About the Newsletter: “Where are you, Jenny Bloom?”

Note:  This was written the morning before I left for China but refused to post. Here it is!  News of my China return soon to follow, now that my Internet has finally been reinstated in my apartment.  Yeah!

A snippet from my most recent newsletter, sent 2 weeks ago, reads:

Immerse yourself in Life in China! Visit connieinchina.org. I’m aiming for 10,000 visits to my website by January 12, 2015, which is my 50th birthday. Help me reach that goal by going to connieinchina.org as often as possible. Join me in enjoying an Amity teacher’s life in China. You won’t be disappointed!  

This last day before heading off to China, I find myself checking my website to see that the newsletter mailing of last week, with the above paragraph, has certainly boosted my readership.  Thanks so much for checking in.  Your visits are currently at 4,350 with only 5,650 more to go by January 12.  Keep it up!

But there is a certain dilemma which concerns me, and that  has to do with Jenny Bloom.  Let me explain.

About the Newsletter and All It Entails

One of my immediate goals for the summer has been putting together my summer newsletter so as not to wait to the last minute before heading back to China.  Kelley Ray, my home church office secretary at Marshall First UMC, is my saintly helper in all this.  Kelley takes my bare-bones script and turns it into a glorious visual of colors, fancy do-dads, cool formats and neat fonts.  She spends hours doing this, often staying past her hours in the church office, to make it pretty and impressive.  Without her, my newsletter would be a dull, no-frills affair or may never get done at all.

Kelley Ray (seated) and me going over the last touches of my summer newsletter in the church office.

Kelley Ray (seated) and me going over the last touches of my summer newsletter in the church office.

My mom is then in charge of proofreading for errors I miss or sentences that cause confusion.  After that, Kelley makes adjustments, runs the newsletter pages off and I take over feeding envelopes through the machine to put on the  NGO postage (3 hours worth of work), folding papers and stuffing envelopes (6 hours) and sealing (3 hours) before walking them over to the post office for mailing.

The newsletter is always growing  and now comprises  780 addresses.  These are in Kelley’s hands, in a Connie Wieck newsletter list document which continues to get longer every year.

When I sent those out last week, I sighed with great relief after dropping them off in 2 big boxes at our local post office.

“Ah!” I thought.  “What a great way to end my itineration time, getting that taken care of.  Now it’s on to packing up without worrying about the newsletter anymore.”

Or so I thought.

A New Addition to the Wieck Family

Within 24 hours of mailing those out, what lands in the Wieck mailbox at 503 North Michigan Avenue but a newsletter to Jenny Bloom . . . addressed to my home.

Oh, dear!  However did that happen?!

“Who’s this?” my dad asked, looking at the envelope and puzzling over Jenny Bloom’s name.  “Is this a friend of yours?  Why is her mail coming here?”

Well, it’s coming here because the address is addressed as her being here.

Help!

Jenny is definitely on the newsletter list but for some reason, her address has been entered as my parents’ address.   Most likely, I have made a mistake of some sort and poor Jenny is stuck, residentially imprisoned not only on the Connie Wieck Newsletter list in the computer, but imprisoned in our home as well.

For the past 7 days, it has been somewhat of an on-going discussion topic about our home’s stowaway, Jenny Bloom, who has been desinated as living in the attic upstairs.   We’ve even gotten to the point of including her in household happenings.

The phone rings?
“Oh, I bet that’s for Jenny.  Let her answer it.”

Knock on the door?
“That’ll be for Jenny.  She always has lots of callers.”

Smell of burnt anything coming from the kitchen?

“Looks like Jenny’s been cooking again.  Better get the air freshener!”

While all in great fun, there is a concerned part of me that wonders where Jenny Bloom truly is.  Is she waiting anxiously  a newsletter?  Did I meet her on my most recent travels, her name and address written on a scrap of paper that wound up with me accidentally putting my home address on it?  Will she be wondering if she’s been forgotten?

Help Me Out! 

So here is my plea at present:  Jenny Bloom, where are you?

If you are reading this, or if anyone knows of “our” Jenny Bloom at any of your churches or UMW units, please send me an email note.  I’ll make sure to change that address immediately.

Poor thing is probably getting a little tired of living up there in our attic.  It’s certainly not the most comfortable part of the house, let me tell you!

Peace (Ping An), Everyone!  Until my next entry from China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This

Posted in 2014 Summer Itineration, A Visit Home to America, Return to China, Smalltown American Life, Travel, Visit To The States | 1 Comment

The Last Hurrah: Pitstopping in Pittsfield and My Alma Mater, EIU

With my last presentations in Pittsfield, then closer to home in Charleston (home of EIU, my alma mater) and Mattoon, Illinois, I have let slide my postings and reports from the past week.  This is mostly because I’ve only had 4 days to get myself in order for my return to China.

Whew!  Where did the time go?

Before getting to the visuals of my last visits, here’s an update what’s been going on the past few days.

First and foremost, I’ve been hitting the Walmart for gifts for my Chinese friends.  Their American desires have truly added pounds to the suitcase.

“What in the world do they want?” you ask.

Garlic pills, fish oil supplements, multi-vitamin packs and glucosamine joint boosters.  Also on the must-need list were women’s moisturizing facial lotions and eye wrinkle creams.

These requests are all from my older friends from my dog-walking days last year around the campus at Sichuan University.  Quality control in China for health items is an iffy thing.  A majority of Chinese who come to the States for visits load up on these bottles as well for their relatives and friends.   Yes, it certainly weighs me down to stuff all that among my clothes and my own necessities.  But the fact that everyone felt comfortable enough to ask me, the foreigner, to do this for them makes me feel quite special and a part of the culture.  I honestly don’t mind.  Their excitement and gratitude when I place these things into their hands next week will be well worth the leg bruises and muscle aches I’ll be experiencing hauling my luggage through 3 airports and 2 overnights to get it to them. 

Hmmm.  Did that last comment sound like my grandmother, the martyr?  Oh, surely not.  (Wink-wink!)

Other happenings during these past few days before leaving have been getting my new laptop computer set up, having lunch with my dad, managing my last few outdoor pool swims, mailing out 780 copies of my newsletter, sending $300 worth of boxes back to China filled with goodies and making sure our earthquake dog, Lao-lao (Little Old-old), gets plenty of attention before I disappear once again.

Poor little Lao-lao! 

He definitely knows my scurrying about and suitcase packing mean my departure is imminent.  He follows me everywhere, anxiously watching my every move with an alarmed, ears-perked, attentive gaze.  When I walk out the door, he positions himself on the sitting room couch to wait for my re-entry, then wiggles and squeaks with glee when I come back.  I fear it will take several days for him to get back to normal after I leave.  He will definitely need some extra loving and pampering from my mom this next week when I’m gone.

Final Note:  Before leaving this post, my last one for the summer in the U.S., I just want to thank all of you for visiting my site and keeping up on all my travels.  I’ve had a wonderful, blessed time meeting with all of you and can hardly wait for the next 3 years to whiz by for another itineration to take place.

Many best wishes to all!  And here’s sending you Ping An (peace) for your day.

Pittsfield UMC had quite a turn-out for my last long-distance presentation.

Pittsfield UMC had quite a turn-out for my last long-distance presentation.

 overnight hostess, Betty Shive, was  my mom's sorority housemother when she was a student at Western Illinois University many years ago.  Lots of late-night catching up to do for us two!

overnight hostess, Betty Shive, was my mom’s sorority housemother when she was a student at Western Illinois University many years ago. Lots of late-night catching up to do for us two!

I am presented with a lovely prayer shawl from Pam, a faithful Pittsfield UMW member

I am presented with a lovely prayer shawl from Pam, a faithful Pittsfield UMW member

In Betty's home, Betty's friend Don was invited over later that evening so we could chat.

In Betty’s home, Betty’s friend Don was invited over later that evening so we could chat.

Don is quite the folk artist!  Betty's mantle displayed many of his creative wood carvings, which I was so enamored of that I took lots of pictures.

Don is quite the folk artist! Betty’s mantle displayed many of his creative wood carvings, which I was so enamored of that I took lots of pictures.

Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne's famous movie character) and a little hobo.

Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne’s famous movie character) and a little hobo.

 

 

More of Don's talents displayed

More of Don’s talents displayed

These three, with doggies, were my favorites.

These three, with doggies, were my favorites.

Others invited to Betty's home were Jerry and Jane, who remembered my VBS visit from 12 years ago when I taught the kids to say, "Nee How (hello)!"

Others invited to Betty’s home were Jerry and Jane, who remembered my VBS visit from 12 years ago when I taught the kids to say, “Nee How (hello)!”

At Charleston Wesley UMC, my brother's church next to the campus of Easter Illinois University (my alma mater), I posed with Joan Gregg, a great supporter of my time in China with the church

At Charleston Wesley UMC, my brother’s church next to the campus of Easter Illinois University (my alma mater), I posed with Joan Gregg, a great supporter of my time in China with the church

My very last presentation for 2014:  Mattoon 1st UMC for an evening dinner.

My very last presentation for 2014: Mattoon 1st UMC for an evening dinner.

 

 

Posted in 2014 Summer Itineration, A Visit Home to America, Return to China, Smalltown American Life, Travel | 1 Comment

Springing around Springfield

Last weekend had me springing around the Springfield area where on my agenda was Mission U (the UMW’s mission study weekend for 2014, with the courses of study addressing people with disabilities and the nomadic European Roma peoples), Riverton UMC for Sunday services, Woodside UMC for lunch and an ice cream and cake/pie gathering at Bushnell UMC.

Along with these visits included spending the night with two of my good friends in their homes.  The first 2 evenings were with Rosemarie Stoelting (a former Marshall resident now in Springfield) and after Bushnell’s presentation, returning to Virginia McCausland’s home in Lewistown where I stayed a month ago.  Both my hostesses always provide entertaining conversation and excellent accommodations.

Rosemarie included, in her many stories, a piece of information that her daughter had specifically told her not to pass on to overnight guests.

“What would that be?” you ask.

The fact that grand-dad had passed away in the bed I was sleeping in.   (Glad I’m not superstitious!)

In Virginia’s home, we had no dead relatives floating about to haunt me as I slumbered.  I stayed in the upstairs remodeled attic where, many years ago, her 2 daughters had their bedrooms.  These are currently nicknamed the Ivy room and the Midnight room.   As the names imply, one room’s theme of ivy has it completely decorated in ivy designs, from the curtains to the wallpaper, sheets, bathroom towels and even dresser doilies.  The other is a deep, dark blue with moon-and-star wallpaper and bedding.  Both have their individual charm but when it comes to preference, I always choose the ivy room.

“Don’t you want to try something different this visit?” Virginia asked me a month ago after my 3 years’ absence from her home.  “Maybe the Midnight room?  It’s all ready for a guest.”

I could tell Virginia was hopeful that maybe for once, the Midnight room would gain my favor and I’d try something a little different this time around.

“Nope,” I said resolutely. “I’ve been looking forward to that ivy room for 3 years.  I’m not about to wait another 3 years before I enjoy it again.”

Virginia laughed.

“Well, you know where it is.  Go upstairs and settle in.”

I knew I’d  be disappointed if I didn’t get to bask in that light and airy decore once again.  Guess I am definitely a creature of habit.

Today I’m heading out for my last long trip on the schedule, a 3 1/2 hour drive to Pittsfield.  I’ll be returning tomorrow to end my schedule with the last talks closer to my hometown.  Those pictures will follow next week.

In the meantime, let me catch you up with last week’s visuals, seen below.

Ping an (Peace!), everyone, and have a great weekend.

At Mission U, Janine and her caregiver pose for pictures with me after my presentation for those in the weekend session.  (Springfield Northfield Inn conference center)

At Mission U, Janine and her caregiver pose for pictures with me after my presentation for those in the weekend session. (Springfield Northfield Inn conference center)

Rosemarie came to hear me talk.  We're all cleaned up (unlike our schlepping around her house look of a few hours before)  so might as well take advantage of our dress-up wardrobe at Mission U.

Rosemarie came to hear me talk. We’re all cleaned up (unlike our schlepping around her house look of a few hours before) so might as well take advantage of our dress-up wardrobe at Mission U.

Riverton UMC with Rev. Dixon and members, before services

Riverton UMC with Rev. Dixon and members, before services

 

Afterward Sunday worship, we enjoyed fellowship with coffee, punch, and desserts

Afterward Sunday worship, we enjoyed fellowship with coffee, punch, and desserts

All visitors are welcomed to Riverton with a coffee mug.  Here I am with my gift.  Thank you so much!

All visitors are welcomed to Riverton with a coffee mug. Here I am with my gift. Thank you so much!

Luncheon at Woodside UMC, with Pastor Linda in yellow jacket.

Luncheon at Woodside UMC, with Pastor Linda in yellow jacket.

A great turn-out at Bushnell UMC.

A great turn-out at Bushnell UMC.

Me and Virginia (90) my second visit this summer.

Me and Virginia (90) during my second visit this summer.  We are giving the Asian obligatory picture-taking stance:  the peace fingers

Here I am!  The Ivy room, my favorite itineration landing spot.

Here I am! The Ivy room, my favorite itineration landing spot.

Posted in 2014 Summer Itineration, A Visit Home to America, Travel, Visit To The States | 1 Comment

Weekend Visits: Outside and In

Many years ago, I had one particular summer itineration that placed me in outside settings:  a VBS in Effingham where we sat under trees for lunch and outdoor activities, a youth camp in Southern Illinois, and a park worship service with picnic afterwards.

I remember those particular visits because of our closeness to nature, God’s world at its best.

Finally this past weekend, I was able to once again enjoy the great outdoors for a Day Apart retreat with Kankakee Asbury at a farm location outside of a small town called St. Anne.   Corn fields surrounded us as we positioned ourselves on lawn chairs under trees to hear about China and Amity.  How fortunate that the sun stayed away just long enough to keep the humidity down and our position to remain stationary, rather than everyone continuously shifting to follow the trees’ shade every time the sun’s rays alighted on us.

Amid our group we had a quartet of ladies in their 90s.  Such energetic, fit-and-trim women!  I was quite impressed.  While sitting at their table for lunch, I announced I would be a half-century old soon:  a spinster at 50.

“Oh,” one of them replied with humorous disgust,  “you’re just a baby!  You have nothing at all to complain about.”

That will be my only outdoors presentation this time around, which will definitely stay with me and not be soon forgotten.

My other landings included Coal City UMC, Long Point worship service and Waynesville. I’ve included the photo postings below.

The End is Near!

As unbelievable as it is, I am now down to the last 2 weeks of my itineration time. 40 presentations down; 8 more to go.  How in the world did that happen?!

This weekend, I’ll be around the Springfield area, first at Mission U and then at nearby churches.  Be looking for updates next week.

Until next entry, Ping An (Peace) for your day!

Kankaee's Asbury church outside Day Apart gave us an opportunity to enjoy nature.

Kankaee’s Asbury church outside Day Apart gave us an opportunity to enjoy nature.

Can you believe these ladies are in their 90's?!  Fit and trim, sharp and ready to go.

Can you believe these ladies are in their 90’s?! Fit and trim, sharp and ready to go.

 

Those needing to hitch a ride to cars and our shelter had a willing chauffer.

Those needing to hitch a ride to cars and our shelter had a willing chauffer.

Sunshine stayed away to allow us to enjoy the shade of surrounding trees.

Sunshine stayed away to allow us to enjoy the shade of surrounding trees.

Our picnic spread included hotdogs and hamburgers.

Our picnic spread included hotdogs and hamburgers.

Also included, plenty of fruit and cold salads.

Also included, plenty of fruit and cold salads.

Dixie awaits whatever crumbs fall on the ground, or whatever she can beg off of those eating.  (She's a very good beggar.  Hotdog pieces came abundantly off my plate.)

Dixie awaits whatever crumbs fall on the ground, or whatever she can beg off of those eating. (She’s a very good beggar. Hotdog pieces came abundantly off my plate.)

 

An evening presentation at Coal City UMC with Braceville likewise invited.

An evening presentation at Coal City UMC with Braceville likewise invited.

Braceville's Pastor Bennett Woods (Mr. and Mrs.) and me

Braceville’s Pastor Bennett Woods (Mr. and Mrs.) and me

Long Point UMC, located in a cozy town of about 400, had me for UMW Sunday

Long Point UMC, located in a cozy town of about 400, had me for UMW Sunday

Long Point's Sunday worship crowd

Long Point’s Sunday worship crowd

An evening at Waynesville UMC

An evening at Waynesville UMC

My Waynesville overnight hostess, Jan Bryan, and Kitty

My Waynesville overnight hostess, Jan Bryan, and Kitty

A selfie moment:  "Just 2 more weeks to go!"

A selfie moment: “Just 2 more weeks to go!”

Posted in 2014 Summer Itineration, A Visit Home to America, Smalltown American Life, Travel, Visit To The States | Leave a comment

Tip-toeing Through the South; Bumming Around the North

Before heading off to the Kankakee area tomorrow, last week had me tip-toeing through far southern Illinois, near the Kentucky border to  small communities called Ware and Wolf Lake, before making my way toward Mt. Vernon again and eventually landing the farthest north I could get in our Illinois Great Rivers Conference:  a small community called Hillsdale (near Saint Claire which is north of the Quad Cities).  Next was a jaunt through Galesburg to Fairview Center UMC, in the middle of corn fields outside of Monmouth, and then a 5-hour drive over the Mississippi river into Missouri for a ladies luncheon at Bluff Springs UMC, a country church near Canton.

That 5-hour drive actually had me passing through Avon, Illinois, where my grandfather was the pastor of the Unitarian Universalist church there.  I stopped to take a few pictures for my mom and dad, who remembered visiting  during their dating years when they were in college together at Western Illinois University.

I’d recount more tales but as there isn’t enough time for that, I’ll just post the pictures here.

I will say I did have a couple of quiet days in Galesburg, waiting in between my talks, which was just what I needed.   I even managed to get in my swimming time at the Galesburg YMCA, at their morning lap swims from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m.  Yes, as one addicted to my water sport, I’ll always find a pool anywhere  I might be, and that definitely included Galesburg.

Pool time at 6 a.m.  I've already had 2 cups of coffee so I'm ready to hit the water!

Pool time at 6 a.m. I’ve already had 2 cups of coffee so watch out for those in my lane!

Next week, I’ll land for about 4 days in my home town where I plan to finish my summer newsletter and have that in the mail by August 1.  Time is slipping away rather quickly so it’s best I do as much as possible before my next journeys send me back onto the interstates for more presentations.

Enjoy the photos!  And thanks to all who are in them for making my visits enjoyable, fun and worthwhile.

Ping An! (Peace)

Tip-toeing to the far south:  Ware UMC's evening potluck

Tip-toeing to the far south: Ware UMC’s evening potluck

My overnight with John and Megan Walden (John is Ware's pastor) gave their kitty the luxury of sleeping in my bed.  Meooowww!!!

My overnight with John and Megan Walden (John is Ware’s pastor) gave their kitty the luxury of sleeping in my bed. Meooowww!!!

The beauty of southern Illinois is breathtaking.

The beauty of southern Illinois is breathtaking.

That beauty included the wildlife.  Seen here, a family of deer dashing into the woods

That beauty included the wildlife. Seen here, a family of deer dashing into the woods

I had just enough ime to stop by my alma mater, Southern Illinois University, and catch up on the gossip with Diane, our Linguistics Department office manager.

I had just enough ime to stop by my alma mater, Southern Illinois University, and catch up on the gossip with Diane, our Linguistics Department office manager.

McCleansboro UMC

McCleansboro UMC

At Hillsdale, in the pastor's home (the Rutledge family), the dog rules the roost.

At Hillsdale, in the pastor’s home (the Rutledge family), the dog rules the roost.

At Hillsdale UMC, the men know exactly where to hang out before worship:  next to the full coffee pot and donuts.

At Hillsdale UMC, the men know exactly where to hang out before worship: next to the full coffee pot and donuts.

A few at Hillsdale UMC attending our luncheon after church

A few at Hillsdale UMC attending our luncheon after church

I couldn't resist this darling little girl at Hillsdale.  So cute!

I couldn’t resist this darling little girl at Hillsdale. So cute!

Fairview UMC, in the middle of cornfields, built this picnic shelter for special outdoor events.

Fairview UMC, in the middle of cornfields, built this picnic shelter for special outdoor events.

Our Fairview group, enjoying rootbeer floats.

Our Fairview group, enjoying rootbeer floats.

Pastor Gabe Wank leading us in a few hymns before my turn to speak.

Pastor Gabe Wank leading us in a few hymns before my turn to speak.

Fairview UMC church members

Fairview UMC church members

I'm presented with a handmade prayer quilt.  Perfect to keep me warm on those chilly Sichuan evenings.

I’m presented with a handmade prayer quilt. Perfect to keep me warm on those chilly Sichuan evenings.

Gabe and his selfies!

Gabe and his selfies!

A trip through Avon, Illinois, where my grandfather was a pastor in the 1950s

A trip through Avon, Illinois, where my grandfather was a pastor in the 1950s

Surprise!  At the entrance to Avon, a camel farm.

Surprise! At the entrance to Avon, a camel farm.

Our Missouri UMW gathering.

Our Missouri UMW gathering.

Bluff Spring UMW with me.

The Bluff Springs UMW, our hostesses, and  me.

Was the luncheon gathering worth the long drive?

Was the luncheon gathering worth the long drive?

Absolutely!  Best spread I've ever had.

Absolutely! Best spread I’ve ever had.

Yet another young lady in our midst.  Grandma brought her along for the gathering.

Yet another young lady in our midst. Grandma brought her along for the gathering.

Returning to Illinois, my mom and I were able to participate in a UMW evening at my home church in Marshall.  What a great way to end all my travels-- a little special time with my mom.

Returning to Illinois, my mom and I were able to participate in a UMW event at my home church in Marshall. What a great way to end all my travels– a little special time with my mom.

Posted in 2014 Summer Itineration, A Visit Home to America, Travel, Visit To The States | 1 Comment

Itineration Visits to the Far North and South

Ten days have come and gone, and in between my driving miles have totaled 1223 with 8 different presentations in 8 different locations.  Before heading off for my next gatherings, I am posting some photos of my landings in Taylor Ridge, Reynolds , Maxey Chapel, East Moline, Decatur, Hillsboro, Mount Vernon and Lincoln.

Highlights for this last road trip included a very unique VBS in Decatur where the theme, Weird Animals, brought out local zoo volunteers.  Their mobile petting zoo included a baby alligator, geiko, salamander (water and land), hissing cockroaches, a millipede, and 2 small mammal varieties from the hedgehog and opossum families.  (See pictures below.)

Also rewarding were faith talks with Hillsboro pastor Joy Caschetta during one overnight and catching up in another overnight with David and Gwen Eadie.  David served at Marshall First UMC, my home church, in the 70’s and early 80’s while I was a teenager.  I babysat their two girls, Sarah and Emily, who are now parents themselves.  Hard to believe!

My next jaunt is once again traveling far to the south (Ware, IL)  and then far to the  north (Hillsdale, past the Quad Cities) before heading over to Canton, Missouri to meet at an annual UMW gathering.  I won’t be reporting for at least a week. Stay tuned for more pictures and travel tales around Illinois!

Ping An, Peace, everyone!  Have a great week.

Taylor Ridge UMC prepare for Sunday worship

Taylor Ridge UMC prepare for Sunday worship Sunday morning, July 6

Pastor Paul Newhall with Taylor Ridge members after our service

Pastor Paul Newhall with Taylor Ridge members after our service

Fellowship time after the service includes lots of coffee and cookies.  Gals to the left of the room . . .

Fellowship time after the service includes lots of coffee and cookies. Gals to the left of the room . . .

and our men to the right.

and our men to the right.

At Reynolds UMC, considered the "city" church, Pastor Paul Newhall and I pose for a picture in the sanctuary.

At Reynolds UMC, considered the “city” church, Pastor Paul Newhall and I pose for a picture in the sanctuary.

After worship, my very dear friends, the Carlsons, took me out to eat at a local restaurant.  It was wonderful to catch up after 3 years.

After worship, my very dear friends, the Carlsons, took me out to eat at a local restaurant. It was wonderful to catch up after 3 years.

In East Moline, my display table had many visitors.

At East Moline Christ UMC, my display table had many visitors.

A Chinese  (seen here), printed by the Amity Printing Press, was quite the fascinating item for Americans, used to seeing the scripture in English, not Chinese.

A Chinese (seen here), printed by the Amity Printing Press, was quite the fascinating item for Americans, used to seeing the scripture in English, not Chinese.

In Galesburg, I had a day to enjoy with Marilyn Greenfield, a retired elementary school teacher.  She and I had a  penpal exchange program between our students (mine college, her's 3rd grade) many, many years ago.

In Galesburg, I had a day  with Marilyn Greenfield, a retired elementary school teacher. She and I had a pen pal exchange program between our students (mine college, hers in 3rd grade) many, many years ago.

Marilyn's husband, Loren, is a big hunting fan.  Here is his best friend when on the chase for fowl.

Marilyn’s husband, Loren, is a big hunting fan. Here is his best friend when on the chase for fowl.

What a lover!  Big kiss from a big dog.

What a lover! Big kiss from a big dog.

Marilyn, myself and her retired teachers' clan visit LeClair, IA, about 30 minutes from Galesburg, located on the Mississippi River (Behind us)

Marilyn, myself and her retired teachers’ clan visit Le Clair, IA, about 45 minutes north of Galesburg, located on the Mississippi River (Behind us)

Le Clair is filled with fun little boutique shops.  A great place to spend the day.

Le Clair is filled with fun little boutique shops. A great place to spend the day.

Having a day off to relax and share  student stories with educators was a blast.  Much needed and much enjoyed.

Having a day off to relax and share student stories with educators was a blast. Much needed and much enjoyed.

An evening potluck at Maxey Chapel brought together both Maxey Chapel members and Galesburg First UMC members.

An evening potluck at Maxey Chapel brought together both Maxey Chapel members and Galesburg First UMC members.

Maxey Chapel members in attendance

Maxey Chapel members in attendance

Joined by Galesburg First UMC members

Joined by Galesburg First UMC members

Decatur Grace UMC had a meatball luncheon after services.  Here are those who stayed for my presentation afterwards.

Decatur Grace UMC had a meatball luncheon after services. Here are those who stayed for my presentation afterwards.

Pastors Sig and Beth at Decatur Grace

Pastors Sig and Beth at Decatur Grace

My overnight hosts.  The Castles (seated) from 3 years ago and the Sterns (standing) from 6 years ago and this time around.

My overnight hosts. The Castles (seated) from 3 years ago and the Sterns (standing) from 6 years ago and this time around.

VBS (Vacation Bible School) kick-off at Decatur had the theme of "Weird Animals".  The Decatur Mobile Zoo brought in some interesting reptiles

VBS (Vacation Bible School) kick-off at Decatur had the theme of “Weird Animals”. The Decatur Mobile Zoo brought in some interesting reptiles

Decatur, Hillsboro, Mt. Vernon, Lincoln 009

An albino water salamander

An albino water salamander

A millipede

A millipede

He was a lively little thing!

He was a lively little thing!  Never stopped crawling.

Of the hedgehog family, this little guy.

Of the hedgehog family, this little guy.

A geiko

A geiko

Another of the Opossum family

Another of the Opossum family

The kids really enjoyed their time with the animals, along with water balloon games and other activities

The kids really loved their time with the animals, along with water balloon games and other activities.

Hillsboro UMC

Hillsboro UMC

From left to right in Hillsboro:   Pastors Joy, Sue, Ralph and his wife and myself.  This picture appeared in the local paper.

From left to right in Hillsboro: Pastors Joy, Sue, Ralph and his wife and myself. This picture appeared in the local paper.

My time in Mount Vernon

My time in Mount Vernon Epworth UMC

Pastor Elton Storey, his wife Vicki and Virginia Page at Mt. Vernon Epworth

Pastor Elton Storey, his wife Vicki and Virginia Page at Mt. Vernon Epworth

Members from Mt. Vernon First UMC joined in with Epworth members.

Members from Mt. Vernon First UMC joined in with Epworth members.

UMW gathering in Lincoln, IL at Lincoln UMC

UMW gathering in Lincoln, IL at Lincoln UMC

From Mackinaw, IL, Pastor Joy Schlesselman (right) brought high school senior  Jessie Kilbride for a little discussion about mission opportunities through our UMC.  Thanks for that, Joy!

From Mackinaw, IL, Pastor Joy Schlesselman (right) brought high school senior Jessie Kilbride for a little discussion about mission opportunities through our UMC. Thanks for that, Joy!  Keep in touch, Jessie!

Posted in 2014 Summer Itineration, Travel, Visit To The States | 1 Comment

Visuals of our July Fourth: Friday evening at Marshall’s fireworks celebration

For my Chinese website visitors, here are a few photos of my July the Fourth evening at my small town’s fireworks celebrations.  My mom, Lao-lao (the dog) and I were in attendance this year along with many others in town but my dad remained at home this year.

My mom reports we’ve had better shows before.  Lots of lull time in between bursts but it was still impressive for a tiny town.

Ping An (peace) everyone until my next report, which should be filled with pictures of presentations far to the north of Galesburg, IL.

At 8:30 p.m., the high school parking lot begins to fill with those waiting for our 9:15 show to begin

At 8:30 p.m., the high school parking lot begins to fill with those waiting for our 9:15 show to begin

Residents often bring chairs to sit outside for better viewing

Residents often bring chairs to sit outside for better viewing

Lao-lao is ready, and so am I!

Lao-lao is ready, and so am I!

My mom and Lao-lao settle into their seats as the fireworks begin.

My mom and Lao-lao settle into their seats as the fireworks begin.

Oooo!

Oooo!

Ahhhhh!

Ahhhhh!

The big finale:  Wow-wee!!

The big finale: Wow-wee!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment