Unbelievably, we've made it back from our two-week Southern Tour in one piece! The Lord gave us safety in travel, blessings along the way, and the comfort of His leading in our lives.
Here's the highlights:
Saturday, May 3: Our first stop was in Keyser, West Virginia, at the Victory Independent Baptist Church. Mrs. Randall Larry, the pastor's wife, had asked us to come for a Ladies Afternoon Tea. We sang several songs and assisted with the special song, "I'm A Little Teapot", complete with motions. Too bad there's no documentation of this feat. We also enjoyed the delectable food which was our repast. Never have we seen such a feast!
We had to leave almost immediately afterwards for Warrenton, Virginia. After we arrived we spent some time in food and fellowship with the Barton Family, who were visiting the area. It was nice to catch up with them.
Sunday, May 4: Services at the Trinity Baptist Church in Warrenton were especially blessed by the presence of Dr. David Gibbs, Jr. We haven't seen him in many years and it was wonderful to get to hear him preach. We sang one in Sunday School and more in the Worship hour. The church treated us to a great meal and we were able to get some rest in before the evening service. Dad joined us tonight in the music. Once again, we heard a powerful message from Dr. Gibbs. Afterwards we went to IHOP for more food, fun, and fellowship with the pastor's family and others. Dr. David Gibbs, III, (who came to meet up with his dad), joined us at the very end.
Monday-Tuesday, May 5-6: We had a few days to ourselves, so we decided to visit our cousin, Amy (Marshall) Long, her husband, Chris, and their little girl, Mercy. They live in Richmond, Virginia, so we just had to go by and see them. We spent a relaxing two days just enjoying their fellowship, along with Chris' mother.
We took Dad to see a program in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, for his 75th birthday. It was called "Whoop and Holler"--guess what it was about? That's right! Banjos! We learned all about the early days of the banjo, in which style Dad is well versed. It was more of a "mountain" style and most people are unfamiliar with it. You can hear a small portion of that on our newest CD, "Mountain Heritage". Listen to the first song, and you'll hear Dad pluckin' away.
Wednesday, May 7: The next day we left for Virginia Beach, Virginia, after a lunch with Amy and Mercy in downtown Richmond. We seemed to be pushing the schedule a bit, so our food was eaten in haste with Pastor and Mrs. Warren Skinner, we dressed for church in a hurried fashion, and high-tailed it to the church to set up. Whew...we almost didn't make it. We mostly sang tonight and the pastor gave a challenge at the close of the service. Joanna and Jessica had many little friends interested in the different instruments. Some also helped with the P.A. system. We also saw Pastor Don Snow's wife and daughter tonight, from Calvary Baptist in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
We were a bit adrift the following day with nowhere to go. So we just ended up staying in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, enroute to Elm City. Dad bought an air mattress and we all squeezed into one hotel room. Nothing like close fellowship!
Friday-Sunday, May 9-11: Friday we arrived in Elm City, North Carolina. We met with Pastor Johnny Taylor and his family at a Cracker Barrel near our hotel. They are a sweet family whom we have been with several times.
Another Ladies Meeting was held on Saturday. We had a fun time meeting various church groups from the area. The theme was "Sweeter Gets the Journey" and the place was decorated up with lots of big "candy" displays. (This really resonated with Joanna.) Mom spoke and we sang.
On Sunday, Monica wasn't feeling too well, so we managed to limp along without her. Dad preached all day. It seemed that the Lord was truly working in hearts in spite of the lack of music. You never know what God is doing, so you must keep on going, even when things are not as they usually are.
Monday-Tuesday, May 12-13: Once again, we were cast upon ourselves as we headed to our next meeting. The Lord worked it out for us to find a decent motel to stay at for several days in Selma, North Carolina. We were able to rest and get some things done, thanks to the new laptop the girls have acquired. Without it, we don't know what we would have done!
Wednesday, May 14: Monica was able to fill this date just within the last few weeks. Pastor Rick Finley very graciously allowed us to come, although he himself was unable to be at the meeting. The people of Fellowship Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, were very hospitable, putting us up in a very nice hotel and providing lots of snacks.
We had a bit of a struggle finding the church for some odd reason, but thankfully we had left in plenty of time, so we still were able to get the P.A. set up and tune up the ole' instruments. We ate a delicious meal with the church family in the fellowship hall. They seemed to enjoy the singing and preaching. It's been almost eight years since we have been at this church, but they are going strong and growing fast.
Thursday-Friday, May 15-16: We started the morning off right with a flat tire, an overturned luggage cart, and a jammed van door. After that was out of the way, we just had to find a place to stay! The Lord allowed us to get in touch with a group of folks who have missionary quarters in their home in Waxhaw, North Carolina. They allowed us to stay two nights, for which we are ever grateful. Nearby, a friend of ours, Mrs. Doris Dix, opened up her home, as well. We had several good meals with her and fellowship with friends who came to visit her.
Sunday, May 18: The Oakwood Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, Georgia, now has a beautiful building in which to meet. In 2002, the last time we were with them, they were meeting in a school building. Their new building is just across the road from the school.
We met with Pastor Brian Evans and his family at Cracker Barrel Saturday evening. Then it was time to set up.
The following morning, we split up to attend various classes throughout the building. Then the girls headed to the Spanish department to sing a few songs for them. Our Spanish is quite rusty from not being used, but they seemed to be able to understand us--all except Joanna, who said something quite unintelligible to the guy who helped her find a seat. By God's grace we got through our songs. Then we hurried back to the auditorium to sing there for Worship Service.
The church had a dinner of hotdogs and hamburgers (hotdogs and beans being one of Dad's favorite meals...) which we enjoyed eating in an office of a staff member. Bro. Freddy Spry, and his wife, Pam, along with their two grandkids, were here today. We were excited to see them after so many years. Anyone who knows Bro. & Mrs. Spry know they have the joy of the Lord!
This evening Dad preached and we sang for a while. The church seems pretty receptive, and we pray that the Lord used us in some way. Another friend of ours, Jolene, was here to see us...she used to attend Camp Berean back in the good old days!
A wild time at El Sombrero, an authentic Mexican restaurant, topped off the days' activities. We returned to our Bed & Breakfast, tired but happy.
And there you have it...the Southern Tour.
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