Here’s to a Great March!

Mar 5 – Mar 25
We’ve moved about 100 miles north from our Feb spot (Lake Placid Camp) and are getting settled in our March ministry location – AIM (African Inland Missionary) Retirement community in Minneola, FL.

Although we’ve been in Florida this winter, each location has been home to some very different ministries. December we were in the panhandle, serving at the Teen Challenge school in Bonifay. January we were in Lake Wales at the Care Center – not working directly with their clients, but rather in their thrift store which supports their ministry. February we were at a more traditional conference center, and this month we’re at another new-to-us ministry – a retirement center for AIM missionaries.


I’m not sure what exactly we’ll be doing, but I’ve heard that the interaction with these lovely folks who have dedicated their lives to sharing (and living) the Gospel in Africa is inspiring. We’ll be working with seven SOWER couples (all new to us except one couple), so it will be a grand time of expanding our SOWER family!

Yes – Here’s to a Great March!

 

Ft Myers Connections

Back in the mid ‘60’s a young college graduate came to stay at our house as she started a new job in the Philadelphia area. My Dad’s mother was her grandfather’s sister (or some such tenuous family connection), so of course my parents welcomed her with open arms.  She came for a week – and stayed for a year! And what a year that was! Even though I lost my bedroom to her, for this young teen having a cute, bubbly, sophisticated, twenty-something in the house was great fun!  I can’t guarantee my ‘remembering’, but I think she stayed with us until she married Ted and then she moved into a nearby community. She and Ted (and then their kiddos) stayed a part of our lives for many years, but as often happens, connections were eventually lost. Mom and Dad moved, we moved, life happened.  We connected again briefly in the late 90’s with the passing of my parents,  but before long we’d once again reverted to the occasional “I wonder what’s up with Josie and Ted?” remembrance.  Not too long ago that little thought resurfaced and I decided to do a bit of Facebook sleuthing. Much to my delight I located her daughter (now living in NYC) and contacted her (‘you might not remember me, but your mom lived with us for a bit last century!”).  She DID remember our family and shared that her mom was now living in Florida, as her dad had passed away several years ago.  This past weekend we were able to meet up with her, and while we couldn’t exchange hugs (ugh, COVID), our smiles were bright (though behind masks when appropriate) as we caught up with each other for the many years we’d lost touch. She had stories (“I remember the first time Gary picked you up for a date!”) and we had stories (“Remember when I borrowed your fancy hairpiece/braid to make myself look older?”). And then, of course, there was all the grandkid bragging. We only met for lunch, but what a grand lunch it was. Josie, we loved reconnecting with you – and pray that we will see you again next time we’re in the area. And hopefully that time there WILL be hugs!
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Back in the mid-70’s a young couple started coming to our church in Willow Grove. He was a medical student, and she a teacher. They lived nearby, were in their early years of marriage and hadn’t started their family yet. Just like us. We were fast friends before we knew it! By the time he’d finished up his medical training, we been through a fair bit of life together – birth of our daughter, an early miscarriage, and now we were both pregnant.  Their decision to set up a practice with a colleague (and friend) in Ft. Myers, FL, made us sad, but as we all know, life goes on! Thankfully, Gary’s mom also lived in Ft. Myers, so we were confident we’d manage staying in touch somehow or other! And we did – well, sorta-kinda! Thankfully, there are some friendships that weather the ‘sorta-kinda’ staying in touch better than others, and anytime we are in Florida we do our very best to invite ourselves over for a weekend!(Yes, we are THOSE friends!) Once we’re together, the years just fall away and it’s back to the wonderful camaraderie that we hold so dear. Jim and Sue – you know we’ll be back!
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UntitledIt’s probably been over 5 years since we’d heard from Gary’s older sister, Judy. We were pretty sure she lived in the Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda area, so last year and this year we made some attempts to contact her. There was never any estrangement, just a lack of communication.  She has had many health struggles over the years, and even her kids had not heard from her in several years. None of the phone numbers we had (or could find) were good.  But since we were in the Ft. Myers area visiting with Jim and Sue, we extended our visit and Gary and Jim spent Monday morning driving to different agencies to try and locate her. Last known address – no one had any info. Chamber of Commerce (looking for senior housing suggestions), no luck. Area police department – can’t help, but maybe the local Sheriff Dept can assist you.  The local sheriff was able to help – and in fact was familiar with her!  She was in a senior group home in the area (he could not disclose the name or location), and was able to contact the supervisor there to see if she would be willing to speak to Gary.  Sadly, she declined.  While he was disappointed that “it wasn’t convenient” for her to speak to him at this time, there is still peace in having located her, believing she is in a safe environment and that she knows that her family has reached out to her.  He left his contact information with both the sheriff and the supervisor, and we are hopeful that she will contact us in the future.

Connections. They are truly a treasured gift.  Our time in Ft. Myers included beaches and seafood and pinochle, but most importantly, it included precious connections.  And for that we will always give thanks!

 

 

Final Week Frolics

Oh, my! What a busy last week we’ve had!! We ladies continued  cleaning rooms and buildings for this weekend’s guests, and the men were busy finishing up (and starting it seems) some great projects. No need to post any pictures of us ladies cleaning, but let’s just say that cleaning during a pandemic gives a whole new meaning to phrase ‘getting things ready for the next group’.

The men didn’t quite finish that slip’n’slide, but they got pretty close.
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I think it’s ready for the final vinyl finish!
They not only finished up expanding the dock
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they also designed and built a pretty nifty kayak rack on the new section.
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All done!
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These guys just went from task to task to task- stairs, gutters, decks, docks, signs…. and did a great job of gettin’ ‘er done!  What a crew!
But about those kayaks…
Judy and Mark (our brand new SOWERS) had already taken a kayak out on the lake a couple of times, and had been encouraging us all to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful lake. It was now or never, so what started out as a ladies’ afternoon activity turned into 5 couples donning life jackets, grabbing some paddles and heading out for a kayaking adventure!
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(Only Mark was brave enough to bring his phone on our adventure, and we’re so glad he did!)

It was a perfect late afternoon unwind.
But then Gail yelled over to Gary – “I’ll make a $10 donation to SOWERS if you climb up on the trampoline and jump!”
In that moment, what started out as a calm time of fellowship on the still waters of Lake Placid, became a challenge to remember!
You can check out the You-Tube videos if you want to see it in action, but here are a couple of stills so you can get the gist of just what this entailed.IMG_0655

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Yes, pretty much my face says it all!




Miraculously, the kayak never went over – and I’m pretty sure those brand new SOWERS will never forget this early introduction to the 2020-2021 SOWER President! (I’m also pretty sure he should’ve held out for a bigger donation!!!)

There’s more to share about that last week, but it’ll have to wait for another day! It’s been a great project – and we were so sad to see the first rig pull out this afternoon.
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Sniff.
You’d think I’d be used to the ‘farewells’ after all this time. But we’re so thankful for the time we got to spend here, for the new friends we’ve made, and for the opportunity to serve at Lake Placid Conference Center.

And for a kayak that did not tip over.

It’s been a good month indeed!

Thanks for coming along on our crazy kayaking adventure!
Steph

It was inevitable

The curtains were done and hung.

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The rags were hemmed and stowed away

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The mattresses were mended and returned to their bunks

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So finally the inevitable happened.
Housekeeping. Cleaning. Showers and toilets and mirrors and floors!
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With the layoffs precipitated by the COVID shutdown, we volunteers are essentially the Housekeeping Crew these days. So while I was happy to be on “Team Sewing” for the first half of the project
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I was more than willing to join Team Housekeeping as the weekend approached. There are four small groups herethis weekend (Yea for the revenue flow!), so let’s just say there is job security for next week too!
But lest you think we ladies ONLY do scrubbing and vacuuming, with a bit of painting thrown in when necessary, we do manage to find some light hearted moments as well!
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A little cheesecake at the cabins we cleaned.

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Anticipating the new improved slip-n-slide!

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Helping the men move some lumber….

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Doing a bit of Quality Control on the new hammock/swings….

And doing a bit of princess on a pea on our needs-to-be-mended pile of mattresses!
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We ended the week with a lovely ladies luncheon combining ROAMers and SOWERs-
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And then a wonderful gathering of area SOWERS at a park in Lake Wales.LakeWalesGatheringFeb21
It was grand to see so many folks – old friends and new!

It was a great second week! Next week the ROAMers are ‘off’, so it will just be the six of us SOWER couples manning the chores.  I’m pretty sure we’ll be kept nice and busy!

Hope you’re all having a blessed weekend-and a special Birthday shoutout  to our beautiful DIL, Tammy!

Steph

 

Mondays are for Memories – Joy in the Journey

CraterLake-19I was talking with our kids in Waco today, and they are chilled.to.the.bone. The roads are snow and ice covered (have you ever seen a snow plow in central Texas?), the temps are barely reaching the twenties, and there are ‘rolling blackouts’ as communities try and conserve electricity. As my dear daughter-in-law (who moved to TX to escape winter) said – “Texas, you have betrayed us!” Since I am not chilled to the bone these days, I thought I’d look back to a time when we came across some crazy snow in late April, 2016.

Joy in the Journey – May 2, 2016
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Sometimes we drive just to get to our destination. Sometimes it’s even a long drive. But this last week, while our drive was long (almost 1300 miles) and we were pointed at a final destination (Lake Retreat Camp in Ravensdale, WA (SE of Seattle)) we tried to take that road less traveled when it was possible and take time to stop and smell the roses (or walk in the snow as the case may be) along the way.
Want to come along?
Heading on our way! After 4 months in the desert we're excited to be heading to some trees! Washington, here we come! Oregon, we'll be enjoying you along the way. 🚍 🌳 #ontheroadagain
Although we did have to hop on to Interstate 5 for a bit to get through Sacramento, we mostly drove on Route 99 and then 97. Rte 97, in fact, took us from Weed, California right through Oregon and almost up to I90 in Washington. We drove through valleys, scaled (or so it seemed) mountains, crossed rivers and drove along beautiful lakes.
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Along with the gallery of pictures below, HERE is a link to the album on Flickr. (I’ve put captions on most of the pictures, but apparently unless you click on each picture, you won’t be able to see them. I’ll have to talk to Flickr about that!)


Our two main stops were –
Lava Beds National Monument
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Have you ever heard of this place?
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It was very interesting – lots of lava, beautiful views
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and lots of caves to explore. We weren’t really expecting to go spelunking, so we stuck with the one lighted cave (Mushpot) and one other that seemed pretty easy (Skull). As in no duck-walking or crawling easy. Yeah, we’re not into that. Of course, my phone died just as we were entering the Skull cave – so you’ll have to trust me that it was pretty cool!
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The caves found in this park were created by flows of smooth lava thousands upon thousands of years ago. In another part of the park was a huge rock outcrop with petroglyphs –
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I’ll confess that the petroglyphs were a little disappointing, but the rock itself was fabulous!
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(Full album can be seen HERE!)
and (continuing the sentence back a couple of pictures!)
Crater Lake!
We’d heard about how stunning it was – and I’m sure there is a lot more to do in the summertime when things are actually open,
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but draped in the beauty of snow – this was still a crazy beautiful experience!
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We are so glad we bundled up and stopped to see this amazing lake that was formed when a volcano erupted and collapsed upon itself. So beautiful!
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More snowy pictures HERE!

We thoroughly enjoyed our drive from the desert to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The scenery was varied, fuel prices were low(ish), our stops were outstanding, and arrival at Lake Retreat welcome!
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We caught sight of Mt. Rainier today on our way home from church –
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Looks like there will be more ‘sploring in our future!

PS – Here’s a music video of the song “Joy in the Journey” by Michael Card. It’s not so much about RV travel (not at all, actually), but about our journey with Christ. It’s worth a listen if you have a minute (or 3).

Seeing the country……Serving our Lord!