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!