Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dogs vs. Cats

You will really think I've lost my mind from being cooped up in a small space when you read this.  This has absolutely nothing to do with our work in China!  It is merely a sideline to our daily madness living in a motor home (remember I said before it's not an "RV = recreational vehicle" because there's no recreation to it.

As I mentioned in my last segment, campers seem to love having their pets (dogs in particular) with them.   There is a small camper next to us and this afternoon Ron told me to look out the window.  A big white dog was sitting in the driver's seat looking straight out the windshield.  I ran to get my camera to get a picture for this blog but by the time I got back, the dog had moved.  What a great picture that would have been!

We marvel at the time spent walking dogs.  People are coming in and out of their RV's and campers all day long with dogs on leashes.  Ron asked me why you have to walk dogs and not cats.  Of course, the obvious answer came from our daughter, Leigh Ann.   Small dogs have small bladders and must go to the bathroom every few hours.  But carrying this mystery a bit further (no I wasn't particularly bored yesterday) I sent an email to Ronald, our son in China. 

When Ronald was young, he kept two big dogs for a minster while the family went on vacation.  The dogs slobbered all over him several times (did you ever see the movie with Tom Hanks and the big slobbering dog?).  The dogs also barked and kept him awake.  He said he would never have dogs and he never has.  He's been a cat person all of his life.  My mother let me have cats growing up because she thought they were easier to care for so I always liked cats too.

Anyway, I knew what Ronald's answer would be but I didn't expect an email this morning with such a profound explanation of why you don't have to walk cats.  I know this is going to generate a lot of animosity among my friends that love dogs but you can send me an email and debate the subject by giving me a full reason why dogs are better than cats.   

Here is Ronald's reply: 

Cats are sophisticated and competent in life. They do not need us; they are simply smart enough to let us feel like we have domesticated them in order to get what they want and need which is shelter, food, and water. They can get these things on their own but they are not too proud to take hand outs. They are more advanced than dogs in that they know where waste should go and will even cover it up. They bathe themselves regularly and do not need to go to the groomer to have this done. The are so efficient that they can sleep and relax the vast majority of their time and still achieve their goals in life. Many people see them as aloof and unpredictable, however they simply choose to agree to our lifestyle and demands only when it is in their best interest.......ah, so smart!

For you who love dogs and cats, I'm sure their individual qualities make them all special.  

I just had to post this for my laugh of the day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good week in Lewisville, TX

This is us parked at the RV park in Lewisville, Texas.  We can barely see the Lewisville Lake behind us.

The week went well for us.  We are doing fine.  Tuesday night, I gave a 20-minute power point presentation to the Lewisville C of C ladies at their holiday party.  I've never been asked to be a guest speaker at something like this so I was excited to do it.  My theme was "How we can make a difference in someone's life."    My focus was on the six orphanages we operate in China and the change of life for about 600 children.  They come from extreme poverty and sometimes abusive homes and they now live in a building that is like a five-star hotel with friends and people who love and care for them.  There was a lot of interest in my talk and it was so good to meet some of the childrens' sponsors and make friends with some other wonderful ladies. 

Friday night we went to dinner with Greg, Paula, April and Curtis, members at Lewisville.  We met them at 6:30 and were driving back to our home at 10:30 p.m.  I could not believe we spent that much time together.  We had a lot of interesting conversation and it was so good to get to know these two active and wonderful couples who are deeply interested in mission work.  They have been to Africa and India on mission trips (probably other places as well).  We shared a lot of funny stories about our travels.

A lady who works in the camp office owns a very big dog (the biggest dog I have ever seen).  She lives in a small camper nearby, so I think the dog takes up about half of the space inside! Yesterday morning a coyote came around the office and she was out calming her dog down. She said she didn't know which was the most scared of the other - coyotes run when they see this big dog but the dog is also very fearful of the coyote. Almost everyone in the park has one or two small white dogs.  I've never seen so many little white dogs in one place in my life.  I saw a man walking a small solid black dog so maybe he is like the "black sheep" in the bunch.   

When we were waiting for repairs at Camping World, a man and lady came in the waiting room with three small dogs. I think that's a bit much for one of these mobile homes. One thing for sure, dogs don't mind where they live or what the circumstances are. They are always happy. Wish I could be as contented. On Friday afternoon it was about 70 here so I took advantage of the warm afternoon and walked all around the park. I saw people cooking out. It's a bit more trouble than I want to do, however.

I did count my blessings on my walk this afternoon, however. Past the trailer park, there are camping grounds all around the lake. I saw one man and his dog with a tent (he had an outside fire going - perhaps cooking some food). I didn't get too close and didn't take a picture because I didn't know if he was a friendly sort of person and I was a bit isolated in this section of the park and didn't want to be the next casualty of someone disappearing in a park.

It is a bit cold at night to be sleeping in a tent. Although it's been in the 40's the last two nights, it will dip back down to the 30's Saturday night. Perhaps the tent camper is just here for a couple of nights while the weather is nice. On the other hand, he may live here full time. It's probably better than being homeless.   When we parked at the Waterview church last Sunday night we were told they had a night watchman. Actually, they have a man who lives in his car that parks in their lot every night. We didn't see him. however.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why anyone would leave a nice home to live in a camper. I have not yet seen the benefit for anyone but us.   It is saving us money in the long run because of the expense of hotels and eating all meals at restaurants.  I know people say they love to go places and see things but when you park in an RV park and just stay there most of the time, they aren't seeing very much. 

Most of the people who do this are as old as dirt!   They are in their 70's and 80's (grey hair, grey beards, walking sticks, etc.). Maybe they are just escaping very cold weather. Many of the campers seem to be settled in for a long time. I think some are winter campers (from NY, Colorado, Washington, but a lot from Texas). 
On my walk this morning to mail a letter, I went past one RV that has an outside storage shed, a pavilion to sit under and eat, with an outdoor stove (stacks of firewood nearby), a grill, and all the comforts of a backyard patio.  They have bird feeders, flags, trinkets in the yard, etc.  There are outdoor rugs, chairs and stuff around their campers that look like they have been there a long time or plan to be here a long time.  I'm not even sure how they close it all up to go empty their black and grey water tanks. The RV's have to do that but maybe these "snow birds" use portable sewage tanks that they hook to their vehicle to take it to the dump.

Since we've never done this before, I guess it is very interesting and sometimes a mystery to me.  It is a totally different life-style than what I have always known or dreamed about.  I have never thought of myself as a camper.  We went with our children a few times but they never seemed to get into it very much.  It was a lot of trouble and we ended up with mosquito bites and little sleep. 

Well, I guess that's enough for me to sound off about the life of campers.
We will continue to visit churches in the Dallas area for several more weeks.  Ron is getting some appointments to speak but when we don't have an appointment we just visit a different church.  They are always asking what brings us to Dallas so it opens up a door to tell a little about our work in China. 
Wednesday night we went to the church in Colleyville and we met several very interested people.  They want Ron to come on a Wednesday night to give a report on our work.  That's the way it works sometimes when we just "visit" a congregation.  We have actually been to a few where they asked him if he could give his report right then. 
Continue to pray for our success in raising funds for the work in China.  It takes a lot of money to keep it going.  The sponsors pay for the support of the children but we have to come up with money to pay the 100 or so workers we have in China who care for the children at the different locations.  If you had 100 children, you can imagine that you would need 12 people to help you care for them.  It is a very big family and it takes a lot of money to maintain the buildings and pay the power bill also.
Thanks to my wonderful readers for your interest and love for our well-being.  May God bless you this holiday season with a lot of joy, good health and good family times.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our travels in Texas

We have visited churches in Waxahatchie, Greenville, Commerce, Wieland, Richardson and now we are in Lewisville, TX.   Our travels are going well.  Ron spends a lot of time trying to reach people on the phone to set up appointments.  His job is not easy.  If we don't have an appointment, we visit a church on the way and try to make contacts for the future.  People are very nice and interested in our work in China.

Sunday Ron spoke twice at the Wieland Church of Christ in Greenland.  We went to the home of one of the elders for lunch on Sunday.  The lunch was delicious and our time with this very special couple was very delightful.  Nearly everywhere we go, someone has a family member that has adopted Chinese girls so they are very happy to know of our work in China.

We usually park at church buildings.  They are always happy for us to connect to their outside power outlet and hose but sometimes getting the RV close enough to the building can be a problem.  I'm still learning how to direct Ron into tight places, watching for tree limbs on the top as well as canopies of buildings and such like.  I help guide him into the gas stations to fill up so he won't take out a gas pump by accident.  Wonder if there are courses on hand signals for directing traffic? 

Sometimes, the church power outlets are insufficient for the RV load.  We have not had problems until now when we have to turn on heat.  It is a pull on electricity but if we switch it over to gas, it quickly uses up what is in our tank and we have to locate another propane gas dealer.  We have thrown circuit breakers at churches a few times but no one seems to mind.  We are very grateful for the loving concern and support everyone gives us in our travels.

Today, we came to an RV park in Lewisville because the rate is $8 per night for seniors.  That includes a 50 amp connection so we can run heat, microwave or hair dryer without difficulty.  We have water and sewage connections as well.  We will be here a few days before we go to Lake Dallas on Sunday. 

Tomorrow night, I will have the honor and privilege of speaking at the Lewisville ladies annual holiday party.  I will give them a short overview of our work; in particular, the work with the orphans.  I hope some of them will be eager to sponsor orphans or devote themselves to some special projects to help the orphans.  In any event, I will enjoy meeting these wonderful ladies and being with them.  It has been several years since I've done a power point presentation but I was able to prepare it myself and I've worked on what I plan to say so I hope it turns out O.K.

We have had some nights below freezing.  The RV park is almost full.  The man at the front desk told Ron that people from North Texas had driven down to get to warmer weather.  I thought Dallas was North Texas!   I guess these folks are coming from the panhandle cities where it is colder but if I wanted warmer weather, I would have driven on to Houston.

The wind has been tremendous with the cold fronts moving through.   Some nights the RV felt like we were on rough seas.  The howling of the wind was loud and disturbed our sleep many nights.  It is now calm with cold nights and warm days.  We are awakened by the rise of the sun each morning and we open shades and enjoy the warmth of the beautiful sun.

RV's and trailers in the park are decorated for Christmas.  We see mirrors with Santa hats hanging on them.  Apparently some of these folks intend to stay until after the holidays because they have strung up lights, put wreaths on their doors and have Christmas trees in their small yard space. 

Ron and I have missed many Christmases, being away from family in foreign places.  It was great when our children visited us in the Caribbean for Christmas and we went sailing on Christmas day.  Three years ago, we spent Christmas in Beijing and the weather was extremely cold.  We went with friends to The Place (a very exclusive shopping area) where the decorations for Christmas were spectacular but we nearly froze walking around outside looking at everything.  I do not know where we will be on Christmas day this year but so long as everyone is well, we will feel blessed and happy.

We are not going back to Georgia until the first week of January.  We will stay with Leigh Ann, our daughter, in Woodstock.  We have doctor appointments and Ron has other things he needs to do while we are there.  I want to get into storage and bring back some warmer clothes.

The boy that had the Tessier Syndrome Palate surgery in Dallas several months ago went to our home to recuperate the first of October.  Judy and Aida, our Chinese workers have been taking care of him but a family in Buford, Georgia, has taken him to live with them.  They home school their children so it will be good for Hongsheng to have some schooling and spend time with these children.  I know he's been lonely for the past six weeks at our home with the girls busy working each day.  He continues to slowly heal but still has some infections.

Lankui, the little girl that came a year ago to have jaw surgery at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, will go home next week.  Ron talked with her on the phone today.  She's learned english with her host family as well as many other studies but she must return to China to be able to pick up her work there and be able to pass the test to go on to high school in a few years.  Her surgery was successful so she will return to China as a normal child again.  She has loved living with her host family so she's not eager to leave.  The Borck family has kept several for us so we know that anyone they help blends in as part of their own family.  We are so grateful to them for their support and help.

This brings me up-to-date for this time.  If anyone wants to write me, my email adddress is patbrown10@gmail.com.   We miss everyone and would welcome your emails. 

May God bless each of you with good health and holiday cheer.