Bland, Bob & Bernie (Fall 2009)

The Bland Diet – Fall 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

On June 1st we moved out of our house to the Lord’s Boot Camp and on September 23, we returned to our home after five Boot Camps, three Debriefs and 8,000 miles of driving!

The Boot Camps were some of the best ever. The numbers were down some as is everything else; however, the quality of the teams and the accomplishments were great with several hundred decisions for Christ. Many answered the call to full-time Christian service!

Our road trip after Debrief took us to Ohio for the Christian Union Council, then we were on to St. Louis with a stopover in Evansville, IN, where the Tabernacle is now on display at Telling the Truth (TTT) Ministries run by George, Mary and Tami Dooms. By evening, we were in St. Louis and spoke at the Zion City Church on Sunday morning. It was a great time of blessing to be a part of their service and the music was great. Rev. Richard Hunter is doing a great work in a hard place.

Bernie, Cathy (our daughter) and I drove to Joplin, Missouri that afternoon, so we could be in Sulfur Springs, Arkansas, the next morning to have breakfast with Mrs. J. Lee Steele, or Lucy Steele Presshall as her married name is now. Her husband, John, was a pleasant man and very dedicated to the things of the Lord. Rev. Steele had a major impact on my spiritual life. We wanted to express our thanks to her for their ministry to us.

After breakfast, we journeyed to Enid, Oklahoma and stayed with David Stubbs. Cathy and David grew up together as we had with David’s parents, Joe and Joan Stubbs. We grew up together in the Alma area. Joe is a Christian Union minister. After two days and two opportunities to share about Teen Missions International (TMI), we started out for Durango, Colorado. We visited with Candy Carr and her husband, Gary. Candy was on our first Teen Missions team to Mexico, and Gary oversees the Narrow Gauge Railroad that runs from Durango through the Rockies to Silverton. They offered to provide free tickets for the day tour, but being pressed for time, we declined. He did take us on a private tour to the Round House where we got up into the steam locomotives and saw the inside workings. We are sure it was better than the train ride. While there, we checked on the possibility of a mountain bike team for TMI. What a scenic area!

A three-day drive took us across the Rockies and to the Keats Island Camp in British Columbia, Canada. We went through the beautiful Yakima Valley with all its apple and peach orchards and vineyards.  Keats Island is a very nice camp, more like the Holiday Inn type. From there we traveled two days to Banff Provincial Park. It is awesome in beauty and a great place to see some of God’s majesty on display.

Next day we were off to Calgary, Alberta. Former TMI staffer, Rob Loewen, who married a Bible, Missionary & Work Training Center (BMW) student, Mary Beth, found out we were coming through and called requesting to have dinner with them and their seven-month old son. Rob is one of the pastors of a very, very large CMA church in Calgary. Traveling a day across the vast prairie (which lead-foot Cathy loved), we finally got to Camp Outlook, the new TMI base in Canada. A team of 13 was there from Florida painting the place–all 12 cabins, kitchen, dining room, chapel and three other buildings. There is a ¾ mile walking bridge a few hundred yards from the camp, which spands the Saskatoon River. Dave McCullough, whose daughter was on a team to Uganda, is one of the officials of the village of Outlook and was very helpful to TMI in getting a 50-year lease on the camp for $1. We stayed with Wayne and Jean Vaxvick who treated us royally with our own apartment. They are all such wonderful people! Mr. McCullough also provided Greg and Amy Reddekopp with a house to live in until we could find a home for them. While we were there, God led us to a place that was reasonably priced, which TMI purchased. The reason for moving TMI Canada west is because that is the area from which most of our team members come.

Next was a two-day drive to Minneapolis, MN. Cathy had to fly back to PA from there. We enjoyed the three weeks together and all her driving. Our hotel was a few blocks from the “Mall of the America.” Just my luck! Two hours there was enough for me. Cathy and Bernie needed more. The next day, I met with Bruce Chicocee, his staff and some board members. They have an interest in bringing the Old Testament Tabernacle there next year. We shared and will wait to hear their decision. After the noon meeting, we continued to Yorkstown, IL, and were able to spend the night with Tom and Linnea Bonnenberger. Linnea (Duell) was on several teams and traveled with Bernie and I on several overseas trips. It was a special time and we hated to leave the next morning. Nay Nay, as she was known in our family (because that is what Joel Ray, our grandson, called her), packed us a goody bag for our trip to Chillicothe.

Bernie’s sister, Esther, had a room for us while we were in Chillicothe, and we enjoyed the Bland Reunion and a special Sunday speaking at Alma Church where I grew up. I also spoke at Mt. Tabor Church, where Bernie grew up, and where we attended after we were married. The Sunday before, we spoke at Waverly Bible Christian, a place close to my heart. My uncle took me there as a child, and we know most of the people there. What a joy that day was!

We got to visit my brother, Bill, and his wife, Esther. Both are in a rest home in Chillicothe and neither are doing well. We also visited the Kramers and Danetta who runs our MSSM office in Chillicothe. One day I got to go to my favorite flea market in the hills of southern Ohio and a farm sale, where I purchased some antique tools, which is my hobby.  Bernie says they are just junk, but of course, to me they are treasures.

On Sunday morning, we spoke at the Garden City Christian Union Church. They had a great dinner for us and we enjoyed the fellowship. Bernie mentioned it was one of the friendliest churches we visited. Keisha Garber came to visit us there. She is caring for an ailing mother and father, but it is her heart’s desire to go back to Africa with TMI.

On Monday, we drove in the rain all day, and the next day we made it home ready to start TMI’s five days of Field Conference followed by, three days of “spring” house cleaning in the fall. Monday, October 5th, is the day we start on next year’s team copy. Also, we are trying to get caught up on scores of emails from the overseas bases. This is the month the money wires go to countries which is needed for Boot Camps, BMWs, bases and staff at the 28 TMI bases.

During October, we made quick flight to Florida from Ohio to marry our granddaughter, Tara Brene (Robin’s daughter), to Robert Brozman. Tara Brene is a nurse at Cape Canaveral Hospital. Robert has a storage business and they have a house near Cocoa.

Pray for:

*the new 2010 (40th Anniversary) Boot Camp Team Brochure

*AIDS Orphans Benefit Concert in Miami on November 23

*Bob and Bernie’s trip to Africa. Lord willing, we are scheduled to be in Malawi from early January until mid-March and plan to visit Zambia and Uganda also. We are looking for adults to join us for the 2nd and 3rd week of January in Malawi. Contact the office about Adult Teams for more information.

Thank you once again for being our partners in this ministry. We so do appreciate you. Pray much for us.

Bob and Bernie



  1. This is Avenel Joseph. Just wanted you to know that I am one of the thousands that have been blessed through tmi. I did MTA96, Haiti 97, England canal 98, Germany99, Ecuador00. I took a pause and work for couple of years in Venezuela (01-04); Now I work as worship leader for my church and Brooklyn NY and Travel to Haiti on a regular basis to help my church (where I met TMI in 95 Pastor Joel R Jeune in carrefour. I still carry my verse packet.. and try to live out the training I received from TMI.
    May the Grace of our Lord be with you, now and always may you stay blameless till He come.

  2. Hello Bob,
    I hope you remember me because I will never forget you. I was looking at the TMI web site, You and Bernie look good and Judging from your description of your trip, you have not slowed down. That is good. I am glad to see that Teen Missions is doing good. I missed those days which were the best days of my life. I know that when I was with you serving the Lord, you would put me in charge of something. I did not always make the best decision but I made the best decision base on the circumstance at the time. I do aplogize for all the mistakes I made while there but I am really proud of the lives which I touched that (1972) summer in Washington D.C. with the Dial-A-Teen team.
    Thank you for making me the person i am today.
    Tom Weaver
    Fort worth, TX

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