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.