Arriving back: We have arrived back in the USA, and are writing from South Bend, Indiana. We have had a rather exhausting and emotional last week. After moving out, Liz spent the last several days sorting and supervising cleaning up the house and property, and we went to see several key families who we wanted to talk with personally. One was a widow who is a close friend of Liz, and another a young woman who is like a daughter, or perhaps a grand-daughter. We also went to see some families of some of the leaders. We were not able to see everyone that we would have liked to see personally, but others came to visit us at home, and still others called by telephone. We received several personal gifts, some which we were able to bring with us, but a few will have to wait.
We pared down our “stuff” to four large suitcases; Caleb Champlin, our grandson, will be bringing a fifth suitcase with him which we will pick up later. We plan to pick up that suitcase in a couple months after he arrives back in college from Suriname.
Our last service: Our church had a very special last service. The Lord blessed with good weather though we are still in the rainy season. The church had paid to have a lot cleared at the end of the street for parking . They put up a large “tenti,” a covered area with seats or benches underneath. I estimated that about 600 persons were present. We started about 10 A.M. and finished about 3:45 pm. The service was finished about 2:15, but there was a loooong reception line, some food, and then a lot of pictures.
The service consisted mostly of special music, congregational singing, and a sermon by Winston Zeeman, the pastor of the Winti Wai church. A number of former members returned to visit, including two of our members who are now ministers of social welfare and of regional development for the government. All 16 pastors who had trained in our church were there (we have 10 in our four churches, so six are elsewhere.) A group of young men, mostly preachers, gave us a montage of several pictures of themselves as teenagers as a thank-you. The church gave Liz a “pangi,” which is a traditional woman’s costume, and myself a “kamisi,” which is the traditional wear for a man, such as a captain. They also gave us a lovely silver tray engraved with a thank -you. I gave out copies of our newly translated New Testament Commentary to our preachers. Some of the other preachers also purchased them, and one used it while preaching within the last week.
Our trip back went very well. Kim and Ethan insisted in making the two hour plus trip from Moengo to take us to the airport on Tuesday morning, leaving their house at 3:15 A.M. Kim of course brought Joanna, who is nursing, and Caleb also came, as did Kristen Bissell, who is in Suriname for the summer, and Jonathan Champlin who had business in the city. We made our connections without problems. We did have several interesting conversations along the way, especially when we were in Miami overnight since our original late afternoon flight to South Bend was cancelled. Liz was able to witness to a couple ladies at the motel, and I had a chance to do so with a Panamanian man this morning.
It is really a bit early to assess the effects of our relocating in the USA, but we definitely believe that this is the Lord’s will for us at this time. I believe that our absence will strengthen the churches as the national leadership takes increased responsibility. They are ready. We pray that they will work together as a team, and have the vision of soul-winning to expand the outreach of the church. We will miss our people, and the weekly preaching of the word and pastoral ministry. But we are looking forward to the challenges of a new ministry, and pray that the Lord will allow us to influence many younger people to missions, especially to the unreached, the untaught, and the persecuted. We are looking forward to joining the team at Crown College to see these goals reached.
Our own spiritual growth
Safety driving while driving on the right, not left, side of the road
Health and strength for the task
We need to get our “stuff” to Crown College – pray for a good way to transport them down. We don’t have a lot, but it is more than our car can handle.
Our ministering to people and churches before heading to Crown College.
In Him and Content: Bob & Liz Patton Missionaries to Suriname since 1986