May 20-22 were the official dates for the 2010 CPC Presbytery meetings, and our church was the one chosen to host it all this year! However, guests started arriving in town before the "official" beginning and stayed until past the "official" ending - and we were SO glad they did! We had an amazingly wonderful time with our brothers and sisters from across the country.
The photos we have below are only from the "before and after" events. During presbytery we really had too much going on to keep track of a camera. So we are unable to share with you all the delightful things we did together during the weekend - the feasting, the singing, the competing, the talent-sharing, the bible studying, the ordination, the dancing, the talking, oh yes, and the elder meetings (the reason we were all together in the first place!).
On Tuesday afternoon, May 18, our firsts guests started to arrive! We ended up with around 50 people at our place for dinner that evening - from California, Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois... (did I miss anyone?). We ate (of course) and enjoyed group games and conversation.
On Wednesday afternoon, a gang of about 40 of us jumped on the train and headed for a walking tour of downtown Chicago!
We mostly just enjoyed all being together - we didn't really care whether we were riding a train, walking the streets and seeing the sights, or sitting in a restaurant. God sent us a beautiful day of sunshine and cool breezes which made the 5.3 miles of walking very pleasant!
We did, of course, stop by "The Bean" and take a few pictures. After all, we were in downtown Chicago....
But our group actually preferred spending time at quieter and prettier places, like Buckingham Fountain and the lake front.
During our Chicago adventures, back on the home front our amazing guests were busy proving how amazing they really are. All us Erbers joined the crew headed downtown. But not all of our guests did. So before leaving I (Jessica) ran through dinner plans with them and then bade adieu. While we were gone, a couple of other families arrived in town and stopped by our house. Our guests turned into hosts and as the dinner hour was at hand scrounged around in our fridge and pantry and turned out a dinner for about 40 - all without touching any of the food that we needed for the rest of the week's plans. By the time we got home our house was spotless and bore not a trace of the all the fun that had been had in our absence. Like I said, we got to host some truly amazing friends last week! :-)
Okay, so now we are up to Thursday when Presbytery officially began. Thus pictures cease.
Imagine, if you will, 300 people with activities based at a local church - church elders and other men meeting in the library or the sanctuary, families gathered in the fellowship hall, at a park, or in choir practice. Imagine us feasting on local and ethnic foods, on Chicago style pizza, on ice cream. Imagine us listening to, or singing along with, The Wintons. Imagine innumerable games of volleyball (dare I mention that - like good hosts - our church did manage to dominate those games?). Imagine laughter, conversation, dancing, music, skits, hymns, scripture studies, kitchen work, logistic management, decorating, rearranging, cleaning, singing, feasting, praying, rejoicing...
I can't tell you exactly what all happened in the elders meetings, but my understanding is that all business was successfully accomplished. The success of one point of business was evidenced in an ordination service for several new elders on Friday evening. As part of the service, vocalists from the churches gathered performed (with only two brief rehearsals) two pieces (Pacem and Elect of God) under the direction of Jonathan Erber (who arrived home for the summer in the midst of all the excitement last week)!
Then we move along. By Saturday noon the 2010 Spring Meetings of the CPC came to an official end. But as we were not a crowd that was especially eager to hit the road, and not being especially adept at saying "goodbye", after clean-up we headed over to a park for a cook-out and more games and conversation.
Sunday morning came and saw our local congregation doubled in size for the morning as we worshipped the Lord together with brothers and sisters from coast to coast!
Sunday afternoon saw us back at our home with the crowd still numbering around 100. Many great conversations, more games, jump-rope, and somehow there was still more than enough food...
See those two RV's? Sunday night we had three of them parked in our driveway! Throughout the week we had about 30 people staying in our home and driveway. On Sunday when one family left to return home, we had another family move in for the night. It was SUCH a delight to host them all!
Games and conversation lasted well past sundown!
The sun rose on Monday morning to find nearly everyone on the road. At our home, however, we still had three families staying with us. After breakfast we bid goodbye to one of those families, but the other two stayed on until Tuesday morning.
It was wonderful to have a quieter day to relax - but still have good friends around so we didn't crash back to reality too hard! :-) Relaxing didn't start immediately, though. First the guys pulled out all our equipment and mowed the lawn, chopped up a tree that had come down, and in general got our yard all cleaned up - in spite of having record heat and humidity that day. Thanks so much, Hectors and Adams!
Most of the afternoon and evening were spent sitting around together enjoying conversations in the shade. After some discussion the pool was opened up and despite an unattractive greenish hue to the water several chose to cool off therein before dinner.
Tuesday morning, May 25, and the final 'farewells' came all too quickly.
Goodbyes are always sad - but how sweet the knowledge that although we may not see each other often, every Sunday we meet together in worship before the throne of God! What an incredible week of encouragement and refreshment this has been for our family - a much needed one for me personally.
The house is quiet again, we are finally mostly caught up with laundry, and now it's time to look ahead to what is coming up next on our calendar - Oh yes, and start planning our trip to California for Presbytery 2011...