Saturday, April 27, 2013

No Water! Part 5

Mother arose from her knees and again went to the phone for another futile attempt to call for help. As she hung the receiver in its two-pronged holder, she glanced out the window of the dining room door that opened onto the enclosed front porch. Someone stood in the outside doorway, shaking off snow before entering.

Amazed, Mother opened the door.

"Hello!" the nurse greeted her. "For some reason, I felt I should come out to see you. Is everything all right?"

Mother finally found her voice. "Thank God!" she cried. "Bob is terribly sick, and I haven't been able to reach the doctor."

She led the nurse to Daddy's bedside. After a quick examination, she exclaimed, "I think he has pneumonia. We need to get him to the hospital immediately!"

"Oh, dear, but how?" Mother asked.

"My husband is up in our car. I'll go get him." At the door she paused. "Where's your shovel? We'll need to shovel out the driveway before we can get our car down here."

With the help of the nurse and her husband, Daddy was finally tucked into the nurse's car and on his way to the hospital and eventual recovery.

The next day, the snow turned to rain. Our reservoir filled up, and we had water again.

My parents soon learned that a neighbor had created the dam to supply water to a four-apartment complex he had built about two blocks away from us. The stream was on public land, but he refused to modify the dam. For the next four years that my parents operated the Home, whenever the weather turned extremely cold, we had no water. I have fond memories of those Saturdays with no water when we drove to the home of friends for a potluck dinner so we could all take baths at their house.

Have you ever been in need of help, and God sent someone to help you? Tell me about it.

Beginning in my next post: God Is Never Too Late

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Water! Part 4

Daddy's temperature was 103 degrees. What could my mother do?

She went to the wall phone and took the bell-shaped receiver off the hook. Thankfully, no one was on the party line. She called our pastor to ask for prayer. No answer.

She called the doctor's office and his home. No answer.

When she returned to the bedroom, Daddy's condition seemed to be worse. He had tossed off his covers again, and his forehead felt hotter. Again, she tried to take his temperature. In less than 30 seconds, it registered 103.6.

She stood over him, crying and praying. We children, wide-eyed and scared, gathered around the bed. Trying not to frighten us further, she told us all to pray while she went to the phone again. Still no answer.

Mother looked out the window. The front porch light shone into the darkness outside. Fat, wet snowflakes plummeted to the ground. The driveway was now completely filled in. No way could she drive the car out even if she could manage to get Daddy into it. Our nearest neighbor, a frail, 86-year-old lady, lived alone in a tiny house almost a block away.

Back in the bedroom, Mother knelt by the bed, and we did too. "Oh, dear Jesus, please heal my darling," Mother prayed. "Oh, Jesus, help us!"


In town, the Public Health nurse was enjoying her day off, relaxing with her husband in front of a bright fire in their fireplace, snug and warm in spite of the swirling snowstorm outside. Suddenly, she felt uneasy.

"Honey," she said, "I don't know what's the matter, but I feel I must go out to the Bethel Beach Children's Home."

"You don't mean right now, do you?" he asked.

"Yes! Right now!"

"But, honey, this is your day off. You give a good five days a week to running all over helping people. Isn't that enough?"

"I know," she said, getting up and heading to the closet for her coat, "but I feel I must go out to the Bethel Beach Home right away!"

"But it's snowing so hard, and it's a long way out there. You could get stuck in the snow. I can't let you go out there alone."

"Then come along with me," she said as she plunged a foot into her fur-lined snow boot.

"I hope this isn't some wild goose chase," he grumbled as they stepped out into the storm and trudged gingerly to their car.

To be continued...

Have you ever been prompted to do something that felt like a "wild goose chase"? What did you do?

Monday, April 15, 2013

No Water! Part 3

Daddy struggled on through the waist-deep snow. At last, the highway came in sight. As he attempted to climb over the high snow berm, he slipped in the soft snow. He clawed his way back to the top and slid down the other side of the berm to the highway.

By this time, it was snowing again. He groaned to see the driveway rapidly filling with snow again. Slipping and sliding down toward the big house, he finally staggered up the stairs and through the back door into the kitchen.

Mother looked up from the counter where she had begun to prepare the evening meal. Seeing his sagging shoulders and the despair of defeat on his countenance, she asked gently helped him out of his snowy outer garments. "Did you find the trouble, honey?"

"Yes." A groaned escaped his lips. "Someone has dammed up the whole stream. There was nothing I could do about it." Then he added sheepishly, "Unless I had some dynamite!" A chill shook his frame.

"Oh, honey!" Mother exclaimed. "If only I could run a tub of hot water for you!"

"I'm too tired, anyway. All I want to do is go to bed."

Mother tucked an electric heating pad and a hot water bottle in bed with him. Immediately, he dropped off to sleep.

About an hour later, Mother went into the bedroom and discovered he had thrown off all his covers. He was thrashing around on the bed, moaning and groaning. The room was cold, so she quickly covered him up, but he threw them off again.

She touched his forehead. He felt extremely hot. She managed to insert a thermometer into his mouth for a few seconds. It read 103 degrees!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

No Water! Part 2

Five days without running water with seven preschool children! My mother could hardly wait for Saturday and water in the faucets.

The weather warmed up some, and it snowed about three feet before Saturday. The 200-foot driveway had to be shoveled by hand. They didn't own a plow. Friday night, another foot of snow fell.

Saturday dawned clear and cold. Dressed in white lace, the trees and bushes twinkled like rubies as they caught the rosy rays of the rising sun late that morning. Though not feeling well, after family devotions, Daddy started out.

First, the driveway had to be shoveled. He was just finishing up when the snowplow passed, dumping a wide five-foot pile of packed snow and gravel across the ten-foot wide driveway.

The driver laughed and waved as he drove on. Daddy groaned. More shoveling!

About noon, he dragged into the house. Mother hated to send him to the co-op for more water, but she couldn't wait until he checked out the reservoir. The family needed water.

After getting more water, he ate a hurried lunch and set off to climb the mountainside to the reservoir. No time to rest--the sun would set by mid afternoon.

Carrying a pick and shovel, he started up the mountain. Waist-deep snow made it almost impossible to climb, but determinedly, he struggled on. At last, he reached the reservoir, pried off the lid, and chopped through the skim of ice.

No water! The reservoir was dry!

He pushed on through the deep snow to the dam and chopped through the ice. The creek bed was dry too!

Why? In the 27 years the Bethel Beach Home had been in operation, that stream had never gone dry.

Daddy forced his way on up the mountain. Another 200 feet upstream, he discovered the reason. Someone had built a sturdy dam across the entire creek bed, effectively blocking every drop of water from flowing down into our reservoir. We had been getting the overflow. During extremely cold weather, homeowners let their faucets run continuously so the pipes wouldn't freeze. The water level had dropped below the top of the dam. No wonder we weren't getting any water.

Knowing he could do nothing about it, Daddy turned and plowed through the snow to get back down the mountainside. Although his feet were numb with cold and every nerve and muscle screamed at him to stop and rest, he didn't dare. Clouds were rolling in, bringing more snow. He floundered on. How could he tell his family there would be no water for a long time?

To be continued...

Have you ever faced an impossible situation? What did you do?

Monday, April 8, 2013

No Water!

The year was 1951. The place was Juneau, Alaska. I was five years old. My  parents had been operating a children's home for two years that bitterly cold January day.

"Mommy, there's no water!" I said, as I exited the bathroom.

"Oh, no!" she gasped. She whirled from the stove to the kitchen sink and turned on the faucet. Two tiny drops slowly fell into the sink, then nothing.

Frantically, she raced down the stairs to the basement laundry room and turned on the faucet in the big, square sink there. A tiny trickle, then nothing.

"Oh, dear Lord! What am I going to do now!" she groaned and sagged against the laundry tub.

Behind her, sorted into piles, lay the laundry that needed to be washed in the wringer washing machine that morning. Beside her, diapers soaked in a bucket. There were no disposable diapers nor laundromats in those days, and she had a seven preschool-aged children to do laundry for, including three under two years of age. Upstairs, the breakfast dishes waited to be washed.

She hated to disturb my father at his job at Alaska Coastal Airlines, but this was an emergency. "Honey, our water pipes must be frozen. Would you please bring us some water on your lunch hour?"

Our water supply came from a mountain stream diverted by a partial dam into our private six-foot square reservoir about 300 feet up the mountain across Glacier Highway from the Bethel Beach Children's Home. A buried pipe carried the water from the reservoir to the house.

My dad arrived home about half past noon. He unloaded two 10-gallon milk cans full of water. "I called someone to thaw out the pipes, but with this extreme cold spell, they are all booked up until tonight," he told my mother. "One of the fellows at work suggested that I stop by the dairy co-op to get water."

"Well, at least I can make more milk," Mother said. "At breakfast, the children finished up the pitcher of powered milk I mixed up last night."

After Daddy went back to work, Mommy put us all down for naps. Then, she washed up the dishes. Next, she hand-washed the diapers and other essential items and hung them up to dry on the rack over the floor furnace grate. She saved all the used water to flush the toilet as needed.

That evening after dinner, the thawers finally arrived. Dragging in two heavy-duty electric cables attached to a generator on their pickup, they clamped the ends to the pipes on either side of the section that might be frozen. Then, they sent a strong electric current through the pipes. Hopefully, the heat would warm the pipes and melt the ice.

They waited for the ice to melt and the water to start flowing into the faucets, but nothing happened.

"Let's try up by the highway," one of the men suggested.

They moved the equipment up to the end of the 200-foot driveway and dug through the snow and frozen ground with a pick and shovel to expose the pipe. When the cables were attached, they again ran the generator. While they waited, the men came back to the house for hot coffee.

My father imagined the dollar signs rolling. How would he pay the bill?

My mother encouraged us kids to pray. Surely God would answer our prayers.

Still no water--even after they again moved the equipment across the highway to another section of pipe.

Way after midnight, they finally decided the trouble must be at the reservoir. It was too dark and the climb too treacherous to attempt before daylight. My dad had to work all week, and it was dark when he arrived home in the evenings, so we had to go five days without running water before he could investigate.

To be continued...

Have you ever had an experience when God doesn't answer your prayers right away?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In a Matter of Minutes Part 5

Fall was rapidly approaching. I still had no money for college. Time was running out!

While I was working at the library at 50 cents an hour, a bulletin arrived arrived from the Ford Foundation announcing an "Earthquake Relatedness" Scholarship for those who had lost a family member, property, or employment due to the Good Friday Earthquake. I was eligible. The scholarship would cover up to full expenses according to the student's need.

But there was one catch. This scholarship was available only to those attending universities in Alaska. I could not use it at Seattle Pacific College.

Although not what I expected, I knew this was God's answer to my prayers. I decided to apply to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and immediately felt peace that I had done the right thing. At least I would be able to continue my education. The week before school started that fall, I received my letter of acceptance and a scholarship covering full expenses for the year. And all of my credits transferred.

Not only that, but other needs were supplied. Seward, located in the coastal region of South Central Alaska, has much milder winters than Fairbanks in the Interior. In Fairbanks, winter temperatures often dip to 50 and 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit for extended periods of time. A fur parka was a necessity then, and I did not have one. A good, moderately priced parka cost around 500 dollars, and I had no money. My scholarship paid for a parka, all my books, and even spending money. When I graduated from the University three years later, the scholarship had covered all my expenses for those years.

God not only met my need. He gave me the desire of my heart. The first week of school that fall of 1964, I met a young man at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I married him three weeks after we graduated in 1967. We've been married nearly 46 years now.

I often laughingly say, "God had to send an earthquake to introduce me to my husband."

Has God met your needs in a surprising way?