Several months had passed since visiting the founding pastor in the hospital. The fledgling church had shrunk from 30 to 10 and called another pastor. I wrestled with that a bit. I was sure God had called me to pick up the baton. Perhaps we were to go further north, but much more would require a visa -- we were nearly in Canada! So we spent most of the day in Caribou and the surrounding area.
On our way back from Caribou to Ellsworth, Sandy and I decided to stop at New Life Baptist Church. New Life was a house church, meeting in a farm house built in the early 1900's. As we pulled into the dirt driveway I had to navigate around several huge potholes. Our eyes took in the detached garage to the right of the house, a recently built stable, and a rickety out-building with a sagging roof and splintered clapboard siding.
We knocked on the door of the house. The pastor answered, and invited us inside. Seconds after we introduced ourselves, the pastor began to unload his dissatisfaction with the whole situation he was in. The only warmth in the house came from the woodstove that was burning! Yes, it was now late afternoon in early August, and a fire was needed to keep the chilly air from invading the house!
Now, I need to explain something. My wife is a Texan. The sight of a woodstove burning in August gave her horrors. She had already gone above and beyond the call of duty in marrying a Yankee, leaving the great state of Texas, and living beneath missionary standards in the woods of Maine! Sandy's commitment to Christ has never been a question. As we were leaving the driveway, Sandy said, "It's already cold and it's August! I don't want to leave our new home!"
(Hi, there, this is Sandy...I've been reading Bill's blog and I just had to break in on this one. What I really said was, "WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO LIVE HERE???
...OK, now I feel better...)
As best as I can recall, the long trip back to the coast of Maine began very quietly. I believe we were back to Houlton, about an hour south, before we began to talk about Presque Isle. The conversation ebbed and flowed between, "We can't!" to "Are we to go?" We weighed the pros and cons. We had to have God's mind on the matter.
If the decision was to be made based on convenience, it was obvious that we would not go. We have learned, though, that convenience is usually the furthest thing from God's mind.