For those of you who hadn't heard, we arrived safely as a family in Bradenton and were reunited last Monday evening. We "farmed" out our two wild boys to my folks, while my mother-in-law vigorously attended to setting up our house. Now it is fully operational and we can't wait to start having folks over.
The yard is baseball ready, which is a big plus, or rather a necessity for Connar. I'm not joking, that is a big deal. So we're thankful for that.
On the first night we met some neighbors who had been looking for a church for a while. They told us, "When you get a church flyer ready, bring one to our house." So that was a fairly positive introduction to the area.
Some folks in our core group have blessed us with meals, hospitality, and quite a delectable fruit basket. In a short time we'll start to gather together for fellowship, food, and a bible study.
Many people have been ready for us to be down for some time. That includes those interested in being a part of our group, as well as my non-Christian contacts. Not only that, but one of our core group lads helped land me on an advisory board at a local YMCA. So I'm excited to start meeting with people, getting to better know the culture and city, dreaming of what may come, and moving the gospel forward.
Safe Travels: I never took for granted that my 11 year old car would necessarily make it here. It did. And so did my wife, mother-in-law, and kids.
"Reunited and it is feels so good!"
The whole support raising process has allowed me to reunite and reconnect to old friends along the way. My trip down, rather than being long and draining, was refreshing because of re-established relationships. For some of them, it had been almost a 10 years between visits. Yet I felt like we had just said goodbye not long ago.
In pledges, one time gifts, and specific verbal commitments, we're just a bit under $50,000. Though I've never done fund raising at this level before-so I have nothing to compare it with-I'd say that's quite a decent first two months.
Still waiting on that elusive closing date for the WV house. Pray that day comes soon!
Our bible study and fellowship gatherings
Pray we gather broken folks who are excited about this vision of a gospel centered, outward focused, reformed church in West Bradenton. Whether it be committed Christians or those simply interested, pray this summer is one of gathering and planting seeds.
We walked around part of the neighborhood last night hoping to meet some folks. While I did see plenty of boats, we didn't get to meet anyone. But back at the house several neighbors actually introduced themselves and we talked for a while. Pray we connect more with that musical couple without a church as well as others in our neighborhood
New friends and families
Pray that we can meet all kinds of folks in these next few months. Also please pray particularly for families with kids who can be friends with Connar and Cade. Connar and I prayed one night before bedtime that he could make some new friends, and God answered with an invitation to the beach with a 5 year old boy just an hour later! I reminded Connar of how God answered our prayers.
I'm thankful for all that has come in so far. Please pray for more folks who really want to give to this new work here and that I trust God in this process.
Thanks for your support and prayers. We couldn't take this step without you.
If you haven't read my recent blog post with my church planting reflections, check it out below. I know I'm biased, but I really like it!