Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kentucky travels

June has been a good month for us but not a tremendously profitable one.  We are on our yearly reporting trip to churches that already support the work.  Ron tries to fit in some new churches along the way to give reports to inform others about what is happening in China.  Summer is not a good time to get appointments because many churches are scheduling summer speakers, having VBS and other activities.   It takes the second’s year visit for most churches to really get interested.  By the second or third visit, we are no longer strangers and the congregation welcomes us much more openly.
We parked at Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, AR for about a week.  A couple parked nearby was from Yuma, Arizona.  It was a quiet place and we enjoyed a good visit with Liberty Hill, a congregation that has supported us for many years. We drove on Wednesday night to Jonesboro, AR and had a good visit.  From Paragould, we drove to Troy, TN and spent a wonderful weekend with Jimmy and LeEllen Smith.  We parked directly in their driveway and enjoyed a great visit with them; also with Ron and Jenny from the Troy Church of Christ. We had some wonderful meals and good times there and when the time came to leave on Monday, it was like leaving family members. 

We arrived at the Canal Campground at Grand Rivers, KY on Monday afternoon, June 17th.  


Our friends from Benton, KY were also parked there that week so we had several occasions to get together.

 We visited the Northside congregation in Mayfield on Wednesday night. 

We invited John and Linda Richardson to go to lunch with us on Thursday so we drove to their beautiful home in Mayfield, KY.  Sweet Linda had fixed a delicious lunch for us saying it was easier to talk there than at a restaurant.  That was so true and it was better food too but we didn’t want her to go to the trouble for us.  We stayed with them one weekend a few years ago and fondly remember that good visit.  King, the boy that lived with us for 19 months that came to the U.S. for skin grafts, was with us that weekend, a few years ago. 

On June 22nd, (Ron’s sister’s birthday, we went to Patti’s 1880 Settlement Restaurant in Grand Rivers.  Someone told us last year that when we came back into the area, we needed to be sure to go there.  I asked Rick and Linda Clark, our friends who were also camping at Canal about the restaurant and they highly recommended it.  They went with us and we had a wonderful meal and great time celebrating Ron’s birthday a week early.

On Sunday, we attended Union Hill in Benton, KY (Rick and Linda Clark’s congregation). 
Our reservation was up at Canal on the 24th and we could only find a few days at a nearby campground but nothing was available anywhere through the 4th of July weekend.  Ron has appointments through July 8th so Rick and Linda insisted that we park in their driveway for the duration of our time in this area. 

They had returned home with their camper and said there was still plenty of room so that’s where we are parked now.  We really enjoy being with them but are trying not to be a nuisance. 
Rick and Linda went with us to North Marshall in Calvert City, KY last night.  Linda says we are having dinner at their house Saturday night and then we will drive to Murray, KY to watch fireworks.  That’s Ron’s birthday so he will get to celebrate again. 

We look forward to meeting Donald and Peggy Nims in Glasgow while we are at Bailey’s Point Park for a couple of days after we leave here.  From there, we go to Campbellsville, KY to stay at Smith Ridge from July 11th to July 24th.

Sunday morning, July 14th we will be in Mount Sterling, KY.  We will drive to Nicholasville, just south of Lexington that Sunday afternoon,to visit with our friend, Jocelyne Clark and report to her congregation that night.  Jocelyne is undergoing treatments for breast cancer following surgery a few weeks ago, so we are anxious to see her and give her a hug.  Her birthday is on the 13th so we hope our visit will be encouraging and a joy for her.  It will be for us, no doubt.
There are few lakes and rivers in middle KY so we had trouble finding a park anywhere near Nicholasville.  We will drive back to the park in Campbellsville that night and then the next weekend we have to drive all the way to North Canton, Ohio.   Ron says we will leave the RV in Campbellsville, drive to Cincinnati and spend one night in a motel and drive on in the next day.  We will return part way Sunday night and then on to Campbellsville on Monday, July 22nd.   
We leave Kentucky on July 23rd for Dale Hollow near Nashville, TN.    We will be in the Nashville area about a month. After that, we have many churches in the Columbia, TN area and then churches in Chattanooga and Athens.  
Leigh Ann is going to China with Ellen Mao, a nurse friend of ours from San Jose, CA. 
Leigh Ann DotsonThey planned this trip last year but Leigh Ann cancelled since she was moving into Ronald’s house in June of last year.  I think Ellen is off work from Sept. 5 – 15 so we didn’t want to arrive at Leigh Ann’s house until she’s had time to recover from her trip.  (We will go ahead and visit with churches in North Alabama while she’s in China) and then come back to Woodstock, GA to see her.  Leigh Ann and Ellen are going to visit at Refuge of Grace Christian Care Center in Luxi,China, the orphanage where they both support little girls.  
Ronald needs to repair a water leak in the restrooms at this facility so he says he and Gigi will come back there to do the repairs late August while the children are still visiting relatives for the summer.  Leigh Ann hopes Ronald and Gigi will be there so she can meet and get to know Gigi.   It’s sad that sisters-in-law live on opposite sides of the world and never have had a chance to meet.  Ronald and Gigi will celebrate their second anniversary in September.  Gigi sometimes catches me early in the morning on Facebook.  We chatted a few minutes this morning and it’s always such a joy to get the chance to talk with her.  She said Ronald keeps her laughing and their being together makes living in China bearable.  They have been living out of suitcases and hotel rooms for several months.  Ronald finished the construction on the hospital and then they began visits to the care centers to see what needs to be done at each of them.   They had one train ride that was about 17 hours.  Ron and I were on the train once for that long.  It’s about like the trip going to China to be on an old train that long.  It’s not an easy life when transportation is difficult, especially in a foreign country, the weather is hot and accommodations are below average.  
 A group from Buford, GA went to China for two weeks.  Many teenagers were in the group.  Ten went to John Connor Brown and ten went to Wesley’s House.  Ronald and Gigi were able to go to Wesley’s House for a few days to be with them.  Stan and Connie Burnette were in the group.  Ron and Stan grew up together but I doubt they had seen each other in 30 years.  Stan and Connie have been generous supporters in addition to adopting Addie, a precious little girl that was left at our orphanage when she was born.  Addie has a condition that requires surgery once a year on a joint in her body.  None of her joints moved when she was born.  She went to kindergarten this past year.  She went with them to China and really enjoyed making friends with the Chinese children. 
Connie Burnette (picture above of Addie and Connie in the group going to China) posted on Facebook yesterday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Even though it’s treatable, the report did not sound good and she’s facing a difficult surgery and treatments for maybe the next year.  I am so glad she made the trip to China before she found out about this problem.  It will consume their lives until she’s well again.  There are so many tests, treatments and follow up visits that it seems there’s no time for anything else. I know she has a lot of family and friends so she will have all the help she needs.  She’ll have lots of prayers, encouragement and support that will be of great benefit.  I don’t know how people face problems in life without this wonderful support system we enjoy with family members (blood relatives as well as brothers and sisters in Christ) that pray for us and help us.

This was a sad week for me because Steve Temple passed away in Brentwood, TN.  Steve was an elder at the Hillsboro congregation.  I worked as church secretary there for a few years while Ron was getting the work started in China.  He was gone long periods of time and I stayed busy with my job at Hillsboro.  I took charge of overseeing things when there was a wedding or funeral to make sure everything was in order at the building.  I spent many weekends working but didn’t mind since Ron was away.  Steve was the elder that I reported to and he was a wonderful boss.  We got along so well.  He was kind, humble and gentle and such a good man.  Everyone loves Mary Ruth too.  She has the same kind of personality so I know they had a wonderful marriage.  I understand that about a year ago they removed l/2 of Steve’s thumb with melanoma but it returned and spread all over his body.  It is a great loss to lose a man so young with many productive years ahead as a good elder of the church.  He will be missed greatly.  His memorial service will be tomorrow, June 28, 2013.  I will remember this each year, a day before Ron’s birthday.  I have only been in contact with Steve on Facebook in recent years, but I will still miss him. 

I tried to post a picture of Steve and Mary Ruth from their Facebook pages but it failed each time. Such a precious couple! 

May God be with you until my urge to post comes up again!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stops in Searcy and Paragould, AR

We enjoyed a wonderful time in Searcy, Arkansas.   We arrived at Harding University and took their last motor home parking space.   School is out so there are few on the campus.  We enjoyed a good dinner at Dixie CafĂ© with Lolita and Ed Higginbotham.   We went back to their beautiful home for cheesecake and ice cream.  They are a lot of fun to be with and we had such a delightful time.

Lolita has a small cake underneath a glass cake dome that says 50 Years on a little sign that is stuck in the side of the cake.  The cake has red roses and the cake has white icing.  It is very pretty.  She explained that it was actually the top section of their 50th wedding anniversary cake when they had a big party.  I asked her when this was and she said it was in 2011.  It still looks like it’s so fresh you could slice it and eat it.  My eyes grew big and I said, “You mean you’ve kept it like this for two years?”   She nodded her head “yes”.   I said, “I didn’t know you could keep a cake like this.”   Lolita casually said, “I didn’t either, but apparently you can.”   I burst out laughing as I found this very amusing.   There’s no mold on the cake.  Ed says it is a little smaller; he thinks it’s shrunk a little.  Lolita says that sugar is a good preservative and since they are diabetics, they just keep it to look at.   She said the secret was keeping the top on tight…if someone lifts it and air gets inside, it will probably collapse.  It’s as pretty as the ceramic pies you can buy that look good enough to eat.   
Ed taught at Harding until a few years ago.  Lolita may have also taught.  They have been active in the work of the church and taught English in China on several occasions.  They still work with the College church and are actively involved with the Chinese students.  They have many contacts with Chinese friends in China.

One day, we went with them to the Whistle Stop Restaurant for BBQ.  It is a neat restaurant named after the one featured in Fried Green Tomatoes that is actually in Georgia.  They have lots of old stuff on the walls and hanging everywhere.  Pictures of Ed (as a very young man helping at a camp) was posted on the wall.    The BBQ was excellent.  Service was good because the waitresses all know Ed and Lolita.  This restaurant has prepared complete free meals for some of the Harding sports teams.   A couple joined us.  Gordon and Jane Hogan are seasoned missionaries, who spent a long time in Singapore, Pakistan and maybe other countries.  Gordon was Director or President of Four Seas Bible College in Singapore for 17 years.  It was so interesting to meet them.   Enoch Thweatt and his wife came over to the table to see us.  They live in Nashville now but were missionaries to Taiwan for a number of years.  We had not seen them since we left Nashville about 10 years ago. 
Ron spoke at the College Church of Christ on Wednesday night.  I told him I would have been terribly intimidated to speak before this group because there were many former preachers and missionaries present.  Ron was overwhelmed at the many men who came up to talk with him and compliment him on the work we do in China.

The night before, Ed and Lolita had arranged for Chinese students to meet us at a Chinese Buffet at 5 p.m. for a presentation about our work in China and dinner afterwards.  We took one of their small dining rooms and set it up to show the power point on the wall.  One girl, in particular, had worked in a hospital in China and she is very interested.  There were 22 present and they were all polite and thanked us for the presentation and for our work with the Chinese people.
We had a great time in Searcy and look forward to our next visit.  We left on Friday, June 7th for Paragould, AR.   Ron gave a report this past Sunday to Liberty Hill Church of Christ.  They have supported our work for about 12 years.   We didn’t have an appointment Sunday night so we visited the Center Hill congregation in Paragould and made some contacts there.  It’s a very friendly church.  We were invited to eat with one of their care groups after services and enjoyed getting to meet quite a few people. 

We feel at home with Christians everywhere we go.  It’s amazing that we trust and love each other with the bond we share in Christ.  We meet so many wonderful people along the way so it makes our traveling interesting.   We still just tolerate the RV lifestyle and the burden of traveling.  It’s just the necessary part of the work.

The last week of May, 2013

We dodged tornadoes for several weeks.   Bad storms were hitting cities right after we left each area.  Instead of storm chasers, we were storm runners.   On May 28th, we left Aunts Creek Park, West Branson, MO and drove on very winding roads to Prairie Creek in Rogers, Arkansas.  Rogers is close by Bentonville, the headquarters for Wal-Mart.   We had heavy rain while at this park one night.  Storms kept us awake but it was only heavy rain with flood warnings.   The park was well designed for run-off into the Arkansas River that was nearby so there was no flooding.  I think we got 3" of rain that night.  Ron had a few meetings, hoping to get Wal-Mart to help us with medications for the new hospital in China.   Ron is still working on that so nothing has materialized yet.

We left Prairie Creek in Rogers, AR on the 30th and arrived at Springhill Park in Barling, AR (near Fort Smith) a couple of hours later.   We dodged bad storms again the first night we were there.   Tornado warnings and bad thunderstorms, including flood warnings were out for Rogers and Bentonville  (where we were the night before).   Checking weather conditions showed the heavy fronts both north of us and south of us.  We were blessed to be in the middle and received only light rain that night. 

We visited a small church in Van Buren on Sunday morning.  There were about 60 – 75 people in attendance.  It was a “family” church with many relatives from old to young attending there.  They were very friendly.   A sweet older lady took us to an Italian restaurant for lunch.  We had a good time with her and appreciated her treating us to lunch and giving us a check for our work in China.  That evening, Ron spoke at West Ark in Fort Smith.   They had many small groups meeting so the older people meeting in the auditorium were few that night.  We didn’t even get to see the families that support orphans. 
As we were packing up our newsletters and displays to leave, one man was still looking at the boards and picking up some of the literature.  After others left, he introduced himself and asked if he could take us somewhere for a bite to eat.  We followed him to Denney’s.   He and I ordered from the 55 + menu and Ron ordered a milkshake.  

This is so funny, I have to report it - not because I was flattered but because it's an unbelievable story.  About the time our food arrived, the cashier (maybe manager) came to us and said to me, “Mam, only those over 55 can order from the 55+ menu.”   I couldn’t help laughing.  I thought it was a big joke and I still think it might have been.  I told her she must be kidding because I had a 75th birthday the week before.  Ron laughed too.  I thought of getting out my driver’s license but thought that was ridiculous as it was so obvious that I was over 55.  She looked at me, not smiling and said, “We’ll let it go this time.”  She walked away, never cracking a smile or apologizing or saying anything else.  It was just "hanging" in the air as if she didn't believe me.  Either this girl about 30 was a very bad judge of people’s age or she needed glasses.   When we left and waited for the man to pay the bill at the cash register, she never looked at me.   It was a nice compliment if I could possibly believe she meant it but honestly, I can never look 55 again!  

The man that took us to eat that night actually didn’t look more than 55 but when he ordered, he did ask the waitress if she wanted to see ID for his age but she said "no."  He told us that sometimes they thought he was younger.  He said he is 68.  
I hope I remember everything correctly that he told us about his family history.  His father was Chinese and his mother was American.  Both of his parents have passed away.  He said his grandfather came to the U.S. after the II World War as a “paper son.”   We didn’t know what that meant.  He said at 18 or 19, his grandfather found someone in the U.S. to file papers saying he was their son so he could immigrate to the U.S. and he paid them a large amount of money to do this.  When he arrived, he got a job at a restaurant, lived in the restaurant and ate at the restaurant until he could save enough money to pay off the fee.  Then, he went back to China and did the same thing for his wife.  When she came with him to the U.S. they both worked for the restaurant and lived there until they paid off her fee.  They lived in California.  His father was born there.  His father went to China for university.  It might have been Hong Kong, I'm not sure the location.  He had a problem because American-born Chinese were not well-accepted by the Chinese.  He was supposed to take a bus from where he lived to the university but instead, he would delay until he missed the bus and then he’s take one of the sanpan boats across a river to the school, listening to the men talk so he could learn Chinese.  He spent enough time with them that he finally learned Chinese with a proper accent. 

I asked him about his name.  It is Bill Yick.   I told him I had never seen that name used in China.  He said when his grandfather arrived, people could not understand his name and they got it mixed up because the last name (family name) is listed first in China.  At the restaurant, they began to call him Yick so he just kept that as his family name.  Bill said he could not do a genealogy search because all he would come up with would be a few cousins in California.  
Bill said he had taught school and was a piano tuner, among other things he has done.   He went to Harding University.  He mentioned that he was married in Texarkana but nothing said more about his wife.  I didn’t ask, not knowing the situation.  He was driving a neat-looking Mustang he had just purchased and he said he has recently bought a motor home of some kind.    He was such an interesting person; I wish we had more time to spend with him.

We left Fort Smith the next day and arrived in Searcy, AR on June 3rd.

Wild horses supported by our tax dollars

Recently, I posted pictures of pastures near Bartlesville, OK where ranchers are paid by the government to keep wild horses.   I found an article about this in a recent news headlines.  Here is just a portion of the article.  Tax payers foot the bill for the $75 million dollars spent annually.   Isn't this interesting when people are without jobs and sometimes without food in America?   What about people in Third World countries?   We are more humane to animals than we are to people. 

The National Academy of Sciences report found the BLM's roundups of horses and burros were counterproductive because in the long-run they decreased competition for food and resulted in higher birth and survival rates.

The panel of scientists urged federal horse managers to curb herds through increased use of fertility control, such as vaccines shot by dart at female horses, rather than roundups and removals. The BLM currently allocates to fertility control on wild herds only a fraction of what it spends on roundups.

The BLM, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, says Western public lands - leased for everything from cattle grazing to oil and gas exploration - can support 26,500 wild horses in states from Idaho to Nevada.

Wild horses unlikely to be adopted or sold are shipped to open-air enclosures that contain 50,000 animals, or nearly 13,000 more than roam free. The roundups, removals and warehousing of mustangs last year consumed much of the bureau's $75 million budget for managing wild horses and burros.