The second half of our vacation – and the entire reason we went on vacation in the first place – took us to Midland, Michigan upon the invitation of Midland Reformed Church. As you now know, Brad has been called as the Associate Pastor of Family Ministries at MRC. In order to really explain the purpose of this particular visit, let me give you a brief synopsis of the last couple months of the application process.
Brad first sent his profile to apply for this position sometime in February...I think. By the end of March, he had interviewed via phone with the search committee at the church. Two weeks later, the chair of the committee called Brad, inviting us to come to Midland for the weekend, for more extensive interviewing as well as meet-and-greets and other such activities. Brad and I flew out to Midland the first weekend in May – and had a most fantastic time. We felt really good about what we had seen and heard as well as the people we met, and we hoped that they felt the same about us. The following week, Brad received a call from the vice-president of the Consistory (governing church board), stating that he had received a recommendation from the search committee, naming Brad as the top candidate for the position. The VP then invited all four of us to Midland for another weekend visit, for even more meet-and-greets etc etc etc. It would be the week after this visit that the congregation would vote on whether or not to call Brad to the job.
On Friday, after our visit to the Chicago area, we headed north into Michigan for our second round of meeting and mingling. And we had a really great time...again. :) I took not a single photograph. I didn't know how it would look if I whipped out my mother-of-all-cameras and starting shooting away at random gatherings and meetings. So I restrained myself in that regard and instead enjoyed the weekend without worrying about taking photos.
Our schedule looked roughly like this....
Even though Brad's call to this position wasn't official, we wanted to get an idea of housing and what the options might be for us, so Jill, a member of the church and a realtor, took us to see about a half dozen homes on Saturday morning. We got a good idea of neighborhoods as well as what the market had to offer us. She took us out for lunch afterward and we had a brief break back at the hotel before we headed out to a park to meet with some younger families of the church. This was probably the best moment of the entire weekend for the boys. They made fast friends with all the kids (so many their age!) and truly enjoyed playing with all of them. They then were invited to go to some of the kids' grandparent's house for dinner while Brad and I shared dinner with the Consistory. Sunday morning included church, which was followed by a short question and answer session between us and the congregation. Then lunch at the mall food court with some church folks, sitting in on both the senior high and junior high youth groups, some rest back at the hotel, and dinner with some new friends.
Of course, we enjoyed the pool as well as the large play area at the hotel.
The weekend was exhausting. And so incredibly awesome. I'll try to share more about it at some point...but let's get back to vacation, shall we?
I picked my camera back up on Monday morning as we headed out of Michigan, on our way back home. After taking the recommendation from some people at church, we decided to take the northern route back home, traveling through the Upper Peninsula. As a plus we could avoid Chicago (and it only ended up adding about an hour onto our total travel time) BUT that meant we had to cross the Mackinaw bridge. Umm...I don't like bridges. They produce a significant amount of anxiety for me. But if you can look past the five mile long bridge with the loud girders and the neverending view of water...it can be a really beautiful sight. The boys aren't old enough to really appreciate the beauty and wonder of it all, so I tried to show the boys how incredibly awesome it is when you look beyond the pitter pattering of your own heart. I could've won an Oscar for that performance. I told Brad I wasn't sure what produced more anxiety for me: that bridge, or Chicago traffic. I guess I'd better get used to it.
Despite the bridge, it was a really beautiful drive. We came to rest in Escanaba, Michigan, where the boys had their first visit to Lake Michigan.
We also had the best hotel pool we've ever seen.
Family vacations... although things never go quite exactly as planned, they're really pretty great. I like 'em a lot.