Easter Miracle

Sunday 16 April 2006, 10:08 pm

Easter Sunday, April 16

Today we attended the Easter service at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Odessa. The last time we attended a VCF was two years ago in Gillette, Wyoming. That church was small, we met the pastor and several others, and we got lots of good advice about what to see in the area.

We didn't really know what to expect, but we were hoping for a smaller church, where we could meet people. What we got was a miracle!

As soon as we walked in the door, several people introduced themselves. David, Mark, one other I don't remember right now. We were made to feel very welcome. The church was very small. I think there were about 50 chairs set up, only about 25 of them occupied.

Pastor Tim Lien gave what he called an "atypical" Easter message, but it was meaty and well-received. Mary told me later she got a lot out of it, including some "homework" for when we get back home, and she asked the pastor later for the name of a book he mentioned, so we can buy it. At one point, Mary started sniffling with allergies, and someone passed us a box of kleenex.

After the service, we were talking to David, who had introduced himself earlier. We were telling him about our trip to Mississippi, and about the needs there. He offered to pray with us, then yelled for others to come and pray with us also. The pastor's wife, Mary Ann, and another gal, Susan, came to pray with us. In addition to the relief effort with CityTeam, Mary asked for prayer for Matthew, who is with the Marines in Iraq. David and Mary Ann prayed for us mightily, and Susan gave us a prophetic word of encouragement about Matthew's safety, which matched almost word-for-word the way I myself have been praying for Matthew lately.

Not only that, but after we prayed, David gave us some money and Mary Ann wrote us a check from the church, to use for "whatever we need." It's not been very often that I'm offered money, and I didn't really know how to respond, but the givers were very gracious even sensing my discomfort. Unless some pressing need presents itself, like the truck breaking down or something, we intend to turn this money over to CityTeam when we arrive in Bay St Louis. When we left there in November, there was a pressing need for pots and pans for people who had been moved into trailers but had no way to use the kitchens. The needs are probably different now, but we expect they are just as pressing.

David also took the time to tell us a nice way to get to San Antonio on back roads, since I-10 is so ugly through west Texas. The back road goes from Midland to Sterling City on hwy 158, then to San Angelo on hwy 87. In San Angelo, we stopped at a Denny's for Easter dinner. I'd have preferred a good Texas steak, but this was the best meal we've ever eaten in a Denny's (breakfast for Mary, Tilapia for me).

From San Angelo, we continued on hwy 87 to Eden, then hwy 83 to Menard, then hwy 29 to Mason. In Mason, I let Mary take over the driving. Since she prefers the freeway to the backroads, we headed out to I-10 via Fredericksburg and Comfort, bypassing Luchenbach. Darn! (eh?) I slept while Mary navigated I-10 down to the beltway, where we found this nice Howard Johnson with wireless internet.

Tomorrow, we hope to eat again at Karam's mexican restaurant here in San Antonio. (We ate there last summer when we visited here for URDC.) Then it's about 3-4 hours to Houston. On Tuesday, we hope to vist the Kennedy Space Center and other Houston attractions, including some kind of butterfly museum or zoo. Then on through Louisiana to Mississippi. Bay St Louis is just over that border. We are due to check in there on Thursday, April 20.

We've been told not to miss Cajun Charlie's in Sulphur, Louisiana, near Lake Charles. The manager of Denny's says it may have been wiped away by Hurricane Rita last year, but he's like to know if it's still there. Sounds like our kind of adventure.