Archive for the ‘Family’ category

Happy Days!

September 2, 2018

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Martha and I have enjoyed some happy days of late. Of course, we’re always glad when Rebecca can visit us in Winona, Mississippi. Sometimes, though, we visit her in Collierville, Tennessee—often using her home as a waystation in travels for speaking appointments west of the Mississippi, north and east. For a few days, however, Raymond and his wife Crystal with two precious grandchildren in tow came by to visit us. Oh, how we played with the little ones—4-years-old and 2-years-old. There was some liveliness in this little cottage, the likes of which unknown in recent time. Balls, firetrucks, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, dollhouse, wooden blocks, cornhole, Scrabble and such provided merriment for one and all. A side trip to a small, local park amused all of the kids—of all ages.

Rebecca made brownies and pizzas—with “help” from Elaina and Bryson. Each child made a personal-sized pizza, too. Sunday, we worshipped together at the Old Union Church of Christ. On our trek across gravel roads and through the woods on our way to the meetinghouse, we dodged—not wildlife—but a stray, young steer that seemed to have nowhere to go except to mosey down the center of the country lane. I thought we might see some deer or wild turkeys, but the domesticated critter was a surprise. Returning to Winona, we reconvened at the Chinese restaurant for a delicious buffet meal. All too soon, having finished lunch, Raymond, Crystal, Elaina and Bryson headed toward their home in Ohio. Later, our son Robert called from Florida to top off the day. “Family” is another word for “love.”

Bonnie’s Earthly Remains

August 29, 2018

Today, Martha and I visited the earthly remains of my beloved, late wife and Martha’s dear friend, Bonnie. Her lifeless body lies beneath the tufts of weedy grass and mud in the forest clearing adjacent to the meetinghouse for the Old Union Church of Christ. Memory of her is closer—in my heart and on my mind—every day. Her soul is in the custody of a righteous but merciful and loving God.

This morning, Martha and I set out with bucket, rags, soap and related items to clean Bonnie’s (someday mine also) headstone. It wasn’t a big job, and we retained our composure better than sometimes there or even at other places when grief yet crowds its way into ongoing life.

Some of my children are coming to visit tomorrow, and we will worship with the Old Union congregation on the coming Lord’s Day. We will visit Bonnie’s earthly remains once more, as family members. We will embrace what she has meant and yet means to us, which we preserve in good memories.

Before Martha and I departed from the Old Union Church Cemetery, Martha placed seasonal flowers in both of the urns affixed to the tombstone. I’m so fortunate to have Martha as my wife and as my friend. Without her I would be adrift in so many ways.

Banshee Hotel

June 28, 2018

Arriving back in Winona, Mississippi from weeks in Florida, we commenced June by processing and mailing our newsletter. June 10, Martha and I worshipped with the Oil Trough Church of Christ in Arkansas; it was my privilege to speak twice on Sunday morning. We also recovered boxes of used songbooks, which we will ship to Guyana, South America for our brethren throughout that nation.

The following Lord’s Day, we assembled with the Quitman Church of Christ in Mississippi. Once again, I spoke for Bible class and preached during worship. The next day, Martha and I, along with my daughter Rebecca, headed for West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Of course, we traveled through Tennessee and Kentucky on the way.

Martha’s sister-in-law, through her late husband Bob, slipped into a coma before we could get to her home in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Only a few days before, Martha was able to talk with her sister-in-law Shari on the telephone. We visited the family for parts of two days, after which sister Shari passed away.

Wednesday, June 20, we met with the Harmar Hill Church of Christ in Marietta, Ohio, whereupon I was delighted to teach Wednesday evening Bible class. Martha’s sister and brother-in-law labor with that congregation, and we lodged with them.

Thursday, we were also afforded an opportunity visit one of Martha’s brothers in New Cumberland, West Virginia. Currently, he is battling cancer that has invaded his body. The same day, we visited the grave of Martha’s late husband, Bob Noland, in Calcutta, Ohio. We set flowers and changed the batteries in the ‘eternal flame’ lamp. We also met up with another sister in Christ and longtime friend of us both, Vera Groves.

Friday, Martha, Rebecca and I drove north to visit my father in Hadley, Pennsylvania. We also visited two of my brothers and their wives respectively in Greenville and Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, June 23, we three spent the day with my son Raymond and his wife in Ohio. We rendezvoused with them in Berlin, Ohio—a major destination in the largest Amish settlement in the USA. We went together to a few sites in the area before dining at the Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugar Creek, Ohio. Each trip to the region, I am elated if we can visit Amish country, especially if I can eat at Dutch Valley—an eatery that is a destination itself. Repeatedly and astonishingly, we kept bumping into brother Garry and sister Melissa Polk at the hotel in which we spent a night and at various tourist stops. He serves as an elder of one of the congregations in Arkansas which participates with us in our mission work, and I have roomed with them several times when I visited the church there.

It was at Dutch Valley that we met up with Martha’s son Bryan and his wife. The seven of us investigated more of the area before Raymond and Bryan returned to their homes.

The Lord’s Day on June 24, we gathered for Bible class and worship with the Church of Christ in Hanoverton, Ohio. Martha and Bob Noland labored with this country church for several years, and through my friendship with the Nolands, I have been speaking there from time to time since 2008. This little congregation participates with us in our mission work, and they in the past as well as on this occasion gave us used songbooks for distribution to English-speaking brethren abroad. The Hanoverton congregation had a fellowship meal especially for us. I spoke three times; the second worship began at 4:00 p.m. in this farming community. Sunday night, we rendezvoused with another of Martha’s sons at a fast-food joint in Mansfield, Ohio. We also used the stop for our supper break.

Monday, we started for home. Our return route to Mississippi took us through Cincinnati, Ohio. Immediately across the Ohio River lies Newport, Kentucky. There we paused for a few hours to go through that city’s Aquarium. Then, we continued homeward.

Tuesday afternoon, we stopped in Collierville, Tennessee to visit with the Gootam family. Ronnie Gootam recently completed theological training at a nearby school of preaching, and not long ago, Ronnie and his wife marked the birth of their first child. Though mother and father are citizens of India, through birth in the USA, their baby is an America citizen—making for some interesting circumstances in preparation for and upon the family’s return India. Visiting with them are Ronnie’s parents, Joshua and Kabita Gootam from Kakinada, India. All of the Gootams, including Ronnie’s brothers Ricky and Robin back in India, are outstanding and hardworking fellow-laborers in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday evening, we three weary travelers arrived back at my parsonage in Winona, Mississippi. We had made a whirlwind trip to West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and back to our Mississippi home.

Wednesday, brother Therman and sister Sadie Hodge dropped by for a brief visit on the way back to their home in Meridian, Mississippi. Also on Wednesday, coworkers and I finalized Volume 97 of The Voice of Truth International magazine and made the files available for the printing company in India. Volume 95 is the most recent edition to be circulated, and Volume 96 is in transit from India to Winona.

Thursday, Rebecca and I devoted the day to lawncare, while Martha busied herself indoors with preparing a very nice supper and other household duties. We’re bushed—tuckered out!

Throughout our travel, we lodged mostly in hotels—some satisfactory and at least one that we want to cross off doubly from our mental list of lodging places. We don’t ever want to stay there again! We slept in Mineral Wells, West Virginia; Calcutta, Ohio; Alliance, Ohio; Dover, Ohio; Grove City, Ohio; and twice in Cave City, Kentucky. Not its real name, we dubbed the lodging in Cave City as the Banshee Hotel because the elevator there screeches each time and on every floor when its door opens or closes. Not a bad stay, the Banshee Hotel provides a little extra via that amusing oddity. Incidentally, a former hotel once stood on the footprint of the current inn before it burnt in the night!

Replica of the Yesterday

June 27, 2017

Today (June 27, 2017), two of my children, Martha and I made the little jaunt from Lexington, Kentucky to Williamstown, Kentucky to see the “Ark Encounter.” It was a good, all-day endeavor—an hour each way and four hours to trek through the Ark and the surrounding adornments (i.e., petting zoo, etc.). We declined the donkey and camel rides. We took lots of pictures, and here are some of them.

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We took some time to smell the flowers along the pathway of life.

Middle Ohio

June 9, 2017

Tuesday, June 7, Martha, Rebecca and I rode with my son Raymond from his Newark, Ohio home to Amish country for the day. On the way to and returning from Berlin and Sugar Creek, Ohio, we passed an iconic, old, dilapidated combination one-room school and church house. I took some digital pictures for later use; the sight prompted me to write an article with which I will put this photograph probably in a future issue of The Voice of Truth International.

I always enjoy a meal in Sugar Creek at Dutch Valley Restaurant. We all ate from the expansive salad, main meal and dessert buffets. It was delicious! Afterward, we wandered around in various tourist traps and antique shops throughout a 15-mile stretch of highway.

Wednesday evening, we assembled with the Pickerington Church of Christ for midweek Bible class. Following the devotional with which the church began, I spoke to the “mission team,” which was preparing to travel to Switzerland for a couple of weeks.

Rebecca, Martha and I enjoyed some precious moments from late Sunday night through Wednesday night. Thursday, we traveled to Mineral Wells, West Virginia to meet up with Martha’s family. Friday, we three caught up with family of Martha’s late husband, Bob. In both instances, we rallied at the Cracker Barrel in Mineral Wells. On Friday, we also visited one of Bob’s brothers and his wife in their home nearby the same location.

Friday and Saturday, brother J.D. and sister Denise Conley—with whom we are lodging these few days—and we are gathering literature, songbooks and communion ware to load in the trailer behind our minivan. Along with material already collected and other sites yet to be visited, we will recover additional materials, which we will ship to English-speaking brethren overseas.

Over the next couple of weeks or so, we will continue to visit congregations in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. Also, between meeting days, we will visit more family members—namely, my family and my late wife Bonnie’s family in Pennsylvania. We might even get up to New York and visit one of my brothers who I have not seen for years. There is work to do, for which we are thankful.

Beginning 2017

February 9, 2017

96-dpi-wedding-25Since this is my first blog, I will start with January 1, 2017. Louis and I were married at my home in Ocala, FL between services with five of our children, three of our grandchildren and a few close friends present. Colin Williamson tied-the-knot, and he did it very tightly.

We did not have time for a honeymoon. After church services, we spent Sunday evening with our family since we do not get to see them very often as we live so far apart. It was good laughing and enjoying one another—bonding the two families together even though we have known each other for over 25 years.

On Monday, we shuttled Rebecca, Raymond, Bob, Carla and Bryan to the Orlando International Airport so they could fly to Tennessee and Ohio—back home to work. They had quite a lot of interesting experiences before getting home. Rebecca’s flight was delayed, but she did make it home that evening. The other four’s flights were cancelled until the next day because of heavy fog and mechanical problems with the plane. Needless to say, lots of prayers were said, and patience was needed.

Louis and I started our marriage on the run, and this is how we like it. We are now in Guyana, South America for six weeks—working for the Lord and enjoying every day with which the Lord has blessed us.

Bouncing Around Ohio

June 11, 2016

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!

Loaded!

Loaded!

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

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!

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.

Horsepower!

Horsepower!

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

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

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.

Erie Canal

Erie Canal

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.

Lehman's Hardware

Lehman’s Hardware

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!

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.