Monday, June 25, 2018

Two Pioneer Books

We have been without internet/phone/TV for NINE days.  Our router blew out in a thunderstorm Saturday night a week ago.  Supposedly AT&T "overnights" a new router/modem when these things happen.  Yes, they overnighted it - mailed on a Friday and we received on a Monday morning - but the entire process didn't start until after six days after we called.  And of course we received the run-around every time we called.  IF, that is, we could understand the service representative.

Anyway, the up side was - I did a lot more reading than usual.  Which was a good thing.  Two of the books I read were pioneer books.  Giants In The Earth was recommended on Good Reads as a good fictional example of non-varnished pioneer life.  It is a thick book - 453 pages - and translated from Norwegian.  Several families went way out into Nebraska and fought their way against the land, the weather, the grasshoppers, and the loneliness.  And yes, it is a non-varnished account, but hard to put down.   It's primarily the story of OlĂ© and his wife Beret, but the other families figure in as well.  Life was hard.  They were unsure of their religion as well, which made life even harder.  Beret fought crippling depression.  As the book progressed, things got better, but I found the ending to be strangely unsatisfying.

Over the weekend I read O Pioneers, the classic by Willa Cather.  I'd not read any of her novels - just a short story each year in 11th grade English, but felt a connection because two years ago, when we went to Grand Manan for our puffin cruise, the place where we stayed for two nights was her summer haunt for many years.  She actually built her own summer place on this property.

View from our duplex on Grand Manan.  Cather built her own home off to the right of this photo (not visible  - hidden in the woods from all the other cabins).)
O Pioneers is the story of Alexandra, a strong female protagonist, who inherits the family farm to manage.  Her brothers are not as capable as she, although she is careful to include them in the decisions and the eventual splitting of the property.  She is able to do much better with her share than they are with theirs.  A younger brother is spoiled by Alexandra.  It's another novel that gives a realistic picture of Nebraska pioneer life.  Part of the plot does involve an affair; it's not gratuitous and it's not graphic.  But it's there.  I feel like I have a better understanding now of Cather and her work.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Things That Neither Prove Nor Disprove True Faith

I read this in John MacArthur's Romans 1-8 commentary, and thought it was something I had never seen before in this listing format.  It is good food for thought.

Things that neither prove nor disprove true faith:
  1. Visible morality.
  2. Intellectual knowledge of God's Word.
  3. Religious involvement.
  4. Active ministry in Christ's name.
  5. Conviction of sin and sense of guilt.
  6. Assurance of salvation (Depends on what the "assurance" is in.)
  7. Experience of a past decision (if no evidence of Godly living since then).
Reliable proofs of saving faith:
  1. Love for God.
  2. Repentance of and hatred for sin.
  3. Genuine humility.
  4. Devotion to God's glory.
  5. Prayer.
  6. Selfless love.
  7. Separation from the world.
  8. Spiritual growth.
  9. Obedient living.

Friday, June 15, 2018

NOT ALONE and WORDS WANTED - book review

A few weeks ago I stopped at a church yard sale being held in a fellowship hall.  (This spring has been very sparse for yard sales - just not enough energy to go to a lot of them - but this one I did go in to.)  The pastor was manning a table that included all the books from the dismantlement of their church library.  I picked up, along with a number of other books, the small missionary biography titled Not Alone, by Eunice V. Pike, and finally had opportunity to read it now that summer is here.

Eunice Pike and her translation partner Florrie were the first single female missionaries sent out by Wycliffe Bible Translators in the 1940s.  Their job was to reduce to writing the language of the Mazatec Indians of southern Mexico.  Then they taught reading to the people, and used their linguistic skills to translate the New Testament (and some Old Testament passages) into the Mazatec language.  A formidable task for anyone!  The first book mentioned the sequel, Words Wanted, which I then picked up off of eBay.  It is similar in writing style and events to the first one, just in a slightly later time period.  Eunice's partner had married (though she still worked on the translation with her husband) and Eunice had several other ladies as her partner in this great work.

This author has a good narrative writing style.  She tells the stories as they occurred, of the people of the tribe who saw them as curiosities, but also came to love them as women who cared deeply about the people for whom they were devoting their lives.

Progress was slow but constant.  They learned that singing was one of their best tools, and they often either translated or wrote Gospel songs to help the people.  They had to learn to handle social situations with spiritual implications, such as - How should they respond when their landlord took a second wife?

These books are long out of print (they were published by Moody Press in the 1960s about events that occurred in the 1940s) but should not be.  They are part of a spiritual legacy of Bible translation and missionary work that exists down through the ages.

Here, from the end of Words Wanted, is a lengthy example of the inspiration of these books:

"We could see the progress out easily when we looked at Rafael and Celia.  They had begun gathering their children around them every evening while he read a bit from the Bible, then she prayed in Spanish, and he in Mazatec.

"I went calling on them twice a week, and in order to encourage them to further Bible study I would say, 'Show me something pretty.'  They could usually do it.  One time they turned to the portion on the resurrection, and another time to Ephesians 5.  He liked verse 28 especially well.  'So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.  He that liveth his wife liveth himself.'  His comment was, 'The men who beat their wives ought to hear that.'

"He stood up and stretched out one arm.  With the other hand he pointed to it and asked, 'Would a man beat his own arm?' Celia and I shook our heads.  'Then why should he beat his wife?'  Celia became busy with her apron--I suspect she had been beaten in the past.  Raphael sat down again and with a chuckle of approval said, 'This Book tells about everything.'

"Rafael was working long hard days with the coffee harvest, but he read the Scriptures just the same. Celia said of him, 'He gets tired working, then he prays and that rests him.'

"Usually only Celia was at home when I went calling, but if I did happen to go when Rafael was there, he could not keep silent.  He was bursting to tell about his conversation with this man, and with that one.  At such times I would just sit and listen.  Talking with one man he had said, 'How do I know that this Book is true?  I will tell you how.  It says that when we believe in Jesus Christ that He will clean us up.  I know He has because I do not have the same thoughts that I did before.  I am not the same as I used to be.'

"Rafael had a big oven in the back of his yard, and once a week he would make bread for sale.  When someone came to buy, Celia would slip up behind Rafael and say, 'Tell him what you just read.'  Or she would be more specific, 'Tell him about the man who took a piece of wood and cooked his bread with one-half and worshiped the other.'  So Rafael told his customer about Isaiah 44:15-17, and he made his lesson more graphic with, 'Pinch it and see if it will holler.  Why worship something that cannot even holler when you pinch it?'

"I do not know how many people he talked to, but one day after I had walked through the village market with his oldest daughter she said to me, 'Did you notice that man standing near the boy who was selling bananas?'  I had not noticed but she went on anyway.  'He is very much interested in the Word of God.'  He had been calling at the house to read with Rafael.  I wished she had told me when we were there; I would have been thrilled to see anyone who had been taught things in the Bible by another Mazatec."

Friday's Fave Five, 6-15-18

LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

1.  As I type, I can hear the wonderful sound outdoors of the man who is pressure cleaning our driveway, sidewalk, and porch.  I've been wanting to get this done for a long time.  It is a great sound!!

2. We've been using the porch a lot this week.  It's the perfect place for early morning reading.  So glad we got it cleaned up so that it is usable again.

3. Yesterday I got some needed items at a bookstore in a nearby town, and then we went to eat at Mike's favorite place.  Afterward, he asked if I wanted dessert.  Well, we were near the Cheesecake Factory that opened a year or two ago - we have never been, so I suggested going there.  Wow.  Two pieces of cheesecake there are one too many.  Sorry that this shows the desserts half-eaten - I should have taken the pic before starting in.  However - they were delicious.   Mike had red velvet, and I had caramel turtle fudge.  Those were two of about 30 choices!!  I see why the Cheesecake Factory is such a phenomenon.
4. Mike has been teaching a four-week course at our church on Spiritual Warfare.  He studied very, very hard for each Wednesday night session, and he really did a good job.  This Wednesday was the final class.  It was a great experience, but I think he's glad it's done.  He puts a lot of pressure on himself to do a good job.  I was proud of him!

5. Finally - a bird shot from this week.  Prairie Warbler, singing on a limb on a rural road near our home.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Insanity of God - a Book Review

This is the story of a missionary to one of the most dangerous places on earth - Somalia - who is plunged into the depths of despair, and wonders if ministry in places such as that is even worth it.

Nik and his wife Ruth attempted to work with Somali Christians to provide material relief and spiritual encouragement.  Most of the Christians they knew died when their faith was found out.  The Ripkens could not live in Somalia - too dangerous - but they lived in nearby Kenya and Nik made trips in and out as Ruth manned the supply lines from Nairobi.  Life in Somalia was brutal.  Little food or medical care existed anywhere in the country.  Rival war lords each ruled their own turf.  The country was in anarchy, but the Ripkens did what they could.   Then tragedy struck them personally.

The first half of the book includes the above narrative.  The second half is filled with stories from where Nik traveled the world -- Russia, Ukraine, China, and more -- and interviewed Christians who have undergone great persecution.  He discovered from their stories that persecution is what purifies the church.  The people who had undergone the most were the ones who had the greatest glory in their salvation.  All of this provided healing for the tragedy they had undergone.

Nik struck me as being a big of a missionary renegade, but also one who was truly searching for the meaning of persecution and troubles for Christians.  It was a good read and worth it for one who is pondering the meaning of persecution for those who are saved.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday's Fave Five, 6-8-18

LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

1. Forgot this last week.  Mike was able to select a retirement gift from his job - he had about 20 choices.  We very much needed the knives, and they came in a set with something I've wanted for years--a Kitchen Aid mixer!  I have not used it yet, but will soon.  I feel kinda bad, his choosing a retirement gift that was something I want - but don't feel so bad as not to use it.  :-)

2. And this is a clean porch.  We have a lot of trouble every spring with pine pollen, which blows in through the screens for several weeks, and has been so bad the past few years that we can't even use the porch much in the spring.  Today we took all the furniture outside, hosed it and the cushions off, and swept and hosed down the porch floor.  We will really enjoy it now that it is cleaned out.

3. I had lost a set of sheets - my favorite ones.  They are dark red and are very comfortable, but I could not find them anywhere.  (Confession:  I blamed one of my kids, thinking the sheets had maybe "walked out the door" without my knowledge.) :-)  Well, during an extensive clean-out of the linen closet, I discovered them at the back of a shelf, not the one that sheets are kept on.  I just now put them on the bed for the first time in several years.  Nice to have found them.

4. Baseball--baseball--baseball.  We love college baseball, and this is the weekend of the Super Regionals.  This weekend, and for the next couple of weeks of the College World Series, we will have the opportunity to get a glut of it.  

5. I love to watch and photograph birds, and got this shot this week.  An indigo bunting against the leaves.  It takes about a hundred bad shots to get a good one, but it is very nice to get that nice one once in awhile.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Friday's Fave Five 6-1-18

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

I'm so glad to be able to post on Friday's Fave Five again after such a long absence due to log-in issues.

1. This was actually finished a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't get a picture of it until yesterday.  I made it using a crochet stitch that a dear friend, now in heaven, taught me how to use some thirty years ago.  I love the variety of the variegated yarn. 

2. New sheets.  You can see the pillowcases in the picture above.  They're Cannon brand - I got them on eBay for considerably less $$ than lesser thread count Cannon sheets in a store.  I am a sucker for new sheets and new kitchen towels.

3. Closets cleaned out (at least the major ones) and a lot of stuff ready to go to the thrift store.  I was going to have a yard sale but decided against it.  Too much work.  :-)

4. Wendy's fifty-cent Frosties.  We enjoyed another one last night. Sure hope this special doesn't last too long - this could become an addiction.
Image result for wendy's frosty

5. It's been a week out of school, and I still have that feeling of relief several times each day.  I love what I do - but the end of the year, especially this year, is still very welcomed.  I'm sleeping more each night and napping each day.  Getting rested up!!