On Thursday I happened to notice on Facebook that my friend Leonid from seminary--originally from Russia, has been doing missions work in Russia and is now in the Chicago metro area--was in Minnesota according to his status. So I commented on it and asked where he was and if he'd be coming through the Twin Cities. After a few hours of going back and forth sporadically, it ended up working out that he was going to join us for supper.
We talked about life and such; part of the conversation was about our church, seminary friends, religion at large, etc. He brought up someone else who had gone through seminary with us and is pastoring a multi-ethnic church in Minneapolis. Leonid said that our other friend wasn't sure how to make this multi-ethnic church experience work out. Everyone in the church is gung-ho about it, until their children start dating across racial lines--or worse, get married. Then the unity breaks down, and people start leaving.
Our church doesn't have that problem. I think it helps that there are so many mixed-race couples in the church to start with. Our pastors did say a few times during our membership classes that it takes work to make a multi-cultural church work. You have to make the effort to not just associate with the people you naturally gravitate toward.
Last night we had a fellowship supper with people from church. Other than the host family, who is Korean, everyone we've met so far is white (except for some adopted children). There are plenty in the group who haven't been able to be there the two times we have been. So, chances are good--especially in our church--that the others aren't white. We're hoping so--that's part of the reason why we went to the church in the first place. Heaven's not going to be white, so why should our church--or all our friends.
This morning at church we sat with one of our friends (who have adopted African-American children) in the second row. Anders and their son (who is a year older, but towers above him) are great friends. Today was hip-hop Sunday. So Nathaniel, Anders and Nils were up front dancing to the worhsip songs. It made my heart happy. Anders even pulled on his black Yoda touque at one point. Though they may not have had the intention during the time, it was worship to me.
We ended up heading over to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory after lunch (it's free). We were hoping to get a good two-year portrait. He wasn't overly into being photographed today. But he's still a cute little stinker-monkey. Anders had a notebook along and was drawing pictures as we walked through the conservatory (ala Sid the Science Kid on PBS Kids TV). He loves to draw and color. And, he's pretty good, too.
We swung by Beth's cousin's house on the way home to drop off some stuff. We ended up staying for supper (bless you, Nate & Gwen). I don't really know Beth's extended family as well as she knows mine (they don't get together in the same ways mine do), but I enjoy having Nate nearby and getting to know him and his wife. And our kids really like being together, too, so that's a big bonus. Of course, they're in St. Paul, and we're west of Minneapolis, but we can put differences aside.
It was also a hard week at points. Beth had a rough phone call Friday night, she ended up working seven days in a row (which, we needed the extra money, but it's draining of course) and a good friend of ours from Iowa passed away Saturday morning. She had a long battle with cancer, and we all knew this was coming, but it's hard to think that she won't be there the next time we get back (we're not going to be able to make it down for the funeral). Her children (and their families) are good friends of ours as well (I officiaed one of their weddings). We know how it sucks to deal with the death of a parent (or any loved one). Even though we know she's done with her cancer and the pain, and that she's in God's presence, death still sucks. It's heart-breaking to lose someone.
The consolation is the hope in knowing that someday there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth, that we we have new bodies, that death and pain and the ill-effects of sin will all be gone, and that we will be forever in the presence of Love. That is what we hope for; that is what we live for: marana tha (O Lord, come!).