Tuesday, January 5: A foot of snow had fallen at home the weekend before "The Tejas Trio" (as we later came to be called) left for the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. Dad & Mom very kindly drove us to the Pittsburgh Airport. The plane took twenty minutes to de-ice, but our flights to Atlanta, then on to the DFW Airport went smoothly enough. It was rather strange to not see any snow on the ground upon arriving in Texas, although with the temps in the teens around Dallas, it wasn't hard to adjust. We found out after arriving that Dad & Mom received another foot of snow that evening...the Lord was gracious in allowing us to fly out at just the right time...as they received another foot or so several days later.
Pastor David Grice, his family, and his assistant pastor met us at the airport. They took us to get a bite to eat before dropping us off at the church's mission house--which we had the use of this month. They also let us borrow their church van. We were ever so thankful for their kind hospitality. Pastor & Mrs. Grice became our second set of "parents" or "guardians" while we were here. It was great to know that if there was a problem, we could call them right away. Pastor Grice had helped schedule our meetings this month--no small feat. It was such a blessing to know we didn't have to shoulder all of that on this particular trip. It was enough just finding our way around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Whew. Talk about adventure! (By the time we left, we just about had the area down. Sigh.)
We rested up for a few days before diving into our schedule for the month. Our first meeting was 3 hours away, the longest "away" meeting for us this month. Since we were going to be near Austin, we decided to try to squeeze in a few visits with friends in that city. We headed to Burnet, Texas, on Friday--and stayed with Pastor Jimmy Frazier and his family, who we were to be with on Sunday. The Lord worked out all of the details as to timing, and we were able to meet Mrs. Hank Thompson at a restaurant in Austin for several hours on Saturday. We spent some time catching up from the past ten years, looking at pictures, and talking about the present. It's been such a long time since we have seen the Thompsons. Bro. Hank has been in Heaven for about a year now, and it's hard to believe we won't see him again this side of eternity.
After meeting with Mrs. Thompson, we headed to Starbucks to meet up with Jenna Simpson, a friend from Rochester, NY, as well as Maressa and Hannah Thompson. It was the first time for us to meet Hannah, and we had a nice time of fellowship and "girl talk". We went to Jenna's house for supper, and it was great to see her husband, Nate, and their children, Brooklynne and Joey. We spent a few hours in sweet fellowship, and then headed back to Burnet.
Sunday, January 10 AM: This weekend we were with Pastor Jimmy Frazier and the Northside Baptist Church in Burnet, Texas. Pastor Frazier and his family put us up in their home, and we enjoyed spending some time with them and with their little dachshund, Ranger. (He was a big hit with us!) We shared many laughs and stories. The fact that we barely knew them before this weekend didn't seem to matter.
The church was praying for a total of 100 in attendance this Sunday, and 10 souls for Christ. Since we had arrived a day early, we were able to get in on their prayer time on Friday, and it was encouraging to join them in prayer for these requests. On Saturday (while we were in Austin), a young man stopped by the church where Pastor Frazier and other members were preparing Sunday's dinner. He had run out of gas and came looking for help. He came to the right place! Pastor Frazier helped him get gas in his car, and then had the opportunity to tell him about Jesus. He asked the Lord to save him that afternoon.
Sunday morning was cool and crisp. There was one main service, during which we sang a good deal and Pastor Frazier gave a clear message of the Gospel. There were around 60 in the services--not quite what the church had been praying for, but plenty of new faces nonetheless. A lady came forward for salvation during the invitation. This was her first time here, and she had been invited by her friend. What a way to start out our Texas Trip! The church served a delicious meal of brisket and all the trimmings in the fellowship hall. True Texas cuisine.
Sunday, January 10 PM: We were able to rest a bit between the morning and evening services. Our next meeting was just down the road...at Victory Baptist Church, which was on the other side of Burnet. (In fact, the pastors and their families live a few blocks from each other.) There were several visitors here, as well as the Fraziers and others from Northside Baptist that came to join the services tonight. We sang and gave testimonies. Pastor Michael Wiggins preached a great message. There was a good response. We ate at a Mexican restaurant afterwards and fellowshipped with Pastor Wiggins and Pastor Frazier and their families.
On the trip home Monday, we took a bit of time to stop on the way and visit the grave of Billy the Kid, as well as the town where he had lived in later years and where he died--Hico, Texas. Of course, a little chocolate shop and a great restaurant called "The Koffee Kup" helped revive spirits, as well. It was nice to get a bit of sightseeing in and just enjoy a little bit of Texas along the way. (And if you're ever near Hico, make sure you stop at "The Koffee Kup" and get a piece of their key lime pie...I'm almost sure it will be served in Heaven.)
Wednesday, January 13: Bro. Sam Reed (music director) took us to dinner tonight before we were to sing at Trinity Baptist Church in Arlington. One good meal at a place like Saltgrass Steakhouse, and we are set for a couple days. (Marshalls are famous for their "To Go" boxes.) We still had enough time to set up our table and check out the church's sound system before the service. Pastor Bob Smith wasn't here this evening, but there was still a great spirit and folks seemed to enjoy the music.
Saturday, January 16: Pastor David Grice had graciously allowed the other pastors on this trip to have us in on Sunday mornings or evenings. He had not planned to have us on a Sunday at all, and so decided to do a special Saturday evening of food and fellowship, along with lots of singing. The church brought some amazing dishes and there were several visitors that showed up tonight. We had a great time together. The three of us sang and sang, and then Pastor Grice had us sing again. Lighthouse Baptist Church in Grand Prairie has some wonderful members and we were glad to be able to spend some time with them tonight.
Sunday, January 17 AM: We were a bit tired this morning, as our next door neighbors had a fiesta for a good portion of last night. We probably could have given you a near perfect rendition of the songs that had been played over the radio. Needless to say, it made for a tiring day. We were to be at the Countryside Baptist Church in Mansfield. Upon arriving, we were greeted by some of the men of the church who helped us carry in our stuff. I would have to say...this church was certainly a joy to be with. Just about everyone shook our hands, and there was not one member who wasn't friendly and smiling. It says something about the pastor and the leadership when you find people so kind and outgoing.
We sang a lot this morning and heard a good message by Pastor Claude Sutton. Afterwards, he and his wife took us to eat and we had a good time of fellowship. The Lord has allowed us to meet many wonderful saints of the Lord over the years...what a privilege.
Sunday, January 17 PM: We returned to our "Little House on the Grand Prairie". We tried to take a nap, but once again, our neighbors were having another fiesta, so not much sleep was to be had. Tonight we were at Lighthouse Bapt. again. Apparently, there was an open evening, and so Pastor Grice had us sing again. They usually do their bus routes in the evening and there were quite a bit of kids in the service--so we tried to gear our songs that way. They listened well. Pastor Grice preached. A lady came forward for salvation tonight. There was also a lady in the UK who had listened to Pastor Grice's messages on YouTube. She asked the Lord to save her early this morning. Pastor Grice was rejoicing, as were we, that the Gospel was reaching out across the ocean...and someone got saved while we were sleeping. How about that?
After the services, it was time for some Mexican food and some fellowship with folks from Lighthouse.
Tuesday-Thursday, January 19-21: Our oldest nephew, Peter Montoro, and his younger sister, our oldest niece, Sarah, are going to school at Heartland Baptist Bible College. We had planned to visit them at some point convenient for us both, so we settled on a few days this week. It was great to be with them a bit the first evening, and to attend some classes at Heartland for a few days. The chapel service on Thursday was especially an encouragement. Peter and Sarah are doing well in their respective courses of study and it's amazing to think we have a nephew and niece at college...wow. Time flies fast!
We were able to get together with a few other friends while in Texas this month. The Potter family had us over for dinner one night. The food was delicious and playing "Beyond Balderdash" was a blast! (Their daughter, Lauren, traveled with us for the summer of 2003.) As well, we had a former violin student come for dinner at our little mission house. Kendra has moved to the area to work at a church school in Mesquite. It seemed like this month was full of re-connecting with friends. We're thankful that the Lord allowed us to do so. It gladdens the heart to know others who are faithfully serving Him, and to encourage each other to keep on keeping on.
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