Friday, October 1, 2010


THE GROVE (in North Albany,OR) September 19, 2010
I have to tell a little story and slightly embarrass Molly to explain the title of this post. So we are looking over the schedule with our wonderful hostess Betty Larson as we are gathered around her home computer. Tina DeSimone did an amazing job of making sure we got time with many different groups of people throughout the weekend. She coordinated a great schedule for us for the entire weekend. On the schedule was listed the name of each event and then the host/hostess. One night we were at the Dodd residence. Another night we were with the Rileys. So Molly comments to Betty, "Wow that is really nice. This family is hosting a couple events. Who are the Grovers?" You could see as she verbalized it that it clicked in her brain that "The Grovers" referred to anyone from the church. Betty, Molly, and I got quite a laugh. 

Hawkeyes disguised as Beavers

As we set down our suitcase in our room at Boyd and Betty Larson’s house, we turned to see a gift bag sitting there on our bed. With much excitement we opened the bag to find 2 bright orange Oregon State University Beavers Football T-shirts. As any good missionary couple on deputation we try to color coordinate and match our outfits as often as possible. We were now equipped with the proper attire for the OSU vs. Louisville game on Saturday afternoon.

Friday Night Sept. 17th

We first met Aaron Swank, the youth pastor at The Grove, at Mid-winter conference in Newport, OR in January 2010. Molly and I have both been involved with middle school & high school age ministry (me in the states and Molly in Bolivia) and so we were excited when the opportunity arose for us to spend some time with the youth from The Grove. I don’t think I will ever get too old for pizza and video games. After a few delicious slices and a session playing drums on Rock Band (video game) with some of the Junior High boys, we all gathered in the main living room and played a game called “Pass the Parcel”. This is a game that Molly developed. It is a bit like musical chairs with a gift. As the parcel stops at a person they unwrap a layer and we ask a question for them to answer and then tell a fun fact about Bolivia. It was fun to get to see some of the personalities in the room and hear some of their stories.

Saturday Morning Sept. 18th

Adorned in our game day colors we set off to the first event of our eventful Saturday. We met some of “The Grovers” for breakfast at Pop’s Branding Iron. We were glad to feel welcomed as part of the group as most of the people that were at breakfast were dressed in OSU clothing. God continues to surprise and bless us with new friendships with the most unique and gifted people. Molly made a new friend in Kori, a sixteen-year-old girl who had just returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua. She was so energetic and filled with all kinds of questions about mission life. Some of you may know that I’ve always loved to draw and paint and I was at one time considering studying art in college and pursuing it as a career. God had other plans for me in ministry, but He still blesses me in unexpected ways through that interest. Sitting across the table at breakfast was Peter Mathios who is a professional painter. He paints photo-realistic wildlife paintings and he gives all glory to God for his amazing talents. It was great to meet him.  His daughter, Olivia, is only 9 ½ years old and has a strong desire to be a missionary in China or India. . Molly’s call to be a missionary came at age 11. Olivia and Molly talked about what it is like for God to speak such a clear calling at such a young age. Keep Olivia and her friend Maddie in your prayers over the next few years as they continue to pray about God’s calling in their lives toward missions.

Saturday Afternoon

It was time for “The Big Game”. On a rainy afternoon we were completely content to view the game from the comfort of the living room at the Layton residence while others from The Grove toughed it out in the soaking wet bleachers live in Corvallis. It was a well-fought game by the Beavers and they pulled out the victory at the end. I’ve been trying to take in as much American Football as I can while we are still in the states. I’ll be watching a whole different kind of “tackling” as I become a soccer fan in Bolivia.

Saturday Evening

The Rileys hosted us. We played another round of “Pass the Parcel” and heard a whole new crop of stories from people. The rain canceled out the plans for a bonfire so no s’mores were consumed, but the snack spread was in no way lacking. The understatement of the weekend would be that we were fed well. Each event was somehow focused around food, football, and fellowship. I can’t complain about that combination.

Sunday Morning Sept. 19th

It’s official. Canada has blessed us with yet another phenomenal female vocalist. Heather Carmichael has a set of golden vocal chords.  It was a joy to be lead in worship by her and the rest of The Grove praise band. Molly visited The Grove in January and we were excited to make a second contact with this congregation. This church plant is nearing their one-year anniversary in October and has already taken their vision far from their own walls. They have surpassed their purpose statement. “The Grove lives for Jesus, loving our city-to see people transformed by Him”. The Grove loves far more than just North Albany, OR. They love Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We pray that their love and our partnership will see Bolivians transformed by Christ

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