Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back in Texas after extensive travel in the Eastern U.S.

Several have asked how we are doing because I have not been posting to my blog.  Since we left Texas the middle of June, the time has just gotten away from me.  Do I have more work or am I just getting too old to keep it up?   It could be a little bit of both.  We went to Woodstock, GA the middle of June to help our daughter, Leigh Ann, move into our son’s house.  She has lived in an apartment the past three years and her close next-door neighbor moved to Tennessee.  Ronald’s renters moved out of his house so it was a good time for Leigh Ann to take it over.  The house and yard were in a big mess and it needed a lot of work.
We stored our furniture in the basement of our Sharpsburg house two years ago when we rented the house to travel full-time and live in an RV.   When we arrived in Georgia in June, Ron rented a truck and moved our stuff to the basement of Ronald’s house.  He was so busy repairing things on the house and helping get some of the yard cleaned up , we had no time to put up shelving and get our stuff straight in the basement.  I helped Leigh Ann unpack and get her things straight in the house.  After two weeks, we left to fulfill appointments to give reports to churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. 
We stay in Corp of Engineers parks for two weeks (their maximum stay) and report to churches in the surrounding area as we travel through.  First, we visited Red Boiling Spring and Moss, TN.  From there, we went east to Pikeville, KY and then returned back west all across the state of Kentucky to Paducah, ending with reporting to churches in Hickory and Benton, KY.  From there, we went to Nashville, Columbia, Spring Hill, Culleoka, Brentwood, Franklin and perhaps churches in other Tennessee cities.   While in Nashville, we saw friends and family members that we only get to see once a year.  I will not mention names for fear of leaving someone out. 
We had an enjoyable stay at Rippaville Plantation in Spring Hill, TN for about 10 days.  Our friends in Benton, KY go there with their 5th wheel camper for Mule Day each year.  We did not know about the hook ups that are available on that plantation.  We were parked a long way from the highway next to the barn which is a museum of ancient farm equipment.    We walked to the cemetery nearby to see graves of the original owners and their slaves.  There is one slave house still standing.  We had too much to do to tour the mansion.  If we go there next year, I hope to see it inside.   It is a very lovely southern house and plantation.
We traveled to North Alabama and parked in the back of the Kennedy home (dear friends from way back).  If I tell you how far back, you’d think it’s too long for me to even remember.  It was a great week while Ron gave a report to Mars Hill and then we left for Huntsville to visit with the Mastin Lake church.  We have such dear friends in both Florence and Huntsville so we had a wonderful time seeing everyone.  
We returned to Woodstock, GA on September 24th for Ron to fly to Dallas on the 26th.  He was invited to speak at the Airline Ambassadors Convention.  The flight attendants that go to China to meet and bring the children back to the U.S. for surgery (and take them back after recovery) are part of this volunteer organization.   It was a very long day for Ron but he thoroughly enjoyed being with this wonderful group of tender-hearted helpers of China Mission.
We parked in Ronald’s driveway again in Woodstock, GA and began to put up shelving and get our stuff organized in the basement.   It was just piled in the floor everywhere from the men who helped us unload.   It was quite a job but we completed it before we left on October 17th.   Now, our children do not have to go through a house full of stuff when we are gone from this earth.  I know that is always hard for those left behind.  Now, the boxes are in the basement and ready for a garage sale or give-away (or they can call someone to haul it all off).
Our renter is using most of our furniture so what we moved is mostly household stuff.   We went through our clothing and gave a lot away and decided what we could handle in the RV for both winter and summer seasons.  We have scaled down to bins underneath the RV for the off-season clothing. 
We got to see a few friends and churches in the north Georgia area.  We really needed more time there but the work was demanding and there was too little time. 
Ronald came home for 10 days.  It had been two years since he had returned to the U.S.  His wife, Gigi, from the Philippines planned to come but could not get a VISA.  He came alone.  He had to get dental work done that included three crowns.  That was a very important part of his trip home.  He spent a lot of time working in his yard and moving some of his special items from a storage shed into the house.   I really felt sorry for him because it was not a vacation for him.  He worked completely up to the night before he went back to China.
We left Woodstock the day after he went back to China.  We stopped in Lagrange and Albany to report to churches.  We spent a few days at Lake Seminole park near Chattahoochee, Florida.  The park is just across the state line into Georgia.  Ron reported to the Chattahoochee church on a Wednesday night and Baker, FL the next Sunday night.  We stopped one day in Baton Rouge, LA to meet with Joan Ni, our Chinese worker.   Joan coordinates all of the children coming to the U.S. for surgery and handles our bookkeeping.   It was a special day to be with her, meet her children and have dinner with her husband at a wonderful Japanese restaurant.   Their friends (Chinese) own and operate the restaurant.  The food is wonderful and presented very beautifully.  I told them I think it’s my favorite all-time restaurant.
Ryan and Rachel Swanson, an American couple working at the Refuge of Grace Christian Cere Center since June of this year, returned to the U.S.  for a visit.   Their hometown is Pontotoc, MS.  We had never met them so drove from Baton Rouge to Grenada, MS.   We went to Oxford, my hometown, on Wednesday night and met Ryan and Rachel in Bruce, MS for lunch on November 2nd.  After lunch we drove from Grenada, MS to Texarkana, TX, stopping in Greenville, MS for gas.   We arrived about 10 p.m. that night.   We have a place to park overnight at the Hampton Church of Christ in Texarkana.    We left about 9 a.m. for Lewisville but had to stop to have a tire put on the trailer that pulls the car.  Ron noticed tread showing on the side of one tire and was concerned that we would have a blow-out.  That stop took about an hour (found a tire place in McKinney, TX).   We arrived at the Hickory Creek, TX Corp of Engineer park on Lewisville Lake about 3 p.m.   (We are about 3 miles north of Lewisville, TX.)
Do you feel tired already just reading about our travels?   It has been a very busy five months.  I actually thought it had been six months from the way I feel.  We have put many miles on both the RV and the car.  We are thankful that we have been in good health that allows us to keep up with this schedule.  It is grueling for a healthy couple, much less someone our age.
We are working on our computers all the time we are parked.  The weekends are very busy with the church appointments but the weeks are also busy with the incoming workload.    Someone said this keeps us young .   It will either help to keep us going or wear us out sooner.  I’m not sure which!
We will spend November and December in the Lewisville, TX area.  We want to have some time with our home congregation but Ron will also report to some of the other churches in the Dallas area.  We don’t just go back to sit and relax.  This is our usual way of doing things.
The work in China is progressing as well as we expect.   There are always some problems to work out but Ronald has been such a blessing to our work.  He gets the blunt of the problems and saves us from having to make so many trips back and forth.   The trips to China are not getting any easier either. 
Gigi, our sweet daughter-in-law, has a VISA for another month in China.  She met Ronald in Shanghai on his way back to China.   She may be successful in getting the VISA renewed for another month or two.   They are working on that as I write this.  After she’s been in China six times, it will be easier for her to get a longer VISA.   We had difficulty getting Ronald’s VISA for his return to China this time.   The Embassy claimed the policy had changed on business VISAs so they had to receive a letter from China.   Then they complained it wasn’t on letterhead, which this remote government does not have.  They wanted the government to FAX it to them – but they have no FAX machine.  These are Chinese workers at the embassy.  Ron finally asked them if they had been to the really remote areas of China because they don’t seem to realize the way things are done in the country.   Finally, after they talked with the government, and Joan Ni got involved with a friend she knows that works at the Embassy, they released the VISA for another year.  Ronald still has to leave the country every three months to get his Passport stamped unless the government is kind enough to extend it for him right there.
Thanksgiving will be coming soon and we wish a happy holiday to all of our family and friends.   We had our family Thanksgiving dinner one night with Ronald, Leigh Ann and Tatum (our granddaughter).    It has been years since we have all been together so it was a very special occasion.  We also enjoyed going to church services together as a family for two Sundays.   Gigi saw our picture made at the Thanksgiving dinner and said we had one empty chair at the table and it was hers.  That’s true – we regretted that she was not there to enjoy it with us.   We missed her very much.
I will try to do better keeping everyone posted on our whereabouts.    Even if there’s little time, I’ll post short segments.  There’s been a lot of interesting things and happenings along with the travels.  If I write more often, I can remember some of these things to make my writing more interesting to read.   Until next writing, may God bless you.