The second half of our trip a couple of weeks ago was spent in Georgia. This was "the big weekend" for Wes's parents, who are veteran missionaries to Jamaica. They had been home on furlough for the past year, and their sending church was having a special day on April 20th honoring them and another missionary family returning to the field. On Saturday, the 19th, all the daughters-in-law, granddaughters, and the one daughter joined Wes's mom at a ladies' luncheon hosted by their sending church, Old Suwanee Baptist Church in Buford, GA. I think this was the nicest luncheon I have ever been to! The tables were beautiful, the decorations were well-done, and we visitors were made to feel welcome. And it meant a lot to my mom-in-law, so I'm glad we were all there and able to go with her.
My in-laws had set up their camper at another church in the area, which also had a missionary trailer with separate living areas and lots of Sunday school rooms with air mattresses, so we were able to all stay together for the weekend. Mom and Dad had their trailer, Wes and I had one side of the mission trailer, second-oldest brother and his family had the other side, next brother and his wife stayed in a hotel room close by, baby sister and her husband and baby had a Sunday school room with air mattress, and youngest brother, Sam, and Andrew shared a Sunday school room with air mattresses. We cooked in the church kitchen and ate in the fellowship hall. We were quite the crowd! LOL There were 19 of us all together - talking, playing games, cooking, cleaning up, doing laundry, packing Mom and Dad's shipping container, kids running everywhere . . . what a time! ;) It's one of those things that is fun, but you're kinda glad it doesn't happen very often because it just plumb wears you out! LOL Especially when you stay up till 3:00 AM talking to your sister-in-law . . . but we won't go there.
On Sunday, the 20th, our family (including Samuel!) visited Welcome Rd. Baptist Church in Newnan, GA. This is where we met with an online friend we've known since the early, early days of the internet and e-mail. Julia and I were on an e-mail list together, and I think Wes had already met her on some kind of forum and introduced us. Their church supports us already, and since their missions conference was starting that day, it was just natural that we could go there and give a report on how things are going up here. There were five missionaries there that day, I believe. I got so excited hearing about other fields around the world that I wanted to go everywhere they were going! ;) After church, Julia and her family, along with her mom and her brother's family, hosted us for lunch in the church kitchen. We enjoyed some great fellowship with them before we had to head back over to Buford for the evening service. I'll have a pic of Julia and me together when she's able to get it off her hubby's computer.
Sunday night was a sweet, sweet service for our family. Everyone in the family got together to sing What a Day That Will Be. You see, we don't get to see each other down here very much, and we miss all those holidays and celebrations that most families get to share throughout their lives. We send cards, and we acknowledge milestones, but it's not the same as being together to share them. But when we all get to Heaven, we won't ever have to say goodbye again, and we can spend all of eternity with each other. A missionary wife once told me that Heaven will be all the sweeter for those of us who have tasted separation down here for the sake of the Gospel, and I believe it's true. So . . . what a day that will be! All the family sang and I played the piano. Then Wes and our kids sang, since we had Sam with us again. Wes also got to preach a short sermon, and then his dad preached. The invitation time was so sweet, with some tears mingled in as we let our Mom and Dad know how much we love them. Then the pastor and men of the church prayed over Mom and Dad along with the men in our family. This service was one of the highlights of our trip, and I'm so glad that we were able to be a part of it.
Monday was packing day, and all the guys helped with that. We girls stayed home and cooked enough food to feed a small army. And then the guys came home and ate it all up! We cooked all morning - and then it was just . . . gone! LOL Sam also flew back to CA on Monday, and I didn't even cry this time. Aren't you proud of me?!
Tuesday was our last full day with the family, and we had the pleasure of some of our oldest and dearest friends coming over from their home a couple of hours away, Bill and Deborah South and their children. They could only stay for a few short hours, but it was absolutely wonderful to sit down with them and catch up on our lives. They are also a pastor's family, so Wes and Bill talked ministry, and Deborah and I talked . . . mostly about our children! LOL Their daughter has been courted by a young man, and . . . I think Deborah may become a mother-in-law sometime in the near future! How did we get this old? She looks great - it was SO good to see her! I love ya, girl! Thanks for taking the time to come see us!
We flew out of Atlanta early Wednesday morning. Up till we boarded the plane, I hadn't had much time to reflect on our visit to our parents and siblings, but as the plane began to taxi down the runway, the tears spilled over. I couldn't help it. I'm a family girl; I love them all, and I love traditions and memories, and it's hard to leave them all every time. And I know it's hard for them to be separated from us. My Daddy and I bawl every time we say goodbye! But God gives grace, and He dries the tears and brings my heart back to Vancouver and our work here, as He does for our parents and siblings in their various places. It's not easy, but God helps us over the rough spots, and every time we promise to keep in much better touch. Which we will. So I'm so pleased that God opened the way for us to go, even for such a short time!