From Indianapolis we drove North to the lakeside home of Scott's partner in residency who returned to the small town where he grew up and established a thriving medical practice. It also happens that his front yard melts into the lakeshore, and his family pulled out all the "toys" for an evening of tubing, swimming, kayaking, and even (for Scott) water skiing. Good food and blending our families once again and discussions around the beach fire. We were blessed.
From there we drove to Chicago, arriving in time for a reception another residency friend had planned. It is hard to describe how wonderful it is to stand in someone's home and greet couple after couple coming through the door, people we went through those crazy work-day-and-night years of medical training with 20 years ago, and a few we've befriended since, all taking their Saturday night to just come and be with us, to listen and catch us up on their kids and work and lives. Most of the people we really hoped to see were there. It was a taste of Heaven for sure.
On Sunday we returned to Lawndale Community Church, our worship home for five years during our training. This church taught us much about cross-cultural missions, about living among the poor, listening and learning and loving in concrete ways with healthcare and housing. About lively singing and clapping. About the gospel. We were embraced by those who were still the church greeters after all those years, we saw women who had been single teen moms now mature and married and sending out their own teens. Our clinic colleagues took us for a tour of the facility across the street where Scott worked for two years, now vastly expanded. God has really blessed this church. And one of the greatest treats was to hear "Coach" preach again, about being defined not by issues but by love. Again, a feast of fellowship, and we inhaled it.
Now we're staying with a family whom we've known since those days, who could not be more welcoming. They have the incredible gift of radical hospitality, late night conversations about things that matter, great meals on short notice as our schedule keeps evolving, introducing us into their lives. And if we needed one more infusion of undeserved favor, at the last minute we were able to arrange a meeting with a pastor and his wife who had taught Scott in seminary and faithfully supported us (which is really humbling). Though we did not know each other long or well, we felt like we did as we were again led to the banqueting table of kindness from this couple who asked insightful caring questions and overwhelmed us with thanks (when we were trying to thank THEM).
So it's been a week of heroic portions of friendship, and we still have a couple of days to go. Wish we could spread all this goodness out over time, but such is the missionary life, so we'll keep gorging and try to remember these days in the hunger seasons ahead.