Friday, May 29, 2015

No Water! Part 3

Sick and exhausted, my dad (Bob Cousart) had discovered that their reservoir up on the mountain above the Bethel Beach Children's Home was dry. Farther upstream, someone had built a bigger dam, completely blocking the stream. In her own words, my mother's story continues:

Bob 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.

I looked up from the counter where I had begun to prepare the evening meal. Seeing his sagging shoulders and the despair of defeat on his countenance, I helped him out of his snowy outer garments and asked gently, "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!" I 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."

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

About an hour later, I 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 I quickly covered him up, but he threw the blankets off again.

When I touched his forehead, he felt extremely hot. I managed to insert a thermometer into his mouth for a few seconds. It read 103 degrees! What could I do?

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

Next, I called the doctor's office and then his home. No answer.

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

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

I 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 I drive the car out even if I could manage to get Bob 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, I knelt by the bed, and the children did too. "Oh, Jesus, help us!" I prayed. "Oh, dear Jesus, please heal my darling!"

Have you ever been in desperate need of help? Tell me about it.

To be continued!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Water Part 2

Five days without running water in a children's home with seven preschool children! My mother could hardly wait for Saturday when my father could investigate why they had no water from the faucets. Her story continues:

The weather warmed up some, but it had 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 icy 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, Bob started out.

The first thing Bob had to do before he could climb up the mountain to check the reservoir was to shovel the driveway. He was just finishing up when the snowplow passed, dumping a five-foot pile of packed snow and gravel across the entrance to the ten-foot wide driveway.

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

About noon, he dragged into the house. I hated to send him to the co-op for more water, but I couldn't wait until after he checked out the reservoir. The children 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 across the creek 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.

Bob 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 only 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, Bob turned and plunged back through the snow 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?

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

To be continued!

Friday, May 15, 2015

No Water!

The year was 1951. The place was Juneau, Alaska. I was five years old. My  parents, Bob and AnnaMae (Personeus) Cousart, had been operating the Bethel Beach Children's Home for two years. Here is my mother's account of what happened that bitterly cold January day:

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

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

Frantically, I 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!" I groaned and sagged against the laundry tub.

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

I hated to disturb my husband 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 husband 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 me. "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," I said. "At breakfast, the children finished up the pitcher of powered milk I mixed up last night."

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

That evening after dinner, the men finally arrived to thaw the pipes. 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 husband imagined the dollar signs rolling. How would he pay the bill?

I encouraged the 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. Bob had to work all week, and it was dark when he arrived home in the evenings, so we had to make-do for five days without running water with a house full of young children before he could investigate.

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

To be continued!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

God Is Never Too Late Conclusion

Last week, I posted Part One of a testimony written by my mother about an occurrence while I was in high school. Here is the dramatic conclusion:

Since our arrival in Seward in February, 1960, we too had been living by faith. Our church was small and unable to support us financially. We had only $30.00 in promised support each month. The cost of living was very high in Alaska. We had four teenagers to feed and clothe. Our two oldest girls were buying a lot of their own clothes with babysitting money, which helped, but they all had healthy appetites and were growing. Sometimes we didn't know where the next meal was coming from, but God was never too late.

The Cousart Family & the Personeuses in front of the Seward,Alaska, church
"Lord, You won't let us down this time either," I breathed as I finished packing our lunches.

"Hey, Mom!" Our 6-feet 1-inch, 13-year-old son, Robert Paul, stood in the doorway. "The kids are wondering what's holding you up. They want to get going."

"Mother, we're all ready and waiting," AnnaLee, our 14-year-old daughter, declared, as she squeezed past her brother and entered the kitchen. "We'll be late if we don't leave soon."

"I know, dear," I answered, giving the already clean counter a final swipe and hanging the dish cloth on the rod. "Honey," I sighed and turned to my husband, "I guess we'd better tell them our problem."

"Yeah, I guess so. Come on." And he led the way to the living room, where the young people were sitting around laughing and talking. They sobered quickly when they saw our grave expressions.

"Young people," my husband began, "I don't know what we're going to do. We've been praying for gas money, but so far, it hasn't arrived. We know you don't have enough money either, so let's pray again, right now." We gathered in a circle, and he led in prayer.

Our living quarters occupied the back of the church building. A boardwalk led along the side of the building to the parsonage door. Just as Bob finished praying, we heard loud footsteps, someone running up the boardwalk.

The doorbell rang vigorously. Before anyone could get there, the door burst open. In came a young man who had recently moved to Seward from Cordova and was now attending our church.

"At work a few minutes ago," he exclaimed, breathlessly, "the Lord impressed on me not to wait until Sunday to pay my tithes but to bring them over to you right away. I asked my boss if I could take my coffee break early. I don't know what this is all about, and I don't have time to find out." He laid some money on the table. "Gotta run! Bye!" And he rushed out the door.

"Praise the Lord!" We all burst out in praises to God.

Quickly, we gathered our things and hurried to the car. Not only was there enough money to buy the gas, but we discovered enough extra to buy a can of pop for each teen to drink with the sack lunches.

God is never too late, and sometimes He even adds an extra treat!

Has God ever given you more than you asked for? I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

God Is Never Too Late

This is a "nugget of faith" story my mother, AnnaMae Personeus Cousart, told often. Although I remember the incident, I am writing it from her point of view.

"What should we do?" my husband, Bob, asked softly as he entered the kitchen where I was wiping the counter top after packing sack lunches for our family. "The young people are all here now, and we still don't have the money for gas. I guess I have to tell them we can't go."

Bob & AnnaMae Cousart & family with the Personeuses in Seward, Alaska
It was Friday afternoon in 1960. We were missionaries in Seward, Alaska. A youth rally was to be held that evening in Anchorage, 130 driving miles north of us. Our small group of teens needed the fellowship of other Christian young people, so we had promised to drive them to the rally in our nine-passenger station wagon.

The young people had received permission for an early dismissal from school, and now stood in our living room, sack lunches in hand to eat on the way.

But we didn't have the money for gas, neither did our small church. We had no credit cards either, but we felt confident that God would supply the money. Each day Bob had gone to the post office expecting to find a "blessed letter," as the students from his Bible school had called them. Yet, not a penny had arrived. We kept praying and believing, but nothing had come in the mail all week.

While making our egg salad sandwiches, my thoughts had drifted back to my childhood. I had a rich heritage of living by faith. My parents, Charles and Florence Personeus, were the first missionaries of their denomination to Alaska. [Read their story in my book, Frontiers of Faith. (Available at

In 1917, they had traveled by train and steamer from New York State to Juneau, Alaska, arriving one cold, wet November evening. Certain they were called to this ministry, their only promise of support was Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," and Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." They had fulfilled their end of the bargain, and God had always fulfilled His, maybe not as quickly as they may have wished, but God was never too late.

It seemed that God was really cutting it close to the line this time!

When have you felt like this?

To be continued...