Growing up in Iowa I am used to different Native American tribe names. I grew up in Oskaloosa and Molly grew up near Sioux City. Both towns named after tribes. Oskaloosa was an indian princess and the daughter of Chief Mahaska. Growing up with this Native American knowledge was no help when trying to pronounce Puyallup, Washington named after the Puyallup tribe. Some say "Pea-y'all-up", while others say, "Puh-wall-op". I don't know if I ever pronounced it right in conversation. The pronunciation I am going with comes from Shelly Fuehrer's dad who lives in Yakima, WA. He told me to remember it this way. "If you aren't sitting in your 'pew' you're gonna get a 'wallop'.".
Our time in Puyallup was warm and welcoming. We had some great experiences and were able to connect with some really wonderful children of God. Like any good homiletics student I have 3 points, or words, to sum up our time in Puyallup.
Puyallup Evangelical Church meets in a conference room at the Best Western Hotel. As we circled up the chairs in one corner of the room for Sunday School one of the ladies was bragging on the Sunday School teacher, Phil, and said that he was, "so thorough and really dives into the full meaning of the scripture". The class had been studying Revelation and were in chapter 4. As we studied there were few that had to look down at their Bibles. Most everyone was reciting from memory the entire chapter. Pastor Al Hoenhous talked about another member of their congregation named Norm who memorized the whole book of James and was working on Mark. I know I was challenged. Maybe you're like me and you can recite movie quotes or song lyrics right off the top of your head yet sometimes struggle to pull up scripture in your daily conversation. Lets be challenged together to truly hide God's word in our hearts.
Pastor Al Hoenhous is more than your typical pastor. With a couple decades of carpentry work and experience in a lumberyard, God called him to full time ministry through a rather drastic way. You'll have to ask Al for the whole story sometime. I observed Al throughout the few days we were in Puyallup and he was always available to the members of his congregation and others in his community. If there was a handyman question he was willing to listen and give an answer. If someone had a project he was more than willing to take his tools and meet the person to help. It made me think about Jesus. I thought of His servant heart of course, but sometimes we forget that Jesus had experience as a carpenter. Do you ever think after performing miracles, the people of the village might have called on Jesus to stop by and help them patch the roof of their house or fix the leg of their kitchen table? These stories aren't covered in the Gospels, but they may have happened and I believe that Jesus would have been very willing to use his skills and serve His people.
Sunday evenings for the Puyallup Evangelical Church are dedicated to prayer. Since they don't have a church building they meet in different people's houses. Molly and I felt this gave a really great family atmosphere to the prayer time. I was so impressed by the spirit in that small group. We shared requests with each other, but for the next hour it was so much more than just reciting a list of requests. There were times of silence that were in no way awkward. We all quieted our hearts for God's voice and felt the spirit meet with us.
So maybe I'll never pronounce the town name right, but I definitely understand the heart of Puyallup Evangelical Church. These are people dedicated to God's word, devoted to God's work, and listening for God's voice.