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).