America is so beautiful.
I think I have said that 100 times since arriving here. The green of springtime coupled with tulips and flowering trees budding with new life in the suburbs of Chicago, with the occasional American flag raised in someone’s yard is lovely. Is there anything so attractive as your home, your native land?
But the beauty of suburban Chicago in springtime is nothing to the countryside! We are at a small country church in southern IL. It began in 1837 and has a cemetery behind it and another across the street. As far as your eye can see, green, fallow fields wait for planting, with the occasional windbreak of trees. The wind ripples through a blue-green crop of winter wheat behind the church. Across the street lie round bales of hay beside a barn and sleepy cows in the meadow.
The peace embodied in this scene doesn’t just creep over your soul—it crashes over you (if you can ever describe peace as crashing…), and I see the same magic that I used to feel at my grandma’s house in rural MI when I used to stand at the fence staring at the beauty of God’s creation and sing songs of praise, I see that sense of wonder working on my children now as they sit quietly on the grass and just look at the fields for 20 minutes straight—a remarkable thing for small children. Ah, and their father just joined them. Who can resist? It’s so beautiful!
Saturday night after we had settled the kids in their beds in the fellowship hall of the church, I went for a jog in the (frigid—isn’t it May now??) parking lot, and felt like singing at the top of my lungs in best operatic voice, How Great Thou Art!
I can’t remember the last time I felt such quiet stillness. In Africa there is always noise. There are always eyes every single time you step out your door. To be able to go for a solitary, unstared-at jog in such a peaceful setting was precious.
Yesterday in church someone asked me if my accent was English. What a surprise. I’m sure I haven’t changed that much. But I did notice the friendly pronounced Rs of the rural American accent and found it a refreshing break from high-brow English, “Mahvelous, dahling!”
Seth met this church through NBT, and they still have a framed photo of him as evangelist with a church full of kids behind him displayed on the office wall. When we were married, they bought us a cake and held a small reception in their fellowship hall, where we have slept on a sleeper couch every time we come. This time they included two air mattresses and a camper cot for all of our children. I was awoken by a loud thump last night when Caleb fell off his bed because it lost some air. 🙂 God bless the MK s who find themselves in so many weird positions because of their parents!
They canceled children’s church in the fellowship hall so that we could be comfortable there. I put Carson down for a nap right before Sunday School, and he slept all the way through church as well. I was so glad, as he had a bad cold, and he needed the sleep. Callie cried both times we put her in nursery.
Colin embarrassed me by fishing around in the offering plate and pushing past an elderly man to go down the stairs. Another friendly church member reminisced about how Caleb had been sick the last time we came, how he’d held him, and then gotten sick himself the following week. Caleb pipes up with, not “How are you sir, and thank you for being so nice to me as a baby,” but, “I had some diarrhea this morning.” At which the man promptly turned to his car, and I took a second to speed-of-lightning instruct Caleb about certain body functions you do not share with people.
Maybe I should post a whole article at the end of furlough on how my children have embarrassed me during our travels. Oh well, a little extra humility is good for the soul, right?
What a friendly spirit this church showed to us, letting us crash their Mother’s Day with a missions presentation of spiritual warfare in dark Africa and a sermon on living with a “wartime lifestyle mentality.”
Knobs Baptist Church, may the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you…