In the end, the soup was extraordinaire! Neighbors came from all around to get a taste of this most magnificent meal. The aroma was alluring. The taste was lucious. They all agreed, it was better than expected – the finest that they ever had. The man was so proud of the exciting combination of flavors, presentation, and texture. He, however, vowed never again to make another pot of this most appetizing soup. He feared that he could never out-do his previous acheivement. This single savory accomplishment lived-on only in his mind. He never again attempted his family's extraordinary recipe.
Last year was an extraordinary year for us. There is no other way to say it. Our first full year of retirement, 2016 was joyfully complete -- full of service opportunity, travel excitement, and warm encounters. The year was our first with the SOWER Ministry. This time one year before (2015) we did not know what we did not know about serving in this way. With a bit of apprehension, we stepped out in faith knowing that we would somehow be rewarded by the unfamiliarity, uncertainty, and unknown new friendships that would frame our new lifestyle. We served eleven months, in eight different states, and traveled 5600 miles to do so. Wherever the SOWER assignment, we learned that our service is less about the facility or the project, and more about relationships. The number of people we met on this path, with whom we had worked and helped along the way is countless. Our own personal growth must be acknowledged, as well, having been influenced by worship and fellowship with ministry leaders across the country. We are thankful to God for these occasions and for how He had prepared our way in 2016.
- We are overwhelmed with His blessings through the past year, including provision of the property we found in Texas that will become the Base Camp for our ministry. We discovered great things and saw God glorified on every SOWER project. We learned that it was not about the work, it was about the people. In our relationships, as in our work at each SOWER assignment, we were blessed. We witnessed the tremendous need that exists at faith-based academies, orphanages, camps, churches, conference centers, etc., across the country and were, and are humbled to have been chosen to serve Him in this way.
- We are thankful for safety and good health as we traveled and served. Navigating busy highways with a 62-foot long vehicle was not always so straight-forward. And on projects, we worked inside pits, on top of buildings, up on ladders, worked with heavy-equipment, pulled barbed-wire, used countless power tools, lifting, bending, cleaning, painting, sewing, exposed to electrical shock, toppled by a donkey, and even once came face-to-face with a black bear. We were protected every day, both on projects, and as we traveled between them. We had no injuries, praise the Lord!