Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012

The last day of the year. Makes me ponder and reminisce about the previous 12 months.

We knew one year ago that we would be returning to the States in June.
We knew one year ago that Renee would be graduating from Belair in June.
We knew one year ago that Ryan would probably have his A/G credentials in 2012.
We knew that he would be in ministry in Boston, MA.
We knew one year ago that Denny would be a guest missions professor at VFCC.
We knew that we had a lot of work to do on our Missions budget and expected to have lots of time to do it!
We had no idea that Costa Rica was in our new year future.
One year ago today we had no idea the twists and turns that 2012 would make, but here we are at the end of the year and so excited about the way the year ends!

Renee is starting her second semester of VFCC.
Ryan is in the ground level of a new church plant in Boston, called Anchor Church.
We are on our way to Costa Rica, a position we never dreamed of having.

I am asking God to keep our family secure, our marriage tight, our ministry beyond anything we could have ever imagined. I am asking God to bless my friends with increase, and that their lives will have an indelible touch of Jesus' presence. I am asking Him to turn our world around, that more than ever people will believe again. I am asking Him to turn despondency to hope, depression to joy, and despair to wonderment. I am asking God to put water into our dry wells and fruit on barren trees.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Can you imagine 47 years in one place...

Today was a special day in Grace Assembly. Could have been sad, but it wasn't. Pastor Mason and Nina are pastors par excellence...

They are pastors who truly love what they do, where they do it, who they serve, and why they serve. Always thinking about their flock. Dr. Wood, the A/G General Superintendent sent a video honoring the Mason's years of service for 47 years in one place. In the video he reminded the church of the numerous babies he would have dedicated to the Lord, the numerous weddings he performed, the counselling in crisis situations, the memorial services he would have performed, the water baptisimals, the praying through to Holy Spirit baptisms, the many and varied opportunities the Mason's would have had to grow the church. He gave a beautiful tribute to a beautiful couple. The Mason's didn't know about the video in the first service, so needless to say they were surprised!

There were three celebrations during the month to honor the Mason's. The celebrations were defined as family, community and church. Pastor Mason's family is incredible. All of his siblings serve the Lord, they sang together around the piano and what a treat that was. The community celebration was held at Valley Forge Christian College where the college, district officials, community leaders came together for a breakfast and program. The church celebration was a dinner with a special program. When they drove the John Deere tractor to the fellowship hall, he was stunned!

So today was his last sermon as pastor. It was impacting as always. He used the initials DNA as the start of his points. As every person has their distinct DNA, so does the church. His points were:

1. Discover a deeper love for a new day.
2. Nurture a new anointing for a new day.
3. Apply a proven strategy for a new day.

I thought it was so beautiful that his last words in the pulpit were from the word of God. Jude 20. And then he said Amen. Go in peace.

No tears. Only peace. No sobbing. Only joy. No "poor me" what will we do now? Only calm. Pastor Mason and Nina are legacy people! They want only Jesus. They want people to know Jesus in all of His power. They speak Jesus. They trust Jesus. They will be missed in this capacity.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

The day after!

Plans had been made to spend our day after Christmas on Newberry Street Boston to do some shopping. It was so much fun. Lauren was able to join us. Then later we met her parents and sister for dinner in Chinatown and then to their apartment for dessert. What a fantastic day we had. We must have walked at least enough miles for a marathon, the way my legs felt the next day!

Ryans first manicure! We had so much fun!

Christmas 2012....a wonderful week!

We spent our Christmas day with Gramie Betty. What a lovely day and Christmas Ham dinner. We laughed, we prayed, we told stories, we reminisced about her love, Gus, whom we all miss so very much. Grampie Gus passed when Ryan was 11 months old. We took Ryan to the hospital the night he was dying. I will never forget Gus's interaction with my little one when he knew that he wasn't going to make it through the night. We recited Psalm 23 together that night around midnight. I only wish Ryan could remember him and Renee had met him.

We have spent alot of holidays with Gramie Betty, the only difference is, she is usually in our home, not us in hers! This was a treat.

One of Ryan's gifts was a painting that Renee did for his new apartment.

A blast from the past....visiting La Salette.

When we were youth pastors in Massachusetts, we took the youth group to La Salette every December to see the Christmas display of lights, drink hot chocolate or hot cider and be together as a youth group. He put the youth into a situation where they could learn and ask questions about another religion. You know especially with Denny, life is always about learning and processing, using knowledge to win your Catholic friends to Jesus or at least to have intelligent conversations with them.

We haven't been there in years so we took the opportunity to visit once again. It was as beautiful as always, the only thing I missed were the voices and joy from a roudy youth group!

la salette france
Mary speaks to the children
I found this information on their website.

Any La Salette story traces its beginnings to September 19, 1846 when the Blessed Mother appeared to two shepherd children at La Salette, a small hamlet in the French Alps. Through the children she gave her message of "Reconciliation" to the world. She insisted that this message be made known to all her people. Consequently in 1852 the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette were founded to serve as a "perpetual remembrance of Mary's merciful Apparition." In 1892 two La Salette Missionaries arrived to explore possible settlement in the New World and ultimately settled in Hartford, Connecticut. Since then the United States presence has grown nationwide. Our province is known as the Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas. We are an Apostolic, religious community. We witness to the Kingdom of God as we seek to mend relationships in need of healing. Inspired by the event of La Salette and supported by our community life, we are strengthened by the Eucharist, prayer and faith sharing.

Attleboro Seminary Castle
The "Castle" - original site of theMonastery in Attleboro, MA
In 1942 the La Salette Missionaries bought the Attleboro, Massachusetts property as a major seminary and in 1952 the construction of the Shrine was announced. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1953, marked the official opening of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro. From this beginning to today we have united our gifts and talents with those of the laity. Looking to Mary as our model, we discern new opportunities to make known Her message of hope and reconciliation.

The National Shrine…

creche outdoor chapel 8
Outdoor Creche - Christmas Festival of Lights
We are best known for our Christmas Festival of Lights. Dating back to 1953 on our opening day with a simple but beautiful outdoor manger, this festival has grown into a spectacular display of more than 300,000 lights, inspiring displays, concerts and other events during the Christmas Season. It has been a Christmas tradition for thousands of families for well over half a century!

A New England kind of Christmas.

Ryan asked us to come north for Christmas and we couldn't have been happier. We were able to be in his world for a few days. We were able to see his new apartment that he shares with other guys from Common Church. We were able to hear him play his violin in the Christmas Eve service. We were able to meet his girlfriend's family. We were able to stay with Gramie Betty and have Christmas dinner with her. We were able to go to Newberry Street for after Christmas sales! We didn't get stranded in any blizzards. We had a ball!

After living in New England for 15 years we always feel like we are going home when we drive north. Both Ryan and Renee were born in Massachusetts. We stayed in South Attleboro and Ryan's apartment is only 44 miles from there. He lives in Boston and really knows his way around the city!

The Christmas Eve service that he was involved in was actually in Leominster with Pastor Paul and Ann Martin. What a beautiful hour we spent together. Christmas Eve service has always been one of my favorite services of the year so it was a treat to be there.

Such a peaceful, calm evening. You could almost imagine what it was like in Bethlehem that wonderful night of Jesus birth.

A VFCC Christmas!

Now that we have come to terms with being in Phoenixville for a very short time, we are treasuring every moment and every season!

We will be leaving the cold, the snow, the bbbrrryyy season for a land of warmth. We are blessed! The rainy season lasts from April through December though in Costa Rica. I remember walking to Cincel with my pants getting wet up to my knees but there will be no snow!

Here in Valley Forge, the winds roar, the snow blows and the ice glistens. Beautiful from the window!

Dr. Myer had a Christmas dinner for the professors and staff. I thought it was such a beautiful notion  that each year of his tenure he has given them a different ornament for the tree. Each year he recognizes on the ornament a different aspect of the college that has received an honor. This year he honored the sports department receiving its' NCAA status. So happy that we have one for our tree!


..A new Assignment Already!

Some think we are always coming and going. The truth is, we are!
When we left Jamaica we were assigned to Valley Forge Christian College for Denny to be on loan as a Missions Professor for one year. The second year we would be itinerating to raise the budget for the next field of ministry. We weren't sure where that would be but we knew we had time to pray about it and ponder the best suited place for us.

In November our regional director called and asked us to consider a place of ministry that for us sounded like a dream come true. In 1985 when we were approved as new missionaries to Spain, after itineration we headed to San Jose, Costa Rica for language school for one year. Denny had 9 years of French under his belt and wrote, spoke, and read Arabic fluently from his language studies in the Air Force so for him to tackle Spanish was fun. I had Spanish in high school so I too was anxious to see how I would do and if any of the language would come back.

In 2003 Denny went back to language school in Costa Rica to beef up his skills in his new post, teaching at the graduate level with the Latin America Theological Seminary, Facultad. He spent 4 months there and in the last 2 weeks of his studies, Ryan too was enrolled as the youngest student to receive a certificate from the school. Good times. Special for them both to be there together. When Renee and I flew in for Denny's graduation and recognition of Ryan's studies we spent some vacation time together. It was a really great time for all of us.

So in November when the director called and asked us to consider being the directors of the language school, we were more than stunned. Whenever we thought of Cincel, we always had good thoughts of the school and the country of Costa Rica, so we were overjoyed with the consideration. They flew us to San Jose December 13th to be a part of the graduation for the missionaries that had finished their year of study and they introduced us as the new directors. I think we were all smiles the entire time we were there....observing, learning, orienting ourselves to this new assignment as much as we could in 3 days.

So in just a couple of days Denny will resume teaching at VFCC and we will be hitting the road big
time on the weekends raising the budget. What would be 2 years in the states just got compressed into a few months! The previous director begins his itineration cycle April 2013 after having served the school for the past four years.

Cincel stands for  Center for Cultural Research and Language Studies. This is where all the new Latin American missionaries come to learn Spanish and cultural studies for their term in Latin America. The entire family comes, so there is a daycare for the little ones and the older children go to Sojourn Academy in San Jose.

We are more than excited to serve the Lord in this fashion. We are praying for all of the details to come together in our lives as well as Renee's as she remains in VFCC. Nothing comes to him as a surprise so we know that He has everything orchestrated in His plan and in His time. God is so good.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

..a Sunday in New Covenant...

Love going home! Besides being with lots of family and enjoying Donna's Christmas tea, we attended my home church before leaving town today.  Since the weekend to go north was already on the calendar, Denny called New Covenant's pastor, Rev. James Revie, to tell him that we would be in the area and we would be attending the morning service and asked if he and Wendy would be available for lunch afterward.

The service was so terrific and Pastor asked Denny to greet the church and so he took the opportunity to share with the church about our new assignment and the new country we are going to next year.

 The church was so precious to us! God is so good. We enjoyed Pastor Revie's sermon and the prayer time over us was one I don't think I will forget for a very long time.

..a beautiful weekend and a beautiful tea...

This weekend has been on the calendar since July. I was anxious for it to come. My wonderful girlfriend who has been in my life for a very long time does an annual Christmas tea. It is always the second Saturday of December. Donna who was my childhood school friend and church friend knows how to put on a spread. She and her pastry chef daughter host the tea in Donna's home. From start to finish it is a very special time.

We went around the room and gave our name and how we know Donna. When her mom and my mom introduced their name they quickly added that on Sundays after church they didn't know how many mouths they would be feeding as all of us friends would mix it up and go with one or the other! Donna has 3 siblings and I have 4. I quickly mentioned that each household had a roast in the oven ready for whomever came home on those Sunday afternoons. She has been my friend for well over 50 years. She really knows me! We always pick up where we left off.

Because of never living nearby I have never been able to attend but my mom always sends me pictures and a blow by blow account of the tea. It was so nice to be there in person.

It was a special treat to have Renee with me as well. She enjoyed her time with all the "older" ladies! I think it is really important for our teenagers to be in settings like that to learn lots of things. Hospitality, how to place the table, how to introduce one another, enjoying party games that have nothing to do with a computer, eating ladylike with a plate on your lap, getting a doorprize, putting on booties so as not to soil the carpet, dressing up for a Saturday afternoon, how others decorate a home, taking a hostess gift, drinking tea from china. Oh my the lessons we learn when can learn we are young!
Donna's daughter Charissa went to college to major in accounting. She was there only a week when she realized that major wasn't really what she wanted. She eventually landed in culinary school and found her niche! Donna reminds us that she couldn't even make toast, it was a surprise to the entire family that she was so gifted. But I must say, it is in her genes. Her mom is an incredible baker and cook as well. She is the one that made the very intricate cupcakes for Renee's graduation/16th birthday party. She is so talented, so as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
Here are a few of the delicacies that we enjoyed.
Renee won a beautiful door prize!
and then a cookie to go!