Katie and the kids headed down to our hometown of Fall River Mills (located in the mountains of northern California) on Tuesday, August 27th to stay with her father and stepmom, and I flew down to join them last Sunday evening, September 1st. Then we all drove back together this past Friday the 6th. Katie’s sister Molly came out from Connecticut with her husband DJ and their kids too. My father-in-law Rick owns Maher Farms where he grows wild rice and mint on hundreds of acres of land. I took the kids on lots of 4-wheeler rides each day around the fields. There’s a pond behind the house and Rick cleaned out most of the algae (but there was still enough for the kids to throw at each other and have allergy fights since they can’t pronounce algae), brought in an excavator, tons of sand and built a beach with a fire pit. It was the highlight for the kids each night, sitting around it having S’mores. Rick and Kathleen also got kayaks so we were able to take the kids on rides each day.
Another great part of the trip was connecting with Pete and Susie Lorenzen. They were good friends of my parents when I was growing up, and my brother and I used to play with their kids. Pete and Susie became Christians twenty years ago, and then six years ago they started a Calvary Chapel in town. Whenever we’re in the area Pete invites me to preach at his church, and this time was even more enjoyable because my brother-in-law DJ did the music before I gave the message. My best friend in high school, JP, got into using and selling drugs after high school, was arrested, became a Christian in jail, and turned his life around. Now he’s married and has a family, and seven years ago I was happy to have him as the Best Man in my wedding. He still lives in Fall River and attends Pete’s Church.
Something else interesting about this trip is I usually try to spend the weeks prior to messages thinking about the upcoming verses. We’re in Luke 4 where Jesus heads back to His hometown and preaches…sort of like I did. The people basically respond like, “We remember this Guy…why’s He up there saying all this stuff?” Sort of like I could imagine people responding when they see me preaching since I wasn’t a Christian growing up. So it was enjoyable to be able to contrast the parallels between Jesus’ experience in His hometown of Nazareth while I was in my hometown of Fall River Mills.