Packing for China
January 12, 2006
6:54 PM We’re in the countdown for our China trip. Here’s the latest Beijing weather forecast. That’s a lot colder than Tupelo. We heard (via IM from Mark) that Nick arrived in China early this morning. But he forgot to pack his shoes and his winter coat. So he’s wearing moccasins and a sweater, heading to frigid Harbin this weekend for the ice and snow festival. Tomorrow morning I leave for Buffalo about 6:30 AM. Marlene will drive to Birmingham in the afternoon, drop off Dudley, pick up Nick’s coat and shoes, and fly to Chicago. We’ll give them to Nick when we see him in China next Tuesday or Wednesday. Meanwhile our bags are packed (stuffed, really) with Chex mix, chocolate chip cookies, a few books, some other things Mark requested, and clothes for this weekend and then the trip to China.
6:47 PM Before I spoke, I had supper with Dan and Linda Hoeksema and Roberta Hoppe, who serves as the hostess at the Olford Institute. We got caught up on things, laughed a lot, and then Roberta noted that her late husband Len went home to be with the Lord ten years ago this week. Dan mentioned the all-night prayer meeting at Ian and Shirley’s Smith house the night before his surgery. And the pastors and elders met at Dick and Sharon Jahns’ home in Elmhurst to pray with Len. I remember Len saying with deep conviction that he believed God was going to heal him of cancer. He even asked us not to pray that night if we didn’t believe that. He was so earnest and fervent in his faith. I looked at Gary Olson and he looked at me. Then we gathered round Len and prayed, asking God to heal him of cancer. But it was not to be. As Roberta said, we all learned something about God through that experience. Sometimes our prayers are not answered in the way we expect. Len lived nine days after his surgery and then died suddenly on January 17, 1996. It was a heavy, heavy blow to all of us who knew him. Len had been a close friend, a wise advisor, a model of godliness, and a fellow elder. Dan said he thought about Len almost every day. It is hard to believe that ten years have passed since he went home to heaven. Roberta said that on his grave marker, she had five words inscribed that summed up Len’s life: “I want to know Christ.”
6:44 PM Last night I spoke at the Olford Institute for Biblical Preaching in Memphis. Dr. Stephen Olford founded the institute about 20 years ago. Today his son, Dr. David Olford, continues the work of training men in the art of expository preaching. This week a group of 30 pastors from many states gathered for instruction in how to craft biblical sermons. Several weeks ago David Olford asked me to share informally on the topic, “Lessons Learned Along the Way.” I found it very invigorating to look back over 27 years of pastoring and glean some insights to pass along to the men.
6:34 PM 100 miles. Did 20 miles on the Natchez Trace today. That’s it for biking till we get back from China.