Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursday with a Bit of Randomness Thrown In

I haven't done a Thankful Thursday post in a long time. But since we're at the mission headquarters for a few days with good internet access, I decided to play a little catch up. Because we DO have a lot to be thankful for...

I had a lovely, lovely time last Friday with a few of my girlfriends. We went to Tecumseh to a large fabric store and made a stop in the cheese store there too. I resisted the urge to buy fabric -- the sticker shock alone was enough to make me pause; when did fabric become so expensive?! -- but I was unable to resist the cheese.

Oh, the cheese.

The owner of the cheese store is one smart guy. He kept offering samples, each one absolutely delectable. Irresistible even. I indulged in a small chunk of gouda with caramelized onion and another of cheddar soaked in balsamic vinegar. The cheese was so good that I didn't want to mask their deliciousness with my beloved dill-flavored Triskets, so I did have to stop and buy some water crackers afterward. Cheese that good deserves to shine.

We also went to Adrian to a new British tea shop for lunch, where we indulged in high tea. What a fun experience: they have a large selection of teas to go with the small squares of quiche, triangles of cucumber sandwiches, several kinds of scones, and tiny little tarts.

Oh, the tarts.

The whole day was lovely, but the trip would have been worth it for the tarts alone. We all want to go back again just for the tea and tarts.

I could go on about the day, but let's move on to other things I'm thankful for...

Our first presentation was on Sunday morning at one of our supporting churches in Jones, MI, where we enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I have to say, we have the most amazing support team!

Sunday evening found us attending an outreach picnic at a church in northern Indiana. Who doesn't love a good potluck picnic? Then we spent a couple nights with Ivan's mom, thankful for a little down time.

Tuesday found us on our way to Mike and Rita's, where we enjoyed seeing their new place and catching up with them. Ivan had fun going with Mike to one of the robotics sessions. Sadly it was a very short visit, as we had to get up in the wee hours of the morning and head to the airport.  But we hope to have more time with them later this summer.

We're really liking the new (to us, at least) trend of hotels providing much cheaper long-term parking options. Mike found a hotel only a couple miles from the airport where we could park our car and take a shuttle over to the airport. Such convenience! This was such an economical parking option; I'm sure it would have cost more in gas to have someone make the two trips, to take us and then pick us up at the airport.

We're renting a car while we're here in Atlanta, and they gave us an upgrade at no extra cost. I wonder if the guy didn't feel a little bad after making us pay an extra $18/day on required insurance? Our credit card covers accidents, fire, etc. but not liability for a third person who might be injured in said accident or fire. I guess with liability becoming such a money maker for those more litigious minded, it has become a necessity.

Too bad for the rest of us.

Something that made me feel bad was another "sign of the times" I'm sure. There was a little girl traveling alone who sat just across the aisle from us on the plane. The poor child had a cold and kept coughing and coughing, but the flight attendant prevented me from offering her a cough drop.

Anyway, back to the things to be thankful for...

I'm really, REALLY thankful we were close to an Apple store yesterday when my Macbook Air decided to stop working. Because initially I was majorly panicked! The primary reason for coming to Atlanta is so the video guru here at the mission can help us finish the short presentation video we're working on -- the one that's on this computer. 

Yeah, this one.

So of course you know I'm thankful because the nice people at the Apple store totally got it working again. Yay for the Apple tech guy!

There are actually a lot of nice people here in Atlanta...

The people who work here at the headquarters are beyond nice, and we can't say enough good things about each and every one of them. I could tell you story after story of the things they've done/do that go above and beyond the call of duty, but if I got started it would be hard to stop. So I won't. Will you just take my word for it?

So are the ladies who run the Missionary Care Center at the First Baptist Church here in Atlanta (Charles Stanley's church). We had an appointment there this afternoon, and those ladies were so kind and gracious. After we'd finished "shopping" the store (it's free for missionaries), they took time to pray with and for us. What a blessing.

I have more things I could share, but I see that my time is running short. Because another super nice person has invited us to dinner and I need to get going. So this is all for now, but I'm sure I'll be back with more Tales of Thankfulness.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Road Worthy

We're getting ready to hit the road early tomorrow morning, for the first of three extended trips during this furlough. I've spent the day doing laundry, packing, cleaning the house... all the stuff that has to be done before we leave.

This trip will involve traveling to Indiana in our snazzy 1994 Caprice Classic wagon, and a jaunt down to Atlanta via airplane. Realized after we'd booked the flight that our carrier charges for checked baggage, and since we're cheap frugal, we'll be packing all we need for a week in our carry-ons. I might need to find a bigger purse though.

(the Caprice parked in front of our daughter's house)
Ivan says driving the Caprice is like driving a comfy sofa down the road. It's also plenty big enough for all our paraphernalia. In addition to luggage, a small cooler, and assorted bags of books and computer equipment, we have a large bin and big cardboard box full of display items. Whenever we visit a church we set up our display on a table, typically in the narthex.

Anyway, all that to say it's really nice to have a spacious vehicle for all our junk.

And thankfully the trip to Georgia won't involve speaking in a church, so we don't have to worry about fitting the display stuff into our carry-ons. Because I'm pretty sure it wouldn't fit.

Last furlough we felt a little like those small silver balls in a pinball machine, so this time we purposed to plan our travels a little better. Hence just a few extended trips where we get as much done as possible while in a particular area, rather than bouncing around like crazy little silver balls. We'll be gone a little over three weeks this time.

With a lot of miles under our belts, we've developed a pretty good routine, with each of us assuming specific responsibilities as we travel. How about you? Who does the bulk of the driving? The packing? The navigation? Do you like to stop at the same restaurants along the way? Do you mark your travels by certain landmarks? Are you the kind of traveler that likes to take the most direct route, with the least amount of stops? Or do you prefer back roads with pretty scenery?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Hard to believe we've been here a week already! We left Argentina last Tuesday afternoon, and arrived in Chicago the next morning where our daughter and son-in-law were waiting for us. It's been a jam-packed week!

When we left Argentina it was still nice and warm. Here's the forecast, and I have to say, we blew past the projected highs Sunday through Tuesday. It was in the low 80s, not low 70s.
And it was actually colder on Wednesday than they'd forecast, never getting out of the 40s. My friend Nancy sent me a message on facebook, chiding me on leaving just in time :)

Although they'd been experiencing a colder-than-average Spring here in the Midwest, it warmed up nicely by the time we arrived Wednesday morning. How's that for planning? Okay, okay, can't take any credit for that, but we are grateful for how it worked out!

I may or may not have mentioned my unbounding affection for IKEA before, but it is my favorite store, and when Tina asked if there was anything we'd like to do in Chicago on our first day, I asked if a stop at IKEA would be possible. She replied that it was not only possible, but welcomed! Kyle and Tina just moved the weekend before we arrived, and she had a list of things they wanted to pick up at IKEA, so that worked out really well. They even came prepared with their little trailer that was great for hauling all our luggage and their IKEA loot.

Our first few days it was fun to spend time with Kyle and Tina, with Ivan's mom, and Alan and Sharon... even if it was only a short time, it did our hearts good to have that time with our people.

Sunday morning we headed to Michigan, arriving in time for second service at our home church. I do know I've mentioned here how much we love our church family, but I have to reiterate what a great group of people they are! There was a lot of hugging and grinning going on :)

I'd like to say everything is all good, but the truth of the matter is that Ivan and I are both suffering from a touch of "traveler's tummy" -- which will hopefully pass soon. We did make the trek Monday morning to DMV to renew our licenses, and then stopped at the library on the way home for a few books we could curl up with once we got home. 'Cause home is where we stayed the rest of the day!  We're feeling better today, but still not at 100%. Thankful for a rather slow week in which to recover from the hectic pace we kept right up until leaving Argentina, and through this past weekend.

Oh, and I discovered that although things are better here, bureaucracy still reigns. *sigh* We knew we both needed to renew our driver's licenses since they expired on our birthdays, and we couldn't renew online any more. I called the DMV last year to find out how to deal with it, and was told to just come in once we got back to the states. Only it turns out they've made some new laws since my phone call, and now I have to present my birth certificate and social security card -- both of which I have, but are in Argentina :( So now I have to get a new copy of each, and go back to the DMV. Thankfully Ivan was able to get his license renewed -- the difference in our situations had to do with his birthday falling in January of this year, while mine was in December of last year.

Es lo que hay.

No internet at the place we're staying, but it's fairly easy to find spots with wifi (I'm at a favorite coffee shop in Hillsdale right now). Sadly, the cell reception and 3G on our phones don't work so well where we're staying so that was kind of disappointing. To get good reception for a phone call we have to go outside. Good thing it's summer!

I'm pretty pumped about seeing one of my blog friends and meeting another one next week. We'll be flying to the mission headquarters in the Atlanta area, so I'll get to see the lovely ladies of "Be Still And Know" and "My Hands...His Glory". Let the good times roll!

For those who are interested, I am still participating in Project 365, but on a monthly basis. That has worked out well so far and I hope to continue posting there at the end of each month. I'll have some fun photos up there in early June!