And so, when I walked into the fellowship hall and saw dear friends from my vicarage congregation sitting there, I was shocked, to say the least. Then, as I was talking and catching up with them, I looked and saw several family members walking through the door and was all the more shocked, and a little overwhelmed with emotion (rumor has it that my eyes began to well up with moisture of some sort, but we know that can't be true, since I'm a confessional Lutheran and, thus, immune to feelings and emotions :). Then, as I was hugging family members, they rolled out the cake, and Coaline, our Ladies' Guild president, explained that they had gathered everyone together not only to show me their appreciation, but to celebrate five years of being together at Peace.
During dinner, which was absolutely delicious, several people went to the podium they had set up to say a few words and present some gifts, including a beautiful custom-made picture album which contained several pictures from my ordination/installation and has room for many more pics (thanks, Sharyn!), a gift certificate for CM Almy (a church supply company) from our board of elders (thanks, guys!), a gift certificate for Lisa to spend at her favorite hair-styling salon from the Ladies' Guild (thanks, ladies!), and an awesome new MSU hoody from my family. In addition, they had a card basket set up and it was a very humbling, but immensely enjoyable, experience to open those cards last night (thanks, everyone; I am truly blown away by your love and generosity!). Also during the presentations, our Circuit Counselor, Pr. Paul Young, walked through the door, adding further to my surprise. It was so good of him to make the trip over to extend his congratulations and join in the festivities (thanks, Paul!).
As I said yesterday, I thank God daily for bringing me to Peace and allowing me the privilege of serving among such a faithful, loving, and generous group of His dear children. Yesterday was just another in a long list of reminders of how truly blessed this unworthy servant is to be serving this congregation. I really do have to be one of the luckiest pastors around!
I am still in awe of yesterday's wonderful surprise. I was blessed to have the opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening with many family members and, living at a distance from them, I dearly cherish every such opportunity. So, with all my heart, thank you to everyone who contributed to yesterday's festivities. It was a wonderful surprise and a day I will never forget. I love you all!
Being in the state of shock I was in during the party, I took not a single picture. :( But, Sharyn was kind enough to send me a few (including the pic of the cake above). If anyone else has pics, please send them my way.
|The picture album made by Sharyn, with our congregation's seal/logo on the front - very cool!|
|Catching up with some dear friends|
|Amazed to be greeting family members at the door; my grandma and aunt getting a huge kick out of surprising me!|