"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: And when they had opened their treasure, they presented unto him gifts: gold, and frankincense and myrrh." -- Matthew 2:1, 2, 11

Hello, hello, hello from the sunny south. Or supposedly sunny. So far this week it has not been very sunny. But I expect it is still better than up north where they have frigid sub-zero weather.

I really wish you guys up home would close your doors. We've had a cold, north wind for two days now. We even had a drizzly rain on Tuesday. Heavy clouds, really dreary.

When we first got here, it was fairly warm and sunny. Oh my! Wonderful! We soon decided this gift vacation was a mistake! Now we'll want to do it every year! Then we have those cool, cloudy days and the spirit kind of died down.

I was actually wondering if we were supposed to come down here.

We were getting stuff all ready on Tuesday after Christmas. We were to board the bus at Yoder's in Arthur at 2 p.m.

An hour before we were to be picked up at home, I was putting food items in the ice chest. I was going to set it on the outside. I reached down to pick it up and something went "zzzzt" in my lower back. I got spots before my eyes and things started to go black. I hurried and sat down and put my head down until that all passed. But then, I could hardly walk. I hurt bad. I rubbed some pain cream on it and took pain pills. If it helped, I was sure glad.

I was really glad to see that Ray and Dorothy Schrock were going on the same bus. Ray helped us with our luggage.

I tell you, my trip down was rough, but I made it. One of the first things I did after we had lunch with hubby's brother Melvin and Annie Ellen Otto was to go find a chiropractor. I got one treatment then and another one on Friday, now all is well. I have never had back problems, ever. Why now? But it is okay now.

Being here in Florida, across the street from the Pinecraft park is a real treat. Anyway, if you don't mind lots and lots of people. The park has a shuffleboard court, a volleyball and basketball court.

On warm, sunny days, you never saw the likes! People walking, three wheel bikes, some are battery powered, two wheelers, some of those are battery powered, scooters, hoverboards, you see it all. Oh yes, golf carts, too.

And one day as I was indulging in my favorite pastime -- people-watching -- that can get addictive, anyway, I saw three boys on three wheelers. The second boy had his front wheel in the rear basket of the first bike, the third one had his front wheel in the basket of the second one and that is how they went down the street.

If you don't have your own bike, just hitch a ride with your friend by standing in the rear basket holding on to his/her shoulders!

This past Saturday evening there was a grilled chicken benefit dinner in the park. I tell you, I never saw so many bikes at one place. Actually, it was worse on Wednesday evening when they had a shuffleboard tournament. It was a sight to behold. Also, they had a music fest in one part of the building. Nelson Coblentz was there and yes, cars, trucks, people walking, so many people!

And young folks will play basketball until midnight. I often hear the thump of the ball late at night.

I did my laundry on this Wednesday morning and would you believe, I had to wear a coat to hang out the stuff and my hands were really cold!

In closing: Joy is the by-product of obedience to God.

This would be a good casserole for a cold winter evening. In a hurry? Use Bisquick biscuits or tube biscuits.

Chicken and Biscuit Casserole

1 quart chicken broth

1 Tbsp. chicken seasoning

1 cup chopped potatoes

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup peas (optional)

1 cup cooked chicken

4 Tbsp. flour

*chopped onions could also be added

In a six-quart kettle, blend broth and seasoning; cook potatoes, celery, carrots and peas until tender. Blend flour with a bit of water to make a paste. Stir into boiling vegetable mixture. Put into a nine-inch x 13-inch baking pan and top with biscuits.

Biscuits:

2 cups flour

2 Tsp. baking powder

1/2 Tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 Tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2/3 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Combine milk and egg. Stir into other mixture until crumbs are just moistened. Put together and place on flat surface; roll and cut.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until biscuits are done.

Millie Otto of Arthur is a member of the Old Order Amish. Contact her by writing to 1584 CR 2000N, Arthur, IL 61911.

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