It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine! Part 3

Very funny Texas, verrrry funny. This blog series is called “Give me some sunshine”, not, “Let’s pretend Texas is Antarctica!”

This is part 3 of this blog series, documenting our southern winter travels. We are a semi-nomadic family of seven, traveling for ministry. We make this southern trek every year in our 36 foot RV to avoid the Indiana winters.

In part 2 of this series, we were leaving Louisiana and making our way to Texas. I will continue from that point.

Dayton, Texas

We arrived in Dayton, Texas (near the Houston area) on Thursday, February 4th. We were very excited to return to Old River Assembly of God where we would be having revival services starting on Sunday. We dropped off the RV at the church (where they have some great rv hookups) and made our way into Houston to run some errands/do some shopping.

We have been collecting supplies along the way for a necessary bathroom update. It is sometimes tricky to find just the right things for a bathroom that small. We had picked up a nice countertop back in Alabama but we were unable to find a tiny sink that would work. I saw this cute little sink on IKEA’s website so we decided an IKEA trip was in order.

IKEA is one of my favorite places, not just a favorite store, a favorite place to be. I’ve always loved magazines and as a kid I remember skipping to the end of my mom’s “Country Living” Magazine to look at the house floor plans and decide which one I loved the most, imagining how my future life would work in that house. IKEA is totally like walking through a magazine, and the little house setups feed my love of floorplans and furniture placement.

Our trip to IKEA was fun, we had swedish meatballs for dinner, strolled through the store, and in the end found a tiny sink(in the clearance section for $27.00!)

On Friday we did our regular school work, ordered some delicious pizza from Simple Simon’s (soo good), and watched a family movie in the RV.

On Saturday we did some much needed cleaning in the RV, gave the dog a bath, and spent some time outdoors on the church property playing basketball and exercising a bit.

Revival!

The reason we came back to Dayton Texas was revival. We ministered here last year and felt a real connection with the pastor and the people of this church. They invited us to return, but this time for extended services – revival. It is in our hearts to see God’s people revived in their love for Him, to see people delivered from oppression, to see hearts won for the Lord, and to be a part of the beauty that happens when God meets people reaching out to Him. From Sunday, February 7th to Wednesday, February 10th we had revival services at Old River Assembly of God. It was awesome.

Familiar Friendly Faces

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

Sometimes traveling is lonely, but other times, it’s wonderful. I am not naturally outgoing, and traveling has forced me even further out of my comfort zone to get to know people from all over, and it is truly a rich and rewarding experience.

One of the best parts of returning to a place is the friends that you make over time. The people of Old River are friendly and welcoming. It is really such a gift to our family to have friends not just for the grown ups, but for my kids too, that they can visit and just hang out with peers. The people here showered us with love and fed us well too.

On the Road Again

After our great week in Dayton, we head out and make our way to the small town of Cayuga, Texas. We knew a winter storm was coming, but we thought, “We’re northerners, no big deal”. Perhaps we were overconfident. So, instead of stocking up on extra milk and bread like you are supposed to in the event of unprecidented winter weather, we made a stop at the iconic “Bucee’s” gas station to fill up the RV with gas and ourselves with junk food.

“Bucee’s” is a Texas thing, totally fitting that stereotype that everything is bigger in Texas. It is a huge gas station, about the size of a regular grocery store, complete with a bakery, deli, and fresh barbeque (How good can barbeque be from a gas station you might ask, pretty good as it turns out).

We left there and made our way up Hwy 45, where we were surprised to see a giant (77 feet tall!) Sam Houston and snow covering the trees and green grass along the highway.

Cayuga, Texas

Where is Cayuga Texas? It is on the eastern side of the state, about an hour south of Tyler, Texas, or an hour and a half from Dallas. This is our third year to return to this tiny town, and we arrived this time just in time for their Valentine’s Banquet on Saturday. They had invited us to join their family-friendly event when they found out we would be in the area for a service in nearby Toole, Texas. We had a nice time visiting with old friends and making some new ones. Mostly the talk was of the winter storm set to hit just about all of the huge state of Texas.

The church service here in Cayuga, and the one in Toole, where we were scheduled to be, were both cancelled. We knew ice and snow were coming, but we weren’t too concerned, just preparing ourselves to be cold.

Sunday, on Valentine’s Day, Matt preached at Cayuga for a live-stream service. Matt was already scheduled to speak the following Sunday, but since we were already here, parked right next to the church, the pastor asked Matt to speak. It was a laid-back Valentine’s Day, and we all enjoyed the chocolates that Matt bought for us.

Texas Ice/Snowpocalypse 2021

And then it got cold. Like, really cold. It started with ice. Ice covered everything. The windows started icing over on the inside. Honestly, this has happened before in Indiana, but this is Texas!

We lost power at 2am. I figured it was because of the ice. Then we heard that it was some sort of rolling power outage thing to conserve energy and that it should come back on in an hour or two. The RV isn’t insulated like a house, and so it gets cold really fast without our electric space heaters going, we have a propane furnace, but we would run out of propane if we blast it on too high for too long.

So, Matt braved the cold, plugged in the RV to our onboard generator and put a heater down in the underneath bay by the water hookups to keep our lines from freezing. We also set an alarm for every half hour to turn on the water faucets (we can’t leave them dripping because it would burn up the water pump).

Monday was cold, but the ice was pretty and we were thankful for the generator. By Tuesday we had gotten quite a bit of snow. Matt took the older kids and decided to brave the elements and make a trip into Athens Texas to try to fill up the spare propane tanks and make a Walmart run. He said that he has never seen road conditions like that. It made us extra thankful for the snowplows and salt trucks in Indiana. They weren’t able to find any propane and by that evening our generator was running low on gas(it shuts off automatically at 1/4 of a tank).

We decided to turn off the generator after dinner and bundle up and turn the furnace down lower to conserve propane. Because apparently that whole “rolling power outage” thing was not what we were experiencing. We camped out in the back with the kids – we have 5 bunks in the back of our RV, and just enough floor space for two adults and one dog.

It ended up being a snuggly adventure of sorts, without the tv to entertain us, we turned to books. I started reading a biography of Billy Sunday as we all were tucked in for bed, we all learned things we didn’t know about this evangelist from years ago, and my youngest especially enjoyed the story time.

The power came back on for about a day, and then off again for another day in the midst of this crazy week. We did school work when we had power, enjoyed feeding the local birdies, and mostly sat around wrapped in blankets. By Friday Matt was able to get some propane and some extra gasoline. It was a cold week for us, but much worse for many Texans, I am thankful we made it through without any damage to the RV.

Here Comes the Sun

The sun came out and it has been glorious! We went from 4 degrees to 80 degrees in about a week’s time, and I’m so happy for sunshine!

More Revival? Yes, Please

After all this craziness with weather, we were able to hold revival services at New Beginning Assembly of God here in Cayuga Texas as planned. The impact of the weather, and covid did affect the amount of people that came. But it was a great time for those of us who were there, and we are grateful for the time spent this past week with Pastor Thom Taylor, his wife Wilma and the sweet friends at this church. They really welcomed us like family and we love ministering to them.

Thank you for reading along with this blog series, all about our southern adventures, I hope you are all enjoying your own adventures!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministy.org

It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine, part 2

Backstory stuff: We are a semi-nomadic family of seven, traveling for ministry in our 36 foot RV. We are in the Midwest for most of the year, but we do make a trip down south, (snowbird style) to avoid Indiana’s cold, not-so-rv-friendly winter. This has become a pattern for us, beginning in January of 2017.

In part 1 of this series, we ended in Clanton, Alabama. This spot has become familiar to us, and we truly cherish the friends we’ve made here, and the churches where we minister. From Clanton Alabama we headed even further south, longing for sunshine, sand, and the beautiful gulf shores of Alabama. We only had a couple days to spare, as we were to be in Mississippi on Sunday for service.

Gulf Shores Alabama

Upon our Gulf Shores arrival, we checked into our campsite at Gulf Breeze RV Resort (I would recommend this RV park, it was not too pricey, had an outdoor and an indoor pool, full hookups, and laundry facilities). It was a rainy Tuesday evening, and we decided it would be a good time to take advantage of the rather large Tanger Outlet Mall, several of the kids had grown out of their shoes, and I am always looking for an excuse to shop. We ate dinner at the Shrimp Basket, where an adorable baby at the table next to us became our new best friend.

It was just one day, only a few hours really, but it was 70 and sunny and wonderful. I could live on the beach, just set up a tent on the sand, and I would be happy. We walked along the beach, with the distant pier as our goal, it ended up being about 4-5 miles and we felt it the next day!

Matt took the kids swimming at the indoor pool while I cooked dinner back at the RV. After dinner, Matt and I took advantage of the laundry facilities while the kids hung out and got cleaned up from our day at the beach. The long-term campers at this RV resort were very friendly, one older gentleman came in while we were doing laundry, he saw our Indiana license plate and told us that he was also from Indiana. We were able to pray with him before leaving, it was a special moment.

A quick stop in Mobile

These pictures of the sunsets along Mobile Bay are along one of my favorite scenic drives. Sometimes people ask us if we have a favorite state, and I have to admit that Alaska was probably the most spectacular. Really though, I feel like I have favorite spots, or certain moments that I will never forget. So, this is one of my favorite spots – Mobile Bay.

Mobile, Alabama, or more specifically Tillman’s Corner; I will forever be grateful for this place. This was our first “snowbird” location back in 2017. A pastor here graciously welcomed us to his church here as well as gave us a place to stay at his RV park. In those early days of traveling ministry, it was difficult. But the people of Tillman’s Corner became like a second family to us. Although we didn’t spend the same amount of time here this winter, we were able to stop in and visit some friends, and I wish I would have gotten more pictures of the days with our friends.

Ministry in Mississippi

From Mobile, we drove to Crystal Springs, Mississippi for ministry at First Assembly of God. The pastor and his wife were super friendly and welcoming. They fed us well, we all watched hilarious Tim Hawkins videos, they had a little girl Sophia’s age and they became great little buddies, and we just had a great time together. Sunday service was super amazing, I look forward to going back in the future.

Happy Birthday Mr. Caleb!

A typical question for our kids is “Where will we be for my birthday?” Their first choice is to spend the day with friends or family, but if we are traveling far away from family and friends we spend the day doing something special in a new place. So, we looked at the map to discover what was in between Crystal Springs Mississippi and Dayton Texas(our next ministry destination). Lafayette, Louisiana. We have driven through it but haven’t really spent much time here. We decided on this spot because of the abundance of tasty restaurant options.

So, we stayed at Cajun Palms RV Resort. If only it had been about 20 degress warmer, then we would have taken full advantage of the spectacular water park at this RV resort! We did use the nice weight room, play ground, and laundry facilities.

While looking at things to do in the area, we discovered that there were several swamp tour companies in Lafayette. We went with Champagne’s Swamp Tours. We decided that we would not risk ruining the tour with the members of our family that are prone to motion-sickness, and so I made my own “driving tour” around the lake while Matt went with the birthday boy and two of his lovely sisters.

It was a fun time, a beautiful sunny day, and the swamp exceeded our expectations. We walked a short distance down the levee trail before we turned around because we were feeling afraid. We did spot two smallish alligators while walking the trail, just off the shore. They spotted larger alligators during the boat ride (the tour guide told them that no alligators have jumped in their boat yet, but that they could – yikes)

Did I mention the swamp was more beautiful than we expected? It was. Jessica took this amazing shot while on the boat tour. The other two pictures were from the shore, it was just a really neat environment.

Photo Credit: Jessica Eckart

To be continued…

We left Lafayette, Louisiana, and made our way to Texas, noticing, sadly, the hurricane damage in Lake Charles Louisiana along the way. I will pick up from here next time, telling you all about our adventures in Texas.

Thank you for reading all about our snow bird adventures! I hope you all are enjoying your own adventures!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine! Part 1

We are a traveling ministry family, and since 2016 the 7 of us have traveled in our 36ft RV. Our home state is Indiana, and in the beginning, our home on wheels was all we had so, out of necessity, we went south in the colder winter months. Now we have a home base (a small lake cottage in northern Indiana) but we still take this southern ministry trip every year, encompassing Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma over the months of January, February, and March.

I thought it would be fun to do a blog series, telling what this southern trip looks like for us, giving you a peek into the life of a traveling ministry family, and giving me some documentation of memories.

In this first leg of what I shall call our “Give me some Sunshine” series, I will tell you what we have been doing the last two weeks.

Goodbye Indiana…

We left Indiana on January 6th, in the midst of the packing, I was attempting to watch the Senate debate about voter fraud in America in the recent Presidential election. By the time we were on the road, I was watching the Capitol being overrun with protestors. It was bizarre and frustrating to watch.

We stopped in to visit with some friends at Genesis Church in Seymour Indiana to plan some upcoming tent ministry outreaches. Our kids were able to attend youth group while we were there. After that we stopped over at Matt’s aunt and uncle’s house. They are always very welcoming and we stop over there frequently.

It was an easy drive down to Alabama, with one stop over in Tennessee at an RV park. There was a bit of snow in Tennessee, making for a beautiful drive.

Hello Sunshine!

Our first stop in Alabama is in Clanton, this friendly spot has become familiar to us over the years. The people here exceed the expectation of southern hospitality and always make us feel loved. Matt will be preaching at 3 churches in the area (Thompson Chapel Assembly of God, Sunshine Assembly of God, and Temple Assembly of God – all great churches that you should totally visit if you’re in the area) and we are able to keep our RV at Sunshine Assembly of God while here.

We are re-adjusting to the small size of the RV. We have spent quite a bit of time at our 900sq ft home in Indiana, and although that is not large, it is 3 times as big as the RV. The kids have grown too, so we are all adjusting. I like to think of it as character building. Being able to get outside and enjoy the mild winters of Alabama as well as the play area with a ball pit and a gymnasium, at Sunshine Assembly of God, has been wonderful and a huge help in the adjustment.

Happy Birthday Miss O

Our Miss Olivia turned 16 while we were in Clanton. I tried to convince her that the beach was only 3-4 hours away and would be a a great little getaway (perhaps I was selfishly suggesting this idea). But, she doesn’t really love the beach so we had a shopping day, went out for a delicious pasta dinner, and picked out a new keyboard as a birthday present. It was a fun day.

Learning stuff, Inauguration, and Church Services

A typical day for us involves a full day of school, learning takes time, and usually we are done with our school work by 3pm and have free time after that. Sometimes, if we are in a new place, we will end our school day early and do some exploring. That has proven a little more difficult with covid restrictions, but I look forward to those ending soon. These two weeks we have spent most of our time doing our regular curriculum and enjoying the ball pit, gymnasium and the warm weather here in Clanton.

We watched the Inauguration on Wednesday. No matter my opinion on the new President, it was an opportunity to watch history unfold, and so we did. My personal favorite moments were, the firefighter saying the Pledge of Alegance in sign language, the lovely young poet giving her poem, my youngest daughter refering to Lady Gaga as Cruella Deville, and the Bernie Sanders memes have been entertaining.

Our reason for traveling is ministry. We feel honored that churches welcome us to come in and minister to them. Covid has changed that too, we don’t have as many revival-style services, but Matt is still able to preach and pray for people and we are glad to have that opportunity. Returning to a church is such a blessing, we are able to see familiar faces that have grown in the Lord and it’s amazing how you can feel such a connection to people you only see once a year.

Family Fitness Challenge

It seems every January I feel inspired to make health changes. This year we decided to do a family fitness challenge. We are doing a simple challenge so that we don’t give up. For 30 days, we are making the committment to do 30 minutes of some sort of exercise. We are also doing a 30 day plank challenge, with the goal of a 5 minute plank by the last day! It has been a fun time for us so far, we are enjoying it and look forward to doing it each day.

Saturday Adventures

We have explored a little bit in the area. Last Saturday we visited “Peach Park”. Clanton Alabama is known for its peaches, but we are a bit early for peach season. Peach Park is a cute little tourist spot with a playground, shop and campground. The kids enjoyed the playground in spite of the cold weather.

This Saturday we made a short trip over to Wilderness Park/Bamboo Forest in Prattville, Al. It was super cool. There was a short walking path through 4 varieties of bamboo. It was perfect weather and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring. I took a ton of pictures.

After the Bamboo forest we drove over to Alabama’s state capital, Montgomery. We drove past the parsonage where Martin Luther King Jr. lived during the civil rights movement. There were many historical spots to see, it was inspiring to drive past where these American heroes once lived.

To be continued…

Soon we will leave Clanton, head to Mobile, and then on to Mississippi. I look forward to those adventures and telling you all about it.

Thank you for reading along about our southern adventures, I hope you all are enjoying your own adventures.

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org