Dear Friends of the Fellowship of the Blog,
If you visited the “Crooked Man” blog in January, you may recall this picture of the three infamous geese I named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. After running for their lives in that previous blog, they made an incredible journey, which brings them back into today’s “See-Saw-Sacaradown” blog.
A few days ago a surprise letter came from Brazil. It so happens that the geese, the letter, and today’s rhyme, together led me to share with you the often hilarious adventures, and life-lessons learned by the Decker family, in our eight-year odyssey as “home-spun missionaries.” Our “foreign mission field” was located on the downhill side of Western Colorado’s Grand Mesa – the largest flat-top mountain in the world, stretching 40 miles and over 10,000 feet high.
Really, it is so elongated and massive that it looks like a mountain that is too lazy to stand properly upright. Nevertheless, it redeems itself by sporting over 300 lakes and lovely forests of aspens and pines for its toupee.
Our missionary vision began with a visit from our dear, fun-loving friend, Ray, who was an American Sunday School Union missionary. We were well acquainted with the evangelical outreach of the A.S.S.U. who, since 1790 have been faithfully serving outlying, rural communities across America.
Numerous outstanding statesmen in American history have served with the A.S.S.U.; the most famous name is that of Francis Scott Key, who wrote our national anthem: the inspiring “Star Spangled Banner.” Key, a deeply devout Christian lawyer, was being held aboard a British flagship during the heavy, continuous bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1812. But, unable to subdue the Fort, the British gave up – whereupon, Key looked across the waters to see the glorious sight that “our flag was still there!” And shouldn’t every American sing loud and clear (with hand over heart) every word of Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” when it is played?
At this point, I gather you’ll realize that Christian Mother Goose and family are patriotic pilgrims, and that is why we have our own flag garden with Old Glory flying high.
Our friend, Ray, covered Western Colorado and Eastern Utah for the A.S.S.U., with a band of Christian volunteers to nurture each new group as a church planting work that he would oversee.
As he spoke to us of the cry for spiritual help from the families high up on Redlands Mesa, I thought of Paul in Acts 16:9 where he heard the cry of “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” Truly, we’d have the privilege and adventure of seeding the Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ up there in the “rafters in the sky;” and driving up, not to Grand Mesa, but to…”Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God.”
Yes, the way to the Heavenly Zion is indeed narrow. It’s only as wide as the feet of Jesus Who alone leads the way to Heaven. It is exclusive, but not restrictive; all may come and follow Him.
So, it didn’t take long for Ray to recruit us to help start a Sunday school on Redlands Mesa. This was a scattered farming community of honest, hardworking, sturdy pioneers – nestled towards the Grand Mesa, and yet within driving distance for us. Our home church was solidly behind us and even promised to share their special speakers and Missionary Conference guests.
So off went the Decker family one bright, Sunday morning, driving absolutely straight north and UP, UP, UP – until we almost, reached the top of the climb. The last half a mile was a very narrow gravel road that curved along a precipitous edge of a canyon that left us breathless. We began to feel quite like real-live missionaries (as in hoping to stay alive!). Soon after reaching the top, we spied the object of our “seat of learning” – an old, one room, wooden schoolhouse that had bravely hung together since 1918. And so began the delightfully unorthodox but, eventually, spiritually thriving Redlands Mesa Sunday School.
A few surprises were in store that first Sunday. The old schoolhouse had no water or heat (not to worry, though – it was summertime and water would be provided in large milk cans). We did have electricity though – hurrah! The daylight outside followed us inside, shining brightly through many cracks in the walls. “I hope it doesn’t fall in on us,” laughed my husband, Dale. I answered “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” But when I lifted up my eyes, I saw the ceiling had footprints wildly scattered about. “Now, how did they get up there?” our boys wanted to know. Over the next eight years, we never did find out.
That day, about 36 happy country folks raised the esteem of the old schoolhouse. It was baptized with their joy and eager anticipation of fellowship in the things of God and sweet relationship with Jesus.
When winter came, we braved the cold with steel-studded tires for the road’s ascent, and plenty of wood to fire up the pot-bellied stove in the room (which often registered 8 degrees below zero when we got there). Our Christmas programs, which I wrote to fit our small group, nevertheless, took its toll on the audience, so that most of the Sunday School was on the stage! However, somewhere out of the nooks and crannies of the greater Redlands Mesa area, there came unexpected faces to join us for Christmas, making up an appreciative audience after all.
The next summertime brought Vacation Bible School and a lesson in cow-ology. After recess at 11 a.m., I would ring a big hand bell to round up the children. Then, in the middle of the week, as I was about to ring the bell, a farmer came up to me. Looking suspiciously at my bell, he said, “Something strange has happened to my Jersey cows since you began this Vacation Bible school. I send them out early in the morning to pasture, and they always come home in the evening when I ring a bell. This week, they’ve been coming home at eleven in the morning, and I think I see the reason in your hand.” From then on I used a whistle, hoping it wasn’t a misguiding signal for other creatures to hear (there must be a Bible lesson here - perhaps John 10:27).
But the vacation Bible school creature-chaos wasn’t finished! It was our last day, with beautiful sunshine, and proud families and friends to witness the beautiful awards program. Suddenly, three unruly characters honked and dashed in through the wide open door – unbelievable! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – those three errant geese who had fled north from our house the day they were “oven-bound.” That was months ago, and Abednego’s crooked, swivel back was still swiveling! How they came all those miles north to the schoolhouse is a mystery. Perhaps they were repentant for all the mess they left at our place. If so, it didn’t last long, for when bunches of children rushed to grab them, they fled once more – never to be seen again.
The next evening, when the husband of our pianist came late to Bible study, his story rounded out the whole week’s creature escapades. He was driving his old pickup truck with a horse tied up in an even older trailer behind it – making a delivery on the way to Bible study and going a bit fast on a downhill stretch – when he noticed the horse didn’t appear to be standing and seemed in trouble. He stopped the truck, got out, and stood in shock! The floor of the old trailer had collapsed and the panting horse, who had fallen completely through, had run the race of his life to keep up with the speed of the truck as they both raced downhill. Happily, the horse was the winner, and the trailer floor the loser. Dale and I chuckled all the way home about these “missionary days.”
Many years have gone by since then, with the letter from Brazil reviving warm memories. It showed those early Gospel seeds sown in the mountains of Colorado had brought forth fruit along the great Amazon river. The letter finished with, “We think of you often and PTL for the ministry that you both had in our lives as teenagers. Thanks so much for being at the Redlands Mesa Sunday School.” It was signed “Louise and Wayne Walgren – missionaries with New Tribes Mission along the Amazon.”
Finally, our friend, Ray, once said, “God can bless a blunder, but He can’t bless nothing. “Praise God for the many “blunder blessings” He gives us for merely trying.
Thank you for taking time to stop and visit today. Cheerio! and many Blog-Nog Blessings!
Christian Mother Goose