Archive for the ‘Postcard Perfect Picture’ category

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!

We Escaped!

April 13, 2017

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Right in the middle of too busy and not enough time to finish the ever expanding “To Do List,” Martha Lynn and I briefly interrupted our busyness for four days to ourselves away from everything—mostly. We escaped Ocala, Florida on Monday, April 10 and headed for Ormond Beach, Florida. Happily for me, the journey was only about an hour and a half to our destination due east to the Atlantic Ocean. We stayed in a reasonably affordable beachside hotel that permitted us easy access to sand and surf. Being the off season for tourists, traffic was no challenge and few people populated the sandy strip that we frequented days and evenings. Especially Martha is enamored with water, particularly the salty sea.

We tried a few restaurants with which we were unfamiliar, some of which we do not plan to visit again, some that were above my pay grade—too expensive for me—and some to which we hope to return someday. One day, we visited an historic lighthouse compound—one of the tallest remaining such maritime structures in the United States. Not far from there, we also toured a small marine museum where we saw stingrays, an octopus, crabs, fish and rescued tortoises that are being recuperated from boating injuries. In addition, Martha and I walked along a paved path and wood bridge through dense tropical, seaside vegetation. That’s when we happened upon a furry critter—a raccoon—which decided to give us the right of way as it scampered into the underbrush.

It was our pleasure to dine one evening with good friends and Christians Gayle and Bruce Daugherty as well as with Judy and Emanuel Daugherty, Bruce’s parents. The following night, we assembled with them and other saints at the Beville Road Church of Christ.

Lastly, before leaving paradise for Ocala once more, Martha Lynn and I walked along the Boardwalk and pier in Daytona Beach. The excursion was pleasant enough as we strolled the famous spot, but these days, other locations such as one finds in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and I’m told in Branson, Missouri, outshine the Boardwalk. Martha, though, remained mesmerized by the rolling ocean waves.

Upon our return to Ocala, we lingered before driving to Martha’s Florida home. We got a bite to eat, after which we showed pictures of our South American mission trip to some church members. Of course, we stopped by a grocery store, too.

Martha Lynn and I enjoyed our time together away from pressing responsibilities for a while, though we felt awkward wiling our time away instead of attending to the “To Do List.” We are not good at down time and had to work at it somewhat. We did interact with some brethren via phone and email regarding ongoing matters that refused our inattention. However, for the most part, we took a hiatus from our usual “work” in some semblance of our honeymoon. Knowing what we each lost in the passing away of our respective spouses—Bob and Bonnie—we fully intend to the best of our abilities to make our marriage the rest of our lives our honeymoon. Together, Martha and I hope to help each other make our pilgrimage to heaven and serve the Lord the best we can in this life along the way. Back to work, now!

Half Weeks

March 14, 2016

96 dpi 8x10 Guyana River 1Back from five weeks in South America Tuesday night, Wednesday I lingered at Rebecca’s home in Collierville, TN. That evening, she and I attended class with the Collierville Church of Christ where she regularly worships; the congregation is also one of my supporters. It is one of four congregations that are about like home for me. Happily, I was invited on the spur of the moment to speak to the auditorium class; I presented most of one of my lessons that I had been preaching over and over for the Annual Nationwide Mobile Guyanese Seminars for the past five weeks. It is a lesson that I need and that is needed by most stateside churches of Christ, too: “Desiring and Striving for Congregational Growth.”

Thursday, I didn’t leave Rebecca’s house during the day. I worked in my mobile office. Friday, after having a much cherished custard-filled, chocolate-iced donut and some chocolate milk, I moseyed down to Rebecca’s schoolroom in Horn Lake, MS. As I often do after returning from an overseas mission trip, I made a PowerPoint presentation to her class about world geography and culture. She (on spring break) and I made it back to my Winona home late Friday night following some shopping. Rainy Saturday was a good day to stay indoors, which we did. Much to do inside, including working the mobile office some more.

Sunday, we worshipped with friends and brethren in the morning with the Old Union Church of Christ (Carroll County) and in the evening with the West President Street Church of Christ (Leflore County). Monday, Rebecca and I went to my real office and warehouse in the World Evangelism Building. The day was consumed in tackling mission work and personal finances, wiring funds to Hong Kong for printing tracts, taking mailings and packages (after packing the parcels of books) to the post office, finalizing my next newsletter, contacting various brethren about aspects of the overall mission work and suchlike. Nearly, 11 p.m., it’s time to call it a day; we removed ourselves from the office and reconvened in the living room to continue the same about four and a half hours ago – same work, different venue.

Though I never expect to catch completely up in work that lies ahead of me, I would like to get a little closer to the top of the pile! I wouldn’t know what to do with a day off where there was nothing related to the ongoing efforts to which I have committed myself that needs to be done. It doesn’t get any better than this.

St. Cuthbert’s Sand Trap

March 7, 2016

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Monday, March 7, 2016 was the day of the last 2016 Annual Mobile Guyana Workshop. This was my first visit to St. Cuthbert’s (pronounced “cutberts”) Mission. Only ten miles or so off of the nearest paved road, but what a trek in those 10 miles. Much of Guyana is one giant sandbox, and the path to St. Culthbert’s is a road of loose, white sand. A myriad of improvised side routes through the brush abound in attempts to circumvent horrible road conditions and straightaways of treacherous, bottomless sand pits. On the way out this morning on one of those wild side trails of sand and a little grass, we got stuck in the church van. After digging ourselves out, a little way ahead we found a car buried in the sand on the road! We helped free up that automobile and its stranded passengers.

96 dpi 4x6 st cuthberts mission 5Eventually, we arrived at a remote Amerindian village, St. Cuthbert’s Mission. I was surprised and pleased to find a sizeable, relatively new block meetinghouse for the local church of the Lord. The day before, 70 to 80 assembled there for Lord’s Day worship. Only a handful were on hand for today’s program, but we were happy for their presence. Each of them listened intently, and several thanked us for the lessons and the encouragement that we brought to them. Per usual, brother Wilbur Vyphuis and I present seminar lessons by which we hope to inspire Guyanese Christians to take a greater local role in church affairs and reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On our return trip, we got stuck again in the sand, once more on one of those “better” spurs. We remained stuck for hours. Brother Nigel Milo, our driver, brother and sister Vyphuis and I moved the van about 20’ at a time throughout the late afternoon as the sun was preparing to set. Finally, we managed to get back on the “main road,” and eventually, we succeeded in making our way back to the paved road.

Postcard Perfect

Postcard Perfect

I’m getting older, and my back and especially my left hand (not to mention my knees) argue with me. Pushing a reluctant van through axel depth sand can’t be a good thing. Well, evidently we survived, since here I am writing this blog entry.

96 dpi 4x6 st cuthberts mission 4One of the highlights of my day was finally persuading a little tyke to let me pick him up. He maintained serious reservations about me, but he was a sweet darling.

Postcard Perfect

Postcard Perfect

Next year, if St. Cuthbert’s is one of our destination sites for the annual workshops, I intended to ensure that we opt for transportation suitable for the challenging terrain. I wonder if I can arrange for a hovercraft or maybe a helicopter. There’s also a river there, some 80 miles from Georgetown. Hmm?

Wednesday in Linden

February 24, 2016
Blueberry Hill in Linden

Blueberry Hill in Linden

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 in Linden, Guyana, South America was good to me as I awoke on my 26th day since I left the USA; Lord willing, I have 13 additional days in Guyana before I return to my homeland. Sister Jasmine Milo was experimenting in the kitchen again with a new Internet recipe that she wanted to try out on me – essentially a bacon-wrapped egg baked in a muffin pan. It was pretty good actually!

I fired up my mobile office for a couple of hours before I was called away to go along with brethren into the local (spiritual) fields – which the church does consistently Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No one was home at our first stop – a Bible study on which I had gone twice before. Our second stop was to show a sister in Christ who lost her mother the day before that her brothers and sisters in Christ care. Her mother was another of those mysterious instances where surgery is deemed successful, but the patient dies! Next, we divided the team in two to attend two home Bible studies simultaneously; I went with half the group to a study on which I had also been previously.

Upon returning to the home of brother and sister Milo, I resorted to my makeshift office atop my bed. I managed to find a workaround to publish the February issue of Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet without the benefit of FTP Internet capabilities; evidently the local ISP blocks the use of FTP. Late, but nevertheless, the February edition of GGO is available for use from around the world. This morning and this afternoon I also made some preliminary preparation for publishing my newsletter upon returning to the States.

Sheldon in Linden

Sheldon in Linden

About 4:30 p.m., I was turned over to the custody of brother Sheldon who preaches for the Blueberry Hill Church of Christ in Linden on the other side of the river. We walked through his neighborhoods for an hour and a half before Wednesday evening Bible class. Eventually, 21 persons were present; evidently, we sing them in, which seems to be a common practice in Guyana. I taught my lesson, “Pain and Suffering.”

Afterward, I took a taxi back across the single-lane former railway bridge to the Amelia’s Ward district. Once there, I caught up with the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ which had crammed about 40 of its people into a member’s home. Finally, we made our way back to the Milo home, whereupon I had leftover lasagna from lunch, which sister Jasmine had made especially for me. I followed that with a round of leftover chocolate cobbler and strawberry ice cream. Not long thereafter, I retired to my quarters to bathe, brush my teeth and ready myself for bedtime. It was another good day among Christian friends.


September 27, 2015

Flower in SingaporeSingapore the island/city/country and its people impress me. This time upon visiting Singapore, I was afforded the opportunity to see some of it by car and on foot in daylight instead by the dark of night traveling between the airport and a hotel and back again. Simply put, I am mesmerized by the ultra-modern, pristine clean super-city that pushes boundaries in so many ways: available land surface and determined to fill in the sea to expand its island mass, super skyscrapers, cultural and convention centers, expansive multi-story shopping malls everywhere, ethic eateries galore, economic prowess even in the absence of natural resources, extent of its cultural diversity, universal quest for ultimate education and sheer determination. Singapore reminds me in my limited exposure to the computer game SimCity of that type of predisposed disposition to succeed and prosper.

In addition, my incomplete exposure to Christian brethren Singapore is no less invigorating. This visit was the second time I have been afforded the opportunity to speak for the Lavender Church of Christ. The first time about two years ago, I was accompanied by my wife Bonnie (who since has passed away) and brother Therman Hodge; presently, though, I am traveling alone.

Friday evening for a couple of hours or so, it was my good pleasure to speak to youth and some of their parents about external evidences: the age of the earth, carbon-14 dating, missing links and dinosaurs. I was surprised and pleased both by the willingness of young people to come together for a special event such as this as well by their election to have me speak on evidences. Around 25 were present.

Saturday, one brother gave me a car tour of Singapore, and we walked along the eastern seaside. We also talked for a while, me fielding religious questions and supplying some biblical answers.

Sunday morning, I was permitted to preach during worship, at which time I made my PowerPoint presentation, “The Church in Prophecy”; at the Lavender congregation, worship precedes Bible class, and there is an intermission between the two occasions for “tea,” though I saw plenty of eating going on of rice and various sweets. Interesting also, the worship period is scheduled for an hour and a half, and the preacher is expected to preach for 40 to 45 minutes. Ah, a preacher’s paradise! Bible class is an hour long, and at that time I presented my lesson, “From Creation Until Now.”

Following worship and class, several of the local members and I dined at the second floor food court in the multi-level mall next door. I could tell from the fare that I wasn’t in Dixie anymore! Later for supper, I ate at Burger King across a side street from the V Hotel where I have been lodging. With some difficulty because I didn’t know how to read my travel itinerary correctly, I checked in online from my hotel room for my flight tomorrow afternoon to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). A front desk employee helped me print my boarding pass from my computer thumb drive.

I distributed tracts of numerous titles to both the youth on Friday and to the congregation on Sunday. Still, I have additional literature for some of the places to which I will be traveling over the next seven weeks in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India. Your prayers and moral encouragement are greatly appreciated. Through me some of you are my partners in the Gospel as I go to four Asian nations this fall with the Gospel.

The picture gracing this episode of my missionary travels is of a curious looking flower in the perimeter foliage lining the edge of the 4th floor outdoor restaurant where I have been eating my breakfast daily. Wish you were here to enjoy the experience of worshipping with fine brethren on this side of the planet (around 12 time zones away) as well as experiencing the sights and sounds so wonderful.

Rainbow Springs

July 3, 2015

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There must be a reason for naming the state park “Rainbow Springs,” but I was unable to personally observe such a motive upon my visit to it today (Friday, July 3, 2015). The Internet webpage concerning it boasted of magnificent red and purple hues.

Nevertheless, it was a satisfactory excursion for my daughter Rebecca and me, and I hope also for our temporary charge, the granddaughter of our dear friends Bob and Martha Noland. En route along our 20-mile trek to the park, we gathered up some vittles at a Subway restaurant and carried them along with us. The park was filled to capacity, and cars were admitted one by one as cars exited.

As it turns out, a wide variety of foliage abounds. Apparently, much of the oddly blue-green basin – likely freshwater spring feeding the waterway – was completely saturated with swimmers, cooling themselves from the high heat of the day.

After we consumed our subs, chips and beverages, we wandered about for a while, viewing small manmade waterfalls and watery pools nestled among trees and bushes of all kinds on the hillside. Amazed previous days at other locations where we noticed few people congregating, Rainbow Springs was quite a different story. People were everywhere.

Tired of walking and soaked in perspiration, we happily waddled back to the car for our exit to Ocala once more. Late last night and into the wee hours of the morn, earlier in the day and for hours upon returning to the Noland’s bed and breakfast (so we made it to be for us), I performed office work: financial accounting, proofing and editing a book manuscript, and putting together the July edition of Gospel Gazette Online. Tomorrow we move along our way, depositing the young lady in our custody with her grandparents at the hospital in Gainesville, FL, after which heading for my next speaking appointment on Sunday outside of DeFuniak Springs, FL. Today, though, Rebecca and I paused to smell the proverbial roses besides attending to daily duties.