This country is filled with some amazing people. Generous hearts and souls. And everyone we meet has something to say about the degeneration of the American morality. Why. I haven’t met one person with this "de-evolved morality". Everyone we meet is generally kind and generous.
So… where are all these morally depraved individuals that are driving this country into the ground? What is really going on here? Maybe we are all too quiet? Perhaps the vast majority of Americans are just sitting complacently at home, minding their own business and allowing the few bad apples to spoil the barrel. Something to think about anyway.
Still in Florida. Probably leaving tomorrow for the long drive to Baltimore, Maryland. I met a woman last night that fosters children. She has been a foster parent since she was 21 years old. She has adopted two girls, has one boy of her own and right now is fostering three brothers and a month-old infant in her home. Plus… she just got married in April. He must be an amazing guy.
Her new foster baby has reflux; I will ask my sister Julie to email her some reference material. Julie is a pediatrician and her oldest child had reflux. I hope she can help this courageous woman. What really amazed me about this foster mom, was her sense of peace. And her new husband seemed so happy with his new family, as large as it is!! It made me feel good to be near them.
They obviously had figured out God’s path for their lives.
So, Eve… three-year-olds are awfully precise and honest. Being here in the south, the make-up of the population is a little different than home in California. I don’t think Eve ever was around any African-Americans back home.
She is here in Georgia! And what gets me is she keeps referring to people as " that brown woman", or "look at the beautiful brown baby". I don’t want to tell her, "shhhhh". I don’t want her to feel badly for using the word "brown". But, it isn’t quite appropriate… I think.
To Eve, it is just a descriptive word… to me, well, I am fearful of upsetting someone. Isn’t that silly? It is as though we shouldn’t mention the difference in skin color, because that would indicate some "difference" in people.
I am so worried of offending anyone. Eve isn’t, she doesn’t even know what it means to offend another person. It is so burned into my psyche (and I suppose to most of my generation) that we have to be extra careful not to notice any differences between peoples. Everyone is equal, period. Well, equality of rights and lives is different from equality of "looks".
I just want to talk about it, get it out on the table, stop being so worried of offending anyone. I like looking at people and African-American people are really beautiful, but… I might offend.
I want to know what it is like to have a "history". I guess being a mongrel, (German, Russian, English) I really don’t have a group identity or history, other than being American. So many Americans seem to have an ethnic historical group or story.
Not having one in particular, I am very interested in other groups "story". I can’t wait to get to the Amish… there is a history there. Or the Indians, or at home; the great stories of the Latinos. What a plethora of rich stories are here in America… just waiting to be learned!
Kinda cool that we are all different.
I don’t know how to start writing today. I have written and re-written what is on my heart in my mind, over and over again. How do I get my feelings out on this one? Do I tell a fable about a handsome young man and his wife, how they trusted another young man who betrayed them?
Do I just express myself truthfully and write about the anguish that Jeff and I felt when a man whom we considered a close friend, who worked for us, and in whom we placed the reigns to our Installation Division, let us down so dearly. Or do I just package my anger and fear away, forget about the whole thing?
Our former Installation Division Manager, this man that once was so dear to us, sent an email to me yesterday. Apparently he has been following our adventure through my journal entries on the internet. His missive was well-written and expressed his desire to become our friend again. He mentions in his email that he too understands how it is to be self-employed now, as he is just closing up his entrepreneurial adventure. Hmmm.
On one hand, I enjoyed this man’s friendship and company. He was smart and funny. Jeff enjoyed his company, they spoke the same language…. Sound systems! But, he lied to Jeff and me. Not once, not twice, but over and over again.
We trusted him with our business and our hearts and he purposefully chose to hurt us. Okay, the scriptures say to forgive and forget, to turn our cheeks, to love our enemies. So, do I allow this man, even in a limited or peripheral manner, back into our lives? Isn’t that what scripture teaches me?
However, I must remember that he also lies. He lies very easily and is extremely believable. This fellow says he is seeking inner peace through Zen and Buddhism. We know these to be false teachings, more paths to follow that lead away from the Truth, away from the narrow path of Jesus. So, he could just be faking us out, another trick from the enemy.
What strikes me most is his lack of apology. Nowhere in his email did the fellow say, "I am sorry for the pain I caused in your life, I am sorry for betraying you, I am sorry for using our friendship for actions that were wrong or of mal-intent. Jesus teaches us to forgive those who trespass against us.
But isn’t there something in that about the other party also needing to repent? I am going to have to research that in the scriptures. I am going to have to pray about this… listen to God’s direction.
As a result of the mismanagement by this man and Jeff’s decision to trust him with an important part of our business, we owe the IRS, we owed the vendors and began the descent into the pit of debt, never to rise again. Yes, it was our fault. We gave control of the installation division of our company to this fellow. Bad choice.
Always control your own future. I believe that Jeff has learned that lesson dearly. Never imagine that others will take care of your interests, they have their own interests that sometimes conflict mightily with your own.
So, what to do about this former employee/friend? Prayer and more prayer… that’s on my agenda for today!
As I read scripture, looking for a reference to my problem with this person, a thought comes to me. What if this is not about him, what if it is about me. Maybe I am the one who needs forgiveness on this issue. There is no doubt that the man sinned against us, but what about me? What part in all this did I play? Oh boy, more prayer time……
Lord Father, guide me in this matter.
Another thought: I need to repent for walking out on the business. I left Jeff holding the bag, knowing that he was ill prepared to deal with people, that he was a poor communicator. If I hadn’t left the business, (I went home to mother our children), perhaps Jeff would not have trusted so much of the business to Mark.
But, then if I hadn’t left, I may not have had the opportunity to quit being an angry person through the Grace of Jesus, therapy and love. Oh dear, this is a puzzlement! I guess every choice, good and bad, has a price. Perhaps this is the price I paid.
Here we are, in another Wal-Mart!! We’ve left Florida and I drove last night until 1:00am and made it as far as Auburn, Alabama! I have NO IDEA what Alabama looks like, drove straight through in the dark!! We are headed up through Georgia toward Maryland. Going to drop my baby girl, Gracie, off at the airport for a trip home to California for a visit. She’s only nine and yet is raring to go!!!
So this is interesting…. Kurt voluntarily picked up his math and began school yesterday… WITHOUT my direction, nudging or pushing… He just DID IT!! Oh my gosh, what is happening here? Could he be growing up? No way, that would just be too much for my little heart to handle, it probably was an anomaly… I’ll just wait and see.
Speaking of Kurt. What a nice young man. I am so impressed with him, I can almost see the man in him starting to take form. He is so kind to people around him. He is so kind to me. The other night I was doing laundry, before we left for the long drive to Baltimore, and I was up working until nearly 3:30am.
In any event, Kurt kept coming down to the laundry room on his bike to check on me. I had to really be stern to get him to stop checking on me and go to bed. It was almost as if he saw me as a person, not just a Mom.
Kurt is wonderful with his sisters. He is going to be a good daddy. Right now, he is reading Matthew and seems to really enjoy reading the Gospel. I don’t require it of him, he just does the reading on his own, nearly every day. What is really cool is that he memorizes scripture as he reads… What an incredible brain he has, he’s really a smart cookie.
I am going to have him write a report on the cotton gin and Eli Whitney… groans ahead!! Kurt and Grace just woke up… must go do the Mommy thing!
Here we are in beautiful Virginia! We have doing the marathon drives each day to reach Baltimore by Saturday morning. We are a little ahead of schedule, so we are going to spend the next two days in Richmond and Fredericksburg.
The most hysterical thing happened yesterday! Kurt, Grace and Eve planted "donut seeds". Actually, Kurt has Eve convinced that Cheerios are donut seeds. So, after planting the "seeds", Eve gets back into the RV, we wait five minutes and we go check the "seeds".
Oh My!!! A whole box of donuts has grown!! She is amazed! Kurt and Grace are enjoying the charade tremendously!! They are having such a blast together, the three of them!
Sometimes, when we are having lots of fun together, I silently take a moment to look this family over. I imagine myself sitting at the next table, watching us, enjoying our good times at a little distance. I look around, I don’t see other families laughing and playing like we do. I glance back at our family seated around a table, having a food fight or having a good laugh about something or other. What has this family done?
We have found each other. We have found joy and laughter together. We have discovered the beauty of family.
We have found each other.
I am SO COLD!!! We are in Washington, DC, having taken Grace to the airport in Baltimore last night (for her trip home to LA for the week!). It is FREEZING here! The drive up from Virginia was beautiful, the trees are changing color and it was a beautiful, crisp fall day. Very unlike anything in California!
This morning as I sit here tapping the keyboard, I have to keep rubbing my hands together… it is COLD!! I am from California…. Not used to this weather stuff. (And to think, we haven’t even gotten to the real weather yet!) My cute little fuzzy sweater is not enough; I am going to have to get something warmer to wear!
Taking Grace to the airport last night made me a little sad. I will miss her immensely, that is a given, but she seemed so grown up. She must have kissed each of us goodbye about one hundred times, then she merrily walked down the tunnel to the plane, didn’t even look back once.
Gracie will have a wonderful week with my sister Katy and Mom. She is going to find out why the Stone women are so much fun! My mom and sister are fun, irreverent and brilliant! I am thrilled that Grace is getting an opportunity to grow closer to them, become not just "Christa’s Daughter", but another one of the women in the family!!
After dropping my baby off at the airport, we headed back to Bolling AFB in Washington, DC. We were all hungry so we took a side trip down a road, chosen at random, to find FOOD. The first place we came to be called the Gospel Live Restaurant. Sounds fun!
This was a GREAT place! It was a buffet with barbecue and fried fish, collard greens and salads. While dining a gospel band was playing and the place was hopping for Jesus! I tell you, it was great to eat and worship at the same time!!
Eve loved the owner, Dante Gardner, Jr., she kept walking up to him and telling him things, like her name, her sisters name, her age…. She was absolutely taken by this man. And he was so kind to her, stopping whatever he was doing to listen to her and give her a hug or a smile. They connected. It was awesome to watch.
This restaurant is a ministry for Dante, he has plans to take it beyond this one restaurant and spread the Gospel through good food, good eating, and fellowship! It is a wonderful idea and I hope he is very successful, Jeff and I thought it would be fun to run a restaurant like Gospel Live…. I wonder if it would go over in Mission Viejo, California! (Right!) The concept is good.
Mmmmm, I smell coffee, that will warm my hands and body. I am so cold!!!!!!! I don’t think this weather thing and I are meant for each other!
It is REALLY cold here.
Yesterday we went to church at From The Heart Ministries, Pastored by John Cherry. I believe he used to be a Zion AME Church but has recently left the denomination and become non-denominational. It was the most wonderful church experience we have had to date. The church and its people were so warm and loving they welcomed us with open arms and hearts.
Kurt was a little nervous, us being the only white people present, I suppose we all were to some extent. But there was no color there, just Jesus. This church knows how to worship God. They are all about sharing the Word.
After church a young man (probably not much younger that us!!), invited us to their bible study on Tuesday evening… think we’ll attend, perhaps we will get to thank Pastor Cherry. His message today was so wonderful. Complex… yet simple and completely biblical. It was a pleasure to listen and learn from him. After church we went to lunch at a place called Black Eye Pea.
During lunch one of the women from church was there, seated behind us, with her family. She was so bright and opinionated. We talked everything from Politics (we agreed on Gore), to Family (our boys are getting too big, too soon!). One thing we discussed was the basic principal behind the democrat and the republican parties.
We agreed that people need to help themselves, our agreement was that the process of weaning them from governmental support was the tricky part. She felt the government should act sort of like a crutch to a man with a broken leg, use it until the wound heals. I disagreed.
It was so illuminating to hear the other side of the argument from a woman with direct personal experience with the social environment that fosters the big government ideology. Basically we agreed, everyone should be independent and government should be smaller. The difference was in how you achieve that independence and smaller government.
She also addressed me as Sister. I liked that, we are sisters in Christ, and it was good to acknowledge that relationship casually in conversation. It connected us.
I am learning something about skin color. Growing up in Orange County, California… skin color was never an issue, mostly because everyone is the same. All my friends as a kid were white; there were no black kids or Latinos in my school.
The Latinos that I did know, were mostly domestic help. As I grew older, I learned that the Latino culture was very different from my own, they were hard working and family centered. I grew to love my Latino neighbors and rue the treatment of them in California. I practiced Spanish and loved talking to the newest immigrants in their own language.
Still, there were not many Latino women living in my neighborhood. And there was only one Black family.
I never understood why the one black family in our community was so, isolated, so… standoffish. But now I understand. How could they NOT feel like a fish on dry land? It is a little overwhelming to be the only person, anywhere you go that is a different color than anyone else.
My fear anytime I have been in a racially mixed environment was that somehow I would offend the Black people in that environment. Somehow, I felt that just my presence; my whiteness would offend the people around me. I don’t think that is true. I am sure that some people think we are odd, (but how is that any different?!!) and I am sure there are some people that don’t like us or want to know us, just because of our skin color.
But that is true anywhere. Whether I was White or Black, there are always those who are ignorant and don’t want to "mix".
By and large, I am finding that everyone is the same. We all worry about our Children, Money and the Future. We all want to be the best we can be… to be free from any kind of bondage, be that monetary, social or spiritual. My bondage is Jeff’s business and finances.
Everyone has some kind of chain they are trying to shed. Slowly I am losing my fear of offending the people around me who are of a different color. We are not all that different and they don’t hate me, just because of my skin color. Silly me.
All right, I finally understand politicians. I understand what makes them so wacky! It is this city, Washington DC! The roads are BIZARRE. If your directions say go west, that could mean south, or north. The streets in this town say east on the signs when it’s really west, or north.
No wonder the politicians are confused, they can’t get anywhere in this city. Jeff is right, it’s like someone threw a handful of spaghetti down and then built a city around the noodles.
Another thing… In California I am fairly smart, but since we hit the south I am really stupid. I just do not get anyone’s directions. I listen… really hard, but I just don’t ever get where I am supposed to go based on the directions I am given.
They say things like "bear right at the big tree" or "turn left at the green building". Well, EVERY TREE IS BIG…. And ALL THE BUILDINGS ARE GREEN. I just don’t follow! And forget about maps…. We have now been through two different map programs and a zillion map books. I guess I will just have to accept my fate and be dumb as long as we are in the south. (Thank heavens we are headed north!!!)
One more thing…. Toilet seat covers. What the heck happened to toilet seat covers? You know those nifty little papers that you put down on a toilet seat. I haven’t been in one public bathroom with toilet seat covers since we left California…. What the heck is that? Where’d they go?
Jeff and I met Pastor John Cherry and his wife (From the Heart Ministries) on Tuesday night at bible study. He gave us a lot to think about. One thing for sure, we need to find a bible believing, bible teaching church to join. We need a Pastor and the fellowship, dearly.
Our mission is becoming a bit clearer. Share the Word and help others of our generation see that debt-free living is attainable (maybe not easy to get there, but it’s the right path). Still, as we wander the US, finishing up Jeff’s obligations to the US Military, I wonder when we will really get to start working for God. Patience… That is my challenge right now. Patience.
I have done some thinking about what to do regarding the fellow that sent me the email last week (the guy who used to run the Installation Division of Jeff's company). I will not give up on him. He sent me another email, in response to my return message to him,
I didn’t get the whole thing as our pocketmail device only receives 4,000 characters per message (I think his was 15,300 or so). I realize that this man has the raw material to be a really good guy. He is not bad, he is not Satan.
This man is just confused by the propaganda, as are so many good people. Perhaps he will find the truth and be set free, perhaps not. But I owe it to God and to the fellow who was once such a good friend and employee, to take a chance and mark the path for him.
I wish I could with the touch of a wand, give to him, and my extended family what Jeff and I have found through Christ. It just doesn’t work that way. Bummer.
I lost my mustard seed pin.
Today, while doing laundry at the base launderette, I took my mustard seed pin off yesterdays shirt and laid it down on a table. I forgot to take it with me when I left with my clean laundry.
I wear it every day, it is my symbol of faith, it is my reminder that my faith is a choice that I make daily.
This evening I went back to retrieve it, instead I helped retrieve a soul. It was 12:00midnight, a young woman was on the phone, talking to her dad. "Dad, we have backslid so much since we came to Washington DC. We can’t find a church, I need to go to church, Dad."
As she was the only person in the launderette, I heard her bemoan the situation over the phone, I interrupted her, "I know a church".
I shared with her the information about From the Heart Ministries and Pastor John Cherry, giving her directions and the newcomer package I had in my car from last Sunday.
She asked if I was going this week. You betcha!! She promised to see me there.
I lost my mustard seed pin, but God made the loss a triumph for his Kingdom.
Jeff is so smart. We were talking about Grand parenting today, as Grace is in California visiting my Mom and Dad. My darling husband challenges me to do the math…
My brother Karl left home and began college in 1986. He was in his High School when I got married. He was still in college when my first child, Kurt, was born. Dear me… my mom NEVER GOT A BREAK!! Holy cow. She went from having a house full of children to being grandma in the space of eighteen months. If I were she, I think I would have gone nuts!!
I often hear from women with children, that their "time" for personal exploration and "self", will come when their children are grown, out of the house and married. My mom never got that time. It should not have been her time to be a grandma… she was just getting free and loose in the world. Duh!
Mom had just spent the better part of 30 years with children in her home, mothering them, gradually becoming an expert parent. Two years. That is all she had between kids and grandkids. I am a goof. Jeff had this all figured out, I just got it!!
I thank God that He gave my mother patience to wait for me to grow up a little bit. He blessed me with a mother that loves me, supports me and encourages me in all that I do in life, whether or not she agrees with my choices. I pray he helps me grow up to be a mom just like her.
I wonder when I will finish growing up…. I want to be just like my mommy, wise and patient, loving and supporting, kind and knowing … RIGHT NOW.
We picked Kurt up tonight from his weekend with the Thompson's in Pennsylvania. It was wonderful to spend time with Deb and Jim. Kurt and the boys had a wonderful time, playing and just being together again. They moved from our neighborhood in Mission Viejo to Pennsylvania two years ago, yet it seemed as though only days had passed since we were all together.
It was lovely to be in their home, eating and talking… enjoying each other’s company. At first, I found myself becoming that "old" Christa. Talking as fast as I could, boasting about my children and their accomplishments, "managing" the conversations. Yuck.
By his presence, Jim reminds me that I do not have to "win" the conversation, that generalizations are just that… generalizations and not necessarily valid.
Slowly, by the end of the evening, I find myself remembering to listen to my dear friends, to enjoy the sound of their voices and the intent of their words. My mind is challenged to think and extract truth in our conversations. I enjoy the mental challenge of being with these two extremely bright and intellectual people! I have missed their friendship.
The ride to their home in Pennsylvania was three hours from Washington DC. The trees were showing color and it was beautiful countryside. I had no idea that the United States had so much natural beauty, both human and arboreal. What a wonderful place to live and grow.
All week long, Grace has been telling me over the phone that she got a haircut with Aunt Katy and it was really different! She wouldn’t tell me what it looked like, neither would Mom, my sister Katy, Joanne or Kristen. They were all in on it!! So, I expected that she cut it a little and was just trying to razz me!
Well. I stood outside the gate at the Baltimore airport waiting for my Grace… out the door walks this cute little girl with shoulder length BLACK HAIR. HUH??? My Grace has curly BLONDE hair. What or should I say WHO was this???
Well, the little nut (doesn’t fall far from the tree!!) was wearing a WIG!! She put it on while she was still on the plane and wore it off to play a great practical joke on her Mommy! I don’t think I will worry about this child’s future… she’s gonna be all right!
All Eve could say when she saw her is "where is your white hair? I don't like this hair." She was convinced that Grace was forever going to have straight black hair... took quite a bit of convincing to get her to understand it was just a wig. She didn't like it at all!!
It is really hard to walk the narrow path that God lays out for our lives. So many people believe that God requires us to do good works, to be a good person and that alone will get us to eternal life with Him in Heaven. They base this belief on the assumption that the bible is inconsistent and untrue.
Perhaps these people base this odd "faith" in good works, as a result of years of hearing from this pastor or that pastor, the media, friends, acquaintances. I wonder if any of them have actually read the bible?
I began reading my bible a few very short years ago. I don’t find any inconsistencies in the scripture about salvation. However, I do find many places where it tells me that the only way to God is through faith in Christ.
There is so much scripture about salvation that it seems pretty clear. What I wonder, is how anyone can believe that the Ten Commandments are the absolute truth and law to live by, yet the rest of the bible they dismiss? Why? And How? How can one pick and choose which part of the bible is correct?
God either got it right... wrote and inspired the scriptures or the whole thing is a bunch of baloney. The Bible is either Holy Scripture… or it is bunk.
If a person believes it is bunk, well then the Ten Commandments shouldn’t have any impact on their life. They must be the absolute judge of right and wrong. Period.
If however, one believes that the Bible is right about the Ten Commandments, why not believe the entire thing? How can you pick and choose from God’s word?
At least those that impugn or belittle the Christian faith should get their facts straight and read the Bible. See for themselves… instead of just spouting off popular clichés and "sayings". But for the most part they do not read the Bible. Perhaps it is too scary for them….
What if it (the Bible) is right? What if they (the non-believers) are wrong? If I were a non-believer, that would be hard to consider. It is less bothersome not to do the work of reading scripture and thereby keep a narrow view of the Christian Faith. That road is much easier and safer.
(Interesting point… why is it okay for non-believers to be narrow and not accept the believers faith, yet it is not okay for the believer to have a narrow view of salvation.)
Funny, it isn’t just the non-believer that treats the Bible this way. It is amazing at how many people go to church every Sunday and have never read their Bible. How do they know what they believe? Do they just figure that the Pastor knows everything and will lead them in the right direction?
That is scary. I was one of those church go-ers at one time in my life (I was a really good "church lady"). But I have reconsidered! At this juncture in my life, I would not put my eternal soul in someone else’s hand. I want to make my own choices about my future!
I don’t think that it is just Christians that that operate this way; it’s many religious people. I wonder how many Jewish people have read the scriptures. Or do they (like other religions) follow a set of rabbinical rules and wisdom, yet never crack open the Pentateuch (Old Testament scripture) for themselves.
What about Muslims? Buddhists? It is human nature to take the path of least resistance… listening to someone else interpret is much easier than figuring it out for oneself.
It is a hard thing to open the Bible and subject oneself to session of self-examination and exploration. Faith is not the easy road. Darn.
My legs hurt!! I have GOT TO LOOSE WEIGHT! We walked all over Washington DC today, went to the Treasury Department and several of the Smithsonian Museums. My body is not built for marathon days of sight-seeing!!
We also went through the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Kurt and Grace got a great education on anatomy. Poor Kurt, he was just completely embarrassed every time (which was often!) the sculpture was a nude female body. They started making up names for naked ones... Pregnant Lady, Lady Who Needs to Workout, Big Lady.... you get the picture!
Boy, I had no idea that homeschooling was going to involve this much biology ... first Bull biology and now Statue biology... these kids are getting quite the education! And we are getting quite the laugh from it all!!
This has been an odd base. Our contract with the Air Force requires them to provide billeting (hotel or campground) for the family while Jeff is working on base. When we first arrived here at Bolling AFB, they had us stay in the parking lot at the marina. That was unusual, but okay until the MP’s (Military Police) unhooked us and asked us to move after a week of residence.
Then after many conversations with a dozen federal employees, they finally got us billeted at the base temporary housing facility (the base hotel). That was only due to the awesome help from a woman in Services named Chee Chee. The men Jeff is working for didn’t lift a finger. Their attitude was odd.
Normally the people that hire Jeff are extremely gracious and helpful. As his contract requires housing during the performance of the contract, most base contacts are just thrilled to be of service, making us feel welcome.
I am not sure if these guys were trying to save money, or just what the story was, but they surely did not make any effort to arrange billeting, per the contract.
Thanks to Chee Chee, we were able to get three nights after the parking lot experience at the base hotel. Then we had to be out of there; there is no more room at the inn as of today! I suppose we will have to go across town to Andrews AFB, they have a family camp there. That isn’t a really big deal, Jeff will just have to commute from Andrews to Bolling, not very far at all, until the job is completed. It’s been interesting.
No billeting organized yet; I hate to bother Chee Chee again. Tonight we are just staying in the RV, which is locked up in the base RV storage facility. There is no electricity and our batteries are completely drained… guess bed is early for us! The kids and I are treating it as an adventure!! Jeff is working late. He arrives back at the RV after 11:00pm, we are all asleep.
Tomorrow we head into downtown DC to check out the Capitol after Jeff finished work. The kids are very excited!
While on our way home from meeting Congressman Christopher Cox last night, a drunk driver hit us. Praise God, we are all okay. The jeep is a total loss, all the bikes were on the carrier at the rear of the jeep, and only Jeff’s bike is destroyed. God is Great!
We had spent the afternoon at the office of our Congressman, Chris Cox, who is a wonderful man by the way! He is generous and kind. His spirit of goodness shines right out of his eyes and heart. The Congressman also has the gift of a great staff.
His office assistant Rebecca Fryer went above and beyond the call of duty to make us feel welcomed and comfortable. We also got to meet his Chief of Staff, a warm man named Dean McGrath, who explained why the city of Washington DC is so difficult to navigate. Apparently it is by design, so that marauding invaders would get lost trying to attack the city…. Guess the architect forgot about visitors!
In any event, after negotiating our way out of the "maze city", we found our way to the freeway home to Bolling AFB. And that’s when it happened. It was rush hour, a van in front of us slowed down suddenly, and Jeff applied the brakes in response.
We coasted towards the stopped van in front of us, when we were suddenly hit from behind with a loud boom. Our jeep was propelled forward into the van ahead of us, jamming us into the rear bumper of the vehicle. We stopped. Violently.
As we were hit, I felt something hit my face and nose, my teeth slammed against something hard, I slid forward in my chair, my feet and arms went forward to brace my body against the impact. The world went black for a moment. Later I found out that my foot had actually gone through the dashboard.
I was lucky. I was the only one not wearing a seat belt. I thank God that I was not hurt worse, I will always wear a seat belt in the future. Had we been going any faster I would have gone through the windshield.
As soon as I was oriented I clambered out of the jeep, shouting at the kids to get out fast! Kurt was seated right behind me, he unbuckled the baby from her car seat and I pulled her out. I ran from the car, shouting at Jeff to get Grace out fast.
A slick brown liquid covered the pavement; my first thought was that the growing puddle was fuel. Grace appeared to be stuck in the back seat; Jeff ran around to the passenger side and pulled her out of the car. The girls and I moved to the side of the road, sobbing and shaking.
Grace complained of a head injury. Eve just howled amidst her tears of fear. I shook like a leaf, tears streaming down my face.
The rest was a blur. Kurt and Jeff were okay. Both were shook up, Kurt had a bloody nose and Jeff had a small abrasion on his arm, but they were okay. People stopped all around us on the freeway.
A man with a DOD badge got out of his car and called the police, an off-duty EMT came over and checked out Grace. They waited with us until the fire department arrived. Two fire trucks responded three ambulances, and a zillion police. The response time was incredible. The firemen were led by a Captain who was amazing. He made us feel safe; it was as if the busy freeway beside us did not exist.
Jeff made sure we girls had all our belongings out of the jeep, while Kurt took the camera and became an instant photographer, journaling the event. I thank God for my darling Jeff. While I fell apart, he made everything okay. He was in charge, strong and a man of God. There were no recriminations or anger, he just kept praising God that everyone was okay and safe.
The van that we hit had six people in inside. Only one was injured, slightly thank God. At one point the firemen mentioned that the injured man only spoke Spanish and they were having trouble communicating. I offered to translate, poor man was terrified.
The ambulance came and took Grace, Eve and I to Children’s Hospital in Washington DC. After a thorough exam, the Doctors determined that Grace’s injuries were not life threatening and would heal with rest and time.
She had lumps on her head, front and back, her eyelid was scratched and her knee and thigh were injured, but she was going to be okay. The doctor assured us that although the next day would bring a very sore body to Grace, she was only bruised. She was okay. Eve was okay. Everyone survived.
I was so cold. My neck, shoulder, arms and entire left side throbbed. I was so very cold and sleepy. I curled up across the two plastic chairs in the exam room and shivered. I drifted in and out of sleep.
Eve played quietly in a corner of the room, occasionally climbing up on top of me to warm my body. She was a sweet and warm blanket to my cold flesh. Several hours later, Jeff and Kurt arrived at the hospital, only then did someone bring me a warm blanket. Jeff is a good husband.
After getting instructions from the doctors, we left the hospital via a cab. The driver was a wonderful man. He quoted scripture that made me feel safe and protected. Grace clung to me in the back seat; she was terrified of being in a vehicle. The driver, George Blackwell, calmed her with soothing words and a godly heart. We were safe.
While we were being transported in the ambulance to the hospital, I got a call from Chee Chee, the wonderful woman at Bolling AFB, who helped us find billeting. She has a place for us at the Family Camp on Andrews AFB as of Friday night. Our next hurdle of the evening is to get from Bolling to Andrews in the RV, find parking and set-up camp. We are so tired.
George the cabby drops us off at the RV, inside lock-up on base. Jeff has a key so it is simple to get into the storage area. By this time, I am really cold and tired.
Kurt thinks I am in shock. They boys wrap me in blankets; Kurt elevates my feet and brings me water to sip. He is acting like a man. He insists I lay down, he learned about shock in Boy Scouts and is very solicitous and caring. I get in bed, Kurt makes dinner for the girls, and Jeff inspects the destroyed jeep.
While the girls and I were at the hospital, Jeff and Kurt had moved the jeep to the storage lot on base. The responding police officer, Eric Costello, tailed them to the base and then gave them a lift to the hospital. According to Kurt and Jeff, they had quite an experience with the police officer.
Kurt rode in the back of the police car (where the prisoners are kept!) and they witnessed several accidents and got a tour of the drug-infested part of DC, where the police station is located. Kurt seems very affected by the experience. He is greatly sobered.
We are too tired to move the RV from Bolling to Andrews. We decide to just stay here, in the RV storage lock-up. If we keep the lights off and don’t make any noise, perhaps the MP’s won’t bother with us. We need to sleep.
Grace sits on the couch, furiously typing an email to her friend Kristen describing the event. She is amazing, her spirits are great and she is processing the experience in a healthy manner.
Our little family gathers together at the sofa, we hold hands and Jeff leads us in prayer. He thanks God for our safety and that of the occupants of the van we hit. He prays for forgiveness for the drunk driver that hit our vehicle. Finally he asks God to help us use this experience as a witness to his greater power and glory. We thank God for our lives.
After a weekend of recuperation, we are feeling much better. Saturday we spent nursing our battered bodies, and Sunday we spent with our church family at From the Heart Church Ministries in Maryland. During the late afternoon we took the RV up to Bethesda, Maryland to visit with Elizabeth and Gardell Gefke and their daughter Madeleine.
The Gefke’s of Maryland are absolutely wonderful. Gardell is a man of intelligence and a gentle spirit. He obviously loves children and we were quite taken with him. It had been nearly 15 years since we had seen him, but felt as though it were only days.
His wife Elizabeth is a gem. She is bright and warm. Her soul is absolutely mirrored in her honest eyes. I felt immediately that this woman is someone I would cherish the rest of my life. Her heart is so good.
Gardell and Elizabeth have a wonderful little girl named Madeleine. She and Eve just hit it off immediately! Madeleine is 2 ½ to Eve’s 3 ½, so Eve felt like quite the "big girl". We stopped by their beautiful brick home for a chat and dinner, we ended up spending the night and feeling like this was a group of people we could call family. We feel blessed to have found Gardell, Elizabeth and Madeleine.
It’s 6:00 am; I woke this morning at five. Sometimes at night, I eagerly lay down my head, excited at the prospect of the coming morning, looking forward to that first cup of coffee and the quiet it accompanies.
This morning I was ready to rise and start my day. I read 1Peter and 2Peter; these are very good books to shore up your faith. I am reminded by them to live an honest life, focusing on what is eternal not that which is temporal.
Last night before sleep, Jeff whispered to me that he was sad. He lifted his bible and said that it was clear, by the scripture, that you must believe on Jesus Christ to receive eternal salvation and life. I asked if he was sad because people he loved did not believe.
Jeff held me and said everyone he loves best, is right here with him in this little home. But there are others, I persisted. Yes. His mother and father. I understand, I replied softly. I too am saddened by the thought of those I love not sharing in eternal life. I love them so very much.
This life is a gift that we nearly lost on Friday. By the Grace of God, we survived what should have been a fatal accident. A drunk driver hit our car. We were stopped still on the highway, struck by a car going fifty miles per hour. We slammed into the car stopped in front of us; someone should have been more seriously injured. God’s Angels surely had their wings around us on Friday.
Jeff quietly explains that since the rest of our lives are a gift, we had best focus on the task God has set before all believers. That is the Great Commission. Where better to share his good news, than with the ones we love. But we are rebuked, I reminded him. They don’t want to hear the message.
The strength in his eyes gladden my heart, we must try is Jeff’s response. This life is not our focus, eternal life, the gift of God… that is what really matters.
I am frightened. My siblings and parents don’t want to hear about Christ Jesus. How can I share his wonderful news with them if they won’t listen? I am afraid of their ridicule and derision. I am terrified of offending them and loosing their love and affection. Jeff reminds me that it is not the loss of their affection I need fear, I need only focus on the love of God. He will never fail me; His love for me is eternal.
My darling husband is changing before my very eyes. He is maturing as a Christian and as a man. I sit back and enjoy the strengthening of his will and his love. I feel so blessed, so grateful to God that we are united in marriage and faith.
I don’t know what lays before our family in the coming year. I have no idea how Jeff is going to make a living for this family or where we will settle. But I do know one thing; I know how it is all going to turn out. God wins. It does not matter what struggles we have today; our fears, our families, finances, the IRS, business … it just doesn’t matter, because God wins.
Ultimately the promise made to us is eternal, from God’s heart to ours. It is easy to be joyful when you are so very free, and that freedom is available to us all, it is a simple choice. To believe on Jesus or not.
I choose to believe. I choose freedom. I choose eternal life.
My sister Katy is such a gift to the family. Every family needs a Katy.
Katy keeps us connected. She always calls us all to remind us about birthdays and special events. It is hilarious, I get a call or a message to call so and so, it’s their birthday today. Then she calls Mom, Julie and Karl. She has a system! How she can remember everyone’s birthday is beyond me!
Katy is pregnant with her first child. This child has been anticipated for many years, finally she is on her way. Again, Katy uses her life to be a gift to the family. She took our dad with her to the ultra-sound to find out the sex of the baby. Wow.
Dad had never seen an ultra-sound. He and Mom had babies at a time when men weren’t really involved in the pregnancy. I never even thought of my Dad when I was pregnant, Katy did. While I was focused on self, she is focused on others. Katy is an amazing and wonderful woman.
~ Billeting ~
So here we sit…. Still at Bolling AFB. This has been a very odd place for us. Normally each base we visit provides billeting (it is part of our contract with the Air Force) in a Family Camp or in a Base Temporary Housing Facility.
When we arrived here, they didn’t know what to do with us, there is no Family Camp here, so they had us camp in the marina parking lot. We camped there one week. It was really beautiful, right on the Potomac.
Then one morning we awoke to the Military Police knocking on our door, asking us to move. Apparently it is against base regulations to park in the marina overnight. Okay. We had been camping there one week. No problem. Although it was stressful, we found the contact woman in Services to get us billeting in Temporary Housing.
The man that hired us for the club apparently forgot to let her know we needed billeting. So, she found us a room for three days. After that, there was no more room at the inn. So we parked the RV in the base RV/Car Storage Lock-up Lot, behind a giant fence and went to the inn.
After our three days ran out, we had no place to go! We couldn’t stay in the Marina, nor was there a room for us. As our job was not yet complete (we were waiting on parts), we needed to find a place to stay. No one on base was willing to step up and find us housing, so, we went to the RV in the storage lot and have been staying there for the past week.
It is kind of funny. We nonchalantly unlock the gate and hurry inside so as not to be noticed by the MP’s. There is a light pole behind the gate that we plug into for electricity and every two days or so, we drive the rig out to dump our wastewater in the marina dump station, and we fill up on fresh water.
No one has asked us what we are doing for billeting, and the club manager (who hired us) hasn’t dared to ask where we are staying. The club is contractually required to provide housing, I guess this how they are doing it… weird! It is like living in a secret hide-away. The kids love the fun.
~ The Accident ~
Hopefully today we will get our vehicle replaced. The morning after our jeep was totaled, we found an Isuzu Rodeo that appears perfect for our needs. It is the right model and size.
It was a fluke that later that morning the owners were outside cleaning the vehicle on the resale lot. (Every base has a car/boat resale lot.) We talked with them and drove the vehicle. Jeff told them we would have to wait to see what insurance was going to do for us and we exchanged phone numbers.
Well, we spent the next four days shopping for a vehicle. NOTHING. The Isuzu seems perfect and it is even towable (a hard bill to fill!). Now if we can only get it at a price we can afford. They are asking $8500. That is significantly more than we spent on the jeep. The jeep was a gift from God. Today we will negotiate with the owners. Pray it works out.
Darn. I got up this morning at what I thought was 5:00am, eager to get some journal writing done…. After setting up in the lobby of the hotel we are staying in, I find out it is 4:00am. Hello… Fall is here! Daylight savings time strikes, and ding-a-ling…. I forgot. Oh well, now I really have some quiet time to think and write and catch up!
This has been a difficult week. Our bodies hurt. Our hearts are saddened by the loss of our jeep. We have lost a week of work and living during our recuperation. I just want everything back to normal. I want everything the same as it was prior to being hit by the drunk driver. Life doesn't work that way, does it.
I have spent all week dealing with the insurance company of the driver that hit our car. Fortunately he was insured! Hallelujah! Praise God. They have agreed to pay for everything. Unfortunately that means not just our car, but also bike repair, new tow bars both front and back, clothing repair (acid from the exploded battery of the Camaro that hit us), doctors and hospital bills…. Lots of bills.
The insurance adjuster from Progressive (the drivers insurance company), visits us. As does our own insurance company, apparently the car we hit is putting a claim in against our insurance. We are assured that the driver of the car that hit us will be ultimately held responsible for the whole incident.
Progressive makes us an offer of $4000. WHAT? Our costs thus far, without medical have been $8900. This is not good. Our insurance company cannot help us as we only held liability insurance. Jeff is so upset with himself. After years of being over-insured, he only bought liability when we downsized our life.
But… we are all okay. No one has been permanently injured, maimed or died! That is an awesome blessing. The driver that hit us was traveling at 50mph when he hit our completely stopped vehicle. We are SO BLESSED to have survived. Our lives are a gift.
In any event, I am unsure what to do about the insurance. No one will help me. No one will listen to me. They just want to pay and get it all over. We don't have a champion to help us here in Washington DC. Jeff brainstorms, call the church, see if they can refer us to an attorney, doctors, help.
With not much enthusiasm, I call the offices of From The Heart Church Ministries. Rev. Swan puts me in touch with Brother Fraiser, a DC attorney. I call Brother Fraiser, again without much enthusiasm…. Why would he help us? We are nobody to the church, to the community.
Brother Fraiser listens to my story and conference calls Sister Jasmine Dabney, another DC attorney. Not only do they listen, they offer to help.
So, this morning we visited Sister Dabney. What an awesome and godly woman. She advises us about recovering our actual costs and assures us that she will handle the medical portion. Jasmine understands that we do not want to hold up the insurance company for money we do not deserve, we just want our costs covered. Although she will make a pittance on this case, she generously offers to help our family. Her main concern is that we are okay, both physically and spiritually.
Her edict to us is to get thee to a doctor!! HOW? We don't know a soul. Again, From The Heart Church Ministries steps in to help our little family. They have a health and healing center and after explaining our situation, they make appointments for all of us with their doctors on Monday. Holy cow.
This is what a church is supposed to be to the community. And we are just visitors, no one special, just passing through, and they treat us like family. Well, amazingly enough the people of this church believe that we are all part of the family of believers. They believe that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
It doesn't matter what our skin color is, where we are from or where we have been. I am overwhelmed at the love this church pours upon our family.
Today was also a day of lessons in perseverance. We found a car!! Yippee kay yay! It has been parked in the resale lot on base since last Saturday, we met the owners and they have patiently waited for us to find out what the insurance company will be doing with our claim.
Again, God provides. We spent several days last week looking at car lots for a vehicle that met our very specific needs (as a tow car). Nothing was available in our price range. Here sits this vehicle…. Waiting for us to make a decision and find the money. God is Good.
So, once we decided that this was the vehicle for us, we called our broker, Ed, at Dean Witter and asked him to send us a check from our savings account. Until the insurance company works everything out, we determined that this was our best course of action. Ed has the check made available to us at the McLean, Virginia office of Dean Witter. Easy! Now all we have to do is cash it, pay for the new vehicle and off we go into the sunset!
Well, almost! After picking up the check, the whole family heads out Friday afternoon to a local bank to complete our business. We find a local branch of the bank that the check is drawn upon. No problem so far! After standing in a LONG line at the bank, waiting at the teller window for an EXTENDED period of time, we are told that the bank cannot honor the check. Huh?
The only way the bank could cash the check was IF we had an account at the bank with the same amount of funds already deposited. Huh? We go to the bank manager... same response. At this point we could have given up, but as the great homeschooling family that we are, we persevere. This is a great opportunity for a lesson (oh, I can turn ANYTHING into a lesson!).
After repeated calls to our broker, to Dean Witter offices in New York, to bank offices all over the country, it was quite evident that nothing was going to change. They would not honor the check. Bizarre.
We leave the bank, thinking to find another branch or something, someway to cash this check and purchase our new vehicle! In the lot of the shopping center is a Bank of America. They are big, although not the same bank that the check was drawn on, maybe they could help us. Well, it is now nearly 5:00pm.
The bank is jammed. After a little wait, we get in to see a new accounts person named Michelle. I tell her our story… family of five, RVing, hit by drunk, need car, have money, need cash. She takes us to her bank managers; Karen and Cynthia. These women are amazing.
They ask if Dean Witter could re-issue the check on Bank of America? I call Ed… no problem. But it is Friday at 5:00. How to get a check from California to Maryland, cash it and get the vehicle in the short time available to us now. The weekend rears its ugly head!
Cynthia suggests a FedEx from Ed to her by 12:00noon would do the trick. The wheels turn and waalaa, Ed makes it happen. The kids (and the parents!!) learn a valuable lesson in "sticking to it", we all learn that if we persevere, we can achieve! What a great opportunity to model the behavior to our kids. Jeff and I are quite happy with ourselves… and relieved that tomorrow we will have a tow vehicle.
As we leave the bank, we are all so tired, the last thing we want to do is to hide out in a parking lot on base in our RV. There is no camping (or Wal-Mart) locally available. Jeff, that darling man of mine, suggests a hotel. We have to stay in this part of Maryland anyway to bank on Saturday, church is right here and we have Doctors appointments… all here in the same area.
A hotel with its unlimited supply of hot water beacons us… we all give Dad a cheer and toddle off to the local Best Western.
We GOT THE CAR! Or should I say Truck?! After long baths, a nice long sleep and a warm breakfast, we went to the bank and picked up our money. Waiting for us on base was our new (old!) 1995 1/2 Red Isuzu Rodeo. A Truck. With Stick Shift.
Oh my goodness. I haven't driven stick since college. (Thank goodness for memory muscles!) After paying for our car we run a few more errands, buy costume supplies for Halloween, and head back to the hotel for more rest and relaxation.
Daylight savings today… No problem for us late sleepers, we still made it to church on time! Today's message was delivered by John Cherry, Jr., the Pastors son. It doesn't matter which of these men sermonize… they both have the scriptures written on their hearts.
John Jr., talked about learning contentment with your current situation (using Philippians 4). Well, of course, I thought I knew all about that! I mean really, money and things don't matter… right?!! After all, I am that woman that sold her home, lives in an RV, has very little physical "Stuff". I knew all about what he was teaching… NOT!
Jeff had told me that we would be living off savings during the months of November and December as there is not much paying work scheduled by the company. It will be slow. This time of year typically is slow for his company. In the past, we relied on credit cards to see us through Christmas and general living expenses during this time. Won't do that now. So, savings are our only source of cash.
I really just ignored Jeff. But this evening when he and I went out with Eve to do a little laundry and pick up dinner, I stopped ignoring. It hit me between the eyes, as he worked the ATM machine, we have no income right now. We have a definite lack of cash. Oh no! What to do? Woe is me. I ambled into the supermarket feeling low and worthless. Here we are again… no cash, no income. Woe is me!
When I returned to the car, I expressed my angst to my darling man. He reminded me of today's message at church. How to be content with my current situation?
As I pondered my dilemma, my heart became lighter. Where was my faith? God isn't going to allow us to wither and die. He will provide for us, period. I have had so many examples of this truth in my life, where the heck did my faith disappear to… in an instant!
As John Jr. said this morning, it is easy to be faithful when things are easy. Okay. Now I need to shore myself up against the coming months. I thought about my fears of using our savings.
Ah ha! My faith was placed in the savings, not in God. That money we have squirreled away will not save us. God will save us. So here I am, walking in the world on faith, yet still learning the lesson of placing faith upon God and nowhere else.
Amazingly, my contentment reappears. My heart became still and satisfied. I feel safe and secure in Gods arms. It doesn't matter if we have no income booked for these next two or three months, something will come up, God will make sure we are able to eat, pay our minimal bills and provide a happy Christmas for our children and extended family.
Yes, contentment is learned. It is based in faith on the complete sovereignty of God.
LaShawn: Mother of Three, met her while doing laundry at the Laundry Depot in Marlowe Heights, MD. She has a ten year old girl and two boys, aged three and four months. We started chit chatting, me going on and on about From The Heart Church Ministries. She listened to our story. She encouraged me to share with loving eyes and a warm smile.
I talked about learning to live in a racially mixed culture. It is different here in Washington DC. Mission Viejo, California is a white, republican enclave. I never had any close friends of a different race. None black, none Asian, nothing. It just didn't happen my part of the world.
Grace remarked this morning as we were walking into church, that she didn't understand why the races are so set apart. She studied the life of Ruby Bridges last year and since then has been very sensitive to "noticing" someone's skin color. It offended her greatly when I would refer to someone by their race as an identifier.
But here she was, confused. Why do black people and white people go to different churches? Why do they live in different neighborhoods? Her innocence dripped from her lips and curled around her beautiful little face in a little frown.
Why indeed. What do I say. How do I answer that question. I don't really know. I did know that after attending an all black church for four Sundays, that my fears and pre-suppositions about black and white were changing … disappearing.
I have never felt so at home, so loved as I do in this church home. I don't know if it is unique to this church or if it would be the same at any predominantly black church. Maybe they are friendly just because we stick out, are so noticeable! I don't think that is the case, I think this is the genuine love of Christ. So, what to tell Grace?
I guess I could tell her the truth. The truth is I don't really know why I have been frightened of black men and women most of my life. I had nothing to base that fear upon. I don't know why I have always felt a little like an older "helping" adult to the Latinos I have known.
Is it my culture of Southern California White American? I really don't know. What I do know is that my "feelings" have not been based on experience, but have been as a result of years of living in a particular environment or culture.
Here I am for the first time in my life the minority in the community. I am amazed at the attitude that other whites take towards the black community here in DC. They are open and friendly in public, yet in whispers they talk about the "blacks" poverty of character. Huh? Who really has a lack of character here!
I have always been fascinated by black women and children. They are so beautiful. Here I am for the first time in my life, living among these beautiful humans. I can't take my eyes away from watching the life teeming around me. I will never look at people (white or black) the same again after living here in the DC area for these three and a half weeks.
One of the changes is my fear of discussing the "difference" with people of different races. I have always been careful not to comment on the difference in skin color or culture. We are different, yet we are the same. God created a mighty and wonderful human race.
The beauty is in the shades of color, the variations in tone, culture and life experience. I am so grateful to God for having brought us here to this wacky city. I still don't like driving here, but I have learned that God's family is one giant wonderful group of different peoples. We are family. That is the key. That is God's plan for us… act like a family. Be family.
I am grateful that God led me to share all this with a lovely girl named LaShawn in a busy, noisy Laundromat on a Sunday evening. It isn't scary to talk about the lessons, no one is going to get mad at me, I can share the growth and my own ignorance, without fear of recriminations. LaShawn taught me to be honest in a particular way this weekend.
This has certainly been a week of growth and change.
Hurray, we are headed out of DC towards Ohio. First stop is with the Thompson Family in Pennsylvania to let the kids trick or treat tonight with old friends. I am SO excited to get on the road again, albeit with some sadness at leaving all our new friends and family at From The Heart Church Ministries. They have been loving and kind towards our family. We will miss them immensely.
Yesterday their doctors checked us all out for any ill side-effects or reprecussions from the car accident. We all checked out fine, save a few bumps and bruises, and sore necks, that will just take time to heal. We saw a wonderful doctor at the NSL Clinic (None Suffer Lack - see ACTS).
Dr. Wilson took care of us like we were family, listened to all our stories with a smile and gave us wonderful hugs as we left the office. The office administrator, Sister Marshall, took us on a tour of the whole ministry building. This is truly an amazing place. God has his hand on this ministry. I look forward to visiting with our new found friends here again in the not too distant future.
So, off we go WEST!!! Yee haw!
A Letter to Dr. Cherry of From The Heart Church Ministries,
Our family travels the United States in a Motor Home, visiting local churches and trying in our small way to share the Love and Good News of Jesus Christ with those with whom we come in contact. My husband is a sound engineer, specializing in sound, video and lighting system installations, he has contracts with the US Air Force. Thus our route is primarily dictated by the Air Force Base that has most need for our services.
We found ourselves at Bolling AFB in early October, our plan was to leave after four days of work. Well through a variety of circumstances, we were in the area for nearly four weeks. Our first Sunday in DC, we headed straight for your church, having seen your broadcast on KCET/Los Angeles several years ago. We didn't know anything about your church, your reformation message or your ministry. During these past weeks we have learned! And how!
We attended during the last two parts of your Watchman series, something I am SURE you preached because you MUST have known we were listening!! Then disaster struck, our car was hit by a drunk driver as we were driving on the I295. The car that hit us was traveling at 55 mph when he slammed into our stationary jeep, pushing us forward into the van ahead of us. All five of us were in the vehicle, six passengers were in the vehicle we hit. Miraculously, no one was permanently injured. No one was maimed or killed. God surely had us in the palm of his hand.
The blessing was that 1) the drunk driver was prevented from killing anyone, 2) we were safe, and 3) we were able to extend our stay to hear you preach one more Sunday and your son the next Sunday!! Blessings indeed!
After the first several days of confusion following the accident, we were unsure of how to proceed as we were in a strange (and I mean STRANGE!) town, far from our own doctors, family and friends. We realized by the fourth day that we would need some legal help. What to do? After calls to AAA, our congressman and family back home, we decided as a last ditch effort to call FTHCM for referrals. I spoke with Rev. Swan who connected us with Brother Fraiser. This darling man listened to me cry on the phone, gently consoled me over our loss and then this awesome brother took the time to connect me with Sister Jasmine Dabney.
Sister Dabney took us in, listened to our story, calmed our fears and is handling the legal issues of our near disaster. She treated us as one of the family. Our hearts were calmed and our issues resolved through her loving kindness. We felt as though God had led us to FTHCM and Sister Dabney. But it didn't end there!
Sister Dabney suggested we see a doctor to insure our bodies would recover appropriately. Having no personal physician in the DC area, she sent us to the NSL Ministry. There we saw Dr. Wilson. Again, heaven intervened and we were treated not like some outsider, but as a member of the family. Sister Marshall got us immediate appointments, welcomed us to the clinic, ushered us in to see the staff, and loved on our children like they were her own.
Dr. Wilson provided us with the finest medical care we have ever been priveledge to receive. He took an enormous amount of time with our family, listening to all our stories, comforting our briused bodies. He was an Angel.
Afterwards, Sister Marshall toured us through the entire building. We were happy to meet so many loving and warm brothers and sisters everywhere we went. Everyone was interested in our story, our lives and our family. We were greeted with hugs and warm wishes. Finally we met your brother, Rev. Cherry.
Rev. Cherry asked us to step into the conference room where he proceeded to spend over one hour counseling our family, attending to our spiritual well being. His message of parenting, perfecting and planning was just what our souls needed. His love for us was evident and his kind heart bolstered our sagging spirits.
Now here is the kicker. It is not politically correct to mention race, oh well, I am not politically correct so here goes! We are a white family from Orange County, California - enclave of rich white republicans. I don't think we have ever known more than one black family in our lives. We have been conditioned to think that we would be rejected in the black community, that we would be unwelcome. Our pre-suppositions that the black church worshiped differently and would be insulted by our presence was absolutely blown apart! Your church welcomed us, absorbed us and integrated us into the body.
We have been long-time members of the Episcopal Church, never have we felt as loved, welcomed and needed as we felt in the presence of your (and our new) family. A family is only as good as its' leader. Therefore, based on the actions and love showered upon the Gefke family by the FTHCM Family, we thank you… the leader and "daddy" of that family. Dr. Cherry, your congregation has shown us what Christian love is TRULY about, blessed our lives and helped us to better define our mission out here on the roads of America.
We are still unsure of how God is using us as we travel the United States. We are positive however that the decision to sell our house and goods, become debt-free and travel the USA with Christ as our beacon was the right path for our family. The love and kindness that FTHCM showered upon us helped to cement our purpose, modeled Christ's love for our family and helped us narrow our walk with Christ.
Thank you Dr. Cherry. We look forward to visiting with our new family again, next time we are in the DC area. I am sure that God will send us back to your loving arms again soon.
Christa Gefke, November 2000
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