While in Colombia we get asked many questions about all things U.S. That means that in any given conversation, someone might ask us a question about something in the U.S.—politics, lifestyle, food, media, newspapers, movies, road conditions, styles, likes, dislikes, etc. The list is endless because the interest is often impulsive and we, being from the U.S., are the experts on all things U.S. Or at least that is what is thought. Many times we will admit that we don’t know the answer so we say we don’t know (which doesn’t satisfy the curiosity and the questions continue) or we answer as best we can (which is somewhat near the truth as we know it).
Being in the U.S. for these four months in order to interact personally with different ministry partners and update them on the Covenant Church and ministries in Colombia, we once again are also updating our knowledge of the U.S.—first hand, up close, and personal. But, it is not just first hand knowledge of the U.S. that we are getting; it is also first hand experience with the wonders of being a part of the larger Covenant family—in all of its variety and through its many faces. As missionaries traveling to different Churches and interacting with different ministry partners, we rely on the larger Covenant family (represented by individual Churches and people) to host us, set up meetings and interaction times together, move us around to different places, etc. In short, we are at the mercy of the local Covenant people and Churches. Everyone and every place has its local flavor, beauty and idiosyncrasies and everyone and everyplace, so far, has been a blessing for us to experience. We have stayed with distant relatives whom we didn’t really know very well previously. We have met many new friends, and old friends who were still very friendly. We have been surprised, once again, by the inevitable connections between others and us – people we both know, common experiences we have had—some at the same time. The hospitality has been amazing and heart-warming. The help of others to get us to the next place on time has been greatly appreciated.
Our time with Rich and Almetta is an example. Almetta’s father was a great friend of ours while Gary was a Pastor to Youth in Kingsburg, CA. Almetta asked specifically to be able to host us while we were visiting her Church on the plains of Nebraska because of this “Covenant family connection”. So we stayed in a warm, farm house on a dirt road, near one of the oldest Covenant Churches in the U.S. (where we experienced the coldest weather we will face in these four months). We slept on a “non waterbed” waterbed (read – very soft mattress which was actually comfortable), shared one bathroom and ate very good country breakfasts. But, perhaps, the most telling touch of all came from Rich, a retired truck driver. He heard that we were going to traverse the state of Nebraska to arrive at our next destination and that we needed to get there by noon. He got up early with us to eat breakfast and was waiting for us with his road map. With his experience on the roads of Nebraska he wanted to advise us on how to arrive on time, making sure that we had access to his experience. It wasn’t that he saved us lots of time or miles, but he saved us some hassle of small town thru traffic travel (stoplights, speed limit changes, etc.) It was simple advice, but it was very thoughtful and caring and “family”. And it worked out beautifully.
Just another day and night on the road in the Covenant.