A Lot to be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

11225397_10101531835007289_3098358565070535922_oThis Thanksgiving finds us in Atlanta, a trip that wasn’t planned.  On Tuesday, we had actually driven to Melissa’s mom’s house in Bryan, Texas, to spend the holiday with her mom and her sister’s family.  Things don’t always go as planned though, and not long after we arrived, our daughter, Meagan, called to tell us that our new grandson, Max, had been moved into the pediatric intensive care unit at Emory Children’s Hospital in Decatur.  Max had been in the hospital for a couple of days with a cold that turned out to be RSV, and although he had shown some signs of improvement, Max had a setback which put him in PICU.

Knowing we needed to be in Atlanta, on Wednesday morning, we packed our bags and returned to San Antonio, got our airline tickets and headed east.  Uncle BB (Brien), drove there from Nashville, and thankfully Eric’s family was already in Atlanta for Thanksgiving, and was able to help care for our granddaughter, Lucy.  Melissa and I arrived into Atlanta late Wednesday night, and after making a couple of stops to give hugs to our kids, we arrived at Mission Haven, where we will be staying for a month when we return in a few weeks (Thanks a bunch to the folks there for letting us stay for a few nights).

When we awoke this morning (Thanksgiving), Melissa had received a text from Meagan, saying Max had a good night.  No, this Thanksgiving won’t go as originally planned, but we will be with those we love, and we will have much to be thankful for in our lives.  Although Max remains hospitalized, he is receiving excellent care and is on the mend.  We will continue to pray for his recovery.  We are especially thankful for friends living all around the world, who have been praying for Max.  Not only are prayers being heard from friends and family here, but also from friends like Dr. Joél in Mboyi, and Jeremy, a teenage boy, living at the Rivers of the World orphanage in Kinshasa, who’s Facebook message to Melissa yesterday, read, “Hello mother, how is our baby today? Is he fine?”  We are strengthened and humbled by such love, and we also stop to remember them and the difficulties faced in their lives each day.

We are spending Thanksgiving with our kids and Eric’s family, and even though we didn’t plan it that way, everything fell into place at the last minute to allow us to get to where we needed to be.  Yes, we have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and we are thankful for each of you, too.

   

 
May the peace of Christ be with you.

Charles & Melissa

Coincidence? I think not.

4Q Newsletter 1  After a whirlwind month, beginning with our travel to orientation for new Presbyterian mission co-workers, and then on to Atlanta for the birth of our second grandchild, Max, Melissa and I arrived back in San Antonio on Saturday, November 8. We immediately began contacting individuals and churches, mapping out our plans to visit and speak, as we share our mission call to Zambia and begin to raise support for our work there. Our efforts have been productive, and what once seemed a daunting task to fill the calendar between now and our departure for Zambia in March, now finds us working to find dates where we can insert visits. But everything seems to be falling into place and we are confident we will be able to share our work and that of Presbyterian World Mission with a lot of folks before we travel abroad.

Lucy and BB copy

Through it all, we’ve seen God’s hand at work. It is somehow fitting that our first visit, a moment for mission, occurred this morning at Alamo Heights Presbyterian Church, in San Antonio. Melissa and I joined Alamo Heights Presbyterian not long after we were married, and both Melissa and Meagan were baptized there.

As the only mission co-workers from Texas at the present time, I’ve been reaching out to Presbyterian churches in cities around Texas, cold calling.  The pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, Texas, replied to my email saying he grew up within a few blocks of our home church, Northwood Presbyterian in San Antonio, and has fond memories of his old neighborhood and San Antonio. I also contacted a pastor at a church in Greensboro, North Carolina, as I make efforts to connect with churches involved in hunger related ministries, and in this case, home to a church community garden. It turns out that she is also from Texas, and an Aggie like me (a graduate of Texas A&M).   These contacts have lead to possible future visits for us at both of these churches, and we continue to follow God’s lead as we reach out to other churches in similar ways. We are amazed by what happens when we follow and let God work, and we know there are no coincidences.

Although our calendar is filling quickly, we still have dates available during the week when we can meet with groups, church mission committees, or other gatherings. If you would like us to share with your group or church, please contact us as soon as possible. In the meantime, thank you for your prayers and support.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Charles & Melissa

Moving Forward

I’ve been told by a friend that it takes two weeks to form a new habit; I am hopeful that proves to be true when it come to writing a blog.  I’ve made attempts in the past, but somehow, I seem to struggle to find things to say that I feel will be interesting to others.  This time I’m going to trust that God will give me the wisdom, and words I lack to share about our experiences and work, as Melissa and I embark on our careers as mission co-workers with Presbyterian World Mission.  I invite each of you to join us on our journey as we spend the coming months traveling, meeting and speaking with folks here in the U.S. about our work in Zambia, before finally departing in mid-March of 2016.

The past few months have been absolutely nuts as we’ve tried to wrap up our lives in Texas.  It’s not easy shutting things down in the span of about 90 days, after being married for thirty-four years and living in the same house for the past twenty.  Since we learned of our selection on June 26, we’ve had to do the a number of tasks, including the following:

  • List and sell our house.
  • Sort through years of accumulated stuff; it didn’t help that I’m a packrat.
  • Find a good home for our two beloved Cairn Terriers, Kramer and Callie.
  • Negotiate and close the sale of my family business, Patty’s Herbs, Inc.
  • Participate in the Stone Oak neighborhood garage sale on September 19.
  • Begin reading a number of books in preparation for mission co-worker orientation.
  • Fill out lots of employment forms.
  • Create a contact information spreadsheet for our mission work and send out letters announcing our new position as mission co-workers to Zambia.
  • Have oral surgery performed (Charles).
  • Begin saying some goodbyes to San Antonio friends.
  • Move into a guesthouse owned by some very generous and gracious people who we did not know, but who were kind enough to share their home with us.

The stress during the time leading up to our start date of October 1 nearly got the best of us at times, but somehow we were able to keep it together.  On Sunday, October 4, we were commissioned as Presbyterian mission co-workers at our home church, Northwood Presbyterian Church, in San Antonio, and it became real (we were actually moving out of our house on October 1 and forgot to celebrate our first day on the job with PCUSA).

Today, Melissa and I will begin our second week of mission co-worker orientation.  Orientation couldn’t have come any sooner.  We are just across the Ohio River, in Southern Indiana, at Mount Saint Francis Retreat Center, and it is the most peaceful place you can imagine.  I’ve been told it takes in bout 400 acres, and we’ve already explored some of the walking trails along the lake.  The leaves are on fire in their fall colors.  We’ve made new friends, David and Josey, who will be going to Cuba, where he will teach at a seminary, Cathy, Juan and their daughter, Aurelie, who will be going to the Philippines, where they will work to fight human trafficking and slavery, and Donna, who will be a long term volunteer, teaching at a seminary in Malawi.  In a very short time, we’ve become family, and we’ve learned we’ve all experienced the same stresses and struggles as we’ve worked to get to this place in our lives.  And we’re all still dealing with some we haven’t quite been able to yet put behind us.  In my case, it’s some business related matters with which I’m still trying to help the buyer of my company.  But we’re all hanging in there, we know we’re not alone, and we know where we are going.  I hope you will come along with us.

May the peace of Christ be with you.