Saturday, March 31, 2012

PROVERBS 18:24--"Caryjo Revision"

Someone with many friends
who are focused on the world,
will prove, over time,
through t
hick and thin,
to be a
bad friend.

a friend who follows
obeys the heart of G
who sticks closer than can be imagined
during the tough and stressfu
l times,
can be not only a friend,
a dear sister.

My longest-time dear spiritual sister is Susie,
who has put up with me,
and blessed and encouraged me
through unimaginable and unbearable circumstances.

[LONG time ago, believe me! --
Acquaintanceship began at 15;
"sistership" seed-planting
began a year later.]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My other main project when in St. Louis was to go to a historical site near Collinsville, IL, only about 8 miles from E. St. L. In the past ten years or so, I have studied books and articles written by anthropologists and spiritual warfare ministers focused on the Cahokian area. For a few years I have wanted to see it and hoped I would be with a spiritual partner who would walk through it with me. However, even though I finally was able to enter that zone, the timing to have someone with me didn't work out. I walked through it alone, spiritually speaking.

Its history is controversial, to say the least. The authors had indicated the civilization came from South or Central America, Egypt, or Phoenicia, based on their life patterns and gods.
More than a thousand years ago this civilization hit there and continued growing. Its reputation? Respect and amazement. Why? For hundreds of years, they focused on peace and poured forth adoration for their sun god and its Cahokian sun-representative leader. The worship of the sun god was kept in power by human sacrifice. Some of the mounds have bones that indicate sacrificial bodies, frequently young women.
For an unknown reason, the area began to break in the
A.D. 1200 - 1400 range. The peop
le spread out to various locations in our nation, especially what we refer to now as our central states.

One reason I've been wanting to see this and follow through is because Cahokians came through our Omaha area on the Missouri River about 1,000 years ago, continuing their sun worship and human sacrifice. Because one of my ministries sees historic actions as possible good or evil spiritual influences and consequences during our present day, I am very intensely focused on how revelation takes place.

I was amazed at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. It was filled with "people, places,
and things." Murals, assumptive-style huts, market places, burials, and the main temple.

After wandering through the building, reading the wall posts, talking to the workers, watching the teaching film, meeting a writer at the info post [and buying hi
s book], I gained a wide variety of insight. I could tell, if nothing else, the viewpoint was filled with opinions. After all, none of us lived there when this took place.

I went across the road to what is called Monks Mound. [For a few years--1809 to 1813-- French Trappist Monks lived on this mound and had many plans for the future, but malaria and other diseases forced them to abandon it.] It was quite a climb and walk-around time. I was blessed to worship the Lord as I read more details, took photos, saw the distant views of burial mounds. Someone offered to take a photo of me. The St. Louis Gateway Arch is on my shoulder and a pile of miles in the distance.
Now I know more and
more. And I know, again, I was in the right place at the right time. I felt very strongly that, as I worshiped and praised our Lord while walking up the sun god temple mound, and around the large upper surface, down the stairs to the pathway to my car, I couldn't have done anything better. I left contently, pleased.

Again, Right Place, Right Time.

[I realize this spiritual view is controversial. All I can say is that it's a "God-job" of mine, and when I'm before my Lord in heaven, He'll tell me whether I heard Him correctly or not... but He's the forgiver and the Only One I can truly trust.]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

EAST ST. LOUIS... MY LIFE, 1967-68

I never could have imagined what God was going to drop into my life, through this House, and why, and how.

In February, 1967, I moved from Tacoma to East St. Louis. I stayed with the roommate I had in Tacoma whose spiritual insight had opened the "God-door" and through whom
I met a leader who led me to the Lord. A few months later, she moved back to her family in Belleville, not far from E. St. L., and when we agreed to have me come, they found an apartment for us. It wasn't fancy, by any means, but sufficient. She had a job and I found one and, between us, we could pay the bills.

I can't remember how it happened, but in April, I became involved at the Neighborhood House.
On Friday evenings there were dancing and skating activities in the basement level and I helped prep and clean. In June, I quit my job and moved into the House to work full time. The income was extremely limited, but I was a Boarder, and that met the basic needs.

I have written a number of stories about what I faced through it. You see, E. St. L. was at least 90% Black
and most of that race was poverty stricken, partly because of the lack of work that could meet their needs and the White controllers that they faced. Believe me, I saw horrible housing conditions, and it sure wasn't their fault! Consequently, angry and fighting people lived in the surrounding area. It was a very good thing that I came from a poor and angry and fighting background. I was not frightened very often, and when attacked, I fought back -- maybe not godly, but protective reaction. I gained wonderful friends and fit in with them better than I had for years anywhere else.

A funny one: I was walking down the street and a toddler ran away from his Mom and was headed my direction. She hollered and he kept running. I stepped in front of him and told him "go back to your Mommy." He stopped suddenly and I reached for him. He froze. He looked at my hand, then his han
d, then my hand... and started running back to Mom, screaming. The Mom and I laughed. He hadn't seen a "white" hand before.

A heavy-sigh one: I met a 25 year old woman, very pretty, very sweet. She had just become a grandmother. She was 12 when she had her first baby and her 13 year old daughter had had her first child. I was horrified. I couldn't have imagined anything like that, even with my tough background.

A sad one: I was walking through the neighborhood with a list of House survey questions. I saw a little 8-year old girl that I had in one of my classes. I asked her how she was. She said she was fine. Then she said, casually, "My Ma died yesterday." No stress on her face; lots on mine. When I ran back to the House and talked to the lady who ran the whole program, Miss Provence, she wasn't surprised or shocked. She just nodded at me and
truly understood.

I could go on for MUCH time, believe me. However, frequently I have to think of this one and laugh -- and be grateful.

We were supposed to stay in the building after dark. Period. WELL, I often broke the rule. I would go down the fire escape on the back wall and hit the street. When I first started doing it, kids going past in cars would lean out the window and holler, "Miss Jo, Whacha doin'?" They were concerned about my safety. I was 21, and looked a bit younger, so really put myself in some less-than-bright situations, and all my fault, of course.

Not long after, I'd gained a reputation for being out after dark. When I began walking, a couple minutes later a tough-looking mid-20s guy would step out from under a tree or out of a local doorway. "Hey, Miss Jo. Where're ya goin'?" I'd just smile and say hi and he'd keep walking with me. These guys were friends of mine. Arzell, Steve, James and others. Four were Black; one was White. What finally dawned on me was that these good buddies had set themselves up as my Protection Guards. They always stayed near the House, during certain hours, and watched in case I would hit the street.

Talk about being blessed and loved. They were good to me -- always good to me.

I left E. St. L. in late-March, 1968. Had walked through the result of riots, the Black Power movement -- someone right under my face once, and not being nice, believe me, and Arzell protected me then, too -- and a group of teen girls had attempted to kill me and the boys threw themselves between us and stopped them. Even with those events, I felt loved by so many. Appreciated. Comfortable. But I knew I needed to leave or I'd be in real trouble. I wasn't sure why, but I knew I was to leave NOW!

A few days after I had reached Tacoma, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Fighting, anger, and danger increased in many locations of our nation, of course. It is quite possible, because of the danger of that surrounding neighborhood, God was taking me out for safety.

I hadn't seen this building for 44 years until last Saturday. I had been following the instructions from my GPS voice telling me to "turn" and "turn" again, and I glanced up and saw the House. Unexpectedly. Nothing leading to it looked familiar. Everything has changed... large housing project built across the street, all the former houses gone.

My glance flooded me with joy and love. Yes, that House connection had sadness and sorrow and deep difficulty at times; but it had love and warmth and appreciation in a level I'd never known before, and, in some ways, have never known again.

My friend Susie's comment when she knew I had left in '68 ... the angels that had been taking care of me had pleaded for an R and R after having to work so hard.

Monday, March 26, 2012


This was quite a trip, to say the least. I'll be posting about various pieces in the next couple days, but need to begin with the reason I was in St. Louis, of course.

We -- the 6 Bhutanese and I -- reached their visiting apartment complex in St. Louis on Friday at about 5:15. It was much later than anticipated, because accidents that occur
red on I-70 made us hit town during rush hours. It was quite a challenge. I didn't meet or visit their family and friends; just dropped the Biswas off and headed for my church-connected mom and her kids who were going to put me up, or put up with me, until Sunday.

On Sunday, early afternoon, I headed over to get them and that's when
much happened.

The first issue: I was driving through a part of town that showed the stop lights differently than I am accustomed to here. I was going to turn left in an intersection and when the light turned red, and no one was running the light from the other direction, I started to quickly turn. When I glanced, I saw a cross walk filled with college-aged students. I hit the brakes and stopped just a small few feet before I would have hit them. I still don't quite understand why it was like that, but for quite some time I drove and worshiped the Lord and thanked Him for protecting all of us. I could hardly breathe for some time.

After I reached the apartment area and was taken up to meet the family, I was treated like a special queen. One young lady told me that I was her Aunt, because she had heard that I am part of their family. She has 2 young boys and has been in the U.S. for 2 years. I was taken to another apartment to meet other family members and we visited for a few minutes. I started saying [hollering] over and over, "It's time to go." I had hoped to hit the road by 2:00; it was 2:40.

We had taken some photos together inside, but then took a number of them outside. And I made sure I had one that showed us as we were ready to climb in the van.

Then we headed
home. Once outside of St. L., and a number of miles west on I-70, the traffic was easier to deal with. We stopped at a rest area -- where these two photos were taken -- and a gas station. Other than that, I drove until reaching home just shy of 10:00. Total for the weekend: 939 miles.

Today, I'm hanging out at the house, resting, "choring", just doing bits and pieces. Hopefully, I'll have my energy tomorrow. Today it's quite limited.

I know this is just a "plain ol', plain ol'" email-style post, but needed to keep you all informed on all sides.

When Lachi and her family told me a couple weeks ago to take them on this trip, I wasn't so sure about when and how it could be done, whether I'd have the energy to focus with a van-load, AND the fact that I hadn't driven the van very often and certainly not very far; it is Dave's. But the important part and the huge blessing? DID IT!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012



Let fall in sho
wers,you heavens,
from ab
and let the skie
s rain down

Let the earth
and let th
[skies and earth]
sprout forth
salvation,and let righteousness
germinate and spring up
[as plants

I the Lord have created it.


Thursday, March 22, 2012


What a week!!! I'm in the "heading out the door" process. Leave tomorrow morning, driving a Bhutanese family from Omaha to St. Louis. They will visit family there until Sunday. What's really neat is that these four were Hindu when they arrived here and came to the Lord not long ago... they were baptized last month. Talk about rejoicing!!

The funny part for the trip? Unless one of my "granddaughters" [Lachi and Chandra's daughter, Purni] goes, and interprets as needed, it's going to be interesting. I'll be driving along and hear "SISTER! Toilet!"... so I'll need to find the next rest area... or "SISTER! Food!", and have to find someplace they can eat lunch. They speak a few English words now, but ain't no such thing as conversation. I'm going to listen to worship and praise music as much as possible to fill my heart during each 8 hours, coming and going.

So, this post is, at first, similar to a plain ol', plain ol' email.

BUT while I was in bed last night, a song kept floating through my head when I was in and out of sleep. I want to share it with you.

I talked about my salvation in the previous post. A month later I was asked to sing a hymn at a Sunday evening service. The one I chose meant a great deal to me and always has. I have to smile a bit: I don't remember any of the sermons, or the Bible class teachings, or the Word shared at group meetings. What I remember is the hymns and more casual songs with wonderful words and stories attached. Two of the first three that struck my heart and spirit were "Peace, Be Still" and "At Calvary". Loved them.

And it was song number three that I sang. It was so imbedded in me. Now, as I said on my previous post, I didn't change very much very soon. I was still a "tough cookie". But God used songs to break through my barriers.

I don't usually drop youtube bits onto a post, but need to do so this time. The song: I'd Rather Have Jesus. The singer: Jim Reeves. Hope you enjoy it.

When I return, I expect I'll fill in stories and gaps -- some fun, some serious. Expect it will be an interesting trip, to say the least.

[And, my friends, I have been so busy this week I've haven't had a chance to read many blogs. I truly want to, SO that's my main goal for next week; to catch up with all of you as much as possible. You are so respected and very much missed.]

Monday, March 19, 2012


I was saved Friday, April 15, 1966, 6:30 PM, in Tacoma, WA. In the early '70s, I heard a song on the radio in Redwood City, CA, and it roared into my heart, filled me with joy.

The song was written by Dottie Rambo... and what's amazing? ... I-net info indicated it was written in 1966. Many, many people have loved it, but obviously the Lord, with that special timing, had it written just for me, doncha think?

The main lyrics have to do with the Lord pulling back curtains for memory.

When sharing my testimony, person to person, in particular, this has meant a great deal. The reason: I never want to forget what my life was like...and how blessed to be redeemed by my Lord.

When I was in my late teens ... 1964 and 1965 in particular ... I was headed for real trouble. As a heavily abused child, I was extremely angry at life, and took it out on a lot of people. I was a fighter... both for and against others. I had begun drinking beer nearly every evening and definitely every weekend, headed deeper and deeper into that -ism. I had a reputation as the filthiest mouth-person around, "dirty joke queen" at my office. I had been sexually assaulted, and was using it as a way to assault others. Not a nice girl, believe me.

I knew I was headed towards death in one of three ways: violence, alcoholism, or suicide. My depression was increasing and exploding, day by day, minute by minute. People knew I was a good worker, when the job was something that kept me interested, because I was smart and wanted to learn more. But they also knew that if I became upset, I could ruin them and everyone else.

It was a miraculous manner in which the Lord broke into my life in March, 1966, and then drew me to Himself, bit by bit, step by step, for just a few weeks. After my salvation, I didn't become anything perfect... still struggled with some of those sinful elements, still dealt with serious depression ... but I DID grow in Him and remained His daughter, and could never desire to be anything different ... ever, ever, ever.

NOW, that song, "Remind Me, Dear Lord" is one that always touches my heart. I'm not who I was in nearly any fashion. I'm married to a generous and caring man. I'm blessed by many, many dear ones ... both natural family and international family gifts -- from Uganda, Burkina Faso, and Nepal. How could I be happier? To be honest, I still deal with depression, but it is far less than anytime in that seriosity-based past.

When I listen to that song I’m simply reminded where I had been and how blessed I am now, because of His sweet insistence of "pulling back the curtain to remind me." It keeps me from becoming stuffy and snooty and "perfect" when viewing the lives of others.

A blessing beyond belief.
Word Carnival: Memory

Saturday, March 17, 2012


PSALM 124:7-8

WE are like a bird
escaped from the snare
of the fowlers;
the snare is broken
and we have escaped.

OUR help is in the
Name of the Lord
Who made heaven and earth.

[The crane was in our yard in Uganda... how cool is that?]

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Photos from my first time at the camp, December 8th.

On January 14th, I went to the camp for my last time. It was becoming more and more vacant, fewer and fewer kids. In December it had about 400, stacked in 3-layer bunk beds, crammed into what used to be official barracks; the older teenaged boys were in large Norway supported tents. Now only about 140 children were left in the camp, about 40 of whom were “unattached” – a euphemism that refers to children who lost their parents while fleeing from the rebels.

It was
a very hot day, and the boda-boda bike was passing over dusty trails, dirt flying our direction as my "driver" pedaled his way along the paths. The guards had come to know me automatically and took off the tree branch that kept the gate closed when they saw me coming. I wasn’t sure who I’d connect with, so just wandered in and around a bit. Then, because of the heat, I sat on a chair on the veranda and hung out to see what would happen. I had about an hour before my biker would return for me; then would have to get back to the office.

Two young teen boys showed up to visit with me. Both of them talke
d about what had been done to them. To be honest, it was pretty much the same ol’, same ol’. And then one of the funniest stories was told.

His name was Simon, 13 years old. On June 20, he was digging i
n his family garden when the rebels came and grabbed him . As said earlier, his story wasn’t much different from all the others. Children were beaten, killed, forced to carry heavy loads, and suffered hunger. His particular group had approximately 100 rebels and 150 children. They moved from one section of northern Uganda to another, partly because they had so many people and needed to be sure to have enough to eat and drink and stay alive. After six months had passed, he and another boy from another part of the country, were put out by the road to watch out for the Army that the rebels had been told was in the area. The boys were to be on lookout while the rebels hid in the bush. They had been near the road for some time, and the rebels hadn’t come to check on them, and the army hadn’t arrived. Simon turned to the other boy and said, “Let’s leave.” So they did.

This was on December 13. He had gone to Army barracks and other hang-out places for a couple weeks. He had been transferred to this particular camp in early January. His parents still didn’t know he was free and someone had been sent to find and give them this good news.

I was so happy for Simon, and felt pleased and relaxed. Happy that this was my last interview and had been a blessing.

Then life slapped me again.

While Simon and the other boy were with me, I looked out in the yard and saw a mid-teen girl who looked shell-shocked and ashy. Her eyes were vague and distant. Part of me wanted to reach out and see if I could visit with her, but the other part wanted to hold back. When the boys saw me looking at her, they explained her appearance.

I know very little about how long she had been forced to be with rebels, how she escaped or was rescued, where she was from, and any other details. I don’t even know her name or age. But when they told me the story, I knew God had protected me to be a story hearer, but not an interviewer. I would have totally collapsed in sorrow.

She was forced to watch as the rebels killed her best friend by slitting her throat. And she was told that if she cried, the same thing would be done to her.

What did I want to do? Hold her, of course. Provide love and peace. But it wasn’t appropriate in this culture and, by being touched, after what she had gone through, she could easily have become hysterical. I couldn’t risk that.

But I’ve never forgotten her. No photo, and, as I said, no name, nothing but that one event she faced. She entered my heart then; she lives there now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


In early September, 2003, when the Lord laid it on me to go to Uganda to help in Soroti, Dave and I were very certain it was right, but we were both very intense and concerned. It was slightly more than 2 months before I left. Among everything else, we had gone to a lawyer to update our wills.

On November 12th, when I was leaving, Dave, of course, took th
e day off work. After I checked in, we walked around the airport for over an hour, arms around each other. We knew I was called to go; we didn't know if I would be back. We were both a bit teary.

Now, move forward to my last weekend in Soroti.

On Friday, January 16th,
I was offered by several of my pastors -- different churches and denominations, different ministry organizations-- the opportunity to go with them to Anyara, a distant camp. Joseph, Joseph, George, Job, John and Justin would leave early Saturday morning. They planned to preach the Gospel and give food and clothing, including all the clothes that were piled in my office. I would have been the only non-Ugandan person. I was excited. What a blessing to be in the back of a big lorry with all this stuff and my dear pastor-friends!

Then I noticed the look on my "son" Pastor Joseph's face. He didn't say anything in front of everyone, but he was obviously displeased. A few minutes later, I took him outside the office and asked why he had that expression. He said the rebels are often located and reports are spread about as quickly as possible, but haven't been clearly noticed in that area. He finished with, "If you go with us, and we are attacked, and you die and I live, I will have to send you home to my new 'dad' Dave in a wood box. That would not make any of us happy."

Because of Joseph's strong care for me, I chose to obey him and not go.

After their return late Saturday evening, even though there was no war danger, they showed a great deal of stress and sorrow.

When their story was told, I was glad I didn’t go to Anyara. It took them a total of about 9 hours for their ministry event to drive there, preach, show love, distribute the piles off the truck, and drive home. It was a devastating experience: 14,280 people in the camp, 1 partially-working bore [water] hole, 1 non-working one. Believe me, people weren't just lining up outside the truck. They were piling and diving over each other, grabbing and grasping. The pastors were forced to toss everything out to the people; they could only hope the most needy would be recipients. They hadn't known beforehand that the water was so limited, the camp was so large, the people so destitute. They were highly saddened by what they saw, how little they could help, how many were suffering beyond what even they had imagined.

If I had been there I would have been extremely distraught, so I’m glad I listened to God, through Joseph, and obeyed.

Two weeks later, January 30th, Dave arrived. My two Josephs had come from Soroti -- about 150 miles -- to Kampala where I was staying, to take me to the Entebbe airport. Not as planned, we spent the whole day together. Dave was about 14 hours late, because even though it was hot in Uganda, it was icy and stormy in England, so the plane couldn't leave on time. My "J"s met him at midnight, shortly after he arrived. But I was first, believe me. Even in public, I had thrown myself at him and hugged and kissed him so much they needed to stay out of the way. But they just grinned, and then met him, took us to our hotel, visited for an hour...and thanked him for me. How kind!

Today, I still most certainly miss my pastors, my dear friends, my protectors. So kind and caring.

Monday, March 12, 2012


It was one hot early afternoon, and Jill and I needed to get over to the children’s camp. We hid her purse and my backpack in the office and pocketed a few shillings for our “drivers”.

I tracked down our frequently used “boda-boda” guys. They were only about ½ block from the office building. It always made some of the hanger-outers to grin when these not-young white ladies climbed onto the bicycle passenger
seats, sitting side-saddled. The camp was only a mile or so away, so wouldn’t take long, but the rough trails and mechanically unfancy bikes made the ride pretty intense; too easy to slide off.

When we reached the camp, it was quiet. Most of the kids were in the back part eating.
With the heat increasing, the rebels had begun to back off, so danger was reducing and many other kids had left the camp and were going to the IDP camps or villages to be with their parents.

Jill and I were certain we were at the camp for a reason. God had called us there, and we knew it. We just didn’t know why. Then, two people were dropped into our lives: an older woman and a teenage girl. Both broke our hearts.

After being there for a few minutes, w
e saw a lady walking across the yard, looking as if she was ready to head out, but with a heavy sigh. We called her over to the porch, out of the sun, and asked what she was doing and where she was from.

Her name was Madesta. She was a widow probably in her 50s. She had been staying at a refugee camp many miles outside of Soroti. Madesta had walked several miles on a dirt road to a main highway, had been able to pay a small amount to be on a bus; she had made it to Soroti the day before. Her reason? She had several older married daughters, but her youngest child, Tino Betty, 13, had been abducted on June 15, exactly 6 months earlier. Madesta had not been home at the time; she was caring for another daughter in a hospital. While she was away from home, the villagers became frightened and started running. A great number of people had crammed themselves into a home for safety. Suddenly, the rebels came from no where, invaded the house, and her daughter was one of many who were abducted. When Madesta came to the camp to check up and find out if Betty was there, she had seen several kids from her area and they gave her their information; the last time Betty was seen by them, she was in the Kitgum area, about 75 miles away, preparing food for the commanders.

Jill and I were just heart-whelmed for Madesta. The three of us simply prayed together. As she was ready to leave she said, “God gave me that child; He will bring her back.” Jill and I felt a bit upset that we had not brought enough shillings to be certain Madesta could have an easier ride to the camp.

Of course, I’ve never heard the results. But Madesta truly touched my heart.

she left, Jill and I split up and wandered to different parts of the camp to check on various kids. We had a short while before the bikers were coming back for us. I was pretty casual, if you can imagine that. Saw kids I’d talked to before, gave hugs, and jumped in and played dodge ball with them. They laughed and screamed hysterically; they didn’t expect that kind of action from a “old” white lady. Even the guards were laughing.

I saw Jill, it changed again. She was teary. She had seen a teenager sitting aside, against a wall. No one around her. Looked very sad. What she learned through questions and interpretation was just blunt, not a lot of detail. But enough to break a heart.

nnifer was 16. In June, the rebels were attacking her village and she and another child were caught; the other child escaped. The group went to the border of Sudan, about 225 miles away, and then walked back down. Jennifer and the others were forced to carry luggage, were beaten. During the march, the rebels killed tired children. Jennifer was forced to watch while children were killed, and once she had been forced to kill a child who had been re-captured. The only blessing: she was not raped.

She had escaped into some bush and 2 days later was found by an old woman who took her to army barracks in Lira. She had been shifted to Soroti, 60 miles away. Jennifer had still not heard about her parents.

When Jill took me over to see her, she pointed out a type of abscess on Jennifer’s leg which was very infected and painful; she was being taken to the hospital that day for treatment.

Then our bikers arrived and we needed to get back downtown to the office and help pastors and others in need.

Yes, it had been a hot day. But our hearts were hotter than the weather could ever have been – our hearts were buried at the camp... again.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


On January 18, 2004, my last Sunday in Soroti, Uganda, I attended Pastor Joseph’s Baptist Church. Joseph was a youth pastor, and this was his preaching day. This 2nd service had about 500 attendees... some from this town and many from the refugee camps, especially those from the church grounds.

Joseph h
ad become one of my Ugandan sons during my weeks in this town. He and his wife and their little girls were a lovely family. I felt very blessed when he invited me to church. One of the reasons he asked me that day was so I could share about the ministry I was involved in and how we had helped many of their families. I was beautifully received by them and treated like a well-loved queen.

Towards the end of the service something happened. A man stood and began talking
. I didn’t understand, since he was speaking only in their tribal language, but I could see that people were overwhelmed both with sadness and with joy. Since Pauline, their nurse and my Soroti friend and helper, was sitting next to me and could interpret, I gradually got the story.

He had escaped from the LRA -- Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. He had not, yet, been able to get back to his family, but he had heard that his wife, who was in labor when the invasion occurred, was OK and had safely delivered their fourt
h baby, a girl. His brother, who had been kidnapped at the same time as he was, had not been found or heard from at this time. This man was standing near the back of the church, so I could only see him at that distance and he didn’t appear differently than most of the others. I arranged with Pauline to ask him to meet with us after the service, so I could ask some questions.

That’s when life heart overwhelmed.

His name was Alex. He was 37.
When he and his brother were grabbed by the rebels they were told that they must carry the heavy weapon stands and if they dropped them or damaged them in any way Alex and his brother would be killed. They carried them... all around the area, in and out of the forests, up and down the hills, across the streams. Constantly. No break times whatsoever.

Their rebel captain was particularly evil. He came to a point where he decided he would murder Alex. He demanded the other rebels to
beat Alex until he died. The captain wanted to make him an example of how he could run the show. They obeyed and beat him with their rifles and other weapons. He fell, and while collapsed, he definitely appeared dead. Then, a few minutes later, he shocked them. He stood up straight. He told me he knew it was the Lord who had healed him and given him strength.

A few days later the captain made Alex’ death another requirement. So, this time, he was to be hit with their machetes. They whacked his head and other parts of his body. Alex had large cuts and w
as bleeding to death. And he collapsed. The rebels were certain this was finished.

Very shortly thereafter, he stood up. He had again been healed. Amazingly, the Lord had made him strong and capable of standing tall.

The captain was furious. He immediately told the others to kill him. They said, “No.” He said, “I am your captain. You do what I tell you to do.” Aga
in they said, “No.” He said,”Then I will kill him.” They said, “He has come back to life two times. If you kill him, we will kill you.”

No one touched him again. Shortly after, he somehow escaped.

While trying to reach a safe place, Alex was captured by the Ugandan Army, considered to be one of the LRA, because of his age. Local villagers, however, recognized him as someone from their area and defended him, so he was fre

It had been some weeks since this had occurred. He was staying in Soroti at a local camp
, because in his village area there was the risk of capture. Always, if someone who had escaped was recaptured, they would automatically be killed as an object lesson for others. So,even though Alex knew the Lord had brought him back to life twice, he didn’t want to face that danger again. He also didn’t want to stop being a husband and father.

I would love to go to the Soroti area and check up on Alex. He smiled so much. He was so happy. [This in spite of the fact that the back of his head was covered with scars from the machetes and two toes had been chopped off when his feet had become infected. Those photos wouldn't please you, believe me!]

It was one of the most important interviews I ever did in Soroti. What stood out at me with him and some of the others: they were Christians who had been forced to see and face events 99.9% of us never have, and, possibly, never will.

However, if life changes for us, too, in a manner similar to what Alex "walked" through, how would we act or react? I often wonder.

Saturday, March 10, 2012



The name of the Lord is
a strong tower;
the [consistently] righteous man
[upright and in right standing with God]
runs into it and is safe,
high [above evil] and strong.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I was sharing this story with a new-ish family member last evening; thought I'd share it with all of you, too. The Grandkids ages: Jack was pushing 6 and the Twins were 3.
About 11 years ago, while my grandson, Jackson, was struggling with his kidney-related disease, my daughter called and asked me to watch the Twins for a couple hours while she was taking hi
m to the doctor for a blood test. Previously, when she had taken the Twins, too, and Jack was screaming in the doctor room, they were standing in the hall screaming and crying right along with him. She didn't want that to happen again. Now, that only made sense, but...
I was getting ready to leave for a trip for a few days, and needed to finish house chores, packing, cooking, laundry, and more and more. Watching the Twins at the same time didn't seem like a good idea to me. When she begged, over and over, I finally said, "O-K! But only two hours; you can't be out running around doing errands or taking a break."

She dropped them off and they hung out in my living room. I, on the other hand, wa
s running up and down the stairs in that four-level house. Hitting the laundry room, running to my bedroom on the top floor, chasing downstairs to my office on the lower/basement level. Grabbing, running, focused on getting everything done. Not one moment with the girls, except to tell them to stay out of stuff so I wouldn't have to clean more. The family room was actually in the basement also, but for some reason, they stayed in the living room. I don't remember, but expect I didn't want them to be dumping toys all over the place... and I'd have more cleaning to do when they left. Not so sure, overall, but sounds like me.

Well, after about half an hour
of running up and down stairs, I suddenly heard some bouncing on our hard wood living room floor. Lots of bouncing. As I headed there to see what was going on, I heard Kayla yammering. When I turned the corner of the stairway, I saw her dancing and she was singing: "Grumpy Grandma, Grumpy Grandma." Then her sister, Randa, started dancing and singing, "Grumpy Grandma, Grumpy Grandma, Grumpy Grandma."

I froze. And what did I do? I boun
ced up to the living room and grabbed them, and pulled them firmly up to me...

And I LAUGHED. And laughed and laughed some more.

What else did I do? I set aside all
my "tasking" attitude, and spent the rest of their visiting time playing with them. God obviously used them to get my head and heart moving in the right direction for that day.

After all these years, when thinkin
g of that moment in time what do I do?
Sometimes I Smile.

Sometimes I LAUGH!

Monday, March 5, 2012


The Word Carnival.... Madness
“Noah, how could you do that?” she wailed, beating his chest. “How could you close the door? Did you not see the water rising? ... or not hear the screaming?” She paused and looked around frantically for a moment and then threw her hands up over her ears and shrieked, “Oh, the pounding, the pounding!” With that she crumpled at his feet, sobbing.

Noah, knelt next to her, gathered his wife into his arms, his own tears soaking his beard.

“My dear one,” he said, cupping her face in his hands, “I did not close that door.” She looked at him in disbelief and tried to jerk away, her eyes calling him a liar. He held her fast, and looked deeply into her eyes and repeated himself. “I did not close that door.” Since she had known him since their youth, Noah hoped she would believe him, and know that he was not lying, that his heart was also hurting.

She melted into his arms, sobbing quietly.

A few hours later, rain still hammering on the roof, the animals shifting about anxiously, Noah called his family together into their common room, and away from their personal living quarters where they had run for shelter. Looking around the circle of his sons and their wives, looking at his own beloved one, he felt momentary panic. Two of his sons were wide-eyed with fear over the sudden events. He could nearly read their minds as they wondered whether they were truly safe, or if a violent drowning death awaited them, too. Noah’s other son did not look frightened, which should have calmed Noah’s heart. However, Ham’s eyes were filled with cynicism and hardness, no compassion coming through. Ham’s wife, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by sorrow. Noah had hoped that when Ham married her, her gentleness would overcome his harshness. So far, Noah’s only joy came in seeing that Ham had not been able to change her heart and spirit and that she remained the same loving woman.

While sitting on the straw mats, the family looked at Noah intensely, waiting for him to speak.

“Since your mother believed I closed the door of the ark, ignoring the cries and pleading of those on the outside, I expect you may think the same.” Noah paused, clearing his throat and choking back tears as he tried to continue. “I knew something was happening soon, but only because I had completed every task Jehovah had placed before me. And, as I waited – as we waited – I hoped I would not be the one forced to close the door. To see my brothers and sisters, or my friends, clamoring for safety, and to refuse them, could badly wound my heart. I have not slept well for many years, wondering how and when this would take place.”

Looking around the circle, Noah saw a glimmer of belief and relief in their eyes. “When the final events happened – the skies opened and flooded everything around us – the ground quaked and great springs of water shot forth – I was as shocked as you, and frightened. Even with all I preached – all the warnings I gave – all I had expected to happen – somehow I did not realize it would look like this.”

He paused again, covering his mouth with his hand, tears filling his eyes. “I was trying to calm the animals as the noise increased because of the rain when I heard the door close firmly – and I knew it was not a man.”

Noah walked around the family, touching and blessing each one. All of them, except Ham, leaned into his hands, warmed by his touch. He took his wife’s hand, gently stroking it, and said to her, “I know you, and your daughters, will spend much of your future lives grieving over the loss of so many dear family and friends.” He looked around and continued. “I can truly understand. So... as I see tears flow and sorrow burst forth, I will not neglect any of you. You may come to me at any time so we can pray together and seek comfort from our dear Jehovah.” He stopped and looked at the ceiling for a few seconds. “Even though there is a side in me that says they had their chance, heard the truth and made their choice, it does not mean my heart is not suffering, too. However, I must force myself to look to the future or I will be lost in sadness and no longer be of use by our Creator.” He shook his head. “And that I cannot risk.” He paused again and returned to his place.

“As I have told you before, dreams and visions from our dear Lord God have revealed a land restored from this desecration. Abundant life. A world replenished. Men and women who will understand true worship and do so joyfully. In spite of what we see around us at this moment, I have hope .... hope that sin and unfaithfulness will never again fill the world and cause another tragic event, another world-wide sin-cleansing by His hand. Yes, my dear ones, that truly is my hope.”

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I was fleeing for my life
I could see the city gates
Open to enfold and bring me in.
Behind me, on the pathway,
My enemy pursued me,
Intending to destroy me for my sin.

Oh, Blessed place of Refuge
I Cried, Oh, Refuge City,
My only hope was found
within your walls.
Before the priest I trembled
and pled my case for mercy
I knew before this judge I’d stand or fall.

I was fleeing for my life,
Fleeing to the Blood of Refuge
Shed by Jesus Christ,
-- it drew me in.
Behind me on the pathway
My Enemy pursued me,
Accusing and condemning me for sin.

Oh, Blessed Man of Refuge,
I cried, Oh, Blessed Savior,
My only hope is
through Your cleansing Blood.
Before my Priest I worshiped
He pled my case for mercy
Freedom came through
His Redeeming Love.

And now I walk in Freedom,
I daily walk in Freedom,
Rejoicing as I look upon His face.
The Refuge I once cried for,
The Refuge Jesus died for,
Enfolded me within the walls of Grace.