Latest Fortune Cookies

Here are the cookies from yesterday. These came from the same place that we got the “Oops… Wrong cookie” from last month. We don’t put much faith in the writers of such clever sayings, but these recent ones have been interesting food for thought.

Get Moving!My fortune: What are you waiting for? Start moving now.

I have been somewhat discouraged by my laziness in exercising and staying in shape. While I am doing much better than most, I definitely know I am not where I should be, nor where I want to be. My fortune yesterday was appropriate in that it gave me a little kick in the pants to get motivated and moving. The last 5 years I have harped on the fact that if you will simply get up and move a little bit more today than you did yesterday, you are taking a step in the right direction to get in shape and be healthier. While I still believe that, I have had trouble motivating myself to stay aggressive in my movement. Maybe this is just what I needed.

Fortune: Reduce the complicated to the simpleMy wife’s fortune: Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

As an interpreter (of many things), I am constantly involved in the struggle of making sure something in one language (concept, culture, story) is completely understood in the other language with the same intent and feeling as it had originally. While I don’t know that it takes a genius to transmit information from one medium to another, it certainly is taxing on the mental capacities. When you can take something that is not understood by one person or group and interpret it in such a way that they “get it” then you are displaying an ability that many others do not have.

Camp starts today

The second of our two camps for the Deaf in Mexico starts today. We are expecting 31 (or so) in attendance. This is our third year to do this camp. The first year was a day camp in which we picked up the kids and took them to a location each day. Last year we used the same camp facility that we are using this year. We had 22 campers last year, so to have 30 or more would be a big jump percentage wise.

We will be there for 3 nights. I am the guest speaker this year. Since I have been gone a year (we left a week after camp last year) then I get to be the special guest. I am still doing basically the same things I did last year except I didn’t have to do as much of the planning. Can’t get much better than that. Well, it could. I could be given special napping privileges while everyone else is outside playing in the sun. But, alas, I get to help run the games too.

So, while I have now committed to being a better blogger, I step away from the Internet for a few days. Look forward to some pictures this weekend.

Northern Deaf Camp

Yesterday was the end of the camp in Mexico that I have helped direct the last few years. This is also an end of an era. Today we said our goodbyes to the Deaf from the churches in the main part of the Mexican Republic. We are now headed to the Yucatan peninsula to spend a week of camp with them.

We started the week with about 80 campers. This grew all week with our final count up to 95. That is a good number landing right in our average range of campers. I am always amazed as to how many people come to camp based on how poorly we advertise. Out of the group of missionaries that have mostly been there the last 5 years, only 4 of the group of 10 were able to be there. We had plenty of help and teachers though since we mostly have the pastors and their wives do the teaching.

Camp groupWe probably had 15 people who had never been to camp before. One man from the state of Hidalgo (a new group this year) accepted the Lord as his savior. There were also 2 hearing men who surrendered to service.

Wednesday was our “battle day.” We had a dog bite, a lady step on a nail, a man get stomach cramps bad enough to justify an emergency room visit. There were three trips to the doctor for various reasons. Dissension in the camp among 2 groups grew to a head, however, as camp director I did not know anything about it until late that night. I was able to resolve it, in a way, on Thursday morning. While it seemed everything might fall apart on Wednesday, that was the day that the one man was saved. Everything worked out fine by Friday. I think we were all friends again by the time we parted ways.

Friday I was asked if I could take 3 people to the bus station. This is the first year that I have not been in a hurry to get away from camp. I got everyone off and started the trip to the bus station. My 3 had grown to 10. I took them and they said that there were still 7 more that needed a ride. I returned for the next group to find out that there were 9 more after that. On three trips to the buses I hauled 26 people in my van with only 3 seats. The back end was full of luggage. Only in Mexico can you pack 9 people at a time in 3 seats.

We took our time getting away from camp since we have no particular time schedule to get anywhere. The only town on our route that was of any size was only 1 hour away. We got into town in search of a hotel that had certain amenities. I turned down one hotel because of not having all we wanted. Every other hotel we found was full to capacity. I finally returned to the first place (almost 2 hours later) and they only had one room left, but their Internet connection was out. I have already been a week without Internet and if I am taking the next few days like they were a vacation, I really want some communication abilities.

The reason all the hotels are full has to do with this being the weekend between the 2 big summer vacation weeks in Mexico. We are also in La Huasteca region. It would be like Yellowstone NP to US citizens.

We finally found a hotel that had a room available. Our casual evening in town to relax and eat at a fancy restaurant and get some reading done ended up with us grabbing a greasy chicken from a grocery store and eating it in our room at 9:30 at night. Rarely is anything as easy as it seems it should be.

Back in Mexico

What a wild whirlwind tour that is life over the last few weeks. (I have to go back and check to see where I left off). Oh, yes, Gettysburg.

After Gettysburg we spend a few days in Syracuse, New York with some dear friends. He is the pastor of a deaf church and president of a mission board. I was privileged to preach for him on the Wednesday night that we were there. We have always loved his church people and the fellowship we have with them. Bro. Steve took us to a science museum one day while we were there. Steve is a geek from the 50s. As a child he attended a special session for electronic engineers on transistors when they first came out. He has been a hardware hacker ever since. The science museum turned him into a kid with the rest of us.

Made from toothpicksAfter NY we were back in PA for the camp that I was speaking at. It is a camp for children (hearing) ages 7 to 12. Not my favorite group to work with. But the beauty of this camp was that I was just the speaker. I only had to show up for my sessions and was not expected to entertain the children the whole time. Thank the Lord.

It was a wonderful week. There were at least 7 who accepted the Lord as their Savior.

From Sunday to Sunday that week I spoke in 13 different services at 7 different venues! Busy. I also coordinated getting some body work done on our van after our neighbor in Florida backed into it. How many weeks ago were we in Florida? Well, it didn’t get fixed immediately after the crash, but we got it fixed that week in PA.

We made the long trip from northern PA to Pensacola, FL in a day and a half. This allowed us to be home 3 full days and a partial day to get ready for the next month long trip. During that week we put 2 new tires on the van, installed a transmission cooler and air bags for our rear springs. The cooler and air bags are to help with having to tow a trailer out of Mexico with the things we are bringing home.

Friday afternoon we left FL and bedded down in LA. Saturday from Baton Rouge to McAllen (border town) TX. Sunday I preached in a church in McAllen and then prepared the final things we needed to cross the border into Mexico. The crossing went very well and now we are in a hotel a couple of hours south of the border. We are only about 3 hours away from our destination tomorrow which is the start of our northern Mexico deaf camp.

We will be at camp for a week and then drive to Merida (where we lived the last 4 years). In Merida we will be selling/packing/giving away stuff that we had stored there. Then we have another week of deaf camp in the Yucatan area of Mexico. It will be tough saying good-bye to everyone this time. We know we are not going to be coming back any time soon. Last year when we left we knew we would be back this summer. But now that time is upon us and we will say our “farewells” this time around.

In some ways it seems we are coming home. In 16 years of marriage we have never spent so much time in one place as we have the city of Merida. Even though we were at the Bill Rice Ranch for 6 years, we traveled 9 months of the year. With the exception of a couple of weeks each summer, we have lived in Merida year round for 4 years. It is certainly home for our children and home for us. Will be fun being back there, but tough to leave this time around.

I better be careful or I will get all drippy eyed.

Flight to the airport

My plane back from Guadalajara was scheduled to leave at 8:00 am. Since the airport was an hour away and I needed to be there 2 hours early, that meant I had to leave at 5:00. I was totally at the mercy of whoever the pastor found to take me to the airport. The other missionary with me did not have a vehicle. Though he lives in Guadalajara his truck is in the shop for repairs.

The pastor was supposed to be working on my ride. At 9:00 Friday night I asked him who was taking me to the airport. Somehow something so important to me did not seem that important to him. It slipped his mind. Fortunately Raul, one of the two men who was a possible driver, happened to be at the church with us that night. The pastor got it all lined out.

I told the other missionary who my driver would be. By his immediate reaction I knew I was in trouble. The missionary said that this man thinks nothing wrong with showing up to an event an hour and a half late. Something I could not afford.

Since Raul lived an hour away from the church that would mean he had to leave his house at 4:00 to come and get me. What were the chances of that working out? At the pastor’s suggestion Raul decided to sleep at the church with us and then go home after taking me to the airport.

A major birthday party was taking place at the church the next day for Raul’s daughter. I finally kicked the decorating crew out of the church building a little after 1:00 am so I could go to bed. I have no idea when Raul went to sleep. I slept from 1:30 to 4:45 and had the great joy of awakening my driver a couple minutes before 5:00.

A little trouble getting Raul’s wife from the girl’s sleeping area and finding the keys to the gate so we could leave and we were off.

A few blocks into the trip and Raul asked me if I was in a hurry. I said that I needed to be at the airport at 6:00. Whatever that took. He decided we were in a hurry. We took off and my seat tipped backwards. Quite a feat for a 30 year old Volkswagen Rabbit. We sped down the major north-south road in town flashing our lights at any car that was somewhat close to us warning them to get out of the way. We could not make a left hand turn at the intersection we wanted so he turned right onto a one way street going against us. Raul executed a nice U-turn and sent us off the direction of the airport.

I asked him to stop at an OXXO so I could get a cup of coffee (and steady my nerves). It took a few minutes to pour up the coffee and grab his wife a Coke.

When we got close to the airport there were speed bumps. My seat that tilted backwards every time we accelerated also slid violently forward when he slammed on his brakes for that first speed bump. “Knees, meet dashboard.”

Even with the stop at OXXO for the coffee I was at the airport in just over 30 minutes. Some of the time was made up because of there not being much traffic at 5:00 in the morning. But the rest of it was clearly due to some wild driving. I guess I don’t mind it so much if I am the one behind the wheel, but sitting helplessly in the passenger’s seat makes me a bit uncomfortable.