Autobiography Abbeville, Big Woods and China

I was staying in Abbeville with my paternal grandmother and my family came back from the Federated States of Micronesia where we had all been in Chuuk together. I had been spending some time together with my only sister who had not made the journey. Sarah was married had a daughter named Alyse and had graduated with a top ranking and perfect grade point average from LSU. She was giving birth to her second daughter Anika at about that time. I became Anika’s godfather. The role of parrain is very important to me and to some others around me. The rest of my family came back after my mother had come backto be with Sarah and the children and her husband.

We all moved into a tiny house (for us a very crowded one) near the railroad tracks in Abbeille. Mom and Dad began building a large home on the smaller farm called the Big Woods Farm which was part of a larger feature called Big Woods and which had been part of my Dad’s large family farm when I was growing up. This would be a long process it seemed with my mother shopping for bargains on materials and her brother Bruce working as the contractor as well as one of the hands on carpenters.

My sister Susanna had taken off some time after high school to do missions and now she began college at Franciscan University of Steubenville where I had won the Sophomore Class Award. My godchild and sister Mary MAgdalen finished up her high school carreer at Vermilion Catholic High School. Which is on the same large campus as Mount Carmel Elementary School in Abbeville. By Christmas of their first year’s in these places we had moved into  the Big Woods home. At Big Woods my parents founded Family Missions Company which carried on much of the legacy of  our family’s earlier mission work in a variety of forms. This work goes on as of this wrting: www.fmcmissions.com . I have played a variety of minor roles but never been a real part of the company.

My sister Sarah and her husband had some real marital problems while they were living together in a community we had long relationships with in Georgia. I went and stayed with them for a while and brought Sarah and her kids back for our second Christmas at Big Woods (I think the second).  But she and Jason reconciled and he took a more purposeful path at Yale.

I went with my mother, brother John Paul and others on a pilgrimage to Grand Pre in Acadie Canada. We traveled to Domino Farms in Michigan to visit Susanna at FUS, Niagara falls, to historical sites in Boston, to the Shrine of the First North American Martyrs, and to visit my sister Sarah who was working at Yale’s Project on Nonprofit Organizations (PONPO) while her hubbie Jason was studying at Yale Divinity School. We had met up with her and her daughters at Niagara Falls and vacationed there. Some of the stops I mention were made on the way back but our trip’s high point for me was the sacred and powerful time in Acadie. The sense of union with my Acadian heritage was very meaningful to me.

I came back and Dad transferred a very small farm to me called the Rock-a-Bye Tract One which I improved a good bit and later returned to him. The words buy and sell could be used but these family transactions are not the same as ordinary purchases really. I worked with this farm and distributed my mother memoirs Go! You are Sent around the country and the world along with other tasks.  In the summer of 2000 I went alone on a long train trip. My mother met me at the end of it. I had business in Virginia and Alabama but also went to New Haven to watch Jason graduate, treat Sarah to a birthday celebration and bond with Alyse and Anika.

On return in August of 2000 I began work as a substitute teacher for the Vermilion Parish School Board and continued to do the work on my farm and business doing this. While I was subbing my sister Susanna married Mike and at this writing they have Michael, Anthony, Dominic and Thomas. Susanna’s wedding was held in Mexico out of our family home and mission base once part of the palace of the Marquess de Aglaya to which I had then and later would make many short trips. Mary would marry Chris and they have Eli, James, Cecilia and Naomi. Sarah and Jason moved back and forth to Europe had  awonderful son named Soren and got divorced. In 2001 I got a job as a sportswriter. I had written for newspaers in and around my college years but had drifted out of all of this. Now my carreer began with the 9-11 attacks and in my first game story I wrote of the courage, grief and patriotism of students at the game and the Marines carrying the flag at the game. I now kept up teaching, writing and continued the other things I was doing.The school system and other parts of my life were battered by a series of storms less famous than Katrina and Rita’s joint devastation years later. Just as that whole pattern was coming to an end I attended the Health and Life Insurance License  required training offered by Insurance Specialty Training of Louisiana. I completed the course successfully. I then took the test, passed it and got my license. However, I was unable to find a real job selling insurance and have since let my license lapse.

The storms had a lot to do with me looking for a change. In 2004 I went to China. It was acountry I had always wanted to visit. I flew into Hong Kong hoping  to take a train from there. Instead I flew the rest of the way. I taught at the Shandong Institute of Business and Technology. The school offered me quite a few opportunities though teaching abroad always has risks and is not for everyone. For years i have effectivly used the following site to link with the school www.sdibt.edu.cn ,    just as I post this it seems to have gone offline. Maybe it will come back. I taught in several of the colleges within the university including the China Canada Higher Applied Technology  college the link for which was working as I  wrote this post http://zj.sdibt.edu.cn/en/about_about.htm . I had wonderful students and a full load. From several of my classrooms I had a fabulous view of the Yellow Sea and a small view of it from my apartment. I toured extensively in Yantai, Shandong where I lived and in other places. I finished a semester having taught almost a year’s load of courses completely.  Due to passport and visa paperwork problems I left early and was not able to return but had no calsses left in progress though others were scheduled to start. I returned feeling somewhat transformed to the United States fairly early in 2005.

Me backpacking in Kunyu National Park, Shandong, China

Me backpacking in Kunyu National Park, Shandong, China

4 responses to “Autobiography Abbeville, Big Woods and China

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