The Makings of a Sudden Trip

I write this first segment aboard a Lufthansa plane, at an elevation of 37,200 feet. Set against a crystal blue sky, the surging aircraft–with me in it–is traveling at a ground speed of more than 500 mph. Far beneath us I see a river. The screen attached to the seat ahead tells me the river is called the Nile, and I think of Moses, and bulrushes, and a floating baby basket. We will reach our destination in 2 hours and a half. The city of the airport is Nairobi, the country is Kenya, the continent is Africa.

I find it hard to believe I am here.

Jerry called from the living room, where he sat with Steve, to me in the kitchen in the afternoon following lunch, Easter Sunday 2017. “Want to go to Africa tomorrow?”
“What?”
“I said do you want to go to Africa tomorrow.”
“What are you talking about?” I questioned as I walked into the living room.

And so began the trip. I knew Steve and Dearrah were flying on Monday to Nairobi, Kenya where Steve would preach during a church conference, then on to Rome for a few days of sight-seeing. I knew that, and that a few people from his church would be going with them. But we had not figured into those plans in any way.

“Why don’t you and Mom go with us,” Steve had said after Jerry casually asked of the airline price for the trip. “We bought rooms at a group rate, and it was cheaper for us to add a room we didn’t need, so your rooms would be paid for.”
Jerry and I stared at each other. Then we grinned, began talking of appointments, hotel reservations and such we had for the coming days, and that we could cancel them all, how that our passports were up to date, how much fun it would be, and that because of my cancer treatments last year when our 60th wedding anniversary rolled around we hadn’t really celebrated it, and this trip could take care of that little lapse, and that the fares were exceedingly reasonable . . .

Steve made phone calls to his secretary, Evette, to assure that seats were available on all the flights we would need. They were. We said yes. We were laughing, Dearrah and I hugged, and Steve reminded us we would have to cancel our plans to attend a drama that evening, get home as quickly as we could for Evette needed our passport numbers, visas must be arranged, travel insurance bought, packing for us, phone calls, and such. Our drive home before we could even begin the process was two hours and a half. The first flight was out of LAX at 11:00 on Monday morning, we needed to be there at 9:00, and the airport is a 2 hour drive from our house, so we would leave at 6:30 am, take Winston to Rebecca’s and transfer our luggage to Nate’s car.

I called Rebecca to ask her to keep Winston and to get Nathaniel to drive us to the airport. “We’re going to Africa tomorrow.” Stone silence. “We’re going to Africa.” When she could finally talk, it was to say how excited she was for us, and that of course she and Nate would help us with the airport trek, and with looking after Winston.
Panic set in a few minutes after we walked into the house. I could not find our passports. I keep mine in a desk drawer in a folder named Important Documents; Jerry keeps his in one of his dresser drawers. Neither passport was in its place. Expired ones were, and a copy of our current, valid one, but I could find neither of our passports. I was trembling. Called Steve. Asked how much time we had. Could the airline tickets be cancelled? “Keep looking, Mom. I’ll make phone calls.”

I tore the house apart, checked in pockets of all our luggage, pawed again through the places they should be, checked folders in the desk, and finally out of two drawers of a four-drawer file I took  every file folder and plopped them on the floor, thinking maybe mine had slipped out of its file. Nothing. I went upstairs to the room where we keep our pictures and travel mementos. Same word: Nothing. I was sick.

Back to the study. I opened again the bottom file drawer, took everything out of there, and discovered a large file with ISRAEL/ISTANBUL scrawled over its face. I looked through it, and there among maps, cards and notes was my passport. I grabbed it up, ran in the bedroom. “I found mine.” Poor guy, Jerry had pulled a chair up to the dresser, still searching, and was just pulling out the entire big drawer when I walked in. “Maybe it’s behind there.” IT WAS! I reached my hand far to the back, and there wedged against the rear wall was Jerry’s passport. Somehow it had slipped over the edge of the drawer and had jammed there.

Day 12 of 16 with the Grands *Afternoon at Lake Arrowhead*

After Gentry finished his schoolwork, and after we had eaten lunch, I loaded the three youngsters in the car and we drove to Lake Arrowhead Village. We walked the entire mall, in and out of stores, spent some time down by the water, played around in a small park there, and ended our spree with a stop at McDonald’s for drinks.

dsc_4530dsc_4541“Take my picture here,” Cole said.

dsc_4543Little sweet rascal.

dsc_4539Others visitors were there.

dsc_4550The day was magnificent.

dsc_4551Lake Arrowhead, spectacular as always.dsc_4554End of the outing: McFlurries

Celebration With The Anchor

The phone call had come from Mary Williams of Apostolic College in Tulsa, where Jerry and I had met. “Would you be interested in going to California to teach in a church school in Pasadena?” So began a major move for us; in California all our children would be born, Jerry would pastor two churches here, and our lives for the most part would be lived out in this beautiful state . . .where we yet live. 20150215-untitled (1 of 28) Jerry’s sister Sophia lived in San Diego at the time, so one of the first churches we visited, and where we attended for a short while just before Michael was born, was Revival Tabernacle, pastored then by the inimitable David F. Gray. This past weekend the church, now called The Anchor, commerated both their 70th year since the founding by Brother Gray, and their 50 years at their current location. Jerry and I drove down and thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday morning celebration with this fine group of people. Revival Tabernacle/The Anchor is one of the more influential Apostolic Churches on the West Coast, with a long history of sending out ministers to found additional churches in the area, and in other parts of the United States, even to other parts of the world. 20150215-untitled (10 of 28)A tribute both to the congregation and to the leaders is that in this long history only two pastors have served these people. James Larson, who served under Brother Gray before assuming the pastorate is a talented, precious minister of the Gospel. His humble and chariasmatic way befits this high office. He is a man of prayer and of The Word. 20150215-untitled (5 of 28)Chris Higginbottom is the vibrant music director who enhances The Anchor by his talent, his passion for his job, and his faithfulness. 20150215-untitled (9 of 28)   Iris Bisbal is 79 years old, and is among the group of faithful “old-timers” who have attended Revival Tabernacle/The Anchor since its early days. On Sunday morning, with a strong, still magnificent voice, she sang the glory down. Amazing woman of God. 20150215-untitled (3 of 28)Among the several guest ministers who attended the Sunday morning service were Carl McKellar and Bernard Elms, who each delivered timely messages. Both these men attended Revival Tabernacle as youngsters.20150215-untitled (20 of 28) Of particular interest to me is this shot of my son Andrew, who along with other ministers was called on to speak a few words during the morning service. His father sits on the platform, an elder minister now, Brother Larson stands in the pulpit, and behind all is a projected image of Brother and Sister Gray, along with Brother and Sister Larson taken at the time the mantle was passed from Brother Gray to Brother Larson. 20150215-untitled (19 of 28) The future? What does it hold for those younger ones coming behind? 20150215-untitled (17 of 28)I’m convinced that the solid foundation on which Revival Tabernacle/The Anchor is built, along with the calibre of its leaders, elders and younger ministers, insures that this church will continue to move upward. God’s Church is not pallid, crippled, or lifeless; rather His Church is vigorous. His Church thrives. Congratulation to Pastor Larson and the entire congregation of The Anchor on such a stellar history. My prayers and support are with you.

Transition to Italy

It is just after 3:00 on Wednesday morning, and we’ve spent a few hours in an airport hotel in Amman, Jordan. At 3:30 our luggage must be in the lobby and our bus will take us to the airport where around 6:00 we begin a series of travel today–air flight to Istanbul, then another to Rome, where we will transfer to a train and end in Florence tonight.

Our days in Israel have been such that I have not been able to write about everything, but I will get to them all. Part of the challenge has been the fast pace of the trip, and often I am not able to get on the internet.

A happy group of girls ran our way as we walked toward the Jordan River. They were smiling, so I stopped to talk and take pictures.

“What is your name?” I asked this sweet young girl.

“Elizabeth,” she said. “What’s your name?” She lives in Bethlehem.

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Food in Israel

For lunch every day we’ve had nearly the same thing: salads, most of which I cannot identify, hummus, a delicious eggplant dip, served with chips which is probably fried pita bread. Stacks of pita bread are at every lunch. Meat served is chicken, lamb, and sometimes beef. Breakfasts are wonderful (but to tell the truth, this morning, I could go for a nice little plate full of crispy bacon!) eggs, boiled or scrambled, bowls of olives –every meal–cheeses, and little hills of freshly baked rolls and very fresh butter. All the hotel meals we’ve eaten have been buffet style. The olives! Exceptionally delicious. Dinner is the same type salads with the same variety of meat. We’re in Jordan now (I’ll fill you in later on everything I missed talking about in Israel) and last night we had beef stroganoff and a great variety of desserts. Cheese every breakfast. Coffee is robust. Exceptionally delicious tangerines.

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Devastation in the Philippines

The group of Islands called The Philippines is dear to my heart. Several years ago Jerry and I joined with others to minister in Cebu City and in Manilla, and those beautiful people won our hearts. While Jerry was in rehab after his terrible accident, the majority of his nurses were Phillipinos . . . and we came to love them deeply. Now, again–just weeks after a 7.2 earthquake–the islands have been struck with a major disaster. The AP reports: “ALL SYSTEMS ARE DOWN’: Death, destruction after Philippines typhoon.

OFFICIALS IN THE Philippines say that as many as 10,000 people may be dead in Tacloban, above, while 300 are confirmed dead on another island after one of the strongest storms in history swept through the archipelago.”

I am acquainted with Apostolic ministers and saints in both the UPCI and the WPF, and today I grieve for these people. One of my sons, Steve Buxton, does extensive church work on the island of Bohol. Please join with me in concerted prayer for all those who are suffering this Sunday morning. The Red Cross and other such organizations are making appeals for help today.

In this day of instant communication, the world is small, and so quickly we learn of the plight of our fellows. Of one blood are we all made. These are my brothers who at this moment suffer. I care, and I’m sure you do also.

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‘ALL SYSTEMS ARE DOWN’: Death, destruction after Philippines typhoon

Photo from AP

Of Chance

When a person is successful; healthy, has plenty of money, and contributes to society, we can rightly say he has been blessed by God. The converse is not true; some people have ill health, never have enough money, and their ministries never seem to excel, yet they too may be blessed of God, and may be doing everything exactly right. It is even possible–quite likely–that some members of the first group are not doing their best, and they may not be following the path God has laid out for them.

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Chance plays a big role in our lives: The families into which we are born, opportunities that may or may not present themselves, disease and accident which stalk us or ignore us, our innate intellect, the teachers who are assigned to our classrooms, the preacher who stands in our pulpit; the country of our birth and its government, the crust of bread we are given for the day, or more likely of those who read here, the whole buttered loaf. Much is of chance.

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What of you? I would so enjoy hearing your response to this subject. Agree with me? Disagree? Why?  Thank you for your time here.

The Death of a Recluse

His name is unimportant–except that when it is chiseled onto his tombstone it will be for some the only marker of his life. He died alone. At the end of our block. Unsung for the long days and for the long black nights he lay dead in his living room floor. No one sensed it at first, for he had become a recluse, then his ex-wife (or maybe he was still married–not sure) called a neighbor; “He’s not answering the phone. Can you check?”

I said his name is unimportant, but that is only so for this post, for I understand the opposite actually to be true. On the off-chance that any of his family or friends would read here, I don’t want them to be hurt or embarrassed, for he lived a sad, angry life. My neighbor did . . . and he died alone . . . They found him Saturday night. . . only a few yards from our house.

He was a Jew, and, fearing for their lives, his parents had fled Hitler’s regime, making it to Holland where they hid for a period of time. He was a small boy when he was hid away, but he remembered, and he never recovered. I can’t know for sure, but it seems he should have bounced back from the trauma, for his being so embittered mangled his life and wrecked his chance at any positive relationships. But he chose to stay buried in the details of that sordid period of history, and he reveled in recounting the atrocities. He showed us papers and books and told us stories. He warred with most of the neighbors, put up no trespassing signs, installed heavy gates, and set cameras on high poles. He went to court over perceived offenses, and sometimes people took him to court for his odd behavior.

When we moved here, his wife still lived with him–a precious person, whose grown children were furious that she had married him, and who would have nothing to do with him. Jerry and I tried to befriend them, had them in our home several times, and listened to his stories. He gave Jerry books and spoke Hebrew in our living room. He liked Jerry and sometimes hugged him, and we liked him and his wife.

While we were gone to Lake Havasu, his wife moved out of their fine, large house and the gardens that had been the showplace of the neighborhood are now brown and bare. The towering rose bushes and the flowering vines are dead, as are most of the plants she nurtured so tenderly. She used to walk me around the yard and name the plants and tell of their characteristics.

Last Saturday, they found him, and now a big dumpster is in the driveway and a group of people are working through the place.

Have you been hurt? Did someone mistreat you? Have you been wronged? Let it go. Today. You can do that, and you will be a transformed person. Much better to suck it up, turn the page, smile again, and forgive, than to become a recluse . . . and to die alone. . .

Where I Could Live

I could live in New York, or any large city for that matter, for I like the bustling about, the museums, the libraries, the concert halls, the restaurants, the ethnic communities…yes, I could live in a city.

……….I could live in a loft there, or in a high-rise apartment building that sat square in a business/shopping area…or by Central park.

………………………I could live in a hotel in a city, and if it were in San Francisco, I would walk to the cable car stop, hop aboard and browse around town for the day. And if my grand kids were visiting, I would take them too, and we would eat ice cream cones and chocolate from Ghirardilli Square, and at Fisherman’s Wharf, we would buy fish and chips from a street vendor. A loaf of sour dough bread would find itself tucked beneath my arm, and when I tore off a piece and offered it to said grandchildren, they would roll their eyes, cast about to see who was looking, say, “Oh, Granny,” and take a bite. Wish we had butter, I would say to them.

I could live in the country, not too far removed from a city or an airport, but the real country with dirt roads and corn fields and tractors.

I could live on a cruise ship for a year–perhaps forever.

I could live on a university campus or a Bible school campus, and I would pull on my coolest sunglasses and walk about with the students and they would pet me and take me on as a mascot.

I could live on a ranch. I could live in Alaska for one winter, or, if I had a good copy of Paddington, I might even take on deepest, darkest Peru.

Where could you live?