After 10 days filled with conversation, learning, faith, and food, our time in Nebraska came to a close yesterday. We began our day by joining Pastor Gary in worship at Adullam Lutheran Church. It is a really small country church which made for a wonderful intimate worship setting. All of us were able to participate in the service either by reading a lesson, leading the prayers, or serving communion. As everywhere we visited on our journey, the congregation warmly welcomed us in and gave us well wishes for the rest of our seminary journey. After worship at Adullam, we moved to the second point of this two-point parish, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bertrand. Once again, we gathered together in worship with many familiar faces around us. At the end of worship we shook hands with everyone and quickly realized how many people we had formed relationships with over the past week, as over half of the people in church had played some part in our trip. It was bittersweet to say our goodbyes but encouraging to hear their words of encouragement and standing invitations to visit again.
Interestingly, Adullam and Immanuel have always shared one pastor since the day the second church (Immanuel) was built. As people started to move off the farm and congregate in town in Bertrand, the people in town didn't want to travel five miles out into the country and the people who were still living in the country didn't want to travel five miles into town. Thus, a two point parish. Each congregation continues to hold strong allegiances to their individual congregations to this day.
As soon as the service and fellowship time was over at Immanuel, we packed up the vehicles and hit the road towards Omaha so we could fly back to Chicago. We stopped at Runza in Kearney, a restaurant only found in Nebraska that serves runza sandwiches which are kind of like a cross between a stromboli and a sub sandwich. When we got to Omaha we had to say goodbye to our hosts, Pat and Dennis, both of whom did an enormous amount of work making sure our stay was enjoyable and we were well taken care of. Now we have a few days on campus to work on projects related to our experiences before we share them in class on Wednesday and Thursday. We had a whirlwind of a week and meet more caring and loving people in such a short amount of time that it is incredible. Our journey through rural ministry was an eye-opening and valuable experience that I believe will help all of us in our discernment process.