Dec 16, 2011

Llewellyn and Clara Jones, 30 Years Later

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Palm Beach, Florida.  I can only take so much in-your-face wealth and fluff, so I soon hung a hard right at Royal Palm and took a beeline towards Lake Okeechobee.  I was on a mission for Trout University, I wanted to see who was catching what on this bass-famous lake. (answer: nobody.  I saw No.Body fishing, but the locks are fascinating)

En route I had another one of my brilliant ideas:  why don't I look up my former pastor who will always be  "My Pastor"   reported to be living in the town of Okeechobee ministering on the Seminole Reservation?  Besides, I'd never been to a real reservation and I wanted to see me some teepees.

Guess what?  I didn't see any teepees.  These are 21st century Indians, the houses, the cars, the land.... all look like the rest of the state.  I was disappointed.   But I had such a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, the teepees were long forgotten.  I had so much fun, I got to go back the next day and have a longer visit.....

My family was close to the Jones family back in the '70s when Cal and Clara Jones were called to our church -- West Windsor Baptist -- in upstate NY.  They lived above the church for a bit until a parsonage was built and they moved in right across the street from me.  They had five kids, one of which was a super cute boy with whom I anticipated a marriage and a beautiful life, but he avoided me like the plague and my plans were never brought to fruition.

Pastor Jones was later called to a church in Erie, PA and the family packed up and moved, a very tearful event.  I visited them once in Erie, my weak, final attempt to snag that cute boy.  My parents and grandparents were nearly killed while coming to pick me up.  The interstate they were on had closed in a winter storm and my folks were snowed in on that strip of highway that was no longer being snowplowed.  They were eventually rescued, picked me up and we never went back.

It was almost ten more years before I came across the Jones family again.   They were hunkered down under several feet of snow again, this time in Moscow, PA. "We spent half the winter pulling people out of the ditch."  Pastor said when they left Erie, they spent a couple years in evangelism, it was three years before he got back into preaching there at the foot of the Pocanos.  You'll love this:
"Moscow was looking for a church and the deacon looked down a long list of applicants.  He didn't know what to do.  As he scrolled down the list, he saw Call Jones right there on the list under the J's.  'That's just what I did,' he says.  Instead of Cal Jones, he saw Call Jones!  I stayed there 24 years.  All 4 kids graduated and moved on except Lane" (that cute little boy I mentioned).
After the 24 years in Moscow, the Jones' began traveling just a bit, doing evangelism.  They built an apartment near their oldest daughter, Luanne and her family, still have it and usually spend summer there.

(Me, Laurie and Kobe, one of her buddies)
While preaching in various churches and considering a traveling ministry, their youngest daughter Laurie asked them to come down to Florida and help her and her husband Bill with their church on the Seminole Reservation.  This was around 2004.  Laurie and Bill had been at this church just a little while.  They built a slab for Pastor and Clara's motorhome and convinced them to come winter in Florida each year.

I got to spend an afternoon with Laurie and catch up on things since our last visit in Moscow.  (PS, if you build a house, get Laurie and Bill to architect and design it, they've redone most of their house, still working on some, and it's unbelievably beautiful) (Yes, I took pictures) (Yes, I even took pictures of her closet) (They can even make a closet spectacular!)

She has a spectacular "mud room."  Check out this mud room sink Bill built her -- all tile, with built-in shelves for her herbs.

She has a sprayer to water them down easily each day and let the drippings fall into the sink.  The big sink bowl is easily removed for larger objects you may need to rinse.   But, I digress.

Where was I?

By the time Jones' moved to Okeechobee, they were empty-nesters.  They raised 5 kids -- 3 are pastors or pastor wives, 1 (Lois) is a missionary in Honduras and the other one (Luanne) is a teacher at a Christian school.  Pastors Kids have a bad reputation and I was glad to hear their kids grew up so well.   For those who know them, here's an update.  Gene is an executive pastor with two services in WVA.  Lane is a pastor with two services in PA in the middle of farmland, about to build a new church.  Luanne and Dale are in WVA doing the grandparenting thing.  Luanne teaches at the Christian school, Dale is a contractor.  Lois and Paul are in Honduras with one daughter still home and one here in the states for college.  Laurie and Bill are here in FL, both sons grown and out.  One son, Joel, is in music ministry in Jacksonville and the other son is serving in Afghanistan.  Laurie and Bill just recently resigned from the church on the reservation and are serving at another church nearby.

I hope to get back to Okeechobee on a Sunday and visit the Seminole Baptist church and hear Pastor Jones sing and preach again.  I recently wrote about what advice they'd give to young pastors starting out.  I'll write more about their ministry and music ministry in other posts soon.


Midge said...

I am so glad you had time to meet with them and catch up, ahhh the memories!

Anonymous said...

What a fun,fabulous,family!!
We really DO miss them all.