Monday, December 15, 2008

Work and "play"

We are now in our last week at Shocco Christian Convention Center. I have been able to help decorate Christmas trees, fold camp laundry, clean in the dining area as well as fill tart shells for a banquet. Hunter has continued to paint rooms for campers and work on a "mudding" project. Here are a few photos of some of the MMAPers "in action". Can you identify Hunter?





On the week-ends we either do "motorhome" work or we play. This past Saturday we took a little outing to the Desoto Caves; a set of underground caves discovered by the explorer Desoto in 1540. They served many "purposes" throughout their history-from being an Indian burial grounds, a Civil War "room" for making and testing gunpowder, a tavern during prohibition, to finally a current tourist attraction. They even had a Christmas light show, which was beautiful and lifted up the name of Christ!




Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas decorating in close quarters

Even though we live in tight spaces I managed to do some Christmas decorating. When we lived in a "stationary" house I loved to display nativity scenes so I brought two with me for our motorhome.





We don't have a Christmas tree so our couch works as "our tree" and a display of family photos becomes festive with a glass of candy canes.





I imagine each of you are adding your own Christmas beauty to your home. Enjoy the season and all it offers remembering that the "reason for the season" is Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Talladega, Alabama



Here we are in a little piece of God's country: Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega, Alabama. This will be our "home" for three weeks. So far our volunteering has involved painting for Hunter and decorating Christmas trees for Nancy. Our mornings begin with a 6:00 a.m. race walk, followed by breakfast before group morning devotions at 7:30. Hunter then heads to work in one of the buildings while I go with the women to do whatever the camp staff needs done at the moment. I fix Hunter lunch in the motorhome at 12:00 and an hour later he returns to work while I enjoy the freedom of doing whatever I want in the afternoon. Today I worked on writing Christmas cards. Tomorrow I plan to start a new project: learning to do swedish weaving, which one of the ladies in our MMAP group has promised to teach me. We have friends coming to visit this week-end and we plan to visit the Desoto Cave system and just hike in the area. Many of the leaves are still colored and remain on the trees creating continual beauty. Each day is a new adventure! Hunter and I continue to feel blessed to have God call us to this style of retirement.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Official!



Hunter and I are Floridians-at least on paper! We have spent the last few days, except Thanksgiving Day, in and out of a variety of offices filling out a myriad of official documents. At one point we even had to pack up our "home" and drive it to the licensing office so two ladies could go out in the rain and actually copy the vin numbers and mileage from it in order to give us a Florida plate. We are also in the process of acquiring a mail service so our address will be different than our resident address, which is now Hunter's mother's address. It can all be rather confusing but we are happy to have all the details behind us. Although we aren't officially snowbirds, we are enjoying the 70 degree sunshine for the moment, until we head to Alabama for our next MMAP mission project, beginning December 1st.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Living on the lot"



The brochure pictures a motorhome nestled among a cluster of tall pines adjacent to a sun drenched lake. Morning breaks with dew covered grass while a roaring campfire warms the hands of a man in his “golden years” watching the sunrise. My thoughts go to his wife who is pictured standing in the open door of the RV. I imagine she is preparing to inform him that flapjacks smothered in maple syrup are on the table. As he enters his retirement home she would refill his coffee mug while the couple sits down to enjoy their breakfast gazing out their kitchen window at the mountains reflected in the blue water. They would sip their fresh orange juice caught up in quiet conversation. With the windows slightly ajar they might even hear a pair of loons calling to their young and an occasional woodpecker tapping out the day’s rhythms. Yes, THIS is what I want!
Retiring, buying our motorhome, and entering the world of full-time RVers was the first step toward realizing the dream of flipping those flapjacks beside that lake. After seven months am I any closer to this ideal scene? NO. In theory, I haven’t left the dealership parking lot! Let me explain.
Since June of this year we have been in and out of RV maintenance bays three times. On the surface that doesn’t seem to be excessive except consider the fact that when we entered the maintenance buildings our vehicle didn't leave for an average of two-three weeks and in one case over a month! What’s the problem you ask? After all, didn’t you purchase a NEW RV? The answer is yes! The problem is a combination of many things; one being the lack of parts on hand and the snail pace of receiving them when ordered. There are also various types of communication breakdowns. In addition when we arrive to pick the vehicle up, we end up actually living in our RV on the lot because all of the repairs are not complete to our satisfaction. The Country Coach, which we bought, has the following byline printed on all of its advertisements: The World’s Finest Motorcoaches. Pity those who purchase “the world’s average motorcoaches”! This company should have a brochure picturing the following scene.
The sun peeks over the roof of the RV dealership streaming into the window of a motor home which is parked under an awning on hard, cold cement. The couple inside wakes to the sounds of 18 wheelers roaring down interstate 40 and the 60s music being broadcast from speakers located on the lot entertaining “shoppers”. Eating their cold cereal at the breakfast table they can see from their kitchen window into the office of a sales manager as he makes his morning calls. People meander around the lot going into and out of various RVs for sale. The couple, whose residence is next to the showroom, hope no one is interested in their rig. If they open the door they'll find the occupants in their pjs. Once dressed their day consists of setting up a laptop at a table in the showroom catching up on e-mails while drinking machine coffee and waiting for news concerning the status of the maintenance on their motor home.
My advice to anyone buying a Country Coach? Memorize the address of your dealership so you can send it to friends and plan to spend your first year living on the lot!

Maybe we should upgrade. What do you think?

Monday, November 10, 2008

"things to do, places to go, people to see."

"things to do..."
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a wonderful project held at my Mom and sister's church. I helped to assemble food packages amounting to over a million meals! The program is called Kids Against Hunger. It is a volunteer-driven effort to package and distribute humanitarian relief where crisis has struck and there is immediate need. Kids Against Hunger is a short-term hunger solution.

I worked two different 2 hour shifts. It is amazing how fast an organized assembly line operation can function. During the first shift 10 tables of 10 people each were able to complete enough packages to feed over 30,000 people! When I worked at a table with some younger volunteers (ages 7 and up) the final count wasn't as big but the laughter was abundant! Kids were getting a taste of the joy of volunteering.

Checkout the website to view a sample packet of food and the photos below for a view of the operation. If ever you hear of a satellite church or other organization taking on this project please join in the effort. You'll be blessed!!







"places to go"
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is a great place for a day's visit. It features more than 1,500 artifacts representing our nation's achievements in space exploration. The Saturn V Exhibit was awesome. You felt dwarfed by the sheer size of the rocket which carried men into space. In another level of the museum you could try your hand at "landing" the shuttle. Thankfully that is not my job since I crashed it every time! Hunter attempted the rock climbing wall and Becky "pretended" she was putting on the jet propulsion pack. Education mixed with fun-can't beat it!





"people to see"

A tour group at the Jack Daniel's Factory. Can you find us? We didn't even have a sample!



Saving the best until last-an adorable smile on a walking one year old!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is "tagging" anyway?

I just recently read my daughter's blog and realized she had tagged me. OK. What does that mean? As a little girl on the farm we often played tag around the yard, running wildly from one tree to another trying to avoid the inevitable "touch" which meant we were "it"! Being tagged "it" was then your turn to chase while others ran away. Well, if the blog "tagging" is similar Rebecca has "touched" me and I am it. What does "it" do? I decided to check other "tagged" bloggers and have discovered that when you are "it" you are to list 6 things that people may or may not know about you-so here goes:

1. I am a "sweetoholic". Every meal MUST end with some kind of sweet dessert, even if that means a single carmel or a packaged mint. In a little zipper pocket buried in my purse I carry a stock of little sweets. When I eat at a restaurant I don't have to order a big dessert because I carry my "fix" with me.

2. I love theater!Watching a broadway musical transports me into a land of pleasure.
Not only do I enjoy watching performances but standing up on stage as an actor or director produces its own thrill.

3. I have long and skinny feet, size 11 narrow. If it were possible I'd shave off an inch or two and be able to participate in shoe sales and wear trendy styles. Unfortunately I must deal with this "deformity" and pay big bucks for conservative, basic shoes. Can you guess what I would change on my body if God gave me a choice??

4.I have developed a love/hate relationship with popcorn. Since childhood Sunday nights have been reserved for the "popcorn" supper. Yes! I looked forward to the smell wafting from the kitchen and the taste of warm butter and salt surrounding each crispy kernel. Yummy. Sadly I have had to stop eating this special snack because of my stomach problems. Now I can not stand to be in the same room with a bowl of steaming popcorn. In fact just the other day my husband and I visited a restaurant where the waiter greeted your table with a hot tub of what used to be my favorite snack. All the while he was taking our order I eyed the tub knowing it was a forbidden treat. Just before he left I asked him to remove the popcorn from our table. I just could not deal with the temptation. Age may bring wisdom but it removes certain special delights!

5. I hate loosing at board games. Generally, I am a people-pleaser but when you start rolling the dice I turn into a competitive "monster". I've been known to use such tactics as whining, disrupting, complaining, and pouting. Try as I may I can't seem to keep my emotions at bay. It's better I stick to baking the cookies while others enjoy the game!

6. I love to listen to books on CD while on long road trips. The hours melt away and I am transported into worlds of adventure, romance, and suspense. Hunter tolerates the "gooey" novels but prefers the true life stories. We have been known to miss a few turns and have to backtrack on our journeys. Now, with the large motor home, we must be more watchful as you can't just take a quick u-turn in a 43 foot RV!

If you have been one of my blog readers you know already that I love scripture so I want to share a special one I rediscovered recently.
"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains." Habakkuk 3:17-19
I took the idea behind these verses and applied them to my life.
"Even though my feet are too big and I can't find stylish shoes to wear; even though there is no cure for my chronic stomach ache; even though I haven't seen my grand baby in weeks; even though my family and friends are often not around; even though the RV STILL needs repairs, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength!"

Try using these verses and inserting the current stresses of your life. It's an uplifting exercise.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seashells by the seashore



Over the week-end Hunter and I went to Gulf Shores, Alabama to visit my sister and her husband, Marlene and Greg, who are spending the coming week there in a condo. We thoroughly enjoyed our time walking along the beautiful white sand beach. Marlene teaches first grade and plans to return to her class with "little treasures". So we helped her pick up these treasures as they washed upon the shore. Shells are always special! We also played some cards and hiked a sandy trail near a fresh water lake. The weather continued to "shine" with cool ocean breezes, full sun, and temps in the 70s.

We won't be as fortunate with the warm weather next week as we are heading north. Wednesday we leave our project in Florida and head to North Carolina where we will drop off the motor home at the dealership for more repairs then drive our Toyota Scion on to Chicago. Our good friend's daughter is having her wedding reception at the Garfield Conservatory on Friday night. From there we will travel to Iowa for hunting season and time to visit with friends and family in the Quad Cities and Minnesota. I will be packing my winter coat and leaving the shorts behind!

We are looking forward to our next MMAP project in Alabama in December.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We've Arrived!

In the center of the Florida "panhandle", nestled among a multitude of towering trees, sits Bethlehem Bible Camp. This is the location of our first MMAP project. Although we are a week late, due to mechanical problems in our motor home, our reception "committee" is warm and welcoming. Already we sense the spirit of God in this place and in the lives of our fellow MMAPers. There are three other couples and a single man working on this project, which currently is remodeling the inside of one of the living quarters on the property.

Each day starts with devotions at 7:30 a.m., 10:00 break, lunch at noon, another afternoon break at 2:30, and quiting time is 4:00 p.m. Hunter joins a group of men ranging in age from 62, (he's the youngest) to 86! One of the couples is close to our age and this is also their first project and they have been full time RVers for one year. I spent an enjoyable half-hour visiting with Chris, the above mentioned wife. We have a lot in common with this couple. I can already see a night or two of cake and cards! Here are a few photos I took this morning. By the way it is a gorgeous 78 degrees with a mild breeze causing light "showers" of fall leaves. Life is good!


welcoming sign


building being remodeled


lots of work to do


coffee break



Here is my haven-a "make shift" internet "hot spot". I can see I will be here everyday. Being outside, enjoying nature while e-mailing, blogging, or just surfing the net is such fun. What can be better than that-right Rebecca(my blogging daughter)??

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Day at the Park

Grandma is photographer as Mommy and Christian enjoy his first time in a park playground.

Monday, September 29, 2008

John Deere fans only!





Grandpa has started his grandson early!

P.S. We are still living with the kids, waiting on repairs for a "broken" motor home. I know friends and fish stink after three days but do parents???

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Perseverance

Last Sunday the pastor of Manna Church,(where the kids attend),preached a sermon on the topic of perseverance. God gave him some great food for thought. His main two points were:

1. There is a place beyond what we feel.
2. There is a source beyond what we have.

He went on to state that most people are controlled by their feelings but that successful perseverance requires that we NOT be controlled by our feelings. It requires that we go deeper, looking through the shallowness of emotion and comfort into the realm where character and faith rule the roost. Quitting it not an option!

Another statement he made was that what you do in the face of "head wind" defines your race.

He used several scriptures (see below) to show that God wants us to persevere and is always there to take our hand and walk with us through the times of difficulty, in whatever form it takes.

Romans 5:3-5
2 Thess. 1:4
Hebrews 12:1-3
James 1:2-4
Proverbs 24:10

One of his final comments continues to play through my thoughts:
It is in the valley that you drink from his river of grace!

It is interesting to note that I realized these words were meant to encourage me concerning my health issue but little did I realize they'd return to "plague" me when we TRIED to "pick up" our motorhome this Friday, fully anticipating heading to Savanna for a brief vacation before our first scheduled MMAP project October 3rd in Florida. As we were driving out of the lot something broke and we were "dead in the water"! Once more we are living with the kids-this time with Rebecca and Steve-and will be contacting the "powers that be" to get parts and the proper maintenance accomplished. At this point we don't know if we will be able to make it to our MMAP project on time. That is in God's hands. He knows we want to be there. Through this, another difficulty with the motorhome, I have seen a spiritual depth in Hunter, obviously grown out of time spent in India, and an extra-ordinary ability to show Christian love under trying situations.

So we are continuing to take one day at a time in this retirement adventure and "enjoy" what God brings our way!
I pray you can successfully perseverance through whatever comes around your corner!

P.S. As a side-note, I even managed to "persevere" this week and complete a cross stitch project I have had under way for 13 years!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

a GREAT book!

I just finished reading this classic for the second time in my adult years. I have decided that every person; whether he/she is a Christian or non-Christian should be "required" to read this wonderful book at least once in their lifetime. This masterpiece provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith. Many portions of it spoke to me but especially the section below: "...we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along-illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation-he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level; putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary; but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us." Take Christian's example below and pick up a good cup of coffee and read this book! It's powerful!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Life's "irritants"!

Have you ever felt like this?



Or maybe this?



Or possibly even this??




If you have, you are in good company. That's the way I've been feeling the last two days. If one more irritant pops "his" ugly head into my face I think I'll blow! Well, maybe it's not THAT bad but I'm not a happy blogger today.
Let me try to explain. Sometimes just sharing the misery makes it less miserable.
If you read my last post you know that during the month of September Hunter and I were orginally, before hurricanes and RV breakdowns, to spend a month laying on the beach sipping rootbeer floats while reacquainting ourselves with each other after a year's separation. Those plans flew away in the hurricanes and were replaced with a week enjoying the company of the kids while the RV was to be repaired. OK, I can deal with that slight wrinkle in the fabric. So we "house sat" the dog while Rebecca and Steve spent a week in Colorado and I cleaned kitchen cupboards and filled the freezer with baked goods. A week has passed, the kids have returned from vacation, and the RV is no closer to being fixed than it was 7 days ago! This was irritating enough when I discovered I had developed a case of shingles. "You've got to be kidding!!" On top of this I continue to deal with a chronic stomach ache. My daily intake of prescription pills now numbers 7!
Where do I go with all of this? To God-just like Job did. I realize He is in the business of humbling me and teaching me that in life there will always be "irritants"-some worse than others. Job says in Job 23:13-14 "Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do for me all he has planned." I need to remember the truth on this poster:



Let's ask God to help us in dealing with all of life's irritants!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birthday, Beaches, and Beyond

Do we really have a one year old grandson? Wow-time continues to march on! Friends and family all had a grand time celebrating with Christian his first birthday, complete with Curious George decorations and a huge balloon loved by Christian!
Grandma and Grandpa's gift was a hit except he found eating the sand as much fun as playing in it!

Two days following the birthday event the family headed for the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Sun and ocean breezes kept us outside and in the water. What fun it was to share Christian's very first experience with salt water and waves.

Over the week-end we introduced everyone to a Milk Can Supper. This Morgan family tradition was very important to my Dad, so much so, that he located three milk cans to pass on to his daughters so we could "carry the meal forward" to the next generations. Check out the photos and you will get a better understanding of what is involved. Originating in Wyoming, the "supper" is their answer to the New England Fish Boil.

On September 1st everyone left the Outer Banks except Hunter and I. We spent the next day climbing one of the five lighthouses, visiting a quaint book store, riding the tandem, and finally enjoying cold root beers. Yum! Our original idea was to spend the remaining month on the Banks-fishing, biking,hiking, etc. But two things caused us to take an early leave. The first one was three incoming hurricanes which, at this writing, threaten high winds and ocean swells. These could have played havoc with our motor home. The second reason we left was another needed maintenance issue on the motor home. We located a reputable service dealer on our way back to Fayetteville which is where we left the RV. Once more Branden and Brooke have us "under their table". What fun to have open doors to our kid's homes. Right now Hunter is helping Branden clean out his garage and I am getting ready to attend a Women's Conference with Rebecca. Life is good and full of unexpected surprises.

Hopefully, in another week or so, we will be heading to the coast again, possibly to the Georgia area. I'll keep you posted as we travel along.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"He's NOT just sitting around!"

Some of you may be wondering what Hunter has been doing since retiring from Deere. If you know him at all you realize he can't sit too long without some activity. He is NOT a TV "watcher" or golfer. A good game of tennis is of interest to him but he's not had one since leaving the Quad Cities. Part of what he has been doing, though, is certainly building muscle and producing a beautiful golden tan. As you can see from the photo below he is power washing; two houses and now two decks. Next he'll stain the two decks. In his "spare time" he has fixed electrical outlets, plumbing problems, lawn mower issues, and mowed and trimmed several lawns.
Retirement has not slowed him down! But he does take a few breaks for chocolate chip cookies and archery.






I don't mean to brag BUT my husband is very good with the bow! I might even trust him to shoot an apple off my head-just kidding!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sweet Corn

Oh, the joy, of biting into a hot, buttered and salted ear of summer sweet corn, one that was picked earlier that same day so its sugar content was still at its highest, is beyond proper words! How well I remember early August days on the farm when my Dad would walk his rows of corn discarding all but the biggest and blemish-free ears to bring in for lunch and then again for supper. I am not exaggerating when I say that Dad's ears of corn were so long one ear would extend beyond the edges of a dinner plate and so round that when you grasped one your fingers and thumb would not touch! Dad grew a large patch of corn for three reasons. The first and most logical reason was to have LOTS of corn for his family to eat and can, not one of my favorite chores growing up. How well I remember waking up on a summer morning smelling corn being blanched and knowing that day would be preoccupied with husking, blanching, cutting and canning corn. As a teenager this activity was low on my summer fun list.
The second reason Dad grew an abundance of corn was because his sweet corn "fame" was well known in the area so he provided many friends with bags of corn to eat and fill their cellars for winter. Finally, Dad knew he had to have many rows of this delicious vegetable because he would be sharing it with the "bandits"! Raccoons love sweet corn, as much or more than we do. For years Dad tried to battle with them using barbed wire, radio noise, flash lights, even late night stalking with BB guns. Nothing could deter these persistent pests. So in time he just gave up and planted more corn. From then on there was always enough to go around. Ha!
Each summer I continue to look for and purchase sweet corn wherever we are during the months of July and August. This year we bought and ate North Carolina corn. It does not measure up to Iowa corn and definitely does not meet my Dad's standards but its sweet corn. We ate it and enjoyed, remembering my Dad and a time when his corn was "King"!


Christian enjoying his first ear of sweet corn.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lessons continued

Lesson#2
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." Philippians 4:8

In the motor home we have a TV/DVD player for the bedroom. Recently we decided to "try it out" and enjoy an evening movie while lounging in our kingsize bed. Is this really camping???? Ha! Anyway, I rented an action thriller and we watched it for two hours. As the credits scrolled on the screen we both came to the same realization-what did we just watch?! We had filled our thoughts with violence, obsentity, blood and gore. The Bible verse from Philippians came quickly to mind and we agreed that from now on we would filter our entertainment through the screen Paul gave to the Philippians. Are we watching what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy? Rebecca gave me the following website to help in this endeavor: www.screenit.com. You don't have to join to enjoy the benefits of the site. Visit it and become informed BEFORE you rent!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lessons

While traveling from Iowa to North Carolina the miles melted away as Hunter and I listened to Shadow Divers on 5 compact discs. The story chronicles the true adventure of two Americans who risked everything to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II. They accomplished this feat by scuba diving extreme depths in frigid water battling treacherous currents all while exploring a mystery submarine. Since Hunter and I understand the particulars of the sport this story was fascinating. Woven throughout the story the author details the backgrounds of each of the lives of the two men: John Chatterton and Richie Kohler. At one point we learn that Chatterton has spent time in Vietnam and during a 6 month field operation he learned some valuable lessons, which in his words: "gave him further insite into the right way to live and distilled certain principles or truths". I wrote these down because I thought them worthy of future reference.
1. If an undertaking was easy someone else already would have done it.
2. If you follow in someone else's footsteps you miss the problems worth solving.
3. Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity. Compromise on any of these and you become average.
4. Every so often life presents a great moment of decision-an intersection where a man must decide whether to stop or go. A person lives with these decisions forever.
5. Examine everything-not all is as it seems or as people tell you.
6. It is easiest to live with a decision if it is based on an earnest sense of right or wrong.
7. The worse possible decision is to give up.

After thinking about these life "lessons" and how they affected Chatterton's scuba experiences, I want to become more aware of the "lessons" I'm learning "On the Road".
LESSON #1 I Samuel 16:7b "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

In one of the first campgrounds we stayed with our motor home we were directed to a grassy site adjacent to a run down older trailer with a rusted pickup parked a few feet away. My immediate thoughts were ones of disappointment bordering on disgust. I envisioned late night drunken parties with offensive music and barking dogs. Needless to say I wasn't "neighborly" the two days we were located there and learning we would move to a cement slab in another part of the campground, I was happy. The day we prepared to drive the RV out of our spot was full sunshine in contrast to several previous days of rain. As Hunter started the motor I was anticipating dry cement with new neighbors. My balloon was quickly deflated as our back tires spun in the mud. With all of our technical gear in play as we rocked back and forth we didn't move. Suddenly excited voices began to come from the adjacent trailer. As I looked out the window I realized that a man and two small children (less than 7 years old) were grabbing buckets and filling them with gravel from the road. They motioned to Hunter to stop rocking long enough for them to empty their buckets and dump the contents under the back tires. They repeated this process several times and finally the tires grabbed the rock and we popped out of the giant hole we had just created. As Hunter drove the RV to the next spot I humbly walked over to the trailer expressing my gratitude and finally introducing myself. Our conversation lasted a considerable amount of time. As I walked to the new site I thanked God for the "slap in the face" and vowed to spend more time getting to know this lovely family, which we did in the month we were located in that campground. One night over a shared meal we discovered they were fellow believers! I am now trying to give up my "judging judy's robe" and instead promise God to "close my eyes" and open my heart at future campgrounds!

On a lighter note: watch Christian experience his first watermelon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Retirement actually begins!



Hunter's first week of retirement began with a farewell party at John Deere, honoring his 36 years with the company. Laughter and lively chatter flowed from the conference room where many people gathered to wish him well in his next career: RETIREMENT! Hunter gladly explained that for him retirement was moving on to another purpose-driven mission: MMAP. It will also be a time of visiting family and creating more memories with children and grandchildren, as well as exploring the wonders of the United States.

With the farewells said and the computer and keys left at the office Hunter shut one door and opened another. The next several days were spent in Minnesota at a niece's wedding and a time with our children and his one and only (at the moment) grandchild.








(Good family photo but not complete without Steve!)

His first week of retirement ended with quite a "bang", or should we say a "whirlwind"-a 95 mph whirlwind! The night we returned from Minneapolis, the Quad Cities, especially Milan where we are staying, was hit with a monster storm. The National Weather Service called it a "derechos", which is spanish for direct or straight ahead. This is a rare severe weather event, known for its longevity, incredibly high-sustained wind speeds and fast-moving nature. We safely, but a bit nervously, rode it out in our 40,000 pound motorhome which rocked back and forth, like a "cradle in the treetops". Pelting rain on our roof accommpanied the wind to create quite a lively symphony. Sleep didn't come for hours. In the morning light we discovered a campground strewn with fallen trees, some on other RVs as well as vehicles. Thankfully we were parked on a cement slab "out in the open", which we bemoaned when we first arrived!
Hunter immediately joined the crew of volunteers who spent the next several days sawing and hauling away the debri. Our only problem was a lack of electricity but with a generator we were supplied with power when we needed it.


(Hunter is the one in the "New York tuxedo"!)

I end today with a quote I found in a magazine targeting the older population.
"Don't resist transition. Embrace the change-learn about the new "world" you're in and take advantage of it. You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you're riding on another level. It is liberating. Now, everything you do, you do because you want to. The best is yet to come."