Today we packed up and began the drive back eventually towards Omaha, where we’ll fly home from tomorrow evening, but more specifically for today towards Mapleton, Iowa. There we’ll be blessed to gather at Mission Central, to introduce Old Missionary Gary to our kids and let them experience the unique experience MC is (as many of you may know).
It’s right about a two-hour drive from Sioux Falls to Mapleton, mostly down Interstate 29. Traffic was light and uneventful, and beautiful mile after mile of waist-high corn met the eye, along with promising stormclouds gathering to the southeast. Not far out of Sioux City we headed east on the 141, a much smaller tw0-lane road that cuts straight across the farms and small towns. In Mapleton we jumped on 130th Street for the final two miles to Mission Central, making it right on time for the 12:30pm tour.
Today there was a group visiting from a congregation in Omaha. After the customary tour of the facility and Creation Museum, we were invited to share about our upcoming work in Southeast Asia with these folks. I have to admit – I’ve been getting up in front of people for various types of work for close to 30 years now, but it was still a little intimidating knowing Gary was sitting in and listening. This guy knows how to talk to people, and few people can compare with his skills – myself included!
After checking in on the little chapel by the side of the road we headed off again for our next destination – dinner and a meet & greet at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Schaller, IA. We turned north off of highway 20, passing by on the 110 the impressive towers of crushed cars and scrap metal at a metal recycling facility. In no time we were in Schaller and cruising under the beautiful tree-lined streets to the home of our hosts, Rev. David & Lori Lyons. After a wonderful home-cooked meal of porkchops and corn, we drove the few blocks to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
For 16-some years St. Paul’s has had a Valentine’s Day pork-chop BBQ that has grown in popularity, selling hundreds of pork chop dinners. Even with COVID this year they were still able to carry on the tradition through to-go orders and a drive-thru setup. Some of the money they raised from that event goes each year to Mission Central, and this year Gary ear-marked that money towards our support raising. It was great to be able to meet some of those people and thank them for their gift. And we pray it was a blessing for them to put a name with faces and be able to know a bit more closely who they were supporting.
Kristi offered us the overnight use of a family lake house on Storm Lake. How amazing. On March 1 I had no idea a place like Storm Lake even existed. A few weeks later we were receiving support from Storm Lake, courtesy of Mission Central. I remember addressing envelopes and thinking what a cool name for a town! I imagined what it might look like, dark, imposing clouds gathered overhead to unleash a downpour. Now, just a few months later we were standing on the back porch looking past the pier and over Storm Lake towards the darker line of incoming rain. We watched as it advanced across the lake, engulfing and shrouding the small island in the center before downpouring overhead. So surreal and so beautiful, and so different from the typical weather either where we’ve been living or where we’re living now.
We fell asleep grateful for the many places and faces we’ve experienced over the past nearly two weeks, and also glad to be heading to what passes for home at this point in our lives.