We had a great Youth Auction last night. Fantastic food...great items...generous bidders. It was a wonderful community event for the nearly 100 people who crammed into our Fellowship Hall.
The highlight of this bi-annual event is an older gentleman (we'll refer to him as Pete) who calls the Live Auction. Not only has he mastered the art of quick-tounged "auction-speak", but, by virtue of the fact that he has been a member at the church for 40+ years, he can get away with a lot of good-natured heckling of those gathered. He's a hilarious good-old-boy who wants two things to happen -- 1) raise money for youth trips, and 2) make sure people have a good time.
What made his contribution to the Auction even more meaningful is that he has been making regular trips up to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for the past few weeks. His son-in-law, Mike, has been diagnosed with a brain issue known as an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). He had brain surgery a few weeks ago, and was given a 50% chance of full recovery. In the days that followed Mike was slow to regain speech or use the right side of his body. On Thursday, his progress was further delayed when he needed emergency open-heart surgery to remove a 6-inch blood clot (and over a dozen smaller clots) in his heart.
Pete took Mike's oldest two boys up with him on Thursday night; maybe to say good-bye, or maybe just so they could see their dad when he came out of surgery. That's the thing about life-threatening conditions - the family is never quite sure what to do. For my part, I was told to make a contingency plan, in the event that Pete couldn't get back for the Auction. I didn't hear anything from him all weekend. By Saturday night, I was worried.
I got to church early Sunday morning, selfish enough to be nervous that we were going to sans Auctioneer. As I entered the church, I caught a glimpse of a short guy in a choir robe walking up the stairs. Sure enough, there was was ole' Pete getting ready to warm-up with the choir. He hates singing at the early service...but he was there, faithful as ever, anchoring the bass section. Devotion. Committment. Accountability. Honor. These are things that define men like Pete...attributes that are as scarce as a Honus Wagner baseball card.
Mike is in stable condition right now. You can read more about his recovery on his blog. I'm told it will be several weeks - if not months - before Mike is home. That's the best case scenario.
Mike is the pastor of Crossroad Evangelical Free Church in Earlham, IA. My wife used to teach piano lessons to one of his kids. He and I have crossed paths a few times over the last six years. Although he and I are not always theologically akin, I know him to be a devout husband, father, and pastor. His medical condition is severe and scary. If you're the praying type, please consider asking God for healing, patience, and strength for Mike, Karla, their five children, family, and congregation...and thank God that Mike is surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses that are nursing him back to health.
(And thanks, Pete, for making time to call the Auction. We wouldn't have come close to raising $8,000 without you!)