Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Random Thoughts

Probably the hardest part of doing mission's work is staying focused even when things seem grim.  I can't tell you how many times I have emotionally wanted to throw in the towel and just go back to the way things were, especially when it means financial safety. 

So I've come to this conclusion:  the experiences gained during this time will both strengthen us and be useful to counsel future candidates with Believer's Bridge.  What greater testimony than the one that experiences the difficult times and not just the one that talks about it!

So here are a few highlights of those hard (and sometimes humorous) times we've been having:

If you have followed the Rowley Adventures, you already know we had a rough time from the very beginning.  There was a blown-out tire on the trailer, a busted pulley from the air-conditioner (which threw the serpentine belt), very high winds almost the whole trip (not fun with a high-profile vehicle...), and less than normal living conditions for weeks now.

But wait, there's more!  A few weeks after our survival, I mean arrival in CA, it seemed the weather decided to camp rain clouds over Southern California, where it dumped DAYS of rain.  It was a forced hibernation!  in a 200 sq. ft. space!  with 3 boys!!  (and two grumpy parents by the 3rd day...).  That's when survival instinct kicked in and motherly instinct went out and boys were pushed out of the RV into the rain (with jackets, of course).  I was never happier to accomodate wet clothes than those days.  :-)

So, on the first day of no rain (about 5-6 days later), I decided I needed to clean things up a bit.  Imagine my frustrated surprise when I pulled up one of the top cushions to find a puddle of water underneath it.  Turns out one of the front windows had a slow leak.  Mildew and soaked cushion and wood is what I got to clean up.  The good news:  Bill apparently fixed the leak with calking and the cushion is back in good shape.

By the way, a little fact that one doesn't think about often:  windows will condense with water when it's cold and wet outside while warm inside...  We had wet towels for days....

I have saved the best for last.  We've been having an ongoing saga with our mail.  Before we left AL, Bill had forwarded our home mail to the CA address that we are currently at.  On first day of arrival we find several magazines and a confirmation for the temporary forwarding.  Our illustrious Chelsea post office apparently did not get the address and decided to forward the mail to the Birmingham PO.  The Birmingham PO didn't have the address so they sent it back to the Chelsea PO. 

This is starting to sound like a Lorrel and Hardy sitcom!  Meanwhile, the Chelsea PO kept calling our ministry office but did not leave a message.  The only reason we found this out is Bill finally calls the Chelsea PO to find out what is going on.  Great.  So he talks to the lady and they apparently straighten things out.  She will priority mail what has accumulated (some of the mail was returned to sender addressed as undeliverable...). 

We are quite excited b/c we look forward to getting our mail again.  And it should arrive before Christmas.  Even better.  Christmas comes and goes and still no Priority Mail box from Chelsea.  (Finger nail tapping on hard surface heard in background).  Bill calls them up again.  Turns out the lady forwarded the box to our Pelham PO Box!!!  AHH! 

So you see, there's no need to go on a foreign mission field to get mission-quality experience.  Just move to Chelsea...  I mean, just experience it here in the good 'ole US of A. 

On a more sober note, I think all those experiences each of us goes through can either strengthen us or tear us down.  It all depends on how you live life and Who you trust.  So yeah, anyone can throw in a towel, but it takes perseverence to keep going.  Oh, and a faithful friend will be sending our PO Box mail to us.  And hopefully that is the end of the Mail Saga.

"And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:2b-4

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Another week has gone by and we have realized that we have been living on the road (mostly in our RV) for almost a month now.  Let's just say, there have been a LOT of adjustments.  The most noticeable, since we have been stationary for 2 weeks, is the space adjustment. 

The approximate square footage of our current living space is 220 sq feet.  Now let's add a queen bed, one couch, bathroom (about 12 sq ft worth, which includes a cabinet, toilet and shower), eating area, kitchenette, and above head sleeping area. 

The only "clear"space is the walk from front of the RV to the back bedroom, and from kitchenette to side door.  The best way to describe the "clear" space is like the walk area in an airplane.  I'll let you imagine how fun it is trying to get by another person....

OK, so moving on, the second noticeable change is not having enough space for everything.  When we were getting ready for the trip, we didn't have enough time to put everything in its place.  We adjusted what we could and figured we'd finish the rest when we got to CA.  (This is a good time to laugh out loud...)  Needless to say, we have become creative with small space management.  I think I am almost qualified to write a "home" improvement book on living in small spaces.

The third change is in adjusting what we used to be comfortable with.  We find ourselves learning to be content with what we have.  For example, our Christmas decor consists of one string of colored lights on our awning and a wreath, who my sister-in-law gave me, to put on our door.  The rest of it is exactly where I unintentionally left it, waiting in our attic until we get home.  In hind-sight, it's probably a blessing it didn't make it.  There's just no room left at the Inn!

That last change has really made me think.  And the fact that we have all boys probably is another blessing.  The lack of  "things" really doesn't bother them.  And not only that, but I feel in some way that we are helping them learn to "give thanks in all things". 

This has been such a different Christmas.  We really don't have any presents to send out this year nor activities to get ready for, so there hasn't been any of the usual holiday stress.  Instead, I have been content to experience the simple joys of listening to Christmas music and seeing the lights.  We have been blessed with friends who have given us moral support and others who have opened their home(s) to allow us to do laundry and use a full-size stove/oven for baking while we are here. 

Once again, despite the adjustments (AKA challenges), we have kept our eyes on the goal.  There are people in Peru who desperately need sound Biblical training so they in turn can teach their own flock.  In order to do that, Bill and I have to become fully funded, which is one of the main reasons we are here in CA (and also to continue building a solid foundation for Believer's Bridge, and be in a mission's conference in January).

Please remember to pray for us during this transitional phase of our lives.  Pray that God will lead us to those He has prepared in advance for us to meet and that we will be open to His leading.  Sometimes in this journey we call our Christian walk, things may not go as we plan, but when we obey "all things [will] work together for good".

Lonnnnngggggg   post.  But hopefully good.  ;-)   Here's a picture of Andrew I snapped last night because it was amusing how we are learning to adjust in our small space.  (The buckets are the kids' clothes, and the screen Andrew is using is our current DVD player screen).  In all things give thanks, right?

Friday, December 10, 2010

THE reason

I got to thinking about the reason for our trip out to the west coast. 

The first answer that popped into my mind was, "Well, for support-raising, of course."  Which caused me to pause and think about that a little bit.  To which I then told myself, "Well, it's really because we are interested in missions and we started a mission organization which God put on our hearts to do." 

But as I pondered the whole thing even farther, I kept taking a step back farther and farther and farther, until there was a huge picture.  A lot like those camera shots that start in a backyard and it grows until you see the whole world.  And all of a sudden, it dawns on you that there's more to life than just you. 

That's when THE real reason made more sense in my mind.  Many Christians use Acts 1:8, as what they call "The Great Commission", to point to the Bible as the reason for Christians to go into the world to tell others about Jesus.  You could say it is the epitamy of what a missionary does.

But any believer (another word for those who believe that Jesus paid the penalty for sin in place of us so we can be with God in heaven) has that set in their hearts.  The key to living that belief is in our actions.

Whatever position God has put you in is where you are meant to be.  And sometimes it's phases or seasons.  I would not want to use my elbows to eat with.  It's not what they are made for.  But they assist the hands in getting the food to my mouth.  The purpose is the same, regardless of the position.

So getting back to why we, the Rowley's, ventured on this trip, it's the position God has put us, but THE reason (or purpose) is shared across the board with all believers.  And it helped clear my mind as to why we are here for such a time as this.  Whatever the season of our lives, living the walk comes from obeying and acting on where God has you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where the Rubber meets the Road

Now that our RV wheels are stationary, the real living begins.  We will be living at an RV park for the next two months in a space about 27 feet x 10 feet.  In reality, it's not too bad.  We have running water (even hot water!), food, bikes to get around (and hopefully save a little gas), and our SUV if we need to go farther.

It has been almost 17 years since we left San Diego, but we have been able to reconnect with friends again.  And we visited Shadow Mountain Community Church for church today.  The main line that stuck with us was, "When you are in the valley, forge ahead."

So here we are, forging ahead.  Please pray for perseverence and stamina to share about our ministry, homeschool, and any other daily living that is a little more challenging now that our home is an RV.  Also, please pray that our home in Alabama will either sell or that we will get enough support.

However, looking down the road, as our ministry grows, we will probably have to relocate to an area close to an international airport hub that would allow us and our missionaries a better price on airflights.  There are so many things to consider and decisions to be made.  In the end, we know that all things will work out as they should.

Here are a few more pictures of our trip from AZ to CA.  We enjoyed visiting the London Bridge at Lake Havasu City and seeing the CA sand dunes on our way into San Diego.

Kids having fun in a London phone booth

The famous London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, AZ
(This bridge was numbered, taken apart,and rebuilt).

Bill's idea of humor.  Just read what the sign says, and you will eventually understand...

CA sand dunes and aquaduct.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

But wait! There's more!

I've had a great time snapping photos as we've driven through Utah, Arizona, and California.  The landscape is so different than the east coast that it was refreshing to see desert, tumbling weeds, and beautiful sunsets.  The snow was pretty cool (no pun intended...) until we ended up in a ditch.  BUT, no one was hurt and all worked out well in the end.

Here are a few more photos of these wonderful United States for ya:

Some mountain driving in Utah

Leaving Utah:  The cows had snow on their backs!

Utah on the I-15:  The mountains in the background look surreal.  There was a weird glow about them.


Stuck in the embankment.  This guy wasn't able to help us, but about 10 minutes later a utility vehicle stopped and pulled us out.  PTL!!

All I could think of:  "The heavens declare the glory of the Lord."

These were just a few of the photos I snapped recently.  I will post about our day today tomorrow.  We enjoyed going through Lake Havasu City and the sand dunes of California today.  Got some great photos of course!  Can't believe I'm back in San Diego.  It's been about 10 years I think. We couldn't help ourselves, and went over to the Yogurt Mill for dessert... (famous college frozen yogurt hotspot).  Good times!

These Wonderful United States

If you have never traveled much in the United States, you are missing out on some great scenery and historical places.  Not to mention God's creation after the flood. 

I was looking through Reader's Digest National Parks book today that I purposely brought along.  Since we were close to the Grand Canyon, and hope to visit it at some point in our current travels, I took some time to read through what it had to say. 

You can imagine my sarcasm as I read some of the infomation aloud about how millions of years formed it.  Really...?  I loved Bill's comment while we were driving through Zion National Park on the 15:  "So they tell us these canyons were formed in 20 million years, while 10 miles east they have set up a preserve because they are afraid the erosion is going to destroy them."  Just think about that for a little bit and you'll get it.

We passed through some great places in the last week and I thought I would share them with you.  Enjoy!

                                         We passed Burma Shave signs on the way to Lisa's!

Famous Hoover Dam.  From top to bottom:  The newest addition to Hoover Dam, the Hoover Dam Bypass (which I just found out opened Oct. 19, 2010); Robert, myself, and Andrew; Hoover Dam with the Bypass in the background; monument to all the workers (Hoover Dam was built from 1931-1936, you can imagine the type of equipment they had...); and an overview of Lake Mead (what Hoover Dam created).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Part A: Done!

We finally made it to our first destination where we will be leaving our RV so we can travel on to Ogden, Utah to be with my (Becky's) family for Thanksgiving.  We are actually on an Indian Reservation where one of my best friends live.  Lisa was my maid of honor at my wedding and we have been good friends since college days.

Lisa wasn't able to be here when we arrived since she and her family left for Thanksgiving in the San Diego area, but her brother and family were gracious enough to provide a place for our RV.  It's interesting the places we have friends in.  Pretty much all over the USA and in most continents of the world!  Hmm, have I mentioned we like to travel?

There was a gorgeous sunset this evening in AZ and I thought it would be the perfect picture for the end of our first part of our adventures.  Thanks so much to all who have prayed and encouraged us along the way.  I guess this Thanksgiving started early.  ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  II Cor. 4:16-18 NIV

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gone with the Wind and Enchiladas

Yes, you are noticing a food theme.  What can I say?  I am outnumbered 4 to 1 and with a family of guys, food takes priority.  If we had girls the title might be something like Rainbows and Ponies.  But I digress.  Back to the original title, we had a bit of wind on the trip today.

For the length of 600 miles we had winds with gusts up to possibly 50 mph.  For the part going North we had a tailwind, so that was great.  When we started going West we had headwinds and sidewinds.  Not so great.  In fact, downright annoying.  We used up a lot more gas than anticipated.  But, sei la vi, we pressed on and once again, made the most of it.

If you've ever seen the kid's movie, "Home on the Range", the following description will help give you a visual of places we passed through today.  Texas and New Mexico have some amazing dessert and wasteland areas.  You know, where lizards, cactus, tumbling rolling weeds, and tall grasses live. 

Well, for lunch we had a "gourmet" meal of homemade enchiladas made in the skillet (a first for me), complete with rice, beans, lettuce and tomatoes.  I know, olives, guacamole, and sour cream would have completed the ensemble, but hey, the fact that I made most of it while in a moving RV says something.  And by the way, I think I could take on a flight attendent in a standing contest any day.  Bring it on!  (As our pastor would say, "That part was free.")

So, while we ate our gourmet lunch we looked out the windows and watched the Southwestern scenery as it rolled by.  Made me think of being in a train in the lunch car watching scenery.  Of course, the occassional rocking back and forth from the wonderful winds just added to the experience.

If I can ever figure out how to download some of the pics I've taken, you guys will get to see some of the places and situations we've been in.  Of course, there aren't too many since it didn't dawn on me to take pics until we were stranded in TX, but hey, something is better than nothing. 

I hear our next adventures will take us into snow country as we travel to UT on either Wed or Thur (I know, Thanksgiving on the road, but better safe than sorry).  We'll let you know how things go as our days continue.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Praise and Pizza ;-)

So, the saga continued this morning.  Firestone would not work on our RV since it wouldn't fit in their garage, even though one of the technicians said he could fix it.  His boss told him no and that was that.  We then took off to go to church (in the SUV) and get some fellowship time. 

After service we inquired at the information desk if they had any mechanics at the church or someone who could help out.  No such luck, but Bill was able to get info on their missions department so that was a plus. 

After lunch, the decision was made to go ahead and try to fix the RV ourselves.  So Bill and Robert took off to get parts and tools for the job.  About 4 hours later, plus a little help from an Auto Zone guy to put the belt back on, they were able to fix it!!!  They put on a compressor and steering stabilizer and the old belt back on.  Apparently something that would have cost anywhere from $500-$1000. 

From our vantage point of the back of the Auto Zone parking lot, Bill spotted a Papa Johns and said, "Let's splurge and have pizza for dinner."  (We've been trying to save money for the trip by making all our meals.)  Oh yeah, pizza after a hard days work is awesome. 

So, turns out this was a day for praise and pizza.  Thanks to ALL who have been praying.  However, we still have miles to go and hope to drop our RV off at a friend in AZ and still make it up to UT for Thanksgiving.  We would appreciate your constant prayers as we travel.  I REALLY don't want anything else to break down!

Here's our 50 ft + caravan of RV and towed SUV.  I took this after they fixed the RV and were tying down the SUV to the trailer so it was already night time. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making the most of it.

So..., this has been a very different RV trip.  Yesterday we had a tire problem, today we threw a serpentine belt (or something like that...)  It's the thingy that runs the A/C and water to cool the engine, so I'm told.  Sorry, I am NOT a mechanical person.  Ask me to paint a picture, bake something, or sew and I'm your person.

We were able to meet with a friend near Dallas, TX Bill and I knew from way back, when Bill used to teach Sunday School (in Poway, CA) before we were married.  So that part of the day was great!  Barely an hour into our trip is when the second incident happened.  Oy vei!

At first we all felt frustrated.  But then you realize that there's not much you can do about it and you might as well make the most of it.  So, we plan on making a great meal, maybe watching a family movie or playing a game, and going to a church in the morning while Firestone fixes the RV.  What can we say?  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right?!  We just hope to be to my parents by Thanksgiving...  (I can hear it now, "Tune in next time to read all about the latest Rowley Saga.")

Friday, November 19, 2010

On the Road!

My hope of leaving Wednesday before midnight did not come true.  BUT, we finally made it out of our driveway by 8pm on Thursday.  Oh, but wait, it gets better. 

We had newsletters for all our missionaries (including our own) to send out before we left.  Thanks to some friends from church, we were able to have a "folding party" Wednesday night and got them just about ready to go, only lacking a few inserts which we finished the next day. 

The post office has a "rule" that all bulk mailing needs to be to them by 3pm (they keep giving us new rules every time we go in...).  We made it to the post office before 3pm and stood in line for 5 minutes.  When I got up to the counter the lady says, "It's after 3pm.  We can't take them."  No joke. 

Needless to say, after 3 weeks of intense preparation for staging our house to sell, and getting ready for our trip, and homeschooling, and everything else inbetween, I did not answer her too kindly.  Let's just say it was the last straw.  Needless to say, we had to leave the newsletters in the capable hands of our other board member, who hopefully will have better service than I did.  So, look for them in your mail soon!

So, once on the road (which was actually 10:20pm after we finished last minute chores), we drove for about 2 hours and made it to a rest area which allowed overnight parking. 

Refreshed from a good night's sleep, we got back on the road around 7am.  One hour into driving, we hear a strange sound and an unusual pull on the RV.  We decide to pull over to investigate.  Turns out one of our tires on the trailer hauling our SUV started seperating it's tread.  So, it didn't blow out, which could have been worse, but this definitely was not good.

We had to take the SUV off and Bill drove the RV with trailer to the next major city (about 12 miles) while I drove the SUV.  All worked out fine in the end and we were able to put a new tire on and have breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  See, you just have to look for the silver lining in all the clouds.  ;-)

Speaking of silver linings, I have one other amazing event that happened before I sign off for today.  I saved the best for last.  You simply MUST keep reading.

On Wednesday while I was taking things to the RV, Robert walks by and says he and Josh are going to check the mail.    Great, one less thing for me to do.  They both come running back excitedly.  Robert promptly walks up to me and says, "We found some money and 2 DSLites on the side of the road!" 

While I'm digesting the news, he pulls out a huge wad of bills from his pocket.  I gape at it, mouth wide open.  I assumed he had found the usual $1, maybe $5, or even a $20.  Turns out there was over $700.  I am not kidding. 

As best as we can piece it together, it seems the money was thrown out the window in a cup, along with the 2 DSLites from a drug bust because Robert also found drugs close by.  We had already decided to set everything aside and see if anyone came asking about it since we weren't sure what to do originally.  Since it was cash and there were no names on the DS's, there was no way of contacting anyone. 

After time passed and no one came, we came to one conclusion:  this was from God.  Why?  Because both Andrew and Joshua had been wanting a DS for the trip and we needed money to help with the trip for gas and lodging expenses.  Wow, wow, and wow!  How so like God to work in an unexpected way and to "take from the rich [druggies] and give to the poor".  Andrew looked at me and said, "Now I KNOW there's a true and living God."

So, my final thought is:  no matter how tired, how hopeless, how much you want to throw in the towel, keep your faith.  Just like Job, it's OK to feel sorrow, but learn to not give up on God.  We live in a world with the effects of sin.  That won't change.  God doesn't.  He still loves you and gave the ultimate gift of eternal life so when we leave this world, we live with Him.  There's hope.  Keep the faith.

Til next time, Becky

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last minute details

Hey there,

Thought I would give a quick update.  We are almost ready to head out west.  Most of you may know we have been scrambling like crazy to get our house ready and staged to sell.  Let's just say we are exhausted!  BUT, we are in the last "lap" of our final push to get things done. 

We could really use your prayers for physical strength and endurance to complete what needs to be done and not worry about the rest.  We'd like to leave tomorrow (Wed) hopefully before midnight.  :-)  But there is still a lot of details to finish like making a ramp for our SUV so it will be able to drive onto the trailer we will be hauling behind our RV as we travel. 

So, as you go about your day, please sneak in a few prayers on our behalf.  It's amazing how prayer can reach God's ears and bounce back to our hearts. 

Thanks!  Til the next moment of sanity (wink), - Becky

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's that time again...

We will once again embark on an RV journey.  Some of you may have followed along on our Florida trip, so you already know what I am talking about. 

There are SO many things that are happening, and have happened in our lives, that I will write more in my next blog.  For now, I wanted to welcome you to our new blog site.  We hope you will follow along with us as we journey across the USA to the west coast.  As always, I am sure we will have adventures of some kind!