First Letter to Friends and Family

To: Family, Friends

From: Roy and Joy

When: August 8, 2016

Well, you asked for it. As we were leaving for our life’s Next Phase, several of you demanded—yes, demanded—that we write from time to time to tell you where we are and what we’re doing. Every day your nagging has haunted me. And every day I’ve managed to ignore it. After all, the purpose of our Next Phase is not to write a travelogue, but to do our own thing. For Joy that means devoting herself uninterruptedly to her art. For me it means a little sightseeing and a whole lot of vegetating. When we left home I realized that at long last I needed some solitude, some extended periods without talking or being talked to. I needed to “be still and know,” to know that God is God, to know that I can just be without having to meet classes, sermon and writing deadlines, and the multiplied pressures that go with having a couple of jobs.

So when we drove away from Johnson City (TN), having divested ourselves of the house, all the furnishings, and my car (Joy’s would be relinquished on the last day before leaving the United States), we both felt almost giddy as we exulted in our new freedom and drove across the country to our temporary residence with Brad and Gretchen Jacob in Tillamook, along the route visiting friends, children, grandchildren (and great-grandchildren), and our furniture.

The highlight of our time in Oregon was the all-family vacation in La Pine, where Velcro grandson Derek Hill once again played host to our thundering horde. There were more than 30 of us from Oregon, California, Arizona, Missouri, Tennessee, and Australia. Unfortunately, distance is separating the tribe, with several families unable to be with us. Still, we had enough fun for everybody, even the absent ones!

We bade farewell to everyone on July 23, boarding a plane in Portland the next morning for Mexico City and then being shuttled to Cholula, Puebla for the annual Globalscope Celebration, which brought 90 of us together around the world. Globalscope is the campus ministry arm of Christian Missionary Fellowship, with which I’ve been associated since 1964. I loved it that Joy could be with me this time, as she enjoys the company of these dedicated young leaders as much as I do.

When the conference ended, we headed to Mexico City for a couple of days. Our companions were Dr. Miriam Perkins (with whom I taught at Emmanuel Christian Seminary) and her vivacious mother Linda (whom I taught at Milligan College in the 1960s). We four were safely escorted to the airport by Brent Vokes, a Globalscope minister from Chile. We were grateful for his Spanish language skills.

Our brief time in Mexico City shattered one of my long held prejudices. I’ve often said I don’t like the place: too big, too smoggy, too much like big cities everywhere. Wrong. Perhaps it’s because the warmth of the Puebla residents we met had inclined us to be more open, but whatever it was we found Mexico City to be a beautiful, welcoming place. Miriam had rented an Airbnb apartment. It was spacious, easily accommodating the four of us while making us feel like we belonged here (once, that is, we learned how to work the gas water heater). We were able to do some of our own cooking (the “our” here referring exclusively to the females in the group), but not all. We treated ourselves to two exquisite meals out, finding the cuisine (Italian, Mexican) very much to our liking.

Miriam had one specific goal for Mexico City: She wanted to see the home/museum of Frida Lahlo, Mexico’s most famous woman painter. We learned a great deal of her struggles, overcoming childhood polio and a near-fatal accident as a late teen. She made her mark as an artist and personality.

Another excursion was to Temple Mayor, ruins of the ancient Aztec temple and grounds. I’m afraid by this time in our travels over the years we’ve seen too many ruins; still, the reminder of the grandeur that was the Aztecs and the devastation wrought by the invading Spaniards was worthwhile.

We spent a little time visiting Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, mingling with the Spanish speaking worshipers, not understanding the language but sensing and appreciating their devotion.

On Monday we returned to the airport where Steve and Kay Carpenter, missionaries, packed us all into the Chrysler Town and Country they had borrowed from another missionary family and drove us to our new home for August, San Miguel de Allende. Here we were comfortably ensconced in a spacious casa that accommodated the six of us. Steve and Kay stayed for a couple of nights before returning to the city, taking the Perkins and their Spanish with them.  We are now in sign language mode.

So now there are just two of us—until Brian and Mike arrive August 20–and we’re having a good time. When we’re together I’ll tell you of how I got lost on my morning walk and how helpful the people here are in giving you directions. Usually in the opposite direction.

The next day we decided (OK, I decided and Joy went along) to save taxi fare ($2.15) and walk to the Fabrica de la Aurora, a former textile mill that now houses some of the finest art galleries we’ve seen. It was to be a 30-40 minute walk. After a couple of hours we hailed a taxi. Someone might have had a word or to two say to the other someone who was in charge of the expedition.

Last evening we had a torrential thunderstorm. This morning we woke to puddles of water in the house and no lights. Electricity was gone. That meant that the electrically powered gate that lets us in and out of this place couldn’t operate. No way out. Interesting thoughts about what we’d do when all our battery operated electronics went dead. Fortunately, within an hour we were “empowered” again.   Alas, no exciting tales to fabricate.

We have deliberately not done a lot of sight-seeing yet. We’re mostly saving that for Mike’s and Brian’s visit. Our goal now is to settle in and get acquainted with our new lifestyle. So far, so good. Life on the run or walk—on San Miguel’s cobblestone streets and treacherous sidewalks—for us old folks is not only good. It’s very good.

Love to you all.