It was another beautiful day in Illinois out here among the corn and soy bean fields. We start every day with a Bible study, a morning social time, some singing and a devotion. Today we also had our friend from Midwest Mission Distribution Center come talk to the membership about their mission work. Chantel the Executive director did a great job sharing MMDC’s story and mission.
The rest of the day there were several options such as a tour of a dairy, work to get ready for the auction tomorrow, pack food bags for MMDC or a few other things. We spent part of the day going to Fair Oaks Farm‘s “Dairy Adventure”, then returned to do some work. The dairy was of interest to us since Max worked at the family dairy growing up and we thought some of the family back home would be interested in seeing the pictures. This was a huge operation, milking 350,000 gallons of milk per day. In the barn we visited they milked approx 2800 cows three times a day and they have 11 barns. The milking parlor used a 78 cow carousel taking 6 minutes to milk each cow. Amazing to those of us who grew up on farms.
Tonight we had a chili contest. We didn’t enter our chili which was a good thing because Max was asked to be one of the judges. It was a fun night with lots of good food followed by a concert by a quartet that is part of the “Country Theater Workshop Group.” They were very good and everyone seemed to really enjoy the evening. Another busy, fun day.
The rain came in as expected this morning but cleared as the day went one. It really didn’t interfere with anything. We started the day with a morning gathering time at 8:00 as all the NOMADS gathered for the first time. We then had a worship service with communion. After lunch there was new team leader training, experienced leader training, dinner with our new NOMADS, alumni (members no longer working projects), and the Board. Next was a meeting with the auction committee and then our evening worship and memorial service/time of remembering the 21 NOMADS who died since our last meeting. It was a busy day but it was so great to see so many friends. Some people we haven’t seen since last annual meeting. We also got to meet so many new NOMADS. It was great. The rest of the week will be busy too but it will all be good.
Yesterday was a busy day for us both. It was a cooler and much more pleasant day with lower humidity. Anne was in Board meeting from 9:00-5:00 and Max was helping people get their RV’s parked. By evening we were both tired but still enjoyed the cool evening temperature for really nice walking.
Today was another beautiful sunny and not so hot day. We were up early and got to experience a beautiful sunrise on this morning’s walk. We then drove to Indiana for the celebration of life of our dear NOMADS friend Mary Alice Collins. Those of you that have been following our blog since the early days of our NOMADS work will remember her as the lady who lost both her feet and all her fingers on both hands after a horrible episode of sepsis. That was 4 years ago. She subsequently was able to learn to use prosthetic legs and aids for her hands so that she could continue to make her award winning pies and cakes. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 3 years ago and as with the sepsis she fought a good fight. She continued to share her love of her Savior, her love of her family and her love for everyone she met. When she asked you how you were doing you knew she really cared how you were doing. She continued to always have a smile on her face. We were able to spend some time with her husband and children today. We laughed, we cried a little and celebrated her life well lived. Rest in Peace, dear friend. We know you are celebrating in heaven. As her son Kurt told us, God must have wanted some pie. Kurt recommended He try the caramel.
Our first full day in Illinois was spent preparing for the annual meeting. We had to make a grocery store run so we stopped and had breakfast at Steak and Shake. Of course we had a milk shake. We are old. We can have milk shakes for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent helping get registration materials ready (Anne), parking RV’s (Max) and meeting with the Executive Committee of the board in preparation for tomorrow’s full board meeting. The rest of the day was spent with greetings and hugs as we became reunited with friends we haven’t seen in a while. Tomorrow will probably be more of the same. We are hoping for cooler temperatures.
First we remember September 11. The tragedy of lost lives. Our country was forever changed that day. Our hearts still hurt for all the families who still grieve for their love ones.
We overnighted at Winding Rivers and we were ready to get on the road about 9:00. However, that was the exact time that the area went under a severe thunderstorm alert. Lightening started popping all around and the rain poured. There was a flash flood watch issued for the area too. We decided to just hang out in FRED for about 45 minutes until the storm blew over. Then got on I-90 headed toward Crescent City, IL. We drove through some additional rain but it was an uneventful drive. We took a little longer and slower route on I-39 but decided to take that route in order to avoid driving through Chicago. We drove through mile after mile of corn fields and soy bean fields. Thousands of acres of corn and beans.
We arrived at the Iroquois County Fair grounds around 4:15 this afternoon and were met with hugs from the NOMADS already on site. We were parked in site 8 and were set up in short order. Now the work begins. First meeting is scheduled for 3:00 tomorrow afternoon with full board meeting Friday. It will be a busy few days. Thank you God for safe travel.
It began raining about 6pm and rained until after 3am. It rained very hard. Over 1.5 inches. Not a lot of sleep with all the rain. This morning FRED was surrounded with water. Pulling in the electric and grabbing the jack pads required a little tiptoeing around the puddles. We had just a fine mist still coming down by the time we pulled out at 7:00 this morning. It was foggy and misty and then raining about half way back to New Lisbon. Then we stopped at our next rest area to change drivers and it was hot. We started the day with long sleeves and sweat shirts and then we changed to t-shirts. Crazy. We arrived back at Winding Rivers about 4:00 pm and had to immediately clean the windshield and front cap from all the bugs we hit. It rained ½ the trip and there were still more bugs than last Friday.
Much to our surprise Christopher was here working on the bathroom addition for the church with a lone volunteer from New Hampshire. It was great to see him again and he invited us out for Taco Tuesday with his wife. It was good to see her again too and the four of us had a really good time this evening. Tonight we are working on a route to annual meeting that avoids Chicago.
It was a cool 45 degrees this morning with a high of 62 today. It was mostly cloudy with a cool breeze as well. We took advantage of the great hiking weather and did a 5 mile hike on the Rainy Lake Recreation Trail. It’s really more of a walk in the woods on a paved trail rather than a hike over rough terrain like yesterday’s hike. It was a beautiful walk through trees with changing leaves. There are lots of great yellow color but the reds are still really spotty. We saw only one other person while we were out walking today. Quiet, peaceful, nature. Really nice. We also visited the visitor’s center again and were again greeted by some really nice rangers. Everyone here has been so nice.
After hiking we headed into International Falls to look around a little and pick up a few groceries. It’s a small town, a little smaller than Oneonta. It reminds us of many of the small towns in northern Canada and Alaska. Quaint little houses with lots of bright beautiful flowers.
According to the sign beside the statue in Smokey Bear Park in International Falls: “The Smokey Bear statue is the largest of its kind in the country. The 26 foot replica of “Smokey,” the national symbol of forest protection, was erected in 1953 as a project of the Koochiching County’s Keep Minnesota Green Committee.”
Then we headed back to FRED to begin packing things away. The rain started about 6:00 tonight and it is predicted that International falls will get over 2.5 inches of rain by Friday. It’s windy and the leaves are falling all around our camp site. We are glad tomorrow, not today, is our day to be moving on down the road, even thought it looks like we will be driving in rain. We have really enjoyed our brief time in this area. The National Park is different from most others we have visited but they are all wonderful in their own way. Voyageurs is one that we would enjoy visiting during each season. Summer for the time on the lake, spring for the beauty of spring. And yes, even winter because it would be nice to visit for just a few days to experience ice fishing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and definitely to see the gorgeous northern lights. One day.