Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fall Update

Fall has been busy . . . lots of IBTM projects, "still unpacking boxes" projects, and a few craft projects.  

In addition to the day-to-day work of the online study program I have been trying to finish the hard-copy version of the correspondence courses to get them to the printer.  I also made an extra push to get more unpacking done in the house and finally feel like three of the rooms are finished.  

The little old man playing an instrument on my coffee table is perhaps my
favorite piece that Jimmie brought home from Africa.

The taro leaf on the dining room wall was a gift from a couple we studied with in Samoa.

I seldom drink Coke, but I love to decorate with the memorabilia.

Unfortunately, my guest room wasn't one of these and my first out-of-town guests were coming for Thanksgiving.  It was a rush to get it habitable but thankfully my son-in-law and daughter were a great help with that.  To finish the other rooms, though, I first need a few more pieces of furniture - especially a desk. I had both Jimmie's and mine hauled to the dump before the move because they were in such sad shape, so I have been working off a table in my office. It's time to get serious about finding another.

I tried my hand at chalk painting for the first time, and now have several other pieces on my to do list.  I enjoy refinishing furniture but all the sanding and stripping are a pain.  This was so much easier - and I love the look!  I bought an old table for my foyer that I plan to paint, hopefully soon.

Cole and I did one project together.  The Arts Council asked for folks to be part of their kazoo band walking float in the Christmas parade, and Cole eagerly joined.  We decorated his bicycle and I took him to kazoo practice to learn the New Orleans version of Jingle Bells. 

 The parade was yesterday and was a lot of fun - despite the fact that it was only 30 degrees and breezy.  But Cole had many layers of clothing under his Santa hat - and I had hot cocoa ready for him at the end.

Jasper was snug-as-a-bug before the parade, but quickly decided he had to get into the candy action when those in the parade began throwing it at the viewers.  He discovered lollipops recently and they are his new favorite thing.

Of course, I have also helped with the IBTM newsletter, The Seeker.  You can read the latest issue by clicking here.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Do refrigerators and furnaces only breakdown on weekends when you can't get a repairman - or does it just seem that way?  This summer the frig that came with the house died suddenly, something I didn't notice until all the food got warm and had to be tossed.  Then this morning my furnace quit heating, something I noticed right away as I shivered getting ready for Bible class.  I'm hoping this will be an easy fix but I had no luck calling someone today.  I guess Sunday afternoon in the country they just turned their phones off.  So tonight, I'm back to shivering.

But today was actually a good day.  The sun was shining on a gorgeous fall day and I figured out how to light the gas wall heaters that I had never touched before, no mean feat considering that the gas was turned off on the first one I struggled with but finally conquered.  The confidence boost led me to break out the hammer and nails for some other moving-in chores I needed done.

Cole asked me a few days ago if I had gotten used to living alone.  I'm really not sure what I told him because I'm really not sure if I have.  But I got a few things accomplished today that were totally out of my usual realm, so that was a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Still in a South Pacific kind of mood, and looking at a few pictures from our last campaign.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pacific Island

I heard a report on mission work in the Pacific Islands tonight - an instant recipe for nostalgia.  I thoroughly enjoyed living there and still delight my grandson, Cole, with stories about Samoa.  I tell him about the men wearing skirts, tatoos made with a shark's tooth, and houses that had no walls.  I've described the men cooking in the underground umus on Sunday mornings so that the whole island seemed to be filled with a smoky haze.  I've talked about drinking coconuts fresh from the trees, his Grandad eating octopus straight from the ocean., and another octopus that my sister, Carolyn, won't soon forget.  It sat whole in a bowl, cooked in its own ink and coconut milk so it appeared to be swimming in grey gunk each time the dining table was jiggled.  It swam quite a while beside my sister's plate before she got enough courage to sample a tentacle - an absolute must since the dish had been made by our Samoan friends especially for her.

Cole has heard about Hurricane Ofa that hammered us with horrific wind and rain for 3 days and left us without power or water for long after that.  I've shown him pictures of the Flying Foxes, the world's biggest bats, and told him about the giant centipedes that were terrifying when they got in our house.  I think I have even told him about how in the beginning I repeatedly got lost driving on the island even though there was only one road that went from end to end.  (Palm trees all look alike.  I would just forget which way to turn on that one road when I came back out of where ever I was.)

This week there was a new story as I unpacked yet another box to discover 2 starfish.  Julie had played with those starfish when she was younger than Cole on a day when the beach seemed to be filled with them.  It was the day that we first walked on the coral reef and discovered how awesome that can be with hundreds of brilliantly colored tropical fish swimming around your feet.  Still, we lived in Amerika Samoa for 5 years, so there are more stories to come.

Yet when I think about the island of Tutuila it feels like an incredibly long time since I've been there.  It came as a bit of a shock this evening when it suddenly occurred to me that it has been only slightly more than two years.  Jimmie and I were on Tutuila in May of 2011, our last campaign together.  So much has happened since then.

But, the place I'm living now has a few perks as well and no doubt stories for the future.  I especially like losing the heavy traffic jams.  After living in the Atlanta area for 14 years not being stuck in constant traffic either inching along or screaming down the interstate at 80 mph is wonderful.  And I like this quaint, old-fashioned town filled with homes from another era and open friendliness that I had forgotten existed.  And, of course, having Julie & gang so close is a wonderful perk all by itself.

Still, few places can compete with a South Pacific island for beauty.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zambia Campaign

It sounds like the IBTM campaign team to Zambia had a wonderful trip this year.  You can read the report by clicking on The Seeker here.

Ronald Gilbert's wife, Carolyn, took some wonderful pictures of the trip and several of them are in  the newsletter, but I couldn't fit nearly enough.  Creating a photo album for these is definitely on my To Do List, but that list is pretty crowded so it may take a while.  In the meantime I want to share a few that intrigued me when I saw them.
One of many mobile libraries set up by IBTM. 

The most unusual chicken coop I've ever seen.
Each hen has her own little condo.

Men cooking . . . I always love pictures of men cooking.
 But when you are cooking for that many folks at once, it's hard work.

When we lived in Samoa the umu (underground oven) was considered
 men's work.  Jimmie used to get teased by the brethren for not making
one for me, but he always declared, "The microwave is the palagi's umu.

Closet space.

The new brush arbor at Siamafumba.

Complete with pews.
Searching for a cell phone signal.

Taping a television segment at the game park.
Notice the elephants in the background.

Taking home the roller meal.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I haven't bragged on my grandsons in a while so I must remedy that.  

Cole is 7 now and growing fast.  He is ready to start 2nd grade but already reading far beyond his age level.  

Jasper is 1 and absolutely delighted with just about everything.

The only thing Cole had wanted for his birthday a few months ago was to see the ocean, but the trip had been postponed due to severe weather that weekend.  He finally got his wish this past weekend and I am so glad that I got to be there to see both boys discover the beach for the first time. Being surrounded by their laughter made this first anniversary of Jimmie's death much easier.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


The first two Gospel meetings in the 2013 campaign to Zambia have been completed, and the news is great.  42 have been baptized and 132 erring brethren have been restored!  The meeting in Msika had an attendance high of 911, but that number was surpassed at Siamafumba where 1,152 gathered to hear the Gospel.  Considering that Siamafumba isn't a town or even a small village makes that attendance even more remarkable because Siamafumba is just a place where many footpaths cross.

I remember Jimmie going to Siamafumba with Ronald D. Gilbert when there was absolutely nothing there. No buildings of any kind, and no water.  He talked about the women walking to the nearest water hole some distance away and returning with the huge jugs on top of their heads.  Later trips I think they managed to bring it by vehicle.  But the preaching was done each year in the brush arbor the men constructed when they got there, the cooking for the whole crowd was done by the women in a makeshift open kitchen, and everyone slept on the ground at night.  Baptisms were back at that water hole and everyone walked, usually several times a day.

Jimmie took our camping tent with him the second year he went to Siamafumba so he didn't have to worry about snakes slithering into his sleeping bag while he slept.  He left it with the brethren there and I'm not sure how many years it got used. But since then with IBTM's help a school of preaching has been established at this crossroads.  Now the speakers get to sleep in the building on the concrete floor at night.  That never really sounded any more comfortable to me and Jimmie always said that it did nothing to alleviate the danger from snakes. You see, the corn for the enshima is stored in the building so the mice come for the corn, and the snakes come for the mice.

The stories Jimmie used to tell.  I wish I could remember them in detail now.  But I do recall how amazed Jimmie was at people who would walk for days to get there.  The first few years the attendance was typically between 2,000 and 3,000 and Jimmie spoke about what a strange feeling it was to be preaching at night to such a crowd with only a single lantern to light his notes while everyone else sat in total darkness.  The attendance has been lower in recent years but that is probably because they now hold Gospel meetings in several locations so brethren don't have to walk as far.

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of  Jimmie's death so I've been thinking about Siamafumba a lot.  I don't know now how many trips Jimmie made there but I do know that his heart had been in Africa since our first campaign to Ghana in 1983. He loved the people and their openness to the Gospel.  He loved preaching and teaching there.  He loved haggling with the vendors and laughing with the kids.  He loved telling the stories that both terrified (like throwing rocks at a crocodile or being charged by a bull elephant) and delighted us (such as watching baby lions playing in the road or the giraffe that startled Jimmie when it bent its head over a tree to take a closer look at him).  Jimmie had wanted us to live in Africa and we made plans to move more than once, only to have them fail.  So we ended up first on a tiny island in the South Pacific and later working with international correspondence missions instead.  There were times when the fever to live in a foreign mission field again would burn hot, but each time Jimmie concluded that we could actually reach more souls with the correspondence work.  So we stayed.

The day Jimmie was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer the doctor was obviously startled when the first question out of Jimmie's mouth was "Can you get me well enough to go back to Africa?" - but it did not surprise me.  For several months last year we thought the doctor had managed it and Jimmie was really looking forward to working there again.  Sadly, that didn't happen.  But Julie and I both wanted Jimmie's wish to come true on whatever level was possible, so Ronald Gilbert took some of Jimmie's ashes with him on this year's campaign to Zambia.  Siamafumba is the place I requested that he take them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

I have officially downsized.  My Georgia house sold Friday so I'm a one-house granny again.  But oh, the 6 1/2 weeks it took for that sale to be over were something else.  The only comparison that comes to mind is Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

First, there was the day the house went on the market.  Within hours I had TWO offers on it, both good but one was for my full asking price.  That was a SHOCK - a good one, but still a shock.  I thought the real estate market was supposed to be slow.  PANIC soon followed because when I listed the house I learned that I had to go through Probate Court.  What?  I had asked if I needed to do something after Jimmie died and been assured that I didn't.  Now I learned that just because the magic phrase "with rights of survivorship" was not included in all that legal jargon in my house deed technically it wasn't all mine, at least not until a judge said so.  I had to hire a lawyer since I was living in another state by now - but honestly that was a good thing.  What do I know about probate court?  I quickly learned that it normally takes five weeks to get through it - but I only had four before the closing date. Suddenly everything was in RUSH mode.

Then the buyer ran into problems with FHA and we went into weeks of SILENT mode. I made numerous trips to the local library to fax contract extensions without knowing if my house was really about to be sold or not.   So when my real estate agent called last Thursday morning to say that everything was finally approved and the closing was going to be the very next afternoon - well, I may not have been shocked but I was definitely startled.  And then we were back to RUSH mode.

But Thursday night my agent called again with more news.  It seems a wind storm went through Georgia that day blowing over a tree in my backyard and taking out part of my fence.  She learned this when the buyers went to the house for their final walk through, so we were right back into PANIC.  Panic from the buyers because even though I am fully aware that the cleanup is my responsibility they are afraid I won't do it.  Panic from me because I'm 400 miles away and what on earth can I accomplish in the 18 hours before the closing time?

Thankfully, a wonderful friend in Georgia, William Howard, came to my rescue.  William went to my house early the next morning to survey the damage, calling me from my backyard while he stood in the heavy rain that had followed the wind.  Then he called an arborist to get a quote on removing the offending tree - and stood in the rain with him as well.  William also assured me that once there isn't a tree sticking through the wooden privacy fence that he can repair it.  Of course, nothing can be done until the rain clears next week, but William was able to put together a repair plan that pacified the buyer and salvaged the closing.

And then suddenly it was over.  The house is sold and an important phase of my life is over.  I have very mixed feelings about that.  But one thing I am very sure of - William Howard was the hero of Friday.  If you know William, please give him a standing ovation from me the next time you see him.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


It has been months since I have been on this blog, months filled with numerous trips between Georgia and Mississippi overseeing house renovations, firing a contractor, hiring a real estate agent, lawyer and painter, dealing with shingles (the sick kind), sorting through 39 years of memories, packing what was going with me, discarding what was not, going through probate court, and moving . . . just to mention a few of the highlights. The one constant during these months was keeping the Internet mission work going whether I was at home or on the road and sitting in McDonald's with my laptop.  But all this activity just drained away any thought of writing.

Yet today would have been Jimmie's birthday so here I am, blogging once more.

My daughter, Julie, wanted us to celebrate the day and it turned out to be a wonderful idea.  She fixed a birthday dinner of Jimmie's favorite foods, decorated with numerous pictures of Jimmie, and we all told our favorite story about him. She also asked us to write a short note to Jimmie which we then attached to helium balloons that Cole released into the sky.  I must admit that watching that brightly colored bouquet of balloons drift upwards into the heavens was an awesome sight.  We all stood gazing until they completely disappeared.  Still, this was certainly not a custom I would have ever thought of doing.

But Cole loved it.  He loved doing something special for Grandad and he had decorated his heart-felt message with a drawing of the two of them fishing.  Of course Jasper was just excited to scribble on paper and I enjoyed watching him.  Then as I began my own note I realized there were quite a lot of things I wish I could tell Jimmie.  I wish I could tell him how well Julie and Bronson are doing in their new home.  I wish I could tell him how Cole is leading prayers so easily now, and that Jasper is not only walking but trying to run. I wish I could tell him that he did make it back to Africa one more time after all because the IBTM campaign team took some of his ashes with them to Zambia.  

I think Jimmie would be pleased by knowing all of these things.  But as Julie said so truly earlier today, the thing that would please Jimmie the most would be knowing that the mission work he loved was still saving lost souls.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Did I mention that I have bought a house?  I can't really call it a new home since it was built in 1902.  I can't call it my dream home either, but with some renovations it is getting better.  And I can't call it a second home since it is the one I will move to when all the construction jobs are done.  Then I will have the delightful fun of trying to sell my present home.  But this will be my home when I am able to move, hopefully before the summer.

My grandson, Cole, has been complaining for years about me living 7 hours away (not remembering, of course, that is was he that moved.)  After his Grandad died he was asking me almost daily when was I going to move close to him.  So, I thought that when I actually picked a house 3 minutes away from his that he would be thrilled.

Not so!  When I told him which house I was buying suddenly he was mad.  He quickly informed me that I was not moving close enough!  He had decided that I needed to live in the same house as him, or at least on the same street.  So for the month I was waiting to close all I got was black scowls and frowns every time my new house was mentioned.

Then after the closing we drove over to take a look at what I had bought . . . with Cole grumbling the whole way.  But that's when we discovered that the sellers had left the swing set and play fort in the back yard, and there were lego pieces littering the front walk.

Suddenly, Cole LOVED my new house!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Don't you just love it when kids prefer the simple things?  Give them an empty cardboard box . . .

. . . or a tree to climb . . .

and you would think you had bought them an expensive gift.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Positive Things

I started this blog almost 5 years ago in 2008, but Jimmie and I had been writing newsletters long before that.  When we went to Ghana on our first foreign campaign together in 1983  Jimmie reported to the congregation that sent us.  When Jimmie went back alone in 1985, he reported again.  But after our move to American Samoa in early 1987 we began a monthly newsletter together.  Those newsletters started again when Jimmie and I  joined Truth for the World.  When I became office manager there I also wrote the monthly news blurb on the donation receipts plus started a quarterly newsletter from the TFTW secretaries to our supporters.  Now I provide a portion of the monthly IBTM newsletter, The Seeker.  So in the last 26 years I estimate that I have written more than 500 articles.

And with every one of them there was a constant  rule from Jimmie to always keep it positive.

Positive.  Jimmie always believed that newsletters and blogs were no place to complain.  Therefore, we didn't write about the really hard times unless we could do it with a smile, like when the hurricane in Samoa left us without power for a month and we had to take showers in the rain.  We didn't mention the super scary times - such as when a man stuck a shotgun in Jimmie's face demanding he stop teaching the Gospel - until long after when we could do so calmly.  We didn't talk about the heartache of seeing good works destroyed, or the frustration of dealing with deceitful people.  And we didn't mention the personal attacks that seem to come just because you are trying hard to stay firm on God's Word or the nasty emails even as Jimmie was dying.

Perhaps that is why writing on this blog has been so difficult lately.  Especially today.  Today it has been 6 months since Jimmie died.

But even as hard as these last 6 months have been, there have still been bright spots, things I can be positive about.  I have been able to continue the Internet portion of the mission work with IBTM that Jimmie did not want to die with him, and it continues to grow at an amazing rate.  In the days since his death almost 40,000 visits have been made to the websites for folks to read the materials there.  Approximately 2,500 new students have enrolled in the Bible correspondence courses to study God's Word.  And at least 5 of our students became New Testament Christians.  Per Jimmie's wishes, I am working on relocating closer to my 2 adorable grandsons, and their parents, of course.  And those grandsons continue to be a delight.  Cole is climbing trees and making new friends, while Jasper is crawling and laughing and trying to talk.

I wish Jimmie could enjoy these things with me, but I will have to be content in the knowledge that he is an important reason why they are happening.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quick Hello!

I can't believe it has been more than a month since I chatted on this blog.  I guess time flies whether you are having fun or not.  Life has been busy, and just getting busier, so I don't have time to stay long today.  The past two weeks I have been enjoying watching my two grandsons get into mischief (Cole) and discovering new things (Jasper) and that is always a joy.  Not so much fun is working on plans to relocate closer to them - the woes of house renovations!

I just posted the latest IBTM newsletter on here, so take a look.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy 2013!

Is it really another year already?  2012 ended with a whirlwind tour of the South since I traveled from Georgia all the way to Texas and back.  I got to spend time with some very special people and learned to appreciate the free Wi-Fi at McDonald's, even if I did get tired of the menu.  I would tell you about it, but I think I need a few pictures.
Of course, there were lots of presents.  Jasper quickly mastered the art of
ripping the gift wrap.
Bronson and Cole practiced their Grinch look before passing out more.

The first few days in Texas was gorgeous so the "kids" enjoyed the playground.

Then on Christmas Day the snow started.

It was Jasper's first.

The playground soon looked quite different.
But the play continued.

And so did the snow.  We soon had 6 inches.
 Naturally, the best part of any holiday is being with family.  It's also nice to have the memories captured for later.  Here are a few of my favorites.