Friday morning was an occasion for a half-day workday. Brothers and sisters from the Huntsville Church of Christ at French Camp, MS came our way early. Nathan and Jim Wright built yet another shelf in our book warehouse; thereby, we can increase the storage space – as space is at a premium. In addition, three sisters worked with Bonnie (as well as Paul and Jerry Bates) in preparation of a shipment of literature and books to South Africa; about 50 boxes were prepared before directing their attention to other helpful functions in the World Evangelism Building. Philemon Rajah from India was visiting for the week, and we put him to work, too. We’ll lodge and feed brethren who pass through, but we almost surely will put them to work as well! Of course, we found occasion to eat together before parting company that afternoon.
Willie Nelson’s refrain, “on the road again,” is the ring tone for Bonnie’s phone, and how true it is for the two of us. We typically travel about 3,000 miles monthly by car in the States. Friday night, we made our way to our private Bed & Breakfast (our daughter Rebecca’s home) in Collierville, TN. Half a day Saturday, Bonnie and Rebecca attended the Ladies’ Inspiration Day hosted by the Collierville Church of Christ. Immediately thereafter, Bonnie and I pointed the silver minivan toward the Arkansas Ozark Mountains. That night, we were guests in the cabin home of dear Christian friends; he serves as an elder and the preacher for the local congregation. No red light in the hamlet but amply compensated for the lack of bustle by the blue peaks, open fields and friendly folks. For Bible class Sunday, I made my PowerPoint presentation (Motivated by the Cross) about our mission work; during worship, I presented a faith-confirming, uplifting PowerPoint entitled, Bible Archaeology. After Chinese cuisine for Sunday lunch, Bonnie and I headed over the mountains northeast to our evening appointment – about three hours distance driving.
GPS keeps me guessing! Saturday evening, I was sure it was confused and at times taking us in the exact opposite direction than we needed to go. This time, though, GPS brought us into the correct neighborhood by a different, somewhat obscure route. We were within half a mile from where we needed to be when GPS said we had arrived. Up the hill, around the bend, alas we weren’t lost after all! Sunday afternoon, GPS took us on some roads that do not appear on our atlas, and though GPS was confident that we had arrived at the coordinates we specified, we had really intended the same house number an equal distance north of the town instead of west of the town to which we were going. However, the time being what it was, we were content to be in the town where we would worship with good brethren and supporters of our mission work. Frankly, we had little more time than to set up the equipment and literature, so we were pleased. Once more that day, I preached, Motivated by the Cross, we were well received by good brethren.
Sunday evening, Bonnie and I drove through the darkness toward our very own Bed & Breakfast (see above). Both on Saturday and Sunday, we were taxed with complicated highways exits that promised food and bathroom breaks, but rather twisted us in knots of frontage roads and miscellaneous ramps – seeming to shout at us, “You can’t get here from there!” With some false exits and re-entries to the highways and a measure of frustration, we didn’t starve after all. We made it back to Collierville, TN by 2300 hours.
Monday advertised itself to our minds as a leisurely morning return to Winona, MS. We thought that we would punctuate the start of the day with breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Hah! Instead while about to leave Collierville, the left rear tire of the car went flat! Do you know where the spare (donut) tire is on a Town & Country minivan with Stow N Go seating? It’s under the car between the two front seats! Great, an opportunity to use the AAA Roadside Service for which I have been paying for years. About an hour later, the spare is on and breakfast, here we come. After breakfast, what could be simpler than taking the van to Sam’s Club about a mile away to have it honor the road hazard on the tires I purchased from them a year ago? Three hours or so later, the nail was located and extracted from the tire, and it was patched, and the tires were rotated. One can only imagine how many days might have been required to make a simple repair of a flat tire had we not been in a metropolitan area! Bonnie and I rolled into 705 Devine Street, Winona, MS at 1800 hours.
I did it again! Twice within four weeks I forgot my tie. Bonnie and I think that we have this packing thing down so that we can almost mindlessly pack for the weekend, and quickly. We always leave the office later than we hope to leave; my plans are always too optimistic, causing us to rush-more! This time, I bought a tie, which we will leave in the car for these emergencies. How interesting that our American custom in most places where the Lord’s church assembles requires that the preacher on Sunday, at least, where a tie. It doesn’t have to be tasteful necessarily and it may be brighter than a full moon, but wear that tie. On the other hand, wearing a tie for Sunday preaching in Burma seems so senseless and counter-cultural when you realize that God’s preacher there often is barefoot and wearing a longi (skirt). Nevertheless, I now have my see-through, plastic, zip lock bag with the instructions, “In case of emergency, open this bag and put on the tie!”