We were encountered the first time in June of 1976 a little over a year after UPEME was formed. We really needed that weekend because I had spent the months of February and March in the hospital with what started out as an unknown medical problem.
At 26 I was in ICU with acute kidney failure, blockages in my insides, extreme chest pain, and near death. They did a test with a dye that I was allergic to, and after they resuscitated me in the x-ray department, they decided to do exploratory surgery. That showed very, very bad gallbladder problems, with tiny gravel stones running throughout my body and blocking all sorts of things. Surgery was very extensive and I was given a year of bed rest. Communication was so bad between us because of three small children, three churches, a sick wife, a mother-in-law who behaved badly, both of us were overwhelmed. After a month mom went home, and we could not pick up the pieces and move forward.
Needless to say, we were not speaking to each other as we drove to the weekend. We weren't even sure our marriage had a chance. But when we got there, we walked in holding hands so no one would know how bad things were. We worked, cried, and prayed throughout the weekend and Sunday morning I opened the question, read it, and burst into tears. I had just died and been resuscitated and now they wanted to know why I wanted to go on living? I cried some more. Jesus had surrounded me with his love and peace while I was gone from my body, and when I came back, I knew I had some things to do. I wrote and wrote and wrote. He wrote too. And God gave us back our relationship. We were beyond thankful. Of course, being exuberant about our renewed relationship and just so thankful to God for restoration and healing, we immediately wanted to give back. So we walked right up to DL and Marilyn Baize and said we want to become a clergy team couple. Well, they just smiled and said “don't call us, we'll call you.” Crestfallen, we headed home, read all the info they sent along and learned that we could not volunteer, but if they thought we showed improvement in our relationship, they might call us.
Apparently we started a new thing, because two to three weeks later, we were invited to come talk with the teams, and then offered a chance to write the first three talks to try to become a team. They were read, and critiqued, and we became a clergy preparing team, the very first couple to relieve the Baizes from teaming every single month. Our first weekend was January of 1977, so 6 months after making our original weekend, we were a team couple. We came home both exhausted and exuberant over how God had worked on that weekend.
We teamed for about 30 years, but Ken's extreme sight loss 15 years ago was so hard to deal with. Midnight, his guide dog, became a fixture on those later weekends. Year after year, two and three times a year we were able to give couples on the weekend a peace that God gave us. God moved in the lives and loves of couples renewing and restoring relationships with him and each other. We saw his hand on UME over and over. His grace was sufficient. His Blessing was on marriages everywhere we went. We teamed in Fort Myers and Orlando, FL; Atlanta. GA; Raleigh, NC; Heart of Illinois and Peoria; Lynchburg; Utica, NY; Dayton, OH; Evansville, IN; and Iowa-Illinois. Almost got to New Jersey and lots of times in New York. We attended a couple of Celebration events, some team training events and were pretty involved for a long time. We haven't been able to do celebrations in recent years because each time they fall on our Bible camp meeting week. We raised our kids at that camp and all of them come back to camp. We worked different jobs for that camp and don't want to miss.
We attended CORE in Nunda, Hilton, Niagara Falls, and most recently Aurora Corealis. Now disabled and retired, we can't always find a way to CORE at night. Too many medical issues keep us from doing what we want to do, but our CORE is dear to our hearts, and if they, like some other COREs, ever decided to have CORE in the afternoon, we would be there.