Notes from the road

August 10, 2007

Our guest columnist this week is The Rev. Mariellen Sawada Yoshino, Superintendent of the Fresno District in the California-Nevada Annual Conference. 

By Mariellen Sawada Yoshino

“So how do I find your church?” I asked. 

The church member answered, “When the three-lane highway goes to two-lane, turn toward the ‘Jesus is Lord’ sign.” 

“Oh yes,” someone else assured me a few days later. “You’ll find it if you turn toward the sign.” 

The Fresno District/the Central Valley is an entirely new area/territory to me. So I am wholeheartedly spending this summer getting to know this district’s compelling terrain, issues, challenges, and joys. 

I have been to the “cantaloupe round-up” of Firebaugh and enjoyed the “ice cream” social of Kerman. I have worshipped on Sunday mornings in Clovis, Fresno, Bakersfield, and preached a church anniversary service at the Fresno Christian Fellowship. I have been spending precious and prayerful times with pastors in their churches and in their homes in Atwater, Dos Palos, Tulare, Reedley, Tahachapi, San Pablo, Hanford, Bakersfield and Merced. I have been honored to meet many loving, mission-hearted, and faithful members of our many United Methodist Churches in their churches, at district council meetings, in their homes, at the “welcome” receptions the district people have hosted, and even at a youth swim party in Bakersfield! 

However, as I have been traveling throughout this district, I have found that I am ever worried about being lost/on the wrong road/or on the right road but going in the wrong direction. Last week, after making it to Tahachapi, I got lost trying to find the church. Today, while traveling to Atwater from Fresno, I found myself going south when I should have been going north. Last night, while in the vast darkness of #152, I had no idea what direction I was going. 

In time, yes, I will become more accustomed to the roadways. Yes, I will understand the relationship of where people and places are located. And yes, I will become better at this; especially as I continue to look toward and remember that it is Jesus who is our directional sign; that it is Christ to whom we must turn with our lives, our churches, and our communities of faith; that it is our Lord and Savior who will be there along highway 152 and along the challenges of ministry. 

Soon, I will become more conversant about our issues, discerning through our challenges, and involved amid our joys. To do so, I’ll just have to/we’ll all just have to …keep turning toward the right sign, “Jesus is Lord.”