Travels through America’s Breadbasket

Posted on December 11, 2011



This Thanksgiving holiday we spent 12 days driving around the Midwest. Akron, OH for Thanksgiving #1; Springfield, OH for Thanksgiving #2; Appleton, WI for 5 days; then down to Gurnee, IL (just outside Chicago) for 3 days; then back to Appleton, WI to get on a the first of  a string of flights, in which, ironically our first stop was Chicago.

Our purpose: Visit family, visit friends and supporters and share with Village Church of Gurnee.


There is something surreal about saying goodbye to family members we will not see for years. We visited aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who we only see a few times a year, but this Thanksgiving, we were aware that we would likely not see them for quite a while. These are people who have helped to define who I am as a person. That connection has thinned over the years and now there are thousands of miles between us. Soon, though, we will be putting an ocean between us, and it is sad to think it will be years before we return.

Our next Thanksgiving will be on a different continent. Full of different customs, indeed they don’t even have the holiday.  Celebrating a holiday in the midst of people who are not seems very strange. Like maybe there is nothing really to be excited about. I experienced this when I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in Africa 5 years ago when I went as a bachelor. It stirs something in you like frustration, and a longing to be home and understood. A homesickness that can not be cured. I think the experts call this culture shock. That is a very sterile term for the violence done in your soul by the experience.

We traveled over the flats of the Midwest and came at last to my parent’s home in Appleton, WI. Thus commenced the annual gingerbread contest. For the first time we opened the contest to outside voting. Several people responded on Facebook to help us decide who would be the victor. Our very cozy cape cod cottage and lighthouse lost out to an Italian winery complete with wine press. After being crushed in the competition we did our best not to be sour grapes.





Next we headed for the Gurnee area, a suburb of Chicago. We had multiple chances to share about what God is doing in Kenya. We shared over dessert, dinner, during the Sunday morning church services, with the little kids, and the Sr. High group.  It was a bit odd to walk around in a building I used to know so well. Everything was different now: the parking lot is bigger, they moved the kitchen and the gym and the place just felt different. The people, too, were not the same. Every one I knew was older, and there were many I did not know.

There is a liquidity to time. It always eludes us. It changes most things as it passes over, at least the appearance of things. However, inside that building the salvation story is still preached. Underneath the changed faces is the same heart of love for Christ and for people.

We were happily surprised by the steady stream of people who were eager to meet us, encourage us, join our prayer team and sign up to get our email updates. We are reminded again and again, that God is sending us to Kenya by building a team of people to be behind us.  It is by the prayers of God’s people that we will make it in Kenya. That is one thing that will not change.

Posted in: John, Uncategorized