1) Hopefully this is the last great storm of this miserable winter. Seven inches of snow on top of a couple of inches of ice... and we didn't even get the worst of it. Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and points south saw 15-20 inches of snow, effectively shutting down the lower-half of the state. We tried sledding Saturday afternoon, but a fierce, cold wind from the northwest robbed us of whatever joy we should have derived from the experience. All in all, the weather just stinks, and everyone is ready for spring. Of course, this being March and Ohio, we could easily be looking at 50 degree weather in a couple of days... meaning widespread flooding.
Why do we live in the midwest again?
2) The weather took its toll on worship attendance this Sunday. With a Level One road emergency in Allen County until 9am, I canceled the 9am service. It's mostly an older crowd at that hour and I worry about folks trying to navigate a snow and ice covered parking lot early in the morning. People marveled at the number of people at the 11am service, but the numbers compared to most weeks were off. Considering the temps were in the mid-teens, and that northwest wind was still blowing, I can't say I'm surprised at the turnout.
It was a shame they weren't there, though, as this was our annual "Haiti Sunday". For thirteen years we've been sending teams to Haiti building various needed structures, digging wells, treating the sick, making small business loans, and checking in on 100+ students going to a school run by our sister church, Victory Christian Church in Bordes. It was good to hear the stories of Whitney Fisher (a high school student who did a senior project which involved drilling a well for a remote village), Larry Deitering (who supervised the making of more than $14k in small business loans), and of our medical team (who treated more than 600 people in four days of clinics). While the numbers were down at the service, interest was high in what the two teams we sent down did this winter. We ended the service with a nice lunch in the Solid Rock with members of the teams, their families, and some folks interested in possibly participating next year. All in all, it was a fine service, and more than $11,000 in gifts and pledges (and more to come) for the upcoming year's work.
3) Our Haiti, ministry, in all honesty though, is at a crossroads. In about 1999, Shawnee's involvement in Haiti mission work really began to ramp up. A member whose photography studio was bought by a national chain was able to motivate his company to begin investing money in sending teams from the company and our church to build schools. A vocational school in Van Wert, Ohio, began to support a Haitian vocational school that trains carpenters, a movement fueled by sending both students and teachers to go see and meet the Haitian students they were supporting. The passion of Pastor Marius at Victory Christian Church infected Shawnee's senior pastor, Joseph Bishman, fueling a rise in donations that enabled VCC's elementary school to rapidly grow. Ron Kinley, a former member now living in Portland, started the microeconomic loan program which gave mostly Haitian single mothers a way to provide for their families. Dave and Michelle Imler began leading medical teams, and started drawing up plans with our missionary partner, Living Hope Mission, to start a clinic that would serve communities without any kind of medical facility. For about eight or nine years the size and scope of what Shawnee and her partners were doing was growing, and the excitement at the church was palpable.
But nothing good comes easy, and as of 2008 we've encountered a number of obstacles that have presented us with a number of challenges. As law and order in Haiti continued to break down, Pastor Marius increasingly felt unsafe living at the church in Bordes, and decided to relocate to CapHaitian, robbing VCC of some of the momentum it had been experiencing. The clinic that Living Hope had established with Shawnee's help, folded when the nurse practitioner decided to leave in order to practice medicine on her own. The photography company continue to build schools in Haiti, but uses volunteers from their own company (and rightly so).
So we've come to a fork in the road. At this point I'll need to fly down to Cap sometime later this spring to do some listening in order to figure out what our future involvement will look like. Periodically ministries like these need recalibrating. Now is such a season.
4) We've lost another member of Aimee's family. Yesterday morning, Aimee's grandmother, Henrietta Little, passed away. She was 90 years old. This occurs but three weeks after the passing of Henrietta's husband, Sherman. Since both Sherm and Henrietta stopped attending worship years ago because of declining health, I'll be conducting her service (as I did his) It will be held at Foth Funeral Home (on Sylvania Avenue behind Franklin Park Mall) in Toledo, Friday at 1pm. After the service we'll gather at Rudy's Hot Dogs on Monroe Street (across from Franklin Park Mall) to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman.
Aimee and I in what seems like another lifetime ago, lived with Sherm and Henrietta for about a week. When we moved to Toldeo in 1997, we bought a house from the government in the Old West End for $30K. They took us in while we spent a good week tearing out old carpet, fixing plumbing, and generally making what had been a seized drug house, livable. I remember that on their Little's TV was a channel that seemed like it played Lawrence Welk 24 hours a day (gotta say that was a good motivator to go back after dinner and do more work on the house). I also remember that Henrietta used the words "a beer would go well with that" on more than a couple of occasions (hence us celebrating at Rudy's, a place where a beer went well with a hot dog). I also never saw the woman in anything but a dress and pearls (ala June Cleaver), and at that time she and Sherm were still out dancing at some various FOP Lodge or city park gazebo three or four nights a week. All in all, she was a proper lady, who liked to dance and have fun with friends and family. We're still grateful for their hospitality (bubble machine not withstanding) as we slowly got established in a new town, and two new jobs. We'll miss them both very much. You can click here for Henrietta's obituary in the Toledo Blade.
5) You know you have a big family when as you browse about Sam's Club, instead of chuckling at the huge boxes of cereal, bags of fruit, industrial size cans of fruit, you keep thinking, "Wow! What a great deal!". Or, when you pass a car lot, instead of seeing a Chevy Suburban and shuttering at the thought of what it must cost to fill that gas tank, you marvel at all the space. Such is our life now as we adjust to becoming a family of six. As we do this, know that both Mom and Toby are doing well, the brothers (including Eli) are excited at the prospect of now outnumbering 2-to-1, and that Sam's Club is now the primary store of choice when I grocery shop.
Oh... and if anyone has a Suburban they're looking to unload, give me a call.