We are goin' out west... USA bound for a very special occasion, this young woman, Lauren Stark Hammerstrom is getting married! Lauren first entered our lives as a high school student who came with her church's youth mission team to partner with us in our youth ministry. She was a star; someone who was compassionate, wise, teachable, and who clearly demonstrated her love for God and her love for people. She was also an aspiring artist, and a great musician with a very fine taste in music. Yes, we fast fell in love with Lauren, and Ireland and its people must have grabbed her heart too for she kept coming back. I took this photo of Lauren back in the day, 2009 I think, on one of those trips when she came to serve as an intern. Her commitment and faithfulness to us and our ministry to young people over the years has meant so much to us. Lauren is a treasured friend, more than that even, she really has become one of the family. So we are especially thrilled to make this journey to the great north west of the USA to see her marry Chris the love of her life. We met Chris a couple of years back when we visited Lauren and her family in eastern Oregon. It was pretty clear they were made for each other and I was sure that this day would one day come.
It really is a privilege to see students grow up. Lauren is now a gifted artist and believe me you would be honoured to have one of her paintings hanging on your wall. And it is inspiring to see the kind of person she has become and is becoming, those great brush strokes of compassion, depth of character and spiritual maturity that mark her life. Yes it is a privilege to see students grow up and to celebrate major life events with them.
So as Lauren and Chris soon give themselves to one another and speak promises of love and trust I'm excited for the adventure that lies before them. I love these words from my Pastor...
'Marriage is more than a wedding day
It’s the hard work of tomorrow
So come away on our adventure
Be the soul mate by my side
Tapping the potential of you and me
So His love won’t be denied.' (from 'Marriage is more than a wedding day' by Steve Stockman)
The hard work of tomorrow is a glorious thing and a great adventure, it will be quite something to see these two soul mates tapping the potential of each other as they journey into the future.
We can't wait to share in the celebration and to catch up with dear friends in Portland... the finest American city of them all. PDX here we come!