Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Long Time No Blog

Well we're in it now!
We have begun our weekly services and are two weeks into it. We have yet to stop growing in attendance... this last week we were at 262 including kids... WHICH IS CRAZY NUTS! Let's catch you up to speed on what's been happening with Great Lakes and with the Petersons. First lets do a little GLC.

December was an exciting month as it was our final month in Mahone Middle School (pronounced Muh - Hohn). There is a neighboring school that was going to be needing Mahone as it was doing some renovating... so the plan was to move into Tinseltown (Kenosha's movie theater). Unfortunately, movie theaters might be GREAT for adult services, but they suck for kids. Ultimately, Dave was able to secure us a consistent spot at Nash Elementary, which is (no joke) two blocks from Dave's house. Nash is very reminiscent of Kirkland Junior High (where EastLake was before it moved to Bothell) with a big cafeteria with lots of day light for the Elementary Program, and adults are in the gymnasium. It might have been a bad move to secure an Elementary School, except that this one has over 200 parking spots for some reason... so we're good.

Our first service in Nash was a week-and-a-half ago on January 4th. Setup was on Friday morning of all the crazy times, and the crew was minimal, but the few people that were there have been clutch players in all of this from day one, so they knew the drill and we were able to setup everything, including Kids Program, in record time. Sunday morning we arrived at 8am to boot up and power on. The band was able to have an hour to rehearse and it was our very first time practicing all together... lol. I'm still leading worship... I really miss playing electric guitar, but Christian (who has joined the team as the 3rd "real" music team member) has been doing a phenomenal job on electric. I'm feeling a little more comfortable singing now, but still know that there is someone out there who is made for leading at Great Lakes.

We started our DNA series on the 4th, which is a great way to go weekly... it let's people know who we are and why we do things the strange way we do. It's kinda like a 5 week membership class. On the first week Dave spoke about taking risks... This past Sunday, the 11th, Dave spoke on our come as you are atmosphere. The rest of the series will touch on challenging people to not stay as they are (or to grow more Christlike) and getting plugged in with volunteering.

I'm looking forward to our official launch next month... it's the SEX SERIES and our first big mailer will be hitting homes at the end of this month. I can still remember the flack that EastLake had to deal with when the "Thank God For Sex" mailer hit the community... and I'm sure some of you do too. I'm not looking forward to dealing with bad attitudes toward our openness on the subject, but the lives that are going to change through it are totally worth it!

Here's Michelle.

Hello there :) So yeah, launching a church is a bizarre endeavor, and I can't believe we get to be a part of something like this AGAIN! I feel very fortunate and look forward to being a grandma and great-grandma someday and telling the grandkids what Grandpa Tony and Grandma Michelle did a long long time ago before they had kids and when people were still using DVR. I know that's an odd way to look at it, but it gives me perspective that this is worth all the risk, all the homesick days, and all the freezing cold we are experiencing now.

I work mostly behind the scenes, managing follow up and connection, trying hard to recruit volunteers onto our many teams. It's a funny thing to do, since we are technically only two weeks old as a church. However, Dave and the rest of the team have all been so clear and so passionate about our vision of starting a church in this area for people who don't go to church, that it's been easy for people to jump on at attach themselves to that. After last Sunday alone, we had 19 people commit to helping in Kids at least 1x per month. Many of those that committed were visiting us for the very first time! Isn't that something to thank God for? More than sharing our insider perspective, I'll share what some of our guests have shared with us over email...

I grew up at [local church] and attended regularly until about 2002. My husband and I got pregnant as teenagers and moved in with my parents who are members at [local church]. We wanted to get married [there], went through all of the classes and such, and were informed one month before our wedding that they would not marry us because we lived together. We were told that in order to be married that my fiance would have to move out for that month. We wanted to raise our child together and therefore changed the location of our wedding and found another pastor to marry us. My husband of now almost 7 years having been raised catholic was totally turned off to the church and would not return. [My husband] didn't want to go to church anywhere anymore until I begged him to attend Great Lakes (told him that the pastor often preaches in hoodies and jeans.) He liked the idea and loves it now as much as I do! Praise the Lord! I have waited so many years for something like this to come along and pray that he will stay interested. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you are doing for people like us! God Bless!

My husband and partner of 18 yrs killed himself Nov 2, 2008 and I am looking for someplace to start putting my life back together. I felt welcomed yesterday and one of your volunteers saw me crying when I came in and she gave me a hug and made me feel loved and welcome there. Thank you and I will be there next Sunday, weather permitting

(from one of our surveys)
All of the people standing outside in the freezing temps to greet me and show me where to park.


We are humbled and overwhelmed to be a part of something that has the potential to bring so much healing and hope to so many people.

It's very very very cold here. A co-worker at Starbucks helped me get some perspective today. She told me that most winters, the most snow Kenosha will get is about 19". Ever since Tony and I moved here, we've heard tons of horror stories about how terrible last winter was - way more snow than anyone could have imagined. My friend said that last year, by the end of the winter, Kenosha had 32" of snow total. YIKES! Then she told me that this year, so far, we've already received 39"!!!!! Our little Kenosha house is currently surrounded by about 2 feet of snow that doesn't seem like it has any intentions of melting any time soon. It's usually very pretty. It just becomes kind of a drag when I work at 4:30 in the morning and my car needs to be shoveled out before I can get anywhere. OH, not that I do the shoveling - I work really hard to stay toasty warm while Tony freezes his face off digging out our little Lupita (the Subaru).

Speaking of Lupita - here's something I've been chuckling over lately. Back in April when we finally decided to go out and purchase my dream car, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the purchase price included these never-used snow tires. Then, when we got our little car home, I was quite annoyed that we had no place to store these newly acquired assets. I quickly got really frustrated that the snow tires would have their home on the very small deck of our apartment - a complete eye-sore! I thought at that time, "Why do we even need these. It doesn't snow enough in Seattle to make this necessary". Fast forward several months, here we are in Kenosha Wisconsin experiencing record amounts of snow. Tony had the snow tires installed early in December and they have been a complete life saver. It makes me laugh every time I think of it and I pray, "Jesus, how patiently you dealt with my annoyed attitude about these tires when you knew all along where we would be and what we would need."

So, yeah, it's cold and I work at Starbucks. It seems like that sums up life between services for me. Oh, except for this fun fact... Tony and I have been having people over for Game Nights lately. Not necessarily Great Lakes Church people, mostly co-workers from Starbucks and their friends. It's been a fun change for Tony and I to actually find ourselves hosting anything. As some of you might know, we found it quite comfortable to have an apartment just big enough for the two of us, but not big enough to ever have people over. We liked our cozy private life, and were happy to leave any sort of hosting to just about anyone else. Here, we have a nice little house with a pretty open floor plan which makes it great to have people over. We've met some fun people and played some crazy games of Cranium, Catchphrase, & Apples to Apples. Tony also get's a chance to make a variety of appetizers to share - his latest were these amazing home-made pot stickers! Holy Smokes!

Me (Tony) again...

To wrap this all up, we realize that we've sorta disappeared to some of you back in Seattle and that's not how we want it to be. We totally miss you all and miss EastLake and miss needle-type trees and miss the backdrop of mountains and miss Peso's on Queen Ann and miss Cafe Veloce in Totem Lake and miss Jake and Lucy and Ruby and Tucker and Mazzy and miss consistently finding new things to do in Seattle. Thank you for praying for us and please continue to do so... specifically that Michelle can find another good paying job and that we can afford to stay here. Also, pray that God will continue to do what he's been doing and equip us to handle it.


msmeeks said...

Wow!! God is good and you guys are awesome for being willing vehicles for his grace!
It is so good to hear from you and we are totally excited to see everything that God has in store for the Petersons, Nelsons, Sweeney's & GLC!!

of course we miss you like nuts!

Noel said...

Deep down, I'm trying to imagine how I can make a game night at the Petersons...hmmm...

Karen Jussel said...

Tucker and Mazzy made the list....I'm assuming that includes Kevin and Karen too! ;)

Heidi said...

OH Tony... you made me cry.. Jake and Lucy miss you guys too... shoot.. we love you lots.

Michelle said...

Meeks: We learned a ton about being willing from you, and the rest, who started EastLake and gave Tony and I a place to really encounter God and community in such an authentic way. Your sacrifices propelled us!

Noel: We'll save a spot on our couch and all the blankets in the house for your visit.

Karen & Heidi: You know we miss you guys. I think he named your Jake, Lucy, Ruby, Tucker & Mazzy because those are not only some of our best friends, they are our only friends who can't read our blog :)