eNews – March 2, 2018

Dear FPC family and friends,

Here I sit in Houston waiting to leave to catch a plane and I am thinking of this mountaintop experience and how to share it with you.  There are eleven of us and we all have this special bond and these incredible memories and an emotional attachment to each other, to the house that we helped rebuild, and to Carrie and her daughter as she shared her tragic story with us and we saw a spark in her eye as she sees her home being rebuilt slowly but surely.  It is difficult to describe the devastation that we saw and that we experienced.  There are over 100,000 people still without their homes who are trying to rebuild to get back in.  The devastation was complete in many areas.  Where we served, the region of Houston called Dickinson, 90% of the homes had to be completely stripped down to the studs and rebuilt.

            But people are rebuilding.  They are not giving up.  They have not lost hope.  Our presence in Houston helped them to realize that they are not on this difficult journey alone.  Our presence in Houston gave some added hope and encouragement as they saw strangers take a week out of their lives to add drywall to their house.  It was a significant experience for the homeowners, but it was also a significant experience for us.  What a great group of men and woman.  We definitely bonded.  We laughed together, we all had tears in our eyes when God allowed us to be present for a home dedication where a woman received the keys to her home and was able to sleep in her own bed for the first time since Harvey hit in August.  We all were emotional when we gathered around this woman and laid hands on her and asked for a blessing. It was an intense week for the eleven of us, and we give thanks to you, First Presbyterian, for praying for us, helping the group financially, for you also were a part of this trip.

            When we land tonight we will have to hit the ground running because it does feel like the church is rebuilding in some ways as well.  We had a blowout for preschool Sunday.  That is a good thing.  We had nearly 200 people at the second service as we heard the children sing a song and recite the ten commandments.  I had parents talk to me about getting their children baptized in church after the service.  There was a buzz in the air that I can only define as the Holy Spirit.  It was also intense and it took me on a high all the way to Houston.  It has been a significant week.

            But it does feel like we are rebuilding here at First Presbyterian because we have some gaps in our ministry in staffing that need to be filled.  We are so blessed to have Dan Smith with us on an interim part-time basis.  He has come to our rescue in heading up the youth ministry program here as our search for a part-time youth leader continued.  We are pleased to let the congregation know that we have hired Walter Kondratowski as our part-time director of youth ministries.  Walter is married to Kristin and they have four daughters Tessa (10), Maria (8), Sophia (6), and Lucy (5).  Walter has an extensive background in church ministry and has a passion for seeing each youth who walks into the church find a supportive community who looks to be engaged in their life.  They live in Strasburg and they are excited to see how God has called them to First Presbyterian and how God is going to move in this calling for the betterment of His kingdom.  Please welcome Walter and Kristin and the girls when you see them.  They have been worshipping with us for the past few Sundays, but congratulate them now when you see them.

            Please keep Dan Smith in your prayers as he also transitions from being with us on an interim basis to working with his home church in Oxford.  We are so pleased to be able to have had him fill in for us when the time was right.

We continue to look for a director of music who can lead our congregation once Tim Yoder leaves on March 11.  The worship and personnel committees are hard at work considering interim candidates for both services.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Holly Miller, chair of worship, and Andrea Petrokonis, chair of personnel, if you have any questions about the recent movement in staff.  I don’t know about you, but I am excited for where God is leading us and I am even more convinced than ever that it is in a direction that will be intense and fulfilling as we walk with Him.  Thank you for joining this journey.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Bob

Young Couples gathering at the Bronkema house:  All young couples are welcome to crash the Bronkema house on Friday, March 23.  Nursery will be provided.





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