After a very frustrating Thursday night (United gave them bogus hotel vouchers, and after finally admitting the error, put them up in a hotel 20 miles away from the airport), Frank and Tammy finally arrived on Friday afternoon. Their luggage, however, did not. After a thoroughly aggravating hour of trying to track down their bag, Frank happened to walk by the Delta Airlines baggage counter, where he saw their bag. He was assured that Delta does not carry baggage for United. But a closer look revealed that apparently, that day was an exception. Frank and Tammy's bag was sent on Delta Airlines, via Atlanta. United never told them this. It was miraculous that Frank saw the bag sitting there with another airline. I repeat again: AVOID UNITED!!! The whole trip was disastrous, and United did nothing to compensate Frank and Tam for any of the stress or screw-ups. I have never been so relieved to leave an airport! And that's saying a lot, because I travel frequently. We left the airport and made the drive to our office where took them on a tour of our ministry headquarters. That night, Matt and Frank went to see the new Wolverine movie, while Tam and I started into her training.
I suppose I should give some background on Frank and Tammy. I met Frank through my friend Jane-Holly in 1997. He was a sweet, quiet guy, and we ended up becoming very close friends. I would go so far as to say Frank was one my closest friend during that year and the next. That December, I went to Frank's high school Winter Ball with him. I had a blast getting to know his school friends that very fun night. It was on that night that I met Tammy. Shortly after that, Frank and Tammy started dating, and I enjoyed getting to know her. We share some great memories! Then in 1998, Matt and I started dating. We joined Frank and Tammy for dinner before they went to prom. In the months after that, we lost touch. Frank moved to Sacramento, and Tammy went away to college. I thought about them often, but was never able to track either one of them down after that.
Fast forward 10 years. I had always wondered what had happened in Frank and Tammy's lives. I searched for them both online, but had no luck. And then one day I randomly decided to search Facebook. I played a "what if" card, and searched for Tammy with Frank's last name (which is a very unusual last name), in case they had gotten married. And what do you know, they had! I was SO excited to get to rekindle our friendship! We have visited them three times in California, the most recent visit being in February.
While visiting them in February, we learned that Tammy had applied with a missions agency to go into full-time ministry. Her focus area--a performing arts ministry within her church. In order to build and grow the existing program, Tammy needs to raise financial support to pay her salary and help fund the ministry. And she was freaked out by the whole idea of raising support. It so happens that Matt and I are in the missionary business, and know all about raising support.
Then in March, I threw out the idea to Tam that she should come spend a weekend with us and we could train her. She took a faith step and asked her church to pay for her trip. To her surprise, her church said yes, and also offered to pay for Frank to come!!! So the purpose of Frank and Tam's visit this weekend was training in raising support. Needless to say, fitting what should be a 4-5 day training into 2 days was a daunting task. But we were all up to the challenge.
We spent the better part of our weekend at our dining room table, working through the nuts and bolts of the process. Tammy is going home with an awesome database for tracking her contacts, a biblical perspective on being a missionary and raising support, and a presentation of her ministry that casts an amazing vision for what God has called her to. I know she and Frank both feel much more confident and eqipped to move forward. Matt and I will coach Frank and Tammy in the coming months as she raises support, and as Frank assists her.
Tammy's ministry is SO COOL!!! Those of you who have daughters understand how dance has become to sexualized, even dance classes for little girls. I know I struggle with the thought of putting Snapper into dance classes because so many of the movements are sensual, and the costumes provocative. For those dancers who continue on for years, many struggle with eating disorders as they attempt to fit the world's mold of "beautiful." Part of Tammy's ministry is dance. She offers several dance classes for kids, teens, and adults, that are wholesome and modest, as well as very professional. It allows the dancers to enjoy dance, while still glorifying God with their bodies. It also removes the pressure to be physically perfect.
Tammy also recognizes that dance and music communicate with people's hearts in a unique way. Each year she puts together a dance and music program that shares Christ with the audience. Their program attendance has grown so much that this year they had to rent a theater for the 4 performances! Every summer Tammy takes several of the dancers abroad to perform and share Christ with others. In July they will be going to Trinidad for 10 days!
Big dreams hover as part of Tammy's vision for the ministry in the next two years. The dance program will expand, and she will be starting drama and other performing arts programs as well. Her goal is to give her students a way to use their creative gifts to bring glory to God. I am really excited to see Tammy grow as God provides her support. I'm also excited for the future of this ministry. It is so creative and has great potential. You can visit Tammy's blog to share in her journey, to see pictures, and watch video of her dancers. If you stop by, leave her a comment to let her know you were there. I know she'd be thrilled to share her ministry with you, as well as tell you about partnership opportunities. How awesome to get to be part of this!
Our weekend was not all work, though. We did get to play! We enjoyed great pizza and awesome southern barbeque. We went out for frozen custard at 10:30 p.m. We played with the kids, went to church, and went to the farmer's market in downtown Little Rock. Tammy had never been in a thunderstorm. It was a very stormy weekend, and she loved the spectacular thunder and lightning! We put together a little scrapbook with pictures of her dancers. And we also just hung out and talked. We were sad to put them on the plane back to California this evening. Overall though, it all came together beautifully, and ended up being a productive--albeit short--weekend.