Saturday, October 31, 2015

Normal, Illinois


Usually, we're the ones holding the signs and welcoming people,

but Scott and Carol surprised us by running out to the driveway holding these signs.  We felt so loved!  (And, yes, we made many puns about being "normal" since we were staying in the city of Normal, Illinois, especially since SITAG is made up of unique individuals.)

Friday, morning, we drove down to New Salem State Historic Site, where Abraham Lincoln lived as a young man.  Our visit with this sweet couple was officially to talk about SITAG's upcoming conference in February, but we got treated like royalty during our time with them.

The day was cool and the rebuilt village was full of autumn leaves and wood smoke.
In the cooper's shop

Living history, good company, and a gorgeous day made my heart sing, sing, SING!

This huge wheel was powered by the oxen that walked around and around on the upper track.

The wheel powered a carding mill for wool, bringing the Industrial Revolution to life!

Interpreters in several buildings help teach us about the 1830's and what life was like in New Salem. 

This lady was rendering lard to make into soap.

Our family especially loved the wood fires that gave off a little bit of heat and made the air smell wonderfully "autumn-ish".

This fire happened to be doing more than giving off heat for people or making the room smell good, it was melting the lard, too!  This particular interpreter was passing her skills on to these two young ladies. 

Turning the handle on an old well

The day was perfect.  Life-giving, heart filling.  And we weren't finished.

We drove a short way over to Lincoln's Tomb, to finish our lovely day with Scott and Carol.

While I was driving, Carol's phone rang.  She put the phone on speaker, and I got to hear the voice of her thoughtful son calling to wish her a happy birthday.

Not only had our stay with Scott and Carol allowed us to rest and refuel, but they had given us Carol's special day without saying one word.

That's just the kind of thoughtful, humble, generous, Jesus-loving people they are.

Visiting Lincoln's tomb touched each of us.

His wife and three of his sons are buried in the monument, too.

Some of Lincoln's famous quotes were interspersed with sculptures of Lincoln throughout the beautiful monument, too.

When we went back outside, the kids soon spied a tree that was good for climbing...
and photo-ops, too.  We've trained them well.  I often hear, "Mama, this is a great spot for a picture!"  Which is exactly what happened with this tree.
We had just enough time to run (really - see Benjamin in motion) down the steps to see the temporary vault 
which originally held Lincoln's body while the bigger monument was being constructed.

Then we had to hug necks and say our goodbyes to this precious couple we've grown to love so much over the eight years.

And we were off to Peoria...

Please pray for rain...

From our SITAG director:
Like other parts of the Pacific, the Solomon Islands is feeling the effects of a longer than usual dry season due to El NiƱo. This is resulting in problems with growing food and water for daily needs. The National Referral Hospital is only able to perform surgeries for emergency situations due to the lack of rain water to use to sterilize equipment. Pray for much needed rain.

Friday, October 30, 2015

St. Louis

Our first stop was a lunch break in St. Louis to visit some dear friends who generously offered to provide a delicious lunch for our family.
Kyle is finishing up his degree at Concordia Seminary, and after lunch he gave us a tour of the absolutely gorgeous campus.
I'm loving autumn so much.  Seasons are one of the things I miss most when we are living in the Solomon Islands, and God has been gracious (SO like Him!) to give me some beautiful leaves and cooler temps.

 Kyle had to get to class, and we needed to get back on the road, so the visit was short and sweet.

We love these guys and their soft hearts toward what the Lord is doing in their lives.
As we drove out of town, we got to see both Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch.  We didn't have the time to go up like the last time we visited St. Louis, but that was okay. 
We have more wonderful people to go see...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On the road again...

As we hit the road again this morning, I'm so thankful we've had a few days to be home and to enjoy some of the joys of a little calmer schedule.  Grateful for things like:

-Hanging sheets on the line with bright blue skies overhead
-Little hands making carrot messes

-Carrot messes turning into carrot molasses muffins to eat with enough left over to share

-Catching the family up on medical appointments

-Enjoying herbs and tomatoes that have decided to flourish now that the summer's heat has diminished
-Finding ways to use all those herbs in big batches of spaghetti sauce and basil lemon salad dressing
 -Finding a cute little inch worm (reminded me of "Slimy" from Sesame Street) on one of the many sprigs of oregano we harvested for the spaghetti sauce

-Getting morning snuggles underneath my gorgeous quilt from Julie

-Exercising and getting caught in the much needed rain with my delightful exercise buddy

-Sarah catching up on embroidery while I read "Mountain Born" (one of my favorites) out loud