Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer Travels

I wrote about our trip to West Virginia and Virginia the middle of June.  We have covered a lot of ground since that time.   Some of the time, I have limited internet time and have to spend all of it on doing reports for sponsors and answering emails along with the normal work that Leigh Ann and I handle doing the orphan work.   Sometimes we go to a public library to work so I don’t always have time to post to the blog.
Since that time, we have reported to sponsors in Bowling Green, Benton, Pottsville and surrounding cities in Kentucky.   We spent three weeks parked in the Clark’s driveway in Benton, KY.  We had a wonderful time with them (as always). 

We returned to park at Rippavilla Plantation in Spring Hill, TN for another three-week stretch to visit sponsors in Ron’s hometown of Columbia, TN.   When we left Benton, we stopped off at Troy Church of Christ in Troy, TN.   We enjoyed a catfish dinner out with our dear friend, Judge Jimmy Smith (who won re-election).  We were happy about that.    We enjoyed a great meeting with the Pentecost family in Ashland City, TN a few weeks ago.
This week we arrived at the Red Bank Church of Christ in Red Bank (suburb of Chattanooga, TN).   They have a parking space for us near the house they own located in their back parking lot.   We have appointments this weekend in Chickamauga and Dunlap, TN.  

Next week, we plan to drive to Woodstock, GA to visit Leigh Ann (taking the car and leaving the RV here).  That is  going to feel weird…I have to pack clothes and all my office stuff.   Leigh Ann is my best friend and my "right arm."   She is so efficient and does well over half of the work due to our travels and my age.  She is happy to help and do as much as she can and she does it all extremely well.  I am very proud of her. 

We hope to see Tatum sometime during the week we are there.  She will be away over the Labor Day weekend.  She works two part-time jobs and goes to school at Kennesaw State University.  She is a busy girl.  She's also very beautiful, as you can see in the photograph.   It is hard for me to see her grown up when we loved this little girl when she saw growing up...always a delight. 

Judy Yang on the right at her sister's wedding in Shanghai.  We are happy to announce the arrival of Judy Yang to Texas on Monday.  She is re-joining our workforce in the U.S.   She will live in Lewisville and attend the Lewisville Church of Christ (our sponsoring congregation).   She will take over the accounting work and help with the medical patients.  This is probably just the start of her job descriptions.  Knowing Ron (and Judy’s capabilities) she will be doing much more in a very short time.  She was a great worker before and she will again be an asset to our work. 

Ronald and Gigi continue to work through all the legal requirements for the start of an orphanage in the Philippines.   We are talking to many others in order to secure funding for the work there.  We are awaiting one congregation’s decision about overseeing that work.  Ronald and Gigi have talked with many government officials and visited some orphanages and schools on other islands to find out how things are operating and to learn all they can. 
They are in Cebu now to talk with some men recommended highly by others to be possible board members for the newly formed non-profit corporation that will run the orphanage.  It is required that a certain percentage of Filipinos have to be on the board of directors.  Ronald is being very cautious about who he chooses.
They have enjoyed their little home and garden.   So far, it’s been a mild rainy season with fewer typhoon threats but he watches the weather news daily for anything that might form and come across the Philippines. 

Ronald loves plants so he has been propagating cuttings from trees and plants that he can transplant to the orphanage site once they have the location established.  He is still trying to get the government to donate land but that’s not been an easy task.   He is beginning to draw plans and layout for the building but much of that will depend on the site where they build.
Julia Ng is handling the work well, taking over Ronald’s job in China.  But, she’s had a full load.  Early in the year, two of our workers, traveling to another care center to take one of the men for a new position, had a front tire to blow and they hit the concrete center in the road bringing the car under control.  The concrete section actually moved to the other side of the road and caused a car to wreck.  The man in the other car was in the hospital a long time and is still injured.  So, there’s a law suit pending with them hoping to get much more money.   We paid the man’s hospital bills but the on-going debt we might owe the family for disability damages will be decided by the court.   Julia spent a lot of her time in regard to this accident.  

At the end of the school year, several of our directors resigned to pursue other careers.  It’s understandable that they would get burned out doing this work when it’s a 7 day per week commitment.   It is like being a parent to 100 kids so there’s no break.   Julia has been interviewing and trying to find good workers to take their places.  It’s been a very busy summer for her handling all of the many problems.  She’s made several trips back and from Hong Kong to China.   She sleeps with the girls and does not even get a hotel room.  As the CFO of Union Carbine – Asia, she was used to 5-star hotels and good restaurants in her business travels. We appreciate her dedication very much.
We had 10 students to graduate from universities this summer and we have many children moving on to high schools.  Since we’ve cared for some of these children 10 years, it’s understandable that many are getting older into the upper grade levels.  It’s also sad that many cannot pass the entrance test for high school and leave the centers to look for jobs.

In September, Ron will conduct a 3-day gospel meeting in Killen, AL.   We will again park our RV in the backyard of our friends, the Kennedys in Sheffield, AL.   We will visit Mars Hill in Florence and Mastin Lake in Huntsville during this time.  From there, we go back to park at Red Boiling Springs, TN while Ron holds a 3-day meeting at the Moss congregation.  
We will finish September by this time and start toward TX, stopping at several locations in MO (Springfield) and OK (McDill).    I think his last appointment is in McDill (right across the TX line) on October 22nd.   We will then drive back into Texas the last week of October.  

Julia has met a lady in Nanning, China who wants to do a TV telethon to raise money for our orphanages so she wants them to be there.  (I will stay in TX while they are gone on this trip.)   Julia is lining up various children from different care centers to come to be interviewed about how our helping them has changed their lives. 
One of these students will be King, the boy that came to the U.S. when he was 13 to have burn surgeries.  He lived with us for 19 months before he returned to live at the Neil Taylor Christian Care Center in Rongshui.   For the past two years, King has been enrolled in Four Seas Bible College in Singapore.  He’s had two years of intensive studies (in English) with professors from the U.S.  He’s done extremely well and loved it.  He’s been on mission trips to Malaysia and maybe other locations.  He will deliver the commencement address for his graduating class.  We are so proud of him.   We hope he will be interested in being employed by China Mission to teach at one of the care centers.   This is a great need to have someone to teach the children and help them learn English.   King is popular with the girls at the school because he is so kind and sweet.  When they had no water for a couple of days, he took buckets of water to the girls' dorm so they could bathe and wash their hair

This is Lily and George at their wedding.
Lily, who worked with us in the US for one year helping care for heart patients, went to Four Seas at the same time that King went so she could learn how to teach children.   She is the one that told me about King bringing the water to the girls.

Lily met George, one of the preaching students and they fell in love.  Lily quit the school after one year because George graduated and was returning to China.  They married in May and now live in Wuhan.

Our travels are so routine; I don’t have many interesting incidents to report.  We enjoy seeing people everywhere we go and renew friendships and make new ones each year.   Ron and I continue to be blessed with good health…not totally pain-free but still good health for our advancing ages.   

We are very concerned about our country and the turmoil and the future but we know who is in charge and when we can do so little to change the world, we still have to live in it but not be a part of it.   We will continue to do all we can to make it a better place for as many as we can and teach the Way to a better world to come someday when this one ends.
God bless my friends and family as you follow along on our journey and offer great encouragement.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cave City, KY and Waynesboro, VA next weekend

We have had a very enjoyable week at the Singing Hills RV Park in Cave City, KY.  This park is owned by Eldon and Beth Brown, a wonderful couple that worked at Namwlanga Christian School in Zambia for three years, where Beth was a teacher.  Beth has written a book "Parenting is Rocket Science."  She gave me a copy but I have to stop by the park office to get her signature. Not that it's not already a valuable gift, but I want her to sign it for me.  Beth is a popular speaker at Ladies' events.  Eldon is a very nice and wonderful man and he compliments his outgoing wife by his gentle personality and support.  We went to dinner with them the first night we got here and had a delightful visit with them.  Ron spoke at their congregation on Wednesday night and then we visited with Eldon and Beth for a couple more hours that night.  Their office has been very busy over the weekend with campers coming and going.  The park was almost full with two scout groups here in tents all around the campground.  

The weather has been wonderful with cool nights and warm days.  It has rained enough for crops to be growing beautifully.  We also saw some beautiful gardens.  We got up early Sunday morning and drove to Campbellsville (almost an hour's drive northeast of Cave City).   After the morning service, we drove to Glasgow to worship with the South Green congregation that evening.   We had several hours to wait so we went to Walmart for a few things and to McDonald's for a milkshake.  Then we sat in the car in the shade in a bank parking lot for about an hour.   The RV was really hot when we arrived back last night after a very long day, but it cooled down quickly and we got a good night's rest.

We will catch up on things today and leave tomorrow for a very long trip northeast.  We will be in Waynesboro, VA this weekend.  We have not visited this good congregation to see some wonderful people in this area for many years.  It's a very long trip but we also need to see a man interested in our work in Roanoke, so the trip is important.    RV parks are not plentiful in these states so we will park one night in West Virginia, drive down by car to Roanoke and spend one night in a motel.  Then we will return to the RV and drive the rest of the way to Waynesboro, VA for the weekend, hoping we can park in the church parking lot that weekend.  

We talked about leaving the RV here and making this trip in the car but we have a small car that is not too safe for such a long trip.  It would cost just as much to stay in hotels and eat out as it would cost to take the RV.   We are very spoiled now with our own bed and do not sleep well in someone's home.  Many people would offer us a place to stay but it is a lot of work for them to prepare for us and we need our own space.  Packing up for such a trip is also a hassle.  We are spoiled with carrying everything with us and living out of the RV.   I tell people we are like a turtle...our home is on our back wherever we go.  

We have the long trip back to Bowling Green next week for an appointment on June 29th.  Most of the trip is on interstate highways, which is good since we have a lot of mountains in these states but we have to deal with the truckers too.  Please keep us in your prayers, especially for the next two weeks for a safe trip.

We are waiting on several potential supporters to see if they are interested in the work in the Philippines.   We pray that this will come through because we know that Ronald and Gigi will run a wonderful care center for poor children.   We hope to provide a good life for the children but a rewarding endeavor for our adult children also.

Thank you, dear friends for your support and interest in our work.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tennessee and Kentucky Travels

We had a good visit at Berry’s Chapel in Franklin, TN on their Mission Sunday.  We met a lot of wonderful people, heard about mission works in other areas, and enjoyed a good lunch and fellowship time.   It was an all-day enjoyable event. 

We were invited to a member’s home the following Monday for a luncheon with the “Lunch Bunch” group.  It was a delicious lunch and fun time with about 20 people, mostly ladies.
Later that week, we relocated the RV to Rippavilla Plantation at Spring Hill, TN.   We have stayed there before.

Rick and Linda Clark, friends from Benton, KY, came to spend Memorial Day weekend with us while we were parked at this Plantation.   They have also parked their camper there but this time they just stayed with us.   They arrived about 9 p.m. on Friday night and we enjoyed a couple of hours with them before we all camped out on beds and couches for the night.   We enjoyed a leisure breakfast on Saturday.  I had prepared pork BBQ, cold slaw, baked beans, chips and salsa for lunch.   After an afternoon nap, we went to eat Saturday night at Chop House
Restaurant in Franklin, TN
It was my birthday so we had a good dinner out that night. 
Leigh Ann sent me a delivery of Shari’s Berries.   If you have ever had them, you know what a treat it is.  Big, juicy, ripe strawberries dipped in chocolate, decorated beautifully and some covered in nuts.   It was a wonderful birthday gift from my sweet daughter.  I should have taken a picture of this beautiful treat.

I got lovely cards from our kids in the Philippines.  Gigi designed a special card for me and it was a beautiful surprise.  They also sent me a beautiful on-line card. 
After Rick and Linda left on Monday to go back to Kentucky, I began cleaning and doing laundry.  The rest of the week we went to the Spring Hill Library each day and did our computer work.

We relocated to Bowling Green, Kentucky this week.   We are parked at Potter Children’s Home and enjoying a delightful stay here. 

We are coming into their office to work and use their internet each day.  We arrive at 8 a.m. for their morning devotional.   We are really enjoying the wonderful employees for this children’s home.   They do a wonderful work.  They also have a few expectant, single mothers living here.   They do not take government aid so they do not have the many restrictions that other orphanages now endure.   Some of their buildings are 100 years old when this was first a school and later became a children's home with many individual homes with house parents and children.

Last night, we went to a Mexican restaurant with two couple (elders at University Heights C of C).   Some of them work at Potter.   Ron gave a report to their congregation and just as he finished, someone with a smart phone announced that we needed to get to the basement.  A tornado was spotted about l/2 mile away.  We stayed downstairs until the warning was lifted.  Apparently, it never touched down but it was a direct threat for a while.

We met an American man and his Filipino wife last night at the congregation.  It was surprising that she is from Gigi’s hometown and the couple married in the city where Ronald and Gigi are now living.  They were so surprised.  It is a small world sometimes.   What were the odds of us meeting them and having this connection?
We will be here through Sunday and on Monday, we will relocate to some other city in Kentucky.  Ron is working on setting up appointments so I don’t know the plans for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Philippine Project

This is Ronald's brief statement of what he plans in the Philippines.  It will be dream come true for him and Gigi if we can get funding to building this facility for them. 

Philippine Orphanage Project


The vision:

To provide spiritual, physical, and mental health to orphan children as well as develop them to be successful contributors to society as a whole in a family atmosphere.

The leadership:

Ronald and Georgia Brown will be the main leadership in the proposed orphanage. Ronald brings many years experience in leadership roles in both foodservice & construction, as well as orphanages, has overseen 6 orphanages in China for almost 5 years. Georgia is a retired master teacher with 21 years teaching experience. Together they have the skills and experience to provide the proper care and nurture necessary to succeed in raising the children at the orphanage according to the vision.

The children:

Children will be accepted who are orphaned, abandoned, or are in serious dire circumstances.

Child Education:

The children’s education will not only be focused on biblical and school book knowledge but in global knowledge such as: self sustainability, etiquette, common courtesy, social skills, budgeting / money management, and practical life lessons. The God given talents of each child will be mentored and developed to help them achieve success. They will receive proper love and encouragement so they can develop a good self esteem and confidence.


Initial goal is to obtain adequate land area to begin development of the orphanage itself. Space to provide all the necessary elements such as housing, dining / kitchen, study / gathering area, recreation, and administration operations will be required. If additional space is available we will work toward as self sustaining a facility as possible raising food in the form of vegetables, animals, and fish. Long range goals, if space is adequate, would include a school on premises. The long range opportunities to assist the poor, less fortunate or desperate people of the Philippines are limitless.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

It's a Wild World Out There

One interesting thing about our stay at Red Boiling Spring, Tennessee, is the wildlife in our view of the countryside.   We are parked on the side of the church building and to our left about 100 feet away, the hillside goes straight up with rocks and crevices.   At the foot of the hill directly across from us is a bit of debris and in the middle is a fox hole. 

Working at my computer, I saw movement and looked out.  Two little brown animals were rolling and playing in the grass.  I called Ron and asked if it was puppies or cats.  He immediately said, “Its baby foxes.”   I have a two-minute video if anyone wants me to send it to you (write me at  

Each day since, we have watched for them to come out of their hole to play around in the grass, walk in front of the RV to the puddle of water accumulated from recent rains, and then back to roam and play in the woods and grass near our RV.   The mother fox comes out sometimes and lies in the grass but the little ones bite her tail and roll all over her.  She will eventually go up the hillside and they will follow reluctantly.  It seems they rather play than learn to hunt for food.  It’s this typical of kids of every species?

We also have a huge groundhog (just left to the center of this photo) that comes out once a day and eats grass in the same area where the foxes play.   He is more suspicious than the foxes and stops to listen and look around for danger.

The first day we were here, Ron went around the building to look for a garden hose and found all kinds of animals living under the building.  He found a cat living under there and someone told him they have also had a skunk under the building.  I don’t know if the cat and skunk are compatible roommates or not.  I was concerned when the cat came out and wandered around the fox’s den one afternoon.  I think she could become dinner for the family if the mother fox sees her. 
We have not seen deer but it’s probably because the woods are not deep enough in this city area.  We usually see them in the parks where we stay because there are extensive woods and the deer are already accustomed to campers and know they are safe.  There are many that do not even move when we see them along the roadside as we drive through the park.  They are such beautiful animals. 

Back to the beginning of our journey to this beautiful part of the great United States.   We completed our weekend at Oxford, Mississippi (the church in Oxford and my mother's home until she died in 1984). 

On Sunday after-noon we drove to Pontotoc, MS to visit a church there.   We did not have power that night as we parked in the church parking lot.  After services, we went to Wendy’s with one of the deacons and his wife and enjoyed our time with them.  The next morning, we drove to Tupelo, a short distance away, and got on the Natchez Trace Parkway which goes all the way to Nashville.    It was a beautiful drive without trailer trucks, traffic lights or road hazards.   The traffic was light because the speed limit is lower than most people want to drive.  Dogwood trees were plentiful in the woods and it was a beautiful and serene drive for about four hours.  I crocheted on my baby blanket and made sure Ron stayed awake by feeding him popcorn and nuts. 

We exited the Natchez Trace parkway at Columbia, TN and headed east to Red Boiling Springs.  

I had already mapped out the way I thought we should come but my GPS wanted to take us further east on I-40 and then north through Carthage, TN.   My map looked O.K. going that way but when we got off and headed north, the road got more winding every minute.  We have snake curves for miles and miles and sometimes it was almost breathtaking wondering if we could make the curves.  The Appalachian Mountains range extends in this area and we knew some other winding roads from experience but had not been on this one before.  When we reached the home of Jerry Cherry, he was just amazed that we came that way.  I told him our GPS was set for RV’s and it directed us that way.  He told me the GPS for trailer trucks direct them that way to and nearly every week they have to send a wrecker out to help them because they can‘t make some of those curves.  I guess we were just lucky to make it with a 40’ RV with a car pulling behind us.
We stayed at the Dale Hollow Park two days before coming to the church building due to the park filling up and having no space available that weekend.  Along the front of the building, there’s a small stream that turned into a small river this week with heavy rain.  
There is a walking trail all around the stream and there are two wooden covered bridges along the way. 

They are still passable with loose boards flopping up whenever cars go over them.   One is two lanes if you can be sure to straddle the boards properly.  The one is a one-lane bridge with the road going immediately up the hillside almost straight up.   Across from the building, we have a historic hotel that is probably more than 100 years old and they told us there are two more like it further down this same road.  

 This is the bigger of the covered bridges and the next picture is Red Boiling Springs Welcome Center!  

This is the motorcycle museum.  The church sign is on the other side of the trees. 

This is the historic hotel next to the antique motorcycle museum.   We were told that the red boiling springs from which this town gets its name are really wells that used to have boiling water pouring up out of the ground but a few years ago the government closed them off to the public because of potential danger.  No one is sure what danger was detected since they have been available to the public for more than 100 years. 

Our daughter, Leigh Ann, drove up from Woodstock, GA to spend a few days with us.  We’ll get out and explore some of this area over the weekend now that our weather has improved and storms have move out.    It was in the 40’s last night so we still have cool nights but the days are just about perfect.   The dogwood trees have dropped their pretty blooms and leaves are on the trees now but with the recent rain, everything is so green and beautiful. 
We are keeping busy in this area for four weeks because there are churches every five or 10 miles of each other.  There are close to 100 churches in this general area.   Everywhere we go, Ron finds someone he went to school with so when he told me that he believed Raccoon John Smith started some of the churches in this area, I asked him if he went to school with him.   He thought I was crazy not realizing how long ago that really was but it was really a joke about how old he is and how many people he knows that went to school with him.  He tells people that it was a 100 years ago so I told him it’s like he’s even related to Raccoon John Smith.

Last night, Leigh Ann and I drove 12 miles to Lafayette, TN to visit a church where Zoie, a little Chinese adopted girl lives with her parent.  Years ago, Ron gave a report at this congregation and Zoie (about 4 at the time) insisted that her parents get on Facebook and ask their friends to give $5 each so they could save a life of a child in China that has congenital heart disease.  She was so touched by what we do to help Chinese children she wanted them to have “Zoie’s Heart gift Campaign” since it was Valentine’s Day.   She raises several thousand dollars every year with her renewed plea.   She has a five-minute YouTube video and she said she has raised over $10,000 since she began this project.  They have just turned in the funds from the 2014 campaign with it totaling over $3,000.   Zoie was happy to see us last night because we understands that we do the work with the Chinese children but then in a few minutes she ran away to play with her friends.  She is a beautiful and very smart eight-year old.
We will be in Red Boiling Springs until May 15th when we relocate to Berry’s Chapel in Franklin, TN (south of Nashville). 

This has been our home for the past three weeks and it's been a very enjoyable stay.  We are going to miss the good people in this area. 

Please continue to remember us and our work in your prayers.  Thanks to all our followers, supporters, friends and family for all you do to keep in touch.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On the Road Again

We spent a few days with the Hampton Road Church of Christ in Texarkana as we left Lewisville.  I spoke to the ladies Bible class last Wednesday morning and got to meet some wonderful women.  We enjoyed seeing Dr. & Mrs. A. D. Smith again but did not know they had been involved in a very bad wreck and have had a long time recovering from their injuries.

We have had a wonderful weekend at Harding University to visit people at the College Church of Christ.   We have friends here and made many more on this trip.    We attended several classes, went out to eat at various places and had fun with Lolita and Ed Higginbotham, as well as others.  It will be a little sad to leave tomorrow.

The weather has been cold again.   We could not believe that after the heavy rain storms, the temperature dipped down to freezing again.  It is slowly warming up again.

We leave Searcy, AR on Thursday, April 17th and drive to Clear Creek Park on Sardis Lake near Oxford, MS (my hometown).  Ron will conduct a leadership workshop for Chinese students at Ole Miss Friday night and all day on Saturday.   I hope to see some of my nieces and nephews but their schedule will be tight this weekend as will ours.   It isn’t the same going back home now.  My mother died in 1983.  I’ve been back since then but never drove by her house again.  I want to remember it with her in it, not changed with others there now.  I’m sure it would not look the same after all these years as they have probably updated the house and yard.  Billy, my older brother passed away many years ago and Leon, my younger brother passed away three years ago this July.  I have no aunts or uncles left so my family is getting smaller. 

We will go to Red Boiling Springs, TN after we leave Oxford.   We will probably be in that area for a couple of weeks.  I hope it will be warm by the first of May while we are there.   Our health is good.  We are doing fine as we begin our journey back east to give our yearly report to those supporting our work in China. 

Everywhere we go, we meet people sponsoring some of the children and they often tell us they pray for us and the work.  We are very grateful for everyone’s interest in our work and for their love for us and the children we support.  With this crazy world we live in, we know there are many faithful, good people in the U.S. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Needed Break from the Traveling

We have been at Lake Park in Lewisville since March 8th.  We have enjoyed a break from the constant travels.  Being in one location longer than a week is truly a blessing.  With different life styles, blessings come in different packages.  Little conveniences mean so much.  Never underestimate having a warm place to sleep or a hot shower.  As we walked in the park yesterday on a cold, windy afternoon, we saw several tent campers.  They are not homeless people; they chose to come and pay to camp in tents.  It made me very thankful that I have a warm RV.   

I know I am much more sensitive to these things than most people. 

I am like the man that was robbed.  When the police came, he told them how blessed he was.  They said, “How can you feel so blessed?   Your house was broken into and you were robbed of many possessions.”  The man said he was blessed for many reasons.  He was not harmed.  They could have broken in and beaten him.  He could be lying in a hospital or the morgue.  He said everything that was stolen would be paid for by the insurance company and he was just glad he was not the person that did the robbing.  Otherwise, he would be facing a prison sentence.  So, you see, we can find blessings in things we do not even count as blessings if we will just look for the best side of everything.   Often tragedies and misfortunes set up back for a little while but make us stronger in the long run.   Our travels and work is not easy but I really try hard to find all the treasures in whatever happens. 
When we left China on December 14th, it was already cold and the little children’s hands were cold to the touch.  I kept a warm coat on all day as we visited the care centers.  You can see from this picture of Ron with Ronald and Gigi, that we were wearing coats. 
In the back of my mind I thought that these children would be cold every day and night until spring came.  I always dread the winter months for the children and poor people. 

 It’s too cold for them to take clothes off for a shower.  Even though there are solar panels at the care centers to warm the water, there is no heat in any of the buildings.  They sleep under warm comforters (in their clothes), get up and go to a cold school the next morning.  It is somewhat comforting to know that they have warm clothing and warm bedding, which is much more than they had when living in the countryside.  This is Gigi with some of the pretty girls. 
Here's our picture on our 56th anniversary.  I don't know why Ron's grey shirt looks this way but guess it was the lighting.  The shirt didn't have stripe!    We had a delightful dinner at Red Lobster with Nancy and Millard Smith, our good friends who live on a big ranch in Sanger, TX.  We parked our RV at their place during our last trip to China.   This past weekend, we enjoyed dinner with Cloyce and Teresa Titus, another couple at Lewisville. 
This past Saturday morning, we went to Sanger to the Smith’s house for Ron to help Millard with an electrical problem in connection with his carpentry shop.  They wanted to take us to a fish place for lunch.  Huck’s is famous in North Texas, serving Mississippi catfish.  Ron and I had no idea it was about an hour’s drive north, almost to the Oklahoma line.  We arrived there at 1:30 and there was a crowd waiting for a table.  After 30 minutes we were at a table but when we left the restaurant, there was still a crowd waiting to be seated.  That’s how famous this restaurant is and how good it is.  We arrived back at the Miller’s home and enjoyed coffee and a delicious apple cake that Nancy had made early that morning. 
Arriving back at the RV about 5:30 p.m., we found that we had an electrical problem with the RV.  Something appeared to be shorting out and the red warming light was coming on.  Ron spent the next few hours, checking the manual and everything he knew.   It appeared to be a faulty inverter switch (whatever that means).  I know nothing about electrical and mechanical stuff. 
We ended up just closing down everything electrical and going to bed Saturday night.  He turned it back on long enough to get ready for church Sunday morning, but there was still a problem.  The only thing he found as he tried to diagnose the problem was low water in batteries so he bought distilled water and filled them up.  It didn’t seem logical that this would cause the system to do this but he could not identify anything else.   We don’t know how people own these vehicles when they know much less than he knows about these things.   I guess they have to call someone for everything and pay the cost for repairs.
We still had a problem this Monday morning so we are sitting at this moment at an RV service place while they check the system out.   Ron may have found the problem with the batteries needing water.  We didn’t expect that to correct the problem but driving over here to the RV place recharged the batteries and it appears to be working perfectly right now.   We are happy that it isn’t a major problem so maybe it won’t cost us an arm and a leg!   It’s like going to the doctor and symptoms are better by the time you get there and you are told no surgery is needed. 
With an RV, no matter how perfect it may seem when we leave the last service place, there are always things going bad.   It’s like a car or anything else that is mechanical.  Even houses have electrical or plumbing problems so there’s no escape for very long until there are costly repairs to be done.
We have a busy week ahead of us.  Ron is preparing lessons for the second weekend in April at Harding University.  He is schedule to speak five times to different groups that weekend.  The next weekend (Easter weekend) he is conducting a leadership workshop for a Chinese group at the University of Mississippi (Oxford, MS, my hometown).  He is also working on that series of lessons and power point presentations.   He will be at Berry’s Chapel in Nashville, TN the middle of May for a special event.  We will continue to give an annual report to congregations along the way in Tennessee and Kentucky during the early summer months. 
Ron has completed our income tax returns and got them filed.  He also completes Ronald’s returns, even though he does not receive income in the U.S.  He told Ronald in an email that he had completed it but unfortunately he was going to have to pay this year because of Michelle Obama’s $12,000 dress and her trip to China.  He told Ronald he could meet her in China if he wanted to.  There was NO REPLY to Ron’s emails.  I expected Ronald to write me asking, “Has Dad completely lost his mind?” 
Ronald’s health has improved greatly but he’s been house-bound for almost two months.  By the time they changed his blood pressure medication and his feet and legs stopped swelling, he sprained his ankle.   Gigi’s father died so the past month has been very hard for all of her family. 
Ronald made a trip to another island to check with a local preacher of the church that has land to build a church building in hopes there might be enough space for an orphanage as well.  His lot is in a triangle so it’s not feasible for both buildings.   Ronald did not feel that he could work with the preacher to combine the two efforts.  He felt the preacher was a little overbearing and we know the church that supports him from the U.S. is also a very liberal congregation.  So, Ronald continues to search for the right place to build an orphanage as we continue to pursue funding for the project.
Here is the small house Ronald and Gigi rented. 
They have a garden growing well.  I think Gigi has been diligent to weed and water it due to Ronald’s limitations to get out with his swollen ankle and foot.   We continue to seek funding for them to build an orphanage in the Philippines.  They will do a great job there helping a lot of the little children without families and home due to the typhoon that occurred about six months (or less) ago.  There are more orphans now it the Philippines than there are in China, according to reports.

Judy Yang, one of the Chinese girls that worked with us in Georgia, will arrive March 30th to spend five days with us.  We are very excited about her visit for several reasons.  She wants to come back to work with us in the U.S. and the elders have approved her re-employment.  She and Ron will spend several days working on the paperwork to re-apply for the R1 VISA so she can work for us again. 
Judy did our bookkeeping for several years and did a great job.  The Chinese girl that now coordinates the children coming for surgeries in the U.S. tried to do the bookkeeping but she does not understand accounting procedures enough to do it well.  Ron has tried two different CPA’s and they struggle with our books because of the Chinese on the expense slips and reports coming to back up the funds transferred to China for the care centers.  We just have to employ a Chinese person to do it correctly so Judy will assume that job again when she returns.   She will live in Lewisville and be a member of the Lewisville C of C.  We look forward to working with her again. 
We have been busy transferring the incorporation of our 501 © 3 non-profit corporation from Tennessee (where it was first formed) to Texas.  Ron and I worked on the Bylaws and incorporation papers one day last week.  It’s in the hands of an attorney now for review.  With it being a Texas corporation, we will not undergo an audit every year which will be a great blessing to our work. 
Being with members at Lewisville and getting to sit in wonderful Bible classes has been very uplifting to Ron and me.  We will enjoy a few more times with everyone before we head east.  People encourage us everywhere we go and it’s truly a blessing to be with God’s people and get to know so many wonderful Christians. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Traveling in South Texas

This one should have come before the last one.  I wrote it but didn't have enough internet to post it and add pictures.  

This is about the traveling in January (January 4th – February 4th).  During the week days, we are on our computers all day (Ron is also on his for several more hours every night).  I have completed about 300 tax letters for sponsors’ donations in 2013 in addition to answering emails and helping with some reports on the orphans.   We never have any real “free” time.

We have been moving a lot since we headed south from Boles Children’s Home on January 4th.  We were in the Houston area for a couple of weeks visiting churches and individual supporters in that area.  We went to churches:   Westbury (both English and Chinese services), Champions, Tom Ball, Memorial Road, Jersey Village and Stafford.   We parked in the back of the church at Stafford.  They were so gracious and helpful, leaving a back door open for us to use the facilities in the building.  Since our power amps were limited, one morning I took my coffee pot inside the building to the kitchen and plugged it in.  I was wandering around in the fellowship hall and saw a car out the window (looking through the blinds).  I thought the secretary or someone had pulled in to come in the front door.  I had not combed my hair so I quickly ran my fingers through my hair trying to make it look decent.  I thought it was taking too long for someone to come in so I peeked out the blinds more carefully and realized it was OUR car parked there.  Oh the joys of being senile!
It was great to visit in the home of David Fang and his wife in Houston.  David is now the minister for the Chinese congregation at Westbury C of C.  David used to work for us in China before he came to Bear Valley to attend their school of preaching.  David’s sweet wife prepared a very delicious Chinese dinner for us.  He has a precious little daughter and son and they are adjusting O.K. to life in Texas.   We also had a good meal with the Chinese congregation at Westbury the day Ron gave them a report on the work.  It was good to meet some of their members. 

We also got to see Mary and David George at Tomball.  We knew them in the congregation in Montreal, Quebec but had not seen them for 20 or more years.  It was great to have lunch with them and catch up on their lives and their daughters’ lives now.   We also enjoyed a great time with Carole Booker, our Westbury teacher that goes to China almost every summer to help with our work.  This past summer, she went to the hospital in Wadian and began setting up the pharmacy.  We had dinner one night before Wednesday night service with Woodie Williamson who has generously supported our work for many years.

I am reluctant to mention all of the people we meet along the way for fear I will leave someone out.  We love meeting friends and supporters so much.  Being on the road all the time, we soak up these friendships and enjoy a little social life with wonderful people such as these. 

We spent about three days parked in the driveway of the churches in Alvin and Angleton.  Both congregations received us with wonderful hospitality and we enjoyed getting to know more people at Alvin this year.  We had never been to Angleton before but it turned out to be a joyful visit.  We made good friends with the minister and his wife (he’s also one of the elders).  They had us for dinner one night.  I attended the ladies’ Bible class one morning and went out to lunch with the ladies and enjoyed it so much.

When  we left Angleton, we drove to Bay City and parked in the minister’s driveway.  Each year we go to Bay City, we really enjoy our time with Larry and Mary Ann Macomber.   They are so much fun to be with.  We enjoyed a good dinner at their house and again with them and another couple after the service on Sunday.  Mary Ann is an animal lover so it’s like being at a petting zoo.  They have three dogs, three cats and two ducks.   It was interesting to see all of the animals interact with each other.  We left their home that Sunday afternoon and drove to Port Lavaca.

It was our first visit to Port Lavaca.  There are always fewer people at the Sunday night service but the ones we met were so friendly and welcoming.   We stayed in their parking lot overnight.  
The next morning, we left to drive on to Port Aransas.  We arrived about noon but coming through Aransas Pass, the small town before we cross the ferry to the island, we were driving down a narrow street and a tree limb hit the RV on the passenger side.   It is difficult to judge the distance of tree limbs and the top of the RV.  Neither Ron nor I saw this limb.  He thinks it must have been a huge limb that had been cut and leaves had grown over it to make it less visible.  We said we were going to drive back by and see it again to understand why we did not see it.   It caused a big thud so I knew there was damage to the RV.  Almost immediately we saw the canopy dangling on the right side of the RV. 

Ron was in the right lane so he turned at the next stop and pulled over into a large paved area.  The limb had damaged the housing on the canopy and made it fall.  A drunk man (homeless man we found out later when he came back by the second time) stopped to help but Ron told him we really didn’t need his help.  He walked on off.   I tried to help Ron hold the canopy so he could pull it back up and tie it down but it was too heavy for me and I could not reach high enough.  I was too afraid to get up on a ladder and try it. 
Very soon a man stopped to help.  He said he lived on the island and was retired. He called his wife and told her he would be there helping us for a while.  He owned an RV like ours and knew what to do to help.  He went back home and got a saw to cut the bar that was bent so badly it would not let the arm go back up so the canopy could be pulled back up and tied down.  He got on a ladder to push it up while Ron got on top with a rope and tied it off.  
Of course, he would not let us pay him for his help.   He said he would appreciate anyone stopping to help him when he has trouble so he was more than happy to help us. 
We were able to drive on to the Tropical Island RV Park on Port Aransas.  The Geico adjuster came yesterday.  We will get it repaired at Iron Horse RV Repair Service in San Antonio when we get there.   Our deductible is $1,000 so that tree limb was expensive!  It will cost over $4,000 to get it repaired.  Ron will go up on top and secure it even more for the drive to San Antonio to be sure it stays until we  get there. 

Usually, this Tropical Island Park is full of campers but there are lots of empty spaces this year.  Yes, it’s been a cold winter all the way to the Gulf but I don’t know where else they could go for the winter.  The Rio Grande Valley is a little further south but these cold fronts have reached the entire distance to Mexico this year.   The weather has been raw this entire month.   It’s been very windy and cold.  Even when the sun is out (which isn’t but a day or two every week), the wind will cut you into.   Our RV is rocking today from the strong wind.  Sometimes at night we have to pull one of the sliders in to cut down the noise so we can sleep.  There’s a little canvas strip over the top of each slider and the wind whips it and makes a lot of noise.   People in the Corpus Christi area tell us it’s been the coldest winter they can ever remember.   No one is out walking or enjoying the island.  I heard the weather man say today that the entire nation is as cold as two ex-wives.
Our daughter, Leigh Ann, attended a Charity Fair at Jackson Healthcare on the day of the snow storm in Atlanta.  She got caught in the traffic going 9 miles back home.  After eight hours of sitting in traffic jams, she was still not close to home.  She phoned her neighbor and they told her of friends along the way that she could stay with.  She ended up staying with a family she did not know overnight and until noon the next day.  She was very grateful for good people (a doctor and his family) that took her in.  Many spent the entire night in their cars.  It was a horrible situation for many people in Atlanta that night.

After we complete our visits to churches in Rockport, Ingleside, Corpus Christi, Portland, Weber Road and Alice, we will go to San Antonio.   We will leave here on Sunday afternoon, February 16th.   We will not drive on down into the Rio Grande Valley as we usually do because of more pressing appointments in middle Texas cities. 

We spent some time with Gerald and Phyllis Lee is Portland.  What a joy it is to be with them.  They treated us to dinner out twice and had us come to their house one cold Saturday afternoon.  Phyllis cooked a delicious salmon lunch for us and we made fudge later that afternoon.  They took us for a drive around their neighborhood.  Their house is on the waterfront.  Gerald built the house and it's very lovely with a view of the water.   I wish I had taken pictures but it was a very grey day.  They own Century 21 in Portland and are still oversee that thriving business. 

We enjoy seeing the many oil refineries along the way.  They stretch on for miles and miles.  At night, they light up like Christmas lights and are beautiful for a long distance.  This one is Citgo, owned by Venezuela.   As we drive, we see beautiful sunsets and interesting plants and landscapes that are unique to southern Texas.

We had a delightful Sunday with Jamie and Mickey (also David and Charlene) at Bent Tree in Rockport.  They prepared a wonderful lunch for us.  We also had dinner with Ann and Gary (minister and his wife at Ingleside) on Monday night.   After a couple of years’ visit, we are developing some wonderful friendships as we travel which brings a lot of joy to our personal lives.

When we return to the Lewisville area Ron will work out of there to visit some of the congregations not too far away.  We have many churches we still need to visit in TX.   Ron said yesterday:  “Texas is a big state!”   Well, duh!   Everything out here is bigger!   We have not been out to the Abilene area in years and there are so many churches we could contact in Midland, Odessa and other cities west of Dallas.  The potential for informing churches and getting others involved in the work in China is endless.  While Ron continues to add some churches in TX and Oklahoma, Mike Gifford who is our newly hired CEO, will be calling on churches in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida that have never been contacted. 

Many missionaries have left foreign works due to lack of support.  With the economy, churches are very careful to evaluate each mission work.  Some have lost their missionaries and are actually looking for other good works to support.  We don’t ask for support but Ron gives a report and many of the elders and members ask what we need and how they can help. 
The hospital in Wadian, China, is nearing completion to open its doors to the public.  When we visited the hospital in December, it was obvious from meeting the land developer, the official from the health department and other government officials that it would be virtually impossible for us (Americans) to get a license to operate the hospital.    We were told from the beginning that it would not be a problem but it turned out to be a huge problem.   After a lot of negotiation, Julia Ng, our new worker who lives in Hong Kong, has worked out a contract for Dr. Joshua and Tony, another Christian man (minister in Shanghai) to operate the hospital and get the license.   Tony’s wife, who just retired from a large firm in Shanghai, will be the administrator of the hospital.  Dr. Joshua will be the chief surgeon and physician.  They will hire whatever additional staff is required by the Department of Health.  The contract (approved by our attorney in Beijing) states that they will treat all the poor children in the area (and any from our orphanages that we can send there) free of charge.  They will also give free medical care to expectant mothers and deliver their babies.  They can do cleft palate/cleft lip surgeries at this hospital but will not have the expensive equipment for heart surgeries.  Heart patients will be referred to us for surgeries in the U.S. or other hospitals in China. 

The land developer was very pleased with this contractual agreement.  He and Dr. Joshua grew up together.  He gave the land for the hospital site so he had a big say in what we do there.  He is building a town from a village.  He hopes to have a 30,000 town in a few years.  Condos and high rise apartment buildings are going up everywhere.  He agreed to give us two of the condos to use for an orphanage.  We looked at one unit almost completed while we were there in December.  We will be able to put a door (or maybe one on each floor) between the units to house about 50 children with one set of house parents.  These units are three floors with three bedrooms on the top two floors.  The master bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath are on the first floor.  In the second unit, I can visualize the large master bedroom to be used for a lot of children in bulk beds.  We may have to add an additional bath to accommodate 50 children.   Mr. Zhu’s wife will stay there as the house parent until we are able to find a couple.   Mr. Zhu has already identified about 35 orphans that can move into the Wadian units as soon as they are ready for occupancy.  The churches in the Red Boiling Springs, TN area may be combining efforts to support all of these children.  Jerry Cherry, one of our sponsors is looking into that possibility.  
Mr. Zhu will relocate to be the director of Wesley’s House in Pingguo.  John Xue has resigned his job there and will be leaving soon.  Mr. Zhu will meet with government officials in Pingguo to see if we can use the rest of the old school building for orphans.  We have a portion of the building already and now that the new school is completed, a large portion of the building is empty.  There was a fight between the Department of Education and the local police because they want to use part of the building for a police station.  That would not be good on our campus with cars coming in and out all the time so we are hoping the Education Department will win the fight and give us the rest of the building.  We will remodel the rest of the building and add restrooms and enlarge our occupancy in this location to over 200 children.   We will consider this as the new location to replace the North Canton Christian Care Center that we closed last year. 

With Julia Ng taking over the oversight of the care centers and the hospital, our son, Ronald, has now moved to the Philippines.  He and Gigi have rented a small house for the time being.  They are visiting two other islands to meet missionaries that have land available for orphanages.  They will check into the requirements to obtain a license.  They hope to find a location to build an orphanage in the near future.   Ronald had a bout with pneumonia the last two weeks he was in China but he’s overcome the illness and is feeling well now.  We are so grateful for his recovery and for those that assisted him in China to get treatment for him. 
It is Chinese New Year in China so the children are visiting relatives for their winter vacation.  The spring semester will begin by the first of March and all will be returning for another session of study.  We are always thankful when the children come back safely to the care centers.  There are always a number of firework injuries each year in China during the Spring Festival. 

Please keep Ron and me in your prayers for safe travels and good health.  Also, remember our work, the children and workers.  Thanks to so many of you who encourage us and help us in so many ways.