Monday, December 10, 2012

Catching Up, Part 9 -- All Caught Up Now!

December has so much activity.  Friends, church, shopping, family, Christmas and all.

Last week, our friend George Nelson came on Tuesday evening and spent the night.  He helps with our Celebrate Recovery Program for the Coronado guys on Tuesday nights.  He is a pastor, a church planter for the new Vision Plus Church he is starting in Chatsworth.  We went to breakfast on Wednesday morning as he got ready to take the train (Metrolink rail) back to Chatsworth.

Sondra and I took a day for an excursion to the Tyler Mall in Riverside with the grand-daughters, Bailey and Brynnlee.  They have a little train on the top level of the mall that takes children and adults around for a five-minute ride -- it costs $4 a person.  They didn't charge for Brynnlee (as she is only a year old), plus they had a 3-for-$10 special.  It was so much fun for the girls!

Last Saturday, one of the volunteer pastors in our church (Pastor Roy Flint, who helps coordinate the missions activities for our work in Mexico) invited me to a reception in Anaheim for his dad and mom.  It was their 60th wedding anniversary!  Roy's parents, as well as Roy and siblings, were born in the Netherlands just north of Amsterdam.  When Roy was in 6th grade, the family immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island.  It was an interesting afternoon for this party with so many who speak Dutch.

On Saturday night, Sondra and I headed over to Crystal's house about five minutes away in Fontana.  We had set it up to have our gift exchange and Christmas meal on a weekend that Crystal did not work (as she is a nurse and works every other weekend).  This was the best weekend for all concerned -- Crystal and Shawn and girls, as well as Eva and Callie.  Sondra cooked a ham dinner with mashed potatoes and corn and rolls, Crystal cooking some green bean casserole, and Evan bringing ice cream for dessert.

It was a cute and fun time again of opening presents, just watching the excitement and glow of two little girls among us -- a three-year old and a one-year old.  Their sense of wonderment is so refreshing!

In between everything else, I just finished reading the book titles Cross Roads, a novel by Paul Young.  Young is the author of the best-selling book The Shack from a few years ago.  Again, this is a masterful tale with depth of meaning in the ways of spiritual awareness for life.  It has an almost mystical point of view and definitely has "out of the box" thinking for regular theology, but it is well worth the read!

Lastly, we had a blessed time of worship yesterday.  We watched a short, three-minutes video that John Ross had put together about some of our church activities recently.  In addition, it was a joy to hear some testimonies about how God is providing in amazing ways for our ministries.  Someone last week came by the church and gave a $400 check to provide Christmas gifts for children and youth in our church.  Another person donated 40 sleeping bags to our Homeless Ministry for those who are having to sleep in the river bed in the cold weather.  Another person donated enough money to purchase close to 400 toys to take to Tijuana for the upcoming annual Christmas Mission Trip to Mexico.  We are so blessed and thankful.  God's provision is inexhaustible and wondrous!

Catching Up, Part 8

Back in town, life moved quickly on.

On Wednesday, November 28, we had everyone help decorate the sanctuary for the Christmas season.  Everyone was told to come at the regular Bible study time to assist and have fun helping each other.  Almost 30 people showed up.

On the same evening, we had a new sound mixer board set up for the church's sound system.  This new board was bought and donated by a church member.

During the week and a half that I was gone, many helped out and covered the ministry of the church.  My nephew, John Ross, preached on Sunday, November 18.  On the following Sunday, November 25, the Williams Family had been scheduled to come and present a concert.  That worked out well.

During the month, I also gave a devotional at the 8 am prayer time at Coronado Stone.  I continue to meet the with parolees who are in the Sober Living Program -- they are housed on the manufacturing site in homes, they cook their own meals and they have a 40-hour job.  This is so important because there are many places who will not hire felons or anyone with a record.  We have seen some amazing things happen in lives as we minister to these men, from ones in their early 20s to those in their late 40s and early 50s.  God does great things to redeem the past and give hope for the future!

Last week was Alden's birthday -- Alden is Sondra's oldest brother who lives about 5 miles from us here in Rialto.  He lives alone in a senior adult apartment complex.  So, on November 29 (his 61st birthday), we took him (at his request) to Marie Callender's Restaurant.  It was a relaxing and enjoyable evening.

Catching Up, Part 7

We left Rialto on Thursday morning, November 15, and drove to Las Vegas.  This was the start of our Tennessee trip for Thanksgiving with our good friends, Randy and Vicki Smith.   They live in a fifth-wheel trailer at Douglas Dam in Sevierville, just outside of Knoxville.  They invited us to come to spend time with them, as they have been close friends since our days at Palms Baptist Church in 29 Palms.  Randy was a Marine stationed there with his family.  Our church licensed him to the ministry during those years.

In Las Vegas, we stayed at the Stratosphere Hotel for a night, as we had a very early flight out.  Our flight was from Las Vegas to Houston to Chicago and finally to Knoxville!  We arrived a little after  midnight Friday night, November 16.  For the next ten days, we had a whirlwind tour of the Knoxville area, as well as some side trips to some little towns in North Carolina and Virginia!

We were able to spend time with Randy and Vicki's adult children (and their families) -- Aimee, Randy Jr. and Ryan.  We also visited Vicki's dad, who is in a rehab center with Alzheimer's disease.  Randy's mom also lives at the campground in her own fifth-wheeler.  We stayed in a huge motorhome, which Randy and Vicki also own and allowed us to sleep in next to their spot.  Across the road was a man named Kenny, who is dying from lung cancer.  He has limited energy but went with me several times for breakfast (biscuits and gravy).  Kenny allowed me to ride his Harley motorcycle -- my fist ever to ride a Harley!  We attended church in the nearby town of Dandridge and enjoyed the pastor there.  Here are some pictures.

Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas

Met up with pastor friend who pastors in Las Vegas for dinner.

There are even slot machines at the Las Vegas Airport.

Finally arrived in Knoxville after a full day of flying around the U.S.A.

This is the RV that Sondra and I stayed in.

This was my favorite breakfast spot!

This is Deep Springs Baptist Church in nearby Dandridge, TN.

This is where Randy works as the General Manager of the entire truckstop operation.

They have a chapel for truckers to come in for prayer and Sunday worship.

This is Randy in his office.

This was a drive-through light show experience in the Knoxville area.

We had Thanksgiving Dinner at Uncle Bob's (Vicki's uncle) restaurant in Talbott.

This is me and Sondra with Vicki's brother, Mike.

This is Randy and Vicki's daughter (Aimee) and her family.

Their son (Randy Jr.) and family.

Their daughter (Ryan) and her three girls.

Abingdon, Virginia

We saw the play "Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Goose" on stage in Abingdon.

We ate at the historic restaurant called The House.

Here is Vicki with her dad in the rehab center.

Here is me and Randy getting ready to ride the Harleys.

Oh, what fun!

This guy, Kenny, is very special and kind -- and, sadly, dying of lung cancer.

Randy and I toured this museum of antique motorcycles and cars.

Here is a view from the top floor of the museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

Sondra and Vicki went shopping in town in the next town over -- Waynesville, North Carolina.

Here is Vicki and Randy, sitting with us at a little pastry shop in Waynesville.

We flew home on Monday, November 26, with many memories of fun times with great friends!

Catching Up, Part 6

The rest of November zipped right along -- Evan winning a softball championship with his team (and he was the pitcher), national day of voting at election time, observing Veterans Day and church activities prior to Thanksgiving Week.

This was March 1971, when I finished boot camp at Ft. Ord, California.
I posted this on Facebook on Veterans Day this year.

Here is a gospel trio, Solid Ground, from Sacramento singing at our church.

Jeff Johson, of Solid Ground, is Sondra's second cousin (who grew up in Taft, CA).

Then, after all this, Sondra and I left for Tennessee for Thanksgiving.