By Brad Dixon, Word&Way Correspondent
Bill and Faye Morrison ran off to get married in 1947 and never stopped running.
Bill ran up and down the road as a truck driver, while Faye ran the household and worked as a 'number please' telephone operator. Together they raised five children in Plattsburg, where they were active in First Baptist Church. Now, they run between Missouri and Texas as mission volunteers.
Faye had grown up attending a Baptist church near her farm home, but Bill said, "I'd never set foot in a church until I was 16." As a young couple in the 1950s, they began to attend the Plattsburg church. They made private commitments to Christ, but had never been baptized.
One of their children had been saved at Vacation Bible School and wanted to be baptized. It became a family affair as the three entered the water together. Bill and Faye were active in the church for many years, and Bill served as a deacon.
Bill retired after 40 years over the road. Their children were grown, so Bill and Faye sold their home to live in a travel trailer. The first winter they went to South Texas to check out what they had heard others talk about. The weather was nice in the Rio Grande Valley, but boredom set in. They felt as if they were only existing from one meal to the next.
They heard about Campers on Mission, a Southern Baptist volunteer fellowship of Christians who share their faith while they camp. Sponsored by the North American Mission Board, the group is open to Christians of all denominations.
The Morrisons' first mission trip was to Arizona to help build a church on a Native American reservation. They've never returned to retirement, and a sign outside their motor home declares their new vocation: "Full-time Volunteers."
As part of their volunteerism, Bill and Faye park their trailer at New Hope Retreat Center near Holt six months of the year. They heard about the camp, owned by Clay Platte Baptist Association, in 2000. After they asked if the camp could use any help, then-director David Goode invited them to park their home and go to work. They've also worked with Malcolm English and current director Bob Byrns.
Bill spends most of his time mowing the 60 acres used at the retreat center. He drives a tractor much of the time.
An accident on a large riding mower a few years ago grounded him for a month and helped his prayer life. "It didn't have good brakes," he said. "It got stuck on high center and I was trying to get loose from where I was hung up. It jerked, tipped up and came right over on me."
He lay with one leg pinned for two hours before being rescued. "I told the Lord I hoped he would get me out."
During the cold months of the year, they head back to South Texas, where they volunteer at the Cone Oasis Baptist Retreat Center near La Feria, Texas. While Bill is busy with construction and maintenance, Faye is part of a group that makes and donates quilts for Christian ministry, with many of them sent to Mexico. She snips quilt squares while in Missouri, and then takes them to Texas to sew with the group.
Bill and Faye have no plans to change their mission activities, though New Hope director Byrns has asked them to stay on for the winter. "I need their help," he said.
But for the couple who eloped 59 years ago, the call of the road is still strong. "Wherever the Lord wants us to go." (09-21-06)