TIME TO LAUNCH OUT ON OUR OWN
Even though Michael had a B. A. in Bible and Pastoral, he hadn’t thought about
getting a Ministry license until it was suggested to him by the Missionaries.
Michael did not feel a calling to be a minister, just a desire to be a helper, but I was proud of him and thought this was the beginning of the ministry I had so longed for since I first became a Christian. I would finally be a pastor’s wife. I
would be able to pursue a singing ministry. The possibilities seemed endless!
We loved the people at the Eloy church, but there were times when we did not see eye to eye with the Missionaries. We knew that we should leave, but wondered what our family and friends would think about our returning from Arizona so soon. It was then we heard about a church up in Holbrook, Arizona that had just lost their Missionary.
The Holbrook church was in the city, not far from the Navajo Indian Reservation. We were interviewed by the former pastor’s wife and a few people who made up the church board. Next thing we knew, we were leaving Eloy.
We had not expected such an outpouring of love from the people. They were always so very shy and quiet, and it was a poor church. Yet, they pooled together their money and jewelry. They gave us an offering that not only surprised us, it
surprised the Missionary couple. It was not easy to leave but we knew we had to. We spent 2 ½ years in Eloy.
Our time in Holbrook was both rewarding and difficult. The church could not afford to pay us, but a few dollars, so Michael took a job as a substitute teacher during the week. I stayed home and cared for the kids. I also would care for the church people who would stop by our trailer during the day for prayer, or to ask for help.
Two ladies routinely dropped by just at the time I would put the kids down for their naps. It made me very upset. I even posted a sign outside the trailer door saying, “Nap time, please do not knock”, but that didn’t seem to matter.
We were to find out later that the ladies were very unhappy to have lost
their former Pastor and his wife. And we were being put to the test, so to speak, to see if we would measure up.
One day after coming over for prayer, I found myself excluded from their prayer time. They began praying in the Navajo language and turned their backs on me.
So, I began praying alone, asking the Lord to tell me what to do. All at once I had a vision. I believe it was my first vision and so it surprised me. I saw a Kachina Doll, hidden in the corner of one of their homes. The Lord told me that the two ladies were mixing tribal religion with their Christianity, and if they wanted the Lord to help them with their problem, they would have to get rid of the Kachina doll and serve the one true God.
I interrupted the ladies and told them what God had showed me. They stopped praying and with wide eyes, began to cry. I prayed with the ladies at that point for strength to do what God said to do. That was the last time they came over during the day while the children were asleep, and the beginning of a true relationship with the people of the church.
A NEW PREACHING SCHEDULE
Michael began to realize that his true passion was ministering to the children, so he began taking the children in the back of the church to teach them, while
I began ministering to the people in the main service. I was thrilled! I loved the
Bible study and preparation time, but it was difficult doing so, with two babies
Sunday nights were up for grabs. Our crowds were never big, but Michael and I would take turns speaking. The smallest service we ever had consisted of one little lady who could not speak or understand English. It was a very short service.
Nearly every Sunday night following the service, a group of people would come over to our tiny 8’ wide trailer. They would sit everywhere! I would serve
popcorn and punch. We enjoyed the fellowship. One evening a Navajo lady named Janet and her husband told us that they lived in a doublewide. I was pleasantly surprised; so much more room! We made plans to go to their house the next Sunday night. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the same. Everyone just sat there without talking, so we all came back to our home the very next week. We did that every week until we left Holbrook.
SHALL WE GROW OR GO
The church was growing slowly, and thanks to a non-Indian couple that began
to attend and pay tithes to the church, money began flowing into the offering
plates. This does not sound that important, unless your weekly salary from the church is under $10.00 a week. Word got back to the former Missionary’s wife and she became angry. She called and threatened to have us removed because we allowed “white” people to attend an Indian church. I know now, that she was trying to ensure that the Indian Church and it’s people would not be swallowed up and “cease” being a church for the Indiana people.
I was shocked! I remember our conversation was loud and angry. Afterward
I cried myself to sleep. There was no need to worry, however. It
wasn’t long afterward that the white couple had to move because of health issues. I lost a real friend and a “grandma” to my children.
Michael had always suffered from allergies, asthma and other health issues.
Even at college, there were times when he just could not catch his
breath, and that would scare us. It seemed unless he was having an attack at the time we visited the doctor, they did very little to help him.
It now seemed that Michael had traded Midwestern allergies for Arizonian
allergies. He was now allergic to tumbleweed and sagebrush. His health did not improve while in Arizona like we had hoped. This, and the struggles we
were now having financially, convinced us it was time to leave. We said our tearful goodbyes and came back home to Elkhart, IN.
I was devastated. All my Christian life I had wanted to be in what I considered full time ministry, but Michael’s heath was at stake. Our stay in Holbrook lasted two years.
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN
It was exciting to be returning home. Julie and Jeffrey loved the thick, green grass. It was really the first time they were able to experience it. And Michael’s family was happy to have us back. Michael found those 4 ½ years in Arizona had made working at a trailer factory again, out of the question. He lasted only one day. He would have to find other, less physical work. His next job was at a machine shop but the oil in the air caused him a lot of asthma. We knew we would have to find gainful employment, so as soon as our son Jeffrey entered kindergarten, I looked for a job.
Our life now became more routine. We raised our children, worked a variety of jobs and bought several homes, each one putting us in a better location to raise our children near the school that was reportedly the best. We also wanted
to live closer to the church we were attending. Life was good! My children
were active in school activities and church. Michael taught children’s church each Sunday and I sang every chance I got. I was part of a great church
choir and took on the job as youth choir director. I sang for women’s gatherings and for many, many funerals. It wasn’t the full-time ministry I had always dreamed of, but I kept hoping, praying and waiting.
THEY WANT TO LIVE WHERE?
I knew that things were difficult for my mother and father but what could I do?
I continued to take the phone calls that made it clear; life wasn’t any better. Mother was still taking more medication than she should, and father was as difficult as ever. I would try to encourage her and was sympathetic.
I prayed for them. But I felt helpless. Then I received a phone call from my father. He told me that my mother was “out of control”; that her drug use caused her to pass out and that she was out cold underneath the coffee table at that very moment. He then told me something that would change their lives as well as mine forever. He planned to move to Elkhart, IN so that I could help him with my mother. What could I say? I am not heartless. I told him to come
I cried, then cried and cried some more. I was doing the dishes and asking God WHY?? Why are they moving here? Hadn’t I given my parents half my life already? And as I did, I heard that still small voice that God uses when He has
something important to tell me. He said “I am answering the prayer you have prayed since you were young. You have prayed that they would get the help they needed and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”
I stopped crying. Instead of asking the Lord to keep them in Milwaukee, I asked the Lord to work everything out so that they could move to my town. What
happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
My father did not list his house. Out of the blue, a man came to his door and asked to purchase their home. My father accepted the offer.
Just a short time later, my father bought a home and moved to Elkhart. My mother hardly knew what happened. She had never lived anywhere else except for Wisconsin.
My father’s mental illness made him a difficult neighbor, so they bought and sold two more houses before he found a neighborhood they could live in.
My mother hated moving, but she didn’t have a voice or a vote in the matter.
TO BE CONTINUED…..