Made it to Lake Michigan!

This is pretty cool – it’s 10PM and it is just now dark. We’re just outside of Traverse City, enjoying a Cracker Barrel parking lot. At least we know where we’ll be eating breakfast! The drive was uneventful – just the way we like them – but the scenery was lovely. We head into our July project tomorrow morning. New places, new people, new adventures.
We ate tonight at Don’s Drive-in – a spot we found in our Food Finds book. It’s a classic 50’s era drive-in diner with all the typical embellishments. It was built the year Elvis went into the Army – and is very retro. Yummy burgers, Coney Dogs, and made-with-real-ice cream milk shakes. Yummmmmmm.
This looks like it will be a great month!

Fun things to do, but not when driving the RV!

One of the hardest things to do in an RV is to actually be a tourist and do tourist things. Since we were driving through central PA on our way to Michigan we decided to make a couple of “POI” (that’s Point of Interest) stops along the way. Friend Janet had recommended that we stop at the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, PA. It’s the oldest brewery in America, so it sounded like a fun stop. Now Pottsville is a medium size town in the heart of coal mining country that is built (you guessed it) into the side of a mountain. The town if full of small one-way streets that have about a 10-12% grade (like the roof of our old house!). The brewery is right in the middle of town. Did that deter us? Noooooo…..in Gary’s thinking if those big trucks could get in to get the beer out, there certainly had to be ample parking for RV’s. Wrong. We drove past the brewery – the only parking was on the street. Not even a small parking lot. OK, so we’ll go up the hill and come down behind the brewery. Surely there would be parking there. Wrong. We started down the street behind the brewery which began as a nice wide residential street. Things were looking pretty good until we rounded a corner and saw our nice wide street turn into a single lane one way street. We couldn’t make any of the turns (onto alley-size) one way streets, so we had no choice but to continue on. Now remember, we are 39 feet long, towing a pick-up truck making our total length about 60 feet and we’re 100” wide (plus mirrors). We’re also pretty tall – low branches and wires are always a consideration. Oh, and did I mention that while towing the truck we can’t back up? So, at this point, folks are jumping off porches to guide us through the tight spots as we slowly lumber down this itsy-bitsy street. Every time we came to a car parked on the side we literally had to jump the curb to drive partly on the sidewalk to avoid hitting anything. To Gary this was still a challenge – to me….well, it’s not exactly even close to any “comfort zone” I have ever been in! We finally came to a wider spot and parked (and some of us started breathing again). Unfortunately that was the spot that the Yuengling trucks use to turn around, so we had to move – and contine down the hill to the main drag. We finally got back to the main street and started back up the hill past the brewery. This time we snagged four open parking spots just past the brewery, filled those meters with quarters, and enjoyed the tour! It was pretty interesting – and free! We skipped the tasting part, ‘cause after all we had to figure out how to get OUT of Pottsville without going down that other evil street. Gary (King Driver that he is) managed just fine and we were soon on our way. To ANOTHER small mining town with alleys they call streets to visit the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine. Finding this spot wasn’t quite as traumatic – it only took one slow loop around one block for us to find the little one-way steep street that led to the mine. I know school busses must do this one, but I bet the drivers draw straws to see who gets that run! At the mine we actually road a mine car (adaptation) into a mine shaft and saw how the actual process worked. It made me very happy not to have been a coal miner!

That was Monday. Today was a little more mundane. We almost stopped at Edison’s birthplace in Milan, Ohio, but when we checked and found out that there was no parking….well, that was a no-brainer!!! =)
Boring Route 80 all the way. Just us and the trucks that are moving America!

Our Testimony at FBC

We asked if we could share what God has been doing in our lives these last 10 months with our church family at FBC and did that (in 3 minutes!) this past Sunday….. Here is what we said…..(Well, there might have been an ad lib or two , but this is pretty close!)
GARY
Hello!
We asked Dan if we could have a couple of minutes to greet our friends here at First Baptist, share what we’ve been up to for the last 10 months, and frankly, to issue a warning. As many of you know, after years (literally about 6 – ask any of those friends we dragged to countless RV shows!) of praying, researching, planning, and dreaming, we took off in an RV for a year on the road. Our plan was nebulous at best – taking our time as we wandered across the USA, seeing the sights and exploring America. We had joined a group called SOWERS, who do service work at different Christian ministries, and planned to do a couple of those projects along the way, but probably not before January of ‘05. We took off August first of last year from the church parking lot. The dream was now the reality.

STEPH
Well, it took us 6 weeks to realize that, as wonderful as a time we were having seeing new places and connecting with family and friends (and it had been amazing), maybe God had a different purpose for us in our travels. We decided to sign up for our first Sowers project, months before we had anticipated doing so. We headed to a small Christian School in Vienna GA where for three weeks we mowed grass, cleaned refrigerators, repaired leaky pipes, did bulletin boards, made curtains, repaired playground equipment or whatever else was asked of us to support the ministry of that small school. Before the project was through, we were in love! In love with the people of that small community, in love with students of the school, and more in love with Jesus who we felt was calling us to take a bigger part in the Sower Ministry. We essentially looked at each other and said, OK,– so this is what God had in mind when he worked out all of the details for this year “off.”
GARY
Just a word about SOWERS – it stands for Servants On Wheels Ever Ready. In its Constitution, their purpose is stated as –
To promote the Kingdom of God, assisting Christian churches, schools, colleges, camps, retreats and other Christian ministries through the organized teamwork of concerned volunteers: by giving assistance in repair, construction and maintenance work, to those needy Christian ministries as approved. In other words, we do the work that no one else has the time to do because they are busy doing their ministry work!

There are about 1000 active Sowers – working anywhere from one project a year to 12 projects a year. There are about 200 projects all across the nation (and into Canada and Mexico). Some of the projects near here are Keswick, Sandy Cove, WEC International and Montrose Bible Conference – where we first learned about Sowers.

STEPH
Since that first project in October, we’ve worked 5 other projects. From Group Homes for troubled kids to a Teen Challenge Military style Boys Ranch to a beautiful retreat center in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas, we’ve been privileged to use our gifts and skills for the Lord. We’ve been greatly blessed at each of these projects. Seeing the great diversity of the Kingdom of God, meeting His children in unexpected places, working along side newly found brothers and sisters in Christ – these are blessing much greater that the amazing places we’ve visited. Lord willing, tomorrow we’ll be unplugging our RV, making sure everything is secure and heading out to our mission field. Our July project is at Lake Ann Baptist Camp in Michigan, then on to Wisconsin and Minnesota before we start heading south for the winter (yes, that’s a very good thing when you live in an RV!) South Texas will be our home for Jan – Feb – Mar as we work at different ministries that are reaching out to the Mexican people.

We invite you to join us on our journey. Our website is rvthereyet.org and we hope you visit often. We’ll be in the gym lobby between services with more information about SOWERs and our adventures. Mostly, we covet your prayers. We are hopeful that this New Journey we’ve been led to will be one that goes on for a long, long time!

Oh, and that warning……just when you think that THESE (Fun hat and sun glasses) will be the important items of your day……it turns out the THESE (rubber gloves) are what will be really important! Proverbs 19:21 says it best….

Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
But it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

We’re excited to be going about our Lord’s business! Thank you for your prayers!

Sorry it’s been sooooooo long…..

OK, OK…so it’s the end of the month already! I promise not to let this go so long again. Honest.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been here in the driveway for over a month! It’s been a good home visit, but I think we’re ready to hit the road. We haven’t sat this “still” for quite awhile. And the reality is we haven’t sat very “still” at all……..
—We’ve managed to empty out the house expect for the Piano, and a couple of pieces of furniture that my nieces are coming over to get shortly.
—The garage sale went well – and a missionary family from our church was having a fund raising yard sale the next weekend, so we had a place to send our leftovers.
—My sister Joie came and collected a large selection of furniture and family “stuff” that will be distributed to a couple of her kids.
—The remaining Conrad Life (that isn’t traveling the county with us) has been condensed into 15 boxes. AMAZING! (and freeing!)
—I got to get together with my Quilting Buddies (field trip to Lancaster complete with a pajama party at the EconoLodge), dear friends from my old church (Calvary Presbyterian in Willow Grove), dear friends from our current church (First Baptist of Doylestown), and my good friends from my old job at HPI – both at the office and socially. (Not to mention Girls’ Week with my sisters, but I already wrote about that!)
—Gary had a chance to get together with his buddies from United Refrigeration. Nothin’ like a little Guy Time to make you feel at home.
–We’re in the middle of negotiations for the house sale! We really love the folks that are interested in buying the house – and we’re hopeful that it will all be a reality before too long. As always – this is in the Lord’s hands, and we’re waiting on him!
–We’ve both been to the doctors – both for allergies and congestion along with those regular check-up things. Aside from a little high blood pressure (which can probably be remedied by loosing some weight!), we both have a clean bill of health.
—We got some maintenance chores done at the house and feel that it’s in pretty good shape for us to head out on the road again.
—We got to see lots of our good buddies, the Ikoniaks, who not only take care of our mail, but have also graciously offered to store our 10 boxes of “life” while we are on the road. We will surely miss them!

So we leave tomorrow for the drive to Western Michigan – just outside of Traverse City. Our July Project will be at Lake Ann Baptist Camp – and judging from its website, it looks like a great place. We are anxious to hit the road again. In many ways I feel as though the last 10 (almost 11 now!) months have been training. And that NOW we are really heading out to our great adventure!

P.S. Gary & I shared our testimony today at Church. I’m trying to figure out how to link to the page – but can’t quite figure it out tonight! It’s past my bed time, and tomorrow is a busy packing up and getting on the road kind of day! I’ll get this posted and try to add some details in the next couple of days!

Is June half over?????

WOW – it’s been awhile!!! Even though we’ve been sitting “quietly” in our driveway, we’ve been extremely busy. I was able to spend the first week of June with my sisters at our family cabin in Vermont (Check out the Family Pictures page for more details about that wonderful week and some family shots – but just so you know why I love this place so, here is my traditional “cabin from the pond” shot, and one of the beautiful sunsets we watched from the back porch.)

Poor Gary was left home alone without even a phone! He was busy doing odd jobs around Lizzie, getting his old work truck ready to sell, and generally enjoying some peace and quiet. He’s been a little under the weather with some allergy junk so I think he did a little extra resting too! Since I’ve been home it’s been gardening, sorting through stuff, deciding how to get sell some of the remaining furniture in the house, and generally working up a long range plan for the house. We’ve been able to get together with friends and have really enjoyed our time here on our home turf.
Yesterday was the wedding of Jeff Davis and Christine Matticola. It was really the reason that we decided to come home for June – and it was a delightful event. It was made especially nice in that Toby, Tammy, Ellie & Hayley were here for the weekend. It was great being around the little ones – and even pretty darn nice catching up with Toby and Tammy. Here’s the family at the wedding –

And here’s one of our “extra son” Jeff and his bride Christine.

We’re very glad we were able to join them in this celebration!

Seeing the country……Serving our Lord!