Archive for November, 2013

Exploring San Antonio
November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today JoLene and I drove to San Antonio, nearly a two-hour drive, to spend a half day seeing some of the sights. We rode the red City Bus, with its narration of the main points of interest.

I suppose the best-known site in this city is the Alamo.


It was originally named the Mision San Antonio de Valero, and served as home to missionaries and Indian converts to Catholic Christianity for 70 years. In the 1800s the mission became a military headquarters, occupied at various times by Spanish, Rebel and Mexican forces. It played a critical role in the Texas Revolution against Mexico. In February 1836 General Santa Anna, President of Mexico, and his soldiers surrounded the Texans – about 200 of them –  in the Alamo. The defenders held out for 13 days. Then Santa Anna’s men were victorious, killing every Revolutionary fighter in the Alamo.

In April of that same year General Sam Houston led the Texans in defeating Santa Anna’s forces in the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. This battle lasted only 18 minutes and led to the Republic of Texas becoming an independent nation, which continued until Texas joined the United States in 1845.

The iconic Alamo building we see today was originally a church and is only a small part of the original Alamo complex.


Here you see the plot  plan for the entire Alamo. The large rectangular space in the foreground marks the walls of the Alamo. The church (its facade is shown in my first photo above) is the small structure in the upper right section of the plot plan. Evidently during the battle of the Alamo the “church” served as ammunition storage.

Reflecting on the friendly relations between Mexicans and Texans today, I pondered the thought that surely there must be a better way than war to lead to friendship.

Later we rode an elevator up the Tower of the Americas.


A 750-foot tall observations tower and restaurant. As we had lunch in the Chart House restaurant, the restaurant slowly revolved a full circle so we had awesome views of the entire city.


Yes, the person sitting at the barely-visible table is JoLene.

Extensive water features are found on the grounds below the Tower.


San Antonio has an attractive River Walk.


Since today was cold and windy, we did not follow the River Walk.


During the bus tour we saw this creative and impressive mural.

As for birding, en route to San Antonio through ranch lands we got a brief glimpse of the striking Crested Caracara.

Crested Caracara

I went on the internet and found this superb photo by Matthew Studebaker. You can check out his work at

I am also seeing many White-winged doves.

White-winged Dove

This image is from John Schwarz at

What city have you visited recently? Or  what notable birds have you sighted?

Texas Capitol
November 26, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today we and Glenn and Joyce went to Austin to tour the State Capitol building.

On the Capitol grounds we saw this cowboy and his bucking mount.

Smithville 003 RE

If the cactus was stabbing the horse’s legs, no wonder he was bucking!

Smithville 002 RE

Smithville 017 RE

The main building stone is Texas red granite.

Smithville 011 RE

A high school choir was singing in the rotunda.

Smithville 019 RE

Looking up in the rotunda, you see interior of the dome. You can’t miss, of course, the Lone Star in the top center.

Smithville 022 RE

Facing one side of the Capitol is the First United Methodist Church. I thank God for every witness for Christ and the church in this and every state capital.

Spending Time in Texas
November 24, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

We are in Smithville Texas to visit Glenn and Joyce Ginder. As many of our readers know, Joyce and JoLene are sisters.

We went with Joyce and Glenn to their home church here, First United Methodist of Smithville. On one wall, above a bank of candles, is an art piece about the life of Christ.



And here are two views of what I would call an old-fashioned stained glass window.



DSCN2360 RE 2


For all of you I wish peace and safety for you as you follow the Good Shepherd.

The Avila Girls
November 24, 2013

We just received some new photos from Melanie, and we thought you may be interested.



Samaya and Genesis





Kayla (such a serious look!) and Melanie

We thank God for our family near and far.