As I have been slowly easing back into my routine, which includes writing for my blog, since I got back home from my trip to St. Louis and beyond, I thought I would share what I did learn while I was away.
1) Rain does make a difference. Last summer I drove to St. Louis for a training class in the summer months and if you remember, it was hot and dry everywhere throughout the Midwest. The crops and grass looked horrible! This year everything is just the complete opposite–corn is standing tall and green, fields are lush, even the weeds look healthy. Moisture at the proper time is essential to all living things.
2) The first stop I made when I arrived in St. Louis was to go to the cemetery where my wife and children are buried. I made arrangements for a burial marker for my wife’s grave and I didn’t realize those things cost so much! It’s been a while since my children have died so I had forgotten about the expense for such details. This “closes the book” on this portion of my life and although I didn’t actually go to the graves of my family–I see no point in such visitation as I believe their souls are in heaven and what remains in the ground is just their lifeless form–I am at peace with my loved ones. This will become important shortly as you will see.
3) Conventions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are first and foremost family reunions. It is surprising that among 2000 people from across the country and around the world how many I actually knew! Even ran into former members of my congregation in Fort Smith AR who are now members of another congregation and were there serving as delegates also. Also saw a couple of seminary classmates, a bunch of friends, and made several new friends throughout our time together.
4) Some described the convention as being “bland” or “boring” but I thought of it has being rather smart on the part of our church body. We dealt with the issues that required our attention and asked that further direction be given to other topics for the next convention to consider. Most resolutions passed by very wide margins and only one or two were defeated. That tells me the floor committees did their jobs well. Did everybody get their way? Of course not. But why should they? Even in a church body, as conservative as we are, there are diverse opinions among us. As long as God’s Word serves as our rule and norm, we will stick together.
5) The highlight of the convention, in my mind, was the worship activities. Even in a cavernous facility like a convention center, the delegates and guests of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod could do a spectacular job of filling the building with wondrous sounds of the hymns and liturgy throughout the days we gathered together. Our convention theme focused on Baptism so there was a Baptismal font right in the middle of the convention floor where anyone could go at anytime to touch the flowing waters and remember their baptism. You could not help leave the convention without being spiritually uplifted.
6) I spent time before and during the convention visiting with friends from my life of once living in St. Louis. I was able to reconnect with Jim and Carol Koenig–Jim was my best man at my wedding–for a delightful evening where we brought everyone up on our life’s details since we last had met. It was as if we hadn’t missed a beat. That is special. I had lunch with Nick, Tracy and Anna Zichella. Nick is one of my financial advisors from Smith Barney and he was very close to my mom during her life. Therefore, I just kind of got adopted by Nick as well and he and I have been good friends for many years. It is through Nick that I have been able to purchase tickets for Cardinals games and get such good seats! Finally, I had dinner with Gene and Betty Boyd, friends my entire life. They were friends of my parents and I have a very special place for them in my heart. I worked for Gene at his service station while I was in college and at the seminary. It was there I learned I knew very little about repairing cars but I could pump gas. The Boyd’s have always been generous with me including last December when they offered me a place to stay when I came to St. Louis to bury my wife. I will never forget what they have done for me and my family.
7) I did discover some “cheap gas” in Ohio on the way home. In Wauseon OH, I paid $3.26/gallon for gas. I can’t believe I think that’s cheap. Amazing what living in 2013 can do to change your perspective.
Now if you noticed, there is a bunch of days of my trip left unaccounted for. I will save that for my post tomorrow. There’s something special I want to tell you that happened during that part of my vacation …