It wasn’t too long after we arrived, that Rico and Ashley arrived at the house. Rico is a young man (now living in Charlotte, NC) that George had taken under his wing quite a few years ago as his mentor. It was great to see, and hear, the impact that George has made on Rico’s life. Rico and Ashley are newlyweds, getting married just a few months ago, so between the Grahams, and the Allens, there was plenty of Godly counsel on the blessings (and challenges) of marriage bouncing back on forth across that table.
Rico is also an Air Force member that will be deploying soon as a Chaplains Assistant. We had the privilege of sharing some of our military expertise with him as well. George is currently Active Duty Army (I don’t hold that against him :-), and I am retired Air Force with prior service in the Army, so we could certainly relate to Rico and his new bride, Ashley.
By this time, the aroma of breakfast had consumed the house, and the kids (young ladies actually) were bringing food to the table. Wow, they were not messing around. George even pulled out some of his “special blend” sausage from a recent hunting trip, to complement the “spread”. We had a great time of fellowship, “breaking bread” and communing with our longtime, and newfound friends. After a while, it was time for Rico and Ashley to head out, so, as I commonly do, I asked if I could pray over them as a couple, and for Rico’s pending deployment; believing that God would use him mightily, and protect him during his absence.
Our time with the Grahams was winding down as well; it wasn’t too long before we had to prepare ourselves to get back on the road. As we started to head back up to the coach, George blessed our ministry with some food supplies that we could pass on as the opportunities presented themselves along to way. We got back up to the coach, took a few photos, and we closed out our fellowship with prayer. We exchanged hugs with everyone, and thanked them for their hospitality. They left to go back to the house and get their truck, to lead us out of the neighborhood, and back to interstate 20. As we approached the highway, George and Kem pulled off; with a couple of “honks” on the air horn, we were on our way, heading east.
By that time, we had already decided that we were going to “sneak in” on my Mom in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. A trip to visit Mom was long overdue, so we finalized our “strategy” as we made our way through Georgia, and into South Carolina. I contacted my sister, so that she could check with my Mom, to ensure that she was going to be in town over the weekend (we had to make sure because my Mom likes to travel as well). I guess the saying is true; “fruit don’t fall far from the tree” :-) Once I found out that she would be home for the weekend, I knew that our “surprise” was a GO. Our plan was to travel all the way to Rocky Mount on Saturday, and surprise Mom at church on Sunday morning; we’ll tell you more about that later, but I will say that I contacted my Mom’s pastor to let him know that I was “sneaking in”, and to see if it was OK for us to park “Destiny” in their church parking lot; he gave us a “thumbs up”.
We continued our long travel day; we were listening to “March Madness”, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, on the radio. Reception was in and out, but we were able catch quite a bit of it and stay current on the standings. It was a bitter/sweet moment when we came up on “South of the Border”; this is an amazing tourist stop just “south of the border” before you cross the state line into North Carolina. The place is awesome, but it reminds me of a “bitter” memory of me “accidentally” closing my daughter’s (Alisha) finger in the car door during one of our visits there, many year ago. It’s “sweet” because I knew that we were closing in on our destination for the evening.
It wasn’t long and we were transitioning from Highway 20E, onto Highway 95, heading north. Highway 95N was our final long stretch heading into Rocky Mount. As the sun began to set, we were pulling in to Rocky Mount, and my Mom’s church (Showers of Blessing Christian Center). As I pulled in to the parking lot, I noticed that a police officer was parked near the entry; I stopped to inform the officer that I had permission from the Pastor to park in the parking lot. She gave us the OK and we slowly made our way to the other side of the church where we would be out of the way (so we thought :-) We got settled in for the night, turned on the generator, and watched some of the “Sweet 16” NCAA Tournament, while eating some dinner. That was a long travel day, but we were in place for the “Big Surprise” in the morning …