A Mother of None or Many?

May, 2001

After examining me, my gynecologist gently said, “Pam, I’m afraid you need to have a hysterectomy. I don’t want to let you keep bleeding like this and ending up with an emergency situation.” I choked back the tears and replied, “Is there any way I could be on a different floor so I don’t have to see the new babies?” Dr. Sally said, “No, because the nurses on the other floors aren’t familiar with post operative care of gynecology patients. But I will make sure you have a private room as far away from the nursery as possible so you don’t hear the babies cry. The surgical staff will call you with the date.”

Upon arriving home, the tears flowed as I poured out my heart to God. I know that I am too old to have a baby at the age of 46, nor would I have the energy to run after a toddler, but I grieve for all the children I never had. My pastor has been preaching an excellent series of messages on how to handle trials, so this is my opportunity to learn all I can from this difficult exercise. He said to start by thanking God for the trial. I recited the familiar verse, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:18 God brought another verse to mind. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 

As I continued in prayer, I asked the Lord to teach me all the lessons He could from this trial, to comfort me, and to help me to think rightly from His point of view and not my own. I decided to do a Bible word study of “barren” since that is the word the Bible uses for women who cannot have children. Over the next weeks, whenever I read an encouraging verse, I wrote it in bold black ink (so I could read it through my tears) on an index card. Every morning I read through my growing stack of “comfort verses” and hid them in my heart. The ones that encouraged me the most were Isaiah 54:1 and 5.

Sing, O barren, thou who didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou who didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord….For thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and Thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.”

I noticed the command to the barren was to SING rather than cry, so I started singing whenever I felt like crying. God always lifted the clouds away after I sang to Him. I also noticed that there is no limit to the number of spiritual children I can have. I just finished reading Amy Carmichael’s biography. She started an orphanage in India and became the spiritual mother to 1000 children! I recalled how Gladys Aylward went to China as a single lady and became the mother of many orphans and led them to safety over the mountains during World War 2. Mary Slessor adopted abandoned children in the African jungles. (see post on Mary Slessor )

Surgery

This is my first time to stay overnight in a hospital as a patient. I’m a little apprehensive as I’ve always heard that nurses and doctors make the worst patients. It feels strange to be the one receiving care rather than giving it. I am so thankful that my sister flew in from the Midwest to be with me. She is also a nurse and a Christian. God quieted my heart as we prayed together this morning and asked the Lord to give the doctor wisdom and to give me a good recovery.

I barely remember being rolled on the stretcher from the recovery room to my nice big private room at the end of the hallway far from the nurse’s station. They gave me a clear liquid tray for supper which promptly came back up. Yuck! What a mess… The pain isn’t too bad for which I thank God. My sister was hesitant to leave me because she wasn’t sure I could call for the nurse because I was so groggy.

The night nurse woke me up this morning and said she had to put the catheter back in my bladder since I was unable to urinate. I was under anesthesia the last time they did it. I recalled how many of these I have placed inside my patients over the years.

Tonight I’m feeling better and could eat solid food for supper, but sleep is escaping me. I decided to walk down the hallway and look at the babies in the nursery. As I looked through the window at each baby, I prayed for each one to receive Christ as his Savior and for his parents to look to God for wisdom in raising him. I thank the Lord for each precious new baby.

Reflection

A few months later, I was asked to share all the lessons God taught me through this exercise with ladies’ groups at several different churches. A number of women who were unable to bear children came up to me afterwards and said the lessons I had learned were a blessing and encouragement to them. I also typed in large print all the “Comfort Verses” God gave me at this time. I have handed out hundreds of these to others who are sorrowing and many have said how God used these verses to encourage and comfort them.

Bible Verses the Lord gave me prior to surgery which encouraged my heart.

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/christia/verses.htm   

Above is the link if you would like to print out your own copy. I carry a copy of these verses in my purse so I’m ready for the next time I encounter a difficult situation.

Since my mother died of breast cancer and my sister also had aggressive breast cancer several years ago, I decided to have the doctor remove my ovaries at the same time that she removed my uterus. The genetic counselor told me I had a 50% chance of having breast cancer. Many women who have breast cancer also have ovarian cancer.

About ten years later, I had repeat genetic counseling. They said because I had my ovaries removed, I reduced my chance of breast cancer to 3% and eliminated ever getting ovarian cancer.  Little did I know that I would lower my risk of cancer so much by having my ovaries removed at that time. Truly, God’s ways are higher than my ways. My sister, Marsha Swinehart, later developed ovarian cancer and the Lord took her home to be with Him nearly two years ago. I miss her so much, but am thankful she is no longer suffering and experiencing wonderful fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be a wonderful day when we are reunited at His throne!

I thank God that He has given me a number of spiritual children over the years, and I pray that He will give me many more before He calls me home to heaven. It is so wonderful that I am never too old to bear spiritual children!

 

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Continue Graduate School or Drop Out?

April 19, 1997

Show me Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths. Psalm 25:4

I am seriously debating whether or not I should continue with graduate school. They are raising the tuition to $380 per semester credit hour, and I have 29 hours to go to complete my Master’s of Science in Nursing, so it will cost me $10,000 to finish. It will take me about three more years to complete and I have already been taking two courses each semester while working full time as a visiting nurse. I am just so weary of it all.

Psalm 25:4 was my prayer which God answered wonderfully!

Psalm 25:4 was my prayer which God answered wonderfully!

Then I read in a nursing journal that they are producing too many Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and that the new graduates are having great difficulty in finding a job. By the year 2000, there will be a glut of 30,000 NPs. I recently spent the afternoon for my clinical rotation with a school NP at the community health center. There was a middle school girl on drugs and so many other kids on antidepressants, etc. At the clinic, there were many pregnant unwed teens who have already had several abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. I don’t think I want to work with that population. A NP came and spoke to our graduate school class this semester, and she is working all kinds of strange hours in the Emergency Department of a local hospital.

After that lecture, my job as a visiting nurse with the elderly seems like an excellent place to work! I work 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, ten weekends, and one holiday each year which isn’t too bad for nursing. The pay isn’t great, but I could pick up some extra Saturdays here and there to make some extra money. The VNA office is only one mile from my house and my territory is so beautiful in rural New England. I am able to come home and finish my charting in the afternoon if we don’t have any meetings at the office. Now that my knee feels better after surgery, maybe I can remain in this old three story house a while longer. I think I’ll make a few more phone calls on Monday after reviewing the job section in the Sunday newspaper. It is so good to rest in the Lord and let Him show me the way!

May 24, 1997

“In the day when I cried, Thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:3

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

The Lord has answered prayer in such a marvelous way concerning school since I last wrote on April 19! Last Thursday, my Dad called me and said he wanted to support me financially so I could quit my job and go to school full time and finish my degree. He asked me to send him my monthly budget to cover my expenses. I met with Dr. K., the Dean of the graduate program and she was so excited for me! We worked out my schedule so I can graduate next May. Because I missed the research course last semester, she is teaching me individually this summer for two hours weekly so I can catch up.  I thank my heavenly Father for moving the heart of my unsaved earthly father to help me out in this way, as I never asked my Dad for any financial support. I’m still in shock as to how wonderfully the Lord worked this out, way above what I could ask or think. I thank God for making my path so clear. One of my advisors at school said I definitely should not drop out as she thinks I will make a wonderful Nurse Practitioner, so her encouragement was much appreciated.

My final day as a visiting nurse is June 10. It is hard to believe that I have worked there for five years. It is tough to say goodbye to some of my monthly patients who I have known for five years. Some of them are like grandparents to me. I really hate goodbyes!

Reflection

And so the Lord made the way open for me to continue in graduate school and finish in four years rather than six years. In the fall, Dr. K. told the five of us who were full time students that the school had received a grant from the USA government that would cover our entire tuition and books for both semesters! The government says there is a shortage of NPs, so this is their way of graduating NPs more quickly. Because it was a grant, and not a loan, I graduated debt free which was a huge blessing. The tuition for the previous three years of part time courses had been reimbursed to me at the end of each semester by the Visiting Nurse Association. They did not require me to work for them as a NP after receiving my MSN as many organizations do today.

The prediction in the nursing journal of a glut of NPs never materialized as far as I recall. I never had any trouble finding a job as a NP. In fact, I have been inundated with job recruiters my entire career with a multitude of NP openings. In fact, I received a phone call earlier today from a job recruiter even though I told her last month I am not interested in a NP job at this time. Nursing is still a good career for job security in my opinion! There will always be sick people to take care of no matter what the economy is like.

Time to Move?

Midwest to New England – June, 1991

For some time now I have felt stuck in a rut, and I have been asking the Lord if He would have me move to a new location. I have lived in the Midwest since I was two years old. One wonderful thing about being a nurse is that I can get a job anywhere in the world. I attended a weekend Bible conference last fall in upstate New York which was excellent. I had the privilege of taking the Bible teacher and his wife to the airport after the conference, and I was able to ask their counsel. They suggested I move after they heard that I was the only single lady in a small Bible church with only a handful of people remaining.

I investigated being a missionary in eastern Europe in helping teach women and children the Bible, but the Lord did not give me peace about it nor did He put the pieces together.

By faith, I put my house up for sale in January. People told me this was not a good time to sell a house, because it was the middle of winter, the time of the Gulf War, and during a recession. But I know that if God wanted me to move, He would sell my house. If not, I would stay in the Midwest. I didn’t want to rent out my house and be a long distance land lady. Nor could I afford to pay for a mortgage and rent at the same time.

I have met several people in New England who have invited me to visit the church they attend, so I decided to take a survey trip in February. I visited New England once on a family vacation and found the region to be beautiful with mountains and ocean, and filled with sites of American history. They also have more snow so hopefully I can go cross country skiing more often. I visited three churches, and was so richly blessed at the second church. They had a choir that sang a beautiful hymn about the Lord’s coming that moved me to tears. It has been so long since I have heard a choir sing. They had a guest speaker in addition to the pastor who had 2 messages Sunday morning and 2 messages Sunday evening all about the rapture! (I Thess. 4:13-18) I felt very well fed spiritually at the end of the day. The people warmly welcomed me.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:17

The assistant pastor’s wife kindly drove me around the city so I could look at various neighborhoods where I could possibly live. The cost of living is so much higher here than in the Midwest that I probably will never be able to buy a house again on a nurse’s income.

I interviewed with the head nurse of the dialysis unit at the local hospital, and she seemed excited to meet me. They also just bought new Cobe dialysis machines just like the ones I use in the Midwest unit, so she was thrilled that I would not need much orientation. She offered me a job at the end of the interview! I told her I needed to sell my house in the Midwest first, and I would pray about it. I was also offered dialysis jobs in the other two cities I visited. But I did not feel at home in the churches in those cities.

I returned home and amazingly received a full price offer for my house 40 days after I listed it! This was confirmation from the Lord that He was opening the door for me to move. We set a closing date for the end of April and they asked if I could rent back from them for one month since they had to complete their rental lease. I agreed to this since June 1 would be a nice time of year to move to New England. I gave my notice at the dialysis unit for the end of May. My head nurse and evening staff were sad to see me leave, but understood that I felt the need to move.

I called various moving companies and chose the one with the best price per pound of goods. I will need about a quarter of a cross country moving van. It’s shocking how much stuff I have accumulated in the eight years since I built this house. The goodbyes are so hard to all my family, friends, and coworkers. Many of them think I am crazy to be leaving everything familiar behind. My financial planner is very concerned and said I will never be able to retire at age 57 as we had planned.

Goodbye to my coworkers in dialysis was tough.

Goodbye to my coworkers in dialysis was tough.

 

My dog Sandy and I bid farewell to the house I built 8 years ago.

My dog Sandy and I bid farewell to the house I built 8 years ago.

Three weeks before the move, the phone rang. It was the Director of Nursing from the hospital which promised me a dialysis job. “Pam, I’m sorry but we had to close one of our units and we had to place all the nurses in empty positions in the hospital. One of the nurses chose the dialysis position so we can no longer offer you a job.” I thanked her for calling and hung up. My heart sank as I thought about moving across the country without any friends or a job. I have already paid the deposit to rent a one bedroom condo for a year and have sold my house here, so there is no other direction to go but forward.

Dear Father, Thank You for closing the door to this job and that You have something better. You have promised to provide for me, so I’m trusting You to give me a job when I get to New England. Thank You that You go before me and prepare the way. Thank You for the peace that passes understanding. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus….But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, 19

To be continued….

You Better Belize It! Part 3

Dangriga to Big Creek, Belize – February, 1990

Sunday

We began our second week of this short term medical mission trip by walking from our hotel to the Baptist Church where Pastor R lead the services. We were warmly welcomed by the small congregation and were blessed by their hearty spontaneous hymn singing. Pastor R had a wonderful message from John 6 on Jesus Christ, the bread of life. Then said Jesus unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:35, 37 How wonderful to know Jesus Christ for all eternity, the only One who can satisfy my deepest longing!

9 Dangriga Baptist Church

Dangriga Baptist Church where we worshiped.

 

After lunch, we packed our bags and met at the public bus station to travel to Big Creek in the southern part of Belize, our headquarters for the second week. The public bus was definitely faster and smoother than the old school bus! The mission director placed six of us women in a very nice home where I am sleeping on two mattresses on the floor. I walked in the bathroom and the mirror fell off the wall and whacked my head hard, almost knocking me out. It was kind of eerie, almost demonic. At dinner in a small restaurant, it was good to be reunited with the other half of our team who went to San Pedro for the weekend.

30 Week 2 at Big Creek

Red dirt roads in Big Creek, Belize

Monday – Trio Bladden Banana Farm

A lady translator from Switzerland has joined us since we will be seeing mainly Spanish migrant workers who work on the banana farm. Most of the bananas turned black because the air temperature recently went below 65 degrees F and ruined this crop. It takes 10 weeks to grow another crop. We are thankful for the rain which has cooled things off, but it turns the red dirt into red mud. It reminds me of the red clay dirt in Georgia, USA.

We saw large Mayan and Honduran families today. Dr. Don saw 10 people in one family- family practice at its best!

33 Trio Bladden banana farm Spanish

Clinic site on the banana farm

36 Clinic Dog sleeps under Dons feet

Village dog sleeps under Dr Don’s feet while he works!

37 Don w dead iguana full of eggs

Dr Don holds dead iguana full of eggs – a real delicacy!

38 Pam w village boy

Pam with a village boy.

I felt sad for one man who went blind from glaucoma. Unfortunately, Dr Don became ill after the clinic and had to skip dinner. The rest of the team had dinner at a little restaurant which is feeding our team all week. I was so thankful there was no loud “boom box” rock music like the night before. There is a bar next door where we ironically hold our Bible devotional time in the morning. Dr Joel surprised us all by wearing a dress shirt and tie to dinner. Quite the comedian! All the doctors have been lots of fun to work with this week. I appreciate their sense of humor mixed with godly humility.

Tuesday – Big Creek

I was sick all night from the shrimp I had for dinner last night, so I had to stay here today. Judy brought me boiling water for hot tea and my instant oatmeal. I am so thankful for the peace and quiet and time to be alone with the Lord and read my Bible. Since I live alone, I feel like I’m on sensory overload here with all the noise and being surrounded by people all the time.

Half way through the day, the toilet turned into a geyser, but I was rather proud of myself for fixing it with a coat hanger. Then I walked over to the store and bought a Coke. I was feeling better by dinner time, so joined the group as they ate dinner and I drank my instant “Cup of Soup”. They said the Spanish village where they worked was much like the day before. Then we went to a lady’s home and watched a few travel videos about Belize. The Belize City zoo looks interesting with all the rescued jungle animals.

Wednesday – Big Creek

This was our final and busiest clinic day with 240 patients! It reminded me of our clinics in Honduras except that I could speak in English as I checked the patient’s blood pressure. It was wonderful to hand them the last of my gospel tracts and gospels of John that I brought with me.

Dr Joel, who is a dermatologist in USA, removed a large mole from a lady’s nose, and excised a cyst off a man’s finger, so that was interesting to watch. We saw a baby with a congenital heart defect we are sending to Miami, Florida for open heart surgery. A man with a staggering gait said he had seen a neurologist in the USA who diagnosed him with degenerative cerebellar disease for which there is no treatment. I helped Dr. Don irrigate our last patient’s ears to remove excessive wax.

Some of the team are flying to the Mayan Tikal ruins in Guatemala tomorrow for $185, but I decided that was not in my budget.

Thursday – Big Creek to Belmopan

Some of us decided to go snorkeling in Palencia and then fly to the capitol city of Belmopan for $35, but it rained again and the surf was too rough. The Tikal group couldn’t fly out either because of the weather, so we all took one last bus ride together to the beautiful YWAM (Youth With a Mission) camp. We took a ferry ride in an old row boat to cross the river and hike up 100 steps to the top of the hill. The camp has lush green tropical foliage with brilliant flowers, very nice outhouses (yeah- no more broken toilets!) and loads of mosquitoes. Poor Judy is covered with bites.

49 Crossing river to YWAM camp

Our ferry boat ride across the river to camp.

Friday – Belmopan

I bid goodbye this morning to Dr Pete and Judy and Dr Don as they flew together to see the Tikal ruins. How I hate goodbyes, but I am glad we will see each other again in heaven.

Five of us who remained decided to take the public bus together to see the Belize national zoo. All the animals are rescued from the jungle and in simple wire cages. The toucan is the national bird. Other animals we saw were parrots, spider monkey, howler monkey, tapir (mountain cow), jaguar, cougar, and snakes. Then we hiked back to the highway and waited in the hot sun for over an hour for the bus to come. I ran out of water and prayed I wouldn’t faint from the heat.

50  Belize zoo Toucan

Toucan at Belize zoo – the national bird.

We were so glad to see the bus which dropped us off at a hotel in town where some of the team were enjoying the pool. The five of us quickly entered the hotel’s AIR CONDITIONED restaurant and ordered hamburgers and limeade for lunch. I think we drank about 5 huge pitchers of limeade which was totally refreshing! I have never appreciated air conditioning so much after being in the tropical heat and humidity for nearly two weeks.

Back at the camp, we all showered and put on our best clothes for our farewell “love feast” the camp staff prepared for us. They decorated the dining hall with palm leaves, flowers, and put place cards with our names at our designated seats like a wedding. After our spaghetti dinner, we sang hymns together led by a guitarist. Then we put on a talent show and laughed until we cried. Dr. Joel juggled, Dr Stew pretended he was “Dr Bump”, Donna and Donna sang their rendition of “Chicago” (their home town), others did a magic show, each team sang a song they wrote about the trip, and Jeanne ended with a beautiful solo of “The Sound of Music”. It was a great way to end the trip.

55 Farewell dinner n talent show

We sing our song at the farewell love feast.

44 Goodbye Belize

Reflection

So ended my second short term medical mission trip. I have decided that God didn’t give me a rugged stomach or body to be very effective in developing tropical countries. Thankfully, I had a week to recover my strength at my parents’ home in Florida before returning to my full time job in dialysis.

I enjoyed attending Dr Pete and Judy’s beautiful wedding on May 11, 1990. They have continued to lead dozens of short term mission trips all over the world. Now that I am nearing retirement myself, I have new admiration for the retired people who volunteered in Belize in 1990! I pray God used the tracts and gospels of John I gave to the patients,  that they received Him as their personal Savior, and so I will meet them in heaven!

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not there, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11.

Oasis in the Swiss Alps – Part 2

Wengen, Switzerland – August, 1989

105 Joanie

Joanie Yoder

On a crystal clear bright blue sky day, I took the train up to 11000 feet to the Jungfrau mountain with Joanie Yoder, one of the tour leaders. She and her husband started a drug and alcohol rehab center for men in England called Yeldall Manor.She told us some amazing stories of men receiving Christ as their personal Savior and being delivered from addiction to alcohol or drugs and having transformed lives. After her husband died of cancer, she felt led to minister to other widows so she speaks to ladies’ groups all over Great Britain and the USA.

99 dogsled in August

Dog sledding and skiing in August!

112 Japanese lady ice

Japanese ice sculpture in the ice palace.

On top of the mountain, they had skiing and dog sledding, but I just watched. I had a hard time staying warm and got lightheaded and dizzy from the altitude, so we went to the cafe and had hot chocolate. Then we went inside the ice palace where they had these incredible ice carvings. Rather than take the train, we decided to hike back down the mountain to Wengen which was fun. We made frequent stops along the way to enjoy the beauty and share what God has been teaching us over the years. The fellowship was so rich combined with the spectacular alpine beauty. Thank You, Lord, for such a wonderful day of refreshment!

Bluest sky I ever saw on top of the Jungfrau.

Bluest sky I ever saw on top of the Jungfrau.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

On our one rainy day, a couple invited me to go with them to Lucerne. Friends of theirs, a retired German pastor and his wife, also joined us. Pastor Will speaks excellent English, has a great sense of humor, and really loves the Lord. When he was a teen, he was forced to live in a Nazi youth camp during World War 2 and moved from country to country every year during the war. But God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, and he received Christ as his Savior during a secret Salvation Army meeting! Talk about God plucking him out of the pit! A year later, many of his friends were killed in an air raid, but he was spared when he jumped in a hole he had just dug. Now he smuggles Bibles into eastern Europe. He said Russia and Hungary are wide open, but Romania is suffering terribly. He showed me photos of a crowded Baptist church in Russia and let me take a photo of his photo to show the folks back home.

Standing room only inside packed Russian church in 1989.

Standing room only inside packed Russian church in 1989.

After dinner, we all meet again for a time of fellowship, speakers, and singing. One evening, they asked me to share my testimony and tell of some opportunities I have had to share the gospel over the years. Another evening, we watched a wonderful film made in the Swiss alps called “Treasure of the Snow” by Patricia St. John about forgiveness. (See my recent post on the life of Patricia St. John, RN)

On Sunday, one of the men who also speaks some German, went with me to the Protestant church in town to worship. I was disappointed in the cold formal worship service. I could understand the German prayer and hymns, but not the sermon. We then returned to the hotel for the English worship service led by Peter Letchford for the tour group. I was so blessed by his continuing message on the gates of Jerusalem. We had a delicious midday dinner in the hotel dining room and then strolled around the village and rested the remainder of the day.

Hotel dessert buffet was delicious!

Hotel dessert buffet was delicious!

It’s fun to speak German again, but I’m rusty. My German has come in handy a few times when I’ve been with the different groups on the day trips, but many Swiss speak excellent English. I think they are required to learn German, French, Italian, and English when they attend the public schools. Their fluency in many languages puts most Americans to shame.

Another day I  enjoyed visiting Ballenberg, a Swiss open air museum village with houses from previous centuries. It was fascinating to watch a man make a huge vat of Swiss cheese over the fire, and a woodcarver make an intricate horse. Our picnic in the woods with other single ladies in the tour group was delightful.

61 making Swiss cheese

Making Swiss cheese over the fire.

62 woodcarver

The woodcarver makes a horse.

Hiking through the lush green valley beside the river to Trummelbach Falls another day was delightful. We paused to watch the farmers rake freshly cut hay by hand who reminded me of the Amish back home.

Trummelbach Falls flow inside a mountain.

Trummelbach Falls flow inside a mountain.

On the last day, I visited a real castle on Lake Thun. I had fun pretending I was a damsel in distress hanging out the castle window, but no prince charming showed up….:) The boat ride back on the lake was a relaxing way to end my wonderful two weeks in the Swiss Alps.

Castle on Lake Thun

Castle on Lake Thun

A damsel in distress?

A damsel in distress?

After breakfast the next morning, we all boarded the train back to the Zurich airport. I could not hold back my tears when I said goodbye to everyone before we boarded the plane. I know I will probably not see most of these dear brothers and sisters until we are worshiping God together in heaven. I am so glad that goodbye is not forever for fellow believers.

Reflections

I had the joy of meeting Joanie Yoder again the next year when she was in the Midwest USA for a visit. I googled Yeldall Manor and was thrilled to see it looks like the Christian rehab center is still going strong! God so wonderfully answered my prayer to let me meet other Christian single ladies.

In a recent prayer letter from missionaries in Romania, they reported wide open doors to share the gospel in high school assemblies with hundreds of young people who are hungry to hear the good news about Jesus Christ. It will be wonderful to learn in heaven how God used the Bibles Pastor Will smuggled to them for so many years when they did not have freedom to worship.

I heard on Christian radio that over 7000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015. How we need to pray for persecuted believers around the world to be strong in Him. May we all keep “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Listen for the trumpet of the rapture! Perhaps today Christ will come for His own!

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

 

Oasis in the Swiss Alps – Part 1

August, 1989 – Wengen, Switzerland

A couple months ago, I asked the Lord to help me meet other Christians for fellowship, especially other single women. I am now 34 years old and the only single lady attending the small Bible church where I worship, so it has become quite lonely. I heard about a Christian tour group and reviewed their catalog. The trip to Switzerland for two weeks in August led by a British group called the Hildenborough Ministries sounded delightful, so I signed up. It seems hard to believe that after 11 years, God has let me return to Switzerland which I passed through on the train on my way to France in 1978.

I flew from JFK to Zurich with the group where we were met by the tour leaders who escorted us on a chartered bus to Lauterbrunen. From there, we took the train up the mountain to the charming alpine village of Wengen at 4500 feet elevation. We walked several blocks from the station up a steep hill to the Jungfraublick (translation: View of Jungfrau Mountain) which is a Christian hostel. The hotel employees are such precious Christians who really love the Lord. There are no motor vehicles allowed in the village which makes it very clean and quiet. The overflowing beautiful flower boxes are mesmerizing!

Charming village of Wengen where I stayed for two weeks.

Charming village of Wengen where I stayed for two weeks.

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Spectacular flower boxes everywhere!

I feel so pampered in my private room with a cozy feather-bed and breathtaking mountain views from my balcony. There are 35 people in the group from all over the USA of varying ages. Peter and Dorothy Letchford are the leaders with assistance from their daughter, Anne, who is married to Pastor Jeff. Peter was a missionary in Zambia for 21 years before he married Dorothy, who is a nurse also! A single lady, Elizabeth, and a widow, Joanie, are also involved in the ministry and are assisting. The Letchfords’ son, Steven, and his wife and adorable 8 month old daughter are also here. Steven is a pediatrician and Anne is a dietician so we have all enjoyed talking “shop” on occasion.

Elizabeth, Peter, and Joanie were our wonderful tour guides.

Elizabeth, Peter, and Joanie were our wonderful tour guides.

We all gather in the dining room for breakfast and dinner which are included with the tour. Then Peter teaches the Bible for 45 minutes, and we sing a few hymns together while Peter accompanies us on the hotel’s grand piano which is tremendous. I have learned several new hymns. One of my favorites is called “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee” based on Psalm 42:1  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARF2xXeFs54 Peter is teaching us about the ten gates in Jerusalem in Nehemiah 3 which God used Nehemiah to rebuild. It is good to be taking a closer look at this wonderful little Old Testament book and learning how they built the gates and wall despite so many obstacles.

The fellowship has been so rich at meal time and during the various day trips. After the Bible lesson, they offer three choices for day trips and one of the leaders goes with each group. Or one can stay at the hotel or take their own private hike if they feel like some solitude. We each bought a Swiss rail pass for 2 weeks which is also good on buses and boats on the lakes as well the trains. We pay extra for a cable car straight up into the mountains. After getting to the top, the views are spectacular. They have wonderful paths along the ridge with red benches when you feel like resting and just absorbing the beauty. The Swiss are so neat and clean. The comical mountain goats climb right up on the house roof to sleep! The Jersey cows with their klinkly bells remind me of Heidi. One day, I heard a lady play the Alpen horn and it really echoed through the mountains. I feel like singing songs from the Sound of Music when I hike along the mountain tops! I was thrilled when I saw real Edelweiss growing in the alpine garden near Schynegge Plata.

My new "pet goat"!

My new “pet goat”!

One of the many cows grazing in the meadows. Love those cow bells!

One of the many cows grazing in the meadows. Love those cow bells!

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Lady plays the Alpen horn which echoes across the mountains.

Edelweiss growing in the Alpine garden

Edelweiss growing in the Alpine garden

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

I met an Italian couple on the train two days in a row and was chatting with them, so gave them a gospel tract the second day. Peter laughs at the difference between the English and Americans. He says the English won’t talk to anyone until they’re introduced, but the Americans are always talking to strangers on trains and have a much more interesting time!

Reflection

It was so kind of the Lord to give me this wonderful time of relaxation and fellowship with other believers in one of the most beautiful spots in the world when I was so lonely. There were a number of single women on the trip who were a blessing and encouragement to me. I still exchange Christmas cards yearly with one of them! I was able to meet Joanie again the following year near my home in the Midwest. Switzerland is still my favorite country of the 26 countries I have visited over the years!

Little did I dream that I would ever get to visit Jerusalem in 2013 and view the old city with a portion of the wall still standing. Although neither Nehemiah’s gates nor the temple are standing today, I could picture them laboring fervently rebuilding the gates and wall. I recently discovered a wonderful series of messages on Nehemiah by Dr John Whitcomb at the Bible Institute of Bible Broadcasting Network. You can sign in free as a student and then search in the Book studies.

http://www.bbnradio.org/wcm4/bbnbienglish/home/tabid/257/default.aspx

Golden Gate in Jerusalem which Christ rode through on Palm Sunday

Golden Gate in Jerusalem which Christ rode through on Palm Sunday

 

 

Pam Builds a House!

June 3, 1983 – Midwest, USA

Ever since I read Miss Clarkson’s book (see previous post) about how much she enjoyed owning her own small lakeside cottage, I have been asking the Lord if I should buy a house and put down roots here. I have never met a single woman who bought a house, but I began looking at houses a couple months ago with a realtor. One of my friends suggested I build a house instead and told me about a new neighborhood in my price range about 5 miles from the hospital. The mortgage would only be slightly more than the rent I pay now, and I would be able to build up some equity in the house. So I looked at the model home, liked one of the floor plans, and applied for a mortgage. Today is the deadline for the approval. I just received a call from the banker telling me that I was approved! I asked the Lord to block the approval if He didn’t want me to go forward, so I’m taking this as a green light from Him.

June 10 – I met with the builder today to choose all my finishes – siding, flooring, carpet, cabinets, etc. It only took me about an hour. He said I was the quickest decision maker he had ever met! I guess it helps that I don’t have to discuss anything with a spouse. I told him I learned to make quick decisions when I worked in labor and delivery. Sometimes that is good, and sometimes I need to learn to slow down and pray about it.

The walls go up on my new house!

The walls go up on my new house!

I’m really enjoying my new job in Staff Development. I make rounds on the nurses in orientation on the various hospital units at the beginning of the shift around midnight. All the orientees have had 4-6 weeks orientation on day shift, and then the final 2 weeks on evening or night shift. If they are not meeting their weekly goals, we can extend their orientation on rare occasions or end their employment. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Then I teach in-services between 2-3 a.m. on the various units, eat lunch with the night nursing supervisors, write policies, and make second rounds about 5 a.m. Sometimes it’s a struggle to stay awake around 4 a.m., so I start walking to help wake me up! I miss my coworkers in Labor and Delivery, so I stop by and chat if they are having a slow night. I have also become a certified CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) instructor, so I will start re-certification sessions soon. Each nurse has to renew their CPR every 2 years.

My back feels much better, and it is nice to have weekends off, spend time with my friends, and attend church every Sunday. It is such a joy to help my friend teach children’s Bible Club in her neighborhood! I didn’t think I would be allowed to return to Bible camp this summer as a counselor because that is our busiest time with orienting all the new graduate nurses. But my coworkers told our director they would cover for me, so she said I could go!

December, 1983

My house is finished!

My house is finished!

My house is finally finished! Originally, they said it would be done in October, but it was delayed 5 weeks. Someone once told me that when you build a house, it always takes longer and costs more than the builder initially tells you. But I’m all moved in as of today. I’m exhausted, but so thankful to own a home of my own. The only mistake I made in my color choices was the green trim. I have to agree with my brother-in-law that it looks like a John Deere tractor! I will have a mud yard all winter, but in the spring they will plant my tree, bushes, and lay the sod.

I was so blessed in reading tonight:

…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

(A virtuous woman) looketh well to the ways of her household. Proverbs 31:27

(Jesus said) Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:1-2

Dear Lord, Thank You so much for giving me this little home. I pray You will use it for Your glory and honor, that I would be of good hospitality, and always hold it with an open hand to You. Help me to be a good steward of this home. Thank You for that eternal home in heaven that you are preparing for me! Amen.

June, 1984

I went to bed one morning in March after working all night. When I woke up, I looked out the window and was amazed to see green grass, a nice shade tree, and bushes! No more mud yard!

Dublin Sandy

My new puppy, Sandy!

I had the green trim painted white which makes the house look so much bigger. I also decided to buy a Cocker Spaniel puppy and named him Sandy. He’s lots of fun, company, and quite a bit of work. But I forgot how much puppies like to chew. So far he chewed a huge hole in my new carpeting and another hole in the seat of my new recliner….  Oh well, I can’t take these things with me, so I have to relax with it, and keep trying to train him. I think the Lord will use him to teach me patience!

The trim painted white looked much better!

The trim painted white looked much better!

I enjoyed my perennial herb garden

My new perennial herb garden

Sandy and me enjoying the spring tulips.

Sandy and I enjoyed the spring tulips.

Reflection

I enjoyed staying in this little home for the next 8 years until I moved to New England. I was thrilled that it had increased in value by 50% when I sold it, so it was a good investment. I also began and taught a Bible Club for the neighborhood children, many of whom were from Japan. It was my privilege to host quite a few missionaries when they came to visit my church also. It became my oasis after working all day, giving me a refuge and quiet place to study God’s precious word.

Since then, I have owned 4 other homes. I built another house in New England, and totally remodeled my current home built in 1957. Sometimes it is very frustrating dealing with builders and contractors, but the Lord always helps me get through it as I lean hard on Him. My friends tease me about how many times I have moved, but contrary to popular belief, I really don’t like to move!