Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking Back

Our time in the states has come to an end. We have travelled over 4500 miles in the car. We have loaded and unloaded our luggage 13 times. We have been in 12 different churches, 10 of which Marc spoke in. We have been on two college campuses. We have spent precious time with family and friends. We have used hundreds of phone minutes. Thank goodness for rollover minutes. I have eaten the best Mexican food in Fairview Heights and Columbus and points in between. I have eaten hamburgers and bacon and biscuits. I have been to Sonic and had cokes with ice. I have been to Wal-Mart so many times that I am tired of it. I have hugged my kids and hugged my friends. I have made new friends. There has been girl time way into the night, let's-grab-a-cup-of-coffee moments, lunches with friends. We have shared our ministry with many in churches, in homes, in restaurants and many other places. I have laughed and cried. I have been re-energized, renewed, encouraged. I have my batteries recharged. I have been blessed by everyone with which I came in contact. Today, we went to the best three year old birthday party ever. What fun. Now it is time to return to Honduras and I am ready. There is much work to be done in 2008. And we can't wait any longer to get busy.

This year has been an interesting one to say the least. Our daughter was married. A year ago, I had no idea I would be moving to Honduras. Oh my, the changes that have occurred in our lives. There is absolutely no way to adequately say how grateful I am, for family, for friends, both old and new, and for every act of kindness I have been shown. Thank you is not enough to all of you that email, send e-cards, send books or jergens lotion. The ones that just keep me up to date on news and events, the ones that encourage and pray. Even though it seems inadequate for all you do for me, all I can say is thank you.

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel back to Honduras and as we begin our work again. Please share your prayer requests with me as well.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Old Barns

As we have travelled the last month, I have taken note of the old barns. From the flat farmland of Illinois to the rolling hills of Tennessee to the Smokies, to the tall pines of Georgia, to the empty cotton fields of Mississippi to the brushy, cattle-grazing ranchland of Texas, I have seen barns. All kinds of barns. Tall barns, short barns, big barns, little barns, fat barns, red barns, white barns, green barns, black barns, metal barns. Personally, I like the wood barns in the midwest more than the metal barns in Texas and Oklahoma.

Most barns of any age at all, and some that are not so old, have seen their share of storms. Some barns have completely crumpled from the storms and are now nothing more than a broken pile of wood. Some barns are tilting and fragile as if the slightest little gust of wind would be the end of them. Many barns, after they have withstood all kinds of storms, are still standing. Oh yes, they show the signs of having lived through the storms. Some are just a bit saggy and their boards are silvered, having aged during the storm. Even though they are worse for the wear, they stand there knowing they survived the storm.

Whatever storm you might be facing, I hope you end up with a few more silvered boards and not as a broken pile of wood.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007


This year for Christmas we spent less. We shopped less. We made less preparations. We sent no Christmas cards. We got caught up in the franticness less. Even in the busyness of travel, we sat and visited with friends and family more. We listened more. We talked more. I got beat at spades again. We enjoyed that precious time with family and friends more. We had the best Christmas ever. I hope you did.


Monday, December 24, 2007


We have been in the states for over three weeks and have been in many places, mostly churches sharing our work. I have not done a good job of recording these visits, but we have been warmly received in all of them. Last night we went to Wheeler, Texas, a small town just over an hour from Borger. Unless someone grew up in the Texas panhandle, it is hard to describe just how friendly people from these little towns can be, and Wheeler was no exception to that general rule. Wheeler has a population of around 1000 and it was a cold winter night right before Christmas. There was not a huge attendance, but those that were there opened their hearts as if they had known us forever. Marc always does such a good job with or without powerpoint. Even with powerpoint during only part of the presentation. We visited a while after church and then moved that visiting and fellowship to the diner, the only thing left open after 7:00 at night in Wheeler. As we continued visiting and talking about our work in Honduras, I feasted on a hamburger. The kind of hamburger I was thinking about when I previously wrote that I wanted a hamburger while in the states. The kind of hamburger that only little diners can make. A hamburger thrown on the griddle and cooked just right. Then the buns are thrown on the griddle and grilled. The kind of hamburger that is hard to eat without making a big mess because it leaks. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and the food, and, as always we left Wheeler with more new friends.

I do hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blizzard Conditions

We are now in Borger, Texas. This is where both Marc and I grew up. Our families still live in this little panhandle town. Last night when we went to bed, the weather prediction was blizzard conditions by morning. And they were not wrong. The temperature was in the twenties, snow was falling, and the wind was blowing with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. I like the snow when I can stay inside and watch. Marc's dad built a fire in the fireplace and most of the morning I alternated between watching the fire and looking outside to watch the blowing snow. Matt, being from Baton Rouge, had never seen weather like this. I forgot I was not in Illinois. When I dared to venture out, I was thinking all the streets would be cleared. That was not the case. No snow removal equipment here. It did warm up this afternoon into the mid-thirties and a good portion melted. It should be really cold tonight.

We are here until Wednesday and will be enjoying this time with our families.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Columbus, Mississippi

After we left Pigeon Forge, we went to Atlanta and spent some time with our friends and shared our work with some of their friends. Then we left for Columbus, Mississippi.

Counting where we are currently living, we have lived 10 different places. Each and everyone of them has been home. In every single place, we have made and kept good friends, we found a church we loved and could actively serve. There were always favorite eating places and favorite sightseeing places. Good memories were made. We had good times and bad times and had people to rejoice with us or stand beside us. Everytime it was time to leave a place, I felt I was leaving part of myself and taking part of the place with me.

What makes Columbus, Mississippi so different. It is definitely more than the southern ways, southern customs, southern hospitality and southern food, most of which I found endearing and heart-warming. It is more than dogwoods and azaleas, magnolias and crepe myrtle. In part, it is where our kids grew up. Those fond memories of hot Krispy Kremes and Chick-Fil-A on youth group trips. Football games and soccer games and band trips and eating at Wendy's after every cross country meet for six years. Those precious memories everyone has from the place they watched their kids grow up. All of our kids graduated from high school while we lived in Columbus. Nathan was baptized there. Just a few miles from Columbus we happily watched Nathan take Julia, whom he met in Columbus, as his sweet, lovely bride. Six months ago we all returned to Columbus to watch our daughter pledge her love and become Mrs. Matt Fitzgerald.
It was the best of times and the worst of times. We also sat weeping and sobbing, surrounded by friends and family, not only from Columbus, but from everywhere as we buried our oldest child. We were supported during our grieving and during Nathan's struggles that followed the loss of his brother.

That is what makes Columbus, Mississippi different from other places we have lived. When we left for Illinois, we left a little bit more of ourselves behind.

It is always fun and exciting to return to Columbus. Visiting with friends is always fun. It is bittersweet as well. It is often we are there and, with tears, remember the best of times and the worst of times.


Monday, December 17, 2007

A Day With Camille

It is pretty obvious what I did today. We drove to Searcy from Starkville, Mississippi late last night so we could spend the day with Camille. First stop: McCain Mall in North Little Rock to see Santa Claus. She talked about that all they way to Little Rock. After pictures with Santa, we took her shopping and let her pick out some clothes. Of course, I guided her to the sales racks. As we were paying, Camille was laughing and happy. After lunch, we headed to Wal-Mart to do some of our Christmas shopping. She wanted to ride the horse at the entrance and of course, she was granted that wish. After looking at the fish and walking up and down the toy aisles, we did what we needed. By this time, Camille is getting tired so we headed back to Searcy. Marc graciously volunteered to stay and take a nap with her while I frantically tried to finish my Christmas shopping.

Camille is almost three, just that wonderful age for Christmas. To see and share her excitement about every little thing, Santa, the lights, the trees, the presents, was a delight and joy today. I hope everyone can have that childlike awe this holiday season.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hiking in the Smokies

The last few days has been spent and the next few days will be spent enjoying the blessing of family and friends and sharing our ministry. Today was spent enjoying the blessing of nature. We hiked two different trails in the Smoky Mountain National Park with its breath-taking vistas. The clean, crisp, pine-scented air was hanging all around us, with a blue-as-blue-can-be sky above us, and temperatures in the mid-seventies. The forest floor was plushly covered with a golden brown carpet of leaves. There were not too many people on the first trail and the only sounds we heard were an occasional car from the highway and the leaves crunching under our feet. I was armed with a camera around my neck and, instead of the usual Spanish-English dictionary, the trail guide. This was, by far, the easier of the two trails. Both trails had a water fall. This is not really water fall season, but both were beautiful, even though they were only partially full.

The second trail was not only more difficult, but longer as well. I could not have kept up with Marc even if I had so desired. I was busy taking in the scenery around me and, of course, taking pictures. As the trail went higher and higher, it became more rugged. Then my time was spent watching every step I took. A misstep would have surely meant a long, long fall. We were rewarded with a beautiful fall. Marc and I were glad we decided to hike that trail. As we headed back down, we were talking about how beautiful the trail and the falls were and how glad we walked the trail and how glad we were we didn't try to walk the trail with the kids when Nathan was about four. We both could picture him running and jumping along the cliff side of the trail without any comprehension why we were about to have a stroke.

Today was a beautiful, enjoyable day. Tomorrow we are on the road again as we head for Atlanta and then Mississippi on Thursday.


Monday, December 10, 2007


We arrived in Nashville Thursday night. Friday and Saturday were spent with friends that work in this ministry with us. It was a time of renewal and planning for 2008. We then drove to Kingsport. I was eager to see a part of Tennessee I had never seen before. We left Nashville after dark, therefore, I didn't see anything Saturday night. Yesterday was so foggy that I still didn't see anything. We went to church and Marc taught a Sunday school class in each time slot. We knew only one person when we got to church Sunday morning. We left having several new friends, some of whom will be joining us in Honduras this summer. We spent the night with some friends and enjoyed that time as well.

This afternoon we left Kingsport for Pigeon Forge. We have a couple of days before we need to be in Atlanta. I was not disappointed. The sun was shining and I got to see this beautiful country. It was 69 degrees. With the Smoky Mountains surrounding us, it was almost like we were back in Honduras. We had a pleasant drive and have done nothing this afternoon. So far, we have either been ahead or behind the bad weather. Thanks for the prayers.


Friday, December 7, 2007

A Unique Beauty

I am not hitting the internet as often as I thought I would since we have been in the states. We are in the car a lot of the time and Marc and I are sharing a computer, his computer.

When I moved to Illinois three years ago, I could look around and see it was flat, very flat. After living in the mountains and coming back to Illinois, it seems to me that the flat farmland became even flatter in the last two months. I have always loved driving through the Illinois farmland. The past few days were no exception. We rode along and saw miles and miles of flat, flat farmland. The only things we saw scraping the sky was an occasional silver-domed silo and furiously spinning windmills. Smoke was curling from the chimneys of the white wooden farmhouses. Even the cattle were huddled together trying to wind a refuge from the bitterly cold wind. The stubbled cornfields were patiently waiting to be plowed again. I silently rode along, intently studying the tranquil landscape before me. Only God paint this flat country into something uniquely beautiful.

As we drove south into Tennessee, there was still some fall foliage clinging tightly to the tree tops. I really did miss the beautiful fall colors of the midwest this year. I was fortunate to glimpse the last of the color.

I began to realize that God gave each part of this country and each part of Honduras and each part of every country some unique beauty, if we only choose to open our eyes and see that beauty. I hope you see something beautiful where you are today.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Our House

After a long travel day on Friday, we finally arrived in Searcy around 12:45 a.m. Saturday. The kids wanted to do Thanksgiving so Nicole and I got up at 6:00 and cooked all day. We sent Matt to Wal-Mart at 6:15 for the first forgotten item on the grocery list. Around 10:00, Nathan, Julia and Camille showed up and Camille hit the door running, saying "Grammy, my grammy." Just what Grammy needed to hear. Of course, being the grandmother, everything Camile said and did was the cutest, sweetest and smartest. We had a great time and a great meal with our kids.
We went to early church with Matt and Nicole at Downtown Church of Christ and left a few minutes before church was over to go to Sunday school at College with Nathan and Julia. After lunch, we left for Fairview Heights. The temperature was 69 when we left Searcy, with it falling as we drove north, and dipping into the 30's before we reached St. Louis. Even though it was quite cold outside, inside we found a warmth that comes from being with friends. Marc did an excellent job, as usual,preaching last night. This morning, we finalized details on leasing our house for the next 3 years. God is good...all the time. What a relief to have that done. And yes, I have managed to hit Wal-Mart every day since being in the states. Thanks for your prayers as we travel.