I have shared Great Plains Yearly Meeting's (GPYM) epistle, below, which communicates the corporate sense of the sessions. For me personally, there was a lot to chew on this year. I gave a number of reports, lead a Bible study/worship service, and I brought my concern to travel among Friends in the Great Plains region in the coming year.
I explained that, this coming year, beginning in February, 2009, it is my intention to return to the Great Plains and intensify the ministry of intervisitation that I began during the past year. I plan to spend time with each monthly meeting in the yearly meeting, coming to deepen my relationship with each congregation and seeking to be of service in building up the Body of Christ in our local meetings and communities. Additionally, I will aim to be of service to our neighbors in Manhattan, Lawrence and Topeka, encouraging them in their journey and seeking increased fellowship and cooperation between these meetings and Great Plains Yearly Meeting. Finally, I plan to look for ways to lend encouragement and support to isolated Friends in Kearney, Nebraska, Great Bend, Kansas, and elsewhere, helping them to find the material, human and spiritual resources they need to thrive. The needs of Friends will vary from place to place, but I hope that some of the fruits of my ministry might be: the strengthening of the existing meetings of GPYM; a greater focus on intervisitation in GPYM; encouragement for the pastoral leadership in our pastoral meetings; increased outreach in local communities; a focus on encouraging youth and a new generation of leadership; encouraging the growth of new meetings where there have not been any before; and outreach to other meetings in the region.
I was grateful that Great Plains Yearly Meeting did unite with me in this concern, providing me with a travel minute, an oversight committee, and some material support. My plan is to return in February of this coming year, to purchase a touring bicycle and a tent, and, once the weather permits, to begin to travel around the region, seeking to be of service to Friends across the Great Plains (Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, principally). I am praying that God will provide me with a traveling companion for this work, who would be willing to consider a long-term commitment (I plan to carry on this work for at least six months). In addition to a long-term traveling companion, I am also hopeful that Friends from Great Plains Yearly Meeting might join with me in traveling to different monthly meetings and worship groups to provide support in whatever way is most helpful to that group of Friends. Even if a Friend were able to drive up for a day or two to join me where I was at, that would be wonderful, and it is precisely in this way that I hope that my ongoing intervisitation might serve to encourage others in the yearly meeting and region to undertake intervisitation themselves, if only for a day or two.
Following Great Plains Yearly Meeting, I made my way yesterday to Mexico City, to link up with my brother who had been studying nearby in a Spanish language school for the past month. For the past few days, he has been staying at the Casa de los Amigos, the Friends house in Mexico City where I was once a volunteer. It was great to see my brother, and David Johns from the Earlham School of Religion, who came to meet me at the airport and accompany me back to the Casa. David is spending several months this summer as the Friend in Residence at the Casa, as well as taking some time to visit Friends in other parts of Latin America (Honduras and Guatemala, as I recall). I am glad that he is here, deepening his relationship with Friends in the Spanish speaking world. It seems clear to me that God has a special call for him as an ambassador, a bridge person between Friends in different parts of the Americas.
It was a blessing to have a called meeting for worship with a few Friends this morning. We came together in the beautiful space where the Friends of Mexico City Monthly Meeting meet, on the third floor of the Casa, in what used to be the art studio of the famous Mexican muralist, José Clemente Orozco. It was lovely to share communion with Friends here in that tall-ceilinged, beautifully-lit meeting room. We had a very peaceful time of worship.
I felt particularly blessed to have the chance to catch up a little bit with Nico and Jill, who are serving as house managers here at the Casa. We were able to talk for a while, while Nico and Jill played with their beautiful infant daughter. It seemed to me from our conversation that there is energy here for involvement in the Young Adult Friends movement. I wondered aloud with them whether that might be true in other meetings here in Mexico, for example in Ciudad Victoria, Monterrey, and perhaps in Evangelical churches here in the Valley of Mexico and in other parts of the country. I hope that Young Adult Friends in Mexico are able to come together, and I look forward to being supportive of that movement in any way that I can, knowing that it is ultimately up to Mexican Friends to decide whether they want to make this movement their own.
I am worried about my brother, who is quite sick at the moment. It seems it was something he ate or drank. We were planning on heading out to Cuernavaca tomorrow, but it looks like we'll stay another night at the Casa. Andrew's in no condition to travel. I would appreciate prayers for his health and for safe travels for us as we explore Central Mexico and the Yucatan together.