(This is one of my favorite pictures..taken just two weeks after we got there, Emry was not even two and mailey only 3..I was five months pregnant and so full of the unexpected. No idea what the gender of my baby was, no clue what the year would hold, so unsure of how to navigate so far away from my family....)
It’s been a year of complete juxtaposed emotion and circumstances. A year that in retrospect seemed to have lasted a million lifetimes; not because it dragged on, but quite the opposite, because so much happened it seems impossible it took place in just 12 months.
Pioneering has done things to me that I could not have ever fathomed. I have wanted to write about it for awhile…but I find myself so hesitant to write anything about our church etc…because I’ve realized that so much of my perspective on what is going on, is so based on my current emotional state. So the joys and fears, the highs and lows…they don’t reflect honestly, what is reality. However, as the year concludes, I don’t want to forget it, and this blog is my online journal. So I’m going to take a moment to reflect and dissect it; To try and wrap my mind and vision around what is happening here in Chico.
When we first got here I was full of expectant and naïve dreams. I had such a young and immature view on pioneering, despite all my insisting that I didn’t have fanciful visions of what pioneering entailed. In fact, I did. My parents had pioneered twice, and I had seen the physical labor it required, had experienced the persistence it required, I had LIVED in the hectic stress of a pioneering family. But I had never encountered the spiritual battle…the demonic warfare that would fight constantly and painfully, everything in my soul and heart and mind. I hadn’t a clue.
As we began we to build a church we started in our little 860sqft apartment. I was five months pregnant and we had a three year old and an almost two year old. We started by first inviting everyone in our complex to a bbq and bible study in the complex park area. We had a two ladies bring their children, two boys and a girl. We had two young men come…we were filled with so much hope and joy…for our first try that was pretty incredible! I remember being so completely overwhelmed and unsure, because one thing about this job, you have got to keep a positive, energetic front up. And it IS A FRONT. Lets be honest right now. Outwardly I would be smiling and energetic, I would be talking and socializing and keeping everything going smoothly, but inside…inside I was shaking and my tummy was in knots. My mind was spinning in a million directions, doubt and fear that these people were uncomfortable and thought we were freaks, would start to make me feel like I wanted to just go back home. But I, WE, carried on and the ride started to smooth out.
Then we moved to services in our apartment rec room. And the shaking doubt came back. I remember my grand idea that our first service would be just like that first bbq…but people who would GLADLY come eat and socialize, balked at the idea of a service and real church…and that first service, one guy came who reeked of alcohol and urine, and a girl wandered over with her little baby. That service still brings a smile to my face. I had gone to the dollar store and bought these funky star balloons to tie to our sign, I had bought yummy things for a bbq after, and made sure to buy enough for twenty so that God didn’t think I was doubting how successful we would be (insert major laugh). I remember the hectic chaos of setting up our sound equipment while our two toddlers ran around causing havoc with the water fountain and free coffee…oh my! it was chaotic.
And then I remember sitting in the little room next to it, trying to keep Sarita’s baby from crying so she would stay in service. I remember Johnny (the transient who came) immediately taking his shirt off as soon as service was over…I remember talking to her and all the while I just wanted to go home and take a nap and forget the service had been so exhausting.
The next few were even rougher…we had our third and I believe final service there, and only an old lady came. She sat there smiling as we sang and powered through the song service with our kids, and then during the sermon Mailey made Emry mad and Emry hit Mailey, and they both started crying at the top of their lungs, so I rushed them out to the bathroom and as I barely contained my anger I threatened every toy in their room with imminent death if they did not shut their screaming little traps and sit nicely. I was about to snap…if you’ve never sat in a service with your two squirmy kids and only one other lady while your husband tries to preach and ignore the fact that he’s preaching only to his exhausted wife and an old lady (wow, ladies and gentleman that is called a run-on sentence)..Well, I highly recommend it. Truly, it makes you horribly aware of who you are and how much you need God. Anyway, I got them both to settle down in about a minute and drug them back out to find my husband standing at the pulpit looking like he was about to vomit. When I had walked out, the old woman had walked up to the front, handed my husband a couple bucks and walked out. She was the only one there, and she walked out.
Can you imagine? It was awful…that morning we had just found out that a man in our congregation back home had committed an awful suicide and so the day had already begun to sour…and then it quickly spoiled….we didn’t really speak to each other, just quietly packed up and went home. In fact, I don’t think we even spoke about it that whole afternoon…it just sucked so badly to be honest. I think we decided then we needed to find a more fruitful location..the apartments we were at were owned by "Christians", but we have quickly realized, the religious crowd is the greatest enemy to a true Christian trying to save perishing souls. And they very soon began to do everything they could to make it impossible for us to use the facility in any way.
I’m going to continue to write more this week…I need to just remember this year and document it…if you’re one of those sorts that thinks its distasteful for a pastor’s wife to be honest about what she’s going through, then go ahead and navigate away from this blog…because I don’t really care what you think. This is MY BLOG, and I really need to do this. I wish someone would have done just this, that I would’ve been prepared for the actuality of what I was about to endeavor on…that I would’ve known how much of an actual BATTLE it is…so this is just for those women…who want to hear the painful stretching and shaping that happens, and the tremendous soul healing joy that comes as well…