Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Monday, May 15, 2006

Visiting NC

At the end of April, we took a trip down to Virginia and North Carolina. We left after church on Sunday the 23rd, and got back before church on Wednesday the 3rd of May.

On the first leg of the trip, we visited my parents in Farmville. Anna had a terrific time with Aunt Laura on Grandma's farm. There were lambs all over the place, baby goats, and a young collie puppy. Anna had a blast (I'm not so sure the baby animals enjoyed having her around, though.) Along with a bit of helping out around the place, I went fishing with my dad in his pond. Since no one had seen any in a while, he was concerned that all of his catfish had died; we were all pleased when I pulled one out (27" -- not bad). Yum, yum, for dinner that night. Chances are that if one survived, there's more in there. Silly me, I also grabbed a small turtle (between the size of a quarter and a fifty-cent piece) that happened to try climbing a reed in the water by me. I showed it to Anna and Joy. Now we have a pet paint turtle. He won't eat turtle food, so we have to feed him tuna.

While we were in Virginia, we took a trip out to meet Will Briggs, a member of a few of our online writing communities. We ate Chinese food and had a great time getting to know him -- we'd never met in person before.

Leaving our dog with my parents, we continued down to Holly Ridge, North Carolina. A family member pastors a small church there, and I preached for them on Wednesday night (I also played the French Horn during the offering, and Anna sang a little special with a child from the church -- very cute!). It's neat to see what God is doing with that church. They've just about finished building their new facility, and things seem to be going very well for them. We also ran into the parents of a guy we went to college with; Joy knew his wife pretty well. It's a small world. I felt kinda bad, though. At most churches, there is a clock displayed prominently for the preacher to see while he preaches. But at this church, the clock is on a side wall, where the preacher can't see it well. In most churches, this wouldn't matter; you can still tell when a service has been going for about an hour, because people start looking at their watches and craning their necks to look at the clock. But these folk were too polite! I never got any indication what time it was until I ended, and realized that I'd gone practically an extra fifteen minutes. Unheard of for me -- I usually end a service almost precisely when I want to.

Following that visit, we continued on to the heart of our trip. We stayed Thursday until Monday morning with Bible Baptist in Burgaw, North Carolina. Quite a few days, really. I went on visitation with the church men Thursday. Friday, I was taped for a radio broadcast with the pastor (first time I've ever been put on the air, I think.) After taping two episodes, we left for the county jail. I've never done prison ministry before (aside from visiting a teen or two in JJC), so this was quite an experience as well. I did get to lead one young man to the Lord.

On Saturday, I went on bus visitation with some more of the church men. It's been quite a while since I've done that. While we were out, I actually ran into the cousin of one of my old college roommates, Chris Clodfelter (if you follow UFC/cagefighting, you might have seen him.) Talk about a small world.

On Sunday, I got there early to practice a duet with the pastor. I also practiced very briefly with the choir. I then taught the adult Sunday School. In the morning service, I sang with the choir, played the offertory on the piano, sang a duet with the pastor, and preached the sermon. Whew. That oughta be a day's work there.

But the pastor and I were back at 5PM for quartet practice, followed by choir practice. By this point, I had practically no voice left, but the church men and I were getting along great. In the Sunday evening service, I sang with the choir again, sang with a men's quartet, played the offertory, and preached. Wow. What a day. And Pastor Gibbs (at the perky young age of 76) does pretty much the same thing every Sunday. And shows up in the church office at 8AM on Monday. Incredible.

Monday before we left, I met with Pastor Gibbs, and he offered me the church assistant pastorate, with the idea that I would probably end up as the pastor after he retires (which he figures can't be far off.) Apparently, we made a solid impression on the rest of the church; a couple other men in the church spoke to me about that as well. It looks very likely that we will end up taking this position toward the end of June.

After those whirlwind days in Burgaw (and a couple visits to Wilmington) (where we thoroughly enjoyed access to really good BBQ and genuine sweet tea), we headed north by way of my parent's farm again. A little more fishing (involving some very impressive bluegill -- my dad caught one roughly the size of a hardcover book, and I got one not much smaller), a little shed-building, and a little more Anna time with the animals, we headed back up to NYC.

On the way up, we got to meet J. Albert Bell, another member of our online circles. Again, a real pleasure getting to meet another friend in person. Keep an eye out for his first novel before too long -- he's got an agent and some positive feedback from publishers.

And then we arrived in Staten Island, and I'm almost caught up! I could have written this as several posts to break it up more digestibly, but I decided to knock it all out quickly.


At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Mary Robinette Kowal said...

Sounds like a great trip. Makes me homesick.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Sadeq said...

Sounds like the Lord is leading you to great things. Good luck.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Will said...

Yeah, next time you come to Lynchburg you have to show me how to wrestle. (Great to meet both of you.)


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