Monday, June 29, 2009

A Vision of God's Beauty

As we climbed higher in elevation, the trees became more dense and stood tall and proud, like sentinels guarding the entrance into Shasta county. Occasionally we were delighted by the snow-covered tops of majestic mountains proudly calling attention to their superior height among their Sierra-Nevada neighbors. Our drive was at times slowed by a logging truck or an alfalfa-hauling flat-bed, two primary exports of the area. This caused us no particular irritation because this elongated our opportunity to soak in the picturesque landscape. Although like Micronesia, this area was sparsely populated, the comparison ended here. We couldn't help but imagine how our students' eyes would bulge in amazement at the vast amount of open space and seemingly endless miles of land. Ultimately, we were greeted by a valley situated at 3500 feet. Wild rice paddies, acres of alfalfa, strawberry patches, and fields of mint presented a mosaic of verdant hues abutting one another in no discernible pattern. Nestled in the midst of this sat a steepled country church ministering to the Fall River Valley community of 3500 people. It was to this location, located six hours north of the San Francisco Bay Area, and two hours south of the Oregon border, that we traversed to share the work God is doing in distant Micronesia. The parishioners were extremely friendly and eager to meet the missionaries they have been praying for the last two years and we were enthusiastic to meet those who had been praying! After we both shared in the Sunday school class and Eric preached at The Glenburn Community Church, several of us went to the Fall River Hotel (built in 1935) for lunch. After sharing and dining on dishes flavored with wild rice (a main crop in this wet part of California), we toured the picturesque countryside and loaded our memory card. Beyond rejoicing in the beauty of God's physical creation, however, we rejoiced in the ministry partners He has raised up all over the globe. Our deepest thanks go to Rev. Bill and Shelly Myers, old college friends, who treated us like royalty and provided us much-needed relaxation and meaningful conversation. They are a picture of something as beautiful as the landscape: faithful servants and cherished partners in ministry. (Our next blog will feature some of Bill's award-winning photography).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Church Connections

It's been both fun and busy being in a different church every Sunday, along with various other events mid-week. We've enjoyed preaching at two of our partner churches since our arrival in California, and it's been a joy to catch up with ministry friends. Here's a picture of us with Shawn and Patty Robinson, pastors of Clayton Community Church. Eric, Shawn, and a third pastor, Mike McCoy, prayed together every Thursday morning for nearly ten years. What a great time catching up and hearing the great things Clayton Community is experiencing. Two full services and a massive building project made us feel extra special when Shawn announced that amid all their important projects we've been added on as regular mission partners!
Last Sunday found us on the other side of the bay preaching two (three?) services at Central Peninsula Church. I guess we're a little unsure if Eric preached two or three services because a video of the first 9:00 sermon (see picture) was rushed to their satellite church in Milbrae for their 11:00 service (filled with another 400-600 people)! CPC is one of those thriving congregations, reaching some 1,600 each Sunday between their two sites, and they are praying about adding another. Again, we are humbled to be mission partners with CPC as well. We even took a picture of us in front of their mission partners display.
It's been a thrill to have lots of opportunities to share our work with God's people, and a tremendous joy to watch as people respond with enthusiasm and support. Among other things, it reminds us of just what a privilege we have serving in Micronesia. Thanks to all of our supporting churches and individuals (who together represent dozens of other churches!).

Monday, June 22, 2009


It took a couple of weeks, but finally we were reunited June 10 with our numero uno, Teyler! What a great joy to see him. 6000 miles of ocean separating us makes these occasions very special. Because of his continuing work as pastor for 5th and 6th graders at Ocean Hills Covenant Church in Santa Barbara, Teyler remains there this summer (some 200 miles south). We all yelled and squeezed when we saw each other, and Teyler's little sisters barely let go of him until we headed back north. This is to say nothing of our joy at seeing Eric's parents and his brother and family. We were also able to see Westmont College (the first time for Karyn and soon-to-be freshmen, Christian). To Eric, the landscape was vastly different since he last saw the campus before the two infamous fires ripped through the mountains over the past year. Nevertheless, Spring has brought new life, and the army of construction workers were busy making the campus better than ever. Lots of laughing, football in the park, surfing, and boulder scrambling made our time in Santa Barbara a blast. It was then off to Pasadena where Eric was finally awarded his Doctor of Ministry degree (notice the doctoral stripes on the arm of the robe!).
The picture is of Eric with his doctoral supervisor, Jim Bradley, Geoffrey Bromiley Senior Professor of Church History at Fuller Theological Seminary. It was a great moment, even though the commencement service was anything but a moment, as nearly 500 people received seminary degrees of one form or another. The quiet drive back to Castro Valley was sweetened by the time we shared together and the promise that Teyler will be heading our way in a little more than a week. Besides, there will be one more trip south before the big one back to the far side of the world on August 12.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Off . . . And Speaking

Just emerging from the fog of jet-lag, the speaking tour began. On our first Sunday, Eric preached at Foothill Covenant in Los Altos; on Wednesday, Karyn spoke at a women's luncheon at Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley, and both shared with a small group from First Covenant Church in Oakland that same night (lower picture). Needless to say, we've been busy!
We sincerely appreciate the opportunities to share our work in Guam at PIU, and cherish the relationships we've been able to re-kindle back in the Golden State. We also cherish your on-going support in prayer as we continue to maneuver through the State. This Sunday, Eric preaches at Clayton Community Church, and then we're off to finally see our son in Santa Barbara, Eric's parents in San Luis Obispo, a
nd Eric's brother's family in Santa Barbara. There's not been much rest!
Oh yeah, about the rest of the family. Christian isn't around much since he spends most of his time running from cousin-to-cousin's house and then off catching up with old friends. In the meantime, we managed to corral him to help us do some work on our house. The girls spend their day with their baby goat, Napoleon, and the afternoon with their cousin, Austin. They are having a ball!