Saturday, April 29, 2006

The hustle & bustle of home (April 24 – 28)

I had intended to wrap up this record of our journey with this posting but (due to my OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) it think it would be “tidier” to end it on April 30 - so I will do one more post after this one with a summary of “lessons learned” on this road trip.

I’m also considering starting a new blog for the “day to day” of our mission to reinvent ourselves as we move into our 3rd year of retirement.

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie around 5 p.m. on Monday. – after 62 days and over 4200 miles (7000 km) on the road. It was time to stop travelling because when we started we were paying $2.32 or so per US gallon (which we thought was pretty bad compared to last year). On Monday we saw several places where it was over$3.00 (although the most we paid was $2.92)—That’s a big ouch when you are using a gallon every 6 to 8 miles.

It got cooler as the day went on and it was around 50F ( (10C) for the last couple of hours. It was cool enough that I considered stopping and turning on the heat (another story but the heater control wasn’t working and I had to jury rig some that requires me to get under the hood to adjust the heat). Anyhow – we had dressed warmer and managed to persevere.

The other shock to our system was seeing some traces of snow in the ditches and bush along the road in upper Michigan about 30 miles from the Sault. However, once we were in the city there was no sign of snow but it did freeze overnight every night until Friday. In my first post in March I showed the BBB in our snow covered driveway before we left -- this is how it looked when we parked it when we arrived home

Curiously, people told us we must have dragged the cool air with us from the south because it had been in 70’s (20’s) the prior week. Usually it is the other way – when we go south and it is cold - we are accused of bringing it with us from Canada. Actually, I know we don’t have any control over the weather so I don’t pay much attention to these “complaints”

Since arriving home I have experienced a curious mixture of being overwhelmed with all the details of trying to get settled back in to our routine at home and fighting against the “let down” of having completed this journey.

On the “getting settled in” side –

Monday evening we called my Dad, Linda’s mom, my brother Rob, our kids and sent out some emails’ to let everyone know we had arrived safely.

Our son Kevin had completed his ethics exam as part of the Ph.D program in Neuropsych on Monday. Tuesday we found out that he had passed but was required to complete a paper to get a satisfactory mark on the record. Kevin is at the stage of needing to get his dissertation research proposal ready and they have had a lot of sickness and other circumstances that have kept him from spending as much time on that as he wanted to. Hopefully, this can get turned around in the next couple of months. At the same time they had taken our grandson Will (age 2) to the dentist for the first time. The good news was that Will handled this with ease and was the “star of the show” at the dentist office. The bad news was that they discovered that a tooth he had chipped about a year ago was “dying” and either needs root canal and capping or to be extracted before it becomes infected. Either way it requires a hospital visit and general anesthetic. Needless to say they (and us as well) were very upset about this. We are praying that it will work out OK.

Tuesday and Wednesday I spent a fair bit of time going through the backlog of mail, paying some bills, getting my income tax filing ready (due April 30 in Canada) , entering information into Quicken to track our household expenses and taking care of other business. I also sent notes to John Sanders and the Kilberns at Pascgoula. (I found out from John Dobbs that it was David & Elaine's anniversaryso we sent them our best wishes)

Linda was unpacking the BBB, doing laundry, touching base with her niece who had twins on the 13th, and with other friends. Despite the time I spent there is still a pile of paperwork to sort through and I seemed to keep getting sidetracked from it.

Tuesday morning I went to Sandro’s –restaurant to see if our regular elders- preacher breakfast was on. However, it was Lloyd’s (Hotchkiss) birthday and since I hadn’t called Roger (Lansdell) he didn’t think I would be there. However, Bob Wilding – a friend from my days at ASI was there so I had a cup of coffee and visited with him while he was having breakfast. We got up on some “gossip” about the various people we knew at ASI, shared what was happening in our families and shared the challenges of moving into retirement .Bob also has taught part-time in the Business program at AUC(and at Lake State) so we have some common interests there as well. Interestingly, our ”ups & downs” in emotions regarding retirement seem to have followed similar paths. It was a very good conversation to be able to share what I was feeling with someone who had similar thoughts. When I got home I called both Roger and Lloyd to get a brief update on “what was happening” - as usual there are some good things happening including a developing relationship with Nick who was released from prison a couple of months ago and is working hard to start a new life. – and a few “not so good” things that we are praying about and trying to help people deal with.

I went to visit my Dad on Tuesday afternoon and we had him over for supper Wednesday. As we we preparing for supper Linda’s sister, Arliss showed up with her daughter Alyssa. Alyssa had just had her wisdom teeth extracted and they came in for an to let her rest before heading home to Thessalon - Alyssa will be attending Algoma University in the fall and she plans to stay with us since the school is so close.

Thursday we went to WALMART (not to camp!!) to buy a new phone since our cordless had “died” while we were away—it had been flaky for sometime before we left and we couldn’t revive it this time. We got one with 2 handsets so that should give us a better ability to have a phone near us no matter where we are in the house or yard. (double the pleasure of searching for misplaced handsets!!). We also took in my camera card and got prints made of some of my pictures plus a film Linda had taken on her camera. Linda picked up some potting soil and other stuff to plant her ”elephants ear” bulbs that he had stored over winter and which were showing signs of wanting to comeback to life.

Thursday p.m we loaded up some garbage in to the truck because the dump was waiving the $6.00 tipping fee this week. We didn’t have that much time to sort through stuff and we didn’t have a full load. I called our friend Russ who had been our house sitter and went over to his place after supper and finished the load with some things he needed to haul away. While I was there Russ was showed me some renovations he had done in his house this winter his house. I took this picture of him and his grandaighter Michaila on their porch.

I made the dump run early Friday morning. Friday afternoon we drove to St.Joseph’s Island (in our car!!) to visit Marjorie Garside (our friend from church whose husband Bill had died while we we were on our way home). We had a good visit with her and her son Pat- sharing memories of Bill--- a few tears and some laughter -- and telling them the story of Katrina as we had seen it during our trip to the coast .

After that we went on to Thessalon to visit Linda’s Mom and Meryln. Linda brought supper and we ate with the. Her sister Arliss was there when we got there and her sister Theresa came in just before we left. Got caught up on all the happenings in the Goodmurphy side of the family.

I had mentioned before that Chris was being promoted to sergeant in the Aurora police department. Click here to see a newspaper article about this. Chris is mentioned near the end. The promotion ceremony was on Friday and Saturday morning Chris called to give us all the details..– Tammye was asked to come up and pin on his new sergeant’s badge and the chief gave her flowers. Chris had to give a short speech about how he felt about the new role—overall he seemed very pleased with how it had gone .Hunter and Camdyn got to be there and see it as well. He starts his first shift as sergeant Saturday at 2 The downside of this is that he will now be working afternoon shift with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off – He had been days and weekends off for that past 3 years so this will be quite a change in the family routine.

So it was a busy week and we got a lot done. However, as I mentioned at the beginning there was also a “let down” feeling and I found myself “wasting” a lot of time playing computer games and reading to avoid the necessary but “mundane” aspects of “settling in” and the challenges of taking action to apply to lessons of Pascagoula to our lives here.

One morning we listened to a sermon by Marvin Phillips that John Dobbs had posted titled “How God is using Katrina” to his glory ( see sermons on the Central website).In it Marvin talked about how he knew a lot of people there just wanted things to go back to normal. He was encouraging them to seize the opportunity of Katrina to actually embrace the ongoing need for service and to “redefine” normal to be the ongoing “messiness” of meeting needs – rather than the “tidiness” of “church” as we so often have made it to be. I think the biggest question we are struggling with is “How do we avoid returning to “normal”???

Well that’s enough for now–
God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Almost home (April 21-23)

While home is where the heart is- it is inevitable that we think of home being where our house is. We have deep roots in Sault Ste. Marie having lived there for over 30 years - over 25 years in the same house at 38 Florwin Dr. We raised our family there. We worked there and we have been tested and made stronger through many fires with our family, friends and church community during those years – so at the end of it- when we think of home (on this earth) we think mostly of Sault Ste. Marie.

So being in Aurora which is only 800km (500 miles) from the Sault meant we were almost home. –and since Aurora is home for the closest (geographically) of our kids it is also a place we visit frequently so it is really a second home to us.

We had been there February 25-26 0n the outbound leg of our journey and here we were again –almost home.

The weather remained beautiful- intothe80’s through Saturday—it was a little cooler Sunday and a lot cooler on Monday.

In Febraury we had taken Hunter out to buy a gift and for lunch at the Steak & Shake as a late celebration of his 8th birthday (which was on February 10.)

Friday morning we took Camdyn out to buy a gift and for lunch at the Steak & Shake as an early celebration of her 6th birthday(which is on May 3) It was nice of Chris & Tammye to “arrange” this timing of birthdays so we could do this!!!

We had a good weekend visiting with them. Saturday was a bit hectic because each of the kids had a birthday party to attend. Tammye & Linda went out shopping for a gift that Tammye had given Linda for Christmas (and it also turned into Mother’s day gift as well)

During all the going and going and delivering and picking up kids I ended up alone at the house with Sonny (their bijon frezier- spelling?) for awhile. Sso I ended up doing some yard work – spraying dandelion sand mowing the grass

In the evening all of us (except Camdyn) played the Mexican train which is a game played with “12 spot” dominos. Lots of fun and lots of laughs – Hunter observed that we each won one game – except for him – he won 2!!.

Sunday morning we went to the park near their house . Hunter & I took on Chris in some “2 on 1” basketball. This isn’t my game but Hunter has a pretty accurate shot so we managed to out score him 2 to1 as well. I don’t think Chris was trying too hard since he plays quite a bit with some friends and probably could have kept us in check better than he did. .

It is along haul to drive the BBB from Aurora to SSM in one day so we pulled out around 3 and headed north staying Sunday night- one last time at our favorite camp ground a Walmart in Chilton Wisconsin. (just south of Green Bay) .Just before weleftCamdyn showed up with 2 ofherneighborhood playmatesforatourof the BBB and a raid on the "cookie jar" -- they had beenplaying dressup at Jennelle's house andI had to have a picture of the "princessess)

As we pulled away from the curb at Chris’ we heard a noise from the rear of the BBB but when Linda looked out she didn’t see anything so we assumed it was just something that had fallen in one of the bins. Later, when we called Chris to let them know we got home,we discovered we had left them a parting "gift".As I was pulling away from their curb I turned hard to miss some tree branches and the back end of motorhome caught their mailbox and wrecked it. --- -shades of the new Robin Williams movie –RV.

I’ll close this chapter of our journey in my next posting with an update on the final part of the trip and our first few days at home.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Home is where the heart is (April 17-20)

Several years ago I remember watching a video series by Dr. James Dobson titled something like “Turning your heart towards home” I looked on his website but couldn’t find it so either my memory is faulty (I don’t think that is possible but you would get a different opinion from Linda or anyone else that knows me!!) OR the series is no longer available. As I recall, this series is about turning our hearts towards God using the comparison of how a young soldier and his family would feel when he returned home after being away for a some time.

The reason I thought of this wasn’t so much about our need to be turning to God – although we do have that daily need to surrender our will to His. It was the idea that, during this last week of our trip, we were casting our minds forward to our return home and how we could apply our experience in Pascagoula to our lives in Sault Ste. Marie. Both Linda and I are committed to “improving our serve” (to change metaphors) and we have been talking a lot about practical ways to do that – time will tell how well we let God lead us to the opportunities he can supply.

The other saying that comes to mind is “Home is where the heart is” – and by that definition we were in a lot of places simultaneously last week – As our grandson Will (age 30 months) might say “It’s a miracle” (echoing his grandmother’s assessment of the fact that we were able to have our whole family together at Christmastime –but that’s another story).

Anyhow as we travel – we are at home in the BBB – wherever we are is home . We are at home with our kids and grandkids because our hearts are always with them and increasingly we were at home where our house is because our hearts were there with other family, friends and most importantly our church family.

With that “cliché ridden” but nonetheless true introduction – let me fill you in on our week of traveling from Little Rock to Aurora (Chicago).

Monday morning before leaving Little Rock we took care of some business left over from last year. When we visited Elwood last year we had a leaky valve in the cooling system of the BBB. We took it to Williams Automotive, 20825 Arch St, which was nearby. They ordered a replacement part – however it turned out that, because Airstream had made custom modifications, the valve would have fit but it had a vacuum “actuator” rather than an electrical one. We ended up ordering the correct part through Airstream and had it UPS’ed to Abilene. However, I had kept the valve just in case the slow leak turned into a torrent before I got the right part in Abilene. It didn’t and I did get the valve replaced (old news and another story).

To cut to the chase, I still had this unused part that wasn’t any good to me so I went back to Williams (without the receipt which I had somehow misplaced) and they refunded my money. If you are ever in need of mechanical work in the Little Rock area –I’d recommend these folks.

Monday afternoon we entered Missouri (the Show me state) and spent the night at my favorite place – yes a WALMART in Poplar Bluff Missouri. Westopped on the way into town and bought a door fasterner at the Home Depot to fix a broken latch on the closet door. I tried to install it Tuesday morning but was unsucessful because I needed a drill and the batteries were dead on mine. I eventually got itdone Wednesday morning when we had power.

Tuesday we stopped in Cape Giradeau and visited Cape Rock which looks out over the Mississippi.
I realized that I couldn’t remember when we had crossed the Mississippi going west- I knew we had stayed east of it on the trip down. Anyhow, I had to check and it does enter the at New Orleans (see map) although I understand that 25-30% of the flow now goes out through the Atchafalaya delta a little further west.

Being at the Mississippi made us think of our new "home" in Pascagoula - our hearts memain with our friends and church family there. It made us wish the the miracle ofbeing in several places at the same time was indeed possible.

There is a lot of information about the Mississippi watershed on the INTERNET - see for example and Mississippi_River_Delta (Note: Wikipedia is NOT an ”official” site so it is possible that there are inaccuracies – but it looked OK to me)

Anyhow – we crossed the Mighty Mississippi into Illinois and traveled to Wolf Creek State park on Lake Shelbyville.

This was very isolated quiet place where we got to enjoy God’s nature and the spring scenery for 2 beautiful days. There was a thunderstorm during the night and it was beautiful to watch the lightening fill the sky. We heard in the morning that the storm had beenvery severe to theNorthwest - near Lincoln - about 60 miles or so away and the wind had actually blown a semi-trailer over onto its side.days.

There were herds of deer in the woods that we could watch from the window of the BBB. It was a great way to close out our meandering –to sit quietly listening to the birds and meditating on the wonders of God’s creation –wanting to be able to share that peace of knowing Him with others-

While we don’t feel guilty about taking this recreational time - it is agift from God - , we do feel a renewed sense of urgency to be back in our home “mission field”. We pray that we will remember how Katrina hurt so many people and how the Christians in Pascagoula are reaching out to help repair broken houses and broken lives without regard for who the people are or what they believe—Our prayers go with those servants of God who are being the best friends that Pascagoula ever had.

Thursday morning we packed up and made the second last major leg of our journey arriving in Aurora (one of our homes) in time to have dinner with Chris, Tammye, Hunter & Camdyn. – parking in our “curbside” lot (picture from the outbound trip in February)

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Easter in Little Rock (April 15, 16)

When we arrived at Elwood's Friday evening we had the advantage of knowing we could park in his driveway since we had parked there last year . I didn't take a picture this time so I'm "recycling". This picture was taken February 28 2005 (My camera date was set wrong)

Saturday morning Elwood and I assembled a new power washer that he had obtained and cleaned up the area under their carport. I wanted to wash the BBB but we couldn’t figure out how to get the detergent siphon to work. I’m sure we were just missing something really simple but the instructions didn’t help at all. Ended up washing the front, which was covered with bugs, the old fashioned way with a bucket of soapy water and a rag. . It was warm again – close to 90 - we spent the afternoon sitting on the lawn chairs under the carport visiting and reminiscing. Interesting how 45 years can cloud the memory- we needed my brother-in-law Morris or my Dad who seem to have a better recall of people and places—several times we both remembered the same event in very different ways.

Elwood works at Harvest Foods purchasing for their chain of supermarkets. He met his wife Shirley while attending Abilene Christian College (now University) in the early 60’s. Shirley is from the Dallas area and they remained in Texas and then moved to Little Rock area. He has spent most of this time in the grocery business with a short period were he sold life insurance. They have their one granddaughter Chistina living with them and their other granddaughter Heather spends a lot of time here when her mother Kim is working.

Sunday we went with them to services at the Somers Avenue Church of Christ. Elwood and Shirley have attended this congregation for many years. He was an elder for awhile. Currently he coordinates their adult classes and was teaching from Daniel in the auditorium class. Their preacher Oran Burt has been with them for over 30 years having started their as a youth minister shortly after he graduated from university. I mention this because despite the long tenure this is not a “preacher centric” congregation – which can happen when a preacher serves for along time in one pace.

He was preaching a series on using your gifts – from Romans –and the lesson was on the gift of encouragement. – using Barnabas as the example. This was interesting to us since we are studying “The Barnabas Factor” in our LIFE (Bible study) group at home.

They opted to avoid special mention of Easter since the practice is to remember the crucifixion and resurrection each Sunday during communion. Personally, it seems that it can be used as a teaching opportunity - reinforcing what Jesus did for us while respecting the scriptures that teach about avoiding “special feast days”

There were about 300 present for services in the a.m.and perhaps 175 for the evening service. The building is relatively new (10 to 15 years old) and is a modern well equipped building. They provided for growth when they built and have room to seat around 800 in the main auditorium. They only have seating for around 500 which makes it fuller than it might otherwise.

After services we had dinner at Luby’s cafeteria – a tradition in the south . We ate with Christina and her boyfriend Kyle, his parents Steve and Debbie and his grandmother Pansy. They all attend at Somers Ave. and Steve is one of their deacons (I think).

We had a good conversation on some of the issues facing churches during the afternoon, attended evening services - another lesson on gifts and had supper together at their home.

Monday morning we headed north again via 167 through Searcy Arkansa home of Harding University. Kyle Lansdellwho is currently working part time as our youth minister graduated fromHardinglast spring . We didn't stopsince we didn't really have any close contacts there right now.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It’s getting hot – Time to head for home (April 12, 13, 14)

Tuesday - We left Belton (Summersmill) about 3 p.m. and drove northeast – first time in almost 2 months that we were heading towards home. We stopped at Athens TX (near Tyler) WALMART (Oh boy another WALMART –my favorite) and touched base with our kids from a payphone.

Wednesday we drove to Hot Springs Arkansas (Goodbye to the Lone Star and Hello to the Natural state) and stayed at the Hot Springs KOA. We needed a full service spot to do laundry and they also had wireless INTERNET so I was able to get email and do a posting to the “blog” for the prior weekend.

Thursday, (April 13) we moved to the campground in the Hot Springs National Park.
Both days is it was very hot - high’s in the 90’s. We relaxed at the campsite under the trees and beside a nice little creek. Linda was very careful to keep an eye open after she saw a couple of water snakes swimming in the creek. Later in the afternoon we hiked over the mountain to Bathhouse row. It was a very interesting hike up switchback trails (about 1 ½ miles with about 500’ elevation). The panoramic view at the top was great. The trip down into town was also interesting since for the last ¼ mile the trail went straight down (at what seemed to be a 45 degree angle) which made it tough to keep your footing.
We did get to see a couple of the natural hot springs but we were too late to get inside the Welcome center which includes a fully restored functional bathhouse.. After a short tour of the downtown area we walked back via the “low trail” --- a little longer but not as much climbing.

We met a newly wed couple while we were looking at the natural hot spring. We told them that we had been married almost 40 years and asked God’s blessings on their marriage – When they found out that we had walked over they wanted to give us a ride back but we declined since we had just gotten there. Nice people.

Friday (from Linda’s journal) We were sorry to leave our lovely campsite. We traveled a “snake” (windy) road to Garvan Gardens. A lovely forested area by a lake with many small streams & waterfall. Beautiful azaleas & many other flowers-lots of little lizards. Over 40 acres of wooded gardens. Enjoyed it very much but quite warm.

In the posting for April 4 (Time began in a garden) I explained about Linda’s passion for gardens. This experience was much more satisfying than the wild seed farms since woodland gardens are more like the situation she has in our yard at home. She took a lot of pictures and I’m sure “we” will have several projects this summer as a result of this experience. Linda bought several CD’s of “serenity” music.

After the tour we rested for a while with the air conditioning going and then traveled to my brother Elwood’s place south of Little Rock (near East end ) We can in via Sheridan on Rte 167 and arrived there after supper around 7:00 p.m.

The temperatures from Wednesday through Sunday were at or near record highs –topping ut at 95 on Wednesday but hitting above 90 most of that period. God seemed to be telling us that it was time to head for the cooler climes of the north

p.s. It is now Friday April 20 and we are at our son Chris' place in Aurora Illinois. Iwill do some more "catch-up" posts over the weekend since I've finally got back to the "civilized" world where I can get a wireless connection (Thanks to one of his neighbors who thankfully has an unsecured router)

p.p.s. John Dobbs commented on one of my recent posts that he was enjoying the "Chronicles of Whitfield". I don't know if he had the Isrealites in mind or if it was the fact he had watched the chronicles of Nardia -- but we are reading in Chronicles now about the Isrealites taking possession of the promised land. The descriptions of their wandering in the desert and then the allotment of the of territory to the tribes is pretty dry reading -- I hope the record of our journey isn't quite that dry. The other thing Linda & I have commented on is that there don't seem to be a lot of "life lessons" in parts of the books like Chronicles. -- however, since God wanted us to know about them there must be some value - we just have to keep looking. My point is that I have wanted to include some lessons we are learning and not have this become a pure travelog. I hope that like Chronicles the lessons are there -- it just may take a little more digging to see them.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What a way to retire (April 10 & 11)

Monday morning Linda had a chance to do her exercise routine since there was a CURVES in Taylor where we had spent the night.

We then traveled to visit Bill & Alma Bunting at Summersmill Retreat & Conference Center near Belton TX (just of I-35 between Austin and Waco). Alma is my1st cousin. Her father Clifford was one of my Dad’s brother’s and was one of the 3 uncles that I was named after (Charles Clifford Franklin is my full name) . My granddparents Howard & Ruby Whitfield settled in the North Livingstone area near Thessalon Ontario (60miles east of Sault Ste.Marie) in the early 1900’s.

Anyhow, Bill was a preacher for 35 years in a number of places in Canada and the US. He is a native of the Detroit area and their last church was in Livonia just out of Detroit. When he decided to retire 8 years ago he was put in contact with Paul J.Meyer who is a wealthy business man in the Austin area. He had a the property and hired Bill & Alma to start a small retreat center for churches to use. They have done a great job of building this into a “world class” operation and are now expanding into general use by businesses for planning sessions and seminars. Their daughter Julie is now the Sales manager and is doing a great job in that capacity. Since preachers often don’t have much of a retirement fund this opportunity was a God send for them.

Unfortunately, Alma has developed lymphoma and has had to undergo chemotherapy. She is a little weak because of that but was in good spirits. She has one more round of chemo but at this point the doctor says the cancer is in remission. We pray that this continues.

We had a pleasant surprise in this visit. We got to see Lloyd & Eunice Whitfield. (on left in picture - Alma & Bill are on the right). Lloyd is Alma’s oldest brother and he & Eunice are longtime members of the church and good friends from “back home”. As Eunice said it was a great to see each other because we had more time to visit than we do in our busy schedules when we are at home.

(From Linda’s journal) Monday night we had supper with Ken and Shirley Foster very close friends of Bill & Alma’s. Real Texas supper –potato salad, beef brisket, baked beans and various pickles –very enjoyable time They had visited at Alma’s “home” in Canada and Shirley brought out a photo album showing a picture she had of the one room school house where Alma had attended with Linda, I also attended the same school but Alma had moved to a nearby school when we moved to the Maple Ridge area. with

On Tuesday we went for a driving tour to see the blue bonnets. For some reason, the place that is usually just covered didn’t have any. Alma was very disappointed since she wanted us to see this place which is featured on the cover of Texas tour guides.

It was a good visit . One is left to wonder about God’s purpose in leadng them to this place and then having the pain and turmoil of cancer but as so often we do we turn to Romans 16:16 with the confidence that God will work good no matter the outcome.

p.s. We learned Wednesday evening that Bill Garside had passed away. His wife Marjorie is a dear friend and long time member of the Pinehill congregation in Sault Ste.Marie where we attend. Although he has had heart problems for a number of years, we are saddened by his sudden death and extendour sympathy to the family. Our prayers are with them.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Memories, New Beginnings and Old Friends

I mentioned that Thursday morning we visited a pioneer village in Federicksburg. It was an interesting display of life in the 1850-1880’s. However, the most significant thing for me was the memories it triggered. The sound of a wooden screen door squeaking on the hinges and then slamming shut, the little one room school house, the musty cellar all reminded us of our personal experiences growing up in rural Ontario in the late 40’s and early 50’s. There was a barn filled with carpenter tools from the period. Hand planes for making dado’s and ravets’, a four man joining plane fastened in a large beam, a belt and pulley driven band saw. Many of these were of the vintage that my grandfather used in his work before power tools became available.

This was another weekend of WALMART camping (Oh boy –my favorite).Friday & Saturday night at BASTROP and Sunday at Taylor.

At BASTROP there was a Holiday Inn Express right next door and we were able to access (wireless) INTERNET through them. I managed to get caught up on some recent emails although I still have a large backlog of smaller items that have accumulated over the past 6 weeks.

I sent off a number of emails I had prepared while relaxing at various places last week. including a couple to John Dobbs – he had asked a couple of questions about how an “outsider” saw their work. In general, my response was that I didn’t have many answers but I could share the new” questions” that the experience was causing me to ask myself. A journey with God is richest when we are open to new insights and new directions as we grow and develop in our relationships- with him and with others. I saw a reference to a blog entry April 5 or 6 by Jim Martin ( about “Grace-ful(l) churches that could challenge many of us to think in a different way about what “church” is all about. (and the “messy” part certainly seemed to describe – in a positive way – the current situation at Pascagoula!!)

We heard from Sandy Williamson about their ongoing efforts at Pascagoula (They had arrived with their motor home from California the week before we left. Sandy & Jim have a real heart for helping others and we pray God’s blessing on them as they continue to serve).

We received word that my sister Goldie and her husband Morris had become great-grandparents. (Goldie & Morris celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on December 31, 2005. The “party” was held in November when most of their family could be there).

I think I may have mentioned before that Amanda (their granddaughter) and her husband Joel had been in China to teach English as a second language when Amanda became pregnant.

They had returned to Canada on March 6 expecting the baby to be born 6 weeks later. However, Elijah Charles Lock was born April 6 - healthy- 6 lbs. 13 oz. which Linda says is the same birth weight as our daughter Melissa.

Seems like it was only yesterday that the new grandfather , their son Don, was a baby however, time flies. The other grandparents David & Karen Lock are also close to us. Karen grew up in the church I attended as a youngster and David preached for a while at the church in Sault Ste. Marie where we now attend.

I also received the monthly newsletter from my nephew Craig Ford.

He and his wife Jerri are leaving for the mission field in Papua New Guinea in May.
Craig also has a blog which has more information about himself, Jerri and their daughter Hannah.

Saturday afternoon we visited with Mark & Nancy Lynn Klym. We have known Mark most of his life. His mother Cora is a long time member of the church in Sault Ste. Marie and also my 2nd cousin.

Mark & Nancy Lynn lived in Sault Ste. Marie for several years after they were married. Nancy is from Philedelphia and, if I recall correctly, they met while Mark was at Harding University. Mark worked for a while at the Steel plant in Sault Ste. Marie and then went back Lake State to get a degree in biology. He was able to find a job with Texas Wildlife and they moved to Bastrop in 1999. Their sons Timothy & Nathan were still at home – high school age - when they came here. Timothy is now in the Navy on a ship somewhere in the Gulf. Nathan is in Paris working on his master’s in French He graduated from Harding last year. He was married in January just before leaving for 4 months in Paris while his bride remained in the US. I’m sure they are anxious for May when he comes home.

When we contacted Nancy about visiting on Saturday it turned out that Mark was in the Houston area putting on a wildlife program. However, the weather turned cooler and it was windy so he was able to cancel his part and he drove 3 hours to come home for the afternoon. He then had to drive another 3 hours back for a different program on Sunday. During April and September he spends most of his time in the field so we appreciated that he was able to do that. Mark is co-author of a book on hummingbirds and much of the traveling this year is doing ”book signings” at various bird watching groups.

It was good to see that Mark had found his place and to see the enthusiasm he had for his work and for his involvement as a deacon at the church in Bastrop where he is concentrating on missions. Nancy is a teachers aide for “special needs” students at a local high school. Nancy has suffered for many years from migraines and fibromyalgia and this is emotionally and physically demanding work –but her compassion for others allows her to meet those needs despite he own problems

Sunday we attend services in Bastrop and got to renew an acquaintance (from 43 years ago) with Carolyn and Larry Foster. We are “almost family” because my brother Elwood is married to Carolyn’s sister Shirley. Larry & Carolyn took us to lunch at Mamma Mia's in Bastrop. They had their grandson Michael with them - but he was too shy to have his picture taken.

Larry is the preacher at Bastrop. He spoke on what seems to be becoming a theme this year as we travel – namely that happiness comes from being thankful in all circumstances that we have a God who loves us.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Friday, April 07, 2006

Time began in a garden (April 5 , 6 & 7)

Linda loves her garden. She is a hands-on gardener - not too much into horticultural clubs and that sort of thing – She just wants to get her hands in the dirt and see things grow. I have often been blessed with the privilege of helping with her garden projects.

My nephew Ken made the mistake a few years ago of accepting a fixed sum “contract” to remove the sod and work up a portion of our back yard to allow Linda to start a new part of her garden. I say it was a mistake because our house is built on a gravel knoll and the yard is also full of trees – between rocks and roots Ken earned his money – but to his credit he stuck with it. The picture taken June 2004 shows how it turned out.

One of her friends gave her a wall hanging that says “Time began in a garden” and it is displayed on the inside of our bedroom door –to be seen each morning as she faces a new day.

Being in the south and seeing the flowers blooming has kindled her desire to get her “hands in the dirt” so you can understand why she was excited to visit the “Wildseed Farms” -- which features Texas wildflowers -- just outside Fredericksburg. Turned out that the flowers were nice but the biggest attraction was the butterfly house. As I watched a video of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly I was reminded of the song we often sing with the kids at church and which we have taught to all our grandchildren

“Fuzzy Little caterpillar climbing up a tree – he wiggled and he wiggled and he wiggled right onto me. Put him in a box – don’t go way I said – opened up the box – a butterfly instead. Now I can’ t make a butterfly not even if I try – only God in heaven can make a butterfly”.

We had visited the pioneer village in Fredericksburg in the morning and hit the Wildflower Farm on our way to Johnson City where we went to the Pedernales Falls State Park for the night. I was tempted to use the title a “River runs through it” to describe this park – However, Texas is having a drought and it is difficult to call this little trickle of water a river. When we were painting the house in Pascagoula John Kelly had told us we needed to go to this park when he found out we were heading for Austin. He said it was a really neat place with places to slide down the rocks – a natural water slide. This is no longer the case – first because they have closed off the falls area to swimming due to the danger of flash floods but even if they hadn’t the water levels were so low that sliding would be difficult and dangerous).

We did enjoy hiking around the park and experiencing the wild life. We saw 2 deer grazing near our campsite and signs of many more along the river where they came to drink and I'd also considered a title "Living (with) the wildlife ...). Roger & Ricky – you’ll have to look elsewhere for yours – hunting isn’t allowed in the park. Spending time in these natural settings always affirms to us that only God could have created this universe -- it is too rich and powerful to have been a result of chance -- We also are reminded that with beautyand power there can also be danger and desstruction -- keep praying for and, where you can give tangible help to, those caught by natural disasters such as Katrina. God works good even when the forces of natture override man's efforts to tame them.

We stayed there until this (Thursday) afternoon and have now moved on to Austin – Oh boy a WALMART – my favorite place.

God bless
Charlie & Linda

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Learn from the past, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow (April 4)

I mentioned in my last post that our grandson Hunter was hospitalized Sunday night with a lot of abdominal pain. At first they thought it was appendicitis and would require surgery but after the surgeon looked at CAT scan and other tests, he decided that while there was a “blockage” in the appendix it wasn’t infected and they would wait and see. They thought the pain was due to severe constipation rather than appendix. Last night, we talked to Tammye and then Chris later. Tammye had spent the night with Hunter and Chris was with him when we first called at 7:30. However, at 9;30 when we called again they were all home. Hunter was feeling better although he still needed laxatives to clear things up. We hope that this is the last time he has this problem and that surgery won’t be needed in the future - even though that still is a possibility.

We also talked to Melissa – she too had a medical problem to discuss with her Mom – Linda wasn’t sure but it seemed like she (Melissa) was having an allergic reaction to something so Mom was “prescribing” antihistamines and topical treatments for the itching. Melissa is still recovering from her knee injury a month ago and it is gradually getting stronger.

We finished our family rounds by calling Kevin & sarah. Will was also experiencing some earache so it seems this was the week for medical concerns – However, we are grateful that there doesn’t seem to be anything serious in all this – I am really beginning to understand that while we may “cut the apron strings” that only strengthens the "ties to our hearts" (Why is it that as I get older my father gets so much smarter than he was when I was young and I get so much “dumber”? )

Linda & I spent most of our day being tourists and wandering through the shops on Main St in Fredericksburg Texas. This is a town that is rich in history and full of reminders of its German heritage (it reminded us of our dear brother Richard & sister Ilse Herzog and of our friends and neighbors Karin & Fred von Althen). There are many buildings that that are over 100 years old – some 150. We saw the birthplace of Admiral Nimitz of WWII fame. There is a museum here named after him that concentrates on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent sea battle of the Pacific.

Many of the shops had various articles- ranging from elaborate needle point on linens to garden stakes to cheap t-shirts that contained various sayings. You know things like “some days I wake up grumpy, other days I let him sleep”. We had many good laughs as one or the other of us pointed out some saying that caught our attention. I saw in John Dobb’s blog that he left on a trip and forgot his clothes . Well John – welcome to the club. I thought I should be able to reel off a dozen or so of these one liners but they’ve flown the coop (You know that they say that memory is the 2nd thing to go and ….I’ve forgotten what the 1st one is).

Anyhow, even though I can’t bring them to mind there were ones that had generated that “isn’t that the truth?” type of response that made you want to burst out in laughter (or cause you to feel a nostalgic tear or to pause a moment and think about how you might live better, love better, be closer to God or encouraged to adopt a “devil may care” philosophy of life” . No matter what philosophy of life -- there is a saying that covers it.

One saying that did stick with me – and it isn’t something new but it seemed to be cause for thought as the day unfolded – is the one in the title. It is difficult to be in a place so full of history and rich in another culture and not be asking- "What can we learn from this?"

I was wearing my “We care” t-shirt that John Dobbs gave us when we were in Pascagoula. In one store the saleslady asked about it and we were explaining that we had spent some time helping those who had been flooded out by the storm surge from Katrina.

This lead into a conversation about the devastation and the impact on people –especially older people who had their whole lives turned upside down. During the conversation she raised (what has become) the inevitable questions of “Why do people want to rebuild in an area that had been devastated?” and the related question of “Why would you help with it if it is likely going to happen again?” I don’t really have an answer to the first question other than the fact that God created us with a spirit of tenacity, many people have deep roots in the place were they live and they aren’t going to be driven away by either manmade or natural disasters if there is any option of staying.

Being in Texas and looking at the history of the pioneers and native Americans I couldn’t help but see that as a lesson from the past. When you consider the hardships they endured, lives that were lost, homes that were rebuilt and how in some cases they persevered and survived. In other cases(both settlers and natives) died to stay where they wanted to be rather than give up. Whether that was due to foolish pride and poor judgment or whether it was courageous commitment to living out a vision of what their lives should be -- seems to be a matter of personal perspective. People from a distance may see it one way- -- those up close may see it another. Each of us needs to learn the lessons of history within the context of our own lives, make our choices as to how we will respond and extend respect to others who see the lesson differently.

In any case, my personal response to the question “Why stay & rebuild?” remains the same as the first day I was in Mississippi “I couldn’t live there but . This came about when one person upon learning we were from Canada said “Oh I could never live up there in all that snow and cold”. My immediate reaction was (although as I said I bit my tongue since it didn’t seem appropriate to say it at the time ) was “Well I could never live here under threat of hurricanes and flooding with all these swamps and snakes, .etc.). I hope my friends in Pascagoula can forgive me for this attitude but as the saying goes “Nice place to visit (and lots of nice people-but I wouldn’t want to live there).

So we learn from history what we can learn and move on to “Live for today” (This is the day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it). Linda will tell you that sometimes I don’t do very well at that. especially when we are in transition. We have made our choices- we are now on vacation for 3 weeks. But I get uptight and grumpy (maybe she should have let me sleep!!) over silly things because I want to be “doing something” rather than just relaxing. So I need to re-learn the lessons of the past . I need to live in the present with a grateful heart and let my Hope lead me into the future – a future that by definition no matter what happens is a good future as long as I “fix my eyes on Jesus” (well this has turned into a sermon – forgive me but I needed it –maybe there is something here that will help you as well)

I didn’t answer the 2nd question about “Why we should help rebuild if we wonder if it could be an exercise in futility?” One answer is in a comment on a recent posting by John Dobb’s expressing concerned that the commitment of others to helping was dropping off. He was focusing on building awareness of the need – the comments said the story was less about the need and more about the reward of helping. – at least that was what I understood from it. Jesus said that “it is more blessed to give than receive” and that we shouldn’t be looking for a reward here - The good Samaritan didn’t ask whether the man beaten by thieves would take better precautions the next time he traveled. Jesus healed all 10 of the lepers even though only one really got the point and came back to thank him. When we experience the joy of service, it isn’t contingent on whether those served really are going to benefit from the action – we do it unconditionally because we love God and others. We saw a need that we felt called to meet. - it is not for us to judge the “worthiness” of the people with the need.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Monday, April 03, 2006

To the Max (April 1 & 2)

(Note - I added some pictures to my last post so if you'velooked at this since Saturday night you might want to look again)

Well, I survived April Fool’s day without making (more than usual) a fool of myself.—of course we didn’t know anyone so we didn’t really have to be on guard that much.

We are back into WALMART camping spending Friday night just off I-10 in NE San Antonio– it is convenient and the price is right- especially after the unexpected repair costs. The downside is that it tends to be noisy (there is usually traffic noise and often a “street sweeper” cleaning the lot) and it isn’t very dark with those large Halogen lights overhead. But we are grateful for the convenience and I’m sure if we try we can find reasons to say “Oh Boy WALMART – our favorite” (I’ll explain this later).

We have had a problem with the front TV being loose and were afraid it might come free sometime when we hit a bump –Linda has made a habit of holding it when we hit any bumpy pavement -so I decided to fix it. It took some time to figure out what the problem was and then I needed a small piece od wood to put in behind the fiber glass lip in order to have something to fasten to. Fortunately, I had a piece of plywood and had my handsaw in case I needed it in Pascagoula - so it is fixed. It seems that there is always something. As we were preparing to move we discovered that the door clip for the closet door was broken so that’s another repair job. I want to be able to say “Oh boy – another repair job- my favorite thing although I confess I’m not quite there yet” ((again I’ll explain later)

There was a Goodwill store near the Wal-Mart so we went there. Linda went shopping for some books and summer clothes while I fired up the generator so I could relax in air conditioned comfort - read and then dozed off for a while.
We then went 4 miles further up I-10 to check out the Oak Hills church were Max Lucado preaches. It is a large “campus” facility with a humongous parking lot . They have some Saturday evening activities but after things quieted down we were able to find a fairly quiet corner of the parking lot to stay over night. They have 3 services Sunday a.m.8:30, 10 and11:30.Since we were right there we decided to go to the8:30 service. (despite “springing forward” which meant 7:30 by our internal clocks.

The auditorium would seat (rough guess) in the area of 3000-4000 people. The 8:30 service had (again rough guess) about 1000 people present. Their bulletin said that they had over 5000 people at services the prior weekend.

While our main desire on Sunday is to assemble with other Christians to honor and praise our Lord I will confess that we alos hoped to hear Max Lucado speak. We have always enjoyed his books and thought hearing him would be encouraging. So we were disappointed when the first couple we met said that Max wasn’t going to be there that morning – he was away speaking at another church. However, it turned out that he had pre-recorded a message for the people at Oakhills on Saturday evening and that was used – they have their own professional TV camera and recording set up and they have the facility setup so they can “broadcast” onto large screens so we did hear him although not quite in person.

He was in the midst of a special series on the topic “Everyday deserves a chance” The lesson series is based on acronym G.O.D.(Grace, Oversight and Direction) and his title was ”Graced and Grateful” -- The main point was that because of God’s grace we needed to have grateful hearts – no matter what happened. (I could relate to that fromour experience on Wednesday) – He started his lesson talking about a day in the lifeof a dog—saying things like 6:30 a.m. “Oh boy – Dog food –my favorite”; 8:30 “Oh boy – A car ride my favorite” etc, etc. what ever happened it was” Oh boy my favorite” – he followed that with a “Day 283 of my cativity” -- the diary of a cat in the same household experiencing the same events but was an attitude of rebellion and resentment at everything that happened. He used this modern day parable to lead to the parable Jesus told of the 10 lepers and only one – a Samaritan returned to thank him. He asked “which are you?” the grateful or the ungrateful – He suggested that because of God’s grace we could have a grateful heart in all things. Stop being people who looked for weeds in the garden of life and instead looked for and found the flowers – no matter how bad it might seem. He told the story of the young daughter of a colleague of his who had called here dad to say that her bike had been stolen – rather than being sad she was bubbling – He said “Why aren’t you sad - and she said “don’t you see -- of all the bikes they could have taken they choose mine” so “Oh boy – another noisy night –my favorite”

After services we drove to Fredericksburg and spent a quiet afternoon at the Lady Bird Johnson municipal park before moving to “Oh boy – a WALMART –my favorite”

Take care & God Bless

p.s. Doing this post courtesy of Best Western parked in their parking lot. We just learned that our grandson Hunter was hospitalized last night with a bowel obstruction. Thankfully (in the 2nd email) we learned that it was due to constipation and won't require surgery - we pray that he recovers quickly and there are no complications. We are also grateful that it didn't happen while they were travelling.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Remember the Alamoand Walking the (River)Walk

While preparing to pull out of the Alamo KOA Friday morning I was telling to 2 of my camping neighbors about our “jarring” mishap on Wednesday night. One of them is from Michigan and worked for Vickers hydraulics – the other from Milton Ontario is certified in doing metallurgical testing – both of them said the bolt on the ball joint was defective when I showed it to them. It was at least some comfort to be assured that there wasn’t any thing I could reasonably have done to prevent the bolt from breaking. Anyhow – we continue to praise God for having it fail when we were barely moving.

We drove back downtown and ironically took the same exit that we had accidentally taken Wednesday and I made the same wrong turn coming off the ramp – but this time I knew it right away and took a cross street to see if I could get turned around – lo and behold we came out right at the garage (Callahan’s) where we were towed. So not only had the part failed at a good time, we had exited at a place where we were almost in front of the garage. In any case that was were we wanted to be Friday a.m. because we had arranged to go there for an oil change. The bonus was that when we asked about somewhere to park the BBB while we went to the Alamo and River walk they let us leave it here -- It was about a mile hike in to the center of town but most of it was along the river.

The walk along the river is very nice. We got to the Alamo and spent a couple of hours there looking around and learning some of the history. “Remember the Alamo” reminds Texans of the sacrificial “fight to the death” against overwhelming odds served as the inspiration for the ultimate Texas victory at San Jacinto ( when Sam Houston routed Santa Ana’s forces even though he was again out numbered). It gave me cause to wonder whether those called to follow Jesus are sufficiently inspired by the sacrificial death of our Lord to take on the battle today against seemingly overwhelming odds??

After the Alamo we took a boat tour of the area referred to as the Riverwalk. Lots of interesting things to see – very enjoyable. So not only did we walk the walk but we had the talk about the walk.