My year in the U.S.
We’ve been in Skopje for a little over a week. Before I start blogging about life here, I wanted do a retrospective on our year in the USA. I traveled more than 40,000 miles (65,000 km) visiting those who support us with prayer, money and whatever else. That’s the equivalent of more than 5 times around the earth! (And that’s only counting official travel – not trips to Wal-mart or my sister’s house, for example.) I dipped my toes in both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans; and I went as far north as the Canadian border and as far South as the Mexican border. For the first six months Mary and the kids traveled with me in a Dodge Caravan, which was made available to us by my home church in Slidell. In January I was able to buy a car of my own so that the family wasn’t obligated to live on the road with me.
Here are some of the year’s highlights:
· Renewing acquaintances with old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 10 years.
· Working with Katherine Paterson, the author of Bridge to Terabithia, on her new book, Country of the Heart. (See this entry.)
· Getting to know my nieces and nephews.
· Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. (My daddy made that!)
· Fishing, especially at my parents’ house in Bush, Louisiana. They’ve noticed that since they built the house on the lake, they see a lot more of me.
· Preaching at an open air service for the homeless in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. This weekly outreach has been going on for 12 years straight, and it was thrilling to meet some of the people whose lives have been transformed.
· Sharing the Gospel with a Kosovar woman at the home of friends in Florida.
· Speaking to the recovering addicts in the Teen Challenge program in Pascagoula, Mississippi. I’ve never had a more engaging and receptive audience than these ladies!
· Challenging Chi Alpha students to line up their lives with God’s story. The campuses I visited included Stanford, Tulane; U. of L at Lafayette, La. Tech; SE Louisiana U.; Grambling; Alabama, U. of Arizona; and U.C. Davis.
· Seeing Luke emerge as a soccer sensation in a small package.
· Daily walks along the banks of Patton Creek behind our apartment. (Check out the Alabama set on my flickr page for pictures of the snakes, otters and other critters I’ve encountered there.)
It was a year filled with blessings, but still it’s good to be back in the Balkans where we belong.