Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

2014 has been a very full, very busy year personally.  I finally got all of those boxes unpacked after my move, although my house is not officially “finished”.  I have a number of craft/painting projects I want to do but for the past couple of months every time I could manage the time I worked on a playroom for my grandsons.  I say "worked" but it felt more like play decorating the room with characters and airplanes and creating a kitchen where both boys love pretending to cook.  Of course my house decorating plans came to a complete standstill when Henry was born.  Now deciding between painting a chair or rocking Henry to sleep is a no-brainer.  I thoroughly enjoy having all three grandsons close.  And they thoroughly enjoyed Christmas!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


In just a few minutes it will officially be the season of thanksgiving.  So before the rush of cooking turkey and eating far too much desert I want to take a moment and mention some things that I was very thankful for today.

  • Living in a small town - People are friendly and getting around is a breeze.  I rushed out this morning to do some errands.  Made 3 stops including buying some last minute grocery items and was still home in 30 minutes.
  • Living in the same small town as my daughter - So I get to see her often and we are close enough to lend each other a hand when needed.  She was also the first in our family to discover this small town that I think is pretty cool.
  • Grandsons - There is nothing like grandkids to keep life interesting . . . and exhausting.  Mine kept me busy today.
Speaking of grandsons, I now have 3 of them.  Henry was born 2 weeks ago and he is adorable.

  • IBTM - It is a wonderful mission work and I'm pleased to be a part of it.  I've just posted our latest newsletter and you can see it by clicking here.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Welcome September

It's been ages since I've written, but it's been a rough summer.  I'm not sure why Jimmie's death hit me harder these past few months than previously but thinking about the last two years I don't suppose it should be a surprise.  Still, the difficult summer anniversary dates have all passed, the cooler weather of fall has arrived, and I have two of the cutest grandsons on the planet . . .

. . . and a third one due in November.  Things will get better.

I also have mission work that keeps me busy.  The IBTM Africa Campaign was just completed and had wonderful results with 53 baptized.  A full report with pictures is in the latest edition of The Seeker - just click here to read it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hill Missions History

A congregation recently requested that I send them a brief history of my mission work.  It is hard to get concise when you are talking about 30+ years, but I whittled it down as best I could.

A Brief History
Of the work of Jimmie & Linda Hill

Hill Missions began in 1983 with our first foreign campaign to Ghana.  That six weeks experience was filled with water rationing, famine, dysentery, gasoline shortages and a whole host of other problems created by drought and a sudden influx of refugees into this African nation.  The attempted coup just days after our arrival brought violence, curfews and military checkpoints.  I still think of this as the Campaign to Gehenna.  But by the end of it our 5-person team had walked the dusty roads of numerous villages doing street preaching or personal studies - and Jimmie and I were committed to mission work.  The hardships were certainly not the appeal but rather the thrill of converting lost souls.  We baptized 72 that campaign and would have returned in a heartbeat.  As Jimmie put it, “If we could survive Ghana, we can survive anything.”

Our plans to work full-time in Ghana took a detour and we ended up on the opposite side of the world on a little island in the South Pacific – Tutuila, American Samoa.  The five years we lived and worked there I took a supportive role while Jimmie preached and traveled.  He concentrated primarily on the islands of Samoa but also did mission work in Fiji, Tonga and Tuvalu where he helped establish the first congregation of the Lord’s church.  Jimmie would joke that by going to Samoa instead of Ghana we had traded malaria, yellow fever and cholera for earthquakes, tidal waves and hurricanes.  That was funny until Cyclone Ofa came along.  The worst hurricane to hit Samoa in more than 100 years, it demolished much of our tiny island in 1990.  But we survived that as well.

Jimmie loved teaching and hoped to be part of a preacher training school one day, so our return to the States in 1992 was so he could further his education.  He did located preaching while earning first a BA and then a MA in Bible.  But he did not forget about missions, using his personal vacation and gospel meeting times to do foreign campaign work.  Then in 1998 Truth for the World called.  They wanted Jimmie to join them as the Director of the Bible Correspondence Course program and he quickly said, “Yes!”  In 1999 I joined the staff as a secretary with a variety of duties, but worked primarily with the postal BCC students.  In 2005 Jimmie added Director of Publications to his duties and I became the office manager.  Deciding to leave this work in 2010 was difficult.

But joining Ronald D. Gilbert at International Bible Teaching Ministries has been exciting.  Brother Gilbert began IBTM in 2007 with a goal of helping foreign preaching schools to train men, but he also wanted to help Christians who could not reach a classroom to be able to gain a deeper understanding of Scripture.  He did this with the creation of the International College of the Bible, a distance learning school.  Jimmie joined him to help with both of these areas but Jimmie also wanted to add a program of correspondence courses to reach the lost.  That’s where I came in.  I spent months uploading materials and creating two new websites then, under Jimmie’s direction, organizing a new online Bible correspondence course program for IBTM.  We began enrolling our first students in January 2011 and the program has been growing at an amazing rate since.

Then in October 2011 Jimmie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Renal Cancer and we learned all too soon that Hill Missions would have to survive something else – his death.  But even in sickness Jimmie never lost his zeal for mission work.  The very first question Jimmie asked the oncologist following the shock of that diagnosis was, “Can you get me well enough to go back to Africa?”  He almost made it.  Even at the end when Jimmie was extremely ill he was still trying to spread the gospel.  Setting up a Bible study with the hospice worker who came to help him bathe is just one more example of his lifetime commitment.  Jimmie passed into eternity on August 23, 2012. 

Jimmie’s greatest worry before his death was that the mission work he loved would die with him.  I have continued his work with International Bible Teaching Ministries to ensure that does not happen.  Naturally, I cannot do the preaching or teaching that Jimmie did, but under the oversight of the eldership at the New Hope Road Church of Christ and the guidance of Ronald D. Gilbert I have continued the Internet portion of this work.

I work with the online Bible correspondence courses assisting more than 110 active IBTM teachers when they have questions or problems.  I assign teachers to new students (we currently have more than 13,000 enrolled) and assist students when needed.  I upload materials to the IBTM and ICOTB websites (such as our new e-book library), respond to email correspondence, handle an online advertising campaign, and help with the IBTM newsletter, The Seeker.  I also do a variety of secretarial duties, everything from typing tracts to creating databases.  One such chore – keeping track of all IBTM statistics – would usually sound boring but in this case it isn’t because the statistics are souls.  Since the IBTM websites began to be viewed in January 2011 we have had more than 500,000 visitors who have read more than 2 million pages of gospel literature.  And they have come from more than 9,000 cities in 226 nations around the world.  Just reading those numbers I am awed by the international outreach of this Internet mission. 

And since Jimmie’s death at least 20 more of our online students have put on Christ in baptism . . . so the mission work Jimmie loved is continuing to save lost souls.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Update

There are days when I really feel like I could use a clone.  This is one of them.  But I haven't posted anything in a month so I will try to hit the high spots.

First, I was pleased this past weekend when I assigned new student #12,000 in the IBTM Online Bible Courses.  I wish I could say that all 12,000 + students are diligently studying the Bible right now but as anyone who has ever worked with correspondence students knows well, that isn't the case.  Generally, about 1/2 of those who enroll never do anything more, so we have to concentrate on that other half.  If you would like to know more about the program just click here.

Next, the latest edition of The Seeker is ready to post.  I will be sending out the email version just as soon as I finish here, so I had better hurry.  If you don't get it by email but would like to just leave me a comment with your email address and I will add you to the mailing list.  It is also available if you click here.  It has a Valiant Volunteer section and I'm always pleased when I get to write one of those.

I guess the third major news is that I started a new Facebook business page even though I'm not really going into business.  My focus is mission work.  But I learned about essential oils when Jimmie was diagnosed with renal cancer and was amazed at how helpful those were in some very trying times.  I used them with him faithfully, but I'm afraid that after his death I pretty much stopped everything that wasn't absolutely essential to survival.  I had trouble remembering to eat so the essential oils were certainly forgotten.  But after getting really sick myself (I went through 5 rounds of antibiotics for a case of bronchitis that just would not go away and then got shingles) and many reminders from my daughter that I needed to take care of me, I started with the oils again.  I mostly concentrated on building up my immune system in 2013, and it worked.  Now I'm tackling some other problems, like this really annoying thing called arthritis.  Anyway, the Facebook page is an easy way of sharing some information about this healing gift God provided and I knew nothing about until recently.  If you are interested you can find the page here.  If you are on Facebook already then please "like" the page.

I'm liking my new dog, Sadie, much better since the accidents in the house have stopped . . . but house-training in this frigid winter was not fun.  Personally, I think it's funny that instead of running to the door to tell me she needs to go out, Sadie runs for my coat.  Come Spring that signal might not work so well.  By the way, I was right.  That gate was definitely  not high enough.  It only took about 3 days before Sadie was sailing right over it.  So I got a taller one.  She hasn't cleared it yet but the way she is practicing she will, soon.  Julie tells me I should be training her to do jumping tricks, but who has time for that.  In fact, I'm out of time now.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Things

It is barely more than a week into the new year, and already it has brought something new in several categories.

  • New Christian - One of our online BCC students from South Africa started the year by putting on Christ in baptism
  • New Experience - The blast of cold weather that swept across the USA also swept under my house and froze some of my water pipes, so I was without hot water for 3 days.  (Thankfully, it didn't get the cold line.  It froze everything at my daughter's house.)  Naturally, my pipes had burst when they thawed yesterday.  That happened to a lot of folks in the area but a wonderful plumber worked well into the night fixing the problems for a long list of us.  But this was a first for me.  Growing up in Florida freezing pipes were unheard of.
  • New Friend - My daughter, Julie, had been bullying suggesting I get a dog for a while now to have some company in the house.  A few weeks ago I finally decided she might have a good idea and started the search for a pet.  

And I found one, a cute little chocolate Rat Terrier that had just been dropped off at the Humane Society by her owner.  I was the first to apply to adopt her and was told it would take 24 - 48 hours before I could take her home.  Two weeks later after many phone calls and an email query that they never responded to, I found out via Facebook that the dog had been sent home with someone else.  That place may be good with animals, but they stink at human communication.  

But this story still has a happy ending because Julie found another little dog at a pound about 2 hours away that she thought I might like.  The problem there was that this little dog was on death row, scheduled to be put to sleep two days later.  She had been picked up as a stray so nothing much was known about her, but they thought she was a Feist Terrier mix about 1 year old. She also had the same coloring as the Toy Fox Terrier I had as a kid growing up, so Julie was right.  I brought her home last Saturday.

I named her Sadie, partly because I was looking for an old-fashioned Southern name since Feist Terriers were bred as hunting dogs in the rural South.  But I also liked the name because that was a restaurant Jimmie and I enjoyed in Amerika Samoa.  Sadie was very quiet and scared on the long drive back.  She was super excited during the shopping stop at Pet Smart, realizing immediately that the new dog bed was hers.  And she has been very happy and loving since arriving at her new home.  But I quickly learned that when she gets excited Sadie is a bouncer.  She jumps for joy, bouncing up and down just like Cole on his new pogo stick.

My gate might not be high enough.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 has arrived and as usual it took me a few days to get the hang of writing the new year at the end of the date, but I think I'm finally getting there.  Before I officially move on, though, I need to reflect on 2013 for a moment.

2013 was a year of great change for me, the biggest being a move of 400 miles.  In January I purchased a house a few blocks away from my daughter so that I could be close to family, something Jimmie urged me to do before he died.  My future home was an old Victorian farmhouse built in 1902 that I chose because it had a great space for an office, but it needed some work. 
I soon discovered it needed more than I had expected so for the next five months I basically lived out of a suitcase as I traveled between the two states overseeing renovations.  Finally, in July, I was able to move and sell my house in the Atlanta area.  Both of those jobs were monstrous but setting up my new home and office has been just as exhausting.  And it isn't over yet.  It is embarrassing to admit that there are still packed boxes littering some of my rooms, but I have made progress. 

Changes after my move include adjusting to small town living after dealing with the rush of Atlanta for fourteen years – but that has been surprisingly easy.  I met more neighbors my first week here than I ever met in Georgia.  I also had to change to a new church family – which was not so easy.  Jimmie and I were part of the group that started the New Hope Road congregation, and Jimmie served as one of her elders until his death, so I dearly loved that work and everyone there.  Leaving was hard.  However, I have now placed membership at a local congregation and am learning to appreciate this friendly group of Christians.

One change last year was not good because during the summer I lost three contributors within a few weeks of each other.  Immediately after Jimmie’s death I lost a few who preferred not to support a woman, but these new losses were due to economic changes with the contributors.  I can understand both situations and greatly appreciate the support these wonderful folks sent in the past.  However, the new losses totaled approximately one-half of my income so they have been a bit worrisome.  The Eldership at the New Hope Road Church of Christ, who continues as my sponsoring congregation, is currently trying to do some fund-raising for me so I would appreciate your prayers that this effort is successful.

But overall since I managed to survive the changes – plus a bout with the shingles while all the renovations were going on – I would say that 2013 was a good year.  Being close to my two adorable grandsons is an absolute delight.  

Losing the Atlanta traffic headache is simply a bonus.

Of course, one thing has not changed - my work with International Bible Teaching Ministries.  Since the things I do with IBTM/ICOTB are via the Internet even the frequent travel didn’t interrupt anything.  My laptop became my portable office and I just looked for those “free Wi-Fi” signs when I was on the road . . . although I will admit that the menu at McDonald’s did get old.   Last year 5,235 people enrolled in our online study program so I was busy assigning them to one of our more than 100 teachers, keeping records and assisting teachers or students when there are problems, as there are almost daily.  When people ask what I do that is usually all I tell them, but actually I do a bit more.  I also keep all of the statistics for IBTM/ICOTB, run an online advertising campaign, help with The Seeker, upload materials to the two websites, and do a variety of secretarial chores and special projects.  Sometimes I actually do need to be in Cookeville to do things – such as when I set up new databases – so I travel there to work for a few days.  And two special projects I began last year have kept me particularly busy:  the library of e-books I have been creating for the college site, and typing/formatting the Bible correspondence courses.  I am very happy to report that I just sent the last course to the printer so soon we will have the entire study program in hard copy.

International Bible Teaching Ministries is still a fairly young mission work, but it has seen amazing results.  In 2013 alone more than 500 souls were baptized into Christ and at least 13 new congregations of the Lord’s church were established.  The schools of preaching assisted by IBTM graduated 67 new preachers for the kingdom and more than 150,000 books, Bibles and tracts were shipped overseas.  The Internet outreach continued to grow as people from 218  nations came to our websites to read our materials 228,409 times.  That's over 625 visits per day!

And 2014 is starting with a bang since one of our online students has already put on Christ in baptism this year.  I am thrilled to be just a small part of International Bible Teaching Ministries. 

- Linda

P. S. The latest newsletter for this mission work can be read by clicking here.