In January of 1986 -- after having graduated from Freed-Hardeman University (Henderson, Tennessee), on Friday, 12/20/1985 -- I moved, as an engaged but still single preacher, to Charleston, Missouri. I remember well how Mom watched me, as I left the homeplace, driving the U-Haul moving van, with my 1984 Chevy Chevette in tow.
On the Sunday after graduation, I had “tried out” for the open preaching position. The Charleston Church of Christ was seeking a married man, with fulltime preaching experience. I had neither -- yet. The church offered me the position anyway! It was despite the upchuck that I'd spewed, literally, on the hallway floor and wall, at the Palmer's home! (I had been sickly, at the graduation ceremony. It wasn't because of my “adoptive” sister's cooking!)
My “adoptive” family and I “adopted” each other, during my “try out” weekend. Our family ties grew stronger, very quickly. Our mutual Irish heritage was an important factor! Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I were married, on 5/16/1986. That's when she joined the “adoptive” family, in Missouri. My honor was to serve the church, as minister, until August of 1992. Short term mission trips -- to Jamaica (two weeks, in 1987), to India (about six weeks, in 1989), and again to India (about six weeks, in 1991) -- were included.
My wife and I moved to nearby Dexter, Missouri, in August of 1992. I served as an associate minister, for the Dexter Church of Christ, as we prepared for mission work in Russia. Our about two-month survey trip, to India and then to Russia, was in 1993. The Lord directed us to Russia.
Two other families and we composed the “Mission Moscow” team. My wife and I served, as missionaries on that team, predominately in Moscow and Klin, Russia, from 10/1/1994 to 9/30/1999, five full years.
This is a rather lengthy short story, about our family reunion, in Charleston, Missouri, from Tuesday, 7/11/2023, to Friday, 7/14/2023. It's also about our Mission Moscow reunion, on 7/14/2023. By topic sections, this article is the 115th entry under “Family,” the 96th under “Heritage,” the lucky 13th under “Mission Work,” and the second under “Short Stories.”
This is a 20 page manuscript. The Irish in me can get a little long-winded! I hope that you relax, unwind, and enjoy this article. You are welcome to leave a comment.
Charleston, Missouri, Family: Introduction
Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I were last in Charleston, Missouri, from 10/21/1999 (a Thursday, which was the 26th birthday of my youngest brother) to 11/3/1999 (a Wednesday). We had stayed with my “adoptive” sister and her husband. We made final reporting visits, to several supporting churches in the area. Our final mission report, to the Charleston Church of Christ, was on the evening of our arrival. (The church had moved their Wednesday evening service, to that evening, to accommodate our reporting schedule.)
The next year, my “adoptive” sister and her husband had surprised us pleasantly, when they arrived for Mom's funeral visitation and service, on Friday, 12/29/2000! That was the last time that we were able to see my “adoptive” sister and brother-in-law. Well, we saw my “adoptive” sister again, on 7/11/2023. We will see her husband, again, in heaven! Mike, I'll see you again, up there!
As an important note, when I write “Mom,” I refer to my biological mother (Betty Lou Wood Ferrell, 11/24/1932 - 12/27/2000). When I write “Mother,” I refer to, well, my “adoptive” mother, who is honored, in the family tree, below. After this point, the article will stop using “adoptive,” to reference our Charleston, Missouri, family. We're family, after all!
First, I'll share memories of the Charleston, Missouri, family tree. This will help readers, who are not family members, to understand some family connections. This section does not list all the known branches of the family tree, nor does it share all memories. A personal document, which I keep updated, has the branches that I know. Many memories remain in my mind.
I'll start with my maternal grandmother (or Mama, as my sister and I call her). She is Ollie Mae Helms McTigue (12/15/1909 - 7/11/1991, age 81). I sometimes called her Granny Mac, which she seemed to like. Her husband, my maternal grandfather, passed in 1967, at age 63. I was age six, turning seven, when he passed.
The family knows the stories, about how Mama would threaten to break my plate, if I was late for dinner or supper! Mama didn't like the beard, which I'd grown for a while. On a Sunday, at the church building, with that well-known gleam in her eye, Mama twisted and pinched my beard hard enough, to encourage me to shave it off! (With a sarcastic smile, I'd made the mistake of asking her how she liked my beard.)
Mama is a dearly loved family matriarch. Her Christian spirit, care for family, spunky Irish disposition, work ethic, and strong will are some of her legacies. I miss her. Will I have a beard, in my spiritual body? Will Mama try to twist and pinch it again? We will find out, one fine day! I remember, when Mama was so ill, in the hospital, with family there. I prayed that the Lord would take her on Home soon, so that she'd no longer suffer. She passed to glory, about five minutes after my prayer. Thank you, Lord! I was honored to deliver Moma's funeral eulogy and to conduct her graveside service. I look forward to seeing Mama again, at Home.
Mama and her husband (who passed in 1967) had four children. Their son, my uncle, passed, in 1984, before I was able to meet him. I knew their three daughters. Two are my aunts. One is my Mother.
My first maternal aunt, by age, is Syvella Marie McTigue Henson (1/21/1930 - 10/9/1999, age 69), the twin sister of my Mother. My sister and I sometimes call her “sissy,” since she is our Mother's twin sister. I remember the physical trials that aunt Syvella endured. She endured family trials, known to family, also. Her strength of spirit and determination, however, did not allow those trials to keep her down! Many times, when asking about how she was doing, aunt Syvella would mention her “whatevers” (as I call them) and reply, “I took a pain pill and kept going!” My aunt passed away nine days, after my wife and I had returned from Russia. We were in the east Tennessee area, visiting family and making final reporting visits to supporting churches in the area. I wish that we could have attended aunt Syvella's funeral and graveside services. Aunt Syvella overcame the trials of life, as a Christian, by focusing on, as I call it, the everlasting perspective. (Due to later trials in my life, I came to fully appreciate the example of her perspective.) I look forward to seeing aunt Syvella again, at Home.
My other maternal aunt, by age, is Ida Virginia McTigue Hurley (2/4/1942 - 8/3/2022, age 80). I've said and written, in previous articles, “My Mom and my Mother are the finest examples of a Christian, whom I have ever known, and I've known many fine examples. I can have two finest examples.” This article, based on the good influence of my older sister, adds aunt Ida to that list. I can have three finest Christian examples! Aunt Ida had passed to glory, late in the evening, on 8/3/2022. My sister called me, early the next morning, to let us know. I wish that we could have made the drive to Charleston, for her funeral and graveside. (My wife had just returned to her vice principal/teacher position, after summer vacation. Also, I had doubted that my “bionic” body could endure the long drive.) Aunt Ida's benevolence, to family and to many others, is her Christian legacy. The spirit of Christ dwelled in her richly, as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit, which flowed from her to so many. Aunt Ida has a sharp mind and quick wit, a gift of the Irish in her. We enjoyed many exchanges of wit, and we had a few “mock debates” on points of theology. I look forward to seeing aunt Ida again, at Home.
I've said and written many times that I have Mom, Betty Lou Wood Ferrell (11/24/1932 - 12/27/2000, age 68) and that I have Mother, Ozella McTigue Scott (1/21/1930 - 4/26/2023, age 93). My Mom and my Mother were the finest examples of a Christian, whom I have ever known, and I have known many fine examples. (In the last paragraph, I added aunt Ida, as the third finest example.) Mother's husband passed away, at age 40, a day after I'd attained age four, in 1964. Mother never remarried.
I'd rather not revisit the memories and emotions that writing about Mother, in this article, would bring to the forefront of my mind. Instead, this article references the recent podcast and the most recent article, about Mother. Therein, are expressions that I hold dearly, in my soul.
The podcast, on Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts, is “Ozella McTigue Scott (1-21-1930 to 4-26-2023) Funeral Message, by Marion W. Ferrell (on 4-27-2023).” I composed and published the twenty-seven minute podcast, the day after Mother went to see Jesus. The podcast was included in Mother's funeral service, on Monday, May 1st, 2023. My presence and honor, to Mother, was by that medium. I wish that circumstances had not hindered our physical presence. My wife and I were present in spirit.
The most recent article on this website is “In Memory of My Adoptive Mother (published 5-5-2023; article #410).” It references the article about Mother, on 1/24/2021. Please read the comments, on both of those articles. I can only imagine the conversations that my Mom and my Mother have been having about me! I look forward to seeing my Mother again, at Home.
I couldn't have asked for a better brother-in-law! Michael Lee Palmer (3/18/1958 - 2/8/2007, Thursday, age 48) is still my sister's husband. He passed to his everlasting Home, on the same day that my next to youngest brother attained age 38. That February, I had tried to work, while sickly, taking sick leave as needed. I'd seen two doctors and taken whatever they'd prescribed. On my 2007 desk calendar, I wrote that I'd had a fever of 102 degrees, on the day of Mike's funeral service, on 2/10/2007.
Sis., I know that you always call him Michael, while most folks call him Mike. Michael is fitting. Your husband and Michael the archangel have similar qualities. Both fought the devil and won (Jude 9). The apostle Paul assured the Christians at Thessalonica, and us today, about the coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Verse 16, NIV, states that, at the Lord's second coming, He will descend from heaven, “. . . with the voice of the archangel . . . .” Michael is still your archangel, watching over you above.
Well, I have to tell at least two funny stories, about Mike and me! (I have several.) One evening, at the church building, Mike and I were the only ones in the auditorium. Other church family were either outside or in the foyer. We were joking about “the holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Thess. 5:26). We were pretending to give each other, as men, a “holy kiss” -- with the intention of not doing so. Well, our faces pretended too closely together, and our lips touched -- for a split second! We both stepped back and wiped our mouths at the same time! He and I promised each other that we'd never tell that story! Well, I just told it! I'm sure that Mike will forgive me. Okay, I hear family members laughing!
Over the years, Mike and I enjoyed several humorous “debates,” on playing the lottery. He bought a ticket, every now and then. He lost and won some money at times. It was only a hobby of his -- as I'll admit, finally, in this article. In contrast, I do not trust any state that advertises a lottery -- while also offering free help to recover from a gambling addiction! The state's lottery commercials create the gambling addiction! Our debates usually ended in a draw -- until Thursday, 7/13/2023. Warning: the photograph, below, is frightening!
Down right ugly self photograph, by M. Fearghail, on 7/22/2023, Saturday, at 5:52 PM
I warned you! I tried to grimace my face, into it's most unbecoming appearance, and bulge out my left eye. Did I succeed? I thought so! For your online reading interest, you may enjoy scrolling down to “The Suicide Table,” on about The Delta Saloon. The saloon is in Virginia City, Nevada. My sister and her husband had taken a trip to Virginia City, Nevada, for their 30th wedding anniversary. Mike got the cap, during that trip. I'm wearing it, in the above photograph.
My sister gave me Mike's cap, during our final evening, on Thursday, 7/13/2023. It fits perfectly. The next morning, I placed Mike's cap on the kitchen island (freestanding cabinet top). As my wife and I began to leave, through the kitchen door, I told my sister, “Mike's cap that you gave me is the last item that I'm taking with me, as I walk out.” That was my way to honor Mike and my sister.
Hey, Mike, this article admits my defeat, on our “lottery debates!” Playing the lottery was only a hobby of yours. Also, your wife gave me your “Delta Saloon, Suicide Table” cap! I've been wearing it. I look forward to taking a better self photograph, while wearing it, on a House Mountain hike! I'll be talking with you, once it's cooler, from the middle bluff of “My Mountain!”
I look forward to seeing my brother-in-law again, at Home. What will Mike say to me, once he's aware of this article? Yes, I see Mike's mischievous gin, as I write this sentence!
This section brings us to my very Irish-natured sister, Carol Sue. She is my older sister, by about eight years. Now, if she and I get to talking, with our fully Irish gab engaged, we can both talk, for a long time, often at the same time, and understand each other perfectly! We wonder why folks around us, in confusion, are holding their fingers in their ears!
Yes, Sis., I hear you! Yes, I'm writing about you, behind your back! You caught me!
Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, my “long-suffering” wife, knows how to chime into the conversations. My sister and she conversed often, just the two of them, when I was showering or if I was on a solo errand somewhere.
Sometimes, it's hard being the “baby brother!” I'll share three stories, from our recent trip. On the evening of Wednesday, 7/12/2023, my sister, my wife, and I visited Bootheel Youth Camp. (More on that visit, below.) The rental car was at under a quarter tank of gas. After we left the camp, I filled up the rental, in the nearby small town of Bloomfield. I'd planned to use a credit card, to pay at the pump. Oh, no! Sis. would have none of that! In her strongest Irish stubbornness, my older sister insisted that I pay with her debit card! I said, “Okay, Sis., you won! I'm not the oldest sibling! You are my older sister! I give up!” I paid, using her debit card. This Appalachian Irishman knows that “a man's got to know his limitations” (with apology to Clint Eastwood).
The next story that I'll share is about the cupping set that my sister gave me, also on our last evening with her. My “bionic” body had amazed me, by taking quite well the drive to Charleston and the various doings while there. That Thursday, I'd managed to kink the right side of my neck. Sis., in her very Irish desire to help, insisted that I try her cupping set (in the photograph, below).
Photograph by M. Fearghail, on 7/25/2023, Tuesday.
The suction power of one of those caps worked quickly! The little “poppy up sore spot” (as I call them) vanished! Sis. insisted that I keep her cupping set, to use at our home. I half-heartedly argued that she may need to use it herself. “Yes, Sis., I know that you can buy another one!” I gave in, to my older sister -- again! Yes, as baby brother, I must know my limitations!
The last story -- of many that I could tell, from over the years -- is from the Friday morning, of our departure, on 7/14/2023. Almost every time that I'd excuse myself, to use the bathroom, Sis. would say, “Don't forget to leave a quarter!” (She used to joke with our Mother like that. Mother would reply, “just charge it.”) After my final use of the downstairs bathroom, I placed a quarter, under the soap dish! Once my wife and I had arrived back to our Tennessee home, I called Sis., to let her know that we had arrived safely. I asked her to check under the bathroom soap dish. Her reply was something like, “You left only one quarter, but used the bathroom several times! You owe me more quarters!” Lord willing, on our next trip to Missouri, I'll bring a few rolls of quarters!
Niece and Nephew
My wife and I were able to spend a good bit of time with Lesli, our niece, the daughter of my sister and her husband. She was in her teenage years, when we lived in Charleston. She is now a fine Christian woman, following the examples of her great grandmother, grandmother, father, and mother. She has the same strongly Irish spirit. Our niece has endured her trials of life well. She has two sons and a daughter, whom I'll mention in the next section. She has the same work ethic, as her ancestors. Some years ago, our niece become the first female law enforcement officer, in Charleston! She's in another line of work now. I remember how her father “helped” her get into law enforcement, but I'll not share that story, in this article. It is a rather humorous story now. The initial location of the story, however, wasn't funny, at the time.
Our nephew, Jason, my sister and her husband's son, was otherwise engaged, so my wife and I weren't able to see him, sadly. We understood why he had to be away. He was in his grade school years, when we lived in Charleston. Our nephew has matured into a fine man now. “Here's a funny one, nephew! I left you a quarter too!” Sometimes a man has to answer the “call of nature” twice, in one morning. On the Friday morning of our departure, my wife was showering, in the downstairs bathroom. The “call of nature” came upon me the second time. I decided to use our nephew's upstairs bathroom. After having used his “porcelain throne,” I placed a quarter on the tank lid! When I'd called my sister, once we'd arrived back to our Tennessee home, I'd asked her to tell her son, for me, “I hope that you get the quarter back! I'm not talking football!” Our nephew helped so much, during the last three years of his grandmother's life. His care, even when it was difficult, demonstrates his honor to and love for the family. Our nephew, as well as our niece, is appreciated and loved very much.
Great Nephews and Niece
As I've stated previously, our niece has three children, who are our great nephews and niece. My wife and I are their great aunt and uncle. Our adult great nephews live in distant locations, so we were unable to meet them. We certainly hope to meet them eventually! We are proud of them, based on how well family speaks of them.
On the Wednesday of 7/12/2023, we met our niece's teenage daughter (our great niece), Addy, at Bootheel Youth Camp! In the tradition of polite Irish strong will, Addy had insisted that my sister, my wife, and I visit her at camp that evening. How could we resist? (Our plan had been to attend the Wednesday evening Bible study, with the Charleston Church of Christ, but we were able to visit with several church members the next day.) Our niece is a fine, young, Christian lady! The section, below, for that day, will include photographs and my podcast.
Family Reunion in Charleston (7/11-14/2023)
Are you still with me, dear reader? I'm glad. This is becoming a rather long short story! This section highlights, by each day, the family reunion that my wife and I enjoyed, with our Charleston, Missouri, family. The summer weather was warmer and drier than usual. I tried to encourage the rain, in Tennessee, to follow us to Missouri, but it didn't. The farmland needed rain. Irrigation was helping. On a daily basis, the morning clouds looked like rain coming, but the afternoons brought mostly sunny sky.
Southeast Missouri, around Charleston, is flat. I mean flat. Driving about 30 miles north or west, from Charleston, farther into Missouri, presents rolling hills. How do cattle stand on four legs, without tipping over, on the side of a Tennessee hill? One side of their legs is shorter than the other! As long as they walk around the hill, in the same direction, they don't tip over! That's a little joke, between my Missouri family and me, y'all!
The date, in 1991, was 32 years ago, exactly, when Mama went to see Jesus. The preparations for our trip precluded my remembrance of that unplanned coincidence. My sister reminded me of the timing, upon our arrival. Mama would have been pleased.
The Drive to Charleston -- Don't Take Wrong Turns!
My wife and I left our Tennessee home, in the rental car, at 10:12 AM EDST. “Google Maps” has estimated 370 miles, in about six and a half hours. Charleston, Missouri, is in the Central “Daylight Savings” Time zone (CDST). (Daylight is not “saved!” The sun rises and sets an hour later. I won't get on that soapbox, however! My latest rant on this is the article of 3/12/2023.)
We arrived at my sister's home, at 5:20 PM CDST. We gained an hour, by changing time zones. The trip took 404 miles, in eight hours and eight minutes! In Nashville, we made the mistake of following the suggestion of my wife's youngest sister, who lives in Nashville. It wasn't her sister's fault. We just missed an exit. Later, after we had taken the Mayfield-Paducah, Kentucky exit, we took the left fork, instead of the right fork. That mistake cost us more time and miles, as we back tracked.
This section is on “driving theology.” Don't follow the suggestions of others, unless they are based on common sense and biblical wisdom! You can get back on the right road, but you'll regret the back tracking. Also, always take the right fork that leads in the right direction. Just turn right and go straight in life! That's a sermon for today.
My sister and her daughter greeting us warmly! It was as if we'd just seen each other the day before! Even if family doesn't get to see each other often, when family get together, well, it's family!
“Our bedroom,” as Sis. calls it, is the same room, in which Mother had slept. She passed to glory in that room. Several family photographs adorn the walls. My wife and I felt at home instantly. We slept well, each night.
Four other family members arrived, shortly after we'd brought in our luggage. They were Dennis and his brother, Mike, and Bobby Gene and his teenage grandson, Gavin. Conversations were as if we'd not been apart that long. Gavin is not a boy. He is a young man, as I emphasized to him! His intellect, manners, respect, and reasoning reflect the wisdom of an older person. We look forward to learning how God uses this young man, in His service. Remember, you are either a missionary or a mission area -- depending on if you are a Christian or not. Christians, in any line of work, should be missionaries, as they go about their secular work.
Just before supper, I had the opportunity to converse, by phone, with Travis, a man, whom we remember well. Years ago, I was honored to perform the wedding ceremony, for his wife, Kelly, and him. Their children are adults now. His wife and he live in central Kentucky, a long drive from Charleston. With follow up phone conversations, my wife and I hope to get together with this fine couple, perhaps in the latter part of this month. They are Christians, and he continues his fulltime ministry, which he began, when we lived in Missouri.
I forgot to call them “Carol Sue potatoes!” My sister, with help from others, had placed a lot of hard work and love, into supper preparations, despite her “whatevers” (as I call mine). An abundance of delicious food and spirited conversation were enjoyed! I even ate dessert, which is rare for me. Eighth family members enjoyed the supper and conversation.
Bobby Gene and Gavin stayed a good while, after the other family members left. My sister, my wife, and I enjoyed the ongoing conversation, on several points. Why don't folks just sit around and talk, like they used to do? Turn off the TV! Put away the “semi-intelligent” (as I call them) cell phones! Look at each other. Talk! (Well, there's another soapbox.)
After a good night's sleep, the morning started with coffee, breakfast, and conversations with my sister. I'm glad that my sister was “feeling her oats” well enough, to have us in her home and to do all the extra things that she did. Sis. has a “bionic” body, but it's different than my “bionic” body. We both held up well enough. I know that she felt her “whatevers,” as I call mine, but her ailments didn't prevent her from doing all that she did.
The Church Building & Parsonage
Having borrowed a key, my wife and I drove, in the early afternoon, to the church building. The building is within walking distance to the parsonage, where we used to live. The locks to the building had been changed recently, so the key didn't fit any lock.
At 12:55 PM, my wife took the photograph, below, of me, standing beside the church sign, with the church building (and the rental car) behind us.
The building looked about the same, on the outside. The roof and the sign are new. The three entrance doors (white, under the steeple) have been closed in, to make windows. I'm standing, looking northeast, so the view is to the southwest. The same trees were smaller, years ago. Did I hear someone ask why I have a sock on my right foot only? I thought so. That's a small support sock, for my “bionic” right foot. My foot wasn't bothering me anymore than usual. I'd just decided to wear the sock.
The parsonage is a few yards to the east of the church building. I'd taken the following photograph, a minute before the one above. I was standing at about the same spot, as in the image above.
The parsonage, with the new red roof, is in the center of the image, on the corner. The high school is farther east, behind the house, in the view. The walk to the church building takes about a minute only!
My sister had called my wife, since I might have been driving, to suggest that we visit a business on Main Street. Biologically kin Ferrell relatives of mine have that business. Years ago, two Ferrells (sister Pearl and her son, Harry) and I figured out how we were related distantly. Sister Pearl had transitioned to her everlasting Home, at age 97, on 6/14/2020.
We were able to say howdy to Jayne Ellen! (Her grandmother is who passed, at age 97.) Jayne Ellen's mother, Dianna, wasn't at the office that day, but saw her the next day. We enjoyed catching up on family and life news!
Afterward, my wife and I returned to my sister's home. We'd not been hungry, for the noon meal, before we left. We were hungry, once we returned! We a late dinner (or lunch, as Yankee's call it).
Bootheel Youth Camp!
At 5:28 PM CDST, my sister, my wife, and I traveled, in the rental, to Bootheel Youth Camp. The camp is near the small town of Bloomfield, Missouri, about 40 miles west, from my sister's house. As I've mentioned earlier, our great niece had wanted us to attend the Wednesday evening (7 PM) devotional with her. This was her third week at camp! The only way that she could meet us was if we drove to visit her. We were glad to do so!
My wife and I served as camp counselors, for one week, each summer, during our time in Missouri. I remembered the drive well. We'd hoped to arrive in time for supper. Supper was already over. (Like Old Dan Tucker, we were “just a standin’ thar lookin’.”) Thankfully, we'd had a late dinner, so we weren't hungry.
At first, we couldn't find Addy (our great niece). Stan, the camp director that week, is a fine brother in Christ, whom I remembered well. He and I are the same age. He's been serving as the minister, for the same congregation, since December 1988! We enjoyed a good conversation, with his wife, Millie, and him. We also conversed with a wonderful camp counselor, Kim. This sister in Christ was in the youth group, when I served the Dexter Church of Christ, as the associate minister. She attended the camp, as a camper, back then. We saw how this young lady had matured into a fine Christian adult. We reacquainted ourselves with her mother also. Kim shared how her grandfather had been killed, due to a tragic accident, last year. I shared my cell phone number with Stan and Kim. I hope that we keep in touch.
We finally found Addy, amidst the large crowd of campers, adult staff, and visitors! This teenage sister in Christ is a joy! Her mother and grandmother are rightly proud of her. My wife and I, as great aunt and uncle, were so happy to meet her, and we are proud of her! I wonder how the Lord will use her, as a blessing to many, in life. We know that she loves the Lord!
Are you ready for photographs and a podcast? I thought so!
A nearby adult took the above photograph at 7:49 PM. From left to right are Addy, yours truly, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, and my sister. Our smiles reflect the joy of the moment! The cafetorium was filled with campers and adults.
I took the above photograph, at 8:11 PM, looking northwest. The cafetorium is the larger building, with my wife and sister standing in front. The snack shack and the craft shack compose the smaller building, to the right (or east). Several campers were gathered in that area. Before the photograph, a teenage camper had been saved! Her faith had led her to repent of her sins, dedicate her life to Christ, confess Jesus as Lord, and be immersed. We rejoiced in the salvation of a new sister in Christ!
I took the above photograph, which looks northeast, at 8:22 PM, after I'd “hiked” northwest, from the cafetorium, about 100 yards or so, to the boys' cabins. The dirt and gravel trail curves up and down, around small hills. A wooden bridge spans the ravine. The old cabins had been replaced by new ones, which you see. The cabin, which housed teenage boys and me, as counselor, was the one farthest to the right. The new cabin stands at the same location. I was alone, except for the brother, who had spoken at the devotional earlier. He and I exchanged brief pleasantries, before he got into his truck, to leave. The second tree, in the foreground, is about where I stood, for the podcast, which follows. (Before recording the podcast, well, a man needs to take a leak somewhere! The tree didn't mind.)
Seconds after the previous image, I turned and took the above photograph, looking southeast. I'm about to “hike” back across that wooden bridge. The cafetorium, not visible, is behind the hill.
Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (on YouTube) has the podcast that I recorded moments after the above photograph. It's titled: “Bootheel Youth Camp: 'Hike' across the Boys' Ridge Bridge (published 7-26-2023; episode 15).” I hope that you enjoy the 56 seconds of my “hiking humor!” The bridge is safe, even if it is a little uneven!
As an aside, the cafetorium still has the same ceiling fans, which another man and I installed, decades ago, during a work session. The building, the cabins, and the bathhouses are now air conditioned! I was amazed! When we served as counselors, only the small kitchen area, in the cafetorium, was air conditioned! I used to go into the kitchen, with any chore or excuse, as often as I could! Air conditioned cabins? That ain't camping!
My wife, my sister, and I arrived back in Charleston, at 10:35 PM. We ate a late supper, about 11 PM! We weren't all that hungry, but we needed to eat a bite. We were filled with the spiritual joy that we'd experienced at Bootheel Youth Camp!
As “baby brother,” I tried to help my older sister, whenever she'd let me. The kitchen door, which leads out to the back porch, had squeaky hinges. Midmorning, after breakfast, showers, and conversation, I drove the rental to the nearby Family Dollar store. I returned with a generic version of WD-40. My sister's kitchen door does not squeak now. I had to do it.
Before returning, however, I'd driven about five miles south of Charleston, to the Mississippi County Airport. I'd served as chaplain, in the Air Force Civil Air Patrol Auxiliary, during our time in Charleston. Another senior officer and I enjoyed molding those fine, young cadets, into future Air Force officers. (Well, I was also helping them to become or to grow as Christians.)
I took the above photograph, at 10:06 AM. I remember parking our 1984 Chevy Chevette, near that entrance door, many times. Civil Air Patrol meetings were held inside the building. I don't recall which year it was, back in the late 1980s, but a storm brought small tornadoes upon us, during an evening meeting. The cadets, the other senior member, and I left quickly and arrived to our homes safely. As the last to leave, the rain blew into me, horizontally, across the ground, as I locked the door and hurried to the car! Once I arrived home, I found that my wife had secured herself in the bathroom closet. A microburst (or small tornado) had lifted a small storage shed (with walls but no floor), in the back yard of the parsonage, up and on top of a rose bush trellis, which was full of roses. The shed had been directly beside the trellis. The shed had risen at least five feet into the air, moved about three feet, and landed on top of the trellis. The next day, with help, the storage shed was returned to its correct location. Neither the shed, rose bush, nor the trellis was damaged! That's a true story, folks.
I was pleasantly surprise, once I'd returned home, to find several church family, who had come to visit! Even though over two decades had passed, conversations were as if we'd just seen each other a few days ago! James Larry and his brother Garry were there. Their sister, Judy, and her adult daughter, Abby, were there. Cindy, a sister in Christ, who now lives in the parsonage, was there. Later, Dianna, a sister in Christ and a distant Ferrell relative, came by also. One of these fine days, conversations in heaven, with many saints, will be everlastingly wonderful. That church gathering, in my sister's home, was a foretaste of those heavenly conversations! By the way, Cindy, they are kitchen cabinet tops, not counter tops! I won that humorous little debate! I wish that someone or I had thought to take at least one photograph. We were enjoying the conversations too much!
Cindy drove Judy, Abby, my wife, and me to the church building. I enjoyed seeing my old office and the rest of the building. In that small office, I'd worked on many sermons, Bible class teaching notes, church bulletins, local newspaper articles (titled “Spiritual Gleanings”), and graduate school class notes and papers.
I took the above photograph, at 2:16 PM. I was standing in the glass-enclosed balcony. The view looks west. The pulpit, communion table, pews, and carpet are still the same. The pulpit still has the slightly worn marks, where several preachers, including yours truly, have rested their hands, over the decades. I remember when the drop ceiling (white, above the light fixtures) was installed. The church building looked empty, since the church wasn't inside for worship or Bible study, at the time. I remember well, when the Sunday morning worship attendance was about 70 to 80 brothers and sisters in Christ, visitors, and children.
As we were going outside, right on time, as expected, Pete, the current minister, arrived! (His wife and he live in a nearby town.) I don't know how much time passed, while the six of us talked, under the shade of the entrance door covering. Pete, a military veteran, was wearing his cap that signifies his service. We shook hands, hugged, and I thanked him for his service -- to this nation and in the kingdom of Christ. Interestingly, Pete knows well a husband and his wife, Dan and Brenda, who are from my hometown. I'd met them, back in the early 1980s. They were a missionary family, for over two decades, in Ghana, West Africa. Pete had made short-term mission trips to Russia, years ago. I wish that we had met him, during our five-years of mission work there.
During our final evening, with my sister, our niece came by again for another visit. We talked about our visit at Bootheel Youth Camp. Apparently, the camp is in need of more adult volunteers, to serve as board members, directors, and counselors.
To all able-bodied Christian adults, in southeast Missouri, please, in Christ's name, volunteer to help Bootheel Youth Camp! Don't make this Tennessean drive back out there soon, to show you how to volunteer! Too many youth are being influenced, by satanic forces, to go the wrong way in life. Remember, “as the twig bends, so grows the tree.” The Christian leaders of tomorrow need your spiritual leadership today! I have spoken. Do I hear an amen? I thought so!
Our last evening, in my sister's home, was once of joyous conversation and reflection. I've already commented previously, on some of our interaction. Sis., our home in Tennessee is the home of your family and you also. Y'all are welcome to come and stay anytime. We know that your Missouri home is our home also. We're family.
Unlike the everlasting joy of a family reunion in heaven, our family reunion was ending. I've already written about the two quarters and about Mike's cap. After breakfast, showers, and packing the rental car, my wife and I were ready for the long drive back to our Tennessee home.
My wife and I hugged and said our goodbyes to my sister. До свидания, in Russian, means, literally, “until we meet again.” (The word is usually translated “goodbye.”) As I shared with my sister, I hope, Lord willing, that my wife and I can begin making annual visits, to Charleston, Missouri. (My “bionic” body handled this trip much better than I'd anticipated.) Next year, we may need to arrange our visit, around the plan that my sister and her granddaughter have to visit Ireland. Sis., buy that exercise equipment and use it, according to your plan! That will help you get around even better!
At 9:12 AM, my wife and I headed east, toward Kentucky, in the rental. The weather was cloudy, with no rain. Yes, Sis., we wore our seat belts. Their is a family tradition behind telling folks, as they are leaving, not to forget to wear their seat belts. It doesn't imply that those leaving won't wear them. It's just a saying, to bring good luck in travels.
Previous phone conversations, with Joe Paul and Lynn, had set the ground work for a reunion of two families, of the three families, which composed the Mission Moscow team. My wife called Joe Paul, just as I'd started driving. We arranged our reunion, in Lebanon, Tennessee.
At 11:23 AM CDST, we stopped at the visitor center, after we'd crossed from Kentucky into Tennessee. The restrooms were calling, so we had to go. I was hungry for a snack. I wish that my wife had recorded me, speaking to the robotic snack dispensing machines! The small group that was there, apparently, enjoyed my conversation with the robots!
Mission Moscow Reunion (7/14/2023)
At 1:12 PM CDST, we arrived at the O'Charley's restaurant, in Lebanon, Tennessee. Awaiting us outside were Joe Paul and Lynn! We hugged and launched directly into pleasant conversations, as if we'd seen each other yesterday!
We enjoyed a good meal, as we continued to converse about many enjoyable topics. At times, Lynn and my wife were so fully into their conversations that Joe Paul and I just looked at each other and laughed! He and I exchanged under toned remarks about them, which they never did hear!
Joe Paul, do you remember, the day after my wife and I arrived in Moscow, how I forestalled your effort to appoint me as team treasurer? I do. I started counting and multiplying numbers, making intentional errors. You corrected one error. I replied, “Since I can't do math, then I can't take the job as team treasurer!”
One of these days, a book should be written, about the experiences of the Mission Moscow team. We endured defeats and setbacks, but the Lord brought several victories, to His glory.
To any missionaries or future missionaries reading this article, what is the first requirement, for mission work? (Pause a while to think, before reading further.) Yes, studying missiology and cross-cultural evangelism is good. Studying the mission work of the apostle Paul is good. Following the example of Jesus, the greatest missionary, is a must. Learning the history and the culture of the country is good. Reading important literary works, by renowned writers of the country, is good. Listening to the classical and contemporary music, of the country, is good. Becoming aware of the nation's political trends is good. Studying and learning the language, of course, is good. These are all good answers. None of them, however, is the first requirement for mission work.
The first requirement is: stay out of God's way! God will work His will, through your imperfect efforts, if you let Him. Just stay out of His way. God will glorify Himself, by your service to Him. He will guide your steps, as you seek His guidance, in prayer. Also, remember, do not rush God's agenda. Be patient. Mission work is not measured in weeks, months, or even years. It is measured in decades.
That's another sermon, especially to missionaries or future missionaries, y'all! The photograph, below, introduces Joe Paul and Lynn, our fellow missionaries, in Russia.
At 3:33 PM CDST, I photographed Joe Paul and Lynn, above, as we continued our conversation outside the restaurant. Why did Joe Paul pick up the nickname “goat?” Is it because of his goatee?
With plans to get together as soon and often as we can, my wife and I embraced Joe Paul and Lynn, said our “until next time” goodbyes, and continued our drive back to our Tennessee home. I happened to notice the time, as I started the rental car. It was 3:42 PM CDST. We had shared two and a half hours of fellowship with Joe Paul and Lynn! It felt as if we'd visited about an hour or so only. Time flies, while enjoying fellowship, with good Christian friends!
Arrival to Our Tennessee Home
We stopped only once, to get gas, in Cookeville. Shortly afterward, we crossed back into the eastern time zone. At 7:40 PM EDST, we arrived back to our Tennessee home. Molly, our ol' puppy, was certainly glad to see us! A good neighbor, a sister-in-law, and her daughter had been tending to Molly's food, water, and companionship needs. Thanks, y'all!
Our total drive time -- not factoring the two and a half hour Mission Moscow team reunion -- was six hours and 58 minutes. We drove 369 miles, on our return.
My “driving theology” states that, when you stay on the right roads, you get to the right place quicker! Y'all please remember that, before you take wrong turns, on the road of life.
Whew! Are you about tired of reading, dear reader? I'm winding down now. Thanks for sticking around with me. I started writing this article, on or about Sunday, 7/16/2023. I've worked on it some, almost every day, until the published date.
Reunions with our family, in Charleston, Missouri, and with Joe Paul and Lynn, members of the Mission Moscow team, kindle deep thoughts on the everlasting reunion that awaits us. Time, distance, and ailments delay or forestall reunions while we are here.
By the assurance of verified and solid faith, my mind sees the everlasting reunions that are continuing now, at the everlasting Home, where so many already are. We miss those dear family and friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, every one. We will see them again, to join the everlasting reunion, once our time on earth comes to an end -- if we are ready. Physical death is merely the transition to everlasting existence -- somewhere.
Dear reader, you are either ready for that transition or not. Many readers are. Some may not be. I remain one poor beggar, who found the Bread of Life, and who tries to share the Bread. If you aren't ready for the transition from physical life to everlasting life, to experience the everlasting joy of heaven, then please turn right and go straight, before it's too late! (Everlasting torment isn't the right turn.) You are welcome to send me a private and confidential email, on the “Contact Form.” I will be glad to continue our private correspondence.
This is the Appalachian Irishman, wishing all the family (physical, adoptive, and spiritual) God's richest blessings, while he signs off for now. As the Irish say, “May you be in heaven a half hour, before the devil knows that you’re dead!”