Bert, Air America, the Brat from Florida

God is a God of second chances.  He promised me a happy second marriage to a man He’d chosen, who I’d meet after ‘going around a circle.’  The promise he gave me was from Jerermiah 23:16.

*You can read about it in my book extract “The Word at the levelled hill” at the end of the post.

“How would I find him?” I asked.

“Set up signposts,
Make landmarks;
Set your heart toward the highway,” the King told me, indicating I should write a story setting up the signs and marking the road.

“Where should I go?” I asked, wanting to return to Sydney.

Turn back to these your cities.
How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?” the King replied, indicating to me it was a place I had to ‘turn back to.’  I hoped he meant Sydney.

“You will go full circle around him,” the King added.

“For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.”

Where is he from?” I asked, hoping full-circle was Sydney.

“Florida,” the King signed.

That threw a spanner in the works.

All I could do after that was wait.

The Florida sign appears in the part of my book where I’m in ‘the Doldrums.’

Five years later I went full circle after going back to a college I’d ‘turned back to.’

I’d previously been employed at as a science technician.  This time I was the computer technician.

Both times I replaced Bert and both times he told me he didn’t have time to train me.  This time I insisted on training.

At lunch one day during training he revealed he was American.  When I asked where he was from, he said ‘Florida.’  I’ll leave you to imagine the look on my face.

It was hard to tell from his accent where he came from.  I’d just accepted him as another “Kiwi,” a fellow New Zealander.   He’s been in New Zealand since he was twelve and has only lived in the US for four years of his life.  Before that he had lived in Vietnman and Thailand.

He feels right at home in Asia, loves Thai and Malaysian food, and is good at guessing which country an Asian face belongs to.  I can’t tell!

Doug, Pilot

Doug Rolston, Air America

His father, whose picture is on the right, had been a US army pilot and then flown for a civilian firm called “Air America”.  When the war ended the family moved to NZ instead of returning to the States.

The children of these pilots are unique as they are the only group of children who lived in a war zone with their parents.

On his fifth birthday the precursor to the Tet Offensive began when a building in his street was bombed, about 400 metres from his home in Saigon.  He’s never forgotten that.

The Air America Brats have a special bond with each other, and I have been priviliged to meet some of them at a “Brats reunion” in Dallas.  “Brats” in this case means children of their fathers who served as pilots in the US armed forces.

They have their own culture as many of them never had a home town to grow up in.  I couldn’t have met a nicer group of people, and they were very welcoming of me.

To begin with, I was intrigued with this particular “Brat” but didn’t know if I liked him very much, and he wasn’t warming to me much either!  There was something different about him.  He wasn’t like the ‘normal’ NZ man from my culture.

Bert_Udorn_summer_activities

Here he is on the left as a young boy.  He’s the blonde, and he still has that slouch!  His father Doug is the pilot in the picture above.  Doug has been a hard act for his son to follow.  Both father and son are very bright men.

I am so glad they came out here and settled in NZ.  When Bert got off the plane here, the first thing he thought was “I’m home.”  He’d never been to NZ before.  And he was home

.


* Book extract: The word at the levelled hill

Full Circle

Full circleThe Kingdom story has chronicled my wanderings through a hidden world , where I received guidance from a King, whose name is Jesus – the one who calls Himself “The Way, The Truth, and the Life”.   At the beginning of the journey I felt lost and was afraid that this was all wishful thinking.  I wanted to believe so badly that He was guiding me. 

At the beginning of my story I wanted to know where in the world I was supposed to be.  Neil Diamond’s song “I am I said” resonated with me.  I felt lost between two shores, and kept thinking about making my way back to the place where I had been happy.  The song lamented “And I am lost, and I can’t even say why.”

The Lord told me to setup signs and mark the road because He was going to show me where I was supposed to be.  He said it would involve going full circle, it would involve a man, and from that He would create a new thing.  The story is recorded here in this chapter; The Kingdom – Signs.

“Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
the road that you take.
Return, O Virgin Israel,
return to the town you left.
How long will you wander,
faithless daughter?
The LORD will create a new thing on earth—
a woman will encircle a man.”  Jeremiah 31:21-22

It was hard for me to believe, and I wasn’t an easy person to lead.  It was true when the Lord said “How long will you wander, faithless daughter?”  But He kept me to the road from the signs and guideposts I observed and marked in the story, in obedience to His instructions.

If you have stuck with me this far, thank you so much.  I am honoured to have your company.   Now we are getting to the incredible part.  Seven years later I went full circle, and another character comes into the story.

The scene is “in the town I left”.

The circle started five years before at a place I called “the Tower”, recorded here:  Chapter 16 The Place of the Tower.

The circle ends here: Chapter 54 Full circle.

For such is the Kingdom

For such is the Kingdom

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14

Sitting cross legged on the floor of her Aunt’s cottage, the child pulled out the first book from the set of children’s bibles on the bookshelf.  The night before her Aunt had read them a story from one of those books.  She was curious about the one written of in the stories.

The inside cover showed him wearing a white robe standing in a green field.  He looked so kind, and there were a lot of children gathered around Him.   She wanted to know Him, but did not know how to come to Him.

After she was dedicated to the King when she was a baby, as was the custom, He was forgotten.  All she knew was that He lived in Heaven.  She was told that only good children would go to Heaven, and then she would be told that she was bad.  If she did try to come to Him, would He make her go away?

Sometimes she would sing Him a song with a wish in her heart.   Later that summer evening as she waited for sleep to come, she thought of him in that green field.  She approached Him in her mind, but a dark presence kept her from coming closer, telling her that “only good children could go to him”.  She stood there uncertainly, not knowing He was holding out His arms to her as He dropped to His knees calling her name.

The angel who had been appointed from birth to be her guardian watched her.  Seeing she had come alone, the angel asked the King if there was not some way to be found to reach the little girl.  The angel stood between the hesitant child and the dark one.  The King roared like a lion at the dark one saying “forbid her not to come to me: for of such is the Kingdom of heaven”.

The child approached the King with longing, fearful she would be rejected.  Shyly she touched His hand, pleading “Jesus, I believe in you.  Please, I know that I am not good enough, but I want to come to you, and live in Heaven one day.  Will you let me come?”

The roar subsided as the child approached.  The face of the King softened as the lion turned into a lamb.  He held her as she was welcomed into His Kingdom.  The child could only perceive Him dimly.  Unseen her angel responded with great joy and shouts of gladness.  The joy was tinged with grief, for many of the children of Adam who came to Him alone were dispossessed and orphaned, many of them clad in filthy rags, not knowing who they really were.  If only they could see, if only they could know who they were born to be.  The greatest in His kingdom were those who were like children.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

This nine year old child was clad in green checked shorty pyjamas that had the motif “my heart belongs to Daddy” embroidered on the front, which brought a smile to His face.  Those who wanted to enter His kingdom had to come to Him in belief like this child.  Unheard by the girl He said “Child, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to you.”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.  Matthew 18:2

Later on in life the King told her how she had met Him wearing those pyjamas.  She asked her mother if she had been given clothing like that.  Her mother replied that indeed she had, for she had sewn them for her holiday.

Children came to Him very easily, but unless the parents knew Him the child got left in the wilderness.  This child would not be trained in the way she should go.  She would be travelling alone to start with.  Unguided, she would eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of tears. 

It was crucial that the children were shown the way to Him.  It is written;

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6.