My daughter Rebecca and I have been bouncing around Ohio like some kind of accelerated Ping-Pong ball careening off the interior walls of one humongous, irregular-shaped box. We drove from Pennsylvania, where we had visited family, to Ohio on Saturday, June 4. Quality Inn in Elyria, OH provided us lodging that evening, and on the morrow, we completed our journey to be with the Vermilion, OH Church of Christ. This congregation stepped forward to be the initial sponsoring congregation for Bonnie and me regarding our mission work. It was always intended to be a temporary arrangement, but that congregation received funds on behalf of our missionary labors for about three years. To this day, these Christians continue to be a great encouragement to me as well as to participate with me financially in my endeavors for our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for all that this church has done and continues to do in relationship to me; these brethren got in on the ground floor of my mission activities.
We were wonderfully received in Vermilion on Sunday. I made my PowerPoint presentation for Bible class Sunday morning about my “2015 – 2016 Mission Trips” to Asia and South American, entailing 13 weeks abroad in five countries. During worship, I preached about “The Church in Prophecy”; a technical glitch midway through my sermon necessitated disregarding the PowerPoint presentation of this lesson and resorting to narration alone. When “Plan A” fails, I move on to “Plan B.” I’m just glad we didn’t have to resort to plans “C” or “D”! Following worship that morning, we enjoyed a fellowship meal in our honor; brethren will use any excuse to eat together and to enjoy one another’s companionship!
I wish that I had had time to drive by the shore of Lake Erie at Vermilion, but we needed to leave town immediately for my evening appointment with the Norval Park Church of Christ in Zanesville, OH. Under ideal circumstances, my GPS said we needed three hours and fourteen minutes for the trek between the two locations; Google Maps, though, claimed that we only required two hours and forty-three minutes for the journey. In reality, in part due to traffic congestion because of a broken-down motor home ahead of us, a construction detour and nasty weather, we had little time to spare upon arriving in Zanesville.
Initially, we paused just a few minutes at the Zanesville home of sister Barbara Harris, ever an encouragement to me and a participant with me in my foreign labors. If we had arrived earlier, we would have been her guests for a fine meal that she had prepared, but that we were unable to enjoy before time for evening worship.
This was my first visit to the Norval Park Church of Christ, and I must say that no congregation of the Lord’s church has ever been more gracious and kind to me than this church. I was honored to extend a devotional invitation and afterward to narrate my PowerPoint presentation, “2015 – 2016 Mission Trips.” Many Christians commented favorably, and the minister and elders interacted sympathetically with Rebecca and me following worship. At least on this occasion the congregation opted to participate financially with me in my efforts for Christ.
Rebecca, her Nook book & Raymond’s cat
Within an hour of leaving Zanesville, Rebecca and I arrived at the home of one of my sons, Raymond, in Newark, OH. Since he was off from work on Monday and Tuesday, this was an ideal opportunity to spend precious time with him – and mooch off of him for lodging! We spent most of one day perusing and cruising through the Amish countryside between Millersburg and Sugar Creek. Bonnie and I always ventured into Amish country each time we came to Ohio, and I still enjoy doing so. Whenever I buy a belt, I buy a good leather belt in one of the many shops scattered in town or rural area, and I bought another one on Monday. My pass through Amish land is never complete until I feast at the Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugar Creek; I left that establishment filled and satisfied, as well pleased with the good company of Raymond and Rebecca.
Not in Kansas anymore!
As a sidebar, it was evident, as Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” uttered, ‘we were not in Kansas anymore’ once we entered Amish-land. The horned fish seemed to be a little bizarre. We also paused in our passage to muse over the longest covered bridge in Ohio; motorized vehicles are prohibited under penalty of a hefty fine, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some horsepower traipsing across it. We three took a timeout at a display of the vestige of the old Erie Canal. Raymond and Rebecca were as interested in a large catfish swimming near the canal boat.
If I spent money daily like I did that day and sometimes recently, I’d be broke in short order. I convinced myself to make an investment in a small curio cabinet for the purpose of displaying in the foyer of the Siwell Road Church of Christ some of the artifacts relative to my foreign mission work. This congregation oversees my missionary work, and in a very fine way, too. Desiring to maintain a good rapport with the congregational members despite my frequent absence, the elders, the associate minister and I have arranged for a television in the large foyer to keep brethren abreast of my mission trips and destinations overseas. Tuesday, Raymond, Rebecca and I adapted the Amish made curio cabinet into a display case also to place in the Siwell congregation’s foyer beneath the TV. A drawer on top will exhibit foreign currency and coins, whereas lighted shelves below that will highlight carved items (e.g., elephants), a parasol, bowls and jewelry, among other possible objects. Rebecca and I will carefully haul the display back to Mississippi and set it up at the earliest opportunity. Of course, we had some family time, too; we made a point to have a meal out together once more, especially since there is nearly 1,000 miles between us, and visits are infrequent. Rebecca and I also did some shopping respecting our return trip shortly down south, and I had the oil changed in the Town & Country as well as some other minor service work.
Long covered bridge
Wednesday, Raymond left for work around 4 a.m., and later, Rebecca and I drove to the Hanoverton, OH Church of Christ for me to address the evening Bible class about my mission work. Once more, I showed the PowerPoint formerly shown on this trek in Vermilion and Zanesville. The minister for the congregation and his wife graciously invited us to dine with them at their supper table preceding class time. Several families encouraged Rebecca and me, as well as participated financially with me regarding my mission work. These brethren are dear to me also for the hospitality they have shown me repeatedly over the years, including inviting me into their homes and notes of encouragement.
Erie Canal Boat
Incidentally, I purchased a compact, lighted travel mirror, especially for use in foreign travels by which to shave when neither mirror nor light are available. I’m accustomed to few purchases in life working as well as advertised, but this buy was a complete flop. Not only does the mirror portray a fuzzy image, but no matter how the mirror is held or turned, the image is upside down! Granted, I may be a little out of focus at times, but I have not mastered standing on my head yet. Return and refund coming! That’s when I found out that magnified mirrors require one to nearly touch them with one’s face for the reflection to show properly. Nah, I don’t think that will work well for my purposes.
With management’s permission, just before 2 p.m. on Thursday, Rebecca and I left the Comfort Inn in which we lodged. That gave us time to do a few office things (e.g., Gospel Gazette Online, catch up finances, etc.). Besides our next appointment wasn’t until 6 p.m. only about an hour away, and we needed to be somewhere during the day. Still, we were afforded time for two detours along our route of travel. One of those was to walk around Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, OH. A tourist trap for sure these days, there are lots and lots of things to see – new merchandise of all kinds from over the past three centuries and many, many antiques. We didn’t buy a thing, but the side excursion was pleasant as well as taking up some slack in our day.
We rendezvoused with the Rodney and Julene Nulph family (including Joshua, Brielle and Steven) at the Pizza Hut in Wooster, OH. He is the Associate Editor for Gospel Gazette Online, Julene also writes for the Internet journal. In addition, sometimes I place their writings in The Voice of Truth International. We had a very pleasant time together, and especially the children were much interested in my mission trips. Therefore, I set up my laptop on a table, borrowed a little electric and reviewed my PowerPoint presentation “2015 – 2016 Mission Trips.” Afterward, we resorted to the parking lot where the Nulphs pored over foreign language and Braille books with amazement. The whole family likes to read, and so I made sure that each family member had his or her books to read in the days ahead. It was my pleasure to leave a couple of jade bracelets and a miniature dugout canoe in their hands before continuing my journey.
It could have been worse!
All that remained was to wind our way back through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi to my Winona home. Friday, Rebecca and I traversed parts of Ohio and Kentucky in a southwesterly slant across those states, finally coming to rest for the night in Cave City, KY. Heavy rain hampered travel and doubtlessly contributed to a couple of traffic accidents that we passed – one of which involved a tandem tractor-trailer and two cars. Fortunately, we traveled safely. Finally, we drove into blue skies and sunshine, and the temperature increased over 20 degrees!
Incidentally, the elevator in the hotel in which we stayed – every time its doors opened or closed – sounded how I imagined that a banshee would screech! Aside from that, after supper, we resorted to our room, and I spent my time laboring on the still unpublished June edition of Gospel Gazette Online.
Saturday was an uneventful, daylong ramble through the balance of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi all the way back to Winona. After unloading the Town & Country van, we restocked it with literature for the next day’s appointment, visiting a congregation in Mississippi whereupon I will speak at the three service times.
Jerry and Paula Bates have left the country, and there is much physical labor to which I need to attend back at the warehouse. I missed unloading the truck that arrived recently, but I must tend to some of the mailing of the newest issue of The Voice of Truth International. Hopefully, in the upcoming week I will also publish to the Internet the June edition of Gospel Gazette Online. A few other matters cry for attention, too.