I don’t get to talk to the people from our Ministry Team all that often. I try to stay pretty consistent with monthly letters. But quieter part of the semester, like right now as all the students are preparing for final projects and final exams, present a special opportunity. I like to take time to check in over the telephone during times like this. And it really is lovely to hear what’s happening with all these friends, relatives, and strategic ministry connections.
Today, I checked in with ministry partners in Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, Kentucky, New York, and Florida. COVID hasn’t been easy for anyone. But I found myself strangely encouraged to hear the way that people are dealing with things and finding ways to carry on.
My pastor friend in Mansfield (Ohio) has four kids who are scattered to the four winds of the United States. His oldest son is looking to move to the Shenandoah Mountains of western Virginia for a new job. (Yes, people are still finding new jobs in 2020!). Another one of his sons is in the Baltimore area, trying to teach music to high school students on-line. His daughter moved to Miami just before the start of the pandemic, and it’s been a lonely, frustrating year. Still, they’re all figuring things out.
My radiologist friend in Rapid City (South Dakota) reported that their family’s lives remain surprisingly unaffected by COVID. He and his wife are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID. They wear masks. He helped their church to set up live-streaming options for the elderly congregants. And they now skip their traditional end-of-the-week Happy Hour downtown. He told me that the hospitals in Rapid City (and Sioux City, and Casper, and Bismark) are full. Consequently, they are diverting patients to Denver. Still, they’re OK with biding their time, waiting things out.
I talked to computer-programming friend while he was on a break between meetings in Redmond (Washington). He’s working for Microsoft. Not too surprisingly for a tech guy, he was happy that his whole life is online. Microsoft Teams (for work) and Discord (for personal stuff) these days. His sources at Microsoft tell him that the earliest possible date for re-opening their physical office spaces is July 2021. And they don’t expect life to get back to normal until November 2021.
My friend who works in the book publishing industry is currently living in Melbourne (Florida), with her sister. She enjoys her job, even (or perhaps especially) while working remotely. Church is all online, too. She says it’s hard to find Christian community during COVID. Varying attitudes about COVID precautions make it even more challenging than usual. Even with the challenges, though, she sounded generally hopeful about life.
My realtor friends in Richland County (Ohio). They’re now in their 70s. They’ve been on our ministry team for 20 years. They’ve hunkered down all year, ordering groceries from the local Kroger. They’re super-bored. But also super faith-filled. And they are so, so grateful for the ministry that we’re doing to reach college students. The one friend finished the call by telling me that he loved me. And I said I loved him, too.
I was tired out by the end of the afternoon, after all those calls with all those people (and many others), but my heart was also full with gratitude.