We're at the lake soaking up the sun and celebrating Father's day and Thomas' birthday. Over the last week we spent time in Birmingham with Thomas' family and took some meetings around the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist convention. Here's a little about what's going on and what we hope will happen this week...
This past week began at First Baptist Church in Montgomery. Pastor Jay and Brian Gay wanted us to share one more time with the First Family and to pray for us before we cross the pond. We love First Baptist and are thankful for EVERYTHING they have poured into us over the years. That afternoon Thomas went to Auburn to visit with a few of the Summit Network guys and attend Grace Auburn which is pastored by our college pastor: Matt Dean.
We went to Birmingham on Monday to visit with the West side of our family and take some meetings around the Southern Baptist Convention. We were greatly encouraged to catchup with friends, meet with partners, and have the opportunity to share our story with some people who are considering joining the effort of helping plant this new church in London. We are blown away by the partners that God has brought together in this last year. God has done more than we could ask or imagine.
We are thankful for the Southern Baptist Convention. While imperfect, this is a good tribe to belong to. We love the emphases on Scripture, healthy church, and mission that bind many of the churches together. We are grateful for the many churches within the SBC that are partnering with us to plant in London. In a very real sense: We all have a role to play.
We were a bit sad to see some of our friends for the last time before the big move. Of all the guys it was especially tender to see our brothers with The Summit Network for the last time before the move. We could not feel the support and encouragement from our entire crew any more clearly. Yet, we will miss seeing so many people in the years ahead as much as we have in the years past. In moments like this we must remember: The sorrow is a grace - it means we have loved a lot and we know that we are loved.
Birmingham - The West Family
We stayed with Thomas' family in Birmingham. A little more backstory about the West family could be helpful... Thomas' two younger brothers (Adam and Blake) played golf at UAB and settled down into Birmingham after graduation. They are married with kiddos and don't seem to be leaving anytime soon. Thomas' parents recently purchased a second home in Birmingham and spend a lot of weekends there with the grandkids. It seems like a slow but sure eventual migration from Montgomery is underway for them.
We had a great time together as a family. The cousins went WILD in a few of the playtimes and it was good for us to catchup with family. We plan to see our Birmingham crew about as much as we do in the years ahead as we have in the years past. Of course there is a bit of a psychological issue at play in that we think about the distance being a lot further than it has been. We are thankful for our Birmingham crew that loves us and cares for us.
On Friday Elizabeth took the kiddos to lunch with her sister Katherine (KK, as the kiddos refer to her) while Thomas and the guys played a round of golf. To say the West brothers play golf would be...an understatement. They've played together their entire lives. Here's to hoping for some golf in the motherland...
We're at the lake for the next few days and then transitioning back to Montgomery to finish packing and preparing for the move. Last week, we received word that there has been a decision on our visas and now we are waiting on that decision to come in the mail. Once we obtain the tracking information you can find us stationed at the front door waiting on the UPS truck to arrive.
We are trusting God for an affirmative decision and will quickly book flights, hotel, and other stuff in order to travel to London by the weekend. It's a weird feeling to have done just about everything imaginable to prepare for the next steps and now to simply wait on an envelope. We've had some bouts with worry and anxiety over the last week, but God is keeping us encouraged and focused.
Pray With Us
Would you pray with us for the week ahead? Pray that we would receive our visas in the next few days. Pray for affordable plane tickets and hotel reservations on such late notice. Pray for our final preparations - we don't want to miss anything! Pray for our final moments with family before we depart.
This is a massive undertaking and we don't go at it alone. We go on your encouragement, your support, and your prayers. Thank you for being in this journey with us.
Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith - to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ!