Tuesday, June 09, 2009

God, Shock Absorbers, and Dental Needles








When I lived in Southport, Indiana, Dave VanVeld invited me to go to a Men For Missions International breakfast with him. So I went. I enjoyed it, so we went regularly.

At the end of one meeting, Charlie Spicer .. MFMI staffer, and later a mentor to me .. said they had 4 places left on the Haiti Mission Trip 60 days later and if you were called to go, they needed the deposit by May 1. This was April 15 .. I had just mailed in my tax return on the way in that morning .. and I told Charlie that, if I got the $105 refund back by May 1, Peg and I would go. Otherwise, I didn't have the $100 for the deposit!

I got the IRS check the following Thursday! FIVE DAYS LATER, and I'd mailed it in on the LAST DAY!

We paid the deposit. But we were several hundred dollars short.

I didn't know it at the time, but God meant what He said when He had Paul pen Philippians 4:19. At least He meant it in 1970, and I suspect He still does.

Several things happened that discouraged me. I asked for the week in July, off, and my boss said no; he wanted to take that week off, and I couldn't be gone, too. Then, we called Mom and Dad and asked if they could come and keep the kids (then 10 and 7) for us and Mom got irate with Peg, saying "NO!!", and that missionaries were always the first ones killed in places like Haiti, etc.

Needless to say, we were discouraged.

Then, funny things started happening. First, we got a letter a few days later, from Mom, apologizing for saying that to Peg, and by the way here's a check to help pay for the trip.

My brother sent me a birthday card, saying Happy Birthday and I didn't know what to get you this year, so here's a check. What made that a "funny thing" is that it's the first and only time he ever sent me anything for my birthday!

My boss called me in and said "You know, that's a good thing you're wanting to go do, so go ahead and go on that trip ... and here's a check to help you pay for it".

And so it went. Right up until mid-June, when we were still $175 (remember that number) short. That had to be paid by July 1.

But then I got a call from the President of the Madison Avenue Businessmen's Association. I was the Secretary-Treasurer .. which means I sent out the Monthly Announcement about the dinner meetings, collected checks from the guys, and paid the tab at the Key West Shrimp House after dinner. The president, after we shot the breeze about whatever it was he called about, asked me a question:

"Have you written yourself a check yet?"

Uhh .... nooooo, I said .... why would I do THAT?

He said "Oh .. didn't anybody tell you ... we PAY the Secretary-Treasurer."

"Uhh ... how much?"

"$175.00 a year."

I didn't want to rush things, so I asked (with trembling voice) "When am I supposed to do this?"

"Our fiscal year is July 1 to June 30, so write it before July 1st."

I was absolutely blown away. But I wrote the check and paid the final installment for our trip!

Now there were some other expenses, gas money to get to Miami for the flight, a night's stay in a motel in Miami, etc. So God brought in a little more money, and when we returned from Haiti mid-July, we had $56 of this "miracle money" left over. Remember that number, too.

In Haiti, we stayed on the Missionary Compound, and ate our meals with the different missionaries there. The two that really impressed me were the mechanic who maintained all the vehicles, generators, etc, and also the dentist at their clinic there. Those were the two who mentioned specific needs they had: shock absorbers for the Land Rover .. if you'd seen the roads there, you'd understand .. and dental needles for the dentist .. he said he just never could get enough.

So when we got back, I asked Bill Dudley, the dentist who officed next to us, how much dental needles cost. I then explained why I wanted to know.

After work that evening I went to Washington Auto Parts and asked if they had shock absorbers for that model Land Rover. Yes, they said, so I asked how much.

$14.00 each. So I bought a set of four. That's $56.00! There went the last of what "miracle money" I had.

A week later, Bill Dudley walks in to get his mail (we picked it up from the post office for him every day), and he plops this big box down on my desk, saying "Here y'go .. this'll be my good deed for the year." And out he went.

I looked at the box and it said "CONTENTS 5000 DENTAL NEEDLES".

We took the shocks and the needles to the MFMI headquarters just down the road, and a few weeks later the next mission trip took all the stuff to the OMS Compound.

The tendency now is to write letters and enlist help in paying for this sort of trip. I don't really fault that, but I know how God can do it, and I can't imagine missing what He did for this struggling couple, 39 years ago this month.

4 Comments:

At 3:41 PM, June 10, 2009, Blogger Aussie John said...

Bob,

Thank you for a great testimony! You must have the same Father as my wife and I!

You've inspired me to write something along similar lines.

Why do you think Christians these days seem to look for spectacular happenings when such a profound message is in the simple?

 
At 3:51 PM, June 10, 2009, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

John,

Thanks for the comment. I'm not sure folks are even looking for spectacular happenings much. We've figured out this church thing and we don't really need any help with it, if you get my drift.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to ascertain, to recognize, God's presence in all our ways. I'm not sure that's ever really taught .. it's more like we're supposed to INCLUDE Him in what we do, and that's imitation Christianity.

 
At 7:19 AM, June 16, 2009, Blogger Ken Hearn said...

Bob,
When I got to work this morning, I had the urge to look up the "Christmas at PFB" video on youtube. I thought, what a way to start a morning by listening to the Revelation song and read your blog. WHAT A BLESSING!!!!! This is one time where sensory overload is a good thing.
Proverbs 3:6-7 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight".
Love ya brother. Keep 'em coming.

 
At 9:52 AM, June 16, 2009, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Ken. The Proverbs passage you cite is one I always use in ordination services with new deacons.

But we don't get the real meaning unless we dig into the original language. The word "acknowledge" doesn't mean to mention His name .. is yada, which means to ascertain by seeing. We're to see Him in all our ways. That puts a whole new slant on the verse, and a whole new criteria on our actions.

Thanks for the kind words.

 

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