Monday, June 29, 2009

Thank the Lord for a Christian Home!


So often believers take for granted the spiritual heritage they receive from their parents. This became very real to me when recently we wanted to reach out to the kids in our community and we noticed that there were several kids who walked by our house every day after school. I knew some of their names, but none of them ever came to church. We used Halloween as an opportunity to give out tracts, John & Romans, and fliers inviting kids to our new Soul's For Jesus Bible Club on Thursday's after school. After inviting and preparing for Bible Club we waited for kids to come. One week passed and no one came. Two weeks passed and no one came. This went on for several weeks and we simply used the time that we would have had Bible Club to pray for the children in our area.

After a few weeks two avenues opened up that we didn't expect. First, we had a mother who had just recently been saved ask about bringing her two boys to our Bible Club. The boys were unable to come to Sunday School because they spent that time with their unsaved dad each week, but their mom wanted them to learn as much as possible about the Bible. We began at Genesis and it was so much fun to teach through the Bible to children who had never heard it before. Their mother also learned a lot as she sat each week with her boys through the lessons.

The second avenue that opened was with a group of Mexican children who could no longer attend our Sunday School because they left to visit their father on the weekends. This group had a lot of energy and excitement that constantly needed to be channeled. There were about eight of these kids that came on a regular basis. Jenifer Scates was very much the go to person with these kids. She worked side by side with my wife and I with this Bible study. These kids had no idea who God was and when we described the story of creation one of them asked, "can God do magic?" I was so shocked at the absolute lack of knowledge of God that these children had. Most of what they knew about God came from cartoons and television.  Truly, America is becoming more and more a pagan culture.

I praise the Lord for the christian home I was privileged to grow up in. Please pray for the children growing up right here in America without a knowledge of God.













video

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It is not good that man should be alone - Genesis 2:18

This is the story of my courtship. Some of the details may be off and this is only my perspective. Rebecca told me that I should keep a journal. She’s right because I’ll forget a lot if I don’t. I started writing this out on paper, but it thought this would be a great way to do it with pictures added.

The format of this will be according to my college years.

Freshman:


Nothing going on. Talking to Girls is a taboo. I have never felt this way in my life. I have always had friends who were girls and not had a problem with it. Maybe the BCM atmosphere is too new for me. (I'm even scared to sit by them in class, what is wrong with me? Have I forgotten how to be normal?).

During my time of ignorance I go to know pastor Mulvaine a little bit at the Holiness Conference. I had no idea that was Rebecca's former pastor. No thoughts in my head and I had a great time fellowshipping with him and his wife.

At graduation that year Mrs. Clark came with one of the little girls to pick up Rebecca. I wanted to meet all the parents of people in my class. I had gotten to know the Kopp's, Harvey’s, Roberts, Overmillers, and others but not the Clarks. I introduced myself to Mrs. Clark and her little girl. (I don't remember which girl it was but I think it was Abby.) When I shook her hand she commenced to shake my arm up and down as hard and fast as she possibly could. "Wow!" I said. That was interesting. I told her "That was a great handshake do that again!" This time she did it just has hard and fast if not harder than the first time. I got a kick out of it but I still had no thoughts toward Rebecca.

Sophomore:

This was the year of all years! Pastor Vangelderen did his courtship seminar early this year. I took my computer to look interested but I was about as bored as bored could be. I wanted to pay attention but this was all going right over my head. Some of the concepts of courtship were cemented in my brain but there was a lot that I missed. Little did I know that within that first semester living with Josiah and Ben that God would put Rebecca on my heart.

There I sat doing my devotions. Joe was in the shower and Ben was still in bed. Rebecca Clark came to mind. "What am I doing thinking about her here at this time that I am to be spending with God?" I pushed the thought of her out of my mind and went back to my Bible reading. But soon enough the thought was back.  "What do I do?" I thought. "Maybe I was focusing on not focusing on her?" I decided to fill my mind with scripture in order to avoid thinking about her. That didn't work either. Every verse seemed to have something about her. How? I have no idea. I knew this was either Satanic attack, fleshly desires (the deceitfulness of my heart), or God trying to tell me something. Whatever the source, I was shaking in my boots. This went on for days and then weeks. I knew that if it was satanic it would go away, but how do I know if it is me or the Lord telling me this. I knew that the BCM rules stated that I could not court until my Jr. Year. So, why think about girls now? In fact I had thought it would be nice to court after I graduated or during seminary. During undergraduate was nowhere near an option in my head.

I was placed on bus ministry with Matt Barber as a captain and Bethany Pardo as a secretary. Rebecca Clark came back from traveling Minute Men and I encouraged her to help out with our Buss route. This was before I had any thoughts about her. Sure enough se did. As a Bus route that year we sought the Lord and He grew our route. In fact it grew so much that Matt took the north side of Silver Spring and I took the south side and Daniel Van's bus picked up my riders. Matthew would for some reason always end up putting Rebecca on my soul winning Team. That year I went out on Monday nights, Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. I lived, breathed and ate bus and as much as I lived bus she did too.

Off I went to see Pastor Vangelderen with this thought of Rebecca on my mind. It had been stewing in my head for at least a month or so. I laid everything out before Pastor Vangeledren. I felt silly sitting in his office as a sophomore talking about courtship. I told him about what had been happening in my devotions and that I thought it was too early and I had no idea why Now was when I was thinking about it. I even told him that I thought it was satanic attack. He told me to wait on the Lord and so I did.

During Holiness Conference that year I met Amanda Clark. She was like her sister and yet totally different. She had come with Mrs. Clark and they stayed for college day and had a great time (At least from what I could see). 

Graduation came and went that year as expected. I don't know why but I was hanging around the fellowship halls after the service and here came Lillian through the hall looking for Rebecca. I had never seen her before but I thought that she must be a Clark. She made a beeline for Rebecca to tell her that her dad was outside. It was evident that Rebecca wanted her dad to come in but knew that wasn't going to happen. On her way out the door to great her dad She took Mr. Swanson with her and when she saw me she asked if I wanted to meet here dad. (I don't remember the exact words she said) "That’s awkward" I thought. "Do I want to meet him? … Sure, but Now? … Mr. Swanson is going out. I think it will be fine." And so I went out to meet Mr. Clark.

Mr. Clark was a small man. I think he was a little shorter than I and defiantly not as hefty. It was evident from the way he carried himself that he was a hard farm worker. I also noticed that he wore cowboy boots.  Words were brief and to the point and his eyes hardly left the ground. He was not much for socializing. I went back in with Mr. Swanson, Rebecca, and Lilly. Rebecca and Lilly went to clean the bathrooms before they could leave.

That summer I went home and then in a few weeks it was off to Asia for my internship with Mike Redick. My mind had been racing with thoughts of Rebecca in the school year (It was a constant battle not to think about her. In fact I tried to avoid her as much as possible, but that was hard with ministry and classes.) and I was hoping that being so far away from BCM, her, and home would enable me not to think about it. It worked! At least for a little while my summer was so busy that I hardly thought about her. But toward the last part of the summer Pastor Redick and I went to the Philippines.  I was there one week before the Goforth ministry trip came. SCM (Student Movement for Christ) held a retreat at Forest Camp. There Pastor Chou and Pastor Mike laid out some new organizational structure for SMC. It was a wonderful time with the Filipinos and Kim Coogan. During one of the meals Kim specifically asked me about future ministry. Pastor Mike and Lisa had told me that I needed to get married before I came over to Asia to work in an orphan ministry. I told Kim that I felt the Lord leading me to orphan ministry and that Pastor Mike and his wife told me that I needed to get a wife first. Kim began to share who she thought would make great missionary wives. I was sort of shocked, but everything she said was true. She didn't try to pair me up with anyone.  Rebecca was one of her top missionary picks.

When the Goforth trip came over to the Philippines I was sent with Mr. Stoll, Christi Forester, Summer Smith and a few others to minister in a small remote church. I can remember lying on the floor sharing a mosquito net. Before we went to sleep he asked me what God had taught me that summer. I shared with Mr. Stoll what God had done in my heart concerning orphan work and he exclaimed that he thought that fit me perfectly.





That year after Holiness conference I remember Rebecca talking to Mrs. Redick. She had a burden for missions but lacked her father’s permission to go on any trips. Ayron heard the same conversation I did and we set to pray that God would move on her father’s heart to let her go once before she left college.

Jr. Year:

This year nothing really happened God enabled me to put everything on the back burner and I don’t remember having much contact with Rebecca. I know I did by nature of ministry or what not but she was not constantly on my mind. Toward the end of the year Jared (my brother) came to visit me before he went home from BJ. I remember sitting with him in his white GMC pick up watching her walk from the church to the dorm. It was there I told him that she was the one God had laid on my heart. I think his words were "That's cool". He thought that she was a fine girl and didn’t say much.

1st Sr. Year

This was the year of the unexpected. During the missions conference Pastor Redick was the key speaker. I couldn’t wait to see him and his wife again. Pastor Redick and I sat down to talk shop about orphanage work. Also one night he did devotions for the guys while his wife took the ladies. As we he and I waited for his wife to finish up I told him about Rebecca. He sure jumped on that one quick and when his wife heard it she did two. Still I had no idea of starting a courtship. The last night of the conference was a headache. Everyone just had to talk to the Redicks. I waited around because I was to give them a ride to the hotel. I also noticed that Rebecca was waiting to talk to the Redicks. She was patient and unlike everyone else who rudely butted in to talk to the Redicks she sat there and waited quietly. Mrs. Redick noticed and wasn’t going to let it go. After everyone else left it was finally her chance to talk to the Redicks.

Pastor Redick, Mrs. Redick, Rebecca, and I were all standing by the tables in the lobby. I knew what the Redicks were thinking but I don’t think Rebecca had the foggiest. Pastor Redick said “Well let’s all go sit down and talk.” Wow did Rebecca’s face turn red fast. She stammered and stuttered to say that she wanted to talk to them alone. Mrs. Redick told me to sit where I was and watch her purse while they went across the lobby to the couches. It’s not like I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I couldn’t leave either. I tried not to listen and focused on my Greek vocabulary cards. But, I couldn’t help but hear her heart being poured out with the desire to go the mission field and serve the Lord on at least one mission’s trip. I knew how Ayron and I were praying and I knew the Redicks were thinking that she would one day most likely live on the mission field but she had no vision of that.

After crying and praying they all came back over to me. Rebecca dried up her tears and the Mrs. Redick pulled a fast one on me. “Why don’t you walk her to her dorm?” My eyes caught hers and boy were her eyes bugged out. I don’t remember saying anything because I wanted to watch her sweat. (I know, I’m mean.) She stammered again to say that that wouldn’t work. Mr. Hohl somehow came into the picture and suggested I drive over to the girl’s dorm and the Redicks walk her over. That worked out just fine.

In the car on the way to the Hotel the Redicks told me they thought she was a fine girl and would be a wonderful missionary wife someday. They also promised to pray for me in regards to this matter. Once again everything was put on the back burner and I didn’t even think about her until Holiness Conference.

I was looking forward to the Holiness Conference.  I was asking the Lord to draw me closer to Him and teach me new things. What I wasn't ready for was a courtship.  Just before one of the services my dad rushed up to me and said "I've got to talk to you". I could tell by his tone of voice that something was up. But, what I couldn't tell was if I was in trouble or something was wrong. He pulled me aside and said "Is there anything going on between you and RC (Dad's term for Rebecca). I said "No, why?" "Well, Pastor Hollansworth came up to me and told me he thought you and Rebecca both had wonderful hearts for ministry and would make a great couple to go to the mission field together." I was shocked! He doesn't even live at Falls. He only taught a 2 week block on Isaiah. My next question was "Have I done anything wrong?  Did I conduct myself inappropriately? " "No" dad said. "Mr. Hollandsworth said that you both conducted yourself uprightly."

Dad thought he needed to talk to Pastor Hollandsworth more and find out what he was thinking. After another talk with Pastor Hollandsworth Dad also found that Mrs. Hollansworth also was all excited about it as well. Soon Pastor Hollandsworth, Dad, Mom, and I were in the conference room talking about starting a courtship.  Next we had a talk with Dr. Jim. Dad says that my eyes were the size of dinner plates. I was not surprised about the person or that others could see it. (Earlier that year I was talking to Wes about his engagement and he said I should court Rebecca. Coming from Wes that meant something to me. ) I was taken back at the timing.

I struggled with being passive. I wanted mom and dad to tell me what they wanted to do but Dad wasn’t about to do it. Dr. Jim finally told me that I could not be passive. I needed to make a decision. Well I said to go for it and then came the debate of who would make the phone call. Dad thought I should simply to make me sweat, but I thought that he should make the call. Soon it was decided for dad to make the phone call. We determined that it would be good to wait for Mrs. Clark to be home when the call was made so Mr. and Mrs. Clark could discuss it. Dr. Jim told me that some courtships the administration feels uneasy about but he was excited about this one. He could see it too. After Dr. Jim and Pastor Hollandsworth gave my family their perspectives it confirmed what my parents and I were already thinking.  I went out to eat at The Odyssey with my parents but couldn't eat. All my appetite was gone. All I could think about was marriage, courtship, Rebecca, and everything else that in any way fit. Dad just got a good laugh out of my unusual behavior. I was so disturbed that as I attempted to get butter from the disposable dish to my role I threw the dish at mom and got butter in her hair. Not good at all. Five minutes later I even saw more butter in mom's hair. During the service that night, as I sat on the stool in the back of the auditorium running the video camera I could not help but notice where the Clark's were sitting. I kept thinking to myself that this was ridiculous.

Next, the phone call was made about a week after the Holiness Conference. I was antsy but yet too busy to care. (Strange huh?) Dad called me to tell me about the phone call. They discussed weather, politics, courtship, family origins, and family relations. Come to find out I have heard her uncle preach at New Testament Baptist church where the Napuunoa's go to church. Also he was affiliated with People's Baptist Church in Centerville, IA. That was the church that my Grandpa Cook was the pastor of for a few years. Weird huh?

Then Mr. Clark somehow lost our phone number and so he called the Napuunoa's to get the phone number.  He then called dad and asked "How soon do you need an answer?" My dad told him that we weren’t in any hurry.  (Sure we weren’t in a hurry but boy did we want an answer. I think my parents were more antsy than I was.)

When I found that he called the Nap's I wanted to make sure they didn’t know I was courting. I had heard that Sharon was courting some guy from Rochester and I figured I better investigate.  I called the Nap's and Mr. Nap said nothing about a phone call from Mr. Clark. As I talked with all the children I found all sorts of information about Sharon's guy Joe Grimaldi. He was supposable a lot like me. What they didn't know was I knew that this Joe went to Rebecca's church. Sharron had met him at Fort Dodge. 

Later that weekend I called back to talk to Mrs. Nap because if she received the phone call she would be sure to ask me about it. She said nothing. One of the boys must have got the call and thought nothing of it. Mrs. Nap told me all about Sharron's courtship. She also asked about my status. I told her nothing. I explained a little how courtship works BCM style and she was all for it. She encouraged me and told me that she was daily praying for me. Coming from her that meant a lot. 

What I wasn't ready for was a call slip from the office to see Mr. Sholtz. "What could this be about?" I thought. Mr. Sholtz asked me point blank “what was going on between you and Rebecca Clark?” Come to find out he didn't know anything about what had happened during the Holiness Conference (I guess that the administration doesn't communicate to well). I explained everything to him and he told me about the phone call he received from Mr. Clark. Apparently Mr. Clark called and said that I had permission to court his daughter. Mr. Sholtz had to stop him and ask who he was even talking about. Mr. Sholtz then recommended that the Clark family get to know me. Wheee!!

Spring Break was interesting that year. Rebecca had Christi and Julian going home with her and I had Benji and Jeremy going home with me. Dad was hopping to meet their family at Albert Lee or something but we never got a phone call. Dad completely blew the cover in my car on the way to prayer meeting. Jeremy was in the back seat spacing out when dad made a direct reference to what was going on. I acted clueless and he got more direct. Then once he said the name Clark I gave him one of those looks and he realized what he had done. I acted clueless again and turned the conversation to Mr. Clark in Centerville and bluffed a conversation all the way to church. What a mess. Dad couldn’t believe what he had done but I don’t think Jeremy even noticed.

We also found a little mud over spring break!!






Next thing I knew my Dad and her dad thought I should call and talk to Mr. Clark. (it was my turn to sweat bullets. I did and offered to come and make a visit. Next thing I know my trip to visit Cousin Jimmy in Chicago changed to visiting the Clarks in Lake City. When I called Jimmy to cancel and said I was making a trip to visit a girl’s dad. He asked where and I said Lake City, MN.  "I know exactly where that is" he said. "How?" I asked. He told me that it was close to Lake Pippen where they had gone fishing with the boats for years. He was excited about the trip for me.

Before I left Pastor Van wanted to talk to me. We had a good little talk and he was not at all surprised at what was going on. Once again he wanted all the details. I got some good questions from him to ask Mr. Clark. Later when I was getting the special request form from Mr. Overmiller he wanted all the details. I became tired of telling the story on a one by one basis. Especial when it was a secret.

I called Mr. Clark to get the address and find how to get there. I had some gut retching feeling that I need to find it on a map before I make a fool of myself looking for it. I wanted to look online but if I was online I needed a buddy who could see what I was looking at. I managed to do it and used Google Earth to scan up and down the road that she lived on.  After pinpointing what I thought was the house I asked Rebecca to verify. Nope, I didn't get it right. I missed the turn onto her road from 4. I didn’t remember that in the directions her dad gave and I wrote everything down. Either he forgot or I was so excited I didn’t hear. Good thing I asked her.

Soon I was in my car an on the way. As I left Falls I called them to let them know when I was leaving. Jenny answered the phone. She was very short and to the point just like the other time she talked to me. I laughed to myself and set off. I figured it wouldn't be bad to listen to Pastor Van's courtship seminar again. All four hours in one sitting. At about 5:30 p.m. I pulled out the sandwich that Leah Fruen had made me. She asked me what I wanted on it and I said "The works". Boy, did she ever give me the works. I could early fit it in my mouth. As a result I dropped a large tomato on my only dress shirt which was a white one. "Great" I thought. I'm going to meet the Clarks for the first time with a large tomato stain on my shirt. With water I managed to get it out while driving but not without work.

Just as I pulled of the interstate I stopped at a gas station to gas up and use the restroom. I called again to let them know that I was getting close. I began to get nervous. Things that I don't normally care about all of a sudden I did. "Is my shirt tucked in? Does my back seat look clean? I better just be myself!" I stopped my car at an entrance to a farmer’s field to tuck in my shirt though. Next thing I know I'm at their house. It was dark and as soon as I opened my door her come the two dogs. Duke was excited to see a new stranger. With two paws he pounced upon my chest. One of his muddy paws got my coat but the other got my white shirt I had just worked so hard to clean.

Mr. Clark met me at the door and welcomed me in. The living room was full of furniture from the bedroom. Greetings were made. Everyone was quite. Nobody knew quite what to say. Jenny came to say hi with a silly wig on her head. I couldn't help but pick on her for it. Mr. Clark said they were laying carpet and would be done in a few minutes. I couldn't sand around and look stupid. (Although I had already accomplished the looking stupid part). I gave Lilly and Mr. Clark a hand laying the carpet. (I didn't do much). After all the furniture was put back in the room everyone seemed to just sit around the living room. Mr. Clark invited me to have a seat and so I did. Boy was it quite. Nobody said anything. Some of the girls were trying to get their dad to talk. I was trying to get some of the Girls to talk and everyone seemed to be speechless. I didn't want to be the center of attention even though it was unavoidable. Here is some strange guy coming to get to know the family so he can marry the oldest daughter. No wonder that everyone was looking at me. (I hope I didn't have anything on my face). Little Hannah would say "Mom, ask Jason something." only to receive the reply of "What do you want me to ask?". Then Hannah would try the next person "Sarah, Ask Jason Something." Round and round this went until. Someone decided to test my whit.

Here came the mind puzzles. The first was a letter strap fastened to a piece of leather. I was to remove the strap. It wasn't too hard although it took longer than I wanted and I felt stupid. The next was the medal horseshoes with a ring. That I had done before. After that Jenny comes with a box loaded with a fake mouse. I think I busted her bubble when I didn't jump. After some ice-cream we all went to bed. I received the room that we had just laid the carpet in. As I went out to get my things it was dark and I couldn't see what I was doing or where I was going. When I found my car and my flashlight I made my way back to the house. Upon coming in the door I realized the one dog (the white and black one) was sitting by the door. I said "come on lets go" and as I put my hand down to pet him on the head he bit my right forearm. What a mutt! That was my first dog bite ever! I got him out the door and went to bed.  It was about 12:00.

That night I couldn't sleep. Why I don't know, strange room, excitement, anxiety or maybe the ice-cream.  5:00 I was up. No more sleep for me I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I hit the shower and dressed for the day. Then I sat on the bed and did my devotions and then studied for my Contemporary Theology Mid-term. At about 6:30 I heard Amanda come downstairs. I made my way out, put on my bibs and went out to help with the chores. I didn't know what I was doing. Sure I had been to dairy farms before, sure I had milked a cow before, but I had no idea what to do and in what order. Amanda, Jenny, and Gabby were content to let me stand around and watch but I wasn't going to do that. I told Amanda if she didn't tell me what to do I wouldn't know what to do. She gave me a shovel and told me to scoop poop. Great! A task that I can handle at least I felt useful.  I had several questions about the milking operation they ran and enjoyed helping out.

After milking the cows Amanda and I went to help Sarah get the horses in. Once we were all done we went back to the house. Going to the swap meet was ruled out because of the cold and the wind. It was decided to go to an auction and pick up some dishwashers. On the way there the girls asked a lot of questions about names (my mom, dad, brother) and then they had me guessing on all of their names. I forgot all the middle names except for Rebecca's. It was one of those auctions that had a lot of junk, slow auctioneer who didn’t know a lot about his stuff, and outside in the cold biting wind. The girls had walked to the hospital to visit someone so seeing the type of auction it was Mr. Clark and I made our way to the Hospital. Once we got inside it was a mess trying to find the right room.

A couple times he said "You're from town, you should know how to get around in here." I laughed to myself because this hospital had the dumbest numbering system. We were sent to room 364 in some wing or something like that. We were directed to the wing but once we got to the third floor the numbers were almost all in the 600's. What was going on? Finally, we asked someone and his room was 64. Why it wasn't 364 I'll never know.

There we stood in the room chatting. I didn't have much to say of course.  After about half an hour we went back to the auction. Nothing had moved, so we went to lunch. Godfather's Pizza was the place. I wasn't too hungry again. (Wonder Why?) Lunch was kind of quiet. Sarah so graciously spilt her pop all over the table and floor. Her face was as red as a beat.

Back to the auction and the guy still hadn't moved much. The girls waited in the truck while Mr. Clark and I stood around. He asked some questions about he mission field I was going to and graduation. Not a lot of talk. Then the auctioneer got to some tools. Next thing I know he buys a ton of tools. Off to the truck I go with a hand full of tools. As I approached the truck I noticed that the girls had the back window completely steamed up. (Lot of gabbing I guess.) I threw the tools in the back and then opened the door and told them their dad wanted them to help carrying tools. They all filed out and we all grabbed hand full's of tools.

Then we all stood around as Mr. Clark bought rags and other things. Finally we got to the washing machines. Once we bought them there they go racing down the street. Jenny tipped hers over. Lily decides she wants this large radio/record player for $1. "It wasn't worth lifting" I told her. I think at that point her tongue came out at me. Once the truck was packed with junk we headed down the road. Before long a lid from one of the washing machines flew out and I had to run out and get it.

Once back at the house we unloaded the truck, cleaned the gutters, and milked the cows and then I don't remember what we did. I know by evening we sat around and talked again except this time the girls were sent to bed at about 11:00 and Mr. Clark and I had a talk. This was the talk we had been waiting for I guess. I had my list of questions and he had his. His hardest question and yet easy to answer was "Why Rebecca?" All I needed to do was explain what God had been doing in my heart and through my parents. I felt as if I understood where he was coming from and he now knew where I was coming from. So at about 1:00 we went to bed.

Just as I was getting ready for bed one of the pesky bloody noses came. Great! It was time to sleep and I got a bloody nose and I'm in the room with new carpet. I did what I could in the sink and then just tied my bandana around my head and laid my extra sheets over their bedding so if I did get blood anywhere it would be on my stuff. There I lay in bed with a hankie tied to my face and blood flowing down my throat. When I woke up at 5:30 my bandanna had fallen down and no blood anywhere. Alright! But as soon as I got in the shower it hit with full force again. Next thing I know I'm cleaning blood of the tub with one hand while holding my nose with the other.

By 6:30 the girls were up and ready to go so out to the barn we went. After chores we got dressed for church.  I was to drive separately so that the people at church would not know who  I was or what I was doing. I was simply someone from Pleasant Hill, IA who was passing through on business. As the Clarks pulled into the parking lot I drove on by and sat in a development for a few minutes before returning.  Upon returning I parked and entered. The song leader met me at the door and directed me to the service. I slipped in and sat in the back on my own.

A few people came up to me and said hi and I gave my story. The organist was the only one that could possibly know who I was, but apparently she didn't recognize me from the Holiness Conference. Later she gave me a card that confirmed that she didn't know who I was.

Mrs. Grimaldi came up to me and introduced herself. When she heard my name she asked if she should know me. Knowing that Mrs. Nap has told her about me I smiled and Said "no, you shouldn't know me" (At least I hope not)

Sitting quietly in my seat the next thing I knew there were bus kids all around me and boy were they wound up. One boy turned around and out of the blue slapped the kid next to me. After Church I made my way to my car to leave. There I simply left the church and waited on a side street for the Clark van to pass. In my mind I was wondering what to do. Mr. Clark had no idea where I was or what I was doing. And if I tried to talk to him it might blow all cover. I simply sat and hoped for the best. Soon there went he van. I had written down directions in case I lost them but I didn't need them.

After eating lunch at the house Mr. Clark, Lilly, Jenny, Gabby, and I went to the bottoms to look around. I was quizzed about my types of trees and miserably failed. I should have paid more attention when I was little. At one point Jenny, gabby, and I went one way and Mr. Clark and Lilly went another. After exporting around we made our way back to the road. Mr. Clark and Lilly had moved the van and were hiding behind a tree on the hill. I saw them and wondered what they were up to. When the realized we saw them they came out and met us on the road. We chatted for a minute or two then he sent me to the van except he pointed the wrong direction. I was smart enough to say "Sure" and walk toward the van. He didn't get me that time.

As we drove around he told me to pick up some snake weed on the side of the road. I did and sure enough he started to drive off. I should have known better. When we got back to the house he told me to get the mail. I fell for it again. (We get lots of mail on Sunday at my place so why wouldn't they get it here?)

This time on the way to church I rode with the Clarks. I waited in the back of the van after they all had gone in. Finally, about 10 minutes late I walked in. If only people could be on time! Cars kept coming and I couldn't let anyone see me get out of their van.  When the invitation was given I went toward the isle and headed for the back. I was just praying that no one would try to catch me and give me the Gospel. I knew It would be hard to explain why I was leaving early. I opened the hatch to the Clark's van and got in. If it wasn't for Amanda seeing me as she got in none of the Clarks knew where I was.

That night we stayed up late telling jokes and lateral thinking puzzles. Finally at about 2:00 I went to bed.  By this point all the girls felt comfortable around me. They got a kick out of a guy doing dishes. Also the girls had told me a few different times that I think like their dad. I figured that was a good thing if I was to be marrying Rebecca.

 Monday morning when 5:30 hit it was harder to wake up. After chores we all came back in the house. The girls made breakfast while I washed dishes. Rice was on the menu. I don't remember what Lilly said but I dished her very little rice then served all the other girls. While serving others she flung some rice at my face. If that was the way it was then I would get her back. She handed me her bowl for more rice and I picked the rice off of my face and put in her bowl and then put more rice in. I was ornery and so was she!

Cutting wood was on the agenda for the day. It felt good to work again. College had made me into a lazy bum.  Mr. Clark gave me the Sthil 026 and I went to work. When there was no more for me to cut up I would help the girls put the wood in the wagon. I hustled them and wore myself out but I wasn't going to let them know that. Lilly was stacking the big pieces in the back of the truck for weight. I told her she was moving to slow if I could get them to her faster than she could stack them. I think I ran a few over her toes. (She survived)

Once the wagon and truck were full we cut down a few trees and left them to be picked up later. Then we went a drove down around the fields. Mr. Clark stopped the truck and we all got out to go down to the river.  Standing on the sandbar we skipped rocks. I was doing unusually well. Several of my rocks went all the way across the river. Lilly couldn't skip a rock if her life depended upon it. I tried helping her but it's one of those skills that just takes time.

Once we were back at the house we ate potato soup. I was starving when I came to the table, but half way through my bowl I was full. I don't know what was wrong with me. I had worked hard and was hungry and the soup was the best I have had in a long time but for some reason I wasn't hungry. After lunch I went out to help clean the gutters. Whenever I clean the gutters I try to race the other girls. Jenny always complains that I fill up the chain so she can't. I just like to keep her moving.

After changing my cloths I packed up to leave. I was given some cookies and banana bread for the road. The banana bread was in a bag with the words "Jason We love you big brother." As I sat down in my car and found an envelope with my name on it. I thought that was funny. I thought I cleaned out my car before I came and I don't remember receiving any mail. In the light it looked like money was inside. Boy, was I puzzled. I opened the envelope out of curiosity. It was a note from jenny. I found both notes meaningful and special.

I hit the road and called mom and dad. I was tired and had a long way to drive. I talked about my weekend and they listened. Then dad talked about what he was looking at on Google Earth. (Anything to keep me from swerving off the road was great) I also tried studying for Contemporary Theology but to no avail. I was beat!

In summery of the weekend I had a wonderful time. The entire weekend I found strange. Here I was spending time with Rebecca’s family to get to know them and my mind was not on Rebecca at all. I was so absorbed in the family and had such a great time she didn't matter. This was neat to me because it was as if God was confirming that this was not simply a fleshly desire of mine but it was a gift from Him. If I was pushing it I would be putting on a show for her family and trying to get them to like me. My thoughts would have been consumed with Rebecca and what I need to go to get the family on board with me courting her.  Also I caught myself acting and talking like Mr. Clark. I suppose that is a good thing at least for a while.

During this whole time I have neglected to mention my contact with Pastor Vanderhart. Before Spring break I called Pastor Scott and he was sure excited about it. His wife reminded me about her book 101 reasons not to marry Jason W. Miller. I’ll never forget what Pastor Scott said. “You mean to tell me that you’re looking at marrying a girl within a year and she doesn’t know yet?” When I told Pastor Vanderhart he was very calm and collected about it. Excited, but just not vocal.

                Now Dad has talked to Mr. Clark about having Rebecca and one of her sisters come and visit my family the weekend of May 15th. We will see what happens. I am in process of getting her a promise book for graduation and a rose. Getting it to her might be a problem if I need to keep it a secret. I’ll do my best.
               
                Pastor Holandsworth and his family came to church for the first official time tonight. He asked me about how things were going and I told him. He was excited for me and wanted me to keep him in touch.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

                Today was the big day to give her the graduation gift (Card, flowers, and Promise book). Saturday night Mr. Ryan called me to tell me that he couldn’t pick up the rose for me. I went to the store and instead of getting one rose I ended up with 6 tulips. (I told dad on the phone that I didn’t know what was wrong with me spending that kind of money.) When I got back to the dorm the Holloway dorm was just showing up, but they didn’t see the flowers.

I had planned for Christi Willis to take Rebecca to the park benches where I studied last semester before my bike was stolen. When I Got up in the morning I discovered that it had rained almost all night and was still raining. I called to get the weather info and found that it was going to rain all day. My idea wouldn’t work and I needed a quick solution. I went to Mr. Ryan to see if he had any good ideas. He recommended Mr. Zemple’s office. “Great Idea!” I thought. Then Mr. Ryan tells me that he has a rose for me in the fridge. I guess I ended up with 6 tulips and a rose.

At school I transferred the flowers from Mr. Ryan’s trunk to my car. Then Chris Sanderlin put them in Mr. Zemple’s office. (Chris knows I Courting but not who) There I waited for the Girls. Rebecca was completely surprised. She had a hard time holding back the laughter. Christi did her share of laughing as well. Rebecca read the card and the note in the beginning of the promise book. I shared with her a bit about what I was expecting form the relationship (Christ centered focus). We took a picture and then they left and I waited for about fifteen minutes before I left.

As I exited the Church there the two girls were walking around. I said something and found that Rebecca was so high on cloud nine that she couldn’t go back to the dorm before she cooled off. (At least she’s excited about it.)

Graduation night her family showed up. I come into contact with them when Ayron calls me and says we need to lift a van. Mrs. Cain had got her back wheel stuck in the ditch at the girl’s dorm. As the night went on I had brief contact with the Clarks although more than expected. During the graduation ceremony I caught Rebecca’s eyes a few times and boy did that light up her face. I was so glad for her. Afterwards at the reception little interaction was made but I did find myself staying in close proximity to her family. When the reception was almost over she wanted to get a picture of the two of us in the hallway. Great! I suggested we do it down stairs. Once again Christi Willis was there to take the picture for us.
I went out to their van to pick on Hannah. Mr. Clark sent me in to round up the rest of the family and get them out the door. Before she left she had one more question for me (or I had one for her). After we stood with Gabby in front of Mr. Hohl’s office and answered each others questions. Gabby gave me a big hug. To me nothing said was as good as Gabby’s hug. I guess the family likes me. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday after graduation Mom and I went shopping for a Birthday gift. I guess all the Dutch and scotch in my blood ran dry. I had a set dollar amount and spent about twice what I was expecting. Mom had all these crazy ideas of what to get and I couldn’t find anything that was simple, sweet, and fit her personality. Finally, I found it.


Talking on the phone has been a little awkward. I want to wait to share my ministry burden until I can talk to her face to face. This keeps conversation pretty frivolous although I think it does help us get comfortable in our relationship with each other. I don’t know what to say and she doesn’t either. We basically end up teasing each other over the phone. (Not what most people do I guess.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

                Today is the big day! She’s coming to visit.

Monday, May 19, 2008
               
                The weekend went very fast. I hope I can recall everything. She showed up Friday at about noon with her sister Jenny. After eating lunch with Mom and Dad, Jenny and Dad went to the barn to reassemble a deck on a lawn mower. Rebecca and I sat at the picnic table and I was able to tell her about the call God has on my life to serve in Asia. Things went a little slow at first, but once the ball got rolling we covered a lot of ground. After sitting a while we took a walk.  

Friday night we played Dutch Blitz and Dirty UNO. Everyone had a great time. We decided to go to Aunt Jo Ann’s in the morning so I packed the fishing gear in the back of my car and headed to Pastor Vanderhart’s for the night. When I arrived at the Vanderhart’s pastor was already asleep but Donna was still up. Donna had a lot of questions and we stayed up until midnight talking.



The next morning Mom, Rebecca, and Jenny showed up for prayer meeting. It was a wonderful prayer meeting as usual. Rebecca commented later that it was sweet to hear the simple faith that the people there expressed. She said after about an hour she looked at her watch and couldn’t believe how fast it went. After the prayer meeting all the introductions began to happen. Donna gave me the thumbs up.

Finally we made it on the road. Mom was hungry so we stopped for breakfast in Pleasantville then she remembered flowers for the graves and we stopped in Knoxville. After visiting the graves we finally arrived at Aunt Jo Ann’s at about noon. After introductions we sat and watched Aunt Jo Ann finish cooking the mushrooms and fish. After lunch Jenny, Rebecca, and I headed down to the ponds to go fishing. Neither of the girls knew how to fish and I knew I was in for a treat.






Rebecca had gotten a sun burn the day before so Mom wanted her to be extra careful. She had my fishing hat on and Jenny had my palm leaf hat. Both of them looked cute as a button. First, I got Rebecca going and casting was fun to watch. After about three tries she had it. Then when I was teaching Jenny how to cast I caught a nice little bass. It wasn’t the best day for fishing it was hot and the pond had very little shade. No wonder we didn’t catch much. By the time it was all said and done I had caught four bass but threw three back, Jenny caught one nice bass and Rebecca had some good “Bites”. I felt bad that she didn’t catch anything but what can you do?

Saturday night we got home fairly early. Dad had me take Rebecca’s car to get pizza and fill it up with Gas. After supper Rebecca, Jenny, and I went out to bun some wood that Dad needed to get rid of. We sat around the camp fire and talked for a while. Once again I went to Pastor and Donna’s house for the night. Donna was still up at 11:20 when I came in. After a good nights sleep I got up and went home early in the morning.
               
Dad and I sat talking on the couch for a while and then listened to Pastor Vanderhart on the radio. That was the first time I have ever been able to hear Pastor Vanderhart on the radio. The Clark girls both sat there and listened with Dad and I. Then I helped mom make breakfast and off to church we went. As usual we were waiting on mom. While waiting dad decide to take some pictures of us on the swing out front. Jenny was the first victim and then it snowballed from there.

At Church Adam Philip’s Sunday school lesson was on knowing the Word of God inside and out. Rebecca and I had talked about this exact topic Saturday in the car on the way back from Aunt Jo Ann’s. People were so excited to meet Rebecca. Mrs. Wilber was grinning from ear to ear and Nancy Kimble about cried as she told me how much of a good example I was to all the young people in the church.  Carol Vanderhart did her share of picking on me, but I enjoyed it. In the morning service Shawn put me on the schedule to sing so I did. Later that Day Rebecca asked me “So, what is this I can’t sing thing all about?”

After church we came home and Rebecca and I had one last talk before lunch. After lunch she went home and that was that. I called her when she was about an hour away from home and talked some more. God is at work and I am excited to watch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today I spent my morning tracking down a transfer case for the Clark’s van. The lowest price they could get was about $500. I found one for $225. I guess on Thursday I will drive it up to them and then spend a few days and head out for camp joy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today I picked up the transfer case in Ames, IA and headed up to Lake City. Laura Frueh will be there when I get there and it should be a surprise to her. At about noon I showed up and helped the girls in the garden. Laura and Becca came home at about 1:00 after getting parts in town. Laura was not to surprised. Becca needed to trim the horses hooves so I was her volunteered sidekick. Between the two of us we got the job done and it was fun to learn from her. That afternoon Laura, Becca, and I went for a horse ride. Becca and I were able to spend some quality time together.

Friday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. It was cold in the camper and I woke up and was ready for the day. I knew the cows needed brought in so I went to get them. The only problem I had was I didn’t know where they were. I ended up way back in a back pasture and walked for almost one hour. Upon returning to go a different direction Jenny came up the lane. The cows were in the south pasture and didn’t know it. Into the barn for milking for them.

Today we went as a large group riding horses. We went to the lookout over their property and to the cave they have on their property. I enjoyed spending time with each of the Clark girls they are a lot of fun. That night we played Dutch Blitz until 1:00 am. By the time I went to bed it was 2:00 am. Not to good if I will be driving the next day.













Saturday became interesting trying to get laura out to the airport. Abby (Gabby), Becca, Laura, and I headed of to the Minneapolis airport. I thought we were going to Rochester so I didn’t bring anything along. Opps! Gabby and I threw my Tiger Balm at each other and kept ourselves entertained. She also listened to me quote Galatians 1.

Upon arriving at the airport I carried Laura’s stuff in and got her in the right line. Once back in the car we were on our way back to the Clark home. We needed to make a pit stop and so at the gas station I forced Gabby and Becca to get something to drink. They were not use to this and I could tell. (I guess the Vanderhart’s trained me well.)

Conversation on the way home was hard to get rolling as usual. We finally discussed what each other liked for gifts and how we think concerning that. Also we talked about what we enjoyed doing as children. I am endeavoring to find how her mind thinks and what she likes, but I don’t feel so good at doing it.

At the Clarks home we ate lunch and finally left for camp at about 2:00 am. Lillian was our special guest who would ride back home on a bus from Milwaukee. Upon stopping for gas I forced Lillian and Becca to get something again and they once again were taken back. During the car ride Becca was working on her “Principles and standards” assignment for camp Joy. Conversation happened but not two much.

I had coupons for Culvers ice cream so we stopped. Lillian and I walked by the drive through and I waved inside. Her face turned as read as a tomato. When we finally arrived at camp I parked my car behind the maze and walked up to the lodge while the girls waited in the car. (We didn’t want everyone to know right away.) No one was too good at communicating because I walked around for 10 minutes looking for what I was to do. Finally someone caught me and about that time Becca and her sister came in.

Lillian stayed with us until the bus left on Monday morning. Leaking out the courtship was fun. People would see us sitting together and say things later in private. I still find it funny calling her my “Girlfriend”. One person thought we were siblings and someone else thought I was courting Lillian. Either way we are having fun with the whole thing.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

We made it through training week. I don’t know what to say at this point. We are communicating more but still learning how to communicate. I got her a blue rose this last week and she wasn’t expecting that. We had a time of prayer together and I discovered if I want to know Becca mentally I need to talk to her, but if I want to see into her soul I need to pray with her. We also walked through Galatians 1 together and discussed the content. I can’t wait for all God has.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The first week of camp is over. It was a little rough and different not talking to Becca. I discovered that my mail box key at camp opens many other boxes other than mine. Conveniently it opens Becca’s box. I have slipped little notes to her all week long (Camp did give us permission to exchange notes).

Sunday night we went to Mukwonago Baptist Church and the BCM ensemble was there. It was a little fun watching the reactions of those who didn’t know about it. Alonso Ibara was the funniest. He saw me sitting with becca and a row of girls from camp and as I walked over to him he didn’t know what to say. Becca sat in her seat and watched his face tell all of his expression. Levi called me before I went to bed and said “congratulations and you’re a snipe”. We talked about it a little bit and he laughed at some of the gymnastics I did to keep it a secret.

This week Miss Small came to camp on Thursday and was excited to see me. She wanted to ask about the courtship. She told me that she had been praying for Becca and I to get together since my freshmen year. She saw it before I did. I never heard a word from her until now and that was best.
               
Thursday Scott Hatchet asked the counselor guys if anyone would be willing to take a road trip to Winchester, VA to pick up lazer tag equipment for camp. I volunteered because I didn’t have any campers and for anyone else to do it they would need to leave their campers. Becca and I wanted to go with Miss Case to Falls Baptist Church this weekend, but Camp Joy said no for this weekend. Multiple times in passing we both expressed that we were looking forward to spending time with each other on the weekend. That won’t happen now, but I told her that the ministry will always come first as well as absence makes the heart grow fonder. She was all for me and I was glad to see that. See is going to call me as we travel so I will talk to her this weekend.  

Benji called me as I was resting to prepare for the long trip. I told him the good news and he giggled with excitement and surprise. One of his first questions was, “Does she have a heart for Aisa?” I told him she wanted to go wherever the Lord lead me. He was excited for me and we had a good time of prayer over the phone before we hung up. Then as I was traveling Jeremy Stock called. I broke the news to him and everything clicked. Things that didn’t make sense in his mind at the dorm now made sense. He told me that his sister could probably hear the phone conversation through a vent. I thought she already knew but I guess not. I need to have becca call her as soon as possible.

November 2008

It has been a long time since I wrote in this journal. The Lord blessed throughout the summer and our relationship grew rapidly. The Goforth ministry trip was combined with the Judson trip and she was able to be with me in Ireland. We had a wonderful time. It was very hard for her to say good by after the trip, but she managed to do so. (I had a hard time too).

Although everyone knew we were courting we could not be seen together at the school. We finally Got engaged on September 26th. Nathaniel Stienbart and his sister went with Becca and I to have a “Picknic” at pike lake state park. We walked up a long trail to a tower that is at the highest point in the area. There at the top of the tower I proposed. She laughed at me. She then said yes. I put the ring on her finger and we ate supper.

I now am in the hospital after having my appendix taken out. (Adam got his wife from his rib, I must get mine from an appendix)

May 23, 2009
             
Finally the day we got married. What a blessing from the Lord. If you wonder why I’m not saying much here it is because I am writing this two years after the fact. I don’t remember all the details now. Yes… We are happily married!



Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beginning to Praise the Lord

I just can't go back in time and recount all the blessings that God has done. I will however do my best to remember some of the things he has done in more recent years. Once I play a little catch up with this blog I imagine that it will be a little easier to maintain. Please enjoy and feel free to leave comments of how God is at work in your life blessing you.

Thanks,
Jason & Becca