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Bonus Features
The Trouble With Gavin Bonus Features
After attending “Revelation Opened” meetings by Evangelist Kenneth Cox, Gavin discovers new truths in the Bible. When Elder Cox invites people to make a decision for Christ, Gavin and Lindsey go forward to be baptized. 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jul 18, 2014
The Trouble With Gavin Bonus Features
After throwing knives in a game of “Stretch”, Uncle Jaden wants to quit. When he walks away, Gavin decides to scare him. He takes aim and lets his knife fly. But instead of swishing past him, the knife hits Jaden right in the middle of his back!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jul 11, 2014
The Trouble With Gavin, Chapter 5: Math Blues
Uncle Jaden, who is Gavin’s age, suggests they try smoking some homemade cigarettes. After coughing and choking through the experiment, Grandma Kay catches on to what they’ve been doing. What will she do?   Grandma began clucking her tongue. “He had a friend who persisted with the filthy habit. He tarred up his lungs something fierce, and died young.” Grandma shot a look at each of them over her glasses. “Sure hope you boys never do something as foolish as that,”    “Uh, yes ma’am,” they both mumbled in agreement.   “Hey, you ready for a swim?” Jaden asked Gavin suddenly.   “Am I ever!” Gavin’s eyes lit up.   Racing down to the water, the boys charged into the creek. Water flew everywhere. The cold water enveloped Gavin as he dove in. When he surfaced, Gavin hoped the tobacco smell was washed away—for good. Why did it seem so many of his adventures turned into disasters? How could he make better choices?   It was Monday morning. The class bell would ring any minute. Leaping up two steps at a time, Gavin slid into his desk.   “Turn in your papers,” Mr. Saunders, his math teacher, announced shortly after class started.    Gavin reached into his backpack. His homework paper was stuffed into his math book. He glanced at it and groaned. He’d forgotten to finish those last nine problems. Oh well, he didn’t understand the first 21 problems. He’d probably have missed the last nine, too. Whatever. He handed his paper to Mr. Saunders.   While Mr. Saunders filled the white board with division problems, Gavin examined the plastic ruler he’d pulled from the cereal box yesterday. It was so cool. It changed designs with every angle of the light. When he looked through it, everything looked hot pink. He fascinated himself with it completely until Mr. Saunders’ explanation was over.   “Your assignment is page 78, all the odd problems,” Mr. Saunders voice was even.   Gavin flipped to the page and stared at the title. “Dividing Four-Digit Dividends” he read. It would help if I knew what the “Dividend” was. He sighed and pulled a clean sheet of paper from his notebook. He looked around the room. Heads were bent. Pencils were moving. Why did everybody else seem to understand how to do it?   After school he handed Mom his grade report as he walked toward the door.  Although Gavin was hurrying, he was not fast enough.   “Where are you going, Gavin?” Mom’s voice caught him. “You’ll have to face your father tonight,” she said ominously, her eyes still studying his grade card. “He expects more from you than this.”   Instantly Gavin’s hand froze to the doorknob. He pondered just what he would face. Then with a firm grip, he opened the door. Dessert first, he mumbled under his breath. Yes, dessert first. If he was going to have to face something unpleasant, he might as well throw some football first.   Later that evening as he finished his meal at the table, Gavin hoped somehow that Mom would forget to mention his grades. But when Dad wiped his mouth with his napkin at the end of supper, she lowered the boom.   “Here are your son’s grades,” she handed the grade card to Dad.    Dad’s eyes scanned the report. He completely missed the “A” in PE, but zeroed-in on the “D” in math with amazing accuracy.   “What kind of a grade is this?” he boomed. Gavin wasn’t sure, but it seemed that his chair moved just a little with the small explosion.   “I don’t understand it,” he offered weakly.   Dad’s solutions were always simple.     “You will when I get done explaining it to you. We’ll start with ten problems,” Dad pushed his chair away from the table. When he returned to the kitchen, he had a notepad and pencil. “Get your book.”   Somehow, Gavin’s wandering attention half-way back in Mr. Saunder’s class was focused and clear with Dad right beside him at the kitchen table. Their pencils scratched problems for the next 66 minutes. Dad finally leaned back in his chair.    “You’ll need to practice your division every day when you get home from school,” Dad said.   “I have some flash cards!” Lindsey piped up helpfully. Gavin glared at her.    “I think I already know what one plus one is,” he snapped. Lindsey made a face.   “And of course,” Dad finished as he sat down with the newspaper, “you’ll do your homework before I get home for supper.” Gavin thought of mentioning that after school was his football practice time with David, but he decided against it.   “Yes, sir,” Gavin’s shoulders sagged. He looked accusingly at his math book  Why couldn’t it just fall off a cliff somewhere?   It was a long week, but finally Sunday arrived. He went to Jaden’s, and found him in his room.   “What’s happening?” Gavin asked sinking down into a bean bag.   “Hey, Gavin!” Jaden grinned. “I was just feeling like a game of Stretch. You up to it?”   “I’m ready,” Gavin said confidently.    Stretch was a game the boys played with knives. One would throw the knife into the ground. The other guy would have to stretch to get it while only moving one foot. Each throw would challenge the opponent until someone couldn’t reach the knife or would fall over trying to get it. Jaden handed Gavin a knife, and they went outside.   Mom was always interested in his outdoor adventures, and Gavin enjoyed describing them to her later. But somehow, he’d never gotten around to telling her about Stretch.  He had a funny feeling she wouldn’t approve of this game and some of the other dare-games Jaden had taught him. But Moms just worry too much, Gavin reasoned. His heart began to race as Jaden drew a line where they’d both stand. He couldn’t wait to pit his knife-throwing skill against Jaden’s.   Gavin balanced  the blade snuggly in his fingertips as he aimed and released the first throw.   Fffft. The shiny blade sank into the patch of grass to the left.    “Let’s see you get that one,” he gloated.   Without a word, Jaden slowly leaned over, stretching, and grasped the handle of the knife. He worked himself back up and turned grinning to Gavin.   “Alright, here’s yours,” he challenged releasing his knife with a quick flick of his wrist. The knife sank neatly into the grass.   Back and forth they took turns. The sun’s warmth was beginning to penetrate their arms. Gavin’s last throw remained just out of his reach, and Jaden finally had to admit defeat.    “Eehaw!” Gavin hollered and went to retrieve his knife.   “I’m tired of this,” Jaden said. “Let’s go down to the creek for a swim.”    “Hey, I’m not ready to quit!” Gavin objected.    But Jaden was already starting down toward the water. Gavin fumed to himself.   Jaden always wants to quit when he’s losing. It’s not fair!   Suddenly an idea flashed into his mind. He smiled. I’ll give him a good scare.   Unfortunately, Gavin didn’t take any time to let his idea percolate through his cerebrum. (That’s the part of the brain where we draw on our “good sense”.)    Carefully aiming his knife to the right of Jaden’s retreating form, Gavin let the knife fly. Then in disbelief, he watched as the knife found its mark, not to the right of Jaden, as planned, but square in the middle of his back!    This can’t be happening! Gavin’s mind screamed as the action went into slow motion.   Jaden yelled as he stopped short, and his arms sprang out to his sides. His knees crumpled, and he began to fall backwards on top of the knife that was sticking into his back!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jul 4, 2014
The Trouble With Gavin, Chapter 4: Something Smells
The story so far: Gavin, diagnosed with Legg Perthese Disease, has to use crutches and stay off his right leg for nearly two years! At first he is crushed, but he begins to discover ways he can still be active and have fun.   
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jun 27, 2014
The Trouble With Gavin, Chapter 3: "Crip"
Gavin begins to have sharp, stabbing  pains in his hip. These pains mysteriously show up only at night. After a repeat of interrupted nights, Mom and Dad decide take Gavin to the doctor and find out what is really wrong.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jun 20, 2014
The Trouble With Gavin Bonus Features
Gavin and his buddies build a fort in the vacant lot across the street. Their campfire gets away from them nearly burning down the woods and injuring his friend. Gavin is left with the regret of losing his father’s trust. Can he ever get it back? 
Gavin thrashed back and forth on his bed. Suddenly he cried out as a stabbing pain left him breathless.
Mom burst into his room and turned on the light. “What is wrong, Gavin?” She stood staring down on his contorted face. He was grasping his leg and still unable to speak.
“It hurts! It hurts!” he finally said between clenched teeth.
“What hurts, son?” she asked anxiously.
Pulling back the covers, Mom saw Gavin’s tight grip around his upper thigh. When the pain finally subsided, she examined his leg. 
“I can’t see anything, Gavin,” she shook her head. “Did you pull a muscle climbing trees or playing football?” she asked.
“Maybe, but I don’t remember hurting or straining it,” Gavin winced. 
Finally after rubbing soothing ointment on his leg and trying to make him comfortable, she turned off the light. He listened to her slippers scuff across the kitchen linoleum on her way back to her bedroom. Gavin turned over in the darkness and drifted back to sleep.
The next morning was Sabbath. Gavin slipped into a seat in the Junior division of Sabbath School as the leader was talking. He hoped no one noticed him. Tricia and Kelly were whispering in front of him. Suddenly he wished he’d looked in the mirror once more. His hand went up to his head to smooth the unruly blond waves. He could only  imagine just which way they’d decided to stick out today! 
“OK,” the leader, Mrs. Peterson, was finishing her explanation. “We’ll have the girls and guys be on separate teams for the Bible quiz.”
Jason turned to Scott and rubbed his hands together. “This ought to be a cinch,” he grinned.
“The first question is, ‘How many sons did Jacob have?’ Girls?” Mrs. Peterson paused. 
Kaitlyn shot up a hand. “Twelve.” The girls cheered as Mrs. Peterson nodded and put up a point.
“Great!” Mrs. Peterson chose another card. “Boys, this one is yours. ‘What city was Saul traveling to when Jesus spoke to him?’” Mrs. Peterson looked around the room. The boys were murmuring to one another. Gavin was on the edge of his seat. He motioned trying to get Scott’s attention, but he didn’t see Gavin. A hand went up from the group of guys. 
“Darin?” Mrs. Peterson asked.
“Jericho,” he said confidently.
Mrs. Peterson slowly shook her head, “Nooooooo.” She looked around and  spotted Sasha’s hand raised. She pointed to her.
“Wasn’t it Damascus?” Sasha asked.
“You got it!” Mrs. Peterson smiled. Darin slapped his forehead. The boys groaned.
I knew that, thought Gavin as he slid back into his seat. He might as well just look  on. The guys were not going to ask for his help. He slumped in his chair and folded his arms across his chest. 
All the other kids in Sabbath School went to the church school. They knew each other. Gavin’s dad didn’t see why Gavin needed to go to the church school. He’d gone to public school all his life. Gavin brushed away the disappointment. He was just glad that Dad had finally decided to join Mom in coming to the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath. As the exciting stories of the Bible were related, he longed to know more. Gavin’s thoughts were interrupted as Sabbath School came to an end. The kids were laughing and talking together in little groups. Gavin stood slowly and started to walk to the door. 
“Hey, are you coming over tonight?” Jason’s voice rose above the others. He had  a pool, and Gavin loved to swim! With excitement mounting, he turned, but then noticed that Jason was talking with three guys and several of the girls. The kids drew closer to him as they excitedly made plans for a pool party.
Gavin slowly turned to leave. He might as well be invisible. As he went down the hall to meet his parents in church, he wondered if any of them even knew his name. After church, he spent the afternoon reading.
That night shortly after he’d gone to sleep, Gavin woke up again in a nightmare of pain. This time Dad rushed into his room, and went through the same questions Mom had asked him the night before. Mom stood behind Dad twisting the belt of her robe anxiously.
“Shouldn’t we just take him in to the doctor?” Mom suggested.
“He runs and plays all day,” Dad objected. “What could be wrong with him now in the middle of the night?” he sounded exasperated.
Gavin could see how it didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense to him either. But  the stabbing pain that awakened him these last few nights wasn’t imaginary.
“Exactly where does it hurt?” Dad asked.
Gavin rubbed his hip. “Somewhere in there. Deep in there.” After more  examination, Mom brought a heating pad and arranged it on his hip.
“Hope that helps, son,” she covered him again.
Night after night of this hip pain returned. Mom would rub Ben-Gay where it hurt, ice it, and massage it, but nothing brought relief. Finally, after everyone’s nerves were frazzled, Dad agreed to have a doctor examine it once and for all.
At the office the next day, the doctor had a series of x-rays taken. Then with Gavin perched on the examining table, the doctor asked him a list of questions. 
“Before you get dressed, I want you to walk over to that machine and then back toward me again,” the doctor said.
Gavin jumped down from the examining table and walked across the cool tiled floor and back again.
The doctor was rubbing his chin with his hand as he watched. Mom looked  anxiously at him.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jun 13, 2014
Aye, Treasure
This week's Guide features "Mel Fisher's Treasure." Watch a video about it below.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Apr 11, 2014
Stopped by the Police!
In this week's Guide editorial, "My Kind of Officer," Christian Felix was stopped by Sergeant Simonick. Check out this video to see why she stopped him and what happened next.
Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Mar 13, 2014
We Need Your Help!
We’re always making changes to Guide magazine based on what we hear you saying. Please share your opinions with us by taking this very short survey. Believe me, your opinions matter!
Posted by Kim Peckham on Mar 6, 2014
Sabbath Fun Center
Bored? Here are 20 creative, fun things you can do on the internet right now.
Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Jan 24, 2014
Ten Boom Tour
This week's Guide magazine features a the ten Boom family, heroes during World War II.
Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Jan 23, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
When Papa stopped at the border, it was still dark. To everyone’s relief, the tired inspectors gave their visas and suitcases a fast look. Finding nothing suspicious, they let them pass. By sunup they were well into Yugoslavia. Papa located the farm they’d been told about, and they quickly settled into their temporary home. Everyone worked in different sections of the farm. That way, if the government swooped in for an arrest, the others would be safe. The farm’s owner, Tivadar, and his family were kind, but harvesting crops was hard work. By the end of the day, all of Marika’s muscles ached. “Look, I’m getting calluses on my hands!” she complained one night. “I don’t like being a farmhand.”  “I know!” Ilona agreed. “I get so sweaty and dusty. And my hair stinks!” Even so, they were glad to be far from the Hungarian police. And their hosts spoke Hungarian, so the two families enjoyed visiting in the evenings. About 10 days later their fake Yugoslavian passports arrived. Tivadar loaned Papa a Yugoslavian license plate too, for the trip across the Austrian border. On the night they planned to leave, Tivadar explained how the crossing would work. “We’ll use two vehicles, yours and mine,” he said. “With the license plates and passports switched, the border authorities will think you’re
Yugoslavian. But before we cross, I want your family to split up; it will look less suspicious that way. We’ll stop about a mile before the border; I’ll leave my van to drive yours, Mr. Kovács, with your wife and Marika. You and your two younger daughters, Ilona and Erzsébet, will move into my van to ride with my friend Sven.” When it was time, Papa switched the plates, hiding the Hungarian plate under the van’s carpeting, along with their Hungarian passports and exit visas. He kept only the fake Yugoslavian papers out in the open to show at the border. The trip took several hours. When they finally stopped to switch places, Papa asked everyone to pray for God’s protection and guidance. Minutes later they approached the gate. To avoid problems, Mama and Marika pretended to rest with their heads down to hide the fact that their passport photos were of other people, not them. The inspector asked Mama to wake Marika for a better look, but they suspected nothing and soon waved both vehicles through. They didn’t stop again until the sun came up over the Austrian countryside. Papa then switched the plates back again, and returned the Yugoslavian plate and passports to the men. “Thank you for everything, Tivadar,” he said. “We owe you our freedom.” “Be safe,” Tivadar replied, climbing in with Sven. After the men drove away, Papa gathered the family close. “We must thank God for our safe passage,” he said. So they knelt on the safe, non-Communist Austrian soil and praised God for all He had done in their lives. After that, they took their time driving the final three hours into Vienna, where they stopped at a store for a snack. Papa treated them to bananas, because they were so hard to find in Hungary. Then they fearlessly asked a police officer for directions to the American-run refugee camp, where they would live until it was time to go to the United States. The purpose of the camp was to help refugees relocate to other countries of their choice, and to give the Austrian government time to make sure that they weren’t harboring murderers, political troublemakers, or any other bad people. If a Communist refugee was found unworthy of their protection, the Austrian government would send them back, where they’d face imprisonment. Despite such possibilities, the large camp was full of people, with new refugees arriving every day. Marika was especially happy with their modest apartment because she got to sleep in a real bed for the first time ever. To earn money for the trip to America, they all got jobs; Marika’s job was working in a bookbinding factory. In the evenings, she and Ilona attended a class to learn English from instructors who taught in German. One night, the two sisters decided to break their routine and go on an evening outing with Miklós, a Hungarian boy staying at the camp. “Don’t forget the camp curfew,” Papa warned. “You know people have been kidnapped late at night from the streets, and sent back to Hungary. You don’t want to end up in prison after coming this far, do you?” “No, Papa,” they agreed. But the evening was so much fun that they quickly lost track of time. Instead of hurrying to beat the curfew, they stopped for ice cream and laughed and talked until it got very late. When they finally made it back, the camp gate was locked. “What should we do?” Marika asked the others. “We’ll have to climb over the fence,” Miklós said. “Come on—we can make it!” Ilona urged. It took forever for the girls to get up and over without ruining their dresses. Once inside, Mama gave them a scolding, warning them again of the dangers. After nine months they finally had all their paperwork in order. The American government lent them the money for their plane tickets, and a Hungarian Seventh-day Adventist pastor in New York promised to sponsor them, as insurance to the government that they wouldn’t be a burden to their new homeland. By May of that year, the family had arrived safely in America. But good jobs were harder to find then they’d expected. After a few weeks of trying different places, they went to New Jersey. There, a chance encounter with Tamás, a Hungarian man, finally led them to a permanent home. “I’ll lend you money for an apartment,” Tamás told Papa. “And I know where you can all get jobs.” So they moved into a two-bedroom apartment, and soon everyone except Erzsébet, who was still too young to work full-time, had jobs in a nearby factory. At night Marika and Ilona continued to learn English at a local class. Adjusting to life in a new country was difficult, especially for Mama and Papa. They both knew very little English, and had to rely on Marika and Ilona to translate almost everything for them. But they all appreciated their freedom, especially the ability to worship and speak as they pleased without the fear of being imprisoned. With everyone pooling their money for a common cause, the family’s hard work eventually paid off. They were able to pay back the rent money to Tamás and the borrowed airfare from the American government. In time, they even saved enough to buy a home of their own. Later on Uncle Oszkár did find a way to get their belongings to America, including the family photo album. But back in Hungary life continued on for their relatives and friends much the same as it had for decades (until Communism fell in 1989). As for Marika, Illona, and the entire family, running to freedom had been hard, but well worth the effort.  
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
It was a long and sleepless night while the family waited to see if the police would arrive. When morning came without another knock on the door, the family decided to attend church as usual. The service was a good one: Uncle Oszkár gave a fine sermon. Marika looked around from her seat to see if anyone was watching them. She was especially curious about the family who’d told the government Papa had encouraged others to defect. But no one seemed to pay any extra attention to them. Except for her own anxious heart, it seemed like any other Sabbath morning. Afterward, Mama, Papa, Marika, and Erzsébet drove to visit Mama’s mother in Gödöllö one last time. Only Ilona stayed home, wanting to remember her grandmother in happier times. Once there, Marika walked slowly up the pathway, mentally taking a picture of her grandmother’s tiny whitewashed plaster house with its red-orange tile roof, surrounding apricot trees and humble outhouse. Inside, the dirt floor was swept clean, as usual. “Here, have some juice,” Grandma said to Marika. “I have plenty. Enjoy.” As she sipped the cool liquid, Marika watched her mother hand her good winter coat to Grandma. “You keep this for me,” Mama said. Marika waited to see if she would explain further, or if Grandma would question Mama’s intentions. Grandma looked a bit confused, but asked no questions before thanking her daughter with a kiss. Marika understood that Mother couldn’t take her heavy coat with them to Yugoslavia; if the authorities saw them taking winter clothes across the border for a vacation in warm September, they would immediately suspect them of not planning to return to Hungary. By giving it to Grandma instead, she was making sure someone she loved got to enjoy it. They stayed for two hours. When it was time to go, Grandma walked them out to the van, where Papa had another surprise for her—Mama’s precious sewing machine. This time Marika clearly saw suspicion fill Grandma’s eyes. Again, she did not ask questions, but took extra time to give each of them a thorough hug and kiss goodbye. Marika heard Papa sigh as he parked the van in their driveway. It was already dark—Sabbath was over. “Erzsébet, run inside and get Ilona,” Papa said. “We need to talk out here, where no one will hear us.” When they were all back in the van, Papa spoke. “I know not all of you wanted to leave Budapest,” he said. “But the time has come, and either we all go or nobody goes. So we’ll all leave together tonight, under the protection of darkness. You can each take one suitcase, but pack only clothes for warm days and cool nights, and whatever toiletries you absolutely must have. Your uncle Oszkár will come when it’s safe to collect whatever valuables are left; then we’ll get them later in America somehow.” Mama immediately got busy packing for herself and Papa while he got the van ready. In their bedroom the girls struggled to decide what to take and what to leave. “It’s not fair,” Ilona complained. “I don’t want to leave all my things behind.” Marika silently agreed, glancing sadly at the family photo album on the end table. It was terrible to leave such a thing behind. But like Mama’s coat, it would be a sure tip-off to the inspectors that they were leaving for good, which was almost never permitted. Then they’d send the whole family back and arrest Papa. No possession, no matter how precious, was worth that risk. “Just remember, you’re not the only one,” Marika chided her. With a firm snap of the suitcase latch, she added, “Mama has to leave her china dishes, her favorite sewing tools, even things Papa gave her when they were first married! But don’t you see, Ilona? She’d rather have Papa safe and sound with her than have the things he’s given her.” “Yes, and I have to leave all my friends from school,” piped in 17-year-old Erzsébet. “But even I know it’s better this way.” Ilona looked at her sisters and shrugged, unwilling to argue any further. Within one hour everything was ready. The whole family helped push the van out from the front yard so the other two families in the house wouldn’t hear them leave. If they didn’t know the family was gone, they couldn’t give the police any information. When they were far enough away, everyone got inside and Papa started the engine, turning the van toward his parents’ house nearby. Parking on the side of the road, he said, “Come, girls, help me with the honey cans.” All three girls helped roll the half-dozen metal milk cans, each filled with 50 pounds of valuable honey from Papa’s beekeeping business, down the hillside to the bushes below. The idea was to hide them in their grandparents’ yard, where a few handfuls of dry leaves and branches thrown on top would hide them from passersby. “My brother knows I’m leaving the honey here,” Papa said. “Our parents can use it or sell it after we’re gone.” After that, there was nothing left to do but drive to the border as fast as they could without attracting attention. For the entire four-hour trip Marika kept looking out the back window to see if they were being followed by the police. “What will we do once we’re in Yugoslavia?” she asked her parents. Papa gave Mama a sidelong glance. “There’s an Adventist family there that owns a big farm,” he said. “For a fee we can stay with them while we wait to get passports to cross the Yugoslavian border into Austria.” “A farm?” moaned Ilona. “What will we do on a farm? I’d rather be in the city.” “Never mind that,” he warned. “This isn’t a vacation, you know. We must stay where it’s safest, and that’s out in the country. Besides, we’ll have to work to earn our keep and to help pay for the passports. That won’t leave any time to miss city life.” “I think it will be fun,” Erzsébet said. “I like cows and horses.” “You would,” sighed Ilona. “Girls, that’s enough,” Mama scolded. “We’re almost at the border. Please keep quiet and let Papa do all the talking.” In just a few minutes inspectors would be looking at their exit visas and going through their suitcases. Marika would be glad to stop worrying about the police, but getting across the border was a frightening thing. This wasn’t like when she took her young cousin across the Austrian border on the train. For that trip her visa was used for its legally intended purpose—a round trip there and back. But this time was different; they weren’t coming back. That meant fooling the inspectors into believing this was just a vacation, in order to save Papa. Would their plan work? Or would the guards guess the truth and ruin their chance for freedom?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
The train stopped on the Hungarian side of the Austrian border. Special Hungarian guards with serious expressions came onboard to carefully check everyone’s paperwork.  Marika sat very still, papers in hand, waiting for their turn. “Marika,” Zsuzsi said softly in the dark. “I need to use the water closet, please.” She looked down, touched by her cousin’s polite request. “Not now,” she answered gently. “We must wait for the guards to check our papers. Then I’ll take you. Sit back and play with your doll, OK?” Zsuzsi obeyed, quietly rearranging her doll’s clothes and hair. One of the guards approached them with a tip of his hat.  “Your papers, miss—are they in order?” he asked, reaching for them. “Yes,” she nodded. The guard was young, not much older than Marika. She swallowed hard and held her breath. The guard’s eyes scanned the papers, looking for irregularities. In a lightning-quick move of efficiency, he folded and handed them back, tipped his hat again and moved on. Marika exhaled slowly and sat back. Thank You, God, for Your mercy, she prayed silently. After settling into her uncle’s home, Marika established a comfortable daily routine of lessons, meals, and playtime for her three young cousins. She liked her aunt and uncle and enjoyed experiencing a new culture. It was also a good opportunity to put her German to use and teach her cousins Hungarian. One night after dinner Marika overcame her shyness and asked a personal question. “Uncle Péter, why do you live in West Germany? Why don’t you live in Hungary with the rest of the family?” He thought for a minute, apparently choosing his words. “Well, when I was a younger man, I did live in Hungary. But one day the Russians brought me in for an interrogation, to ask questions about a photograph they possessed. It showed  me holding a gun.” “Were they mad, Uncle Péter?” “Yes, they were. So mad, in fact, that I decided to run away to England and become a British citizen. That’s where I met your aunt. Eventually we settled here because this is where she grew up.” That night Marika lay in her tiny bed considering his words. Uncle Péter had given up his parents, brothers, and his homeland, all to gain freedom. Just that day, she’d received a letter from Mama telling of Papa’s trip to America. He was staying with Hungarian friends who’d moved to Massachusetts and had become American citizens. Papa worked odd jobs to pay his way, and Mama did piecework in Budapest to support Ilona and Erzsébet. It was a miracle he’d gotten to go at all. The Hungarian government rarely let two family members be out of the country at the same time. In the days ahead Marika thought a lot about freedom and what it might be like to have it. In the spring Papa left America and came to West Germany to buy a new van. After visiting his brother, he planned to drive back to Hungary. “You can’t believe the feeling of freedom in America,” he told Uncle Péter his first night there. They’d gathered in the living room, drinking cold lemonade. “It’s amazing! In America, you don’t have to watch what you say or explain where you’re going. We even carried our Bibles out in the open on Sabbath, and no one cared!” Uncle Péter laughed. “Are things so rough in Hungary now that you must hide your Bibles?” he asked. Marika, who was listening nearby, spoke up. “Yes they are, Uncle,” she said, remembering those uncomfortable trolley rides to church. Looking at Papa, she added, “That’s a wonderful thing, Papa.” “Yes, it is. In fact, come outside with me to the new van. I want to show you something.” They crossed the dark yard to where it was parked. What could he possibly show her at night? When they reached the van, Papa turned them both away from the house. “I don’t really have anything to show you. I just wanted to speak in private. Can you keep a secret?” She nodded, bewildered yet curious. “OK, here goes. I’m thinking about moving the family to America. What do you think?” “Papa!” she breathed, shocked. “America? It’s so far away! We’d be like Uncle Péter, all alone without anyone!” He looked at her with a sympathetic smile. “Yes, I know, Marika.  But just think—there are plenty of good jobs there, and we’d be free! And we’d still have each other—Mama, Ilona, and Erzsébet. We’d all be together in a wonderful new land. Please think about it; you are the oldest, and I need all you girls in agreement if we go.” A few weeks later, after an emotional goodbye, Papa made the long drive home. Several months after that, Marika left too, returning home on the train. Once there, she looked for a seamstress job, but they were scarce in Hungary, and no shop would hire her without experience. After much searching, she found a job doing menial, uninteresting work. Yet she was grateful to have work at all. Papa’s glowing description of American jobs was sounding better all the time. In the meantime Ilona was happy, having found a way to attend high school at night.  Over the next year Papa continued talking about America. Eventually he told the family to get exit visas for Yugoslavia, just in case they had to leave in a hurry. The visas wouldn’t be hard to get, since Yugoslavia was a common vacation spot for Hungarians. But it also provided a route to Austria and beyond. A couple of years later, on a Friday in September, there was a late-night knock on the door. Twenty-one-year-old Marika watched with her sisters as Papa opened the door and peered out anxiously, not knowing what to expect. It was Uncle Oszkár, who immediately pulled Papa outside. A little later Papa came back inside, his face a map of worry. “Come,” he gathered everyone close. “We must all go outside, quickly.” Confused, Marika followed them outside to a far corner, away from the house. “I’m sorry to drag you out here,” Papa said, “but the house may be bugged with listening devices. Now hear me out. Your uncle told me about a family at church that got a letter from a friend of mine who left Hungary for a refugee camp in Vienna. Apparently this friend credits me and my stories of freedom in America with leaving his homeland for a better life.” “Oh, no!” Mama exclaimed.  Papa nodded grimly and went on. “The family has shown the letter to the government, and Oszkár says the police will surely come here in a day or two to question me, and probably take me to prison. If we want to go to America, I believe now is the time to go.” Mama put a trembling hand to her mouth. “How could members of our own church do such a thing?” she asked. After that, Papa sent the girls to bed while he and Mama stayed in the yard to discuss options and make hasty plans. Despite her faith, Marika lay in bed that night filled with fear. Would they have to leave right away? What if the police came before they could get away?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
Marika and Ilona sighed with relief when the man exited the trolley just one stop before the church. It had been a nerve-racking experience. As the year progressed, their weekly Sabbath journey became routine. Though they often received stares and nosy questions, their Bibles hadn’t been discovered. After two years in trade school the two sisters were sent by Mama and Papa to East Germany for the summer. In many ways it was a wonderful break. They stayed at an Adventist academy, where they learned German and helped out in the garden, greenhouse, and kitchen. They also made many new friends. Each day, Marika watched out the window and listened as students practiced beautiful hymns on their horns in the patchy morning fog. But there were dangers, too. Just like Hungary, East Germany was also under Communist occupation, and the woods were full of Russian soldiers. One day Marika and a friend walked several kilometers to Friedensau to explore a bookstore. They had fun, but the walk home past the darkening woods was scary. The sounds of soldiers in the distance made them afraid of being kidnapped or hurt. It was a great relief when they reached the school safe and sound. By the next fall 17-year-old Marika and 16-year-old Ilona were back in Hungary for their third and last year of seamstress school. As the school year continued, Marika started looking ahead. She felt eager to make a public commitment to God, so she and Ilona began Bible study for baptism. On a Friday evening in late spring, they passed the church board’s baptismal interview. The next morning they stood with Uncle Oszkár, who was the head pastor, in the baptismal of Hungary’s largest Adventist church. Marika went first. She was excited, but felt scared to be in the water, because she’d never learned to swim. Her uncle prayed over her, and then whispered solemnly, “Here we go.” He lowered her under the water and then brought her slowly upright. When she looked out at the congregation, she could see her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all sharing her joy. This is good, she thought. This is what I was meant to do. As she left the water, Uncle Oszkár recited a Bible verse as her blessing, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for
the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). One of the people watching was Marika’s 5-year-old cousin, Zsuzsi. She’d come from West Germany to visit her grandma and grandpa in Budapest. After church everyone gathered at their house to celebrate. “Mama and I are so proud of you girls,” Papa announced. “And since Marika will soon turn 18, we’ve decided she’s ready for some real responsibility. As many of you know, she’s been invited to stay in her uncle Péter’s home in West Germany for one year, to care for Zsuzsi and her sisters. Well, after much prayer, her mother and I have decided to let her go.” Marika’s heart jumped with excitement. She looked around at her extended family and found Zsuzsi hiding in Grandma’s long skirts, eyes peering out from behind blond bangs. She offered the little girl an encouraging smile. This would be an adventure! But before they could leave, there was much to do. Most important, Marika needed an exit visa to legally leave Hungary. Normally visas were very hard to get because the government wasn’t willing to give up even a single member of its workforce—there was always a chance they wouldn’t return. But Marika’s boss at the seamstress shop knew a woman who could help. By the time other preparations were complete, Marika had her visa. After finishing her final sewing project, a special new dress for Grandma, there was graduation, and then she was ready to leave. On a hot June morning Marika stood with her family on the train station platform, nervously holding Zsuzsi’s hand. In the distance she heard the approaching train whistle. When the train rumbled into the station and the crowds of boarding passengers moved forward to its open doors, Marika wondered again if this trip was God’s will. “Don’t worry,” Mama said, squeezing Marika’s hand. “You have everything you need. I packed a good lunch so you won’t have to waste money on train food. You’ll be fine.” Marika hugged everyone goodbye. Papa helped them board the train, find good seats, and stow their bags. “Now I can say I was on a train that went to the West!” Papa laughed. “This is a great opportunity for you, Marika. And remember, my brother Péter will meet the train. Just make sure your papers are in order when you cross the Austrian border. Those officials are strict about paperwork. We’ll be praying for you.” After one last hug, Papa left. A moment later the train lurched forward, and they were off. For the next few hours, Marika passed the time drawing pictures on a pad of paper, reciting nursery rhymes, and telling Zsuzsi stories about growing up in Hungary. In time they ate Mama’s delicious cheese sandwiches, sliced apples, and honey-sweetened cookies. From the window, they could see a series of small towns, farms and open fields, and dense woods. When darkness fell, Marika thought about the border. It wouldn’t be long now. Will the guards be satisfied with our paperwork? Or will they force Zsuzsi and me to return to Budapest?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
The seamstress trade school meeting was crowded with girls and their mothers, all eager to impress the owners and secure a spot for the following year.  By the end of the evening, both Ilona and Marika were chosen by very nice but different owners. They would attend the same school but work in different shops four days a week. By September both girls were excited to start in their new school. The first week sped by as they met the other students and their teachers, and ventured out into the city on their own, using public transportation to get to school and work. On Friday morning Marika waved goodbye to Ilona as they left the streetcar, which they’d ridden together from home, and headed to their respective buses for the final leg of the trip to work. Getting off the bus, Marika walked along the sidewalk toward the old building where the shop was located on the fifth floor. At the corner she noticed a woman sitting in front of a pottery shop. “Good morning,” the woman greeted with a smile and a wave. Normally Marika was shy. But she’d seen her there other days that week, and decided it wouldn’t hurt to be friendly. “Good morning,” she said, stopping to admire the pots. “I see you a lot now,” the woman remarked. “Do you work around here?” “Yes, in the seamstress shop,” she said, pointing up the street. “I know the woman who owns it,” came the woman’s reply. “Yes, she’s nice. She doesn’t make me work on the Sabbath.” The woman gave her a curious look. “The Sabbath? Are you Jewish?” “No, I’m Seventh-day Adventist. I believe in Jesus, but I go to church on Saturday, the Sabbath.” Marika worried as soon as the words were out that this woman would someday use that information against her. She watched her expression carefully, looking for signs of judgment or disapproval, but the woman just smiled again and shrugged her shoulders. “Sounds peculiar,” she said, “but I don’t suppose there’s any harm in going to church on Saturdays. Me, I go on Sundays. Always have. But who’s to say which is right? Well, you have yourself a nice day; stop and visit anytime, I’m always here.” Marika kept walking until she reached her building. Entering, she climbed all five flights of steps, wrinkling her nose at the gassy smell. Despite all that, it felt great, she realized, to finally be “on her own.” The next morning the class listened as their teacher showed them the basics of sewing: threading the sewing machines, choosing a pattern, cutting the fabric. Everything was new and interesting, especially to Marika. Mama had taught her to sew by hand at home, but now she’d discovered that she had a real knack for using the sewing machine and cutting patterns. No more embarrassingly low grades for her! Mama and Papa had been right. Seamstress school was the right choice. As for attending church, it was held in the afternoon. This Sabbath the girls would be meeting their parents at the church. The sisters walked to the trolley stop and waited. But before the trolley arrived, they were careful to tuck their Bibles and songbooks safely away in their bags where other passengers wouldn’t see them. “Here it comes,” Ilona said, pointing up the street. The heavy trolley clanged its bell and squealed to a stop. The girls climbed aboard and showed their monthly pass, then found seats near the back where fewer people sat. After about 20 minutes they had to change trolleys. It was such a long trip! Settled once more on the second trolley, the girls sat back and sighed. “Mama said to meet them in the sanctuary,” Ilona said quietly. “Uncle Oszkár is preaching about prophecy today. It should be a good service.” Marika nodded. She could hear the driver calling out the next stop. Somewhere up front a baby was crying. Marika looked out through grimy windows and watched the buildings going past, some still showing damage from Russian bombs and tanks. Despite all that, the city was beautiful to her. She was proud of her homeland. Suddenly Ilona gave her a sharp jab in the arm. “What?” Marika asked, annoyed. Ilona made a slight tilt with her head, directing her eyes toward the aisle. Marika looked and was surprised to see a man in a dark hat staring at them. He didn’t smile, not even when Marika looked right at him. She turned to Ilona and tried to whisper inconspicuously. “Do you think he heard us talking about church?” Ilona shrugged, but pulled her bag with the Bible a little closer. Papa had warned them to be extra-careful riding the trolley on Sabbaths. If they were caught carrying Bibles, there could be real trouble for the entire family. It wasn’t actually illegal to carry them or attend church on Saturdays, but the government didn’t like it. And they had the power to make life hard for anyone they didn’t like. Marika looked again at the stranger across the way. His harsh gaze moved downward to her bag, then back up at her eyes. He blinked once, as if to challenge her, and then turned away. When the trolley came to a stop, he rose from his seat and got off. Marika sighed with relief. She could feel her heart racing. They had only a few more stops, and then they’d be at the church, safe with their parents. After boarding the trolley, a young man who seemed to be in his 20s came down the aisle and accidentally bumped Marika’s leg. “Excuse me,” he said. He continued standing,
allowing elderly and female passengers to take their seats first. He looked down at the girls with an inviting smile. The man could be a snitch, an informant for the Hungarian secret police. They could start a file on the family to be used against them later. “It’s all right,” Marika responded, hoping he’d turn away. Instead, he stared at her bag, just as the older man had done moments earlier. She pulled the bag closer, wondering how to make it look less conspicuous. “Out for a ride?” the young man asked. “Yes,” she answered, wishing the trolley could move faster. “Looks like you girls have to carry a lot of books. You must be in school, right?” Ilona opened her mouth to answer, but Marika cut her off. “Sissy, what time are Mama and Papa meeting us?” she asked, forcing her voice to sound carefree. Ilona gave her sister a look that suggested this was a stupid question to be asking. Then she caught on. “In a few minutes,” she answered. “Oh, look, Ilona, your hair ribbon is loose. Here, let me fix it.” After a few uncomfortable moments, the man gave up trying to make conversation with them and found a seat. But he never stopped watching them. Marika felt sure he had guessed what was in their bags. Would he follow them when they got off the trolley? If he did, would he grab their bags and make trouble at the church? 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
Ilona, please give the class a review of our science lesson,” Marika and Ilona’s teacher said. Fifteen-year-old Marika’s fears were coming true, but not for herself. After months of silence on the subject, the teacher was again giving a lesson on evolution. Marika watched the teacher’s expression as Ilona bravely stood up. She knew he expected Ilona to describe the earth as being billions of years old, populated at one time with cavemen and strange creatures. Marika held her breath. What will he do when Illona does the opposite? she wondered. “Sir,” Ilona spoke up, timid yet determined, “my family and I don’t believe the evolution theory. We believe what the Bible teaches. God created the animals first, and then made Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from Adam’s body.” Marika watched in awe as her sister bravely kept standing while the teacher stared at her with eyes like ice, cold and hard. After a long pause Ilona slowly sat down. The teacher raked his fingers through his hair that stuck straight up out of his scalp like pointy needles, and then looked around the classroom. “Students, please disregard what you’ve just heard from Ilona. She’s gravely mistaken. What I have taught about earth and its creatures is correct.” He turned to Ilona and added, “Miss Kovács, I’ll see you after class. Now, everyone turn to today’s math lesson.” When he faced the chalkboard, Marika caught Ilona’s eye. Marika offered a sympathetic smile, and then opened her math book. That afternoon Ilona waited in the hall while the teacher loudly scolded Ilona behind closed doors, warning her not to speak against his teachings in class again. When they came out, his angry glance made Marika feel like a bug about to be squashed. “That goes for you too,” he said. “Now go tell your parents what I’ve said.” A few weeks later the teacher handed out report cards. Marika inspected hers with dread, knowing the grades wouldn’t be what she wanted. All her marks were fours or below, except one: math, her very worst subject, was an unbelievable five, a perfect score! It wasn’t possible. It must be a mistake. After class, she ran to her sister, excited to show off the five. Instead, she stopped short. Ilona’s eyes brimmed with tears. “What’s wrong? What happened?” Ilona held out her card. Marika saw Ilona’s usual high grades, and then noticed something odd. In math—her best subject—she’d received a two, nearly a failing grade. It couldn’t be. Something was wrong! “Come on,” she said, grabbing Ilona by the hand. “That can’t be your real grade—maybe our teacher can fix it.” The teacher listened with an insincere smile as Marika showed him the two cards. He nodded at her words and took them, pretending to have a better look. Then he shook his head and shrugged. “It looks like I may have accidentally switched your grades . . . sorry,” he said sarcastically. “I would change them, of course, but I’m afraid it’s too late now.” “But, sir, this means I won’t be allowed into high school next year,” Ilona said desperately. “Please change it!” “I told you. It’s too late. Those grades are already in your official records. Now, I have paperwork to do.” He dismissed the girls with a wave and another awful smile. “You both need to go home now.” Minutes later the May sunshine warmed their backs as they walked home. Ten-year-old Erzsébet had skipped a few yards ahead of them and was unaware of the crisis. “Do you think he did that to punish you for challenging him in class?” Ilona, who’d stopped crying by then, kicked a pebble and sent it bouncing down the cobblestone street. “I think that’s exactly what he did!” she grumbled. “He’s such an old porcupine, with that pointy hair of his! Oh, what will Papa say when he finds out? What if he gets mad and yells at the teacher? Then there’ll be even more trouble.” “It’s not your fault, Ilona. You only did what Papa told you to do—you spoke the truth.” “Yes, and now I’m being punished. It’s not fair!” Marika squeezed her sister’s hand. It really wasn’t fair. Besides ruining Ilona’s school plans, the switched grades did Marika no good—she’d never planned to attend high school! In fact, all she’d ever wanted was to attend a trade school for hairstyling. Poor Ilona, who wanted so much to learn science and electronics, would have to go to trade school now too. That night the family had another quiet dinner. (Papa didn’t allow talking at mealtimes.) But after dinner the girls explained what had happened in class. “I’m proud of you, Ilona, for standing up for your faith. That was a very brave thing to do.” Papa gave her a gentle pat on the hand. “I know it hurts now to suffer the consequences of your bravery, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did the right thing. I’m sure God is pleased too.” Ilona nodded. Marika could tell her sister was trying not to cry again. “What trade school should I choose, Papa?” Ilona asked. He looked to Mama for help and waited. “Well,” Mama said, sighing at her daughter’s new future. “I’ve always thought seamstress school offered the best opportunity for a young girl wanting a good job. Papa, what do you think?” He nodded his approval. “I think that’s an excellent idea. She and Marika could go together. Wouldn’t that be nice?” “But, Papa,” Marika looked at him beseechingly. “I want to go to hairstyling school. I like doing hair.” “Yes, I know. I see you doing your sisters’ hair all the time. But you know, hair salons are owned by the government. They’re always open on Saturdays. That means you would never be allowed to observe the Sabbath. You don’t want that, do you?” “Seamstress shops are open on Saturdays too,” she said stubbornly, wishing his words weren’t true but knowing they were. “Marika,” Mama interrupted gently. “What Papa means is that most seamstress shops are privately owned. If you find work with a Jewish owner, you may be able to have Sabbaths off. Understand?” She thought over her parents words. They were right; seamstress school was the wisest choice. But, oh, how she loved doing hair! “Listen, girls,” Mama offered. “You know trade schools have their students work in shops as part of their training. Well, tomorrow night there’s a meeting downtown to let girls who’ll be starting trade school in the fall meet the owners from several seamstress shops. It’s a way for owners to choose who they’ll have in their shops next year. Would you like to go and see what they have to offer? You might even get chosen.” Marika took a moment, and then gave the only possible answer. “OK, Mama. I’ll go.” “And what about you, Ilona?” Mama asked. “Will you go too?” Ilona shrugged. “Why not? If I can’t attend high school, then seamstress school is as good as anything, I suppose.” Papa smiled. “You won’t be sorry,” he said. “You’ll see, Ilona, God will bless you for this.” That night Marika lay in bed thinking about the meeting. Would they find a good shop? Would they be chosen as a pair, or would she and Ilona be separated after years of never being apart?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
That tickles, Mama!” Marika giggled and squirmed. “Stand still,” Mama told her. “If I don’t measure right, it won’t fit.” Outside, the fall leaves on the trees shimmered golden yellow and deep red under skies filled with birds flying to warmer patches of earth. Inside, it was time again for Mama to sew. Mama had brought her sewing tools and an armload of old dresses from her own wardrobe and those of relatives and set everything in the living room. It was always a big job to measure, pin, and sew new outfits for the family, but it was even harder to take dresses made for grown women and cut them down for active young girls. Partly to cheer up the girls and partly out of necessity, Mama chose that day to start making them a fresh wardrobe. All three wore the required school uniform with a red bandana tied around the neck, but they still needed plain dresses for home, play, and window shopping, and one nice dress for Sabbath. Mama slipped a bulky white dress with blue flowers over Marika’s slim figure and started pulling the fabric here and there to see where it needed adjusting, which was pretty much all over. Marika glanced curiously down at the faded cloth covering her. She knew they were living in hard times; all her friends and relatives wore hand-me-downs that were mended and altered again and again. Even Mama’s dresses had belonged to someone else first. Marika was happy to get something newer to wear, yet she still longed for a brand-new dress of her own. Someday, she thought, I’ll learn to make my own new clothes. “Raise your arms,” Mama told her. With a lifetime of skill, she pinched the excess cloth hanging underneath and slid pins in where she’d sew darts and seams later by hand, with salvaged thread. Then she pinned in the waist and measured how far up to raise the hemline. “There, that should do it,” she said, sounding satisfied. “When I take the pieces apart and put them back together again, I’ll take off the big buttons and ruffles, and anything else you don’t like. Maybe I can crochet some lace on the collar to make it prettier. What do you think?” Marika shrugged. She was happy with the dress, but a lace collar wouldn’t make it look new. “OK, Erzsébet, your turn.” “Which one is mine?” she asked eagerly. “I thought that pink plaid one would be just right for you.” Mama pointed to a dress that used to belong to Ilona. Erzsébet touched it without saying anything, then brought it to Mama and climbed on the stool. “It’s pretty, Mama, but the hem is stained.” “I know; I saw that. After I take the hem up to fit your short little legs, the stain won’t show anymore. OK?” She gave Erzsébet a little tickle. Erzsébet had been sickly when she was little, and now spent more time with Mama than with her older sisters. She looked at Mama’s gentle eyes and nodded, satisfied. A sudden wind outside shook leaves from the trees and tossed them against the window. Marika worried about Papa working out there with Violet, the family’s donkey, hauling coal and firewood in his heavy wooden cart to people’s homes all over town. A strong wind meant lots of dust; Papa suffered from frequent headaches, and dust could bring on a bad one. Just then the front door opened, and Papa came striding into the house. “How’re my girls?” he greeted in a tired voice. All three ran to hug and kiss him. He gave them each a big bear hug in return. Then he rubbed his wind-blown hair and plopped down on one end of the sofa for a quick rest before washing up for dinner. “Did you finish your deliveries?” Mama asked. “Oh, sure. I even stopped by my folks’ house and gave them what was left over.” “Papa,” Ilona spoke up. “Yes,” he sighed, eyes closed. “I have a question about school.” “What is it?” he asked wearily. “Our teacher wants us to learn about evolution. He says that all people came from apes and that God isn’t real. What should I say when he asks us to talk about it in class? I don’t want to make him mad.” This got Papa’s attention. He opened his eyes and fussed with his mustache, thinking. “That young fellow’s a Communist, isn’t he?” Papa asked. Ilona nodded and looked to her older sister for support. Marika and Ilona were now in eighth grade. Marika had hoped this school year would be better than the last, with more friends and better grades. But it was exactly the same as before. “He’s mean, Papa,” Marika piped in. “I get scared because I know he wants us to agree with him . . . but he isn’t right about the apes, is he?” He gave them a smile. “No, he isn’t right. Look here, I can show you where God explains all about it.” He reached for his Bible on the end table and opened it to the front. “It’s right at the beginning, in the book of Genesis. Here, Ilona, you read it out loud so your sisters can hear while Mama keeps working.” So she read about God forming Adam and Eve, the very first people, and how Adam was given the job of naming all the animals. It was a wonderful story, but there was nothing there about evolution or monkeys turning into humans. “OK, you’re finished,” Mama told Erzsébet. “Step off the stool; it’s Ilona’s turn.” Marika took the Bible from Ilona and looked at those first chapters of Genesis. She already believed in God with all her heart, but it was good to know where the answers to her teacher’s challenges lay hidden. “But, Papa, you haven’t told us what to say,” Marika reminded him. “Our teacher doesn’t believe in the Bible.” “Listen carefully, girls,” he said. “We must always be willing to stand up for the truth, even if someone doesn’t agree with it. Next time he teaches about evolution, if he calls on you, tell him you don’t believe in it. Then explain respectfully what you do believe in—the Word of God and the story of creation. It’s more important to speak the truth than to worry about who believes it.” Marika looked up at Ilona and swallowed hard. Papa was right, of course, and they must obey him. But would they have enough courage when the time came?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Running For Freedom Bonus Stories
Hi, Marika,” Julia greeted. “Since the teacher isn’t here yet, we want to ask you something that’s been bothering us.” It was early. The school bell hadn’t rung yet. Thirteen-year-old Marika faced her two classmates, Ágnes and Julia, who had come strutting across the room. Both girls’ faces showed that they were up to no good. Marika’s tummy tensed at Julia’s words. Ever since an illness had held her back a grade, she’d felt uncomfortable around classmates. Whenever they whispered or pointed in her direction, she felt sure they were making fun of her for being in seventh grade with her sister, Ilona, who was a year younger. “What is it?” she asked. “Did I do something?” Julia elbowed the other girl to speak up too. Ágnes moved forward, closing the gap between herself and Marika. “We’re just wondering why we never see you or your sisters in church on Sundays,” Ágnes asked. “Doesn’t your family go to Mass?” Marika stood silent for a moment, wondering what to say. She knew they wanted to embarrass her, to force her to confess that her family, unlike most Hungarians, was not Catholic. She wasn’t ashamed of their religion, but she didn’t want to argue about it either. Stalling, Marika fingered one pigtail and looked out the window, pretending to think of an answer while silently asking God to give her the words. Seconds later she felt a rush of courage. She turned and looked directly into Ágnes’ steel-gray eyes. “We never go to Mass because we aren’t Catholic. But we do go to church every week on the Sabbath. That’s Saturday.” “Saturday?” the girls said in unison. They gave each other puzzled looks, shaking their heads in disbelief. Ágnes leaned closer, backing Marika against the chalkboard. “Why would you do that?” she demanded. “It’s stupid to go to church on Saturday! That’s when
everyone works! My papa works every Saturday in his grocery store, all day long. Don’t you know you’re supposed to go to church on Sunday? The priest says so!” Marika felt her courage fading. She glanced at the classroom door, hoping to see the teacher entering. But the door remained closed while the other students busily talked in small groups. Even Ilona was busy and hadn’t seen what was happening. Only God could help her. Finally she decided to ignore Ágnes and focus on Julia, who wasn’t acting as mean. “My family is Seventh-day Advent-ist. We honor the Sabbath because that’s what God’s Word says to do. You can read it for yourself.” Julia looked doubtful, but she pulled on her friend’s sleeve to make her step back. “Come on, Ágnes, let’s go. The teacher will be here any minute.” As they turned to leave, Ágnes gave Marika one last defiant stare. “I’m going to look that up,” she challenged, “even though I know you’re wrong.” Relieved that the incident was over, Marika nodded and found her seat. Besides worshipping on Saturday, she wondered how she could explain that her family’s faith was different from other religions in many ways. For Marika and her family, religion was a lifestyle, not something done only at church once each week. That was sometimes a problem in a Communist country. The year was 1963, and the Russians still governed Hungary. This meant people didn’t have much freedom to go to church as they pleased or choose the job they wanted. Communists encouraged disloyalty among family members, coworkers, and friends through bribes and other incentives. This made everyone distrustful of each other. Marika remembered how Mama had told her about losing their house in the small town of Gödöllö, where Marika was born. When Marika was 4, the government had taken the house from her family to give to a Communist official, just because he’d admired its neat, clean appearance. After that, the family had moved to the nearby city of Budapest. Two years later Marika had watched the Hungarian people try to fight for more freedom and food in something called an uprising. But Russian tanks had entered the city to stop it, killing thousands of protestors. The loud noise had woken Mama up and made her cry. Budapest had been bombed for days, and everyone had been afraid. Because of that fear, Marika was never sure if a question about her religion was just someone being curious, or teasing to be mean, or something much worse, something that could get her parents into big trouble with the government. Papa had warned his girls to be careful, to watch what they said about God and freedom, even to their friends. As the oldest, Marika understood that if something bad did happen, there would be no way to fight back or force the government to treat them fairly. When school was finished for that day, she and Ilona walked home with their youngest sister, 8-year-old Erzsébet. The winter air felt chilly as they wound through their neighborhood to the big house they shared with two other families. It was really an old mansion confiscated by the government after a wealthy Jewish family had abandoned it to escape harsh Russian control. With so many people living there, it didn’t seem very fancy. But Mama and Papa did what they could to make their part of the house feel more private. Coming around the path, they entered the house through their own private doorway. They passed through the front room, where Mama and Papa slept, and went to the larger back room that doubled as a living and dining room during the day and a bedroom for the three sisters at night. Beyond that room was the kitchen, where Mama was humming and making an afternoon snack. “Hi, Mama.” Marika gave her mother a big hug. “Is that lemonade? Can you put in extra honey with the club soda? I’m really thirsty!” “Sure,” her mother responded with a loving nod. “You go back to the living room and sit in front of the oven. I’ll bring it when it’s ready.” “Beigli too?” Erzsébet begged. “Yes, beigli too.” The tired trio settled down as one on the rug in front of the huge green-tiled ceramic oven in the corner of the room. Its black iron door was open, and the burning logs glowed orange with wonderful warmth. They could have sat on the sofa bed where they slept at night, but they liked being on the rug. In the other corner were two tall wardrobes for their clothes, with a dining table, a radio, and a record player nearby. “Would you like some help with your math homework later?” Ilona asked Marika. Marika nodded, but didn’t think it would do much good. She just wasn’t good at math, as Ilona was. She liked creative things, such as cooking and sewing. Ilona, on the other hand, preferred science and electronics, especially when she could get her hands on a small appliance that could be taken apart and put back together. She even took apart their electric iron, forcing Mama to use the heavy iron that had to be heated on the stove. “You’ve got to try,” Ilona encouraged her. “We’ll do every problem together.” Mama came in with their snack. “Come sit at the table, girls,” she urged. They grumbled but obeyed. To disobey Mama or Papa was unthinkable! Munching the homemade beigli, a pastry with sweet poppy seed filling, Marika thought ahead to the rest of seventh grade. School already felt like the kind of heavy burden Papa’s donkey, Violet, carried. Would it always be like that? Or would eighth grade open up a whole new world?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Why don’t you go ahead and share what you have to say?” Aunt Ann said to Sally’s mother. By now Sally’s curiosity was almost too much to contain. “All right. Sally, your aunt Ann and I have talked for the past few weeks about the possibility of your living with her in Riverside and going to Loma Linda Academy next year,” Mother said. Sally’s eyes grew wide. “Loma Linda is a Christian school,” Aunt Ann explained. “It takes about 20 minutes to get there from our home, which is only an hour from this beach. And the good news is that a neighbor who works in the office at the hospital nearby is willing to take you to and from school every day.” “Of course, it means that you wouldn’t be living at home,” Mother said, tears welling up in her eyes. “I don’t like that part of the plan. We would all miss you.” Sally stood speechless, staring at her mother, then at Aunt Ann. “What about the tuition?” Sally managed to croak out. “I’ve spoken to the woman in charge of food service at the hospital. She said you could work part-time in order to pay your school bill,” replied Aunt Ann. “We want to give you plenty of time to consider this idea,” Mother said. “I don’t need time to consider it,” Sally said. “I want to go! I just didn’t expect God to act so fast.” Everyone talked at once. Tide pools forgotten, they walked together up the beach to the stairs that led to the lawn on the bluff. “I’ll have to clean up the spare room,” Aunt Anne said, dropping down onto the blanket. “We’ve been using it as a storeroom.” “And I’ll have to get busy sewing some new school clothes for you,” Mother added. “Mrs. Akers gave me a bonus check this week. We can buy you a good pair of shoes.” Sally stood looking from her Mother to Aunt Ann and back again. They acted like two schoolgirls themselves. She smiled. “I think I’ll go for a walk,” Sally said to the others. “She’s in a bit of a shock,” she overheard Mother say as she walked away. Sally dug her toes into the sand and stared at the ocean. “I’m free!” she shouted to the terns flying over. “I’m free to follow my dreams,” she told the wave that leaped toward her and then bubbled around her feet. “I’m free to discover God’s secrets in the ocean.” Freedom felt wonderful, yet different from what she’d expected. She suddenly realized that freedom included launching out into the unknown. Even though the known may be difficult, at least it’s familiar, she thought. Now the unknown stared at her. It beckoned for her to leap in, and yet it scared her, too. She remembered how much she’d missed Mother during the time at Juvenile Hall. She would miss her brothers and sisters. Yet, isn’t this what growing up means? It’s about striking out to live your own life and walk a new path. God had opened a door leading into her future. I guess it’s normal for my thoughts to feel so jumbled up right now, she thought. I’m only 14. Sally walked down the sandy beach and climbed up onto the rocks that lay scattered at the foot of the cliff. Waves dashed into the tide pools and returned to the ocean, leaving behind food for the tiny creatures that huddled in them for safety. Seagulls soared over the ocean beyond the rocks. She could taste the salty air and feel ocean mist on her face. She spotted a deep, calm pool and sat down on a smooth rock at its edge. I longed for this day and prayed for it, she thought. Now that it’s here, I feel confused. I want to cry and laugh and shout all at once. She took a deep breath to calm herself. Sally looked into the pool that held so many treasures. The clear water shimmered in the sunlight. A miniature starfish climbed up the side of a rock on tiny tube feet. Hermit crabs teetered about carrying blacktop shells on their backs. Fronds of seaweed undulated back and forth with the coming and going of waves. “An abalone!” she shouted, dropping onto her knees and peering into the water at a small black abalone shell that clasped the side of the rocky pool. The incoming water washed over it and withdrew to the ocean. In high tide and low tide, it clings tightly to the rock, Sally thought. Through stormy oceans or summer calms, the abalone presses to the immovable rock. During the warmth of the noon sunshine and in winter’s blast, the creature hangs on. “What a miracle creature you are,” she whispered. “And I am like you in so many ways.” Sally stood up and gazed out over the ocean that hid from view great whales, tiny rainbow fish, and even scary sharks. My future hides so much, she thought. She did know that God had just opened a way for her to attend a Christian school. She could dream of new adventures that would come to her in the fall. And the idea that joy and strength depended upon her connection with Jesus, her rock, had become a strong belief. Standing above the ocean she loved, she made a decision. “I will go out and meet life with joy and courage!” she shouted over the waves. “God loves me. He rescued me and put love for Him and His creation in my heart. I will go on adventures and discover new things, then share what God teaches me with others.” With a happy sigh she climbed down from the rocky tide pools and walked into her future
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Sally and Bob hurried into Mr. Thompson’s classroom the next morning. “This isn’t going to be as boring as I thought,” Bob commented, scooting into one of the desks near the front. “What does the clay have to do with English?” Sally asked Mr. Thompson. “I’m glad you’re curious,” he replied, laughing. “You’ll just have to wait until the other students arrive.” As soon as the students filed in, Mr. Thompson called the class to order. “Yesterday you let me know that you didn’t enjoy the piggy bank project. You said that you didn’t have enough tools. You complained about a lack of instruction and said that you didn’t have a clue how to proceed. This caused discomfort and, I might add, an outcome that put frowns on most of your faces. Of course, since this is an English class, I imagine that the idea of writing a story or report puts frowns on even more faces,” Mr. Thompson said with a smile. Almost every student agreed. “Well, I want to change those frowns to smiles,” Mr. Thompson said. “I will give you the right tools and teach you how to use the tools to get the results you want. I think you’ll be less intimidated at the thought of writing something than you were when I handed you that blob
of clay and de-manded that you make a pig.” The students looked at each other and laughed. “Words are almost magical,” Mr. Thompson explained. “They hold a power beyond your wildest dreams. Use the right words, and you can make people cry or laugh. Words used with skill can start a war or stop a riot.” Suddenly Sally sensed that this class was going to have a major impact on her life. At home that night Sally thought about words. She opened her Bible and read a few words in Isaiah 61:10: “I delight greatly in the Lord; and my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with a garments of salvation.” The words made her smile at the idea of being covered by God’s goodness. She walked to her window and looked out. Does God use the experiences of each day to create our life and make it take the direction He wants it to go, just like a writer uses words? The idea pleased her. She plunked herself onto her bed. Sally thought about her love of God and the ocean. She felt curious, and loved adventure. Now she was developing a fascination for words. Would God put all these things together in crafting her future? “I want to know you better and understand what you want me to do with my life,” Sally said to God out loud. “I wish I could go to a Christian school, but our family can’t afford it.” “Keep praying about it,” an inner voice seemed to suggest. “I will,” Sally whispered. “I’ll talk to you about it every day. After school that Friday, Sally’s aunt Ann and uncle Marty stood at the kitchen door, smiling. “Aunt Ann!” Sally screamed. “I didn’t know you were coming!“ “Hello, Sally,” Aunt Ann replied. “Uncle Marty and I want to take you all to the beach tomorrow. Would you enjoy that?” Sally’s eyes grew wide, and a smile crossed her face. “Yes!” she blurted out. “Tomorrow there will be a wonderful –.9 tide at Laguna Beach. The ocean will pull back and expose acres of tide pools.” “You boys can spend the whole day jumping waves, if you don’t shrivel up or freeze first,” Uncle Marty teased. They all walked into the living room. “We’ll have to get up before the chickens, though,” Uncle Marty continued. “As your aunt Ann likes to say: ‘The tide waits for no one.’” Sally noticed that Uncle Marty and Aunt Ann had brought two boxes of food with them. Mother fixed a delicious taco supper. Long before sunrise they headed toward the ocean. After almost three hours of driving, they reached the shore. It stretched out before them like a great, green blanket whipping in the wind. Sally’s heart thumped inside her. I’m finally at the ocean again, she thought. The boys and Anita headed for the waves. Mother laid out a blanket on the green lawn that hugged the bluff above the shore. Alice and Grover played on an old tree. Its long branches hung down to the grass, twisting and turning in wild shapes. “We’ll be back in an hour,” Aunt Ann said to Sally’s mother as she grabbed a wad of plastic bags from her purse. “Let’s go, Sally.” Soon they were wading into the shallow tide pools. Aunt Ann taught Sally how to lift rocks and check for brittle stars, seashells, and crabs beneath them. “Be sure to put the rocks back just as you found them,” instructed Aunt Ann. Just as Sally lifted a flat rock, a tiny brown
octopus crawled up onto her hand. She held it beneath the water for just a second. The tiny suction cups stuck to her skin. She laughed when the little creature shot away. Nearby, limpets clung to the rocks and small hermit crabs teetered around in blacktop shells. “This is my place,” Sally commented to Aunt Ann. “I belong here. The ocean and I are a perfect fit. This is where I feel the most at home. I love wandering along the shore or snooping in the tide pools.” “I know what you mean,” Aunt Ann replied. “I just wish I could go to a Christian school,” Sally blurted out. Suddenly she stopped and bent down. “I’ve spotted something red,” shesaid excitedly. “It’s a chestnut cowrie! I saw its picture in my shell book.” Sally reached under the ledge and pulled a smooth cowrie shell from the rock. Aunt Ann made her way across the rocks to the tide pool. “That’s a perfect specimen!” she said. “The cowrie is so amazing. It wraps itself in this thin piece of flesh called the mantle. The mantle keeps the cowrie clean and free of barnacles that try to attach to the shell. This covering hides it from enemies. Certain cells along the mantle’s edge paint the pattern on the shell and others produce the shine.” Sally stood up and stared at the shell in the sunlight. The verse she’d read the day before in Isaiah came to her mind. The cowrie is wrapped in a mantle, just as I am wrapped in God’s garments of salvation, she thought. The idea startled her. Could it be that the cowrie shell is teaching me the same lesson as the Bible? Am I beginning to see a whole new way of understanding nature and God’s Word? Sally and her aunt wandered over the now-exposed sea floor for the next hour. Every rock seemed to hide a treasure. Sally felt happier than she’d felt for a long time. “There’s something important I want to talk with you about,” Aunt Ann said as they stood in the warm sunshine, their feet buried in the cool water of a tide pool. A wish of yours is about to come true.” “Ann,” Mother’s voice reached them over the pools. “I wonder what she wants,” Aunt Ann said. “I suppose we better go see. We’ll have to talk later.” Sally groaned and followed Aunt Ann back to the shore where Mother stood waving her arms. “I brought you a cold drink and a sandwich,” Mother explained. “I thought you might have used up a lot of energy by now.” “Thank you, Mother,” Sally said. “I feel half starved.” “Have you told her yet?” Mother asked, smiling at Sally. “I was just about to bring it up when you called,” replied Aunt Ann. “Tell me what?” Sally asked eagerly.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
No wonder they call it the ‘Rim of the World Highway,’ ” Bob explained. Their school bus made its way down a narrow winding road. “You’re looking a mile straight down. That’s San Bernardino at the bottom of the mountain.” Sally opened the window a few inches and breathed deeply. She looked down the face of the mountain and saw all the blackened places where the fire had burned the trees. “I think the ocean is just over those hills,” Sally said. “I can almost see it.” “You still miss the water, don’t you?” Bob asked. “Oh, yes!” Sally replied, with more enthusiasm than she meant to reveal. “You said that God has a plan for you, and you love the ocean. His plan must include something you love so much,” Bob said. “Someday you’ll live by the ocean again.” Sally stared at Bob. “But not in a tent,” she said, laughing to hide the deep emotion she felt at the idea that something as wonderful as that could ever happen. She felt trapped in a world of fear, poverty, and tension that she didn’t understand. What hurts most is that no one talks about it, she thought. It seems like I wouldn’t feel so sad and frightened if someone would explain something. Father has never sat down and said, “I lost my job again, and I’m sorry things are difficult right now. But it’s going to be all right.” We just get yanked out of one place and thrown into another without explanation or comfort. I know that Mother does all she can to make
every home comfortable, even though many times she has very little to work with. The road twisted and turned so much that it almost ran over itself when it came around a curve. Sally’s stomach lurched with the bus. “Take a deep breath,” Bob said, looking at her. “You should ride with Father when he drives this stretch of road. My stomach almost turned inside out the first time.” “I know you go with Father to Blue Jay lots of times,” Sally said, trying to ignore the sick feeling inside. “What do you do there?” “Father teaches us how to ice-skate  sometimes,” Bob said. “I asked him if we could bring you next time. I think you could learn to skate too.” “That would be wonderful,” Sally said. I mean that, she thought. It would be wonderful to do something with Father like her brothers did. When the bus finally arrived at its destination, they filed out the door and headed toward the school that clung to the mountainside just beyond the highway. Sally walked; she didn’t run. I’m a high school girl now, she reasoned. In the next four years I’ve got to discover who I am and what I want to do with my life. A sign over double glass doors read: “Rim of the World High School.” Once inside they walked down a long hall toward their first class. They stopped at a door marked “Mr. Thompson, Freshman English.” “What a way to start the day,” Bob moaned. “Maybe it won’t be so bad,” Sally comforted. “Class,” Mr. Thompson called, “please find a seat.” Everyone found a desk and sat down, stashing their schoolbooks on a shelf beneath the seats of the desks. “I want us to try something a little unusual today,” Mr. Thompson began. “When your name is called, please come to my desk and receive a square of plastic with a piece of brown clay on it,” he said, dropping a glop of clay onto his desk. He looked at us with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. “I want you to make a small piggy bank from the clay. “Frank,” Mr. Thompson called, motioning to a tall boy on the back row. Frank swaggered to the front. He grabbed a hunk of clay and carried it to his desk. He banged it onto his desk and attacked it with two knotted fists, his face twisting into a look of determination. Susan inched to the front of the room when Mr. Thompson called her name. She extended both hands, holding the clay as far from her pink sweater as possible, then dropped the blob onto her desk. The minute Harold heard his name he covered the distance to the teacher’s desk in two long strides, grabbing his chunk of clay and pushing it into shape even before he reached his desk. He poked it and rolled it, forming a giraffe with an astounding long neck. Then, dissatisfied with this first attempt, Harold flattened his masterpiece with one slap of his dark hand. One by one the students, including Bob, picked up their clay and sat down. When the teacher called Sally’s name, she walked to the front, determined to hide any clue as to her opinion of the situation, and took her piece of clay. She swallowed hard. I’ll never make anything useful, much less something good to look at, she thought, wishing she could run out of the room. Once at her desk Sally stared at the red-brown glob. She visualized the form of a fat pig with a curly tail and placed her hands on the clay. For some unknown reason, her hands could not obey the commands of her brain and the object before her refused to shape itself into something that looked even remotely like a pig. First it mimicked a basketball with lips, so she rolled it a bit to thin it down. Then it appeared to be a legless lizard with a walnut trapped inside. The minutes ticked away, and the clay blob came no closer to becoming a pig. “Time’s up,” Mr. Thompson announced. “You will now paint your creations. Carve your initials into the soft surface of the pig’s undersides so that no one will get mixed up and take home the wrong bank.” Sally felt sure no one would accidentally take her pig. She glanced around and saw that the other students sat frowning at their clay objects. Frank sneered at Susan’s pink piggy bank and planted a blob of brown clay on a yellow curl that hung across her forehead. “I’ll bake the pigs overnight,” Mr. Thompson explained as the bell rang. “Wrap your plastic up and dump it in the trash. Please stop by the restroom and wash your hands.” Tuesday morning arrived far too soon. The pigs had been baked and cooled. They sat on the windowsill staring at the students, blaming them for their outcome. “Class,” Mr. Thompson said smiling, “I gave you some clay to work with and a few tools. I allowed you 30 minutes to produce a piggy bank. Let me ask you some questions. Did you want to make a piggy bank?” “No!” nearly everyone shouted in unison. “Did you have enough tools to work with?” Mr. Thompson asked. “No!” “Did you know how to use the tools that you did have?” “No!” everyone agreed. “What does this have to do with English?” a voice from the back row asked. A loud bell rang. “Sorry,” Mr. Thompson said, grinning at them. “We’ll continue this tomorrow.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
THe Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Father pulled into the parking lot at the Snow Valley Lodge. A police officer directed them into a parking spot. “Just sit tight for now,” he instructed. “We’ll let you know if you’re going to need to stay here all night.” Father got out of the car and joined a group of men that were huddled together. They’re talking about the fire, Sally thought. “Why don’t you boys get out and visit with some of your friends? Just don’t go far,” Mother said. “If I need you I’ll give you four short honks on the car horn.” Sally curled up on the back seat of the limo. She pulled a book from her backpack. The title, “Tropical Seas,” grabbed her attention. I couldn’t be farther than this from an island, she thought. Soon the lure of tropical islands captured her mind, and she forgot about the fire and dangers around her. An hour later the boys returned with sack lunches. “Where did you get these?” Mother asked. “The firefighters said that they’re holding the fire at the firebreak, so some of the men drove back to town to retrieve valuables. They stopped at Lloyd’s Restaurant and got lunches.” The day passed slowly. The wind carried ashes and smoke to Snow Valley. Black smudges covered everyone’s faces and clothes. Around the parking lot groups of people stood talking, others paced back and forth, and everyone seemed to wear a frown. Just before sunset that evening a man’s voice rang out over a loudspeaker. “Good news,” he said. “The fire has been contained, and the wind has settled down. It’s safe to return to your homes. But stay on high alert tonight.” That night Sally’s family slept on the floor while the firefighters held the fire at the firebreak. All night, planes continued to dump chemicals and water on the fire until it finally burned out. Then firefighters spent several days hosing down hot spots. Gradually the stores in town reopened, and after two more days the police opened the road down the mountain to San Bernardino. Schools opened after about a week, and everyone returned to their normal activities. Sally felt excited because this would be her last year in elementary school. She looked forward to a special graduation trip. The third week at school Mr. Hoffman called a special meeting for the eighth-grade students. They chose gold and purple for their class colors. “Where do you want to go for your class trip?” Mr. Hoffman asked. Many suggestions popped up—and got shot down. “I wish we could go to an island,” Sally heard herself say. “There aren’t any islands around here,” someone objected. “Actually, there are a couple not too far away,” Sally replied. “Anacapa Island is just off the Santa Barbara coast, and Catalina is a two-hour boat ride off Long Beach Harbor.” Everyone turned to stare at Sally. “I read it in a book while we all waited out the fire danger at Snow Valley,” she explained. “What can we do on a little island?” one girl grumbled. “Anacapa Island is an uninhabited nature preserve, but Catalina has a zoo, great snorkeling, a Jeep trip into the interior, and even shopping,” responded Sally. To Sally’s amazement, the class voted for the Catalina trip. She would travel to her first real island, though she felt certain it wouldn’t be her last. She couldn’t think of anything else the rest of the day. “Don’t get so excited,” Bob said as they rode the bus home after school. “You know we won’t be able to go. We can’t afford it.” “We’ll go. We have to,” Sally said, frowning. At home Sally didn’t tell Mother about the trip to Catalina. She knew they didn’t have enough money to buy a pair of much-needed snow boots for her, let alone pay for a trip. It made her heart ache. The next day at school Mr. Hoffman entered the classroom smiling. “The trip to Catalina has been approved by the school board. They suggest that the class earn the money for the trip as a group. Everyone will help, and all will go.” Sally’s heart leaped with joy! Before she had even asked God for a solution, He’d sent one. He’s a great problem-solver, she thought. Sally read everything she could find about Catalina Island. Other activities came and went, but all she thought about was traveling on a huge ferryboat to an island where she would be surrounded by water. The idea put a smile on her face every time she thought of it. Finally the day for the trip arrived. They traveled by bus, down the mountain, across the valley, and over the coastal mountain range to Long Beach. At the harbor they caught the Catalina ferryboat. With a blast of the horn, the captain eased the ship out of the harbor, and they left the mainland behind. Sally stood in the bow of the ship, stretching her hands out to catch the ocean breeze. Suddenly the water below exploded with flying fish. Their silver backs sparkled in the sunlight as they leaped into the sky. One fish fell onto the boat at Bob’s feet. He grabbed it by the tail and flung it back into the ocean. Soon they spotted the island in the distance. It grew larger as they drew near. As the captain docked the ship, people on board threw coins into the water while a group of young boys wearing bright swim trunks, fins, and masks dove after them. Everyone clapped and shouted. The day passed far too quickly. They visited the zoo and enjoyed its collection of tropical birds. Jeeps took them on a narrow, dusty road into the uninhabited interior, where they found a breathtaking view of the harbor. After lunch they swam in the ocean and watched seals play in the surf. Later the girls went shopping, but Sally climbed over the rocks looking for shells as the wind blew in her hair and the sun beat down. “This is my world!” she shouted to a black skimmer that soared just above the water. The large, black-backed bird dropped its orange lower mandible down, just skimming the top of little wavelets that leaped into the sky. It didn’t dip into the troughs, but caught little fish that it found at the surface. Its beak filled to the brim, the bird flew over to a sandy beach and joined its friends. That’s me, Sally thought. I’m not going to dip into the dark troughs of life. I’m going to soar with the sun on my back, catching nourishment from the sunlit surface, just like the skimmer. All the way back to the mainland, as the ship sped over the green water, Sally thought about her life. Certainly there had been dark troughs. But many bright things existed too. She felt delight whenever she had an adventure in nature and when she took time to read her Bible. Both of these activities helped her connect with God and learn more about Him. God, she prayed silently, open up ways for me to do more of these kinds of things. In May, Sally marched down the center of the gymnasium with her class, dressed in white robes and caps. “Are you ready for high school?” Bob asked. “I’m ready for a new adventure,” Sally replied. Secretly she prayed for a chance to go to a Christian school.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
A“firebug” started the fire that’s burning right up the side of the mountain toward town!” Bob said, running into the kitchen with Glenn and Lynn. “We might have to leave!” “What’s a firebug?” Sally asked. “A firebug is a person who enjoys setting fires and watching the woods burn,” Mother explained. “But that’s sick,” Sally said. “Yes,” Mother said, “a person who does that is sick. I hope the police find him before he sets another fire.” “Father said to gather in the living room and wait for him,” Glenn continued. “He’ll be in as soon as he’s finished talking to the policeman who came to warn us.” Mother, Sally, and Anita hurried into the living room. “Alice! Grover!” she called. “Come downstairs right away!” Quickly everyone huddled together in front of the fireplace. “Listen,” Father said, coming into the room. “We’ve been instructed to pack an overnight bag for each member of the family, and  pack up our valuables. We should put everything in the car right away, in case we are told to evacuate. I’ll see to it that we have a full tank of gas.” “Where are we going?” Anita asked. “I don’t have time to explain that right now,” Father said. “Gather in this room in 10 minutes, or the second you hear a siren go off. No one, for any reason, is to leave the lodge.” Everyone scattered to their rooms. Sally put two sets of clothes, pajamas, and a coat in her suitcase. She added a few personal items and snatched up two of her favorite seashells and her Bible, hiding them under her clothes. She grabbed a small backpack and placed several books inside. She wouldn’t think of going anywhere without a good book. “God, please don’t let the fire burn our home!” she pleaded, heading for the living room. Everyone dragged their bags down the stairs and stowed them by the back door. Finally Father came into the living room. “You’ll have to use the fireplace for cooking,” Father told Mother. “I just shut off the gas line.” Sally looked into the yard at the large butane tank. She knew that a copper tube connected the tank to the stove inside the lodge. “If a flying ember landed in the wrong place, this lodge could blow up,” he explained. “We’ve been given instructions to leave the area the moment the siren sounds. Those who aren’t ready will have to leave without food or extra clothes. There won’t be time to prepare once the siren blasts.” The afternoon wore on slowly. Father and the boys left the lodge to climb the hill behind the house. “We’ll talk to the firefighters at the supply station and see what we can find out,” he called back to Mother, who stood in the doorway watching them. “There’s a wall of flames almost 100 feet high charging up the mountain,” Father said when he returned to the lodge. “We saw an entire hilltop burst into flames. The firefighters said that when the fire gets very hot a whole hill could explode into flames even before the fire reaches it. They call it capping.” Outside the lodge a horn honked. Father and Glenn ran out the door. A police officer shouted a message to them from his car and sped away. “Firefighters have used bulldozers to cut a firebreak, or a clear area, in front of the fire,” Father said, stepping back inside. “They’ll build a backfire on the edge of the firebreak. The backfire has nothing to burn in the cleared space, so it burns back toward the fire. The fire and backfire meet and burn each other out.” “We all have to stay right here,” Glenn added, frowning. “That’s in case the wind comes up later and the fire surges over the firebreak. If that happens, we’ll probably have to drive the nine miles to Snow Valley.” “We might have to stay in a motel until it’s safe to come home,” Father added. “What happens if the fire comes up to Snow Valley?” Grover asked. “We’ll be evacuated in army helicopters,” Father explained. Sally tried to imagine what an adventure it would be to ride in a big helicopter! She smiled. Father and Mother weren’t smiling, though. They walked out onto the porch and talked in hushed tones.
Sally realized that if the fire jumped the firebreak, they could lose their home and everything in it. She thought of all the other people in town, huddled around their own fireplaces. Suddenly she didn’t feel like smiling, either. At dusk everyone pulled their mattresses down the stairs and made beds in front of the fireplace. Mother stirred up the embers and poured pancake batter into a cast iron skillet. Over the fire she fried up a large stack of pancakes.  “Are we camping?” Grover asked, pulling on Mother’s skirt. “That’s a good way to look at it,” Mother replied with a smile. That night, everyone slept fully clothed, including shoes, ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. In the morning Father and the boys headed up the hill again to see how far the fire had advanced and to talk with the firefighters. Father let Sally go along. She burst into tears when she saw hill after hill, black and spouting smoke. She watched the red wall of flames eat up the beautiful green pines like a hungry monster. “The wind is coming up,” Father said. “It will whip the flames into a frenzy. We’d better get back to the lodge.” As they entered the house, the siren blared. “Get into the car!” Father shouted. Seconds later they were headed down the road to the main highway. They passed people dashing into their homes and reappearing, arms loaded with clothes and valuables. A policeman shouted at them to get into their cars and leave town. Sally saw terror written on these peoples’ tear-stained faces. She was thankful that Father had made them pack everything the night before. “Fire travels fast,” Sally heard her father say, as they joined a trail of cars moving slowly up the winding road toward Snow Valley. “At 60 miles per hour, that fire could catch us out on the highway.” “Shush,” Mother cautioned. “You’ll frighten the children.” She looked into the back of the car and saw seven sets of wide eyes. “Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with us,” Mother soothed. “Then I think we’re fireproof,” Sally blurted. “I read about three Israelite boys who got thrown into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to the king. Jesus was with them, so the fire couldn’t burn them up. They didn’t even smell like smoke when they came out of the furnace.” “I guess . . . that’s right,” Mother said, tears coming into her eyes. Sally looked over the edge of the road as they crept along. A ragged line of fire charged toward them up the mountainside. Yellow and red flames burst into the sky. The trees looked like flaming torches. Airplanes flew over San Bernardino and scooped water up from the ocean not far beyond. Then they flew back over the fire and dumped the water on the flames. Sally watched large sprays of pinkish chemicals shoot out of some planes that passed over the worst parts of the fire. Puffs of black smoke billowed into the sky. Ashes fluttered down on them like a black snowstorm. “We’re fireproof because Jesus is with us,” Grover said, staring out the window.  He snuggled up to Sally and hid his face in her shoulder. But would God protect them the way He had the young men in the fiery furnace?
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Sally removed her shoes and walked to the edge of the lake. When she stuck her feet into the water, she could see her toes, the white sand, and several silver fish. They swirled away from her, so she stepped in a bit deeper to get a closer look. The water felt so good. It cooled her down immediately. Stop! a voice seemed to warn. “I’m not going in any deeper,” she said, as if answering the voice. Just as she turned to go back to shore, she spotted a log floating near the water’s edge. Look at that, she thought, I could wrap my arms around the log and hold my neck and shoulders far above the water. Oh, it would feel so good to be in the water. Sally waded over, grabbed the log, and hung on, holding herself out of the water well above her neck. She kicked her feet, and the log carried her out into the lake. Soon Sally forgot about the opening in her throat and her promise to Mother. She moved a bit closer to the place where the boys splashed around, and called to them, but they couldn’t hear her above the sound of the waterfall. Without warning, the log started to roll. She tried to hang on, but it rolled faster and faster. Water splashed up on her face and neck. Mother’s earlier warning seemed to shout at her. “The hole in your throat is still open. The bandage won’t keep the water out. You could easily drown!” Sally clamped one hand over her throat, but had to let go and grab the log again with both hands. The rough bark scratched her hands. Soon her arms ached, and she dropped a little lower into the lake. When a trickle of water seeped into her throat, she coughed and gasped for breath. “Help me, God!” she cried. She imagined herself sinking down into the water like a boat with a hole in it. Suddenly her toes stubbed against a rock. Sally pushed against it and shoved herself into shallower water. Gathering all her strength, she threw herself onto the wet sand where she coughed so hard her whole body shook. “What are you doing?” Glenn, Lynn, and Bob shouted, running down the path. “You got in the water!” Sally sat up and struggled to catch her breath. She didn’t try to talk. “We’d better get her home,” Glenn stated. They helped Sally stand up, and she flung her arms around Lynn and Glenn’s necks. They staggered down the trail toward home. Bob ran ahead. “Sally got in the water!” he yelled. “She almost drowned!” Mother hurried down the trail with Bob. She lifted Sally from their arms and carried her into the lodge. “Glenn, run to the neighbor’s house and ask them if they can take us to the hospital!” Mother shouted. Moments later Glenn returned with Mrs. Long, who agreed to drive them to the hospital. “Here,” Bob said. “Take your Bible so you can read it if you get stuck there for a while.” “Thanks,” Sally said, giving him a weak smile. I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep her here for a few days to make sure she doesn’t get pneumonia again,” the doctor explained to Mother after he listened to Sally’s lungs. The doctor hooked Sally up to special tubes so she could get medicine quickly. While the yellow fluid ran into her veins, she opened her Bible and read about three men who refused to disobey God and pray to a king called Nebuchadnezzar. The king had them thrown into a fiery furnace, but Jesus showed up in the fire with them! They didn’t burn up! She read the story several times because it seemed too good to be true. When Mother and Father brought her back home four days later, Sally said to Bob, “God eased my way.” “Why do you keep saying that?” Bob asked. “Because God really does ease my way,” Sally replied. “He gave you the thought to check on me when I waded into the lake.” “I’m glad He sent us to help you,” Bob responded. “I’m sorry I disobeyed,” Sally murmured, as she settled in on the living room couch in front of a small fire. “I know you didn’t mean to disobey,” Mother said. “God loves you and has forgiven you. But, disobedience can bring suffering.” “School starts in two weeks,” Mother said, sitting down beside Sally. “I’ve got sewing to do.” “Do I have to wear dresses once the snow comes?” Sally asked. “The girls wear snowsuits over their dresses. At school they remove the snow suits and put them back on before they board the bus for home,” Mother explained. “Mrs. Akers gave me a stack of wool sweaters and skirts. They’re expensive clothes and almost new. I’ll wash and press them. She isn’t a small woman, so there’s plenty of cloth to cut out clothes for you such as the ones the girls are wearing up here.” “You’re a genius, Mother,” Sally said. “God did have a plan in sending you to work for Mrs. Akers.” Mother kept the sewing machine needle whirling up and down, making neat seams. Even when a storm cut off the electricity, Mother kept sewing. Her feet worked a flat, metal plate near the floor, called a treadle. A belt connected the treadle and the sewing arm, making the needle go up and down. When the first day of school arrived, Bob shouted, “Let’s go!” The siblings took off down the dirt road at the end of their property. “Mother says that the school sits at the edge of a meadow, just over this hill,” Bob explained. A man met them at the school door. “I’m Mr. Hoffman,” he said. “Welcome.” Sally looked around the room. “Does everyone go to school in the same room?” she asked. “Yes,” replied Mr. Hoffman. “There are eight grades, and there’s at least one student in each grade. “I think you’ll like this one-room school.” Mr. Hoffman was right. Sally loved the one-room school, where the older kids helped the younger ones. Snow fell by Christmas, but temperatures stayed mild, and the sun often came out. The boys built snow forts and held snowball fights. They found some old skis and nailed leather straps for the toes of their boots to slide into. They spent hours skiing down the hills near the house and skating on the frozen meadow beside the school. Sally’s seventh-grade school year passed rapidly, and soon the snow melted into spring. The day school closed, Father handed the boys a long saw with huge teeth. “All the wood that was stacked in the garage when we moved here is gone. We’ll need to cut a lot more,” he said. That summer Sally accompanied her brothers when they went into the woods to cut logs. Sally would sit on the long end of the log to hold it in place. The boys held the saw, one at each end, and pulled it back and forth until a chunk of wood fell to the ground. They split the short pieces by pounding metal wedges into them until they cracked in half. They worked hard all day, and Sally looked forward to evenings when they gathered around the fireplace to listen to Mother read from a book called The Desire of Ages. While she read they worked on art projects, built model cars, or played games. Each night, Sally learned about God’s Son, Jesus, who came to earth to save them. She was amazed at how much Jesus loved everyone. Then one night, just before dark, Glenn, Lynn, and Bob burst into the house. “The whole mountain is on fire!” they shouted.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Silence filled the courtroom. Every eye fastened on the man with drooping shoulders standing in front of the judge. “I asked you a question,” the judge said, staring at Sally’s father. “Do you want these children?” “Of course he wants us. He’s our father!” Sally shouted, leaping from her chair. Iona caught her and pulled her outside. “You can’t control yourself. We’ll wait here until they’ve finished.” Sally wanted to scream at Iona, but before she could say a word she was taken out of the courthouse. As soon as she spotted her siblings coming out of the courtroom doors, Sally cried out, “What did he say? Does he want us?” Grover looked up at her, tears running down his cheeks. “He said no.” Sally couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. Quickly the guards led the children off in different directions. Grover’s words burned in her heart. “He said no.” Maybe we’re just too much trouble or maybe we cost too much to feed, she thought. Or perhaps Father is sick or something. Suddenly, conflicting thoughts swirled in Sally’s mind. Your heavenly Father will never say that He doesn’t want you. But if my own father doesn’t want me, how can God? How can I trust someone I’ve never seen? It was as if she were arguing with herself. A week later Iona came into Sally’s room with a large paper bag. She stuffed Sally’s few things into it. “You’re all leaving here,” she announced abruptly. “We’re leaving now? But I thought my father didn’t want us,” Sally said. “Stop asking questions,” Iona shot back, leading her into the waiting room. “Sally,” another employee whispered, pressing a book into her hand. “Always remember that you’re the girl God rescued.” Sally looked at the pink book with “Bible” stamped in gold letters on the front. “Thank you,” Sally responded. “Thank you for your kindness.” Soon the brothers and sisters were gathered in the waiting room. Then, to their surprise, they saw Father’s big Cadillac pull up to the front door! No one spoke as they climbed in. Even Sally didn’t know what to say. They rode in silence as Father drove up the freeway. Sally expected her parents to explain why they had been taken to Juvenile Hall and why they were suddenly leaving, but her parents said nothing. They passed through Riverside and San Bernardino, and started up the long winding highway that led into the mountains. Yellow Scotch bonnet bushes adorned the roadside, forming a thin, gold line. Soon the family reached about 6,000 feet in elevation and entered a ponderosa pine forest.  “Running Springs,” a sign read as they passed under a bridge. Moments later the road turned left and stopped in front of a large brown house made from smooth logs, painted brown. Father pulled into a four-car garage and the family piled out of the car. A long flight of stairs led to a porch that ran the full length of the house. “It’s huge!” Glenn exclaimed when they entered the kitchen. Sally had never seen so many cupboards. Ten people could cook in here, she thought. The kitchen opened into an even larger living room. “The fireplace is a real whopper. I can stand inside it,” Bob shouted. “Upstairs, everyone,” Mother said. “Your names are on the bedroom doors. You each have your own room.” They pounded up the stairs and scattered. Sally found her room and looked inside. A single bed, dresser, and chair sat in the room. A window looked out into the woods. “It’s beautiful,” she sighed. They ran in and out of each other’s bedrooms. Mother and father’s room sat at the end of the hallway on the same floor. After checking out every room, the siblings tumbled down the stairs into the living room, everyone talking at once. Over the next week Mother, Lynn, and Glenn glued down tiles, square by square, on the living room floor. When the floor was finished, they rubbed paste wax on every tile. “We don’t have a floor buffer,” Mother said, “but I have an idea.” She wrapped everyone’s feet in old rags. “Slide around. It will buff the floor and save a lot of work.” For hours they ran and slid all over the living room floor, laughing, and singing songs. They buffed by hand those areas they couldn’t get with their feet. They moved the furniture back into the room, placing the couches in front of the fireplace and arranging the dining room table and chairs in front of a set of French doors that opened onto the porch. “Why is it so big, Mother?” Sally asked. “This used to be a ski lodge,” Mother explained. Father never mentioned the day at court or anything about their stay at Juvenile Hall, even though on occasion Sally tried to bring the subject up. It’s just as though it never happened, Sally thought. But it did happen, and it still hurts inside. Could it happen again? One day Mother had an announcement to make. “I’ll be working a half day three days a week for Mrs. Akers. She lives near here,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll just be doing a little housekeeping,” she added when she noticed the frown on Sally’s face. Sally sighed. She didn’t like the idea of Mother being gone, but she decided to trust that God had a plan in mind. Meanwhile, the nearby woods beckoned. Sally spent hours wandering about. Purple iris dotted the forest floor, and ferns uncurled in the filtered sunlight. She pressed wildflowers in a special book and collected pinecones. The hours she spent outside gave her the joy of discovering new things. In her heart she still longed for the ocean, but she never spoke of it to anyone. Sally and her brothers made backpacks from large Tide soapboxes. Mother gave them strips of stiff fabric she used to make belts for her dresses so that they could make straps for their packs. Next they tied themselves together with rope like mountain climbers. Sally always packed sketchbooks and colored pencils in her pack. One day they came across a small lake less than a mile from the lodge. A stream bounced down a hillside and plunged into the lake. They discovered that a flat, smooth slab of rock sat in the stream at the point where the water leaped over the edge and fell down into the lake. “This would be a great waterslide!” Bob said enthusiastically. “Let’s come back tomorrow,” Glenn urged. The following morning, Sally pleaded with Mother. “Please let me go with them!” “No, I’m sorry, Sally,” Mother replied. “The hole in your throat is still open. The bandage won’t keep water out. You could easily drown.” “But I won’t go into the water, I promise! I’ll just sit nearby and draw pictures.” Sally begged again and again.
Finally Mother gave in. “Well, I suppose you’re old enough to know how to obey,” she said. “I will, Mother, I will!” Sally said, jumping about. A slight breeze cooled the hikers as they scrambled down the steep path that led to the lake. When they came to the spot where the stream fell into the lake, the boys threw down their packs and lined up for a turn at the “waterslide.” Sally continued on down the trail to the far end of the lake and sat down. She could see her siblings splash and hear their happy screams. They climbed to the top of the falls and slid over the edge again and again. The noonday sun bore down on Sally. She had forgotten how hot it could be in the mountains. She wiped perspiration from her forehead and began drawing. After a while she stood up and watched Glenn do a torpedo dive off the falls. Why don’t you just get your feet wet? a voice inside Sally suggested. It would cool off your whole body. Your feet are a long way from your throat. How could it hurt you? 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Laura stayed busy all that day. She didn’t talk to Sally very much, and she frowned a lot. She’s worried about something, Sally thought while she watched Laura move about the room and write on the chart. “I’m not really going home, am I?” Sally asked, finally breaking the silence. Laura sighed. “No, Sally,” the woman finally replied. “You’re leaving here today, but your parents aren’t ready to take care of you. Don’t get upset about it, you—” “Don’t worry,” Sally interrupted. “I’ve gotten well here, and I’m thankful for that, but something else has happened to me.” “What is that?” Laura asked, pulling a chair up to the bed. “I know that whatever situation I’m in and wherever I go, God will ease my way. He’s done it a lot of times already. And I believe that He has plans for my life. I can’t imagine what they might be,” Sally admitted, fidgeting with her long braids, “but I’m watching for them.” Laura smiled. “I wish I could be around to see them all develop,” she said. “Right now we’d better get you ready for lunch.” They both laughed and Laura gathered medicines and equipment Sally would need at Juvenile Hall to help her continue to get well. Soon nurses helped her into an ambulance. “Don’t use the siren,” Sally said. “People will think I’m still sick, and I definitely am not!” “Yes, ma’am!” the driver said, laughing. “No siren.” When they arrived at Juvenile Hall, the driver carried Sally to her room. He noticed the bars on the windows and shook his head. “Here’s a note from Laura,” he said. “It lists some foods and activities that will help you continue to gain strength.” “Thank you,” Sally said, smiling. She began to read the list. Just then Iona walked into the room. “You look better,” she said. “Is there anything I can get you?” “Yes. Please bring me a big pitcher of water. And could you take me out to the porch and let me sit in the sun? I’m certainly not going to try to run away,” Sally said. Iona picked Sally up, and walked out into the sunshine. She settled her into a lounge chair and walked inside without saying a word. A warm breeze filtered through the trees and made the leaves dance. Birds sang in the treetops, and Sally laughed. It felt so good to be outdoors. “Thank You, God,” she said, pressing her hand over the bandage on her neck. Her words still sounded hoarse and weak, but it felt good to talk. Sally heard someone whistling. A man in brown baggy pants and a blue T-shirt came around the corner of the building. He pushed a wheelbarrow that held a wooden box. Bright flowers filled it and hung over the sides. “Hello,” the man greeted. “These are for you. I’m Joe. My wife, Sharon, works in the kitchen. She also passes out the clothes to the girls each morning. “Oh, I met her my first day here,” Sally responded. “She always has something kind to say.” Joe laughed. “That’s her. She said to give this to ‘the girl God rescued.’ ” “Oh!” Sally gasped. “Does everyone know what happened to me?” “Of course,” Joe said. “You’re our miracle girl.” Tears formed in Sally’s eyes. “Don’t cry,” Joe said, as if his command could stop the tears. “I’m not sad,” Sally said. “I just realized that your wife helped God ease my way again. Things such as looking at beautiful flowers, birds, and even water is on this ‘get well’ list my nurse gave me.” “I’ll tell Sharon,” Joe said with a smile. Sally watched as the kind man headed for the kitchen. In a moment she noticed a woman peeking through the window at her. Sally waved, and a hand in the window waved back. It was Sharon. Day after day, Sally spent most of her time outside. When she returned to the hospital for a visit, the doctor said the hole in her throat would grow together, but it would take several months. She must stay away from water and keep the big bandage over the hole. One day, two weeks after returning to Juvenile Hall from the hospital, Sally marched to school with the other girls. The kids stared at her when she entered the classroom. “Look! It’s the girl God rescued,” several girls whispered, waving at her. She wiggled into her seat. “Hello,” Sally greeted in response. “Welcome back,” the teacher said. “We have all heard about your illness and recovery.”  Even though she couldn’t go to their homes for parties, the girls and Sally laughed and played jump rope together at school. The time didn’t drag by so slowly now. A week later Iona shoved a new dress, a pair of shoes and socks into Sally’s arms when she returned from school. Take a shower and put these on,” she commanded. “You’re going to court.” Sally’s heart thumped hard as she wiggled into the dress. Why am I going to court? she wondered. Isn’t court where bad people get taken and put on trial? What have I done wrong? God, please help me! When Sally and Iona reached the courthouse just a short drive from Juvenile Hall, she felt surprised to see her brothers and sisters standing with several guards just outside the front doors. She hurried up the steps, and
they all chattered and hugged each other. “Be quiet,” Iona said. “We have to go inside now. I don’t want any of you to say a word unless someone asks you to speak.” They all filed inside and sat down on a wooden bench in the second row. Sally spotted Mother and Father sitting with a strange man in the front row. “Mother!” Sally screamed, leaping to her feet. Iona tried to grab her, but Sally fled down the aisle and threw herself into Mother’s arms. Iona marched up and pulled Sally away. “Your Honor,” said the strange man, standing up and moving to the front of the room. “Your Honor,” he said, “this girl has seen her mother only once—when she lay in the hospital dying. Otherwise, none of these children have seen their parents for almost a year. Can’t we give them a chance to speak for a few minutes? These children aren’t criminals.” “We certainly can,” the judge agreed. He banged his gavel twice on his desk. Mother and Father hugged each child in turn. Everyone talked at once. “Are we going home?” Sally asked. “That’s what the court will decide,” the strange man said. “I’m Mr. Burke, your father’s lawyer. As soon as you all sit down, we’ll get down to business.” Soon the children returned to their seats and sat silently. “We’ll go home. I know we will,” Sally whispered to Grover, who sat beside her. Iona glared at her. She turned to look at the judge, who wore a long black robe. The judge asked Mother and Father a lot of questions, but Sally found it difficult to concentrate. She watched a woman who sat up front, facing them, typing on a small machine. Her fingers flew over the keys. Sally realized that she wrote down every word that each person said. Sometimes the judge asked her to read a portion of a conversation again. At last the judge spoke to Father, who stood with his head bent low. “Are you ready to take care of these children?” the judge asked. “Do you want these children?” Everyone leaned forward to hear his answer.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
I can’t breathe!” Sally gasped, waking up. “Help me!” “Stay still,” a voice said. “You must be quiet.” Sally opened her eyes. She saw a woman in a white uniform hovering over her. Clear plastic sheeting covered the upper part of her bed, forming a tent around her. Droplets of water hung from the sides. “This is an oxygen tent,” the woman said. “I’m Carol, your nurse. “The oxygen will help you breathe. Try to sleep.” Hours later Sally awoke. She felt like an elephant sat on her chest. “She isn’t getting enough oxygen in spite of the tent,” Sally heard a doctor say to Carol. “I’m starting an intravenous medication right now.” Sally felt so weak she didn’t resist when the doctor plunged the needle into her arm. He taped it down and connected the tube to a large bottle with yellow fluid in it. “Keep a close eye on her,” he said. “Call me if there is any change. I’d like to save this girl, but I don’t see how I can.” Day after day doctors and nurses came and went. They poked her with needles, took X-rays, and tried different medicines. Still she struggled to breathe. One day Sally sat up. She strained to draw air into her lungs and push it out again. Suddenly she didn’t feel like struggling any longer. She fell back onto the bed and closed her eyes, feeling relaxed, almost good. I’m dying, she thought. A clatter of metal and jumble of loud voices jarred her. She opened her eyes and looked through the open door into the hall. A doctor reached into his pocket and grabbed a penknife. When he opened the knife, a bit of sunlight reflected off the steel blade. The doctor ran into Sally’s room, pointing the knife at her. He reached out and pulled her head back and plunged the blade into her throat. Sally felt fluid blast from her throat. Suddenly her lungs drew in a great breath of air. Sweet air flowed in and out. The doctor pushed her bed out of the room and down the hall. They entered a room marked “Surgery.” Before she could ask any questions, she blacked out. The next day Sally awoke and saw that a thin hose connected her to a great machine that sat beside her bed. It wheezed and clattered, pushing air into her lungs and pulling it out. Red and blue lights flashed on and off. She passed in and out of consciousness while nurses came into the room to check on her. Worry lines creased their faces. She watched the activity around her. No one spoke to her. It means they think I will die, she thought. One morning the door opened, and a tall woman in a white uniform, wearing a cap on her head, marched into the room. “I’m Laura,” she announced. “I’m here to help you get well, Sally.” She knows my name, Sally thought. She thinks I can get well. How can that be? I can’t eat or move or even breathe on my own. Laura placed a black book on the desk, then busied herself about the room, checking the IV bottle and the numbers on the machine. She explained everything. “This ventilator pushes good air into your lungs until you can breathe on your own.” Sally tried to stay awake and listen to all the explanations. She liked the way Laura talked to her, but Sally couldn’t respond. It’s because I have a tube in my throat, she thought. Each day she discovered that a bit more strength crept into her body. One morning a man came into the room and attached a mirror to the head of the bed. Laura adjusted it so she could see Sally from her nearby desk. That afternoon Sally watched Laura reading a black book. Her face brightened. She sure looks happy, Sally thought. I wonder what she’s reading. Laura got up from the desk and started to check the ventilator and other equipment. Sally stared at the open book in the mirror. She struggled to read a word at the top of the page. The letters marched in reverse: H-A-I-M-E-R-E-J. Then Sally transposed the letters in her mind: J-E-R-E-M-I-A-H. It’s a Bible, she thought. Sally struggled to read the next three lines, one word at a time. She felt exhausted after only a few minutes, but she gradually put the words together. They formed three short sentences. “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”* God gave Jeremiah these words. He’s trying to tell me that He has plans for me, Sally thought. The idea made her smile. The next day Laura gave Sally a bath and braided her hair. She put a little pink bed jacket on her. “Someone is coming to visit you this morning,” she said. “Who is coming?” Sally asked silently, forming the words with her lips. I wish it could be Mother, she thought. I wonder why she hasn’t come for me. “Hello,” Laura said, answering a knock on the door. A woman walked in. “Mother!” Sally gasped, trying to sit up and talk. Mother reached out and took Sally in her arms. She cried. Suddenly a warning light on the ventilator began to flash red. Laura reached out and touched Sally’s shoulder. “You must calm yourself,” she said. Mother laid Sally back onto the pillow. “Quiet, Sally. It’s OK,” she whispered. Sally tried to relax, and her heartbeat slowed. Mother drew up a chair and held Sally’s hand. She couldn’t stop the tears that streamed down her cheeks. “These are tears of joy, Sally. I came as soon as the doctors felt you could handle a visit.” “We’re already working to wean her off the ventilator,” Laura explained. “And we think she’ll be able to breathe on her own soon.” “You’re making good progress, dear,” Mother said. “I’ve been praying for you. I have to go now, but I’ll see you as soon as I am allowed to return.” She bent down and kissed Sally on the forehead. Sally sighed and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, it was morning. Day after day, strength and hope poured into Sally. One afternoon the doctor removed the tube in her throat. He stood beside the bed watching to see if Sally could breathe without the ventilator. Sally took a few short, shallow breaths. Then she took some regular, deep breaths. “Remove the ventilator,” the doctor ordered, smiling. Sally knew she wasn’t ready for a jump rope, but she didn’t feel weak or dizzy when she moved around in the bed. Laura taught her to speak by pressing her hand over the bandage on her neck. “Thank you,” Sally said. They were her first words spoken aloud in many weeks. Laura threw her head back and laughed. Two weeks later, when Laura came into the room, she smiled and announced, “You’re ready to go home.” “Home?” Sally questioned. Where is my home? she wondered.  *Jeremiah 29:11
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
An hour later the cars stopped at a large building surrounded by a wire fence. The police officers herded Sally and her brothers and sisters through double doors into a large room. A sign over the door read “Juvenile Hall.” Suddenly another door opened. A tall man wearing khaki pants and shirt marched across the room. “You three, come with me,” he said, pointing to Lynn, Glenn, and Bob. Sally tried to scream, but no sound came out. Another door opened and crashed against the wall. A large woman, wearing an identical uniform, burst into the room. The metal taps on her boots clicked on the wooden floor as she walked toward Sally and her sisters and little brother, Grover. The woman towered above Sally and looked at her through dark, close-set eyes that sat on each side of a hawk beaklike nose. She pinched her lips into a thin line and pushed a stray lock of hair into the clip that held her hair in a bun at the back of her head. She picked up Alice and snarled, “My name is Iona. Come with me.” They followed Iona meekly into a long, dark hall. She opened another door and pushed Sally, Grover, Alice, and Anita inside the room. “Go to sleep. I’ll come for you in the morning.” Two single beds sat under a barred window. Anita removed their shoes and tucked them under one of the beds. She climbed into the other one. Alice and Grover fell asleep immediately, but Sally lay silent, staring into the darkness. She heard muffled cries. “Are you all right?” she asked. Anita didn’t answer. After a long time the sobbing stopped. Sally awoke just as a narrow band of light formed on the horizon. She got out of bed and stared through the window. Suddenly she realized that she was wet and smelled like urine. “Grover and Alice both wet the bed, and it’s all over me,” she groaned. The door opened and Iona walked in. “It stinks in here,” she said, grabbing Sally’s hand. “You’re going to the showers.” Sally wanted to explain that Grover and Alice wet the bed because they felt frightened, but Iona just yanked her toward the door. She turned and looked back at her brother and sisters. Tears ran down her cheeks. She didn’t bother to wipe them away. Iona stripped Sally and shoved her into a shower room with water jets on two walls. Ten other girls her age stood beneath them. No one spoke. They stared at her. She wanted to scream and run away, but Iona grabbed her. She pointed to a large room where 20 cots lined the walls. Tall, metal cabinets separated each cot. “Dry off and go in there,” Iona instructed. In the room a dozen or so girls stood in line. A woman, wearing a white apron over her uniform, smiled as she gathered clothes from cubicles that lined a wall and handed them to each girl. One by one they took their clothes. With drooping shoulders and sad faces, they returned to their own cot and dressed. Sally put on a faded blue dress that hung off her shoulders and reached well past her knees. She pulled brown-and-white shoes over baggy socks. She looked at herself. Who is this girl? she thought. Why am I here? When everyone finished dressing, they walked to a dining hall. The woman with the white apron and kind eyes piled eggs and cereal onto a tray. She handed it to Sally. “Try to eat some breakfast,” she said, smiling. Sally looked up at her. She wanted to say something, but she couldn’t speak. She turned away and flopped down at a table.  “You’d better eat quickly,” a girl, as thin as her voice, urged. “My name’s Marty. I’m 10.” Ten minutes later a voice rang out. “Girls!” Everyone stopped eating, stood up, then formed a line at the doorway. Iona stood there, glaring at them. “You’ll be late for school,” she growled. The girls moved forward. Outside they stumbled along a cracked concrete sidewalk past a row of wooden houses, eventually stopping at a chain-link fence. Iona opened a gate and they entered a schoolyard.  “Look!” a boy yelled through an open window. “The juvie kids are here!” A girl made faces at them. “Murderers!” she cried, slamming the window shut. “What’s a juvie kid?” Sally asked Marty. “We live at Juvenile Hall. That’s why they call us that.” “But why did that girl call us murderers?” Sally asked, staring wide-eyed at the children clustered at the windows. “I killed my father,” Marty said. Her eyes looked at some distant place, and a tear slid down her face. “But you’re only 10!” Sally gasped. Marty didn’t answer. Iona led Sally into a classroom. She handed the teacher a sheet of paper and marched out of the room without looking back. Sally had never felt so alone in all her life. She sat rigid and silent at her desk. A great black cloud drooped over her. She wanted to break out of the darkness, but she couldn’t. Why am I here? she wondered. Where are my parents? The days followed each other, tumbling together in a jumble of fear. One afternoon Sally heard familiar voices.  She spotted Lynn, Glenn, and Bob shooting baskets in a court beyond the chain-link fence that surrounded her building. “Bob!” she cried out. The boys stopped playing. They ran to the fence and grasped each other’s fingers through the wire. “We live in that barrack,” Glenn said, pointing to a long, two-story building behind him. “We live with criminals,” Bob announced. “I do too,” Sally sobbed. “But we aren’t criminals, are we?” “Of course not,” Anita said, coming up behind Sally. Sally threw herself into Anita’s arms. “Mother and Father are going to get us out of here. When they got back to “the building,” the police had already taken us away. It’s true that juvenile hall is a jail for kids, but abandoned children, like us, stay here too.” “Mother would never abandon us!” Sally shouted. Anita went on. “I asked one of the guards to tell me why they brought us here. She told me that Mother went with Father to take care of some business. He didn’t want to come back when he promised her that he would, and Mother had no way to come back until he was ready. A neighbor called the people at juvenile hall and said they saw children in a small building with no parents around. So they came and took us away.” A siren blew. “We have to go,” Bob said. The boys turned and walked toward the gray building. At the door, they waved and went inside. That night when Sally sobbed into her pillow, a thought came to her. God just eased your way. You got to see your brothers and sisters. Be patient. God will fix this problem. The next six months passed slowly. Sally couldn’t shake off the sadness that had settled over her. One night she awoke coughing. Her head ached, and she gasped in short, shallow breaths. Marty sat up. “What’s the matter, Sally?” she asked. “Oh, my chest hurts!” she responded, trying to stand up. She felt dizzy and fell onto the floor. “Help!” Marty cried out. “Somebody help Sally!” A light flipped on. Iona stood in the doorway. She ran toward Sally, picked her up, and hurried down the hall. Moments later an ambulance roared up to juvenile hall. A man in a white suit carried Sally to the ambulance. He placed an oxygen mask over her face. “Hurry,” Iona commanded, slamming the ambulance doors shut. “Ease my way, God,” Sally whispered, and then she passed out into darkness.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Wow!” Sally said, looking at the abalone shell and the pictures in a book. God must love the creatures He made, because He takes care of all their needs, she thought. I’m one of His creatures, so He must love me. “I’m going to stay by the ocean forever and learn all its secrets,” she said out loud. “No, you’re not,” Bob said, coming into Sally’s room. “We have to move again.” “But why?” Sally wailed. “We’ve been here just a few months. I love it here!” “No one ever tells us why,” Anita complained, coming into the room and shoving a box at Sally. “Mother said to put your stuff in this box.” “But my shells and clothes will never fit in this box. I’m not leaving them,” she said, placing her hands on her hips. “I have some extra space,” Anita said. “You can put your collection in the top of my box.” “Thanks,” Sally said, wiping a tear from her face. Father and the older boys packed the boxes into the car, then they sped down the freeway. “Riverside, 90 miles,” a green sign announced. An hour and a half later Father pulled into a driveway beside a small yellow building that sat on a corner lot. A large concrete slab spread out behind it. “We’ll just stay here for a short time,” Mother said. “It isn’t much, but we’ll live with it,” she explained, walking to the front door and unlocking it. Sally peered around the inside of the building. There was a room with a bathroom in one corner, and a double bed stood in another corner. Seven  cots sat stacked against a wall. Sally stepped outside. Nine people can’t live in one room, she thought. Glenn, Lynn, and Bob stumbled from the room. They stood in a huddle. No one spoke. They watched as Father came out and jumped into the limo. He drove away without saying a word. The days passed slowly. Sometimes Sally felt so hungry she couldn’t do her schoolwork. She dreamed of the big chocolate cakes Mother used to make every Friday. She could almost taste the rich frosting. Sally lay in bed at night and imagined the beautiful abalone clasped to the rock as wave after wave splashed it. If the abalone didn’t cling tight, waves could grab it and send it floating out into the deep ocean. She sat quietly for a long time. I must cling to God, even though I don’t know Him that well, she thought. Waves of trouble are washing over me. The idea made her sit upright in her bed. She looked about the room. I hate this place! she thought. I will never call it home. It will always be “the building.” Sally slumped back down onto the bed and fell into a troubled sleep. Every day in Sally’s new school passed like a bad dream. She felt so sad that she had no energy to make any friends. One afternoon Sally noticed a large orange tree in the backyard of a house across the street. Hundreds of plump oranges hung on the branches. The fruit isn’t mine, she thought, crossing the street. I’ll just smell it. She bent forward and sniffed the orange. Slowly her hand reached out and touched the fruit.  Suddenly the orange fell to the ground. “May I help you?” a voice said. Sally jerked her hand back and turned toward the voice. A frail woman with thin white hair stood in the doorway of the little white house only a few feet away. Her blue eyes danced, and a smile wrinkled her face. “I’m sorry,” Sally said. “I didn’t mean to touch it.” “The woman laughed. “It fell because the oranges are ready to be harvested. I can’t pick them. It’s a shame. The tree is loaded this year.” “I could pick them for you!” Sally blurted. “My brothers can help.” “That would be wonderful,” replied the woman, smiling. “I can sell them to the market. My name is Mrs. Flanders, by the way.” A few minutes later Sally ran to “the building” and told the boys about the oranges. Soon they stood under the tree looking at the fruit, with hunger in their eyes. Mrs. Flanders came out of the house carrying a tray of sandwiches and cookies. “I thought you might need a snack,” she said, looking at the boys. Four hours later everyone stood back and looked at the beautiful boxes of oranges stacked in the driveway. A short time later a truck came and hauled them away to the market. “Here’s your pay,” Mrs. Flanders said, handing Glenn $50. “Thank you,” they all called, crossing the street and running into “the building.” “We picked oranges for Mrs. Flanders!” Glenn said, handing the money to Mother. “Why, that’s wonderful!” Mother beamed. “I’ll buy some groceries. She stuffed the money into her purse, walked outside, and hailed a cab. Several hours later a taxi returned, and Mother climbed out carrying a big chocolate cake. She smiled at the children gathered in the doorway. “Groceries in the back seat,” she announced. The boys swarmed down the steps and gathered the packages. Mother handed the driver some money. “Thank you,” she said. “God helped us,” Sally said to Bob when he brought a bag of groceries into “the building.” “He hasn’t solved all our problems yet, but He’s eased our way.” All that week Sally sensed that something was wrong. No one talked about whatever the problem was, but a tension she didn’t understand increased. No one explained anything. Father took the limo and disappeared every day. When he returned to “the building,” he sat on the bed and stared at the floor. When the girls at school asked Sally to a birthday party, she made excuses because she had no money to buy a gift. One day Sally and her brothers got off the school bus and came into “the building.” “Mother and Father went on a short business trip. They’ll be back in a couple of days,” Anita explained. “That’s all I know.” That night, when Sally sat down on her cot to do her homework, the lights flickered off. Glenn checked the fuse box. “I think the electric company has turned the lights off,” he said, shoulders slumping. “Father probably didn’t pay the bill.” “Let’s go outside and play games,” Anita suggested. “We can finish our homework in the morning.” They gathered on the concrete slab and played kick the can. The object of the game was for all but one person to hide, and then try to sneak out and kick the tomato juice can over without being tagged by the person assigned to catch them. They played until late into the night, then arranged their cots and crawled in. Finally everyone fell asleep. “Where are Mother and Father? Why don’t they come back?” Sally asked Anita two days later. Anita didn’t answer. That night they couldn’t see to do homework so they went to bed as soon as the sun set behind the mountains. Suddenly sirens screamed in the
still night. Sally sat up in bed. She looked out the window and saw red and blue lights flashing in the darkness. Four police officers bolted from the cars and burst into “the building.” “You’re coming with us,” they commanded, grabbing Alice and Grover from their cots. Glenn, Lynn, and Bob stood up, rubbing their eyes. “W-w-what?” they stuttered. “What’s happening?” Sally wanted to scream, but the words jammed up inside her throat. A police officer shoved her into his car. She looked through the back window and saw her brothers and Anita in the police car behind them. Through the window of the police car she watched as “the building” shrank in the distance.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Glenn and Lynn shot down the beach and reached the lump on the sand ahead of everyone. “It’s Grover!” Lynn shouted. “A wave spit him out!” In an instant the rest of the family ran toward Grover. Mother knelt down and lifted Grover’s face close to her ear. He shivered and wrapped his arms around her neck.  “He’s alive,” she said, a smile flooding her face. Sand clung to Grover’s body and clothes. It matted his hair, filled his eyes, and fell out of his ears. The surf had torn off his shirt and shoes, but he was alive. Sally burst out crying. “It’s OK,” Bob said, patting her on the shoulder. Glenn carried Grover to the tent. Mother filled a pan with water and rinsed the sand from his face. Grover whimpered but didn’t resist. Then she peeled off his sandy clothes and wrapped him in a blanket. Mother ran to a small tent just down the beach. When she returned, a man walked beside her. “This is Mr. Brown. He’s going to take us to the hospital,” Mother said. Mr. Brown gently picked Grover up and they headed up the steps to the parking lot. “I think an angel saved him,” Lynn said. “Those waves are so big, and Grover is small.” For a long time they sat silently staring out over the ocean. Anita got up and walked into the tent. She returned with a bottle of orange soda for everyone. They sipped it in silence, waiting for Mother to return. “I’m going to go sit on the rocks for a while,” Sally said, standing up. “Be careful,” Glenn commanded. “Don’t get too close to the water. A wave could reach up and grab you.” “I’ll be careful,” Sally said, looking at him. A stray tear ran down his cheek over a sprinkle of freckles before he could wipe it off. Sally walked down the beach and climbed up the pile of rocks that had fallen from the cliff top. They formed pockets where ocean water collected. All kinds of creatures lived in the safety of the tide pools. She found a smooth rock and sat down. Lynn’s words, “God saved him,” swirled around and around in her mind. Did God know each one of them? Did He see Grover head into the water? “Look at this one!” a voice shouted above the sound of waves hitting rocks and bubbling back to the ocean. “That’s the biggest one yet!” another voice called out. Sally looked down at the water. Two boys wearing black wet suits and air tanks floated not far from her perch. One boy dropped something into a net bag that hung in the middle of an inner tube and disappeared beneath the surface. The waves that splashed against the rocks looked small. It’s low tide and safe for me to get a bit closer to the water, Sally thought as she worked her way along the rocks at the base of the cliff. She found a flat rock just above a large tide pool and sat down.  She hoped the divers would emerge soon. Suddenly the two boys burst from the water and removed their masks. Sally leaned forward as far as she dared. She just had to get a better look at the objects they held in their hands. All at once she slipped on a strand of seaweed and fell into the pool. She wanted to stay in the water and hide from the divers, but she started to shiver. When she climbed out of the water, she heard laughter.  “Are you all right?” a voice called out over the sound of waves hitting rocks. “I’m Rich, and this is my brother, Joe. “Sorry,” Joe said. “I just couldn’t help laughing. That giant kelp is slick stuff.” “Do you want to see the abalone shell?” Rich asked. “Yes!” Sally laughed, plucking a strand of giant kelp from her hair and smoothing out her wet shirt.  “Move back,” Rich shouted. He flung the abalone shell up over the tumble of rocks. It landed in the tide pool. Sally peered into the water. She couldn’t see anything, so she knelt down and ran her hand around the bottom of the pool, hoping a crab wouldn’t pinch her fingers. After a few minutes she felt something smooth. She grabbed it and stood up. “Pretty incredible, huh?” Joe called out. Both boys stood there staring at her, waiting for her to answer. “It looks like a rock with a slimy glop of stuff in it,” she said. “You didn’t take the animal out so she could see the rainbow,” Joe said to Rich.  “No wonder she thinks it’s just a rock.” “You have to dig the animal out,” Rich called. “Then you can see the rainbow.” Sally wanted to see a rainbow, but she didn’t want to touch the slimy-looking thing, and she certainly wasn’t about to dig it out. “It’s just a big sea slug called a mollusk,” Joe explained.  “It can’t hurt you. I promise.” Sally looked at the creature that had no arms or legs or visible mouth. She frowned. “I’ll help you,” Rich said, moving a bit closer but staying back far enough to avoid the spot where the waves hit the rocks. “You want to see the rainbow, don’t you. Hold the shell up with your left hand,” he said, not waiting for her to answer. “Now scrunch up your shoulders, wrinkle up your nose, and close your eyes and make a face as if you just saw something yucky.” “That won’t be hard,” Sally said, following Rich’s instructions. “Good,” he encouraged. “Now make a claw with your right hand. Take a deep breath. Stick your fingers into the shell and dig out the mollusk. It’s stuck to the shell.” “Go ahead and scream,” Joe yelled. “My sister says it makes her feel better.” As soon as Sally’s fingers touched the slimy mollusk, she did scream, and she did feel better. She flung the mass of gray flesh into the tide pool and looked at the shell, running her hand over the outer surface. The back looked just like a gray rock, but when she turned the shell over, she gasped in surprise. A rainbow stared up at her! “You’re right,” she said. “It’s amazing! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet swirls of color danced about on the inside of the abalone. The more she twisted and turned the shell in the sunshine, the more colors she saw. The boys laughed. “You can keep it,” Rich said. “We have plenty more.” “See you later,” Joe yelled, adjusting his mask and disappearing into the ocean. Rich waved and dropped from sight. “Thanks,” Sally called out. She climbed down the rocks toward the beach. Her wet sneakers squished and squeaked as she hurried toward the tent. I’ve got to find out how this creature clings to the rocks, she thought. How does a snail make a rainbow? Why does it have only one side, not two like a clam? She ran down the beach and walked right into the tent, sandy shoes and all. She didn’t see her brother Bob sitting beside the front tent flap. “Hey, rinse your feet,” Bob said. “You’re going to make a mess of the tent.” Sally didn’t hear him. She clutched the abalone tighter and headed for the stack of books beside her bed. I’m going to solve some mysteries, she thought.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Sally and Anita finished packing a few of their belongings and climbed into the back seat of their father’s Cadillac limo. Sally loved the old classic car. Her brothers often lifted the hood and stared at the massive 1932 V-16 engine. Whenever Father took them for a ride, Sally, Anita, and Alice curled up on the plush back seat, and the four boys unfolded the two jump seats. For privacy, Mother rolled up the window that separated the front and back seats. “What’s happening?” Sally asked Anita. “Why are we moving? Why aren’t we taking anything much with us?” “It’s Father,” Anita said. “I heard him tell Mother yesterday that he was tired of his work and wanted to do something different.” Anita turned to look behind them at the sign that seemed to shout “Malibu Beach” in big red letters. “There goes my summer,” she groaned. “He’ll find something else to do that he likes,” Sally said. “You don’t get it,” Anita groaned. “Father gets restless. He starts a business and gets it going really good, then he just stops working, and we run out of money. He doesn’t stick to anything for very long. Once, when you were 4, he opened a health food store. We lived in Hollywood and had lots of stuff. Suddenly he just walked away from it. We ended up living in the car for a month. I don’t know what’s wrong.” Mother rolled down the window behind her. “Try to think of living in a tent as an adventure. People camp all the time,” she said after looking at all the gloomy faces. “Some adventure,” Anita mumbled. “We just have to make the best of this,” Mother said, not explaining anything. She turned around and rolled up the window. They rode in silence for a long time. Suddenly Father brought the car to a stop in a parking lot on a low bluff above the sea. “This is Huntington Beach,” he said. Everyone scrambled out of the car and stood staring at the water and the wide expanse of white sand. “That’s our home,” Father said. He pointed to a large white tent.  “It’s gigantic,” the boys yelled. They took off down a set of concrete steps and rushed to the tent. Mother led them on a tour. “Father has partitioned off bedrooms, a kitchen, and living room,” she said. Sally entered the girls’ room. Three cots sat near the back tent wall, and a large wooden dresser stood on the opposite side. She spotted a little desk and chair too. “We’ve got furniture,” she said to Anita when she came into the room. Opening a drawer of the dresser, Sally saw all her favorite summer shirts and shorts. Excitement crept into her heart. The second drawer held her collecting gear and drawing equipment. “Thanks, Mother,” she whispered. “We don’t have electricity,” Mother said, as Sally and the others entered the kitchen. “The top of the tent wall has plastic panels that let in light, and we have several battery-powered lanterns for use in the evenings.” “No electricity,” Anita groaned. “What about cold drinks? It gets hot around here.” “Madam, take a look,” Glenn said, pushing a shock of red hair from his eyes. Glenn was only 14, but all the kids thought of him as the leader. Lynn grabbed a handle on a huge white metal box and lifted it. Anita, Sally, and Alice peered in. Two bags of ice sat in a compartment on each end of the box. The middle section was stuffed with food and soda. “The boys will be in charge of keeping the water drained and the ice replaced,” Father said, coming into the kitchen. “Mother will explain what’s expected of each of you. I have to go now,” he said. Soon Sally heard the V-16 engine start up and speed away. Now where is Father going? she wondered. “Alice and Grover will help me keep the dishes done up,” Mother said, pointing to the sink that consisted of two plastic bins on top of a table. A wooden cabinet perched on the back of the table held dishes. A long table with nine chairs completed the kitchen-dining area. “Sally, you will be responsible for keeping the tent floors swept and the rugs shaken out. It’s important for everyone to rinse their feet in the tub of water that sits beside the door before entering the tent,” Mother said. “Bathrooms and showers are just at the head of the stairs on the bluff above us. All seven kids poured from the tent into the sunshine. They threw themselves onto the sand. “It’s going to be a long summer,” Anita moaned. “Not long enough,” Bob said, looking out at the waves.” “I’m not going to sit around and feel bad. I bet we can find pop bottles lying around,” Lynn said. “People leave them all over the beach.” “They’re worth three cents each,” Glenn said. “I’m taking a taxi to town to buy groceries,” Mother said, coming out of the tent and heading up the steps to the parking lot. Anita, please watch Alice and Grover.” “Let’s draw some pictures,” Sally suggested. “I’ll get some supplies,” she said, running into the tent. When she came outside again, Anita had set up a folding table and several chairs. Soon everyone got busy drawing. After a while Sally wandered down to the water’s edge. She watched the tiny bubbles in the mounds of foam cast up by waves burst around her feet. She waved at her brothers who screamed and leaped over waves just beyond her. “He’s gone!” Anita screamed, running down the sand toward Sally. She had a tight hold on Alice’s hand. “He was here a minute ago!” “What’s going on?” Glenn, Lynn, and Bob shouted, thrashing their way out of the surf and running up the beach. “Grover’s gone!” Sally cried. Glenn started shouting instructions. “Anita, go look out on the bluff. Maybe he headed up to the bathrooms.” “Bob and Sally, search the shore to the right.  Lynn and I will go left.” Sally and Bob ran down the beach. Mother had sent her to school very young, so they were in the same class and did lots of things together. She liked the way he always looked after her. Sally studied the water after each wave hit the beach and retreated. She dreaded what she might see. I hope he didn’t wander into the ocean and get caught by a wave, she thought. Her heart thumped, and tears trickled down her cheeks. She stopped a woman who came down the beach. “Have you seen a little boy with thick curly hair?” she sobbed. “He’s my brother, and I can’t find him.” “I haven’t seen him,” she said. Sally and Bob headed back to the tent. The others already sat on the sand, talking about what to do next. Before they could decide where to get help, a taxi appeared in the parking lot at the top of the stairs. Mother got out and headed toward the tent carrying two large bags. “Where’s Grover?” Mother asked, walking up to the kids and looking at their tear-stained faces. “We don’t know,” Anita said. She burst into tears. “We searched everywhere,” Glenn explained. “I think we should go get help from the lifeguard.” “Let’s go,” Mother agreed, putting the bags down. “Look!” Sally screamed, pointing down the beach to her left. Everyone turned and stared. A small lump tumbled out of a retreating wave and lay still on the wet sand.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Girl God Rescued Bonus Stories
Sally lay on top of her bedcovers, fists clenched and every muscle tense. Her heart pounded, and her brown eyes widened. She stared through the glass sliding doors and out over the beach to the ocean, listening. A wave built up before her like a giant wall. It glistened green in the moonlight, tossed up bubbles and foam, and then tumbled down upon itself. Woosh! It hit the sand and surged forward, sweeping up around the cluster of palm trees just beyond her room. She held her breath. Finally the wave thinned into a sheet of water edged with bubbles and flowed backward into the ocean. Sally sighed, thankful that it hadn’t flooded under the door, encircled her bed and carried her away. Five seconds later another wave built up. Moonlight shot through the back of it. The wave trembled and hovered. Woosh! It hit the sand and rushed up the beach. Her heart pounding, Sally had never felt so frightened. She sat upright in bed and stared at a new wave forming not far away. “Here comes another one,” she cried into the dark room. Sally glanced over at 5-year-old Alice, who slept soundly in her bed across the room. She sprang to her feet and ran through the door that opened into a hall. She had to get away before the ocean swallowed her. A light shone through the bottom of the door in the laundry room. Sally opened it and looked in. Janet, the maid, stood hunched over an ironing board. Her hands worked quickly as she passed the iron back and forth over a bedsheet. “What are you doing up?” she asked, when she noticed Sally in the doorway. “I can’t sleep,” Sally replied. She wanted to tell Janet that she felt afraid of the giant green waves that leaped and crashed beyond her glass doors. “I’m not tired,” she said, flopping onto the floor. Tears threatened to spill over her eyes and splash onto her cheeks. “Let me iron,” Sally said, wiping her eyes and standing up. If I help with the work, maybe she won’t make me go to bed, she thought. “Just for a few minutes,” Janet said, staring at her. Sally ironed the pillowcase as she had seen Janet do many times before. She folded it neatly and picked up another from the laundry basket. She began thinking about how her siblings would react if they were in her place. The 14-year-old twins, Glenn and Lynn, aren’t afraid, she thought. They jump waves every day. She pictured Glenn with his red hair and freckles bursting over a wave top and Lynn’s shock of blond hair flying. Bob, who was only a year and a half older than she, lived for the high-surf days. Anita spends most of the time in her room with the door shut like most 16-year-old girls, and Alice and Grover are too young to understand the massive power of a wave. “What’s going on here?” Mother said, entering the room and looking at Sally, who stood folding a pillowcase. “She can’t sleep,” Janet explained. “I’m sure I can, however. Good night.” “Father and I gave you the room facing the ocean because we know you love the water so much.” Mother reminded Sally. “The waves are so loud,” Sally mumbled, wiping a tear from her cheek. “I’m sorry I haven’t been home evenings lately,” Mother added. “Father has a government contract to make special airplane parts. He has a talent for this work, but it does take up a lot of time. You can sleep here tonight,” Mother said, leading Sally to the guest room at the back of the house. “Thank you, Mother,” Sally said, snuggling into the blankets. The next day Sally hurried home after school. She dumped her schoolbooks onto her bed and ran into the recreation room. “Wow,” Sally said, looking at a large stack of books on the table. Alice ran into the room, tossing her blond curls. The girls pulled up a couple of chairs and sat down. Sally read a note that sat on the table. “Meet your new friend, the ocean. Love, Mother.” Sally and Alice leafed through the books one by one. “The ocean is full of creatures,” Sally said, looking at Alice. “There are sharks, seals, things that creep and slither, and zillions of fish.” It would be a great adventure to see them, but the ocean is so big and wild,” Sally said, closing her book. She picked up another book entitled Ocean Facts. This book was published last year. It should give me the latest information, Sally thought. She read for a long time. “Supper’s ready,” Anita announced, poking her head through the open doorway. “Hurry up. Ethel is a good cook, and she doesn’t like fixing food for people who show up late.” When the girls entered the dining room, their four brothers were already seated at the table. As soon as Anita said the blessing the boys grabbed for the bowls of hot food and filled their plates. “Did you guys know that there are two high tides and two low tides every day?” Sally said, smiling at her brothers and sisters. “God put the sand as a boundary for the ocean. It’s a barrier that the waves can’t cross.” “Don’t worry,” Glenn said. “Those waves won’t reach out and gobble you up. Tides rise and fall in a predictable cycle.” “Otherwise this house would be washed away and you with it,” Lynn added, yanking one of Sally’s braids. “People feel afraid of what they don’t understand,” Anita stated, pushing back a strand of her long, black hair. “When I was 10, I was scared of quite a few things.” “But now she’s 16 and knows everything,” Glenn teased. The three big boys leaped to their feet and scrambled out the door. Sally could hear the basketball pounding the court. “Better get your homework done before you devour those books,” Anita bossed. “Come on, Grover, 6-year-old boys need their beauty sleep.” “Knowing that the waves won’t wash us away makes you happy,” Alice said to Sally as they headed for the recreation room. They grabbed a book each and continued to read and study the pictures. Two hours later the girls ran to the bedroom and snuggled into the covers. Outside a wave hit the sand, but Sally only smiled. It can come only so far up the beach. I don’t have to be afraid, she thought. Every day, after school, Sally walked along the ocean’s edge. She imagined creatures crawling and creeping and zooming through the water. Several weeks later she felt brave enough to wade in up to her knees. Soon she splashed in shallow water where waves turned to foam. Before long Bob took her out and taught her to dive through waves when the surf was very calm. Her fear of the ocean evaporated slowly like the morning fog beneath the summer sun. The school year passed quickly. On her next birthday Sally turned 11. Aunt Ann, her Mother’s sister, came for a visit. She gave Sally six beautiful Florida shells. Sally spent hours looking at murex spines, opening and closing clams, and running her fingers over the slick surface of a cowrie shell. One afternoon, just before summer vacation began, Glenn, Lynn, Bob, and Grover burst into the girls’ room. “Get up. We’re moving. We’re going to live in a tent.”
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Escape Box Bonus Stories
When Samuel Smith heard of the plan, he objected. “I just don’t think you could survive such a trip. What if the box gets turned upside down? What if you get thrown about and hit your head?” But Henry was determined, and Samuel eventually agreed to the plan. Henry had thought it through, and he dictated the dimensions of the box: three feet one inch by two feet six inches by two feet. Again Samuel objected. “That’s a mighty small space. Even if you manage to survive, you’re going to be uncomfortable.” “But if the box is too big, someone might get suspicious,” Henry countered. “We have to make it believable.” So they found a carpenter to make the box. “You need to get a few days off work,” Samuel advised. “That way, you can be in Philadelphia before anyone realizes you’re gone.” Henry had an infected finger, so he showed that to the overseer and asked for time off. “That’s nothing!” declared the overseer. “Don’t be such a baby.” So Henry went home after work to apply sulfuric acid to the infected spot to make it a little worse. Except that he was so nervous that he spilled it. “Yee-owch!” he yelled as the acid washed over his finger, eating away the flesh to the bone. After that, he had no trouble getting time off work. Samuel contacted an abolitionist friend in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to take delivery of the box, and the three conspirators met at Samuel’s store at 4:00 a.m. one day in March of 1849. Henry bored holes into the box for air. He then climbed carefully into the small container, taking the little drilling tool with him in case he would need to bore more holes. He also took a few biscuits and a beef bladder filled with water. James and Samuel wished him well, then nailed the box shut and wrote: “THIS SIDE UP—HANDLE WITH CARE.” When the dray wagon arrived, James and Samuel loaded the box carefully and watched, hardly daring to breathe, as the Belgian “great horses” started off in the direction of the express office. Undoubtedly they prayed, and it was a good thing, for when Henry’s box arrived at the express office, it was immediately loaded onto another wagon upside down. Henry braced his arms to support his head and neck. Upon arrival at the train station, the box was tossed roughly into the baggage car. So much for the instructions written on it. Fortunately, this time Henry landed on his side. At Potomac Creek the box was transferred to a steamer —upside down again. For an hour and a half, which seemed like an eternity, Henry remained in this position while the blood rushed to his head, distending the veins in his temples and making his eyes swell. “God,” he prayed, “I do not believe You have brought me this far to let me die. Save me, I pray!” Then, remembering the Hebrew youths in the fiery furnace, he added, “I submit myself to Your will, O Lord.” Just then he heard two men talking nearby. “I’ve been standing for two hours,” said one. “I’d give my eyeteeth for something to sit on. I say, look at that box over there! Help me turn it on its side, and we can both sit down.” This they did, and Henry breathed a prayer of thanksgiving. What d’you suppose is in this box?” asked the second man. “I guess it’s the mail,” said the first man. Yes, thought Henry, it’s the male, but not the mail you’re thinking of! From time to time he drank from the bladder, and squeezing water over his face seemed to help him breathe a little better. At the depot in Washington, the driver of the wagon that had brought him from the train called to the depot workers. “I need someone to help me unload this box.” “Just throw it off,” came the reply from the loading dock. “But it says ‘This side up—handle with care,’” protested the driver. “There might be fine dishes in it. If I throw it, I might break something.” “Don’t matter if you break everything in it” was the careless reply. “The railway company can afford to pay for it.” In the next instant Henry felt the box tumbling from the wagon. It hit the dock so hard, he was knocked unconscious. When he came to, the first words he heard were fearful ones. “No room for this box,” said a voice, “It’ll have to go tomorrow on the luggage train.” Oh, no! I just can’t endure another day in this cramped container! He thought. Once again, Henry turned to God in prayer, and a moment later another voice asserted, “Nope. Can’t do that. This box came express; it has to be sent on.” And the box was tumbled onto the train, upside down again. Moments later, however, as the luggage was shifted around, the box was turned onto its side, and he rode that way to Philadelphia. There he waited until 7:00 p.m., when a wagon came to pick the box up. At last, after 27 hours of closed confinement, Henry arrived in his box at the antislavery office. Several prominent abolitionists were waiting nervously, not at all sure what they would find when they opened the box. Fearfully, J. M. McKim rapped on the lid. “All right?” he called. “All right, sir!” came the instant reply. Quickly, with saw and hatchet, the abolitionists removed the lid and assisted Henry out of the box. After such long confinement in such a cramped position, it was a little while before he could stand on his own. Henry had chosen Psalm 40 to celebrate this moment, and the room fell silent as he sang fervently, “‘I waited patiently for the Lord; and He heard . . . my prayer’” (KJV).
Epilogue: Two months after Brown’s escape, Samuel Smith attempted to ship other slaves north, but he was caught. The slaves were returned to servitude, and Smith spent seven years in the state penitentiary. When he got out, he moved to Philadelphia, where the African-American community voted a resolution of thanks. He then married his fiancé, who had waited for him during his imprisonment. In December 1849 Brown’s friend James C. A. Smith moved north, and he and Henry were business partners for a time. Henry added “Box” to his name, and as Henry Box Brown he became a lecturer, revealing the realities of slavery to Northern audiences. In 1850, just before the Fugitive Slave Act took effect, he was assaulted on the street. Fearful of being returned to slavery, Brown moved to England. He returned to the States in 1875. In 2001 the City of Richmond honored his memory by installing, on Canal Walk, a metal replica of the box that had carried him to freedom.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
The Escape Box Bonus Stories
Henry,” said Mama, “don’t you ever steal, and never tell lies. You are God’s child.” “I promise, Mama,” 10-year-old Henry Brown said solemnly. The Browns were slaves on the Virginia plantation of John Barret. They worshipped God with Barret’s blessing, but not all slaves were granted that privilege. One time when Henry and his brother Edward made the 10-mile trip to Colonel Ambler’s grain mill, they met several other slaves. “Your master sure does treat you well,” said one man. “What do you mean?” asked Henry. “Look at our clothes. We have only a shirt and pants made of sacking. You have clothes made of fine cloth— and shoes, too. Even vests and hats!” “God has blessed us with a kind master,” said Henry, cautiously. It did not do to criticize a slaveholder, even to other slaves. “Shhh!” hissed the man. “You’ll get us all into trouble, talking about God. Colonel Ambler doesn’t allow us to go to church. One of us—I don’t dare say who—is our preacher. He has to baptize people secretly in the middle of the night, else we all get whipped.” “Oh, no!” hissed another slave. “Here comes the overseer. We’re in trouble now.” “For what?” asked Edward. “For talking to you,” said the slave. Sure enough, a few minutes later Henry and Edward heard the slashing of the whip and the screams of the slaves being punished for daring to speak to someone from off their plantation. But his own “easy” life would not last. When Henry was 15, everything changed. “Old Master is dying!” The news flew around the plantation, and the slaves began to gather in the yard. What would happen to them now? Slaves never knew what the future might hold for them. It was usually something bad, but this time there was some hope. Barret had been criticized by his White neighbors for being too kind to his slaves, never whipping them and always feeding them well. He had been especially kind to the Brown family, even allowing Henry and his brother to go on errands as far as 20 miles off the plantation! So when the dying Barret sent for Henry, the young man had every reason to believe he was about to be freed. Eagerly, the teenager approached the deathbed. “Henry,” croaked Barret, “you belong to my son William now.” What a bitter disappointment! Worse, the close family was broken up, parceled out to the old man’s four sons. Henry would never forget his mother’s tears as her youngest child was led out. Mother and daughter were allowed one last hug, and then the little girl was put on the wagon that took her away forever. Henry was sent to Richmond, where young Master William put him to work in a tobacco factory. Henry was treated well—as well as a slave ever was, anyway. William let him keep some of the wages he earned at the factory, let him live in a little rented house, and ordered the overseer never to whip him. Still, Henry was conscious every day of his captive status as he saw other slaves neglected, beaten, and even killed for the most trivial offenses. One coworker was mercilessly whipped by the overseer for the “crime” of being sick! Five lonely years went by, and then, when he was 20, Henry fell in love. Her name was Nancy, and —wonder of wonders—she loved him back! Hardly daring to breathe, the two young people asked permission to marry. To their joy, it was granted. Nancy was sold a number of times, but always to slaveholders in the Richmond area. Her services as a household worker were rented out, but she was able to live with Henry in the little rented house, until finally she came under the control of a Mr. Cottrell. “I’ll never sell Nancy,” Cottrell promised. “Separating a family’s a terrible thing. Unthinkable!” he declared piously. “Of course,” he added, “you can’t expect me to pay her keep. You’ll have to support her and your children. I won’t rent her out—as long as you pay me $50 a year.” It was a steep price, but Henry managed it. He and Nancy joined the African Baptist Church, where Henry sang in the choir. After 12 years of marriage the happy couple had three children, with a fourth on the way. The only problem was Cottrell’s continued demands for “advances” on the money Henry paid him, advances that added up to much more than $50 a year. Then came the day Henry had nothing more to give, in spite of Cottrell’s insistent demand for cash. Finally Cottrell stomped away, muttering, “I want money, and I will get money!” Nancy was tearful. “I’m afraid he’s going to sell one of our children,” she whispered. “He wouldn’t do that!” Henry protested. “He’s a Christian, and he doesn’t believe in separating families.” But dread froze his heart. The next day, as Henry was working at the factory, pressing the wet tobacco leaves into lumps and twisting them into long strands, his friend James Smith, a free African-American, came running up. “Henry! Henry! They’ve taken Nancy —and the children, too!” “What do you mean, ‘taken’? Who’s taken her?” asked Henry, his insides churning. “Slavers! Cottrell went and sold her and all your children! They’ve got them in the jailhouse right now, with a whole bunch of others; they’re all heading South in the morning! Henry reeled as the bottom dropped out of his world. His darling wife! His precious little ones! Sold south, where the swamps and heat were a virtual death sentence for slaves! William refused to let him leave work until Henry had completed his daily 12 hours. Then the agonized husband and father rushed out to see Cottrell and beg for his wife and children, but it was no use. After a sleepless night Henry decided to ask William to buy back his family. “I don’t have the $5,000 to buy them back,” Henry said, “but if you advance me the money, I’ll pay it back—every cent,” he promised, with tears in his eyes. William shook his head. “No, Henry, I’m not going to do that. Nancy and her children are Cottrell’s property, and he has a right to do what he wants with them. Anyway, what’re you so upset about? You can get another wife.” Henry’s mouth dropped open to hear this devoted church member talk like that. “I don’t want another wife. I want my Nancy! ‘What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.’” “Who do you think you are, to talk to me this way!” roared William. “Leave my house this instant!” The next morning Henry stood at the side of the street as the gang of 350 chained slaves trudged past. He spotted his children first, riding in a wagon near the front of the line. Tears rolling down their faces, they stretched their arms toward their father as the wagon rumbled past. Nearly blinded by his own tears, Henry finally spotted pregnant Nancy. He ran over and took her hand, trying to think of comforting words, but tears clogged his throat. “We shall meet in heaven,” he finally managed to choke out. Together they walked for four miles, hands tightly clasped, neither of them able to say another word for the heaviness of their grief, and then Henry was ordered back to the city. With one last, loving look they parted. It’s not right! his mind cried out, but there was nothing he could do. Henry had never been whipped, but he would gladly have accepted a dozen vicious beatings rather than this heart pain that ripped him in two. After months of mourning, Henry came to a decision. He approached his friends James and Samuel A. Smith (no relation), a White shoemaker. “I am determined to be free or die in the attempt,” said Henry. For days the three men discussed possible plans, but none seemed safe and sure enough. Then one day at work, as he prayed for God’s help, the plan suddenly burst upon his mind. I’ll ship myself north—in a box!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Jan 22, 2014
Free Wallpapers
Here are the FREE "courageous" wallpapers Randy mentioned in the November 9, 2013, issue of Guide!

Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Nov 11, 2013
Can Our Dead Speak to Us?
Many people out there think they have talked to people who have died. Do you think you can talk to your dead relatives and friends?
Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Oct 31, 2013
Wings of Faith
Take a quick video tour of Cedar Airways as mentioned in the Guide story "Wings of Faith."

Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Oct 25, 2013
Run With the Wind
Learn more about Holbrook Seventh-day Adventist Indian School, the place that Savannah loved so much in the Guide story "Run With the Wind."


Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Oct 25, 2013
New Cartoons to Caption
Editor Randy Fishell has sketched up some new cartoons for our popular "Caption the Cartoon" game. Be the first to come up with something for these new characters to say. To get started click here.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Oct 17, 2013
Two Not-So-Long-Ago Heroes


Two of Randy's faith heroes were Seventh-day Adventists. 

Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Oct 11, 2013
Bonus: The Sports Zone: My Hero, the Hawk
Bonus Feature for "The Sports Zone: My Hero, the Hawk"  (May 4, 2013)
Here's the amazing dream-come-true clip with Tony Hawk that we promised you!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: The Cheating Gig
Bonus Feature for "The Cheating Gig"  (May 4, 2013) This wacky video from Randy Fishell's Week of Prayer dvd, "Tight Spots, should go a long way in helping you decide to never cheat! By the way, parents and teachers can get the entire dvd here FREE (but you gotta pay shipping): http://www.adventsource.org/as30/store-productDetails.aspx?ID=36432 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: A Transcontinental God, Part 2
Bonus Feature for "A Transcontinental God, Part 2"  (May 11, 2013) Discover more interesting facts about the Transcontinental Railroad!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: My Smokin' Cousin
Bonus Feature for "My Smokin' Cousin"  (May 18, 2013)
Here are some great hints to help yourself, a friend, loved one, or anyone else to stop smoking.  
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: The Good Humor Guy: Time for a Change
Bonus Feature for "The Good Humor Guy: Time for a Change" (May 25, 2013)
 Your trusty funny man promised you a bonus story from Guide's Greatest Change of Heart Stories, and here it is!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: The Girl God Rescued, Part 1
Bonus Feature Plus for "The Girl God Rescued, Part 1" (June 1, 2013)
Check out these Hawaiian teams as they rescue monk seals from various predicaments. 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: Dangerous Discovery
Bonus Feature for "Dangerous Discovery" (June 29, 2013)
This story found two boys stumbling upon a stash of German torpedoes. Here's a video about the possible discovery of a German World War II submarine. The second video is actual footage of the Danish king riding through the streets as mentioned in the story.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
Bonus: Fernando Stahl's Revenge
Bonus Feature for "Fernando Stahl's Revenge" (June 15, 2013)
Here's another exciting story involving the amazing missionary and a witch doctor!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Sep 9, 2013
The Girl God Rescued Bonus #13
   Here's another week's worth of under water bonus fun with Sally Streib!
Posted by Melanie Bockmann on Aug 24, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 12
More adventures with Sally!

Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Aug 17, 2013
Islands Galore!
Check out these wonderful spots and see which island you'd like to visit!

Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Aug 10, 2013
The Girl God Rescued Bonus 10
More fun in the sun and surf with author and scuba diver Sally Streib.

Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Aug 3, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 8
More sea creature fun with Sally Streib, the main character in "The Girl God Rescued." See bonus photos from the previous installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
See bonus photos from the next installment of The Girl God Rescued here.

Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Jul 19, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 6
Here's more great sea life with Sally, the real-life character from the current Guide story, "The Girl God Rescued." See bonus photos from the previous installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
See bonus photos from the next installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Jul 6, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 5
Click on the link to see pictures illustrating this weeks installment in the magazine of The Girl God Rescued.
Posted by Administrator on Jun 28, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 4
Here is more bonus material for the continued story in this week's Guide. See bonus photos from the previous installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
See bonus photos from the next installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
Brittle stars and bi-valve shells such as the Lima lima need protection. Without it, they’re in big trouble. God always has the ability to help His creatures—including us—when they’re in trouble.
Posted by Administrator on Jun 21, 2013
Evelynn's Next Climb
In this week's Guide issue, Evelyn didn't reach her goal of making it to the top of the rock wall. But she didn't give up!

Posted by Randy Fishell, Editor on Jun 21, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 3
See bonus photos from the previous installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
See bonus photos from the next installment of The Girl God Rescued here.
One of the first discoveries I made during my adventure at the seaside was that abalone shells clung to the cliffs with suction cups that fill the entire underside of the shell. I could hold an abalone, animal side up, and see this strong part of its body.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Jun 14, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 2
Sally Streib gives you photos and videos to go with her story in this week's issue of Guide magazine.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Jun 7, 2013
The Girl God Rescued, Bonus 1
Hi! My name is Sally Streib. I’m the girl God rescued! My story is currently appearing in Guide. Each week I’m going to share a little bit more about my love of the ocean and its amazing creatures.
See bonus photos from the next installment of The Girl God Rescued here.

As you may have read in the first chapter of “The Girl God Rescued,” I lived in different places along the Pacific Ocean.
Posted by Kim Peckham on May 31, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
“I told my dad we’d get lost,” Andy complained as we plodded back into the cabin and plopped down on the floor, too exhausted from our hike to care how dirty it was. “I told him we didn’t know how to read a compass or follow a map.” “It wasn’t a big deal,” Rachel pointed out. “Maybe we didn’t know where we were on the map, but we were never really lost. We found our way back OK.” “Yeah, but it’s embarrassing,” I said. “I bet all the other Pathfinder clubs made it to the final checkpoint. I bet we’re the only losers who had to give up.” “We’re not losers!” All eyes turned to Jaimi, who glared down at us fiercely. “So what if we’re the smallest club around?” she continued. “Being small doesn’t make you a loser. I’m the smallest person in the club, and I don’t care. Our school is small, and we’ve never felt bad about that. You’re only a loser if you choose to act like one!” “OK, OK,” I said, holding up my hands in surrender. “You’re right. I’ll stop putting down our club.” Outside, someone blew a whistle. “What’s happening now?” Jaimi asked. “Evening worship,” said Rachel. Once again we hurried up the hill, taking our seats on the stumps and logs surrounding the fire. The other clubs were in high spirits, sharing stories of how quickly and easily they were able to make it through the orienteering course. “Listen up, everyone!” one of the leaders announced. “Tonight we’ve decided to hold a Bible quiz competition! To make it fair, we’re going to try and even out the groups. Take a moment to put yourselves into teams of five or six.” There was a wild scramble as everyone tried to stay on a team with their friends. Since there were only four of us, we didn’t have that problem. Instead, we needed to find some other kid who was willing to join us. “How about him?” Jaimi suggested. She pointed to a small boy from another club who had been left out during the mad dash to form teams. “Couldn’t hurt,” I said. I figured we didn’t stand a chance of winning any kind of competition against these other Pathfinder clubs, so having a little kid on the team wouldn’t make a difference. The boy’s name turned out to be Kevin, and his face lit up when we invited him to join us. “Are you new to Pathfinders?” Jaimi asked. “Uh-huh,” said Kevin. “Me, too.” The leader began going around the circle, asking each team a Bible trivia question. Teams could discuss answers among themselves, but if they got a question wrong, they were eliminated. We let Kevin be our spokesperson, shouting out our answers when our turn came. At first the questions were easy. Who was swallowed by a whale? Who was thrown into a fiery furnace? But they quickly got more challenging. One by one, teams were eliminated. Our club was still in it. “Who were the first three kings of Israel?” We whispered among ourselves, then told Kevin what to say. “Saul, David, and Solomon.” “What was the name of the woman who protected the Israelite spies in Jericho?” “Rahab!” Kevin proclaimed. There were four teams left when we came to a question of which no one seemed to know the answer. “The prophet Hosea married a woman who repeatedly ran away, abandoning him and her children. The story of Hosea’s forgiveness illustrates how God feels about people who turn away from the Lord. What was the name of Hosea’s wife?” Each team was given the question. No one could answer it. Our team had the last chance. If we knew it, we would win. “Hosea’s wife?” Andy whispered as we huddled together. “Are they kidding?” Rachel and Jaimi just shook their heads. “I think I know this story.” We stared at Kevin. “My dad listens to this song about Hosea,” he continued. “His wife had a funny name, but—oh, I’m sorry, I don’t know.” The little boy looked crushed, but I was elated. “You’re right!” I exclaimed. “There is a song about Hosea! Kevin, you’re a genius!” I whispered the answer in his ear, helped him hop up on a log, and grinned as he shouted for all the woods to hear, “Hosea’s wife was Gomer!” It was only a small victory from a small Pathfinder club with the help of a small new friend, but in that moment we all felt like big winners.  (Series concluded)
Posted by Tonya Ball on Apr 18, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“I told my dad we’d get lost,” Andy complained as we plodded back into the cabin and plopped down on the floor, too exhausted from our hike to care how dirty it was. “I told him we didn’t know how to read a compass or follow a map.”
Posted by Administrator on Apr 18, 2013
Chapter 10: Thanksgiving
“I’m thankful for the sun that shone Last summer when I was at home. I’m thankful for that snow that blew Because it meant we canceled school. I’m thankful for my doggie Max Who ate my grade card as a snack. I’m—”             “Thank you, David,” Miss Jones interrupted. “That’s a very nice rough draft. We’ll work on your poem a little more and share it again later.”             “I liked it the way it was,” Amy whispered, and we giggled quietly as David triumphantly took his seat with the other second graders.             “How about you upper graders?” Miss Jones continued. “Who’s ready to practice saying the verses they memorized?”             We older kids suddenly became very interested in the posters on the walls, as if by avoiding eye contact with our teacher we could get out of reciting all together.             “Our Thanksgiving program is in a few days,” Miss Jones reminded us. “You’re going to have to share your verses eventually, so you might as well get it over with.” Half my classmates turned their attention to the carpet. The other half looked at the ceiling. “Oh, I’ll do it,” I said finally, sliding away from my desk. “You bunch of spineless jellyfish,” I added as I walked past my friends to the front of the room. “My verse is from Philippians 4, verse 5.” I cleared my throat. “‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’” “That’s an interesting choice,” said Miss Jones. “Not one that readily comes to mind when most people think about verses on thankfulness. Can you tell us why you picked it?” “We have to tell why we picked it?” Andy yelped from the back of the room. “That wasn’t part of the assignment!” “Calm down,” said Miss Jones. “It was just a question.” She turned back to me. “Well?” I rubbed the back of my neck nervously, suddenly very self-conscious. I actually did have a reason for choosing this verse, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to share. “Um…well…” I began. “I guess I picked it because…because I’ve had a lot of things making me anxious over the last few months. Things changing when I wished they would just stay the same…. Family relationships and friendships and stuff and, well, you know…. I just like the idea that we can go to God with anything. I like that God never changes, but He helps us through our changes, like a steady rock we can stand on. And….” I was painfully aware that every eyeball in the room was pointed in my direction. “And I just have a lot to be thankful for!” I finished in a hurry and sat back down. “Nice speech,” Amy whispered. I thought she might be teasing me, but there wasn’t any hint of laughter in her eyes. The truth was I did have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, more than my friends even realized. And right at the top of the list was the fact that my mother did not have cancer. That had been one terrifying day, waiting to find out the results of my mother’s test. Since my dad had asked me not to tell anyone about it, I had felt completely on my own…until I turned to God in prayer. Now that the tests had come back negative and I knew my Mom would be alright, I could see that God had used even this experience to bring me closer to Him. So as awkward as my little speech to the class had been, I meant every word I’d said. Once my classmates had finished reciting their verses, I raised my hand. “Miss Jones, do you think we could write Thanksgiving poems, too?” “Yeah, can we?” Amy begged. “After hearing David’s poem, I’m feeling inspired!” Miss Jones smiled wryly. “Okay,” she agreed. My classmates and I gathered together to brainstorm ideas. Soon lines of poetry were flying back and forth.             “I’m thankful for my brother, Dave,” Rebekah started slowly. “Little siblings make great slaves!” Amy supplied eagerly.             “Nice one,” said Ian-or-Carlos. I still hadn’t learned to tell the twins apart. “It doesn’t exactly rhyme, though,” said Carlos-or-Ian. “You try it!” Amy challenged him. “Okay.” Carlos-or-Ian thought for a moment. “I’m thankful for my TV dinner….” “’Cause our dad’s cooking ain’t no winner!” his brother finished. “The rhyming is better, but the grammar is abysmal,” said Rebekah. “Oooh, fancy-pants vocabulary,” Ian-or-Carlos teased good-naturedly. “I’ve got one!” Little Rachel chimed in. “I’m thankful my mom burned the food. Her veggie loaf is not so good.” “How about this?” said Jaimi. “I’m thankful I can run real fast, ’cause that’s my bus that just drove past!” Andy started a line, making it up as he went. “I’m thankful I know how to draw….” His sister supplied the rest. “’Cause you’re no good at math, at all!” Andy threw a wadded up ball of paper at Rachel as we all laughed.             “I have one,” I spoke up. “I’m thankful for my crazy school. The weirdoes here are pretty cool.”             “Hey!” Jaimi laughed. “I think we should be insulted!” I just smiled and leaned back in my chair, thinking about how much had changed in our lives lately, and how many other things had stayed the same. And I thought about how change didn’t have to be a bad thing, and uncertainty didn’t have to be scary, especially with the Lord going before us in all our future adventures.             “So,” Amy asked me, “what do you think the chances are of Miss Jones actually letting us use these poems in our Thanksgiving program?”             “You never know,” I said, and smiled as I realized that for the first time in a long while, I was actually okay with not knowing what the future held. “You never know,” I repeated. “Anything can happen.”
Posted by Tonya Ball on Apr 15, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
“So, Jaimi, what do you think of Polar Bearing so far?” Rachel asked after our first night of camping. “Well . . .” Jaimi said slowly, “it’s warmer than I thought it would be.” “That’s because it’s our first trip of the season,” Andy said. “You want cold, just wait ‘till we go in January.” “I wasn’t expecting the mice,” Jaimi went on. “One of them ran over my sleeping bag in the middle of the night!” “Oh, that was Steve,” I said. “He’s harmless.” Jaimi stared at me. “No way did you name all the mice.” “Sure we did,” I said. “We named them all Steve.” From somewhere outside the cabin, a whistle began to blow. “What’s that?” Jaimi asked. “That’s the whistle for church,” said Rachel. “Come on, let’s go!” “I don’t get it,” Jaimi huffed as we ran up the hill, slipping on the wet leaves. “We’re in the woods. Where is the church?” “Right here!” I announced. We reached a small clearing at the top of the hill. A fire was already blazing in the fire pit, which was surrounded by a circle of rocks, benches, and logs that served as pews for our church. Other Pathfinder clubs that were also camping this weekend in their own nearby cabins had already arrived and were filling up most of the seats. As usual, our club looked a little ratty and pitiful next to the larger clubs, some of whom had even worn their uniforms. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my sweatshirt and took a seat on a log next to my friends. Even though I felt a little self-conscious, I did enjoy the church service. We sang a bunch of songs with motions so we could move around and stay warm. Then one of the leaders from another club gave a short sermon. After the service, the same leader made an announcement. “Several of our clubs have been working on their orienteering honors,” he said. “So we decided to set up an orienteer course right here in our woods. We’d like to invite all of the clubs to join us.” “What’s orienteering?” Jaimi whispered. “Beats me,” I said. “I’m sure most of you remembered your compasses,” the man went on with a small chuckle, “but just in case we brought along some extras for you to borrow.” “What are compasses?” Jaimi asked. “They’re those things we use to make circles in math class,” I whispered back. “You two are an embarrassment,” said Rachel. “Do you know what they’re talking about?” I asked. Before I could get an answer, Rachel and Andy’s father, who helped lead our winter camping trips, walked over carrying a map. He also handed us a compass—not the kind you draw circles with, but the kind you use to find directions. “Oh!” said Jaimi as it dawned on her. “That’s orienteering!” She paused. “I don’t know how to do that.” “None of us do,” I pointed out. “You’ll only learn by doing,” Rachel and Andy’s dad said. “We’re going to get lost,” said Andy. “You won’t get lost,” said his dad. Fifteen minutes later, we were lost. The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, April 18! Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Apr 11, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“So, Jaimi, what do you think of Polar Bearing so far?” Rachel asked after our first night of camping.
Posted by Administrator on Apr 11, 2013
Chapter 9: The Secret
    Something was definitely wrong.             My parents were acting strangely—hiding out behind closed doors, talking to each other in low tones.             Matthew, convinced that our parents were going to split up again, kept trying to listen in on their conversations. But all he understood was that they seemed to be talking about some kind of test.             “Maybe they’re going to test out whether they want to get divorced,” he suggested.             “They already did that,” I reminded my little brother. “And anyway, they’re whispering, not yelling. So quit worrying and let’s go throw the football around.” I did my best to act like I wasn’t the least bit concerned over what was going on with our parents, but that wasn’t at all how I felt. I knew something was up. In fact, I was pretty sure I knew what it was. Only I didn’t want to admit it—not even to myself. “Chrissy, would you please make a correction to the paragraph on the board?’ Miss Jones asked the next day in school. I heard the words, but they didn’t really register in my brain. “Chrissy?” All of my concentration was being spent on trying not to think about my parents’ secret and my own theory of what that secret might be. “Chrissy!” “What!” I snapped, glaring up at my teacher. Several gasps came from my classmates around the room. My friends stared at me with wide eyes, and I realized too late that I had gone too far. “Chrissy, I would like you to stay in with me at recess,” said Miss Jones. “We need to talk.” I nodded and stared down at my desk, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone. In all my life I had never been kept in at recess. I could probably count on one hand all the times I had done anything worthy of punishment at school. Angry and embarrassed, I now had a new thought to occupy my mind: how much I disliked Miss Jones. If I were being honest with myself I might have admitted that usually I liked my teacher just fine. At the moment, however, Miss Jones was the last person in the world I wanted to talk to. Of course, I didn’t have a choice. At recess, Miss Jones sat down at the desk directly facing mine. I had to look her in the eye. I tried to keep my face blank and expressionless. “Okay, let’s talk about this,” Miss Jones began. “I know I’m not your favorite teacher. I know you miss your old teacher and the way she did things. I know you miss your friends who moved away and you don’t like that so many things have changed. And I know it can’t be easy having a teacher live with you.” I blinked in surprise. I hadn’t realized that Miss Jones understood any of that. My teacher went on. “However, none of that excuses having a disrespectful tone or attitude towards me. You understand that, right?” I nodded. “Okay…. Now is there anything you would like to say to me, or ask me, or anything you think I should know?” I didn’t plan to ask the question. The words had barely registered in my brain before they popped out of my mouth. It had nothing to do with what my teacher had just said, yet it suddenly occurred to me that Miss Jones might know the answer. So I said it. “Does my mother have cancer?”  My father picked me up from school that day. My father almost never picked me up from school. How am I going to do this, now? I wondered as we started the drive home in silence. How am I going to ask him? We can barely talk about normal stuff, anymore. How am I going to ask him if mom is sick? Miss Jones hadn’t known the answer. In fact, she was quite surprised by the question. I explained to her about my parents’ secret meetings and how certain I was that the “test” they kept talking about was a medical test. Miss Jones pointed out that I didn’t know anything for certain. “I know my parents,” I said. “I can tell by the way they’re acting that it’s something big, and I can tell it has to do with my mother.” What else could it be but cancer, or some equally horrible disease? I thought. Still, Miss Jones had insisted that I needed to talk to my parents about this and get the truth. So that was what I was trying to do. I watched my father steer the van along the country roads and tried to imagine how I would start this conversation. So, Dad, do you think the Cleveland Browns have a shot at the playoffs this year, and do you think Mom will die? I felt physically sick. I had to just say it. There was no other way. “I know about the tests,” I blurted out. “I know mom had medical tests done and I want to know what disease she has. Is it cancer or something else?” My father glanced at me with a look of shock before turning his face back to the road. His large hands gripped the steering wheel. For one long, awful moment he said nothing. Please, God, let me be wrong, I prayed. Let me be wrong. “How did you find out?” my father asked. “You weren’t very subtle,” I said, trying hard to stay calm. “Is it cancer?” “Maybe.” Maybe? It seemed as if my heart were going to beat right out of me. The world outside appeared to be spinning faster and faster and faster. I felt as if any moment the entire universe might explode! “It is the Lord who goes before you,” a small voice inside me seemed to whisper. “He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” My dad was still talking. “Tomorrow your mother goes into the hospital for a special test called a biopsy. It’s a minor surgery. After that, the doctors will know if she has cancer. We didn’t want to tell any of you kids until we knew for sure. We didn’t want you to worry.” I sat motionless in my seat, absolutely stunned. I knew that now, more than ever, I was going to have to rely on the Lord to go before me, to guide me through whatever was about to come. Even so, a million terrifying thoughts were swirling through my mind and I couldn’t seem to push past them. In an uncharacteristic move, my father reached over and held my hand. That’s when I started to cry.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Apr 8, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
We still didn’t have an official Pathfinder leader, just a group of parents, older siblings, and the church pastor who took turns supervising our meetings. One day someone handed us the manual that listed and described all the possible honors we could earn. We had never seen this book before, and we eagerly pored over the pages. “I can’t believe there’s a Pathfinder honor for worms!” Andy said. “There are two, actually,” Rachel pointed out. “Worms and Advanced Worms.” “Advanced Worms!” Andy exclaimed. “What, like worms with high IQs?” “Really.” I laughed. “What could the second worm honor cover that the first one doesn’t?” “Oooh, they have a house painting honor!” Jaimi exclaimed. “I’m going to go home and slap a new coat of paint on the house and tell my mom it’s for a Pathfinder badge!” “You have to read the requirements for each honor,” my brother Tony pointed out. “Some of them aren’t as easy as they sound.” “Wait a second, wait a second!” Andy exclaimed, stopping on a different page. “Did you guys know they have a winter camping honor?” “We go winter camping all the time!” I said. “It’s, like, the one thing we actually do! How come none of us have the winter camping honor?” “Maybe because you can’t do any of these things,” Tony said, scanning down the list of requirements. Can you pitch a tent on level ground?” “I can pitch a tent into the river—ha, ha!” Andy joked. “The cabin we sleep in isn’t even on level ground,” said Rachel. “Can you prepare a three-day menu of balanced camping meals?” “Sure,” I piped up. “Trail mix, instant oatmeal, and brownies squished beyond recognition at the bottom of your backpack. Oh, yeah, and the apple your mom makes you take that you end up chucking at a tree. How’s that?” “You have to incorporate all the major food groups,” Tony said. “Oh, I know those!” Andy exclaimed. “Let’s see . . . the four major camping food groups are . . . granola bars, candy bars, fruit bars, and Pop-Tarts!” Tony continued reading. “Do any of you know what to do if you get lost or stranded out in the freezing wilderness?” “Yeah. Follow the sound of traffic on the highway,” said Andy. “Wait . . .” Jaimi said hesitantly. “Aren’t we going camping next week? You guys didn’t say anything about getting lost.” “We won’t get lost,” Rachel assured her. “What about frostbite?” Tony went on. “Do you guys know the warning signs and treatment of frostbite? Or hypothermia? Or snow blindness?” “Snow blindness!” Jaimi yelped. “Hypothermia!” “Ignore him,” I insisted. “That stuff doesn’t happen.” “If it doesn’t happen, then why do you need to know it to earn the winter camping honor?” Tony asked. I glared at my brother. “It . . . doesn’t . . . happen,” I repeated through clenched teeth, “at least not to us. We don’t go camping in the Swiss Alps. And anyway, we have a cabin with a wood burning stove.” Tony reached the end of the list of requirement and looked up from the page. “I hate to break it to you,” he said, “but cabin camping doesn’t count. You have to sleep in a tent or out in the open in order to earn your winter camping honor.” “You know what?” said Jaimi. “I think I’m OK without it.” The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, April 11! Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Apr 4, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
We still didn’t have an official Pathfinder leader, just a group of parents, older siblings, and the church pastor who took turns supervising our meetings.
Posted by Administrator on Apr 4, 2013
Chapter 8: The Talk
When I first told Amy I wanted to talk to her, I felt I just barely had enough courage to go through with the conversation. Yet when the school day ended and we still hadn’t found a chance to talk, I felt my courage slipping away. Lines from Amy's note ran through my head. What are we going to do about Chrissy? Sometimes I don’t even want to be her friend. What would happen when Amy found out I had read those words? Would she say even more awful things? Would I find out that all my friends talked about me behind my back? The more I thought about it, the more I wished I could just forget the whole thing. But this was too big and too hurtful for me to pretend that everything was all right. Besides, I had already told Amy we needed to talk. She would know it was something serious. “Can it wait until tomorrow?” Amy asked as soon as Miss Jones dismissed us from class. “I have to leave right away to get to my riding lesson.” I looked at Amy, this friend I had confided in about so many things, and I realized that if I spoke, I was probably going to cry. So I just nodded my head yes. “Okay, see you tomorrow.” She glanced over her shoulder at me as she headed out the door, flashing her characteristic smile. “You sure are acting weird!” she laughed as she stepped outside. I wasn’t the only one “acting weird,” I realized later that evening. My parents were behaving strangely, too. Usually I could count on my mother to know when I was upset about something. Tonight, however, she barely seemed to notice that I was moping around the house without a friend in the world. Then my father came home early, and the two of them went into our home office and locked the door behind them. Feeling neglected, I trudged upstairs to my room and shut my own door. I climbed into bed and was just about to bury myself in blankets and self-pity when I heard a tapping on my bedroom door. “Can we come in?” my younger brother Matthew asked. I grunted. Matthew took that as a yes and pushed open the door. Timothy followed close behind, clutching his favorite teddy bear. “They fighting,” Timothy said, clearly meaning our parents. “They’re not fighting,” Matthew assured him. “They’re just talking.” Then he turned to me. “What are they talking about, Chrissy?” “Probably about splitting up again,” I mumbled into my pillow. I hadn’t meant for my brothers to hear, but they did. “Are they getting separated again?” Matthew asked, his eyes wide. Timothy, who apparently understood more than I realized, looked worried, too. “Daddy leaving?” he asked. “No,” I said quickly. “I mean, I don’t know. But they’re not fighting, so I think it’s okay.” “I listened a little,” Matthew admitted. “I heard them talking about a test. Did you do bad on a test at school?” “No!” I said. “Why do you assume it was me? Maybe Tony flunked a test.” Matthew began to laugh. “Ha ha ha! That’s a good, one, Chrissy! He he he!” Ordinarily I, too, would have laughed at the thought of our semi-genius older brother flunking anything, but tonight I just wasn’t in the mood. “Chrissy?” Matthew asked when he’d finished laughing and turned serious again. “Can we stay in your room for a while?” I sat up in bed and took in my brothers’ worried faces. “Sure,” I said. “You can stay as long as you need.”  The next morning at school, I was a total wreck. I had tossed and turned all night, going over and over in my mind what I would say when I talked to Amy. In some of my imagined conversations I screamed at Amy, telling her what a rotten person she was for pretending to be my friend when she clearly wasn’t. Other times I practiced how I might calmly end the friendship, rehearsing the words in my head so I wouldn’t break down and cry when I had to say them for real. Yet when the time came, during morning recess, to actually talk to Amy, I didn’t say any of the things I had planned. The two of us had climbed up to our usual spot on the jungle gym. Ordinarily Amy would goof around on the climbing bars, hanging upside down or doing a few chin-ups. Today she simply sat. “Okay, what’s up?” she demanded. “You’ve been acting way weirder than usual.” She smiled. I didn’t. I pulled the note from my pocket, unfolded it, and handed it over. “I found this yesterday,” I said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have read it, but I did.” Amy’s eyes scanned over the note. I watched her face change from confused to serious, then to an expression I couldn’t read. She didn’t say anything. The silence was driving me crazy. “I know you wrote it,” I blurted out. “It’s in your handwriting and you signed it and....” “Yeah,” Amy said quietly. “I wrote it.” She looked up, and I noticed her chin was quivering slightly, almost as if she were about to cry, too. “Chrissy, I promise, I never meant to hurt you with this. I just…I was just upset with you when I wrote it, ‘cause…. I mean, sometimes you do drive me crazy, no offense…but it’s like you don’t want me to be friends with anyone else, which doesn’t make sense because we’ve always been friends with everyone…. You always said that was the coolest thing about our school. And one day I got annoyed and I wrote this note, but I really do like being your friend…please believe me….” By now we were both crying. We were sitting at the top of the jungle gym, facing each other and crying, and I guess the ridiculousness of the situation hit us both at the same time, because suddenly we started laughing through our tears. “I sure hope nobody’s watching this,” Amy laughed, wiping her face with her shirt sleeve. “We must look like we just fell out of the coo-coo’s nest!” It took us a little while, but we did finally settle down for a serious talk. Amy apologized again for the hurtful words in her note. Then it was my turn to apologize. I didn’t want to admit I had anything to apologize for, but I now realized I did. I had driven a wedge between my friends with my jealousy and possessiveness. Later, I would apologize to the others, too. I would make things right and everything would be back to the way it had always been. Well, maybe not the way it had always been. Maybe change was something that couldn’t be helped. And maybe the way to handle it was not by trying to force things to go my way, but instead by letting God go before me, and following His lead into the unknown. Little did I realize at that moment how much I would have to rely on the Lord during the awful unknown of the next few days.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Apr 1, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
“So how does it feel to earn your first Pathfinder honor?” I asked Jaimi. “Pretty good.” Jaimi ran her fingers over the small oval of fabric with the embroidered seashell design. “You have to do a lot of work to earn these things.” “Yeah, but it was fun, right?” I laid my Pathfinder sash flat on the table. I smoothed my hand across my own badges, which my mother had sewn onto the sash as I earned them over the years. There were only about 12. With our on again, off again Pathfinder Club, I hadn’t had a lot of opportunities to earn honors. Andy and Rachel had their badge collections, too. We didn’t usually bring them to our meetings, but we wanted to show Jaimi what she could shoot for. “You should see the sashes of some of the kids in the bigger Pathfinder clubs!” Andy exclaimed. “They’re literally covered in honors! Some kids even need two sashes to hold all their badges. We look pathetic next to them.” Jaimi clutched her own badge a little more tightly. “Wow. And here I was thinking you guys had a lot of them.” “Remember this one?” I pointed to the badge with a picture of a snake. “This was one of my first honors. Remember when we had that guest speaker come in to teach us about reptiles? He was, like, a professional snake handler or something.” “I remember you climbing on top of the table like a sissy,” my brother Tony put in. “Hey, I didn’t see your feet touching the ground much when he pulled out that rattlesnake!” I shot back. “And I’m pretty sure you were the only one who wouldn’t pet the baby alligator.” “Reptiles carry salmonella,” Tony replied haughtily. “Not wanting to contract a disease is not the same as being scared.” “Whatever you say, Mr. Clean.” “Was that your first Pathfinder honor, the snake one?” Jaimi asked. “No . . .” I said slowly. “I’m pretty sure my first one was the same as yours, actually. The shell honor.” “I remember that,” said Rachel. “We were both really young and had just started Pathfinders. There were a lot more kids back then, and everyone was bigger than us. They called us the ‘little kids.’” I nodded, remembering how quiet and shy and even a bit scared I had been when I first started Pathfinders. The other kids were nice, but they mostly ignored me because I was the youngest. At the time, one of our group leaders was teaching us all about shells and mollusks, the animals that lived inside the shells. One night he asked us to come up with a lesson we could learn about God by studying mollusks and shells. He promised to give part of his shell collection to whoever could come up with a really good lesson. I had been admiring everyone else’s shell collections for weeks, wishing I had one of my own. I also thought I had a pretty good idea for a lesson we could learn from shells. But I was the youngest kids in Pathfinders, and painfully shy on top of that. I opened my mouth to speak, but could hardly get two words out. Other kids were talking, so I decided not to even try. And then an older girl—who, at the time, seemed very big to me—interrupted everyone by announcing, “I think Chrissy has something to share!” I almost couldn’t do it, but with the older girl’s encouragement I managed to stutter out my idea. “I—I think one lesson is that if God . . . if God cared so much about the mollusks to give them shells to protect them, then . . . then think about how much more He must care about us.” Now, every time I looked through the collection of shells I earned that night, I remembered the “older girl” who first helped me feel at home in my Pathfinder club.  The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, April 4!Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 28, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“So how does it feel to earn your first Pathfinder honor?” I asked Jaimi.
Posted by Administrator on Mar 28, 2013
Chapter 7: The Note
Amy, do u want 2 come over 2 my house this weekend? Maybe we can rent that new penguin movie we wanted 2 C. Write me back.  –Chrissy I folded the note carefully and slid it across my desk to Amy’s. Recently, Miss Jones had allowed us to rearrange our desks so that we four oldest girls—Rachel, Rebekah, Amy, and I—were seated in a group together. Because we didn’t want to be separated, we were careful to always get our work done and avoid disrupting the class. If we had something to say to one another, we usually said it in a note. Amy finished the math problem she was working on before reading my note, scribbling a quick answer, and sliding it back over. Can’t this weekend. Rebekah’s coming over to ride horses. Maybe next week.  I frowned and slipped the note under my book. I tried to concentrate on my work. I studied the formula for finding the area of a triangle. Yet for some reason, what had made sense a minute ago looked like gibberish now. All I could think about was Rebekah over at Amy’s house, riding horses, talking, laughing, telling secrets…. You’re being ridiculous, I tried to tell myself. Amy can have more than one friend. She always has before, and so have you. Just because you’ve recently been telling her things you’ve never told anyone else doesn’t mean she suddenly “belongs” to you. And just because she hangs out with other people doesn’t mean she’s going to start blabbing all the secrets you told her about your dad’s alcoholism, or your parents’ fights, or anything else. Amy is still your friend. I told myself all of this, but I didn’t really believe it. If I had believed it, maybe I wouldn’t have done what I did later that day. Maybe, when I saw the note lying on the floor of the school hallway—a note that clearly didn’t belong to me—maybe I would have just left it alone, and everything would have been okay. But that’s not what happened. I was headed to the restroom. The hallway was deserted, and the note was right there, dropped on the floor and kicked up against the wall. It was written on a sheet of notebook paper, folded several times into a small rectangle. On the front were scribbled the words: From Amy. I didn’t know who it was written for, but I had never seen the note before, so I knew it wasn’t for me. I picked it up. Through the thin paper I could see that this note was long, clearly not one of the simple, everyday notes we wrote to each other just to say “Hi!” or “What did you bring for lunch today?” This was more like a letter than a note, and somehow I knew it contained something serious. At that moment I had a choice. I could throw the note away without reading it. I could give it back to Amy without reading it. Or I could, of course, read it. I chose door number three. I locked myself in the bathroom and hopped up onto the wide windowsill, which made a fairly comfortable seat. My hands trembled as I unfolded the paper. What would Amy have to say in a note this long? Was she calling someone else her best friend? Was she telling them secrets? Was she telling my secrets? I thought those were the worst possible things the note could contain. I was wrong. What are we going to do about Chrissy? The note said in Amy’s familiar handwriting. She drives me so crazy sometimes. She’s suffocating me! Now she’s all mad at us ‘cause we were hanging out together at recess. She could’ve asked if she could play, too. Instead she just glares at us for the rest of the day, like we did something terrible by having fun. And the way she glares at Miss Jones sometimes, too…doesn’t she know how rude that is? And awkward for the rest of us. Honestly, sometimes I don’t even want to be her friend anymore. My hands shook as I read the note once…twice…three times. I felt as if each sentence, each word, were cutting straight through my heart. My friend had written this. Amy—and possibly others, as well—were saying horrible things about me behind my back. Tears splattered on the page before I even realized I was crying. I wished with all my heart that I had never picked up this note. But there was nothing I could do about it now. I had to face the fact that I did not have any real friends. No, it was worse than that. I had no friends. My father barely spoke to me. Even my little brothers would rather hang out with my teacher than with me. I was completely and totally alone. I slumped down to the floor, pulled my knees up, and buried my head in my arms as the tears continued to flow. Why, God? I prayed silently. Why did this have to happen? I thought I had the greatest friends in the world. I thought they would always be here for me. I thought You would always be here for me. But You’re not here, are You? Why else would everything be going so rotten? Of course, if God wasn’t here with me, then why was I talking to Him? The truth was, even as I prayed those words I knew how wrong they were. In fact, just as I was accusing God of abandoning me, the lines of a scripture we had memorized in class several weeks ago came creeping back into my mind. I remembered it because it was the same verse I’d had trouble reading off the board, back when Miss Jones discovered I needed glasses. “It is the Lord who goes before you,” I murmured softly to myself. “He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. I still felt terrible, but I realized I was once again facing a choice. I could completely end my friendship with Amy. I could pretend I had never seen this note and act like everything was okay even though it wasn’t. Or I could talk with Amy and try to work things out. The third option was definitely the most difficult, but with the Lord going before me, I decided to try. I pulled myself up off the floor, tucked the note into my pocket, and headed back into the classroom. I must have been a mess. Amy, Rachel, and Rebekah all looked at me oddly, but I didn’t say a word. Instead, I tore off a scrap of notebook paper and scribbled one short note, which I slid across my desk. Amy, it read. I think we need to talk.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 25, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
“I found one!” I picked a small shell off the ground and held it up for Jaimi to see. “I told you we could find shells on Lake Erie. Who needs an ocean?”             “I don’t think Jaimi’s going to earn her badge with a collection of zebra mussel shells,” Andy said. “And I think there’s still something alive in that one,” Rachel added. “Gross!” Quickly I tossed the mussel back into the lake and we continued our stroll along the water’s edge. “This is utterly futile,” Tony said. “We’re not going to find anything, and it’s getting cold out.” My brother stuck his hands deep into his jacket pockets and hunched his shoulders. “Nature,” he muttered bitterly. Jaimi’s face lit up. “Oh, yeah!” she exclaimed. “You promised you were going to finish your story about why you hate the outdoors and camping—the honey story.” “Oh, man! Did you have to remind him?” I groaned. “We’ve heard that story a million times!” “I haven’t,” said Jaimi. She turned back to my brother. “You said you were camping in the winter, and the cabin was about to fall over, and you were frostbitten and bleeding.” “Ha!” I laughed. Tony ignored me. “That’s right,” he said. “Our Pathfinder group was a lot bigger back then, and we were all crammed into this cold little shack. That was bad enough, but then they showed me the restroom. We had to hike about another 11 miles to get there—“ “Try 200 yards,” said Andy. “Same thing. Anyway, when we finally arrived, it was just this hole in the ground with a little outhouse stuck on top. The smell was horrible, the door wouldn’t lock, the wind blew through the cracks—it was the most revolting, uncomfortable thing imaginable!” “Can’t argue with him on that one,” Rachel admitted. “What about the fire?” Jaimi prodded. “You said you got set on fire.” “No one set him on fire!” Andy exclaimed. “He stood too close to the campfire and got a little singed, is all.” “Excuse me,” Tony said, “but my coat sleeve was in flames. I had to stop, drop, and roll.” “Were you hurt?” Jaimi asked. “Just his pride,” said Andy. “So why do you call this the honey story?” Jaimi asked. “That happened after the fire,” Tony said. “Remember how I told you the cabin was crowded? Well, we had this teacher who was camping with us—we called her Miss A—and she liked to put honey on everything. So she brought this big bottle of honey with her. At breakfast we were all sitting around eating, and Miss A was standing behind me pouring honey into her cereal, only she wasn’t paying attention to whether or not it was actually getting into her bowl. The next thing I knew I had honey dripping off my head and down my face!” “Seriously?” Jaimi exclaimed, laughing. “You’re not making this up?” “On my honor,” said Tony. “So then I had to find a way to wash it off. That involved hiking to the river, which was at the base of this massively steep hill.” “He rolled half the way down,” Andy interjected. “Of course the water just about froze my scalp off,” Tony continued. “And I couldn’t get all the honey out of my hair.” “That does sound awful,” Jaimi said. “It gets better,” I interjected. “It gets worse,” said Tony at the exact same time. “So I washed myself off, crawled up the steep, muddy hill, got back to the cabin and was trying to finish my breakfast when . . .” Here he paused for dramatic effect. “It happened again!” “What happened again?” Jaimi exclaimed. “Miss A dumped honey on my head again! She swore it was an accident and she tried to wash it off, but I knew at that moment that I would never go camping again!” Jaimi nodded, her eyes wide. “Tony,” she said solemnly, “I think you made the right choice.”  The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, March 28! Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 21, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“I found one!” I picked a small shell off the ground and held it up for Jaimi to see. “I told you we could find shells on Lake Erie. Who needs an ocean?”
Posted by Administrator on Mar 21, 2013
Chapter 6: Jealousy
“Miss Jones, can we come down to your room and watch a video?” My brother Matthew, with little Timothy in tow, cornered my teacher as she was about to head down to her room in the basement. “I’m sure Miss Jones has other things to do,” I piped up. “How about we go Rollerblading before it gets too dark—” “’Mato movie!” Timothy interrupted. “I want ’mato movie!” “He means the movie where the tomato tells Bible stories,” Matthew translated. “Sure, boys, head on down.” Miss Jones held the basement door open wide for my brothers. Our eyes met. “Chrissy, would you like to come, too?” “No,” I replied, just barely managing to keep the ice out of my voice. At the last second I remembered to add, “Thanks, anyway,” but my heart wasn’t in it. “Can you believe her?” I exploded to Amy the next day. It was recess, and we were perched atop the jungle gym. This had become our spot for talking about all the personal things we felt we couldn’t discuss with our other friends. After discovering that Amy had gone through experiences similar to mine with her own family, I found it easier to open up and tell her things. “Can you believe Miss Jones just stole my brothers away like that, and then invited me to join them?” “The nerve!” Amy exclaimed. I studied her expression to see if she was being sarcastic. She was. “Okay,” I admitted with a small laugh, “I guess Miss Jones didn’t do anything evil. But I still don’t see what my brothers find so fascinating about sitting on the floor of her room, eating graham crackers and watching videos on her tiny TV.” Amy nodded. “And last time I spent the night at your house, I didn’t see what was so fascinating about putting pennies in a gumball machine, but that’s all your little brothers wanted to do. They spent half the evening banging on your bedroom door, begging to come in and play with your gumball machine, and look at your books, and feed your hamster.” “Yeah…” I said slowly. “So now they have a new bedroom to be fascinated in, and a new person to pester for attention, and you’re jealous.” “You know,” I told Amy, “some people would just sit back and let their friends complain.” Amy shrugged. “Well, I’m not ‘some people’.” I grinned in spite of myself. I knew Amy was right about my jealousy, but I really didn’t give it much thought. After all, jealousy wasn’t that big a deal. It didn’t cause any real problems…right? “Hey, guys, come on down from there!” Rebekah called from beneath the jungle gym. “Some of us are going to build a fort in the bushes around the school!” “No thanks,” I said At the exact same moment Amy yelled, “Awesome!” and jumped to the ground. I watched the two of them run away. Together. Leaving me behind. This feeling seemed very familiar.  The lunchroom was noisy and the table crowded as I squeezed into an empty seat and opened my lunch bag. The five other long tables in the room were empty, because although it might have been more comfortable to spread out, all of us kids at Clarksfield school chose to sit together during lunch. We had always gotten along, and there was almost never any bickering about seating arrangements or anything else at lunch time. Lately, however, even this had started to change—at least for me. More and more I found myself watching Amy and Rebekah at lunch time, feeling those pangs of jealousy that had become so familiar over the past few weeks. “You should have seen me trying to ride Amy’s horse over the weekend,” Rebekah said, laughing at herself. “The horse started walking backwards, and I was like, ‘How do I get this thing out of reverse?’” Everyone who was listening laughed except me. I took a big bite of sandwich and muttered, “I can’t believe there’s actually something she isn’t perfect at.” I hadn’t meant for anyone to actually hear, but Rachel, who sat beside me, gave me a funny look. “Are you mad at Rebekah for something?” she whispered. I shrugged. “I just don’t see why Amy invited Rebekah for ride her horse but she’s never invited me.” This time, Andy overheard. “You want to ride a horse? I thought horses gave you the creeps.” “Well….” “Yeah,” Rachel agreed. “You said they have shifty eyes and restless feet and swishy tails, and you would never put your life in the hands of something so fidgety.” “Hooves,” someone else spoke up. I turned to find that either Ian or Carlos—I still couldn’t tell the twins apart—had joined our conversation. “Horses have hooves. Only people have hands.” “It’s a figure of speech,” his brother—either Carlos or Ian—replied. “Putting your life in someone’s hands, that’s just a figure of speech, an idiom.” “What did you call me?” “Monkeys!” one of the Davids yelled out. “Monkeys have hands!” “They have paws,” said the other David. “No, they’re hands, ‘cause they have fingers.” “Birds have fingers, too.” “Do not!” “Do too!” “Wait a second!” Amy exclaimed. “Was someone just saying horses are creepy?” Desperate to keep Amy from finding out how this conversation had actually started, I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. “Octopus!” All eyes turned toward me. “Huh?” said Ian-or-Carlos. “Octopus…they, uh, have legs, but no feet.” “Yeah, and a snail has a foot but no leg,” said Carlos-or-Ian. “Are they octopus or octopi?” Andy wondered. I breathed a very quiet sigh of relief, glad to have the talk back in safe territory. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that Amy and Rebekah were not part of our conversation—if you could even call it a conversation. Instead, they were back to talking horses and making plans for next weekend.  And I was back to wishing—selfish as it was—that I were the only friend Amy wanted to talk with.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 18, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
“Giant puffball. Found in open areas. Edible.” “Yep.” Rachel nodded at my answer and turned to the next page in the mushroom book. “That’s a morel,” Andy said. “Also edible. Some people like to pickle them.” “Eeew! Pickled mushrooms?” Jaimi exclaimed. “We’re not really going to eat these, are we?” “I don’t believe I would feel comfortable consuming anything you guys identified,” my brother Tony put in. “Anyway, we’d have to find the mushrooms, first,” I said, gazing wistfully out the window of the school lunchroom. “And if this rain doesn’t stop, we’ll never even make it outside.” “An entire Sunday wasted,” Andy sighed. “I’m OK with that,” said Tony. “I didn’t want to go mushroom hunting, anyway. All that tramping around—” “We know,” I interrupted quickly. “You don’t like the outdoors.” “Correction,” Tony said. “The outdoors does not like me.” “What do you mean?” Jaimi asked. “Noooo!” Andy, Rachel, and I groaned in unison. “Now he’s going to tell us!” I exclaimed. “Again!” Rachel added. Tony ignored us. “I’m glad you asked, Jaimi,” he said. “I have many examples to support the hypothesis that the world outdoors is holding a personal grudge against me. Perhaps the most pertinent example would be the story of the first time I went camping with this very Pathfinder club.” “Not the honey story again,” I groaned. Andy banged his head on the table in frustration. “I was 9 years old,” Tony began, “and the people running our Pathfinder club used their powers of leadership—or should I say abused their power—to convince me that it would be enjoyable to camp outdoors in the middle of winter.” “It’s called Polar Bearing,” I told Jaimi, “and we do it all the time.” “I do not,” Tony corrected, “due to the harrowing experiences encountered during my first mid-winter camping excursion.” “Look, if you’re going to tell this story, could you at least tell it in English?” Andy begged. “So there I was,” Tony went on, “a mere youth, young and impressionable, blissfully ignorant, ready to embark on my very first camping expedition in my new coat, hat, gloves, and boots.” “He’s starting from the beginning,” Rachel whispered. “This is going to take all day.” “We arrived at the camp site,” Tony continued. “At least, I thought it was the camp site. I soon found that I was mistaken. It turned out that we were forced to park the car 11 miles from the actual campsite. We were expected to hike the remaining distance to the cabin.” “One mile,” I corrected. “Two at the most.” “By the time we had finished hiking the rugged terrain, my nose and ears were well on their way to developing frostbite, and my feet were bleeding,” “You shouldn’t have worn new boots,” Andy said. “That’s when I got my first look at the place where we would be staying. I had been promised a solidly-built cabin with a warm wood stove. What I encountered was a shack that appeared to be sliding off the edge of a hill. One strong wind was going to bring that thing tumbling down upon us, crushing us in our sleep!” “And yet, somehow, it’s still standing today,” I said. “Shhhh,” said Jaimi. “I want to hear the story.” “All right, listen up, kids!” Our pastor stood at the head of the room and addressed us as if we were a large group instead of five friends huddled around a table. “Clearly the rain isn’t going to quit today, so we’re sending everybody home. Tony and Chrissy, your mom is already here to pick you up.” “Awww!” Jaimi groaned. “You haven’t even told me the part about the honey.” “Nor have I told you the part where I got set on fire,” Tony added. “But not to worry, I’ll tell you all about it at our next meeting.” “We’re on pins and needles,” I said, rolling my eyes.  The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, March 21! Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 14, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“Giant puffball. Found in open areas. Edible.”“Yep.” Rachel nodded at my answer and turned to the next page in the mushroom book.
Posted by Administrator on Mar 14, 2013
Chapter 5: The Wall
“Done!” I scribbled the last few words of my story onto the page, grabbed my notebook, and hurried downstairs. I found my little brother Matthew lying on the living room floor, in his pajamas, watching television with our father. “Hey, Matthew, time for bed,” I told him. “I finished a new chapter in my story. If you hurry, we’ll have time to read it tonight.” Usually my brother jumped at the chance to hear another chapter in the story I was writing especially for him, but tonight he barely glanced at me. “I don’t have to go to bed, yet,” he said. I raised an eyebrow. “Nice try, buddy, but it’s actually past your bedtime. Now go brush your teeth.” Matthew gave me a smirk. “Dad said I could stay up to finish this TV show.” I turned to my father, who was sitting on the couch. “It’s his bedtime,” I said. “I always read him a story and put him to bed.” My father didn’t even turn from the television. “Chrissy,” he said calmly, “you are not his parent.” Maybe if my dad had snapped at me, or acted annoyed, or even looked in my direction, I wouldn’t have gotten so upset. At least that would have shown that he took me seriously. But the way he said it, like he was stating a simple fact—you are not his parent—made me suddenly so angry I couldn’t see straight. “Of course I’m not his parent!” I wanted to yell. “You are! But you haven’t been around, so I had to step in and take your place. And now that you’re back you think you can change the way we do things? We don’t need to change! You need to change!” Only I didn’t say any of that. I had been raised to respect my parents, and as angry as I was, I knew it was wrong to scream at my father. I took a deep breath and tried to come up with a better way to express my feelings. Just then Miss Jones walked into the room carrying a picture book. “Matthew,” she said, “I found that book I was telling you about, the one with the frog and the toad I used to read when I was a kid. Would you like me to read you some before you go to bed?” “Okay!” Matthew jumped to his feet and raced out of the room with my teacher following behind him. I stood there in the middle of the living room, clutching my tattered notebook, next to my father whose eyes were still glued to the TV. I didn’t want to scream anymore. I didn’t even want to cry. I wanted to absolutely explode!   For years I had been building a careful wall between my home life and my school life. Last year, when my father wasn’t living with us, none of my friends even knew about it—or, if they did know, they knew better than to mention it—because I didn’t talk about my family issues at school. That little brick schoolhouse was my fortress against the outside world, and I was the only one allowed on both sides of the wall. Then Miss Jones moved into my family’s basement, and suddenly I had a partner in my daily commute across the wall—whether I wanted one or not. If I had an issue with Miss Jones, I couldn’t leave it at school, and I couldn’t leave it at home. She was everywhere! I sat in class the day after the whole Bedtime Story Disaster and just glared at my teacher. If I were being rational, I might have realized that Miss Jones hadn’t been trying to hurt me when she offered to read a bedtime story to Matthew. If I were being rational, I might have understood that Miss Jones had no idea she was interrupting something between my father and me, no idea that she had encouraged my little brother to choose her over me. If I were being rational, I might have recognized that I had no reason to be angry at my teacher at all. But who needs to be rational when you have such an effective Evil Eye? I gave Miss Jones the Evil Eye all morning long. I followed her movements around the room with beady eyes narrowed to slits and eyebrows knit tightly together. Most of the time she wasn’t even looking in my direction, but occasionally our gazes met, and I took pleasure in the startled look that jumped across her face in those moments. By recess time I had a headache from all the glaring. While most of my classmates played tetherball or swung on the swings, I climbed to the top of the jungle gym to be alone with my thoughts. Within moments I had company. “So what’s with the stink eye?” Amy asked, climbing up beside me. “The what?” “The stink eye. You were giving Miss Jones the stink eye all morning. What’s that about?” I looked at Amy, this friend I had known for years, but with whom I had never had a truly serious conversation. Oh, sure, we joked around, or talked about school stuff, or complained about our little brothers and sisters, but we never talked about anything real. I looked at Amy, and suddenly, more than anything else in the world, I wanted a friend to help me break down my wall. So I told Amy about Miss Jones and the bedtime story, then about Matthew and my father. And once I started talking about my father I just kept going. I told her about my father’s drinking and my parents’ separation and about my dad moving back in and how awkward it was now. And when I finally ran out of things to say I took a close look at Amy’s face to see what her reaction to all of this might be.  Amy’s eyes were wide. Oh, no. I thought. What have I done, telling her all that? My friends can’t understand this sort of thing. They all have perfect homes with perfect families, like Christian families are supposed to be! Now she’s going to think I’m strange, or messed up, or even worse she’s going to pity me! What was I thinking? Only as I studied Amy’s face more closely, I realized her look of surprise was not from shock or horror or pity. It was more a look of…recognition. “Wow,” Amy breathed. “And I thought I was the only one.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “I mean…” Amy paused to allow a small smile to creep over her face. “Your family sounds exactly like mine.” I know it was just my imagination, but in that moment I thought I heard a low rumbling sound—the sound of two carefully built walls slowly beginning to crumble and fall.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 11, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
“Mother, I think you may need to make Chrissy drop out of Pathfinders,” my older brother Tony announced one afternoon. “Ever since she’s been working on her amphibians honor, she’s gone a little loopy.”             “I am not loopy!” I insisted. I had to raise my voice to be heard over the sound of my youngest brother Timothy, who sat on the kitchen floor banging away at a pot with a wooden spoon.             “You’re imagining that you see frogs and toads everywhere, even in rocks!” Tony replied. “If that’s not loopy, I don’t know what is.”             “I’m not imagining things,” I said. “It really is a toad!”             “It’s a rock,” said Tony. “R-o-c-k, rock. The same size and color and shape as all the other rocks out there.”             “Rock?” My other little brother, Matthew, burst into the kitchen. “Where’s the rock? Can I have it?” Matthew had recently become fascinated with rocks. It made sense. Since moving into our new house in the country over two years ago, very little grass had managed to grow, leaving us with a backyard that was about 90 percent rocks. What else was a boy going to play with?             Still, seeing as how Matthew’s favorite activity was smashing rocks into bits using even bigger rocks, I wasn’t about to let him have the one I had just found. Especially since it was not a rock!             “What’s going on?” Mom asked. Her arms were elbow-deep in the sudsy water that filled the sink as she washed dishes. “You found a rock that looks like a toad?”             “Barely looks like a toad,” said Tony.             “You hardly glanced at it!” I exclaimed. “It is a toad, but it won’t move, so I left it out there. I guess it’s dead.”             “I wouldn’t be too sad,” said Tony. “Rocks were never alive to begin with.”             “It is not a—“ I started to say. Mom stopped me by shoving a clean water pitcher into my hands.             “Here,” she said. “Go pour water on the toad.”             I stared at the pitcher. “But, Mom,” I said, “it really is dead. It won’t move at all.”             “Rock,” Tony whispered.             “Just trust me,” Mom said. “I may be a mother, but I do know a thing or two about amphibians. Go pour water on your rock and see what happens.”             I accepted the pitcher and headed outside. Matthew followed. He helped me fill the pitcher and carry it across the dry, dusty yard to where I had found the toad. It was exactly as I had left it.             “It sure looks like a rock,” said Matthew. “But a really cool, toad-shaped one. After we wash it, can I have it? I promise not to smash it.”             “We’re not washing it,” I said. I was now pretty sure I understood why Mom had given me the pitcher. We’d been having some very hot, dry weather lately. Our backyard was like a desert to a toad. Maybe toads had some special defense that allowed them to go into a kind of hibernation when they got too dry. If so, then giving them water might just do something.             “It’s moving!” Matthew yelled as we poured water on the toad. “The rock is moving!”             Sure enough, the toad had begun to wiggle and move its legs. In a few more minutes it was hopping across the dry dirt.             That day I learned something new about amphibians that I could share with my Pathfinder club. That day also marked the end of my little brother’s fascination with rocks. From that moment on, nothing got him quite as excited as toads. Oh, brother. The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, March 14!Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 7, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christian Dotson
“Mother, I think you may need to make Chrissy drop out of Pathfinders,” my older brother Tony announced one afternoon. “Ever since she’s been working on her amphibians honor, she’s gone a little loopy.”
Posted by Administrator on Mar 7, 2013
Chapter 4: Hey Todd
I sat down at the computer, logged into my e-mail account, and clicked on the “drafts” icon. My half-finished letter to Todd jumped onto the screen. I read over what I had written so far. Hey Todd, Hi! How are you doing? How do you like Oregon? How do you like your new school? Is it big? I guess any school looks big compared to our school at Clarksfield. If your school uses at least two classroom, you got us beat. Of course, you’re kind of to blame for our school being smaller than last year, since you and Chad did leave us in the dust. ; ) Just kidding. I don’t blame you anymore. I know you didn’t want to move. School really isn’t the same without you guys, though. Like yesterday at recess, Little Rachel got mad at Big Rachel because she got her out in 4-square, and I knew that if you guys were there, one of you would have said or done something funny. Then everyone would have laughed and forgotten all about it. Instead, Little Rachel stayed mad for, like, half the day. That’s another thing that’s different, this year—we have all the grades in one classroom. Lower graders and upper graders are mixed together, and it gets kind of weird sometimes. Plus, I don’t think the two Rachels enjoy being called Big and Little. I bet if you and Chad were here, you guys could come up with way better nicknames for them. Any suggestions? Even though it’s different, it’s kind of fun having the younger kids in our classroom. It makes things interesting—especially the littlest kids, like the two Davids. They’re such a riot! Yesterday, David M. volunteers have prayer before lunch, so we all bow our heads, and he starts in with, “Dear Jesus, thank you for the sun, and thank you for the moon, and thank you for the stars, and thank you for the grass, and thank you for my toy fire truck, and thank you for the little plastic fireman who drives my toy fire truck, and thank you for the batteries in my toy fire truck that make it go WEEEEEE-OOOOOOO, WEEEEEE-OOOOOOO, WEEEEEE-OOOOOOO!” Seriously! And he went on for, like, five minutes before Miss Jones finally had to put in an “amen” and end it. Of course, it’s not so cute when the other David, Rebekah’s little brother, starts answering my math problems. The other day, Miss Jones was helping me with math, as she asks, “What’s eight times eight,” because that was the next step in the problem. Well, you know I was never too great with the eights, so I was trying to add them up quick, and David just blurts out, “Sixty-four!” from all the way across the room. I mean, really! Schooled by a second grader! How embarrassing is that? Speaking of embarrassing, remember how I told you Miss Jones ratted me out to my mom, about how I wasn’t wearing my glasses at school? Well, my mom took me to this new eye doctor, and he went on and on about how terrible my eyesight is, and how I really need to be wearing glasses all the time, not just at school. He acted surprised I was even able to walk into the building without slamming into parked cars! So now I have to wear my glasses all day, every day. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually kind of glad. I mean, I never realized people could see the individual leaves and branches on trees! It’s like there’s this whole world I was missing out on because I was too stubborn to wear my glasses. Now I can-- This was where my e-mail ended. I had started it that morning, but had to leave for school before I could finish. I couldn’t remember what I had been about to write when I’d stopped, so I deleted the unfinished sentence and thought about what to say next. High on my list of things to talk about was the news of what had happened that very day in school. I placed my fingers on the keys and began to type. Guess what? We got two new students today! And they’re in our grade! Do you remember those twins, Ian and Carlos, we met at camp meeting that one year? Well, now they’re going to be coming to our school. They’re identical twins, and I can’t tell them apart yet, but they like to play soccer, which is cool because you know how I can never get anyone to play soccer with me. Plus they’re kind of cute.  I stopped typing and frantically hit the backspace key, as if I were afraid Todd could read the e-mail before I even sent it. Some things you just can’t talk about with guy friends…or with anyone else, for that matter. For instance, I didn’t tell Todd or any of my friends what had been going on at home lately. I couldn’t talk about how my heart dropped down to the pit of my stomach every day when my father came home from work, and stayed there for as long as it took me to figure out that he hadn’t been drinking. I never mentioned to anyone how I monitored my parents’ interactions carefully, rejoicing each time they made it through an entire conversation without fighting. Before the separation, that had been rare. Strange as it sounds, I was having a hard time adjusting to the idea of two happy parents who were working on their relationship. But since I wasn’t about to say any of that in my e-mail, I decided to wrap things up.  Well, anyway, I hope you’re doing okay in Oregon. Have fun with your pet pig and your new friends, but don’t forget about us, here. We miss you! Your Friend, Chrissy  Several days later, I received a reply from Todd in my inbox. My e-mail to Todd had been about two pages worth of stories, questions, and updates. Todd’s response was exactly two sentences.  Hey Chrissy, How about calling the younger Rachel “Rachel-the-Second-but-No-Less-Important,” and call the other Rachel “Big-But-Not-in-a-Heavy-Way-Just-Older-Rachel?” Too long? Todd  I sighed heavily. Boys!
Posted by Tonya Ball on Mar 4, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
We hope you're njoying the story "Anything Can Happen" that's currently appearing in Guide. You'll also want to read about some of Chrissy's adventures that don't appear in the magazine! A new chapter is posted each Wednesday! 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Feb 28, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“So this is Pathfinders, huh?” Jaimi gazed around the school lunchroom, eyebrows raised. Though she seemed a little disappointed by the size of our club, I was thrilled. With Jaimi here, our four-member club had grown to five.
Posted by Administrator on Feb 28, 2013
Chapter 3: Communication Problems
    “Chrissy, would you please read this week’s memory verse off the board?” Miss Jones asked me one Monday morning during the first few weeks of school.             My head jerked up with a start and my pencil flew from my hands. It had finally come. The moment I had been dreading was here—the moment when I was asked to read aloud from the board.             It wasn’t the reading itself that was a problem. It wasn’t the speaking aloud in class, either. I was more than happy to read the memory verse off the board…if only I could see the memory verse on the board.             Our old teacher, Mrs. Dunn, had always written on the board in large, loopy letters that were easy to read and only required a little bit of squinting. Our new teacher’s handwriting, however, was smaller and tighter. I couldn’t read it at all. I might have mentioned this on the first day of school, except that no one else in class seemed to have this problem.             “Chrissy?” Miss Jones prodded. “The memory verse?”             I knew I couldn’t sit there and squint all day. I had to admit the truth. “I can’t see the board,” I muttered in defeat.             “Oh.” Miss Jones hesitated. “Okay. Why don’t you walk closer until you can see it?”             I stepped away from my desk and moved several feet closer to the board. “It is the…” I began, but couldn’t make out the rest. I moved until I was only a few feet away from the board. “It is the Lord who goes before you,” I read. “He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8.”             Embarrassed, I hurried back to my seat. Miss Jones didn’t say anything more, but somehow I knew I had not heard the end of this.               Later that evening, Miss Jones walked into the kitchen while my mother was fixing super. “I think Chrissy might need glasses,” she announced.             This, of course, was a major downside to having my teacher live in my house. It used to be that if something happened at school, unless it was really bad, my parents would probably never find out about it because they only talked to my teacher every once in a while. But now my parents and teacher talked all the time. No good could come from this much school-to-home communication. My mother’s reaction was proof of this. “What do you mean she might need glasses?” Mom exclaimed. “Chrissy has glasses. She’s supposed to be wearing them all the time at school.” “That’s news to me,” said Miss Jones. “I’ve never seen them.” I tried to pull off a subtle disappearing act from the kitchen, but instead I found myself unable to move, trapped by a “Mom Look” from one side of the room and a “Teacher Look” from the other. Seriously, how many kids in the universe have to face this kind of treatment just for stepping into their own kitchen to get a glass of juice? “Yeah, about that….” Desperately I tried to come up with a good excuse for why I didn’t wear my glasses. They were old? They were ugly? I thought they made me look like an owl? I was afraid they’d get in the way when I played sports? All these reasons seemed perfectly logical to me, but I knew they were not going to fly with either my mom or my teacher. I sighed in defeat. I know when I’m outnumbered.   Believe it or not, having Miss Jones around was not the most awkward situation going on in my home. Even more stressful than learning to live with my teacher was learning to live with my father again. My parents had recently gotten back together after being separated for almost a year. This should have made me happy, and for the most part it did, but it also brought even more things to worry over and even more changes to my life. First and foremost was the worry that my father might start drinking again, which was the reason for the separation to begin with. My dad had been an alcoholic my whole life, and even though he was sometimes able to quit for long periods of time—like right now—he had always gone back to drinking eventually. I had very little hope that this time would be any different. Then there was the issue of suddenly having my father back in my life again. Sure, I had missed him when he didn’t live with us, but I had also gotten used to it. Now he was back, and we were both relearning how to be around each other. One afternoon, my father came home with several packs of football trading cards. “Look what I picked up,” he announced. “It’s the new line of Touchdown football cards. They’re supposed to be really nice.” Dad and I had once been major football card collectors. We would open packs and packs of cards together, looking up their values in magazines, putting the best ones in cases and organizing the rest into binders, rejoicing together when we found an especially rare card or a player we really liked…. Except all of that had been before the separation, before my dad moved out. I had barely touched our football cards since, and to be honest I wasn’t all that interested in starting up again. I knew it wouldn’t be the same. But how could I tell that to my father? “Uh…can we open them later?” I stalled. “I promised to help Matthew and Timothy clean their bedroom today.” Dad looked at me like he thought I was making this up. “Why would you need to help clean your little brothers’ room?” he asked. “I always help--.” I stopped midsentence. I could have kicked myself. Here I was trying to avoid one awkward situation, and I had gone and brought up another one. Now what was I supposed to say? You know, Dad, after Mom asked you to leave because of your drinking, I started helping out around the house more. Now I do chores without being asked and look after the boys a lot and even help them clean their room because, honestly, it’s not easy being a single parent, which is what Mom was after you left, and I just wanted to help out. And even though you’re back now, I figure you’ll probably be gone again eventually, so I might as well keep it up. Maybe some fathers and daughters could have a conversation like that, but they sure didn’t live in this house. Luckily, at that moment Miss Jones burst through the front door, back from her daily five mile bike ride. And while I don’t think any kid should ever have to see their teacher in bicycle shorts, it did save me from an uncomfortable conversation with my dad. Because it was an unspoken rule in my family that we didn’t talk about our problems in front of other people. Unfortunately, we didn’t really talk about our problems with each other, either. And this, I was starting to realize, might just cause a whole new set of problems for all of us.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Feb 25, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
We hope you're njoying the story "Anything Can Happen" that's currently appearing in Guide. You'll also want to read about some of Chrissy's adventures that don't appear in the magazine! A new chapter is posted each Wednesday! 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Feb 21, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson
“OK, here’s the plan,” I whispered to Andy and Rachel. The three of us huddled outside the classroom door before school. “We need to get more kids to join Pathfinders, so we’re going to divide and conquer. Rachel, you take the second and third graders. Tell them Pathfinders is a really cool club for big kids, but if they’re good you’ll let them join. I’ll get the fourth and fifth graders by telling them stories of all the fun things we do in Pathfinders—”
Posted by Administrator on Feb 21, 2013
Chapter 2: The First Day
“So what’s she like?” Rachel whispered as she hung her new backpack on the hook next to mine. Her brother Andy glanced over his shoulder to make sure our new teacher wasn’t suddenly lurking in the doorway of the lunchroom. Seeing that the coast was clear, he turned back to me. “We saw her in church last Sabbath,” he said. “She looked like she might be nice. Is she nice?” I knew my friends were eager for details about Miss Jones, and I wanted to give them some, but the truth was that I still didn’t have much to tell. “I don’t know,” I admitted. “She moved in with us last week, but she’s spent most of her time here, getting the school ready I guess.” “I think it’s kind of cool that she asked us to bring in something to share with her, something that would help her get to know us better,” said Rachel. “I brought this picture of me holding my baby cousin.” I took the photo she handed me and smiled, remembering how excited Rachel had been when her little cousin was born. “I brought this.” Andy produced a cartoon he had drawn of a snail in a cowboy hat, riding on the back of a turtle. The speech bubble above the snail’s head showed the snail yelling, “Weeeeeee!” “I don’t know, Andy,” I said. “I’m not sure what message this drawing is going to give Miss Jones about you.” Excited, but also a little nervous, the three of us headed into the classroom that would be shared by all students in grades 1 through 8. This was yet another change that made this year different from last, when we’d had enough students for two classrooms. Although our school had been saved from closing, we were shrinking. There were fewer students this year than last year, and no new first graders. The empty lower grades’ classroom was a sad reminder of this, though I was a little excited about the idea of sharing our classroom with the younger kids, who were actually pretty cool. I hadn’t had a new teacher since the second grade, so I really didn’t know what to expect as I stepped into the classroom. The first thing I noticed was the new arrangement of desks and furniture. Mrs. Dunn’s old teacher’s desk was gone, replaced by a semi-circular work table surrounded by chairs. Instead of our desks being in neat rows, they were grouped together according to grade level. Posters that had hung in our classroom for as long as I could remember had disappeared. One section of a wall was covered with corkboard. “It’s…different,” was all I could say. “I like it,” said Rachel. “We get to sit in groups,” said Andy. “Cool.” I couldn’t explain why the new classroom setup bothered me, so I didn’t even try. I knew it was silly to care so much about a room, but with so many other things changing lately, I just wanted something to remain familiar. Luckily, my friends could always be counted on to cheer me up. Amy rushed over when she noticed us standing in the doorway. “Hey, guys, come check out my baby snake!” Amy whispered. Most days Amy didn’t know the meaning of the word whisper, but there was something about the first day of school, with a new teacher we barely knew standing right across the room, that made us all feel a bit like we were in a library. “You brought a snake? On the first day of school?” I said. “Are you sure you want to spring your quirkiness on Miss Jones all at once?” “She said we should bring something that tells more about us,” Amy replied with a shrug. Laughing, I stepped further into the room and took a closer look around. The desks all had name cards taped to the sides. I found the desk labeled “Chrissy” pushed up against the desks of my fellow seventh graders, Andy and Rebekah. For a moment I gazed wistfully at the empty spot where I imagined Todd’s desk would have been if he hadn’t moved to Oregon. I had never been to school without Todd or his brother Chad, who had always made us laugh. I even missed my older brother Tony, who had graduated from our school last year. Most of all at the moment I missed Mrs. Dunn, with her warm smile and her teacher’s desk and the “Welcome Back!” message she used to write on the board. Mrs. Dunn had never needed any “getting to know you” assignments. She already knew us. As I watched Miss Jones move from desk to desk, studying what each student had brought in to share, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t her fault Mrs. Dunn had left. Still, with this new person both in my classroom and living in my family’s basement…well, I just prayed we could get off on the right foot. Miss Jones was already at Rebekah’s desk, paging through the scrapbook Rebekah had brought to share. She smiled at me as I took my seat. “Good morning, Chrissy,” she said. “Hello,” I replied, feeling awkward. How was I supposed to greet a teacher I had just greeted an hour ago at breakfast? How should I treat a teacher who lived in my house? Should I be extra friendly since she was practically going to be family? Or maybe I should be more formal, to show that I still planned to respect her. This was way too much complicated thinking for so early in the morning. This was why I liked things to stay the same. At least I knew what to expect. I decided my best bet was to stay busy. When Miss Jones moved to my desk and asked what I had brought in to share, I handed her the magazine that had published one of my poems, then quickly became very occupied lining up my pencils inside my desk so I wouldn’t have to have another awkward conversation with my new teacher. I could see Miss Jones’ puzzled expression out of the corner of my eye. The back of my neck grew warm with embarrassment as I realized my teacher probably thought I was being rude. I hadn’t meant to be rude, and I hoped that with time I would be able to show Miss Jones I really was a nice, friendly person. But the truth was that right now there were just way too many changes going on in my life. I needed some time to get used to them all.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Feb 18, 2013
"Anything Can Happen" Bonus Story
We hope you're enjoying the story "Anything Can Happen" that's currently appearing in Guide. You'll also want to read about some of Chrissy's adventures that don't appear in the magazine! A new chapter is posted each Wednesday! 
Posted by Tonya Ball on Feb 14, 2013
The World's Smallest Pathfinder Club
By Christina Dotson

Do four people even count as a real Pathfinder club?” Rachel wondered. She plopped down next to me at the table in the nearly empty school lunchroom, where we always held our club meetings. 
Posted by Administrator on Feb 13, 2013
Chapter 1: Good-Bye
   “She’s going to live with you?” my friend Amy squealed in disbelief. “Our new teacher is going to live in your house? Like, under the same roof, sharing the same kitchen and TV and bathroom and everything?”             “Well, we won’t share everything,” I replied. “She’ll kind of have her own place, ‘cause we’re putting her in the basement.” Quickly I glanced around to make sure my mother hadn’t overheard. Just that morning she had been nagging me to quit telling everyone that my teacher was going to live in our basement. “You make it sound like we’re locking Miss Jones in a dungeon with spiders and rats,” my mom had said. “It is a carpeted, painted, heated spare bedroom with its own private bathroom. And unless you want me to give her your bedroom, you’d better stop making it sound like we’re sticking your new teacher in a hole.” Still, no matter how you put it, having my teacher live in my house was a bit weird. I still hadn’t quite wrapped my mind around the idea, but I was enjoying watching my friends’ reactions as I told them the news. “How long is she staying?” Rachel asked. I shrugged. “Not sure. Maybe all school year. Maybe just until she finds an apartment.” “Have you met her, yet?” Todd asked. I opened my mouth to answer then shut it tight when I remembered I wasn’t speaking to Todd. This was kind of tough considering I was in Todd’s living room and this was his family’s going-away party, but I was determined to keep up the silence. I gave Todd the cold shoulder until Andy, Rachel’s brother, repeated the question. “Well?” Andy asked. “Have you met Miss Jones?” “Not yet,” I replied cheerfully, as if there were nothing awkward going on at all. Todd gave me a hurt look, but I pretended not to notice. “I still can’t believe Mrs. Dunn left us,” Amy sighed. “No kidding!” I exclaimed. “How can you teach a bunch of kids for five years and then just up and abandon them?” “Mrs. Dunn didn’t abandon us, Chrissy,” Rebekah broke in. “My dad said she had to take another job. Remember, we didn’t even know if our school was going to open again this year. Mrs. Dunn couldn’t risk being out of work. She didn’t have a choice.” I knew that what Rebekah said was true, but it didn’t make me feel any better. Last year, when it had looked like our small Adventist church school might have to close its doors for good, we had banded together with the rest of our classmates to try and keep that from happening. And when our hard work and prayers paid off, and our school was saved, I figured life at Clarksfield SDA School would go back to normal. I hadn’t planned on Mrs. Dunn leaving. I also hadn’t planned on Todd and his whole family packing up and moving clear across the country. Todd and I had been in the same grade our whole lives. Our mothers were best friends. Our older brothers were best friends. His big sister used to help me babysit my two little brothers. I could hardly remember a single birthday party, Christmas celebration, or Sabbath afternoon when our two families hadn’t been together. Now all of that was coming to an end. It just wasn’t fair. This many things weren’t supposed to change all at once. Mrs. Dunn was gone. Todd and his family were moving. Plus there were all the changes going on at home, only one of which was the new teacher in the basement. How was one kid supposed to be able to handle all that?             While I had fallen deep into thought, the conversation in the room had turned. Todd was now enthusiastically discussing his newest favorite topic—the wonder and magnificence that was the great state of Oregon.             “Our new house in Oregon is only half an hour from the beach!” Todd gushed. “We’ll get to go there all the time! Plus, there are mountains in Oregon, so I can snowboard. And all my cousins live in Oregon, so I’ll have lots of people to hang out with already! And once we move, my mom’s going to let me get a pot-bellied pig as a pet, and--”             I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to break my silence. “A pig?” I burst in. “You have to move to Oregon to get a pig? What, are pigs on the Ohio endangered species list or something? And you don’t even know how to snowboard! Have you forgotten that? All you can talk about lately is Oregon, Oregon, Oregon--”             “I think I’m going to get some more cake,” Rebekah burst in. “Come on, guys, who wants cake?” She clearly meant to change the subject, yet when the others all got up and headed into the kitchen, Todd and I stayed put.             We were quiet for a long time. I pulled at a loose thread on Todd’s couch.             Todd was the one who finally broke the silence. “You know I’d stay if I could, right?” he said.             “Stay?” I exclaimed. “I thought you wanted to move. I thought Oregon was like Disney World, a water park, and a ski resort all rolled into one!”             “Of course I don’t want to move,” said Todd. “I don’t want to leave my house and my school and my church and all my friends. But since I have to move, I might as well find something to be happy about, right?”             I felt my anger leak away, leaving me deflated like a balloon. How could I not have seen this before? Todd had always been the type to look on the bright side of everything. Of course he would focus on the good things about moving instead of the bad.             I could probably learn a lesson from him when it came to that sort of thing.             “So, anyway,” Todd went on, “I need someone to e-mail me and tell all about what’s going on in school and everything once I’m gone. None of the other kids are into writing like you are, so you’ll have to do it.” “I’ll have to do it?” I repeated, eyebrows raised.
            “Yep!” Todd replied cheerfully. “And that’s an order!”
            I grinned and gave Todd a goofy salute. “Eye, eye, captain!” I said.             A burst of laughter from the kitchen reminded us both that there was still time to have some fun before we said our final good-byes. We reached the kitchen just in time to see Andy shoving an entire slice of chocolate cake into his mouth.             “I’ll give you ten bucks if you whistle right now!” Todd whooped.             “Ew, gross!” Amy exclaimed. She ducked behind Rebekah, using her as a shield in case the crumbs started flying.             I found myself wishing that time would stand still. If only I could freeze us all in this moment. If only I could stop things from changing and just hold on to this happy feeling.             And then Andy did try to whistle, and I decided maybe this wasn’t the moment I wanted to stay in, after all.
Posted by Tonya Ball on Feb 11, 2013
It Happened This Month: January 1963
We hope you're enjoying this feature from the past in Guide. We'll post a new one here each month as well.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Feb 8, 2013
Hot Air Balloon Race

This week's Guide features an interesting fact about the first hot air balloon. 

Do you want to watch a hot air balloon race?

Posted by Laura Samano, Assistant Editor on Jan 9, 2013
New Talent Showcase Lets You Vote for Your Favorites
Hey, show everyone the cool things you've made on our all-new Talent Showcase. Upload pictures of your Lego creations and scans or photos of your art. You can also upload stories, poems and jokes. Now Guide readers can comment and "Like" each individual thing you post. Click here to see what's new at the Talent Showcase.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Nov 23, 2012
Print a Halloween Cartoon for the Neighbor Kids
Here's a little Halloween treat that you can make yourself to give to your friends (and maybe the kids who are trick-or-treating in your neighborhood). It has a fun little message that reveals what the Bible says about ghosts. Download these PDF file to get started.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Oct 22, 2012
Inside a Tractor-Trailer
In this week's Guide issue, Rachel wrote about a tractor-trailer. Have you ever wondered what a semi-truck looks like on the inside? This video takes you on a virtual tour of the cab. 
Posted by Rachel Whitaker, Associate Editor on Jul 26, 2012
How to Build a Campfire
Attention, Pathfinders (and non-Pathfinders)! Do you know how to start a campfire safely and successfully? Just in time for summer fun, here are some tips from Smokey the Bear on building a campfire. You don't want to be the person who starts a dangerous wildfire! Nor do you want to be the person who can't get a fire going at all. 
Posted by Administrator on Jun 27, 2012
Indian Grinding Stones
Adventist Roadside Attractions in Guide featured the G & R Railroad at Leoni Meadows Camp in California. While extending the track several years ago, workers found a grinding stone used by Maidu and Miwok Indians for turning acorns and pine nuts into flour. Here's an example of what these stones look like.

Posted by Administrator on Jun 27, 2012
Piper Super Cub Takes Off
Right now Guide is featuring a continued story, "Just Plane Crazy," about three boys who want to buy a Piper Super Cub as a mission plane. Check out how quickly this plane takes off, and you'll see why bush pilots like it: No need for a long runway!
Posted by Administrator on Jun 13, 2012
Amy Carmichael's Resting Place


Guide has been featuring the story of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India who was beloved by her many adopted children and spent her whole life ministering to them. After she died, even though she had requested that her grave not be marked, the children put up a stone birdbath over her grave with the word "Amma" (mother). See it here.
Posted by Administrator on May 2, 2012
Show Off Your Work In the New Talent Showcase
Sometimes you just need to let the world see what you’re up to! Photos, poems, drawings, Lego creations, a story you’ve written, a video you’ve filmed—you can pin them up for all to see in the new Talent Showcase.
Posted by Kim Peckham on Mar 14, 2012
I Can See You're Amazed By the New Guide Web Site
Welcome! You're one of the first to see our updated Web site. If you've been a long-time friend of GuideMagazine.org, you'll find that most of your favorite pages are still here. But we have some new features and fun stuff to do. Here are some of the highlights:
Posted by Kim Peckham on Mar 14, 2012
Bible Bonanza
Stretch your memory with six exciting card games based on the Bible: Bible Pairs, Bible Runs, Book P
A Little Child's First Prayers
Bright, appealing illustrations and simple, joyful words make this collection of prayers a very spec
Where Christian kids have fun! GuideMagazine.org is a ministry of Guide magazine, a Christian story magazine for children published by
the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Guide publishes nonfiction stories that show children ages 10-14 how to walk with God now and forever.