The last ten days, we travelled to The South, where we first met way back in 1991, and where we used to live as a young married couple, to speak about our mission to Rwanda. We told of our work across the Atlantic, but we also enjoyed renewing, restorative, refreshing fellowship with dear family and friends – most of whom we haven’t seen in years. Also, we relished time with family, made new friends, including even some new friends who will soon be moving to our part of Africa. As I type this on our plane, heading back to Texas, I feel such thanks that I could come. For three weeks before this trip, I fought a cold and a sinus infection that just wouldn’t go away – and even the day before we left, I was wondering if I could make it. The morning of our departure, however, I felt much better and knew I could go. Hurrah!
We couldn't have taken the journey at all if it weren't for our friends in Kerrville here, who so willingly helped out and kept Sam for us while we were gone. Ten days is a little too long to miss classes in high school! They drove him, picked him up, washed his clothes, fed him and gave him love. Wow. Pretty Incredible. A big thank you goes out to our friends, Paige, Liz and Chrisie. As if you all didn't have enough to do, thank you for adding in a whole extra component to your lives for us!
One of our first stops on our journey was the “Prescription for Renewal” conference at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, in Asheville, North Carolina. What a fabulous conference! We were surrounded by God's beautiful creation, with other doctors and nurses who have heard and followed the same call we have heard and followed – the call to leave home and bring medical care, in the name of Jesus, to those without adequate health care in other parts of the world.
The last night, we enjoyed a dinner with dear old friends from Spartanburg, SC, the special town where we lived as newlyweds for five sweet years. Honestly, we’ve been gone so long, Tim and I weren’t sure how many folks could or would come. We were honored and humbled when so many people greeted us! We ate at Wade’s restaurant, an old stand-by favorite, where a mouth watering, seemingly endless array of southern cooked vegetables, sweet iced tea by the gallon, and entrees like fried chicken, chicken fried steak and chicken pot pie grace the menu. Friend after friend exited the cafeteria-style line and walked in with his or her tray – much to our delight! It was as if time stood still and we were back in 1995 – except a few gray hairs every now and then!
|One of my favorite people on the planet, and a true mentor - someone I've so admired||since we first met - Annmarie Hope|
|Annmarie and Steve Hope, two dear friends. We used to be YL leaders together, back when we were actually young.|
|More old YL (and Tennis, for Tim) Spartanburg friends - Teri and Bob Allsbrook. So special to see these guys!|
|Sweet Alva, my extra mother and the best Sunday Dinner provider EVER.|
|The old staff at Spartanburg Surgical Associates! The gang was almost ALL there!|
|Dear friends Katherine and Susan, and our special neighbors, Beverly and Ralph|
|These adorable twin medical students gave Tim a ride back to our hotel after his speech at Spartanburg Hospital.|
Later, Tim and I talked about how special the evening was for us, and how that reunion must be a small taste of what Heaven will be like for all of God’s children. Can you just imagine? It will be a great reunion of so many loved ones – of course, we’ll all be the most happy by far to see Jesus, but I bet we’ll have time to walk around and visit as well, with a new, happy surprise every day of seeing yet another old, cherished friend.
We’ve had some hard days being home, missing our “other home” in Rwanda, and also just trying to get all our logistics worked out – raising our new 6 year old, travel, medical and evacuation insurance, paperwork, finances, kids in school, new mission agency, plans, travel, etc. But blessings like last night make all the hard stuff just melt away. I’m so thankful.
In between these two events, we packed in many visits with siblings, friends and even former co-worker friends. I enjoyed taking Deste to his first Pumpkin Patch (in the rain!), and to play in the same park where we’ve taken all four of our other kids at one time or another, the park where I took Hannah-Grace practically every day for the first few years of her life.
|Fran, who used to work in Tim's office. So good to see her!|
|We went to go visit Tim's old senior partner, Vernon Jeffords, in his new home.||How fun to see him!|
|I finally got to meet Chip, my dear, dear friend Nancy's new beau. They make a great couple! Nancy and James Dunn hosted this gathering.|
|Some doc friends with John Tesseneer (in dark shirt), a kid on our street with whom I used to play basketball before Hannah was born. Now he is in his thirties. I feel OLD! It was SO good to see him.|
|Another of Tim's old partners, Dr. Bill Morris and his wife Glenda. Such great people!|
|No visit to Spartanburg would be complete without a drive by our old Home, Sweet Home!|
|Our old next door neighbor, John, came by to say hi while I was at the park. Wish Emily could have come too, but it was great to reminisce with John!|
|Deste was our photographer on this one. Breakfast with Nancy and Chip!|
|Here's a little clearer shot of Nancy and Chip.|
|We could see our old church, Spartanburg First Baptist, out of our window.|
|Enjoyed a GREAT visit with my brother Mike in Atlanta.|
|Tim's and my apartment, where we lived our first six months of married life together.|
|Deste with his Aunt Kaye.|
|Visiting with Tim's brother Lee, our nephew Brian and with our sis-in-law, Mary.|
The only place we forgot to take pictures was at my sis-in-law Sally's house. Sally and her family kept Deste for us for four days while we attended the conference at the Cove. Soo grateful to them! He had so much fun, he didn't want to leave!