(This is Mike--I'll recap the last 3 days of our trip in one long entry!)
Sunday morning, Carter and I worshipped where Libby and I were on staff back in the mid 90s. It was wonderful to see so many old friends, and they were glad to see us too. Carter must have heard twenty times how amazed everyone was to see that “baby Carter” was now a handsome young man. It was shocking to see and hear of the many children and youth who were now grown, married, and have kids of their own. The visit was also bittersweet as I learned that many of our friends from our time there had gone to be with the Lord.
After church we enjoyed a great lunch with friends and then Carter and I went into town to work on our presentation for Sunday night. The only wireless internet we could find was at Schlotzky’s. The young man working there gave us free water and coffee while we worked which was great! It began raining while we were in there and didn’t stop all night. Anyway, we worked for about an hour and a half on our talk, slideshow, and then drove home practicing the song we’d decided to sing.
After a couple of songs to start the evening service, the rest of the time was ours. I began by reintroducing our family and showing pictures of the younger kids. Then I introduced the idea of the OFL Road Trip. Carter and I shared a few stories from the past couple of days. Carter told a couple of stories and did a great job! He was so comfortable on stage talking about what we’d done, and his jokes were actually funny! Very proud daddy moment for me. After we’d shared our stories, I spoke about the concept of “surrender” as depicted in Workman’s Outward Focused Life, peppering it with stories from our trip. We closed by singing the song we’d practiced. Carter played the guitar and did a great job. It was his first time to play in front of a crowd, and he handled it like a pro. All in all, it went very well. I hope that God will work in the lives of those we shared with and move them to serve as well.
After church, we went to dinner with friends. It was after 10:00 when we got home, so it was off to bed. Yard work Monday morning!
Monday morning we got up a little later than we expected, so we hurried through breakfast and went to the church to find out where we were to go. One of the ladies we were to work for was there, so we followed her back to her home. She's a young 78 years old, but since her husband passed away 13 years ago and with a recent hand injury, she can’t do much yardwork herself.
The note we had regarding Mrs. Betty's yard only read “flower beds.” We thought we were going to be cleaning out an existing flower bed, but it turned out that she wanted a large chunk of yard in front of her house (about 25 feet long and 5 feet wide) turned into a flower bed! Carter and I took turns between clearing the flower bed and doing other work (mowing, weedeating, trimming low-hanging limbs). It was unseasonably cool and the ground was soft due to the rain the night before. God really blessed us with that rain. I can’t imagine how we’d have done all of this if the temperature was as high as it usually is or if the ground hadn’t been softened by the rain. Thank you Lord! After about 3.5 hours of hard work, we finally had that yard looking good! She knew we wouldn’t take any money for our work, so she insisted that we take her extension cord to use on the next house we were going to work on as well as some trash bags.
We headed back home for lunch and some well-deserved rest. After lunch, we were going to cross the highway to north Grape Creek for more yardwork, or at least so we thought!
The next house was a trailer sitting on a pretty large lot. We checked it out, got our game plan together for doing the yardwork, and headed back to the van to get our equipment. I walked through the gate, but Carter decided to hop the fence. As he jumped, the old fence gave way under his weight and he lost his balance, falling awkwardly. It was funny, and we both laughed until he realized how badly his wrist hurt. He got up holding his arm and covered by fire ants! I brushed the ants off of him (we kept finding them for the next 10-15 minutes) and checked out the wrist. It began swelling immediately, and he was in a lot of pain, especially when he moved the wrist at all. I was sure it was broken. We loaded up and, with Carter apologizing over and over, we drove home to clean up before heading to the hospital. We went to Angelo Community Hospital (the same hospital where Carter was born in 1996) and went to the ER. The x-rays showed no break, but he did have a pretty good sprain. They gave him a splint and sent us on our way. Brad came to the hospital with us and waited in the waiting room the whole time. What a friend! Afterward, in the parking lot, he gave Carter a pocket knife as a gift. Carter has been so impressed with the people here throughout our visit, and he loves Brad and Karen. At one point I joked that he ought to go to ASU and come be a part-time youth minister at GCBC. As we were leaving the hospital, he said, “I’d really like to work with that guy someday!”
After leaving the hospital, Carter and I went to eat and see a movie. It was time for a break! After a good meal and movie, we headed back to our friends' home for our final night on the road. Tomorrow we start the trek back home. Carter and I talked about the trip as we drove, recapping all of our experiences. He said this has already been one of the best summers he’s ever had!
Tuesday was our long trip home. Carter slept in the back of the van most of the way. Our only OFL act today was a stop along the way to give food to a couple of people we passed in Ballinger. A lady was pushing another lady in a wheelchair down Hwy 67. They were two sisters headed to Wal-Mart. We stopped and gave them a couple of bags of groceries and prayed with them.
We arrived home around 4pm and it was so good to see everyone and to be back in our own home! The trip was such a success, and we are already talking about doing more "Outward Focused" events around here with the supplies we have left over. Thanks so much for your prayers for us while we were on our adventure over the last few days!