Missionaries and Furloughs go together – only now they are called “Home Assignments”. Coming back to the USA was always anticipated by the family and everyone had their list of what they wanted to do and get. We used the Cedar Lane Missionary Homes in New Jersey as our base during furloughs – oops! Home Assignment – and those facilities were a real blessing from the Lord. Driving onto the property near Christmas one furlo (oops! again) provided a real “teaching point” for our children – they were a bit upset to notice none of the residences had chimneys, and “how is Santa Claus going to come to our house”?
What are called “Supporting Churches”, whenever we visited, were always most welcoming. A church in Linwood NJ, following through with the “theme” in the first paragraph above, had a special “gift day” for our family near Christmas and especially showered the children with goodies – not only clothes, but piles of toys and books, etc. It was a real surprise and an encouragement and reinforced relationships and fellowship in the Lord’s ministry. Other churches had clothing rooms and even had some tools I appreciated. A big missionary conference in Lancaster PA not only provided real spiritual nourishment but also housing, meals and many of the finer things from their missionary closet(s).
Our hearts are always so thankful for the fellowship, the prayers, – yes, the support also – received. Though we only crossed paths every four or five years (during “home assignment”!) we knew they were praying, holding up before the Lord the ministry to which He called us. To each of them, I – Carol and I and the whole family – say a heartfelt “THANK YOU” and pray the Lord will continue to bless and increase your ministry there in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, Delaware and the New England states. And to individuals who stood with us, MANY thanks. God bless you.
One other church near where we stayed in NJ called to ask me to speak. The caller said, “I don’t think you have been here before”. My reply was that, yes, I had been there once before. The caller then asked, “When”? I replied, “Four or five years ago”. With that the caller burst out laughing – then apologized. He said, “I am astounded the way you keep track of time. Not two years ago or three years ago, but four or five”. My explanation was that tracking time was governed by the frequency of Home Assignments. When I did speak at the church the pastor mentioned the “time tracking” and it was nice to meet some who remembered that previous time – but they couldn’t remember when it was!
Once again, I had been invited up to a church on Long Island for its Missions Sunday. When I arrived at the church on Sunday morning, the welcoming elder (whom I knew) said, “Rusty Baker, what are you doing here”? A few minutes later I heard a voice say, “Lynn, what are you doing here?” It turns out that a “main” speaker, a senior mission executive, had already arrived and no one knew other missionaries were coming. Lynn and I quickly decided that we would give short testimonies and let the more senior missionary be the primary speaker. The pastor was absent and I later found out that he had resigned and, to “get even” with the church leadership, had lined up multiple speakers for at least a month of Sundays in order to embarrass them!