Sunday, August 29, 2010

Between Teacher and Pupil

        Growing up I was very interested in other countries and people from far away lands. So, as a young mom, one of my favorite things to do in our church, was to promote missionaries and mission fields. I used various means of getting the kids to become interested in people of other lands.
        One year, in particular, I promoted a reading contest, among other things. The child who read the most 'mission' books would win a prize. There were two age groups. At the end of the time period I asked the kids to report to me the number of books or pages (I forget was a lot of years ago!) they had read.
        I'll never forget one little girl in the younger age group who came to me and shyly said she had read ...!  I was very surprised and questioned her: "Are you sure it's that many?" She nodded yes.
       My mind went into a, not knowing how to respond, mode. Should I ask her mother? No, that would show I didn't believe her or trust her. Should I ask if she was telling me the truth? No, that would show I didn't believe her. Should I question her again? No.
       I looked at her. She was looking up at me with determination in her little sweet face. I decided to believe her, even though, I doubted her number.
       When the prize winners were announced, my little friend came forward so proudly. She had won first place in the younger age catagory...and was way, way ahead of the second place winner!
       Her family moved away and I lost contact with her. She grew up, went to college, got married, and finally one evening at our family camp, as she and her husband were out walking, she saw me.
       They came over to our camp site and, after introducing her husband to us, asked if she could talk to me. We walked a short distance away.
       "You may not remember this," she started. "But when I was a little girl and you had a reading contest for the kids, I won."
       I nodded and said, "Yes, I remember."
       "Well," she said, "I didn't tell you the truth. I lied about the amount I had read. I knew it was wrong but I wanted to win so badly."
       "Yes, I remember that too," I replied, "I knew you couldn't have read that much, but I didn't know what to do. So I decided to believe you."
       "I need to ask your forgiveness, even though it was a long time ago."
       "I forgive you. I actually forgave you at the time." We hugged then, knowing all was right between God and us.

       Now some of my readers may think I did the wrong thing in letting her get by with a lie. But there is something about a relationship between an adult and a child that is very fragile and can affect the child for the rest of his/her life. I would rather have her know that I trusted her, believed her, even loved her, than to show her my distrust by questioning her, going to her mother, or accusing her of lying.
       Today we are very good, trusting friends.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Mission Field

       In 1971 Jerry and I had the privilege of going to Haiti with a work team from Dearborn, Michigan. It was an amazing three weeks. Friends kept our four children, I missed them soooo much.
       I had always had a deep interest in missions, but my knowledge and interest was always across the ocean. I had no idea a country, with such a backward culture, was so close to the U.S.A.
       Therefore, I went through culture shock, big time, for several days. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, hearing, smelling, etc.
       I loved the people! Jerry named it: The Land of Smiles! Everyone smiled, yet we knew they were hungry, sick, poor, and more.
       I made some very special friends. A young teenage girl and I worked together around the mission, hanging out laundry, sweeping floors, preparing food for the working men, etc. I missed doing these chores with my oldest daughter, Pam.  Laroche, a young boy, never left my side except to go home at night. His bright smile brought a smile to my face, even though I was missing my own sons, Ted and Tim.  One day I wasn't feeling well; a young mother and her children came to the mission house to sing and pray for me! One was the age of my youngest daughter, Christy.
       A young mother, who lived next door to the new church Jerry was helping construct, let me hold her baby. We discovered we both had the same name: Anita!
       There are so many stories I could tell you about this trip. I felt the needs of the people and my heart ached for them. I couldn't wait to see my children again and hug them and love them. But at the same time I wanted to stay right where we were in Haiti. I wanted to bring my children down with me.
       When we arrived back home in Michigan I went through another culture shock! We had so, clothing, big house, luxuries, money. Why?
       I missed my new Haitian friends and prayed for them every day.
       I wanted to take our family and go back to Haiti. Life had meaning there...
       I began to pray for God to send us back as missionaries. Oh I knew we weren't prepared and educated for ministry or medical work, but that wouldn't be a problem to God. He knew all about us and our weaknesses...and  our strengths. He could use us. It didn't matter that we had four children. He just needed willing hearts and I was willing.
       As the days went by, and the family was busy with work and school, life was soon back to normal. But I still had an ache in my heart for my friends in Haiti. I still prayed every day for God to work out a plan for Jerry and me and our four children to go to Haiti as missionaries.
       One morning as I was going about my routine I didn't feel quite right. I hoped I wasn't getting the flu. As the day went on I felt better but still something wasn't right. This went on for some time and we finally decided I'd better go to the doctor. Well, you've probably guessed it. I was pregnant with our fifth child. I took this as God's answer to my prayer. No, we were not to go as missionaries to Haiti.
       Finally the day came when we brought our new baby home from the hospital. I was sitting on the sofa with my new son, Robby, in my arms. Pam, Ted, Tim, and Christy were all looking at him with wonder and awe. At that very moment God spoke to me, "Here is your mission field:  your beautiful children."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Traveling Alone

       Jerry and I had driven, with our 5th wheel camper, from our home in Michigan to our son's home in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, Canada. It was so good to be with Tim, Shauna, Annie, and Kaleb! But then, I left Jerry there and flew from Regina to Vancouver, British Colombia. Friends, Ray and Nancy, met my plane and drove me, while we visited, to the bus depot, so I could take a bus down to Everett, Washington. Friends, Tillman and Gwen, met me in Everett and drove me to Stanwood, Washington, where my parents were living and were waiting for me to arrive.
       The flight to Vancouver was a normal flight. I had a long, several hour wait for my bus ride to Everett. I people watched and chatted with a few. Time passed.
       There was a man near by, who never came over to talk, but who, I noticed, glanced my way every now and then. He was a friendly looking person, who even looked somewhat familiar to me. In fact, it seemed like we were friends. He was probably close to my age. We would smile, as though acknowledging each other, but never spoke.
       When it was finally time to board my bus, the man glanced my way as he also boarded. It was after dark when we left and drove toward the border. It took time when we got to customs but we were finally on our way once again, this time in the state of Washington. 
       It was very late now and I slept until we stopped at a bus station...somewhere. Was this my stop? I didn't know where we were! I needed to talk to the driver to ask where we were...if this was my stop. But he was already off assisting other passengers. I stood up and looked around, not knowing what to do. I suddenly saw the man, my silent friend! He was looking at me and mouthed the words, "This is not your stop." 
       Oh, okay. Somehow, I believed him. I smiled and said, "Thank you."
       I sat back down and looked out the window. How did he know it wasn't my stop? We hadn't talked. He hadn't seen my ticket. 
Who was he? He looked so familiar...
       Finally we arrived at Everett. Three of us got off the bus, two men and myself. 
       The bus depot was closed!   It was now the middle of the night, like two or three A.M. This was not a friendly, well lit neighborhood. It fact, it was kind of a run down section of town. I had planned on waiting inside the well lit depot until morning when Tillman and Gwen would pick me up. Now what...I couldn't sit outside, on the curb, in the dark.
       My new, familiar, yet unknown friend, came walking over to me. "What are you going to do," he asked? "You can't stay here. It isn't safe. Is someone picking you up? I have a cousin coming to get me, then you'll be by yourself."
       Looking around I saw a well lit 7/11 convenience store about a block away. I said, "I think I'll go to that 7/11 store and wait inside until daylight, then I'll call my friends.
       He nodded his approval. His cousin arrived...not in a very good mood. But my friend insisted they wait for me to walk the block to the store and was safely inside before they left me.
       As I walked in the store, I turned and saw them begin to drive off. He was smiling and waving. I smiled and waved good-bye.
       I never saw the man again. I still wonder who he was, why he looked familiar, why he was watching me...
       Do you believe in angels? I do...

     I'm not even going to think about what might have happened if I hadn't had an angel watching over me all the way on that bus ride.

Friday, August 20, 2010

An Iowa Cloud Burst

       I was in 6th grade. Mother, Lorraine, Billy, and I were traveling by bus, from our home in Waterloo, Iowa to a camp in Wisconsin, where Dad was waiting for us. It was a cloudy, rainy day. Iowa is a state with rolling hills and lovely picturesque farms.
       It was raining hard...then harder. Suddenly it was like a cloud burst! Water began filling valleys, cows were soon standing in water. Fence posts disappeared, now cows were in water up to their bellies and higher. In small valleys our bus driver drove through water. We were all frightened.
       Seeing water rushing across the highway up ahead, our driver stopped, went outside, and began unloading all the luggage from the outside compartments, and putting it inside in the bus aisle! Well, atleast he was trying to protect our belongings... We started out again. Slowly.
       Water was rushing across the highway, like a river! Our driver continued on, slowly. Then suddenly we tipped to one side! People began screaming! He couldn't see the edge of the highway and had gone on the shoulder and off, sliding into the ditch. Over we went...but not all the way...! What stopped us?
       Everyone was yelling, crying, screaming... It was total mayhem...until the driver shouted and quieted everyone down...momentarily. We were told to stay as still as we could to keep the bus from tipping over completely; to stay calm; to be quiet; help would be coming. As soon as the instructions were over, the crying and yelling took over again. Everyone was terribly frightened.
       I could see Mother's lips moving. She kept us, children, close beside her. I knew she was praying.
       A woman near by, noticed Mother's quietness and calmness. She suddenly stopped crying, and demanded of her some answers... "Why are you so quiet? Who are you talking to? Why aren't you and your children crying and screaming like everyone else on this bus?"
       Mother, in her quiet way, replied, "We're scared too but I'm praying for God's protection. My children are also praying. We're trusting in God to take care of us, and He will!"
       Soon fire trucks and army trucks were seen approaching off in the distance. They stopped at the water's edge. Big logging chains were attached around a couple of firemen and they slowly made their way through the rushing water; like an angry rushing river! The bus emergency side door, had been opened. The driver and other men, took charge. "Okay, children and women first."
       One by one, we were lifted and handed to the waiting firemen, who carried us through the rushing water to the waiting army trucks.
       It was a very scary ordeal. We waited our turn; finally Lorraine and Billy were carried through to the waiting trucks. It was my turn, I looked at Mother. She was so serene, so sweet. I suddenly couldn't go! I said, "No, you take my mother first!" The men were tugging at me and I was bulking. "You take my mother first! I can't leave her here!"
       Mother told me to go but finally out of desperation, she said, "You may as well take me, then she'll come. We're wasting time here."
       So we were all rescued and taken to the previous town to a hotel for the night. We knew God had taken care of us. There was no doubt. What kept the bus from tipping over all the way? A telephone pole...! That doesn't seem possible! What kept the pole from snapping in two? We knew the answer to that question. God had protected us! He had had His Hand on us, there was no doubt.

God's Healing Touch

        I was in Chaing Mai, Thailand for the second time. We had gone to town to eat supper and shop for souvenirs and were at an outdoor eating place. Many tables and chairs were set up inside a large ring of restaurants. Every kind of food anyone would want was available. I carefully chose what I knew I would eat if I were at home in Michigan: Cashew chicken, spring roll, and soft drink. I'm not an adventuresome eater!
       After eating I went with my friend and pastor's wife, Leah, to an Internet store to e-mail Jerry. Standing in line, I began to feel cramps in my abdomen and became light headed.
       Leah suggested I go outside for fresh air. She had me sit with my head down. A nurse, Lisa, was among our party, and came over to see what was wrong. By this time I was in such pain and ready to pass out. Lisa called for another chair so I could lie down. Folks began to gather around to see what was happening. Lisa took my pulse, which was very low and slow. Her husband, Dave, realizing the seriousness of my condition, called for folks to gather around and pray. I was vaguely aware of what was happening around me. Then I lost consciousness.
       I suddenly felt a warm sensation go from the top of my head down to my feet! I heard voices and opened my eyes. There was a large ring of people, of all ages, all praying out loud for me! I felt fine. Dizziness, light headedness, and cramps were gone! I sat up and Dave prayed again, thanking God for His Touch.
       It was decided that I should go back to our resort and rest rather than shopping. I slept better that night than I had our whole time there. The next morning I woke up feeling so good and ready to teach my class of 5th/6th graders.
       After breakfast we met for class. I was so eager to begin teaching...but my kids just sat there staring at me! I tried asking them questions, tried to get a discussion going, nothing worked. I finally asked them what was wrong. Was there a problem I wasn't aware of?
       Josiah put up his hand and asked, "Are you okay?"
       I assured him and the others that I was fine. "I've never felt better," I said.
       "But," he blurted out, "You died yesterday! You had no pulse! You died!"
       "Oh," I said, "Were you in the crowd circling me and praying?"
       "Yes, I prayed for you." The other children in the class were nodding, yes, they, too, had prayed for me.
       "Well," I said, "Here I am. I don't know if I died or not, but I do know that God touched me." Then I told them how I felt a warm flush go over my body as I woke up.
        What an experience for those see God at work in a miraculous way. I think this was something they would never forget as they grew up and began questioning life and God, as most folks do at sometime in their lifetime. It was worth it for me to have gone through this, to give my class of 5th & 6th grade kids, an experience of seeing that God is real, He cares, He heals, He loves us.