We arrived back in Lewisville, TX on November 12th. We left May 15th and visited churches in eight states (OK, AR, MO, KY, TN, AL, GA and FL) over the six-month period of time. We traveled 3,650 miles in the RV and an additional 7,500 miles in the car. We park the RV and then take the car to the various congregations in the area to give reports and two weeks later, we move on to the next central location. Miles and miles of countryside...pecan orchards and cotton crops across the south.
We had a wonderful visit in every congregation. Loving and friendly people greeted us in churches of all sizes. It is a great blessing to meet brothers and sisters across this great land. We are so grateful for tender hearts and generous givers that help with the work in China.
We spent two weeks in Leigh Ann’s driveway in Woodstock, GA.
We were all busy the entire time but it was great to be with her and spend one day with Tatum, our 21-year-old granddaughter. We see them only once a year unless Leigh Ann comes to some location to visit with us. We cooked Tatum’s favorite Chinese food that day.
While in North Georgia, Ron interviewed and hired Mike Gifford, who will be Chinese Agape’s CEO. He is featured in our November newsletter if you want to read more about him. Mike made a quick trip to Lewisville to meet and get approval of the Lewisville elders. Then, he began spending time with Ron to learn all he can about the work the remainder of time we were at Leigh Ann’s. Mike is presently living in Cartersville, Georgia.
We parked two weeks at Raintree Village Children’s Home in Valdosta, GA. It was a delight to be in this beautiful part of our country where large trees are covered with Spanish moss.
Raintree Village Children's Home
We completed the round of visits in South Georgia and Northern Florida and began the trek back toward Texas, spending a couple of days in Baton Rouge, LA. Joan, our Chinese worker, lives there. She coordinates all of the patients having surgeries both in China and the U.S.
It was great to be with our church family in Lewisville on Sunday. What a joy it is to be part of a loving family of God. We have had several invitations out and have been invited to a member’s home for Thanksgiving. It was only one of several invitations we had for Thanksgiving Day. We are indeed blessed with people who love us and want to be with us. We enjoyed a cookout at the home of one member on Saturday night and it was good to be with about 20 Lewisville members.
We are busy catching up our work and figuring out what we need to pack for China. We leave on November 30th and plan to return on December 14th. Mike Gifford is going with us and tour all of the orphanages to have a full understanding of the work. We will go to Beijing first and meet Julia Ng, who will be working with us from Hong Kong. I’ll report more about her when she is officially on-board. A meeting is scheduled in Beijing with an attorney to get the licensing completed for the new hospital in Wadian. It cannot open for medical appointments until this is done. In the meantime, Mr. Zhu is visiting the homes to make a determination about poor children that should be included in our data base for future medical benefits. We will visit the hospital and then the five orphanages in various locations throughout China.
Travel in China is not easy. We will take some flights because trains are not available to all areas. We will take some trains and buses. Even after arriving at a city by train, our destination may still be several hours’ ride on a bus. The distance from each location is a long way, so we will not stay in any place longer than a couple of days.
I am looking forward to seeing Ronald and Gigi (he is now at Refuge of Grace care center doing maintenance on the building). Gigi has just gotten her VISA to return to China on November 30th so we will get to see her on this trip. If Ronald has finished his work at this location, he and Gigi may travel with us to another of the care centers. We are not sure about his work and plans yet.
Being with Ronald and Gigi will be my greatest Christmas gift. Gigi told me that hugs from us is all she needs. We think a lot alike so we love each other very much. Both Gigi and I love Ronald so that gives us a great tie together also.
I spent a couple of days and nights thinking of her and her family in the Philippines and praying for them. It was such a relief when Ronald told us that he had heard from her and they were safe. Her island was not one of the worst hit but I’m sure they got lots of wind and rain. It swept right across the Philippines. When you live on an island and it’s going to hit all of them, there’s nowhere to go. When we are traveling along the coast, we see signs that say Evacuation Route. There are no evacuation routes when you live on an island. There are no good shelters. Buildings and houses are not constructed well to withstand typhoons of this strength. You can make some preparation for a bad storm but there’s very little you can do but batten down and ride it out with lots of prayers.
Ronald has submitted a proposal to build and operate an orphanage in the Philippines. One million children are estimated to be homeless following the disaster of the recent Typhoon. Ron is securing interested investors to fund the project. We feel that this would be an ideal situation for several reasons. Julia Ng will be able to oversee the orphanages in China in 2014. Ronald will be needed on a limited basis, perhaps doing some maintenance work on the buildings at the care centers in China. Gigi cannot get a permanent VISA so it is expensive for her trips in and out of China for them to spend some time together. They live in hotels out of suitcases and that can get very old after some time.
Gigi is a retired teacher so she can oversee the education of the children in the Philippine orphanage. Ronald has five years of experience overseeing the orphanages in China. No doubt, he can run it well and have a great home for little children. We have a Bible teacher that can work with them to teach the children. It’s no problem to teach the Bible in the Philippines. With this combination of personnel to begin a care center, we feel that we are well staffed for it to be a success. There are many little children in the Philippines, just as in China, that need a loving home and family. We pray that this will come together soon after the New Year begins so they can get started on the construction phase.
I will report again upon our return from China. Thank you for your love and friendship. We covet your prayers for our travels and for the work in China.
How wonderfully we are blessed even with the many problems our country has at this time. Continue to count your blessings not your problems.
We wish everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.