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.