This morning as I waited for everyone to get up, I decided to write this story to explain how we got here. I intended to take the family to Slidell, Louisiana after breakfast, so I wrote this while Felicity took her shower * * * *
Living in Kearney, Nebraska, has its challenges as well as its bright spots. With a population of over 30,000 (32,174 in 2013), it is a fairly large city, though only about 7% (in 2013) the size of Omaha. Owning a car lot on the southern side of town, I am able to work with my family and still make a living. This allowed us to travel to the conference, as I can make my own schedule.
The used car lot was actually started by my dad, who sold his first car in 1981, two years after I was born. I began as a salesman in 1994, when Dad started me off in the business after I graduated from school. (We were Mennonites—they only go to about eighth or tenth grade for the most part).
Dad quit a couple of years later and I got the lot. Felicity and I had met in the Mennonite church, and were married in 1999. Our oldest son, Steve, was born a year later in 2000. Susanna (Susie) followed two years later, and Joel came last in 2003.
I have not time nor paper to tell you all the details that occurred from 2003 after Joel was born to 2014, what we named the “eleven tunnel years”. Suffice it to say that during those years, Felicity and I began seeing problems in the Mennonite church, beginning with their doctrine; investigated church history, left the church, and finally came out to the light at the end of the tunnel. Another story (or two) will have to cover that.
In the early fall of 2014, just as we were leaving the Mennonite church, we came across Antoine Miller and his Send the Light TV and Radio. As he offered a bi-weekly newsletter and seemed fairly close to Mennonites, we subscribed and felt at home. Brother Miller and his ministry helped us as we moved on from Mennonites to Baptists. Brother Miller, we discovered, was not a Mennonite but held similar beliefs.
It was through Antoine’s newsletter, The Kansas Baptist Kronicle, that we learned of this pastor’s conference in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A flyer was included in the April issue of the KBK, with speakers and topics listed. Since Brother Miller was a speaker, we decided we would go
“What are you writing?” Felicity asked me as I wrote this story.
“The story about what happened before the conference,” I replied.
“How many pages so far?” she asked with a smile.
“Two and a half,” I replied.
She nodded her head and went to dig for her smartphone.
* * * *
“Hey, what do you think about this?” I asked Felicity when we got the flyer.
“About what?” she asked.
“Brother Miller’s going to be at a pastor’s conference in Hattiesburg, Mississippi,” I replied, offering her the flyer.
She took the flyer and looked at it.
“June 5th through the 15th,” she mumbled. “Six Bible-believing preachers speak truth from God’s Word. Topics include eschatological studies, Replacement Theology, baptism, Christian living, and more. Services will be held on Sunday mornings at 10:30 A.M.; Sunday evenings at 6:00 P.M.; and weekdays at 6:30 P.M. Refreshments will be provided after the service.”
“Sounds interesting,” she said after a moment of contemplation.
I quickly pulled up Antoine’s website. “It’s advertised here, also,” I stated. “Conference attendance free of charge, but the church will be taking a love offering.”
“What church?” she asked.
“Leaf River Baptist Church,” I replied, clicking on the link provided.
“It looks interesting,” she commented after we viewed the church’s website for a couple of minutes. “What do you think?”
“It sounds interesting,” I replied. “It might be nice to meet Antoine if we could get a chance, but the topics sound interesting, too.”
We thought about it for a week or two, and then, needless to say, decided to attend the conference.
As the conference drew nearer, I looked at hotel prices around the area, since Felicity and I intended to stay for the whole thing. I finally selected Motel 6, since I had had a good experience with them before.
The next thing to deal with was the car lot. I have a few workers: a mechanic and two salesmen, along with my son, Steve, who helps with the sales.
“I have a question for you all,” I stated one Friday afternoon in May. “If you’d like to have a seat.”
“What—last paycheck?” Mark, one of my salesmen, asked.
“No not quite,” I stated. “But coming up in about a month is a pastor’s conference I was planning on attending. So I was trying to set things up to do so. Last night, Felicity and I were talking, and I thought about suggesting a two-week vacation.”
“A vacation?” Paul, my mechanic, asked.
“From Friday, June 3rd, to Friday, June 17th,” I replied.
“How would this work?” Mark asked.
“We’d work until noon on Friday,” I stated. “Then I’d give you your money and we’d be closed for two weeks, well, technically for two weeks and two days. We’d start back to work on Monday, June 20th.”
“That is a little more than two weeks,” Paul remarked.
“I know,” I answered. “This will give us some time for traveling as well as time to recover from the trip, and we can start on a new week. Do you think that will work?”
“I guess so,” Mark replied.
“This will also allow us to have Father’s Day weekend off,” Paul added.
“And then we’ll start on Monday,” I agreed.
“Sounds fine with me,” they answered.
So we set it up, and when June 3rd came, we worked half a day and then began on the long trip.
* * * *
Well there you have it: The pre-conference events. And now I’d better close; the children are getting up and it’ll soon be time for breakfast.