March 16, 2015


It usually doesn’t take but a few minutes talking with someone to know what their passion is in life; whether it is their faith, children, grandchildren, jobs, flowers, etc. In just a few minutes visiting with Kendal Martel you learn she has “found her niche” living in Africa working for the peace corp. She is a Forestry Extension Agent working with the L.I.F.E. program, “Linking Income, Food & the Environment” in the Ntekete village in the Mkushi District of Zambia. Her philosophy is giving them knowledge, not money. She works physically hard planting gardens with handmade tools to convince the farmers there are other profitable crops other than corn and tomatoes. She has introduced them to cantaloupes, melons, kale, spinach, dill, egg plants, broccoli and other plants. She speaks the Bemba language proficiently to teach workshops; going for days without speaking English. One of her favorite projects using perma cultural gardens in educating HIV patients with the importance of how orange sweet potatoes can provide for vitamin A deficiency.

Kendal lives near her “host” family, a hard working successful farmer with 8 children that include 3-4 orphans. She has her own two room grass hut with no heat, air or water. Living in the Texas heat has acclimated her to Africa’s heat. In June and July, the temperatures are their coolest, dipping into the 50’s. A nearby well and stream furnishes water for the village until the dry season when there is no water available. During that time she rides her bike, which is her only means of transportation, 30 to 40 minutes to carry water back to her hut. Most of the time she is barefoot or wears rubber boots. She carried overalls from Pouland’s back to Africa.

The village she lives in has about 1,000 people. There is a school with grades one through five and when school lets out at 1PM, the kids love to go work in the school gardens. Kendal said Africa may be financially poor but in terms of family, community, friends, they are very wealthy. In the evenings, whole families sit around a fire listening to folk tales and laughing a lot. She said, it is the hardest work she has ever done but it is also the most rewarding being surrounded by God’s creation. On weekends she enjoys the solitude of long walks in the bush. She has never felt frightened in this middle of nowhere and the villagers are very protective of her. Kendal’s trip to Texas was twofold; a homecoming to be with friends and family and also to be a part of her little sister’s wedding, Kayla Martel to Adam Mary in Waco. Kendal was a bit worried about having to wear heels. She said she did fine but slipped into “flip flops” soon after the wedding ceremony to enjoy dancing.

Andrea received a phone call from Patsy Kissee, a former Diboll resident, just wanting to find out how everyone is doing in Diboll and tell them “hello” from her home in Missouri. Michael Henley, another former Diboll resident, stopped by the store while in town visiting. He is the nephew of Willie and Bobbie Capps and cousin of Richard and Jason Capps. Upon completing his high school education he joined the US Army and has been around the world serving two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. He’s since retired as the result of an injury in Afghanistan. He was happy to be back in East Texas to enjoy some hog hunting. He and his wife Leah and two children; Ellie age 4 and Nick, age 1 live in Indiana Mound, TN where Michael is presently studying Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Retired Southern Baptist preacher, Doug Holtzclaw, from Goldthwaite enjoys gardening. He came in and bought Quik Pic purple hull pea seed and wanted to know if he could charge them on his brother-in-law’s account, Jesse Bradford. When Andrea hesitated, he decided to pay for the seeds. Poor Mike Gibson comes in everyday looking to see if we‘ve gotten in any new seeds. He buys seeds every time he comes in and is so anxious to plant but is so frustrated because he can’t do anything with all the mud in his garden.

John Ralph, Mark Hafernick and myself enjoyed visiting with John L. Strain when he came in to the round table. We learned that Mark coached John’s son, Jonathan, in T-Ball and we also discussed a lot of subjects and looked at lots of pictures on John L’s I-pad. To say “He loves to hunt” is an understatement! He recently sold two ‘hunting’ properties in Kansas to purchase one in Oklahoma which in only five hours from home. He and his wife Jackie love the new spacious retreat and the wooded acres with deer and turkeys and ponds stocked with bass. In his recent pictures everything was covered with snow. While hunting in New Zealand, where Jackie killed a red stag, John had pictures of them with another couple. John noticed the guy was wearing a Cabela’s shirt but it took two days of visiting with him to casually discover he was the “Mr. Cabela” who founded the original “Cabela’s”. John and Jackie have 3 grandchildren. 14-year-old Jillian, an active “extreme cheer” participant in statewide competition; her mom is Jayan. 4-1/2 year old Jaxson John and 2-year-old Corban Richard belong to Jonathan and Sarah Strain.

Speaking of celebrities, Mark and Ann Hafernick rubbed elbows with lots of them at the recent Cowboys and Cowboys Sky Ranch Gala in Dallas where their daughter, Lauren Johnston, is deeply involved as Development and Event Manager for this hugely successful million dollar fund raiser. SKY RANCH exists to provide people with a positive, recreational, fun, and memorable experience, while being exposed to the truths of the Word of God. Since 1955, Sky Ranch has made its mission to lead youth and families to know and follow Christ. Funds raised at the Cowboys and Cowboys Sky Ranch Gala support the ministry and the Scholarship Gift Program, which provide opportunities for children facing circumstances beyond their control to attend a life-changing week of Summer Camp. Three-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowl selection, Darren Woodson was the Honorary Celebrity Chair Person for this year’s event and Celebrity Co Chairs were Walt Garrison and Rope Myers. Mark shared his photo taken with 1976 Heisman Trophy winner, Tony Dorsett, whose 12-year-old daughter impressed the crowd with the singing of our National Anthem. He also enjoyed visiting with Darren Woodson and Drew Pearson.

Don’t forget March 28th is the date for the annual plant sale by the Angelina County Master Gardeners at the Farmers’ Market. That same date at 6PM will the Annual Southern Gospel Concert at Calvary Baptist Church, benefiting “Relay for Life”. It’s free but a love offering will be taken for the American Cancer Society.

Come see us…’round the table.