Saturday, September 16, 2017

Christmas 1993

I found another treasure in my old computer files—our Christmas letter from 1993. Some fun memories, some I hardly remember at all.

Christmas 1993, Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Family and Friends,

What a joy it is to again celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus to earth! And whether they know why or not, most people, at this time of year, feel a special sense of kindness and hope. We pray that those of us who know Jesus will use this opportunity to share withothers why they can have hope and joy.

It has been another fun year for us. Murray changed jobs. Again. He now works for a home health agency, providing Occupational Therapy services to people in their own homes. His favorite part of the job is teasing old people about how old they are.

The kids are growing up. Kathy's trying to figure out where all the rumors come from about stay-at-home moms being bored and having too much time on their hands. Kathy has been reading a lot, and spends time trying to teach children letters and numbers and adjectives and Bible stories and manners. It's very difficult.

As our babies grow into little people who do things, we can't put into words how overwhelmed we are at what a wonderful gift God gave us in our children. Sarah will be two in January, and she is growing up. We've always been convinced that she's probably the cutest baby ever born. Now that she's changing into a little girl, she's staying just as cute. She loves to give hugs and kisses and to pat and rub our backs. She's crazy about her brother and sister ("La-La and BEH- buh") and she's learning a lot from them. She sounds just like Rebecca when she says, "Don't!" and just like Caleb when she says, "No!"

Sarah had an appointment with a pediatric optometrist In November and, after apparently being able to see almost nothing except light 14 months ago, she now sees everything in front of her (maybe a little near-sighted). We give God and prayer all the creditfor this miraculous change.

Rebecca turned three this September, and she continues to amaze us with how grown up she seems. Recently she told us, "I want to go to Heaven now and see Jesus." We told her that would sure be good for her, but we would like her to wait and stay with us a while longer. We told her that when she's a little older, she can have Jesus come live in her heart, and that would be almost as good as going toHeaven. She said, "I can't see Him in my heart; I can feel Him."

Caleb, too, who will be four in January, is becoming quite a big boy. Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten the Chinese he knew when he came here, but it is awfully cute to hear our little Chinese boy talking with a southern accent. For example, he loves to drink "MEE- ulk" for breakfast.

One of the cutest things he says is to tell us that he is some other person, usually someone he's just been with. When he's been in Diane's class at church, he comes home and says, "Mommy, I'm Diane." When he's been at his swimming lesson at the YMCA, where Amy is his teacher, he says, "I'm Amy." One morning Kathy read the kids a book about a moose. That afternoon someone asked Caleb what his name was, and he said, "I'm a moose." Caleb seems to have recently remembered, and talks about, his missionary parents in Taiwan, Ted and Bev. We are surprised but glad that he recalls thatimportant part of his life.

As required by immigration services, we re-adopted Caleb in Alabama this year. Then, we took him to the Immigration office in Atlanta and he received a certificate of citizenship. After that Caleb often told us, "I'm a citizen." He is now going, two mornings a week, to a preschool for hearing and visually impaired kids. He seems to like school, but about the only thing he'll tell Kathy about it when he gets home is, "Mommy, I ride the school bus!"

Rebecca goes two different mornings a week to a preschool at Dalraida (del RAY duh) Baptist Church near here and, after a rocky start ("It wasn't a goodday, but we have stickers") seems to be enjoying herself.

Murray was elected to be a deacon in our church this year. There was some question as to what his duties would be. Someone suggested that he be in charge of keeping rodents off the church property. Finally, though, he was put in charge of what is called the "Contact Care Ministry." This involves keeping in touch with members of the congregation who have spiritual, physical, financial or other needs and attempting to coordinate the services of the congregation to meet these needs.

Also, Murray has taken up a new hobby, collecting hats. If you come across a really unusual hat, please feel free to send it to us. He still feels the call to be a preacher, so please prayabout that. (For him, or for the unexpecting church?) We've joined the new choir at church, and the leader (called Adolph, for his hard-driving ways) is glad Kathy is there to "round off Murray's rough edges." Perhaps a family gospel album is in store. NOT!!

We are also teaching the junior high/high school Sunday school class, currently studying the book of Mark. We are a little sad when half way through a day's lesson kids ask, "Now what book are we reading?", but excited when they (each required at the end of class to ask one question about that day's Bible text) ask insightfulquestions. Our time is not wasted. We are not really sure where the Lord Jesus is taking us or how He plans to use us, but we're astonished at what's gone on to this point, so we know it's going to be good.

Murray and Kathy for all

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." Job 19:25-26

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to givehim the name Jesus." Luke 1:31

Friday, September 8, 2017

Adventure in Africa

Adventure In Africa: The Story Of Don McClure, by Charles Partee.

My husband Murray and I first read this book in the mid-90s. We loved it so much we talked about it and shared it with others. I recently found it again, and was once more deeply touched as I read it.

Don McClure lived as a missionary in Africa for nearly 50 years. This book, compiled by his son-in-law, is mainly made up of letters to his mother back in the US.

Don was born in 1906 and died in 1977. He was killed by guerrillas, stealing from him, during conflict in the country where he then served in Africa.

Don enjoyed life and had an active, often self-mocking, sense of humor.

He first came to Africa in 1928 as a school teacher. He had to pay for his own Arabic language teaching, and at first he said his communication with the people was accomplished by signs and wonders. “I make signs, and they wonder what I mean.”

When a student asked if it was expensive for Don to get his bright red hair, he said yes. He rolled up his pant legs and told them it was even more expensive to get red hair on his legs.

Don met his wife, Lyda Boyd, as she was also in Africa as a teacher for a mission school. They had three children. Don was filled with joy at the birth of their first child, Margie. He said she was almost as fun as a puppy.

Don had many roles during his years in Africa, but his main goal was evangelism. Don wanted to work with more primitive tribes in Africa who had not heard the gospel of Christ. He and Lyda were able to do this, because they were willing to live and raise their children in the same kind of house as the people they served; houses made with mud walls and a grass roof.

Don’s jobs in Africa included school teaching, veterinary medicine, agriculture, handyman, big game hunter, and more. He also served as “an unlicensed and untrained” doctor.

Many people were brought to him for medical care. He said, “If I don’t do it, nobody will.”

Don agreed that it was good to teach the people about better medical practices, and better agriculture and economics. But his main goal was evangelism, and he wanted to help the people to know Jesus and have a church which would fit in to their natural cultures. He did not believe in forcing them to form their churches according to strict American rules.

He talked about how in the schools they tried not to teach the students to take on white people’s clothing and traditions too much, since they’d have to go back to their villages and their ways.

Don was sure that the time would come when the foreign missionaries would have to leave Africa. He wanted to work as hard as possible to get the native people able to run their own churches, and keep the faith alive.

When Don and Lyda visited an area where they’d been years before, they were joyful to find a second generation of Christians coming up; children raised in Christian homes of those they had led to Christ, as well as new Christians led by the McClures’ converts.

Don told many colorful stories, some funny, some heart-breaking.

Once he was trying to help an injured camel and the camel bit him. The local people said his blood ran through the veins of the camel. And when that camel outlived his comrades, they said the camel would live as long as Don did. Don said, “I certainly wish him good health and long life.”

Once when the McClures were traveling along the river, Don said after dinner they got ready to take their evening bath in the river. He said he shot several times in the water to let the crocodiles know it was time for “our bathing,” not “their feeding.

Don said a crocodile came so close to him, he could look into the crocodile’s mouth. He said he felt that if he stuck his hand down its throat, he could have reached in, grabbed its tail, and turned it inside out.

He told of his fights with Satan, including fights with  the witchdoctors and false gods.

With civil war in African countries, Don helped with refugees and moving rebels to safety, some from tribes he’d worked with before.

He discussed the many ways they traveled in Africa, driving and by boat, flying, some by crawling, sometimes by walking or swimming through sharp grass.

The McClures ended their work in Africa as volunteers. After reaching mandatory retirement age, they stayed on as volunteers to start a new program.

This book may be hard to find, but if you do, just reading it is an adventure.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Celebrating the First 30 Years

We were at some friends’ house a couple months ago, and Murray was talking about the trip he and Ping-Hwei had planned to St. Louis to watch Cardinal baseball.

Murray said, “We need to go either on August 13 or 27.”

I said, “I’m pretty sure you’re not going to go on the 27. Because August 27 is my 30th anniversary.”

Ping-Hwei and Murray visited the Cardinals on August 13.

I keep thinking what a huge milestone 30 years is. How old that makes me sound!

It certainly is a milestone, a huge chunk of life, of joy and hardships, of growth and struggle. What a wonder this time together has been. How amazing to have someone beside me who just feels like home.

It is something to celebrate, and I told Murray I wanted to go to Amish Country.

When we told people we were going to Amish Country, several—including the man who sold us our new (2009) van recently—told us to go to Kidron to see Lehman’s Hardware. “It’s almost like a museum.”

We mentioned this to one lady, and she said, “What about romance?” I said, “Romance? Come on, it’s 30 years.” Murray said, “To me, a hardware store is very romantic.”

We went this past Saturday, and I’ll share the celebration with you.

The further away from Cleveland we got, the more turns onto country and township roads we took, the more Murray and the lady on his GPS argued. She finally got in a snit and said, “GPS signal off.”

Murray told me about all the different kinds of transportation he saw people using. Some on tractors, some in horse and buggy, some on bicycles or lawn tractors, some on foot. One lawn tractor was fixed with a ramp so the man could drive his wheelchair up onto it.

I heard horses whinny and their hoofs clopping down the road. I smelled what they left behind.

When we stopped at a restaurant in Kidron for breakfast, as I got out of the car, I heard two men laughing and talking. “Yah,” one said, and I smiled.

Murray said there was a tractor parked outside the restaurant. Inside, he told me about some of the ads hung on the wall, including for muck-boots.

Lehman’s did have many interesting things: wood stoves, one which was on and open and very hot; a huge hanging bell; axes, knives, and other tools; wooden bird houses, one shaped like an outhouse. I tried to talk Murray into buying that for me, but he said, “We have indoor plumbing.”

While we were in Lehman’s they announced they were offering buggy rides and classes, one on how to raise chickens.

We drove through a couple more towns, visited a few more shops. In one shop we found cookie cutters and were trying to figure out what the shapes were. Murray asked a lady if she knew what one of them was. She said she thought it was a tractor, then pointed to the word Oliver on it. “An Oliver’s a tractor.”

Murray asked, “Ma’am, how do you know that?” She said, “Because I’m a farmer.”

We almost stopped at another restaurant for lunch, but it looked really busy. We did check in though, and when the lady asked what name we wanted to use, I believe Murray stood up straighter as he announced, “Demetrius.” I started to open my mouth to protest, but I closed it again.

We’ve been married for 30 years, and Murray has developed a kindness toward me. I wanted to bring my music along to listen to in the car. My player is old and well-used. It either does not allow me any longer to choose which songs I want to listen to, or I just can’t figure out how.

Anyway, it scrambles through all the many albums I have saved on it and plays quite a mixture. We heard everything from—one right after another—Johnny Cash and Willy Nelson to Christian singers Carman and Chris Tomlin; Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, and Bruce Springsteen; to Neil Diamond and Randy Travis; to George Jones and the Statler Brothers; not to mention many singers we weren’t sure of the names on WOW Praise albums.

I smile when I remember us singing, loud and happy, along with “American Pie.”

When we were almost home Murray said we needed to stop a minute. He needed to pick up something Ping-Hwei wanted from the store.

He came out with a dozen orange roses and said, “Happy anniversary, baby.” I’d said we shouldn’t buy each other gifts, so we could spend money on this trip. Murray is very wise.

We ended our anniversary celebration Sunday night in the emergency room. Murray cut his finger and needed stitches. As they fixed him up, he argued with every other thing they wanted him to do. Just another life experience to share.