Friday, June 18, 2010
On the Road Again!
As we continue to travel in Texas, we have very hot, 98 degree days. We have several more weeks of travel but we must get home to have a little recuperating time before leaving for China about the 20th of July.
We have had more repairs to be made to the RV along the way but we have found people to be very nice and helpful everywhere we go. An old mechanic asked about our travels and wanted to know about the baby blanket I was crocheting. He asked what church we belonged to and when I told him he said he was baptized in the Church of Christ. He's been around the world as a drifter, worked in many fields of work and been homeless. I learned a lot about him in just a few minutes' time. He said he was 52 years old but he looked older than Ron. (Honestly, for those of you who don't believe me!!)
I have crocheted a baby blanket and read three books while I've been waiting or traveling, but we are coping with the daily setbacks and continue to journey forward on our trip. I have not seen any hoedowns, Texas BBQ's, rodeos or such like. I have seen a few cowboy hats and boots. Does that count for my image of Texas?
There is a comradeship among RV owners as I suspected. While at the repair place in Baton Rouge, a couple came over to visit in our RV while they were waiting for repairs on theirs. This lady is my age and heads up a ministry to provide tiny garments for stillborn and premature babies. They assist with the clothing and burial of these precious little souls. Her website is: www.threadsoflove.org if you want to check it out. She invited me to go with her to a hospital that morning to take some little garments but it was not a convenient time for me to go.
At a gas station, a lady started telling me that she has had an RV for 12 years and drove it to Alaska last year. Another man asked about our gas mileage. Ron fills it up and says "well, that's three nights in a bad hotel" as he continues to justify the purchase.
Thanks to some of my readers who have commented on my report about our RV travel. It is an experience that should be acquired early in life (maybe in your 20's instead of 70's). Unlike my Canadian friend (and Paige Peterson, my co-worker) who wrote about acquiring good memories of travel and camping, I don't have 30 years to look back on this experience. It is my belief that the longer it is from the experience, the more we will remember the good parts. As long as my memory continues, I don't think I will have time to remember too many good parts of it.
Someone on the chatline just asked Ron if Pat likes the RV. I told him to tell them I like it just fine when it's sitting still, parked somewhere. It is comfortable enough and we are getting along just fine in the small space. I get more hugs because when we meet in the hallway, there's too little space for both of us to pass through at the same time.
I am responsible for navigating but when Google and MapQuest directions disagree and GPS has even different ideas of how to go somewhere, I get very confused as to which route would be best for an RV that is pulling a car. I tried to block side roads and U turns from the GPS but sometimes it still tries to send us down places where Ron cannot maneuver a turn. I am doing a better job of planning the next trip by viewing all sources along with a road atlas and deciding which is probably the best route for us. Even then, sometimes Ron disagrees and turns a different way and then my GPS has to "recalculate" which frustrates all three of us (Ron, me and the GPS lady)! All of these sources are sometimes wrong and that is really aggravating when we are driving around on unnecessary streets.
Someone commented that I must really love this man. That is the truth. Someone at the RV repair place asked me if I loved the RV. I said, "No, but I love my husband." I thought that said enough.
Wednesday night we were in Hamilton, Texas. One of our sponsors talked with me a while and commented that they once had an RV. I told her I was not as fond of traveling in it as Ron was. She said, "But, he needs you and it is important to be together as much as you can for the rest of your years together." Joyce Green, a dear friend at Peachtree City has told me the same thing about the difficult trips to China. I will look back on these years, especially if I am ever a widow, and appreciate the time I spent with Ron. Yes, no matter how inconvenience or hard these experiences are for me, we are still together doing something that I hope the Lord is pleased with. We are doing what we feel is important to be HIS servants and help others less fortunate then us.
Everyday, I am thankful for the many blessings we have in our rather comfortable lives. Dave, who went with us to China in April, and has since then been to Haiti, said it best. He says his life will never be the same; he cannot be complacent having seen the poverty and need of people in other countries. I wish every American could realize that we have so much and can do so much more to relieve the suffering of others and give them a little hope for this life and especially hope for eternity.
Faith Borck, a young girl from Lebanon, TN, has a link to my blog. She went with us to China last year and served as a translator at the medical mission. She was home schooled and speaks fluent Mandarin. She has been twice to our North Canton Christian Care Center to teach the children. She has just returned to the U.S. and reports that the day before she left 11 children became Christians. I do not know the number that has been baptized at that orphanage but it must be over 20 by this time. We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to give two kinds of hope to these poor children who didn't have much chance in life before we found them. Faith is so torn, wanting to know what God wants for her life, how she can serve HIM best. Her heart is so tender and devoted to doing HIS will. She has been such an inspiration to us and to so many of these children whose lives she has touched.
While in Houston, we had dinner with Carole and Steve, two teachers at Westbury Christian School, who are heading to China to two different care centers to teach for a few weeks. We are so pleased to have them going. Although a number of the children return to visit relatives in the summer, we are trying to encourage more children to remain at the care centers to take advantage of the wonderful teaching and fun activities planned by these English teachers. We also have American teachers who have already arrived at other care centers.
I have signed up 17 people who want to receive our newsletters on-line. Sponsors for 15 orphans have committed to support children at our new care center that will open in August.
The newest care center is called Refuge of Grace Christian Care Center. The funds for remodeling the building are furnished by the Jackson Family Foundation, who also financed the construction of the Jackson Family Christian Care Center in Zigong that opened one year ago this September. Refuge of Grace is located outside of Pingxiang in Luxi (city and county). It will house about 200 of the more than 2,000 orphans in this area.
Our son, Ronald, is in charge of the construction work at all of the care centers. He has been at Luxi since the first of May. He works through a translator but I'm sure he uses a lot of sign language as well. (Shaking his head NO, for instance). Workers want to do sloppy work and he will not permit it. They tell him that's the way they do it in China. He tells them this is not the way we are going to do it. He argued with a man about how to put the hood over the stove and after about an hour, Ronald told him to forget it, he would install it himself since the fellow apparently didn't know how to do it. He quickly backed down and said he would do it Ronald's way. Ronald said getting quality workmanship is about like giving a chef a good filet and have him make it into hamburger meat and serve a burned and bad burger. We are very proud that he has not given up in this very difficult work. We know life is difficult living in China for an American even under the best of circumstances.
We have full cooperation from the government in Luxi. A group of government officials paid Ronald a visit at the house where he has rented for himself and the worker who translates for him. As is traditional, they were welcoming him and supporting him with their visit. Here is what Ronald wrote: "I just got a visit here at the house.... the top civil affairs guy from Pingxiang (you may remember he said he had specifically worn a red jacket when we first met in the large conference room in Pingxiang), I think his wife and sons, the 2nd in line civil affairs guy from Luxi, and another official from Luxi, all came. They brought me bananas, apples, a watermelon, and milk. It is a Chinese common courtesy to visit friends and the like bearing gifts at festival times."
Many people ask if we get support from the government. Others ask if we are afraid when we are in China. It surprises them when we tell them that the government gladly supports us in most areas, some even financially. In Pingxiang, they offered the building on a 20-year free lease (which is common) with the option of renewing it at the end of 20 years. After an orphanage is filled with children, government official often bring them clothing, shoes, and food to assist us with their care.
As far as feeling afraid, the only threat is the driving in China. I've reported before about the crazy driving and how dangerous it is to cross the road when pedestrians have no right-of-way.
We are still seeking sponsors for the children at this new care center. If you know of anyone that might be interested in supporting a child at $35 per month, please ask them to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are now in N. Richland Hills, TX (a suburb of Fort Worth & Dallas). We are parked at a very large church where Dr. John Bailey and his wife attend (Legacy Church of Christ). Yesterday, we met with Dr. Bailey and the family members of the Caris Foundation. They support our medical missions to China every year and provide funds for many open heart surgeries throughout the year. In addition, some years ago, they gave funds to renovate some old buildings that we called Mama Jo's House. We have helped a lot of children in the Biyang area surrounding Mama Jo's House and cared for about 100 children at the care center in addition to 14 old men.
Little Addie Burnette, the little girl featured in the last medical newsletter, was abandoned at this care center. I told the Caris family members yesterday that in addition to helping a lot of children, saving the life of this precious little girl was worth all the money they spent. Addie was adopted by the Stan Burnette family in Buford, Georgia.
The buildings are getting so old and this care center needs more constant repairs than it's worth. We also have a difficult time finding workers that will go to this remote area. We recommended that we continue to find a way to help the best students that really want an education and relocate Mama Jo's to a more convenient area. We have some very troubled children at this care center and it may be too late to help them. They do not want to go to school and they do not want rules in their lives. When a child does not have any desire to learn or submit to authority, there is little we can do to change their lives. We have tried to give them a chance but not everyone will accept our help just as not everyone will accept the good news of Christ.
We believe the Caris family will approve of our recommendations and then we will have the task of locating another building to remodel. In addition, phasing out the location in Biyang will be difficult for some sponsors who will have to help a different child from the one they have grown to love. I also tell sponsors, "We help a child as long as we can but there will come a time when we have done all we can." It is often the same with our own children in America.
The government in the area will continue to support the old men at this location or move them to another facility. We will have to discuss this situation with the government to be sure they are not just abandoned or neglected.
Our medical mission the first two weeks of August will be with a hospital in Pingliang City, Gansu Province. The team will arrive in Shanghai and travel to Xi'an. After one night there, it will be a 3-4 hour bus ride to Pingliang City. Some of the same team members as last year will join us on this mission but we have new members as well. Our daughter, Leigh Ann Dotson, is going with us for her first time to China. Also, Ellen Mao, a dear Chinese friend who is an ICU nurse is going with two of her friends. Ellen was Ron's very first secretary. When she worked at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, she used her day off or a few hours before going to work to come by the office and do his secretarial work. She has supported orphans and she went to China with Ron on the very first medical mission. We love and appreciate Ellen very much.
God bless you all! Thanks for listening to my ramblings and having an interest in our work in China.