Winfords embark on new adventure in Australia
TMarie Winford of Lake City is packed and ready to make Australia her new home.
Mrs. Winford's husband Kenneth moved to Warren, Australia, last year to work as a cotton ginner for Auscott Cotton Gin.
"Ken has always been mission minded," Mrs. Winford said. "We found out you can't be in two places at once, and we are committed to living our lives together. So that made it an easier choice for me to move to Australia. I am looking forward to it, and we are looking at it as a new place to work and be of service. We just feel like God is leading us in that direction.
"We got our first taste of missions in 2006 when Ken went to Montana to minister to the communities there. The First Baptist Church, here in Lake City, partnered with Old Austin in Cabot and their pastor Matt Hill. Lake City sent 60 people to stay there a week. It was a life-changing thing for both of us.
The Winfords then had an opportunity to go to Joplin, Mo., after the devastating tornado in 2011.
"We loved our volunteer service there in 2011 and 2012, and treasured the new friends we met along the way," Mrs. Winford said. "After that we were hooked on missions, realizing that we could make a contribution that helped change people's lives."
Mr. Winford worked as a ginner at Southland Gin in Lake City for 11 years.
"A friend at Southland showed him an advertisement flyer from Auscott Cotton Gin, wanting experienced ginners to come to Warren, Australia to work for six months," Mrs. Winford said, "There was something that immediately fascinated him about going there. It was like a light came on. They needed ginners and he was feeling the call to go. He had felt that same way about Joplin, like it was God's answer to a prayer.
Mr. Winford contacted Auscott and they interviewed him on Skype. He went there on his own last April. Auscott provided housing and a food allowance. Just like Kenneth had felt God calling him to go, he soon felt the call to stay. They gin cotton there from April through September, but asked Ken to stay on permanently.
"He liked the work and loved the community around Warren. He could envision us living there, working there and serving there," Mrs. Winford said.
The Winfords began to make their plans to live permanently in Australia. Mrs. Winford visited there and met many of her husband's new friends. He soon found a house for them to rent. At first they thought of selling their home at 1006 Main Street in Lake City. Their daughter Kandace, her husband Justin Cook, and grandson Kolton from Jonesboro were looking for a larger home, and the decision was made for them to move in the family home. Son Kevin Winford, his wife Shelby and granddaughter Shanley live in Bay.
Mrs. Winford has worked in the billing department at Medic One Ambulance in Jonesboro for eight years. She turned in her resignation effective this month.
"It will be hard to be away from the kids and grandkids, but Ken and I really feel positive about this move," she said. "Most of all we want to be in the center of God's will for our lives.
"We have had one yard sale to sell the household items we don't need or the kids can't use. We are only going to take personal items with us as we can purchase whatever household items we need after we get over there."
Plans are for Kevin and his family to travel to Australia this Wednesday. Kandace, Kolton and Mrs. Winford will leave June 26.
"It will probably take all of us to get Ken and me settled in our new home. Our children all have a heart for missions also and are supporting us in our decision to go. After 28 years of marriage this is a big move for Ken and me," she said.
"We are so thankful for the outgoing show of support for us, and we are looking forward to this next big adventure. We just feel that God has had a hand in working all of this out for us, right from the beginning."