A Light in the Castle by Robert Elmer

The sixth book of Robert Elmer’s The Young Underground book series, A Light in the Castle, illustrates how important it is to give Yehovah the glory for his blessing and not simply account them to luck or chance. This is a fictional story set in 1945 Denmark. The main characters, twelve-year-old twins Peter and Elise Anderson, have just returned from being captured on a German U-boat. When a reporter asks Peter how he made it through such adventures, Peter just says, “We were pretty lucky.” (pg. 10) After receiving an invitation to visit King Christian the Tenth in Copenhagen, the twins and their family hurry to the capital city. On the train, Elise asks Peter why he never says what really happened on the U-boat: prayer and faith. Peter replies, “Okay, so what was I supposed to say?” (pg. 19) As soon as they arrive in Copenhagen, their adventures begin. They find Johanna, a little German orphan, and decide they will watch her until they find her a home. Then two mysterious men follow them everywhere and try hard to steal the antique key that Peter found in his hotel room, making Peter very nervous. Then they go to visit the king. Once again, the king asks them how they made it through all of their crazy adventures. Elise says the truth, that it was God who helped them and protected them. Then the king quotes Revelation 3:8– “…For you have a little strength, have kept my word, and have not denied my name.” Peter begins to realize that he should not deny God the glory He is due. The next day, Peter finds out that the two mysterious men that follow them everywhere are planning to hurt King Christian! The ending chapters are a flurry of activity as Peter and Elise, along with Johanna, rush to help the king. At the end of the grand adventure, another reporter asks Peter what happened. Peter declares that is was not luck. “King Christian was right,” Peter says. “Only God could take care of Denmark. And he took care of us too. Me and my sister, Elise. Little Johanna. Everybody.” (pg. 169) A family takes little Johanna as their own, and Peter and Elise get awards for bravery from the king, thus ending a wonderful story of how we should not be ashamed of or deny God. Elmer does an excellent job of making his characters life-like and enjoyable. I highly recommend this book, one of my very favorite books, to anyone who wants a to read a well-written, morally-uplifting book

~A book report by Faith Williams, July 2018

Far From the Storm by Robert Elmer

Far From the Storm, book number four in Robert Elmer’s The Young Underground book series, is a fictional story of two children living in Denmark during the wake of World War II. Main characters Peter and Elise Anderson, having been through many terrors during the war, are hoping that everything will be perfect again now that the war is over. They soon find out that the anger and hurt from the war did not just disappear, especially after defeated enemies almost kill Peter’s cat and burn their Uncle Morton’s fishing ship. This heartwarming tale draws you into the story and makes you feel as though you are running through the cobblestone streets of Helsingor, Denmark, with Peter and Elise, and you feel a friendship with them. Elmer writes through the eyes of  Peter and you can feel the cry of his heart as he yearns to fly away far from the storm of anger and unforgiveness (Psalm 55:6-8). Far From the Storm is full of excitement, intrigue, and lessons of forgiveness that can captivate any reader.

Excitement is what draws people to books, and this story abounds with exciting elements. Such things as enemies wanting revenge, fires, and mysteries are not uncommon. From the whole city of Helsingor celebrating the war’s end to Peter bursting through the door in the middle of his uncle’s wedding, this book does not lack excitement for one single moment. Even though so much excitement probably would not happened all at the same time, the story is historically accurate. Without the element of excitement, this story would be bland and lifeless.

Intrigue is another prominent element in this book. You are never sure of what will happen next as the children, along with Peter’s best friend Henrik, attempt to find out who started the fire on Uncle Morton’s ship, the Anna Marie. Surprises await on every page and the intrigue pulls you in and makes this book very hard to set down.

Lastly and most importantly, Elmer uses this story to teach us about forgiveness. Peter finds it very hard to forgive the Nazis for all they have done to him, his family, and his country. He tries hard to battle the anger that just will not stop. The Nazis are also angry: angry that they did not win the war and angry at the things that happened to them because of the war. Both parties have to learn forgiveness, the Axis and the Allies. Peter’s anger finally disappears when he saves the life of an enemy who is drowning. He finally learns how to let go of the hurt and forgive those who hurt him.

Elmer’s masterful blend of excitement, intrigue, and lessons of forgiveness makes this book a must-read. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants good, exciting, and uplifting fiction. Far From the Storm has the ability to catch the enjoyment and interest of many children in the future.

~A book report by Faith Williams, July 2018

My Midnight Story

It was a very hard night for me
At times I could hardly breathe
You give breath and You take back
Though my being shall never lack

You came to set the captives free
Now I look at what You’ve done for me
You gave me back my breath
You let my weary body rest

When I look at what You do
I cannot help but praise You

~Faith Williams, June 2015

Memory

As times come, as times leave
The times are stored away
In a time-resilient chest
Where they shall always stay

Nothing can take away from you
These times, though they quickly flee
They are securely stored away
In the safe called memory

Behind the Curtain Chapter 3 – “An Adventure Ends…”

After swimming, we children dried off and changed. “What should we do now?” Della asked.

“Let’s do a play!” I proposed.

“Yes!” Della cheered.

“But what play will we do?” James asked.

“Oh, I’m not sure,” I said. “Let’s decide upstairs.” We all walked up the staircase and entered the theater room.

“Let’s do a Bible story,” James suggested, as we stood on the stage.

“But what Bible story?” I mused.

“The Exodus!” James yelled, his bright blue eyes showing his excitement.

“We do not have enough guys. Who would be Aaron or Moses?” I countered.

“How about the birth of Jesus!” Della happily suggested.

“That might work,” I said. Then I turned to James. “You and I could be Joseph and Mary!”

“Who would I be?” Della asked.

“You could be an innkeeper’s wife or something,” James said. “This will be great!”

We hurried into the backstage room to see what props we would use. We found an old toy hobble horse to use as our donkey and old baskets to use as mangers.

“What should we use for costumes?” Della asked.

“I am sure Gigi has some costumes we could use,” I answered.

“Where?” James asked.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “Let’s just keep on gathering our props.”

It was then that Della found something. “What does this door lead to?” she asked as she slowly turned the knob. A flip of the light switch revealed a large walk-in closet filled with various costumes! Della and I happily looked at all the beautiful gowns and dresses. There were fancy suits and hats and even costumes to depict poor people. There was so much too look at!

James, however, was not interested in the costumes. He grabbed some simple robes and told us girls to come help him with the props. It took some convincing, but finally we followed him out.

We had just gathered all of our props and were about to change into our costumes when we heard Mama call up the stairs, “Lunchtime!” We charged down the stairs with a clatter and a clang and crashed into our seats. Gigi looked at us with a surprised expression and we smiled shyly back. “You children sure do know how to make a racket!” Mama laughed as she entered behind us. Grandpa and Daddy sat down and Gigi, who had gone to the kitchen, returned with the food. There was sandwiches, vegetables, potato salad, and my favorite fruit, watermelon! As we hungrily devoured our meal, I looked up at Grandpa and asked, “Grandpa, why do you have a stage in your house?”

“Maybe you should ask Gigi,” he answered, smiling.

“Why, Gigi?” I asked, my curiosity growing.

“Because I was quite an actor when I was younger. It was my passion,” Gigi replied. “I used to give some children acting lessons, but I gave that up awhile ago.”

“Well, we are preparing a play upstairs!” Della cheered. “We’ll let you know when we’re ready.”

“Oh, that shall be nice!” Gigi said, smiling.

As soon as we had eaten all of our food, we hurried up the stairs and put on our costumes. When we had all learned our lines, we hid behind the curtain. Della ran down to tell everyone that the play was about to begin. Soon we heard footsteps on the stairs. We were all so excited! Once everyone was seated, James opened the curtain. I stepped out and stood on the stage, my memories of last night going through my head. Now I really was in the middle of a show! Then James came out. He was dressed in a white robe and was playing the angel Gabriel. He said all of his lines about me having a baby and I said my lines, then he and I went backstage.

Then James and I came riding out on our “donkey.” I had put pillows under my robe so that it looked as though I was pregnant. We rode over to where Della was standing, sweeping the floor. “Ma’am,” James said. “Do you have room in your inn?”

“No, I do not,” said Della sharply, and turned back to her sweeping.  Then we rode across the stage again. I started pretending I was in pain. “Joseph,” I said to James. “I am having the baby!” Della came out at the other side of the stage and pretended she was another innkeeper. “No, I have no room,” she told us. Finally, we (Mary and Joseph) were allowed to sleep in a stable. Then baby Jesus, who happened to be a baby doll, was born. The audience laughed when they saw the baby doll, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing with them.

I threw a white robe over my other robe and pretended to be an angel appearing to James and Della, the shepherd and shepherdess. I pulled the white robe back off and was Mary again, holding baby Jesus. The shepherds came and visited me and ran away shouting the good news. Then I faced the crowd and said, “The End.” Everyone cheered and congratulated us.

“Great job!” Gigi said. “Especially since it is your first play.”

“You’ll have to do another one for us some other day,” Grandpa suggested. James, Della, and I were all so happy. Our first play had been a success!

The days at Gigi and Grandpa’s passed cheerfully, full of laughter and fun. We swam almost every morning, played outside among all of Gigi’s beautiful flowers in the afternoon, and played games in the evening. We ran through every corner of the house, laughed until our bellies hurt, and put on two more plays. I am not exactly sure why, but I was surprised one evening when Mama turned to us and said, “Remember children, we leave for home in the morning.”

“We are leaving?” I muttered.

“Why yes,” Mama said. “Did you think we would stay here forever?”

“I guess I did,” I admitted, trying in vain to put a smile on my face.

“Don’t worry, kids,” Mama said. “I am sure we will get to visit again before too long.”

Mama’s words comforted me a little, but still I felt weird. I had no idea why I felt that way.

Later that night I saw Mama out on the screen porch with Gigi. Gigi’s phone rang and she walked away to talk. I crept out and sat by Mama.

“Hi, Maddie. What’s up?” she asked.

“I just,” I said slowly, then my true feelings came out in a rush. “Mama, I’ve had so much fun here and I don’t want to leave. I don’t want this time to end because I know it will be a few months at least until we come back. Mama, will I have this much fun again? Won’t normal life seem boring after this?”

Mama looked at me with a mysterious smile and said, “Maddie, don’t worry. Normal life will not feel boring after this and I assure you, you will have many times just as fun if not even more fun than this. I know that you don’t want to leave here, but don’t you know that almost all the fun things you did here you can do back home? Here isn’t the only place you can have fun. We all need to learn to make the best of any situation, to have God’s love and joy no matter where we are.”

“I guess you are right that we can do the fun things we did here at home!” I said, excitement rising up within me.

“Yes, you can do fun things at home,” Mama said. “And you know Maddie, where an adventure ends, another adventure begins.”

I smiled and hugged Mama. “Thank you,” I said.

“Oh, sure, Maddie,” she replied. “Now go and enjoy your last night here!” I ran away and did just that.

The End

Behind the Curtain, Chapter 2 “Maddie’s Discovery”

I woke up early the next morning and opened my eyes. It is still dark outside, I thought. Well, I guess I will have to get some more sleep. As I closed my eyes again, I thought once more of all that had happened the night before. All of us children had been anxious to learn what curtain Grandpa was talking about when he said, “Behind the curtain,” but we were shy and hesitant to ask. James said he did not want to ask; he wanted to find the curtain himself. When it was time to sleep, Della and I were given the large bedroom down the hall to sleep in. James was sleeping on the screened porch because he thought that would be lots of fun. I had no idea where Mama and Daddy were sleeping, but I thought it was likely behind the curtain. As I lie there thinking, I realized I was thirsty. I crept out of the bed, being careful not to wake Della. I slipped down the hall into the kitchen. After getting a nice long drink of water, I noticed a navy blue curtain hanging in a door frame right by the door I had just entered. I curiously peeked behind it, certain that it was the curtain Grandpa had mentioned.

Behind the curtain was a long hallway. I was bounding with uncontrollable excitement as I peeked through one of the hall’s glass doors and saw a nicely furnished study room. I was about to open another door,  but then I suddenly remembered that my parents and grandparents were sleeping in one of these rooms, so I should not open any more doors. I walked slowly down the hallway, thinking of how fun it would be to open the many doors once everyone was awake. The door at the back of the hallway was made of glass as well. I peeked through and saw that it led outside to the pool! I was very excited. All of us children love to swim. Then I turned to go back to bed and realized there was a staircase right beside me! I silently crept up the narrow staircase and walked through the doorway at the top.

What I saw took my breath away. I entered a large white-walled room with five rows of chairs. At the far end of the room was a slightly elevated wooden stage with a beautiful red curtain. I wondered why in the world Gigi and Grandpa would have such a large fancy stage in their house. I walked down the center aisle and stepped gingerly onto the stage. There are no words that can describe how I felt at that grand moment.  I stood up there facing the imaginary crowd and pretended I was in the middle of a show.  I would have stayed on that stage forever if my curiosity didn’t compel me to explore more. I went behind the stage curtain and saw that there was a door on the far wall. I opened it and entered a backstage room. There were countless props on the back wall and on one side wall was a huge chalkboard with a table in front of it. Each of the side walls had a gable with a cushioned seat in them. I slipped over to one of the gables and looked out at the waning moon.  As I saw some rays of sun creep over the horizon, I suddenly remembered that I had to get a little more sleep before everyone else woke up. I ran back onto the stage and back down the stairs swiftly. It was then that I heard footsteps. I froze suddenly.

“Is that you, Maddie?” I heard Grandpa’s voice say quietly, as Grandpa emerged from one of the rooms and carefully shut the door.

“Yes,” I answered, wondering what Grandpa would say about me being here instead of my bed.

“Ah, so you found what was behind the curtain!” he said.

“Yes, sir,” I replied.

“In the middle of the night?” he laughed.

“Yes, you see, I went to get a drink of water,” I explained.

“Very well done, Detective Maddie. You found what you were looking for! Now you must get back to bed,” he joked, shooing me back through the curtain into the kitchen. I slipped back to my bedroom, hoping I would be able to sleep after such big excitement. I climbed back into the bed and closed my eyes, thinking of how much fun James, Della, and I would have behind the curtain. My mind was bursting of fun ideas and games to play. Maybe we could put on a play on Gigi and Grandpa’s stage! I was so excited to see what lay ahead. Eventually I managed to fall asleep.

It was late in the morning when I woke up again. I turned and saw that Della was already awake. I left the room and went to the dining room. Gigi had made some oatmeal and everyone was hungrily eating.

“I hear you found the curtain, Maddie,” my brother James said excitedly with his mouth full of food.

“James, mind your manners!” Mama scolded.

“Yes, ma’am,” James mumbled.

“I heard the same thing, Maddie,” Mama said with a smile. “You went adventuring in the middle of the night?”

“Yes, I did, Mama! The special curtain is in the kitchen,” I said.

“Next time I hope you will sleep when it is nighttime,” Mama reminded.

“Yes, Mama,” I answered.

“I want to see what is behind the curtain!” Della cheered.

“Oh, yes, Della, you will see what is back there,” I replied, smiling. “Mama, did you pack our swimming gear?”

“Swimming gear? Gigi and Grandpa have a pool?” James called loudly.

“Yes, they do,” Mama answered. “I packed your swimsuits.”

“I had no idea this place was so cool!” James cheered.

After breakfast, we children looked in the other rooms I had not looked in the night before. They were pretty bedrooms–one yellow, one orange, and one green. I took them upstairs and showed them  the stage and the backstage room. Then we all ran to Mama and called, “Can we play in the pool?”

“Sure,” Mama said as she handed us our swimsuits. “I’ll be out there soon to watch you.” We cheered and got our swimsuits on quickly.

“I’ll beat you to the pool!” James said to me, smiling. I ran to the kitchen, down the hallway, through the door, and out to the pool. Then I leaped into the cool, blue water, splashing some up at James. Then he jumped in and splashed me! We both roared.

“Maddie, James,” came Della’s voice, as she and Mama came out to the pool. “I am here to play too!” She grabbed a float and joined us in the pool. We raced, dove, splashed, and joked. It was a wonderful morning.

The Reverend’s Daughter, Chapter 5 “To Cumberland”

That summer, Dad came home looking rather cheerful. He was carrying a live chicken!

“Charles!” Mother squealed. “Get that animal out of my house!” Mother worked very hard to keep her house spotless, and a dirty chicken was not going to ruin it. Marilyn ran over and looked more closely at the chicken. It was a brown chicken with bulging eyes. It looked scared.

“How did you get him, Dad?” Marilyn asked.

“Brother Richards gave it to me,” Dad replied. Because cash was scarce during the war, people often tithed of their fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, and even live animals. Dad took the chicken outside, put it in a crate, and came back in.

“Getting that chicken was not the only exciting thing that happened at the meeting today,” he said, still smiling.

“What happened, Dad?” Marilyn called.

“The church purchased the lot on the west side of town!” Dad said. “We’re going to move out of the storefront!” Marilyn jumped happily. She liked the storefront, but it got really crowded on Sunday nights.

“That’s fine news, Charles,” Mother said.

“If it’s fine with you, Mabel, I want to work at the property as many days as I can this summer. I’m asking all of the men to volunteer in order to cut down on building expenses,” Dad said.

“Oh, certainly, Charles,” Mother said. “As long as you take your shoes off before you come into the house!”

One day, Dad came home from working and sat down for supper. After he blessed the food, he said, “Guess what happened today.”

“What?” Marilyn asked.

“I was digging a ditch and some Catholics came walking by. They saw me,” Dad said, “and they asked, ‘Why are you digging? Our priest doesn’t dig ditches!'” But Marilyn knew her dad was eager to serve.

For the next three months, if Dad wasn’t preparing a sermon or visiting the sick, he was working on the church with the other men. He was not good with a hammer or a saw, but he did anything else that needed to be done. Marilyn was proud of her dad’s hard work.

When the new church was completed, they moved out of the storefront. Marilyn liked the new, bigger church. Dad invited an evangelist to do a week of revival services. Marilyn was excited about that. Mother suggested that they have a fellowship dinner on Saturday night so that the people could meet the evangelist before he began the week of services on Sunday. Everyone would bring food to the fellowship hall in the basement. Marilyn was excited. She loved food.

The fellowship dinner went well. Someone had brought spaghetti. Marilyn loved spaghetti; she requested it every year for her birthday. When she had eaten her fill of all the delicious food, she listened to the delightful sounds of chatter in the new fellowship hall. Everyone enjoyed getting to know the evangelist. They were all excited for the week of revival services to begin.

After the song service the next morning, Dad introduced the evangelist. The evangelist boomed, “Thank you all for coming. I enjoyed the fellowship dinner, but I must know who made those cream puffs. They were musty!” Marilyn turned to see Mother gasp and shrink in her seat. Marilyn was sure that Mother felt sorry for Sister Stauffer, the lady who had made the cream puffs. After all, it was Mother’s idea to have the fellowship dinner. Marilyn knew that the evangelist should not have made such a rude comment.

Silence was broken as someone called out, “Sister Stauffer made the cream puffs!”

The evangelist boldly responded, “Thank you, dear sister, for making such musty cream puffs. I must have some more!” Mother heaved a sigh of relief. He was not being rude; he was only joking! Some people laughed. Some people sighed. The revival services went well.

Months passed and cold weather settled in again. One November day Marilyn came cheerfully home from school and saw her parents sitting together at the kitchen table. “Hello!” she greeted.

“Hello, Marilyn,” Mother said in her matter-of-fact way.

“Marilyn, there is something you need to know,” Dad said with a serious look. “I got an offer for a pastoral position in Cumberland, Maryland. I have decided to accept the offer.”

“We are going to move?” Marilyn said, totally surprised.

“Yes, honey, we are,” Dad said. Marilyn started to cry.

“Don’t cry, dear,” Mother soothed, hugging the little girl. “You will like Cumberland.” But Marilyn continued to cry. It was tearing her heart to think of leaving Grandma and Grandpa.

“I know, honey,” Dad said as Marilyn flopped into his arms. “I know it will be hard to leave your grandparents, but we need to. This church in Cumberland needs me. The Holy Spirit has prepared me for this task. I knew our time here in Greensburg was coming to an end. I am certain it is God’s will for us to move to Cumberland. Do not worry, Marilyn. You will get to visit Grandma and Grandpa in the summer.” Marilyn’s sobs slowly subsided as her dad held her closely.

Weeks later, after Marilyn had finished the first half of first grade, they moved eighty miles away to Cumberland, Maryland, and settled in the parsonage on Elder Street, to the east of South Cumberland Assembly of God Church. Cecil and Ruth Cogill and their son Delbert  lived west of the church, on the corner of Elder Street and Virginia Avenue. To the east of the parsonage was the Settles, the Wetzels, and the Reckleys.

Ken and Elmira Reckley had five children. Rosetta was seven years old. Alvin, who was called “Bud,” was six years old, just like Marilyn. Gladys was four years old, Joe was two years old, and Jim was only a few months old. Marilyn loved playing with the Reckleys. She went to school with them and played with them after school. They had lots of fun times together.

Past the Reckley’s house, on the far corner of Elder Street and Ella Avenue, was Joe Lewis’s Grocery store. On the block north of the grocery store, there was a soda fountain shop.  Three blocks south of the grocery store was the elementary school that Marilyn and her friends attended.

One day the Potomac District Assemblies of God called Dad and asked if they could nominate him for sectional presbyter. He allowed them to let his name run, and he was subsequently elected to the position. He helped many of the churches that were around the Cumberland area. One certain church in the city of Oakland kept firing pastors. Dad would travel over an hour to preach at their church services until a new pastor was hired.

People from the Assembly of God churches under Dad’s care came together one Monday a month at one of the churches. They would have an afternoon service, an evening meal which the host church provided, and an evening service. Mother’s aunt and uncle, Edwin and Cora Sailor, were scheduled to be in town one such Monday. They were considering a move to Maryland, as Uncle Edwin was a Baptist pastor and a position was available there. Aunt Cora was a professionally trained singer, and Dad asked her if she would sing at the afternoon meeting. Aunt Cora graciously accepted the offer, and Uncle Edwin attended the service as well. Marilyn sat properly beside Aunt Cora. When it was time, Aunt Cora rose and walked to the front. She sang “The Stranger of Galilee.” Marilyn was thrilled to hear her aunt sing. Then a man in the congregation spoke loudly in a different language. Marilyn had heard this happen before. The Holy Spirit often directed people to speak in languages they did not know. Then the Holy Spirit would give another individual the interpretation. It was Dad who was given the interpretation this particular time; he loudly proclaimed what the foreign words meant in English. But Uncle Edwin and Aunt Cora had never heard such a thing. Uncle Edwin went over to Dad after the service and said, “That man was speaking Greek. I know Greek. How did you know exactly what he was saying, Charles? You don’t know Greek!”

“The Holy Spirit revealed to me what he was saying,” Dad said.

“Well, I told William (Marilyn’s grandpa and Edwin’s brother-in-law) that he should not get involved in this. It’s false doctrine. But he told me I was too late. He had already experienced it. And now I know for myself that this is certainly no cult. The Holy Spirit does reveal things to people.”

Uncle Edwin ended up taking a pastoral position at a Baptist church outside Baltimore. He and Aunt Cora never moved to Cumberland but Marilyn was glad that they had visited and learned more about the Holy Spirit.

Thunderstorm

Hello! I am here again! Today I am posting a poem my sister and I wrote just last night. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing it!

Thunderstorm
By Faith and S. Rose Williams.

Thunder cracks
And lightning does streak
Across the night sky
Cold and bleak

It shines throughout the sky
It roars through the vast expanse
Over the rolling hills
And fields of growing plants

The storm rages
The winds do blow
The rain beats hard
Against the window

But by that window
A child sleeps
Gently smiling
Clothed in peace

So when life’s storms assail us
And life’s comforts cease
We can trust in Yeshua
And He will give us peace

Passover Stories

Hurray! It is that time of the year again. Spring has come, the weather has changed, flowers have bloomed, and Passover is here! For me and my siblings, all sorts of wonderful memories are associated with this fun biblical festival.

It says in the Bible that we are to recount the things Yehovah did in Egypt, and this year, we recounted the Exodus by doing creative writing assignments. I, of course, was very happy to write. Since I enjoy writing so much, I was commissioned to write two stories, one about what it would have been like to live during the plague of pestilence and one about what it would have been like to live through the final plague, the death of the first-born. I want to share them both with you.

**********

The Plague of Pestilence

Early one day, I stepped out of my home, thinking of all of the plagues we in Egypt had endured. I shuddered as I remembered what I had heard this morning just before Father left. He told Mother that Mosheh had gone to visit Pharaoh. That could only mean one thing–another plague was headed our way. I pet one of our cows, who was laying sleepily on the ground, as I left, skipping cheerfully away to the Nile to play with the other girls my age.

When I came back later that afternoon, I looked at the cow I had pet earlier. He was dead. Then I looked around at our other animals. They were all dead. They had all died in one day. They stunk. It was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. I gave a shriek and ran into the house. “Mother!” I yelled. “The animals, they all died!”

“Yes,” Mother nodded solemnly. “It is another plague.”

“Why?” I asked. “Aren’t the gods supposed to protect the animals?” Mother looked at me blankly and answered not a word.

**********

The Death of the First-born

One hot Egyptian day, Abba came into the house carrying a little lamb! Can you believe it? It was so small, soft, and cute. Yerachmiel, my brother, told me that the lamb was only one year old! Havah and Sarah, my sisters, and I all were cooing over the lamb.

“What is he doing in here, Abba?” Sarah asked.

“Mosheh said that every family should take a lamb and slaughter it in a few days. That way we will be safe from the next plague,” Abba answered. I wondered what the next plague would be, but I was too sad and surprised to ask.

“We’ll have to kill the lamb?” asked Havah, her brown eyes bulging from her thin face. Sarah and I stared wordlessly at Abba.

“Yes, we will have to,” Abba said, A sympathetic but stern look crossing his severely sunburnt face.

“But why, Abba?” Sarah asked.

“It is what Mosheh said to do,” Abba said. All of us girls glanced nervously at each other.

“Then I guess we had better do it!” Ima called. She was right. Yehovah punished everyone who did not obey Mosheh, because if you do not obey Mosheh, then you do not obey Yehovah because Mosheh says what Yehovah wants us to do.

For the next few days the lamb was in the house with us. He jumped on our table, he ate some of our food, he lay by the fire with us while Abba told us stories of Canaan, the Promised Land, and he was ready to play with us when we children had a spare moment. Somehow we found a lot of spare moments, even though we were extremely busy.

After the lamb had been with us for two days, Ima and Sarah went out to visit all of our Egyptian neighbors. “Mosheh says that we are to ask the Egyptians for objects of silver and gold,” Ima explained.

“I doubt that they will give us anything,” I scoffed, rolling my eyes.

“We will see,” Ima said in a very interesting tone.

Later that evening Ima and Sarah came back with baskets loaded with silver and gold. Sarah, Havah, and I danced around our house singing, “We are rich now!” It was a lot of fun!

The day after that, Abba came back from working for Pharoah. He was sweating and hot, so Ima got him a cup of water. Then he turned to Yerachmiel and said, “It is time.” A somber look crossed his face as he set down the empty cup and headed back out of the door, Yerachmiel following behind. A sudden, sinking feeling came upon me. I had never felt that before. I moved slowly toward the corner of our small home. Havah ran over to my side and tugged on my worn dress.

“Rina,” she said, a deep sadness filling her beautiful eyes.

“Yes, Havah?” I said, stroking her knotted brown hair.

“Is Abba going…” She whispered, her lips quivering, “to kill the lamb?”

“I’m afraid so,” I said, as tears filled our eyes. I hugged my little sister close as Sarah joined us. We three sisters sat down and cried together. Little Yitzchak, who was just learning to speak, turned to us and said, “What is wrong?” I looked at his face, so full of youthfulness and sincerity. “Oh, don’t worry about us, Yitzchak,” I said, tears falling.

The little lamb that had been walking about unnoticed came over to us girls. Just then Abba walked in to get the lamb, but I snatched it up in my arms.

“Hand him to me, Rina,” Abba said in a gentle voice.

“Why must you do this, Abba?” I cried.

“Because Mosheh said so. Did I not tell you?” he answered.

“But why did Mosheh say to kill the lamb?” Havah asked, a pout crossing her thin tear-streaked face.

“Because Yehovah told him this is how to escape the plague,” Abba said. Then he continued, “I am surprised you curious girls did not ask me what the plague is.”

“You know?” Sarah called in surprise.

“What is it?” Havah asked. I stayed silent.

“It is a very sad plague–the worst of them all,” Abba said.

“How could anything be worse than what we have already endured?” I muttered gloomily.

“You know how in the last plagues all of the plants, animals, and some people died?” Abba asked.

“Yes,” we answered in unison. We knew the horrors of the plagues all too well, even though we were Hebrews and had been spared from most of them. Abba had told us about the awful things he had seen. And once, during the previous plague, we had gone to the boundary of Goshen and seen the darkness. It was so freaky.

“Well, in this plague,” Abba explained, “all of the first-born males of animals and men will die–all of those who do not have the blood of a lamb on their doorposts.” We were frozen in shock. This truly was worse than the other plagues. Death. The very word made goosebumps rise on my arms.

“None of us will die, right, Abba?” Havah asked, her eyes fearful and teary. I wished she did not have to worry about such matters.

“No, no, dearest!” Abba said, picking Havah up. “None of us will die. Do not be scared. But, in order that Yerachmiel will not die, we must slay our lamb.”

We all looked at Yerachmiel as he entered our home. He looked at our tearful faces with a somber, manly expression. He was the first-born, strong and responsible. Abba’s voice broke the silence as he said, “So, girls, who would you rather have die–the lamb or Yerachmiel?”

Sarah and Havah ran to Yerachmiel as I gave the lamb to Abba and said while crying, “We choose for the lamb to die so our brother can live.”

“Good,” Abba said, as he held the lamb in his arms. Then he and Yerachmiel left with the lamb as we girls stood side by side solemnly watching.

Later, as the lamb roasted in the fireplace, my heart ached. Abba brushed the blood on the doorposts. I looked at Yerachmiel and reminded myself that I would rather have the lamb gone than have Yerachmiel gone. I busily helped Ima prepare our Passover meal. Ima explained the rules of the Passover meal: no leaven, no water on the meat, and we must eat bitter herbs. We should eat it quickly, and we should have our sandals on.

“Why must we eat quickly, Ima?” Sarah asked, as she mixed the bread dough.

“Because Mosheh says to do this. I am not certain why,” Ima replied. “But I am sure something amazing is about to happen.”

When the sun set, we ate our Passover meal hastily, just like Ima said we should. Nothing amazing or crazy happened as we ate our Passover lamb and bitter herbs.

“When will the death come, Abba?” Havah asked with scared eyes.

“No death will come to our house, Havah, because we have the blood on our doorposts,” Abba explained. “But to the people who have no blood on their doorposts, the death will come at midnight.”

After the Passover meal, we all sat around and did nothing for a few minutes since we were told by Mosheh not to work. It was so weird because we are usually working all of the time.

“We had better get some sleep,” Abba said, walking toward the fire. He burned the leftover meat in the fire. Abba explained that Mosheh told us not to leave any of our meat until morning. We all wrapped up in our blankets as Abba put out the fire. Then everything was dark. I soon drifted off into a world of dreams.

In the middle of the night I woke to a piercing scream. “Rina,” Havah called, as she gripped onto me. “Is it the death?”

“I-I-I think so,” I stuttered, still scared and sleepy.

“It is midnight,” I heard Abba say from the other side of the room “We are all okay, girls.”

“Praise Yehovah,” I heard Yerachmiel say.

“Thank Yehovah you are okay,” Ima said. Again and again we heard the wails of the Egyptian women all around us. It was so freaky and terrifying.

“Did all of the Egyptians first-born get killed, Abba?” Havah asked.

“No, not all,” Abba said. “Some Egyptians put blood on their doors.” We all sat there stunned. None of us could sleep. None of us even tried. Then, suddenly, someone was banging at our door. Abba opened the door and found one of our neighbors standing there.

“Hurry! Pharaoh said we can leave and we must leave quickly!” he called. We grabbed everything we owned: our bowls, our plates, our unleavened bread, our tools, the stuff from the Egyptians, and more. We charged out the door and joined the millions of people who were assembling for the departure. My sisters and I sang cheerfully of Yehovah’s goodness in delivering us from Egypt. Everyone was full of unmeasurable joy as we marched away from Ramses to freedom.

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I hope you enjoyed those!

Happy Passover,

Faith

Pet Photoshoot

Hello, everybody! I do not take pictures often at all, and rarely do I share any on this blog, but that is what I have decided to do on this blog today: share pictures of pets.

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Pet Number 1: Georgia Cherokee

My calico cat, Georgia, is such a sweet, cute cat. Here are some pictures of her.

“Chin scratch, please!”

Georgia sleeping in a box in our garage. Oh, how cute!

Pet Number 2: Texas Cheyenne

We say that our second cat, Texas, always wakes up “bright eyed and bushy tailed” as some people like to say. Since she is only about nine months old, she is still just a kitten.

Isn’t she so adorable?

Texas in the snow for her first time last winter!

Another snow shot. “I am waiting for you to let me in!”

A picture-perfect cat!

Pet Number 3: Dixie

My brother and sister-in-law have a cute little dog that I managed to get some photos with. She is a little chihuahua puppy. Welcome, Dixie!

Dixie doing a close-up in my sister’s arms. I guess she wants you to see her face, and her huge eyes!

She was so excited to see me, she jumped on me!

“What are you up to?” “Oh, just taking pictures of you, Dixie!”

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Well, that is all! I hope you enjoyed my photographic efforts!

~Faith