I’m sitting on the half circle podium with the other pastors.
(Did you get that phrase? “other pastors?” I’m a pastor, can you believe it? At this large church, I am now the pastor of education. ALL of the myriads of children and adult Bible classes, the school with grades 1-6.. I am responsible for all of them . I have some wonderful teachers and leaders… but that old adage of “the buck stops here” refers to me and all the educational plusses and minuses the church may have. What a difference in attitudes and ambience returning from my 20 years as a missionary in Brazil!
I am simply a farm girl raised in the Pacific Northwest… how did all of this happen to me?
I look out at the thousand plus people sitting in the auditorium and looking up at the six of us sitting in the chairs on the podium – and I feel amazement.
Unexpectedly, I am brought back to reality by an elbow on my right as my good friend, Pastor George, jostles me back to THIS MOMENT.
As we begin to stand to step off the podium, Pastor George speaks to me in an undertone. “Are you going to do it now?”
My smile matches his as I pick up my purse. “Yep!”
I stand and start off the podium. Startled eyes follow me as I go to the right hand aisle instead of where I ALWAYS go to the left to sit with some women.
I bravely walk down the steps and up the aisle to the 4th row on the left, where a tall grey-haired man stands to help me sit. (He didn’t need to do that… but he is enjoying the moment as those thousand plus heads turn to watch me with those two thousand plus eyes open in amazement.) I sit down as he puts his arm behind my back. A quiet sigh emits from the audience and all eyes turn back to the podium where the worship service is continuing. Joe and I look at each other, me smiling with jow as he grins his lop-sided grin at me and his eyes twinkle. His arm settles across my shoulders and our eyes, also, go to the podium.
Joseph F. Pottle Sr, a widower and Vondelae (Voni) Eldred Hall, a missionary, have unofficially announced their engagement to the congregation.
Today, June 5, 2017 in Portland, Oregon
This afternoon my dear friend, Pastor George Merriweather, was here at my daughter’s home. We talked – some of it might have bored you, even though it was challenging to us.
We talked about that time 26 years ago, when George looked at me- grinning as he asked me what I was going to do;
the 25 plus years he and Mary have been pastoring a congregation here in Portland,
and the 25 plus years Joe and I had together facing challenges in Brazil.
George and I converse for almost three hours as we try to cover the years.
Towards the end of the conversation George stopped talking and sat with a faraway look in his eyes.
He then looked at me and said: “You know, Voni, it is interesting how God has brought us full circle to be here talking today.
It all started here in Portland, when Mary and I went on a mission trip to Brazil with you and Pastor Allan Hamilton. Our getting to know each other and experience missions, pastoring these 25 plus years.
You and Joe married here in Portland, and after all these years, came back to Portland and Joe is buried here.
A full circle.”
I agree, and my heart tells me even more.
Pastor George and Mary Merriweather have become my unofficial pastors, and I will be able to know their congregation. I won’t have Joe as my husband to protect me and be my “spiritual covering”, but I will have the love and prayers of my “pastors”, of their church, my family and friends, as I follow the road the Lord puts before me.
A FULL CIRCLE, yes. A BLESSED FULL CIRCLE. I wonder what will happen now?