Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Back in Texas - On to China

We arrived back in Lewisville, TX on November 12th.   We left May 15th and visited churches in eight states (OK, AR, MO, KY, TN, AL, GA and FL) over the six-month period of time.  We traveled 3,650 miles in the RV and an additional 7,500 miles in the car.   We park the RV and then take the car to the various congregations in the area to give reports and two weeks later, we move on to the next central location.  Miles and miles of countryside...pecan orchards and cotton crops across the south.


We had a wonderful visit in every congregation.  Loving and friendly people greeted us in churches of all sizes.  It is a great blessing to meet brothers and sisters across this great land.  We are so grateful for tender hearts and generous givers that help with the work in China. 

We spent two weeks in Leigh Ann’s driveway in Woodstock, GA.  

We were all busy the entire time but it was great to be with her and spend one day with Tatum, our 21-year-old granddaughter.  We see them only once a year unless Leigh Ann comes to some location to visit with us.  We cooked Tatum’s favorite Chinese food that day. 

While in North Georgia, Ron interviewed and hired Mike Gifford, who will be Chinese Agape’s CEO.  He is featured in our November newsletter if you want to read more about him.  Mike made a quick trip to Lewisville to meet and get approval of the Lewisville elders.  Then, he began spending time with Ron to learn all he can about the work the remainder of time we were at Leigh Ann’s.  Mike is presently living in Cartersville, Georgia.   

We parked two weeks at Raintree Village Children’s Home in Valdosta, GA.   It was a delight to be in this beautiful part of our country where large trees are covered with Spanish moss.

Raintree Village Children's Home
Valdosta, GA

We completed the round of visits in South Georgia and Northern Florida and began the trek back toward Texas, spending a couple of days in Baton Rouge, LA.   Joan, our Chinese worker, lives there.  She coordinates all of the patients having surgeries both in China and the U.S.  

It was great to be with our church family in Lewisville on Sunday.   What a joy it is to be part of a loving family of God.  We have had several invitations out and have been invited to a member’s home for Thanksgiving.  It was only one of several invitations we had for Thanksgiving Day.  We are indeed blessed with people who love us and want to be with us.  We enjoyed a cookout at the home of one member on Saturday night and it was good to be with about 20 Lewisville members.

We are busy catching up our work and figuring out what we need to pack for China.  We leave on November 30th and plan to return on December 14th.  Mike Gifford is going with us and tour all of the orphanages to have a full understanding of the work.  We will go to Beijing first and meet Julia Ng, who will be working with us from Hong Kong.  I’ll report more about her when she is officially on-board.  A meeting is scheduled in Beijing with an attorney to get the licensing completed for the new hospital in Wadian.  It cannot open for medical appointments until this is done.  In the meantime, Mr. Zhu is visiting the homes to make a determination about poor children that should be included in our data base for future medical benefits.  We will visit the hospital and then the five orphanages in various locations throughout China.

Travel in China is not easy.  We will take some flights because trains are not available to all areas.  We will take some trains and buses.  Even after arriving at a city by train, our destination may still be several hours’ ride on a bus.  The distance from each location is a long way, so we will not stay in any place longer than a couple of days.

I am looking forward to seeing Ronald and Gigi (he is now at Refuge of Grace care center doing maintenance on the building).  Gigi has just gotten her VISA to return to China on November 30th so we will get to see her on this trip.  If Ronald has finished his work at this location, he and Gigi may travel with us to another of the care centers.  We are not sure about his work and plans yet. 

Being with Ronald and Gigi will be my greatest Christmas gift.  Gigi told me that hugs from us is all she needs.  We think a lot alike so we love each other very much.  Both Gigi and I love Ronald so that gives us a great tie together also. 

I spent a couple of days and nights thinking of her and her family in the Philippines and praying for them.  It was such a relief when Ronald told us that he had heard from her and they were safe.  Her island was not one of the worst hit but I’m sure they got lots of wind and rain.  It swept right across the Philippines.  When you live on an island and it’s going to hit all of them, there’s nowhere to go.  When we are traveling along the coast, we see signs that say Evacuation Route.  There are no evacuation routes when you live on an island.  There are no good shelters.  Buildings and houses are not constructed well to withstand typhoons of this strength.  You can make some preparation for a bad storm but there’s very little you can do but batten down and ride it out with lots of prayers. 

Ronald has submitted a proposal to build and operate an orphanage in the Philippines.  One million children are estimated to be homeless following the disaster of the recent Typhoon.  Ron is securing interested investors to fund the project.  We feel that this would be an ideal situation for several reasons.   Julia Ng will be able to oversee the orphanages in China in 2014.  Ronald will be needed on a limited basis, perhaps doing some maintenance work on the buildings at the care centers in China.  Gigi cannot get a permanent VISA so it is expensive for her trips in and out of China for them to spend some time together.  They live in hotels out of suitcases and that can get very old after some time. 

Gigi is a retired teacher so she can oversee the education of the children in the Philippine orphanage.  Ronald has five years of experience overseeing the orphanages in China.  No doubt, he can run it well and have a great home for little children.  We have a Bible teacher that can work with them to teach the children.  It’s no problem to teach the Bible in the Philippines.  With this combination of personnel to begin a care center, we feel that we are well staffed for it to be a success.  There are many little children in the Philippines, just as in China, that need a loving home and family.  We pray that this will come together soon after the New Year begins so they can get started on the construction phase.

I will report again upon our return from China.  Thank you for your love and friendship.  We covet your prayers for our travels and for the work in China.

How wonderfully we are blessed even with the many problems our country has at this time.   Continue to count your blessings not your problems.

We wish everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Rainy Night in Florence, Alabama

I posted some pictures last time of the antique barn where we were parked in Spring Hill, TN.   The barn is a museum of old farm equipment that goes back to the 1800’s when the Rippavilla Plantation was in operation.  I wanted to post this antique hearse that is in that museum.  I have never seen anything like this.  I think you’ll find it interesting.   I hope you don't think this is too morbid for me to start off my blog with these pictures.
After a long and frustrating day today, the gentle raindrops on the roof of the RV are actually very soothing.  I began the day on the computer to try to catch up a lot of backlog of work.  I took a few breaks, doing laundry and dishes.  There were interruptions the rest of the day.  My printer needed ink and when I opened a new packet, the black cartridge was not the right size even though it was the correct number for the printer.  So, I scrapped the projects that needed to be printed. 
We have found the most difficult part of our traveling is getting the car on the trailer and securing it for travel.  We always have to unhitch the trailer and move it to an out-of-the-way place.   Ron decided to trade in the Honda because it cannot be pulled with all four wheels down.  We spent all day last Saturday looking for a used car that would work with a hitch.  The very last place we went after a long day, had a 2009 Nissan Versa that was perfect.  We got $48 back from trading in the 2009 Honda (but the Honda had 20,000 more miles than the Nissan). 

I have not driven a stick shift in a few years but I picked up easily with this little car that has 6 speeds.  It was a bit weird to go into so many different shifts but I made it without going into the wrong gear.  It's very obvious when you do that if you've ever driven a straight shift car. 
Yesterday, we took the car to a place to get the hitch put on and today in the middle of my work, they called to bring the RV in.  So, we put things away securely and spent two hours completing the project but now we can pull the little Nissan more safely than putting the Honda on a dolly.  
On Monday, we drove to Red Bay, AL (about one hour south of Florence) to have a few necessary things repaired on the RV.   We expected to be there most of the week because they are always so busy.  Ron had me drive the Nissan (without the hitch on it) so we’d have a car to come back to Muscle Shoals for the Wednesday night service.   We were fortunate to get the work done on the RV Tuesday which allowed us the opportunity to come back to our friend’s back yard on Wednesday morning.

We’ve been parked here a week at the beautiful home of Jan and B.J. Kennedy.  Their lovely home is on a hillside overlooking the river. We hear barges going up and down the river but the RV is parked in the backyard, away from the beautiful view. 

We have enjoyed being with our friends so much.   

Jan Kennedy, (me) and Polly Alexander in the picture above.

Martha Cagle, (me) and Helen Miles in the second picture. 

On Friday of last week, these four beautiful ladies (my dearest friends from the 1960’s, when we lived in Florence) took me to lunch.  We had such a good time catching up.  You know you have close friends when you can go long periods of time apart and then when you see each other again, you have so much in common and much to tell each other.  We pick up right where we left off the last time we met.  I look forward to the trip through Florence each year.
Ron spoke at three churches in this area.   Yesterday, we took a break and visited with Bill, Barbara and Marla Wynne.  They lived down the street from us from 1966 to 1969.  Talking with them brought back many wonderful memories of those years when our children were small and playing together.  We also had a delightful visit with Mary Alice and Jack Wilhelm, friends for many years. 
We leave tomorrow, Saturday, September 21, to go to Huntsville.  We are supposed to park at Red Stone Arsenal if it works out with our sponsor for staying there.  We look forward to seeing more good friends in Huntsville this weekend. 

Leigh Ann and Ellen Mao made a happy  trip to China.  Leigh Ann got back to Georgia Monday night.  She got to spend about a week with Ronald and Gigi.  She and Gigi had not met so it was a treat for both of them.  They enjoyed some meals out together and had rooms across the hall from each other at the hotel.  After Leigh Ann left for Shanghai, Gigi wrote and said, “I miss her already but I pretend that she’s still here and will knock on our door any minute now.”   (In this first picture, Ellen is on the left, then Leigh Ann and Gigi. ) 

Ronald and Gigi have just arrived in Tanjay, Philippines.   Gigi’s VISA was up again so she had to go back.  Ronald’s yearly VISA will expire in October.  From the Philippines, he’ll send it to Leigh Ann by FedEx and apply for another VISA for China.  Their second anniversary is on September 24th so they will have a few days together to celebrate this happy occasion.  They have been apart almost as much as they’ve been together these two years.  Going in and out of China on VISA’s is not an easy task. 
Ron and I will have to find our passports and get a VISA soon.  It looks like we will need to make a trip to China the last two weeks of November.  We complete our travels, reporting to churches, by the middle of November.  We closed one orphanage where the buildings were too old to repair and with the government picking up the support for the children we have cared for at that location.   We have a sponsor willing to fund another one to replace the NCCC care center but we have no one that can really search out a new location and negotiate with the government.  It’s important to be sure we locate where there is government cooperation.  We also have to be sure there are enough poor orphaned children that need a home as well as finding a building that is sound enough and economically feasible to renovate.  Ron is about the only person that can handle this entire project and finalize the selection of a location.
We need to go to China before winter sets in.  November will be cool but not bad.  January and February, like in the U.S., are the really cold months.
Thanks to everyone for your interest in our work, your love and concern for us and the many ways you encourage and help us.  We have been so blessed with many good people willing to help us.  It’s a team effort.  We could not accomplish all of this without our supporters and without God’s blessings.
Until I can write again, take care and thank you!



Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day brings in September

September 2nd – our son’s birthday.  I wrote Ronald a long letter this week talking a lot about things that I remember from his childhood that are so very special in my memory.  I am so glad Gigi is with him in China to share his birthday.  She told me she didn’t have any money to buy him a gift so I wrote and told her that he completely understands.  She is the best gift he could have. 
Leigh Ann leaves on September 5th to go to the same orphanage where Ronald and Gigi are now.  Ronald is repairing some plumbing problems in the restrooms.   This will be the first time for Leigh Ann and Gigi to meet.  I know they will really have a good time together.  Leigh Ann’s birthday will be the day after she returns to the U.S.  We will visit with her about the middle of October and take her out to eat to celebrate.    Here is Leigh Ann with her Dad and her cousin Angela. 

We had a good three weeks in the Nashville area but did not get to see all the people we would have liked to have visited.   We were parked at Poole Knobs at La Verne, TN (southeast of Nashville).   We were able to convince them to let us stay an extra week so we did not have to move the RV further away to another park.   We had two different senior discount cards, having lost one and then found it later after getting a second one.  They logged us in with that card and our other phone number so the computer system accepted us.   The park will be closing in September for the winter.  It was never completely full while we were there but this weekend, Labor Day,  
I’m sure it is full. 

While in Nashville, we got to have dinner with Gayle (Ron’s sister) and some of her children and grand-children.   Pictures of two of her daughters and her son and their families are posted here.  We always enjoy this reunion once a year so we can catch up on what’s happening in each family.  Leigh Ann drove up from Woodstock, GA and spent that weekend with us so she could be with the rest of the family.    We had a very good time.   

Ron spoke nine or ten times while we were in the Nashville area.  We tried to visit with as many sponsors and friends as we had time but did not get to see everyone.  Trips from the campground into the city were expensive because of the distance.  We tried to combine trips and do as much as we could each time we went out. 

We had dinner one night in Franklin with a young couple that has adopted a Chinese boy.  He had surgery on his legs in Hong Kong before they got him so he’s still wearing braces on his legs.  They have a little blonde-headed boy so it was so precious to see the two children playing together.  What a joy this little boy will be to this sweet family.  And what a great blessing they will be to him.  He’s adjusting extremely well after being with them for only three months.   I think he’s a little over two years old.  He can understand things they ask him and he’s learning to eat a lot of new foods. 

Rippaville Plantation, Spring Hill, Tennessee:    I took the picture of the Board of Directors from a picture posted in a glass covered case so it's blurry but you can tell who they are!
We relocated to Rippa Villa Plantation in Spring Hill, TN on August 20.   At the large old barn where they have antique farm equipment on display for tours, they have several RV hook ups.  There is one other RV parked here.  This weekend, distant relatives from the original owners of this plantation have met here for a family reunion.   The people in the RV are part of the group. 

On Wednesday, we went by the nursing home to see Ron’s 96 year-old aunt.  She is looking about the same as last year.  We could see very little difference in her condition.  She knew us and remembered a lot but had many questions that she asked over and over.   She has always been a pleasant person.  She was smiling and joking with Ron throughout our visit.  We had some good times at her home.   We will see Ron’s other aunt this Sunday night at the church where she attends.  She is the youngest aunt of all of his relatives. 
We drove almost an hour to Pulaski Street Church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN on Wednesday night.  It was the first time we had visited this church.  We received a very warm welcome and they showed good interest in our work in China. 

Thursday night we had an elder and his wife for dinner.  We have known them for a very long time so it was a joy to have them eat with us.  We have been to their home many times.
Ron has seven more appointments before we leave here to go to Florence, AL.   We were just looking at our schedule this morning.  He is booked for speaking engagements until the middle of November.   We hope to get back to our home congregation in Lewisville, TX about the middle of November. 

We are so blessed with sponsors, friends, family and safe travels.   Our lives are fragile but we have been blessed with reasonably good health and so far, our minds and bodies are able to do the work we set out to do.   Plans are underway for others to train and begin to learn the mission work in an effort for it to continue after we are unable to travel and oversee the work.  No one knows how long we can do it but we will do whatever we can for as long as we can. 
The work in China always has some ups and downs.  The minister at the Beijing church resigned last week, giving only a two-week notice before they return to the U.S.   Ron is searching for a minister through preaching schools although we feel that these young men with no experience may find it very hard to live and work in China.  It all depends on their dedication and desire to make it work.  We also need an administrator for the new charity hospital that should be ready to open by early next year.  We moved one of our care center directors there temporarily but it does not appear that he and his wife want to stay permanently.  It will not be easy to find anyone to go there.  The man needs to be well-educated and have the ability to run a hospital. 

Our greatest problem in China is finding qualified and dedicated workers.   We have red tape and legal obstacles to overcome with the government but usually those problems can be worked through.  Finding good people is really our greatest need.
Please pray for our work, especially for the precious children we care for as well as the children we help with medical conditions.  The children are dear to our hearts and make the hard work worthwhile.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Autumn is coming soon

Each year when school begins, I realize that summer is almost over.  School begins earlier than in past years because the students get more time out of school during the year for holidays and short breaks.  

This summer has been so different because of the weather.  It has been very hot in Texas and other parts of the country but since we left Texas in May, we have not endured many days up to 90 degrees.  In the early part of our travels there were tornadoes that seemed to be following us.  The rain since that time has been non-threatening thunderstorms or simply a slow, steady rain.  It has provided us with nice days and cool nights.  It’s unbelievable that we still need a blanket at night.  Tomorrow night, it will dip to 58 degrees in the Nashville, TN area with a cold front moving down from the north.

We have had safe travels and visited many good congregations of the Lord’s people.  Everywhere we go, we feel that we are meeting with family members.  This is at least our third year for most congregations.  When we get to Tennessee, we have churches that have supported us for our entire mission time of nearly 30 years.  We add a few new congregations as we go through cities when there’s time and opportunity.  It is always a delight to meet new people and see the good that is being done for the Lord’s church. 

As we travel in Kentucky and Tennessee, we see churches of Christ every few miles.  I’ve told Ron that there is a large concentration of the Lord’s people here and that brings hope to our nation.   I know that God delights in righteousness because HE says that sin is a reproach to any nation.   As our country and its morals deteriorate, I hope Christians will hold fast to our convictions so a remnant of God’s people will determine the future.  We know that God is in control.  It’s just a matter of whether HE lets our nation decline to the point of someday having it taken over by other people who are not HIS people or whether HE will defeat the enemy threatening HIS people in the U.S.    

This last weekend was very enjoyable.   Linda and Rick Clark, our friends from Benton, KY, were coming down to Franklin, TN to a mule pull event.  They made reservations for Saturday night at Smyrna, TN to be near us so we could get together.  They wanted to go with us to church at Liberty Hill in Fairview, TN on Sunday morning.   Linda wrote that Rick wanted to come on down on Friday but she didn’t want another night’s hotel expense.  I wrote her and ask if they would consider staying in the RV with us that weekend.  She hesitated saying it would be too hard for us but I kept insisting that it would not.  They are campers with a 5th wheel so they know how to “rough” it.   After a bit more persuasion, they came for one night (Friday night).   Everything worked out well so Ron insisted they cancel their hotel for Saturday night and stay with us.  Linda hesitated saying it would be hard for us all to get ready Sunday morning.  I told her it would not be too difficult because she and I could go to the bathhouse to do our hair and put our make up on.  They finally agreed to stay and she cancelled their hotel reservation. 

The mule pull and events did not begin until 4 p.m. on Saturday, so we had most of the day to just relax and be with them.   The mule pull events ended up lasting until 9 p.m. so they returned to the RV about 10 p.m.   Rick goes to work at 4 a.m. every weekday so they were up when we got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning.  Rick had gone to take a shower but Linda was already dressed and ready to go to church.  It was not difficult at all for both families to share the RV for a few days.  They are a lot of fun to be around and we enjoyed our time with them so much.   They are 25 years younger than us but the age difference didn’t seem to matter.  We have much in common and have grown to love them just like family.

Linda makes homemade peanut butter ice cream that Ron loves.  She made a freezer of it and packed it in containers with dry ice in a cooler and brought it.  What a surprise that was!   Ron has asked Linda several times since we left KY if home delivery was possible so she proved it was possible, to his delight.

This weekend, Leigh Ann will come up from Woodstock, GA.    We will go to dinner Friday night with Ron’s sister, Gayle, and some of her family members. We had hoped Tatum would come too (Leigh Ann’s 20-year-old daughter) but she already have made plans for the weekend.   Leigh Ann will be leaving for China in a few weeks so it will great to be with her before her trip.  We have not seen her since last October.   She will get to meet up with Ronald and Gigi at the Refuge of Grace Christian Care Center in Luxi, China.   They may not be there all of the time she’s there but it will be wonderful for her and Gigi to meet for the first time. 

Ron has appointments booked for almost every Wednesday night and both services on Sunday through September.   He is now working on phone calls and emails to book appointments to speak during October.

Mike Gifford, a young man from Cartersville, GA, has been giving China Mission presentations to churches in Georgia.  He has been successful in getting some new sponsors and promoting our mission work with a positive approach that should bring much more long-term support.  Ryan Swanson, who worked last year at Refuge of Grace (teaching English and the Good Book) has been making a few presentations in churches in Mississippi while he and Rachel are on a summer break.  Ryan has gotten several of his family members to support an orphan.

Our work in China is going on about the same but slower with the children out of school and some of them visiting relatives.  Ronald and Gigi took a short break to the Philippines to renew Gigi’s passport.  They are back now and busy traveling to various care centers, living out of suitcases for the next month.   Ronald’s yearly VISA will need to be renewed by October.  By then, Gigi will have to return to the Philippines and he will have to fly somewhere to get another VISA.  He found out that he can’t get it in the Philippines so now he has to fly back to Hong Kong, Guam or somewhere else.   It is a hassle every year to get another VISA and even then, he has to leave the country every 90 days to have his passport stamped so he can return again.  This is why he’s going back and forth with Gigi as she renews her VISA.   This gets expensive but it’s the only way he can continue to work in China. 

We will be in the Nashville area for a while longer and then relocate to Columbia, TN for two weeks.   From there, we have appointments in North Alabama.  

Thanks to our supporters, friends and family for making our lives so rich and wonderful.   Not having contact with everyone more often makes us feel lonely sometimes.  Our work is the driving force that keeps us active and involved.  We are grateful for the encouragement we receive from everyone. 

God bless you!



Monday, August 5, 2013

Covering a lot of ground

While the RV was parked at Campbellsville, KY, we made a car trip to North Canton, OH on the weekend of July 19-21.   We left on Friday and drove to Columbus, OH where we spent the night.  We went through a huge thunderstorm as we coasted our way through Cincinnati at a snail’s pace.  The traffic was heavy and the rain was coming down in sheets so heavily it made it difficult to see the road.   I had driven for more than an hour to give Ron a break but I saw the black clouds ahead and turned the driving over to him at a rest stop only a few minutes before the storm hit.  We had another storm before we got to Columbus but it was not as heavy. 

As Ron was checking into the motel, I saw an orange car parked next to us with rubber eyelashes over the front lights.  I quickly got my camera and snapped a picture before the owner could come back outside and catch me.  It was just too cool to pass up.   There were about five police cars in the parking lot and a sign on the motel door said to take GPS and all valuables inside and not leave anything in the car.   A crazy woman was in the parking lot yelling for someone and acting strange.  I don’t think the police were there because of her.  All of this indicated to us that we were not in a very safe area.  We went nearby to have dinner at Bob Evans Restaurant and then returned to the hotel for the evening, getting a very good night’s rest.   We drove on to North Canton the next day.

We spent the weekend at the home of Jim and Pam Griffith.  Jim is the C.E.O. of Timkin Corporation.  Timkin has plants all over the world and it was so interesting to hear Jim talk about his work and he and Pam talk about their travels.  We enjoyed seeing and staying at their very beautiful and interesting English Tudor home (built in 1925).  The house is very lovely and the gardens and outdoor areas are also beautiful.   Jim and Pam made us feel very comfortable so it was a delightful weekend and visit with them.  We are so grateful for their friendship, hospitality, encouragement and support for our work in China.
After the Sunday morning service at the North Canton congregation, we left quickly to drive five hours for Ron to speak at Owingsville, KY that night at 6 p.m.  We snacked in the car on the way.  We went to eat with the elders after services and then drove back to our RV in Campbellsville, KY, arriving “home” about 11:15 p.m.   It was a trip of about 900 miles.  It was a safe and good trip.   We will have fond memories of that weekend.
We left Campbellsville on July 22nd and relocated to Dale Hollow Dam Campground near Celina, TN.    We have visited with congregations at Beech Bethel and New Hope (both at Celina), Moss, Red Boiling Springs, McCoinsville and Leonard.   We will finish our work here and travel on August 6th to Poole Knobs Campground in La Vergne, TN (southeast of Nashville).
Two elders from Moss and their wives, came to take us to dinner one night.  We went to a little restaurant overlooking the water here at Dale Hollow Lake.  Afterwards, we piled into one vehicle and drove around for more than an hour.  We crossed the dam and after some very winding roads, drove into a scenic area overlooking the lake from many angles.  Then, for more than 10 miles, we drove on winding roads that were high above the lake with spectacular views of the mountains, valleys and water that jutted out in many directions.   It was dusk dark so I did not get to take pictures. 
The interesting part of this trip, in addition to the wonderful views, is the story behind all of this land.   A few years ago, a man that used to attend church (I think at Beech Bethel, a small congregation we attended one Sunday night), bought the entire area for $5 million.   I do not know the acreage but it is a very large amount of land.  They said he spent another $15 million or more developing the land, clearing the trees enough to construct a road.  Then he installed water and power lines (all underground) to the area.  He was ready to start building houses when the housing market fell so he put the project on hold.  He died a couple of years ago and this land is now owned by his relatives (wife and a son and daughter).   They are now selling off plots and building houses.  I guess there were a dozen or more new homes along this 10-mile stretch.  Some were elegant log cabins; others were beautifully stained wood houses, and one or two might have been brick.   I could not see on both sides of the road and it was getting dark by this time.  The houses have to be constructed in a manner so they will not block the view of any other house being built.  There are strict guidelines concerning the construction and design of the homes.  None were extremely large but they were not small either.  They probably had more space than we could imagine because they were built at several levels with decks jutting out over the hillside, supported by metal poles like stilts.   Some were just teetering on the side of the hills and looked really dangerous.
I asked where the man got his money.  They said his father owned a sawmill but was not a wealthy man.  This man started a broom handle factory but didn’t do too well and discontinued it.  They said he was a strange sort of fellow that could not work well with others so he went into the sawmill business (maybe he took over his father’s; I’m not sure).   In any case, he took lumber from the forests in this area, diversified into logs to build log cabins (famous in this area) and hardwood flooring.  His operation is very large, located in Moss, TN.  He was a self-made millionaire.
One of the men that went with us that night, works for the company that constructs the houses so he knew the history of this development.   When we got back to Celina, it was about 9 p.m. and completely dark.  We stopped off at Dairy Queen for ice cream and then they brought us back to the RV park.  It was a really great evening with them.  Times like this are when you really get to know people personally and get to feel close to them. 
The Moss congregation helped us when we were missionaries in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  I can’t remember back then to know who was at Moss at that time.  These two elders are rather young so they probably have come along since that time.  The one that works with the sawmill/construction company also serves as their minister.  
Our summer weather has been great.  Seeing that Dallas is having temperatures around or over 100 every day, makes our weather almost perfect in comparison.  Kentucky and Tennessee has enjoyed an unusually heavy rainfall this spring.   Crops are beautiful everywhere and grass is green.  The 60 degree temperatures at night require a light blanket for sleeping with warm days in the 70’s or 80’s.  The lakes are full and campers are having a great time enjoying the cool nights and mild days.  We are camped on the downside of the dam so the Cumberland River flows through the park, with a swiftness that carries the boats down in a hurry.   In the afternoons and early mornings, the river has a layer of fog hovering over it that is almost eerie.  The park is full of families so there are many children on skateboards and bikes everywhere, getting in the last few days of summer before school begins.  There’s no real protection from the river so I would be a very nervous parent if I had children playing all over the park.  Children are naturally curious of water and the river could entice them into a dangerous situation.


We walked the nature trail a couple of times.  It winds around for about a mile from one side of the park through the heavy forest and back to the other side, over streams and waterfalls.  All along the mile-long walk, we can hear the waterfalls.  

The Corp of Engineers has a fish breeding pond for trout above the park and water from that pond flow down into various streams that form the waterfalls.   Picturesque bridges are numerous for crossing the streams and for sightseeing.

Other news:

During this month, Ronald and Gigi, went back to the Philippines so Gigi could get another VISA for China.  She is only able to extend her VISA and stay in China for three months at a time.  Traveling through Guangzhou, they went to a zoo and had some time on another island in the Philippines.  Part of the time they were at Gigi’s family home.  They arrived in time to celebrate “carnival” although I don’t think they call it that.  They had a big parade with costumes and dancing in the streets.  It’s a time for feasting also.  The locals used to have these celebrations in the Caribbean Islands when we lived there.  Other than a rough ferry ride that made a lot of passengers sick, I think they had a good time.   We received lots of great pictures from them.   They are back in Guangzhou now on their way back to the various orphanages to take care of things that need to be done.
This month, Carole Barker, a teacher at Westbury Christian Schools in Houston, TX, traveled via Beijing to our hospital in Wadian, Henan.   She is a very brave girl making the long trip alone.  Our missionaries in Beijing met her at the airport and after spending a night with them, saw her off on her next flight to a city near Wadian.   Two weeks later, she got to return to Beijing and worship with the group on her way home to Houston, TX.   Jerry and Christine, workers at the hospital met her and made her visit productive and enjoyable.  She had some unusual experiences and wrote hilarious blogs each day while she was there.  She and Christine unpacked donated vitamins and medications and got shelving up and the pharmacy arranged.  They labeled the items in both English and Chinese.

The equipment is still being purchased and installed.  The dental chair and equipment arrived before Carole left to return to the U.S.   It is slowly coming together and should be ready sometime this fall for medical professionals from the U.S. to go there and work at their convenience.   They have been working to identify the families surrounding the hospital that are poor.  We have to establish a data base of poor children who can receive free medical care at this hospital.

The orphans at our care centers are out of school and visiting relatives.  Many do not have anyone to visit and remain at the care centers all summer.  Reports about the children are coming in slowly because some workers also take vacations during this time. 
We will be in the Nashville area for about a month.   When we finish our two weeks at Poole Knobs at La Verge, we will relocate on the north side of Old Hickory Lake to Seven Points Campground.   We have many churches to report to and many individuals to try to see.  It will be difficult to see everyone we want to visit during this time.
From Nashville, we will park at Villa Rica Plantation (for the second year) at Spring Hill, TN.   We also have many churches and individuals in the Columbia, TN area to visit during early September.   We still need to work in visits to Chattanooga and North Alabama after that.  
Leigh Ann is going to one of the care centers the first two weeks of September.  She and Ellen Mao, a Chinese nurse friend who works in San Jose, CA, will spend their vacation at the Refuge of Grace Christian Care Center in Luxi, China.  We will give her time to recover from her trip and visit her early in October.   Until I have more news to post, this is it for now.
Thanks to my readers who comment on our work, our travels and offer prayers on our behalf.  Please continue to remember us, our family, the workers and orphans in your prayers.   We have been so blessed with health that keeps us moving along, safe travels, good friendships, donations and prayers.   Ron and I have episodes of back problems but it only slows us down a little.   Daily, I pray for the safety of our family because when they are doing well, we are too.   I’m like a mother bear that is contented when her cubs are safe.  But, when the cubs grow up and are out on their own, the mother bear has many more worries than just how she’s going to feed and care for her young.  Now, I just have to turn their care and well-being over to God. 

God bless you.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blue Grass Country Kentucky

We have really enjoyed seeing the beautiful fields in Kentucky.  Corn and tobacco crops are plentiful. 

With the good rain, everything is green and beautiful. 
We had a short stay in Glasglow, meeting Peggy and Donald Nims for dinner and attending church with them.  They heard Ron speak more than eight years ago so the work in China had hardly gotten off to a good start when compared with what is happening today.  We enjoyed the short time we had with this delightful couple.  I wish we had been able to spend more time hearing about their lives and accomplishments.  The drive out into the countryside to attend the Central Church of Christ was as picturesque as you could imagine.  It was too late in the day for me to take pictures and I regret that.  The drive there was up and down rolling hills with pastures and cattle, crops and beautiful homes.  It could stand up well in a contest with the beautiful ranches of Texas.   They had recently restored the 100+ year old church building that was quaint and beautiful with some stained glass and beautiful new ceilings.  The houses surrounding the church were unique and colorful.  This area is close to the historical district where the pioneers of the Restoration Movement lived and preached.   I can just imagine Raccoon John Smith living there.

We are missing Rick and Linda Clark since we left Benton.  They did so much for us!  Ron asked Linda how much it would cost to have homemade peanut butter ice cream delivered here but she said it would be as much as a shipment to China.  Today, Linda signed her email, “Peanut Butter Queen.”  This is a picture of Linda's dinner for Ron's birthday. 
We relocated to Campbellsville and are camped at Smith Ridge.  It was not easy to get to this park with the last three miles on a very narrow road (Dead End sign, which made us a bit nervous).   Here are some pictures of the park:
We have deep woods in this park and have yet to see the water (Green River, I think).  The road to the boat ramp is far away so we have not tried to walk it yet.   We have walked our camping section which is the civilized section of the park.  It’s a challenge with hills but it’s shady with huge trees.  We took the nature trail through to the other park which is the primitive area where the camp sites do not have electricity or water.  Tonight, we saw two deer run out from the woods and go up the road in front of us until they disappeared into the woods again.  There must be lots of wildlife in this beautiful forest.    
The nature trail is really great. 

Campers all along the way on the weekends. 


Over the weekend, the park was full but we are down to two campers and us tonight.  It will fill up again on the weekend.   Check out this small camper.  It's really cute but after about a week, I know I'd be ready to go home.    Our weekends are busy while everyone else is relaxing and enjoying “nature.”   On Saturdays, we catch up with washing the car, cleaning the RV, cooking and washing clothes. 
This past Saturday, I burned my wrist, letting some liquid from a crockpot of greens pour onto my arm. 

Some noise woke us at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning.   Fireworks are not permitted in these parks but someone was shooting off fireworks until 11 p.m. in the primitive park section so we did not get to sleep early.  We got up at 5:15 and left at 6:30 a.m. to drive northeast to Mt. Sterling, KY.   We got there at 9:15 and class started at 9:30.   We enjoyed this 300+ member congregation very much.   They have a beautiful building and the people were very friendly.   Two of the elders and their wives took us to Cracker Barrel for lunch.  

In the afternoon, we drove from Mt. Sterling over to Nicholsville, filled up the car with gas at Wal-Mart and located my friend’s house.  We had about 1-l/2 hours to visit with Jocelyne, James and Jen (my friend’s daughter and her husband) and watch their precious little boys play and swim. 
Jen's youngest son took up with Ron and me very quickly.  He even called me Granma. 

Jocelyne, became a Christian in Montreal while we were doing mission work in Quebec.  We figured out that we have been friends for about 19 years.  Jen, her daughter, visited our home once when she was only a teenager.    We brought Jocelyne a birthday gift (her birthday was on Saturday). 

She had belated birthday gifts for both of us with things that are so nice.  I'm enjoying them every day and thinking of her.  I love my beautiful cup she gave me with the scripture “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13    We both need to be reminded of that scripture often!

While getting gas at Wal-Mart, Ron discovered that he left his driver’s license at home.  I drove about l/2 of the way to Mt. Sterling on the way up on Sunday morning so he could rest since we got up so early and he had to speak twice.  I told him I better drive back to the RV after service that night in Nicholasville.   We couldn’t take Jocelyne to dinner after services since I wanted to drive back before it got dark.  It was a two-hour drive with about 30 miles of very winding roads.   I have more problems seeing well at night and the lights from on-coming cars bother my eyes also.  We got back about 9:30 p.m. just as it was getting really dark. 
I always loved the countryside around Lexington, KY,  It is one of my favorite places.   Mt. Sterling is east of Lexington and Nicholsville is southwest.  It’s a great part of the U.S.   I am so happy Jocelyne can be with Jen and her family in this lovely area, especially as she recovers from the loss of her husband last November and now treatment for breast cancer. 

It was nice to meet folks at the church in Nicholsville and Jen’s family, but it was especially nice to see Jocelyne.   She and I needed those hugs we exchanged.