Friday, January 28, 2011

Another busy but good week in Texas

I see that I misspelled the name of the city we are in.  Not only did we pronounce it incorrectly, I can't even spell it correctly!   It is Waxahachie.  We still have to stop and think to say "Walksahachie."  

Other than routine computer work that is constant in our work, we took time to go to a class here on Wednesday taught by Walter Buchanan, the minister at the church in Italy.  We went to lunch with him and his wife, Billie, that day.  They left early this morning to go to Freed-Hardeman lectures and then on to Orlanda for a week.  What a wonderful couple!   Walter hugged me and said they felt like they had known us forever.  We feel the same way about them.  Some folks are so easy to meet and friendship is instant.

Wednesday night Ron spoke at the church in Red Oak, just a few miles north.  People are always interested and amazed at what is happening in China.  Few know that any work is being done in China. 

Tommy Medford, who is retired but works endlessly at the church with the food program and other things, has been so good to us.  He took us to Ryan's for lunch yesterday.  An hour later, he brought us a bag of frozen fish he had caught while fishing.  He said he would not be seen around the church building as much when fishing weather arrives.  He's bringing something that Ron needs today.  If he thinks we need anything, he's right there to take care of it for us.  What a special guy he is!

Speaking of weather, we are having a delightful break from cold weather but it's coming again on Tuesday with possible snow or sleet.  It will be 70 today.  Although our nights are still cold, the warm sunshine and beautiful days are so enjoyable.  I know most of our country is still covered in snow banks with more winter storms still coming.  We count our blessings these days in terms of warm sunshine in Texas.

Ron has booked appointments all the way through February.  This Sunday morning, we will leave very early to first go by the Lewisville church building (an hours' drive from here) to pick up blankets the ladies have made for the children in China.  At the morning service, he will speak for the church in Argyle (30 minutes north of Lewisville.)   At 1:30 p.m. Ron has a meeting with elders at Keller (a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth).  At 5 p.m. we will be at Ennis, where Ron will speak that night.  January is going out with a big bang with much accomplished. 

The first Sunday in February, we will be at Crockett Road in Palestine, TX (two hour drive southeast) and then north to Mesquite for the p.m. service.  Mesquite is near Dallas.  That concludes Ron's appointments in the Dallas area for this trip. 

We will leave Waxahachie on the 7th and go first to San Antonio.  After we complete appointments in that city, we will go to Corpus Christi and other cities south and complete that general area by the first of March.   Hopefully, most of the winter will be past by the time we head back into the western part of Texas.

When we leave one area, we honestly miss the people we met along the way.  It is good to meet such wonderful people; people dedicated to serving Christ.  It is difficult to remember names after a while but we never forget the people.

We watched a PBS special on Happiness last night.  It was very interesting but not especially informative to those of us who have lived a long time.  The bottom line is that happiness is what we make of things but all things pointed to relationships.  If we have good relationships, nothing else brings happiness to any degree (it is all fleeting) but if we have bad relationships, no amount of money, jobs, power or prestigue will bring happiness.  So true!!

"Money will buy you a bed, but not a good night's sleep, a house but not a home, a companion but not a friend."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wonderful day - Miserable night

Wow, the wonderful day we had on Sunday made up for the night when I could not sleep.  We awoke early Sunday morning to move the RV to the back parking lot at the College Street church in Waxahatchie (I have learned that it is pronounced "Walksahatchie").  We use up several "Senior" parking spaces where we park during the week to plug into power.  We move the RV so the older people are not inconvenienced with no parking places and have to walk further on Sunday morning.  It takes time to secure everything on the RV, unplug and get it moved.  Yesterday, the RV did not want to start because of the cold weather, so Ron had to jump it off with the car.  He will check to see if he has a dead cell in the battery.

We were at Italy, TX on Wednesday night and enjoyed our time with Christians that night.  Walter Buchanan, minister, suggested we go to Bardwell Sunday morning since we did not have an appointment elsewhere. 

Bardwell is a small town about 20 miles southeast of Waxahatchie.  What a delightful day we had there.  The 100-year-old building is beautiful.  I need to start taking my camera because I never have it when I have an opportunity for a good picture.  If anyone wants to see this church building go to http//  The congregation is mostly made up of relatives of each other but the building was full of children and people of all ages.   We were treated to an excellent Sunday school lesson from a former preacher of more than 60 years.  Unfortunately, I don't remember his name.  Charles Hodge (author of many gospel books and writer for the Gospel Advocate) preached a touching sermon.

Everyone greeted us warmly and Royann Farmer, one of the elder's wives, invited us home with them for lunch.  Charles Hodge and his wife, Helen, also went.  Following a very delicious lunch, we spent hours around the kitchen table getting to know each other, talking about the church, former gospel preachers and the interesting history of the Bardwell church.  Royann gave me a cookbook the ladies put together.  In the front of it, a history of the congregation lists many well-known gospel preachers from the past.  What a colorful and exciting history this congregation enjoys. 

Ron spoke at the Westhills congregation in Corsicana Sunday night.  We were greeted warmly by many of their members and there was a lot of interest in our work in China.  It is always good to see a large number of teenagers present and they seemed interested in Ron's presentation.  It helps young people in America to appreciate the many blessings and opportunities that are often taken for grated in this country. 

The congregation at Corsicana had a small group meeting after services and we were invited to join them for sandwiches, chips and dessert supper.  It was delicious but I make the mistake of drinking a cold drink that was not caffeine free.

We arrived back at the RV about 10 p.m. and had to move a cold vehicle back to our regular parking spot and get it plugged in.  We were very tired and although the RV was still cold, we fell into bed and got warm quickly.  Then the hours began ticking away without sleep.  The last time I looked at the clock, it was 2:15 a.m.  The caffeine had done it's trick and kept me awake for four more hours.  I was awaken at daylight by the garbage truck emptying the dumpster near us.  I didn't get much sleep after that.

Our nights in Texas are still near the freezing point (or below some nights) but the days are in the 50's with warm sunshine.  I love working with the sun streaming in on my computer.  With my cold nature, it warms my body and with my bad eyes, it provides good lighting.  Sunlight is a winter blessing that people in China do not often enjoy because of the pollution.  Anytime you have sunshine, count your blessings and thank God.

Ladies at Lewisville have a dozen or so blankets ready for us to pick up.  They plan to make 100 quilts/blankets for us.  This morning, I talked with a lady here at Waxahatchie and they will also get busy and make some for us.  Women are touched when they hear that there's no heat in the care centers.  They want the children to sleep warmly.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Life on the Road

Ron and I stay busy almost every day we are not traveling because of our computer work.  Ron is on the computer keeping  in touch with workers in China and handling any questions or problems there.  He is on the phone making appointments to give reports.  He spends a lot of time following up with calls and meeting with people.  His sales experience has paid off because he is persistent and never intimidated by someone saying NO.

I continue to oversee and help with the orphan program.  Leigh Ann (our daugher) and Paige Peterson work with me from their home offices.  Our work is divided up by individual care centers so we do not overlap in our work efforts.  Paige is in charge of getting reports and childrens' letters to sponsors supporting children at John Connor Brown, Wesley's House and North Canton Christian Care Center.  Leigh Ann handles Refuge of Grace (with new children continuing to arrive there), Neil Taylor Christian Care Center and Jackson Family Christian Care Center.  I handle the foster care areas of Guilin, Xi'an, Yongshan and Biyang and work with Leigh Ann and Paige in the overflow of their workloads. 

By the way, although I'm getting used to life in an RV, that pickup truck outside the window does not belong to me!
Our life has been very busy since the middle of December.  We left the RV park at Lewisville, TX and drove to Greenville, TX a few days before Christmas.  We had a few repairs that needed to be done on the RV so we parked in the RV repair shop back parking lot.  We stayed there until after Christmas because it was a convenient location and the owner of the shop said we were welcome to stay there. 

We had a couple of dinners out with a sponsor in Greenville that we have grown to love.  Wayne Childers lost his mother in October so this was his first holiday season without her.  We went to a new Chinese buffet restaurant and it was delicious.  He called and invited us to go to the home of Henry Sherwood on Christmas Eve for dinner.  Henry's daughter from Birmingham, AL was visiting.  She has always wanted to go to China so we told them about our work in China.  She is doing her internship to become a cardiologist.  We had a wonderful evening.  The dinner was delicious, all prepared by Henry.  Henry read us the Cajun Night Before Christmas book and we laughed and laughed.   Henry had invited two others and we all had a good evening together.  On Christmas Day we went to IHOP with Wayne. 

I told Leigh Ann about the funny Cajun Night Before Christmas book and she ordered it for me.  Now I've got to learn to pronounce the words with a Cajun accent.  Lisa Johnson told me they read this book every year on Christmas Eve because she is actually Cajun.  As they say, we learn something new every day!

We have spent many Christmas holidays in foreign mission fields but it's still lonely not to be at home and have the family gathered around.  We have spent some of those Christmases having others over (just like Henry) who have no family to be with them.  If you are ever unable to spend holidays with family members, reach out to others who have no family.  It will really help fill the void in your own life.  There are so many people who find holidays depressing because they remember the years past when all the family was together.  Maybe even when we are tucked in our cozy homes with our families, we should seek out those who are all alone and invite them in.  Isn't this what Jesus taught us to do?

We left Greenville, TX and drove to Texarkana and stayed in the Hampton Road Church of Christ parking lot for a few days before we left for Atlanta.  We left the RV parked there a week while we returned home.  On January 1st, we drove to Florence, Alabama.  We spent two nights with a dear, long-time friend, Martha Brooks, who lost her husband in September.  When we arrived, she told us another friend was having a soup and salad supper.  We didn't even change clothes from our traveling because these are our dear friends from the 1960's as well.  When we arrived at B.J. and Jan's house, which is on a hill overlooking the river, we realized that it was not a simple soup and salad supper (although that is what she served) but a dinner party for 20 people.  It was mostly B.J.'s hunting buddies and their wives.  We knew about half of the people there so it was a very delightful evening.  Her house was decorated beautifully and the food was delicious.  There were about six pots of different kinds of soup, all very delicious.  Since we had been away from family and parties this year, it really "hit the spot" for me to attend this dinner party and spend time with Martha.

Sunday morning, we attended worship at Sherrod Avenue, a very old congregation in Florence.  We met other friends there that morning.   Martha, our hostess, prepared a delicious lunch for us and her son and his family (Alan, Alicia, John Allen and Allie).  We spent the afternoon having a great time with them.  Sunday night, Ron spoke at Mars Hill and gave a report on the work in China.  Friends from two other congregations came to hear Ron and went to dinner with us at O'Charley's afterwards.  It was like old times to be together with these wonderful friends from days past.

Monday morning, we left to drive to Atlanta.  We spent the week in Woodstock with our daughter, Leigh Ann.  It was so good to be with her although we were busy the whole time.  She and I got out the tax letters to our sponsors and Ron went to our house in Sharpsburg to correct a plumbing/septic tank problem.  We had a lot of things to do in one short week.

That Sunday, Ron gave a report at the Peachtree City Church of Christ (our sponsoring congregation).  They had designated it as China Day.  David Langley, minister of the Beijing congregation spoke at the class period to give an update on the church in China.  Afterwards, we had a wonderful potluck lunch (many delicious Chinese foods prepared).  Ron met with the elders privately for a few minutes and then we left to drive back to Texas. 

A bad winter storm was already moving into Texas.  I let it slip that morning and said something like, "I hope we make the trip HOME safely."   It was the first time I had referred to Texas or the RV as home.  I guess that shows I am truly settling into this lifestyle.  Of course, Ron picked up on me saying that.  He may not listen to half of what I say, but he heard that!

It was hard to say goodbye to Leigh Ann as she left to return to Woodstock and we left PTC for Texas.  The winter storm was on it's way and predicted to hit there in a few hours.  Leigh Ann wanted to get home before precipitation began and we wanted to get as far south as we could to avoid the bad weather.  We drove to Montgomery, then to Selma and hit rain before we got to Meridian, MS.   The rain intensified into freezing rain as our journey continued.  We finally made it to Jackson, MS before stopping for the night.  For about l-l/2 hours, we watched ice build up on the mirrors, windshield wipers, bridges and sides of the road.  In the headlights, we could see the white trees, laden with ice.  After a good night's sleep in Jackson, we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  By the time we arrived in Jackson (around 9 p.m.) Sunday night, everything was closed.  There was no restaurant open so we had no dinner that night.  The roads were dry from Jackson, MS to Shreveport but when we turned north toward Texarkana we hit very icy roads the rest of the way.  None of the roads had been salted or scraped.  Ron knows how to drive on ice if cars are not in his way (experience from living in Montreal seven years). 

We were happy to arrive safely in Texarkana.  Afer a few days of rest, we drove to Waxahatchie, just south of Dallas.  Ron has appointments in this area until Feb. 6th.  We will go to San Antonio on Feb. 7th or 8th. 

This past Sunday morning, we attended church at Italy, TX (about 20 miles from Waxahatchie).  They asked Ron to tell about our work during the class period and have now scheduled him to come back this Wednesday night to give the power point presentation.  The minister, Walter Buchanan and his wife, Billie, took us to lunch and invited us to their home for a visit that afternoon.  It was a very delightful visit and time spent with them.

Sunday night, Ron spoke at College Street C of C in  Waxahatchie.  We went with three of the elders and others to IHOP afterwards.  One of the elders told Ron that it was the very best mission presentation he had ever seen.  They will review their budget to see how they can help us but they have a big, new building to pay for.  Their help may be limited to allowing us to use their power for our RV while we are in this area.

Ron has appointments at Corsiana, Argyle, and Mequite before we leave this area.  When we head toward San Antonio Feb. 8th, we will go further south to Portland and the Corpus Christi area, where it will be warmer.  In March, we will probably go back up toward Abilene and the western cities. 

There are so many churches to visit in Texas.  Texans are telling the truth when they say Texas is BIG!

Keep us and our work in your prayers.  God bless you all.