Our Best

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.

Henry Ford

The SOWER song that we sing every morning following our devotions is “Our Best” written in 1912 by S.C. Kirk. Sometimes we sing off-key and sometimes we sing it beautifully but we always sing it with feeling. Here are the words.

Hear ye the Master’s call, “Give Me thy best!” For, be it great or small, That is His test. Do then the best you can, not for reward, Not for the praise of man but for the Lord. Every work for Jesus will be blest, But He asks from everyone His best. Our talents may be few, These may be small, But unto Him is due Our best, our all.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who get’s the credit.

Harry S. Truman
Our Amazing Crew Who Gave Their Best

The staff at Living Waters had high praise for this great bunch of folks. They said the work we did was professional. We painted the outside of the Office, Snack Shop, Motel, and several other small buildings in our time here. The men leveled a big building, finished the inside of the new building, repainted the playground (much to the dismay of the kids who had to wait for the paint to dry before playing), plumbing and electrical repairs also. Stan Buttrick was the leader of the women paint crew. He and Carlie have done 180 projects. They will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year. He was a great guy to paint with and kept us all in line. I’m not a trim painter but through prayer and Stan’s direction he made one of me. I love to live in my paint and enjoy slinging it everywhere. But God answers prayers and He helped me to do my best. We had alot of fun and laughs also. There is never a dull moment with Stan and Carlie around. They are from Massachusetts.

Craig and Karen are from Wichita, KS. They were our fearless leaders. Karen is Canadian and is looking forward to seeing her family again. They are retired teachers and we were sure surprised to meet someone from Kansas there in our crew.

Linda and Richard are from Mississippi. We met them at the SOWER Roundup in Texas in March. Richard played guitar for us each morning. Accompaniment does help us sound better. I don’t think we set any dogs to howling this trip.

Roy has been a SOWER for many years also. He is trying to live again after losing his beloved wife last September. We admired him for his desire to continue to serve. We had also met him in Texas in March.

We have yet to meet a SOWER that wasn’t just precious to us. We seem to have such common goals. We all are retired and still desire to continue serving the Lord in any capacity. This might be cleaning toilets, painting, sweeping down spiders and rebuilding bridges. The three weeks go by so quickly. We are just really getting acquainted when it is time to leave for the next project or for home.

Covered Bridge in New Hampshire

Since we had been gone from our little house on the prairie for five weeks now we were ready to head for home. We had a great time in New Hampshire seeing covered bridges, waterfalls, driving the Kancamunga highway and going to the top of Mount Washington. We saw a mama moose and baby on this drive. It was a sweet treat as we had looked long and hard for moose in Maine.

We traveled on to Vermont and wound up on a dirt road driving on a floating bridge in Vermont. We were in a mountainous region with no cell phone coverage but soon found our way to a highway that was on our old fashioned map. We still believe in map (paper map) navigation also. As we had not made any reservations this night we wound up staying in an older motel (but so clean) in Vermont with the kindest hosts in charge of the place. Since it was a weekend, in a very busy tourist area, we were blessed.

Driving along the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania was another highlight of the journey home. I think the highlight for the farmer with me was when we hit the farmland in Indiana and Illinois. Crops of corn, milo, sunflowers and beans were everywhere. Farmsteads with lovely old barns and cattle grazing in lush pastures were a wonderful sight to behold.

Some folks enjoying the water
Sunset on our farm on the prairie

We saw a car in Ohio with a Kansas tag. We hadn’t seen that tag for a month. Home was beginning to call us home. Stopping and seeing our granddaughter in her first week of college was a delight and seeing our daughter and husband and their four children was another treasure. Our five year old granddaughter had one of her very first soccer practices while we were there. They played the soccer girls favorite music, ” Let it Go.”

It was bittersweet arriving home as we are in a drought right now and in desperate need of rain. But the sunset over the grain bin was a welcome delight. It was so good to be home.

Home is the nicest word there is.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farming in Maine

“You know farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

The farmer and I always enjoy checking out the agriculture whereever we are.  Farmland and its use is precious to us.  I guess you can send a farmer on a trip but you never get the farm out of his heart.  We’ve seen every kind of tree imaginable here and on the way here.  As we drive the highways we have often commented on the scenery.  “You’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all!” 🙂  You can tell we come from the wide open prairie!

On our adventures we stopped at one of those dome houses that was painted blue and was called blueberry world.  We felt this was one of God’s great gifts to us as we visited two of the farmers there and sampled some blueberry goodies.  

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Maine has wild blueberries and we were blessed to visit with a farmer whose family tends to the wild blueberries.  We had fresh hot blueberry pie at her store ala mode.  Yum!  We had a great visit with her about farming and the struggles they face with their product.  The wild blueberries are indigenous to Maine and are, therefore, naturally resistant to many pests.  One farmer we spoke to said that his family has been tending to the blueberries for 200 years.  There are 38,660 acres of wild Blueberries in Maine.  They are grown on a two year cycle.  Each year half of the grower’s land is managed to encourage flower bud growth and the other half is prepared for harvest.  

Photo by kristen munk on Pexels.com

“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything wholesale, and pays the frieght both ways.”  John F. Kennedy

We traveled north of here this weekend and found more farming communities.  We drove along the north edge of Maine right against Canada to Fort Kent, ME.  We drove adjacent to the St John River for many miles.  Canada was two blocks away but we didn’t try to crossover as we were told it is quite an ordeal to do that.  

Fort Kent Stockade

Finally, the trees opened up and we saw farms and farmland.  I had one very happy farmer on my hands.  He breathed a deep sigh of total relief.  One thing he hates is ground that is unable to be productive.  Many of the farms looked in good shape and there were multiple small stands along the way selling new potatoes, peas, cucmbers, etc.  Crops of beets, oats, sunflowers, wheat ready to harvest and prairie hay were seen.  We even saw one Zimmatic circle for irrigation.  The fields are small and hilly compared to Kansas but beautiful.  One farmer was working ground in the US and we could see his counterpart in Canada also working ground.  We wondered if some farmers have land in both countries.  

Rainbow on East Grand Lake (View from our cottage)

“ I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.”  Andy Warhol

Due to the smaller fields we saw many smaller tractors, potato harvesters, and blueberry buggies.  My IHC guy was so happy to see the older tractors still in use.  It was delightful to see agriculture thriving in this state in many ways.  Some of the land appeared to be worked with a moldboard plow.  The sod turned up and productive is a wonderful sight to see.  

Easternmost Point of the US

Monday through Thursday is our workweek.  After all, we are retired. 🙂  We finished painting the Camp Office and started on the Snack Shop.  This is a hot spot in the afternoon.  Sometimes right after we were just served lunch.  The kitchen crew is great and serves good food with hot bread and the food is kid friendly.  However, you can’t kid friendly all kids.  That’s why the snack shop is a hit.  Soda (not pop) is available and all kinds of sugary treats.  

Karen Painting Barn Red and White and Sweeping Spiders

We women have had to get very acquainted with more spiders than we ever thought possible.  They love the underside of the overhangs on these buildings and they are not fond of being disturbed or being painted.  The farmer and I even gave a devotion on the Power of God and told of a spider (Nephila that is found in the South Pacific) who’s web is so strong that fisherman use it for a net.  Only God can create such wonderful creatures. 

The men painted the floor of the building they are working to complete and they put a sealer on the wood on the ceiling and the walls.  The kitchen staff come over every day to see if their new home is finished yet.  Karen and I made curtains to go on the windows in that building.  Electricity is next on the agenda, then they will move in as soon as the beds can be moved.  

Farmer and a Tractor

Pearl and Barbara are two older ladies that keep the flowers going here at the camp.  They are beautiful.  Every building and several other places have flower beds.  This so adds to the look and feel of the camp.  These two ladies volunteer their help every summer for this duty.  This camp has so much support from the area and the local churches.  Much volunteer work happens here.  Some of the Board members and staff live in New Brunswick and are unable to come to the camp right now.  It has been two summers.  It is a difficult time.  

Our Home in Maine

On Friday’s we have traveled to see the sights of Maine.  Last Friday we drove the coastline and pursued lighthouses.  We found six lighthouses and started in Lube, Maine where the West Quoddy Lighthouse is found.  The East Quoddy Lighthouse is in Canada.  Lubec is the easternmost point in the United States.  The Roosevelt’s had a beautiful summer home with gorgeous views  which can’t be visited by us right now as it is in Canada.  It is an International Park but can’t be visited by Americans at present.  

West Quoddy Lighthouse
Lubec, Maine

Schoodic Point at Acadia National Park was also a stopover.  We reached there at the perfect time at 4pm.  The tide was rolling in and the waves were crashing on the rocks.  The waves hit 50 feet high against the rocks.  Impressive!

Tide Coming In at Schoodic Point

Living Waters Bible Camp

Living Waters Bible Conference

  

Work is now underway for our SOWER group at Living Water Bible Camp.  We have four couples here and one single man who lost his wife a few months ago.  Three of the people that are here we already met in Texas in March.  It is delightful to see SOWERs you are now familiar with.  There are 170 mission projects and places to serve across our nation and in Canada.  SOWER stands for Servants on Wheels Ever Ready.  Retired couples with a camper can join and work at these camps and projects.  It is RVing with a Purpose.  There are around 800 couples who are SOWERs either active or alumni.  

We are in a cottage right on Grand Lake near Weston, Maine.  From our cottage we can see Canada across the lake.  Tomorrow we will take a little breakfast cruise and will go very close to the Canadian waters.  This facility caters alot to Canadians so it has been a difficult two years for this camp and for the people who work here for the summer, who are across the border.  Many of their summer homes are here left unused.  

Breakfast Cruise

This place is very active and full with kids and families of all ages enjoying water skiing, wakeboarding, horsemanship, crafts, wall climbing, fishing and Bible study and worship.  We have been able to attend church every evening with a dynamic pastor from Kansas (of all places.)  He preaches the Word and speaks the truth about the days we are living in.  

Social Distancing in Maine

Putting insulation and boards on the ceiling of a new lodge is the project some of the men are working on.  This new building will house some kitchen staff and be such a wonderful blessing to them.  The men cannot complete the bathroom in the lodge however due to rules and regulations for sewer for this county.  The kitchen staff is excited to move in anyway.  

New Cabin for Kitchen Staff

Painting is the word for the women many times in the SOWER world.  We are painting the outside of the Camp Office building.  There is enough painting to do on this place that it wil keep volunteers busy for many months.  We have a good time doing it and love teasing each other and the camp staff.  There are also some crafts for us to help with when it rains.  One of the women is working in the bookstore every afternoon also.  

Men Leveling Building

They feed us well here both physically and spiritually.  The views are out of this world.  The loon call every night is eerie.  The speakers amazing.  The love of God and children is evident.  Here at this camp it gives us hope for the future.  Hope that young people will continue to love God and serve Him and their nation. 

 

 

Second Proposal

July 25 was the day we left the farm for the long journey to Danforth, Maine.  Two thousand miles lay ahead of us and our August SOWER assignment.   We were going to Living Waters Bible Camp near Danforth.  This time we were taking the car and not pulling a camper.  Living Waters has a cottage for us to stay in for the month.  Since we had just had the motor replaced in our pickup this seemed like a good idea.  

Loading the car instead of the camper was a whole new ballgame. The trunk on our car is big but would it hold all we like to take on this journey for a month in Maine.  We loaded the car on the 25th and headed down the road about 1pm that day.  The first leg of the journey was just to our daughter’s house for an overnight stay.  

On our third day we stopped in Granville, OH to visit the farmer’s sister.  He was born on her 14th birthday and she had never forgiven him for messing up her special day.  It was fun to see her new place and eat lunch with her and hear them reminisce together.  

Twins!

We spent one full day in Niagara Falls and had a room close to the park.  Since this is supposed to be a place for honeymooners, I mentioned to the farmer that maybe he could propose here.  We’ve only been married for 49 years, after all.  As we were walking by Bridal Veil Falls he handed the phone to a young man and asked him to snap our picture.  He got on his knees and proposed to me.  After 49 years, I still said, “yes”.  

She still says, “yes!”

We walked 7.5 miles that day around Niagara Falls and did the Hurricane Deck walk below Cave of the Winds.  We got so wet but really enjoyed seeing the falls from the bottom.  Spectacular views of God’s glorious creation were staggering to us.  The power of those falls spoke vehemently of our Creator’s majestic power.  

God’s Rainbow Promise of the Niagara Falls

After a night in Massachusetts, we were finally in Maine.  As we drove along the interstate, we knew we were right along the coast of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean but were unable to see it.  At just the right moment, the Lord had us turn off onto highway 1 and go to Orgunton, ME.  We turned at just the right spot in town and came to a beach area.  There was a spot for 30 minute parking.  We grabbed the spot and headed to the beach where we got to step in the ocean.  The beach was beautiful and I’m sure we looked pretty funny with the farmer in his cowboy boots and hat and his bride just wanting to put her feet in the ocean.  The farmer snapped a picture of his bride just as the tide was rolling in and covered my legs up to my knees.  The farmer got water up to the top of his boots but not over them.  It was perfect and we knew it was a delightful gift from God. The beach goers cheered us on and celebrated our cowboy/farmer getting his jeans wet while they lounged in their bathing suits and beach clothes.  

Welcome to Maine, finally!

Thank you God, our giver of perfect gifts. 

Cousins

Beautiful Clouds

“Born as a cousin, made as a friend.”

Byron Pulsifer

“God made us cousins because He knew our mothers could not handle us as siblings.” Unknown

Oh, what a couple of cousins could think up and plan to do. One child wouldn’t think of doing it but put several cousins together and the possibilities are inexhaustible. The imaginations are on full tilt. An old threshing machine becomes a pirate ship or a rocket ship. Pastures and barb wire fences are put there to climb through or over. Farm ponds yield the greatest fishing challenges. Ponies were made for cousins to ride. Lawnmower tractors were made to pull wagons full of cousins.

My cousins were and still are some of my best friends. The adventures we had and the imaginations we used to accomplish all kind of missions were phenomenal.

Our parents loved to gather together and they preferred kids to not be seen or heard. We cousins preferred that too. So away we went all over the entire ranch. We were cowboys and we were Indians. We were wild adventurers. We didn’t come back to reality until our tummies told us it was time for food.

Cousins and the Farmer at the Soda Fountain

Cousin Camp was formed because of this Grammies’ fond memories of times with her dear sweet cousins. My desire was to have my grandkids experience the fullness of cousin friendships.

Tie Dye shirts are a must!

We started this tradition a few years ago and attempt every summer to gather the twelve grands for a food and fun fest. Grammie plans and plans and tries to fill each day with craft projects, experiments, games and theme based fun. The Farmer is always recruited to assist with the woodworking project and any other spots that need filled. This year he had to make big dice for a yard Yahtzee game, giant feet for a Big Foot Relay, and a flyswatter golf game. He is sure handy to have around.

Yard Yahtzee

FUN! We had such fun and enjoyed being together. They love playing wall ball, corn hole, hunted, and throwing balls over the barn roof.

“Time passes and we may be apart, but cousins always stay close at heart.”

Unknown
Nine Cousins with Projects

“A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

Marion C. Garretty

SOWER Roundup and Friendships

Texas Roundup of SOWERS in Big Sandy, Texas

Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.

Amy Poehler

The SOWER Texas Roundup was held at the Alert Academy in Big Sandy, TX just before we headed home from our assignment there. Sixteen other camper couples joined us for three days of fun, games , instruction and fellowship. SOWER stories of projects and experiences filled each moment. New friendships and connections were carved. Acquaintances became true friends and talented people were discovered. These retired couples join forces each month to serve the Lord God in many and varied ways. The mission is the same; make a difference in some way in the lives of those they come in contact.

Plastic Easter Eggs and a Leaf Blower
Jelly Beans and a Board

Gail Fieler had some great game ideas and everyone participated. Peeps were shot with rubber bands, jelly beans were balanced on a popsicle stick and rolled down a board. A talent show was enjoyed by all. One couple had a hole in their bucket!

Thompson’s with “A Hole in their Bucket”

The SOWER couples also collated bound booklets of the book of John and of Romans. We were able in two hours to collate 1400 booklets. These books of scripture will be sent to the Philippines. Some were collated earlier in the Thai language to go to Thailand. Fertile fields will receive these seeds from this group of SOWERS.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Collating Scripture Booklets for Overseas Fields
A Delicious Banquet was enjoyed by all.
Beautiful Camping

Following this wonderful Roundup for SOWERS we embarked on the journey home. Our hearts were warmed by new friendships and experiences. One woman that I hadn’t met before became an instant heart sister in the Lord. We were kindred spirits. Praising the Lord for this opportunity.

Dogwood and Easter

Dogwood Trees

There’s nothing more majestic than a dogwood in spring, decked out with fabulous flowers! To some people, though, dogwoods hold a deeper meaning. The legend of the dogwood tree is an age-old story that tells the story of this magnificent tree and how it become the tree we know and love today.

Our story begins almost two thousand years ago in Israel. If you ventured into the forests of Israel at that time, you would have seen plenty of sturdy oaks, lofty cedars, walnut trees, and more—all of which are fine and noble trees, loved and used by carpenters.

However, one tree was prized above all others: the mighty dogwood. Back then, the dogwood lacked its distinct fruits and flowers, but it was still impressive, rising taller than any oak or cedar. Its wood was strong, hard, fine-grained, and easy to work with. It had no equal, and it was constantly in demand.

During this time, a simple carpenter was declared King of the Jews and was sentenced to death. The method of execution? Crucifixion. And the tree used to fashion the iconic wooden cross? A dogwood.

According to the legend, the dogwood felt great sorrow for the role it played in Jesus Christ’s death. While on the cross, Jesus sensed the tree’s anguish, and he decided to transform it so that it could never again be used in crucifixion. From that point on, the dogwood was no longer a tall, stately forest tree. Rather, it became a small and shrub-like tree with thin and twisted limbs.

Full Bloom at Easter

Jesus was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. Three days later, he rose from the dead. At the same time, the dogwoods in the forest burst into bloom, and they continue to do so right around Easter in what is believed to be a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

While the dogwood tree never again took part in an execution, it’s still said to carry the marks of Jesus’ crucifixion. Its four large petals represent the cross he died upon, and each petal displays four red-tinged notches that are said to represent four nail holes. And in the center of each flower is a green cluster that is symbolic of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Alas, the legend of the dogwood most likely originated in the United States in the 20th century. They are not native to the Middle East, nor would they have been found growing there in Jesus’ time. Nevertheless, the legend persists, and many Christians revere the beloved dogwood as it continues to remind them of Jesus’ love and sacrifice.

After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood. – Author: Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The article on the dogwood tree was written by Bower and Branch. Happy Easter. Christ the Lord is Risen today.

Final Week

Fountain at Alert Academy
Important Tool for This Project

The men found channel lock pliers priceless at this assignment. The damage done by the unexpected freeze here in Texas was devastating. They worked in 9 different bath houses and fixed leaks in all these bath houses where lines had frozen. Every time they turned the water on they found more lines broken in the walls and shower heads. They changed out at least 63 shower heads and fixed many leaks in walls and ceilings. The Farmers plumbing experience was much needed. The Lord brought in just the right team for this assignment.

Beautiful Scenery “Green”

The shirts you see in the picture below are a product of the work of the SOWER women. We took shirts apart and resized them. After graduation and promotions we sewed on new stripes. Flags were sown on sleeves and a quilt top was completed. It was a wonderful team of women we are all dreading saying goodbye. Lasting friendships were made and our appreciation and gratitude for our Savior is abundant.

Prayers were answered! Healing and health challenges were overcome. Great is our God and His faithfulness is true.

Alert Academy Cadets

A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.

Dinah Maria Craik

My new friend Jackie led me to the quote above. She taught me many new things and with her breath of kindness blew away the chaff. 😊Many true friends were found in this place.

God Bless America

Second week at Alert Academy has our team working on the same types of projects.  The women are still in the sewing room and the men are replacing plumbing and shower heads in the many bath houses on this campus.  The massive amount of damage the freeze had on this facility is heart rending. This is a very large campus with many shower houses. This deep freeze caught much of Texas unaware. The sewing room is busy with putting new patches on the cadets’ shirts due to graduations and promotions.

Face on a Tree?

This tree with the huge lump on it, is across from our campsite.  Many questions come to mind as to how and why this occured.  What happened along lifes’ journey for this tree that made this deformity?  All of us are dealing with deformities.  Not all of them are visible.  Some wounds have tons of scar tissue over and around them.  Some wounds are inside.  Wounds can be very troublesome if they are bumped or scabs are pulled off.  No one else can understand the pain that has made the wound and the only one who can heal it is Jesus.  Let’s give Him our deformities and our pain and let Him heal them completely.  

Interview for Class Project

The young men here are such an inspiration!  We have such hope for our nation as we watch these men treat us with such dignity and respect.  They are a delight.  They have a wonderful curriculum here and their classes are challenging.  We hear them at 5 am marching and calling a cadence.  Some of the young men interviewed the SOWER men as one of their assignments.  They were to learn about financial decisions the men have made in their lives and what they wish they had done differently.  

A newspaper was discovered in one of the rooms here from 1944.  One of the headlines read “ FDR will Pray for Nation tonight from Washington, DC.” It brought tears to my eyes as there is nothing like that coming out of Washington, DC at the present time from the Office of the President.  However, seeing the future generation that is here at Alert Academy gives us hope for our nation and for a new revival of a desire for Jesus.  

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.

Harry S. Truman
Cadet Teddy R. Bear

I brought along my old bicycle and have really been enjoying riding it on this beautiful campus.  Exercise is much needed as they feed us really well.  We have some kind of homemade bread every meal.  I think this old farm wife will get spoiled here.  It’s such a treat and the salads at every meal are delicious.  They have many mouths to feed and they feed those hungry recruits well and they feed us old SOWERS well also.

Bicycle Built for One

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in the United States where men were free.

Ronald Reagan

We are Blooming!