Final Days in New England . . . Then, Family Camp!

Jeff and Meg O’Connor and their beautiful family were among the many who celebrated the onset of summer with the 6th annual Pool Party at Doug and Julie Macrae’s Weston home.

The five weeks straight out finally caught up with us. Coming home late from camping Memorial Day Monday, our counseling day on Tuesday was apparently fueled by adrenaline and grace. I naively thought we had dodged the jet lag bullet, but it found us by Wednesday when adrenalin (but thankfully not grace) ran out. For the rest of the week, sleep overtook me whenever I wasn’t doing something I had to do. As I write tonight, two weeks later, I’m feeling pretty caught up (at least on sleep.)

Saturday, May 30, we were privileged to do a marriage conference at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield. The conference was the brainchild of Dan and Lita Schlueter from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, who felt their congregation needed a “shot in the arm” that would encourage their marriages. The delightful group responded enthusiastically to the teaching and the consensus was that God had done a good work among us.

Dan and Lita Schleuter hosted a marriage conference for Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield on Saturday, May 30, and did a wonderful job.

We headed straight to Gordon College that afternoon to join many in honoring Tom Phillips, former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Raytheon, who was donating his Raytheon library to Gordon College. Tom was instrumental in Chuck Colson’s coming to Christ. Colson was the keynote speaker and gave a clear gospel message. It was inspiring to hear the many tributes given to a man of God who had made such a big difference in the marketplace. An added bonus was connecting with many friends with whom we infrequently cross paths.

Sunday was also full. After church, I attended a baby shower honoring Kassidy Thomas, who will deliver her second son this Friday, June 12th. It was a nice reunion with many of the Patriot wives who are involved with the couples’ Bible study. From babies to graduation: we then headed to Wenham where we joined many friends of Ryan and Kelly Plosker (H.I.M. Board members) who gathered to celebrate the completion of Ryan’s Ph.D. His wife, Kelly, “adopted” a school in Africa in honor of Ryan, who immediately began dreaming of planning an on-site visit as soon as possible. Ryan is the founder and headmaster of New England Academy, a school that God is using in significant ways.

Kelly Plosker surprises Dr. Ryan Plosker with a newly formed partnership with a school in Africa to commemorate the successful completion of his PhD in Education.

We rounded out the day by having dinner with Craig Hammon, Executive Vice President of CURE, International. It was fascinating to hear of his involvement with CURE and encouraging to hear how impressed he was with Julie after spending time with her in Mbale on two different occasions. We love what CURE is doing around the world.

We had the pleasure of meeting Craig Hammon, North American Director for CURE International and spent two hours connecting over a delicious dinner at Tom Shea’s in Essex.

Our H.I.M. Board met Monday night, June 1, and we were reminded again of how blessed we are to be in partnership with people of such high caliber and godly character. The evening was both productive, as we made many decisions regarding next year’s schedule, and celebratory, as we shared highlights of the previous month.

Counseling filled Tuesday, and then off we drove to Cornwall, Connecticut, to speak for the third year in a row for the Valley Community Baptist Church (in Avon, CT) pastors and staff retreat. We have grown to love this wonderfully dedicated team and are so impressed with the health of their staff and church. Focusing on marriage and ministry, we spent four different sessions discussing some of the challenges of keeping the right balance. Honest, open discussions affirmed the strength of the leadership of this church, which is headed by senior pastor Jay Abramson (and his wife Liz) along with Executive pastor Tim Ponzani (and his wife Sharon.) The retreat was far from being all work and no play. Besides the teaching sessions, competitive games of home run derby, tennis, ping pong, pool, and Wii were enjoyed by all. We consider it a great privilege to partner with VCBC and left personally refreshed.

Part of the Valley Community Baptist Church staff team at Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT.

We took Jay and Liz Abramson to task on the tennis courts and considered it victory enough to be able to walk off the courts after two sets of competitive play.

We returned home in time to attend the sixth annual H.I.M. pool party, held at Doug and Julie Macrae’s home in Weston on Saturday, June 6. Perfect weather, wonderful families, and yummy food combined to make it another memorable family event.

Fun was had by all.

I’ve just returned from two days in Alexandria, Virginia, with my parents. I was so thankful to find a window of time to be with them. As always, it was a joy. I was also fortunate to be able to see my two youngest Collins nephews perform in their church musical (they were both stars!) as well as see nephew Chris play baseball. Love those moments!!

Alex and Chris were stars in their church musical, much to the delight of their mom, Hanya, Grandma Babi, and Grandpa Collins.

The countdown has begun. In two days, we'll fly west to begin our 33rd summer at Campus by the Sea. Though we're trying to adjust to the idea of having none of our girls with us for the first time in 29 years, we're very thankful for the great staff team God is bringing together.

Lisa is winding up her almost three-week visit to Uganda, where she and Julie have taken the country by storm. She has fallen in love with the work of CURE in Mbale and was thrilled to watch three surgeries while there. She also enjoyed riding horses along the Nile in Ginja, going on safari in Murchison Falls, and accompanying a mobile clinic trip to Mbarrara. We can’t wait to hear all her stories!

Kari and Gabe have returned from their New Orleans missions trip and report having had a phenomenal experience. Their very diverse, multi-ethnic team made a positive impression on the missions compound and they’re already dreaming of a return trip.

Pray for us as we wrap things up here and prepare for our summer full of family camps. How grateful we are for our continuing ministry at Campus by the Sea.