Dear Hope Family,
Well, the first year is complete. It was very challenging and stressful at times but, as always, rewarding. I am writing you today from sunny Huntsville, AL where Jeanette and I are visiting our son and his family. And adding excitement to the visit, we are celebrating our oldest grandchild’s (Elizabeth) fifth birthday. When we return to Fort Wayne, we will be celebrating our second oldest grandchild’s (Calliann) fifth birthday (they were born 17 days apart). Oh what a joy and blessing children and grandchildren are from the Lord.
Since I last wrote, I finished off the winter quarter and completed the spring quarter. During the spring quarter, I had four classes in addition to New Testament Greek readings and Field Education. I took Pauline Epistles in which we studied Galatians and Romans. These are what are called exegetical classes, which means we really dig into the Greek to understand what is being communicated. I have come to really enjoy exegetical studies and thoroughly examining scripture. I find that digging into the original language gives a much deeper meaning than only reading an English translation. I also had more church history. This course covered the history of theology between post-reformation (~1550) and today. It has been a wild ride, theologically speaking, since the Reformation. It is interesting to see how many groups have splintered off as they interpret scripture differently, or take portions of scripture out of context, or try to explain the mysteries of God that we as human beings just cannot comprehend.
Next is Pastoral Theology I. This was a course that covered different situations that pastors will face in their ministry and how best to respond to them based on Scripture and the advice and guidance of those that have gone before us. Finally, I had Catechetics. In Catechetics, we learn how to teach Luther’s Small Catechism to confirmands and to adult new members. We also covered teaching in general to prepare the Bible studies that we will give as pastors. For my final project in this class, I created an eight-session class teaching the Lord’s Prayer from Luther’s Large Catechism that is geared toward adults. I found reading what Luther writes about the Lord’s Prayer fascinating. I had never imagined the Lord’s Prayer carrying so much meaning and weight as it does. If you have never read Luther’s explanation of the Lord’s Prayer in the Large Catechism, I highly recommend it.
For an update on things that have been happening outside of the classroom, on March 8, I gave my first real sermon in front of a congregation. That was scary and intimidating but also very rewarding to share God’s word with his people. I look forward to continuing to develop into a stronger sermon writer and feel more comfortable in the pulpit. My pastor says I will have more opportunities over the summer to deliver additional sermons. On nearly every Sunday I am reading scripture or leading the congregation through the Introit and trading off with our vicar in helping pastor distribute communion.
We started raising sheep this past year as well. We got our first adults in August; they had babies in January. It has been fun watching them grow and seeing how much we humans are like sheep and why Jesus uses that as an example throughout the Bible. Another thing we will be doing when we get back to Fort Wayne is harvesting hay. This will be my first time, and I am sure it will be a lot of “fun” and hard work. We will also be planting our garden. We will have plenty of hot peppers, tomatoes, herbs, corn, squash and of course a few pumpkins for the grandkids to paint and carve. Oh, and lest I forget, we are also raising Guinea Fowl. After observing these birds for a while, I think I know where the term bird brain may have originated. The Guinea Fowl are not very smart when it comes to common sense, or any sense for that matter. They routinely run in front of oncoming cars in the driveway, and somehow, they forget they can fly over fences. Instead, they squawk like they are trapped because they cannot figure out how to walk around the fence. They also have not figured out that they need to lay on their eggs to get them to hatch. Therefore, we are adding Rhode Island Red chickens to the flock to help with the incubation because they will incubate any egg you put in their nest. Regardless of all the quirkiness, it is good to enjoy God’s creation from this perspective.
Well, pardon the interruption. I got busy with a birthday party and a day at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. We are now back in Fort Wayne. They hay has been harvested and some of the garden planted. Yesterday, we spent a lovely day at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo for Calliann’s birthday.
What is next? This week is the second week of a three-week break before my summer term starts on June 12 when I will be attempting to learn Hebrew. The course lasts 8 weeks meeting 4 hours per day in class plus 1-2 hours per day for tutoring. This seems to be shaping up as a real challenge. I have started some pre-gaming by trying to learn the Hebrew alphabet and learn how to write it. The other big obstacle is that it is written/read from right to left. At this point, Hebrew seems scarier than Greek.
Well, I better get back to studying. Thank you again for your prayers and financial support.