Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wonderful People in San Diego

"gods wants are theaters trying love all."

God's wants are theaters trying to love all.

(I'll come back to explain the above a bit below. The first line was as typed and delivered to me, the second is my interpretation.)

I can't possibly recount all that has happened since my last post in one new one. For now, I will simply post about what has happened since Sunday, July 21. I have aspirations of recounting other past days in the coming weeks, but who knows. Each day has been wonderfully filled, and my lack of posting is simply due to a lack of time rather than a short-coming of happenings. I am currently sitting and typing in the San Diego airport, having come very early for my 10:30 PM overnight trans-continental flight.

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I began Sunday at breakfast with Nathan & Lauren Scott, members of our North Street Community (at Old Town House Breakfast). This is somewhat a breach of pastoral sabbatical rules, but Nathan & Lauren were mostly careful to keep things focused on the moment. It was great to meet up with them, particularly as they know these neighborhoods, having lived here for a few years. 


I had already planned on worshiping with the Mid-City CotN before meeting up with Nathan & Lauren, and it was their church community while out here, so we all went together.



I'd heard of Mid-City a while ago and have appreciated her ministry from afar. Today, seven different language-speaking congregations share the building. I'm unaware of such a thing anywhere else in the CotN. Rev. Dr. John Wright is the pastor of the English-speaking congregation and as he is a kindredly-spirited quasi-postliberal scholar and pastor, I've appreciated him from afar. It was great to finally meet him and worship with the community he pastors. 

I had an unexpected surprise right after worship. Nathan was out here for the Comic-Con gathering, a conference celebrating and highlighting the popular arts. It's also a self-professed HQ of nerds. Tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of light-saber wielding, make up-donning, zombie-marching people had descended on San Diego over the last week or so (driving up the hotel prices!). But tickets are hard to come by, so I was grateful that Nathan got me in to the convention hall even for 45 minutes.


And then I had another surprise. I had read a book given to me by Lauren Scott last year called, "I Am Intelligent" by Peyton Goddard and her mother, Dianne Goddard. It was a highly inspirational book. You can read my review of it here (http://www.amazon.com/review/R2LOX5RAP5AS9J/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B0083RVH4U&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=). Well Lauren is great friends with the family and they all invited me over the Goddard's house. It was an awesome hour or so and I was psyched to meet Peyton and her parents. She communicated with me through a facilitated communication device, which her mother and she used to type out her words. Among many other things, Peyton shared her heart-challenging words at the beginning of this post. Chew on what it says for a bit. Her way with words is quite poetic and powerful and I wholeheartedly recommend her book to any and all, particularly if you are interested in the things of peace, love, justice, and the quest for understanding the world of autism. Theirs is a heart-wrenching and powerful story.

I left their house to get to worship on time with the Peace River Fellowship Church. 



For the first two years that I was in college, I worshiped with the Quincy Bethel Church of the Nazarene, pastored by Mary Paul. I played on the worship team with a number of great people, including Mark Mann and many others (Dan Jewell, Doug Hardy, Tom Oord, my cousin - Amie Gardner, Gwen Pasquarelli, Jimmy Rearick, Nancy Ross, among others). 

I look back on those years as very formative and appreciate a church giving a young college student a place to minister. It was also Bruce & Mary Paul who led a trip I went on to Guyana later in college, also a very formative time for me.

Well Bruce, Mary, Mark and others started this newer church fellowship that gathers on Sunday evenings in the Point Loma United Methodist Church's fellowship hall. I loved my time with them as it reminded me very much of the church I primarily grew up in - Windham Faith Community CotN. The marks of these two churches include lots of children running about and a highly-relaxed but intentional time of corporate prayer and worship. I was very glad for this reminder of my childhood faith formation. 

During the potluck after (of course!), I got to talk to Mark just a bit (who is my wife's second cousin...or some such relation) and met Tim Whetstone, who I don't think I had met before, but felt like I "knew" from his uncle Gerry's updates over the last few months. Gerry and I work closely together on the New England District and I love/miss the man. I also saw Carl & Rhonda Winderl, other past-ENC community members. They gather with Peace River when they're in town. They will also be flying over the Atlantic about the same time my family and I will be on Thursday, they to London, and we to Zurich.

On Monday morning I got to spend time eating breakfast with Bruce & Mary (Newbreak Coffee & Cafe). They have come to know many people throughout their various places of ministry, so I'm thankful that they took the time to sit with but one of them for a while Monday morning. We laughed about such things as Boston sports and the complexities of various regional cultures in the United States. I was also highly impressed by Bruce's ability to name the planes periodically flying over our heads away from the airport. 


Monday during the day I did some family research that I will write about in a separate posting.

On Monday night I had lots of conversation with Gary & James Parker, who I knew from Kansas City days. They moved out here a couple of years ago to San Diego where Gary had lived before. It was great hanging out with them for a few hours. We ate at Ruby's Diner in a mall somewhere (James' choice). We talked about all things Nazarene and beyond.


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Today (Tuesday, July 23) I had breakfast with my seminary president, Dr. Ron Benefiel (Shades on Ocean Beach). We talked about North Street, mutual friends, the shelter ministry, the complexities of compassionate ministry centers and the churches around them, and all sorts of stuff. We certainly reflected on the beauty of the life of his wife, Janet, who passed away several months ago and the monstrosity that is death. We agreed, with the spirit of Janet's leading, that death is a horrible thing in front of which we stand firm and steadfast in the hope of Christ's resurrection and glory.

I forgot to take a picture with him, but he was proudly wearing a KC Royals hat. Below is but one picture of the many I took of the fountain outside Prescott Chapel placed there this year by the graduating class (2013) of PLNU in memory of Janet. They did this not knowing that the original plans for Prescott Chapel included a fountain which has only now come to fruition after 40 years. Ron was one of the students who proposed and executed the original plan for Prescott Chapel. Beautiful.


I then went back to the PLNU library and did more family research.

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These have been inspiring days on this West Coast trip. When I laid my head down each night it was "full", but I have never felt fatigued. It's interestingly refreshing. I got the rental car with 16772 miles on it and as you'll see from the picture below, when I returned it to Enterprise a couple of hours ago, I had remarkably put exactly 2000 miles on the odometer. Not for a single mile of those 2000 miles did I find myself tired or weary of driving. I've loved every inch of it.



This evening I begin the air-trek to Salisbury, MD to retrieve my family (WOOHOO!!!) and in-laws to then fly on Thursday to Switzerland. It'll be a nine hour time-shift for me. We'll see how that goes. The first 24 hours in Portland were not great as I did not adjust well on the trip out here. 




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