Archive for the ‘Weather Related’ category

Overdrive!

March 11, 2017

Six weeks ago about to begin the mission trip to Guyana

Things just did not go as planned! Nothing lately caused me more anxiety than the snafu involving Martha and my return from Guyana, South America. Nothing lately has been more costly than the glitch in our return from 6-week mission trip this year to “The Land of Many Waters.” Uugghh! Ratsofratso! Bless their hearts!

Surinam Airways delayed our flight from Georgetown to Miami by 7 hours! That caused us to miss our connecting flight from Miami non-stop to Memphis. Fixing up that mess cost us over $1,000 extra and put us a day later getting back to the USA—on Friday. In addition, rather than a direct flight between Miami and Memphis, we had to fly to Charlotte, NC. Layover in Miami was too short to get a hotel and too long to stay awake without somewhere to slouch even a little in the airport.

Martha and I dozed sitting upright in rigid, armrest corralled seating while in the airport, and we took advantage of plane time to check our eyelids from the inside for light leaks. Except for the catnaps, we were up for about 28 hours before arriving at our daughter Rebecca’s home in Collierville, TN. We had a difficult time deciding between showering, sleeping and eating, but showering won out, followed by eating some Ritz crackers. We were unable to sleep, and I proceeded to receive and make phone calls to catch up on many matters. Sleep that night was most welcome, but not quite adequate to compensate for sleeplessness leading up to it.

Saturday, Rebecca, Martha and I packed the van and headed out to Arkansas for Sunday appointments at two congregations in that state. Martha and I had left temperature highs in the 80’s, but now found the lows in the 30’s, first with rain dampening our travel—followed by big, wet snowflakes. We three lodged Saturday night in Batesville, AR, in preparation for worshipping Sunday with the Southside, AR Church of Christ in the morning and the Oil Trough, AR Church of Christ in the evening. The week ahead, Lord willing, will take us to Winona, MS; Benton, KY; Nashville, TN; Collierville, TN; Winona, MS again; across Alabama, to Valdosta, GA and to Ocala, FL. Whew! I’m worn out already! Not only is there a 2-hour time zone difference between Guyana and the USA, we need to factor in Daylight Savings Time tonight!

 

Fortunate or Unfortunate?

August 15, 2016
Could have a double meaning!

Could have a double meaning!

After lunch (of leftover “Road Kill” – from the night before at Texas Roadhouse) on Saturday, August 13, I parted from my daughter and her domicile as I pointed my Gospel chariot westward toward Arkansas. Between four and five hours later, GPS faithfully and flawlessly led me to the residence of my host and hostess for Saturday night, the home of brother Harold and sister Tina Bryant outside of Center Ridge, AR. Instantly, I was at ease as though I were with old and dear friends. For supper, I was treated to a meal at the Bucket List Café, a local eatery in a small garage – complete with garage door! I’ve eaten there before, and as before so this time as well, the food was tasty. The décor on the walls consists of numerous witty signs.

Sunday, I was privileged to speak three times for the Center Ridge Church of Christ – “2015 Asia & 2016 South America Mission Trips,” “The Deity of Christ” and “Other Sheep” (John 10:16). That afternoon, I was the guest of brother Garry and sister Melissa Polk, and we dined at a Mexican restaurant a few miles away along a more traveled route than at Center Ridge. I’ve eaten there before as well and enjoyed it, too, previously and this time. Brethren know all the best places to eat!

No congregation receives me any more graciously than Center Ridge, and it remains my single largest supporter. In addition, individual Christian families of that little church participate with me financially also. The rapport we have with one another resulted in me being scheduled for a five-day Gospel meeting September 25-29, 2016. I’ll be back – Lord willing.

A number of factors influenced me to spend one more night in Center Ridge before returning to my residence in Winona, MS. A five or six hour drive over the night would cause me to arrive home around 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. – not an optimum time to be driving after being up all day. Secondly, it has been raining for days and continued to rain, which could have made nighttime motoring more dangerous. Third, I was tired.

Monday, then, I made my way along the highways and byways back to Mississippi. I had a good send off with a breakfast of waffles and bacon. However, while munching on my crisp bacon that I requested, my temporary crown on one of my molars came off, and I could not get it back on.

Along the trek homeward through parts of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, I was met with sporadic rain of various intensities. I passed at least three wrecks, two in my direction of travel, which doubtless were in part owing to the inclement weather. I, though, didn’t make it home unscathed. First, on I-40 near Forest City, AR a rock, presumably, flew up from the roadway and with a horrific impact put a multifaceted star crack in the left edge of my windshield. The crack is widening and traveling horizontally across my front glass. Then while on I-55 in Memphis, TN, yet another rock comes from seemingly nowhere and cracks the other side of my windshield! It could have been worse, and after all, I did arrive home safely, for which I am thankful to God.

So, was I fortunate or was it unfortunate that the windshield was broken a second time, obviously before I could even entertain the thought of repairing it following the initial damage? Was it unfortunate that I carried my artificial tooth home in a baggie, or was I fortunate to be able to arrange a dental appointment on Tuesday? Life is messy, and it provides innumerable opportunities to learn patience. Pros and cons considered, certainly without question, the weekend was one in which to rejoice and be happy.

Once back at the house, I attended to three loads of laundry, fed myself (without burning anything this time) and prepared “Thank You” cards to donors to my work over the past week. Nearing midnight, it’s about time to think about closing down my mobile office and heading to bed. The residue remaining that needs my attention must await the dawn of another day, if the Lord God sees fit for one more sunrise to shine and He permits me to see one more dawn.

As a sidebar, brother and sister Bryant took me to Wolverton Mountain and to the very site where the real Clifton Clowers lived, the subject of an old song. “Mountain” hardly seemed appropriate, but nevertheless, I observed what’s left of the ‘only claim to fame’ of the surrounding area of Center Ridge, AR – according to brother Bryant. I like the song and am pleased I got to put some perspective on it. Thank you, Brother.

I’m Back!

November 19, 2015
Open Air Bulk Foods with Scale (New Delhi)

Open Air Bulk Foods with Scale (New Delhi)

Whew! Eight weeks behind me, my foray into Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India concluded with my return to the USA on November 17 – one very long day! On the calendar and according to time zones, I left Bangalore, India on Tuesday (2:45 a.m. India time) and arrived back in America on Tuesday (7:07 p.m. CST), though there were 28 hours of air travel and layover crammed into the day. I had been up for additional hours the day before without a night’s rest and didn’t get into bed after arriving in Memphis, TN immediately upon touchdown. Altogether, I was up, except for snoozing on the planes, for nearly 50 hours! Being tired and getting back to the United States in time for going to bed has helped me greatly to readjust to the stateside time zones. There is an 11½ hour difference in time zones, a complete switching of night and day between here and there. India gets its days half a day before we do here in the States; for instance, when it’s Saturday night in America, it is already Sunday morning in Asia.

There was concern that the terrorist attacks in Paris, France and the subsequent closure of the country’s borders would derail my return to the USA since I was to fly through Paris. However, not only did my scheduled flight fly on time, there was no difficulty changing planes in Paris either. The ride from Bangalore to Paris, though, was an extremely rough 10½-hour flight as we skirted the war zones of Syria and Afghanistan while aloft over Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, etc. and above some of the world’s tallest mountains. The 9-hour journey from Paris to Atlanta, GA was smooth flying, but the landing of a commuter jet in Memphis, TN was shaky at best as severe winds tossed the craft violently about even as we approached the tarmac. The only snags in the trek home were my sharp back spasms and my checked back didn’t fly with me from Atlanta to Memphis.

On part of the flights homeward, I was able to work on the December issue of Gospel Gazette Online. Sometimes I seem to get more office work accomplished while overseas than I do in a comparable amount of time in the USA. Any down time abroad I have few options with which to occupy myself in my lodging in the mornings before the day officially begins or at night before I sleep. Therefore, I turn to writing and proofing literature (e.g., The Voice of Truth International, Gospel Gazette Online, books, tracts, etc.). In addition, there are fewer distractions competing for my attention.

I am recuperating at my daughter Rebecca’s home for a few days before my stateside travels resume on Sunday with a trip to Cleveland, TN. There are plenty of things on which to catch up here on which I will be working my mobile office from her living room until I return to Winona, MS.

I’m back! Over the next few days I will be making appointments to speak at churches of Christ from state to state, finalizing my newsletter for publication, preparing books for printing, publishing to the Internet the December edition of Gospel Gazette Online and attending to a myriad of ordinary and routine things.

A Little Crabby Today

October 13, 2015

96 dpi 8x10 Kyaw Sein Class2Sunday morning October 11, brother Kyaw Sein sent his car after me to transport me from my hotel in Yangon to his home in the Hmawbi jungle. There several Christians assembled for Lord’s Day worship, and it was my pleasure to present a message from God’s Word (“Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification & Sanctification”). It is always a joy for me to worship Almighty God in spirit and in truth with brethren wherever I find them across the globe; today was no different in that respect.

96 dpi 8x10 Kyaw Sein Class1What serves as the living room turns into a dining room for meals, too. On Sundays, though, the same space becomes the assembly place for Kyaw Sein’s extended family, neighbors and friends. Upon my arrival, I attempted too soon to snap a picture of brother Sein and myself – before the camera lens had time to make the adjustment from the air condition car to the humid tropical surroundings. Hence, that’s the reason for the blur. Notice, however, the traditional dress that he and I are wearing, and I am wearing an Asho tribe shirt, too. In his arms you can see the copy of Vine’s Expository of Old Testament and New Testament Words that I gave him that morning; he will make good use of it in his personal studies and translation work that he does. Following lunch of spaghetti, fruits and juice, I was ferried back to my Yangon home away from home.

Monday, brother Damon Vincent and I rode a taxi the 45 minutes to an hour to the Hmawbi outskirts, to the Hmawbi Bible School – and beyond for me. While brother Vincent taught in the morning at the school, I taught Christians, denominationalists and Buddhists at the Sein home. By request, I taught my tracts Salvation Summarized and Foul Language. Brother Kyaw Sein (pronounced Joe Sane) and one of his fleshly brothers (siblings) are translating some of my tracts into Burmese, after which those tracts will be printed and distributed.

At noon, I returned to the school, ate my lunch with the students and staff, and prepared to teach afternoon classes there. In response to a question days earlier by a Burmese evangelist present, I taught a lesson from one of my sermon outline books about “The Deity of Christ.” This was of interest in preparation for conversing with Jehovah’s Witnesses and trying to lead them truly to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday was a day of adjustments, requiring a certain amount of flexibility. First, the hotel neglected to bring me any breakfast, such as it is – two slices of toast, a fried egg, a cup of warm tea and orange drink. (While the dining room is under construction, the hotel brings breakfast daily to one’s room – or that’s what is supposed to happen.) Next, my class at the home of Kyaw Sein was cancelled for the day. Therefore, I opted with the approval of brother Vincent to stay in my room and work my mobile office while he taught both morning and afternoon classes at Hmawbi Bible School.

I had planned to venture out on foot to get some groceries and some lunch, but heavy rains convinced me to remain in my room and make do with two small apples, some crackers and spray cheese and a couple of cereal bars in place of breakfast and lunch.

Upon leaving the hotel for supper with Winsome and Sheila Vertannes, I inquired about no breakfast, and I requested my room to be sprayed for mosquitoes and to have the room made up since that had not occurred during the day either (i.e., clean towels, etc.). Sadly upon my return later, neither had the room been made up nor had towels been replaced, and not even the trash was emptied. Just to round things out, when I turned the AC on, it began to chew itself apart – making the worst loud noise; now no air conditioner. Children and adults play and shout outside my window in the narrow way between two buildings. The blast of the front desk phone sounds off a few feet down the hallway. I hope that there is enough water pressure to shower tonight.

The work is tedious, but I did manage to make significant progress on preparing literature for publication. There is still a long way to go before this particular material will be ready for public use. During the day, I worked, I rested and I have had a little bit of a crabby attitude. (Some loneliness visited me as well a little bit this day.) Fortunately, being alone, I didn’t have any arguments with anyone!

I know the blessings are bountiful, and furthermore, I am wonderfully blessed to have these opportunities to serve our Lord. Some of you make that possible. No sacrifices are being endured here in these things, only some inconsequential inconveniences from time to time that pale in comparison of the reason for being here and elsewhere where opportunities for Christian service present themselves.

Nearly a Fortnight in Florida

June 30, 2015

Glass-Bottom Boat at Silver Springs, FLFriday, June 26, Rebecca and I lumbered along a route resembling the flight of a drunken crow as we drove from Winona, MS in a southeasterly direction headed for Florida. The Gospel chariot was laden down with Bonnie’s clothes (for Martha Noland in Ocala, FL), display material, literature and luggage. Picture Rebecca and me wedged in the command module of our little black space shuttle with barely enough room for ourselves. We paused en route the next two days to consume homemade tuna sandwiches that we had prepared for our lunches.

Weary from the first day’s journey, we lodged in Troy, AL at the Best Western Inn. Rain greeted us throughout the day as well as when we left the hotel for supper. The trip that day was uneventful except for a couple vehicles that seemed to want to play bumper car, but we resisted.

Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the home of our host and hostess in Jacksonville, FL where we would linger for the next two days; brother Jeff and sister Sherri White made us comfortable and fattened us up a little with good cooking. They worship with the Chaffee Road Church of Christ, which is one of my supporters and for which I was to speak Sunday morning. For Bible class, I presented my “Overview & Update” PowerPoint about World Evangelism and my labors therewith. During worship, I presented my PowerPoint “The Church of Prophecy.”

Sunday evening, we worshipped with the Riverview Church of Christ, and I gave my “Overview & Update” PowerPoint once more. Both congregations received us well, and the latter made a special financial participation with me in my mission endeavors.

Following worship, Rebecca and I traveled to the home of Bob and Martha Noland in Ocala, FL. He has served for many years as an elder and a Gospel preacher, and of course, Martha has been a valuable component, too, in their service to our Lord Jesus Christ. Just before our arrival, we received a mobile call as we were driving that Bob was having a medical crisis. When we got to their home, EMS personnel were assisting them, and finally, they placed Bob in Bob and Martha’s van for a trip to a cancer hospital an hour away in Gainesville, FL.

Rebecca and I rode along. Test after test was performed on Bob. However, after spending hours in the Emergency Room with no progress toward admitting Bob to the hospital, Rebecca and I returned to the Noland home in Ocala. We got to bed finally between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Later in the day Monday, we gathered up the Noland’s granddaughter who had been deposited at Christian brethren and friends of the Nolands. The three of us, then, proceeded to return to the hospital in Gainesville. That evening, we returned to Ocala.

Tuesday, Rebecca and I went to a nearby Florida State Park where we rode a glass-bottom boat at the headwaters – 120 natural springs – for the Silver Springs River. Thunderstorms daily have lashed us with wind and rain; while on the boat, a ferocious storm battered land and water. Yet, beneath the surface of the river, we could see through the glass bottom of the watercraft that neither deep water nor aquatic life were the least disturbed by the turbulence above. (Incidentally, the most recent edition of the Rushmore Newsletter, which we mailed on Friday, June 19, finally arrived at residences here in Florida. I beat the mail down here. Imagine that!)

The water was crystal clear, and the depths were deceptively deeper than they appeared. We saw the bluest freshwater fish we had ever observed, plus turtles, gar and other fish. Later while walking adjacent to the river, we spied an alligator at water’s edge. We also saw monkeys, regionally appropriate birds and lizards.

So, we “played” a little – or smelled the roses somewhat. However, Rebecca and I worked as well. Finally, Tuesday evening, we completed entry of articles in a database, chronicling articles already used in The Voice of Truth International so we can distinguish them more easily from articles that have not yet been used in VOTI. We entered articles for over 300 pages encompassing three recent editions of the magazine. I also worked on Gospel Gazette Online a little plus other office work (in my mobile office – on my lap).

Saturday, Rebecca and I will travel to DeFuniak Springs in preparation for speaking all day Sunday for the Liberty Church of Christ. Between now and then, we will continue to work especially on VOTI and GGO. Monday, we will begin our return trip to Winona, MS.

Thank you for your interest in my efforts for the cause of Christ. I continue to make appointments both for stateside travel as well as overseas venues in five countries for this fall and into next year. Please pray for me, and let me know what dates you would like me to visit your congregation (mission report, preaching, Gospel meeting, etc.).

These Days

March 1, 2015

Depth of the SnowLast week, Bonnie and I worked on future editions of The Voice of Truth International, and I worked on the March 2015 issue of our Internet magazine, Gospel Gazette Online. Volume 83 of VOTI will arrive via tractor trailer this week; the same truck will bring two book titles – reprints of books we have nearly exhausted, mostly shipping overseas. Yet today, I hope to publish the March GGO to the worldwide web.

Storm Clean UpFriday, Bonnie and I made our way once more to Jackson, MS to have more fluid drained from her abdomen – about 3 liters this time. Each days remains challenging, but the calls, visits, emails and cards help to lift our spirits and encourage us. This coming Friday, Bonnie will have another chemo treatment. The following Sunday after morning worship, a sister in Christ and member of the Old Union Church of Christ will administer an injection to Bonnie that is intended to boost her blood counts to enable her to continue with chemotherapy unabated; sisters who are nurses at the West President Church of Christ are in the waiting as backups when needed.

Bibles for GuyanaBibles for Guyana300 dpi 4 x 6 Bibles 3Saturday, we had a pleasant surprise at our residence. A stranger knocked on our door and volunteered to remove the fallen branches from the snowstorm on our roof, lawn and driveway area. Pickup trucks, trailers and chainsaws in hand, a covey of adults scurried about and made short work of either cutting and hauling away the bigger offenders or taking it to the streets on either side of the property. Whereas I imagined that some enterprising fellows were out to earn a little extra cash, they were doing this without charge. I could tell by their speech and actions that they were religious, and I inquired of them where they worshipped. They were from the North Winona Baptist Church; I hope that members of the churches of Christ somewhere showed the same initiative to reach out in their respective communities. These religious neighbors were more impressive by their thoughtfulness than most any advertising, VBS or suchlike could have been. I was humbled to be the recipient of their kindness, and I gave one of the senior gentlemen a copy of The Voice of Truth International and apprised him of other literature that we have and would be delighted for them to have.

300 dpi 4 x 6 Making Space 1300 dpi 4 x 6 West President Teens 1Today, Sunday, about 3:30 p.m. we had 18 visitors from the West President Church of Christ come to the World Evangelism Building in Winona; they came to work for an hour and a half. These teens and adult chaperones worked on three warehouse projects: (1) consolidating boxes of literature to capitalize on space in preparation for an incoming shipment later in the week, (2) applying strapping tape to boxes of The Voice of Truth International in preparation for shipment abroad, and (3) inserting tracts in nearly 200 Bibles that were purchased by the Collierville, TN Church of Christ for distribution in Guyana, South America. We made sure that teens and adults were afforded some of the hundreds of books, tracts and magazines for their own consumption in appreciation of their help – behind the scenes in foreign mission work.

My AngelBy the way, I was experimenting with Adobe Illustrator along with some online tutorials, trying to learn a little about the program. In the course of such, my experiment turned out this, respecting my life’s partner, best friend and my wife – Bonnie. We remain in the service of Christ, helped along in that through your prayers and financial participation with us.

Onward Christian Soldiers

February 21, 2015

Bonnie's Chemo TreatmentSince our last blog entry, I have worked diligently on the March issue of Gospel Gazette Online. I am waiting for submissions from two staff writers to finish it up and publish that edition of GGO to the Internet. The local World Evangelism Team members in Winona, MS as well as Gay and Byron Nichols in Springfield, MO and Janet and Wayne Barrier in Florence, AL have been working on various facets of volumes 84 and 85 of The Voice of Truth International. Volume 83 hasn’t arrived from the printing company yet, so you can see that there is some significant behind the scenes lead time involved in the production of this quarterly magazine.

Hasn’t this winter weather been interesting! No snow here, just rain, cold and some ice, but my order for printed envelopes got stranded for days because of snow in the north – half of the order stuck in Ohio and the other half stuck in Kentucky; part of the order arrived Friday and the balance is scheduled for delivery on Monday.

All of the 190 Bibles we ordered for distribution in Guyana, South America have arrived. Volunteers from the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS will be inserting into each Bible a “Basic Bible Reference Bookmark” and one of my tracts, “The One True Church of the Bible.” Young people from the congregation will accomplish this a few days from now on a Sunday afternoon.

We are thankful for brethren helping we team members in Winona from time to time.  Today, mostly youths from the Strickland Church of Christ in Glen, MS came to Winona and worked in the World Evangelism Building.  They packed books into boxes for overseas distribution, loaded a trailer with literature that is also bound for abroad and counted out tracts into bundles of 25 to fulfill requests from stateside churches. Our coworkers, Jerry and Paula Bates are sponsored by the Strickland congregation.

Thursday, Bonnie and I headed for Jackson, MS for Bonnie to undergo another (the third) paracentesis, which drains fluid from the abdomen. This time, 4.1 liters (about 8 pounds worth) was drawn off; within the last six weeks, nearly 12 liters has been removed. The buildup of fluid results in pain and nausea, and so Bonnie feels better afterward. Friday, Bonnie underwent another round of chemotherapy, a combination of two cancer drugs, a steroid and anti-nausea medicine. Bonnie became ill during treatment, but additional medicine helped.

We must return to the cancer center on Monday because Bonnie’s blood counts are very low. At that time, she will receive an injection that will aid in restoring her blood counts. The picture accompanying this blog entry is of Bonnie on Friday while she received her chemo treatment.

On a side note, our daughter Rebecca was the speaker for a ladies’ inspiration day today in Tennessee. I was mistaken when I critiqued her preaching at 3-years-old, telling her that girls don’t preach. Biblically speaking, there is an arena for public teaching of the Word of God by Christian ladies, and both Bonnie and Rebecca seize those opportunities stateside and overseas, too.

Another postscript, last evening we were alerted to a popping noise and the smell of an electrical fire emanating from our kitchen. After a few failed attempts to identify the source, finally we were able to isolate the cause, suspecting that the refrigerator was the culprit. A local handyman confirmed it this morning when he plugged the refrigerator back in and it caught on fire. No damage other than certifying that we need to replace the refrigerator, which will happen Monday while we are away in Jackson for medical treatment (see above). We have resorted to an old ice chest for the interim – not so convenient but doable, of course. We are just glad we were home to intervene in the episode for fear had we not been here, the house may have burned to the ground.

Bonnie and I remain devoted to each other and dedicated to serving our Lord Jesus Christ to the fullest extent we possibly can. Thank you for enabling us to do just that. Please continue to remember us in prayers.