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.

No comments: