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Dishrag Summer, Part II

Filed under: — jen d @ 4:15 pm

The following is a continuation of my previous post, Dishrag Summer Part I, in which I summarize what happened in June. This post is about July. Sorry about the length, but just mind you, I have a lot more I COULD have said about these happenings ;o) So, enjoy!

A couple of days following the second midnight beach run of the season, we pulled off a smashing 4th of July celebration down along the Charles River. (Most photos/links courtesy Malita Matzko.) Allie and I camped out early that morning with blankets and food and frisbees and waited for various friends and church members to arrive later in the afternoon. We ended up with a decent group of people and even made some new friends. One couple was particularly nice and said they’d like to see us back there, same time, same place next year. Another man said he’d sat in that very spot along the river for the past five ears after years and years of looking for the perfect spot. So we may see him again next time, too. Our spot was on the Cambridge side of the river, right along a sloping grassy bank along the water. We had an amazing view of the Boston skyline, and ended up with more elbow room than we’d bargained for. No obst vws, and the Lord on top of all of these blessings provided us with one of the clearest, pleasantly warm (as opposed to sweltering-hot, humid, or hazy) Independence Days I can recall. We hung out, shared food, played in the road, and awaited the fireworks. Boston’s show is famous for its length and complexity; the Boston Pops put on a concert all day and then, when the fireworks start, they are coordinated with the music. We were too far away from the Hatch Shell to hear the music ourselves, but thanks to modern inventions like the radio, we didn’t miss out. I think my favorite parts of the evening were friends in general, Mandy’s finger-lickin’ good “black rice” (you have to try this stuff; the rice itself is actually an inky bluish-black color, and Mandy cooks it in a traditional Chinese way with chicken and vegetables…it’s just good; I don’t know how else to describe it!) and that time of evening when the sun is setting and casts a copper glow over the water and ignites the cityscape so that everything looks like it could be on fire. My favorite time of day, hands down. It was a memorable Fourth.

Over the middle of July we kept ourselves entertained with several of our now-perennial game nights and pool parties. As of yet, I have no pictures to accompany these sometimes all-night events, which is a shame. Austin does a mean rendition of “We Are the Champions” whenever he wins; our pastor’s 13-year-old daughter Linda has proven her acting ability and utter coolness at these events in ways I just can’t describe without visual media (she’s kind of like our mascot). Let’s just say we all had a good time. And that Allie rocks at Ping-Pong.

The last week of July was eventful, to say the least. We kicked it off with a surprise birthday party for Pastor Bill and his wife, Deb, at what we fondly refer to as “Allie’s Summer Home.” Okay, so this summer she works for these extraordinarily wealthy people who own a gorgeous house in Newton, not far outside of Boston. They go away a lot, and it seems like whenever they do, we throw a party there. Or two. Nothing too crazy, I promise. This is our church crowd, mind you. But they have a kitchen work island that I swear to you is bigger than my bedroom in my apartment. I’m not kidding. They also have a ginormous flat-screen TV suitable for watching movies of various sorts, as well as a rec room with a ping-pong table and other ammenities. We can hardly resist, and since they are cool with it, and we haven’t yet broken anything (that I know of), so am I.

So, anyway, at our surprise party for Pastor Bill and Deb, we all got an amazing piece of news. Linda, one of the Chinese women who’s been attending our Sunday evening evangelistic Bible studies for well over a year, accepted Christ that evening just before coming to the party. She is in the process of returning to China, as her husband finished his studies here in Boston a couple opf months ago. She’d been dubious about certain things found in the Bible (like creation, especially the creation of Eve) for a long time, but had been thinking more and more seriously about accepting Christ as her Savior. It’s hard to say what definitive thing prompted her change of heart (aside from the obvious, the Spirit of God), but she had called her friend and our church member, Joanne, that afternoon and asked her if she could pray with her; she was ready. She doesn’t usually come to Sunday morning church, so when I hugged her goodbye that night, I said, “See you Sunday evening at Bible study!” She looked me square in the eye, smiled and said, “No! You’ll see me Sunday morning! At church!” It was quite a blessing. She has become a dear friend to me over the past year and will be greatly missed. But if it took her moving away to ensure that I’d see her again some day in Eternity, I’ll let her go.

That following Sunday, Linda was indeed in church. So were about 10 million other people, which is a problem, since our school room only holds about 60-70 max. But it was a thrilling service. We had a teen ministry team visiting from Trinity Baptist Church and School; they ministered to us on Sunday with music, and also sang out on the steps on Newbury Street (a busy shopping district in the heart of Boston) before Pastor gave a short open-air sermon – something we’ve never done before. We also had several visitors and old friends present that day, along with a baptism for Nilda, the school custodian that recently accepted Christ after she began to sit in on our services while waiting for us to finish church so she could lock the palce up and go home. One baptism is exciting enough, but how much more surprised were we when Linda, who gave her testimony of salvation that morning in front of the congregation, said somewhat tentatively, “I am wondering, then, if the IBCB will do me the favor, as I am leaving soon for China, of maybe baptizing me today, as well.”

As if we’d say no.

So, after church, we piled into various vans and automobiles and headed to my aunt June’s house for Sunday dinner and a baptism service in her backyard. June came to the IBCB last Christmas and Easter for our special programs, and then started attending Sunday morning services. She fit right in, and joined the membership just a few weeks later. She’s already been a huge blessing to us, taking over the children’s Sunday school teaching, for which she is especially gifted and equipped for by the Lord. She also is equipped with a large, underground swimming pool well suited for homeless, baptismal-less churches like the IBCB ;o) And so we gathered around the patio and watched as Linda and Nilda, a Chinese business woman and a Puerto Rican custodian, were baptized together by a former-Iowan-turned-Red-Sox-Fan pastor. Definitely a highlight of the summer.

That evening we had Bible study, as well, and then I took my three houseguests from the Trinity Teen Mission Team home to my shoebox apartment, where they’d be spending their nights for the next week as they travelled back and forth between the Back Bay area and Malden to Pastor’s house, where they’d regroup with the rest of the team and work on their Vacation Bible Time for the neighborhood youth, as well as canvas the area for their main event, Thursday night’s Teen Cola War (pictures coming soon, I hope!), which they would host in a nearby park.

My three guests were fun. I got to have Linda (the aforementioned IBCB game Night Mascot) and Lea and Krysta, girls from Trinity High School. We got back that first night and were pretty wired, so I decided to take them for a midnight walk up to Newbury Street and down to the Boston Public Gardens and my blog’s namesake, the Boston Common. Its a well-lit, safe part of town, though we did feel a little less safe at the far end of the Commons, near the Frog Pond and the Theatre District. But. We survived, obviously, and had a good time running through the park, climbing trees, sitting on the “Make Way for Ducklings!” statues, and in general laughing our heads off and being silly. We talked a lot and they endeared themselves to me in various ways. I decided I like teenagers more than I used to, and relate better to them now than I did when I was one myself. Go figure. This particular group was impressive in a variety of ways – they got along well together, knew how to have fun and be silly, but also knew when to be serious, and got serious about their ministry in the city that week. I had the priviledge of seeing some of their “behind the scenes” work, like morning group devotionals, as I was always driving them back and forth and hanging out with them at the Edmondsons’ when I could.

We don’t have a large youth contingent at the IBCB now, but it is growing. My basic thought after the ministry team’s visit was, “This is a strong youth group, with superb leadership and Christ-ceneteredness; they expect a lot of these teens, without forgetting that they are teens – and I like the results. If this is what a strong youth group can yield, then, Lord, give us a strong youth group!”

That means we need someone who has the time and spiritual gifts to be a strong youth leader; someone who feels particular led to disciple and minister to city youth. And that means we need some strong spiritual men to come to Boston with a heart to serve sacrificially. Don’t misunderstand; the men at the IBCB are strong, spiritually, and growing. they serve sacrificially, and perhaps one of them WILL be led to take on a youth ministry on a more “full-time” type basis as things progress. But, many of them live far outside of the city, have full-time jobs that keep them there most of the week, and so forth. Lately it seems that we keep hearing from people who are coming to Boston to study, live, find a church, whatever–and they are all single young women. We won’t turn them away, and goodness knows we’ll put them to work, too. But why don’t any guys ever want to come here??? Maybe you do but you need a nudge. In that case, let me encourage some of the wonderful, spiritually-minded young men who I know read this blog occasionally to maybe consider city ministry… ;o) We need you! We need and desire your leadership!

There’s so much more I can say about the week that the ministry team was here, and about the Cola War specifically. I think I’d like to address it later in another post, where I’m not so paranoid about rambling on too long (which I obviously did, despite all paranoia… ) Besides, the point of these Dishrag posts was to give you a summer synopsis – and we’re almost there! Just a day or two after the team left, I left for Maine and Mere Point and my long-awaited break from the office. But that’s August, and so you’ll have to read about it in the soon-to-be-published Part III

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