The past few days (June 3-8) we spent in the Scottsdale, AZ area. It is not possible to fully explain how wonderful it was to be with Christians we have never met face-to-face.
We came from the Grand Canyon on Wednesday (3rd), and landed at David and Jolene Miller’s home. This was setup by our friend, Diane Schwan. We had never met the Millers, but were welcomed with open arms and a whole lot of Gospel goodness.
They gave us their home, their hospitality, their warm smiles, their pool, food, T-shirts, TV, a place for me to work, and plenty of hugs and handshakes. Their display of the Gospel was simply profound.
At one point Mr. Miller was giving the kids a lot of samples from his candy boxes. (He sells candy.) Haydn and Ansa both said that they should give it back: even the kids were amazed, and felt the over-lavishing of their love. It was truly amazing.
Ansa and Mrs. Miller became fast friends. Ansa is an early riser, so she and Mrs. Miller were downstairs in the mornings. Ansa was chirping along, and Mrs. Miller was enjoying her company.
The Millers are from Chicago, so we were indoctrinated often with Chicago-styled food from various restaurants or their home-cooked meals, e.g., pizza. It was all good. It was too good. My weight watch plan during this trip was shot during these days. But it was fun.
On Sunday I preached at Harvest Fountain Hills Church in Fountain Hills, AZ. Justin Erickson is the pastor. We met Justin and Jana and a few other folks for dinner on Friday night. We enjoyed each other for a long time–well into the night.
On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Miller took us to another Chicago styled place where I had this chocolate cake milkshake thing, with fries and a large meat, pepper, wet sandwich. I could not eat it all. Too much.
I met Nick DeBenedetto for the first time. He serves at another church in town, but all of them are good friends. Nick is a member of our site. Nick and I talked well into the afternoon, after everyone else left. It was Nick and our wives. It was a lot of fun. Inspiring, encouraging, and a new friend for life.
We also did some adventure driving around Scottsdale. Got lost a few times, which is always good. Never know where you might turn up. We landed in a cigarette smelling bar, pool hall kind of place, while looking for our friends for dinner on Friday. That was interesting.
We also bought some desserts at The White Chocolate Grill (or something like that). The two desserts were amazing.
Scottsdale was hot. It was dry heat, so we never sweated, but we did bake. It was very nice not to be in the humidity of Greenville. That was a major blessing. I can take the hot heat, but I don’t care for the hot, humid heat.
There were cactus everywhere. The topography was wildly different from what I’m used to. There were scores of homes that were beautiful and expensive, but the landscaping design for most of those homes were “as is” meaning, they let things be as they were: weeds, rocks, cactus, etc.
The homes, many of them, blended into the natural environment. Having well manicured properties did not seem to be a big deal like it is back home.
You could not walk on the pavement w/o shoes. And you did not want to. In addition to being hot, you could step on a scorpion, or you could be bitten by a rattlesnake. You kept your garage closed so snakes, scorpions, or bobcats did not come in.
I had an uneasy feeling (unlike the Eagles, peaceful easy feeling) about the environment while I was there. All the land was begging to be hiked upon, but I did not have the courage. It probably was not as bad as I felt it to be, but I was not willing to risk it.
The other thing I noticed were the lack of billboards and other types of signage that displayed shops, stores, and things. The trees or cactus were higher than everything else. This made finding things a challenge.
All the building and homes were mostly some kind of brown, so everything blended in; everything was lower than the cactus, and there were no signs directing you to where you needed to go. Siri became a close ally while we were there.
The highest highlight were the people we met. They all were great, fantastic, friendly, warm, and giving. They perfectly displayed the Gospel to us. Though we were in a lot of meetings with different people, it was rewarding to be with folks who had such a heart for Christ.
We left Monday shortly after noon and headed to N. Las Vegas, which was one-third the way to Montana. We wanted to see the Hoover Dam, which is twenty miles from LV.