Saturday, March 19, 2011

Not a very exciting week...but that can be good too!

Last Sunday afternoon we drove from San Benito to Kingsville and attended Sunday night service there.  They had a good location for us to park overnight.  We left Monday morning and drove to San Antonio.  Ron wanted Iron Horse RV Repair Service in San Antonio to give the RV a check-up to be sure the critical things were in good working condition.  The RV is 10 years old and it's apparent the previous owner did little maintenance.  We got to Iron Horse too late in the day for them to start the checks, so we plugged in at their lower parking lot and spent the night.  The next day, they worked on the RV but still had a little more to do at the end of the day.  Another night was spent there.  Wednesday morning they completed everything, repaired a few things, replaced some filters and stuff and then we were ready to leave.  It was about noon as we hooked up the car and drove to Walmart to get gas.

Getting gas is not one of my favorite things.  I have to get out and locate the diesel pump and see if there's room for him to pull in and pull out and direct him safely into the spot.  This time, the pump was on the end but a gas refilling truck was parked too close for him to pull out.  Luckily, the truck was finishing up and replacing his hoses so we waited until we could pull in.  Soon we were on our way to San Antonio.  The traffic was heavy all the way but the drive was pleasant and uneventful. 

We arrived in Austin at the Southwest church late in the afternoon.  We went to Bible class at this church Wednesday night and are still parked here.  Sunday morning we will leave early enough to drive to the church in Leander, TX.  Sunday afternoon we will drive to Lampasas and attend Sunday night service there.

Ron had intended to go to San Angelo but none of the churches had returned his call so we headed north instead of northwest from San Benito.  Last night, one of the San Angelo churches called and said they would like for him to come.  That will require some backtracking but Ron has to wait to see if some of the other appointments come through first.  It's not easy to plan and schedule appointments when the churches wait for weeks, sometimes, before they call him back.

We are moving on toward Abilene, Odessa and Midland (eventually). 

I have felt unusually sad all week.  I think the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the terrible loss of lives and the anxiety of other world events (Libya) looming over us, gave me a somber feeling. 

Ronald, our son who works in China, planned his vacation (a long dream of his) for Hawaii almost a year ago.  Reservations have been made for months.  He got as far a Shanghai and then could not complete the trip on his Delta ticket because of the earthquake.  His flight was to Narita, Japan and then on to Hawaii.  He may have spent two nights in Shanghai before he arranged a flight to Vancouver and on to Hawaii through Air Canada.  This cost him an extra ticket and delayed his arrival.  I was sad for him that his trip was delayed and the frustration he went through to try to get there through another airline that added many more hours to his trip.  But, at the same time, I was very thankful he was not in Japan when the earthquake happened.  In the midst of every disaster there are blessings somewhere.  We just have to look for them.

I know the Japanese people will rebuild and recover from their loss but the loss of 15,000 people will never be righted.  As I was growing up, I don't remember world disasters, like this, and yet I know they happened.  Was it because I was young and carefree that it made little impact on me?   Was it because I was too busy to listen to the news and know what was going on?  Or, was it that the media coverage is so intense now that we can sit glued to the screen and see the pictures and hear the interviews and it makes us feel as if we are there, suffering with them?   In any event, our world is chaotic and life is uncertain and it makes us older people realize why we need to be prepared to leave the earth on a moment's notice.

On a lighter and happier note, Ron and I celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary on Tuesday.  We didn't do anything very exciting but just being healthy and having our family safe, made it a good day.  We went to Sea Island to eat that night.  I had coconut shrimp and Ron had salmon (he said it was better than Red Lobster's).

We were just college kids, marrying on spring break, in 1958.  It doesn't seem that long in many ways when I think back to that time, but a lot has changed since then.  The world is different.  We have raised two children, moved many times, lived in various cities and traveled many miles.  It makes me think of the many times I said, "many miles to go before I can sleep."

Spring is here!   Trees and grass are green in Texas and we are having unseasonably warm temperatures.  Here in Austin, it's in the 60's at night and 80's during the day.   We saw many crops planted and coming up as we drove from San Benito.  We passed one large farm with many fields and two oil wells steadily pumping and a third one being built. 

May God bless you and be with you as you face another week in service to HIM.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Weather in South Texas and other things...

We have had wonderful weather in San Benito, TX.  It has changed from day to day, but it still has been better than almost anywhere else in the nation.  Most of the days are in the 80's with a nice breeze.  Tuesday was a very hot day.  It got up to 92 degrees inside the RV late in the afternoon.  Wednesday was cooler and today (Thursday) is a beautiful day.  A cold front moved through on Wednesday bringing us cooler weather, but caused tornadoes in Louisiana, heavy rain across the southern states and even heavier rains up the east coast.  We escaped the rain.  Tonight, we will have a low of 40 degrees.  That must sound warm to most of my readers across the U.S. but this far south (almost on the Gulf of Mexico), that is rather cold.  We have been spoiled with the warm weather. 

We have appointments on Sunday and then will probably leave this area on Monday and head back north (Yuck!!).  I rather like this area.

We continue to meet some very interesting people.   Sunday morning, we drove about 30 minutes west to Pharr, TX.  After the service, they had a potluck meal and we sat by a couple that moved to Pharr from North Carolina and knew someone that we know.  Another couple at our table were winter residents from Colorado.  After lunch, Ron also spent a lot of time talking with Max Morris, a man that lived in China for 10 years and did a lot of teaching while he was there, at a time when it was not nearly so safe.  Max is now heavily involved in mission work with Hispanics, both on the U.S. side and in Mexico.  He says he wants to go back to China someday. 

Sunday night, we have a good time with folks at 8th & Harrison in Harlingen, TX (only a few miles north of where we are parked). 

Wednesday night we drove about 30 miles southwest to Port Isabel (two pictures above).  We drove on a causeway for several miles with ocean on both sides of the road.  In a few minutes, this coastal city appeared in all it's tropical beauty.  We saw the bridge that may go on over to Padre Island, but I'm not sure.   Padre Island actually runs from Corpus Christi all the way down to Mexico.  I always thought it was off the coast near Corpus Christi only.

At Port Isabel, we met some of the Christians at the Dairy Queen for a snack before the Wednesday night class.  We are a little late to meet tourists that come to this location to "winter."  Most of them left last week to go back home.  One lady, from Michigan, was the only non-Texan present.  It was a very loving and friendly congregation and we enjoyed our time with them.

Ron completed much of the new tile in the RV on Saturday.  It looks so much better than the dirty, beige carpet that was worn out.  The tile will be much easier to keep clean.  I told Ron it will not show dirt (looks like brown and dark green stones) so I won't have to mop for about a month (when my socks turn black).  Once a week should do the trick and keep it looking nice.  Ron continues to work on the incomplete areas a little each night.  It has been a rather complicated job because  everything is built-in.  Ron is a perfectionist in most of his work and it has proven true in this work as well.  It will be difficult for anyone to tell that the flooring did not come with the RV. 

I did not try to help on Saturday because I got up with some back pain.  I worked on the computer and tried to stay out of his way.  By the end of the day, I noticed that my back was even worse than when I got up that morning.  I took a celebrex and went to bed early.  Sunday was an excruciating day of pain.  I could not find comfort in sitting or standing.  Bending was almost impossible but I managed to get dressed and go to church.  (Luckily, I had taken a shower Saturday afternoon before I got so bad.).  All day, I sat a while, stood a while and just endured the pain.  Nothing made it better or worse.  I took celebrex again that night and then on Monday.  I was a little better Monday morning but as the day continued, my back got better.  I have noticed a little discomfort the last three days but there is no comparison to the way I suffered with it Saturday night and all day on Sunday.

It is so difficult to understand something like this when I did nothing to cause it.  I often do physical work, bringing in sacks of groceries, helping with the car trailer and other things but there was no reason for the pain on Saturday.  I told Ron it was just too difficult having to supervise his work on the flooring.

As I think of our work with the children in China, I am often inspired to continue our hard work no matter what the discomfort.   These children depend on us for having a better life.  When a teenage boy continues to cheat, lie, steal and disobey the rules at the care center and has to be sent back to live with relatives, I cannot help but be sad.  The child does not realize that he is giving up his future, not only in this world but maybe in the next also.  

"Our children are our only hope for the future but we are their only hope for their present and their future."  

We can only change the world for the next generation by teaching the children we have today.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sunny Glen Children's Home, San Benito, TX

On the last day of February, we left Alice and drove to San Benito.  It was a straight drive south toward the border of Mexico.  Traffic was light on our side of the highway but we saw many campers and RV's of all types returning north.  Winter is almost over in TX so some "snow birds" are returning home but not all of them.  Every RV park we have passed is completely full.  The park I can see from our window now, has campers parked as far as you can see.  This area, near Brownsville, is a favorite winter home for many people who are blessed to have means to leave the cold weather for a few months. 
We arrived at Sunny Glen Children's home early in the afternoon.  This is the campus where 6-8 brick homes are located that house the 20-25 children that live here with house parents. 

The director is away at this time taking cancer treatments at M.D. Anderson.  We pray that his treatments will be successful and he can return to his duties overseeing this lovely home for children.  With his permission, we are parked at the rear of their property where they have camper hookups for Sojourners and people like up that need a place to stay.  With the RV parks completely full, it might have been difficult to find another location.   We were warned that this area is not safe and told we should not park at a church building where we are islocated from other people.   The personnel at Sunny Glen have been so accommodating and gracious to us.  We are grateful for every opportunity provided us in each city.

Last Sunday, we were saddened to learn of the death of Paul and Rachel Cold's grown daughter, Gennie.  No one should have to suffer through the death of a child.  Our hearts were touched because we love this family in Fayetteville, GA so very much.  May God bless them in the difficult days ahead.

We went to the San Benito church on Wednesday night.  It was the congregation that began this children's home but over the years the members have moved elsewhere and it's a small group now.  We have appointments for Ron's sermon/report at two different congregations on Sunday. 

The weather has been like summer.  Grass is green, young leaves are on the trees and birds are singing.  Well, birds are always singing and at dusk they are everywhere (as I wrote about the grackles in a previous blog).  You can probably see them on power lines in this picture above.   We were leaving Sam's Club after getting a few groceries and gas.  It was late in the day and the grackles were beginning their nightly ritual of finding a roosting place. There were hundreds of them flying over our heads in the parking lots and lighting in the small trees and on power lines.  Texans are used to it but it is a sight for us to witness.

This week has been busy with computer work.  We have not ventured out because of the workload and the apparent danger in this area.  Local news reports that beaches are vacant during this spring break time for students due to the dangerous situation.  Every nights' news reports more drug busts and the capture of illegal immigrants. 

We stopped at a Chick-fil-A and felt like we were in Puerto Rico.  This area is primarily  Hispanic so we are in the minority.  They all seem very well-educated and nice. We heard very little English spoken.  It is the  criminal aspect of those coming from Mexico that creates the many problems here. 

Ron is giving the RV a facelift today.  Our RV is 10 years old so the cheap beige carpet was worn out.   He noticed that newer RV's have tile floors instead of carpet.  He removed all the carpet, which was a job in itself, especially cutting it from underneath the sofas, which can't be moved.  Today, he is laying tile and it's looking so much better.  Each week after vacuuming, I had to spot clean the carpet but it was so worn, it never looked good even though we removed our shoes inside.  I will take a picture for the next blog segment.

God continues to bless us with good health.  Ron and I both have some back issues but we have not been sick with a single cold for over a year.  I used to get a very bad case of bronchitis every winter but I have escaped it this year.  I helped Ron moving the trailer for the car when we arrived on Monday and pulled something in my back.  It has been mild pain but noticeable all week.  Due to Ron's back problems with the E-coli in 2004, he has to be careful to avoid a flare up.

Our travels are probably boring to my readers.  It's not exciting like our trips to China but it is a very necessary part of our work.   We are meeting so many wonderful people and making contacts that will provide funds for the work to continue on even when we are no longer able to be a part of it.

If you work hard enough and enthusiastically enough, sooner or later the effect will bring forth the reward.

A week or so ago, a man came up to me after Ron spoke.  He said, "Could you possibly get Ron to be a little more enthusiastic about his work?"   Ron's passion for our work in China comes forth in every presentation.  It never gets old for him to report on the blessings God has provided us.  It touches my heart every time I see the pictures of the children we are helping.  There are many tears from women, children are glued to the screen and men tell us afterward that they have never before been so touched by a missionary's presentation.  Ron does not make it worse than it is, but for people to see the changes in the lives of the children, it brings joy to everyone's heart and tears to their eyes.

Success is one thing you can't pay for.   You buy it on the installment plan and make payments every day.   We travel on from city to city making the installment, telling others how they can serve HIM by helping with the work in China.

We continue to work every day, putting forth the efforts within our ability to make the payments necessary for the work to continue.   Please keep us in your prayers.