THANKSGIVING IS A RESPONSE

It was the month of November, 1951 that mom and dad was working at Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas.   They carpooled the hour and a half trip each way to and from Grenola every day of the working week.   Most of the time they arrived Imagehome about 6 or 6:30 in the evening.   That particular year, there was a severe blizzard that occurred between Wichita and Grenola in Southcentral Kansas.    I was only 8 years of age….at the farm under the care of a baby sitter.   On this one particular night, it was getting very late and mom and dad was not home.   We had learned by the radio the snow storm south of Wichita was traitorous and many people were being stranded on K-15.   Of course Jack and I were worried when we heard this information.

We were reassured by out baby sitter mom and dad would be okay.    It was not until the next day,  someone stopped in our driveway and let my mother out of the car.   She was very happy to get home and out of the blizzard.    She told us how the blizzard was already in full force by the time they had gotten off work.   They had to drive very slow on the snow packed streets and on the highway it was even worse.   When they got to rural Udall, Kansas, the traffic was forced to stop with the snow drifting so high and the cars getting stranded along the way.   Mom told us how they could not stay in the car in the sub zero temperatures so most of the stranded folks went to the home of a local farmer where Imagethey were fed and spent the night in a warm house.   The next morning, somehow mom was able to find a ride back home, but dad had to stay with the car that was buried in a huge snow drift.   He was confident the snow plow would eventually clear the road so he could return home.   We had no telephone, so there was no communication between dad and our family.   I felt the anxiety about dad being stuck out on the road in such cold weather and wished he was home with the family.   It was approaching Thanksgiving Day and our family always had a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.    It looked like we were not going to be all together on the holiday with dad still taking care of the car near Udall.   Mom reassured us that dad was going to be okay since he was staying with a lot of other people at the farmers warm and safe home.   That may have helped my anxiety a bit, but I was still missing daddy.   I do not recall exactly how long dad was stranded on the road, but we decided to proceed with our Thanksgiving Dinner plans.   We had snow on the farm, but it was not nearly as bad as it was in the Udall area.   Mom kept busy preparing the meal and all of a sudden we saw dad’s car drive onto the driveway about mid morning on Thanksgiving Day.   We gave a shout of joy to see him, and he was equally as glad to see us.    We truly had something to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Holiday.

     I can hardly remember a time when we did not drive to Moline, Kansas to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Imagegrandparents.   We would alternate between dads folks and mom’s folks each year.   One year we would have Thanksgiving with mom’s family and Christmas with dad’s family and visa versa during the next year.   It was a good arrangement that worked for our family.   Usually after the big dinner, we would stop by the other family for a while before driving home.   It was a wonderful time for us to feel the family bond with aunts, uncles and cousins, and to experience the traditional and new recipes for that year.   Though we were a rather poor farming family, we had much to be thankful for as we shared our lives together.   For me, God was always a dynamic source of the blessings that made me so very thankful for His bounty and for the love of family.

 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.  Psalm 42:4

 Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast    Leviticus 7:13

 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.    Colossians 4:2

 

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MUSIC GIVES PEACE TO THE SOUL

The summer of 1967, I worked in Wichita in order to have money to attend Southwestern  College in the Fall.   I was employed at Beech Aircraft where I had previously worked a couple summers  while attending Kansas State College in Pittsburg, Kansas.   In addition, I found a second job at  Stafford Homes, a large nursing home just off Hydraulic Street in South Wichita.   I rented a bedroom from a German lady by the name of Kerlowsky who was interested in helping me learn the German language.      Unfortunately I seem to be brain dead when it comes to learning new languages, so I did not progress very far in that venture.  

     I worked as an orderly in the nursing home and  became very popular among the staff and residents.   I had compassion for the elderly, and  tried to bring them a little cheer as I worked with them.   During breaks, I would go to the Day Room and play the piano Imageand sing Christian songs which drew the attention of many of the patients and the staff.    One day, I was told a particular patient was almost ready to expire and the family asked if it would be possible for me to sing some songs to her while she could still hear.   I was given the approval from my supervisor and I sat nest to her bed, held her hand and sang the old favorite songs she had  heard all her life.   She seemed to respond a little as I sang, but was very near to death at that time.   I knew she was enjoying the music, so I kept singing as she laid there and passed away.    She appeared to be comforted by my singing voice and  must have been experiencing a sense of calm and peace as she faded away into death.    I also felt a sense of joy and peace as I knew she was comforted in this time in her life.  Unfortunately her family was not present so it seemed even more of a blessing that I was there for her.   After that initial experience, I was asked by the Nursing Home administration if I would sing to other patients as they were expiring, which I did.

    In the Fall of that same year, I was employed at the Winfield State Hospital and Training Center while going to Southwestern ImageCollege.   I lived in the Employee Cottage and commuted to my classes each day.   Unfortunately, I did not learn much about campus life as I did in Kansas State College of Pittsburg, but I made the best of it while experiencing two different environments…..life at the State Hospital and life on the college campus.   As I worked with the patients in the evenings at the Hospital, I was asked by the night supervisors if I would play my banjo on each ward to help calm the patients and give them some entertainment.   I was delighted to have this opportunity and made my rounds each evening just before the patients were sent to bed.    Sometimes we would listen to my songs, but lots of times we would march around the room as I played and sang.    Music seemed to have a definite affect on their behavior and helped them to be calm as they were put to bed.  

     Sometime after 1998, I was noticing a family with several children at the Laundromat on South ImageMain in Winfield.   The family seemed to be having some problems doing the laundry and keeping watch over the active children.   I happened to have my autoharp with me, so I found a place to sit just outside the laundry establishment and started singing children’s fun songs.   Immediately the kids took an interest in the music and song and stopped running around and being a problem to their mother.    I was there about 45 minutes to an hour and when I left, the children were wanting to hear more and the mother expressed her sincere appreciation for my stopping by to entertain.  

       Thank the Lord I was given the skill and talent to make music (as basic as it is), and I have found it has many wonderful purposes while ministering to the soul.

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.  Psalm 104:33

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.   Psalm 147:1

 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Psalm 95:1

 

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HUNGER IS A LOVE DILEMMA

It was sometime in the early 1950’s when mom and dad happened upon a family with car trouble in Moline, Kansas.   This family was on their way across country to visit family or to relocate.   Unfortunately they had very little money, had not eaten for some time, and had no place to stay while the car was being repaired.   Mom saw the family and the kids and told my dad we could take them in for the night.   Dad questioned whether it was safe and whether we could feed them on our limited resources, but mom put aside such concerns and took the family to our farm home for the night.   It is my understanding mom prepared a large meal of chicken, corn on the cob, biscuits,  gravy and many other fixings.    The family was very grateful for the place to stay and the meals.    One thing I recall mom and dad saying about the family is that they ate like it was their last meal.   They were very hungry and this of course brought a good feeling to my parents that they could help out.  The children seemed to never get their fill of the chicken and corn.    Their parents, being a bit modest and not wanting to appear needy, cautioned the children to limit what they were eating, to which mother said they could eat as much as they wanted.    The family spent the night, got up to eat a nice breakfast, and mom packed a picnic box of left over food so they could take on their way across country.   We took them back to Moline where they picked up their car and was on their way.   They were a very grateful family indeed.

   I am amazed at the folks that come visit with me in my home.   I,  like my mother, make close observation of hunger among my guests.   To be honest, some drop in guests are opportunity seekers for getting whatever they can get free,  and food is a prime target for their request.   I have noticed a few have no skill at cooking and when they arrive at my home, the first question they ask is  “What do you have to eat”?    They know I am not going to serve fast food or processed food, but rather have homemade dishes such as chicken and noodles, pies, cakes, casseroles, stews and meat dishes.   When I worked at the Homeless Shelters in Oklahoma City, I learned one cannot determine by looking at a person if he is truly hungry, or whether he is just out to get what he can get.    It has been my philosophy to feed them, offer food baskets whenever appropriate or to prepare a meal on the spot in accordance with my resources.   If they are simply mooching or scamming for food, then that is between them and God.   I have done what I can to help them.in good faith.

Recently I had as my guests a family that came for some socialization and counseling.   It was going to be around mealtime when they arrived so being hospitable, I prepared a full meal worthy of any family gathering.   I could not believe my eyes how the family ate the food with concentrated focus on each plate full.   They simply devoured the meal, which indicated to me they were indeed very hungry but too proud to let anyone know.    I began to gently inquire of their circumstances and learned they had no food stamps, no job, 4 children, and trying to survive on the economic conditions by which we are all troubled..    I am indeed happy I prepared the meal for them and it perhaps partially filled their need for the time being.    Before they left, I gave them leftovers from the meal and prepared 3 sacks of food from my personal food pantry.   It will not last forever, but for the moment they knew God’s love was showing through in this loving act of kindness.

     It is amazing how many people rely on the free meals offered by community churches.   This provides for the low income community an opportunity to socialize, and to save on food costs in the home.   It is our duty as followers of Jesus Christ to look out for those around us and to offer them our love.    Food is a very good way of showing love to those in need.      I have always believed you can preach and criticize the needy person with demands on how to conduct his life, but if you offer that same person a sandwich or some food, we are much more inclined to be successful in telling them about Jesus Christ.

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  Isaiah 58:10

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.  Proverbs 22:9

 

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HELPING THE DEAF HEAR WITH THEIR EYES

a2  Joe doing Sign Language for Newspaper article.  42lI have been an interpreter for American Sign Language for many years. Since 1969, when I worked as a Social Worker for the Enid State School in Enid, Oklahoma I have shown interest in communicating with deaf folks. One day as I was sitting in the cafeteria, I noticed two young employees sitting at a separate table and communicating with Signs. They appeared to have a good time showing signs of laughter and engaged conversation. I could not resist, so I wrote a note…. “I would like to be your friend but I don’t know Sign Language”. In a gesture indicating for me to sit down, they invited me into their circle. Immediately our focus was on teaching me a few basic signs which applied to the meal we were consuming. One of the first signs I learned was “coffee” and that was differentiated from the word “tea”. My mind was a whirlwind as I tried to pick up on the signs, but had a wonderful time sharing with them and having them to teach me. For several days, I sat with the two of them at lunch. The only thing I could be confident of ordering with sign language was coffee. I do not happen to like coffee that much but I found myself joining them and ordering it every time we sat down together.
Several weeks later, I had progressed in my skills enough to carry on a basic conversation. I was so happy and began attending the Church Services for the Deaf at the Enid United Methodist Church. It was a small group but an excellent opportunity to learn more signs. After some time, I had progressed to the level of being able to interpret some basic conversations. One day my girlfriend visited the church service and when asked to say something, she said……”I am going to need to learn to sign like you do” Still unfamiliar with many signs, I misinterpreted the words to the congregation as….”I am going to need to learn to sin like you do”. The deaf folks were taken back by this statement, but we all had a good laugh.
a2  Ministry  Joe teaching Church School Class to the Deaf Students   128eBy 1973, I had progressed enough in my skills I could hold my own in most any conversation and interpreting situation. I joined the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and was appointed to a conference position of Associate Minister with the Deaf……. a position I held for two years before transferring to Washington DC to work on my Doctorate in Ministry.
During my years of working with the deaf, I had many exciting and worthwhile experiences that would fill a book to describe each one. a2  Minister ....   Joe Perrigo in Olathe UMC interpreting for the deaf   89nFor instance, I interpreted services and helped teach sign language at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was one of the interpreters for the deaf at the Maryland State Legislature. I worked in two all deaf churches in Maryland and conducted ministry to deaf folks at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I became an interpreter for the psychiatric staff at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I worked as State Counselor for the Deaf at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center in Baltimore. I interpreted for the Leighton Ford Crusades in Topeka, Kansas and was the interpreter for the deaf at the National Convention of Disabled Persons in Kansas City, Missouri. I did volunteer work at the Kansas and Oklahoma Schools for the deaf. I was licensed as an official interpreter by the State of Oklahoma. It was a thrill for me to attend the week long International Convention for the Deaf in Washington DC. (at this convention I was exposed to national differences of sign language of deaf people from all over the world.). I also brought church services to deaf people in remote locations in Oklahoma and Kansas. My list of wonderful experiences would go on and on, but bottom line, all this experience of learning Sign Language led me to adopting my son, Roy (a previous story on this blog site), and caring for five different foster children who were hearing impaired. I truly felt blessed I could share the word of God with those who could not hear.

“When they heard the news (this sound), a crowd came together in amazement (bewilderment), because each one saw signs (heard speaking) of his own language. (Sign Language}. Utterly amazed they asked: ‘Are not all these interpreters (men who are speaking) from God (Galileans)? Then how is it that each of us sees (hears) them in our own language ?’ Acts 2: 6-8 (with some paraphrase to apply to the deaf)

“And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.” Mark 7: 32-35

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REDEEMING SERVANT NEWSLETTER

 

                                                                             

                                                                         

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                                                      Church in the Valley   an original painting by Joe  (1987

Pastoral Care for October

 PASTORS MOMENT:   As usual its been a busy month.   I have been juggling service to others and dealing with my own health issues.   Since the middle of September, I have been experiencing severe pain in my lower back, left hip and leg.   At times it has been immobilizing.   I was unable to find relief, even after medication and often reduced to tears.   I was seen in the emergency room and started regular treatments with a local chiropractor.   After several treatments with no relief, I went to the hospital and got an ex-ray which revealed a very progressed case of arthritis.   I returned to the chiropractor and he altered his treatment until now I am finding some relief.   I still have pain but it is much better than before.

>>>>>> I was recently fitted for a set of hearing aids which helps me considerably.   They were donated by someone who passed away;  I am deeply appreciative of the gift. 

 

PASTORAL CARE ACTIVITIES:    This month seemed to be the month for serving homeless people.   Every circumstance is different, but at this time of the year, the homeless are looking to find shelter for the winter.  So many shelters limit the stay to 30 days so the individual has to continue looking each month for the next shelter.   I have learned of a shelter in Lawrence that will take folks from off the street for an extended period of time    Nearly all of the shelters in South Central Kansas are full or have rules that restrict some homeless people. )))) One morning I got a knock on my door at 3:00 am.   It was a homeless gentleman who was sleeping outside of Wal Mart and someone stole his shoes.   Fortunately I was able to provide some shelter for a couple days, able to get him some shoes at the Winfield Thrift Store, and took him to Derby at his request, where he would continue his migration from town to town.  )))) I continue to house a local young man until he finds his own apartment.   We set as a goal to have him moved by December 1.    )))) I provided 3 days of housing for 2 homeless young men until they could arrange for transportation to Wichita where they were going to move in with friends.  

>>>>>> We are still looking for a refrigerator for a local deaf man who has no way of keeping perishable foods.   I have signed him up with Eagle Nest but as of this date, no refrigerator has been located..   If you know of a refrigerator he could have, it would be deeply appreciated. 

>>>>>> I offered counseling for 3 families this month.  

>>>>>> Food baskets were shared with 4 families from my food pantry.

>>>>>> A trip to Claremore, Oklahoma was taken to visit a former Winfield family that I worked with intensively.   The mother told me she was going to visit her son and family and I indicated my interest in riding along.   I was still in a lot of pain but wanted to get out of Winfield for a short time,  and to offer any counsel needed.   It was a good trip.

>>>>>> Deep appreciation is offered to those who make comments and / or criticism of stories I publish on my blog site.   Every comment is seriously considered and helps me to make the site more appropriate and better.  

I was in a home this month that was such a health hazard that it presented an abuse and neglect situation for the young children living there.  There was no food available, rotting fast food on the floor and animal droppings everywhere.   Because I am mandated to report such abuse and neglect, in the interest of the children, I made an official report to the Department of Children Services.   

>>>>>> Green Tomatoes were offered to many Winfield Families for fried green tomatoes.   Many families contacted me through the local internet Winfield Recycle program and were able to gather a selection from my bumper crop.

>>>>>> May I wish you a wonderful November and a very happy Thanksgiving.    There are many low income people that look forward to the Thanksgiving meals provided by the community and churches.   Let us keep in mind we are giving thanks to God for His abundant bounty and for the love of friends and family.   

          

 

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IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING GOOD TO OTHERS

Bass Baptist HospitalEarly in the year 1970 I was living in Enid, Oklahoma, working at Bass Baptist Hospital as an orderly.    I had been attending the Phillips Graduate Seminary in that city while working as a social worker at the Enid State School.   I was in  transition as I awaited transfer to St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City.   So, that summer, I rented a cheap apartment and began working at the hospital.   I dearly love that kind of work as it is my opportunity to be nurturing and share my caring side with patients in need.   I lived only two blocks from my work, so I would walk each day.   Some very significant things happened to me while employed there…….things I had never dreamed of being a part of my experience.   First of all, I was assigned to help a doctor with a patient who was administered electro-shock therapy.   It looked somewhat barbaric, but that particular doctor chose to use it on a severely troubled female patient.   In another instance, I was working the floor and saw nurses and nurse-aids rushing to a very large, stout, gentleman’s room.   He had just been served his tray and became choked on some green beans.   The nurses were trying to pound on his back to dislodge the beans but was having no success.   By the time I arrived in the room, everyone was gathered around the bed with the patient turning a shade of blue.    One female staff person spoke out,  “Well I am afraid we have lost him.”   The gentleman was not well kept and in fact was not someone the female staff wanted to get too involved with as he was large and showed signs of a rough life.   Upon hearing this comment, even though I was just an orderly,  I pushed aside the women working on him……sat him up and pounded on his back a couple good times.   It did no good.    Being the large fellow I am, I then moved this large patient in a position where his head  was down below the edge of the bed and continued pounding on his back.   That failed also.   I then put him back upon the bed lying on his back and immediately started mouth to mouth resuscitation.   After a few breaths, the gentleman coughed green beans into my mouth……I spit them out and continued giving him mouth to mouth aid until he was breathing on his own.   The nurses were astonished I was able to save his life.   The next day, I was given high compliments by the patients doctor because I took these life saving actions.

Seminary was expensive and I had lots of bills.   The job at the hospital did not pay a lot, and I got paid only once a month.   I was completely out of food at my apartment and feeling very hungry.   On occasion a patient would refuse a perfectly good tray of food, so I would sneak it off into the broom closet, locked the door and ate the tray of food.   It could have been cause for me to be fired, but I was lucky.   One of our patients was the wife of a student pastor.   She saw what I was doing with a full tray or so and asked me if I was having problems.   I confided in her about my bills and no food in the apartment except a jar of beets, some vinegar and saccharine tablets.  She told me how sorry she was about my situation.   In the next day or so, I returned to my apartment after work.   As I opened the door, I realized someone had been inside the kitchen.   I looked in my cupboards and found them nearly full of a variety of foods.   I looked into the refrigerator and discovered milk, meat and eggs among other items.   I was so touched, I sat and cried.   The student pastor had asked my landlord to open the door of my apartment and he placed the food there for me.   I was truly blessed by his LOVE GIFT.    I shall never forget that as long as I live.

A man reaps what he sews.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction;  the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…….   Galatians 6: 7.5-10

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CRISIS HAPPENS, BUT THERE IS REDEMPTION.

ImageIt was 1966 when I was age 23 and attending Kansas State College in Pittsburg, Kansas.   I was serving as the assistant minister / youth minister for a large church on the North Side.   It was a great opportunity to get familiar with the duties of being a minister.   One family in the church went to the Sr. Pastor and offered to let me stay at their home free of charge while I was attending summer school.   They wanted their boys to be exposed to my counsel as a minister and it would save me money for rent.  It sounded like a good offer so I moved in.    I began working at the local High School mowing grass, going to school and helping out the host family when I could.   Things seemed to go well  for a while in spite of some behavior problems from their kids.    I noted the 44 year old mother gave me special attention.   She would bring me orange juice to my bedroom first thing in the morning to wake me up.   With  each early morning visit , she seemed to do more and more touching……first my hands and arms, then my head.   I thought she was just being friendly until one day in early September, the got intimately physical with me while telling me how she cared for me so much.   I turned over to defray her gestures and got up from the bed.   I was very confused what was going on and left the house to stay with a friend.   The more I thought about what had happened, the more stress and anger I felt.   I decided she needed to know I was very unhappy, and decided to scare her very early in the morning.   I had some cherry bombs left over from the 4th of July, so I got some cigarettes and put them over the fuses.   I was hoping to get some time before they went off and I could be gone from the site.   I had several and placed them around the house on the ground, knowing they could do no harm.   The problem was, before I got the last one laid in place, the first one went off, making a huge noise in the night.   I took off running and heard the family and neighbors saying things on the front porches.   I then heard the police sirens and I began to run toward the church.   Someone saw me and said,  “There he is, lets get him”.   I ran even harder and hid in someone’s dog house in their back yard.   Those men pursuing me walked past my Imagehiding place and I held my breath so they could not hear me.    Finally they gave up and I sneaked my way to the church.   I had a key, so I went inside and slept in the upper loft of the sanctuary.   The next morning, the organist came into the church to practice for Sunday services.   It woke me up and I knew if I tried to get out of the church while he was there I would have been caught.     Finally he left and I sneaked out and carefully walked across town to my best friend’s house.   While there I called the pastor of the church and told him I was okay and was not wanting to hurt anyone, but I said nothing about what happened to me at the womans house.  .   He talked to me and asked me to let him come and visit with me, so I gave him the address.   When he arrived, I looked both ways down the street and there were police cars parked.   I felt betrayed by the pastor who told me he would come alone to talk.    Well he asked me to go with him to the woman’s house because my mom and dad was there from our home 120 miles away.   If I did not go the police were ready to arrest me.    ImageOnce I got to the house, the woman acted so concerned and I was told I had to talk to a psychologist at the Osawatomie State Hospital   I talked with him and he gave me an ultimatum ……..you come voluntarily or we will get a court order to place you here, he said.     I was defeated and gave in.   Mom and dad drove me to the hospital, some 100 miles away, I would guess.  I remember how angry I was and refused to talk to mom and dad all the way.  When I arrived they gave me thorazine medication which made me feel very lethargic.   . Over the time I was there, I was depressed and found some relief by volunteering to work with the very old patients who were in much worse condition than myself.   Every day I got lots of mail, and some of the mail was from the woman in Pittsburg.    She wrote very suggestive things in her letters and told me how much she loved me.    I cast the letters aside in disgust and a worker saw that and asked me if she could read a letter or so.   She did,  and took the letters to the psychiatrist.     All of a sudden the staff  saw my issue and  told me I needed to confront the woman about what she had done.   They drove me to Pittsburg, and with the woman and her husband sitting there, I told of my confusion and anger about what had happened in the bedroom.   I stayed in the hospital  another week or so, then  was discharged to go home just before Veterans Day, November 11, 1966.    My requirement was to find another school to attend and stay away from the woman.    I began working at the Winfield State Hospital and began attending Southwestern College in the Spring Semester. 

 

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”     1 Corinthians 10:13

 

 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”.     2 Corinthians 12:9

 

“In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”     Psalm 56:11

 

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