Who drives 1,500 miles through Iowa?


Including the Mission Central leg, last week's loop - that included Illinois too - meant sleeping in six different beds in seven nights and SO. MUCH. DRIVING. Crazy? Maybe. Here's what the view from the passenger seat looked like, though. 

From Mapleton, my mom and I headed 90 min. to Jefferson, where we stayed with the Robsons in Al's grandparents' farmhouse. There was frost on my windshield as we headed to Trinity in the morning. I shared off-the-cuff with the LWML ladies, attended worship at 9:30, then formally presented during the "Lutheran 1/2 Hour" of fellowship. 

Pastor Martens had waaaaay too much fun with the sign.

A very kind couple snuck out in the middle of my presentation to get us Subway sandwiches so we could vamoose as soon as I was done and eat on the road...to Ottumwa for my sister's 2nd bridal shower (Something Blue Before "I Do"), hosted by her fiancée Christian's family. 

The three of us shared a hotel room in Ottumwa that night. I'd had a scratchy throat for a few days by this point and went in search of a strep test, but the one clinic advertised as open until 7...was not. Welcome to small town America. 

Christian picked up my mom and sister the next morning, so I was solo the rest of the way. My throat felt significantly better, but I still stayed put in the hotel room until checkout before making my way to the Quad Cities for pizza and ice cream with the Mission Board from Trinity in Davenport. Before I headed to the hotel room they graciously put me up in, we rehashed my extremely full Tuesday: three school assemblies, a Kids' Mission Club meeting, and a congregational dinner/presentation. 

I was banking on endorphins from a 6:15 am treadmill class at Orange Theory Fitness with a member of the Mission Board to keep me going all day. 

It wasn't hard to find Dominican flags - or my name and picture, for that matter - in the school/church hallways. 

Object lesson time during one of the assemblies.

The oldest students and I recited the closing prayer aloud, together.

The Kids' Mission Club meeting started with a Spanish lesson: John 3:16, selected because a portion of it appears on Trinity's facade. The students then did a newsletter mailing for me, colored Spanish Visual Faith Ministry postcards I'll take back to give out, and sampled Peruvian and Dominican snacks. 

Families started gathering around 5:30 for a Latino fusion supper of chimis, French fries, horchata, and Mexican pastries. I took the "stage" around 6:30. 

The above presentation represented my 3rd touchpoint with some of the kids. I think there might be some future missionaries in this bunch. Dani has been saying since age 4 that she wants to be a nurse and a missionary. 

Another relaxed morning awaited me, even with the pit stop to be revealed in a future post that I built in on the way to Lisbon/Mt. Vernon, IA. I was duly impressed with the number of young families that heard me speak during St. Paul in Mt. Vernon's Lenten dinner, then stayed for the final midweek worship service. After, I shared my "missionary story" with the confirmands who'd publicly profess their faith on Palm Sunday. 

My hostess, Crysten, cooked up a scrumptious brunch to fuel my drive to Peoria, IL. 

The Mississippi is blue?!?

In Peoria, I finally met the Mission Board chair I'd been communicating with via phone, email, and text for the past 5+ years. Over subs from a favorite local chain, I presented for her, the rest of the Board, and a few dedicated members of the congregation. 

Knowing I wanted to be in St. Louis for Friday's 10 am chapel at the LCMS International Center (IC), I seriously considered driving back Thursday night. I'm much more of a morning person than a night owl, though, and I'm infinitely grateful for the many hours of lovely kitchen conversation my hostess, Donna, and I packed into one night. She didn't blink an eye when she calculated what time I'd need breakfast in the morning. 

My gas light came on just as I pulled into the IC parking lot. Chapel featured the sending of five new missionary families, three of whom we'll soon welcome to the DR! Although I'd already met them all, or maybe because I had, sharing in the milestone of having completed missionary orientation was important to me. I hung around until early afternoon for a celebratory luncheon, IT help session, and KFUO Radio "Coffee Hour" recording. 

LAC missionaries old and new: the Webers, me, Stigdons, Shavers, and Tirzah.

A Friday night dinner party ushered in one more weekend of going at it full steam ahead before a much needed Holy Week respite. More on where in the US I was off to next soon. 

Until next time, blessings in Christ!