My, how things have changed.    1 Cor. 3: 5-6                                                               July 12, 2016

On July 1st, Kim and I headed out to visit people and places we shared time with during the seven years we served Community Covenant Church in Kearney, MO (June 1992 – July 1999).  This event marks the third section of our sabbatical journey, remembering the spiritual markers experienced while in our first pastorate.

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Our trip commenced with the retracing of many of our Missouri steps which began in the spring/summer of 1992.  We spent the first couple of nights at the same hotel we stayed in during our first visit to Kearney.  Located in Liberty just 8 miles south.  Back then, this lodging had literal nothing around it other than a McDonald’s about 1/4 mile away.  I remember Kim and I walking there for an ice cream cone and being amazed at all the open space. Today that same hotel is no longer a lonely business.  What was once vacant farm land is now filled with all types of restaurants/retail business/lodgings.  I know that McDonald’s does extensive marketing research prior to entering into a new location, but we were still amazed at how much this area had changed and grown.

Since it was too early to check into our hotel, we immediately headed the eight miles north to Kearney.  The early 90’s census track for this area was right around 1800 people.  When we first moved here the town had just received their first traffic light.  Rumor had it that while driving you didn’t need turn signals because everyone already knew where you were going.  Although a fabrication, Kearney was a quaint little town surrounded by small patches of timber and farm ground.

We were both surprised at how this place had changed.  Not only does it have multiple traffic signals and even its’ own McDonald’s (and Burger King), the once open fields are now filled with housing developments.  Several large chain stores now take up retail space.  In my opinion one of the biggest changes was that my all time favorite diner, Clem’s Cafe is now an Italian restaurant, (not all change is good!).   Places that I use to hunt are now filled with swing-sets and barbecues.  The town is now several times larger, not including many more that live just outside the city limits.  Another change that we noticed was how much the vegetation had grown.  We drove by our old house and found the small saplings we had planted could now be made into cord wood.

During our trip, we were able to share time with many of our old friends.  It seemed like we were able to pick up right where we left off seventeen years ago.  We shared stories and experiences of times spent together.  It was fun taking these trips “down memory lane”, however Kim and I were both excited getting updated on what’s going on with them now.  We were amazed at how God has been working in the lives of these people.  Although there were many, here are a few;  There is Tina, who first arrived at church as a nervous new mom, to one who has grown in confidence and has spent time leading the youth.  Or Randy who I met during our first days in Kearney and had visited church on our first Sunday.  He has now been a Sunday School teacher for twenty plus years.  Then there is John, who came as a land developer.  He is now a church chairman (not in Kearney)  and has used his business experiences to help lead his church through several challenging events.

This reminds me of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 3: 5-6.  “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task,  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”  Kim and I are very grateful for having the opportunity for this Missouri visit and complete the third section of our sabbatical journey.  Not only were we able to visit people and places that are very special to us, but we were reminded of how God continues to work.