On February 4th we arrived at Sunny Glen Children’s Home in San Benito, TX. We followed the coast line from Corpus Christi and then drove straight south to reach this area of the Rio Grande Valley. While parked at the Children’s Home, we visited churches in La Feria, Pharr and Harlingen. We had some wonderful visits with Christians in these churches. We had good meetings at Pharr and Harlingen congregations. We have been to Pharr and Harlingen the past two years, but this time we added La Feria. After the Sunday night service at 8th & Harrison in Harlingen, we were invited to one of the small groups in the home of one of the Hispanic members. There were about 15 people there. It was a very delicious Mexican meal, prepared by the host family. I could not tell you what was in the main dish but it was very good.Our first Wednesday night in the valley was not scheduled so I went on the web to see what other churches were near us that we had not visited before. In past years, we went to San Benito and Port Isabel but those churches are very small with less than 20 members. I could see that La Feria was small but thought it would be nice to meet more Christians. There were about 20 present that night. They asked Ron to give them a quick report about the work in China. At the end of the service, they asked if he would come back Sunday morning and give the power point to the entire congregation. At the end of the worship Sunday morning, they asked if we had a place to go Sunday night. When Ron said he did not have an appointment, they asked him to come back and give a lesson Sunday night. We quickly felt at home with this group of kind, welcoming Christians. When we passed the area of their church building on our way to Palmhurst, TX, I almost felt like we were passing by “home.”
We relocated to Palmhurst on Feb. 19th. We drove an hour west, going through Weslaco, McAllen and Mission, TX and then a few miles north to Palmhurst. Highway 83 going west follows the Rio Grande River, which is the border between the U.S. and Mexico. There are a lot of illegal crossings in these areas along the river (which must be shallow) with borders not too secure. We hear a lot about securing the border but we have not done a good job protecting the U.S. from people walking across in many areas of Texas. One day last week, there was a wreck on Highway 83 and the car had 7 illegal immigrants crammed inside. Most were injured in the accident and taken to a hospital. The news in this area is often reporting arrests of drug leaders and Hispanic criminals. The news also reported this week that at least 100 bodies were found right across the border in the U.S. Some Mexican group was transporting the immigrants across the border, letting them out and telling them they would return soon to bring food. They never returned and the people starved. There are some desert areas along the border so the people did not know where to go or what to do to get help. We have been warned that it’s not a safe area so we do not venture out except to visit churches and go to Walmart.
The North Mission church in Palmhurst has RV hookups and invited us to stay here as long as we need a place to park. We were able to drive in and park easily and comfortably. They have a huge park next to the building that belongs to the church for the community to use. It has a paved walking path with park benches and enough space for two ball parks. There’s a small building with restrooms for the public. I think they also have a gym that can be scheduled for the public’s use. They have flood lights all around and keep the grass watered and cut. We have people in the park until 10 p.m. every night and people walking all day. It’s a very busy place. At first, they said we could use showers in the church building but then we found out that their hot water is not working. I prefer showers in a small RV stall with warm water!
The weather has been strange. It is very flat and dry in the valley. They really need rain but it always rains north of here. There are very few trees, some tall palm trees and nothing else. We see a few flowers but not very many due to the very dry conditions. Yesterday, it was 90 degrees; today it’s in the 70’s. We have had a lot of cloudy days with winds up to 40 mph. At night, it’s so noisy with the wind that we pull in the sides of the RV so we can sleep. The sliders that give us more room when we are parked, have a canvas covering and they flop and whistle in the strong wind. We see the weather news across the U.S. that dumps lots of rain and snow so we are not complaining.We will be here another week to visit churches in McAllen, Brownsville and Weslaco. Our next stop is Alice, TX, heading straight north from the valley. We will just be there overnight for Ron to speak on Sunday and then travel on to San Antonio.
With the Chinese workers and orphaned children off to visit relatives for Chinese New Year, our workload has been slower for a few weeks, with few reports coming from China. We need these breaks to catch up with work we put off and seldom get around to doing. It refreshes the children to get a break from school in China and it refreshes us to catch up with our work occasionally.We are very thankful that we had a very good year in 2012. The income was good so all the works had sufficient funds to operate. The hospital is much closer to completion than in this picture.
This was taken at the end of November. They are ready to paint the outside of the building now. The new charity hospital has been Ron’s main concern because of the cost. Raising funds for it has been generous from some donors but still it takes so much to build a hospital of this magnitude, even in China. It is still small, compared to any hospital in the U.S. It has two OR’s and 12-15 beds. The hospital building construction is almost completed.
It looks good! We are thankful for the good job Ronald has done supervising the construction. It was not easy. He had many setbacks and obstacles to overcome. Anything done in China is not simple. Now, Ron has the task of furnishing it and adding the equipment, which is another major expense. Dr. Lou Smith, a surgeon in Tennessee, is delivering a truckload of small equipment and hand tools to Leigh Ann’s home in Georgia this afternoon. We will ship these items from the U.S. They will buy the larger equipment in China.
Ron has decided that the hospital will be primarily used as a “children’s” hospital because there is no way we could accommodate all the people in that area. Henan Province has 94 million people and most of them are poor and without health insurance. We will have to accommodate some older people but cannot take on many advanced diseases of the older people. We have our first team of doctors and nurses going in July from Houston, TX. We have many doctors and nurses expressing an interest in going over there to work on their vacation time.
We have good news from Lily and King in Singapore. They say they are doing well with their schooling. Lily reported that King made 100 on a memory quiz recently. When Lily was with us in the RV (June, 2012), Ron asked her a lot of questions and found that she had a good knowledge of the Bible. But, when questioned about her baptism, she was vague but confident that it was biblical. She was taught by a Korean missionary and his wife in Xi’an. Yesterday, Lily called from Singapore to tell us that she was being baptized. I guess she’s realized that her baptism in China was not biblical. She told Ron she knew he would want to know about her baptism and be happy for her. We have not heard from Timothy or Jackie at the school, but assume they are doing well.
We continue to bring children to the U.S. for surgeries. A little girl returned to China last weekend after having successful heart surgery in San Antonio. Two more heart patients are scheduled to arrive soon (one in New Orleans). A little girl from one of our care centers was brought for cleft lip surgery about a month ago. She had surgery on our cleft palate medical mission two years ago, but it was not good. They did another surgery in China but it still looked horrible. Now, she’s had another surgery in the U.S. and will return to China next week. She is about 8 years old. A three-year old girl was brought to the U.S. about a month ago and is now undergoing skin grafts at Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati. She was burned very badly in her face so she will probably be in the U.S. for a year.We are very thankful, every single day, for health and opportunities to serve Him by helping the poor children. The world is in a mess in so many ways, but there’s hope because we find so many people along our travels that are willing to sacrifice to help others. God must look down on all of the evil in the world and see the shining light of Christians still carrying the torch of love, kindness and service. Our thanks goes out to our many supporters that freely give so generously.