August 26th marked a big milestone for Robin, Kat and I. It was two years ago on that date that we arrived in Dulce. Two years! Already! What an incredible adventure! As I think back over that time and organize my thoughts I hardly know where to begin.
Friendships. We came to Dulce with deep roots in the Midwest. With rare exceptions it was the only part of the country each of us had ever lived in. Leaving there meant leaving behind many good friends. But God has blessed each of us with new friendships here. They aren't quite like the friends we left behind, but those friendships developed over time, and we've only been here two years. We cherish the friendships we have been building in Dulce and we look forward to continuing to grow new friendships in the years ahead.
Events. Into the rhythm of the year and the movement from one marker to the next, such as from Thanksgiving to Christmas, we have added some new things, such as Jicarilla Day, Little Beaver and Go Jii Ya, along with other, less formal, gatherings. We treasure these new activities and the ways in which they have helped us to understand the culture of the Jicarilla Apache people.
Foods. We have been exposed to a number of foods that a person just never sees in the Midwest, and it has been a delight. Soup, of the Jicarilla variety, posole, red and green chili, and frybread come to mind as I write this. And closely related to the foods has been the hospitality that has been shown to us in the sharing of food.
Sorrows. Since leaving Minnesota for Dulce we have a had several dear friends, a close uncle and a granddaughter leave this world for God's eternal kingdom. In each case there is a unique sense of loss, a place formerly filled that for the remainder of this life will be empty. And this community, this congregation, has known loss too. As pastor, I have sat and prayed with people during times of deep heartache and sorrow. It is easy to see God's goodness when things are going well. It may be harder to grasp but it is no less true, that God remains good even when hearts are breaking.
God's providence. I have been preaching through the book of Ruth and time and again in that book we see things take place that seem to be completely at random, and yet they have their place in bringing together the story of God' plan of redemption. God is at work, behind the scenes, fitting together various parts of the story, not so much for the benefit of the people of the story, but for His grand story, which is fulfilled in His Son, Jesus. And in a similar way Robin and I look back, at the last two years, and beyond, and see that God has been working in us, to bring us to this place, and to use us in this place.
May our family and the people of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church continue to grow in the love of our Savior and Lord, Jesus.