Friday, September 20, 2013

A Rainy Night in Florence, Alabama

I posted some pictures last time of the antique barn where we were parked in Spring Hill, TN.   The barn is a museum of old farm equipment that goes back to the 1800’s when the Rippavilla Plantation was in operation.  I wanted to post this antique hearse that is in that museum.  I have never seen anything like this.  I think you’ll find it interesting.   I hope you don't think this is too morbid for me to start off my blog with these pictures.
After a long and frustrating day today, the gentle raindrops on the roof of the RV are actually very soothing.  I began the day on the computer to try to catch up a lot of backlog of work.  I took a few breaks, doing laundry and dishes.  There were interruptions the rest of the day.  My printer needed ink and when I opened a new packet, the black cartridge was not the right size even though it was the correct number for the printer.  So, I scrapped the projects that needed to be printed. 
We have found the most difficult part of our traveling is getting the car on the trailer and securing it for travel.  We always have to unhitch the trailer and move it to an out-of-the-way place.   Ron decided to trade in the Honda because it cannot be pulled with all four wheels down.  We spent all day last Saturday looking for a used car that would work with a hitch.  The very last place we went after a long day, had a 2009 Nissan Versa that was perfect.  We got $48 back from trading in the 2009 Honda (but the Honda had 20,000 more miles than the Nissan). 

I have not driven a stick shift in a few years but I picked up easily with this little car that has 6 speeds.  It was a bit weird to go into so many different shifts but I made it without going into the wrong gear.  It's very obvious when you do that if you've ever driven a straight shift car. 
Yesterday, we took the car to a place to get the hitch put on and today in the middle of my work, they called to bring the RV in.  So, we put things away securely and spent two hours completing the project but now we can pull the little Nissan more safely than putting the Honda on a dolly.  
On Monday, we drove to Red Bay, AL (about one hour south of Florence) to have a few necessary things repaired on the RV.   We expected to be there most of the week because they are always so busy.  Ron had me drive the Nissan (without the hitch on it) so we’d have a car to come back to Muscle Shoals for the Wednesday night service.   We were fortunate to get the work done on the RV Tuesday which allowed us the opportunity to come back to our friend’s back yard on Wednesday morning.

We’ve been parked here a week at the beautiful home of Jan and B.J. Kennedy.  Their lovely home is on a hillside overlooking the river. We hear barges going up and down the river but the RV is parked in the backyard, away from the beautiful view. 

We have enjoyed being with our friends so much.   

Jan Kennedy, (me) and Polly Alexander in the picture above.

Martha Cagle, (me) and Helen Miles in the second picture. 

On Friday of last week, these four beautiful ladies (my dearest friends from the 1960’s, when we lived in Florence) took me to lunch.  We had such a good time catching up.  You know you have close friends when you can go long periods of time apart and then when you see each other again, you have so much in common and much to tell each other.  We pick up right where we left off the last time we met.  I look forward to the trip through Florence each year.
Ron spoke at three churches in this area.   Yesterday, we took a break and visited with Bill, Barbara and Marla Wynne.  They lived down the street from us from 1966 to 1969.  Talking with them brought back many wonderful memories of those years when our children were small and playing together.  We also had a delightful visit with Mary Alice and Jack Wilhelm, friends for many years. 
We leave tomorrow, Saturday, September 21, to go to Huntsville.  We are supposed to park at Red Stone Arsenal if it works out with our sponsor for staying there.  We look forward to seeing more good friends in Huntsville this weekend. 

Leigh Ann and Ellen Mao made a happy  trip to China.  Leigh Ann got back to Georgia Monday night.  She got to spend about a week with Ronald and Gigi.  She and Gigi had not met so it was a treat for both of them.  They enjoyed some meals out together and had rooms across the hall from each other at the hotel.  After Leigh Ann left for Shanghai, Gigi wrote and said, “I miss her already but I pretend that she’s still here and will knock on our door any minute now.”   (In this first picture, Ellen is on the left, then Leigh Ann and Gigi. ) 

Ronald and Gigi have just arrived in Tanjay, Philippines.   Gigi’s VISA was up again so she had to go back.  Ronald’s yearly VISA will expire in October.  From the Philippines, he’ll send it to Leigh Ann by FedEx and apply for another VISA for China.  Their second anniversary is on September 24th so they will have a few days together to celebrate this happy occasion.  They have been apart almost as much as they’ve been together these two years.  Going in and out of China on VISA’s is not an easy task. 
Ron and I will have to find our passports and get a VISA soon.  It looks like we will need to make a trip to China the last two weeks of November.  We complete our travels, reporting to churches, by the middle of November.  We closed one orphanage where the buildings were too old to repair and with the government picking up the support for the children we have cared for at that location.   We have a sponsor willing to fund another one to replace the NCCC care center but we have no one that can really search out a new location and negotiate with the government.  It’s important to be sure we locate where there is government cooperation.  We also have to be sure there are enough poor orphaned children that need a home as well as finding a building that is sound enough and economically feasible to renovate.  Ron is about the only person that can handle this entire project and finalize the selection of a location.
We need to go to China before winter sets in.  November will be cool but not bad.  January and February, like in the U.S., are the really cold months.
Thanks to everyone for your interest in our work, your love and concern for us and the many ways you encourage and help us.  We have been so blessed with many good people willing to help us.  It’s a team effort.  We could not accomplish all of this without our supporters and without God’s blessings.
Until I can write again, take care and thank you!



Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day brings in September

September 2nd – our son’s birthday.  I wrote Ronald a long letter this week talking a lot about things that I remember from his childhood that are so very special in my memory.  I am so glad Gigi is with him in China to share his birthday.  She told me she didn’t have any money to buy him a gift so I wrote and told her that he completely understands.  She is the best gift he could have. 
Leigh Ann leaves on September 5th to go to the same orphanage where Ronald and Gigi are now.  Ronald is repairing some plumbing problems in the restrooms.   This will be the first time for Leigh Ann and Gigi to meet.  I know they will really have a good time together.  Leigh Ann’s birthday will be the day after she returns to the U.S.  We will visit with her about the middle of October and take her out to eat to celebrate.    Here is Leigh Ann with her Dad and her cousin Angela. 

We had a good three weeks in the Nashville area but did not get to see all the people we would have liked to have visited.   We were parked at Poole Knobs at La Verne, TN (southeast of Nashville).   We were able to convince them to let us stay an extra week so we did not have to move the RV further away to another park.   We had two different senior discount cards, having lost one and then found it later after getting a second one.  They logged us in with that card and our other phone number so the computer system accepted us.   The park will be closing in September for the winter.  It was never completely full while we were there but this weekend, Labor Day,  
I’m sure it is full. 

While in Nashville, we got to have dinner with Gayle (Ron’s sister) and some of her children and grand-children.   Pictures of two of her daughters and her son and their families are posted here.  We always enjoy this reunion once a year so we can catch up on what’s happening in each family.  Leigh Ann drove up from Woodstock, GA and spent that weekend with us so she could be with the rest of the family.    We had a very good time.   

Ron spoke nine or ten times while we were in the Nashville area.  We tried to visit with as many sponsors and friends as we had time but did not get to see everyone.  Trips from the campground into the city were expensive because of the distance.  We tried to combine trips and do as much as we could each time we went out. 

We had dinner one night in Franklin with a young couple that has adopted a Chinese boy.  He had surgery on his legs in Hong Kong before they got him so he’s still wearing braces on his legs.  They have a little blonde-headed boy so it was so precious to see the two children playing together.  What a joy this little boy will be to this sweet family.  And what a great blessing they will be to him.  He’s adjusting extremely well after being with them for only three months.   I think he’s a little over two years old.  He can understand things they ask him and he’s learning to eat a lot of new foods. 

Rippaville Plantation, Spring Hill, Tennessee:    I took the picture of the Board of Directors from a picture posted in a glass covered case so it's blurry but you can tell who they are!
We relocated to Rippa Villa Plantation in Spring Hill, TN on August 20.   At the large old barn where they have antique farm equipment on display for tours, they have several RV hook ups.  There is one other RV parked here.  This weekend, distant relatives from the original owners of this plantation have met here for a family reunion.   The people in the RV are part of the group. 

On Wednesday, we went by the nursing home to see Ron’s 96 year-old aunt.  She is looking about the same as last year.  We could see very little difference in her condition.  She knew us and remembered a lot but had many questions that she asked over and over.   She has always been a pleasant person.  She was smiling and joking with Ron throughout our visit.  We had some good times at her home.   We will see Ron’s other aunt this Sunday night at the church where she attends.  She is the youngest aunt of all of his relatives. 
We drove almost an hour to Pulaski Street Church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN on Wednesday night.  It was the first time we had visited this church.  We received a very warm welcome and they showed good interest in our work in China. 

Thursday night we had an elder and his wife for dinner.  We have known them for a very long time so it was a joy to have them eat with us.  We have been to their home many times.
Ron has seven more appointments before we leave here to go to Florence, AL.   We were just looking at our schedule this morning.  He is booked for speaking engagements until the middle of November.   We hope to get back to our home congregation in Lewisville, TX about the middle of November. 

We are so blessed with sponsors, friends, family and safe travels.   Our lives are fragile but we have been blessed with reasonably good health and so far, our minds and bodies are able to do the work we set out to do.   Plans are underway for others to train and begin to learn the mission work in an effort for it to continue after we are unable to travel and oversee the work.  No one knows how long we can do it but we will do whatever we can for as long as we can. 
The work in China always has some ups and downs.  The minister at the Beijing church resigned last week, giving only a two-week notice before they return to the U.S.   Ron is searching for a minister through preaching schools although we feel that these young men with no experience may find it very hard to live and work in China.  It all depends on their dedication and desire to make it work.  We also need an administrator for the new charity hospital that should be ready to open by early next year.  We moved one of our care center directors there temporarily but it does not appear that he and his wife want to stay permanently.  It will not be easy to find anyone to go there.  The man needs to be well-educated and have the ability to run a hospital. 

Our greatest problem in China is finding qualified and dedicated workers.   We have red tape and legal obstacles to overcome with the government but usually those problems can be worked through.  Finding good people is really our greatest need.
Please pray for our work, especially for the precious children we care for as well as the children we help with medical conditions.  The children are dear to our hearts and make the hard work worthwhile.