THE STARE

I had no idea why these people were staring…

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STARING…

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and then, what I did not notice as I clicked the shutter to get a simple shot of the cool motorcycle, the quaint town, and the majestic mountains in the background…is now revealed…

 

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MexiColor

For our mission’s upcoming annual family conference, one of our assignments for the conference is to come up with little welcome gifts for all our guests. We found some fun things while in the USA for our missionaries, but we didn’t think our conference guests from the USA would want little “tastes of home” that they can always get. So, we went to Tequisquiapan today to find some little gifts for those guests. I always enjoy taking pics there, and this was our first visit with my new camera. All kinds of fun!

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Finally Home

After 4 months and 1 day of an extended and epic summer road trip, we are finally back home. The 1,000 mile drive from Dallas (400 to Laredo and 600 to San Juan del Río) went smoothly and without any problems. Praise God for that!

It’s hard to comprehend that we were in the USA for 1/3 of 2016. Here is how my Michelin tire 2016 wall calendar shows the amount of time (the stack on the left):

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The drive from Dallas wears me out, but there are a few vistas that provide a reprieve from the monotony, like this one at a gas station south of Saltillo:

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One of my personal goals is to remember to take advantage of how cheap flowers are in Mexico. This vase of lilies cost about $5.50 USD. I usually only spend about half that on flowers when I get them here, but I decided to splurge!

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We arrived back just in time to be here for Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations (September 15 at midnight is “el grito” or the cry of independence from 1810; and September 16 is the official holiday). I noticed yesterday that there aren’t as many vendors downtown as there used to be (the government removed all the unlicensed vendors from the plazas a few weeks ago), but there is still one small area of Independence Day vendors doing a brisk business in all things “tri” (the three main colors of the national flag):

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In the main plaza there is a temporary mural with an explanation of the main elements and personas of the celebration of Mexico’s independence and subsequent patriotic acts (by the way, that’s not some sort of superhero in the upper left; he was a youth named Juan Escutia and one of the so-called “Niños Héroes” or “Hero Children,” who according to accounts, in order to protect the flag from being captured in battle or surrender, wrapped the flag around himself and jumped to his death from atop the wall while defending the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City when the “gringos” (Americans) invaded in 1847:

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Counting Down

After an epic 670 mile drive from Pensacola, FL to the Camino Center in Dallas this past Wednesday, we are chipping away at our long to-do, to-purchase lists. I am sitting in the local Toyota dealer service area awaiting another oil-change and a quick check of the drive belt that occasionally sounds like it is slipping a little. If they finish this soon, I will head to the north side of DFW to pick up a long-awaited change of breathing headgear and mask to a more comfortable option. 

I am waking up around 4 a.m. almost every night, but usually can fall back to sleep. Odd. Makes me a bit fatigued, but so far, I am dealing with it fine. Haven’t reached for the nitroglycerine pills this week, though I have thought about it a couple times. I seem to have more energy and stamina now than I have had since the heart attacks. This is a great blessing! Thanks praying for this because I often feel well for some days or a week and then not feel well for some days. It seems like I am seeing much improvement in this pattern. 

We arrived in Dallas to a mound of medical bills. Between a few different events, we are having to pay over $3,800 in medical bills that are due. We have savings that are meant for a future house/retirement that will cover this, in addition to a recent $500 gift to help us with these bills, but I really thought that we were looking at a maximum of about $3,000, including about $500 we had already paid out-of-pocket. So, it isn’t a comfortable situation, but at least we are able to cover it. We are also needing to replace Beth’s 7 year old laptop that she uses for her MK Skype classes and the library catalogue as well as homeschool, etc. So, that is another $1,000+ to add to the mix. It’s only money, right?! Well, our God never lacks for any good thing and never requires less than faith and obedience from us. May we continue walking in these and in Him. 

Cameron is enjoying Moody, although he is finding the schedule and work load to be challenging. Pray for him to adjust well, to do his best, and to develop good time management and study skills. Writing is a challenge for him.

We await my appointment with the sleep doctor next Tuesday, and then plan to drive to Laredo on Wednesday and home on Thursday (we can stop about halfway home from the border if we are delayed at the border or too tired to make the full trip in one day). The drive can be stressful, especially at the border area. As always, we appreciate your prayers for our travels. We look forward to concluding this 4 month trip away from home and getting back to routine in ministry/work, homeschooling, and home life. There is a lot to do!

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Pensacola, Florida

We’ve made our way through central Florida, visiting with my mother, both my sisters, Beth’s cousin, while getting a few hours on the Atlantic beach, visited an historical lighthouse, Kennedy Space Center, and gone tubing on the run of a natural spring. Yesterday, we left for Dallas and stopped in at Pensacola, FL for two nights so we could enjoy one full day at the beach and explore the national seashore and historical Fort Pickens.

We also enjoyed a seafood lunch (grouper nuggets…never heard of such a thing but they were very good, and a few crab-meat stuffed shrimp as an appetizer). We weren’t feeling well earlier in the month for our 25th anniversary dinner, so finally this was it! Months ago before the heart attacks, I thought maybe we’d celebrate our 25th anniversary in a big way this summer. Maybe a trip to Hawaii or somewhere out West. Couldn’t handle that either physically or financially, so a few nights in the mountains and a few nights on a beach will have to do. We’re blessed to have been able to do all that we’ve done this summer. I think we’ve celebrated pretty well.

We check-out tomorrow and hope to make the 650 miles to Dallas tomorrow if we can. We need to shop for supplies and auto parts there as well as fulfill my follow-up appointment with the sleep doctor on September 6. This should get ourselves ready for return to home in Mexico and return to ministry. The rest has been needed, and we’re grateful for the time we’ve had to take what basically was a medical leave.

We haven’t heard from Cameron since classes started a week ago, but he had been doing great before then! Dayton doesn’t mind not getting home too soon. 10th grade awaits!

I looked out off the balcony this morning and saw this beach ball being blown down the beach by an easterly. I hoped to see it later in the day when we were at the national seashore a few miles to the west, but it must have moved on to Alabama!

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Not the best shark cage design!

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Kennedy Space Center

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La Florida

So, we’re in central Florida on the east coast for a few days as we make our way back to Dallas. I’ve been feeling much better this week which is very encouraging.

We spent our first night in a pretty nice hotel for a much better price of cheaper hotels in Texas, so I’m happy with that. We barely got to stay there for all of 16 hours, but even so, we enjoyed the sound of the waves, a walk on the beach, a dip in the pool and hot tub, a lovely sunrise, and air conditioning that made us forget that it is August in Florida with temps in the mid-90s and humidity around 200%. “La Florida” is a Spanish name because as we all know (or should know) the Spaniards were the first Europeans to show up here. This Spanish word was aptly chosen by those intrepid explorers because “florida” originally meant “long lines of tourists.” I have to admit, those Spaniards were quite forward-looking.

After checking out of the hotel, we visited the old and beautiful Ponce de Leon lighthouse at Ponce Inlet. It majestically stands 175 feet high (the tallest in Florida). I took photos of it from the outside, the inside, from the top and from the bottom, as well as pictures of the grounds, and some of the exhibits. There are pictures of lenses (some of them either used in this lighthouse at some point in history or were similar to the; others weren’t used here but are representative of the historical development of the lenses). There is a picture of a couple of Cuban refugee rafts (taken from the top of the lighthouse) that refugees built and used once to flee the troubled island. The Daytona Speedway is barely visible on the horizon above the treeline in one of the pictures.

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