Vicarage Beginnings

[Note: Vicarage is like an internship. A grad student at seminary is assigned a church somewhere in America. That student (and his wife and children) then move to that city for one year, and he assists the pastor at that church as a vicar (intern). After one year, the student then returns to the seminary for one last year of classes before receiving a Call to begin his career at a church.]

Our first Sunday at our new church was a rush. We had been in our new home for about 48 hours, and it was time to meet the congregation. My husband was going to be assisting in the church services that day (already!), and he would be officially installed as vicar in the early service. 

My husband woke up first, since he had to be at the church before us. Then my parents and I woke up. (My parents helped us move to the Quad Cities and stayed for our first church service.) We were all moving about the house, trying to find certain things that were still packed in boxes, looking for something to eat that could pass as breakfast, taking turns showering. 

While I was showering, my husband shouted through the door, “Where’s my alb?” 
“Your what?”
“My alb!”
“I don’t know what that is!”
“What I wear at church!”
“The white robe thing?”
“Yes!”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so? It’s in the coat closet.” 

Many seminary wives know all these terms… alb, clerical, vestments, etc. In fact, many of the wives sew their husband’s pastoral wear. Me? Nope. I grew up in the Lutheran church all my life, went to Lutheran grade school, high school, and a Lutheran university. I know the doctrine and theology. But ask me about terms concerning the pastor’s “uniform?” I fail. 

My husband was already gone and at the church by the time I got done with my 5 minute shower. I was sad that I didn’t get to wish him well for his first official day as vicar. 

Finally, my parents and I were ready. We walked across the street to the church and were greeted by so many people who were so excited to meet us. I’ve never had such a warm welcome to a church in all my life. 

After the service, my husband and I were supposed to present a power point presentation introducing ourselves. I was so excited to give it, since it included pictures of us in high school and college, doing all the things we love doing like the renaissance Christmas festival at our university called Boar’s Head. 

My husband asked me, “Did you bring the laptop?”
“No. You said I didn’t need to bring anything since I put it on Google Drive.” 
“Oh, well, I meant that you needed to bring the lap top.” (Do guys speak English? Sometimes, I wonder.) 
The pastor heard our conversation and informed us that there was no Internet access in cafeteria, where we would be presenting, so I wouldn’t be able to use Google Docs with any laptop. 

I gathered up my skirt and sprinted to the house, frantically searching boxes for a flash drive. My dad found one of his and let me borrow it. (He’s an IT guy, so he always has these gadgets on his person.) However, I couldn’t download the presentaton as a power point on the flash drive since the computer we have has no Microsoft Power Point. I was forced to download it as a PDF. Out of time and not knowing if this was going to work, I sprinted back to the church and walked into the cafeteria, where the people were waiting. 

It was terrible walking past all of them up to the podium where the projector and screen were. I felt like all eyes were on me. I inserted the flash drive, opened the file, found the presentation, said a prayer, and…. it worked. Since I made the power point, I did most of the speaking during the presentation. Everything from my college speech classes came back to me. I soon had the people laughing. My presentation ended with photos of us climbing ice walls and white water rafting. I said, “So from the blue ice of Mackinaw to the white rapids of West Virginia, we love adventure…” (next slide showed my husband, my cat, and me) … “and we can’t wait for the next adventure God has planned for us here with you in the Quad Cities.” 

At that point, I realized I was shaking; the adrenaline was coursing through me after my intense battle with technology and my racing around. I suddenly couldn’t remember anything I said or if the presentation went well. But my parents said they were so impressed, that I seemed like a different person than the daughter they know up there. I realized that I’ve given tons of presentations in college, learning how to present information while interacting with the crowd, but my parents haven’t had much face-to-face contact with me since I left for college at 18, and I really only began to like myself once I started college. I was so happy to have my parents with me so they could finally see the daughter they had truly raised. I hope I made them proud. 

Afterwards, people gave us a bunch of gifts such as gift cards, pantry items, and fresh vegetables. This was truly wonderful since not only had I not been grocery shopping in awhile, but we were pretty low on money and were unable to afford groceries. Those gifts helped us get through until my husband received his first paycheck. 

I was able to talk with several of the church members that first Sunday. One lady introduced herself and added, “and I’m OLD!” I had no idea how to respond to that. This congregation is made up mostly of retired people, and the more I talk with adults, the more my idea of “old” stretches. When I was a kid, “old” meant 40. As an adult, my idea of “old” became 70s-80s. However, my grandmother just turned 80, and she’s not allowed to be old. So with a lack of words, we responded to this lady with a friendly laugh. She said, “No, really. I’m old! I’m 94!” I was shocked! No walker. No wheelchair. No hearing aids. No glasses. Maybe “old” should refer to ages 100 and up. 

Anyways, I digress. 

So all in all, it was a wonderful first day as the vicar’s wife. 

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