A Run to PA…..and Back!

On Thursday morning, Mom asked if we would like to go down and visit Trevor and Katie. (They were in Pennsylvania, helping the company Trevor worked for get their new shop up and running that they had moved from New York down to PA a few weeks ago.) Of course we liked the idea, so Mom called them to see if it was all right still.(They had talked about the possibility of it before, but weren’t sure which days it would work out.) He said it was fine, and, in fact, he had work for us to do! Having worked in the print shop while it was in NY, we had an idea of how the machines ran and how to use them. So we packed some stuff for an overnight trip and headed off on our impromptu 4-hour road trip to Greenville, PA!

Thankfully, the roads weren’t too bad:

At the rest stop we stopped at, we had to walk through a long hallway with windows all the way down it. The neat part was, it was right over the highway. It makes you kind of dizzy 😵 when all those cars go whooshing underneath you, but really, they’re just going the regular speed and it just looks faster than it actually is.

View from the window:

We got to Ridgeway Books and Publishing at about 5:15. The new building was at least twice as big as the other one and very open with lots of bright lights and a huge upstairs break room.

Mom and Annabelle got the meatloaf into the oven upstairs, and then we helped Trevor a bit before the food was ready. The first thing I did was break paper. Now this paper is not your standard piece of printer paper! It is about 4 times as big as that, plus edging. So, it’s pretty big! To break paper you get a stack of it, fold the two ends in, and then quickly fold it back out and under, causing air to go between the pages and separate them so they don’t stick together. After you do a three-foot stack of these huge papers you become two things–experienced, and sore! But it’s fun.😃 (The reason I say sore is because you’re bending down to get the paper, standing up and turning to the machine, bending down and putting it in the machine, standing up and turning back, bending down for more paper, etc., etc., etc.! After a while it kind of gets to your legs and back!)

(Notice the air between the pages in the third picture.)

After supper we cleaned up the machines…

Sometimes cameras catch strange moments…

The picture below makes me look very short compared to Trevor because of the angle it was taken. In reality, I’m just standing right behind him, reading over his shoulder. Just so nobody jumps to the conclusion that I’ve shrunk! 😂

When all the machines were cleaned up we drove to the nice motel Trevor and Katie stay at.

The next morning Trevor left for the shop little earlier than the rest of us, and we came later with Katie once we ate breakfast and stopped at the store for lunch supplies.

Since they have just moved, the Amish family that owns the shop don’t have their house quite finished yet. So while the mom of the family was painting inside their house down the road, we watched their youngest daughter, Alannah, who is 3. She’s so cute and so much fun to play with!!😘

Naomi and Annabelle worked at the folder. Those papers I “broke” all got signatures printed on them, and then they got folded into quarters in the folding machine. While they did that, Mom helped Trevor set up the saddle stitcher, which puts the booklets together, puts staples in them, and cuts the edges off of them.

It was kind of dirty work…(putting the machine together, not folding signatures!)

Katie helped Trevor and Mom or Annabelle and Naomi, whoever needed the most help at the moment. And what did I do? I watched Alannah! (by the way, that is pronounced just like Alaina or however people decide to spell it!😄)

After lunch in the break room, we looked at a puzzle book and tried to find the difference in pictures.

After lunch Alannah took her nap, and I had instructions from her mom to check on her in their trailer every once in a while. So between checking on her I helped Trevor finish setting up the saddle stitcher. But she woke up in an hour, and my role as baby-sitter resumed! (I actually enjoy babysitting over working with the machines, even though working with the machines is also very fun!😃)

Babysitting Alannah was so fun!! Since they were going to be busy on that side of the wall once they started making the booklets, Trevor had me keep her on the other side of the wall. I flew paper airplanes with her, gave her rides on the paper cart, hid (in plain sight😉) for her to find me, spun her “not so hard” or “harder” (instead of not so fast or faster😅), blew up a glove “balloon” for her, and played squinting eyes with her. She got so excited when I taught her how to shoot a ponytail holder and watch it go sailing across the room. We had fun conversations in Pennsylvania Dutch. She would ask me, “Va bish un dua?” and I would say, “Nix.” Then we would go back and forth, saying “Va bish un dua?” and “Nix!” to each other. She thought it was the most hilarious thing! She would ride her trike around the room, and if she didn’t see me she would get scared and yell, “Karen, Karen, Karen!” at the top of her lungs until she saw me!👧

Alannah and me😘

While I entertained her, the others were also busy:Annabelle keeping racks of signatures full as the machines took them and made them into booklets.

the saddle stitcher running

As the day rounded up, Mom and Annabelle went to the store and got some things for making supper while the rest of the others finished up the booklet making. When they got back I had to say goodbye to Alannah because her parents were done working and it was time for them to eat supper.🙁 We made our taco supper and ate it quickly so that we could get on the road before too long!

We gathered up all our stuff, and then went to buy a few books before leaving! With our books purchased, we said goodbye to Alannah’s sister and the other Amish girls that were working there and headed out to our vehicles for the long trek home. At least we had some new books to read!📚👍😉 We arrived home about four hours and two-and-a-half books later, at 11p.m.!

Until next time,

Writing for the Parfitt Family,

This is Karen Joy Parfitt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Special Sister

Link

Seventeen years! I find it hard to believe that I have known Naomi that long. I was only 2 1/2 when she was born, so I don’t remember when she was a baby, but it is reported that I used to say, “Where is the Naomi?” 😄

 

Naomi and I are quite opposite of each other in many ways, and we used to not get along very well! 😳 But we’ve both grown up a bit since then, and now I can honestly say that she is one of my very best friends! I’ve even learned how to take her friendly teasing! 😉

 

We called this our “hobby horse”! 😄

I have learned a lot from Naomi. Her boundless energy and zeal for life are a constant inspiration to me. She is an efficient, hard worker, and I feel like I still have to catch up to her! She also is a great example in faithfully reading her Bible every morning.

Her outgoing personality and witty ways have been the cause of much laughter. Life would be so dull without Naomi! She is not afraid to be herself. Her name, Naomi Ruth, means pleasant and friendly, and that fits her to a tee!

 

I am so thankful that God has allowed you to be my sister for seventeen years! Happy birthday, Naomi!

 

I looked up classic in the dictionary, and this is what I found:

If you have any special memories of Naomi, feel free to share them below!

~Annabelle

Virginia FEW Conference 2018

Hello All!

Here we are in the van, nearly to New York! Annabelle’s at the wheel while Mom gets some rest. To cut the boredom, Skit (Karen) and Omi (Naomi) are attempting to write a report of this weekend’s trip!👩‍💻💻

So…this weekend was Family Encouragement Weekend in Virginia! 😄

Early Friday morning we girls and Mom finished packing the van and headed out!

A quick stop for chocolate milk and gasoline. Wait…those don’t go together very well!!! 😝

Continue reading

Arkansas Trip, Days 8 & 9

Ya’ll must have given up hope of me ever finishing writing about this trip!😬 But I’m back… finally!😅

On the 8th day of our trip, we awoke and began to pack away anything that was lying around. This resulted in a few people wondering where their thing had been put… “It was right here just a minute ago!”😟 The bus roared to life, slideouts slid in, we said our goodbyes to Grandma and our uncle, and we entered the bus to take our leave! That is, Reese, Naomi and I did. Mom and Annabelle got in the little truck Grandma had given Annabelle. We began winding our way through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Every two hours we stopped and one of us girls took the place of the last one that had been riding with Mom.

We had to cross this big bridge to go over the Mississippi River into Illinois.

At one point, when Mom and Naomi were in the truck, we in the bus took an exit, while they went straight ahead! So we had to call them and tell them they were going the wrong way. We went off on a side road and waited by the shoulder, while they turned around, came back, and took the exit. As we sat there waiting, a car pulled up next to us and the lady inside asked us if we needed help! But we explained that we were just waiting for someone, and they went on. At last we were able to join up with them again, and we continued on our way!😅

For supper we stopped nowhere else but…

That says Chick-fil-A, in case you can’t read it!😂

Naomi’s sandwich

We used up 5 parking spots to park the bus.😀 After our stop, we continued on to the church where we would spend the night. We finally reached it at nearly midnight! The man that we had been in contact with to arrange us staying there, came out to say hello. I felt bad for the poor man, waiting at the church late at night until some family he had never met, came. Well, he had already met Reese, but not the rest of us! After he told us where to park, he left and we went right to bed. Sleep came fast…😴

 

The next morning we had a refreshing service. Brother Jack Patterson, their interim pastor, preached a great message, and we enjoy the fellowship with the people there. Then Brother Randy Foust (the man that had come the night before), his wife, and their son took us out to eat at Bob Evans!😃

Then we had to say goodbye and get back on the road.

At this rest stop, the tractor trailer we parked next to made our “big” rig look quite small!😆

 

We drove and drove into the afternoon, then evening, and night.We took several stops so Mom could sleep. Since she wasn’t in the bus she couldn’t just go lie down while we drove! Midnight came and went. Then 1, then 2, even 3. Finally, at 4 A.M., we pulled into our driveway. And the next step should be obvious… SLEEP🤣

Well, there you have the end of the Arkansas trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure!🤪

Until next time,

Writing for Parfitt Family Journal,

~Karen

 

Parfitt Family News…

Well, hello, y’all!

It’s been much too long since I had the chance to post anything, but I haven’t found any time for such an undertaking! But at last, I have squeaked in some time to dust off my photos!

Trevor, my third-oldest brother, got married in May. From left to right…

Hannah, Gideon, Elliott, Grandma Karen, me (Naomi), Mom, Trevor, Katie, Karen, Dylan, Emily, Lenny, Reese, Annabelle

And my second-oldest brother, Elliott, passed away suddenly a week later from heart failure. Then two days later, Rachel Jane Parfitt was born. Sadly, Elliott never got to meet his daughter.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support during this difficult time! The Lord has abundantly blessed us beyond measure, and the church families around us have held up our hands!

Before Hannah left with her family for Washington State, I was able to get some portraits of my adorable nephew, Gideon!

Mabel was sure she was going to be part of this photo shoot!😌

Perfect Canon advertisement!😉

Annabelle and Gideon

Mom and Rachel

A full-fledged phone conversation between Karen and Gideon…😉

Reese and Gideon

Gideon and me

We had so much fun with our niece and nephew while they were here!

Hannah and her little family

 

Thank you all for the encouraging comments! They remind me to keep posting!😂🤭

“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” ~Psalm 37:5

Until next time,

Pleasant Photography

by Naomi

 

Surprise Guests!!!😁

Mom burst into our room on Thursday morning and said, “Girls, I have really exciting good news!” I couldn’t think of what it would be and Mom announced, “James and Jonathan Staddon are going to come this evening and stay the night!” We bounded out of bed and soon our day of cleaning began!😅

At last, around 7:40 P.M. Mom said she saw them walking to the front door! We greeted them in the front entry and caught up a bit. Then we scouted around out front for good places for Reese’s Bible graduation picture.

While we did that, Jonathan took his drone up and got some great videos of the house and sunset!

Them we got some pictures of the pink sunset.

Once the sun was set, we trooped to the garage where Reese started grilling chicken.

We had a hilarious time and Jonathan made some funny videos.

Eating supper…well, actually just before we ate supper!

After supper we had a lively game of Bible Taboo!!!😂

It looks like James is about to buzz Jonathan!😳

Don’t die, Reese!!!

Once we were all worn out from laughing, we decided we must have burned a few calories and were ready for ice cream!

Reese and Jonathan getting a quick selfie…🤭🤫

 

When we were done with dessert, James showed me how to make a professional watermark using Photoshop and Lightroom. It looks like we are all having a blast…I think some of that was for the camera!🤔😁

I’m not miserable; just concentrating!😂

We got to bed after 12:30 in the morning!

The next morning Jonathan took his drone up again and got some morning shots of the property and the house. Then we had a relaxed breakfast of cereal and went to the living room to sing a couple of songs. I really enjoyed the singing.

Jonathan showed us a few things about Premier Pro which we were very thankful to learn!

All too soon they had to pack up and say good bye.

We got a quick picture…

After a bit more chatting, they left.

We were very thankful for the fun time we had with James and Jonathan on their quick surprise visit!😄

 

~See you next time with Pleasant Photography

Arkansas Trip, Days 3-7

Now, I know that everyone will simply be bored to tears if I write a separate post for each day… even me! So, I will write a bit about what we did each day that we were there, and put in some pictures.

 

The day after we got there, Monday, we went to Mom’s Aunt Betty’s house with my cousin’s wife, Ally, and Grandma. On the way there, we thought we saw Aunt Betty’s place, so we  pulled up to “her” house. We were not sure if it was the right one, so Mom got out and knocked on the door while the rest of us waited in the car. A lady that we did not know came to the door, and Mom told her that she must have come to the wrong place. So she bid her goodbye and came back to the car. It was embarrassing but really funny at the same time. We eventually found Aunt Betty’s house, thankfully. We went with her into her sun room and looked through a bunch of boxes that were full of pictures of people that were relatives. It was not my favorite thing to do, but it was not too bad. The food was the best part…😋 And at the end before we left we even got to see an all-hand-stitched quilt made right after World War 2, by my great-great-grandma!

The above picture is of us sleeping in the RV. Those feet sticking out in the front of the pictures are Reese’s, I am on the floor in the middle of the pic, Naomi is on the couch to the right, and Annabelle to the left.

Annabelle crocheting

Reese and Jacob doing some furniture moving…

The next day was Tuesday and we went to visit another one of Mom’s aunts in a nursing home. We took the bus with us since Grandma came along. We drove it to Mom’s cousin’s house and parked in the church parking lot across from the house. We then went with Mom’s cousin’s wife and daughter and her daughter’s friend in two separate cars. It was a lot of fun traveling with our second cousin Hannah and her friend Jessica. We laughed a lot and made some interesting inside jokes… After visiting Aunt Audrey we went to a nice diner for lunch–

When we got back home around suppertime we went to ANOTHER restaurant, because there is a specific one that we always go to down there and there was not going to be an opportunity any other time during the trip.

The next day, Wednesday, we baked pies and made filled eggs for the next day.

pumpkin pie

apple pie

Naomi making filled eggs

Uncle Carl and Aunt Angela came from Tennessee that day as well. For supper we made some really yummy Indian food and after supper we played Phase Ten with Uncle Carl.

 

The next day was Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. We watched the Livestreamed service from the night before, since we had not been able to that day. We whipped up cream and flavored it and packaged up the pies, cream, and eggs. We then drove over to cousin Joe and his wife Ally’s house. We set up the food and enjoyed our dinner of turkey, green bean casserole, filled eggs, veggies and dip, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Later in the afternoon we had the pie and whipped cream.

Reese with one of Joe and Ally’s sons

Before leaving that evening, we played a game of Scrabble…

 

The next day Mom, Reese, and Uncle Paul went to the farm, Jacob went to work, and Uncle Carl and Aunt Angela left for their home in Tennessee, leaving us three girls and Grandma at the house for the morning. We girls cleaned out some shelves for Grandma and walked across the street to a store with her.

Uncle Paul’s cat, called Baby Kitty

She enjoyed the attention received while we were there!

 

But she found some random places to sit…

Reese fixed the RV door when they got back.

Then we went to the park with Jacob. When we got home, the others were ready to go back over to Joe and Ally’s for Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers…and another round of Scrabble. After a yummy supper and a nice game of Scrabble, we said goodbye to Joe, Ally, and their little boys and went back to Grandma’s place. We played some Othello, and then decided to hit the hay so that we could get up early the next day to leave.

So that ends our little visit. Up next is our trip home!! See you then!!!😉

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Total Solar Eclipse Trip–Day 4

Day 4, August 21

NOTE: To view the pictures full size in full quality, click on each picture to enlarge. They are now linked to the original files. Some are phone pictures, so of course they aren’t top quality anyway! Also, you can scroll through them this way!😁

When my alarm woke me, the first thing I thought was, “Today is the day of the total solar eclipse!” We had been planning and preparing for it for months, and today was the day! We ate a good breakfast and some people left to go pass out tracts in town where the crowds were. James, Jessica, and I went out on the Neelys’ front lawn and James helped us go over the settings and everything we needed to know for photographing the sun and the eclipse. It was so hot!😅 I used our Canon 80D with a 112-480mm lens.

 

It was hard to imagine that the great big, hot sun up there was going to get covered up in a few hours! Amazing! Do we look hot or what!!??

Here’s the sun as I found it on that fine August day…notice 5 or 6 sunspots.

A cloud in front of the sun

We helped gather up food and got our gear ready. Then we hiked up the road to an area behind the Neelys’ house where we would view the eclipse.  Neighbors of the Neelys started arriving and the team that had been out tracting got back. Soon they were grilling and getting the food ready.

James explaining the solar filter.

Mrs. Neely and some others made fancy little plate holders for the eye protectors we had to wear to look at the sun. They cut out two holes for the eye part of the glasses to match up to, and a triangle for your nose to stick out. You just glue the glasses to the plate and you’re good to go! They were pretty creative!

I had my tripod and camera set up with Jessica’s and James’s.

We popped our solar filters on and soon we were ready! I ran back to the house for something and soon I heard someone exclaim, “It’s starting!” Susannah and I ran up the hill as fast as we could and I started getting pictures. It took a long time for the sun to get covered! After the initial excitement was over, people started eating. I got food, but I was so busy monitoring my camera that I really didn’t eat anything until after the eclipse was done! 

Notice the plates of food by our tripods!😅

Mom was videoing, too. She also held an umbrella to help keep me from getting burned.

Mom, Jessica, and me

Every few minutes I would snap a picture. James and Jessica were also getting pictures, and Mr. Neely and Jonathan had their drones going.

The more the sun got covered, the cooler it got. And soon the lighting was so strange. It wasn’t like a sunset at all, in that the sun was still over head the whole time, and the shadows and rays were like normal afternoon rays.

Here are a few pictures of the progress…

Are you sure that isn’t just the moon?! Oh, wait! The moon has craters, not sunspots!

 

As it got closer to the time of totality everyone sort of gathered around the cameras. All of a sudden it got eerily dark and I heard exclamations of, “Wow!!” “Look at that!” “It’s all black!” Soon I heard James say, “Filters off, F/22, and bracket!” I quickly slid off my filter and soon I was snapping away.

TOTALITY!!! If you look carefully, you can see a planet about an inch or so from the sun!

Then I looked up. I had almost forgotten to look at it in person! Wow!  What do you say to describe the feeling? There is no sun; just what looks like a black hole in the sky with light surrounding it.

It wasn’t totally dark; there was light along the horizon. And there was a strange glow in the air like I’ve never experienced before!!! Red flame curled away from the sun as solar flares came off of it.This picture is underexposed, but you can see flames coming from the sun!!!

 

At one point I accidentally did a 30-second exposure and this is what I got!!!😂 Unique you could say? And the planet is a line, now!

All too soon James said, “Filters back on! F/22,” I got my filter back on after a little trouble and I barely got to capture the diamond ring after re-focusing. It was just completely amazing!

It got light again so quickly and the moon moved away again. From there it was just like the beginning of a solar eclipse backwards! 😀 And it got hotter, too. I continued to take pictures until the end, and then I shut off the camera, and went to eat and join a game of Signals in the shade. 

I think I felt a little more disappointed than I cared to admit that I didn’t think my diamond ring pictures didn’t come out right. I wouldn’t know for sure until I saw them on computer. I was afraid they were all blurry. I was thankful that they weren’t as bad as I thought in the beginning. I was able to use only one battery for the entire eclipse. I even had wifi on in my camera the whole time, and that drinks battery like nothing else! The reason I had wifi on, was because I had it hooked up to my mom’s iPhone in the Canon app. From her phone I could adjust all my settings and snap each shot from the phone itself, cutting down on tons of camera shake!  That was really a blessing. I don’t think that I would have done half as good a job if I hadn’t been able to quickly and smoothly change my settings for bracketing each shot. And I’m really thankful that Mom let me use her expensive equipment; camera, lens, phone, solar filter, and phone! 😊 And I would have never turned out with the pictures that I did, had it not been for James helping Jessica and me  know exactly what settings we should bracket off of, and all the white balance and everything! That was a real blessing! 

Some of the guys were overviewing some pictures or videos I think, which produced some very hilarious faces!🤣 Notice the plate with solar glasses that Daniel is holding. That is what the finished product looks like.

We all helped clean up and all the neighbors and friends left. We all were hot and tired and we kind of drooped back at the house. 😞

Poor Mom was so hot!

Some people took naps, and I think I watched James edit pictures on his computer to see if I could learn some more about photography! We played a few games and we had supper. What a great time we had singing around the table and sharing our favorite part of the day. Mom, Reese, Annabelle, Karen, and I went out and got the van travel-ready. Finally everything was neatly in the back once more, and we went in. I got to play the pedal harp one last time. 😊 We girls played Skip-Bo in the living room until about 1:00 in the morning! So we resigned and went to bed.

~Naomi

by Pleasant Photography 

Reese’s Moldova Trip Report

I must preface this with a cautionary statement that you shouldn’t count on me to contribute to this blog too often. But I had a Bible Institute assignment that seemed to lend itself well to public display, and so I’m posting it here. I’ve added a few pictures for this online version, so now it will be way over the word count if each one is worth a thousand words. I already went about 25% over the assignment’s required word count.

Upstate Bible Institute English class

Instructor Dylan A. Parfitt

April 21, 2018

Moldova Missions Trip Report
by Reese N. Parfitt

Sometimes when I think upon my imagined prowess as a world traveler, I like to make comparisons between the different countries I’ve been to. My young friends listen with gleaming eyes as I tell stories and describe faraway lands. But when I went to Moldova this March, I was in for an experience that made me feel like I was starting all over again on my first missions trip. It was good for me to have this reset, to humble me and to help me sympathize with my teammates who were learning the same new things. 

Moldova is a small republic in Eastern Europe that doesn’t garner a lot of world attention. It’s a former Soviet socialist state, and is currently the poorest country in Europe. I had only heard of it because of missionaries Paul and Susan Hamilton. A group of 21 of us (mostly youth) from Old Paths Bible Baptist Church went to visit the Hamiltons in Moldova’s capital city, Chişenău. It’s pronounced “Kishenow”, but it can also be called Kishinev, and then there’s the Russian version of the name: Кишинёв. Welcome to the language barrier in Moldova!

I won’t have time or space to tell everything that happened on this trip. I’ll have to pick a few meaningful incidents to give you a glimpse of some of the new things that I learned. If you want the whole story, you’ll have to come with us sometime!

Our mode of transportation was Turkish Airlines, with a connection in Istanbul. That detail is significant because of our first team-building exercise. It was an unplanned team-building exercise from our point of view, but it became obvious that it was a divine appointment. Our flight from Istanbul to Chişenău was canceled because of foggy weather in Moldova, and we ended up walking minutes on end through that huge Istanbul airport, following an airline employee to different transfer desks and information booths until we finally got new boarding passes for the next morning’s flight. They wanted to put us in a hotel, but we would have had to get visas, go through customs, and leave the airport for some unknown location only to pack up and head back very early in the morning. So it did not take a very lengthy team meeting to decide that we were staying the night in the airport. The four adults in our group were champions. I’m sure they would have appreciated a bed, especially after 9 hours in economy class over the Atlantic. We had to go back through security, make a plan for where we would sleep, figure out the meal voucher situation, find the food court, eat… So it was quite late before we headed to our intended place of repose, Gate 203.

By the time we finished supper, Gate 203 was occupied by departing passengers. So we went next door. Between jet lag (meaning we did not think it should be night, even though it was night in Turkey) and the unusual surroundings, we didn’t have much hope for solid restful sleep. We bedded down in the waiting area of Gate 204, but around 1:30 a.m. there was a stirring as passengers began accumulating for a flight that would leave out of that gate at some odd hour of the night. So we gathered up our stuff and moved to Gate 203, which was now empty. Few of us felt like we were going to fall asleep again, and we were planning to go for breakfast in just a couple of hours. After breaking the tennis ball pitch-and-catch world record for Gate 203 of the Istanbul Atatürk Airport, and having some intense bowling competitions with the tennis ball and water bottles, we all gathered around for a time of Christian fellowship and giving of thanks.

That assembly in Istanbul at 2 or 2:30 in the morning, where everyone was exhausted and no one could sleep, was easily one of the highlights of the trip. We had rushed through the airport the night before in New York City, with the team divided into three or four fragments in different places, going different paces. We barely got through security in time to find our places in the boarding line and get on the aircraft. Some groups of seats were together, but the team was split up in different sections of the plane and we didn’t have too much communication. And if we had flown on that same night to Moldova as planned, the ladies would have been down at their house and we men in ours, and it would have been difficult to feel that we were one team. So while the circumstances here in Turkey were strange, they brought about some of our favorite memories of the whole trip and taught some of the most important lessons.

We sang a few songs (very quietly!) and did some praying. Then Pastor Folk, in his wisdom, suggested that we go around the circle in turn and each person tell something about themselves or their interests. At first, this struck me as an activity that would foster individuality or cliquishness. Instead, it helped us to learn more about each other and appreciate each other. We were given opportunity to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4). And we were drawn close together by it.

It was my first time to travel with a group this size, and I had been a bit apprehensive of how it would go. How could we achieve teamwork and stick together? Though it could not have  been planned, this travel delay was essential to building our unity. There seemed to be multiple scenarios of “hurry up and wait” as we rushed from one end of the airport to the other. But everyone had a fantastic attitude; the strong supported the weak; the leaders “ruled” with diligence (Romans 12:8), keeping track of everyone; and the followers cooperated in one accord. Our chapter to meditate on together was Ephesians 4, and so many things from it were amazingly demonstrated to us as we each did what we should.

We weren’t even to Moldova yet. But we found that it didn’t matter! God dropped us off in Turkey and picked us up the next morning. It was as simple as that! I count our time in “The Oasis” (as Gate 203 is now affectionately called) to be a very precious gift from the Lord. It was a once-in-a-lifetime meeting that we didn’t even plan. God is good.

Boarding our plane for Moldova

 

We did get on the plane the following morning (Saturday) and arrived in a chilly, drizzly Moldova. Almost every other “mission field” country that I’ve traveled to has a tropical climate. So the weather took some getting used to. The first thing I noticed on arrival was the worn-down concrete buildings everywhere. They looked as if no one had cared for them for the last forty years. A lot of things, like the roads in the countryside, gave the same impression. It felt like since the fall of communism over 25 years ago, nobody had gotten the fortitude of heart to move forward with anything. As we taxied toward the airport, we passed the derelict carcasses of former Air Moldova or Ukrainian and Russian planes. They had apparently been passenger airliners, but almost all had machine guns at the nose. That was a new sight for sure.

A run-down arch in front of what was once a stadium

A rare moment of sunshine — but the buildings still look sad to me.

 

Customs was confusing for me. We had not been given forms to fill out on the airplane, so I expected to do it in the terminal before going through passport control. I was going to be the big expert and show everyone how it’s done, and help them fill out their forms. Maybe I would even be called upon for my language skills to try to interpret something. But everyone got in line, and when we got to the desk, no questions were asked. In fact, the customs officers didn’t even say a word to most of us! There was no incoming passenger card, no declaration of intended length of stay in the country, no questions about where we planned to visit. Just a small stamp in our passport and we were on our way. If you don’t have anything to declare in your luggage, you just take it and walk out. There was not even anyone guarding the door! I have never had any other customs experience where there is almost literally nothing to it! I have a feeling it would have been different in the Soviet days.

If I was hoping for an encounter with Russian border guards, we got a little taste of it when we traveled two different days that week into the region of Pridnestrovie. It’s an area on the eastern side of Moldova, occupied by Russian forces, with many of its people tending towards affiliation with communist Russia rather than the EU. (The UN doesn’t recognize it as a sovereign state, but it’s recognized by three other unrecognized states so that must make it all right…!) There is a border crossing on the road, where the KGB agents check your passport and give you a piece of paper to put inside. You have to show the paper when you come back through the border, and it tells you by what time that night you have to be out. Oh, by the way, the KGB hasn’t been in operation since 1991 — unless, of course, you’re in an unrecognized state.

Editor’s note: I don’t have any pictures of the border crossing, for what should be obvious reasons.

In this illegally-occupied sliver of the country, there are little churches with faithful people, probably not known to many people in the world. It is really amazing to pull into a little driveway and crowd into a tiny room with people you don’t know and with whom you can’t communicate because of the language barrier — and find out that you have so much in common. The apostle John wrote almost 2,000 years ago, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). After Pastor Folk preached (through our wonderful interpreter, Brother Vonea), a lady made a confession to the church about some wrong attitude she had been having. She was clearly repentant and there was a blessed spirit of forgiveness and restoration in the room. I don’t recall the confession having much to do with the sermon, but the Spirit of the Lord had done His work and it was precious to see. Again, God sent us there for a purpose unbeknownst to us, and He was able to use us simply because of our availability.

In Pridnestrovie

Most of the week, the weather was dreary. The sky was gray and the sun only appeared a few times. Walking down the street, you would notice that many people’s faces wore a generally tired and downtrodden expression. I felt discouraged because I could not really communicate and I was not even picking up much language to be able to use, especially not on the Russian side of things! But even Romanian was much more different from Spanish than I had hoped. We spent numerous hours traveling in the vans to different places to minister, which was a bit tiring. But there was one particular thing I experienced that was just about downright depressing!

I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a Roman Catholic church, either in the U.S. or elsewhere. But if it’s anything like the Russian Orthodox church we went in, I don’t think I’m interested! While we were on the streets of Chişenău, passing out invitations to the meetings at church, Claire Nicot and I got to go with our Moldovan friend Iochim to see the inside of the church building.  I was first perturbed at the realization that it is, for all practical purposes, a business. The church is open 9 to 5 every day, just like my place of work; and people are coming in all day long to buy candles and whatever other religious merchandise is for sale there inside the door. Then there are pictures and statues all around the room, and the devotees make their rounds to the different stations, making the sign of the cross, kissing the images, bowing, weeping, praying. The economy was decidedly different in here than on the streets outside. From the fancy roped-off chair that was reserved for some important person, to the hand-painted walls and domed ceiling, to the rich tapestries and fine chandeliers and picture frames, everything was absolutely plush and gilded. Somebody was obviously making out all right in the poorest country in Europe! I stood, somewhat shocked, observing this horrendous idolatry that dared to call itself Christianity. What treason this is, for the “church” to take all the elements from the Bible and use them as a backdrop for their false religion! How could anyone imagine that this is a denomination of Christendom? It is heathen! 

As we made our way back outside, I pulled my church invitations back out of my pocket. But I was strangely changed. What had happened to me? Now that I had seen the solemnity and grandeur of their church tradition, how could I appeal to them with a nice, glossy, eye-catching invitation to the Baptist church? How could I argue against the sincerity and devotion of the worshippers? But such is the battle of truth against error! There is but one truth, and it has thousands of forms of wrong to fight against. We do well to stick close by the King James Bible and learn from it the way to please God. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).

I wouldn’t exactly say that experiencing the Orthodox church was a “highlight” of the Moldova trip. But it made a deep impression. It opened my eyes to an astonishing reality of the deceitfulness of religion and gave me a great appreciation for the truth of God’s word, which makes us free (John 8:31, 32). Maybe God put me there in a place where I couldn’t really understand any of the language so I would keep my mouth shut and learn something. There is definitely a need to preach the Gospel, just about any time. But David said in Psalm 39:9, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” It is good for us to realize that we know so little. Lord, continue to be merciful to us and teach us.

I believe God did use us to be a blessing to others on this trip. But it was a time of much learning for me personally. The Lord can do much more through our weakness than we can do through our strength. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). May God help us to acknowledge Him in everything we do, whether across the sea or in our home. It is so fulfilling to see Him receive the glory.



A Taste of Spring

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

As the snow continues to make its appearance, even in the middle of April, I have to remember this verse and remind myself to be content with whatever weather God sends us. A year ago Tuesday we tilled up the garden – with temperatures in the fifties!  😕

But a few weeks ago, I started a project that is helping to tide me over until I can truly be gardening.

We bought several seed trays at Runnings, and some seed-starting soil. For containers I used old cartons from transplants that we had saved over the years. I needed 96. After throwing out some broken ones, I had 97!

Naomi and I had started some geraniums a few weeks earlier, so I kind of knew what I was doing. First I filled the trays with 12 cartons each. I poured the soil in, moistened it, and put a seed in each cup. (I spooned the soil in at first, but soon decided that pouring was much easier! 😉)

This was only whetting my appetite! I could almost feel my thumbs turning green! My sisters and our friend Tabitha Wilson soon joined me, and the work began to go much faster.

(Naomi was helping too, but she was behind the camera this time! 😃)

After I used up the smaller bags of soil, I opened the bigger bag. That was when I ran into problems. When I tried to moisten the cartons full of soil, the water just ran off the top onto the table instead of soaking in!

Hmmmm…. What should we do about this? It was making quite a mess. After a bit of consultation with my board of advisers, I grabbed a big mixing bowl and started dumping the soil in. Next, we poured water in and started mixing it up like dough. Then we refilled the containers with our exclusive pre-moistened seed-starting mix and continued our normal operations.

Viola, dahlia, celosia, hollyhocks, sage, parsley, and oregano – one by one we filled the flats. They were supposed to be covered with plastic lids, but Runnings was sold out of them. So we covered them with plastic wrap instead.

We labeled the trays and put them on the plant shelf that Daddy built years ago. I set up the heater next to it and turned it on high – the best temperature for sprouting seeds is between 70 and 80 degrees F. This is why we start them inside! 😀

Last but not least – cleanup!!! 😅

Almost everything sprouted. We got only one watermelon, but I wasn’t expecting much from them because we dried the seeds ourselves from my brother’s watermelon in 2016.

Happy gardening! 😃

Annabelle