It’s a little after 6 a.m. and I’ve been up since about a quarter after 4. I’m waiting on my brother, Michael, to come through Paxton to pick me up; we’ll drive on together to Greenville, SC, so that we can load his shipping container to be sent to Honiara of the Solomon Islands, where he and his family will be missionaries.
Michael texted me and said he didn’t get away as early as he wanted and I should go back to bed…I might doze off, for a little bit, but I won’t go back to sleep. My mind is too busy running back nearly 15 years, to 2003 when I had just resigned my position as an assistant pastor in northern Illinois and was getting ready to move my family back across the country in order to pursue another degree. It was the summer I turned 27 and Michael turned 12. Carol was mid-way through her pregnancy with Grant and caring for two toddlers, Joel and Laura – she wasn’t able to do much by way of helping us move. I called my folks and asked about bringing Carol and the kids down to their place in Missouri and then getting Michael to help me load our moving truck and ride with me as I drove it to NC and then I would come back to Missouri to get my family. They agreed and so the switch was made.
Michael and I loaded the moving truck (I can’t remember who else helped us), put my mini-van on a car trailer and then headed to NC, just the two of us. The trip together was quite an adventure; he wanted to see the skyline as we drove through Chicago (but driving through Chicago with a moving truck and mini-van on a trailer wasn’t much fun), we slept at a truck stop somewhere in Indiana, we had a flat tire on the car trailer somewhere in Kentucky and had to wait for Budget to fix it – finally, we made it to NC. After unloading the moving truck at the house I had rented and returning the moving truck, we headed back to Missouri. I was so tired, we had to stop at a few rest stops along the way so that I could doze. We pre-dated google maps, smartphones, and I didn’t have a GPS, but Michael had my old laptop and my Microsoft streets and trips disc and followed our route as we drove back through NC, TN, KY, IL, and then across the Mississippi river, by the Arch and through St. Louis, and then north to my parents in northeast Missouri.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since 2003. The mini-van that we drove back is long since gone (our family won’t fit in one anymore). I’ve finished 8 more years of school and Carol and I now have 8 kids, we’re established as pastor and family in Paxton, IL. Michael finished high school, went to college, married Nora – the perfect partner for him, they have a son, and they are following God’s leading to go as missionaries to the Solomon Islands. A few months ago, when he asked me if I would be able to go with him when he went from Rockford, IL, to Greenville, SC, to help him load the shipping container, I couldn’t help but feeling not only an obligation, but also some nostalgia and not a little irony at the role reversal. God knew in 2003 that I would be doing the same thing for Michael in 2018. Older brothers have a tendency to take advantage of younger brothers, but the Lord is making sure that Michael is being repaid now for his labors as a 12 year old boy; God is the One who established the principle of sowing and reaping. And I don’t mind that I’m getting to reciprocate – I’m thrilled to get to spend these couple of days with Michael in the vehicle and loading the container. I’ll probably only see him now every 3 or 4 years as he may be back in the States on occasion, so I’ll relish the hours that we have now. Thankfully, technology allows better communication than in years past, so we will still have some contact.
Keep Michael, Nora, and Corban in your prayers; they are making a move across the world, not just a few states; getting a shipping container and sending it by cargo ship across the ocean is far different than renting a U-haul. Their challenges are interesting and unique – they will actually be on the island for a couple of months before their container arrives. Pray for their health and safety, for God’s continued provision, for their lives in general, but most importantly that He would guide them as they seek to be tools in His hands to do His work on the Solomon Islands.