Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017

 In the last blog almost 3 weeks ago we had spent the first of our three weeks at Crosswinds Community Church as volunteers in Palmdale, CA.
 The last two weeks of our volunteer work we were kept busy with:

Copying an entire years worth of lesson plans for the kindergarten 
John & Jerry doing some landscaping
Jerry and John built a much needed storage closest
Dismantling, cleaning and painting many pieces of outdoor play equipment.

The Sanctuary all ready for Christmas - Jerry and John cut out the trees and painted the Peace, Love, Hope & Joy signs
John and Janis that we worked with the three weeks in Palmdale, CA
Ten days after leaving Forest Home Christian Camp in Oija, CA that we told you about in our last post the Thomas Fire started in Ventura County.  The fire started on Dec 3rd and is now the largest fire in California's history.  Over 273,000 acres have burned.  Over 1,000 structures have burned with 280 more damaged.  One fireman has died - more on that later.  In the last blog we told you about how much we enjoyed serving at Forest Home and that we toured the Teen Challenge nearby that housed 60 women getting help with drug and alcohol addiction.  The camp was spared although the staff had to evacuate but Teen Challenge burned.  No one was hurt thank God but the women left with only the clothes on their backs.  Being here and seeing it all on the news and having just been in that area has really brought it home how devastating these fires are.  As of today the fire is only 65% contained - they are projecting 1/7 as the day it will be 100% contained!!  Here are some pictures

This is actually the fence of the RV Park we will be moving to on Tuesday.  It was spared but the fire got right up to it!!

 Please pray for all of those effected by the fire - their lives are changed forever.

While we were in Palmdale Jerry wanted to take a drive to Jawbone Canyon where he and his dad used to go shoot jack rabbits (not sure they ever hit any).

Main aqueduct for water to Los Angeles - travels over 200 miles to get there
The aqueduct is the world's largest water-conveyance system, comprising more than 20 pumping stations, 130 hydroelectric plants, and more than 100 dams and flow-control structures.  
Not as easy as getting it right from Lake Michigan for sure
While in Palmdale the Pastor Tim and his wife Robyn had us over for dinner - it was a delightful evening.
After finishing our project in Palmdale we stuck around a few extra days and I took a two day RV Driving Class
Thought it was something I should know how to do just in case . .  .  It went well.  Still not my favorite thing to do but I have a lot more confidence then I did.
We said good-bye to Palmdale and headed to south to Chula Vista just outside of San Diego and Coronado.
As we traveled south every overpass for many many miles was full of firetrucks, fireman, flags, and everyday citizens as they were returning the body of the fireman killed in the Thomas Fire to his home in San Diego and to his 2 year old daughter and pregnant wife - it was incredibly sad and moving.

We arrived in Chula Visit and got our coach ready for Christmas

We don't have a fireplace so wanted to be sure Santa could find our stockings

Our little tree and nativity set
Love listening to Christmas music and enjoying the lights
We are not here in Southern California alone.  Our dear friends from home Gary & Steph Vogel are nearby as are Nancy & Jeff Jeffreys whom met several years ago on the road and without planning it we keep ending up near each other :-)  So we all decided to take a Harbor Cruise together.

We were on the Spirit of San Diego
Gary, Steph, Jerry, Carol, Jeff and Nancy
San Diego Skyline
There were several cruise ships in port
Many Navy Ships

We also saw the famous statue of the sailor kissing a nurse depicting the end of WWII

Our next stop was at the beautiful Del Coronado Hotel

The Hotel was built in 1887 and one of the largest wooden building in the US
One surprise we had the evening we parked at the hotel - the parking turned out to be $30 for 2 1/2 hours!!  Won't do that again - ouch!
  • On the beach right outside the Del Coronado a sand sculpture was created in memory of the firefighter who had lost his life in the Thomas Fire

As the sunset we sipped hot chocolate and watched the ice skaters at the man made skating rink at the hotel
Beautiful at night all lit up

Look who Jerry found as we walked around the town of Coronado

On Thursday a dear friend that I worked with for four years (sometimes in the same office, never more than one office apart and then we had a sliding window) came over.  Haven't seen her in over 11 years!!  We had a wonderful visit and will be having dinner with her and her husband and kids tonight!!  What a treat it was to see Sonja!!

I had learned from a friend that a boy who grew up on the street I lived on in Lake Forest, IL had a restaurant on Coronado   My brother Bruce and he were best friends for many years but had lost touch.
I gave him a call and Jerry and I went to Mc P's Irish Pub for lunch yesterday - my friend Greg Mc Partlin is the owner.
The Pub was so fun and had great food.
The young man I knew on Scott Street went on to be a decorated Navy Seal medic.  We talked for hours.

Knew when I read his sign he still had a great sense of humor.

So here we are in Chula Vista, CA two days before Christmas. Who would have ever thought.  Tonight we have dinner with Sonja and family, tomorrow Christmas Eve & Christmas Day we will be with Gary and Steph Vogel.  Life is not perfect but it is good and we feel blessed.

So as Jerry and I close this blog we wish each and everyone of you a Blessed and Merry Christmas.  May you be surrounded by people you love.  
Thank God for all He has given you and remember the Reason For The Season

Our Teddy dreaming of what Santa will bring him
And our precious Grandson Vincent - Yes were are blessed and grateful

Merry Christmas, Jerry, Carol & Teddy

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017

Oija, CA Farmer's Market - man after my own heart
Did you know olives grew in a tree (especially for my Midwest friends)?

The trees are actually very pretty but what a mess  underneath them

 In the last blog we shared that we were near Oija, CA and Jerry's family doing a mission project at a Christian Camp.  We really enjoyed our time there and hope to return someday.

There was a small table top here.  It is in an amphitheater where they show videos and movies.  Jerry removed the old table top and made this new one which is much larger and has edges so they don't accidentally knock the projector or laptop off.  He also installed electric so they didn't need to run cords across the stage area.

They rented Jerry a scissors lift to install lights.  He had never used one and really liked going up and down.
Think he was sorry when they were all done.

While he was going up and down in the scissors lift I was cleaning up a lot of their garden area.  Trimmed a lot of bushes, pulled a lot of weeds and transplanted these Heather Bushes - hope they survive.

As a thank you we received a lovely card where everyone we had worked with wrote us a personal note and this wonderful planter of succulents 
I love it and it looks great under the kitchen window.

Our supervisor at Forest Home Camp's wife works at the Ventura Teen Challenge.  Jerry and I didn't know much about this organization.  Maria took us on a tour and to say we were impressed with what they do for people with addictions of all kinds would be a huge understatment.

These are a few before and after pictures of their staff.  When they first entered the program and when they graduated.

What a wonderful blessing for those who want to straighten our their lives

We got to hear several testimonies from girls currently going through the program.
So heartbreaking but the results are miraculous.

See a lot of these oil pumps when driving around the Ventura, CA coast line

We didn't spend much time at the ocean this visit but saw it every time we went in to shop

 We had a wonderful lunch and visit with Jerry's step-sister and her husband: Betsy and Dick.  I forgot to take a picture though
We hosted Jerry's sister Deena and her husband Tim at the motorhome for Thanksgiving.
She brought these darling napkins and turkey favors.  There was literally no one else at the camp - even the staff that lives there were all gone so we had the entire place to ourselves.

Tim, Deena, Carol, Jerry and Teddy out for a walk at Forest Home Christian Camp

It was so nice out we decided to eat outside

It was getting dark and we needed sweetshirts once the sun went down but it was to lovely to go in

And the moon provided some light

 The day after Thanksgiving was our last morning there so decided to take a hike up the mountain to a cross we had seen since arriving

Made us questions our idea of going on but hey you only live once (and we didn't see any of them)

The cross

It got pretty steep but was worth it
 It was a short 100 mile drive to our next mission project in Palmdale, CA.  
We are up about 3,000 feet so the nights get cool but the days are lovely.  

We are parked right behind the church and are working with another couple: John & Janis

After 6 weeks of volunteering at camps with trees and grass you can tell from the landscape that we have moved to the high dessert.  Fortunately on the other side of the church is a grassy area that Teddy much prefers over sage brush and sticker burrs.
One of the first things we did upon arriving was set up our little tree and Nativity.   Tis the Season
Crosswinds runs a day care, preschool and kindergarten.  The kids are so cute and every time we walk by they wave and say hi.

Janis and I decorated the courtyard tree

While John and Jerry worked on more Christmas deocrations.
They also made a lot of awesome Christmas trees cut from lattice sheets - they are in the church and will have to get a picture.  There are colored lights on them and they turned out awesome.

Without trees we can actually see the sunsets

Janis and I have been working on putting 75 packets of 5 different craft projects together for the kids to do the week before Christmas.  So we have been tracing, cutting, glueing (glue dots are a wonderful invention) and bagging what they need.

This is a picture of the carrier that transported the shuttle from the west coast back to the east after it landed in the dessert at Edward's Air Force Base not far from us.

The church lit up at night

And no blog would be complete without at least one picture of Vincent.  Almost 10 months old here.
Don't think he is thrilled with the hat they put on him.

Teddy checking out the birds at Petsmart

John and Janis are retried and live in their motorhome but they are from this area.
John and his son are pilots and built this home built plane & it is kept near here.
So when John suggested he take Jerry up yesterday Jerry was a happy camper.

We went last weekend to see the movie WONDER - it was a wonderful movie and highly recommend it - bring kleenex

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas right around the corner I will bring this to a close for now.  We will leave here in two weeks and head for Chula Vista near San Diego where we will spend Christmas - will be in touch before then.  Try not to get to stressed with cleaning, cooking, baking, presents, and get togethers.  Remember The Reason For The Season.

Hugs and Blessings, Carol & Jerry                 Teddy too!