Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All In One Accord

One thing about our little family is that we love to go. It’s one of our favorite things to do. That’s also part of the fun of Ryan’s goal is that we now have reason to go to places that we probably wouldn’t have even thought about going to before. On the downside though, the cost can add up and there’s only so much of the budget that can be spent on these little trips. We try to cut corners where we can with things like booking our hotels through hotwire, staying in places that have the continental breakfasts and also packing lunches some to save on eating out.

With all that said, our trip to Columbus was on a tight budget. We booked our first hotel in Cinci through hotwire and ended up staying at a nice Holiday Inn for probably half the price it would have been had we booked it directly. For some reason though, I wasn’t able to find what I thought was that good of a deal in Columbus so I booked directly with a “budget” hotel in the vicinity of several of the things we had planned on doing. I hadn’t stayed at this brand of hotel since I was a kid and wasn’t too sure about it, but trusted that it would be fine. A few days before we left I was feeling a little uncomfortable about it, priced some more hotels and found some packages that included tickets to some of the attractions we were going to anyway. I would start to cancel, then wouldn’t. Came very close to making a reservation at another place and then would stop. When it came down to it, the better hotel was going to be a little over $100 more even with including the tickets that came with the room. Right now, $100 makes a difference. Brian was fine with whatever I wanted to do and assured me that the kids would be happy either place.

We started site seeing the minute we hit Columbus and didn’t end up going to our room until later in the evening. I had a huge sense of dread when we pulled up to it. The hotel was right off the interstate in a somewhat nice looking part of town, but the place looked absolutely desolate. There was a rough looking bar on the front of the hotel and there were signs all over the place warning criminals that they were being recorded. There were other signs telling you not to leave any valuables in your car and that the hotel was not responsible, etc. I went into the lobby to check in and what is normally an open counter reception place had been enclosed with a single little window left to transact business. You can’t imagine how I was feeling about then. I went ahead and checked in and when I got back in the car my sweet hubby asked me what in the world had I gotten them into! But then he laughed and said it would be fine. The room was clean though so we changed and headed out to the pool. We found that even the gate to the pool was padlocked and that you could only enter to the pool area from one place. Not exactly my idea of a fun weekend away, but I put a smile on my face and went with the plan.

We made it through the night without incident and the next morning we headed down to the lobby for breakfast. The breakfast area was in a tiny little room and there wasn’t much room for the few families who were there and the offerings were very limited. That’s fine, we eat too much anyway, we had slept in and it wasn’t too long to lunch either – so no big deal. In the middle of enjoying our mini-muffins the loudest music I had heard in a LONG time started up. We initially laughed and I jokingly asked Brian if it was a carryover from the bar scene the night before. The more we listened though we realized it was Christian music and it was being sung from the bottom of someone’s heart and soul. I walked out of the breakfast area and listened at the door of a conference room and curiosity was getting the best of me so I opened the door, just an inch or so to see what was going on in there and came nose to nose with a very nicely dressed gentleman. I was taken aback to be right in someone’s face since I was really being nosy so I asked him if there was a service going on. He told me not yet, but that it would be starting at a certain time and told me we were welcome to come and join them. I headed back to the breakfast room with tears in my eyes because the music was just phenomenal and I asked Brian if he wanted to go to church. Keep in mind, we didn’t go to Columbus thinking we would go to church so all we had with us were shorts. We hadn’t even showered that morning because our plan was to head out to the water park and spend the day with the kids. We were not prepared for church.

Needless to say, we went to church that morning and it blessed our socks off. The people were all natives of Ghana and the pulpit was adorned with African material. Noticing we did not have our bible, the pastor handed us his and then sent someone out to his car to retrieve another for him to preach from. We were greeted and welcomed like nobodies business! Some of the men in the group were in traditional looking clothes and some were in African styled clothing. Same with the women. Several of the women carried their babies in fabric slings with the children being carried on the mother’s back, instead of the front like we would typically see here. One of the neatest things was that they sang several of the same songs we sing at our church, but with a completely different arrangement. The air was filled with the sound of drums and tambourines. It was amazing how openly and honestly they praised the Lord. The pastor mentioned several times that we were not there by accident. Truer words were never spoken. We were invited to stay for lunch after the service and were treated to a wonderful lunch. Apparently they bring in lunch and eat together after their services. They then spend the afternoon dancing their traditional dances. We didn’t stay for the dancing, but now wish that we had but we had promised the kids a trip to Zoombezi Bay. The love of these people for our Lord and Savior though still touches my soul. Even when lunch was over, one of the ladies who was dressed to the nines was dancing from table to table with a trash bag in hand and was singing while she was picking up the trash. What a wonderful and amazing day.

All of that to say, Brian and I were blessed beyond measure with the music, sermon and just the general atmosphere. I’ll have to note though that we were both humbled by the fact that we initially had turned up our noses at this little budget hotel but realized after the fact what a blessing that facility is to the people from Ghana who worship there. Our being there was not an accident.

Later as I was reflecting on our wonderful day, a song came to mind that is from a Christian blues album I have (I know, that sounds contradictory – but I’ve had the album for a long time and LOVE the music). The album is called “No More Blue Mondays” and the artist is Landon Spradlin. But the song that came to mind is one called “First Fruits” and the lyrics that came to mind are:

It starts off with –

We come to you
To seek your face
In desperate need
Of your grace

And then later goes on to:

And here we are -
Here we are oh Lord
With our hands lifted up
All in one accord


That's exactly how we found ourselves that Sunday in Columbus - with our hands lifted up, praising the Lord - all in one accord with a room full of people with a completely different heritage than our own, but praising the One True Lord.


Felicia said...

God's love is a universal language -- what an amazing experience for your guys. Love all the pics from your trip; especially the conservatory :)

Marla said...

Isn't God the most amazing of all things. Glad you had such an unexpected good time.