Another beautiful day in Falfurrias! We had a little morning fog that burned off quickly. We had some brisk winds this afternoon, and of course with the wind comes the dust. It was another day where we needed the fireplace on in the morning and windows open by lunch and some wanted the a/c running afternoon. We sure are enjoying being able to have the windows open. Our high today was 80. We are told that this is warmer than normal for this early in January, but we sure are enjoying it.
The team went to church today at our host church, First UMC of Falfurrias. This is a beautiful old church building and a sweet multi-generational congregation. They are very welcoming. We weren’t the only visitors today because they were also welcoming back some of the “Winter Texans” that come back to this little town every winter. The service was primarily traditional with a little contemporary music at the end. Today was Epiphany Sunday, the day we recognize the wise men who came to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Messiah. We also shared in communion today. It was a good time of worship with some new friends.
After worship the went to one of the local restaurants for lunch. Our server when asked told us they were known for their chicken fried steak and or chicken with their own specialty gravy that they call yellow gravy. You actually had a choice of white, yellow or brown grave but she told us the yellow was by far the best. So we took her advice and ordered the chicken fried streak. It was really good. Not so healthy, but very good.
We returned to the church and by mid afternoon our other two couples arrived. Thankful for the safe arrival of our team! We had our team meeting this evening with some nice desserts and started getting to know everyone. By the laughter and kidding going on tonight, this is going to be another fun three weeks. We are looking forward to starting work tomorrow. We have three homes to repair and some work we would like to get done at the church. It will be a busy three weeks. We would ask that you pray for our team’s safety and good weather since we have some siding and exterior door replacements to do.
It was a gorgeous day! We have had so many gray rainy days, today was greatly appreciated. It started cool, requiring a jacket, with fog. But the fog lifted quickly with sunrise and there were blue, sunny skies the rest of the day.
We were up and ready to leave Edna by 7:00. Our hostess even brought us cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Such nice people. It was a great overnight stay. If we had more time we would love to have stayed longer and explored the area a little. Maybe when we are headed back to Houston.
The drive today was uneventful. We changed our route based on information our leaders sent us regarding construction on our planned route. They reported long stretches of cattle chutes. We elected another route. We had enough construction and cattle chutes yesterday. Along the way we saw lots of hawks, buzzards and even a pair of Crested Caracaras beside the road. Of course, since the speed limit on most of the roads is a crazy 75 mph we couldn’t get pictures for fear of getting run over.
After getting Fred parked and set up at First United Methodist Church, Falfurrias, we had some time to relax and visit with Jodi and Stel. Shortly, Rita and Dave arrived. It was wonderful to see the four of them again. We will have two more RVs arrive tomorrow with NOMADS we haven’t met yet. It’s always fun to meet and make friends with new NOMADS. We also walked around town a little and just happened to find the Dairy Queen. Of course we had to support the local economy with a purchase.
This afternoon we also met the pastor and the finance chairperson. We talked a while and they shared information about the area. Falfurrias is located in Brooks county Texas, about 75 miles south west of Corpus Christi, TX and 70 miles north of the Rio Grand river, the Mexican border. Brooks county is the second poorest county in Texas. It is a very rural area with the closest Walmart 36 miles away in Kingston and the same for an Urgent Care. To get to a real hospital you have to go to Corpus Christi. There was a time when Sam Walton was coming here hunting quail at one of the hunting camps that there was a Walmart in Falfurrias. The story goes that he wanted to go to the store to pick up a few things, and wanted a closer store. A Walmart was built for Falfurrias. After his death the store was closed. Sad for the little town.
Looking forward to the next three weeks of getting to know the people of this community and being of service as we can.
Yesterday, it rained all day. Rain, rain and more rain. Reminded us of Lumberton. There were flood warnings, just like Lumberton. Lumberton, by the way, is still under flood warnings too.
There was a staff meeting at 9:00 that we attended for a little while. We were able to meet some new case workers and renew friendships with the ones we met last year. Charles and Daryl are still construction coordinators and they have added Eric who we got to meet. We learned that there are still about 100 homes that the conference wants to have completed by the first of August. We understand that FEMA has given that date as the final day for everyone to be out of the FEMA trailers. They’re counting on NOMADS helping finish up a lot of this work. There had several groups signed up to work January but now some have canceled. People are being called to work in so many other parts of the country. Baton Rouge really does need to be completed so people can move on to more recent disasters. After attending the first part of the staff meeting we returned to the rig and did some paperwork. We considered pulling out of Baton Rouge after the meeting and get a few miles behind us before dark. However, we really didn’t want to drive in the downpour. We decided to just make today a long day and spent yesterday in Baton Rouge. We got our grocery shopping done and rested.
Today we were pulling out of the Francis Asbury UMC parking lot at 6:00. We wanted to get over the I-10 bridge and out of Baton Rouge before morning traffic began and we were successful in doing that. We then took I-10 all the way across Louisiana and into Texas. Traffic was not bad and we were making pretty good time. We stopped for fuel in Orange, Texas. Had not heard of that town before today. It was then on to Beaumont, TX and a traffic tie up due to a wreck. The closer we got to Houston, the more traffic and the more road construction we experienced. And the road repairs are definitely needed. I-10 is in horrible shape through parts of LA and TX. In Houston there was a long time we were going 1.7 miles per hour. There was one area where we went from 8 lanes to 2 lanes. Talk about a mess! We left Houston on I-69 which became US 59. There was 39 miles of construction. Again badly needed but not a fun drive.
We stopped for the night in Edna, TX. It was only about 3:00 but we had been on the road 9 hours and we decided it was time for a break. We are at a Boondockers Welcome home and have met a very nice couple who allow RVers to spend the night in their driveway. The have been so welcoming to us, sharing information about the area and sharing fruit from their mandarin orange and grapefruit trees with us. We have had a fun evening making new friends and sharing stories of our travels. They have recently completed a Route 66 trip from beginning to end. For those of you unfamiliar with Boondockers Welcome, it is an organization of RVers who offer to let fellow RVers park for the night, or a few nights, at their house. In exchange, when there are traveling, they can stay at fellow members’ houses. We enjoy using a Boondockers Welcome site when it is along our route. It’s free, you meet wonderful people and it’s a lot more fun than a Walmart or Lowe’s parking lot. It was a long, tiring driving day – but a good day. And we made new friends.
The first part of New Year’s Day was spent organizing and putting away things in Fred as well as some book work. Then, since we are so close to everything in Tuscaloosa, we also decided to do a little shopping. Unfortunately, our purpose for the trip to Tuscaloosa, showing Mama Ruby’s house to a prospective buyer, did not work out. The gentleman was sick and unable to make the drive and rescheduled with Jim to visit the end of the week. We left Tuscaloosa for the drive back to the mountain about 3:00, leaving Fred at Mama Ruby’s.
This morning, we were at the courthouse at 8:00 and first in line for purchasing new tags. Fortunately it was a very quick procedure and after short visits with a few friends at the courthouse we were on our way. We stopped by the nursing home to see the LOL’s and say goodbye. They probably won’t remember, but we told them we were going to Texas for a mission project. The rain started shortly after leaving Oneonta. There was a short break in the rain so we were able to hook up the truck to Fred without getting wet. It was raining again as we drove to the interstate and it continued to rain all the way to Baton Rouge. The intensity varied greatly but it was always at least misting. About 1.5 hours before arriving, we hit fog. Most importantly, in spite of the rain, drizzle, and fog, we arrived safely in Baton Rouge about 4:30. Thank you, God, for safe travel!
Almost immediately upon arriving at Francis Asbury UMC, we met the new volunteer coordinator, Linda. Very sweet lady and we look forward to working with her this year. Glenda, who was our contact last year, retired. Hope she is enjoying retirement! We scheduled dinner tonight with Laraine, the pastor over all the mission efforts, including disaster recovery, of the LA conference. We met her at a new-to-us restaurant, Walk On’s. It is a local restaurant/sports bar with very good food. We will definitely ask the team if the want to return here. It was so great to see Laraine again. We had a wonderful meal together and a great time of conversation. Everyone is excited that the NOMADS will be back to work in February and again made us feel so welcomed. We are tired, but it was a very good day.