Stepping Heavenward


Part Two...

For two years we are with this small church in Ireland. Us three older children enjoy the games of volley-ball with the youth, girl's donut making days, helping to shell peas at our minister's house (where it seemed more peas are thrown into people's coffee mugs and stuffed down each other's backs than actually go into the bucket!)
We move out of the cottage into a nice two-story house with a lovely yard and view of the ocean and mountains.

My Mum is worried about my Dad who has been loosing weight and having lower back pains. "It's the same way Pa was" she tells me one day, tearfully. The results from his tests comes back. Dad has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
My Dad? No way. Not us. Never. Yet it is undeniable. Dad is put into hospital for more tests...and it's confirmed yet again, the doctors have now seen it with their own eyes. They let Dad out of hospital for the week end. The new week will see Dad go throug his very first treatments.
I go around in a daze. Scared, but still not fully understanding. It is like an unpleasant dream.
Sunday evening we have a special prayer service for Dad. I howl my head off uncontrollably the entire time. My friend does all she can to comfort me, but this is just too much...
Just as reality starts to dawn on me that this IS real, this IS happening, we get some astounding news from the doctors. The cancer has suddenly 'vanished'. There are NO traces of it anywhere. "WHAT? HELLO? Just WHAT are you telling us?" The baffled doctors can offer no explanation to our hounding questions. It was there when dad left hospital and yet somehow, over the weekend, it has simply gone. Could is be a miricle? My Mum asks them. Relunctantly the doctor says he has no other explanation.

The cancer doesn't return.

For about two years now, I have been under strong conviction and I know that I am not a Christian and I am not living for God. Even though my parents are Christians and basically all my friends have become Christians, I stubbornly sit on my box and refuse to budge from it.
Eloise accepts Jesus into her life. Her friend also gets saved. They are both praying for me. My parents are praying for me. My friends are praying for me. Inside I silently shout at all of them "Give it a break! You're going to have to wait a LONG time for me, people!"

I am miserable inside, tired of feeling guity...scared to die.

At church I feel as though everybody must be looking at ME during the salvation message. As the minister prays for somebody to put their hand up and and become a Christian, I hold into the sides of my jacket tightly, because of this unsane fear of my hand flying up and notifying the preacher without me wanting it to.

This is rediculous, I know. But I am fighting a hard battle here.
One night it all gets too much. I give into God and pray that He will save me and come into my life. Tears flow. Peace comes. Who cares if I die? I am now worthy to be called a daughter of God!I'm going to Heaven! The guilt has gone...

We start having problems in our church. Some things are said and we don't agree. Some things happen that shouldn't. Some things DON'T happen that should. A lot of hurt and a tremendous amount of pain. We evenually leave the reason for coming to Ireland.

We girls start home-schooling. We have church at home with ourselves. We all feel the sting of being rejected and hearing nasty rumours spread about out family. Things are black. Pain. Tears. Heart ache. Home sickness.

I have suddenly been bumped out into the cold -from having a set of friends to having nobody. Let me repeat that...NOBODY. The only non-church people we know are friend's of my parents and little children.

I am in a foriegn country with no friends.
We cannot go back to Australia. Our funds have been poured into a little bookstore which still isn't giving us an income. Our rented house is up for sale.

How can Christians act like this? Where is God? I grow cold with the Lord. I feel like giving up on Him. Why us? Why did He lead us here only to have it all end in tears? My only friends are overseas....thousands of miles away from me.

It's still raining outside. What is wrong with this country? Does the sun ever shine?

We start attending a Baptist church. It takes a good while to settle in. I am now the new kid on the block. The old hyper me has been replaced with a shy, self-concious one. I hate myself for being so scared.

We move closer to Waterford city when our house gets sold beneath our feet. It's incredible to find such a large house, with an acre of land so close to Waterford! I now have my own room. All those years of being in the same room as snoring sisters is now in the passed.
I pursue my interest in learning Braille. Those years of learning-for-fun with a friend in Australia seem so hazy and long ago. I get my hands on any Grade One Braille I can get.

I finish home school...yippe. Those days are gone! I start minding a lot of little children for different families. I and become an expert on changing nappies, making bottles of milk, kissing little hurts, sometimes cooking lunch for the parents and playing monsters. It's been a long time since we had a baby in our house, but it all comes back again.

I still miss Australia. All of us girls do. I still wonder if I'll see my grandparents again before it's too late. I do love Ireland, despite the rain, it's a beautiful country...but nothing compares to the freedom, trees, and sun of Australia.

I take up a proper course to learn Grade Two Braille. The books are huge, it takes me half an hour to read one page. How on earth do you use a Braille type-writer? I wonder what I have landed myself in.
I feel settled at the Baptist church now and have made friends there. At the end of this year I start going to a Bible-study from another church. They are amazing people. I still sometimes battle with my shyness, but they are fast becoming wonderful friends.

At last things are a little brighter. We've been through a really hard few years but I am happier now. A friend tells our family "Maybe you thought God was leading you to Ireland to join that church, but God was using that as a stepping stone to take you where He wants you in the future".

Incredibly, God bassically dumps the opportunity for a trip to Australia in our laps! This is incredible...from an unexpected source, we now have the money for 5 air fares back to Australia! We girls bid Dad and Tristan good bye and fly the 22 hour flight back to our home.
Six weeks of sun, enduring hugs and kisses and tears, seeing the family, seeing friends, seeing kangaroos, playing cricket in the back-yard, relaxing at the creek, taking photos, driving the grandparents up the wall, telling the same stories to hundreds of people, seeing the Sydney Opera House for the first time, taking photos, practing our Aussie accents again (and making fun our our friend's REALLY strong accents) taking more photos, creating new memories... I feel like I can face anything now. I have been home and seen the people who love me, who 'have a past' with me, who can tell me funny stories of what I did as a girl...
Meanwhile Dad is alone all day in the house while Tristan is at work. It's terribly quiet, the cat is moping, he can't wait to have us back, even though we females talk 24/7

I am reading huge Braille books with ease now! My course is still terribly hard, but I am relieved to find out other people have had the same difficulties as me. I am half way through!
I meet loads of new people this year, enjoy doing some street meetings and handing out Chrisian leaflets with several teams during during the summer .
I take a scary step and attempt to start a basic Christian magazine for girls. Surprisingly, people tell me it's amazing and that they love it. I have people subscribe from Ireland, England, America and Australia.
I start a blog page and drive my family up the wall for always being on the computer when they want to use it.
I fly back to Switzerland to visit my friend (who always leaves anonymous comments on my blog:)

The future is still uncertain, sometimes a little scary. What will I do? Where will I go? Who will I meet? But I am finding out that God cares, even in the blackest times and there's always a reason.

Praise You In the Storm

I was sure by now, God You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm

and I will lift my hands

for You are who You are

no matter where I am

and every tear I've cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

and though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of

heaven and earth...

words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms