Monday, February 21, 2011

Do I Have To Cry?

     I was helping teach adult ESL classes evenings. I worked with the beginners. In the middle of the evening both beginners and advanced classes always stopped for a break. 
     One evening during the break I was visiting with a man from Japan who was in the advanced class. We each shared about our families and then I asked if he is Christian. This is an easy question to ask of International people because there are so many religions in the world. His answer was "I am nothing." I replied, "Oh." He quickly added, "Oh, but my wife is Christian!" 
     I smiled and asked what church she was attending.
     He told me the name of a fellowship that is very humanistic. My heart dropped down to my toes and I immediately began praying for her that she would hear the gospel.
     The next week at class this same man asked if I could tutor his little girl in English. She was struggling in kindergarten. 
     I was soon tutoring Sawako an hour a day, five days a week, in their home. I became well acquainted with the family and continued praying for them. 
     One day Mariko asked me if I ever teach Bible! I told her, I sometimes lead Bible studies. This led to a Bible study in their home once a week, with all different nationalities attending. It was very exciting to me.
     During one class Mariko said she wasn't going back to her church any more. When asked why, she told us this experience.
     A long, straight line was drawn on the floor with chalk. Everyone was told to stand at one end, Jesus was at the other end. Then they were instructed to move up the line according to how much they believed in Jesus. 
     Mariko said sadly, "I didn't know what to do! I believe in Jesus! But no one else moved. I walked half way up the line with everyone looking at me. I'm going to find a different church." We had special prayer for her, that she would find the right church where she would learn about God and Jesus.
     The Bible study continued but I was so busy with my family and tutoring I felt I had to change something. 
     A class was started for Internationals on Sunday mornings during the Sunday School hour at my church. It was held in the school building next to our church. It was well attended by several nationalities and was very exciting for me to hear questions and answers from the students, both men and women. 
     One Sunday, surprisingly, only one person came to class, Mariko. We were very good friends so this gave us a time to just talk. I said to her, "Mariko, you talk like a Christian, you act like a Christian, but you've never told me of how or when you became a born again Christian."
     "Oh," she said, "I'm not...I want to be a Christian but I don't know how."
     I was very surprised and then suggested we pray together, I would pray a phrase and she could repeat it, then another phrase and another. 
     She said , "Okay, but do I have to cry?"
     I assured her she didn't have to cry and we began praying a simple prayer of repentance and thanks to God for His Son, Jesus. When we finished and said, "Amen," we looked up and smiled at each other. Then she suddenly burst out in tears! We had a wonderful time of crying together with the Lord!
                                                      More to come!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Climbing Mt Sinai

     Jerry and I were in Egypt. It was a dream come true. We were adventuresome and decided to climb Mt. Sinai! We were with a group of folks, which turned out to be so important and fortunate.
     It wasn't an easy, leisurely trip. We went by bus from our resort, at 1:00 AM! That was hard in itself. When we arrived at the base of the mountain, some went on camels, but Jerry and I enjoyed hiking, so we opted to walk. 
     An unexpected blessing was a full moon! We didn't even need flash lights...
     I'd better add here that neither Jerry nor I were in physical shape for climbing a mountain. But we were determined! A young boy, with a camel, was following us at a close distance. Every few minutes we'd hear him say, "Ride my camel?" We'd smile and say, "No thanks, we want to walk!" 
     Then the mountain began to get steeper. I was getting out of breath. I had to stop and rest every little while. Jerry patiently waited with me. We were at the back of our group...way at the back. 
     The boy with the camel came up every time I stopped to rest. "Lady, you ride my camel?"
     Then he began to get persistent. "Lady, you must ride my camel."
     Finally, he said, "Lady, you can not climb this mountain! You must ride my camel! It is too steep and too far. You can not climb this mountain! You must ride my camel!" I wonder where he learned English!
     Anyway, I knew he was right. I could not climb this mountain. I was exhausted, out of breath, ready to quit. Jerry told me to go ahead and get on the camel. 
     But Jerry still insisted on walking. He wanted to be able to say he walked up Mt. Sinai. The camel passed him and I felt so helpless. He insisted he was okay and not to worry about him. 
     A friend we met on this trip was also alone and she stayed behind to walk with him! I will ever be grateful to her. Just knowing he wasn't alone was very comforting to me. 
     It was the best thing I did on our trip up the mountain! The ride was so smooth, not bumpy like it might seem! It was very scary when the camel stood up, I felt like I was going to fall forward, right over his head! But the camel's boy helped me and once he was standing I was fine. To sit on the camel and be able to look out over the mountains, in the moonlight, is a memory I will never forget.
     Then when we got about two thirds of the way up the boy and his camel stopped. I was informed this was the end of the ride. There would soon be steps to climb and camels can't climb steps! I paid the boy and waited for Jerry and our friend to catch up.
     Then we began the last of the climb. A monk, years earlier, had made stone steps up the last part of the mountain! I became so exhausted again, I had to climb some of the steps on my hands and knees! I couldn't believe it. We finally made it! 
     Jerry has the distinction of saying he walked up Mt. Sinai and I say I rode a camel up Mt. Sinai!
     It was still dark, only the full moon giving us light. At the top of the mountain was a crude shelter where we could buy a hot drink. We didn't. We were allowed inside out of the wind. 
     Finally daylight began to dawn... We watched the sun rise over the mountains! It was beautiful! A sight we will never see again. 
     A group of folks from Germany, had also climbed the mountain and began singing The Doxology, in German. It was so beautiful! I stood in awe! 
     As we watched the sun rise in the east, I turned around and there was the full moon setting in the west. What a beautiful sight to see both sun and moon from the top of Mt Sinai! God is The Creator. How I praised Him. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The most dreaded Disease - Polio

      "Parents: don't allow your children to blow bubbles when chewing bubble gum. Let's do all we can to stop the spread of polio germs." I remember hearing an announcement something like this over the radio in the late 40's. I was in 3rd grade. I still remember it today.
      Folks were getting desperate to do whatever it took to stop this most dreaded disease. 
     In 1949 one of my cousins, Jerry, became very ill. Five days later he died - polio. He was 13 years old. The whole family was devastated. His parents and two brothers, Larry and Jimmy, moved to Wisconsin. I remember his mother, my aunt, saying they would never return to Waterloo, Iowa. 
      I wrote a story about my friend, Eddie, The Most Dreaded Disease. He was an outstanding boy who died of polio.
     There were many other cases that affected our family. There were many more that affected many other families. 
     Today we still hear of folks who were afflicted back in their childhood. There are folks still living in iron lungs today, from the 40's and 50's suffering from polio.
     I have my own story to tell. But luckily my story has a happy ending. Toward evening one day my neck began to feel stiff. Mother gave me an aspirin and I went to bed. In the morning my neck was so stiff I couldn't move my head. 
     I was admitted in the hospital and put immediately in isolation. That meant a private room, nurses and doctors wearing a mask when they came in my room. My food was brought on paper plates with plastic fork and spoon and cup, so they could be thrown away when I finished. No visitors were allowed except my parents. They had to wear a white coat over their clothes and a mask over their noses and mouths. It was a very scary time for my family...and for me! 
     Then a spinal tap was ordered for me. This would tell the doctor if I had polio. I remember this as a very hurtful procedure, plus I was scared. In my mind I could see a big butcher knife. I'm sure it wasn't...
     The results came back and I was no longer in isolation and was released the next day! I had a viral infection and in another few days, I was back to normal.
     I found out how scared my neighbors were when the father of my friend, Becky, told me, "go home and stay on your own sand hill!"
     Being a sensitive child I went home and stayed home for several days. I don't remember ever going to Becky's house again. 
     When my children were small the new vaccine for polio came out. I was so grateful and could hardly wait for it to be available in our town. We stood in line at Cook School, the older children were given sugar lumps with the vaccine in them and the babies received a squirt of the vaccine from an eye dropper. What a miracle! Younger folks today have no idea what it was like having the fear of polio hanging over us. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Swimming in the Creek

     Writing about my cousin, Leroy, has put so many memories in my mind, so I'll just keep writing. 
     On very hot summer days in Iowa we, kids, loved to walk down the road, across the railroad tracks, under the fence, through a farmer's pasture, to a nice cool creek! It was worth the hop, skip and jump, even in the hot sunshine. 
     I loved to dip into the cool water. It appeared to be so clean. But I doubt that it was since it went through a pasture with cows in it! 
     This was back in the early 50's and we, girls, at least among my friends, didn't wear swimsuits! The boys wore old cut off pants. Some of my girlfriends wore shorts, but I didn't have any. I went swimming in an old dress! 
     Swimming in a dress didn't stop me! I learned to dive down and swim under water. I learned how to float. I loved it, even in a dress.
     One night there was a bad storm, trees were blown down and branches and twigs were everywhere. When we went back down to the creek to go swimming, our swimming hole was gone...  A tree was stretching across our clean hole and it was now a muddy pit. We were so disappointed and sad, but we didn't give up. We followed the creek down to the railroad bridge and found another place where we could play and get cooled off.  
     Life is always changing too, just like our old swimming hole. Circumstances change, but we don't give up...we keep going and adjust to new and better ideas.