Tuesday, September 28, 2010

S*f*t*R... A reflective night

The camper is nearly as trashed as it has ever been after 5 full weeks on the road, but tonight is the eve of the last day of travel (at least a long stint of it!)...and I really don't care! We are in PA parked near a church that Dan is preaching in tomorrow night, and I am loving this cool weather! Hard to believe just yesterday we were sweating to death as we left St Pete!
We are ecxited at what the Lord has allowed us to do. Serving God has got to be the most exhausting and the MoSt rewarding way to live! We look back to the beginning of this journey, and marvel that the God of creation is actually giving us this privilege. Wow! Truly it is a gift. We have been stretched and encouraged so much!
Tonight...I am just going to focus on Jesus. And be very thankful for all of this!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

S*f*t*R... Pitstop!

We are heading North! ...well not at this exact moment... right now we find ourselves in Brunswick,GA.

A quick stop for gas and a check of the fluid levels revealed a greater need for an oil change than originally thought. Pennzoil to the rescue! Not a problem at all when one has a laptop and wifi! Any detour or unplanned stop is always salved with these two key elements! The only thing that would have made this perfect... DD or Timmies or *Bucks nearby!

Better yet to be close enough to go to Cafe Macchiato! Can't wait!

Friday, September 24, 2010

S*f*t*R... OHBC in pictures...

I have decided I need to travel with a photographer... any volunteers?? And a vocalist would be nice too, but I can take it one at a time! All of these were pirated from one of the kid's from the church OHBC facebook pages! Terrible I know, but one must do what one has to do! I have a camera, and it never leaves the little case it is in. I just dont think about it! 

 This is the cake that Rhonda made. So well done and yummy! It was nice of her to put our name in the front so I could show it off on the blog! Thanks Sweetie! The globe was a massive rice krispy treat that she painstakingly painted... just for everyone to devour! Cake makers must resolve themselves to the fact that their hours of work will be but a memory on our taste buds and in our blog pictures!
 This is part of the teen bunch. A couple are from the church, and others are MK's that were there for the conference. The only other male competition our boys had (from the missionary families) were 8 and under... so it was a no brainer! They always make a bit of a stir in the teen department. I think it is because they wear nice clothes... but that is just a guess...!
Here they are eating at their now favorite restaurant- Fuddruckers. The pastor of OHBC introduced our family to this place when we met him in February. It has been their goal to return as much as possible ever since. I don't quite understand their affection for the place. It could be the massive burgers... or perhaps the decadent condiment options... whatever it is they love it. 
We always know the kids have connected well when by the second service they are plunked into the middle of the kids from the church. By the third service, Dan and I were sitting by ourselves as Savannah also found some friends to be with. Wonderful thing to have our children enjoy this with us! 
 This is (in order) James DeKoker (youth pastor), Jeff Bartell(guest preacher and pastor of First Baptist Church in New Philadelphia)) and Joe McKaig (Sr Pastor of OHBC) What an amazing series of messages out of Luke 5! They recorded it and have already uploaded it. You will do yourself a favor and go to the site and listen to the "give and go missions conference" Parts 1-3. Wonderful!
This is the Cowart family with (most of) us. They bravely hosted the kids of the missionaries the first night when we went to that lovely dinner at Grand Oaks, and whether they regretted it or not they never said, but the kids had a great time!

All in all it was a wonderful few days! We are so excited to have people like this partnering with us in our Mission: Zambia!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

S*f*t*R... Up in Lights!

Now that is pretty cool! They even spelled it right! So excited to be in Jacksonville FL again!

We are leaving Cartersville,GA after a wonderful missions conference! " Give and Go" was the theme, and we were thoroughly blessed by their love and generosity.
The church gave us lanyards with our name on them- kind of like "official staff" - and I love it so much it will now be my key lanyard. Certain to be a daily reminder of all the wonderful people at OHBC... but even more a vivid reminder of my purpose here in this life.
Thank you to all who made our visit so wonderful!

*Knowing*Loving*Proclaiming *Jesus Christ!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

S*f*t*R... OHBC & Grand Oaks

We are at Oakland Baptist in Cartersville, GA, and thoroughly being treated like royalty. These are pictures from an evening we spent at Grand Oaks, a gorgeously restored/renovated mid-1800's home owned by Ray Thacker. He hosts wedding receptions, anniversary parties, Christmas luncheons and a whole host of other events in this home. He does not own a cell phone, computer, or even connect to cable TV, but through word of mouth is quite booked up! I was told even his phone is a rotary dial, but did not see it to personally confirm! Either way, Ray is a charmingly perfect host, and put on quite a delicious meal for us! There are dozens of rooms that are furnished in all sorts of periods, themes, and genres. Quite a visual feast! This is the front entrance of the home, and the beautiful columns are a story in and of themselves!
They are drainage pipes! He fitted them around the original square posts, and then topped them with capitals out of styrofoam that he hand carved and then painted! I loved the finished look. I am all about columns, and will make every effort to have them in Zambia... even if I have to make them out of mud myself! :)
Before his hosting days, Ray was a hair stylist for Rosalyn Carter! There are signed pictures from both she and Jimmy, as well as several other famous people along one portion of a hallway.
My favorite place in the home was this beautiful cove. The original stained glass windows were absolutely stunning- as is not even closely captured here by my cell phone camera! This was a place of old books, busts of presidents and military generals, as well as brass and bronze statues of various military moments. In this area there was a massive leather bible with a metal closure from the 1800's that Dan was able to open and look at the pages so brittle and aged. Amazing!
Here is a back hallway that led to a restroom. There were plates of every sort and kind on nearly every wall. I have not one whit of knowledge about things old and valuable, but I am sure many of these things are both!
Crazy me didn't even think to bring my regular camera. Many of the treasures in this home were so detailed and intricate I knew not to even bother trying. He has vases 5 feet tall and 2 feet around from Russia from the early 1800's. There were other matching vases on pillars that stood well over 9 feet in all, that the top portion spun perfectly balanced, almost like a ballet dancer in a music box. Such massive structures, yet so delicately made.
This is the porch area where we ate our meal. Huge windows all around, and old antique sideboard cupboards somehow fit just perfectly with the round tables and folding chairs! It was a wonderful evening and a perfect setting to meet a few of the people from this church.
The outdoors was just as splendid. Statues, gazing balls, archways, metal sculpture all mixed with flowers and greenery of all kinds to make a bit of an etherial wonderland. I once again apologize for not thinking to bring my camera. Perhaps we will stop back tomorrow, and I can be better prepared! Less than 24 hours, and we have already fell in love with these people. Sweet, welcoming, encouraging, and full of hospitality! We are blessed!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

S*f*t*R... Home Improvements!

If we lived in a less mobile home (which we usually do so I am just a little more familiar with those issues as opposed to these) I know there are issues that regularly come up, small things that require repair and attention etc. So that our "home" is now a 1 ton truck and a 30 ft camper I should expect there to be some maintenance! 

Well, there is a tell tale sign when one has a problem with the... umm... potty pooper loo tank! We have had a rather malodorous wafting coming in more "regular" (ha ha!) frequency, and since we are in the south where the temperatures are still reaching the mid 90's nearly every day, the effect is rather pungent to say the least! We are in GA, and the family we are staying with has quite the supply of tools, so now is as good a time as any to investigate! 
Dan and the guys dropped the tank, and discovered a crack on the shaft that leads to the outlet valve. Basically anytime there was anything in the tank, it would find it's escape with any bump in the road. Little by little... but let me tell you it doesn't take much! While Dan was going to Camper World (we love them ... and they love us too!) there was a significant increase in the minor squeaking of the rear right wheel, and (Surprise Surprise!) the "check engine" light came on...!! Well the light is due to an exhaust issue... emission problems seem to be the choice of the day!! (sorry) So on to the wheel issue... 
 Off with the 8 outer bolts, then on to the 8 inner bolts, some grease pouring out, and voila!
Well, not quite, but they did discover some issues, and Lord willing will have them put back together in short enough time. It is currently 2:00 and we are supposed to leave at 5, so I guess that is the window of opportunity! We thought these were the problem... 
And Todd made a call to a "friend in the business" ... we love those kinds of friends!... and he said they were for our parking breaks, so not as critical as we (HA!! Like I know anything!  "they") thought. I guess those pad thingys are supposed to be the same thickness or something. And I guess it is not good to have oil pouring out of the hole in the hub, and metal shavings are a bad thing too. 

Whatever! Just please get it together by 5:00! We are supposed to meet all the people for dinner! I can update you tomorrow on the progress! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

OOOHh! I should have thought about that salt water on my legs...But the view of the Atlantic Ocean is gorgeous!

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

S*f*t*R... Camper Schooling!

There all kinds of learning curves to this nomadic life called deputation... schooling four kids in grades 11,9,7 and 3 is certainly one of the biggest! I wish we had a PODS that we could pull out of somewhere and set up where every where go! Space is definitely one of the challenges to be sure! 
 Since we have to use all the sleeping areas at night (Savannah gets the table bed, Micah gets the sofa bed), every morning it is a renovation project to get the "sleeping" space into "schooling" space. The guys need the DVD player for math (both are doing a chalkdust program) so they prefer the table.  We are primarily focusing on Math and English while on the road for so many reasons!

We are experiencing geography as opposed to reading about, and formal science will come when we are stationary for a while! Although we are conducting labs while on the road. You would not believe what grows on the surface of a camper floor! And the creatures that take up residence with us, while not terribly threatening, are certainly unlike our upstate household companions. Did you know there are really BiG spiders in the south? And scorpions, and lizards? Yup... Science at it's best!

I also have with me a complete folder of "BarCharts". Literally everything a child would need to know by graduation on so many subjects is available from this source. I have American History, Basic math, Pre Algebra and Algebra, Geometry, English Grammar and Punctuation, US Government, and Anatomy. I could have left all of the books at home and just traveled with this folder. Great resource information!
Even when we are home, the kids do not prefer a traditional school setting. As a "good-behavior" privilege, I used to let them do math on the trampoline outside! Mic is the most "creative"- which may explain his horrible challenged handwriting. We have a table he can use, but as you can see he prefers the couch! Savannah is the late riser, and is barely starting breakfast by the time the guys have (usually!) finished English.

I am sure there are many pro's to this as well. When I think of them I will post it... I am just a little hard pressed to come up with any.

Well, to be fair I can think of one. My house in Spencerport is staying ReaLLy Clean right now!!

Yep, I am always the optimist!!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

S*f*t*R... Florida!

I would know we were in Florida even without the "Welcome" sign! Palm trees, Spanish moss, Southern Pines and Winn Dixie!

We will be in this beautiful state until Saturday. Not usual for us to be enjoying sunshine and tropical breezes in mid-September! We will manage somehow!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stories from the Road- Leaving SC Part II

This was the final day together... always a good time for pictures. Mrs Lorie gave Savannah a perfect likeness of her dog, Prince. (aka scooter, or PBP... I cannot write what exactly that means for fear of retaliation by someone. I am just saying...) Savannah has not been seen without it since. 

This is Josiah with Jake... they are both a little crazy. I will have to try to locate video the boys took of the dog literally doing flips several feet into the air to catch a pile of dead leaves. You read correctly. The dog goes ballistic for leaves. The more the better. He also likes sticks, branches, rocks, pine cones, and an occasional water bottle completely wrapped in duck tape to form a ball. Don't ask.
Micah, true to his "gecko whisperer" ways is once again in his glee. This is not a dead little creature. He trained it to "play dead" on his palm. Well maybe not trained it, but it did do this several times! It may have something to do with being in shock or fright, I am not sure. But they played for a good long while, and the little guy still had his tail when all was said and done, so it cannot have ever felt too threatened, right?? The camera didn't quite catch all of the detail.. but you can see he is on his back, sure enough! 
Here is the whole gang, from left to right. 
Levi, Summere', Monica, Micah, Amanda, Grandma Betty, Savannah, Jake, Josiah and Tyler. 
There were actually 5 dogs altogether. They certainly made for an even more adventurous time, like 8 children is not insanity enough!!

Stories from the Road- Leaving SC

We have spent the last week in South Carolina at Prayer Baptist Church. It was a bit of ground breaking for us, as we have had no connections in this area, but we have certainly got good reason to return now. Pastor Jimmy Anthony had a week long revival, With Dr John Parker as the guest preacher. It was a great week with some good preaching and great fellowship. Our connection here was through Savannah Baptist Temple (SBT), and the Andary family. 

We stayed on their property (which is the creek place that we nearly burned down, remember??) and it was great that they could come for the long weekend and be with us for the past few days. Our kids had a great budding friendship from our time at SBT this past February, which continued to blossom through texting and FB. These past few days has solidified the fact that we are officially adopting them all into our immediate family.
The Andary's house joins property to Lorie's mom, Mama Tucker, or Miss Betty. She is possibly one of the most youthful women I know. Up every day at 4:30 am to be at her full time job at Wal Mart deli by six, home by 2:30, and then on to a full evening that I was having a hard time keeping up with. She had Wednesday off, and she took us to a flea market. We walked through several acres of booths, tables, and various re-sellers of all kinds of goods and sundry, all the while loading up our arms with the treasures of our hunt. She led the pace and a speedy clip! 
She is a beautiful, godly woman inside and out, and I truly have found a home within hers. Precious only begins to describe her. When our kids heard we would be staying by an older "Grandmother", they were a little worried that we would have to be in bed by 8, and be subject to long rants of tales from when she was a child... the same two over and over. Well let me tell you, it was about three hours into our visit and they officially voted her "So-o cool!" I wholeheartedly agreed! 
She gave us a gift to take with us on the road and it is such a perfectly appropriate token for us to carry from her as well. This beautiful quilt set will travel with us through these next several months (I refuse to say years!!) of deputation, and it will be a continual reminder of her. Warm, beautiful, timeless. 
I know I look jaundiced... I should have gotten us all in the sun! 

Norris, SC is another bright spot in our travels to be sure, but also a bit of bitter-sweet. We have truly fallen in love with these people, and have to be settled in the knowledge that we will spend very little time with them in respect to the scope of days. We will remain ever connected in our hearts, and I am sure we will burn up a few internet connections, but we will really have to wait until the Lord calls us home to be "together" never to part again! This world is not our home, we are just a passin' through... but it is so cool to meet some of our heavenly neighbors now! 


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stories from the Road... Cows will chew the Kudzu

As we drove through North Carolina and then into South Carolina, we couldn't help but notice this plant along the sides of the road. Kudzu is it's name.  it is this incredible, climbing vine that will literally cover anything in its path.  The effect is quite pretty, if not a little weird at the same time. 

The above photo is taken from this site where I got the low down on this plant. I also looked here to see exactly what eats this very prolific foliage. These pictures are ones I took tonight on the way home from church, and believe me I had plenty of photo locations to choose from! 
It literally grows up, over, on, or through anything. The joke is it will grow into your windows at night if you don't shut them. Believe me, they don't even open them to begin with... it is hot all the time and the AC units are running full tilt! 
It makes everything in it's path kind of Dr Seuss-ish. Everything becomes a shape of something. Sometimes I think it looks like a giraffe, other times an elephant. Dinosaurs are a common look as well. In general though, the land just looks like gentle mounds of flowing green leaves. Almost like liquid plants covering anything in it's path. It literally leaves it's supporting plant completely covered, never to see the sun again. And yes, that also means dead. Boy, that could be a spiritual application to sin, but I am a little tired and will let you work up that devotional for yourself. 
 This is where I thought it looked the coolest. It is used as an erosion preventer, for good reason! It literally grows while you watch it! The tendril vines seem to be ever searching for the next inch it can reach. The red SC dirt is, seemingly, perfect soil for this plant. The entire bank of the train tracks are covered as far as you can see. They have become a living green carpet of broad leaves along the miles and miles of track.

Thankfully there is something to stop it. But I don't recommend letting cows and angora goats run loose to graze along the tracks.


Stories from the Road-Within Minutes...

I apologize for the horrible quality- and really even attempting to get this with my phone was perilous, I tell you! I was leaning out over the river prevented from plunging 15 feet by only a tri-clustered clump of trees. 

But I got the video! 

We are staying in South Carolina this week, and within 30 minutes of pulling onto the property all four children were plunged into the river at the base of a fairly steep hill to investigate. We had called Bob, the owner of the property, who said there was nothing to fear in the water. Right, if water moccasins are what you call friendly! But he said just make alot of noise, and they wont bother you. Great! 

So armed with yelling and screaming, they bounded into the water. It is really a gorgeous running stream with rocks that form small falls, and sandy portions that scrub the bottoms of your feet as you walk. Dan and I joined them for a trek the next day, and it provided for some great cardio! Levi decided to go under water and propel himself- only to be stopped with a jarring crack on the head from a large rock! I missed getting the picture of the goose egg on his head! Perhaps he will do it again... NOT! 

Dan brought our camp chairs right down into the river and we settled them on some flat-ish rocks right in the stream, where I proceeded to take a little nap. It was so relaxing and cool with my feet in the running water, while the sun baked the rest of me! Wonderful! 


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stories from the Road- Leaving NC

This is the Harvey's house - a beautiful 4 level house built by Sheryl's parents who retired here after 40+ years on the Asian mission field. They wrote a book "He goes before them... Even into Prison" to tell their testimony of the Lord's faithfulness while they were held by the Japanese as prisoners of war in China during WWII . I got a copy of it from them, and have enjoyed the reading very much. True modern day heroes of the faith! 

We left early in the morning from NC, and the field across the street was filled with these beautiful horses. There was an old bag of baby carrots in the fridge perfect for the occasion! 

After a brief lesson on proper horse feeding technique by Mr Harvey, Savannah and Micah tried their hand. They are such city folk when it comes to farm animals! Better than me, but still a bit challenged! 
 Savannah was barely awake as we just got her out of bed for the trip to SC, but the prospect of feeding one of these beautiful creatures revived her quite well.
The sun streaming through the trees was already quite hot, and the horses faces were beaded with sweat. These cold carrots were such a treat for them. They quickly began to congregate at the fence for one! 
It was a great final morning of our time in NC. What a blessing to be able to reconnect with so many friends from our home church. We were always saddened as people moved away over the years, but now we are so thankful as we feel like we have "family" in just about every state we have traveled in!