Let's play a game. I'll show you photos I took in the last couple weeks, and you guess where I've been. Ready?
#1 Fried green tomatoes. Scrum-diddly-umptious!
#2 Turnip greens, flavored with Bruce's tabasco peppers in vinegar. First and last time I order this.
#3 A Baptist church with an auditorium roughly the size of a football field. The music reminded me of a Gaither homecoming, and the Bible preaching was fantastic.
#4 Police directing Sunday traffic. There are so many people going to church services that this is a matter of routine. I couldn't believe it.
By now, you should be zeroing in on the South: land of fried foods and a church on every corner. But where in the South? One more picture:
#5 The World of Coca-Cola. I got to sightsee here and at Stone Mountain with my new friends, Nathan and Kristin. We also managed to squeeze a visit to Chick-fil-A into this very full day, and a quick walk through Olympic Park.
That should give it away. The answer is, of course: Atlanta, Georgia.
I was in Atlanta for two weeks of training at the international office of Biblical Ministries Worldwide. There were 26 of us preparing for service in South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Vanuatu, and a creative access country (traditional missionaries are not allowed in a CAC, and they must enter as professionals in some trade like medicine or education). And don't forget the U.S.—Utah, to be exact!
Julie (left) and her husband joined the Utah/Idaho field. Elaine (center) is the wife of our Area Director. These ladies are not just my co-laborers, but also dear friends.
It was an encouraging and challenging time at BMW, made all the better when my dad flew in to participate for a couple days as my sending church's pastor.
Upon my return to Kansas, there was a commissioning service at Hoisington Bible Church. Although they already sent me to Utah several years ago, I will now be working in a full-time ministry capacity, so this was a special service. It was wonderful to be among these believers who have known me, prayed for me, and supported me for over half my life.
A rare reunion with old friends.
During my final few days in Kansas, two last-minute opportunities presented themselves. The first was being "camp missionary" at Solid Rock Bible Camp. Eight years ago, I was a counselor during the inaugural summer of Solid Rock; it was very special to return and share about ministry in Utah. And the last evening I was in Kansas, I was given the chance to speak at the meeting of a church's missions committee in McPherson.
Now I'm back in Utah. Looking back on all my summer travels, I'm deeply grateful to God for safety, unlooked-for opportunities, practical training, special reunions with friends, time with my parents, and—best of all—several new daily prayer partners. I'm sure those prayers have something to do with how energized I feel to tackle the piles of catch-up work and to implement some new ideas for ministry. Onward and upward!