Posted tagged ‘good friends’

Quiet Week

May 14, 2016

It’s been a quiet week. Sister Betty Choate has not returned to Winona, MS yet from her extended world tour and visiting family in western states upon reentering the USA. Brother Jerry and sister Paula Bates have been out of town for over a week as they travel to family and church appointments stateside. Just myself with whom to interact locally, I’m proud that I’ve not entered into any arguments or disagreements! The few book orders that have come in were easily enough to handle, though there remain a couple of The Voice of Truth International subscription inquiries that await Paula’s attention.

I have worked on volume 89 of The Voice of Truth International, and shortly after all the gang returns home, it should be ready to commit to the printing company. Wednesday, I spoke for the Courtland, MS Church of Christ; I made my PowerPoint presentation about 2015-2016 Mission Trips. I was graciously received by the small band of Christians, and they posed more questions than a dozen congregations to which I go with mission reports. The Courtland Church of Christ as well as individual Christian families that worship there participate with me financially and make it possible for me to do what I do abroad. I’m thankful for their encouragement and partnership.

Yesterday, I had a trailer hitch, trailer lights and spring assisted overload shocks installed on the Town & Country van. I resisted for about two years, but the last haul of literature and Bibles to a shipping company for shipment to Guyana, South America placed an enormous strain on the vehicle. Hence next time, I will pull a trailer loaded with The Voice of Truth International magazines, books and tracts instead of ruining the car.

Today, I finally published to the Internet the May edition of Gospel Gazette Online. Anyone who happens upon it can use the monthly journal freely and the thousands of archived articles preserved there over the past 18 years of publication. In addition, around 1,600 subscribers across the world will receive notifications via email that the new issue of GAZ is ready.

The upcoming week, Lord willing, will see me speaking for the Elliott and Crockett churches of Christ on the Lord’s Day. Both congregations are in Mississippi. Tuesday, I plan to leave town for a few days and spend them with brother Therman and sister Sadie Hodge outside of Meridian, MS. They have been gracious enough to agree to coddle me for the few days surrounding the first anniversary of Bonnie’s passing. My sorrow is slow departing, and especially this month has been emotionally challenging already.

May God bless each Reader. May you and I relentlessly move forward on the narrow, pilgrim pathway, between the ditches of sin, ever mindful of the heavenly horizon toward which we trudge.

Garden Patch

July 28, 2014
Gibson Garden Patch

Gibson Garden Patch

Wednesday evening, July 23 Bonnie and I moseyed over to the West President St. Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS for Bible class. A sure enough gulley washer pounced on the delta city – literally flooding the street with water above the bottom of car doors. After an hour following class, we ventured out of the parking lot with some uncertainty about the wisdom of doing so. We still had to drive through that deep water for a ways turning away from the deepest area. Next, we had to worm our way around unfamiliar streets to avoid a downed tree that blocked our planned exodus from the area. Though we thought we would not face any more flooding once we made it to the US highway, such was not the case; more cars were stalled on the 5-lane road. After seeing other vehicles successfully navigating the flooded area, we ventured onward, plowing slowly through floodwaters high enough potentially to fill our Town & Country. Remarkably, when we arrived back in Winona, MS – two counties east, we found that no rain at all had fallen there.

Saturday, Rebecca departed Memphis, TN for Guyana, South America. However, she did not arrive in Linden, Guyana until 2:15 a.m. Mechanical problems on the airplane on which she and several others of the mission team were flying stranded them for hours in Port of Spain in the Caribbean Sea. Other than a brief text confirming their arrival and the delay, we have not heard from her or from any of the team since. We trust that she and the other Christians with whom she is traveling will serve our Lord well for the next week.

Early Sunday morning, Bonnie and I left Winona, MS in our Gospel chariot for our daylong appointment with the Indianola, MS Church of Christ. During Bible class, I made our PowerPoint presentation about our 2014 Mission Trip to Guyana, and for a.m. worship, I preached “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today.” That night I preached “Did Dinosaurs Really Exist?” Several members were either out of town or ill; with visitors, including Bonnie and me, 23 assembled that morning.

We dined for lunch in the cafeteria of Mississippi Delta Community College, which essentially is across the street from the Christian Student Center, operated by brother Gene and sister Madolyn Gibson – our host and hostess for the day. Madolyn is mighty proud of her garden patch, as she should be. She gave us the grand tour, and that evening fed us from the garden with her homemade vegetable soup. Finally, we arrived back at our Winona home around 10:30 p.m.; we were tired and soon turned in for the night.

Monday was another day at the office/warehouse, wherein we interacted with our coworkers, Jerry and Paula Bates as well as Betty Choate. Among other things, we loaded a shipment of books bound for foreign countries on a tractor-trailer; we packaged orders of books and tracts for stateside churches of Christ – some of which would make its way abroad through those churches; etc. I completed the filling out of pages for and proofing of volume 81 of The Voice of Truth International; after Betty Choate reviews it also, Bonnie will put the digital document in book form, and I will digitally package the journal for the printing company. Then, we will send it through the mail to the printer in Taylors, SC.

The Bates leave for overseas this week, and Betty leaves next week for California to be with family. Bonnie and I continue to flesh out our calendars for stateside and overseas appointments through November; we will depart the USA around the first of October and return just before Thanksgiving. In the absence of other Winona team members in August, a tractor-trailer should arrive with graded curriculum all the way from the printer in Hong Kong; Bonnie is unable to assist with warehouse duty, and so, I’ll have my work cut out for me! Other heavy boxes bound for the Philippines should ship during the same timeframe, too. Of course, there will be daily shipments stateside.

These are the highlights. Each day promises to have more in store for us than we can possibly accomplish. We seldom have a reason to get bored. We wouldn’t have it any other way, as we endeavor to serve our Lord the best we can, as long as we can and in every way that we can.

Winding Down the Days

January 23, 2014
Mississippi School of Biblical Studies

Louis teaching at Mississippi
School of Biblical Studies

Bonnie and I are winding down the days before our next trip out of the country; we depart the USA on February 1 for Guyana, South America—where we will be for the entire month of February. We have a rigorous schedule that will place our seminars within reach of every Christian in the country.

Saturday, January 18, we made our way to a new venue for us—the Oil Trough, AR Church of Christ. A few weeks ago, Bonnie and I passed through the small community of Oil Trough on the way back from a Sunday appointment, but we had never visited brethren there. It was our good pleasure to be welcomed into the home of brother Garland and sister Shirley Ann Hankins. Shortly thereafter, we were joined by brother Terry and sister Shirley Ann Brady, in whose home Bonnie and I would lodge Saturday night. It is always so good to make personal friends of Christian brethren hitherto before we had not met, and such was the case especially regarding these two couples.

Sunday for Bible class, I made my PowerPoint presentation about 2013 Mission Trips. During worship, I preached “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” Saturday night and Sunday, Bonnie and I were fed better than we deserve! Further, we thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship, encouragement and financial participation with which the congregation lifted us up.

Monday being a holiday, Bonnie and I worked from the house in the comfort of our dual reclining, overstuffed loveseat. That’s the kind of office furniture I really like! Dual laptop computers a blazing away resting upon identical lapboards, we prodded ahead on a number of things. Monday and Tuesday, Bonnie and I collaborated, with the help of Jerry Bates’ assembling a file to upload, to publicize over a hundred tracts added to the online book store.

Wednesday was a busy day! We drove from Winona to Jackson, MS in the morning for two doctors’ appointments for Bonnie; she passed in flying colors checkups at both the Women’s Hospital and Jackson Oncology Associates. She has the green light to leave in just over a week for the tropical excursion to the jungles and remote areas of Guyana—though the oncologist cringed when we explained our itinerary. That evening, I continued teaching the Book of Job to the adult auditorium class of the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ in Jackson. We stayed over again in the home, enjoying the kind hospitality of one of the elders and his wife, the Leggetts.

Thursday morning, Bonnie and I made our way to the meetinghouse for the church and commandeered an office for the day. Bonnie worked on lessons for the classes she will teach in Guyana, and I worked on the online book store, my lesson for the Mississippi School of Biblical Studies that night and on a lesson for one of my classes in Guyana. From 6:25 p.m. to 7:25 p.m., I taught, “The Mechanics of Preaching: Organization & Word Choices.” We managed to arrive back in Winona, MS by 9:15 p.m. (Bonnie did get excited on I-55 in the construction zone at Madison, MS when a tractor trailer ran us off the road; I have a hard time finding the horn on my car, but apparently once I did find it the driver heard it and returned to the passing lane where he was so that we could resume our travel likewise in the slow lane.)

Saturday, our daughter and a group of Christians from the Collierville, TN Church of Christ will conduct a workday at the World Evangelism Building; they come annually and help us with cleaning, trimming the shrubbery, maintenance, packaging books for overseas shipment, preparation of mailings, etc. That congregation sends families, so the youngest attendees will be about 4-years-old and the oldest will be—we don’t talk about that! Besides everything that gets done that we cannot accomplish easily by ourselves (Betty Choate, the Bates and us) while attending to other matters, helping brethren are a great encouragement to us. They also get to see some of the behind the scenes aspects of what goes into mission work. It’s a win-win situation for them and us, too.

Yes, we’re winding down the days! One day and one week to go before we depart the USA for Guyana, South America for an entire month. We solicit your prayers.

Weekend in Florida

November 12, 2013

Saturday morning, November 9 Bonnie and I left Winona, MS and headed for DeFuniak Springs, FL to worship with the Liberty Church of Christ. About eight hours later, we arrived at the Best Western hotel in that city. We had crossed through parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and we were both exhausted. We shared a chopped steak and baked potato in the hotel restaurant, and then, retired to our room to rest in preparation for the Lord’s Day. Immediately after finishing review of our respective lessons for the next day, Bonnie became seriously sick, but by morning she was well again and rested.

Sunday morning, Bonnie taught the ladies during Bible class, and I taught the men. She taught her chapter from her book Living Principles about “Mrs. Peter”; near the conclusion of the class, Bonnie also answered sundry religious questions. I taught my lesson “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” During worship, I preached my sermon “The Purpose of Preaching.”

Brother Harold and sisters Rita and Ashley Bigham treated us to a buffet lunch. We spent awhile after we had surrendered our eating utensils enjoying one another’s company and talking. Afterward, Bonnie and I resorted to the hotel for some afternoon rest before evening worship. At 5 p.m., I presented two years’ worth of PowerPoint lesson to catch up the congregation on our foreign mission work to Asia and South America.

The small congregation is one of our supporters, and nearly every member personally encouraged us on this visit. The Liberty Church of Christ holds up our hands in foreign mission work. We are dear to each other in the service of the Lord and for His cause.

Monday, we spent the day making our way back to Winona, MS—through parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. I think Bonnie held up better on the return jaunt than I did. We opted for an alternate route back that avoided metropolitan areas and that was very scenic. An hour from home, we stopped to buy groceries in Starkville, MS. Finally, we pulled into our driveway at 7 p.m.

(One of the reasons we opted for the route we pursued going back home was to try to find one of Bonnie’s missing earrings. Upon my return home from Myanmar a few weeks ago, I gave Bonnie a pair of pearl-shaped jade earrings for pierced ears. Sunday night, she discovered that one of them was missing from her ear. That night and the next morning, we searched the motel room. In the morning, we searched the car. Before leaving DeFuniak Springs, we checked with the hotel staff, personnel at the restaurant where we had had lunch on Sunday and at Arby’s where we had eaten supper. Lastly upon leaving town, we stopped back by the grassy parking lot of the Liberty Church of Christ to look there. Neither one of us expected to find a little earring lost in a big world, but Bonnie did find it outside the meetinghouse.)

Tuesday found us refreshed from the previous night’s rest. I did my exercises, and Bonnie resumed exercising some on the exercise bicycle. We had breakfast, after which we readied ourselves for the day and went to the office. There is much work to be done on every side and in every place to keep us busy for Jesus Christ. We are thankful that friends and brethren are willing to keep on Sending the Light of the Gospel, whereby Bonnie and I are permitted to keep on Taking the Light of the Gospel abroad.

The Next Three Days

September 12, 2013

Rodney Nulph FamilyTuesday, September 10, Bonnie continued to work on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International that will go to the printing company. We need to get it done before I go overseas October 3 so I can put the finished product into the form needed by the printers. However, we are running out of time. I proceeded to prepare additional pages of Gospel Gazette Online for September – obviously late by now; it seems apparent that the October edition and maybe the November edition as well will be late. I must also prepare lessons for my upcoming three weeks abroad in Myanmar (Burma) plus six months of Wednesday evening Bible classes beginning in November.

Bonnie and Martha Noland also attended a ladies’ class hosted by the Lisbon, OH Church of Christ. Around 3:30 p.m., we drove two and a half hours to Columbus, OH. We met our son Raymond at a restaurant, whereupon we enjoyed his company for a couple of hours before returning to the Noland residence in Hanoverton, OH. We were saddened that our daughter-in-law and grandchildren opted not to accompany Raymond.

Wednesday morning and afternoon, Bonnie and I continued to work on The Voice of Truth International and Gospel Gazette Online. About 3:30 p.m., Bonnie and I traveled to Medina, OH, whereupon we met up with brother Rodney and sister Julene Nulph with their children at the local Pizza Hut. After enjoying good fellowship and tasty pizza, we all made our way the block or two to the meetinghouse for the Medina Church of Christ. I made my PowerPoint presentation on our 2012-2013 Mission Trips; we were very well received. Rodney Nulph is an outstanding young family man and preacher – worthy of inclusion in many a congregation’s future Gospel meeting plans.

BIG KNIFE!Thursday morning, the Nolands and the Rushmores headed for Ohio Amish country – Sugarcreek, Berlin and Kidron. This trip has become, I think, our annual pilgrimage when in this part of the USA. On the edge of the Amish realm, in Dover, we paused at the gift shop for the Warther Museum. There, Martha purchased one of their famed knives made on premises. Next, we drove to our favorite gift shop in Berlin, mostly window shopping, though we purchased some small things. (We don’t really need anything, and we are flying between this region and our southern home, so we can’t take anything substantial on the plane.) Of course, we stopped at Heinis Cheese Chalet outside of Berlin; Bonnie bought some cheese as well as some Amish cake mixes.

The little shopping we did behind us, we drove to our true destination – the Dutch House Amish restaurant at Sugarcreek. This is one of our favorite places to eat of anywhere we travel in the world. German-American, old-time country cooking at its best! It was all the better with two of our dearest and longtime friends Bob and Martha Noland with us. The large sumptuous salad bar (including German, sweet mustard potato salad), the equally large hot food bar (including pulled beef cooked long and just right) as well as desserts (i.e., chocolate cake and bread pudding) were sheer delight to our taste buds. Exceptionally good service in an environment trimmed in finished oak everywhere one looks complemented the experience.

Lehman's HardwareFinally, we headed for Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, OH. To our surprise, the established significantly recast itself since our last visit into an extravaganza of shopping intertwined with antiques. Like the other stops on Thursday, truly Lehman’s is a destination in itself. Once serving the Amish communities with new wares comparable to what our forefathers used generations ago before modern times, Lehman’s serves a world community now with merchandise seldom seen elsewhere, nevertheless which is serviceable to Amish and country folks across the planet. The several thousand square feet of building with unique items interspersed with antiques would take days to adequately survey, but we did not have that kind of time at our disposal.

We four eventually headed back to Hanoverton, OH so we could ready ourselves for a Gospel lecture in Lisbon, OH. Our good friend Rodney Nulph was the speaker, doing an admirable job with his assignment, “Overcoming Apathy.”

The days are full and the night’s rest is precious and all too brief. Tomorrow is another day (Lord willing) which I am sure will prove no less filled to the brim with this and that. Bonnie continues to do well, snoozing in the car if necessary along the way to bolster her strength.

Fly-Over, Drive-Through

September 9, 2013

airlinerFriday morning, September 6, Bonnie and I began by loading our car for our impending absence for a week and a half. One suitcase was for our night in Collierville, TN with Rebecca that night in preparation for our departure by plane from Memphis on Saturday morning; also included therein were clothes for the night of our return by air to Memphis and lodging with our daughter once more. Bonnie and I also packed two checked bags, two carryon bags and two computer bags. The last stop in Winona, MS before leaving town was the World Evangelism Building, whereupon we loaded empty spots in the two checked bags with tracts, copies of The Voice of Truth International, ballpoint pens, etc. (Later Friday night, we had to shift literature between checked bags to bring one of them within the allowable weight.)

With Winona in the rearview mirror, Bonnie and I headed south on I-55 to Jackson, MS for her weekly chemotherapy. Hours later (around 3 p.m.), we retraced our route north on I-55 toward Memphis and Rebecca’s home in Collierville. Having made provisions ahead of time, we dropped our van at the Chrysler dealership in Collierville for repair over the several days we would be gone.

Saturday, Rebecca dropped us at the Memphis International Airport on her way to Saturday School (for her and other teachers’ errant students). Our flight path took us from Memphis to Atlanta to Pittsburgh. Tiring as the journey was, especially for Bonnie, it was less tiresome than had we driven (in a sick car) from Mississippi to Ohio. We flew over numerous states (e.g., Alabama, Tennessee, etc.), and upon landing in Pittsburgh, PA, we picked up the rental car we had reserved. Then, we proceeded to drive from western Pennsylvania, across the northwestern panhandle of West Virginia and through northeastern Ohio to Hanoverton. There, we proceeded to lodge with our dear Christian friends Martha and Robert Noland.

Sunday a.m. we were with the Hanoverton Church of Christ. For Bible class, I taught Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship? During worship, I made our PowerPoint presentation of 2012-2013 Mission Trips. After Martha’s crockpot lunch of roast beef, potatoes and carrots, the Nolands and I (minus Bonnie who remained behind to rest) went to a nursing home in Lisbon, OH. It was my pleasure to speak to the residents in attendance. Then, I was delighted to preach at the Hanoverton congregation’s 4 p.m. worship my lesson, The Purpose of Preaching. Afterward, the Nolands carted Bonnie and me to the Massillon, OH Church of Christ whereupon I again presented 2012-2013 Mission Trips. I spoke five times in three cities!

Monday morning and afternoon, I worked on the late September issue of Gospel Gazette Online. The four of us paused for lunch at our favorite regional Mexican restaurant in Salem, OH. Upon our return to the Noland home, Bonnie rehearsed the lesson she had prepared for teaching a ladies’ class in Hanoverton that evening. While Bonnie and Martha participated in the ladies’ Bible study session, Robert and I attended a Gospel meeting in East Liverpool, OH; I greeted brethren with whom I have been acquainted for decades and from whom we have been parted for years. Each place, including East Liverpool, to which we have gone and to which we will go, I am leaving sample tracts, The Voice of Truth International copies, newsletters and pens to promote our good work and encourage participation by other brethren.

Our four-day weekend was filled to the brim! There was little time squandered, and the variety of things encountered and the places to which we went were plentiful, too. We don’t usually have to concern ourselves with the likelihood of becoming bored. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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.