Category Archives: On the Road

Before we start April…..

Let’s finish up March, shall we? (Oh, you say, but it’s already April 6th! I understand your confusion. But let’s just say – for today only, that it’s the end of March. Please?)

Following our March SOWER project at Panfork Camp, we hit the road for Big Sandy, TX where the 2019 Texas Roundup was being held. We pulled in a couple days early
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but before long the campground was full of rigs (and SOWERS ready for a great Roundup!).
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A SOWER Rally (or Round-up as we like to call’em here in Texas) is simply a gathering of any SOWERS who can make it – whether you’re just starting out on your SOWER journey or have been serving for decades – for a time of fellowship, fun, and ministry refreshment. For us personally it’s a wonderful time of reconnecting with folks we’ve worked with in the past and also an opportunity to meet some of the new faces that we hope to serve with in the future. Between the speakers and the activities, it’s always a great reminder of just why we do what we do. This year’s Round-up was no exception! Here are just a couple of the highlights –

  • We were blessed two mornings with messages from Lew Sterrett and his team from Sermon on the Mount.
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    So many Biblical lessons were shared – if you ever have the opportunity to hear him (or someone from his ministry) I urge you to take advantage of it! He was excellent!
  • We shared lunches and dinners together – always a great time of fellowship! Whether it was catered by ALERT or a good old fashioned (and always delicious) SOWER potluck
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    (Oh yeah, baby. Desserts!)
    Or the beautiful banquet ALERT put on for us –
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    (Don’t ask me what I’m doing in this picture – I haven’t a clue!)
    the fellowship around the table is always sweet!
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  • Our days always started with a time of worship, and we were led by the incredibly talented Salty Strings.
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    John and Connie not only share Christ through their music ministry, they are SOWERS too!! We loved getting to meet them and get to know them!
  • Another tradition at SOWER rallies is the auction. While it’s true that we are basically just trying to sell stuff we don’t want to other folks that don’t really need any more stuff, we certainly do try to have a good time while we do it!
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    Money was raised – and laughter did happen!
  • But of course, the main attraction and true blessing of any SOWER gathering are the people!

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Oh, my! When we all joined hands and sang our SOWER theme song, the room resounded with “Hear Ye the Master’s Call!”
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(If this picture is just showing several blurry white balls, and you would like to actually see the picture, just click on the picture. 🙂 )

We can’t thank enough all the people that worked to put this most excellent Roundup together and ALERT Academy who once again so graciously hosted the event! What a wonderful way to finish up our busy winter season!
We pulled out on Wednesday, delighting in the spring green, and ready to tackle our next project!
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Getting Our Kicks on Route 66

I cannot say that we have gone out of our way to explore “The Mother Road” – Route 66. But in our almost 15 years (!!!) on the road, we have bumped up against it once or twice.
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Back in 2008 we followed it for day and ended up in Oatman, AZ – now most famous for their wild burros.
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Many years later (2017) we found it running through the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert
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Right now we are serving at Panfork Camp, located between Wellington, TX and Shamrock, TX. Route 66 goes right through the middle of Shamrock, so you know it’s a pretty big deal in these here parts. In fact, one of the art deco buildings (a gas station with a cafe) was the inspiration for one of the buildings (Ramone’s House of Body Art) in the Pixar Cars Movies.
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(Ramone’s screen shot from this website)
We loved checking out this iconic building – now the visitor center. We may or may not now own a “U Drop In” T-shirt.
From Shamrock we headed East, part of the way on Rte 66 and part of the way on Interstate 40, with Elk City, OK in our sights. Elk City is home to the Route 66 National Museum Complex. Oh my, there was so much to see!
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and really????
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Women did that???

All in all it was great fun to explore this little section of Rte 66! I’m glad we’ve bumped into it again in our travels!

The Great East Texas Area Rep Road Trip

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Five Nights
Five Beds (one motel, two projects, two friends)
1387 Miles
Eleven Projects

It was ambitious plan. As East Texas Area Reps, we’re “responsible” for the fourteen projects/ministries in our East TX/LA area. Being “responsible” means that we visit (or at least call) every year or so to check that all is well and we also handle any problems that may arise (like questions about the RV sites, how the ministry operates, that kind of thing) during the course of the year. Gary decided that with a little planning we could visit eleven of those projects during our week ‘off’ between our January and February projects. So the planning began, and all the puzzle pieces fell into their correct spots, and oh-so-early on Friday morning (was that just a week ago??), off we went!
(Did you know that Google Maps limits the number of destinations you can put on a map? Hence the skinny blue line, where I had to approximate the trip from our final group of projects in the Lindale area back to our house in Harper. We did manage to squeeze in a quick stop in Waco, though, for some hugs and our mail!)

But back to the trip….
Although we were quite exhausted at the end of it (more the five different beds than the trip itself), and quite honestly are so thankful that we took notes during each visit because already we’re trying to remember who said what, it was a great trip. We have worked at most of these projects, so we already had some relationships with the staff going into the visit. It was lovely to touch base with folks and as an added bonus we got to catch-up with many SOWER friends who had been working at some of the ministries we visited. I’d like to say I took gobs of pictures at each stop, but the reality is I did not. (I know, it’s a major failure on my part.)  As we visited with the hosts at each ministry, it was such a blessing to hear of the “God Stories” of blessings and lives changed through their ministry.  I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but one of the best parts of this journey we’ve been on is seeing just how BIG God is!  Our little group of projects include many camps and retreat centers, a training center and seminary (geared largely to men leaving prison), an international medical ministry and a discipleship training facility.   How humbled we are to be able to serve at each one!  (I’ve included links to each project at the bottom of the post if you’d like more information about any of them!)

So since this was a Road Trip, it only makes sense that most of my pictures were of The Road.  Although we’ve traveled most of these roads before (who can forget I10 across the bottom of Louisiana), we did take a different route going from Gulf Coast Church up to Acadian Baptist Center.  We took the FREE ferry out of Galveston
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and traveled up Bolivar Peninsula instead of fussing with Houston and I10! It was a beautiful drive and well worth the few extra miles that it added to the trip.
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If you’d like to see a few more photos from the road trip – you can check them out HERE!

After we got back to our rig in Harper (you know, that skinny blue line), we packed up and headed to our February SOWER project – Forest Glen Springs – outside of Rosebud, TX. Now that we’ve had two nights back in our own bed, we’re beginning to get ourselves back in order! First up was getting this blog updated, and now I’d better get those eleven Area Rep Reports actually written up and sent into the office!!
Thanks for stopping by!

Here are those links I promised:

Camp Tejas, Victory Camp, Gulf Coast Foursquare Church, Acadian Baptist Center, Dry Creek Camp, Camp Cho-Yeh, Forest Glen Camp, Trinity Pines Camp, Calvary Commission, Mercy Ships, YWAM.

 

Catching our breath

Before the next round of beautiful family chaos begins!!

We left Waco yesterday,
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and have Lizzie settled in for her own holiday (without folks).
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Today we’ve been busy packing and getting ready to leave the ol’ girl for almost 2 weeks. Still have a fair bit of that to do, but I figured I’d better get a wee bit of updating done before the next round of grandchildren!

What a great stay we had in Waco with Josiah and family!! Yes, we were super busy with pre-sale house projects, but we (well, me especially) managed to carve out some great grandboy time!
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On our last day I was able to join them in an impromptu visit to the Dallas Zoo!
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Love this shot of the family in the giant nest!
Because it was a last minute plan, Gary had to stay back to collect his tools and get things packed up for moving the RV. I so appreciated him shouldering that load so I could go!
Back on the house front – the shed is complete!
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Even the garden area is put back together. =)
The electric upgrade? Not so much. Everything is running, but that Pandora’s Box on the second floor will have to wait until we come back in February. And my grand painting plan? Nadda. Just still looking at those paint chips. The house will be empty when we return for weekends in February, so I’m hoping we can really make some headway with getting it ready to sell. We’re still on track for selling it to friends (they need to sell their house), so all our plans are moving forward.
We’re so thankful for the work we got done, but more thankful for the time we got to spend with our Waco family. Tomorrow we wake up early to hop on a jet plane and fly to Columbus to celebrate the rest of the holiday season with our Ohio families!
I bet you know what that means! It’s unlikely that there will be much activity in this corner of the internet, so let me take this opportunity to wish you a Christmas filled with hugs and kisses, and a New Year filled with blessing!

God’s Kind Providence

In the wonder of technology, my photo app reminded me that we were in Galveston, TX last year on this day. That reminded me that it was a year ago that Gary lost his wallet. And that reminded me of another wallet story from this summer that I don’t think I shared with you. So here goes!

Remember when we had Maddie for a week this summer? We started off that great adventure by meeting up with Maddie and her family at a park in Washington, PA, to retrieve her for our adventure week. We had a lovely picnic, played some games, and then we went our separate ways, Gary, Maddie and I heading back to get the RV in Chambersburg and Toby and family headed back home (for a lonely week without Maddie!).
We were almost back to Chambersburg when we stopped for gas. And Gary realized he did not have his wallet. My heart sank as I remembered the hassle of the lost wallet just the previous November.

“Did you have it out earlier” No. Not since we stopped for rolls and I know I put it back in my pocket. (We called the store anyway to check.)
“Maybe you left it in the rig?” Nope.
“Maybe it fell out when you sitting in Toby’s car?” No – we called and he searched.
“Maybe it’s somewhere in the truck?” Nope, we tore it all apart. (I did find a Christmas ornament I thought I’d lost. But no wallet.)
The next day we called everywhere we’d stopped along the way to see if anything had turned up. No.
We called the park to see if anyone had turned it in. Or mowed over it. No. Nothing. Nadda.

Now normally I would have gotten busy, cancelling credit cards and working on replacing insurance cards, driver’s license, etc. But we were heading off on a vacation and needed those accounts. (I have two credit cards that live in the motorhome, but one of them had a very low credit limit and the other one was in the process of changing from a Visa to a Mastercard and I hadn’t received the new cards yet.) I still had my cards that we could use and while I wasn’t sure it was the smartest move, I decided NOT to cancel the cards and wait until we returned from our Adventure to sort out all that needed to be done.
Every day, several times at day in fact, I’d check in with my credit card and bank apps to watch for any suspicious activity. All seemed quiet. I knew we weren’t out of the woods, but we seemed to have been given a bit of grace.
The week flew by, and soon we were on our way home. We had stopped for fuel for the RV and I’d already fielded one “Suspicious Activity” call from our Visa card which always happens when we fill up the RV and charge several hundred dollars.(Yes, that is our life.) We were in trying to get sandwiches made when the phone rang again. I didn’t recognize the number and was about to let it go to voice mail when I decided to answer it after all.

“Hello?”
“Can I speak to Gary Conrad?”
“Who’s calling please?”
“This is blah-blah-blah and I believe I have his wallet.”
WHAT!!!!
“Oh, let me see if I can find him!”

I wasn’t in on that conversation (still chasing down those sandwiches), but the long story short is that someone had turned it in at the visitors center at Fort Necessity National Battlefield. Now we had driven past that National Park and had even commented that it would be an interesting  stop to make, but we had never so much as driven through the entrance. Or even slowed down as we went by.

Needless to say – we were totally astounded!!

What was lost had been found. The cash was gone (maybe $40 – a finder’s fee, right?), but all the cards were there. We were able to pick it up the next day as we traveled back down the same road to reunite Maddie with her family.

We have no idea how the wallet got to the visitor’s center at that park, and the wallet isn’t sharing any of the adventures it had while we were out making memories with Maddie.
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While I’ve remained vigilant in keeping close tabs on my accounts (and Gary’s wallet!), I can only give God all the praise and glory that in His kind providence, our wallet found its way home!