"Now if your experience of Christ's love and encouragement means anything to you..."

A week in the life of a PoP Community [cult] member:

Sunday: The Havards were going to a later Mass but I decided to join Peter at the 9am, which meant that the homily was given by Deacon Kevin Ranaghan at St. Bavo's. Among other things, he got to share about his recent trip to Rome from an ecumenical perspective.

Monday: Stayed late at work. Each day is fractionally more recognizable as a normal job concerning material that I have a slightly remote clue about. That evening I did some reading from a chapter in "Models of the Church" in preparation for a retreat in a couple weeks.

Tuesday: Caught a 5:30pm Mass at a small church kinda near work, unfortunately they only have it twice a week. Home in time for a casual dinner with a couple of the kids... dinners have been very sporadic lately, arriving at the end of the baseball and softball seasons for Mark-Allen and Christine. Drove to the community men's meeting with Peter, which was half praise & worship, a testimony, and small groups praying over each other, then half a social with homemade (good) pizza and pop/wine/beer on tap. Got to spend some time catching up with Eric Boughton, a great guy from a great family who might be moving in the near future. We briefly lived together one summer here in SB, right before he met his wife-to-be, April. He's considering a job in Portland, where there is another community branch and April's side of the family. Also more time with Gene Stowe, who brought his entire family here from Charlotte 13 years ago to increase their life in common. This is a monthly meeting consisting of all the men in the branch and any guests. Mark was going to be late from working with a client at home, but it was great to see him show up with Mark-Allen in tow! There were probably 60 guys there, oh and the testimony was from a guy who grew up in the community, but didn't really get interested in it until late in his college career at BSU in Muncie, due to the encouragement of the Muncie campus fellowship team. I musta been in elementary at the time, also in the Muncie branch. :)

Wednesday: My night for dishes & the washer/dryer is all mine to use, so I was busy with that, looks like the last load of all the random bags of clothes I brought with me but hadn't unpacked from Chicago. Catching bits and pieces of the weekly live video feed from Louisiana, courtesy of CityBuilder. Their technology is still very young so there are a fair number of stalls. Later in the evening, went to Corby's Irish Pub downtown with a few of the young adult singles to catch up and continue discussing future plans. Back by about midnight..

Thursday: Left immediately from work to go to Chicago for the 2nd planning meeting for the retreat, plus phone calls with friends. Talked to Eric Bomkamp on the way there, been friends with him longer than anyone else, he's on the verge of buying a house and living with a couple other single guys in the Rockford IL branch. He grew up 2 blocks away from me in Muncie, so close that our parents shared parental discipline methods... if you know what I mean... :) On the way back, I talked to Rochelle, a nurse and former JVCer in Chicago that I met shortly before I moved. Long conversation that did a great job of keeping me awake for a drive that got me home at 1:15am.

Friday: Stayed late at work, but partly just to catch more of Wednesday's archived CityBuilder videocast. Then relaxed and messed around in the pool with the kids. Household rules for the pool are the buddy system including at least 1 adult either in the vicinity or actually with them, which is smart. Wasn't quite expecting the buddy system to be required for adults too, but again, it's smart. Stayed up pretty late watching TV..

Saturday: Slept in, woke up to the smell of burnt pancakes wafting all the way down into the basement bedroom, and found Katie-Ann upstairs cleaning her pots with the vent on full blast. :) Got some more piano practicing in, which has been great since I haven't lived with a piano since high school. Eventually went for a run with Peter, right around midday - HOT! - and did around 6 miles, down to the river and back, continuing his marathon training. Swam a couple different times that afternoon/evening, a casual Lord's Day celebration with the family, and eventually headed in town to Fiddler's Hearth to meet a few more folks and catch some great live music. High quality, except that the Blue Moon comes in bottles w/out an orange slice.

Sunday: St. Bavo's again this week. We were expecting a guy from Hawaii to be joining us, but he didn't make it until mid-morning after Mass. Mike Stapp grew up in Southern Indiana but has been in school in Hawaii for a few years. He went to play baseball but is now just studying and working, and he encountered the Oahu branch while he was there, and has now been with them for about 5 months, as probably their youngest adult at the age of 23. He flew back for a friend's wedding and decided to contact SB to try to experience life in one of the large branches. He's been here a few days, staying with a slightly older single guy, Randy Peterson, who is Trinity Schools' Athletics Director. Randy contacted Peter to see if Mike could spend the day with us, as he'd be out of town and to give Mike more exposure yet to the young adult life in the branch. Mike met the Havards, came back later in the afternoon for a small pool party with a neighboring family, stuck around for dinner, and then joined us at a pickup soccer game on one of ND's fields. "Pickup game" usually suggests some degree of skill level, but fortunately for my sake and Mike's, that bar was very low. It meant for a very fun and entertaining evening, with a great group of young adults, around half and half community/non-community members.

Earlier in the day, Mike, Peter, and I had a great conversation about the many colored perceptions there are regarding the People of Praise. They got a kick out of my choice of titles for my senior paper about it: "Life in a Cult" But seriously, what else do you call something like this that would allow Mike to have a jam-packed half-week of good things to do, in a town where he previously knew zero people? And vice-versa, how else could I visit any of these cities and be certain of having a welcoming home to stay in and trust levels that represent Christ-like relationships, amongst people of all different vocations, without recognizing a single face? That is the strength of our covenant.