Thursday, July 31, 2008

We have arrived.

Hello All-

We have arrived. Safe and sound and not too much worse for the wear. We left Laredo this morning around 10:30. It took awhile to get our visas and car permit after crossing the border (and making a wrong turn). We stood in line for 2 hours and then when it was our turn it took another 30 minutes to process the paperwork because everything had to be hand entered instead of scanned. I'm sure this is the first of many "patience teaching" moments to come.

We realized our own ignorance as we were attempting to read the road signs. My dictionary did not have most of the words in it so we took pictures of the signs and asked our hosts when we arrived. The toll road was in excellent condition although there were alot of Texas armadillos! For those of you who don't know what a Texas armadillo is -think shredded tires strewn everywhere. As we were going down a small mountain the truck next to us blew his tire, but thank goodness it remained intact.

The exchange rate is 10.25 to the dollar but not if you pay in cash at the gas station. Then it is 9.5 to one. The toll rates are posted on the booths but they add to them - we have to figure that out yet. $11.75 posted means $13.00. We have alot to learn!

Currently we are staying in a mission house next to the governors home. Needless to say crime is non-existent in this neighborhood. The proprietor grew up in the Upper Peninsula but has lived here for 26 years. He has German Shepard puppy that is as tall as Joshua and greeted Joshua with a lick to his face. From chin to forehead!

We will be staying here for 2 nights and then moving in with a pastor and his family for 7 nights and then back here for 6 nights.

It is a good thing that Eric is a defensive driver. Our host was not very good at giving directions and did not know the names of the streets. He gave us landmarks instead. It was quite an adventure to get here. This city has a population of 690,000 and I think we saw all of them during our tour!

It is late and we must rest. Look for pictures soon.

We are now minutes from crossing the border. Yesterday we spent most of the day in San Antonio at the alamo and by the riverwalk. It was beautiful. 90* but overcast for half of the day. At 1:00 the sun came out and the temp went up to 103*. Drove 3 hours to Laredo to a place called SteppingStones. It is set up for missionaries who are entering or leaving Mexico and they also set up mission adventures for teams who work at orphanages and pass out water and tracts at the border. It is very "remote" by our standards but a cute place.

We have a 4 hour drive once we are in Mexico. Pray for safety if you would.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another day closer!

Another day closer to Mexico. We spent a fair amount of time today on the road. Left Sulphur Springs and drove to Austin where we took an hour to tour the capitol building and drive around the city. From there we drove to San Antonio where we are currently in our hotel. Another 100* day today so the pool was a big hit with the kids. After an hour in the pool we ate dinner at the local Olive Garden. We met 2 young soldiers who served in Iraq there. One of them lost his right arm and the other his left leg in a roadside bomb. It does make us realize the price for freedom that others pay on our behalf.

Tomorrow we hope to visit the Alamo and then head down to Laredo for the night. We hope to cross into Mexico Thursday morning.

We will try to post more pictures tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hot Springs Arkansas

What a nice day we had. The car AC was working better today after we prayed over it and we drove to “Hot Springs” AR. What a nice town. We walked all around the downtown, toured an old bath house, rode the “ducks” – it’s a boat/bus for tours. It was HOT – the air was about 100 and the humidity was high. Makes for uncomfortable people.

The hot springs were very interesting and the water was hotter than I thought – about 140 degrees. The 48 springs give about 1 million gallons per day. The place also had some very nice buildings and was the boyhood home of Jim Dobson and Bill Clinton. What an irony. We also went to a wax museum and enjoyed the air conditioning more than the figures.

We ended up driving to Sulfur Springs Texas and staying at the Best Western. Its very nice, has a pool and the kids are currently swimming. We ate at a 1950’s diner called “Broadway CafĂ©” – it was fun.

Note for Ben Fogg – We went to see the USS Razorback submarine – you would not believe the stuff they can put in such a small space. I have pictures for you.

The evening was perfect – 92 degrees and no bugs. The family is settling into a driving routine and things are going smoothly.

Please pray that God prepares the way to allow us to know if Mexico is where He wants us.

Thank you for your prayers,


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pictures of the first 2 days

What a great looking bunch!

Little Rock Arkansas

Very early morning,

Its 6:14 am CST and we just got gas and took a 2 hour nap at a truck stop in Osceola, Arkansas. I forgot about the bugs! When we pumped gas there were 2 inch cockroaches all over the place. Winter may not be everyone’s favorite, but it kills bugs DEAD!

Only Sunshine and Kevin were awake when we crossed the Mighty Mississippi near 3:00 am.

Overall things are going very well. The car is running wonderfully and is getting about 22 mpg average. We had a great send off. We started the day taking out trash and getting ready to go. We went over to the airport for the plane unveiling and about 20 people showed up as well as the Holland Sentinel. I included a couple pictures of the plane. Stop by the hangar to see it anytime.

Family volunteered to take the kids to the lawn tractor pull at the fair for a couple hours so we could finish the errands and that was amazingly helpful. Thank you Ben! We had a nice prayer send off from the Fogg’s and from Dwight Beal who stopped over to learn how to run our lawn mower.

Sunshine left the house spick and span as she hates returning to a dirty house. It looks nice and smells good also. The basement started to dry out this week and that is a great relief.

We have been vey blessed and cannot wait to see what God has in store for us. Pray that the meeting with Living Water International that is scheduled for August 15 can be rescheduled until Aug 18 as it conflicts with our current schedule (or that our schedule would change).

On another note we installed “Skype” on our computer yesterday. This allows for voice over internet provider. We do not have video on our laptop – sorry. We are looking for someone to test it out with. If you have Skype on your computer please give us a lesson on how to “get connected”. I assume you need to make an appointment to insure each person is at their computer. If you are interested – let’s chat. We are on the road for the next three days, so it’s hard to do an appointment, but we can page your computer to see if you are there.

It is now 2:00 pm and the kids are having a great time in the hotel pool. It is 100 degrees today. We ate breakfast 60 miles from Little Rock at a greasy spoon restaurant. They do like their butter! We then drove around downtown Little Rock, toured the capitol building and a few other historical sites.

Time for lunch! Enjoy the photos!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two days before departure

Less than 48 hours before we leave! I am currently typing this from the deck overlooking Lake Michigan at my in-laws house. It feels good to stop and breathe for a few minutes.

Just when we think we are prepared to leave, something else pops up or one of the items on the “do list” takes three times as long as we anticipated. We are planning on leaving town Saturday evening and driving through the night to Arkansas. We are hoping that this will take off some of the stress of driving 2200 miles with 3 kids by having shorter driving times during the other 3 days. After stops in the Hot Springs, Texarkana and San Antonio we hope to arrive in Saltillo on Thursday (31st) in the afternoon. We will have a few days to rest up and then start hygiene training and bio-sand filter building. We will also be helping the local pastor with VBS and working at the local orphanage. Our plan is to return on August 21 but just 2 days ago we were returning on the 15th, so we are trying to be flexible (Eric is fine, I’m trying!)

We took the last 2 days to clear some of our schedule while in Saltillo in hopes of preventing burn-out. We also wanted time to “focus on God” in order to determine if Saltillo is where He wants us to be. It seemed that 4 different organizations in Saltillo decided they could use us while we were there and suddenly our schedule was very full. We enjoy hard work but don’t want to “blast in, do a few water projects and blast out” without forming relationships.

Also this past week I (Renee) found out that my trip to Central Asia has been cancelled. The missionaries there found out that the government has denied their visas along with 6 of there 8 staff members and is beginning the process of shutting there organization down. Last year 90% of the missionaries were kicked out of the country but they had high hopes that they would stay for awhile yet.

In the meantime our meeting with Living Water International which was moved twice and then cancelled has now been re-scheduled for mid- August on our return trip home. We met with the executive director today here in town and he asked us to stop in Houston for further discussion of possible projects where we can be used.

Eric has finally finished the T-33 jet fighter plane! PTL! It looks nice but wow did it take some hours to complete. It will still need to be mounted on a post and installed at Park Township Airport- but that can wait until we return.

Our basement is finally starting to dry out which is a relief. I have been scrubbing mold off the concrete floor and everything is still piled on the benches down there. Lord willing when we get back I can put it back together again.

A friend has loaned us a laptop computer for our trip so we hope to update you as we go along. We may even figure out how to upload pictures. J

Thank you from the bottom of our feet (heart seemed to high) for all of your financial and prayer support. We really appreciate it – more than you know.

We will keep you posted!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Family and Friends-
We are so humbled by the support we have received since announcing our trip. We are so blessed and we thank you so much.

We are continuing to prepare for our trip, (now 2 weeks away), to Saltillo, Mexico. Plans seem to change on a regular basis but the dates have remained relatively the same. We are scheduled to leave on July 26 and return around August 15.

Originally we scheduled a meeting in Houston with Living Water International. The date for that meeting was changed twice and then cancelled by them recently. We were disappointed but just found out that the Executive Director will be in Holland 3 days prior to our departure and we will be able to meet with him them to discuss options. We are unsure about a sending organization yet, although several non-profits have suggested that Eric work for them as their "salesman". Imagine that! Eric a salesman! :) Although we are flattered at the offers that is not where our heart lies at this time. We truly want to "do missions" as a family unit in another country.

During our time in Mexico we will be meeting with a mission agency that strictly works in Mexico who is interested in providing clean water for its country as well. We are staying with an American missionary pastor who has offered to be our tour guide and introduce us to the "right" people.

We have also been invited to a sand-making business and a rotary club in Monterrey to talk with them about the different options for clean water.

Eric is continuing to work with the painters of the T-33 for the Park township airport and continues to meet with people interested in assisting with clean water projects.

Renee will start her pediatric therapy observation next week to prepare for a possible trip to Central Asia this fall.

The kids just finished a week of VBS at a nearby church and soccer camp in the evenings and they are looking forward to camping next week.

Until the next update...........
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