Saturday, November 21, 2020

Cape Town to Kenya

My foot beside a hippo print.  We saw the hippo in the dark, so didn't get a picture, but just his print impressed me.  

 

Grueling and Glorious!  Eleven days after we left Cape Town, we crossed the border into Kenya!  Over 7000 kilometers away!  It was crazy to do such a journey in the midst of the Covid problems…crazy, unless the Lord God who created the universe guided you to do it.  I’d have to keep reminding myself of that when the problems and obstacles would mount up in my mind:

 

--We’re not spring chickens.

 

--We didn’t have a visa for Kenya.  One website proclaims that visas are no longer available at entry points, only online. 

 

--We didn’t even have a negative Covid test when we started!

 

--We were denied entry into the very first country we tried to cross into, Botswana, and we still had at least 4 to go!

(Previously, Botswana was our fastest ever border crossing, accomplished in 10 minutes one time!)

 

Just because the Lord guided us to go, it was not trouble free.  We had rough roads, a bug storm that was rather thrilling in its rareness, and our tired bodies to contend with.  Our air conditioning was a treat while it lasted, but somewhere in Zambia it deserted us. 


 

So yesterday I gave a testimony about it in church.  I got blubbering!  The Lord did it! In spite of my doubts and fears.  He wanted us here, and He got us here. 

 

Every night, we found a place to stay.  Sometimes it was hard because it was after dark.  We’d sing “Guide Me, Oh, Thou Great Jehovah” as we’d squint through the blackness, trying to find accommodation without killing a cow or goat, or worse, a pedestrian. 

 

The two night in Namibia were memorable.  The first we stopped before dark and had time for a long walk, passing out tracts, in the streets of a small desert town.  It was HOT!  We met a baby meerkat!  And I am still annoyed with myself that I didn’t take its picture.  It bit me, softly, and it was a perk of the trip.  When we got back to our motel, I peeked down a passageway, and found a pool!  “Above and beyond what we asked or thought!”  I guess they don’t tell people about it, because we didn’t know they had a pool, and we were the only ones in there, after dark, letting the heat of the day sizzle away.

 

The second night in Namibia we had just passed through a bug storm that delayed us a bit trying to clean the windshield enough that we could see.  It was very dark when we found a beautiful place to stay, right on the Okavango River, a place famous for its wildlife.  It was more upper crusty than we usually do, but was a necessity at that point.  The big thrill was a HUGE hippo that was grazing right near where we slept!  I couldn’t get a picture because it was dark, but we got a glimpse of the size of the beast and a new respect. 

 

We also spent 2 nights in Zambia, and came close to spending a third.  The first night was in Livingstone, near Victoria Falls.  We had a great time passing out tracts as we walked around town in the dark.  People are so receptive.  Many asked for extras “for their friends” and one guy asked for 31 to give one to each of his students! 

 

In South Africa and Namibia we could buzz along at 120 kilometers per hour.  In the rest of the countries, the max was 100 kph and 50 was a lot more common.  We were thankful for cruise control that helped us obey the limit, until I hit an exceptionally bad pot hole and the cruise control doesn’t work any more.  ๐Ÿ™„

 

Lusaka is a favorite stopping place from other trips, but this time we went through around noon, so there was no stopping that early. 

 

We kept going until nearly dark, and tried to find a place, but I wanted someplace quiet as the Livingstone night was in town and Saturday night noisy.  It got totally dark, and then we discovered we were only another hour or so from Forest Inn, a place we had stayed in 2012, so we pressed on, anticipating a decent place.  It came with a flood of memories, making me miss the three kids all afresh.  They had WiFi…our last night for it until Kenya. 

 

We had hopes of making the border of Tanzania the next day, and we did, but it was a grueling day.  They are making a new road, so they had us and 18 wheel trucks use a parallel dirt road.  We’re grateful for our Jeep!  It did fine in the holes and mud and bumps, but it was slow going.  We reached that border around sunset. 

 

Border crossings are a little scary.  There are so many variables!  This one took a long time, and another good chunk of money, but it went smoothly.  You not only have to get a visa, but travel insurance for each country, permission to “import” your vehicle, and now the negative Covid test.  There can be local taxes, road taxes, and other hoops to jump through.  There’s no arguing, just jumping through each hoop, and trying not to get robbed. 

 

Paul LOVES passing out tracts at border crossings.  There are so many people, and they have lines to wait in so they might as well read and improve their knowledge of eternity while they wait.  We get in fun chats with people, and several times people have felt the need to give us their opinion of our President (not my fave ๐Ÿคจ).  I get free Swahili lessons too!  At the Namibian border crossing a lady behind the desk told me I didn’t sound American, so I put on my best Southern accent and said something like, “Hey, y’all!  We’re so glad to be here!”  She was charmed, I’m sure.  Paul told me I did cultural appropriation.๐Ÿ˜  He’s the only one who knew my accent wasn’t spot on perfect for a Southerner.

 

The second night in Tanzania we had made it to Dodoma!!!!  Dodoma is made famous in The Jungle Doctor series of books by Dr. Paul White that our family has enjoyed.  The doors say “Sukuma” on them, which means “Push”.  The Jungle Doctor had named his car Sukuma, so that gave us a little thrill, and we had to take a picture of the word the first time we came through on the way to Rwanda in 2016. 

 

This time we arrived just at dark, after a gorgeous trip through winding mountain roads from Iringa.  We began to hunt accommodation.  We punched in maybe 8 different places that our GPS showed, and we’d work our way through dark, crowded streets, and the things were not there!  None of them!  (I need to write a little letter to Garmin!)  We  were so tired, and  it seemed so impossible after awhile.  Then we saw a place! We pulled in, but it was full.  Dejection!  BUT the girl behind the counter was a sweetie!  I asked if she knew another place we could stay and she called two other places until she found us one!  Then she said it was close, but hard to find, so she sent the gate man to show us the way!  He did a stunning job considering he spoke very little English.  We drove quite a long distance down a sidewalk, but that’s not important as long as we didn't kill anyone.  We made it! 

 

This was better than the place the night before!  It had a toilet seat!  Both nights together cost us less than $30.00 total, with breakfast included in the one place.  Our hostess was named Sarah, and she was just so sweet and helpful.  Just what you need after a rough day of driving.  We were able to clean up and get organized before we went to bed.  She probably would have given us hot water if we had asked, but we both thought the cold shower felt good. 

 

We left a little later than our usual 6 AM because of the included breakfast, then had a memorable hunt for motor oil.  I think we visited 4 petrol stations before we found one that had oil, but had such fun doing it.  I asked for oil and got the key to the toilet.  I laughed, and kept pronouncing Oil as best I could, and the guy finally said, “Oilee!”  Yes!   Then he laughed, and I laughed, and the staff inside got laughing at how two such different things could be confused.  No, they didn’t have “oilee”, but yes, they would love tracts in Swahili. 

 

Tension was building in me as we neared the Kenyan border.  I was driving across the vast plains of Tanzania when I first spotted Mt. Kilimanjaro!  Wow!  Awesome!  Majestic!  And I couldn’t even see the top!  It was covered in clouds.  That was an inspiring reminder of our God’s size and strength. 

 

We arrived at Namanga around 3 in the afternoon, tense, but hoping in God.  More  than 3 hours later, we finally made it in!!!  The biggest delay was to get a Carnet for the Jeep.  Happy spots were tract passing (though some very aggressive female made a pass at Paul in the midst of that)  meeting 2 sniffer dogs, and meeting a young man who let me use his WiFi hotspot to check WhatsApp.  First time for WiFi since Forest Inn in Zambia so it was a thrill. 

 

We passed the last checkpoint and burst out singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  And began another hunt for accommodation in the dark.  It took another hour, but we ended up in a nice room, with Wi-Fi!  We slept way late the next morning, at least until 6, I think ๐Ÿ˜‚, had a proper breakfast, not our usual in the car variety, and continued on to the home of Lois Osborne, our hostess, the carrot on the end of the stick. 

 

We had the rest of that day to rest and DO LAUNDRY!!!  We hadn’t done much since South Africa, and our clothes were getting more use than usual.  It was time!

Lois' s Beautiful Home


The morning after the bug storm, at the Zambian/Namibian border, some helpful baboons tried to lick the bugs off.  I'm amazed they didn't burn their tongues.  

 

God is good.  We did the impossible because He guided us to.  Now to settle down and reach out to people while we’re here. 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Tract Meet Diary

 August 30:  Clarity turned 3 today!  But that has nothing to do with my Tract Meet Diary.  I just want to jot down some of our adventures.  

 Today a little girl asked me, "Are you a whitey?"  I assured her I was, and showed my blue eyes as proof.  She just asked again, so I assured her I was and quit trying to prove it.  Paul wonders now if that means something we haven't thought of. 

I gave one tract to a lady and she started coughing and vomited (spit?) a few times. Hmmm.  

Paul had one little girl start crying as he gave her group tracts.  She said, "I read the Bible every night, but I don't understand it." And she left, but she came back soon after, and they talked, and she and two other children prayed and asked the Lord to save them. 

Tim and I got a bit lost.  We walked down one street, took a left and then a quick left to walk back, but it wasn't at all parallel.  According to my watch we walked 4.6 kilometers, finding lots of people to pass out tracts to, but not stopping long with anyone as we had agreed to meet at 6:05, and only found the car again at 6:23.  Tense times for punctual people.  

 Oh! Before we went out on the streets, we went out for lunch to celebrate our 28th anniversary.  We went to the V & A Waterfront, which is kind of fancy.  Tract passing does not tend to go well in rich places, but listen to what actually happened.  

 We had a place in mind, Hungarian Stax, but it looks to be a victim of Covid madness.  It wasn't open, so we hunted around for another place.  We found a seafood place, and Paul gave out a tract as the receptionist led us to the table.  A few seconds later, a waitress came over to our table and apologetically asked if she too, could have a pamphlet.  Then a second waitress joined her, asking too, and could they have three more for others?  Well, sure! We could spare them.  ๐Ÿ˜  A waiter came too, after a bit, to get one for himself.  So much for stereo typing people in the rich quarter of town!  

 

August 31st...not our best day.  It was raining, and there weren't many people in the community we were in, Retreat.  But we did not retreat from Retreat.  Instead we drove around in our car looking for people.  We passed things out the window to the people we could find, and got out at a few groups that took some foot work, and passed out tracts, including one nice long line of people waiting for food distribution. 

The bus station was a hive of activity, not like when the train was running, but still quite busy.  Many received tracts, some were glad, but I hit some real negative responses.  What's up with that?  There must be a reason, and I'll let you know if I find out. 

 

September 4, 2020  We missed the 2nd for torrential  rains.  We'd have needed plastic bags for each tract or they'd have been sogged up!

I just had a funny little thing happen. I was getting a tire fixed at the BP station, and afterward, after the fix and a tract, the attendant said to me, “Madam, I am young, and you are so old. So much older than I am.  What is the meaning of this sickness?” 

So we talked about if God sent it or just allowed it and he says he likes the work that I’m doing.  Nice guy.  But his opening line!!!  One of those funny little cultural bloopers for my culture that he doesn’t know he just made.  Came home from that, looked in the mirror and discovered I never put on make-up this morning so he can be forgiven for calling me “so old.”  ๐Ÿ˜Š

Yesterday while we were “tracting” I kept running into the same man, three different places.  The third time I jokingly told him he must stand still so I wouldn’t keep trying to give him a tract.  He didn’t smile.  He invited me in to his house pray for his wife Marlene who has cancer.  The doctors said there is nothing they can do.  So I did go in and pray.  End of story?  I hope not, though I may never find out the real end til Heaven. But I thought you might like to join me in praying for Marlene in Lavender Hill. 

 Still need to go out officially passing today.

September 8th, 

We often ask, "English or Afrikaans?" in passing out tracts.  Some people get amused by this, and try asking for other languages.  Twice people have said, "I want Spanish." and I have the joy of calling their bluff, by speaking Spanish to them.  

It happened again today, and the guy actually knew  a few words of Spanish, but just a few, and had to admit it rather shortly.  So then he tried French.  Now it was my turn for bluffing. 
"Bonjour" I said.

''Parlez vous Francais?" he said.

The only thing that came into my head was, "Cest la vie."  Then we both burst out laughing.  I hope that makes him extra eager to read the tract and follow Jesus. 

Paul was sick and stayed home yesterday, so Tim and I attacked Retreat by ourselves.  We were in one neighborhood where Tim had been before, but he was driving.  He said he thought at the time, "I wouldn't want to be walking in this neighborhood,"  but now here we were.  

Tonight Paul felt much better and was leading the pack again.  He said he had one bad experience, which is rare. He came upon a street game of soccer, and, as he approached, the ball came sailing toward him.  He helpfully, he thought, stopped it, and sent it back, and then tried to hand out tracts.  The leader of the group immediately refused, rather rudely, saying he was Muslim.  Others also refused.  Only after awhile did Paul realize the ball he stopped was actually in play, heading for a goal.  Oops. 

Tim and I met a terroristic pit bull that rushed the gate as we passed, slamming both front legs into a metal clad gate, making a horrific bang. I would have screamed, I'm sure, but I saw it coming so could just laugh at this dog who had his timing down perfectly to scare people. 

Today Tim had crowds of kids around him, thrilled to see the guy they had seen in school.  Tim does the liquor bottle "magic" lesson.  Today a boy asked him, "What size shoes do you wear?"  

"15" was the answer, and amazed the kids.  I told our little crowd, "I don't know how he got so big.  Maybe he was drinking giraffe milk."  They looked amazed by this, so I admitted it was just a joke.

For the first time ever, Paul had a girl ask him to wiggle his ears while out tract passing.  ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™‰

Another first today:  a boy showed Paul a picture of Paul drawing the rainbow picture.  Paul asked where he got it, and the boy said, "On Facebook." 

I saw an old age home, as they're called in South Africa, and just felt sorry for them still in isolation.  So I went to drop some tracts there, but I was beset with problems.  First there was a bee on the doorbell.  But he flew away when I reached up to push the button. Next, the man who came wasn't a Christian, but he said he'd take 50 of them 25 in English and 25 in Afrikaans for residents AND workers, so I'm hopeful.  

 


 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Adventures in the Hood




 God has stirred us up to go pass out tracts in some neighborhoods around our home.  I love the quick little adventures that happen each day.

One day we met a little girl whose 6 year old sister was shot in the head and killed by gangs.  Accidentally. I think.  I hope.  This little girl was 9, the older sister, and so sweet and cheery.  She loved going around with us and passing out tracts.  We enjoyed her being with us, and then she later told us her story.  Ouch.  I told her maybe her sister Nathalie has met our little Cherish in heaven and can play with her.  We don't know, but I'm thankful for the hope. 

In that same neighborhood, which is famous for the gangs' shooting, Tim and I walked through a "party".  Loud music was raging, so we couldn't (didn't have to?) talk too much, but we buzzed through this party where many people were smoking (which was illegal at the time) drinking (also banned during the virus) and preparing and smoking more drugs than I have ever seen in my life.  

After we were a bit away from that chunk of excitement, I got the giggles, telling Tim that was an unusual mother/son outing.  (Pray for those tracts to make an impact!  I imagine people waking up with the rotten after-effects of that party, and finding a tract in their pocket, and reading it and crying out to God.)

We offer tracts in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa with just a few Chichewa left so we're trying to get one  translated into Chichewa.  Most people are pleased to receive a freebie, and we just have great fun passing these things out.  Tim particularly seems to get mobbed by kids who want to collect as many as they can.   

"Small Paul" is rather well known to the young people in these areas because he's preached in so many schools.  Eyes grow wide when I tell them Tim is our "baby", and they laugh at the idea that this big 6'7" guy is anyone's baby. Many ask, "Are you one that did magic with the bottle?" 

 I had a teen ask for 20 rand.  I told her I didn't carry money at times like these, but offered her a tract.  She took it, then protested, "I'm a Muslim." 

Me: This won't hurt you.

Her:  I'll give it to my Christian friend.

Me, smiling: OK, but read it first so you know what you're missing.  

Another day a boy was telling us that his uncle choked to death the night before.  Sure enough, there was a big crowd in the boarded-in yard of the house across the street.  They were just sitting there, many with beer bottles, looking sober.  They obviously needed to know the way to Heaven.  Tim looked dubious, but it reminded me so much of a "reunion" in Peru, I just felt at home and charged in, greeting men (it was all men), telling them "I'm sorry", and passing out tracts.  I didn't chat long, just kept moving.  May they be used for the good. 

Once Tim got drawn into some kind of bar/party joint while I was the one left outside.  I had a quick little  panic attack as my imagination went into overdrive.  What would I do if I suddenly heard sounds of a scuffle in there?  Time to quick worrying, start praying. 

He was out a few minutes later, just fine, and we continued on down some extremely muddy streets. It was like a tunnel of tin on the sides.  There was no side way out, we had to walk out one end or the other. 

Many times some tiny children, too young to read, will hold out their hands for tracts too.  I tend to ask them, "Can you read?" and you see the little cuties' faces work as they ponder this.  They're worried, trying to think if they can lie, knowing their siblings or others might tell on them, but they really want what the big kids are getting.  

Of course I cave in, and give them one, saying, "Can you get your mum to read it to you?"  Their faces light up as they grab it and run, before I change my mind. 

We've been asked if we're Jehovah's Witnesses, and last night some lady with a Bible wouldn't take a tract.  That's rare. 

 My friend Margie came with us once, which was fun.  She said she felt rich afterwards, and was checking out a house for sale.  We had another little helper last night, but we weren't comfortable with her following us when we crossed into another neighborhood.  That's when we discovered our helper wouldn't go home!  We had to walk back and hand her over to her Mom before we could continue.  

A little girl called out to us, "Hello, white people!" which made me laugh.  

We occasionally have rudeness, but it's rare.  Some of it we can laugh off.  If it's not in English we can ignore it.  None of it has been too bad.  

 I wish I could be braver taking pictures.  I've had 2 phones stolen this year so far, so it makes me cautious. I don’t want a THIRD cell phone to get stolen, but these shacks are fascinating, and the tunnel effect between them is like a HUGE maze on sand.  Thankfully little kids love to guide us around in there.  They tell us important things like where the dogs that bite are, and how to get out. 

                                                          Happy customers  :-) 

The sky above is beautiful.  The neighborhood is...creative.  

The little girl whose 6 year old sister was shot and killed.

A little memorial to Nathalie, the 6 year old, right near their doorway where she was shot.


Notice the one tract stuck in the boy's pants, so he can stick out an empty hand for more.  We don't stress too much about people taking multiples, but try to get them in on the fun of sharing.  "Who can you give one to?"  And, "You know, you can read the same one ten times.  You don't need ten of them." with a smile.

 

Kids leading Tim through the maze.  These guys were part of the crowd that said, "Make way" or "clear the way" much to Tim's embarrassment. 
So many needs!  May they come to the One who created them, loves them, and can meet all their needs.
This game of mancala looks fun, and the guys were friendly to us.  
  

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Lost Was Found! Happy Ending

Yesterday morning the calm of our lockdown routine was shattered by one blog post by my brother in law, Rick Huntress.  To read the whole poem, you can go to www.lifegoeson4us.wordpress.com but, these words were rather heart-stopping.


This evening at home

Tested our resolve

When Grammy and great granddaughter

Were nowhere to be found

Rick went on to praise the Lord for hearing their prayers and bringing the wanderers home safely.  Well!  What happened??!!??  We couldn't call home to ask, as everyone should have been asleep.  We could see Rick had posted his poem at 2 or 3 in the morning, so maybe they would all be sleeping late.  We had to wait.  
We held out til after 1 our time, which is after 7 their time, and we called my sister Wendy who is an early riser.  She gave us the first version:  
After a family dinner last night, after 7 PM, Clarity, aged 2 1/2, wanted to go outside and play on the rocks.  My Mom, Clarity's great grandmother, agreed to go, so they put on warm jackets (thankfully!!!) and went out.  A little later, Ryan, Clarity's Dad, looked out the window and said, "I don't see them."  Our daughter Evangel went to look for them, not worried, just curious what they were up to.  She walked out to the rocks, and then all around the house.  This was not normal.  There was no sign of them.  
Everyone in the house now mobilized, with Josh heading out on his bike, Evangel and Ryan grabbed baby Cyrus and went in the truck and my sister Wendy walked up the road.  Rick was in the house in his wheelchair.  Command control, I imagine.  
No one found anything. Evangel decided to call 911.  No one disagreed.  It was just too mysterious.  My Mom has NEVER gone walking in those woods because ticks have been a very big issue since they moved there.  Lyme's disease can make life miserable.  
The 2 theories were not pretty.  
1. They were abducted.  
2.  My Mom fell and was hurt.  But where? 
The police got there fast..11 of them, I think, in 9 cars.  They brought a sniffer dog, and got Clarity's scent off of her car seat.  Evangel said it was horrible giving them a description of what they were wearing.  They also brought a heat seeking drone.   (We thought that was cool!  Who knew Maine had such technology?)  
My Mom told me what happened to her from her angle.  Clarity was "rock hopping" on a stone wall, and balancing on logs and having a great time.  Mom said it was like you read in a book.  She just looked up, and couldn't see the house.  So she told Clarity it was time to go home, and started walking, but the house didn't appear.  
They walked, and called "Helloooo" in case any one was looking, and walked and talked.  Clarity never knew they were lost, and never got at all afraid.  (Good job, Mom!)  
They came to a pond with a boat in it, and saw an abandoned shed, and finally, the back of a yellow house.  Clarity said, "That's not our house." rather flatly, it sounded like.  Grammy said, "That's OK, we can go up their driveway, and get on the road, and go home that way."  And that's what they did. 
Once they were on the road, they saw a man with a flashlight, looking at the side of the road.  They  didn't know it was their pastor, Pastor Storey, searching the side of the road for any sign of a struggle.  After they connected, Pastor Storey called Evangel, who could now have a good cry of relief.  Ryan came out to carry his daughter into the house, and the dogs reached Mom and Clarity soon after.   They did the same loop down through the woods, and back up the hill behind the neighbor's house in about 15 minutes, since they could run and not go the speed of a 2 year old.  
What a reunion!  Bunch of tears flowing, I imagine.  The relief from the fears was great!  Mom was embarrassed, but understood why they had called the police.  
Mom had a reaction after she went to bed a few hours later, of shaking all over.  She has never been lost in the woods her whole life!  But now she made a major family memory none of us will ever forget.  
I asked Clarity about it the next day on the phone.  I said, "I heard you went rock hopping."
"AND log hopping!" she clarified.  No mention of a fearful walk at all.  
Her Aunt Ariel asked if she was scared.  "Yes, I was so scared when I was at Grand-mummy's house and the chicken flew into my face" was the surprising response.  
I told my neighbor here in South Africa about it, and she said if they worst had happened, I'd have had a hard time getting a flight back to America right now, during the lockdown.  That was a sobering thought.   It could have been horrible if something had happened and we lost the two of them and then had to try to get there to comfort the family.  If I let my imagination go there, I can cry just thinking about it.  
We have much to be thankful for!  We praise God and thank Him for His mercies on this, and are just so grateful we can turn to Him with these problems that get out of our control.  He is good.  
Mom a few weeks ago.  


See all those rocks to climb on in the back yard?  
The first police cars arriving.  Neighbors in that house across the street helped search too.  Church was all informed by prayer chain.  We in South Africa were sleeping peacefully and obliviously.  
 The reunion afterward.  Evangel's taking the picture.  Mom is back-to the camera, with the pink jacket.  Grampa Nathan half shows up on the left, then Uncle Rick, Clarity, Aunt Wendy, dad Ryan, Uncle Josh, Aunt Holly, Grandmummy Sandy holding baby Cyrus.
Aunt Wendy and Clarabelle as she calls Clarity.  And they all lived happily ever after and nothing so scary ever happened to them again.  I hope.  


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Shooting in the dark

Paul's been pondering his spiritual journey, and noting something.  He didn't have a lot of mentors.  He had very few one-on-one chats with the men who influenced his walk with the Lord.  He didn't meet for coffee or have accountability partners.  He never went for therapy.

Even with his pastor/missionary dad, there wasn't much one on one.  Paul was fourth of six kids, and teaching was generally delivered to them as a group.

In pondering this, we're seeing a good, seriously encouraging side to this.  Paul has been walking with the Lord since he was 15, with some ups and downs at the beginning, true, but with steady progress and growth.  How?  It's worth knowing because we'd love to replicate him.  We'd love to have hundreds and thousands of Christians who devote their full lives to reaching others with the GOOD NEWS of Jesus, boldly.  Day after day, year after year, on four continents, in season out of season.


In his pondering, he made a list of men who influenced his life.  Besides his mom and dad, there were missionaries, preachers and Bible college teachers.  Most of them didn't know that their teaching was life changing for him.  But their discipling of him was at a distance, not personal.  Biographies of missionaries and evangelists were helpful to him, but, of course, that teaching was not personal.
Gallup, our eye candy, shown with 2 books that influenced Paul's walk and mind  Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians and Pilgrim's Progress.  Don't you love Gallup's cross-eared look? 




His mom did spend personal time in training him, especially getting him started in Bible reading each day and seeing that all six children had their own Bible reading each morning before doing other things.  He spent (and spends) a lot of time in the Bible.  That has been the BIG help in his life and ministry.

He mentioned his sister, Faith.  She launched their whole family into a nursing home ministry that still goes on today, more than 50 years later.  She also set the example for the five siblings of memorizing hundreds of Bible verses well enough to quote them all together accurately.  Faith was his partner when his dad sent them out two by two to speak in public schools in South Carolina.  They sang together while she played the accordion, and then he would preach with chalk art. She was a big help to him. 

Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation...for the Kingdom of God is within you"  (Luke 17:20-21).

I find this so comforting!  We are sowers of the seed.  But the seed falls on different kinds of soil.  We read it in family Bible reading today, which inspired this writing.   :-)   Jesus said, "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;  And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how" (Mark 4:26,27). 

We don't know what is going on in people's hearts.  We'll be able to tell eventually by their fruits, but we give out the seed (the Word of God) to people, not knowing if they are "good soil" or "rocky" or what.  It takes time to see the "Fruit".  The Doings.

So how does this comfort me?  Because we have so, so many unknowns in our work.  Paul can give out the Word to 1000 people a day, many days.  Many of those people will give a word or a sign that they want to follow Jesus.  Yeah!  That's hopeful!  But because we don't see the heart, we don't know what's going on "underground" as the farmer can't see the seed while it's underground.

That doesn't mean nothing is happening!  The kingdom of God does not come with observation.  Later we'll know some, but I think we'll learn the most about what we helped in, someday in Heaven.

We'd like to do more, to follow up more, to get more feedback, but there is only so much time and strength.  It's OK not to know everything.  God does His work even in the dark.