Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pat's Birthday and Memorial Day in Branson, MO

On May 24th, we drove to Mountain Home and Mountain View, AR on my birthday and returned to Branson in time for us to have birthday dinner at Red Lobster, my favorite restaurant.  Maybe I should have made my picture the small size!   

We  had a nice Memorial Day.   This is not one of my favorite holidays because I can’t help but think of Ned (Ron’s brother that died in Vietnam) and so many others that gave their lives in defense of our country.  It is heart-breaking to see so many things changing in our nation.  It is now a fight to pray or teach biblical principles in schools; we have a president who refuses to salute the flag or the marines and doesn’t sing the Star Spangled Banner because it mentions “bombs bursting in the air.”   Nova Scotia will no longer have Mother’s Day or Father’s Day because the family is too diversified now so they will have an international family day instead.  No one can be honored anymore that has the values upon which this country was founded.  We lose more freedoms all the time and as our own government continues to control more and more, we will have even less freedom.   I don’t know what it will take to turn things around but the way it is going now, is very scary to us who have known what it was like in the 50’s and 60’s.  A man on the radio said the other day that our country is going down the tubes in a hand basket and we didn’t even make the hand basket.

We went to another RV park about 10 a.m. to meet Venton and Dorothy Haskins who have supported an orphan for more than 10 years.  They were camping at another park just 10 miles away.  We sat outside their 5th wheel camper and talked about an hour and then they decided they would take up down the hill to their floating restaurant and treat us to lunch.  We’ve never been at a park that had a restaurant.  The service was slow even at 11 a.m. and the food was just O.K. but it was nice to spend time with this older couple that is so diligent in the church where they attend in Springfield, MO.   
We stopped in a frozen yoghurt place and shared an expensive treat.    We then went to Best Buy to try to find an adapter to add a bit more cord to an internet booster we bought.   The booster really does help to get an internet signal.   We spent several hours on Saturday, running the cord from the back of the RV where the antenna is located on top through the air-conditioning duct to the front of the RV where the box will be located to give the signal to the hot spot device.   We were short about 1’ of cord.  We didn’t find it at Best Buy, so he’ll have to order it on-line where he ordered the device and have it shipped to a church where we’ll be in a couple of weeks.   Our phones have not worked well at this park either. 

Ron measured the spot for the TV up front and found a digital on sale at Best Buy that was a very good deal to replace the old analog TV that will not work even with an adapter.  He bought two different adapters and there was no way to get TV on this old set.  This TV is my birthday present.   I hope we’ll be able to get the old TV out and the new one installed but it won’t be easy to fit it in and get it connected inside the cabinet space.   Ron works on his computer at night until he gets ready to go to bed, but I just can’t do that until 10 p.m.   After a day’s work, I really need to relax.  I enjoy some TV programs to get my mind off everything else and relax to sleep well.  I have not have TV for two months and I’ve missed it.  Because of not having it, I spend more time on the computer, reading the daily news  or checking facebook but then I get bored with that in a short time.
We drove north of Springfield to Conway, MO Sunday morning.  It was a very nice group of about 70 people.  Two young couples (with two little boys each) took us to lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  

Sunday night we didn’t have an appointment so we went into Branson to a little log cabin house that has been turned into a church building.  It’s mostly for tourists so there were not many there that night.   The minister is doing a wonderful job remodeling the building and it’s perfect for those coming to Branson for vacation.    I called it the little church in the Wildwood. 


Branson is very mountainous so it's spread out over a big area.  It is a beautiful city.  We drove right down the main street through the heart of Branson and saw lots and lots of hotels, theaters where the stars perform their shows, water parks, wax museum, bumper car rides, miniature golf and many restaurants, and lots of shoppes and tourist places like in Gatlinburg.   We learned that there’s an amusement park something almost like Six Flags here also.  The rolling mountains have wonderful views every direction you look.  

We left Aunts Creek Park on May 28th to drive to Bentonville, Arkansas.   For one hour, we were on winding, mountain roads.  On the 29th Ron went to the Walmart corporate office to put in an application for donations to Agape.  They give millions to charities every year.  He is hoping they will give medications for the hospital in Henan, China.  I don’t know if we will be successful but we have nothing to lose.  We will go to Fort Smith, Arkansas for the weekend.   I think Ron will speak at a church there on Sunday.  We will go through Searcy but not stay long.  I think there’s one congregation there.  He's waiting to hear from churches in Paragould and other cities along the way.
Our weather has been nice for several days.  It’s a little cool at night and warm during the day but not hot.  We always have a breeze but no more thunderstorms since Monday, a week ago when we had the tornado threat.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Travels in Oklahoma and Missouri

              Sadly, we left Enos, Oklahoma after a wonderful visit with the church in Madill and personal time with John and Mary Ann Kelly, Bob Melugin and Nancy Cook, Mary Ann's friend who lives nearby.  Nancy was taking the photograph so unfortunately, I don't have her picture.  

We drove next to Birch Cove park located in Barnsdall, OK, just south of Bartlesville. 

We went to the church in Dewey, OK on Sunday morning and got to meet a couple of our orphan sponsors, Mark and Brenda Tucker and Doylene and Ray Myers. We met Richard and Barbara Towers, members at the Bartlesville congregation, for lunch and had a delightful visit with them. They have been sponsors a long time and after meeting them, I’m even more appreciative of their sacrificial giving. They have a number of grandchildren they could be spending their money on but they have a heart for the poor children in China who have so little hope in life. We also met Randy and Cathy Everett but did not have much time to spend with them. We missed seeing others who were not present that day. Not having phone numbers for everyone, we could not call those that we missed on this visit.
Oil pumps all along the highways.
I saw a field of longhorn cattle that were the ugliest I have ever seen. They were spotted, not like the usual spotted cows that we know about but horribly patterned smaller spots. They looked fierce with the long horns. I have never seen cows like that. We saw many pastures with cattle everywhere in Oklahoma. This is my first time in Oklahoma and seeing the countryside was interesting.
Another interesting sight between Barnsdall and Bartlesville was a horse farm. It’s not just an ordinary horse farm. It consists of rolling hills and pasture for miles and miles and as far into the distance on each side of the road as you can see. We asked about this farm and were told that these are wild horses that have been rounded up and the government pays the landowners for taking care of them. All along the roadside we saw droves of wild horses and oil wells, actively pumping. Were you aware that our tax dollars are paying to keep wild horses?

While at the congregation Sunday night, we were told that tornadoes had hit around Prague, OK and the area just east of Oklahoma City. There was one death as a trailer park was demolished and many houses destroyed. It was reported that trailer trucks were thrown over along Interstate I-40. We got out our computers and checked to be sure we were not in the path of more storms that night. Early Monday, we packed up and drove to Aunts Creek, Corp of Engineer Park, west of Branson, MO. 

We had not been settled very long until we received a weather alert on our phone and began closing down the sliders on the RV. I walked to the bathhouse nearby and told Ron that I thought it was much more substantial than staying in the RV. While in Barnsdall, I checked out the bathhouse and took a shower but the doors to the showers and toilets were open to a courtyard that had a high rock wall but no roof. I immediately ruled that bathhouse out for a proper tornado shelter. While we were closing down and shutting off computers, the park official drove in on his golf cart and told us to immediately get to the bathhouse.
No camper was allowed to stay in their campers as a possible tornado was heading directly for our area. Many people had smart phones with them and were tracking the storm. There was rotation in the storm and warnings were going out for all campers on all of the parts to leave for shelters. We all congregated in the bathhouse for about an hour until it passed over and the weather was downgraded to thunderstorms. We had thunderstorms all night and again today but so far nothing threatening.
The campers had all of the news about the horrible tornadoes that hit Moore, OK and we were all saddened by that news. It is horrible when little children are sent to school and face disasters. It should be a happy and safe place but parents can no longer be sure their children are safe. The shootings in Connecticut, the tornado in Moore, OK and the earthquake in Sichuan, China, took the lives of many innocent children in schools.
One lady in the group last night told about a tornado that came through Joplin, Missouri some years ago and took off the top floor of a hospital. That floor was the maternity floor and many babies were killed; many of them never found. These disasters are so terribly sad that we cannot imagine having to endure such hardships.
We did not see any black bears but we did see a lot of campers over the Memorial Day weekend.  Lots of kids, dogs and people but everyone was well-behaved and there was no problem having people camped all around us. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Beginning to think Assisted Living will be good!

We have enjoyed our month in Lewisville, TX.  It is wonderful to be with our church family at the Lewisville Church of Christ.  We have developed some deep friendships and enjoy our fellowship and worship with these good people.   We have been in wonderful classes and heard good preaching.
Ron recovered from jet lag in about a week after returning from China.  We have been busy with our normal workload but had time to have meals with some friends.  We met with two men that were highly recommended to us, as we hoped they would get interested in our work.  Neither of the two men are available at this time but maybe they will think about the work in China and make a decision to come with us in the future.  We will continue to search for men that could do fund-raising so the work will continue once Ron cannot do it.  We hope we are able to travel a few more years but it will also take anyone else a while to get into the work and understand it fully to be able to report to churches.  It does not appear we will have any relief from our full-time work anytime soon.

One of our downfalls or maybe it’s an advantage, is that when we are in Lewisville, Ron checks out better deals on RV’s at McClain’s RVs.   The manager grew up in the church although I’m not sure he attends any church now.  He tries his best to be helpful because he does appreciate our work.  He had a Tiffin Industries Phaeton RV in from the Fort Worth branch.  This is the view from the back.  I have another picture further down that is from the front.

Since they don’t have service at Fort Worth, they sent the RV to Denton for them to make the check list and get things up-to-date for the vehicle to sell.  Before they had actually done anything, Ron heard about the RV and looked at it.  He wanted me to go see it and I told him unless it was less money, I really did not want to change. 
The RV is one year older than the model we have enjoyed for the last l-l/2 years, but it has 12,000 less miles.  It’s also a better manufacture and looks nicer with some great features (like two sinks for us to both get ready at the same time).  In addition, the sale price was considerably less.  That is what really got my attention.  The one we had was livable and we had not really had any problems with it.  It has always worried me that we owed so much money on something that travels on the road.  Yes, I know houses can get blown away in tornadoes and burn down but it just seems that there’s more risk for a vehicle on the road. 

I have become more relaxed as we travel.  Ron does a good job maneuvering this big rig and he is driving carefully and not too terribly fast - most things on the road passes us.  You have to keep up a good speed to keep people from getting irritated.  

Sunday morning our preacher told this about his little granddaughter.  I think she's about 3 years old.  They were visiting them in Oklahoma last week and were driving in the car during a heavy thunderstorm.  The little girl started crying because she was afraid.  Her mother told her not to worry because God would take care of them.  When they got home, she said, "That was really nice of God to take care of us in the storm."  

I will remember this from the mouth of a babe.  I know God takes care of us and is with us all the way.  HE has blessed us so much that I never want to complain.  I am grateful for a nice motor home, air conditioning, warm showers and everything I need.  We are so blessed even with the troubles in our country and with our poor economic situation.  Let's remember to thank God that we continue to have blessings,  We are blessed beyond most people of the world. 

Ronald sent us this picture when I told him we were thinking of trading RV's.  He didn't get the message that we are DOWNSIZING...We don't have a Mercedes to drive underneath.   But, not everyone is DOWNSIZING these days...we see a lot of expensive rigs on the road as well as a lot of terrible looking campers.  It is very popular in TX and the roads are covered with motor homes.

I heard an RV leaving the other morning and looked out the window and saw this one loading.  The little sports car was driven into the trailer behind the RV (picture to the right).  See the beautiful little car in the second picture below.  It was too special to pull behind the RV as most cars!   We don't have a sports car or trailer for a car either!   Our Honda has been through three hail storms and looks like it's had a very rough life.  It gets dirty and covered with thrown gravel so I can't blame the man for putting his beautiful little car in the trailer.  (Expensive toys that older men have these days are interesting!)
If we could park and stay in one place, I would truly love living in an RV.  It’s so much nicer and better than any house trailer and the parks are certainly nicer.  It is such a simple lifestyle compared to the upkeep of a house.  We actually like it better than a house or an apartment.  It's the traveling that is rough!  We have never had anyone around us that we didn't trust.  Parks do not allow fireworks or alcohol.  They restrict quietness at 10 p.m. and enforce the rules.  The gate is locked at night so it’s safe.  While Ron was in China, I locked the door and slept soundly without any fear.   

To finish the story, we decided to purchase the other RV after Ron called Mr. Tiffin at Tiffin Industries.  Mr. Tiffin is also a member of the church so we trust his opinion.  He said a 2007 model with so few miles (17,000) should not have problems and last us for many years.   He said parts are available for one that old and if there’s any major problem due to factory defects, to bring it by Red Bay, AL and he would correct it.  There were three things he mentioned that might be a problem with that particular year’s vehicle.  It was really hard for us but we got it done and both of us hope this unit will be the last one.  This is it parked again after we completed the moving --

We invited one of the elders and his wife for dinner last Thursday night.  We didn’t want to cancel because they have a tight schedule and are not available very often.  We began packing up boxes of stuff we could do without and put them in the storage underneath the RV to get them out of the way.    We had a wonderful evening with our guests and then began packing again after they left. 

We got up to begin more packing at 6:00 a.m. and had it all done by 8:30.   It was 10:30 before we signed papers to switch over the units.  I was very happy to see the bottom line showing that we owe much less money now.  They switched over my little washer/dryer unit that we bought ourselves a couple of years ago and then went through the training so Ron would know how to operate everything.  It was after 12 p.m. before I could begin to move things from one RV to the other.  I got a little bit of help from the salesman but he had not eaten lunch and didn’t last too long.  Ron and I finished moving everything either to the inside of the RV or to the storage bins underneath about 5 p.m.  Then they had to take the unit to a gas station to fill up with gas.  We brought in a full tank on the one we had.  We got back to Lake Park about 6 p.m.    Here are pictures of the inside.  It's very livable and comfortable so it will serve our needs just fine.  Ron works from the front seat that I sit in when we are traveling. 

The kitchen is really nice in this unit.  I don't have an oven but with the toaster oven and microwave, I can manage.   I have the old-fashioned dishwasher (ME).   The fridge is opposite the kitchen as you go down the hall.  It's double and plenty large enough. 

I work at the dining table.  I move my stuff over for us to use it for meals but it's a great location with good light.  I have cabinets all down that side for my office stuff.  (See below).

We enjoyed good leftovers from the night before and began unpacking and putting stuff away just so we could walk through and get to bed.  After a couple of hours, we had made a dent in it and went to bed really tired.  We got up early Saturday morning and worked all day to get it straight.  Today, we missed some office supplies so Ron went to find them underneath in storage.  I think now we have everything we need on a regular basis.  We have winter clothing underneath and things we do not need very often. 

I was so very tired on Saturday night.  I told Ron I was really looking forward to assisted living.  I envy those who have a nice retirement place to live but don’t have to do anything.  I think we will have to move from this RV on a stretcher, feet first!    We are getting too old to move!  It’s remarkable how much stuff we had since we live in it full time and have all the office stuff.

There is  separate small bath and sink besides this sink in the corner of the bedroom.  This works really well so we can both have a place to get ready at the same time.  It is much more spacious and there are many more cabinets and storage areas in this unit. 

We spent the day at the RV dealer again today because some things did not work on the RV and Ron found out they had not changed the oil and lube the vehicle as they promised.  The ice maker leaked so they had to replace a value.  There were a few other minor things they had to do but so far as we know, it's in good condition now.  I think vehicles, like old bodies, could have things wrong that we don't even know about just yet.  If it proves to be a reliable vehicle, I think we will like it a lot.

Wednesday morning, we leave for Oklahoma.   Ron visited a number of churches in OK about 10 years ago but he could not get appointments as we were traveling that way.  We still have at least 10-12 active sponsors in OK.  I’ve never been to OK.   John and Mary Ann Kelly, and Mary Ann’s father, Bob, live just across the TX border.  We are going to an RV park near them and Ron will speak at their congregation Wednesday night.  When we first moved to Peachtree City, GA, Mary Ann was a member there.  She was one of the most active women in the congregation and everyone loved her.  We really look forward to seeing them again.
After we make some visits in OK, we will go to several churches in Missouri and Arkansas.  Our heavy concentration of appointments will be in KY and TN.   We will also visit churches in North AL and Georgia.  We will spend the next six months on the road reporting to churches and individuals that have supported our work for many, many years in these states.   We hope to return to Lewisville by Thanksgiving.

I’ll try to post segments about our travels as often as I can.  Maybe I’ll find some interesting and funny things to report about since we are going into areas that I have not been to before.  Thanks to my friends and sponsors for your interest in reading about our travels and work.
God bless you!