This year has been full of firsts for the quartet and August was yet another first. The Lord had led us to the great state of Texas and we were excited since it would be the first time the quartet had ever traveled to Texas for a tour. Once, many years ago, we were coming back home from Shreveport, Louisiana and popped over the line at a Texas welcome center, sang a song for the staff there and took a group photo at the “Welcome to Texas” sign. Ever since then we’ve wanted to go back for a full tour. Travis Patterson is the pastor of two churches near Houston and Gary suggested I contact him about having the quartet come out for a couple of concerts. Gary and Travis’ wife Aimee are cousins, and I attended Southern with Travis and sang with him in Die Meistersinger male chorus. Knowing a pastor ahead of time always makes it easier to book a concert, especially if he knows and enjoys our music. Travis was eager to have us and once we worked out the dates, we just had to find a third concert for Friday night. Gary came through once again and suggested I contact another of his pastor friends whom he knows from living in Kansas City. Pastor James Milam and his family now live in the Houston area and lead the congregation of the Houston International SDA Church. When I contacted Pastor Milam he was happy to host us for a Friday night concert. The trip was long and it was a relief to finally reach the Texas state line. We thought about singing at the welcome center but there was no one to sing to, so we sang in the restroom since the acoustics were so good. A couple of men who came in while we were singing seemed to enjoy the music but some of the others weren’t very impressed! As we left, we kept with tradition and took some photos by the large sculpture of the Lone Star State. At one of our gas stops we parked by a man who had an antique Massey-Ferguson tractor on a trailer. Ryan and I were admiring it and the man offered to start it up for us. As he did so, he forgot that it was in gear and it lurched forward! Fortunately it was tied down and didn’t go far, but it was still a little scary. He told us that the tractor had been sitting for years in a field and all he had to do was put in fresh gas and new spark plugs and it started right up. We were impressed with such a well-built machine from days gone by. As we drove on, we went through a barren stretch of miles with only a few oil derricks here and there (which I thought was awesome!) Suddenly we started slowing down and Gary started pulling off the road. He said the van had just stopped as if it was out of gas, but the fuel gauge said there was still a quarter of a tank. Amazingly we had stopped right in front of the first sign of civilization we’d seen for many miles, a subdivision of houses. Gary was able to pull in and then stopped in front of the first house on the right. After trying to start the van again with no success, we determined that it was truly out of gas, even though the gauge still read ¼ of a tank and no fuel light had turned on. The family at the house was home and although they seemed a little hesitant to help strangers, the husband agreed to take Tim and Gary to the nearest gas station. He had a gas tank and even offered to pay for the gas. When they returned and we put in the gas, the van started immediately and we were relieved that it wasn’t a more serious engine problem. We gave the man and his wife a CD and prayed as we left that they would be blessed by the music. We also thanked the Lord for allowing us to stop where there were people who were willing to help. For the duration of the trip we made sure we always had more than a quarter of a tank of gas! Since we’d left on Thursday, we spent the night in a hotel near Keene, TX which is the home of Southwestern Adventist University. Friday morning Gary went over to SWAU for a meeting and we met him later in the morning and headed to Houston. Travis had told us that we needed to stop at Buc-ee’s, a convenience store/restaurant and a Texas institution. We loved it! There were plenty of souvenirs and I found a huge Texas mug for my wife, which is exactly what she had asked me to bring back! We rounded out our trip to Buc-ee’s by taking a photo with the statue of Buc-ee the Beaver. We arrived at the Waller church about 4:00 where we met two lovely ladies named Judy and Bea. Pastor Travis had arranged for them to meet us there and they had prepared a delicious spaghetti supper for us. They presented each of us with a Texas-sized welcome basket which included a bandana, keychain, local delicacies and lots more. After we finished supper, we sang for them and when the song was over, Judy asked us if we’d ever heard the quartet joke. We weren’t sure so we told her to tell it to us. Here’s how it goes: "Did you ever hear of The Fish Quartet? They had two tunas, one barracuda and one bass. They never sang with a porpoise, but just did it for the halibut!" That night we arrived at the Houston International SDA Church and had a great time meeting the pastor and his congregation. They have 48 different countries represented and I heard accents from all over the world. After our concert we heard a terrific message by Ivor Myers, Speaker/Director of Power of the Lamb Ministries. He told about how he had given up a career in the Hip Hop music business to answer the call of God. On Sabbath we were blessed to hear Pastor Travis deliver a wonderful message and sang special music for the service at the Waller Church. After a fellowship meal we performed an afternoon concert and invited the congregation to follow us over to the unfinished sanctuary building for one final song, “Irish Blessing,” taking advantage of the fantastic acoustics. That evening we had our final concert at Pastor Travis’ second church, the Three Angels SDA Church in College Station. Travis’ and Aimee’s kids, Elijah and Lily, love our music and sang along to many of the songs. After the concert the Pattersons took us to Freebirds for dinner and the kids enjoyed hanging out with us, especially “Uncle Gary!” On our trip home Sunday we made an impromptu stop at the Davy Crockett National Forest and were pleasantly surprised that no one was there! We had the park to ourselves and drove around enjoying the scenery. We stopped at a lake and took in the peace and quiet as we watched a few fish swimming around the bank. We’re looking forward to returning to Texas in 2015 for the General Conference Session in San Antonio. We were blessed by the hospitality and generosity of the Texans we met and are excited to experience it all over again!