Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lake Seminole to Lewisville Lake near Dallas

 Spanish Moss on trees

Lake Seminole (Northern Florida at the corner of South Georgia and Alabama).  We enjoyed our meetings with Christians in South Georgia and Northern Florida

We drove to Jacksonville, FL one weekend where Ron presented lessons geared toward evangelism.  

Night time in St. Augustine, FL ....out to dinner with Garry and Jeannie Swearingen. 

We enjoyed our stay with some dear friends from our early days of mission work when we lived on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. It actually felt a little strange being in a house again after 1-l/2 years full-time in an RV. It was strange but nice! Jeannie and Gary Swearingen had a wonderful dinner prepared for us the night we arrived and then one night we went to St. Augustine for dinner. Our friends made us feel right at home.   We had a good time catching up and exploring ideas about the Lord’s work.   Our next stop was Pensacola, FL.
From Lake Seminole we traveled to Pensacola for one night’s stay at a Corp of Engineers’ park on the barrier islands. It was actually a bit scary to drive down this narrow road with sand dunes on each side and the ocean waves lapping within view on both sides of the road. As we entered the gate to the park, I asked the attendant if he was sure there was a park ahead and enough space to turn an RV around. He smiled and said yes but we drove miles and miles along this narrow stretch and it looked as if it would just end in the ocean at the end of this strip of land.  It was amazing at the very end that it spread out to accommodate about 100 parking places for RV’s and other type of campers. The white sand covered the whole park. I would not want to be there during a hurricane!

We got there late in the afternoon as the sun was going down so we hurried to the walkway to the beach with a camera. After a short walk along the sand, the sun went behind clouds as we returned to the RV to have dinner. We could hear the waves from the ocean all night, which is a calming sound.

Early the next morning we hooked up the car on the trailer and drove to Baton Rouge, LA. We arrived on Wednesday in time to attend the Bible study with Christians at the church where we had parking privileges for the RV. The next day, we met Joan Ni, our Chinese worker who coordinates the bringing of children from China to the U.S. for surgeries. Joan and her husband took us to lunch on Saturday and treated us to some wonderful Japanese food. It was so nice to get to know Joan and her husband. We also had dinner one night with the preacher and his wife. They have served this congregation for 25 years.

Ron spoke at the Sunday morning service on Sunday. The Chinese service was going on at the same time in another part of the building. Following our services, they came over and baptized four people. There was a fellowship meal for both congregations. We left on Monday to return to Dallas.

We have been at the Hickory Creek Park on Lake Lewisville since we arrived late on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. As soon as the Bible class was over on Wednesday night, April Dasher came up and invited us to their house for Thanksgiving lunch. April and Greg were members in Peachtree City, Georgia before moving to Dallas so we have been friends for several years. It was a wonderful day. Greg’s parents from Valdosta, Georgia were there. The meal was delicious and spending time with them was really great. Greg’s father is an elder so he and Ron enjoyed discussing various aspects of the Lord’s work, including our work in China.

Last year, we arrived in Waxahatchie, Texas, the day before Thanksgiving. We rested that day and went out to find a restaurant that night. Everything was closed. We finally found an Applebee’s open and ate dinner there. This year, we thought we might repeat those plans and make it a tradition to eat at Applebee’s but the Dashers gave us an opportunity to keep from having such a tradition each year.

It has been so good to be back at Lewisville church of Christ. We received a warm welcome upon our return. It’s good to hear some of Jeff Jenkins’ good lessons. Traveling to many churches is nice and enjoyable but arriving back at Lewisville felt like home! Ron delivered a report to the church in Commerce a week ago and this Sunday we will be the Argyle church.
This past Sunday, we were invited to lunch with friends in Greenville so we had another great meal and fellowship with two other couples. 

I caught the cooks off-guard in this photo!
Carolyn Chance on the left has been a close and dear friend for more than a year. 

Henry, the man on the right talking with Ron has also been a great supporter and dear friend to us since we met him last year.  The Christmas Eve party, mentioned below, will be at his apartment!

We are relocating the RV to the other side of the Lewisville Lake today. We can only stay two weeks at a Corp of Engineer park, but the park on Kingfisher Road allows a 28-day stay. It is the park that we have used many times before. On the 23rd or 24th, we will drive to Boles Childrens’ Home right outside of Greenville for a few days. Our friends in Greenville are having a Christmas Eve party and we are invited. On the 26th we will leave Greenville and start our trip to Houston, making a few stops (perhaps) on the way. The ladies at Waxahatchie have quilts for us to pick up.

That’s enough about where we have been and where we are going. Other changes in our lives have included a few health issues. Ron had a very difficult time following the cataract surgery. The eye has finally healed and he thinks he can see better. He and I both deal with dry eyes and that’s an on-going problem when you have to use heat, especially. None of our ailments are serious. I think they are just normal aging complaints.

The weather has turned cold. We had three nights and two days of continuous rain. I thought we might consider trading the RV for a houseboat. After the rain, it’s turned very cold. There was ice around the door of the car this morning. I think we will not have warm days again until springtime.
Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season!
We are so blessed in this country and we should constantly thank God for his love and blessings.
May He bless all of us with a better 2012, physically, economically and spiritually.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Early November in South Georgia

While in the Lake Seminole area, we have visited churches in Bainbridge, GA, Tallahassee, FL, Marianna, FL and Chattahoochee, FL. We drove to Quitman, GA (between Valdosta and Thomasville) on Wednesday where Ron gave a report on our work. We have met many wonderful Christians in these small churches and they welcome us with open arms. We went to Marianna Sunday morning and to the small church in Chattahoochee Sunday night. The members at Chattahoocheee told us that other campers from our park visited with them Sunday morning. They told the visitors about us and suggested they look us up. They are from Texas also, so maybe they will walk around and find our car with a Texas tag. I think staying in the park would be more fun if there were people also camping that we knew or could relate to. Many weekend campers come with friends or children. The older campers in RV’s seem to stay to themselves.

On Thursday or Friday, we will drive to Jacksonville, FL to visit with some friends from more than 20 years ago. Gary and Jeannie Swearingen were members of our congregation in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands when we first began our mission work. We are looking forward to staying with them a few days and catching up with the years’ events since we last saw them. I don’t know if they have changed, but they may be in shock when they see us after 20 years.

We had more children to arrive in the U.S. for surgery over the weekend. A little girl will have orthopedic surgery in Denver. She and a little boy were deserted at a Buddist temple years ago. We have done open heart surgery for the boy in Boston, MA. He will return there for surgery on his back (spina bifia). Both children are being adopted by the cardiologist in Boston, MA. The other child coming to the U.S. will have heart surgery in Austin, TX. We have a little girl coming soon (having trouble with her VISA application) for removal of a tumor on her eye. She’s had two unsuccessful surgeries for it in China. Please pray that our surgeries for these precious little children will be successful.

More of our October travels

We enjoyed a few meals with Leigh Ann and Tatum while we were located in North Georgia. That was very special. Leigh Ann spent two weekends with us while we were in Chattanooga and that was also great.

On the 11th we relocated to the Whitetail Ridge Campgrounds near Lagrange, Georgia. The next day, Ron had cataract surgery on one eye in Carrollton. It turned out to be more difficult than he expected. When he returned on Thursday, a week later, he still could not see very well. The Dr. decided they had put a lens in that was too weak. He scheduled him to come back that afternoon at 4 p.m. for another surgery.

We had scheduled a luncheon meeting with a major supporter in Alpharetta, GA. Ron was not able to eat lunch after all because of the surgery later that afternoon. We had a good meeting and drove back to Carrollton for the surgery. He was in the OR for almost two hours. The doctor explained to both of us while he was in recovery how easy it is to put a lens in the eye but how difficult it is to get it back out after it has expanded over the eye. Ron continued to have some pain and/or discomfort for several days following the surgery. Now, almost two weeks later, his vision is still not great. He has dry eyes due to medications in the past years so that may be part of the problem. Dryness of the eye will cause blurring.

Ron spoke at Forest Park at their World Mission lectureships on Friday night, October 21st. The next day, we left Whitetail Ridge to go to Albany, GA. We went to help Jennifer May with some training since she is going to be our bookkeeper. Judy handled this work while she was in the U.S. Jennifer took it over in May but was limited in some areas without proper training. She and Ron spent a good part of two days together and she now says she can handle it. While In Albany, we parked on the military base in their RV park. Jennifer’s husband works with the fire department at the base. Ron also gave a report on our work to the Beattie Road congregation while we were there.

On the 25th we left Albany and drove to Lake Seminole. We will be parked at this Corp of Engineers park until November 15th. It is a pretty park with tall trees and spacious campsites. Trees are beautiful with Spanish moss hanging in low branches. There are many campers here because it is warmer here. But, we have had some nights in the 40’s and it seems too cold to me to be sleeping in tents. During the week, there will be a small amount of campers here but on Thursday or Friday of each week, the campers pour in and fill up the park for the weekend. The lake is quite large but very shallow all around the edges with water lilies growing. The park officials said there are alligators (large ones) in the lake so it’s not safe to be in the shallow waters. This park has no swimming beach. I think all of the other parks had an area roped off for safe swimming. I guess there is no safe swimming in this large lake. The lake is located at the corner of Georgia, Alabama and the Florida line. Although the park is slightly in Georgia, we come through Chattahoochee, FL to get here. It is a very small town. I told Ron we needed to take a day to explore the town, but it’s too small for a Walmart or Home Depot so we would have no place to shop except at the local IGA (food store). Our shopping has narrowed down to the above two stores (we buy groceries at Walmart or Sam’s Club). I laugh and say I go crazy when we find Camping World where I can visit their store but the truth is, I seldom find anything to buy. If I found anything, there’d be no place to keep it. We literally are packed in the RV with summer clothes now stored underneath in the bins. We keep supplies underneath as well. Each closet, cabinet and space inside the RV has its own contents and there’s no room for anything else.

I recently met a lady who said she would love to clean out her house of 30 years and live simply like we are doing now. It is easier in some ways. I can do cleaning in a short time. I cook quick but good meals. Ron is not difficult to please so if I am tired and don’t want to cook, he is fine with a granola bar and a banana for dinner.

I told Ron this once and he repeats it to others so I guess I can write it too. I have gotten used to living in the RV and it feels like home after a year. No matter where we are parked, once we return to the RV, it is home. I have said in past years that wherever I hang my hat is home. Since we began the mission work in 1984, I think we have moved about 19 times. Now the expression is wherever we park the RV is home. But, what I told Ron that he likes to tell others is this: “To live in an RV full-time, you must be very good friends or lovers.” There’s no place to go other than be together all the time. We do everything together. We have to take turns in the bathroom and when he wants to cook his own breakfast, I stay in bed or watch TV until he’s finished. Two people just cannot occupy the same space in the RV. It is livable but there’s no extra room. I understand RV stands for “recreational vehicle” but I’m still trying to experience the “recreational” part.

I feel so blessed because many people have lost their jobs and their homes. We have a rewarding work that brings us great joy. We have everything we need. The difference now is that we don’t have more than we need. We are not lacking for anything. God directs our way, provides the necessities, which he promised, and watches over us. What more could I ask for? I completely put my trust in HIM and it’s the best way to live.

We have met a lot of wonderful people on this round of visits to churches. We have seen very few friends because we had no time. Ron’s health issues, especially the eye surgery, took many visits and blocked out quite a few days. It was important to get that done but we didn’t realize that it would take most of our time on the south side of Atlanta. He also intended to see a dermatologist about some areas that may be skin cancer but he will have to take care of that when we get back to Texas.

We will have some relaxing days here on Lake Seminole. We will make some side trips to Tallahassee, Quitman, GA and perhaps other cities. There’s less for us to do here than on most of our travels. We still plan to go to Pensacola, Jacksonville and perhaps Valdosta when we leave here. Then , we will travel to Baton Rouge, LA for a few days. We should return to Lewisville, TX about the 22nd of November and spend the next month there.

Friends in Greenville, TX are planning a Christmas Eve dinner for us. We were in the home of Henry Sherwood last year for Christmas Eve so maybe this is going to be an annual event for us. We had a great time last year and I know we will again this year. If you can’t be with family members, this is the best it can get. You have not enjoyed Christmas Eve enough if you have not heard Henry read the Cajun Christmas Eve book. Leigh Ann bought me the book after I told her about it, but I would never be able to get the Cajun accent down to make it sound so good.

We hope to spend January and February in the south part of Texas (Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and a few other places). We want to soak up as much warm weather as we can those months. Last year, we did not get out of the Dallas area until the 2nd week of February and we nearly froze during an ice storm. We hope Leigh Ann will get to come down while we are in Houston to visit us and her friend, Myra, like she did last year.

Like a mountain stream, we continue to move onward

Like a mountain stream, we continue to move onward with many blessings from God.   Each day and each week is a blessing from God. I awake and thank God for the day ahead because to wake up and see the dawn of a new day is good news. Some days are better than others but each day brings new experiences, new joys and new people into our lives. Each day means one more days to spend with loved ones and serve God.

The first good news I have to share is our joy at having a daughter-in-law. On September 24, 2011, Georgia Olis and Ronald Brown married in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, Philippines. Their reception/dinner was held By the Pond (an outside event) in Tanjay. They went to Palawan Island, an hour’s flight from Manila to a resort called Gilligan’s Island. On the second day of their honeymoon, I opened Yahoo to check my email and saw the headline news that a Typhoon had hit the Philippines and heavy flooding was occurring in Manila. Without communication (no phones or internet service at the resort), there was no way to contact them. We were relieved when we saw an email from Ronald five days later when they returned to Tanjay City. He said it rained and it rained and it rained some more. I guess that was a good place to get to spend time together without any other interference, which is the reason for a honeymoon in the first place. It’s to get away from people, from the hectic wedding plans that have occupied a couple for more than a month and finally get to relax and spend quality time together. We know they would have enjoyed the beauty of the island resort more with all sunny days, but we are just glad they made it safely through the storm.

This was too much of a reminder of Ronald’s encounter with Hurricane Hugo (I think it was September, 1989). He was living on St. Croix and the hurricane hit that island full force, with winds up to more than 180 mph. We were on St. Barts, another Caribbean island, just north of the eye of the storm. We had torrential rains but no major damage. We had a portable radio and listened constantly to the destruction that occurred in many of the islands, including St. Croix and Puerto Rico. It was four or five days before the airport reopened in St. Croix where we could get direct communication with members of the church (and Ronald, of course). Ron rented a plane, loaded it with food and supplies and flew to St. Croix. He had to beg a taxi driver to load up his car and take him and the food to find members of the church. Ron first went by the house where Ronald was living and saw a lot of damage but his clothes were hanging on the line. He knew he was safe. When he got to the next member’s house, he found out that Ronald was with others helping to re-roof houses. For weeks to come, Ron continued to purchase food in St. Maartin and fly planeloads into the various islands (Nevis, Montserrat, Dominica, and maybe others) . It was a very scary time for us and a great relief to know that Ronald and all of the members of the church in St. Croix were safe.

While in Chattanooga, over the Labor Day holiday, we had two full days of rain as a result of Hurricane Irene but our three weeks in Chattanooga were profitable and enjoyable. It was good to visit several churches in the area to update our sponsors on the work in China.

On September 27th, we relocated to McKinney Campgrounds on Lake Allatoona in Acworth, GA. It is a beautiful park but with the fall season, they close the gate each night at 9 p.m. With Ron speaking at various congregations in the area, we could not get back there by 9 p.m. on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Our parking space was deep within the park (at least l-l/2 miles from the gate). We would have to park outside the gate and walk to our RV. There are no floodlights in the park and with it being so wooded, it is pitch dark. There is a maze of roads up and down hills to the various campsites. We decided we just could not handle the walking after a full day on Sunday. We usually get up at 6 a.m. and do not get back to the RV until 10 p.m. We are exhausted after the long day and sometimes Ron speaks three times on the same Sunday.

We were fortunate to visit the North Cobb church for the first time on Wednesday night (Oct. 28th). They asked about us, what we did, where we lived, etc. When the elders heard that we had our motor home at McKinney Park, they invited us to move to their building in Kennesaw. They have several RV hookups and said they would welcome us to spend our time parked in their lot. Ron checked it out and decided it would work very well, so we moved there and stayed the rest of our 10 days in that area.

Saturday morning, Ron took me to Leigh Ann’s and then went to the airport to catch a flight to Ohio. He spoke at a church there on Sunday morning (October 2nd) and flew back to Atlanta Sunday afternoon. He got to the Woodstock church (where Leigh Ann attends) in time for the fellowship meal. They had the theme, “Jesus loves the children of the world” with an international potluck dinner. Leigh Ann and I decorated a table with Chinese objects and prepared shrimp fried rice and shredded pork as our dishes.

Our weather has turned cooler. A few trees are beginning to turn red and yellow but it’s a little early for much color. It has been in the 40’s for a couple of nights with days in the high 70’s. It feels very nice after a very hot summer.

My microwave quit working so we had a service call on it. The service man had to remove it and take it complete down to work on it and then reinstall it above the stove. It is large and very heavy so it was quite a job. Ron and I would never have been able to lift it out. We didn’t realize how much we use it until it stopped working. I do not have an oven (only a small toaster oven) so I use the microwave a lot.

The day before we planned to relocate to the North Cobb parking lot, Ron began to raise the levelers for us to move but nothing happened. We were not going anywhere until they came up off of the ground. He called Camping World for a service call but they told him of an individual that made “house” calls. Ron talked with him for hours that afternoon, checking fuses, switches, etc. Without Ron having any success, the serviceman had to come out the next morning. He immediately found the switch that had to be reset but it was behind a lot of wires and totally invisible for Ron to locate. I guess they are in different locations on different makes of vehicles so it’s impossible to know the exact place to find it.

Ron did not get all the doctor appointments scheduled as he intended while we were in the Atlanta area. He went to Emory Hospital to a specialist about his shoulder that has been hurting badly for more than six months. He had shingles more than a year ago that appeared on the back of his neck and down his shoulder so he thought the pain might be nerve damage from shingles. I was concerned that it could be rotator cuff damage from all his work on the RV and car. I was relieved to learn that it was tendonitis in the ligament. They gave him a very painful shot in the area to reduce the inflammation. It hurt for a day but is much better. He was given an elastic band and exercises to strengthen the ligaments as soon as it’s well enough to tolerate it. If he uses the arm a lot, there’s still some pain.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More boring updates on our travels

I don't have any funny incidents or any spectacular events to report but we have been doing well and having good success with our travels. 

Toward the end of our time in the La Vergne, TN area, we drove the car back to Benton, KY on a Wednesday night to meet with Linda and Rick Clark and their congregation. It was a wonderful visit and getting to know them was a treat. We spent the night in their 5th wheel camper sitting in their yard and drove back to our RV the next morning.

Our time in Chattanooga has gone well. We have no Corp of Engineers’ park in this area, so we are now in the Red Bank C of C parking lot where they have a 50 amp plug and a sewage connection for RV’s. When we first came to this area, we heard of a long-time gospel preacher who lives in Rossville, GA. We parked in the yard of David and Mary East. However, the tropical storm headed this way and with so much rain predicted, we knew we would mar up in the grass and ruin their yard. We relocated to Red Bank on Saturday before the rain began that night. We did get about 10” of rain over that weekend. We have had great visits with the churches and friends in the Chattanooga area.

This weekend we will be with congregations in Chickamauga and Dalton, GA. Next Sunday, we will go to Cleveland and Maryville, TN.   About the time we get settled in and know the area surrounding us, it's time to leave and move to another city.

We will leave here on the 27th and go to McKinney campground on Lake Allatoona, just north of Atlanta for two weeks. Our next park will be at West Point, near La Grange for the last two weeks of October.

We have little time to relax. Every day there is too much computer work to catch up and when we travel and have appointments, we also get behind with the work.

In some cities, we have to get the RV in for repairs and sit inside it (or in a waiting room) without internet for most of a day. This past week, we had to stay in a hotel one night because they broke a part as they were trying to remove it to replace something else. They had to get the broken part from Atlanta overnight so we could not spend the night inside a garage. The oil leak that was found when we bought the RV has now been corrected and paid for by the dealer that sold us the RV.

We have also been having various portions of the car replaced because of the hail damage we got in TX. When we got back from China, we left the car for two weeks at a body shop but they never got around to doing anything so we had to take it back still damaged. We are never in a city long enough for them to order parts and do all of the work so it’s been done piece-meal in various cities. The hood and trunk were replaced in Paragould, AR. Ron got the chrome trim this week from the Honda dealer in Chattanooga. He’s been working on the dents on top of the car himself. It is almost ready to be painted so we hope we will have time to get that done while we are in Atlanta.

Having one car between us and a tight schedule, we do everything together. We have everything we need, but I have little opportunity to go window shopping. This is a big change for me because I have always enjoyed going to a mall for a day, walking around, looking, or stopping to rest with a friend for lunch or coffee. It’s just one of my favorite things to do. I’ve replaced that favorite time with reading and crocheting. I can make a baby blanket in about two weeks’ time. That is just working while we are traveling or sitting for some reason.

We have limited access to internet (sometimes we go to a public library). We have a wireless but often we run over the minutes we pay for unless we are very careful. Sometimes, we can connect to a church’s wireless or the park may have coverage. To get our work done, it’s a challenge to have sufficient coverage. Ron is on his phone a lot making appointments at the next cities, leaving messages for people to call him back and receiving calls.

Ron will speak on a lectureship at Forest Park C of C, just south of the Atlanta airport, on the 21st of next month. Then, we will go to Athens, GA where Jennifer May lives and get her trained to do our accounting. She’s been working on it since Judy left but we had no time to train her. Ron needs to spend at least one day with her. We will work our way back across southern AL, MS and Louisiana and back into Texas. We will probably spend some time at Lewisville and then for the winter months (January & February) try to cover southern Texas (Houston, Bay City, Corpus Christi, & Brownsville).

We do not know when we will need to go back to China.  It all depends on how things are going there. If there are any problems , we will make a trip whenever Ronald feels we need to return.  Ronald is overseeing the work in such a wonderful way, Ron tells people “it has really relieved the old Ron.”

This time next week, we will have a daughter-in-law. Ronald and Gigi will marry in the Philippines on September 24th. After a short honeymoon, Ronald will return to China and we will begin the process of getting a VISA for Gigi to join him. Ronald has rented a small apartment in the city of Nanning. We regret that we could not make the long trip for the wedding. They understand our commitments and limitations and promise to send a video and pictures. We are happy for them and pray for them to have a long and happy life together.

We have been in good health. Ron’s had some skin cancers removed, but I don’t think they are a problem anymore. He may still have one or two places that need to be done soon. He has a shoulder bothering him a lot. It has been hurting since he had shingles about two years ago but it seems to be getting worse. Or, it may be that he’s working too much and using it to excess which makes the pain worse. It may not even be connected with the episode of shingles. He will try to see a physician while we are in the North Atlanta area. Otherwise, we seem to be doing well for our age and pace of life.

I enjoyed being the Ladies’ Day speaker at the Mountain View C of C in Rossville, GA last Saturday. Our daughter, Leigh Ann, came for it and spent the weekend with us. Everything went very well with this wonderful group of ladies. Ron also spoke at this same congregation on Sunday morning and created a great deal of interest in our work in China. On Saturday night, we attended an 80th anniversary dinner at the Red Bank C of C and enjoyed a singing performance from a gospel quartet. Leigh Ann enjoyed being with some friends she knew from Freed-Hardeman University years ago.

We had a wonderful dinner at the home of Dr. and Mrs. John Morgan. John and Donna have been close friends for many years. Dr. Morgan reviews all of the patient records for the heart surgeries to be sure the children are operable before we commit to a surgery. He has been a great blessing to our work for many years. They also invited several other people for dinner on Friday night to meet us and learn more about what we do in China.

We also met two young men that have worked in China, teaching English in recent years.  We really enjoyed our time with them to talk about all that is happening in China.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Changes, travels and updates on life on the road...

First of all, I will bring you up-to-date on happenings in China and then I’ll write about our travels in the U.S. The work in China continues to go well. It is a hot summer in many of the locations of China, just as we are having in the U.S. The children are out of school and some are visiting relatives for a short time before school begins again in a few weeks. We are getting more new children in the orphanages now because they can only enter classes when school starts a new semester.

David and Ya Ning Langley are in the U.S. but David resigned his job as the minister of the Beijing church of Christ as of July 31. He has decided to leave the ministry to teach English at a University in Ya Ning’s hometown. David was teaching English in a university in China when he met Ya Ning many years ago. Now that they have a young child (Rei will be two in December), Ya Ning’s mother lives with them and helps with the raising of the child. We hope they will be happy with their new work, but they will be missed by many people in Beijing. We are thankful for the three years of service they gave to the work in Beijing.

As of August 1, 2011, the Lewisville Church of Christ in Lewisville, Texas, will be the overseeing congregation for our work in China. The 700-member congregation is blessed with nine godly elders and 36 deacons. Lewisville is a sound, mission-minded congregation that supports mission work in many different areas.

After overseeing the work for seven years, the elders at Peachtree City Church of Christ in Peachtree City, Georgia, asked that we find a larger church to be our sponsoring congregation. The work in China has grown and in order for the work to continue on for years to come, they felt it was necessary for the work to be under different leadership. The church at Peachtree City continues to support our work as well as many of the members at Peachtree City.

We love and appreciate the Peachtree City congregation. Our years working with this wonderful church family will always be fondly remembered as some of our best years. The work had hardly begun when we moved to Georgia. It has since grown to include six orphanages, housing over 600 children, and the legal Beijing Church of Christ, in addition to the extensive medical work done by China Mission for poor children. It requires a lot of financial support as well as sound decision-making leadership. We know the association with the Lewisville Church of Christ will be another wonderful experience. As long as we are physically and mentally able to do the work, we will be actively involved and proceed with the work in the same manner as before.

Ronald, our son, is getting married in the Philippines on September 24th. We are very happy and excited for him and Gigi, his new bride-to-be.   I will post wedding pictures in about one month.

We have been getting together documents that are required (our marriage certificate, his birth certificate, and his baptismal record). We will have to begin the process of getting Gigi into China. It’s going to be difficult for them to marry and then Ronald return to China without her. We hope this VISA process will go smoothly and quickly but there are sometimes difficulties when dealing with governments.

Gigi can be a great asset to the children at the orphanages. She is an English and Math teacher and these are the subjects the children need help with the most. I know she will be facing the language barrier and culture differences. I hope she will adjust quickly to married life and living in a foreign country with an American husband.

We are not going to be able to attend the wedding and we are sad about that. We have appointments set through October. In addition, the cost of the trip is extensive and it would be long and hard. I know they understand, but it’s a disappointment to them and for us. They are both in their 40’s and it’s a first marriage for each of them so it is a very big event in their lives. I told Ronald I had prayed for a sweet daughter-in-law that would love my son, for more than 20 years. She and I have been writing each other by e-mail and I’m convinced that God sent me what I asked for.

Three weeks ago, I lost my brother in his fight with cancer. Two weeks ago, a dear little lady friend in Nashville, TN (Mary Ann Farmer) gave up her battle with brain cancer. I was hoping to get to see both of them before they passed away but we didn’t get to either location soon enough to see them alive one last time. I talked with my brother a week before his death. I phoned Mary Ann in May and we had a good conversation. I told each of them how much I loved them in those phone conversations so I am at peace with their departure for a better world. Another sweet lady that I adored, Alyce Menet, passed away in Peachtree City last week. She was another precious friend who was sweet and kind to everyone. We visited her at a nursing home earlier this year.   Megan and Gary Ellis, members at Peachtree City also said goodbye to their newborn son, Noah, who was born about a week ago and only live for a few hours.  We are heartbroken for this sweet family but their little daughter, Beth, will help them heal.

Last night, Ron and I discussed our travels to various cities and congregations.
We miss so many good friends and family members with this lifestyle but, we agreed that one of the highlights of this part of our work is meeting people, both people from the past and new people. Some friends from the past always bring us much joy. Meeting new people at the various congregations is a very special treat. We meet people from all walks of life and they touch our lives in various ways.

Last night at Chapel Hill we met a sweet lady that is a retired nurse. She is interested in being a host mother for any child coming to the Nashville area from China for surgery. She would be a good one, so we will keep her in mind for that important work should we have another child coming. A young mother of two, an orphan in her youth, also volunteered to be a host family. A very nice man at the White Bluff congregation told us on Sunday that his family would be able to help with any child coming to Nashville. What a joy it is to have people willing to give up their time and resources to help a child in need.

An elder’s wife in Keller, TX, told us about parking the RV at Corps of Engineers parks that are located extensively around the U.S. With a Senior Citizen VIP card, we can stay for $10 per night. We have 50 amp electrical service and water at each location with a dump station for sewage disposal. Most of the parks are near lakes and even if we are not parked where we can see the water, we can take our daily walks around the lake and enjoy the beautiful setting that God has provided. Early morning (sunrise is best) walks are really wonderful. We can hear the birds, enjoy the cooler part of the day and enjoy nature. It prepares the mind and body for a good day. Having left over 100 degree weather in Dallas, we have enjoyed the cooler mornings and warm days in AR, KY and Tennessee.

The picture is large, not because I'm in it but because I hope you can read the sign at the park.  It was on my early morning walk and I had no make-up on so you see the real me in this photograph.  I had planned to take a picture of the sign but a park lady stopped her truck and insisted she take my picture beside the sign. 

We traveled from Paragould, AR to this campground near Kentucky Lake Dam. It was a shady and lovely place. We had some good rain showers there but then the sun would come out and the days were nice. From the campground, we drove to visit various churches in Hickory and Hardin, Kentucky. It is always interesting to meet some of the orphan sponsors to thank them in person for their support. One of the sponsors from Benton, KY came and spent several hours visiting with us at the campground. We plan to go back to Benton soon to give them a report.

You can see the geese near the lake in this photo.  We were parked right on the waterfront with the RV and wild geese (who have become tame) wandered all around the campsites as they went back and forth to the lake each morning. In the afternoon, they came back through the campground again to go roost at some unknown location. They were not afraid of anyone or anything.

We spent two full days at the Lily campground near Celina, TN in order to visit and report to the Moss Church of Christ. The last 20 miles to this campground had winding roads in the shape of a snake. It was beautiful once we got there. We were out of coverage for our cell phone or wireless internet. Ron went to the next park, a few miles away, to the boat dock to connect to wireless service. Dr. John Bailey from Dallas had called and unable to reach us earlier the day we arrived. When Ron contacted him, he asked if we were in a Third World Country.

When I sent Ronald (our son in China) a picture of Ron sitting on the dock working on his computer, he said, “Now, that’s my idea of a Third World Country.”   It does look like he's having a lot of fun, doesn't it?   We had arrived late that day and he wanted to check his email.  They sold pizza inside this little wharf market but there were no other restaurants anywhere near.  We sat on the dock and ate a whole pizza.  I really enjoyed it because I have not had pizza in a very long time.

I pulled a muscle in my back helping with the car trailer when we arrived and parked at Lily campground so I did a lot of resting the two days we were there without internet service. By the time we left, my back was O.K. Maybe I just needed the time to rest.

On August 11th, we left to continue our travels to Nashville, TN. We have been at the Seven Points campground on Percy Priest Lake since then. We have a wonderful shady parking spot with the same good connections. Without sewer connections directly at the RV, we use the bathhouse toilets and showers. We have been very fortunate to be parked very near one of the bathhouses. Wild turkeys gobbled and walked down the street in front of me early one morning as I headed to the bathhouse.

Although to me this is still a little too much “camping” having to use the bathhouse facilities, I still know how blessed I am to live in an RV.   In this campground (as in many of them) there are tents and small campers. Some people live full-time in small campers. A few days ago, we saw a small tent with a motorcycle parked next to it at one camp site. It was also interesting to see a tent contraption that fit on top of a car (all opened out) with a ladder on the side to the ground. They were sleeping in a tent on top of the car!! I failed to get a picture of that one but it was surely a different concept. I know I would feel safer without bugs and snakes able to enter the tent, but if someone stole the ladder, it might create a challenge.
We can only stay two weeks at a time at any of these parks so we will have to move next week to another one. We still have several churches to visit in the Nashville area. We are trying to meet friends as time permits.

From Nashville, we will go to Chattanooga at the end of August. We will be in that area for the first three weeks of September. I will speak at a Ladies Day at the Rossville Church of Christ on September 10th. I’m really excited about being with them that day. Also, our daughter, Leigh Ann, will come up and stay with us some while we are in Chattanooga. We will also be going on to the Atlanta area after we leave Chattanooga at the end of September.

In our spare time, we are trying to do some “home” improvements. Before we left Texas, Ron came across a newer RV that had low mileage at a good price. There were many things on the other RV that could not be corrected (including the speedometer). It was a constant worry with things going wrong and the repair cost is extensive when you take them to reputable shops.

The interior was the problem with this one. The dealer was willing to sell it cheap rather than try to fix it up inside. They removed the horrible dirty carpet for us. Their price was $7,000 to install ceramic tile, so Ron is putting in the tile himself. It’s been a time-consuming and back-breaking job. I have helped as much as I could, but I’m not much of a handyman sort of person. I need to do a little shopping soon to spruce up the looks. If I add some rugs and pretty pillows, maybe the old plush couch will not be the eyesore it is now.

We have no place to sit and eat in this RV. We talked about installing a booth or table and chairs but neither of us like the table and chairs that are often used. Instead, we decided to purchase a card table and folding chairs to use whenever we have company and use TV tables for ourselves. We sit by each other on the couch to eat and it’s working out O.K. Ron removed a lounge chair that had torn upholstery and left another one that is in good shape. In the spot vacated, we purchased and placed a glass computer desk for me to use for my office. It not only looks great, it is a great place to work. Depending on where we are parked, I either look out at the woods or the lake. Either is a beautiful setting for an office, giving the feeling that I’m “almost” working outside.  This is my new desk.

The man that owned the RV had Parkinson’s disease. He had removed all of the doors and hung curtains. Ron has rehung the doors and it looks much better. They also had the original shade and window treatment removed so it looks plain with darkening shades at the windows. I hope to find some pretty fringe to glue on the bottom of the shades. The shades are easy to pull open or closed and they block out the heat when the sun is hitting the window and gives a dark place to sleep so I don’t mind them too much.

We are still so very blessed. Our house in Sharpsburg, Georgia, has rented so it will make the house payment. That will make it easier for us financially because the RV and cost of living for us is no more than it would be in an apartment . Ron only turns in mileage for the time we are traveling on China Mission business. The rest is at our own expense.

I still do not mind living in the RV but I still dislike the moving to different locations. It’s a lot of work to hook up the car on the trailer and get everything secure for traveling. Then the navigation is important to go the best route when you have 50’ (40’ RV and the car). We have been on roads that were less than desirable for this rig, but we try to avoid these places as much as possible.

Last week, when we arrived at the Lily campgrounds, the lady at the check-in station told him most people drive down the middle of the road on the curvy roads, blowing their horn as they go. We went very slowly and blowing the horn, wondering what in the world we would do if we met another vehicle as large as ours.

I told Ronald that he could now get his Dad a job in China driving a bus. They often drive down the middle of the road blowing their horn. Ronald said he would have to play Kung Fu movies on the TV, which is the usual entertainment on a bus in China.

In the new RV, I do not have an oven. I have a convection oven and microwave combination. I have been reading the book but still don’t know much about using a convection oven. This one can be used in combination with the microwave at the same time, which is really new to me. Needless to say, I don’t do the type of cooking I did at home. I use a small crock pot, a small George Foreman grille and I’m going to buy a small toaster oven and then I’ll be all set. Simple, healthy meals are our style now. When eating out with friends, however, I may order a big juicy hamburger with fries, probably my favorite meal.
Until there’s more travels and things to write about, may God continue to bless and watch over you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What a week it was!

We left Lewisville, TX on Monday morning, July 24th and drove to Greenville, TX.  We enjoyed a lunch meeting with an elder and the minister of the church in Greenville and then had ice cream with a friend and supporter.  In the afternoon, we drove to Texarkana and parked at the Hampton Road church.  They were having VBS so we went to the adult class.  Early Tuesday, we pulled out to drive to Paragould, Arkansas.

I received a phone call from my niece letting me know that my brother, Leon, passed away early Tuesday morning.  I didn't expect it that soon but I knew he didn't have long to live.   His two daughters took him to Houston to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center on the 20th but they only kept him one day and sent him home.  The cancer was too extensive and aggressive for treatment.  They identified it as beginning in the esophagus and spreading to the liver and lungs.  Since he could not get well, we know it's a blessing from God that he did not linger and suffer. 

Wednesday, July 27th, we drove the car from Paragould to Springfield, MO.  The four-hour drive was tedious with many curves.  The visit was great with the congregation on Wednesday night   We decided to return to Paragould that night since we had the drive to Oxford, MS to my brother's funeral the next day.  I made a huge mistake bringing us back another route that looked less curvy on the Atlas.  It was actually worse and although it still was a four-hour drive, it felt much longer since we did not arrive in Paragould until 1 a.m. 

Thursday afternoon we drove to Oxford to attend the visitation for my brother, Leon Tatum, from 5 - 8 p.m.   It was bittersweet with many family members there that I had not seen in many, many years.  I even saw a childhood friend from more than 60 years ago.   The many pictures my nieces found of Leon were beautifully displayed and the TV ran a tape of the highlights of his life.  We were back at the funeral home at 1 p.m. on Friday for a 2 p.m. funeral.  Elders from the church talked with us and told us about their last few visits to pray with Leon and give him words of comfort to give him peace and hope about his eternal home.  The preacher from the Oxford Church of Christ had a very consoling and comforting delivery, combining some of the facts of Leon's secular life and his life in the church.   The funeral home is owned by Christians and they were all accommodating in special ways so it was a funeral that Leon would have appreciated.  His loving children will miss him terribly because he's always been very involved in their lives.  Leon would have had his 81st birthday on Sunday.

Leon left the church for many years but it was always in his heart and I'm glad that more than three years ago he returned to be active in the fellowship.  It was a happy day for me when he phoned and casually said, "Pat, I wanted to let you know that I've gone back to church."   I never pushed him but I did comment a few times that I hoped he would consider returning.

I don't take credit for his change of heart.  I know our mother taught him well and he knew what was right and what he needed to do.  I never doubted that.  It really touched my heart when my niece showed me a card leaning inside the casket.  I read the outside (it had a little mustard seed enclosed in a little plastic ring) and a scripture about having "faith of a mustard seed."  Inside, the verse said something about hoping he would keep his faith and find peace...more but I can't remember the exact words.  Then it was signed, "With all my love, Mother."   I recognized my mother's writing and I looked up at my niece for an explanation.  She said, "This card was in his Bible and since he kept it all these years, it is going with him to the grave."   I thought that was a prefect thing to take with him - he's taken it with him for more than 25 years.   Mother died in 1983. 

We drove back to Paragould Friday night and visited with the good congregation known as Liberty Church of Christ on Sunday morning.  They have supported our work for many years and we are very appreciative of their loyal support.

We will be with the church in Jonesboro on Wednesday night.  It is about 30 minutes from Paragould.  Thursday, we will leave for Troy, TN and on into Kentucky to visit congregations in Western Kentucky over the next few weeks.

My days are filled with trying to catch up some work and rest.  I've been so tired!!  

My final thoughts on this segment of my blog are that no matter what we do or what we accomplish or accumulate in life, we are all reduced to the same status at death.  How we live now determines where we go then but we will all go out the same way - with the sadness and sting of death.  It's only a joy for those who are faithful in Christ.   We should make every day sure IN HIM because none of us have a promise of tomorrow.  God bless my readers and may God bless my family members.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Some stories about the children we help...

Jin Cheng came to our care center in 2009. She will be eleven in October. When she was small, her father mistreated her and her mother. Her mother worked hard as a farmer but her father never did any work.

Once when her mother gave her a piece of pork to eat, her father got angry. She was just a worthless little girl that he never wanted. Why give her good food? He took the meat away from her, poured hot water on her head and broke her mothers’ legs. Both Jin Cheng and her mother went to the hospital for about a month. There is a place on her head where hair will not grow because of the burn and she is very self-conscious about this placing showing.

After her mother came home from the hospital, some kind of complication caused her death. Jin Cheng’s father decided to sell Jin Cheng. Her grandmother was approaching their apartment to visit when she saw him stuffing Jin Cheng in a large plastic bag and putting her in the car. She ran up and stopped him. She took Jin Cheng to live with her. She was kind to the little girl but her grandfather gambled and took every bit of money he could from her and her grandmother. If any relative gave either of them money, he took it to gamble. They were, of course, very poor.

Today, Jin Cheng is a happy and well-adjusted little girl. She loves her friends and enjoys sports. She is improving all the time in her personal life as well as in school. Jin Cheng feels safe and is happy living at our care center. She has made some friends and is learning many things. Here, she has a chance to learn about Jesus. She says she never wants to see her father again. If she hadn’t come to our care center, what kind of life would she be living? It hurts to imagine that. Changing lives—that is what China Mission is doing one at a time.

Yin Fei is a girl and was born in April 8, 1999. She came to the care center in September, 2010 and was in fifth grade. I came to the care center in November, 2010.  Here is the original information sheet on Yin Fei:

Yinfei's father died because of a snake bite in 2008. Her mother is handicapped with her legs and hands and she seems to have a low level of intelligence. Yinfei has a younger sister (9-year-old) and a younger brother (4-year-old). Four persons lived together in a poor and old house. Her mother isn't able to work. Now, yinfei's aunt (the wife of her uncle) who is about 50 years old takes care of all this family. She helps them work and cook for them. Besides, the aunt has a grandson to take care. Yinfei' uncle died 5-6 years ago. Life is very hard for all the family.

When Yinfei and other new girls came to live at the care center, they shared the same dorm room and were taken care of by a female worker who was in her thirties. The worker was a believer and shared the light with these new girls regularly.

This March, this female worker quit and left here. The girls in the dorm cried the day she left. They still miss the worker very much.

Because of the seed the female worker planted, Yin Fei has accepted Him. She has faith in Him. I remember one Sunday a few months ago, some of the workers, along with Mark were going to take His supper. Some girls in that dorm wanted to join us. We said yes, though we rarely did that. Mark knew some of them had been taught and kind of accepted, (and are “wet”) but still he asked how many of them clearly knew what their beliefs meant and what the supper means and if they are really clear about that so they can take the supper. Two girls said yes and took the supper and Yin Fei was one of them.

A week or so ago, while the children were still here, one Friday evening while most of the kids went to watch movies as usually, Yin Fei and a few other girls in her dorm chose to sing songs of praise to Him. I joined in with them. I could feel Yin Fei’s sincerity for Him.

Yin Fei behaves quite well and studies hard. She often gets good grades in school. She shows much interest in her education and she reads a lot. (Does she read the Book? Well, I’ve no idea. I gave her a Good Book, but haven’t asked her how often she reads it).

She is outgoing and happy. She wants to go to high school and college. She gets along very well with others. I think she is an excellent girl, but she often says she is not good at anything. She would say “Oh, I will not do well in this exam and I know it.” When I was playing ping pong with her, she said, “I am not good at it. I feel I can’t do anything well.” Words like that show her lack of confidence. But when she says that, she doesn’t appear upset or really unconfident. She studies hard and gets good grades, but she said she will not do well. She is not bad at playing ping pong either. I told her “Never say that, be confident, you are smart, you can do many things well!” She just smiles. She is always happy.
(Pictures of the next little girl will not be accepted by the blog - they are in Word and not compatible.)

Mei Feng is a girl born on March 23, 2001. The information sheet on her, according to Mark, states: “Father died of disease in April, 2005. Her Mother who was mentally ill, left after that. Her grandfather who is 87 years old died November, 2010.” It was Mark’s friend’s friend that told Mark the situation of this girl.

She came to live in the care center in February, 2011. She was shy and even didn’t know how to speak in mandarin. Instead, she spoke in her local dialect and she couldn’t be understood. But she is now outgoing and she talks fluently in mandarin! Whenever a class is over and before another class begins, she runs back to the care center and tries to find us to talk to her. She likes holding the workers’ hands.

For all the blessings she has now, there is something that is in her way of having a might-be bright future. She is 10 years old and in the second grade. When her relative sent her here, her relative said she should be in second grade. When I got to know her well, I was so surprised that she is extremely, unbelievably poor in Chinese and math. She almost doesn’t know how to read or write any Chinese characters and doesn’t know basic arithmetic! I feel painful when I am teaching her basic Chinese and basic arithmetic sometimes. Not because I am complaining, but because most of the time she learns in school (and she sits in a classroom and can’t learn anything I guess, because what the teachers are teaching are too hard for her to understand!). Even I want to help her, this process takes a very long and it will go slowly. We know that small kids love playing after spending most of the time in school. This girl naturally wants to talk or play with other children or the workers, so even though I have tried to find every chance to teach her new words, the time for me to help her with her study is limited. What's more, some other kids want to talk to me and this makes it harder. She is not the only one who is terrible at study and that makes my trying to help Zhang Mei Feng with her study much harder.

Both of Zhang Mei Feng's parents died. According to Zhang Mei Feng, her dad often beat her when she was at home. And according to director Lu, before she came to live in the care center, sometimes she went to school and sometimes she didn't for whatever reason. I guess it was because nobody cared for her. I can't imagine how much pressure this little girl will have when she is in class knowing nothing and being looked down upon or made fun of by her classmates and being not considered good by her teachers. The good thing is that she seems always joyful in the care center, but I absolutely think school has put a shadow somewhere inside her mind and heart that has a bad influence on her. I have taught her some words, but it goes slowly because of the reasons I mentioned above. Homework is much too hard for her because she should be in first grade, not in second grade. "But I am already so big, how can I be in second grade?" she says. She feels embarrassed to be in first grade as a ten year old girl. She is a little bigger than those who are in first grade.

When this girl came to the care center this March, I was in another care center. It was after she had been there for over a week and had settled down that I came here and got to know her gradually. When I told Lu that I think this girl should be in first grade, Lu said when her relative sent her here, her relative said she should be in second grade and it was done like that to please her. Actually I don't know if it's a good idea for her to be in first grade. I wish she could be in first grade, but considering the pressure of being in the same grade with those that are three, or at least two years younger, she may be very unhappy. I asked Mei Feng again if she wanted to go back to first grade this September after I explained to her why she should be in first grade and she said ok. But I don’t really know if she really meant it or not.

I talked to director Lu about my idea, and he said “she would be ok wherever we put her because she will learn something even if she keeps going up to third grade when the new semester begins. Actually I am not confident about my idea of putting Mei Feng back to first grade. I prefer to let her go back to first grade, but I have to consider other factors and I just don’t have one hundred percent confidence about that. Your advice and suggestions are welcomed. Choice matters because it will influence a person’s life a lot. I am very clear about that. And this is China. In our schools there are no special or extra tutors who will help students like Mei Feng.

……..The other night

I had some conversations with Mei Feng again, and she told me that before she came here, she was often late for school in her hometown. Her teachers often scolded her. Her classmates disliked her because she wore dirty clothes and smelled. She told me, “I was always dressed dirty. I didn’t have clean clothes. Sometimes I went to school, but after two days I might not go to school, and then after another two days I went to school again but they often scolded me. Finally I didn’t go to school at all.”

……..The other day

She got to know and believe in Jesus here. As a small girl, she will say words like “Jesus loves us” as she is taught when she has an opportunity to say it. She has such a sad past life, but she is so joyful every day. You may say, “That’s just a kid”, but it’s also a good quality for an adult to live like that, to smile even during times of trouble. She is grateful for a better life. I know that for a fact.

If you let me tell only ONE child’s story, only one, I would choose Mei Feng to show people that Agape Foundation is really doing something to help poor orphans.

(These stories are written by Max, our worker in Tiendeng).   You can feel his love and concern for these little girls.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Snakes, Bimbo and Desert Heat

We have had several weeks of days 100 degrees or more with no rain.  The ground is literally cracking open.  Grass is quickly turning brown and plants look a bit wilted.  The golf course is the only thing that's being watered.   A three-foot long snake slithered across in front of me in the grass in the park the other day.   I wasn't prepared to see it with the grass cut very low.   He was heading very fast so I really didn't feel any threat although I am probably as fearful of snakes as I am of some people.   I take my MACE with me when I use the bathhouses or go for walks alone.  I just feel it's the best thing to do to protect myself from some weirdo that decides to find a victim in a park.  I think snakes are out looking for water.  I don't know how the poor squirrels and other creatures make it during droughts. 

Due to the hail storm the middle of June, roofers fill the RV park with their campers and trucks.  The park is almost full.  I forgot to tell you about the weirdest little camper ever.  Check out these pictures:  

Workers apparently follow storms and replace roofs after a hailstorm.  We certainly have a lot of workers occupying the park camp grounds right now.  With these temperatures, I don't know how people live in the tents and Nimrod campers, but we have a few here all the time.  We can hardly stand the heat to walk to the car to go somewhere.  RV's are usually occupied by old people.  I tell people that owners of RV's have money (to buy some of the really nice ones we see) but they are so old they have lost part of their brains.  Why would they leave a beautiful home to stay in a motor home that sits in the hot sun in an RV park?    I guess there are campers anywhere from $15,000 to $250,000 parked here.  I told Ron you could stay in a lot of Holiday Inns and have room service for what they pay to camp.  We do it for a different reason (having to travel all the time to raise funds).  I understand Ron's reasoning but not the others.

There are boaters out on the lake and golfers out even in these temperatures but for the most part, people just stay inside.  If I had a home somewhere, I'd just pack it up and go home or drive to a cooler part of the country.  I surely would not come to Texas in the middle of summer. 

We have a wild looking camper next to us now with a younger couple.  A big boat is parked in front of their camper but so far, the boat has not been taken out on the lake.  The girl is a classic "bimbo" with bleached blond hair, short skirts and spike high heels.  She went out to her car this morning in a short terry cloth wrap and her spike heels.  Everyone else has on shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops but not her!  She's different from the rest of us. Most other campers are old and can hardly make it up the steps of their campers much less wear high heels.    If they are still next door, I don't know if Ron will be ready to leave here next week or not!  Ha Ha  

Since we came back from China, we can't sleep past 4:45 a.m.   We get up about 5:00 check our email before going for a walk around the lake.  It is daylight (barely) about 6 a.m. and we head out to get in a walk before the heat is too unbearable.  It is still about 85 degrees that early in the morning. 

Jetlag and the heat has zapped us the past 10 days.  We thought our one night stop over in Detroit would help but this time it's taken us longer than ever to get back straight.  By 6 p.m. we can hardly stay awake and pushing ourselves to keep going, we try to stay up until 9 p.m.   I am asleep by the time my head hits the pillow.  I sleep 7-8 hours but go through the same routine the next night.   Maybe I'm in a pattern now and it will be this way the rest of my life!!

We have been busy trying to catch up our computer work, get repairs done on the RV and car because of the hail damage and take care of many other things in this area before we begin traveling again.

I will continue my post next week.  It's 8:15 p.m. and I'm winding down again.  I feel like a toy that's been wound up and now on the last movement before stopping.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Two Busy Weeks in China

We arrived at the John Connor Brown Christian Care Center about noon on Sunday, June 26th. The Directors’ seminar began the afternoon session at 2 p.m. About 5 p.m. we broke for dinner and then the worship service (family meeting) was held afterwards. We began again at 8:10 Monday morning. The seminar ended about noon on Tuesday. A few of us met the Department of Education officials for lunch on Tuesday. We want to bring additional children to this care center but the school is reluctant to accept more children. We asked the Department of Education officials to look into it and consider the problem.

All of us took a bus to Nanning in the afternoon and connected with trains heading in various directions. Our train left at 8:30 p.m. heading to Shaoyang (on our way to Longhui to visit the North Canton Christian Care Center).

While waiting for the train, Lily, our translator, told us she saw a prisoner being led by a police officer. When we boarded our train, Lily came to our cabin and told us that the prisoner was in the cabin between us. She was a little nervous about it until one of the police officers took one of the beds in her cabin. She learned that the man had murdered someone and escaped. They caught the man in Nanning and were transporting him back to Beijing.

There is often family violence when murder is involved. Wives are usually the victims. Sometimes, someone gets violent under the influence of alcohol but if that had been the case this time, I seriously doubt he would have been able to escape and make it to Nanning, a very long distance from Beijing. A person who murders will probably be shot in a few days or weeks. They probably had someone identify him as the right person and then he would be imprisoned for a short time. They make the family pay for the bullet that is used to execute him, and they harvest all of the organs for transplant to patients. This may be upsetting to us who are used to a more complex justice system, but it is certainly a deterrent to crime. We might do well to make a condemned person’s time short rather than taxpayers supporting a prisoner for almost a lifetime while going through appeals.

Government officials met us in Shaoyang and took us to lunch and then drove us to visit the care center (NCCC). We need to do repairs to the roof and paint the buildings but we requested more cooperation from the government before we do all of the improvements that need to be done. A younger group of government men are now in charge and we are hopeful they will be more cooperative than the last group of officials. We could not stay long because they were driving us back to Shaoyang (an hours’ drive) for us to take a train to Wuhan. Most of the children were in school. There were a few first graders there because they did not have final exams. A few teenagers had completed their exams and were in their rooms.

From Shaoyang, we took a three-hour bus ride to Changsha and then a high speed train to Wuhan. The high speed train was only for 1 hour and 45 minutes, traveling at 335 km per hour. It was not much more expensive than the slow trains. It was air-conditioned and had comfortable seats. The ride was very smooth.

The next day we have lunch with Jerry Hua (director at Jackson Family Christian Care Center) and his wife. Wuhan is actually their hometown and they were visiting there a few days before going back to the orphanage at Zigong, Sichuan. They had planned a dinner meeting that night for us to meet a very wealthy man they know. They expected that he would fund an orphanage for us in Wuhan but our meeting did to turn out that way. The man was very supportive of our work and offered assistance with government connections should we decide to build an orphanage there, but there was no offer of funds.

We had breakfast the next morning with Michael O’Brien. Michael, a missionary from the U.S., has lived in Wuhan for about 13 years. He agreed to help us out in Beijing with the transition of new ministers. David Langley wants to leave the work there at the end of July. We will be in search of a new minister for the Beijing congregation. We are also hopeful that Michael can help us with new employees for the care centers in the future.

Sadly, we said goodbye to Ronald after breakfast that morning. He went back to his hotel for a train ride back to Nanning the next day. We took an afternoon high speed train to Shanghai. Ron had meetings with several people on Saturday. We were finished with our business and there were seats available on the return flight from Shanghai to Detroit the next day. We left Shanghai early Sunday morning and arrived back in Dallas about noon on Monday.

We had some excellent meals. I skipped some of the meats but the vegetables are always wonderful. Although we did a lot of walking to catch trains, subways and planes, I am sure I did not lose any weight.

We are tired but it is good to be home so we can rest. The trip went very well. We feel that it was successful in every way as we intended. We will be in Lewisville, TX for about two weeks and then we will begin our travels again.

Our car and RV were damaged by hail two nights before we left for China. We have never experienced such a storm. We had severe winds, lightening and heavy rain for more than an hour with hailstones about the size of golf balls. When we went to bed that night, bad weather was not predicted in our county. An insurance adjuster just estimated about $1,000 worth of damage to the RV. The car has dimples all over it from the constant beating of the hailstones and the mirror was broken on one side. The chrome is also damaged.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Yesterday, we awoke early, still not getting our time zones regulated. With only 6 hours of sleep, we ended the day nearly exhausted. However, we did walk a lot. Ron had a few places he wanted to go so rather than sit in a motel room all day, I went along.

We took the shuttle bus back to the airport and then took a bus to somewhere in the city. This may sound strange to most people but in a city as large as Shanghai, but I have no idea how far we went. The population of Shanghai is 23,019,148 so the city goes on and on. There are huge high-rise apartment buildings after apartment buildings. I was thinking as I looked from the bus, how would you ever find your apartment again? Maybe in one whole section, all of the buildings look the same. Then where you do see houses, the rooftops look like they are touching each other. This picture was taken from the bus, but you can see the houses in the foreground and the high-rise apartment buildings in the distance.

Beijing by comparison is 19,600,000 people. I thought it was the largest city but Shanghai has more people. In either city, you can travel for many hours and not be across the city. (The entire population of the U.S. is 307,006,000 and China is 1,331,460,000.)

We found the place we were going after taking a taxi after we got off the bus. Then we had to walk a while in the hot sun (about 90 degrees). We got directions to the subway system and were told it would take us all the way back to the Pudong Airport, which is near our hotel. We found fewer people who could speak English in Shanghai. We would have thought it would be the other way around. Shanghai is a business center for world corporations and many U.S. businessmen are on every flight to Shanghai.

It was a much more confusing subway system than in Beijing. English names are written very small. When they announce the stop over the loud speaker, they also say it in English, but there’s so much noise that you can hardly understand what they are saying. To ride the subway, you have to watch the map display and pay attention to the stops. There are many more lines than in Beijing. They intersect going in every direction. It’s not easy to trace where you are and what lines you have to change to before you can reach your destination. When we finally got on Line 2, the line to the airport, we still had to change twice more (still Line 2). It literally stopped about halfway and everyone got off and started waiting for the next one. We got on the next one and traveled for a while and then almost everyone got off again. Since a few people stayed on, we asked someone about the airport and they said we had to go across and get on it going the other direction. We were skeptical since the way we were heading had an arrow pointing to the airport. However, we thought the boy spoke with authority and people who can speak English and understand have always been helpful. We watched the next stop and we were heading the right way after all. It was a very confusing line. We never had that happen in Beijing. No one over the age of 40 rides the subways. I know why. There are many steps and long distances between lines. I guess we must have walked at least 5 miles yesterday.

When we arrived at the Pudong Airport, we looked at the airline arrival schedule and realized that Lily, our translator, would be coming in soon. We found a restaurant and had dinner while we waited. We had skipped lunch entirely with our wanderings around. I ordered shrimp fried rice, green vegetables and hot green tea. Ron had a fresh fruit bowl and Japanese Tofu. He helped me with the greens. It was very delicious.

Becky and Lily at Breakfast
When we finished dinner we saw that Lily’s plane had been delayed and it would be another hour before she arrived. We decided we were too tired to wait and with no seats in that area, we decided to return to the hotel. Lily arrived safely and came to room about two hours later. Lily said she would go back to the airport at 9:45 to meet Becky arriving from Narita, Japan. Becky’s flight the night before was cancelled for some reason. Nowadays, if the airline doesn’t practically fill up a flight (even if it’s the only one out that day), they cancel the flight. The plane might have had mechanical problems. We will find out the reason today when we see Becky. Since airlines don’t put people up in hotels anymore, they really don’t care how inconvenient it is for passengers. Some people are scheduled to make connecting flights elsewhere but just have to deal with the delays the best way they can. Flying is more difficult these days for many reasons.

Today, we will check out at noon and take the subway to the other airport. We fly out late today for Nanning. The airports are about an hours’ drive apart. Like all cities, the traffic at the end of the day can make a one hour drive turn into two hours so we really have to plan ahead and sometimes get to the airport much too early to be sure we make it.