Grace and peace to all of you. 

I want to thank all of you at Fruitland Covenant Church for the opportunity to have a sabbatical. It was a wonderful time of rest and rejuvenation and growing deeper in my relationships, both with God and my family. I am grateful for all of those for whom my absence meant additional work for them and I appreciate all of you who helped out by taking on additional responsibilities and extra giving of your time. 

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing here in the newsletter more about my experiences and insights. This week I simply want to give a brief overview of how I spent this time of rest. 

I began my sabbatical with some time of simply unwinding at home. For me, perhaps like many of you, when I first begin a time off of work it takes  a while to get out of the “work mode” and set aside all of the activities and concerns. I had several trips and activities planned with periods of unplanned time in between. 

The following week, I traveled with Christine, Carlina, Ana, and Axel to Chicago to spend a week with the community of Jesus People USA (JPUSA). JPUSA is a church family of nearly 200 people living in intentional community in Uptown, on the north side of Chicago. While there we got to experience and learn more about intentional community as well as serve alongside them in their ministry to the homeless population of Chicago. 

After some more unplanned time, I flew out to Denver to drive back with Aurora following her semester internship there with the Denver Rescue Mission. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet many of her colleagues and see a little more of Denver. We made a slight detour on the way home to Kansas City to see my aunt and one of my cousins whom I have not seen for many years.

Our next activity was an all family trip to the south to explore and learn more about the Civil Rights movement. We visited Memphis, Montgomery, Selma, Tuskegee, and Birmingham touring numerous historical sites and museums to more fully understand that significant time in our nation’s history from its origins to the people and events and the ongoing implications for today. We had a wonderful trip, enjoying the time together while also being challenged and inspired by all we learned. 

Shortly after returning home from that trip, I departed for Spain to spend two weeks on a portion of the Camino de Santiago, a series of pilgrimage trails in Spain, France, and Portugal. I spent my time entirely in Spain on a section known as the Camino Primitivo. During these weeks I had time to spend in solitude often on the trails but also the opportunity to engage in conversations with people from different countries and backgrounds as well as enjoying the Spanish countryside.

As my sabbatical drew near to its close, Christine and I took a week and spent that time together in eastern Michigan, our longest time alone together in over 22 years. It was a wonderful time to simply be together as well as continue to strengthen our relationship. 

We ended my sabbatical with a trip to visit my mom, doing some of our favorite things like going to the beach and building a sandcastle. 

Again, it’s hard to put in to words how thankful I am for the opportunity given me and my family by the church for this sabbath rest. 

May the LORD bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you.

Carl Franzon, Pastor