Category Archives: SOWER Projects 2021

Backing up

No, not what we’re supposed to do FREQUENTLY with our computers and other devices.

No, it’s not the backing up you do when you need to get out of a parking spot.

It’s the kind of backing up where I need to fill in some of the blanks from my sad lack of blogging over the last several months. So, I’m going to give it a shot to get this little corner of the internet back up to speed (whatever speed that is!).
First up – our zipping out, zipping back, six night, four motels, trip to Texas last week. (Was it really just last week?)
Our time in Texas was pretty much all SOWER all the time! And while the Trustee meeting was of upmost importance (at least for Gary), the Texas Round-up that happened early in the week was certainly the highpoint for us!
It was a bit smaller this year thanks to our constant life-interrupter COVID-19, but it was special in so many ways! Among our group were at least two couples who hadn’t done any projects yet (and one of those was a ‘second generation’ SOWER – Mom and Dad had served years ago! We had even worked with them back in 2008!). Others had just completed their first project, and some only had two or three under their belt. It was so exciting and encouraging  to see that we ‘seasoned’ SOWERS were outnumbered by the new kids on the block.  I loved meeting these new folks that the LORD has brought into our ministry!

Along with wonderful fellowship we also were blessed to be part of constructing 10,000 (yes, that’s ten thousand) booklets of John and Romans to be sent overseas.
The booklets
Collating the Gospel
Part of the collating team
And more.....
The staple team
Stapling team
Thousands ready for the next step –Thousands of Gospels going to the Philippines.
They’ll get trimmed and then packaged to go. It was inspiring to think about this portion of God’s Word getting into so many hands – and hearts, we pray!
Working on that Scripture project was very meaningful and I’m so glad it was incorporated into the Rally. But there were also many, many light-hearted moments as well!
Like jelly bean balancing
Jelly bean balancing
Or jelly bean rolling
Jelly bean roll
or (my personal favorite) Peep Target shooting
Peeps rubber band target practice (photo creds to Michelle Malek)😉
(Photo creds to new SOWER (and friend) Michelle Malek!)
Our Game Masters (Gail and Wayne) kept us thoroughly entertained.  (or perhaps we were the ones entertaining them!)
Capture the egg competition
While laughter was an ever present guest at this gathering, there were some serious moments too. We had some Group Leader training (with lots of good questions) and a Q&A for the trustees that were present.  With so many new-ish SOWERS it was a wonderfully informative time.

We finished off the Round-up with a ‘formal’ banquet hosted by the ALERT Academy staff.
Complete with a harpist.
What a lovely evening!
All of the laughter, inspiration, encouragement, and fun made for another excellent gathering of our SOWER Family!

If you’d like to see additional photos (along with pictures of individual couples in attendance) you can check them out here!

I’m not gonna lie – it was an exhausting week. But oh the joy that came with it!

The New Neighborhood

Once again we have found ourselves in an entirely new neighborhood. I honestly don’t think we have ever been in this neck of the woods before (though I’ve been wrong before about places we have or haven’t been. Just ask Gary!). But at any rate, I KNOW we’ve never been at this particular SOWER project before – mostly because it’s only been in our SOWER Family of Ministries for a year or so!
This month we are serving at The Potter’s Place – Psalm 91 in Central, SC – which is not to be confused with central South Carolina!
The town of Central, SC, is actually quite far west in the state, and is home to (among other things) Southern Wesleyan University and is just east of the town of Clemson. (There’s a university there too, I hear!)

This ministry is focused on three areas –
To provide an environment of quiet solitude where those who come can seek God and be molded into the vessel “The Potter” desires (Jeremiah 18:1-4).
To provide a place of respite for full-time pastors and missionaries who need rest and renewal.
To serve other Kingdom building leaders from Churches, para-church and humanitarian organizations.

We arrived mid-afternoon today and are still in recovery mode from our boomerang trip to Texas this past week (as in I’m still working on clearing out the back seat of the truck and has anyone seen the peanut butter?), so we haven’t done much exploring yet. But we’re looking forward to the month for sure! We’ll be working with two other SOWER couples, one experienced and one on their very first project! As an added bonus we have friends in the area and we are excited about connecting with them. And with a couple of other SOWER projects within driving distance, you just never know what adventures might be instore!
I have a very good feeling that April 2021 will be a great deal different than April 2020.

A Family Weekend

We’ve just wrapped up our last Florida weekend of 2021 (or so it appears now), and it was a very fine weekend indeed! In some very special ways it was filled with family – lots of different kinds of family!
It started out on Friday with a casual gathering of about 25 SOWER couples who have either been working in the central Florida area or live in the area. It was pretty low key – bring your own chair and lunch, social distance as you were able, and enjoy each other’s company before folks begin the great northern migration!
As you can see, we were blessed with a picture perfect day!
(and just for fun – here’s a shot a SOWER friend took of somebody being bossy – again!)
Although we started out in that nice round circle, we soon gathered in clusters of conversations – catching up with old friends, meeting some new friends, and generally enjoying the time of connecting with our SOWER family. Such a lovely day!
Saturday  morning was filled with our more ‘traditional’ family. We started with being able to live-stream a singing and dancing competition of one of our Ohio granddaughters.
(Full disclosure – this is not a photo from Saturday’s performance, but it is a photo of the dance troupe. Toby circled Maddie for me because between the masks and how fast everyone was moving, I’d had a hard time figuring out last time which sweet thing was our Maddie! I know, bad Gramma – but really! At least this time I was smart enough to watch it on my computer instead of my phone!).
I never thought to take a screen shot because I was just enjoying the performance so much! They were amazing! We both were so glad to be able to be part of the ‘audience’  even from so very far away! Great job, Maddie!
Later that same morning I spent about an hour on Zoom with young builder Alex. Every month she gets a box with some type of building project from Kiwi Crates, and we work together to assemble it. This month it was a treasure chest!
Screenshot 2021-03-20 11.46.02
It can be a little challenging since I don’t have the instruction book and am trying to explain it to her after just watching a video or two of how the project is supposed to go. Thankfully, Mom and Dad are usually close by to help! We somehow muddle through it with lots of giggles and grins – and it’s really something I look forward to doing with her each month!
To make the morning all the more special, I ended it up with some reading time with the Waco Boys.
Screenshot 2021-03-20 13.05.47
I confess that this little reading project is a work-in-progress, as we make our way through “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”. We haven’t settled in to a very regular schedule, and our last reading time was several weeks ago. Life happens. The little one in the middle rarely lasts very long, the 6 year old enjoys our time together but I’m not sure he’s really ‘getting’ the story. He politely raised his hand just after I started.
“Yes, T? Do you have a question?”
“What kind of cheese do you have?”
No cheese in the story, but it seemed to be pressing to him! =) Cheddar, by the way.
W, at 10, follows along – but I not sure he’s really ‘into’ the story. I’m not giving up on this “Reading Time with Grams” concept, and I’m determined to finish the book (at least I want to know what happens to all those penguins!), but maybe we’ll have to a bit more research before we start our next book. Suggestions, anyone?
We finished off the day with our ‘family’ here at AIM! Residents and volunteers alike were invited to a Corn Hole Tournament, and we couldn’t resist the challenge.
Somehow we made it to the final round of the consolation players.
And with great concentration on my part…..
We actually WON! So we were officially the champions of the losers. Or something fitting like that!! All in all, a very fun way to spend a chilly Saturday afternoon.
With all those good family vibes going on, we joined our good SOWER friend Bill for worship and one last meal together on Sunday.
Oh – I forgot! We had a lovely campfire on Friday night with our SOWER family too!
It was a weekend chock full of all kinds of family deliciousness!
And for that I am so very grateful!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you weekend was filled with some family time too. Virtual or otherwise!

When Worlds Collide….

In a good way!

Because we have friends that were missionaries in Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) for many years (decades?), we’ve been checking with folks that we meet (here at the African Inland Mission Center) if perchance they have met these dear friends of ours.  Mind you, they served under a different mission organization and Africa is pretty darn huge, but still – you never know what paths might have crossed.  So far we’ve only met one (who had been a teacher at Rift Valley Academy) that had a good recollection of our friends (or of their kiddos!). So imagine our delight and surprise when we discovered an entirely unexpected connection while enjoying dinner at one of the residents’ home.
“So where are you folks from?” asked our sweet hostess.
“Well, we’ve been on the road for the last 17 years, but we raised our family outside of Philadelphia.”
“Oh, we have family in the Philadelphia area. Where about were you?”
“We were in Bucks County, near Doylestown.”
“My – I think that’s where Les’s sister lives. What town is she in, dear?”
“I think Ginger lives in Jamison now.”
“Wait – Jamison? That’s where we lived! And are you talking about Ginger Smith*?
“Yes, that’s Les’s sister!”
“Her son married my best friend’s daughter!”
“Yes! Leslie and Pete. We were at their wedding!”
“Well, so were we!! Oh my, this is crazy – and so very sweet! I had no idea that Ginger was raised in Africa!”

The conversation flowed easily for the rest of the evening as stories upon stories were shared. Needless to say, the most dramatic story was of Les telling of his encounter with a 16 ft. python in a sugar cane field. It wasn’t a “Oh look, there’s a python up in that tree. Let me kill it” story. It was an “I’m going to die if I can’t kill this beast that is rapidly wrapping himself around me” story.
Now THAT’S a story!!

We’ve loved meeting so many retired missionaries, and hearing how God is continuing to work in Africa and around the world! And we especially love when our different worlds so happily collide.
What a blessing to be here!

*Names have been changed..just because we thought it was a good idea! You just never know these days, right?

Life at the Retirement Center

We’ve worked at a lot of different SOWER projects over the years – camps and conference centers, rescue missions, group homes, children’s homes, schools and colleges, and even some US headquarters of international ministries (like Mercy Ships and MAF). But we’ve never before worked at a retirement center. But this is not just a retirement center. It’s home to missionaries who have served our LORD faithfully on the African Continent in years past (and some even to this day!). This retirement center offers reasonably priced housing for folks coming off the field, and also provides wonderful community for these precious saints. We SOWERS on the project join with other volunteers for inspiring devotions (often from those retired missionaries), and then get to work doing whatever needs to be done. Although there are no current building projects, many of the lovely duplex homes here have been constructed by SOWERS. This time around the guys are working on everything from cutting down trees to moving hot water heaters to general maintenance.

Untitled Untitled

(Not real sure what Gary is doing here, but it had something to do with moving a hot water heater from the laundry room to the garage. Mission was accomplished by mid-week!)
We ladies started out the week cleaning a house that had recently been vacated so the new folks coming in would find everything spic and span! After that was accomplished, we moved to windows! Lots and lots of windows!
The SOWER grapevine had prepared me for window washing here at AIM, but as it’s said – “Many hands make light the work”. Nothing like some SOWER team work to get the job done! (Now if I could just sign them up for my place!)
Another service offered to these retirees is some general sewing and mending as needed. Since my hand always goes up when they ask if anyone wants to sew, I joined fellow SOWER Diane in the sewing room for a couple of hours towards the end of the week. A bit of pajama hemming, a little hand sewing, and some easy ‘rag hemming’. Our next sewing project though will be a bit more of a challenge. The facility has many upholstered chairs where the fabric on the chair back is failing. And failing in a big way. They’ve totally reupholstered about a half dozen and have found the results lovely, but too labor intensive to be practical. So we were asked if we could figure out an easier way to make covers for the backs that would end up being both economical and attractive.
We’re thinking pillowcase-ish and dropcloth fabric. Monday will be our prototype day – so I’ll keep you posted!

We finished off our first week with a yummy hotdog roast and some great fellowship around the campfire.
Ah….a lovely week all around!