daughter helped calm fears. They set up the P.A., grabbed a quick snack, and got ready for the evening service.
There were morning and evening services all week. On Saturday there was a day off for fellowship and eating, then the meeting ended Sunday evening. The church did a wonderful job of hosting many preachers along with the Marshalls. Excellent meals were served twice a day. There was time for rest in the afternoons. The weather started out quite warm, but by the end of the week it was pouring rain.
"I think the biggest blessing of the week was just hearing all the good preachers," Jessica said. "The first one was 'How is Your Heart?', by Bro. James Burnett. From the start the messages were gripping."
"The main themes throughout the week seemed to be on your heart condition and your devotional time with the Lord," Joanna related. "One evening after a really good message on the Word, the pastor asked us to sing the invitational song. It just so happens that we have a song on that theme, called 'In Your Word', by our friend, Kristina Rutherford." One of the pastors afterwards said that it was the perfect song.
The Marshalls enjoyed preaching by Evangelist Sam Gipp, (with whom they were recently in a meeting), Evangelist Rick Drummond, Evangelist Buddy Blunkall, Pastor James Kopaczewski, Pastor Scott Strobel, Bro. Steve Cowgill, as well as Bro. James Burnett, and a staff evangelist, Ken Sparks. Bro. Marshall also preached.
"We've been with the Blunkalls quite a bit over recent years," Monica told us, "and we always end up singing with them at some point. I lost my voice right at the end of the meeting, so Jessica and Joanna were doing duets." She laughed. "It was great that the Blunkalls were still around, because Jessica and Joanna couldn't have kept on for much longer. Plus we were running out of songs."
Mrs. Marshall had an especially busy week. Ted and Sharon Monsour (the Marshall's fifth daughter and her husband), were going on vacation and asked her to keep their little 21-month-old boy, Teddy. Teddy was sick during most of his short visit, but the family enjoyed having him there.
"We don't get to see the grandkids all that much, so it was nice to have some extra time with him," Monica said.
The week continued to prove very interesting when Mrs. Marshall and Monica were out running errands. They were getting turned around after heading the wrong direction ("Not highly unusual", says Monica.) and suddenly heard a loud snap. Steam began to pour from the hood. There was no room to pull over immediately, but they eventually did so and called the pastor. He came to pick them up and the van was carefully driven back to the church by Bro. Marshall. The problem, later to be diagnosed as a loss of the compressor, was unable to be fixed at the time. It appears the van will be without air-conditioning and will remain so indefinitely.
"We're getting ready to head to Illinois in a few weeks," Bro. Marshall stated. "We'll just have to sweat it out."
The family made it home safely, albeit a bit tired and pew weary on Monday, July 16.
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