Saturday, October 8, 2011

Amarillo, The Second Visit

Welcome to the landscape of our new homeland!

It's official. Stephen got the Letter of Call this week from Bishop Kanouse. Unfortunately, it was misspelled...Friederich. There is a pastor with a name of a similar spelling. The apologized profusely. However, we are several weeks behind in blog positing, so it will work out fine. Official pictures will come with the correction. :-)

So on our second visit to Amarillo, Stephen was invited to come and lead worship and preach. The readings were centered around forgiveness. Oh, and it was September 11th. He did a great job preaching about the need for forgiveness and reconciliation with each other, as well as our call to do so as Christians. If you want it more eloquently put (or expanded), ask him for a copy of his sermon. I'm sure he'd gladly share (and welcome you for conversation).

But that was not the only thing we did that weekend. Up until then, the only people we had met face to face were the call committee, of last posts fame. While Stephen had spoken to the council via phone, he was not allowed to contact anyone else until he was given primary candidate status and we were invited to come out. Thus numerous greetings from strangers ensued all weekend! It was SO good not to be "invisible" like we were last time. We could greet, shake hands and say hello to anyone we pleased!

Friday evening we had to ourselves. They graciously rented us a car, so we spent the evening finding a Mexican restaurant and getting ourselves lost. Now, over the course of the weekend, we learned a new thing about hunting for a good Mexican restaurant. Our experience in North and South Carolina taught us to look for the shadiest, most run down, hole in the wall kind of place, that might have a sketchy health grade that is craftily placed in, but mostly out of sight. However, our experience in Amarillo was different. The first place we went to had good reviews on Google. It was great! But, its exterior aside, it was beautiful inside. And the people who ran it, were Hispanic,  but clearly at least 2nd generation (if not 3rd) as no one had a hint of any accent. (Note, considering Mexico and Texas history, we also learned that most Latinos have been Texans for a LONG time.) Later in the weekend, we went to a more run down fast food re-created Mexican restaurant, and we learned the first one was definitely the place to go.

Saturday morning we went to the church for a sound check and to visit the parsonage. There we met Gene, the sound guy, Johnny the 8:30 assisting ministry, Jerry, council president and husband of the organist/choir director, and his wife, Marsha.

The nave is plays well with the few sources of natural light. This is the stain glassed window in the back. There are similar windows on the left side (facing the pulpit) and sky lights above the sanctuary to let light in towards the table. Simple, very tasteful, and well done.

The parsonage is a beautiful ranch style home. And yes, those are trees! We were equally surprised by how green they appear. The house is located on the corner of the church property. It backs up next to the playground of the nursery. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths. We have offered already for several people to come out! But, you might want to check whether or not you still need to bring an air mattress before you come! :-)

I'm picturing a sitting hammock in the shade of the big tree here in the backyard....ahhh. The building behind the house is a two car garage. Really, can it get any better than your own garage???
 Why of course it can! How about patio for grilling and entertaining?

There are also two choices for a living room, off the front and one off the back (that used to be the one car garage). This frees one of the bedrooms up to - wait for it - be used for a SEWING ROOM!!!! Needless to say I (Betsy) am very happy with our accommodations. If you are looking for a less materialistic post about the visit, Stephen has his own handle to edit the blog, so he can tell you about that. Betsy however is thrilled with such wonderful living conditions. A house (and a really nice one at that) means settling. It means putting roots down, it means, I'm not moving again ANY TIME SOON. After 8 years (for Betsy) of moving practically every two years mostly in 10 and 8 month stints (with Stephen), you can imagine how excited we are for a house. (As are our dads, I'm sure. Especially because it's being done professionally this time.) Ok, Ok, I'm blathering there was alot more involved in the weekend. This was just one of the most...many exciting things.

As is this. The wall of bookshelves and cabinets in Pastor Stephen's office.

Pastor Stephen will also have a desk, complete we a new/refurbished computer. Kitchen tables will now be used only mostly for eating. 

Herr Pastor-Elect. 

Among some of the other exciting parts of Saturday was an afternoon young-adult cookout at the Coggins' house. Anthony was on the call committee, and his wife Becca sort way of spousal connections ...cheated and learned who we were last time. They were generous to throw a get together at there house for us to meet some younger people/families of the church. Although there are no pictures, it really was a fabulous time of chatting and relaxing. It actually wasn't so hot out that day, we got to sit on the patio - for a while.

Later, we went back to the hotel freshened ourselves, changed and went back to church for a pizza dinner to meet the call committee, council, and transition team. We had a great time. Blair, who is also famous from last posts Cadillac ranch pictures, pulled me aside and commented how nice Stephen's shirt was and asked me if I starched it. Much to Stephen's demise, I told him it did look nice, and thanks, but I didn't...that was the first time he had worn it. Blair, who is our age, looked at me and with both snickered - only a little. (At this time, I would like to thank Craig Friedrich (Rolls-Royce, International Employee Extraordinaire) for dressing his brother in style by taking him to get new, more professional cloths.) The dinner was a success and it helped us to meet so many people in smaller situations than what was the biggest potluck ever the following day.

The next morning, we drove to the church while the sun was coming up just over the horizon. It was absolutely beautiful! There's something about the sky out there that you just cannot explain. It is so big and vast. When the sun comes up, it seems to appear out of nowhere. The picture from inside the rental car really doesn't do it justice.

This is a view from the altar. Imagine your self as Stephen, except, imagine the pews filled to the max, almost standing room only. People came out in record numbers to hear the new candidate. We felt welcomed and everyone told us how excited they were with the buzz around us. Several members of the council and call committee said they hadn't seen so much energy come from the congregation in a long time. People were asking us when we were moving! We told them to give us a positive vote the next week and we'd let them know! It was like they just embraced us without even thinking about the fact it might not happen unless they voted. Needless to say, I think everyone left that afternoon feeling good.

Sunday afternoon, we were so exhausted, but appropriately, it was certainly an exciting morning. I think we crashed, but I can't really speak for Stephen...I zoned out, and it's possible a nap was involved.

Monday morning it was time to say goodbye. Although, I'm not sure either of us wanted to leave. A good feeling considering we had pretty much agreed it was a good idea to move 18 hours from all our friends and family. I'm not sure that has completely hit either of us, but we are ready to get settled. So, we left, waving goodbye to the Big Texan on our way to the airport.

Yeah, you thought were were kidding by the cowboy greeting last post, didn't you?