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.

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