Greetings to all from Music City! “What were you doing in Nashville?” You might ask. “Aren’t you from the Northwest?” This is true, and in the months ahead we will be traveling around the Inland Northwest, sharing our new calling and vocation a little closer to home. But for now we’re responding to invitations we’ve received from other parts of the country. One came from Nashville and another from Richard’s old home town near Chicago. Our time in Nashville was an expression of the good that results when people respond to a God-given passion for something beyond themselves. In this case, the passion of the people of the churches in Middle Tennessee for their Guatemalan indigenous partners was palpable and infectious everywhere we visited.
Our good friends, mentors, and predecessors in this mission, former mission co-workers Roger and Gloria Marriott met us at the airport and housed and transported us throughout our whirlwind visit to this wonderful part of the country. Our first stop was a breakfast meeting with a small contingent from 2nd Presbyterian Church Nashville, planning for their next visit to Guatemala, sometime early next year. After hearing a little about our new role in Guatemala, we were offered (and later received) immediate support for our travel expenses to Nashville. What an affirmation of partnership and connection! Next, we were off to a meeting with the Sr. Pastor of Hillsboro Presbyterian Church, who graciously gave us over an hour of his time to talk about Guatemala, mission partnership, and our different roles. Chris is clearly no stranger to missional thinking, and we quickly felt we were part of the exciting work this church is doing with their partner in Guatemala.
Saturday was a breakfast meeting with Warner Durnell, Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee. Warner has traveled to Guatemala as a part of delegations supporting their partnership. Involvement in mission partnership at the executive level of the presbytery speaks volumes about the prominence of mission in the ministry of this Presbytery. And Warner was just a great person to get to know. Sunday was back to Hillsboro Church where we were introduced to the congregation in both worship services. We also facilitated an adult Sunday school class, and sat in on a Guatemala mission planning meeting. Truly an energetic and committed bunch of folks!
On Monday, we piled into the car for a drive through the Tennessee countryside to pay a visit to the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia. The beautifully kept historical building is a testimony to the leaders and members who minister there. We were joined by both members of the pastoral staff, as well as members of the church’s mission commission for a meeting and for lunch. It’s hard to imagine that we originally had such reticence at the thought of sharing about our ministry and calling. We’ve been truly blessed every step of the way with the encouragement and affirmations of friends and supporters, some new and some we’ve known over the years. It’s good to be home again, and in the miracle of our connected church, we now feel we also have a home in Nashville!
Blessings on the journey,
Richard and Debbie