One of my close friends said to us as we were discussing her travel plans over the holidays, “Don’t feel sorry for me.  I love my travel time.  I don’t have to drive; I’m going to fly.  I don’t have to fight traffic.  I’m not responsible for the flight.  I can get to the airport early and have a leisurely breakfast of gooie cinnamon buns without feeling guilty because that’s the healthiest thing in the airport.”

Much of my day is spent in travel time and I have to agree with her.  I sit in an air conditioned car with comfy pilot chairs and a great sound system.  I can listen to the radio, play a CD or listen to a book.  Anything I desire and enjoy it.  When I’m on the road, I can eat nothing, eat healthy or eat greasy fried chicken.  

I remember my mother always made our family feel as though we would be entering a torture chamber when we entered the car on vacation.  In reality, I have fond memories of my brother punching me, my sister’s complaints and my constant whining.  I don’t know why she thought it was a miserable experience. 

But I’ve learned a lot from the members of The Special Gathering. 
As people who are mentally challenged, they don’t drive.  Therefore, they spend a lot of time waiting for their rides and riding public transporation.  By and large, they are happy to have time with their friends without having to answer to parents, caregivers or bosses.   They laugh and talk and sing on the bus.  The philosophy often seems to be if you can’t change it, enjoy it.

After a few years of observing their patience in regard to their daily busing adventure, I slowly shedded my mother’s anticipation of uncomfortable travel and replaced it with a more realistic view of journeying from here to there.

Today, I’m traveling with my family in a two vehicle caravan coming back home after a few days in Virginia.  I’m remembering that last year my grandson, Sebastian, was logging miles toward his needed goal to get his full-time license by driving us from South Carolina.  He drove too fast and though we scolded him, my husband and I loved every minute of it.

The mission of our ministry of Special Gathering is to evanglize and disciple people who are intellectually delayed.  But too often they are discipling me.  In fact, there are many things I’ve learned from our members but one of the best is enjoying travel time.  If you are still dreading your time traveling, shed the tension and grief.  Learn from the members of the mentally challenged community.  If you can’t change it, enjoy them.

In one word.  Badly.  You notice this isn’t a HOW TO entry because today was not a good day for interruptions. 

My day began at 4am and every minute was carefully planned.  I would end my day at about 11pm.  Meetings I am required to attend in other cities would make that necessary.  

I had not planned to include a visit to a home of a past member who lives more than 20 miles from Melbourne and has not attended our program in 11 years.  He has another pastor but somehow I seemed to be required to drop all my concerns for the day and visit him.  Yes, he is dying.  Yes, I love him and I would want to see him before he goes to be with the Lord.  However, not today.

The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We evangelize and disciple people who are intellectually disabled.  I am a one person staff for two chapel program in two cities.  In my two programs, we have about 100 people who attend each week.  We meet each week in our chapel programs. 

This elderly man had attended every week for more than three years.  Then he was unceremoniously moved from his group home to a private home by his support coordinator.  The home he moved into is managed by caring young woman.  It is a small mom and pop operation.  Somehow, Special Gathering could not be arranged as part of his new life. 

The long and short of the adventure was that I went to see him.  I intended to stay for five minutes but the Lord obviously meant for me to stay longer.  I couldn’t get into my car for an hour.  I was stuck and I’m glad.  The Lord slowed me down and forced me to minister to the whole household.  I was blessed more than they were.

Our call to worship at Special Gathering for this quarter is “I will walk with you and be your God and you will be my people.”  Later in the day at a Volusia board meeting, I was reminded by Pastor Mark Malcomn of Port Orange Baptist Church that the Lord said, “Walk” not run.  Interruptions sometimes are given to us to bless us and to slow us down. 

Maybe someday I’ll learn to listen and enjoy the adventures these interruptions present, even if my day is already too full.