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.