|Those Were The Days — A difficult beginning|
|Friday, November 29, 2013 9:12 PM|
By Pastor Dan Eaton
It was a bitter cold Saturday in January, 2000, when we arrived as the new pastor and wife of Delphos First Assembly of God. The day had begun with a few friends helping us load some of our furniture and belongings in the U-Haul parked in front of our home in Williamstown, West Virginia. It was difficult leaving the house that had been our home for 16 years. Although the house was built in 1910, it was our “dream home.” It was a big house with lots of room and had been the place where both sides of the family gathered to celebrate special days, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 506 West Fourth St. had been our safe haven and we had invested so much time, money and love in making it a place where we could celebrate life with our three children. Each of them had graduated from high school while living there. It had been a place of so many memories, joys and challenges, but now it was time to turn the page and literally move on.
The past few weeks had been both stressful and exciting. On Sunday morning, Jan. 9, I had shared with our church family at River of Life Assembly of God in Marietta, Ohio, that we would be preaching at Delphos First Assembly of God and the church membership would be voting as to whether or not they wanted me to be their new pastor. Our church family at Marietta was very upset at the prospect of us leaving, but I explained that I wanted them to know so they could be praying with us for God’s will to be done. I preached twice at Delphos on Jan. 16 and was elected as the new pastor. Janie and I both felt that God had confirmed to us that Delphos would be our new home and place of ministry. On Jan. 23, I wept as I preached my farewell sermon and we shared that we were leaving and thanked everyone for the wonderful years of church growth and spiritual blessings that we had been privileged to have during our time at Marietta. The meal that followed was more like a funeral than a celebration as our church family struggled with how to express what they were feeling.
Just six days later, it was time to go. Not only were we leaving our home behind, we were leaving most of our family, friends and the church family that we had been blessed to pastor for seven years. We said a tearful goodbye to those who had helped us load up, I climbed in the U-Haul truck, Janie slid behind the wheel of our car and we began our journey toward Delphos.
When we arrived several hours later, we were pleased to find that some men from the church family of Delphos First Assembly were waiting to help us unload. I still remember the comments of Bruno as we struggled to get our 35-inch floor model television down the steps and into the basement. “You better put this TV on some blocks because we’ve had a lot of problems with flooding.”
The people of the church had worked hard to eliminate the water problems in the basement, but the piles of debris, missing ceiling tiles and remnants of carpet still sticking on the floor made it obvious that the basement had not been used for several years.
We had brought enough furniture to set up what would later become our family room in the basement, a table and chairs, some living room furniture and one bedroom. We thanked those who had been so good to help us, turned the furnace up to get the house warmer and some hours later got into bed hoping to get at least a few hours of sleep before church the next morning. It had been an exhausting day physically and emotionally, but we were trusting and hoping that we were being obedient to God and that He would continue to take care of us and help us to be a blessing to our new church family, the people of Delphos and the surrounding communities.
Sometime during the night, I woke up, got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. My wife was awakened by the sound of something coming from outside of the bedroom. She walked toward the bathroom, found me lying on the floor, apparently unconscious, and with blood trickling down my face. She didn’t know if I had just had a heart attack, what was wrong with me or what had happened. We had no cell phone, no phone service in the house and didn’t know who or where to call if we would have had a phone!
I began to sit up, but fell back to the floor. In a little while, my head cleared and I tried to reassure Janie that I was alright. Apparently, I had passed out and struck my head on the door as I fell, which caused a small cut on my forehead and the resulting blood. We were both shaken, but decided we may as well tough it out and try to get some more sleep. We had all survived the Y2K care of January 2000; catastrophic things didn’t occur like so many had predicted and we were determined not to let this little incident stop us from the purpose God had for us at our new place of ministry.
As I write this, I’m sitting at my desktop computer in the basement of the parsonage. With help from the good people of Delphos First we made many improvements to the basement. New ceiling tile, new carpet, fresh paint, etc. were completed during our first year of living here. Our home and the basement have been filled with the sounds of family, friends and the six grandchildren and two great-grandsons that have been born since we’ve lived here.
Almost 14 years have passed since that difficult day and night in January. Our church family and our God have been with us in the good days and the bad. We’ve experienced the joys of being “on the mountain top” and the sorrow of being “in the valley.” There have been times of miracles and laughter as well as dark days of despair and disappointment. Together we have lived and together we have loved. Isn’t that what life is all about? I’m convinced that our faith is best expressed by how we live, how we love and how we treat people. We’re so thankful and Janie and I feel so blessed that we’re still here despite a difficult beginning.