To catch you up on the news...
Monday-Friday, September 14-18: On Monday morning, the five of us headed to the Akron-Canton Airport to pick up Sharon and her youngest, Veronica. After a quick lunch at Subway, we were on our way to Berlin Heights, Ohio. We stopped at the hotel to settle in and get ready, and then headed to the church. Matthew & Julie arrived from Chicago not long after and ate supper with us. And then Jonathan and his three oldest--Johnny, Nate, & Ben--showed up. Of course, there was general mayhem and excitement!
"It's time to practice." Years ago, we almost hated to hear that! It was a phrase that evoked a feeling of sheer dread. You knew you were in for hours of hard work, along with frustration, a few blow-ups, and who knows what else. It just wasn't always easy to come up with arrangements for songs (most of the songs we learned with the instruments had no music), and sometimes we found that the well had run dry.
This time, there wasn't as much of that feeling of dread in the air. There was, however, a considerable amount of joking going on, especially between Jon and Matt--and a constant flow of chatter amongst the rest, it seemed. We managed to pull a few "oldies" out of the hat and polish them off a bit. It was hard to find a quiet place to concentrate due to people arriving for the tent meeting, so at one point we were hiding out in a coat closet. The last place we hid was in Pastor Shaun Cotterill's office. He was a bit bewildered, I think, at our "Marshall" codes...the secret language all Marshalls adopt when practicing: lifting of eyebrows when someone is going flat, the nodding and pointing to each other to remember a part, and the rolling of eyes when someone forgets. It was amazing that we remembered anything, after not having sung some of those tunes for a long, long time.
The P.A. system was an odd mixture of equipment, but Pastor Cotterill helped us all he could in getting it tweaked. Occasionally, a mic or two would decide to quit or a loud squeak would erupt, but we worked with it. Evangelist Don Hardmon and his wife were here and it was good to see them again. He preached hard and strong. They are some sweet servants of God.
Jon was able to come back the following night, as he lives in Toledo, Ohio, and is on staff at his father-in-law's church, Hope Baptist. He leads the congregational music and heads up the singles department, Focus. His wife, Jessica, had to stay home the first night, as one of the kids was sick. She was able to come Tues. evening to join us.
On Wednesday, we were missing Jon and his family. Somehow, though, we managed to get more accomplished. (Wonder why that is? Matt was always a bit more serious about music. Ha!) Thursday was the last night we were all together. We pulled out more "oldies", including one called "Old Ned" that the older girls used to sing. Talk about diving back into the "Dark Eighties", as Matt says. We enlisted Dad & Mom to sing with us tonight. Some of the grandkids got in on it, as well. What a blessing to serve the Lord as a family!
We enjoyed some family time this week sightseeing in Milan, Ohio (the birthplace of Thomas Edison). It was also exciting to help a small church not too far away who had just opened its doors to the community. We passed out tracts in one of the neighborhoods and found some contacts for that pastor.
The last night of the meeting, it was just us five: Dad, Mom, Joanna, Jessica, & Monica. We were still blessed to sing and to encourage the saints. And so ended the week. It was just a small Family Reunion, but it was a special time to reflect on the past and remember all that the Lord has done for us over the years. It was this week that our family celebrated 33 years of serving Him. How fitting that He allowed some of us to meet and serve Him this week at the Berlin Heights Baptist Church. Pastor Cotterill was an immense encouragement to us and we greatly appreciated all he & his family did for us during our stay in Berlin Heights. As well, the good members of Berlin Heights Bapt. and the surrounding churches did a great job in making us feel at home.
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