Archive for the ‘Technologically Challenged’ category

Piedmont, Alabama

August 10, 2015

Train Station in Piedmont, AL
Saturday, August 8
, I set out on a 5-hour drive plus stops into the morning sun toward Piedmont, Alabama. A little after 4 p.m. I pulled into the farm driveway of brother Bob and sister Peggy Rogers. Annually, I find Saturday night repose in the same bedroom. They have been my host and hostess for perhaps a decade or so. They are members of the Highway 9 Church of Christ, one of my monthly supporters.

Sunday morning I spoke for the Highway 9 Church of Christ during the Bible class and worship period. I presented my PowerPoints “Overview & Update” about my involvement in World Evangelism and “The Church in Prophecy.” After lunch, I opened my mobile office in the fellowship hall and worked on Gospel Gazette Online for August.

On the way to the second appointment and a little early, I snapped a picture of an old caboose. I believe I saw two old railway stations, but all of the tracks are gone now. One of the stations is a small museum, essentially a graveyard of sorts I’m sure, like so many other little museums in similar buildings that preserve some relics of yesteryear.

Sunday evening, it was my pleasure to make the acquaintance of the Piedmont Church of Christ for the first time. I taught Bible maps to the pew packers group before evening worship, and I preached “The Church in Prophecy” during the worship hour. Just an hour or so before, we were brethren, but we were strangers. Strangers we are not any more. The Piedmont congregation became one of my supporters in a very gracious way, and it will consider becoming a regular supporter, too.

My opportunity to speak at the Piedmont congregation came about largely through the preacher of the Highway 9 church who served as an advocate for me. In addition, extended families are members of both congregations. Take notice that some brother or sister acting as an advocate for me can greatly assist me in acquainting other Christians and congregations with my missionary efforts. Then, they, too, may decide to participate with me, all because you were an advocate for me in my service of Jesus Christ. Think about it.

With some difficulty because of fatigue down the road—literally, I did manage to drive back to Winona, Mississippi on Sunday night. I arrived just before midnight. That enabled me to finish the August issue of Gospel Gazette Online and publish it to the Internet on Monday. I was also able to send “Thank You” cards to donors over the last few days as well as to the churches for which I preached on Sunday.

Back at the house—just another location to do the same sort of things, I will triage the workload and select something else to tackle before bedtime arrives. Let’s see what remains to be done: visa application, determining itinerary, buying airline tickets, two editions of The Voice of Truth International and finish up a couple of books for printing. Thank you for bearing with me.

Highlights Here and There

April 12, 2014

cabooseApril is upon us, and Bonnie and I are as far behind as we have ever been in recent memory. If we were any further behind, we would be essentially in the position of the little red caboose on a short, circle track ringing the picturesque old-time Christmas tree of many decades past. “I can see the engine of my own train that (though pulling us along) is about to crash into the back of the caboose.” Our train is about to lap itself!

Wednesday, April 2nd, Bonnie and I journeyed once more to Jackson, MS to teach the adult, auditorium class of the Siwell Road Church of Christ. Late Friday afternoon, Bonnie and I pointed the old, weary van toward Florida; we angled down through Alabama, stopping for the night on the south side of Montgomery, AL. Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the home of Mary Fox in Jacksonville, FL; she and her husband with their family had been missionaries for several years in Thailand. Sunday morning, it was a pleasure to be once more with the Chaffee Road Church of Christ, whereupon I made my PowerPoint presentation “2014 Guyana Mission Trip” for Bible class, and I preached “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today.” We all enjoyed a fellowship meal afterward. I spoke Sunday afternoon at Taylor Manor, a Jacksonville retirement home. Sunday evening, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Riverview Church of Christ in Jacksonville, at which time I made my PowerPoint presentation “2014 Guyana Mission Trip.” No one ever treated us any better than the brethren there did; several members personally helped us financially in our efforts for the cause of Christ, as well as the congregation itself.

Leaving Jacksonville Sunday night, Bonnie and I drove to Ocala, FL, where we spent the next two nights with our good friend Martha Noland. Martha and her husband Bob work with a small congregation of the Lord’s church in Hanoverton, OH; a sister in Christ from there had accompanied Martha to Florida and was there upon our arrival. Besides spending time together and eating out, the highlight of this side trip was an unplanned trip to Best Buy – twice! The graphic card in each of our new computers, as it turns out, are defective. It took several hours for sales and tech personnel to determine that the graphic card was inoperable—not only in our two, new laptops, but also in their store display models of the same brand and every other brand sporting that same graphics card. Happily for us, Best Buy took back our two defective units and traded them for two other new units of a different brand with different graphics cards from the brand of defective card.

However, that necessitated buying an external hard drive to offload data files from the two defective computers before we made the exchanges. With that, hours of transferring files ensued. Of course, after acquiring the new computers, we had to put the data back on the new computers. The programs, though, were in Winona and could not be loaded just yet.

Tuesday after lunch, Bonnie and I parted from Martha’s home, and we headed for Jackson, MS where I was to teach Bible class again on Wednesday evening. We made it as far as Pensacola, FL before we sought a motel for the night. After checking in at the Quality Inn along I-10, we sauntered down to the local Sonny’s Barbeque restaurant; this was our second time to eat at one of those eateries, and we were amply satisfied both times. With a hotel Internet connection, Bonnie and I were able to begin downloading to our newest laptops some subscription software that we use in the production of literary works like The Voice of Truth International, Gospel Gazette Online, tracts and books.

The first half of Wednesday, April 9 was spent traveling through Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to Jackson, MS. Upon arrival, we visited hurting brethren in two Jackson hospitals. In the interval between those hospital visits and Bible class, Bonnie bought some groceries and got gas so we could expedite our trip home later after class at the Siwell Road Church of Christ. Finally, I concluded the 42nd chapter of the Book of Job! However, we are not quite done just yet; I want to spend a little more time treating standout verses throughout the volume as well as short studies about “Satan” and “Pain and Suffering.”

After Bible class, Bonnie and I started our trip back to the house in Winona, MS. We punctuated the two-hour ride with grabbing a bite to eat and buying some perishable groceries, and Bonnie and I arrived back in Winona ten minutes before 11:00 p.m.

The times between the “highlights” through end of day on Friday have been very tedious—the jaw and neck tightening kind of details—mostly trying to install computer software, some of which says, “What is Windows 8.1? No, I will not work with that!” Don’t get me started about trying to get two computers and two (so-called) smart phones to talk to each other. At one point, I lost my digital appointment calendar; I hope that we didn’t have any appointments this Sunday!

We shipped several packages of books and tracts to individuals and congregations. We are way behind on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International. I haven’t started the April issue of Gospel Gazette Online. The 2014 India Missions Conference (April 22-25) is nearly upon us, and there are details and schedule changes that need my immediate attention. On the heels of that, we have the Annual Maywood Missionary Retreat the following week. Peppered in there, too, are speaking appointments and daily work at the office/warehouse in the World Evangelism Building.

Whew! I think the caboose and the train engine are about to meet—in a bad way!

The Plane that Wouldn’t Fly and Other Travel Interruptions

September 20, 2013

airliner2After more than a week crisscrossing parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, finally it was time for Bonnie and me to return to Winona, MS. Therefore, Tuesday, September 17 Bonnie and I drove from Hanoverton, OH to the Pittsburgh, PA airport. I dropped the luggage and Bonnie at curbside check-in before returning the rental car. We were plenty early – about two hours before our scheduled flight. So far so good!

On the way from the south northward, we flew from Memphis, TN to Atlanta, GA to Pittsburgh, PA. We counted ourselves fortunate to have a direct flight back from Pittsburgh to Memphis.

We boarded our Delta flight, and then our travel plans went somewhat awry. The tow motor pushed our plane away from the gate and disconnected. Only a few feet down the taxiway toward the runway and we came to a halt. The pilots were unable to steer the nose gear, and so the tow motor had to retrieve our flight and haul it back to the gate. Hoping for a quick fix, passengers did not deplane except for those few who decided on their own to book reservations on other flights instead of this one. Not too awfully long afterward all was fixed we were advised. Again our jet plane was pushed into the taxiway. However, once more the pilots were unable to steer the nose gear.

This time, our airplane was blocking other planes, preventing them from getting to the runway for takeoff. Since the mechanics and tow motor were slow in retrieving us, the pilots ingeniously moved our flight from the path of other planes – without control of the nose gear. They accomplished this by alternating the use of jet engines and wheel brakes to waddle our way clear of other jets.

Back at the gate, we deplaned. Since this was a small jet, some of our carryon baggage was stowed below the plane, and we had to wait for it on the jet way. Then, we had to approach the gate personnel for reassignment to another flight. Half of our fellow passengers were routed through Atlanta, GA to Memphis, TN, and the other half and we were rerouted to Memphis through Cincinnati, OH. Bonnie and my flight was leaving immediately and had already boarded before we received our boarding passes.

In Cincinnati, we wolfed down Chick-fil-A fast food from the food court in our departure terminal; we carried our soft drinks onto the plane while carting two carryon bags and two computers (our mobile office). To our surprise, we were allotted seats together in an exit row, usually held back for passengers willing to pay a little more.

Finally, we arrived in Memphis hours after our original scheduled arrival with that “direct flight” that didn’t happen. It was then that we realized that our luggage had not made the trip with us. While we went through Cincinnati to Memphis, our checked bags went to Atlanta! We were not surprised since we barely made it onto the plane that we did before it departed.

Wednesday around 10 a.m., our two missing pieces of luggage were delivered to our daughter’s home in Collierville, TN, where we lodged Tuesday night. Next, we needed to retrieve our car that we had left at a dealership while we were away so that it could be repaired; attempts to have it repaired outside of a dealership and at another dealership had proved fruitless.

Once more the car door locks work like they are supposed to work. The faulty valve regulating something or another that was making our car buck and jump was replaced. The drain tube for our air conditioner was rerouted and strategic underside areas were sealed to stop flooding the passenger compartment, which had resulted in aggressive mold in the floor carpet. It was due for an oil change, too. For a little over $1,100, we had our car back in working order.

It has 173,560 miles on it, and we hope to get at least one more year out of it before we feel compelled to replace it with something on which we can rely. We drive up to 3,000 miles monthly nine months of the year, and it sits idle up to three months annually as we travel abroad in foreign missions.

Next, we visited AT&T and initiated dialogues in an attempt to fix my cell phone problems. Hours later and through somewhat of trial and error, conversing for hours with personnel in person as well as with multiple technicians via phone in this country and in Asia, we may have succeeded. We have about 3,025 contacts in our address book, and my phone was nearly doubling the entries on my mobile phone.

Mexican BrethrenThe day was consumed. We opted to burden Rebecca another night with our presence, and elected to attend Wednesday evening Bible class with her at the Collierville Church of Christ. Thursday morning we eventually made our two hour or so trek back to Winona. We headed to office for much needed work (i.e., working on Gospel Gazette Online, The Voice of Truth International, accounting, etc.). Midafternoon, we put everything on hold to host about a dozen brethren from Monterey, Mexico who came by the World Evangelism Building. We provided them with literature in Spanish as well as a few pieces in English, and we had refreshments together. These brethren are assisting congregations in the area in outreach to Mexican immigrants.

Late that night, I was finally able to publish the September issue of Gospel Gazette Online. Early Friday morning, I was able to send email notifications to subscribers that it was ready for their use. When one has a mobile office, the mornings can begin early and the workday can extend nearly to the next day – at the house, on the road, at the office, etc. Sometimes brethren inquire how we are able to accomplish what we do. We derive our pleasure from applying ourselves to working for our Lord, and that does not confine itself to a place and a time.

2013 Polishing the Pulpit

August 30, 2013

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Bonnie and I arrived in the early afternoon at Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) on Saturday, August 24. Sevierville, Tennessee – adjacent to Pigeon Forge and not far from Gatlinburg – is a beautiful part of the country for sure. Whereas in former years we were able to enjoy some of the Smokey Mountain surroundings for a day or so following PTP, this year we crammed the weeklong activities between two of Bonnie’s chemotherapies. We were fully engaged during PTP and had to rush back to Mississippi to afford Bonnie her chemo on Friday morning.

Bonnie and I tended children of all ages each day. Bonnie assisted with 4- and 5-year-olds from as early as 7:45 a.m. to lunchtime. We, but especially Bonnie, presented a hands-on missions presentation for an hour each of two days; dozens of children pawed our exhibit and tasted the chapatti that Betty Choate had made for the occasion. Perhaps the one item that elicited the most interest from these little ones was The Voice of Truth International produced in Braille. Each morning I roved from class to class teaching Bible Geography to children as young as 4-year-olds up to 11-year-olds.

In the afternoons, Bonnie taught our program of Buckets of Bible Time, where youngsters are called upon to arrange in sequential order three red buckets labeled with “Patriarchy,” “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Then, they are asked to place three dimensional objects (e.g., cars, airplane, dinosaurs) and laminated cards depicting Bible characters in the appropriate buckets. The catch is that some characters belong in more than one time period (e.g., Moses, the apostles) and Jesus Christ does not belong in Christianity. In addition, Bonnie responded to the invitation to help out with children in the evening, too.

Afternoons from 1:30 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. or after, it was my sheer pleasure to assist other preachers who taught 21 budding young men from the ages of 10 to 14 how to prepare and to deliver a devotional. All of them did very well and deserve commendation; some did exceedingly well. One or two could easily serve as an “opening act” (to borrow a phrase from entertainment) preceding a keynote address by a seasoned brother at PTP in the future. I graduated somewhat in 2013 at PTP and was privileged additionally to have an adult class one evening. My assignment concerned the use of printed material in the mission field.

Between working with children, we did attend a few lectures, set up and managed our two display tables, and conversed with numerous people. Some of these brethren we only see at programs such as this, while others are our supporters and encouragers. We sold a few books, gave every budding preacher boy one or more books and distributed some The Voice of Truth International in two languages.

I spied a little tyke who may not have been potty trained yet, but who was an expert already with modern technology. He was mesmerized with a game on a cell phone. His little thumbs were working, and he was sliding his finger across the screen to manipulate the pictures. I was dumbfounded! Is there any hope for me?

The first snafu upon arriving at the Wilderness Hotel and Convention Center was learning that our lodging reservation had been cancelled and that there was no room in the inn. That we would not arrive on Friday was apparently not conveyed by PTP personnel to the hotel, and so staff there cancelled our reservation and gave our room to someone else when we were a “no show” on Friday. We were counting on being in the hotel so Bonnie could resort to the room for rest as needed. The hotel relented and rented us one of the two emergency rooms it had put back in case something went wrong. It seemed that we walked the length of a football field to an elevator that took us two floors below the main floor. Fifteen rooms are nestled in this subbasement adjacent to the loading dock and driveway for vending and laundry. Some bugs knew where our room was located even if housekeeping occasionally did not remember.

Whining aside, the accommodations were very much appreciated, and the hotel room at the convention center afforded Bonnie rest at lunchtime and supper each day, besides restful sleep. We ate two meals daily in our room and ate out once every day, twice as guests of the generosity of other brethren.

Thursday morning, Bonnie tended to small children until the conclusion of the PTP program. I packed our clothes, food and mobile office, and then loaded the car with those things. Next, I sat in on the speeches of seven of our young preacher prodigies as they made public presentations to parents and friends. Finally, Bonnie and I packed our displays and books for our return trip to Winona, MS. About 1 p.m. we pointed the limping Town & Country toward Mississippi. About eight hours later, we pulled into our driveway, positioned for a morning departure on Friday to get Bonnie to her next chemo appointment.

Tired, yes. Gratified, yes. Bonnie and I earnestly desire to serve the Lord to our fullest always in this life and as long as life persists and permits. Triage of looming efforts include contacting and confirming speakers for the April 2014 India Missions Conference, rent a car at the Pittsburgh, PA airport for our northeastern appointments in two weeks, purchase airline tickets for my fall mission trip to Myanmar (Burma) in October, work on Gospel Gazette Online for September and October, work on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International and bring it to fruition before departing for Asia, prepare my lessons for three weeks in Myanmar (four to six hours daily), prepare and rehearse sermons and classes for two congregations for which I will speak this weekend, mow the grass (it’s been four weeks), prepare six months of classes for Wednesday nights at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ that commence upon my return from Asia, and try and deposit our bucking, sputtering van at a dealership for much needed nurture while away in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; yesterday, the car’s odometer exceeded 173,000 miles. Like me, some of its body parts don’t work right anymore!

I dare say that a few other more routine matters will cry for attention as well. We will triage one and all as needed. It is time for us to send another newsletter, but I’m not sure we can squeeze one out at this time. Thank you for your continued interest in our efforts to serve our Lord stateside and especially abroad.

Still No Answers! On to the Next Medical Evaluation & Possibly Surgery

March 12, 2013

Today, Bonnie was informed that the third set of biopsies on the tubular mass obstructing her bile duct also has come back inconclusive or normal. We are told that there are three options: (1) Do nothing for a year or so and re-evaluate, which if at that time it has spread to other organs, then one can ascertain that the growth is cancerous. We do not see this as a viable option. (2) Treat the unknown growth as though it were cancer with chemo or radiation to see if it shrinks. We do not see this as a viable option. (3) Have surgery to remove the growth, whereupon it can be examined, and if necessary additional, appropriate treatment can occur. This is the only reasonable option to us, though this most certainly involves major surgery.

As soon as possible, medical records including procedures, surgeries and tests will be forwarded to a surgeon in Jackson, MS for review preceding anticipated surgery. Bonnie is young enough and sufficiently healthy yet to make this approach plausible if the surgeon concurs that surgery is a satisfactory approach.

We appreciate the ongoing moral support, encouragement, well-wishing and sometimes financial support that brethren have been extending toward Bonnie in her illness. She grew ill overseas and has been under treatment for one malady or another since our return November 13, 2012. We will keep you posted chiefly through our blog since there are a number of brothers and sisters in Christ who have expressed a keen interest in Bonnie’s well-being.

Decatur and Piedmont, Alabama

July 24, 2012

Saturday, July 21, Bonnie and I did some more painting on the exterior of the Mission House in which we reside in Winona, MS. After we got cleaned up and packed up, we pointed the minivan toward Decatur, AL. The AC in the car mitigated the heat of the sunny day, making for a pleasant four hour or so jaunt. We supped at Cracker Barrel and lodged at the Jameson Inn. A feeling came over me that early evening, as I realized that the blessings of the day, including the fine meal and the comfortable place to spend the night, were more than most Christians overseas could possibly expect for themselves. Maybe not exactly a guilty feeling, but I sensed thankfulness. With opportunities come responsibilities.

Austinville Church of ChristSunday morning, July 22, we assembled with the Austinville Church of Christ in Decatur. For Bible class, I made the PowerPoint presentation Into All the World in 2011. Software incompatibility and technical difficulties at the podium for interjecting a guest speaker’s laptop computer had me scrambling. Despite an array of equipment installed in the meetinghouse with dual projectors and dual screens, plus other external monitors, as the class time was beginning, I was hurriedly setting up our equipment. I was sweating profusely, in part due to the stress of trying to make adequate preparation in a timely fashion when other avenues did not work. Maybe without too much noticeable delay or awkwardness, I took those in the auditorium on a 30,000+ mile roundtrip in pictures in approximately 30 minutes.

Something that the Austinville congregation does that I want to publicize and commend is that it utilizes its young men to conduct a devotional on Sunday mornings before the various classes commence. This is a wonderful opportunity to groom young men for greater Christian service in the future.

During the worship period, I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Since my electronic Bible had been acting up by failing to scroll properly, and because I like to hold the Bible up before those to whom I am reading it, I marked the six passages I wanted to read and read them aloud during the sermon. I had been using the NKJV, but my leather-bound Bible is KJV. That provided me an opportunity to stumble a little in the reading over past times I have preached this sermon. I started using a Bible version on my phone while I was overseas because it was more convenient. My Dickson Bible weighs about five pounds, and every pound counts when flying abroad. Secondly, many of the places to which we go overseas, we cannot carry a Bible openly. Hence, the Bible on my phone is more convenient on two counts.

Big Bob Gibson's BarbequeWe were taken to lunch at an award-winning barbeque restaurant. The food was delicious and plentiful. We were guests of the John Cooper family.

Highway 9 Church of ChristSunday afternoon, we traveled the couple of hours or so to Piedmont, AL to be with the Highway 9 Church of Christ. We inspected the first Dollar General Market Basket we had ever visited, buying just a few non-perishable items. We try to buy groceries on the way back into Winona, but when we arrive late at night (or early in the morning), we are unable to do that. We further stalled for time by leisurely drinking cold drinks at the local Jack’s restaurant before going to the meetinghouse. Dear brethren that we have known for years greeted us, and worship began at 5:30 p.m. Once more, I made the PowerPoint presentation Into All the World in 2011.

After worship, we headed for home in Winona, MS. Five hours of driving plus brief stops for a sandwich, restroom break and fuel, we arrived in our driveway around 12:30 a.m. However, we didn’t go to bed until about 1:30 a.m. as Rebecca had driven down from Collierville, TN to our home a few hours before. She had just returned from a week of mission work in Guyana, South America, and there had been civil unrest where she was. Injuries, deaths, destruction of property and blocked thoroughfares in Linden, Guyana gave us some anxiousness. Yet, we were certain that Nigel Milo with whom she and we labor in the Gospel in that country would take the necessary steps to ensure as much as possible everyone’s safety who was on that particular mission trip. Much good work was accomplished in several locations that week, using Linden as the base of operations.

Monday, July 23, I was able to finally publish the July issue of Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet. Tuesday, Bonnie received The Voice of Truth International files back from Betty Choate, and Bonnie further processed them in preparation for sending them to the printing company. Wednesday, I will finalize The Voice of Truth International and ship a DVD with all the necessary files to Faith Printing in Taylor, SC. Then, Volume 73 will be put to bed. Next, I will publish to the Internet a PDF version of it. (Any reader desiring to have the URL where one can obtain all of the issues of The Voice of Truth International in PDF format, as well as over three dozen Bible study books in PDF format, just contact me via email rushmore@gospelgazette.com. I will happily provide that information.) Wednesday evening, I will teach class again for the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. I plan to present the second lesson about Male Leadership in the Church: Elders.

By the way, I spent half a day Tuesday painting the exterior of the Mission House in which Bonnie and I live. Rebecca and Bonnie helped. We have maybe half of the house painted. The balance of the painting must be preceded by scrapping and sweeping. We take a little time now and then, mostly in the morning as the temperatures are difficult to bear lately.

Also of possible passing interest, Bonnie and I formatted a free offer of a picture book, courtesy of Best Buy and Shutterfly. It is all about our foreign missions from 2008 to the first half of 2012. We are looking forward to getting it on Tuesday. We will have it at our displays (e.g., at the upcoming Polishing the Pulpit program in August at Sevierville, TN). Look for it; drop by our tables. See you there – or if you invite me, where you worship.

On the Road Again!

July 4, 2012

On the Road Again! That’s the ring tone for Bonnie’s phone, and we live it, too. Arriving back in the States Tuesday, June 12 from Guyana, South America, we have hit the road again. Thursday, Bonnie and I drove almost two hours south to Byram, MS for our semi-annual dental cleanings. Oh, that’s when Bonnie was informed that she needed to have two wisdom teeth extracted and two other teeth drilled and filled at subsequent appointments.

Saturday the 16th, we dropped Betty Choate off at the Memphis International Airport on our way to Rebecca’s home in Collierville, TN. Sister Choate was unable to persuade Delta at curbside to overlook her overweight luggage, and so as we pulled away from the curb, she was redistributing items between checked bags and her carryon bag. She was on her way to San Francisco, CA to babysit grandchildren as her son Brad and his wife went away to celebrate their anniversary.

At our own private bed and breakfast (Rebecca’s house), we were positioned for our Sunday, June 17 afternoon appointment with the East Frayser Church of Christ in the metropolitan Memphis area. We had a wonderful time with these brethren as I presented the PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011.

Back in Winona, MS, Monday through Thursday, brother Lester Grimmet and his helper Tommy made some much needed repairs on the missionary house in which we reside. Besides hundreds of disturbed wasps (and about six cans of wasp spray), they found rotten soffit and fascia plus rotted roof joist ends and porch sheeting. Replacing and repairing these items was the beginning of necessary maintenance to preserve the integrity of the structure. Roof repairs are imminent. Later, we will paint the exterior wall panels, etc. to prolong replacement of the deteriorating paperboard sheets.

New Floor TitleInside the house, Bonnie and I invested in the replacement of the kitchen flooring and sink countertop. We opted for ceramic tile for both. Already, we had painted the dark paneling and cabinets to brighten the dungeon. Of course, as long as the kitchen was inaccessible, we were forced to eat out.

New Floor Tile & Counter TopSunday morning June 24, we visited the Courtland, MS Church of Christ. For Bible class, I presented Into All the World in 2011, and for worship I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. For those of you who follow our blog, you see that I do not preach a lot of different sermons over the course of a year. I just go to different congregations and present the same material over again. Poor, poor Bonnie; she has to endure the same lessons often twice weekly for many months before I change them out for another set and repeat our circuit.

After worship, we followed a family to the next county and into the woods. We were supposed to be going to a restaurant for lunch, but I was almost certain that we were following the wrong car and that we were about to pull up into someone’s driveway. However, finally, we arrived at a local, out of the way eatery in a narrow gravel lot adjacent to a boat storage facility. Above the door for the diner was simply the word, “CATFISH.” Inside the homey setting, in the backroom, six of us surrounded a round table. Bonnie and I shared the best and the largest country fried steak we have ever eaten. Everywhere we go, one thing is for sure. Brethren know where the good food is, and they enjoy eating together.

Sunday evening, I spoke for the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. Their preacher Nathan Wright was away at camp with the youngsters from the congregation. Bonnie and the brethren heard me preach Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. After worship, several brethren and we ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant in Greenwood near J.C. Penny. I found my new, favorite Mexican restaurant, and all Bonnie and I ate was an appetizer that we shared.

Tuesday the 26th, we were again in Byram, MS for the extraction of two of Bonnie’s wisdom teeth. By far, it took longer to get there from Winona, MS than it did for brother Andy Dulaney to remove the teeth. I had chipped a front tooth on the backside the previous Sunday, and it left an annoying bur that brother Dulaney smoothed for me.

East Side Church of ChristWednesday morning, we began a new trek to Cleveland, TN, where that evening I made my PowerPoint presentation Into All the World in 2011 to the East Side Church of Christ. We lodged that night with Rick and Fay Hinson; he is the Deacon of Missions for that congregation. We always enjoy this couple, and they make us feel right at home.

Thursday morning, we struck out aimlessly for Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Our next appointment was also to be in Cleveland, TN on Sunday night; so, we took a couple of days to relax and work without interruption in the Smoky Mountains. The first order of business upon arriving in the area was to eat lunch at the Old Mill Restaurant. We were seated almost immediately in rustic, watermill-like building overlooking the nearby river. Not something I would choose for myself, nevertheless, I enjoyed the corn chowder with clam broth that came with the meal, and the meatloaf was exceptionally good. The prices were moderate, and the service was stellar. Bonnie and I both agree that the Old Mill Restaurant deserves a repeat visit in our future when in the area.

Cabin View of the Smoky MountainsA couple of phone calls later, we had arranged for a cabin for a couple of days outside of Gatlinburg. The paperwork required to rent this place was reminiscent of that required to buy a house! Upon arrival at our cabin getaway, we couldn’t wait to get away from it; I called the rental office and said that it was unacceptable for a number of reasons, including peeling wallpaper in the bathroom and water damage on walls and floor. Within the hour, we arrived at a second cabin, which was more to our liking. It was the most buggy cabin rental that we ever experienced, but otherwise the porch provided a pleasant view of the blue mountains. The accommodations were satisfactory. Part of the time we relaxed; some of the time we walked the main drag of Gatlinburg, TN – window shopping the curios that we mostly resisted buying. We did, though, bump into the Steve Choate family in a store into which we just happened to wander. Steve is one of Betty Choate’s sons; he lives in Searcy, AR. (Though we did not encounter them, afterward we learned that J.D. and Denise Conley from Marietta, OH were in a Gatlinburg cabin at the same time we were in that area. He is a Gospel preacher and the son-in-law of Denver Cooper; Denise is sister to our dear friend Martha Noland.

TramAfter lunch at Texas Roadhouse (we shared Road Kill and added an extra baked potato), as we were wandering about, we came to the tram that takes up to 120 passengers at a time to the top of the mountain. The fare not too steep, we boarded the standing room only vehicle and winged our way over five towers to the mountaintop. We explored some shops and bought a few trinkets, including some marble top fudge. We had indulged on some fudge the day before, too, at the Old Mill Candy Shop and found it better tasting than the more recent acquisition. Of course, the better tasting candy cost twice as much as the other; perhaps that ought to have been an indicator.

During our two-night stay in the cabin, we dispatched spiders, ants, a millipede, one scorpion and another, unidentified bug. Two wasps that stung me got away. Each time we go to the Smoky Mountains, we have stayed in a different cabin, and I suppose we will continue the practice the next time we steal away a day or two.

Mountain MusicWe also enjoyed some mountain music as we strolled the streets and alleys of Gatlinburg, TN.

Central Church of Christ (Cleveland, TN)Saturday, June 30, Bonnie and I traveled back to Cleveland, TN where I was to speak the next day for the evening service of the Central Church of Christ. First, though, we stopped at Tanger Outlets to buy me some dress shirts. Many of my shirts are decades old and in dire need of replacement. The temperature was 107 degrees! We walked, and we walked. Then, we walked some more. Finally, we found some shirts that were nearly like what I wanted and at a price I could afford. Along the way, Bonnie bought a couple pair of footwear, too.

About 5:00 p.m., we arrived at the home of Robert and Barbara Wright. They are brethren, friends and our benefactors. They lodged us and fed us to the point of bursting over the next two days. They have worked hard over the years, and they freely utilize their resources for the cause of Christ; they do a good work for the Lord.

Sunday evening, I presented Into All the World in 2011. We had some technical difficulties since my software with which I made the PowerPoint presentation is newer than what the church is using. With some trial and error behind us, we were able to present the material for the congregation. We were well received. Bonnie and I had a few moments to meet with two of the elders regarding our work in which they invest for the church there.

Monday was consumed in our return trip to Winona, MS. A flurry of phone calls between Wednesday and Monday populated our upcoming calendar for Sundays and Wednesdays. We have some long stateside trips ahead of us in July and August. Bonnie labored on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International as I steered the car homeward.

After spending all day in the office Tuesday trying to catch up on things we could not do while traveling, we left Winona, MS again in the early evening. We met Rebecca at the Collierville Church of Christ property for refreshments and to watch the Collierville city fireworks. Wednesday is the 4th of July holiday. Thursday is Rebecca’s birthday, and later that afternoon, we will pick up Betty Choate at the airport and return to Winona. Saturday, we will point the car toward the panhandle of Florida for our Sunday appointment. Appointments already scheduled for July and August will take us to the states of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. Truly, we are on the road again!