Eight and a half years ago our family walked into the church here to begin ministry. Actually, only Michael walked in because he drove in the night before. The rest of us hustled in the next morning because we were late - driving in from family reunion at the lake. Jade was a part of the family then and we had Robby with us. We began loving the people of this Czech community that day as a family.
After the big kids went home, it was just us. A Daddy, a Momma and three little girls. Hannah and Leah were ten and Rachel was nine. They jumped into this place as if it was their very own.
They love it as if they were called separately by the Lord. They care when people are sick, cry when they die, and celebrate when they come to Jesus.
It has never just been just Michael's ministry. It has always been family. In November we added Hugh to help with this work. Such a sweet blessing.
Today is Rachel's last Sunday. It has been four hundred and forty four Sundays since that first one in hot July 2005.
It hit me just a little bit ago when I was walking back into the church. This will not be where I find her when she isn't at home or playing ultimate frisbee somewhere. She won't be here anymore except to visit.
Her ministry will never be over here, but next Sunday she will walk through the doors of another place to worship. Another place to serve. We stop counting the Sundays here and start counting somewhere else.
Go with much grace and blessing, Rachie. We love you and we are so proud of your desire to be right where God wants you to be.
Next week you can start counting anew.
Happy number one.