The Portugal Chronicles – The Conference First; Home at Last

airportThe landing in Frankfurt, Germany was ummm…culture shock compared with the departure from JFK. It was more like what we deal with now when we choose to travel by air.

I had my camera, of course. When I tried to take a picture when we were going through customs, the Frau in the uniform grabbed it away from me. She told me in no uncertain terms: Nein! Sie können das nicht tun. I got it. I wasn’t in Kansas any more.

We were shuttled from the airport to a Gästehaus near where the conference was to be held. There were three bedrooms with three couples from Word of Life there. And one bathroom. Our freundliche Frau was an energetic woman and her home was immaculate at all times. She gave us good German breakfasts.

She schooled us, too. She objected to the amount of hot water Americans habitually use to take a simple shower. After the first night, she turned off the hot water heater* after about 30 minutes. I imagine she thought that was generous.

The conference was pretty typical Evangelical fare. It was intended to encourage weary missionaries who had been on the field awhile. It’s unfortunate, however, that I don’t remember anything except the meeting when the men and women were in separate rooms. It was mostly tips on getting along with one’s spouse. I do remember clearly one of the tips about hungry, grumpy husbands: “If he’s hungry, feed the beast.”swiss air

At long last, we took my ‘cello and boarded our Swiss Air flight to Lisbon. A short hop and we were circling around Lisbon. I could hardly wait.

Every city has it’s own smell, and Lisbon is no exception. After we went through customs, my olfactory nerves began to quiver. Though it was comprised of diesel fuel, cigarette smoke, and other components, to me is was eau de home.

hot water

* It was this type of small hot water heater that heats the water as it flows through.

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Portugal Chronicles – The First Year: Honeymoon

When the wedding reception was over (complete with musical numbers from students) we went to my friend’s house to change out of our wedding garb and into something comfortable. Then we got in the car and set off with the sun setting behind us. We stopped at a restaurant where Harry enjoyed a turkey dinner (his favorite meal). Harry alleges that I also had food, but apparently it was not terribly memorable.

After dinner, we continued to drive east toward the coast. We had a reservation in a hotel in Ocean City, NJ. Harry had asked me where I wanted to go on our honeymoon, and I opted for the beach. He asked me to choose another destination and mentioned the Bahamas and Florida/Disney World. I was surprised when I learned that this was not just our honeymoon, but also “deputation,” otherwise known as finding people to support our ministry in Portugal. We spent time with some of his extended family and with friends along the way.

Today the rest is a photo post with some snaps of our journeying.

First day: the beach in Ocean City, NJ
First day: the beach in Ocean City, NJ
Harry dealing with our rented bicycles.
Harry dealing with our rented bicycles.
River Boat, Disney
River Boat, Disney
Outside the Tiki Hut
Outside the Tiki Hut
Harry in the stocks. Please note that no chains or whips were involved.
Harry in the stocks. Please note that no chains or whips were involved.
Dolphins at Sea World
Dolphins at Sea World
Shamu - at least, one of them.
Shamu – at least, one of them.
cyprus garden
Cyprus Gardens
ducks
Ducks at Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Orchids growing in Cypress Gardens
Orchids growing in Cypress Gardens
Our last stop on the honeymoon: Central Oaks Heights, an old Methodist Campground. Our cabin looked over the swimming pool
Our last stop on the honeymoon: Central Oaks Heights, an old Methodist Campground. Our cabin looked over the swimming pool

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – The Jitters – 10

jitters
Jitters

Around 2 a.m. on June 27, 1979 I woke up from a sound sleep and sat straight up in my bed. My eyes were wide open and my heart was pounding. In approximately 84 hours I would be standing in church in front of God and everybody to plight my troth. How well did I really know this man with whom I was  promising to spend the rest of my days? I was planning to move just HOW many miles across the Atlantic Ocean away from my family and friends? What was I thinking? WAS IT TOO  LATE TO CANCEL?????!!!

I sat there for about half an hour or so mulling over  my predicament. I remembered my friend who had asked me if I was SURE I wanted to marry Harry. Did she know something I didn’t know? I dismissed her concern since I knew she was not happy in her marriage. My mom always called me Miss Independent. Could Miss Independent become Mrs. Interdependent and handle the marriage yoke made for two? My grandfather told me he never expected me to get married; he thought I was cold and distant. I dismissed that because I had good reason to so be around him.

Then I thought about Harry, and how our friendship had evolved over decades. We’d already gone toe to toe on issues,  worked  through them, and moved forward. Eventually.  He was thoughtful, steady, dependable and kind. Harry liked me as well as loved me. He was a can do kind of guy, and he had a sense of humor. I realized then that if all else failed, our God-given gift of  humor would eventually pull us back to sanity. I decided it was a go.

I was, however, still wide awake, and it was heading for 3:30 a.m. So, I gathered up the clothes I would be taking on our honeymoon and  went downstairs quietly. I got out the ironing board and iron and pressed everything, then packed my suitcases. I made a to do list, and around 4:30 a.m. I crawled back under the covers and quickly fell asleep.

"What was I thinking?"
“What was I thinking?”

The other day I told Harry about writing this post. Then, almost 34 years later, he ‘fessed up, too. He said that when he woke up on our wedding day he stood in his bedroom and asked himself, “What was I thinking?” But, he showed up anyway. Because he’s like that.

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – MIT

Word of Life
Word of Life Inn

Along about the first week in June I was on the road with Harry again. We were heading up to the Adirondacks where the missions organization was holding the Missionaries in Training classes. I was familiar with the founder of Word of Life. Jack Wyrtzen, who began ministering in New York city as an evangelist. Word of Life was also famous back in the day for Word of Life Island – a camp for teens.

I also  knew that he had been blackballed by a well-known Christian university for going to talk to a group of Roman Catholic priests somewhere  along the way. The first time that I saw him in person, he was speaking in chapel at the Bible college I attended. His first words were, “How does a girl get pregnant in Bible college?” Yes, he did get everyone’s attention!  He was one of a kind.

In fact, I was about to meet a large group of characters. I think that being a character was required to be part of the organization. One of the first things that happened was that Harry was caught with his mustache. One of the Bible club teachers walked up to him and told him to lose the ‘stache, thus dashing my dreams of being married to the mustached man.

Frankly, I remember only three things about that week with any kind of clarity. One was my interview with Jack’s wife, Marge. And, yes, she too was a card carrying character. She told me that when she and Jack got married, her doctor advised her to not have children due to her poor health. Marge and Jack went on and had five children, and she lived to a ripe old age. She was the detail person of the Jack and Marge duo. When she looked at a prospective missionary woman, she always knew if the woman had what it takes. If she said, “No”, it was no go.

The second thing was fielding the question of why my home church would not support us financially. Multiple times. I was embarrassed. The WOL leadership found it incomprehensible. Some of it probably had to do with the nature of Harry’s position as a business manager instead of being a preacher (even though he was deeply involved in the evangelistic part of the mission); some was Word of Life being a non-denominational entity (even though WOL was and continues to be a conservative Christian organization). The bottom line was my church practiced second degree separation.

The last thing that left an impression was that nasty black fly that bit me on my ring finger and left a scar.

Adirondacks
Adirondacks

On the way back to Pennsylvania I asked Harry what he would have done if Marge had looked at me and said I wasn’t fit to be a missionary’s wife. He said that he would have resigned. Since we were only three weeks out from the wedding, that was probably the right answer. I was relieved.

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – And The Countdown Begins – part 9

jet lagDuring the first week of April, 1979, Harry arrived stateside. His parents picked him up at the airport (I was teaching) and he had to listen to them tell him just how sneaky he had been by keeping his interest in me a secret.

Everything was pollinating, adding to the aggravation of jet lag.  It was the second round of pollination that year for him; Portugal’s pollen had already come and settled down.

Nevertheless, as soon as he possibly could, he borrowed his mother’s car and made a beeline to my house. How glad I was to see him after what seemed an unending year.  We had a lot of planning to do with our wedding coming up in approximately three months, but that visit was reserved for sweeter things.

Though Harry had quite easily kept the secret of my Portugal visit the previous year, he let the cat out of the bag when my attendants held a surprise shower at my church. Apparently, he has compartmentalized his secret keeping skills. It was a lovely evening just the same.

The list of things that had to be decided on and dealt with felt like an imposition on our time when all we wanted to do was to make goo-goo eyes at each other! Invitations had to be addressed and mailed out. I had set a number limit before Harry came back, but his family’s list alone  had around 250 people on it. Eloping was beginning to look even more attractive.

Marital counseling was another piece of  the time pie –  my pastor was in charge of that. I asked my dad to officiate at the ceremony. He kind of looked at me the way Abraham might have looked as he got ready to sacrifice Isaac. But he said he would. We asked my pastor to officiate until my dad and mom “gave” me away. To keep Harry’s pastor in the loop, we invited him to pray the benediction at the end of the ceremony. And we began to memorize our vows.

We ordered flowers from the father of one of my students, who was a wholesaler, and enlisted the support of different church folks for decorating the gym. Some families baked quick breads for the reception. Wedding gifts began to arrive. Tuxedos were reserved. Then Harry told me something that I did not want to hear; I was required to attend Missionaries in Training at the mission organization’s headquarters in northern New York state. They had scheduled it for the first week in June. Before school was out. One more thing on the list.

Exhaustion

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – Surprise !

If all mothers-in-law were like my husband’s mother, there would be no mother-in-law jokes. She is kind, thoughtful, a hard worker and honest. I have never heard her say anything bad about another person. But she has skills.

My sister-in-law had a veil for me to look at.
My sister-in-law had a veil for me to look at.

One day, she called me and asked me if I had found a veil yet. I hadn’t. She told me that my sister-in-law to be had offered to let me use hers. After describing it to me, she asked me if I could come down on Friday after dinner and try it on to see if I liked it. Friday afternoons are not exactly prime time for teachers, but I felt I owed her given that her son never let her know he was inviting me to visit him in Portugal until after the fact. I wanted to stay on her good side.

Friday afternoon, therefore, I headed to the outskirts of Philadelphia. I had changed out of my work clothes into my most comfortable, well-worn jeans, an old t-shirt and my sneakers. My hair was a little oily. Did I mentions it was the end of a long school week? No makeup – I didn’t want to risk getting it on the veil.

It was a pleasant spring evening. The sun was setting  when I arrived at the home where Harry had grown up. It was what we called a “twin house,”  two homes with a common wall between. Mom Price said that she would drive me over to Sally’s apartment, so I got into her car with her.

As she drove, Mom said that she needed to pick up a document at the church on the way to Sally’s house. (She was the treasurer for the Ladies’ Missionary Society.) She stopped in front of the education building and invited me to come with her. I waited while she unlocked the door  and followed her in.

This is what I felt like. Only without makeup.
This is what I felt like. Only without makeup.

The lights came on, and a loud chorus of  SURPRISE!!!!!!!! resounded through the building. The place was filled with women. Women who had taught me in Sunday school and women who were future relatives. I was stunned. I never saw it coming. Apparently one of Mom’s skills is keeping a secret.

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – Part 8 – The Book Burning

By spring, my attendants had their patterns and fabric for their gowns. We had decided  to keep the wedding reception as simple as possible. I even had a wedding gown, which I found on a clearance rack. All it needed was a trip to the dry cleaner.

As was my custom during the second semester each school year, I read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia aloud to the class.  Lewis’ allegory holds many  spiritual truths in a captivating story about Aslan, the Lion who created Narnia. My students always enjoyed those stories, and coaxed their parents to get them their own copies. We were nearly finished  the final book, The Last Battle.

John_ToddEnter John Todd, Occultist

There was a lot of excitement at church when a man named John Todd  arrived in the area. He claimed to be a former witch who had come to warn God’s people about an Illuminati plot to take over the United States. Todd said that he had been born into witchcraft and had attained the position of Grand Druid High Priest of the Illuminati. Additionally, he claimed to be a member of the “Council of Thirteen,” “one of the chosen few who rank just below the world-ruling Rothschild family, Jewish bankers with roots in eighteenth-century Europe who Todd claims are really demons.”Christianity Today magazine. Todd made many other bizarre claims. If you are interested here is Todd talking about the witches in the music industry.

(For those who may be interested in knowing more, here  here are some links. Or do a Google search. Oddly enough, there are still camp followers of  the now deceased Todd.)

Todd’s Message

My church (where I taught) invited Todd to come speak to the congregation. His message was to warn us about the imminent mayhem coming to the United States and the world. John Todd told how he escaped from the Illuminati, and averred that his life was constantly in danger if they should catch  him. He  encouraged a survivalist lifestyle  What did Todd want? Money. He claimed to be building safe houses for former witches and warlocks, and asked for financial support. However, within a couple of years, he was arrested in South Carolina for statutory rape and transporting a minor over a state line.

The Aftermath

My dad and I had not gone to the official church meeting, but we did listen to the messages via cassette tapes. We discussed it at length. Neither of us had a confirmation of truth from the Holy book-burningSpirit about this man.

Then, one day after I had been out sick, the principal had a short conference with me.  C.S. Lewis was officially banned from my classroom. In fact, any and all books in the school library that referred to magic of any sort were to be burned based on Todd’s teaching. He referenced the situation in Acts 19:11-20 where the Ephesians who had been practicing the dark arts chose to destroy their magic books as a public testimony of their sorrow for their sin. It was the Ephesians choice, though, not a directive from Paul, and not based on a false testimony.  The apostle Paul simply preached the Gospel, the Holy Spirit convicted them and they chose to get rid of the books.

What is your response to things like this?