January 27, 2019 — Vermont and Pittsburgh

I left you last week in Saratoga Springs, half way to Burlington, Vermont. It was going to be a short visit, so the original plan was to fly early Monday morning. But United canceled my flight due to heavy snow in that area. I checked the weather and discovered that the storm was over by Sunday afternoon, so I was puzzled by the cancellation. I called someone in Albany and someone in Burlington and discovered that travel was not impossible. I didn’t want to get stranded half way there, so I reserved a room at a hotel in Saratoga Springs. I gathered two winter coats, two hats, two gloves, food and water, dressed in comfortable clothes, and set out. The roads were bare and dry until Albany. After that driving was a challenge, so I was glad I could spend the night in Saratoga Springs. I caught a late dinner in one of the few restaurants open. There were only a few of us, so we all sat at the bar and watched the ending of the Patriots vs. Chiefs football game. It was a close game, ending in a tie and going into overtime. I sat next to a fervent Patriots fan, and rode the rollercoaster of his emotions until the Patriots finally won.

The snowplows had cleared I-87 by morning, but it was so cold my windshield washer had frozen. Traffic splattered slush on the windshield, and I had to pull off every so often and pour washer fluid over the windshield so that I could see. I entered Vermont and found that they did not salt the roads, which meant that there was no slush! I had left more than an hour earlier than usual, and arrived on time even with the sub-optimal driving conditions.

Burlington received 18 inches of snow last Sunday, and everyone spent the day clearing it away. When I arrived on Monday morning there was snow piled high everywhere, but I had no trouble getting around. I visited with Joseph Pensak, the PCA pastor in town, and with John and Megan Meinen, RUF campus minister. It was very good to catch up with them. On Tuesday I drove to Hooksett, New Hampshire, to meet with a couple of pastors in the Northern New England Presbytery. We discussed some issues before the presbytery, including the possibility of starting a new RUF at Southern New Hampshire University. I left after lunch and drove home. I noticed a massive traffic snarl over the Tappan Zee bridge, so I stopped for dinner in White Plains.

On Wednesday I drove to Pittsburgh and spent the rest of the week in western Pennsylvania. I had a delightful dinner with Derek and Luda Bates, met with Callie Miller (staff), Zenny Jua (intern), several students, and attended the Large Group meeting. Pitt RUF is very strong, and the quality of the students is astonishing. On Friday I drove to a church an hour north of Pittsburgh to visit a pastor and assess interest in starting RUF at Slippery Rock University. Slippery Rock is the major state university in north western Pennsylvania, and reaching those students could be instrumental in reaching that part of the state. That is a different presbytery, which has not had an RUF so far. This pastor felt it likely the presbytery would go for the idea, and we decided on the next steps.

I was planning to visit Penn State next, and it did not seem to make sense to drive home and return on Monday, so I decided to stay through the weekend. On Saturday I visited the Pittsburgh Presbytery and gave a brief greeting, then had dinner with Oliver and Kim Pierce at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Today I worshiped at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Johnstown, pastored by the chairman of the RUF committee in the Pittsburgh Presbytery. I am settled in State College tonight, with meetings scheduled to begin at 9:00 in the morning.

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