Many of you are aware that good friends helped us on the first leg of our journey from Salisbury, NC, all the way up to where my family lives in New Jersey on Friday! Our brother and sister in Christ brought us right to the doorstep where we needed to be–a major blessing.
This post serves as a small update on our time in New Jersey; we are thankful for this visit with my aunt and uncle, many cousins, and their children. I was thankful for some time playing streetball on a low goal with the kids yesterday. I have a habit of saying ‘Boomshackalacka’ quite a lot. They followed suit. They called me ‘Dunktown.’ Actually they didn’t, but it might have crossed their minds.
Kilby and I were able to listen to several relatives speak about life and work, and we were grateful for such warm welcome among family. It was good getting to share about some of the places we are headed and the reasons why. Our first night up here we laughed a great deal and shared good conversation. It was such a pleasant time.
Kilby and I were thankful my cousin Danielle was babysitting for a precious little girl—which meant we had time with her! Danielle’s family also has a retired race dog (which looks British) named Charlie. They have some naked cats who stare into the fire. They are fun to watch. Our time up north has been restful and enjoyable.
One of the primary reasons for flying to Europe from up north is because my grandma is in the care of nurses here. (Also, flights from up north are generally cheaper, and allow us to steward well when not in a major time crunch.) Yesterday we shared several hours with her, for which I am severely grateful. This was the second time Kilby had an opportunity to interact with Gram.
Upon arrival at the elderly-care facility, a lady named Carmen was leading a game/mental exercise. She was helping 7-8 older folks think of words beginning with the letter ‘i’ until they filled the entire whiteboard. We joined in, naturally. She made it fun, encouraging word ideas and sharing definitions. Carmen said there have been letters and days where they filled both sides of the whiteboard, methodically, for a single letter. “Impressive.”
Carmen is from Argentina. Her compassion was evident, beyond the kindness required by her position at work. We shared several minutes talking in Spanish (she was patient and understanding towards me) and English. Carmen is a Bible-believing, born-again Christian. She was so excited to meet Kilby and me and hear of our lives. I was so thankful for her. Carmen regularly works to encourage and enliven my grandmother and so many in this space, and it was a blessing to hear some of her story and see how God is using her in the workplace among the people.
As I sat with my grandmother I was able to tell her about Kilby again, of our wedding, the plans laid out before us, and everything in between. Kilby also was sharing simple stories and showing pictures. Gram smiled. A few times, her eyes filled with extra water. When I would say something and she was emotional she would wink big to let me know she was hearing me. As I told her I love her, she would blow a kiss at me from her wheelchair, the times when she didn’t respond with words. We ate pizza and subs in a room off to the side, thanks to my cousin. I was able to help feed Gram.
As we wheeled Gram up to her room after dinner—the hours passed quickly—I knew we would pass by the piano. Kilby had played previously during our road trip visit in October, and now she did so again (after threatening that she would be rusty from hurting her wrist and wearing a splint for several weeks). She played beautifully. Two men were watching football in that corner area but paused to give their approval. An elder lady passing didn’t make it past. She said this was the highlight of her day. The nurse came out to listen, and Gram clapped as Kilby finished. It was beautiful.
Afterwards, we hugged grandma goodbye, letting her know we would continue to pray for her and that we would write to her from overseas. I was so thankful for time talking with her. I love her dearly. My eyes filled with extra water a few times as well, not knowing if I will see Gram again.
One of my youngest cousins named Preston wanted to race from the 3rd floor down to the 2nd. He headed for the stairs so Kilby and I took the elevator. We somewhat cheated—but totally won—by going all the way to the 1st floor. It gave us a few minutes while signing out to engage the lady working at the desk. Her name was Claudia.
I asked Claudia about the book she was reading, having noticed a Christian title. The Lord, in His grace, gave us another special appointment. Claudia is in seminary, after 30 years of being out of the classroom. She was deeply and sincerely interested in our ministry and our lives. She shared her prayer that the courses she takes will turn her life upside down for the sake of the Gospel. She wrote our names and our mission in her notebook, and we wound up talking for about 12 minutes. It was a complete blessing.
Claudia said “believers!” as we had started the conversation and she heard a glimpse of our love for Jesus. I will always remember that. We should greet one another with this joy. And we must be sincere about inviting others into this joy, if there is anything real at all. And there is.
We are thankful for another half day here with family before making the trek towards NYC. We are thankful for many churches, families, and individuals who are praying over Kilby and I and this transition. From our depths, from our souls, we thank you.
This morning I read a portion of a text that was shared by a sister in the Lord. It discussed the reasons D. L. Moody was used by God. I pray that Kilby and I will in like manner be growing in prayer, in humility, in compassion, as students of the Word, fully surrendered to our Savior-King.
I’ve also just finished a small book on love by a man named Henry Drummond which was well worth the minutes. Moody wrote the introduction for the short text. It’s titled, “The Greatest Thing in the World.” Pick up a copy online and give it a read.
Love you guys!