Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Scooter Will Ship on Friday Evening

Well, my Tank Touring DE 150cc motor scooter will be shipped to me on Friday evening. I know that it will be arriving via UPS Freight, with tracking via I have the tracking number already, but was told that I would not be able to track it on the website until Friday evening, after it had been picked up by the shipper.

It's not a huge distance from the "dealer" to me, but it will probably take 3 business days to get to me. That means I expect to be riding the scooter late next week. It is 85% assembled. I'll need to uncrate it, mount the front wheel, hook up speedometer cable, prep and install the battery, install the trunk. An online user forum recommends changing the oil in the machine at the time of setup. A student of mine (who happens to be older than I [am old, understood]), who has been riding, rebuilding and restoring motorcycles for years, will help me set this vehicle up.

I have a motorcyle permit, which means that I took a written test at the DMV, and will be able to ride during daytime hours with no passenger. I purchased a helmet, and UPS tells me that it should be delivered on Friday, so life is good.

Did I mention that insurance on the scooter is $75 for the entire year? Did I mention I expect to get 70mpg? Life is good.

May our Lord smile on you today!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Myanmar, Texas, and Oklahoma and a Definition

My kids are all over this summer! Over the weekend, our oldest was in Oklahoma, attending a Beth Moore Conference. Our son was in Brownsville, Texas, where he lives, and ministers. Kim has been in Myanmar for the past four weeks. In a few days (before Sunday), she will be leaving Myanmar and going to Thailand, where she will spend four weeks before returning to the U.S. You can read about her experiences here.

Greg is doing a great job in ministry in Brownsville. He is multi-talented (I'm not sure where he got his artistic creativity), and is working hard to build a Spanish church. I'm proud of you, Greg!

I am currently working in my third basketball camp at Ozark Christian College. This week is High School Girls week. Since there were no camps last year, attendance has fallen off. I worked pretty hard (6:30 AM-11:00 PM) during the Jr. High weeks. This week is a breeze! I've got a pretty good team, and may actually have the girl who will be MVP on my team.


midlife crisis n
1965 : a period of emotional turmoil in middle age characterized esp. by a strong desire for change
n northern, noun
esp especially
Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Why do I give thise definition? Well, my oldest child wondered if my purchase of a motor scooter was a midlife crisis thing. I will admit to looking forward to looking forward to riding, but in reality, it is a matter of economics. With escalating costs of gasoline, a scooter will save me commuting costs. I've been quoted insurance rates of $75/year, which is very reasonable. Listing my youngest child as a part-time driver on my Hyundai will save her lots of money. It is a win-win situation, and will let Kim save up money before she will actually need to purchase another car.

By the way, this evening I called the dealer for the motor scooter and found that it will be shipped to me Friday afternoon/evening. I already have a tracking number, but it won't be trackable online until the shipper picks it up on Friday. It will arrive via UPS Freight (I didn't even know that UPS handled shipments like that). With the holiday, I imagine that it will be delivered on Wednesday or Thursday (July 5-6)!

God is in control. I pray that He will bless each one of your comings and your goings.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Anniversary Gift!

Today is my 31st anniversary. Rose and I got married June 21, 1975. One year later, we were raising funds to go to the mission field, where we spent the next 18 years of our lives. All three kids were born in Chile. We have spent the last 12 years in Joplin, Missouri, but celebrated #30 a year ago in Chile. We'll spend a night in Branson on Friday, kind of celebrating 31 years.

She went to Name Brand Clothing last night with Charissa, and got some excellent buys. I will get my anniversary present in a couple weeks.

I just ordered a Chinese Motor Scooter! For the last several weeks, I have been doing research
, thinking about it. Traditional motorcycle shops don't have much good to say about the Chinese vehicles. The one I ordered is a Tank Urban Touring Deluxe, and comes with pretty good reviews. I actually ordered from a dealer in Wichita, KS. The vehicles will arrive in Wichita in about 10 days, after which time, it will be shipped to Joplin. A student of mine has been building/rebuilding/restoring motorcycles for the last 25 years or so, and has volunteered to help me get it ready.

Here is a picture of what it will look like:

One of the things that I did in researching this particular brand was read a rather extensive blog called The Motorscooter Diary. In reading Commuter Steve's blog, I also came across a guy named John Ebberts, who mentioned taking pictures of the step-by-step process of uncrating and assembling his scooter. At first I considered buying the model Commuter Steve purchased, but for the difference in price, Rose thought the larger scooter looked like it was worth the difference. I e-mailed John Ebberts, who had posted on the other blog that a Microsoft Word document detailing the process was about 5MB. I asked him to send it to me. Instead, he pointed me to a spot on the web where it was posted: Assembling and uncrating a Tank Touring 150 Deluxe. Ebberts (who lives in Florida) purchased his from the same dealer in Wichita. So that you can judge the size of the vehicle compared with an automobile, I'll post a Here is a photo of one that is listed on eBay:

I'll need to get a helmet, but I've got some time to get that done while waiting for shipment. I already have a Motorcycle Permit, which will allow me to drive/ride during daytime hours, no passengers allowed. I'll take my road skills test sometime later, to upgrade the license.

We got Kim's Grand Am sold. She will be living at home. She will share my little Hyundai with me (once she masters the 5-speed). On days with nice weather (really most days of the year), I can scoot. My first class is at 7:00 AM, but I like to come in quite a bit earlier than that.

As the gas prices continue to rise, I'll be driving something more economical.



Monday, June 19, 2006

Kim in SE Asia

I would like all of my faithful blog readers to take time to drop a note (letter or card) to Kim. She is currently in Myanmar (formerly called Burma), but will be going to Thailand within about two weeks. Not knowing exactly how long the mail takes to get to Asia, I will share her address in Thailand with you. She may be feeling down for lack of snail mail. If you would drop her a note now, when she arrives in Thailand, she may be overjoyed to find mail from people that love her. Here is the address:

Kim Fish (NMSI Intern)
c/o Ahtapa Sinlee
PO Box 3
Maetang 50150
Chiang Mai, THAILAND

In case you are not aware of it, she writes weekly updates for her team that are posted here.

Thanks. Hope you are well.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Nathan's 4th Birthday; The Grand Am is Gone; Jr. High Girls BB Camp

Nathan's 4th Birthday

Our oldest grandson, Nathan Gregory Fish (Benson, for those who want a segundo apellido as well) turned 4 years old today. He had a birthday party with friends from the church at Brownsville on S
aturday. He is a bright young man, and is quite loquacious (when he wants to be). I'd like to share a photo of him:

Eli (his younger brother) is getting bigger and bigger all the time (he turned 2 years old in March). Since I was sharing a picture of Nathan, I wanted you all to see Eli as well. Notice that the young guy has great taste when it comes to fashions. I think he is a fan of the Cubs!

The Grand Am is Gone.

Kim's car has been on the market for several months now. It sold today. Before we had left for the funeral in Illinois, I had gone to get the title out of the safety deposit box. I got a call from Van and Tammy Benson about a buyer (it has been sitting on their car lot since May 21). Though I was in basketball camp (an 18/7 job this week), I got someone to cover my spot for about the first 5 minutes of an afternoon game (Thanks, Sharon!), and ran the title over to the lot. I had to get back quickly. The people were coming back at 3:00 to bring a check. Rose went to pick up the check and deposit it in our bank account, then I ran downtown before the evening meal at the camp, to post-date a check to lift the lien (after the check clears). Thanks be to God!

Jr. High Girls Basketball Camp at OCC.

I used to work at OCC's basketball camps frequently. Since I started my doctoral program at Nebraska, I haven't done too much. I will do 3 camps, however, this summer (Jr. High camps for both boys and girls, and Sr. High camp for the girls). Camp started last night (Sunday). I got home about midnight, to turn around and be back on campus before 7 AM. I have 8 girls on my team, one from South Dakota. She's a pretty good ball handler. In three games so far today, we are 1-2. We have two more games yet tonight, but they are inside. Our first game was inside, then the next 2 were outside. Camp will end Wednesday afternoon, the girls will vacate the dorms, and the Jr. High boys will check in that evening.

I usually count this as faculty service, but found out that I will be getting paid at half the rate other coaches receive. It still counts as faculty service. If I were to go to a camp, and receive an offering for the college, after paying expenses, a portion of the amount would be mine. That's how this will be treated. God is good!

Well, my girls play again in 12 minutes. Blessings to you all!


Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Quiet Testimony of a Christian Man of Integrity

We were saddened to receive the tragic news of the death of Harley Mitchell last Tuesday. Three of us (Rose, my Mom, and I) just returned from Joliet, IL, where we attended his funeral. The word amazing, which is generally overused, is not sufficient to describe what we saw.

We left Joplin on Wednesday afternoon after Rose got off work. We stayed just east of St. Louis that night, continuing on to Joliet. Joliet has a couple major racetracks, and Saturday was a race day, so it was virtually impossible to find a motel room in Joliet. We got a Hotwire room in Naperville, just about 30 miles to the north. When we arrived in the area, we went by the home, where we saw Lola and Sharon Mitchell (Jack's wife) who had just arrived from Chile. Jack & Sharon serve as World Team missionaries in Chile (we enjoyed a meal in their home last summer). Visitation was scheduled at the funeral home from 4:00-8:00 PM. Being from Joplin, where visitation at a funeral home lasts an average of 2 hours, I thought 4 hours for the visitation was too long. Was I ever wrong! People started arriving about 3:40. The last people to visit left at 10:45 PM! It lasted 7 hours and 5 minutes! About 10:00 PM, the funeral home director locked the front door, or more people would have come by. Harley was very well known in the community, and much loved. Many people arrived early the next day for the funeral, saying that they had not been able to get in the day before because of the crowds.

I spoke at the funeral, as did Jack Mitchell. The actual funeral sermon was given by Jeff Robinson, minister at Lincolnway Christian Church. I will include my comments below:

Harley was a man who loved Scripture. I have spent many nights in his home, both on E. Washington St. in Joliet, and in the current home in Elwood. Every morning, usually around the breakfast table, Scripture was read. That pattern goes back as far as I can remember. One of the tests of the faithfulness of a man is to look at his children. Harley's boys are a living testimony to the living faith that he and Lola exhibited. Jim, Jerry and Jack have lived lives of faith, and have brought up their children (Harley's grandchildren) in the training and instruction of the Lord.

For that very reason, out of the enormous amount of texts that could be read at this moment, it was extremely difficult for me to decide which text to read. Harley loved so many of them. I have chosen, however, to read two texts from the gospel of John, and it is my prayer that the reading of these texts would resonate in the hearts and minds of all of us, as we grieve our loss of our dearly beloved brother, Harley.

John 14:1-6--“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”  5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (English Standard Version)

John 11:21-27-- Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (English Standard Version)

My family moved to Joliet in 1959. At the time, Harley and Lola were in the newly-married category of life. My memory of Lola goes back further in history than my memory of Harley. I can remember her smiling face as a teacher of children at our church, and I benefited from that. As a child, I saw Harley doing deacon things at the church, but really didn't have a relationship with him at the time. My first memory of him came when I was a bit older, say about 13-14 years old. Maybe it was from fear that the three boys would terrorize a teen-aged female babysitter, but for whatever reason, I ended up being a baby sitter of the boys. I wasn't really that much older than their boys, and yet they deposited confidence in me as a reliable person, in whose care to place their 3 rambunctious boys. I remember going to the old Riverview Amusement Park with the family. I don't know why I was invited to go along with the family—I just remember that I was included. But that was part of what made Harley special. If I were forced to come up with a list of adjectives to describe him, generous would certainly be near the top of my list.

Now as a preacher, I am not averse to stealing someone else's sermon. If I do, I generally give the author credit for it, especially if the author is present. That is what I intend to do right now. My good friend, Dave Schultz, has a relationship to the Mitchell family that is similar to my own. He is a journalist in Huntington, IN. I enjoy going to his newpaper's online site to read his columns. His pieces are generally very good. His column from the Thursday edition, was a very, very, very good piece. I want to read it to you now. It was titled: Shirttail Relation, and a Good Man:

The news hits home sometimes, and it hurts those of us who report it as much as it hurts anyone else.

This time it's a fatal traffic accident. It's not here (it's not even in Indiana), and it's not an immediate family member, but that doesn't ease the pain one whit.

To tell you the facts, dispassionately: Harley Mitchell, 67, Elwood, Ill., was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident near his home Tuesday afternoon. He died when his minivan pulled into the path of a large truck carrying epoxy resin.

I read the account of the accident on the Joliet Herald-News online edition yesterday. Nuts and bolts stuff, good reporting. Right there, in black and white, illuminated by the background glow of a computer monitor, was news that affected me.

The brief account doesn't begin to tell you what kind of a man this was. Humor me a second.

Who was he? He was my brother-in-law's father. I have one sibling, Linda, and Harley's son Jerry married her. Harley was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a businessman, and a terrific guy.

My father died in 1982 when my daughter was 4. My kids' other grandfather died in 1987 when the kids were 9, 4, and 2. As one of my sons put it Tuesday night, Harley was the only grandfather he'd ever really known. High praise for a man who would otherwise merely be a shirttail relation.

I marvel, sometimes, about why and how people make connections. I see family members sometimes who can't stand each other and I see others who just lose track of each other. Then there are others who become close for reasons that can only be ascribed to ways beyond human understanding.

My own family is rather dinky. My mom was an only child; she had two kids; each of those two kids have three kids. (My daughter is adamant that the progression stops there. She is not ever going to have four kids, she says.) We can push together a couple of tables at a restaurant for a family reunion.

So when we went “home” to Illinois for Thanksgiving, we were invited to hang out with the Mitchells. Harley was the paterfamilias for those gatherings, bringing a supply of those gold-colored dollar coins for prizes for the competitions - darts, ping-pong, dominoes, video games, whatever.

We needed to get to Chicago to see a basketball game one evening; he insisted on driving. It wasn't his son that was playing, nor was it his grandson. His son's nephew by marriage was the one that was playing. No matter. Off we went. He even bought supper.

No wonder that young man says that Harley was the only grandfather he ever knew. There was a connection made for me and my family, and all this by a man who is my children's uncle's father, my sister's father-in-law.

It's going to be hard saying goodbye. It's been easy knowing him.
Source: Schultz, Dave. Huntington (IN) Herald-Press, June 8, 2006.

I graduated from high school, and went off to college. My own family moved away from Joliet, but there was always a sense that Joliet was home for me. After college, I went to the mission field, where I spent nearly twenty years. As I would come back to Joliet, our landing place in the area was 1511 E. Washington St. Harley and Lola served faithfully as our forwarding agents for about 13 years of our missionary service. My oldest daughter still has fond memories of staying in the Mitchell home when she was just a toddler. My recollection is that the Mitchell's gave up the forwarding agent detail in 1992, and we returned from the mission field just two years later. Any trip that I have had through Joliet, has taken me out to the current home in Elwood. I've even taken some of my college professor colleagues to spend a night there!

How would I describe Harley Mitchell to you? I've already mentioned his generosity. Let me describe him as a man who loved Jesus, and who loved his family. His life was marked by dedication and devotion. He was a kind Christian man, husband, father and grandfather. During all the years that I have known him, he has been an example of what a Christ follower is to be. I have been spiritually enriched by knowing him.

Harley R. Mitchell is survived by his wife of 48 years, Lola M. (nee Berg); three sons, Jim (Kim) of Joliet, Jerry (Linda) of New Lenox and Jack (Sharon) Mitchell of Santiago, Chile; ten granchildren, Kelly (Mike) Hasselbring, Kristen, Keith, Kevin, Dawn, Army, Greg, Brittany, Daniel and Timothy Mitchell; also numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Rosa (Ashbaugh) Mitchell; two sisters, Mildred Evans and Marjorie Troutman; one brother, Alfred Mitchell, Jr.

We, who knew him, grieve at his death. But his passing is our loss, not his! He is in a much better place now. I've already mentioned to you the devotional Bible reading around the Mitchell breakfast table. I want to share with you all information that Jack e-mailed from Chile just before he headed to the airport to come home:

I'm so thankful that my Dad had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He was a beautiful person, kind, giving, loving. Yesterday, the same day of his accident, my Mom and he were having their daily time of Bible reading and prayer together early in the morning. Afterward, they sang a hymn together, "Jesus is tenderly calling me home, calling today, calling today . . ." And that is just what the Lord did.

Harley loved to listen to bands and orchestras. Today, he's in the presence of his LORD! I can only imagine the glory that he is seeing today. But I imagine a tremendous choir singing praises to God. I imagine an incredible band and orchestra, with bold brass instruments and mellow woodwinds. I imagine the best string section ever heard, as all the voices and instruments combine in praise and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jack alluded to words from a popular worship song composed by Matt Redman. I imagine this heavenly host singing/playing this tune. Let me share the lyrics, especially appropriate for all of us gathered today:

Blessed Be Your Name, by Matt Redman

Album: Where Angels Fear to Tread

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Harley's death is our loss, but his gain.

I pray that God will bring His sweet comfort to the Mitchell family. Please remember to pray for them.

Here are some important links:
Dave Schultz's column in the Huntington Herald-Press
Article from the Joliet Herald News
Article (slightly different--same author) in the Chicago Sun-Times

Blessings upon you all!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tragic News

This evening I received a call from Leslie Anderson (graduate of OCC who is the children's minister at Lincolnway Christian Church in New Lenox, IL). She informed me that Harley Mitchell, who with his wife Lola served as forwarding agents for us for about 13 years when we were in Chile, was killed in a traffic accident this afternoon near his home in Elwood, IL.

Harley was the owner of Mitchell's Food Mart in Joliet. He was a dedicated Christian man, father and grandfather. I called the family home, and spoke with his sons, Jim and Jerry briefly. Their youngest son, Jack, has served as a missionary to Chile for over ten years. We visited Jack and his family in Chile last year when we were there. I called Chile to speak with Jack also. He and his wife, Sharon, will leave tomorrow night to return to the U.S.

Rose and I will plan to travel to the Chicago area for funeral services.

A couple of passages of Scripture come to mind. The pain and grief of the moment pale in comparison to our hope.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Bible : English standard version.(Php 1:6).

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. (Ro 8:18).

Our Lord Jesus began a work in Harley Mitchell's life many years ago. That work is completed. The family (we also) grieves his loss. Harley is now in glory. Through tears we will remember Harley, but in the light of eternity, our grief will be short-lived. Present sufferings and grief will fade in comparison to the glory that has been revealed already to Harley. As Jack said just a few minutes ago, "That is our consuelo!!"

May the Lord comfort the afflicted, and give them His peace!