Almost a month ago we set out on a journey. To go to the PEAR inaugural assembly in Denver, Colorado. I was excited about going, not excited about leaving Eleonore for a few days, but heck, when she’s with Nana and Papa, I think she forgets she who gave birth to her (me, in case you forgot).
It was a pretty exhausting journey and we started by going to St. Louis to spend the night at Jake and Kenz, our brother and sister in law, so that we could make our 6 AM flight. Yeah. Color me brilliant for trying to save a few bucks by taking a flight that early. Guess what. Even when not flying with a toddler, IT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA!
I was convinced I would get sick on the plane. Oh, and here goes the announcement. I’m pregnant, and there will be another Hopping here in May!
Believe me, there will be another post, about how that all came about (not in that much detail, COME ON!) and what it has meant in our lives sometime soon.
And so, pregnant as I am, I was sure I would get to use a barf bag for the first time.
When we got on the plane there were only middle seats left. I found myself sandwiched between a gentleman already snoring and a gentleman with bad 90’s alt rock blaring in his headphones.
What’s a queasy pregnant lady to do?
Well yes, I tried to lean my chair back. And it was broken. I ended up trying to sleep with my forehead imprinted upon the seat in front of me.
No amount of crappy skymall imaginative purchases of fake fireplaces, change counters that recite the constitution, and steps for Luci up to our bed was going to make this better, (and it normally does).
This is what I told myself, because I couldn’t find the barf bags.
“Meredith, if, and only if you have to jump up from your seat to get to the bathroom to puke, this is how it will go. You don’t get many chances for this sort of thing, so you will jump up and yell since you are sitting next to the wing, “There is something they aren’t telling us, there is a colonial woman on the wing churning butter” and then you will run like the wind to the bathroom, puke, and then come out , blaming the hormones.”
It didn’t happen. A little sad? Me too. And if you don’t know what I was referencing there, feel free to ask!
We proceeded on a public transit expedition from Denver Airport to the Denver Tech Center, only to end up at the wrong hotel. But we made it. My stash of Dove Sea Salt and Caramel Dark Chocolates helped when it seemed like I wasn’t going to make it from the wrong hotel to the right one. If I’m honest it wasn’t the inspirational sayings that got me through it. I ignored those because at that point in our journey I probably would have shoved the foil up a concierge’s nose after being triggered by the “syrupy sweet slightly condescending to women message” I would find underneath my chocolate.
After a nap, and some mexican food, it was time to go to the opening service. A wonderful colleague Rev. Rick from Ohio had a rental car and we were saved from the hassle of public transport. That first day he even offered to take us to the airport on Wednesday, and my forehead, my intestines and my feet were awash with relief.
What followed that evening was fellowship, worship, and the ordination of our new Bishop, Steve Breedlove.
Eucharist during Bishop Steve Breedlove’s Ordination Service
(Picture from PEAR USA Facebook Page)
Now, for those of you who have ever been a part of a conference, or assembly, you are thinking “OK, big whoop, sounds pretty normal.” But what came through again, and again, and again, and just when you didn’t think it could hit you in the head again, you heard it again.
“We have a Gospel Imperative. None other.” And even here you might be thinking this is normal Christianese jargon.
But when you are told this, by your Rwandan Bishops it’s different. When you are told this by people who survived the genocide, who saw people they love not survive, and actively forgive those who killed family members and friends, it becomes a little more real. It becomes a lot more jarring, and begins to materialize for you in your mind and soul in the way I think the Gospel is supposed to jar your mind, jar your body, jar your soul.
When your leaders have you sit around around table and pray for one another for 30+ minutes before we even get started with anything else, you see priorities put in place by those that are your leaders.
How life giving.
There is this beautiful non-profit, Land of A Thousand Hills, thats make quite delicious coffee, and partner with so many PEAR churches.
Their story is something that spurned out of a Gospel imperative to react to what the world so sinfully ignored in the Rwandan Genocide.
This video does a beautiful job of explaining why I feel it such a privilege to be partnered with Rwanda as a church. That my Arch-Bishop comes from Rwanda. Because even a video can feel disconnected, you can walk away from the video, you can forget the video. You can’t forget this when someone (Bishop Mbanda) looks you in the eyes who met you and your husband once a year ago and says “How are you, how is the church plant in Bloomington?” Who encourages you and uplifts you in your ministry who experienced this, and who has forgiven (and continues actively to) like this, and who has lived this.
Now that I know, now that I have experienced this Gospel imperative in such a real way, how could I ever look back?
peace to you,
(more to come about the adventure later this week).
(for more information on PEARUSA, click here. For more information on Land of a Thousand Hills, click here.)