Carol and I have just returned from 3 weeks wandering down memory lane. Though our wedding day is July 6 we planned this golden wedding visit to the US early in order to avoid hot weather. But, within two days of arrival temperatures hit mid to upper 90's (Farenheit!) and pushed Carol into perpetual search for rigorous air conditioning. Shorts and sandals ruled.
Carol's ambition to revisit old haunts from our 15 years of full-time life in the US and to reconnect with friends was gloriously fulfilled. Many evenings were spent with friends as Carol mistress-minded an exacting social calendar. Our bucket list of places to visit was almost completed and (after a variety of hospitality scenarios) we ended up staying in the home where we had lived the last couple of years in Wheaton with some dear friends who lent us their car. You can imagine our delight and gratitude.
Two contrasting themes summed up much. On one hand our experiences delightfully reminded us of the familiar. Indeed, it seemed only yesterday as we drove round streets, charity shops(!) and (in my case) tasted raspberry chocolate chip ice cream in picturesque Geneva. Time and time again we commented how familiar everything was.
Yet, on the other hand, we witnessed such dramatic changes that we could only echo that catch phrase 'Only in America'. The church in Wheaton where I was interim preacher for two years and we have so many friends is no more First Baptist...after only a few months it has morphed into being a campus church for a completely different church model. We couldn't believe how rapidly it had changed from last Easter when I preached there. Also, staggeringly within a year, the seminary of seven acres where I worked for 15 years is now squeezed onto a couple of floors of an office block. When we visited the old site it was barricaded off - with all our old memories behind barriers. However, the new seminary has developed technology to an extraordinary level and my former faculty members cannot credit enough how effective their classrooms are with 25 students present in flesh and another 25 streaming and interacting on-line. Knowing how troubled many residential seminaries are this seems a viable model and I only met enthusiasm about the new.
Happily back, we rejoice in all that we have seen and done - old and new. And in the good health we were granted to enjoy it all. Thank you for the prayers that Carol and I would keep well.