I've been in California for a week and a half now, reconnecting with friends and family, and most importantly with Julie and Ian. We were apart for almost three weeks, which was the longest ever for us, and I didn't like it much at all.
Julie and Ian picked me up from the airport and took me straight to In-N-Out for dinner. That has become a tradition for return visits, but she also surprised me by having most of our old small group there to meet us. It was great to see all of them, jet-jagged and all. I spent the next few days adjusting to LA time and playing with Ian.
Last Sunday we went to our old church, where I heard Stephanie Kremmel (our incoming Director of Student Ministries) preach. She was great, and I got to lead a prayer for her as she transitions out of Glendale Presbyterian Church and into the American Church in London. Stephanie and I spent Monday and Tuesday getting to know each other and walking through the first part of her orientation.
Most of the rest of my time here has been filled with amazing meals shared with people I love. What a blessing to come back to LA and find that our community is still here, still behind us, still as crazy funny as ever. My mother-in-law has done her best (which is quite good) to fatten me up on all kinds of delicious foods.
Today I was up early to finish the last forms related to Stephanie's visa. The church has to be licensed to bring workers from outside the UK, and so I have been working on getting that license for a few months now. It was just approved this week, which left me with another set of forms to complete so that Stephanie can send in her own visa application. Now we're praying that everything is completed to the UK Border Agency's liking, and that the visa comes through in time for Stephanie's flight to London on the 20th. When she gets there Kate will complete her orientation to London and to the position.
Tomorrow we head up to Shell Beach for a week. My grandmother bought a house up there in 1970, and it's been a favorite vacation spot ever since. My sister and her family will be there for the first half of the week, and then some friends with kids are coming up on Wednesday.
Through all of this my church family in London is never far from my thoughts and prayers. We have so much good work ahead of us as we grow in faith and service--part of me is anxious to get back, though I know that I need this time away. I've been reading Daniel Kirk's recent book on Romans, and am getting ready to teach and preach on that important letter in the fall.
But first I'm going to continue this time of R&R. Keep us in your prayers...