HMA #9

Rosie the dog

Bethie’s sister and her family just returned from a two week excursion to Mexico (not intentionally to miss us there…as far as I know!), and they couldn’t resist bringing back a Mexican hoodie/poncho for Rosie.

She wears it well.

She doesn’t like the hood.

She barks in Spanish now. “Guau-guau.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HMA #8

Pastor Jefferson M. Williams and I met when he brought a gang of teenagers down to Mexico in 2008 on a week long mission trip. We discovered then that we shared a love for God, kids, serving Jesus, and a sense of humor that few people think should be legal.

Only God could plan on us being 15 minutes from each other with a couple of hours available to sit and share some ice cream, some deep conversation and genuine laughter, and neither of us started the day having any idea we would have this time together having not even talked to each other in-person or on the phone since June 2010. #anotherprovidentialappointment

We look forward to meeting up again sometime in the coming months to share in ministry. As he would say, “Aslan is on the move…and it’s time to unstrap the concealed iguanas.” (an inside joke)

Bless you Jeff and Maxine Micki Deacon Williams. Looking forward to seeing you again when we figure out our schedule after our trip West.

(Apparently, Jeff sometimes has trouble taking selfies just like I do. This phtographic activity probably shouldn’t be considered an entertaining event, but that’s how we roll.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HMA #7 – “The Hall of Faithfulness” (honoring those who have died in active ministry and/or who have ministered at least 20 years with the mission)

Many of the following photos are of missionaries who have had a special connection to us in ministry. Of course, we don't know the Dillons' from the 1890's, but their story is inspiring. We just met Kirk Blackwell for the first time today here in Kansas City at the Avant offices. Kirk graciously made me a much-needed cup of espresso, so he deserves a place of recognition as well!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HMA #6 – West Texas (we’re on the road)

Our time in El Paso ended today and we began our eastward trek through Texas. We made sure to take the route that skirts just south of the Guadalupe National Park and its picturesque “El Capitan” peak that was formed by an ancient oceanic reef. Tomorrow, we plan to cover about 600 miles and drive into our weekend region of East Texas near Paris, TX. We’ll be sharing in Cornerstone Baptist Church in Paris this Sunday.

Here are a few pics of El Capitan and nearby landscapes and nature. You can see why we avoided taking Interstate 10 in exchange for a glimpse of some natural beauty.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HMA #5 – Family

While we’ve been in El Paso taking care of financial and logistic preparations for this home ministry assignment, we’ve been enjoying time with Beth’s brother and his family. Living in such a remote place like El Paso means they usually don’t see family much more than we do, so it’s been a really special time for all of us. I haven’t been in the habit of taking many photos over this past year with Covid limiting our travel, events, and interactions with others. I just barely remembered to take a few pics just before we left. We will miss being with them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HMA #4 – El Paso, Texas

Our departure from El Paso is approaching quickly. This evening the family took a brief drive up the south end of the long north-south mountain that divides east and west El Paso and nearly touches the Rio Grande River and the border with Mexico. The view is amazing. We weren’t able to get the best vantage point at the highest overlook that is closest to the southern end of the rim drive because every parking space was taken by others who were enjoying the sunset view in the cooler temperatures somewhere in the mid to upper 90s!

In these pics you’ll see both portions of Texas as well as Mexico and even much further away…though I don’t know that the Moon should be compared to viewing Texas and the edge of our southern neighbor. You might be able to detect the border area as it is lined with rows of lights. The large red “X” is a famous monument on the Mexico side.

Also, the painted rocks on the side of the distant mountain is a message directed to the people of of the sister city to the south. In Spanish is reads “CD JUAREZ. LA BIBLIA ES LA VERDAD. LEELA.” In English that translates as “JUAREZ CITY. THE BIBLE IS THE TRUTH. READ IT.” That’s a great exhortation for all of us.

In the bottom middle of this picture taken from Interstate 10, you can see just above the tops of those white cargo trucks, the upper portion of the black, border fencing. Everything beyond that fence is inside Mexico.

Sitting on an exit ramp off I-10 and awaiting a light change for our left turn was this view to our right. Everything you see in this photo is inside Mexico. It’s amazing how close the infrastructure of Mexico is in this location. This scene is filled with roughly built houses and commercial buildings, poorly constructed streets, mounds of garbage, relative poverty, etc. And having lived in urban areas of Mexico for nearly 20 years, all of this looks quite normal to me.

This building is where our oldest niece here attends high school.

I’m surprised this photo is halfway clear. You can see the moving vehicles on the elevated Interstate 10 give evidence of a slower shutter speed. I didn’t have a tripod or monopod to steady the camera, so this was rather fortunate that it is worth sharing.

I sort of promised the Moon earlier in the post, so you don’t get much of it, but there it is.

I don’t recall every using the panorama feature on my Nikon. I don’t think I even knew how to use it. Pretty neat though a bit grainy. It probably would work much better with daytime lighting. Most of these lights are in Mexico.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HMA #3

Last week we took a day off with family and took a driving tour around parts of El Paso and then headed north to Alamogordo, NM to visit a small, inexpensive zoo and enjoy some gourmet pizzas up in cooler Cloudcroft, NM at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level.

Before we flew up here, I purchased a used zoom lens for my Nikon DSLR camera. I tried it out while at the zoo. Unfortunately, the exhibits are all enclosed by rather tight fencing, so I struggled to get decent shots without the constant aggravation of fencing messing them up. I still got a handful of half-way decent shots to share. I hope to have better success when we’re out West in a couple months.

BTW, we attended church in-person this week (Bethie did last week, but I was not feeling well and missed) which was the first time I’ve been in a physical church service in 65 Sundays! It was such a blessing to worship with other believers in person. There were very few masks and it was really great to see smiles and hear voices singing together.

We leave El Paso and head to Fort Worth on Thursday, so we’re down to our final three days here. We are about to become serious road warriors between now and October. We’d appreciate your prayers as we travel for safety on the roads, good visits with friends, family, and church families, and good health and restful sleep. Changing beds and environments with changing allergens is always a challenge for us. Oh, and pray that all our stuff fits into the Rav4. We shipped two 50 lb suitcases up to Michigan ahead of us, but even that will not alleviate the tight fit!

Thanks for praying!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HMA #2

We have been in El Paso just over a week, and we have one more week left here. We’re enjoying time with family and still taking care of a variety of preparations toward the heavy travel schedule ahead of us.

I have some pics on my Mexico cell phone that I wanted to share before I turn it off. So, I will post those below.

Our flight location
Dried up reservoir
Ciudad Juárez
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HMA #1

After a two day delay in the Mexico City airport, we finally arrived at the border and have now spent a week in El Paso with Beth’s brother, Ken, and Ken’s wife Esme and their five kids. It has been a productive week for us and enjoyable to be able to spend time with this beloved family for the first time in four years. The kids are growing up so fast.

The Lord has blessed us with the purchase and insuring of what seems like a reliable vehicle which was our number one priority for our time here. Dayton received his mandatory meningitis vaccination. We need to take care of some legal paperwork and work on some logistical details for our upcoming travel, such as shipping a couple pieces of luggage ahead of us to Michigan as we may not have room for everything in our relatively small vehicle.

We expect to be here another 7-9 days before heading east to Fort Worth. I’ll post a pic of our 2018 Toyota Rav4 and soon will be posting many more pics from our home ministry assignment as I have opportunity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Home Ministry Assignment: T-17 Days

Our 14 month home ministry assignment is just over two weeks away and it is beginning to feel like “crunch time.”

We’ve been still working with our classes which are slowly winding down. I finished my ESL tutoring leaving me with two regular classes, and Beth finished a literature tutorial leaving here with two other tutorials plus five regular classes.

But many details have to be taken care of before we hit the road and sky. Bethie’s mother will still be residing here while we are away, so I’ve needed to take care of a couple of bills and make sure she is prepared for handling them while we are away.

We are about to need to purchase a reliable vehicle in what is shaping up to be one of the worst car buyer’s market in decades if not ever, so I’ve been researching new a d used vehicles and reading up on the market and how best to prepare for what lies ahead.

We’ve accumulated a large suitcase-full of gifts for our ministry partners and hosts as we travel in the coming year. We’ve packed some rarely used winter clothes along with those gifts as padding. We will undoubtedly use those winter clothes this winter.

I’ve been making travel plans for visiting with ministry partners, family, and friends. We have a four-plus month of travel ahead of us just to kick things off. These travel segments will see us rolling up nearly 15,000 miles (not including our travel from here to El Paso, TX which is mostly in the air).

We’ve been helping Dayton navigate various details relating to his enrollment at LeTourneau and making sure he is focusing on his final semester of online community college.

Then there is one of the trickier details. Medications. Between the two of us, we take 7 meds on a daily basis. A couple of these are for acid reflux, but two others are beta blockers for my heart, and the other three are related to Beth’s essential tremors (benign Parkinson’s). These last five meds are the most important ones. Bethie can’t function with out hers. I wouldn’t live long without mine. The last time my dosis was a bit off, the cardiologist said that I had a “heavy heart” which meant the blood wasn’t pumping through the heart and was backing up into the lungs. He told me months later after changing the daily dosis that he was surprised I had survived that. I remember being exhausted and sleeping a lot, but I had no idea I was possibly dying.

All that to say, these meds are very important and an extended time in the USA makes this part of our planning critical to our ability to function and even stay alive.

But, medications are not easy to obtain in the USA. These meds require prescriptions in the USA, and these prescriptions are for conditions that must be treated by specialists (a neurologist and a cardiologist). Those can be difficult and time-consuming to locate and see, and then work through the medication regiment that we need.

They also are not cheap. These are typically $200 per visit types of specialists. Sometimes even double that amount. Our specialists here typically cost between $50 and $75 a visit. Of course, there is also the medications and their cost. The last time we priced purchasing an annual supply of medications in the USA about 5 years ago, it cost us about $1,000 out of pocket after insurance. As I recall, just one of these meds without insurance was quoted at over $300 per month.

So, what do we do with this? Our solution has been to try to buy enough meds to take us from now through August 2022. We expect to be back here no later than mid-August 2022. So far, I’ve managed to procure about 3/4th of the medications. A couple of them I’ve managed to purchase all of the amounts needed. One of the meds hasn’t been available at all. So, I am still looking.

Since we bought some of these awhile back, I am not sure of how much all of this has cost, but the past two days have cost us only around $225. I would guesstimate that we are at or under $300 for the total accumulation of all these meds.

The last time we were dependent on purchasing meds in the USA, most of our meds were $25 or $30 per month, per med as a flat payment. Thus, we were running $150 to $200 a month in out of pocket med costs.

Thus, we should be able to come up with all of our meds for 14 months for about two months of medicine purchases in the USA with insurance. And down here, this amount is without using insurance. Since we are purchasing so far ahead, I don’t know if our insurance would cover much of this, but even without coverage we feel pretty good about the cost and absorbing all this cost.

So, praise the Lord for medications needed and provided and for making them relatively affordable. We would not be able to live and minister without them. It’s good to know there are no pharmacies in heaven as no one will ever need one.

That’s a lot of meds!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment