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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fixer Upper Fixed Up!

This cottage in Maine, or Camp as we call it in Maine, is my favorite place in the world.  There's a lot of family history here.  OK, not the part of family history that goes back to Queen Victoria's cousin, but the good stuff, since 1941. 
My Great-grandfather built this in 1941 on a pie-shaped piece of land he bought in 1940 for $100.00.  (Incidentally, $100.00 doesn't even pay a MONTH of taxes on this place now.  Don't get me started on my opinion of that.)  

We got to stay here for about six weeks this year when we went to Maine for the birth of our first grandchild, Clarity.  I was lying in bed early, early one morning, listening to the loons on the lake and feeling thankful and blessed.  (Usually when we're in the States, we're on the go the whole time.)  It was so special to be there, with my Mom downstairs, and my sister and her husband there too.  Family is precious. 
The ceiling over my head was beautiful light pine, and I had to contrast that with the way it looked a few years ago.  My great-grandfather Walter Earl Campbell,  had built the camp himself, as he could gather the boards.  It didn't exactly have a foundation.  See how you can see right through those slats, and see light out the other side?  And the upstairs was just open boards, rather uneven, and dark with 70 years of smoke stains and what not.  It was cobweb heaven.

Now it's white pine, covered in polyurethane, not a cobweb in sight.  We've been renovated! 

No, it wasn't Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame who renovated the Camp.  It was my Mom.  Check out the differences:

First of all, they added a foundation.  I think I was off in Peru during that one, which means it happened around 1989.  That one was to save the camp I think. My grandmother still owned it at the time, and my parents had to do some serious work to pay for that foundation.  

See the ramp at the back?  That was added after my brother in law Rick got paralyzed in 1997. Soon after came an enlarged bathroom to accommodate him.

When my great-grandfather built the camp, it had one downstairs room, one upstairs room, and a porch that wrapped around three sides.  The outhouse was up the hill.
Grampa made the sink extra low inside to accommodate my Great Grandmother Ada Augusta Marange Purington Campbell.  Later he added indoor plumbing for Grammy's sake, and turned the back corner of the camp into a bedroom for her so she wouldn't have to climb stairs to that big upstairs room.  That room has remained a prized room for privacy even until now.  It got bigger when a few feet were added on to make the bathroom bigger for Rick.

So we lost most of the back porch then.  Later we lost a chunk of the side porch when my Mom had it made into a room for my Dad as he was needing a place to escape the hubbub of the camp.  It's a cute little room, with a desk, and built in shelves for his favorite things:  books.

For Paul, Mom put in recessed lighting after he took out two light bulbs in one day with his head.

Then again for him, and his two tall sons, she had the whole inside gutted and torn down to the studs, and the rafters that he kept hitting his head on, removed! 


She had the porch closed in so we could use it all the time, instead of only when the weather was tolerable. 
The porch has been the scene of our family and friends bigger summer celebrations.  

When the kitchen was gutted, she moved a cupboard that was knocking Rick's knuckles when he rolled by, and widened a door. 
Are you getting the picture here?  Most of our renovations have been to help someone in the family. I like that!  It's a camp for people, and it's very structure has changed for the people it serves.  
( I don't think there have been any specifically for me, but I am GRATEFUL for the shower that was added when I was in my 20's.  We made it that far with "spit baths" and swimming in the lake, but I'm thankful now we have a hot shower when we need one.)
I'm grateful this camp has been our go-to place for fun and family my whole life.  It's beside still waters, sometimes, and it's the place I go to in my mind and in my memory for tranquility. 
So as I lay there musing, I determined to compile at least this partial list of the place that my Mom has fixed up for our family.  Proverbs 31:27-28 says, "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up and call her blessed."

I call my Mom blessed!  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Name Changer

 When Clarity Faith Ford was born on August 30, 2017, she did a LOT of name changing. 
She turned us from Paul and Vicki into Grampa and Grammy!   Yee-haaa!  We like our new names!

She turned Evangel right into a Mom! 

 She turned Evangel's Mother in law, Sandy Ford, into a Grammy too.  (Please try not to notice that bulgy, ultra bulgy diaper.  :- )   Mom was still getting used to packing all the details for darling new daughter, and we had to go borrow (or should I say "beg"?) an adult one from a shelter.  How's that for humbling?  And funny.  It was huge on her! 
 Daniel Ford became Uncle Daniel...
 and obviously is doing a good job with his new niece.  Nothing more bonding that sitting around with  hoodies covering your faces. 
 Josh became Uncle Joshua, inTimidating Tim became Uncle Tim, and of course, Ryan became Daddy.  A girl needs a team like that behind her! 
 Ryan's two sisters went from ordinary girls to become Aunt Holly and Aunt Ivy.  (BTW, that's aunt in the New England sense, not "ant".
Clarity is obviously amazed and delighted to find she has so much power as a name changer. 
 My Mom was thrilled to become a Great Grandmother!  I suspect Clarity will just call her Grammy, but we'll see.  She could be More Grammy like my great grandmother was, but she doesn't like anything that implies. 

 Did  I mention that I was also thrilled to become a grandmother? 
                                       Four happy generations together. 
 Ryan looks like he caught on to the Dad title and its responsibilities within minutes. 
 My sister Wendy became a great aunt.  She's a good one.
We're laughing at how much younger we are as Grammy and Great aunt than our Grammy and Great Aunts were. 
 Ariel also became an aunt!  Second cousin just wasn't the right enough title, so she is Aunt Ariel. 
Yippee!  Three cheers for new names! 

For I am fearfully and wonderfully made!!! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

That stinks!

 Look what my sister Wendy found in the trash can on Monday morning after the Sunday baptism/picnic at the camp!!!!

She came to the bottom of the stairs, and whisper yelled, "Hey, Vic, do you wanna have an adventure?"  I yelled for Josh who has the good camera, and we went out to meet Jimmy the Skunk. (Anyone besides me read Thornton Burgess's books about animals, including Jimmy the Skunk?  I loved them when I was about 7).

 This skunk had made himself very easy to catch.  We just put the lid on the trash can, and put him in the truck.  We took him to a shooting range/sand pit about 2 miles from our camp. 
 This sign made us giggle.  We were pretty sure it didn't pertain to skunks.
Rush hour traffic went by (three or four cars) and I'm sure they all thought we were wicked trash dumpers. 
And there you have it!  The dramatic release, with the aid of a water ski rope.

So now you know what we do for fun in Maine.  And we didn't even get squirted.  I think we can hang out our shingle as "Skunk Removal Experts".  

"The beast of the field shall honour me...."   (Isaiah 43:20a)  

Monday, August 21, 2017

40 Days from SA to Malawi and Back

Things I want to remember from our first trip to Malawi:

Crossing the border was peaceful.  We could have saved a few minutes if we had done insurance at the same time as waiting for our visas.

Our first hotel room.  Neon red walls, with a mosaic of broken mirrors and tiles.  Very dim light-bulb. Cassava for breakfast, and chicken gizzards. Paul was pleased to eat mine and Josh's too.

Our visit to the Malawi Museum. Kinda wanted to donate some time there.  It looks neglected.

Lots of long walks passing out tracts, and most people being so excited to get them. I wrote about it in our prayer letter, and said I wished we had a GoPro (just talking, not hinting) and a lady in Indiana wrote to say she had one she never used, and wanted to give it to us.  (Stop, do cartwheel.  Mentally only, you understand.)  

Kids and a lady who stopped on their way into church to admire themselves in the side of our clean (! for once!) Jeep.  The kids had a good time dancing, the lady admired her sparkly shoes.

Josh got a new camera for his birthday in May.  All of these photos are from his camera, and he took most of them.  You can tell which ones he didn't take as he didn't take the ones he is in, with one exception.  I'm thankful he's getting another talent/skill down.
Huh?  You say I have a fidget spinner in my ear?  

Wish I could do that.  

 One of the perks of this trip was seeing so many friends along the way, like the Frews who have been friends since 2006.  Back then, we had more kids than they did, but they have gotten ahead of us.
 We participated in FIVE weddings on this 40 day trip!  Joe and Blessing's was the one we got the most involved in.  They are planning to come visit us in Cape Town in December.
 We stayed with the Beamen's in Chipata, Zambia, but we didn't get a picture of them, just their hedgehog, Lucy.
 Crossing the Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia on a ferry is a limited time offer.  They're building a big ol' bridge that will take some of the fun out of this crossing.  Paul said this is my 25th Anniversary Cruise.

Crossing the Zambezi will lose some of its romance when the bridge is finished, but for the sake of these poor guys in the big trucks, I'll be glad for the bridge.  They are backed up for THREE KILOMETERS!  We measured.  Waiting for their turn to cross.  It can take them a week.  I'm guessing fresh milk doesn't cross this border often.
 I love, love, love when our kids get involved in ministry too!  Of course, they've been involved since day one. They've been hauled around the world, winning people even as babies, and helping their parents be more winsome, but now they're getting right up there, teaching the liquor bottle lesson full of verses of what God says about alcohol in the Bible.
I suppose I should mention how glad I am that Paul's in the ministry too.  I sort of take that for granted. Of course he is!   I can't imagine him any other way.
 Visiting a tea plantation was maybe not supposed to be the most exciting trip in the world, maybe educational was more what we had in mind, but I think none of us will forget skidding and sliding down through the tea fields, getting lost, and finally coming out miles and miles from where we went in.  It was cool, for sure.  Josh liked the skidding parts even, Paul and I, not so much.  We haven't actually tried the tea yet.
 The unsung member of our team is Gypsy, our GPS.  Though she botched it that time, never giving us a hint of cows blocking the road ahead.

 Paul got drafted into a singing group's photo session.  We're curious if he'll get into the printed version on their CD they're making.  It was a Christian group of singers, very nice, that we met beside the road one Sunday.
 We made a brief stop at Malawi's beloved pottery place, Dedza for the Dedza mountains around it.  It would have been a nice place to have lunch, but we pressed on.    
 It was mouse season in Malawi, so mouse "bouquets" were for sale beside the road.  About $.05 per mouse.  Yum, yum.  OK, we didn't try any, just felt brave to have taken the photo.  And we tipped the boys selling them because we got their hopes up when we stopped for the picture.

 Road hazards!  I'm so thankful we never hit any animals this time except little birds.
 And then there were other road hazards.  Speed traps.  This one was intricate, in Botswana, and I got trapped.  Sniff.
 But Botswana is still the best country I know for seeing wildlife from the road.  We saw elephants too, but they got upstaged as you'll see in a bit.
 Mac Mac Falls delighted us, particularly in that we didn't know it was coming, and therefore had the thrill of discovery.

 There we are!  This was one of the coolest touristy things we've ever done, and we almost didn't get to do it.  We went to an elephant encounter, which does not include (the more expensive) elephant ride, but they let us ride the elephants "just back to the stables" and took our pictures, and it was wonderful!  and the price was right.
 I think the guides saw Paul and immediately matched us with Temba, the biggest of the 6 Elephants at Elephant Whispers.
 These are amazing animals!  and therefore their Creator must be AMAZING too.  Just logic.

We saw a lot of fires.  Smoky by day...

wild by night.  

 On the way back we stayed a few days at Back to the Bible Mission.  We loved it!
 Their campus is off in the hills near Barberton, South Africa, and they call it a "preacher factory."

The road continues, we move on, always on a mission, trying to draw others to Christ.