Friday, April 29, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #4

I had forgotten how much I like hot tea with milk and sugar in the morning.  I could easily become a convert from coffee.  Joanne & Tony Cronin, Aussies from the mainland, also introduced me to a new breakfast idea - muesli, yogurt and freshly grated apple combined the night before.  Very good!  This idea is definitely going home with me.

Today's speakers - Glen Tattersall, Kah Hon, William Howard and Jimmie - brought more great lessons from the minor prophets.  William actually spoke twice since he also gave a report on the Four Corners of the Earth campaigns he began a few years ago to target areas of the world that little or no mission work is being done.  Jimmie and I both have been impressed with the lectureship here, from the organization to the lessons presented.  It is excellent.  And the ladies of the congregation are feeding everyone twice a day - lunch and tea - which is a tremendous amount of work.    Unfortunately, I'm still battling exhaustion and a nasty cough.  I took the last of the antibiotics for my sinus infection the morning we got on the plane in Georgia and feel like I am over that at last, but can't get rid of the cough yet.  Very annoying.  But everyone here is so friendly and outgoing, obviously thrilled to see old friends from different parts of Australia and very happy to make new ones from the USA, that it is an absolute joy to be here.

Things Jimmie learned today:
  1. If you plug the camera battery charger into the wall BEFORE you first attach the voltage converter, it fries very quickly.  Guess we'll be buying some AA batteries soon.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #3

Today was an absolutely glorious day to catch a first glimpse of Tasmania.  The forecasted nasty weather languished somewhere else so Hobart had beautiful blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and just enough "cool" in the air to make being outside where you wanted to be. 

The view of Mt. Wellington from the front porch of the church building.

Of course, we were inside most of the day because the annual Eastern Shore Lectureship began this morning.  This year's theme is a study from the minor prophets.  Gary Young, Ian McPherson, Brett Rutherford and Allan Fowell all had  outstanding lessons.  In the afternoon Ron Gilbert had been scheduled to give a report about the mission work he and Jimmie do together with IBTM, but since he is still stuck somewhere in Airport Land (hopefully that is now Melbourne), Jimmie was a last-minute replacement.

Jimmie telling about the work of IBTM

After the last day-time session Jimmie needed to exchange some currency and I needed to locate a post office, so our hostess organized a caravan and led the way.  I have failed to mention that we are staying with Garrett and Kate Leitch and they are truly wonderful hosts.  They have opened their home to many of us who have come to the lectures.  A bit later we headed to the airport again with Kate to pick up Ron & Carolyn, only to be met with an announcement as soon as we walked through the terminal doors that once again they were stuck on a delayed flight.  So we all turned around and headed back to the church building for "Tea", aka "Supper".  Jimmie and Garrett returned later and got the Gilberts who arrived just in time for the last lesson of today's schedule.  I know they are very thankful to have this leg of the journey over at last.
After the evening lesson a large contingent of the lectureship crowd - Jimmie included - honored a long-standing tradition and headed over to "Mackers" (aka McDonald's) for a snack and more fellowship.  I opted for home and bed and was sound asleep within minutes.

Things I learned today:
  1. Hobart time is 14 hours ahead of Georgia time.  6:30 in the morning local time here is 4:30 in the afternoon YESTERDAY back home.
  2. In order for a sandwich to be considered a truly Australian sandwich, it MUST have a slice of beet root on it.  I tried it at lunch today - delicious!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #1/2


This day began about 8AM when I arose to make coffee.  Jimmie had already showered so we were off and running - each with our own last-minute details to finish.  By the time Kieth and Ann Fields picked us up at noon to drive us to the airport we were tired but confident that we were as ready as we could be.


Check-in and security took almost a full hour, slowed only slightly by the new metal in my knee.  An hour's wait at the gate and we were able to board the plane headed to LA, our first destination.  Getting our carryon baggage stored and dropping into the tiny coach seats Jimmie and I both took that deep breathe of relief. Most of the work for a campaign is done before it begins, so generally the first moment you get to relax is when you are finally on your way.

That was also the moment that Jimmie leaned over to make me a solemn promise not to get mad at me "too much" on this trip.  I retorted that a much better offer would be to not get mad at me at all!  He just gave me his typical grin and told me, "I like to keep my options open."   Uh-huh. . .


Just beofre reaching LA after a rather bumpy 5 hours Jimmie noticed a mountain range out the window that reminded me of Iceland.  It was stark, bare peaks as far as we could see.  I checked the flight map on the computer screen in front of me and discovered we were flying low over the Chocolate Mountains.  Chocolate Mountains . . . I had never heard of them.  But I certainly understood the name for it looked like great globs of milk chocolate everywhere.  Suddenly, a huge, dark chocolate mountain jutted up far taller than the rest.  No doubt it's peaks were lightly coated in snow, but I declare it looked just like marshmallow topping to me.  My first thought was, "I have to tell Cole about this!"  But by the time we landed and cleared the numerous hurdles between us and our next gate, it was long past his bedtime. I searched LAX in vain for a postcard picturing those mountains.  Why would they assume all tourists prefer glitzy shots of Tinsel Town?

Changing airlines and terminals meant an agonizingly slow trip through LA airport security.  (I'll never complain about Atlanta again!)  Finally we reached our Air New Zealand gate and made a distressing discovery.  Ron and Carolyn had been delayed in Nashville.  Ron had left Jimmie a voice mail while changing planes in Dallas to let us know they would be a bit later than planned, but would still be able to make the connection "no problem".  We are now in the midst of boarding and still no Gilbert faces to be seen.


13 hours in the air and now it's official.  The Gilberts definitely missed the plane.  Something must have happened in Dallas.

We've been enroute for more than 24 hours now.  Jimmie managed to doze off and on for a good portion of the last flight.  I took one of the prescription pills the doctor gave me specifically to make me drowsy - and remained wide-eyed.  But since the pills are originally for nausea I at least was able to watch a movie without my usual motion sickness.  I finally concluded that I would have to take one of the high-powered pain pills I try hard to avoid because they usually make sleep impossible - and promptly zonked out for about 3 hours.  The nap helped.

Our layover in Auckland was short, only an hour.  By the time we cleared the security check station again it was almost time to board.  But first I had to pop into a bathroom stall and give myself another stomach injection of blood thinner.  Sunday was my first self-administeded dose and I had had to make 3 attempts before I got past the cringing.  Today's was a bit easier.

By the way, it is now Wednesday 4/27.  We flew right over Tuesday and missed it completely. 


As we settled into our seats for the flight here from Auckland Jimmie remarked, "This has actually been a good trip so far."  I'm afraid my startled expression surprised him for a few moments, then we both laughingly agreed, "Well, except for loosing the Gilberts!!"  But we have an almost 7 hour layover here on mainland Australia before our last flight on to Tasmania so we are really hoping they will be able to get connections here by then.

We have now been traveling for more than 35 hours so the exhaustion level is pretty high.  Time to break out the bottles of 5-Hour Energy I have stashed in my purse and hope they get us through.


The two empty seats to our left on the flight to Tasmania attest to the fact that Ron & Carolyn are still not with us.  But we have arrived at last . . . and there ended the "everything smooth" part of our journey.  We collected our baggage and headed out the doors, only to discover that there was no one to meet us.  We checked other doors and areas of departure.  Nope, not there either.  Finally we located a bench just inside the terminal entrance where I could man the baggage and we could wait, since we assumed a problem with traffic had problably caused a delay.  Finally, we began to realize that there must be another problem and Jimmie went on a hunt to find a way to contact the brethren.  And that's when this final 3 hours of our journey began to remind me of a Shakespeare comedy - because absolutely nothing we tried worked.  Phone - out of order.  Wii-Fii for his laptop - secure and unuseable.  Policemen - not interested.  But finally one came along that was concerned and tracked down our host to tell them we were in country.  It turns out that they had received an email from our travel agent earlier in the day saying that Ron Gilbert and his party were delayed for 24 hours, so no one was expecting us until tomorrow!  Thankfully they zipped right over to the airport then to get us.

This day turned into precisely 48 hours from getting up in Dacula to going to bed in Hobart, but it has felt like one incredibly long day.  We are very pleased to be here at last.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

South Pacific Campaign #1

Jimmie and I have both been battling sinus junk for close to 2 weeks, probably brought on by the lovely seasonal pollen that tinted everything yellow outside.  Mine finally turned into actual infection so I made a trip to the doctor a couple of days ago.  Such wonderful timing, but we are both improving, thankfully.

Today is Packing Day, that wonderful day when you try to be sure you have covered every possible need for the next 3 weeks and then squeeze it into a suitcase that the airlines keep shrinking.  I remember our first campaign to Ghana in 1983.  We were each allowed TWO of the biggest suitcases I have ever seen with a weight of 70 pounds EACH.  My clothing for 6 weeks only took up a corner of one of them, so the rest was filled with gospel materials and supplies.  Today I get ONE suitcase that is a midget in comparison and can't go over 50 pounds to boot.  That hardly seems like progress.

A quick check of the projected weather presents another challenge to today.  We will be in a different nation each of the 3 weeks-plus of the campaign. Since these are all in the Southern Hemisphere the season is opposite to here, but the three have distinct differences.

Week One - Australia:  50s during the day / 40s at night and windy
Week Two - New Zealand:  60s dayround
Week Three - American Samoa:  80s and VERY humid

A 30-degree shift in temperature does make packing a bit trickier.

Wedding Trip #2

Mr. & Mrs. Bronson Roper being introduced at the reception.
I still don't have wedding photos, but I snagged this from the Facebook page of Julie's new mom-in-law, Karen Roper.  This same happy glow still lit their faces when Jimmie and I saw them a week later to return our grandson to them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wedding Trip

Stepping onto the plane bound for Australia is just one week away!  But before I rush into panic mode with packing and other last minute campaign preparations I want to pause a moment to share a major event in our lives - our daughter's wedding. 

The future Mr. & Mrs. Roper had opted to have a church wedding, but the location was really the only traditional element about it.  As the two of them pooled their ideas, most of the plans they laid out were completely new to me.  Vintage antique I could understand, but a touch of steampunk . . . What is steampunk?  Still, it all came together beautifully.  I don't have wedding photos yet so I'll just have to say that lighting the auditorium with candles and 28 antique hurricane lamps gave the afternoon ceremony a gorgeous glow.  Jimmie officiated, Hal Roper (Bronson's father) lead a prayer, and our grandson, Cole, was absolutely delighted to escort the bride down the aisle.  Many of the ladies had come armed with Kleenex (I started crying during the rehearsal so I knew I would be in trouble without them!), but when Bronson stepped away from Julie following their vows to make additional ones to Cole, even some of the men needed them.  It was truly a beautiful and unique wedding.