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.



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