Saturday, March 24, 2018

Furlough 2014-15: Nashville, TN

Two days after Christmas, we loaded up the car again, said goodbye to my parents, and headed south. Destination: Nashville, TN, the location of one of our main supporting congregations, the Hillsboro Church of Christ. We spent about ten days there, reconnecting with supporters and friends. We were also able to hit McKay's, a favorite used bookstore and a highlight of any visit to Nashville.

Unfortunately, we all managed to get sick while we were in Nashville, a combination of run-down immune systems after over two months on the road, and a nasty cold virus that was going around that time of year. It started with Rusty, who completely lost his voice, not a great thing to happen to a missionary trying to report on his work! Then, Ben and Elizabeth got sick, and finally, the older two boys and me. Elizabeth got it the worst, and actually spent several hours at the hospital for steroids and breathing treatments one afternoon. We are so thankful for the compassion and understanding of our church family, both at Hillsboro and globally, during this time (see my post about this here).

Here are a few highlights of our time in Nashville (before the sickies consumed us!):
The Hillsboro Church of Christ
Catching up with my childhood friend, Rebekah
Catching up with friends from our Thyatira, Mississippi days, Jeff and Angie Stacks
Family Mission Trip reunion at the Hall's house -- such a fun evening!
Isn't this Ecuadorian flag cake beautiful?!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Furlough 2014-15: Livonia, MI

We spent Christmas, 2014 in Michigan with my parents. Our time there didn't feel long enough (it never does), but we were able to pack in quite a few special experiences and make some fun memories, including:
Helping Nyanya decorate her tree
Decorating Christmas cookies
Playing board games
Putting together the gingerbread house
Watching the Christmas train go around the tree
Lamb dinner with the Burtons (aka Grandma and Grandpa "B"). This picture is so special to me now because Grandpa "B" is no longer with us.
Visiting the Hands-On Museum in Ann Arbor
Story-time -- including lots of time looking at Nyanya's "bird book"
Visiting Great Nyanya (my dad's mom)
And Great Grandmother (my mom's mom). Both of my grandmothers have also since passed away.
Watching the model trains at the Henry Ford Museum
Taking a picture with Santa (the best Santa, in my opinion -- his beard is even real!)
Crafts, including our homemade ornament project for 2014, plus several crafts Nyanya had for the boys to do
This was Elizabeth's first Christmas, and she received her very special hand-dmade stocking from Nyanya
Joyous Christmas Day!
Christmas Day feast -- turkey dinner and all the trimmings!
Thank you, Nyanya and Babu, for making this Christmas such a fun and special time! We love you!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Furlough 2014-15: The Great Road Trip (Seattle to Detroit)

On the first day of December, 2014, we left Seattle after nearly a month in the Pacific Northwest and headed East on our Great Road Trip. I will document the Seattle to Detroit portion of our trip day by day below, with commentary and photos interspersed.

Day 1 (Dec. 1, 2014) -- Seattle, WA to Coeur d'Alene, ID -- We stayed the night in a Holiday Inn, then got up and started driving again the next day.
Road trip!
Open road
Day 2 (Dec. 2, 2014) -- Coeur d'Alene, ID to Billings, MT -- We stayed 2 nights with our friends Craig and Jeri Ford in Billings, and enjoyed our visit with them and their church.
Lookout Pass (Idaho)
6 of the 7 Ford and Campbell children
We spent a morning at Scheels. The kids had so much fun taking all these silly pictures.

It's gonna eat you!
Be vewy, vewy quiet.
There was even a ferris wheel inside the store! How fun!
Day 3 (Dec. 4, 2014) -- Billings, MT to Moosomin, Saskatchewan -- We stayed 3 nights with Rusty's Uncle Ken and Aunt Rae. On Sunday morning, Dec. 7th, we met with the church in Manson, which supports us, and gave a report on our work. We enjoyed a potluck lunch with the members after the service.
Elizabeth and Uncle Ken
Elizabeth and Aunt Rae
One day, while we were there, the Christmas train came to town.
The boys got to see Santa.
They got to play in the snow.
Benjie thought the snow was too cold!
Watching the train go by.
With Uncle Ken and Aunt Rae outside the community center where the Manson Church meets.
Day 4 (Dec. 7, 2014) -- Moosomin, SK to Winnipeg, Manitoba -- We gave a presentation to the Central Church of Christ in Winnipeg about our work, enjoyed a soup supper afterwards, and stayed the night with a family from the church.
We had breakfast with Rusty's cousin Kemmy and her family the next morning.
Day 5 (Dec. 8, 2014) -- Winnipeg, MB to Hudson, WI -- We stayed the night with Dale and Vicky Hawley and enjoyed a brief visit with them.

Day 6 (Dec. 9, 2014) -- Hudson, WI to Bolingbrook, IL -- We stayed two nights with our friends Adam and Christina Mearse and got to meet with folks at the Naperville Church of Christ about our work.
On our way to Illinois, we passed through Wisconsin Dells, where we had lunch and spent some time playing at one of the indoor amusement parks.
Day 7 (Dec. 11, 2014) -- Bolingbrook, IL to Livonia, MI -- We stayed one night with my parents, left the older boys there the next day to spend some time with their grandparents, and took off for Pennsylvania with Benjamin and Elizabeth.

Day 8 (Dec. 12, 2014) -- Livonia, MI to Somerset, PA -- We stayed three nights with our friends the Hintons. The church in Somerset supports our family, so we met with them on Sunday morning and gave a report on our work. My friend Michelle drove up from Virginia with her family to see us and we got to spend some time together.
Michelle and I have been friends for 35 years!
Day 9 (Dec. 15, 2014) -- Somerset, PA to Livonia, MI -- We traveled back to Livonia and parked ourselves at my parents house until after Christmas! Whew!

Next up -- Christmas in Michigan!

Still Trying to Catch Up...

In less than two weeks, our family will be leaving for our next Home Ministry Assignment. This is more commonly known as "furlough," although I believe that this word is something of a misnomer. Most people, when they hear the word "furlough," think "vacation," -- and most missionaries will attest that the missionary "furlough" is anything but. So, I have started using the phrase "Home Ministry Assignment," as I believe it better reflects what we are actually doing while in the U.S. Sure, we have a few days of rest and relaxation planned, but most of the time? We are reporting to churches and individuals who support us and our ministry at Camp Bellevue. Or we are fundraising. Or we are taking care of business or paperwork that has to be done when we are physically present in the U.S. Or we are traveling from place to place for our next meeting or appointment. So, it's definitely work, a change of pace for sure, but still... work.

As we make our preparations to be gone from Ecuador and the camp for 10 weeks, I keep thinking about this blog. I am still trying to blog the experiences of our last furlough. Which makes me officially nearly 3 years behind, but who's counting? Then again, recapping what we did during our last Home Ministry Assignment in 2014 might be a very good way to give people an idea of how we'll be spending our time for the next 2 1/2 months.

So... updates are on the way. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Furlough 2014-15: The Pacific Northwest

After our time in Ft. Worth, we flew to Seattle and were in the Pacific Northwest for  almost the entire month of November. We spent the majority of our time in Seattle with the Bellevue Church of Christ, but we were able to take a few days and head down to Portland to spend Thanksgiving with Ronda.

We were present for the Bellevue church's Missions Sunday on our first Sunday there, which was very special. We also visited almost all of the home groups during our time with Bellevue, shared meals with different members, had meetings with the elders and missions committee, and got to do some shopping and explore a little of Seattle. We had decided, for various reasons, to change our residency to Washington state, so we  also had a few "paperwork" errands to take care of during our time there. We registered to vote and got our WA state driver's licenses. I was continually amazed at how easy and efficient government offices were in the States in comparison to Ecuador! It's all a matter of perspective, folks! After getting all that taken care of, we were able to go to the public library and get library cards. The kids loved the library, and we definitely made good use of it during our time there!

The church had arranged for a short-term rental house for us during our time there, which was a VERY big blessing! It was nice to have a place of our own to come home to at the end of the day, and it meant we could have friends over for dinner or even to stay the night. We reconnected with several different friends and relatives during our time in Washington and of course Oregon!

Here are pictures of the highlights of our time in the PNW:

I got to reconnect with my friend Abby, a fellow MK from Kenya! It had been over 20 years since we had seen each other.
Game night with the young adult group at Bellevue Church of Christ
Our former teammate, Jordan, happened to be back from Angola on her furlough at the same time as us. She flew all the way to Seattle to spend a few days with us. We explored downtown Seattle together.
Highlights of our day in downtown Seattle included a ride on the Great Wheel with an awesome view of the Puget Sound, and a visit to the original Starbucks and Pike Place market.
Elizabeth met her Auntie Ronda for the first time.
We took the ferry to Whidbey Island one day... welcome cousin Johnny home from his Navy deployment! We are so proud of him.
We spent a very cold day at the zoo!
We paid a visit to Cousins Dave and Kaye who live north of Seattle, about an hour from the Canadian border.
We got to attend the Dickens Carolers pre-season Christmas concert, hosted by the Bellevue Church of Christ.
While in Portland, we got to have lunch with my cousin Candace and her son Cory.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with Auntie Ronda in Portland. The next day, we had Christmas with her!