Saturday, June 25, 2016

Miles and miles

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Beauty of the Body

We are now about halfway through our travels on Home Assignment and have so enjoyed the rich blessings that have come our way in each location. It has been so good to see how beautiful the body of Christ is. Everywhere we have been we have been able to join in the working of this body which is made of various parts working together - each part contributing in so many ways. 

Travel is essential in these two months – we need to make a lot of miles. In Minnesota, Indiana and California, members of the body have lent us their car. In Minnesota that meant letting us drive down to Iowa, over to Nebraska and back to Minnesota. And some have even paid for a part of the gas.
Getting to know members is fundamental – sometimes we need to remember names and sometimes new members need to get to know us and vice-versa. Members who prepare and keep up a bulletin board are indispensable.
As we were shopping in an Aldi (a German supermarket that is making inroads in the US) a young lady and her daughter stopped and looked closely at us. “Scott and Shirley Raab?” she asked. She recognized us because our picture is up on a bulletin board at the church building. In Iowa we were told by a new member of the church that he had been praying for us regularly and that it was good to finally meet us. He was able to follow what we were doing through the blog and the bulletin board at the building.
Body and soul – caring for every need. Every step along our way we have been asked what we would really like to eat, if there is anything we haven’t been able to get. Some have shared a special restaurant meal, others have made a meal (and allowed us to help and to clean up). More importantly, we have been able to share such good conversations at these tables, sharing our thoughts, hearing others, being encouraged and encouraging.
So many of you have shared so much: leading songs with a heart for the Lord, talking about how God is using you in a mighty way each day, simply letting us know that you are praying, taking the time to introduce yourself so that we can get to know you, listening to some of our struggles or joys, including us in your family (even playing lego’s or going to a garage sale).
We are all a part of the body of Christ, doing so many different things. We are all being used by our mighty God to do His will to His glory – if we allow this to happen. Know that we are so thrilled to be part of this life in the body with you!

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. ... But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”   1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18-21

Monday, June 13, 2016

(Re) Living memories

Sometimes it is a smell, or a sound – and suddenly a memory comes flooding back of times long ago. A snippet of a song, the waft of a special meal can all trigger fond feelings of almost forgotten times. But to be able to share those memories in person, and to be able to live new memories in the making is a true blessing.
We enjoyed our time in Colorado with Scott’s family and our church family in both Colorado Springs and Denver. In the Springs we stayed with Scott’s brother, John, and his wife, Yumiko. A walk around the neighborhood, a quick game of basketball, good talks while preparing meals – that’s what we enjoy so much. And of course being able to see Pike’s Peak at every turn. Some things you just can’t get enough of.
We enjoyed visiting and worshipping with the congregation at Pike’s Peak avenue, seeing old friends – brothers and sisters. John took Scott on a tour of the old neighborhoods: Palmer High School, Horace Mann, and the house on Illinois. On Tuesday we got together as family at Fargo’s Pizza – a memory in itself – and met some new people, ready for new memories.
Scott’s mom was able to come over from New York to spend time with the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. So we also got to spend a day up at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo – at least until the afternoon storms and fatigue settled in. But it was a great time together – remembering and experiencing new sounds and smells for future memories.
Halfway through our Colorado time we moved up to Denver to stay with Scott’s brother, Chris, and his wife, Lynette. From this point we were able to visit good friends and christian family in Denver, including Karsten en Sandi Rog (and Kirsten, Aaron and Chelsea). So glad for very good conversations and encouragement with and from this family.
We were also blessed to see Scott’s ‘other’ brother, Bret, and spend time with he and his wife, Sarah and of course meet their newest addition, Ippi. Ippi has a radar for cameras and knows immediately if one is pointing at here – the smile brightens on her face! And what a smile, what a cutie. Bret and Scott were able to strum a few tunes and join their voices with Julie Carter as well – as in days past when a Summer Breeze blew (couldn’t resist that line).
Preaching at the congregation in Wheat Ridge meant meeting new people as well as old. We had a great visit for lunch afterwards – lots of memories. Back at Chris and Lynette;s we enjoyed good conversations in the kitchen (which felt like being home). That evening Scott’s sister, Barb, dropped in to share some time and good laughs – introducing us to crazy faces on snapchat, among other things.
All along the way we were cared for immensely: John and Yumiko, Chris and Lynette made sure that our visit was comfortable and that we were definitely loved. It is good to have a place of peace and rest. And we were so thankful to be able to spend time with Scott’s Mom in each of these places.
As we move on to the next stop – in Texas – we are so thankful for how God makes family. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters – it is God’s design. Sometimes things get a bit different, there are struggles, but we belong to each other. And that is how it is in God’s family as well. We are so thankful for the memories we were able to follow and for the moments we were part of. You can see some of our memories here.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.                         Philippians 4:8-9

Monday, June 06, 2016

Family sharing

We are always thankful that we are able to spend some time in Nebraska. It is certainly nice after a 5 hour and more drive listening to AM radio to finally arrive in Omaha, but it is especially good that we are able to spend time with Shirley’s family. It was especially good to be with everyone this time around, even if our ‘boys’ could not be with us this time.
In the last year Shirley has lost two of her brothers, so, from a family of 8 kids, there are only 4 left. Every moment we have to spend time together is precious. It was so good to be welcomed and cared for by Shirley’s sister, Mary. Fun times shopping or going to garage sales, reminiscing about memories, or spending time with the nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and –nephews (is that what we call them?).
Mary made sure that a picnic day was planned when most of the family from around the area could get together. All week the weather people had been warning of a possibility of rain on that day – but how often are they right? And come the day, it was quite a storm, but we had some time beforehand and afterwards at Mary’s house as well. Rain can’t ruin this time of sharing.
It was also so nice for us to meet with the church family at Southwest in Omaha on a Wednesday evening, seeing some faces we knew, getting to know some new names and family members of people we have known for a long time. Shirley and I originally went to the Netherlands with a group from York College (way back in 1981). Many of those ‘young’ people (we are older now) were well known at Southwest. We are especially thankful for LaVerne and Joan Hazelwood who made it possible for us to get together that Wednesday.
And we are so very thankful for brief moments that we have with family. It was so good to have Mary and Nikki make sure that our time in Omaha was a time of family. It was good to be able to talk with Chris and Maggie about spiritual realities (even while examining the approaching storm clouds). God has richly blessed us with family in so many places and of so many different kinds. We are thankful to be able to enjoy these moments! 
Check out our pictures of the stay here. Or click on the button on the right to 'See my Photos'. Thanks for stopping by!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  Romans 13:8