Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Strength for Today, Hope for Tomorrow

This has been an up and down week in many ways. I have said this before, but there is always something going on, some kind of adventure. I have not had a day here on Grand Turk where something either awful or amazing has happened.

Last weekend we needed strength and hope for tomorrow. I told you that the main breaker in the house melted. We were able to get this replaced on a Sunday. This week we got the bill, $309.oo.

This weekend we lost all the water pressure in the house. Also, the muffler fell off the loaner van we are driving (more on this whole adventure maybe later). Well, after paying for the electrical problem, the last thing I wanted to do was take these other two small but critical issues to a repairman. After two days too busy, I was able to trace the water problem to a clogged filter. Problem solved. After spending three days looking for muffler adapters of the right size, I was able to cut a small muffler pipe into sections and pound them into the muffler in order to reattached it to the tailpipe. More than one person told me that car repair here is: find something close and make fit. Saturday both issues were resolved.

My prayer here has been that we would not attend a church until we were invited. Deneen has been very interested in finding a church so that we, and especially the boys, can begin to meet people in the community. Last Sunday was the second Sunday we have been on island as a family.

The boys have met one friend. Denzel lives in our complex, right across the street. His mother passed away suddenly last January, and he is now living with his aunt. He is 15, and the only other young person of a similar age to Martin and Lucas. The schools are on break now, and every day I have come home from work he has been in the house playing video games.

Last Sunday Denzel invited Martin and Lucas to come to his church, Salem Baptist. Does this count as a family invitation? I was not sure. But when I got to work on Monday, I found that I had received an email on Sunday from a friend of the museum regretting that he had not yet invited us to church. He invited us to Salem Baptist.

I have been unsure if attending a church would be comfortable. The local people here, for the most part, are very religious. They are also friendly. But the community has not seemed open in some ways. And, we are different just by the nature of where we have come from.

On Sunday we attended Salem Baptist church. The service was very traditional, with many hymns. We arrived after the service had started. Before the congregational reading of scripture, someone stepped out of their pew and handed us their bible. Before the first hymn, two others stepped out and gave us hymnals. The hymnal was the very familiar Baptist Hymnal. As most of you will know, my father was a Baptist minister. The first hymn was Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Culturally, the people here are very musical. During the service, several people stood up to give testimony. Three of them ended by starting a spontaneous hymn. The congregation started singing. Then the organist would start to play right on key. I could not tell who had perfect pitch, the congregation or the organist. I could not see the organist and he left before the service ended. But after church, Denzel told us that it was his uncle, our neighbor Rupert.

During the service the pastor took time to have visitors introduce themselves. Now, if you know this age old trick - we were the only visitors. I don't want to spell this out, but it was very obvious that we were visitors. I introduced the family. The pastor welcomed us and told the congregation briefly who we were and where we had come from. Last week one of the national newspapers ran a front page story about our arrival with a picture and our background. Many people have stopped to mention something about it. I could not figure it out how people knew us for the longest time. I have not seen the paper.

We went to Mitch night at the Osprey House for the BBQ on Sunday evening. One of the locals running the restaurant mentioned that she had sat behind us in church that morning. So let me ask you, is the faithfulness great? In many, many respects we are not that different from the people here. ...Blessings all mine and ten thousand besides.

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