Canada in the Final Chapter of Our Sabbatical

Before we left Tacoma for Canada, we worshiped at Seattle's Quest Church, an intentionally multiethnic church that's a lot larger than Peace Lutheran Church. We headed to Vancouver, BC, Canada, and then up to the Whistler area for some camping and hiking in the mountains. Luke and Joy did a great job on our first family backpacking trip, a 7-mile hike with backpacks up to Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Park.  We did a whole lot of motivating and encouraging (with plenty of snacks including gummy worms, dried mango, and granola bars).  And we only had to do a little bit of carrying.  :) Our good friends Tim and his children Gil and Keziah joined us for the two-overnight trip. We put up our tents on tent pads with an incredible view of snow-capped mountains, shared meals cooked over a gas stove, took some cool side day hikes, and jumped into the mountain lake for a refreshing dip.  Backpacking in the mountains is life-giving for me, and to have my fami

Last Days in Oakland and Back to Tacoma

Our last several days in Oakland were rich and meaningful.  We worshiped at Redeemer Community Church in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco.  It's a multiethnic, multigenerational congregation with a significant number of folks of Asian heritage.  The pastor was on vacation.  (Imagine that!)  The person who gave the message spoke about the neighborhood's history and how the church feels called to serve those who are struggling in the neighborhood and work for God's justice.  It helped me reflect on Peace Lutheran Church's calling to life and ministry in the Hilltop neighborhood.  It's often a blessing to hear from someone from the congregation (other than the pastor) share from their heart how God is calling the church to be faithful in their context.  I'm sure the Sunday messages from so many from Peace in my absence have been a great blessing to hear! The music team did an original song, "Peace to the City," and the author shared the mus

Oakland - Leigh's Home Town

We're now in Oakland, California, at Leigh's parents' home in the house where Leigh grew up.  A few words summarize this past week on our "Mixed Plate" sabbatical:  eating, relatives, friends, driving, and bridges. Leigh was having brunch with friends last Sunday and I worshiped by myself (for the first time in a long time) at Oakland City Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational church in Oakland.  The worshiping community was wonderfully diverse, with folks of Euro-American, African American, Asian, and Latino backgrounds. It was fun for Leigh to get together with her whole immediate family -- her parents from Oakland, sister from Atlanta, and brother from the Bay Area.  The cousins on Leigh's side had a great time hanging out (above)! My (John's) parents flew in from Cincinnati, Ohio, to stay with Leigh's parents, and we've enjoyed lots of time eating, talking, walking, and laughing together.  My mom and dad have been using