Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless HIS HOLY NAME.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Little Boy's Pockets

I see him get out of bed; he comes to me and gives me a hug. I want to snuggle just a bit, but he’s off. Off to play…ride his bike, play on the rope swing outside; off to feed the rabbits. He usually comes inside only if he wants a drink or when he gets hungry.

And I pray for him throughout the day. “Lord, keep him safe today. Put your angels of protection around him. Protect him from harm and from evil. Protect his mind and his heart from sin.”

At the end of the day, he puts his jammies on and he hardly has the energy to brush his teeth. This little ball of energy goes, goes, goes all day long. Always ready to give a smile…such a sweet boy. He’s a helper to his Mama.

“Don’t forget to put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket,” I remind him.

The next morning, I’m sorting the laundry, ready to put them in the wash. I remember to check his pockets. Marbles I find one morning. A coloring page he folded and put into his pocket I find the next morning. I found Play-dough one morning….(I’m SO glad I checked his pockets!)

Then one morning, I check his pockets and I find Gospel tracts. Yes, he’d been out the day before handing out Gospel tracts. “Mommy!” he shouted, excitedly when he came in. “Someone got saved!” How he loves going out to share the Gospel! This little boy of mine, saved for 11 months now, so enthusiastic about the things of the Lord.

And I smile. I bow my head right there in front of the washing machine…and I thank the Lord for my boy. My Little Andrew Jonathan.

Today is his birthday. He's eight years old today!

(A very dear friend to our family found out that our Little Andrew
wanted a violin, and they sent a very nice one to him!)

Happy Birthday, My Little Man!
I can’t wait to see what God has for you this year!

“Lord, please fulfill Your purpose in his life! Use his life to bring honor and glory to Your holy name.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Favorite Things


I love Christmas. I love the happiness and joy that seems to be in the air. I love the Christmas carols playing in the CD player. I love counting down the days 'til Christmas with my children.

But all year 'round, there are certain things that I always enjoy, special things that always bring a smile to my face. Wanna know what they are?

My husband playing his guitar

Early morning fog

Hanging out clean laundry

Little arms around my neck

That first cup of coffee in the morning

Late night talks with my husband

The memories made in the "Missionary Mansion" in Decatur, Texas

The smell of camphor trees ("alcanfor" in Spanish)...large trees which surrounded our childhood home

And.....Your encouraging comments!!!!

What are some of your favorite things?

I'd love to hear about them!

Have a wonderful day, Dear Friends, enjoying your favorite things!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Banquet: In The Hands Of The Potter

~~To all my dear friends who prayed for our Christmas Banquet:

The work is the Lord's, and only He knows how He dealt in the heart of each person present;
but His working was evident in several who attended.

All the hours and hours of prayer, planning, hard work; and the sacrificial giving by people in our church and by many around the world paid off. The Lord really blessed!

The decorations were beautiful (again, great job, Liz!); the songs sung were so beautiful and spoke to our hearts; the childrens' special was so darling. But most of all we rejoice at how God worked on the hearts of the lost ladies who were there.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the "First Ladies" of our town and surrounding towns were our special guests; this year, we also invited military wives and honored them. (Remember: The main purpose for these Banquets is to share the Gospel with unsaved ladies.)

Our special speaker was Bro. James Merlo, a pastor of a Spanish work in Oklahoma. The Lord used him to preach a salvation message that was so easily understood. We praise the Lord for using Bro. Merlo's message.

There were a total of 89 ladies present, many of whom were there for the first time. 8 ladies were saved, 2 of whom were military wives, and 2 former mayors' daughters.

It is really difficult to describe in words (and even through the pictures) how wonderful everything was. But I know that a lot of you were praying, and we thank you.

We are already planning next year's Banquet. You can begin to pray even now (with us) as we begin to save for and plan for the Banquet to be held on November 16, 2012!!!

Eleven of Mom's 34 grandchildren singing "In My Father's House"
{Stewart, Paul, Samuel, Kenneth, Joshua, Andrew,
Gabriela, Sophia, Deborah, Jacquelyn, and Olivia}

*That night, 5 of Mom's 8 children (plus spouses and a total of 18 grandchildren) were present.
That was so special!*

My oldest brother, Tom, and his family were able to attend the Banquet!
Here his children (Joanna, Karla, Lydia and Hank) are singing.

Bro. James Merlo

We were blessed by the children of an orphanage
who sang (a treat we get to enjoy every year!)
Carlos and Yara Ruiz have done a fantastic
job with these children!
My heart is blessed every time!

Tom and Philip singing "Down From His Glory"

Honoring the First Ladies present

Singing "Bendice A México"

The military wives being honored.
Each one received a Bible. And two of them were saved.

My beautiful Mother.
I am so thankful she has a burden and a
vision to see these ladies saved!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Intercede...For All That Are In Authority

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority;
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
I Timothy 2:1,2

Do you pray for your President? Your Governor? Your city's Mayor?

Have you ever thought to pray for their wives?

Surely these ladies live under such tremendous in the spot-light...bound to rigid schedules and obligations that take them away from their homes and children.

I will never forget what the wife of our former Mayor told Mom after she (Mom) told her that she prays for her every morning: "I don't think anyone has ever prayed for me. You don't know what it does for me to know that every day someone is praying for me!"

Our annual Christmas Banquet in November is a special event to which which we invite the ladies who have served (as Mayor's wife or in some other way) our town and surrounding towns. We honor them with a special gift; and each "first lady" who has attended has received a Bible.

Below is a list of ladies whom we have invited and for whom we are praying to come. Please join us in praying that these ladies will come to the
November 18 Banquet

and hear the Gospel once more.

María Isabel Aguilera de Sabines (Governor's Wife)

Profra. Delia Nery Pavón Hernández (wife of Mayor of nearby town)

Verónica Gómez Montero

Lic. Perla Yuridia Díaz Castro (wife of Mayor of nearby town)

Ing. Idalia García de Díaz

Lic. Gabriela Pastrana Barrios

Lic. Ana Marcela Zazueta Hernández de

Marisol Sandoval

Emilia Setzer Marselle de Ochoa

Profra. Magdalena Ramos de Ruiz

Sra. Mercedes Cerdio de Gutiérrez (saved 2 years ago at a banquet)

Isabel Consuelo Ochoa de Sarmiento

Sra. Marta Mandujano de Ramos

Lic. María Virginia Castellanos Martínez

Sra. Leticia del Cármen López Rodríguez

Profra.Victoria María Olvera Rojas

Brenda Susana Moreno Valdez

Patricia del Cármen Sánchez López (congresswoman)

Cecilia Flores López (present Mayoress of our town)

Beatriz Mandujano de Aguilar

Olga Lidia Álvarez Morales (Mayoress of a nearby town)

Guadalupe Ruíz Narváez

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cold Water and Care Packages

"As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25

Post Office.


What does that mean to a missionary? It means that someone loves you enough to go sit down, take out some pretty stationary or a lovely card and write to you...even though they'll spend a fortune in postage.

But mail to a missionary is contact with loved ones...a message that we are loved, prayed for, remembered.

Don't ever under-estimate the value of mail to a missionary...even if it is an email, now in this age of internet. Unless you are a missionary, you don't realize what a letter, a Christmas card, or a care package from someone in the States can do to bring sunshine and encouragement to a (possibly) lonely missionary family. You ladies that are a part of a Women's Missionary Group of some kind, your thoughtful letters and care packages mean so, so much to a missionary lady (and family!). What a unique ministry you have!

Our favorite part of the day (growing up, especially) was going to the post office. We went every single day. It was almost like Christmas every day. Many people remembered our birthdays, and since there were 10 of us, you can believe that receiving birthday cards came nearly all year 'round!

Grandma always sent us $7 US dollars and a card for each birthday. Many, many churches always mailed us a birthday card. Mrs. Stewart always clipped special things from her newspapers and mailed them to us, and she never, ever forgot anyone's birthday! A couple of times a year, a very special church got things together and would send them to us. It felt like Christmas!!!

A few months ago, our family received a care package (and not the first, mind you!) from Audria, a very dear friend of our family. Audria's care packages are so personal. I can tell she takes time, thinks of each one of us, and really out-does herself for us.

In our book, "Aunt Audria" is a super-special person...she is spoken of and remembered often, especially when our children wear the jackets she sent; or when our children and many neighborhood children are enjoying the side-walk chalk she so thoughtfully sent!

A very special missionary to Ghana is having a give-away at her blog. Read here to find out the details! If you are a missionary mama presently on the field, you just might be the one to win!

I read each comment left by a missionary mama on Mrs. John's blog, and tears came to my eyes as I read each one. I prayed for these ladies, that God would do something special for her...far from home, perhaps suffering home-sickness. God sees each need; He knows about each desire (as insignificant as it may seem!). Chin up, ladies. Keep up the good work!!!

So send a card...Mail a letter...Send a care package to a missionary today! God will surely bless you for encouraging a missionary family!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Heartbeat of a Banquet

To me, the greatest advantage of having internet is being able to communicate, and specifically, being able to communicate prayer requests. What a valuable tool we have to be able to share prayer requests, and to know that people all over the world will be praying!

As some of you may know, every year, my Mother plans and hosts a Christmas Banquet in November, especially for the high-society (unsaved) ladies in our town. There are high-society ladies here who will not set foot in a church, but attend this banquet every year and hear the Gospel preached to them.

Please be much in prayer for our banquet, which this year will be on November 18, at 4:00 p.m.

The following post was written by my lovely mother, Mrs. Billie (Ashcraft) Sloan, last year, just before our Christmas Banquet.


On Friday afternoon, November 19, just two weeks from today, Lord willing, I’ll walk into the lovely Banquet room of probably the most prestigious hotel in our little town. As always, I will arrive about an hour before 4:00 in order to arrange my personal things…my folder containing programs customized for everyone who will take part in our annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet, and my own program, which will basically play the part of my brain for the evening, telling me exactly what I should be doing, when, and where; my Bible, handkerchief, water, pens, music, etc. Don’t worry…all those items are on a list in a pretty pink notebook I’ve chosen for my notes this year.
I also want to be relaxed and organized so I will be able to greet each lady at the door.

But I think the most important reason I arrive an hour early is because I want to take in the beauty, and the atmosphere before anyone else arrives.

My daughters and several ladies from the church will arrive about 10:00 that morning to finish the final touches of the decorations.But by 3:00, my girls will be in their rooms at the hotel, which are reserved several months before the Banquet. I did this last year, and my children said that was one of the most wonderful parts of the Banquet…being able to leisurely dress for the banquet, and step out of their rooms and into the Banquet room. And then after the banquet, not to have to take babies and belongings out to vans and carry sleeping babies into the house late at night. By the end of the banquet, babies will be in their jammies, and tucked into bed by their “nannies for the evening.”

So if I get there an hour before the Banquet, no one is there. I just walk among the tables, taking in the atmosphere of what will soon be filled with the chatter of lady friends, some who have saved all year long in order to buy their $20 dollar ticket. Some will be wearing designer dresses, some dresses will be homemade, and some will be from last year’s Banquet. This represents the different walks of life these women come from.

But what will take place here on that night will also represent hundreds and hundreds of hours of work, planning, preparation, and prayer put into this event so dear to my heart.

Thousands of dollars miraculously raised by friends, children, churches across the USA, our church here, and the hard work of my Sunday school ladies are required to fund this gala evening.

As I walk in my imagination among the tables, which will be so beautifully decorated this year with fresh flowers, my mind goes back fifty years…

Billie Jean Ashcraft (1960)

…1960. I was only 16 years old that November 15th afternoon, as my parents, my three little brothers and I drove across the border, and along the two-lane highway that led me away from my country, my beloved church, school, and friends into this strange land called México. Everything uncommon looks strange in the eyes of a teenage girl: the people, their customs, their food, and their language.I was blessed enough to have a teenage brother who was my very best friend and constant companion. We even enrolled in school together, and for the next three years, which would conclude our high school years, we sat in the same classrooms, and shared the same friends. We went on “dates,” and we clowned around. We even enjoyed staying in the same bedroom in twin beds while we soaked in all the attention required for two teenagers with hepatitis.

How do a different people become yours? What makes a strange country become home? Why is it sometimes easier to express yourself in a second language than in your first language?

Billie Jean Ashcraft ( about 1965)

It happens by just being there, and letting it happen. It isn’t learned, and it isn’t forced on you. It happens to you like a sweet aroma happens to you when you walk through a garden, or a forest.

Never in my wildest teenage dreams would I ever imagine loving a land, a country, a city, a people like I love my home, and the place where God has called me.

I believe when God gives a call, He also gives a love. It’s like a magnet drawing you to it, whether it is to care for your children, to care for the sick, to pastor a church, or to minister to prisoners. The surrender to God’s call brings peace.

We’re talking heartbeats here.

My girls and the ladies in our church make up the core of the production of this event. They’re considerably younger than I am, and the part they play in this annual affair requires lots and lots of hard physical work…work with their hands, as they spend hours designing invitations, creating the lovely corsages for each special lady, making centerpieces.

Their tired feet walk and run from sun up until sundown, chasing toddlers, running errands, shopping, reserving, and ordering.

Their voices make phone calls, and rehearse songs, and invite friends.

Fingers work almost non stop at their computers, typing out programs, songs and menus; or punching in phone numbers as they call to make sure reservations are confirmed.

But the part of my anatomy that will be working most throughout the months and now days before the Banquet will be my mind. My mind works although I lie down for an afternoon nap. In my mind I can picture how I want everything to be that evening. I see the platform; I see the tables reserved for special guests; I hear the songs.

I go over and over in my mind the essay I will be reading that evening…something I’ve done ever since our first Banquet years ago…a speech that goes with the theme for the Banquet.

And you can’t involve the mind without getting the heart in on the act. My heart is stirred at times while I’m alone in the early hours of the morning with the Lord. As I open my Bible and read, my emotions are active as I realize the theme of this year’s banquet: “Celebrating Fifty Years of God’s Goodness.”

For some of the ladies attending that evening, this is probably one of many invitations that they will receive. Because of their position in life, events like this abound. Why do they choose this particular one year after year after year? Because the heartbeat of our Banquet, the purpose of this annual event is reaching hearts, and stirring emotions. And year after year these ladies tell me before they leave, “Thank you for this evening. It’s the highlight of my year, and of this season. My heart feels so full.”

Mom with two ladies at a ladies' meeting (August, 2011)

If my heart isn’t prepared for that evening, their hearts won’t be touched.

As I grow older, my mind works a lot more than my hands or my feet do. My mind works now in fact, more than my hands or feet ever worked when I was a young mother. Only when I sleep does it also rest.

But my body gets tired and weary, so I must, especially during this time, make sure I eat the right food, and get enough rest…even more than I normally would. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve noticed when I’m physically exhausted, my spirit is weary, also, and I’m not as aware of His presence.

I desire an alert sound mind, which is required of me as I write, speak, and teach.

I pray this prayer every night before I go to bed, for my children and for their mother: “Help me/us to wake up in the morning refreshed and encouraged about the challenge of a new day.”

If you read this, and if you are praying for this Banquet, will you also pray for the Lord to give this 66 year-old mind alertness required for the days ahead, and especially for the evening of November 19? Pray for my heart to be soft and not hard as I face the challenges and demands of each day.

And pray for the Holy Spirit to touch and change the hearts of the ladies who attend, so when they walk out that evening, they’ll be forever different than when they walked in.

To see photos of last year's banquet, go here


Friday, October 28, 2011


Definition of a hero:
A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.

My sister, Ruth Miller wrote about our recent trip that my sisters and Mom made to Chicago. Click here to read about it and see pictures!
Her pictures and writing capture so well the wonderful time that we had.

Between the three sisters who went on this trip, we have a total of 14 children (Sarah's 6, my 2 and Ruthie's 6). You do realize,then, that this trip would not have been possible had someone not been willing to care for these precious children (all ages 9 and under!).

So this post is dedicated to my brothers-in-law, Steve Miller and Jason Knabb, and my awesome husband, Andrew.

My admiration for you three men multiplied by about 1,000. I always knew you were all three good daddies. And I knew you three loved your wives.

But you know what? These incredible men's amazing qualities were magnified this past week when they willingly and sacrificially volunteered to keep these children so the mommies could go on this fun-filled, spiritually-uplifting trip.

These men cooked, fed hungry children, washed stacks of dishes, washed and folded and put away piles of laundry; they cheerfully entertained, disciplined, changed, wiped, hugged, played with, took to church, and put to bed their children; we found they had done some home-improvement work around the house, as well (such as fixing a broken sink, paining a fence, repairing the pump, water-spraying the outside of the house in preparation for painting...and the list goes on and on!). WHOEVER SAID THAT A MAN CANNOT MULTI-TASK?! At least MY MAN can!

When we talked to the daddies and the children at night on the phone, they cheerfully said all was going well and they all seemed so happy!

So while these 4 very blessed ladies were at the Spanish Ladies' Spectacular in Hammond, receiving such spiritual encouragement...mingling with ladies whom God is using in a great way among the Hispanic world...spending money sacrificially given by our wonderful husbands...sleeping in a luxurious hotel...blissfully enjoying a delicious cup of coffee as we read our Bibles early in the morning with no interruptions...

....Our husbands sacrificed a whole week (my husband asked for 10 days off from work so he could care for our children!) just for us!

Yes, these men are my heroes...they have displayed true acts of courage and nobility of purpose, and they definitely took a risk and sacrificed their lives.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Steve Miller, Jason Knabb, and much loved Husband, Andrew Lopez for this unforgettable gift. We made memories to last a lifetime, and our love and admiration for our husbands grew inmensely.

"We did it, and we survived!"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When You Love Someone

"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time
and then vanisheth away."

Two days ago, a group of people from our church went on a village missions' trip (to the village where my youngest sister, Elizabeth, and her husband Ulises are laboring to start a work) to work on a property. The men were to put a fence around the property, and the women were to do the cooking for the men. Philip and Liz and their three boys were going, and they were going to get to be with Cousins Sophie and Paul, and my children begged me to let them go. I called their daddy and he gave them permission to go; so very happily off they went.

My Mamma heart worried all day long. Suddenly, what I have always dreamed of to be the perfect day (just Mamma time for about 10 hours!) wasn't at all what I had thought it would be. After the group pulled away from the church, I went to the bedroom and got down on my knees and prayed, "Lord, please protect my children!"

And that was my prayer all day long.

I finally settled myself down and thought, "Okay, the children are not here. I am going to work on something I could not do if they were here," so I got to work organizing and filing away school work, grades, etc. I did end up having a very productive day.

But when the blue van carrying my children pulled into the gate at 10:00 p.m., I was never happier to see my children. Hugs and kisses lasted a long time. We sat at the table and talked while they ate tangerines and some sweet bread. They were oh, so tired, having spent the day carrying rocks and fighting off the fire ants (or so they said!). We fell into bed exhausted. (Both of them were in my bed, one on either side of me.) I lay there, and thanked the Lord over and over for keeping them safe.

The next morning, I woke up and gently stroked Debbie's hair, and I thanked the Lord that my children were with me. "Help me never to take them for granted, Father!"

All day long, I tried to concentrate on the sweetness of small children...the laughter in their play; the careful coloring they did in their "art projects"; Debbie whistling a happy tune. And you know what I did all day? I pulled them to me and said, "I'm so happy you're with me today.
I love you so much!"

I am thankful for little reminders from the Lord of what life would be like without our little ones! What a precious treasure they are from the Lord.

Last night, as my handsome husband led the choir practice, he smiled a smile that took my breath away. (When he smiles, it lights up his eyes and warms my heart and just melts it right on the spot!) I prayed a silent prayer and thanked the Lord for him.

Then after the practice was over and the church cleaning was all done, he came and sat in the living room. You know what I did? I came to him and I put my arms around him and I said, "During choir practice you flashed the most handsome smile that took my breath away. I love your smile, and I love you!" And I kissed him on the cheek.

When you love someone, tell them.

Go tell them now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Joshua Philip Nolen Sloan

Last Sunday, after church, Philip and Liz took the boys to a hamburger place for supper. (Phil and Liz call it their "Sonic" because they bring your burgers out to your car.)

After they had ordered, Josh (their 7-year-old) told his Daddy that he wanted to be saved. Right there in their van, Philip was able to lead his oldest son to the Lord. They called Mimi right away and we all rejoiced with them.

Joshua is a quiet, tender-hearted little boy. He is smart and obedient, and he is a blessing to his Aunt Anna. Joshua is our Little Andrew's best, best friend. They see each other nearly every day. From the second they see each other until the moment they say goodbye, they are in-separable. They speak mostly in Spanish to each other. (But they speak to their sibblings and to their other cousins in English!) One day, I asked Little Andrew, "Why do you talk with Josh only in Spanish?" He answered, "Oh, Mommy, because he is my SPECIAL friend!"

Yesterday, Joshua got baptized. What a thrill and joy to my heart to see him follow the Lord in believer's baptism! I know it was a very emotional moment for Philip to be able to baptize his son.
What a joy to be able to rear our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to see them have a desire to be obedient to His Word!

Rejoice with us over this new little convert in our family!Philip and Liz
Joshua, Samuel, and Mark

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Melody In Your Heart

I love music.

Ever since I can remember, music has been a part of my life. Growing up in a missionary's home, you get to do a lot of singing. My earliest memory of singing was when Dad would get those old green hymnbooks out and we would gather around in the living room and sing. He would teach us the old hymns, and I grew to love them.

Every morning, at 9:00, Mom would begin our pledge time playing "The Assurance March" on her accordion (that was to announce that pledge time was about to begin) and all eight of us children would come running to our church building (then also our school room during the week). During pledge time, we would practice the songs we sang together as a family.

I can't say I am a good singer, but I DO love to sing. I love to start my personal devotional time singing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." I must say that I can express myself well through songs. (James 5:13--"...Is any merry? let him sing psalms.")

I love to translate songs from English into Spanish. When I hear a song that just blesses my heart, I think, "These Mexican people need to hear the message in this song," and I ask the Lord to help me translate it. (Most of the songs I have translated are recorded on the CDs that I recorded in 2007 and 2008, and on the CD my sisters and I recorded in 2009.)

CD recorded in 2007

(Below: Songs for children, sung in English and in Spanish)

Sloan Sisters, 2009

And now that I'm a mommy, I love to teach my children new songs. When Little Andrew was just about 6 months old, during my devotional time, I would set him on my lap and sing to him. I would sing to him when he'd get up in the morning. (The first song he learned was "Holy, Holy, Holy.") I love to wake my children up on Sunday mornings with the Little Marcy song (did anyone ever listen to her?), "Bright On A Sunday Morning."

Marcy and Little Marcy...
a favorite of mine growing up

It just blesses my heart to hear my children sing their little hearts out throughout their day. Singing does something for me. I am so thankful that God created music!
In May, my husband and 5 other young men in our church formed a quartet (well, I guess that would be a sextet, wouldn't it?). Guess who gets to play the piano for them?! ME! That means I get to be in on their practice sessions, which I love!! The Lord has given this group of men the ability to sing together and to sound good!

About a month ago, Little Andrew asked his Daddy if he could be a part of the quartet. My husband said that if he was willing to come to all the practice sessions, that he could sing with them. And Little Andrew has been faithful to the practice sessions, and they even gave him a solo part in one of the songs!

This past Sunday, Little Andrew and another little boy in our church sang a special together in the evening service. My heart was blessed to see my young son, serving the Lord with his voice.

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Ephesians 5:19

Go sing a song! Chase away the shadows in your heart and let the joy of the Lord show forth in your singing today!

--Care to share (in the comments) your favorite hymn/song, and why it's so special to you?--

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Friend, Becky

"A friend loveth at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

Today is the birthday of my very special friend, Becky. God brought Becky into my life when I was 14 years old.

My brothers and sisters and I grew up listening to the shortwave radio....J. Vernon McGee, Adventures in Odyssey, Unshackled...and H.C.J.B. from Quito, Ecuador. One of the programs on H.C.J.B. was "Saludos, Amigos," ("Hello, Friends"), where one could send in a letter and request a friend or pen-pal. (I can still hear the theme song of that program: "Saludos, Amigos, come pull up a chair; saludos, Amigos, forget about all your cares. We've got some good conversation, 'bout some program information...On Saludos, Amigos; Saludos, Amigos.")

When I was 14 years old, and my sister, Sarah, was 16 years old, we wrote in to Saludos Amigos and requested a pen-pal who was our age; we wrote that we home-schooled, using the A.C.E. program, that we were Christians who would enjoy having a like-minded pen-pal.

On the day that mine and Sarah's letters were read over the air waves on that program, two young ladies from Australia were listening. Lois and Rebecca. Lois was 16 and Becky was 14.

About one month later, Sarah received a letter from Lois and I received one from Rebecca.
You can imagine our joy as we read our letters from our sweet pen-pals. Our new friends had been reared much the same way as we had. They were Baptists girls; they were being home-schooled, using the A.C.E. program; their ideals were much the same as ours; they were very domesticated, knowing how to cook, sew, cross-stitch, and much more.

Thus started a very special friendship between Lois and Sarah and Becky and myself. From a very long distance, God knit our hearts together as we got to know each other through our letters. What fun it was to go to the Post Office and see a letter postmarked from Australia! Definitely the high-light of our month (as it took a VERY long time for us to get mail all the way from Australia!).

Years passed. Sarah and I graduated from high school and went to Oklahoma to attend college. We kept up our letter-writing to our dear Australian friends and never lost contact.

In 2001, we received a VERY special 'phone call from Becky, telling us that she would be flying to Dallas to attend my sister, Ruth's wedding. I cannot tell you how long we had dreamed of the day Becky and I could meet in person, and it was finally going to happen! (I was 24 years old at that time.)

I will never forget the moment I saw my dear Australian friend for the first time at the DFW airport in Dallas. Cameras were clicking and tears were in everyone's eyes and Becky and I embraced. We were definitely kindred spirits, and she fit right in with our family as if she had always been one of us. What fun my brothers had, teasing her, and she took it all in...even got in a little teasing herself! (I will never, ever forget, when my brother asked Becky, "How do you say 'excuse me' in Australia?" She answered quickly, "Move out of my way!" Ahhh, what a good laugh we all got!!!)

The ride home was so much fun. In Australia, the driver's side is on the right, and they drive on the "other side" of the road. Poor Becky was so nervous the whole way home! She kept saying, "Oh! I feel like we will crash any moment!" And her Australian accent is so lovely!
Who could have given me a more special friend but God?! He brought her to my life, and I am so thankful for this wonderful friend who has been a spiritual encouragement to me for over 20 years.

As she celebrates her birthday in Australia, I celebrate the life of a true friend, sent to me from God Himself to a little missionary girl. When I think of Becky, I think about how much God loves me.

Happy Birthday, Dearest Becky! I hope I have been a true friend to you, as you have been to me!

Becky today, the perfect wife and mother, with her little Bethany Anna
(named after me!...Yes, I feel very honored!)
P.S. Now with the wonders of the internet, Becky and I have much more communication via emails. What a blessing to be able to receive notes and photos from her so much more frequently now!