On December 21, 1984 Shirley walked down the aisle and I joined her halfway before we walked up to Ron Carter and said our vows, becoming husband and wife. Bret and Brett were there. Tonita was Shirley’s made of honor. Daniel sang (along with Mandy, Brian and Theresa).
That evening (Shirley’s graduation day) we drove on to Hot Springs and the next day drove all the way to Abilene, Texas – arriving on Saturday evening late, stinking of exhaust fumes from our car which would never drive another mile. Sunday morning we went with Eric and Pam Nyrose to their congregation: 11th & Willis. That Sunday we met E.B. and Jean Dotson and so many others who have so changed our lives.
Texas is big. Miles separate the people that we want to see. Miles and miles that this place has brought to our lives. It was here, with this first congregation, that we started our miles of travel, our plans to bring the gospel to Belgium and the Netherlands. This congregation that already supported missions in Europe, Africa and the US. In the hearts of these people, miles were simply something to be bridged. And that is how it has continued through the years.
We drove from the airport (DFW) over to Abilene and settled in to our home away from home with E.B. and Jean. This is a place of peace and rest where we are always welcome and at home. We share our hearts and thoughts and usually take some time to watch an old movie together. This couple is one of the many here in Texas who have been instrumental and influential in our life of living Christ wherever we are.
We were able to meet with familiar faces at 11th and Willis, although we will have to wait to see some again until we are all Home together. We were thrilled to be able to see Annick, who we met in 2001 as a single young lady from Burundi at E.B. and Jean’s. Now she is head of nursing, is married and has two kids of her own. We were also able to meet new faces and were reminded again of how living our faith is what we all want to be doing – every day and in every way.
We drove down to Temple to spend time (although it was too short) with Daniel and Tonita Stovall. Their children and our children have grown, we have all grown older, but we still can encourage one another. The Stovall’s were the link for us to the congregation in Minnesota, miles away. But miles are just meant to bring us all together.
The last part of our Texas jaunt brought a few more miles out to Bill and DeeDee Bundy in Graham. Of course we know them from Antwerp and Bern and Brussels. The Bundy’s, too, are an example and encouragement for us of how God travels with us over all the miles. Everywhere we go, He is our King and guides our steps – if we allow. A wonderful meal together in the beauty of Texas and a good night’s sleep sent us on our way for our last Texas miles.
Before sleepily climbing aboard our 7am flight to Indiana (leave the house at 3:30, get the rental car back, be on time for TSA), we had just a few days. We drove across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to Mesquite for a quick visit with Brad and Lena Cawyer who have made their own miles and are touching lives for Christ all over the world together with Konstantin and Lina Zighulin with Psalom.
We then spent the evening and a peaceful day with Tim and Debbie McNeill outside of Haslet in one of the other homes where we are always welcome and at home. Tim and Debbie lived for a year in Antwerp, but are kindred spirits. We even got to watch the Belgium game together, as it should be.
As we drove back across I-30 from Mesquite toward our last stop in Haslet, we were retracing the steps we had made almost 32 years earlier driving our leaky car on our way to our new life together. We have crossed so many miles with these precious people and look forward to many more miles as God directs us.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16