We arrived in Orlando on Thursday afternoon, August 13. We were met at the airport by a member of the search committee, Mr. Ken Herndon. Jonah met Mr. Ken first when the committee was here in July. They had dinner in our home and he became big buds with them. As we went down the escalator, Jonah spotted Mr. Ken and took off running. He jumped in his arms and basically stole Mr. Ken's heart. Being a grandfather, he "gets" little kids and Jonah obviously connected with him.
Mr. Ken got us settled in our room at the Holiday Inn then picked us up for dinner with his wife, Mrs Garie. We went to fabulous local favorite, Main Street Grill. We were not sure how Jonah would do at dinner since he had been traveling all day and not napped. He did great! Not only that, in the midst of the meal, he started singing. Yeah, he straight up sang "We're Marching to Zion!" We laughed and told the Herndon's that he had already learned to work the crowd as a preacher's kid. Not only did he sing something spiritual, he chose a hymn!!!
Our day Friday was pretty open. We had an appointment with our Realtor, "Misser Bob" to see the house again and to get some measurements. Jonah made fast friends with the homeowners and entertained us all. At the last minute of our visit, his sippy cup opened and he spilled cranberry juice all over their carpet! I was mortified but less bothered since it is going to be OUR carpet in a few weeks. They were so sweet to him and got it cleaned up but it totally stressed us out. Sometimes we forget he is just 3!!
Dinner that night was with the Deacons, Personnel Committee and Stewardship Committee and ALL of their spouses. There were probably 80 people there and more names than we can remember. It was great to meet that group of leaders and have some time to share with them. Dan & I both shared our hearts with them, attempted to learn some names and had a fabulous meal!
Jonah spent the evening with Anna and Katee Gmitro. Their mom is on the Search Committee that called Dan to SBC. The volunteered to be Jonah's buddies for the weekend. He fell in love with them. We have been home almost a week and he still asks where Katee and Anna are. Sweet boy. I'm thinking he was crushing on them just a little bit! :-)
Saturday was a fun day for our family. I still have lots of pictures to post from that day but we went to Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach and to see the skydivers at the Skydive Deland. It was a fun day that ended with a great night of meeting the SBC family. There was a meal followed by a Q&A time with Dan. We both spoke and shared what God was doing in our life, family and ministry. Jonah even had his turn at the microphone. As soon as I can figure out how to post audio clips, I will. You have to hear how precious he was when he introduced himself and said "Hey, everybody!"
Our time together Saturday night was simply wonderful. We felt "at home" and very confirmed in the leading of God in this decision. The people obviously love their church, are passionate about the ministries they are involved in and want nothing but the best for Stetson Baptist Church. The joy of that night was filled with spurts of thoughts of Vidalia. I teared up one time when a lady came to the microphone and said "It is obvious that the people in Vidalia love you and you love them. We want to know if you will let us do the same?" It made my heart happy to hear that and know the desire of those people to invest in our lives but at the same time, I was sad to think of all the people here who have done just that. Tough stuff!
Dan preached in both services Sunday morning. His sermons followed an incredible time of worship. Reggie, the choir, the praise team and instrumentalists BROUGHT IT! They led us to the throne of God and set such a tone for what God wanted to say through Dan. Dan preached a sermon that he had never preached before. He said he was tempted to pull out one of his best from the past but felt like he needed to speak from John 3. There were decisions made in both services. The spirit of God was very real and the excitement was electric!! After each service, we were ushered out to the Gathering Area to meet and greet. We met so many people and were continually reminded of the sweet spirit in that church.
After the second service, we noticed the Pastor Search Committee chairman hanging around. I could tell he was waiting to tell us something. After we hugged the last neck, shook the last hand and introduced ourselves to the last person, he ushered us into the Bride's Room off of the sanctuary to tell us the result of the vote. With 4 NO votes, Dan was called to Stetson Baptist Church as pastor with a 99.4% vote. The entire committee, some of the staff, and some of the deacons were with us as we held hands, thanked God for His calling, prayed for FBCV and rejoiced over the future.
We came back that night to share the result of vote with the church. Dan and I accidentally matched. This stressed him out. He even mentioned it from the pulpit.
The committee was called on stage and the church (and us!) had an opportunity to thank them. This group met two times a week for three hours each time for almost two years. WHOA! Talk about commitment. They did their homework like nothing I have ever seen. I was blown away by the commitment of this group. Not just to their church, but to their God. We fell in love with them and count it a privilege to be their friends. They are a Godly group of people who sought the Lord's will rather than their own. (That isn't always easy!!) They trusted Him in the hard times and knew he was faithful. It was a joy to stand with the congregation and thank them for their service.
Dr. Bennett (Interim Pastor) and Mr. Benny (Chairman of the Deacons) called us to the front to pray for us and for our dear friends at FBC, Vidalia. That was such a special time. Then, he called all Deacons to join us and Mr. Benny voiced a prayer on their behalf. Then, Reggie, our Worship Pastor, voiced a prayer on behalf of the incredible staff we are about to join.
Jonah made friends with lots of people and even got a t-shirt out of the deal. The chairman of the Personnel committee had this made for him. He was thrilled. He was equally as thrilled to hang out with some of the big kids over at the Herndon's house for the after party with the search committee and their families.
Notice that chocolate cake Jonah is eating? (By the way, that is Katee who I mentioned earlier!) When we were leaving church, Jonah asked if we were going to our hotel. We told him that we were not because we were going to a party. He asked if it was a birthday party for him? He is obviously still in birthday mode!!! Those sweet people rushed to find candles and put them in the cake and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. It was so very sweet. He never knew the difference!