Biography and Travels of Steven R. Morris
(Note: The purpose of this biography is to glorify God, and show how he can take a rotten sinner like me, and change him into a soul winning Christian. ALL glory to God!)
My dad was a lifer in the Army. He was in the Navy in WW II for 2 years, and then served in the signal Corps for 21 years, exiting at the height of the Vietnam war , in 1967. He was a real Okie, born in Hugo Oklahoma, near the Red River.
My mom was from Leavenworth Kansas. Her dad was a Captain in the Army, also. She gradated from High School in Japan. She was a great “International cook”, having learned from all the places she lived.
I was born in Fort Gordon Ga., April 30, 1956. My dad had orders to go overseas to Paris, France. They had to wait until I was 1 month old to be able to fly overseas, and I began my travelin career in a baby seat in a car traveling around the US, at 2 weeks old. There is a medical problem called “An RH factor” (Some kind of blood conflict between the mothers and fathers blood, I believe) that caused me to be very sick when I was born. I was told I was declared dead, but maybe I am not getting the story right. My dad got in the face of the Doctor and told him to do something. Good for me! I was a “projectile vomiter”. Interesting. This sickness made me do what it implies. What a loving patient mom I had. She kept me alive, nursed me, and now, at 250 pounds, I would say she did a good job in helping me gain weight and keep my food down. We lived in Elizabethville France, outside Paris France for about 3 years, I believe. My sister Brenda was born there. I heard stories about a pet goose we had. My dad cooked it for Christmas dinner, but no one would eat it, because they remembered it as a pet. I once was stopped at the edge of the second floor stairs, getting ready to take my sister for a walk, (down the stairs) in her baby carriage. (Early Disneyland ride, seems to me). I also once smashed our aquarium with a hammer, stabbed the fish with a fork, and took it to my mom, and asked her to “cook it”, just like the local French fisherman. Oh Oh. ?! My mom once left me in the care of my dad, and went shopping. When she came home, I was driving a large cube of butter across the top of the couch, in front of the hot fire place, while my dad took a nap. I do not know if she laughed, or tried to strangle my dad. I must not have had a toy truck?
Our next move was back to Falls Church, Virginia, where my dad worked at the Pentagon. I remember more of this experience. We lived on a half acre lot on top of a small hill. We had squirrels, acorn trees, and chipmunks. The squirrels would climb up the screen door to have their stomachs scratched. We used to swim in a local creek, and go for walks in the woods. There were water moccasin snakes in the creek?! I once started a leaf fire in the garage, and when it got out of control, tried to put the fire out with the can of “water” that also had paint brushes soaking in it. It went “whoosh” and flamed up to the ceiling. I did not know that it also had gasoline in it to clean the paint brushes. Boy, I got into a lot of trouble. I remember running to hide in the drainage ditch with the big cement pipe down at the bottom of our property. I think I got a good spanking, that day. We used to burn leaves in the Fall. In the winter, it snowed like crazy. When John Kennedy was elected, that night, the streets were so slick with ice, that a lady paid my dad $50 to drive her car up an icy hill. I remember putting salt out on our driveway to melt the ice. I saw all the national monuments. No, not McDonalds and Wal-Mart, they did not exist yet. The Washington Monument, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, etc. My sister Peggy was born in Virginia, and my mom was kept in the hospital with some medical problem after her birth. When she came home from the hospital, my dad had told her “the kids and I waxed the floor and painted the house”. Oh yeah? My mom looked at the floor and said, “What is that?” It was large lumps of wax, and the painting had entailed my sister and I taking oil paint tubes, and smearing the walls at waist level… We were only 3-5 years old. Needed better supervision, I suppose. The next trip for this travelin boy, was to Anaheim, California. We lived right in back of Disneyland, and got to watch the fireworks every night. This was around 1962-63? My dad was overseas, on some assignment. It was very hard on my mom. She worked some kind of a job, and when we came home from school, we stayed with a neighbor lady who gave us delicious pudding. My grandma Mary lived close by in Fullerton, Ca. From here, we moved to Fort Ord, Ca. 503 Hayes Circle. I remember the address still. 40 years later, I was preaching at a church close by, and went by this address. The Army base is now closed down, but the house was still there, and I now have a picture of my boys, standing next to me, and a picture taken in 1962, of me standing next to my dad, when I was about 5-6 years old. I had great fun trapping rabbits in cardboard boxes. Playing soldier in the woods behind the house (what else do you play, if you grow up in the Army?) A neighbor kid once broke into our house, and when he left, left a trail of banana peels all the way to his house, my mom tracked him down. I dug little forts and tunnels in the sand, and played in the desert shrubs and woods.
Where to next for the travelin man? Germany!
We took ship for 11 days from Brooklyn to Brmerhaven Germany. Across the Atlantic. I remember the life boat drills. I remember upon arrival, manning the rails and seeing people throwing fruit to the dock workers. We took a train to where we were supposed to stay, in Pirmasans, a small town near the French border. The Sergeant who was supposed to arrange housing had not done his job, and my dad had to find housing out in German town. We lived with Frau Sneider, and used to go for walks with her and her German Shepherd in the Black Forest. Afterwards, she purchased chocolate at a local shop. My first day at school, I waited in the snow at the bus stop, but missed the bus. When I finally got to school, we had fun at recess with snowball fights. Now-a-days, in 2007, it might be some terrorist hate crime? I grew up when America was free. After this, we lived in a farm community called “Hayfroshen”. I went for walks in the woods, stole carrots from farmers fields, and had a great time. We lived up-stairs from the “Gutrungs” They glued pieces of shoes together for the local shoe factory. Karlchen, a young boy my age, made gliders with his dad. From here we moved to Muchweiller.
Germany was a fun place for a little boy to live. When we finally moved into permanent housing in Muchweiler, we lived on the first floor. I remember at least two times, looking out the window on Christmas morning, and seeing snow coming down.
When I received my report card, my dad would give me a dollar for every “A” I received for a grade. I saved enough to go down to German town and I bought a bow and arrow. I used to read a lot about Indians, and I had to have one. However, this little adventure almost had a tragic end. I got down on the ground, and put my feet on the bow, so I could really shoot it far. I let the arrow fly, and it really went out of sight. But not out of sight of the parents looking out their apartment windows, at the arrow flying into the ground, near their playing kids. This was danger time, as I fled down through German town and around to my apartment. I did not realize that the angry parents found out where I lived. My dad spanked me with the arrows, (convenient) and took away my bow until we got back to the states.
I remember they played a lot of marbles there. One kid, had a million marbles. (Not a figure of speech). When he was transferred back to the states, he had a free-for-all and, threw them all out his third floor window, due to the fact that his mom would let him take them on the plane. Really.
I remember some high alerts the Army had while we lived in Germany. This was at the height of the cold war. My dad had to run around and get together all his equipment. France also decided they did not want U.S. troops stationed in their country, so they asked us to leave. All we left behind was the cement foundations to the buildings, we got a new high school gym floor at our school, as they even tore that up and shipped it out of the country. I had a lot of fun in Germany, my brother Robert was born there, and we finally moved back to the States in 1967. We did not have to take a ship for 11 days this time, but flew across the Atlantic in a trip that took 8 hours. There was a soldier that married a German lady, and my mom was so embarrassed at all the trash along the highway around that part of Brooklyn. We shared a taxi with another family. After about forty miles, the lady suddenly remembered she had forgotten some luggage, and we had to go all he way back to the airport to get it.
We traveled to my Grandmother Mary’s house in Fullerton, California. I stayed in a nice room they fixed up in the garage. We eventually found a house in Brea, California. It turned out to be infested with fleas! They ate us alive. My uncle Norman, who has his own pest control company, came over and sprayed the house to kill the bugs.
I remember my dad looking for work, where he finally was hired to work for Teledyne Company. I also remember him watching the famous “Ice Bowl” football game on Television between the Dallas Cowboys and Bart Starr’s Green Bay Packers where in the final play of the game, on an icy field, Jerry Kramer’s block made it possible for Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown.
It was the “Summer of Love, 1967, where all the teens running away to San Francisco where told “to have some flowers in their hair” by the popular song. It was the drug scence at Haight Ashbury. It was a time when we were told to “feel groovy”.
We moved into a house on 147 Street, Gardena California, in Los Angeles. Home to many second generation Japanese. My friend and neighbor was Tommy Kitsuta.
We seem to be living in a time of great fear now, with terrorism and bombs not far off. (2009) I almost wish we could go back to that time of “flower child” hippy days, when patched blue jeans were in, and music was the scene. Eric Burdon and the Animals. Cream, Bob Dylan, The Gtrateful Dead, and so many others provided music to the scenery of life.
We lived just a few miles away from where the Watts riots took place. I was still in Elementary school. I used to sit with a BB gun in Tommy Kitsutas back yard and shoot sparrows that ate the nectarines from his trees. We would then tie then to a string and let them hang on the phone line, dead, as a warning to the other birds to leave the fruit alone. I started delivering papers for the Herald Examiner, a daily paper. I eventually left that and worked at delivering two routes for the South Bay Daily Breeze newspaper.
I ended up going to Gardena High School, and I am still a “Mohican”. (Not a Panther) They later gave in to political correctness and changed the name. Shame. I ran track and cross country. In 1974, our team placed fourth in the state of California, a state with a lot of competition. I was the first tenth grader to run the Palos Verdes Marathon. It took me four hours. Very slow. But I finished. Many of my friends who were much better athletes than me started too fast, didn’t pace themselves, and burned out.
I talked ten others on the track team into running a 24 hour relay. You run 1 mile around the track, and then hand off the baton, with a ten man team for 24 hours. We ran 243 miles and 1385 yards. I remember running with Richard Valasquez, Larry Romero, Tim Braun, Joel Braun, Inho Myan, Mike Campbell, Victor Guillien, and some others I forget. We were crazy to do that.
Our football team was even better. They won the Los Angeles City Championship. We had a lot of great athletes. I got bad grades one semester, and had to work as the manager of the track team. I tried to pole vault, but did terrible. I remember my friend Willie Vaughn, who was in Mr. Schowalter’s home room class with me at Peary Jr. High. He set the school record for the pole vault. When we were at Peary Jr. High, I remember one day, looking over at Willie. He had this big afro. He had put his hair on the heater, and it was smoking. He set there and pretended nothing was going on, while everybody stared. I remember some rebels named Steven xxxx and Terry xxxxx. They started riots in the class, and I even remember Steven throwing a metal martial arts star, sticking it into the blackboard at the front of the class.
The Braun brothers, and Larry Ramirez were real characters at Gardena High. Whenever the Marx Brothers, or the Three Stooges were on TV, they stayed home to watch. Then, they acted out the routines all next week at school. Food fights, etc. They were wild and crazy. When I first saw Joel Braun at Peck Park in San Pedro, he looked like a Navajo Indian. We were working out there for cross country. Our coach, Mr. Daligney, kicked them off the team one year for their refusing to cut their long hair. He ended up having to let them come back on. We had a guy who ran high hurdles named Coppy. He had a big huge Afro, also. They used to joke that if he cut his hair, he could shave a tenth of a second off of his time in the high hurdles.
I ran the 1320 yard race, and later, the two and three miles.
We had metal shop with Mr. Hockenberry, a really neat teacher. Around this time, I was getting ready to graduate. I had gone to summer school every year, and graduated early, mid term. I went into the Marine Corps in March 1975. My recruiter talked me into becoming a “guaranteed grunt”, a basic rifleman, even though I qualified to do better things, like aviation electronics. I received a $2500 bonus for this.
From the Halls of Montezuma
The Shores of the Philippines
I had the recruiter over to my house, as we signed my enlistment contract. When my mom heard that I was going to be a “grunt” in the infantry, she cried out “You’ll be canon fodder!” She knew. She had grown up as an Army brat also. I took and passed the physical and got on the bus to San Diego, California, Marine Corps Recruit Depot. I guess everyone has an idea or has fears of what will happen to them in boot camp, especially the Marines.
As we pulled into the base, Drill Instructors, in their smokey bear hats jumped on the bus and started screaming for us to get off. Well, they could have been nice about it. “Get on the yellow footprints” they yelled, their faces contorted in partial rage, turning red. I guess you have to instill fear from the beginning. We stumbled off the bus and tried to do what they wanted. Very quickly we were stripped and dressed in skivies, and baggy green “utility” uniforms. We stood at attention and stared straight forward and waited our turn to be issued our uniforms, and get a shaved head. The worlds biggest gang. We packed up our civilian clothes.
We soon learned that even the way we talked was to be changed to conform to the Corps. If we wanted to ask a question, we had to say “Sir, the private requests permission to speak to Drill instructor so-and-so”. He would bark, “What do ya want prive?” We had to request permission to go to the bathroom, (the head), we were not allowed to move. If our eyes wandered, and we tried to peek at these god-like men, it was “What, are you hot for me, prive?” We could not say “you”, they would scream, “YOU”!! Are you calling me a female sheep? (as in “ewe”) I was used to my dad, who was x-military always yelling at me, so it did not bother me so much. They “broke” our bodies down by the many push-ups and bends and thrust exercises they made us do. Sometimes as punishment, other times, just for fun. I had ran three miles every day , did 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes, and went swimming also, before boot camp. I was in good shape, so it was not so hard on me. We had the history classes, the first-aid classes, the weapons classes, etc. We had lots of close order drill. This is to teach you to obey a command without question, so that later when perhaps, you were told to charge a pill-box with a satchel charge, you would not question the order. The second part of boot camp was the rifle range, where “every Marine” is trained to shoot a rifle. I scored “expert” with the M-16 rifle. We then forced marched across Camp Pendleton 17 miles for infantry training school. One day, out in the field, I got an infection in my knee. I used a pin to pop it, and ended up getting a worse infection. It eventually developed into blood poisoning, and I almost passed out in formation. I was sent to sick bay to heal for two weeks. This caused me to be dropped from my original platoon, and picked up by another platoon. When this happens, they usually treat you badly, thinking that you are a trouble maker. They had ways of dealing with trouble makers. They sent you to “The Mud”. You removed your belt, and used a shoe lace as a belt. Then you were forced to crawl in the mud, carry buckets of mud, lift logs in the mud, and when you finished a day of having fun, you had a changed attitude. Or, if you ran away at night, (Unauthorized Absence- UA), they sent you to jail. There, you made big rocks into little rocks with a sledge hammer. I remember marching by a guy that went UA one night. He was working at this pleasant chore with a sledge hammer, and the Drill instructor said “everyone say hello to Private Brown.” Poor guy.
Graduation day soon came. My mom and dad came up from Gardena to see the ceremony. Dad drove us home as I started my 10 day leave. My old friends were not to impressed.
My first duty assignment was to attend “Sea School” right there at MCRD San Diego. We were taught how to live aboard a ship. We learned the different terms, such as “bulkhead” for wall, “deck” for floor, etc. Sea duty is considered elite duty because of all the traveling you get to do. I worked hard and was meritoriously promoted to Lance Corporal, an E-3 rank. One incident I remember was the “ringing the time” with a ships bell stationed outside. We marched smartly to the bell, bent over, and rang it as hard as we could the correct number of times to denote the time. It seems the Commanding Officer of the base was paying special attention to our bell ringing. He called down and complained that we were not doing it properly, and not as loud as he desired. Gunny Preston came into the class and gave us special instruction. When my turn came, when I was on watch, I tried to ring the bell so hard that it would break. This pleased the General.
Because I was second in my class, I was allowed to choose which ship I wanted to go to for my 2 years of duty. I picked the USS Coral Sea CV-43. It was in dry dock in Long Beach California at the time, only an 18 minute drive from my house. (That was neat!) Some guy told me, “you just picked the worst berthing in the 7th Fleet.” The berthing area where we slept, was located over a hot boiler room. And… the ship was very old.
My dad drove me to the Long Beach naval ship yard, and I remember reporting for duty, carrying my sea bag over my shoulder. ( 32 years later, as I write this book, my sea bag is with me still, here in Brazil, as I am again, moving.) I received a $2500 bonus when I completed infantry training school. I purchased a 1972 orange and black Plymouth Barracuda. My sister gave me a set of floor mats to match. They had a little devil on them with a pitchfork, and a slogan. “Dirty, Mean, and Nasty.” How appropriate.
They first tried to put me on Brig duty. This was the ships jail. I remember, because we were in dry dock, there was a huge hole in the side of the ship. The marines in the Brig would put some sailor in charge, and sneak out the side of the ship, and go to town, sometimes to Tijuana, Mexico. I would later work there for 8 years as a missionary. My First Sergeant Lloyd Banta assigned me to be the “Captain’s Orderly”. Captain Smokin Joe Frick. His official “flunky”. I sat outside a desk on the O-2 level and greeted visitors. I drove him in his staff car. The first time I ever drove in San Francisco, I drove him to a press luncheon. Our main assignment aboard ship was ships security. When we traveled overseas, we carried “special weapons”, and we were responsible to guard those “special weapons” spaces. But that was not until after the ship was rehabbed. A carrier goes out to sea for 6 months, and then it takes 18 months to repair it to be ready for another cruise. It was a pretty boring routine of PT, fire-watch, and liberty call. On fire-watch, you carried a fire extinguisher around as you followed some welder, or yard worker. On liberty call, you got to leave the ship, and do whatever you wanted. I went home and slept in my own bed. Our berthing space was B322-L (Bravo 322 Lima). It was on the third deck below the hanger bay, where the jets were secured.
We finally left dry dock, and I had started hanging around with the wrong friends. We went on our first sea trials cruise, to learn general quarters drills, and to “shake-down” the ship. Because I was the Captains Orderly, I stood behind him on the bridge, where you looked down at the flight deck. We had A-6 and A-7 aircraft, and F-4 Phantom jets aboard. I remember a crew member was playing Frisbee with a friend in the hanger bay. He fell over the thick wire cable, only 3 feet high, out the open hanger-bay door that led to the elevator. Since the elevator was up, he fell down into the water. The launched a helo, and said “point to the man n the water” over a loud speaker. He was never seen again. This was off of San Diego. We also had two sailors steal the Captains Gig ( a little yacht he could sail in). They had a party, and did drugs. One of their friends fell overboard and drowned. They had “Captains Mast” on the bridge. A type of Court Martial. (The Captain of a ship at sea has a lot of power.) They were eventually tried for manslaughter on shore. When we pulled into North Island San Diego for out first liberty call, all the Marines went to a club, got drunk, and started a fight. Typical. While on land in the Long Beach Naval shipyard, we had been training every day for a “silent drill” team performance. It was the nations Bi-centennial, 1976. The ship was sailed to Alameda Naval ship yard, across the Bay from San Francisco. We were the “adopted” ship of San Francisco. Every night we had liberty call, and were not on duty, we all went to Frisco to the “Mouse” club on Mason and Sutter street.
When July 4th finally came, we had tied up at pier 32, across the bay, and had 250,000 visitors in 3 days. I was part of the drill team, and we performed for many foreign dignitaries and visitors that day. Frisco, Oakland, Berkley, what a place!
Our first Sergeant was rotated out, and we got a new one. He stood in front of our formation in the hanger bay. “There are a certain percent of you that will marry a Filipino national” he said. Some snickered, but what he said was true. (I love the Filipinos!)
Subic Bay Philippines
We began our “West Pac” deployment by steaming under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was my first long cruise, and we were in transit for 13 days. Our usual routine was PT in the hanger bay, or up on the flight deck, shower (if the water was not turned off), and field day (meticulously clean) our berthing area where we lived. Life out at sea on a carrier, unless you were involved in flight operations, could be boring. Flight operations involved launching and recovering aircraft. We flew F-4 Phantom aircraft, A-6, and A-7 planes, a big white helicopter, and a small E-3 radar plane. Flight operations was very dangerous. On our initial sea trials, we had 3 planes “go in the water” in 1 week. The pilots were supposed to eject before crashing, some made it, some did not. As the Captains orderly, I got to stand behind the Captain on the bridge. During flight operations, I would record which “wire” a plane “trapped”. (Which steel cable the landing tail hook caught when the plane touched down on the deck) If the plane missed all the wires, it had to be at full power in order to be able to continue its flight and become airborne again as it flew off of the angle deck. We often went out on the port side catwalk to observe the aircraft as the launched off this “angle deck”. We were not supposed to be there, but we did a lot of things we were not supposed to do. It was thrilling to have an F-4 Phantom go off the deck, and have the flames from its after burner roaring in front of your face.
The line to get your food tray, called a chow line, was very long on a carrier. Being the Captains orderly gave me the privilege to go to the front of the line. Some times I used this privilege, other times, not.
I have many memories of being out at sea. One time, as I looked out the hanger bay, the water was perfectly still, like a mirror. Another time, we had dolphins leaping and jumping beside us as we sailed through the water.
Our first day in port in Subic Bay was a shock. Marines that were not on duty went out into Olongapo City. They came running back to tell us of some beautiful girl they had met. To get into Olongapo, you had to cross a small wooden bridge. The river below was called “xxxxxx” river. ( I will not print the name.) Young boys with sailor hats on, with names printed on them in magic marker, like “Joey” “Nixon”, etc. would dive into this very polluted river to retrieve any coins you threw to them. The main street was lined with bars and clubs as far as you could see. In these clubs, Filipino bands tried to imitate the music that was popular in the states. Led Zeppelin, Kansas, etc. San Miguel beer was what everyone drank. If you want a formula for how to destroy the morals of a young man, this was it. Bar girls tried to get you into their club. One club called “The Bamboo Grove” was taken over by the Navy Seal detachment. If you wanted to enter this club, they would see if you were wearing any underwear, and if you were, they would publicly remove it. They liked to fight. On my second liberty call in the Philippines, on bought a lot of stereo gear at a place called the Far East trader. I had a black velvet suit jacket made, and was going to have roses embroidered on it, like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. We also did port calls at Pusan Korea, and Yokuska Japan. We had to take a hover craft to shore in Pusan Korea, It rained for three days, and we were stranded on shore. I took a helicopter ride back to the ship. In Japan, all I ate out on liberty was Won Ton noodles and corn dogs. I was afraid to order any other Japanese food. We had race riots during this time in the military. I remember the Executive officer coming to our table in a club. We had a lit flame of liquor burning on the table. A sailor drunk on hot Sake had to be chased down by the MA`s (Navy police) on the flight deck. When he was caught, he was taken to our brig (the ships jail). We had a Marine working in the brig we called “baby Joey”. (Because he looked so young) He meekly opened the jail cell door and ushered the prisoner into our floating Hilton. (No offence to Paris Hilton intended.)
We used to escort the prisoners through the passage-ways and have them clean our berthing area. They were required to hook a finger into the belt loop of the prisoner in front of them and chant, “gang way, prisoners, uh, uh!” They looked like the seven dwarfs going off to work! When we used to go on liberty call in Subic Bay Philippines, there was a sign hanging by the front gate. It read “There are 10 (or whatever the number was that day) Americans now being held by Filipino authorities for drug related offenses.” Didn’t matter to our Marines of Mar Det. On the last day before returning to the states, a couple of our Marines, McMahon and Speights were wearing raincoats. On a hot day? they were smuggling marijuana aboard ship. I hid a long Papa San pipe in the air-conditioning duct above my rack (my bed) Years later, when the ship was decommissioned, they probably found a lot of hidden contraband. My first commanding officer was Captain Wayne Clemer. Our First Sergeant was Lloyd Banta. He was a huge man who would lift weights one deck below our berthing area during lunch. We were once on the flight deck practicing drill with M-14 rifles. He was instructing us how to hold the weapon properly at shoulder arms. His arm was heavily muscled, and huge. I was thinking “boy, I’m glad he is on our side”. Suddenly he grabbed my shirt front and lifted me 2 feet into the air. He said, “Something funny their Morris?” I grunted, “No First Sergeant.” We had a cast of real characters in Marine Detachment. There was a handsome black Marine named Pratt, from Los Angeles. A trash talking stocky little Mexican named Bocanegra, who we called Bogie. He went UA, (Unauthorized Absence) many many times. The First Sergeant punished him by making him work in the chiefs Mess. (kitchen) He stole trays of food from there for us, and once stole curtains that were for around our racks (beds). But, we could not put them up, because everybody would know where they came from. There was “Quick Richard” Petty, who was also assigned as the Captains orderly. He married my sister a few years later. He used to write rebellious slogans on his Physical Training shirt in Hebrew. (This place sucks) and no-one new what it really said. There was Staff Sergeant Hector Luis Rosado Rodriguez (quite a name!) who spoke with such a Porto Rican accent, no-one could understand him. There was “Robert Dalton Speights”, descended from the old west Dalton gang. We once had an illegal marijuana smokin event called “The Robert Dalton Speights Bong Invitational” in the Philippines. We had T-shirts made with that name on it. There was a guy named Gregory Gates from Tennessee. He worked for me in the ships jail (brig) He once took a prisoner by the throat collar, squeezed until he was choking, and said “I’m ordering you not to breathe.” Nice. Cute. There was Sgt. Peter Levenhagen from Milwaukee Wisconsin. I went to jump school with him to learn how to parachute. There was a sailor we called “spooner”, who always seemed to be in a daze. One day I realized why. A heroin addict boils their “hit” on a spoon. Thus “spooner”. I can think of so many others. The Marine Detachment was where I went from being a nice straight guy, to being a dope smoking fiend. Bad friends corrupt you. After two years, I was sent to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Ca. I became a training NCO for Headquarters Company 7th Marines. I would run 8 miles at lunch time on the mountains on a route called “The Telega Loop”. It eventually became a yearly race. I think I came in 2nd place or third at the first competition. When I got out of the Marines, on my final PT test, I did 39 pull-ups. I would do a Karate workout with my XO Samuel P. Rubin. A black Lt. built like a panther. By this time, I was commuting from Torrance Ca., near where I grew up, to my barracks on the base. I met my soon to be wife Linda, who was still my girlfriend, and was living with her in an apt. with her sister. I grew dope in ammo boxes in the bedroom. What a guy. I met Linda while camping at Lake Isabella with my friend Peter. I only dated one time in High School. I was very shy. Linda was a beautiful small Hispanic lady that worked at a place called “Green Acres”. She made the interior of coffins.
A BIG CHANGE
I am sitting in my apartment in Barrio Estreito, In Grande Florianopolis, in Southern Brazil. It is bitterly cold and drizzly outside. Despite this lousy weather, I can hear the soccer fans at the Figuerense stadium , about a block away, chanting, blowing their horns, and trying to stay warm, I bet. Brazilian soccer fans are called “fanaticos” in Portuguese. They are! I was at the bus station soul winning this morning, in Centro. It seemed the best place to go, in inclement weather, to find people to talk to about the Lord Jesus Christ. I have served 8 years in Tijuana, Mexico, and 3 years now in Santa Catarina Brazil, as a Fundamental Baptist Missionary Evangelist. How did I get here after leaving the Marine Corps as a dope smoking rock and roller? As Paul Harvey used to say, “That’s the rest of the story”.
Just now, June 27, 2009, the Figuerense scored a soccer goal. The fireworks are going off, and it sounds like cannons are firing. You don’t need a television or radio to know the score. You just listen for the reaction.
Back in March 1979, after I left the Marines, I was still living with Linda and found a job working as a security guard for Honeywell corporation on Artesia Blvd. , in Gardena, Ca. I began to read books on Bible prophecy written by Hal Lindsey. “The Late Great Planet Earth” was the first one. “The Terminal Generation“. “There is a New World Coming”. While reading “The Liberation of Planet Earth”, I was full convinced of my lost sinful life. I believed that Jesus paid for my sins on the cross by His blood atonement, death, burial and resurrection. The author asked the question, “Would you like to bow your head right where you are, and pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save you”? Right there, while living in apartment #57, 3335 Artesia Blvd. Torrance, California, August 1979, I said a simple prayer and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart and save me. The change was immediate. I was born again. Made a new creature, a new person on the inside. Can I ask you dear reader, have you been born again the Bible Way? Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life, right now, today, right where you are? Just bow your head, and with all your heart pray “Jesus, I know I am a sinner, I don’t want to go to Hell, I believe you paid for my sins already on the cross. Forgive me, and save me today. Take me to Heaven when I die, in Jesus name, Amen”. I hope you prayed that prayer with all your heart. If you did, welcome to the family of God!
I immediately started going to the Bible Baptist Church on Compton Blvd. (now Marine Ave.) I went to the front of the church at the end of the service and told the Pastor I needed to be baptized in deep water. An old disciple named Brother McKeena prepared to baptize me as I stood in the water. He suddenly turned to me and asked “Have you received Jesus Christ as your savior? I said “what”. I did not hear him. He repeated the question, and I responded “Yes I have.” Down into the water I went, signifying my faith in Jesus death, and up I came, dripping wet, signifying my faith in His resurrection, and the start of a new life. The church was having a program of “Read through the Bible in 40 days.” I think I had to read 39 chapters a day. I did it. It was a very good thing for a new convert. I began to write small tracts about doctrine. Pastor Beck gave me a book on Theology. I told everyone I could about my new faith. Evangelist Joe Boyd held a revival one week. I bought a small book after the services. Soul winning, how to do it. (Very deep!) I began to go door to door through my neighborhood. As I am writing this book 30 years later, Joe Boyd died last month, in May, 2009. What a great man of God, now waiting for me in Heaven. Thanks for being faithful, preacher. I have been knocking doors, evangelizing wherever I live, since then. When I was saved, I was working for Cannabisco and L.A. Pipe, wholesale paraphernalia distributors. That’s right, I took phone orders, typed invoices, packed and shipped bongs, rolling papers, cocaine cut powder, High Times magazines, Gurana root extract, Psychedelic magic mushroom growing kits, and anything else they could get the drug culture to buy from them. Remember, the title of this article was “A Big Change”. I was a Bob Dylan fanatic, and he got saved right when I did. Remember his album, Slow Train Coming? His life changed. He stopped living for the Lord since then, but I pray for him every day, maybe he has gone back, I don’t know. But when you right lyrics like “He saved me to the bone, if you got somethin better, you got a heart of stone”, I tend to think he got saved too. I always wanted to give him something. The only thing I could think of that he does not have, is a comb, right? And the letter “G” from the English language. It’s “Going”, not “gonna”, Bob. (Ha!) I do not know why, but I realized I had to leave this kind of work. Oh, the stories I could tell you about those people! Once, a girl named Linda worked for us. My wife baby-sitted for her. Her husband was a professional pot grower and had huge Sensimilla marijuana bushes growing in the back yard, there in Gardena, and drying in the garage. That’s just the start of one story, get the picture? I tried to work for the phone company. Before you can be a line-man, you have to work as an operator for 6 months. I went to “operators school” for Los Angeles. This was before computers. I had 14 phone books in front of me. I could only make 2 mistakes when they gave me the number to search for. And… I was withdrawing from drugs. What a headache!
I decided to move back to Oklahoma, where my dad had purchased a house with 10 acres, in Blanchard, 20 minutes outside of Oklahoma City. Now, I was no Okie. You could tell, when I was hoeing the garden next to the pig pen. Dad got upset because I had hooked up my big Kenwood speakers and had them sitting on a post, after stringing speaker wires from the house. I thought the pregnant mother pig would appreciate my rock music?! (The Lord had not taken that out of my life yet) We only stayed there 40 days, Linda did not like it. We moved back to her moms house in Gardena. I did not know it, but the week we moved back, her mom and new husband were moving also, to San Bernardino. I woke up one night to the all kinds of racket. They were packing the U-haul truck. They did not tell us anything. I helped upload in San Bernardino, while they slept. We lived on Peacock ave., in Highland. I prayed for a job learning a trade. That week, my old friend Peter called me and asked me if I wanted to learn to lay ceramic tile. We would be tiling pre-fab walls for Mazda corporation. I worked very hard, and weighed 173 pounds. I was in good shape. My boss was a union man, he got $21 an hour. I was not, I got $6.50 an hour. We were able to move into an apt. in North Highland, not far from Highland Baptist Temple. We attended there and I worked on the bus routes. The buses were hideous lime green, but Pastor Coulter loved people, and they were always getting saved. I got laid off from the tile setting job, and ended up working as a custodian at the San Bernardino County Medical Center. I worked in Obstetrics, burn ward, ICU, surgery, the GSA building, the Crime Lab, and also, in autopsy. A real dead job. No-one else would work with those dead folks. It spooked them. There was a freezer with 56 dear bodies in it. I had a great line when I went out soul winning. “Hey, I saw someone just like you in the autopsy room today.” Maybe it got their attention? Of course, I knocked all the doors in my neighborhood and invited them to church. Every Christian should do that for his neighbors. You mean they are all going to Hell, and you know how to escape that, and you do not tell them? Terrible.
After three years, I found a great church in lake Elsinore California. They met in a big tent. They had about 500 people. And they were crazy! I loved it. They had many bus routes, a huge children’s ministry, a lot of soul winning, and great teen group. We once had a valentines special where we turned the tent into a river boat. Pastor Goddard dressed up like Mark Twain. We served a delicious meal for the ladies, while we put on skits. I did a comedy routine. I remember Dave Kirk wrestled a plastic alligator. We had a free teen car wash where you pledged a certain amount of money for each car washed. A penny a car 5 cents, a dollar, whatever. We used the Target parking lot in Temecula, and the first year I was in it, we washed over 800 cars in 6 hours. It was an all church effort, It was such a great testimony to the community, and so much fun, Everyone did something. We did so many things like that.
God was working in my heart about working with the Spanish. While I lived in Norman Oklahoma (home of the number 1 Oklahoma Sooners football team!) I had gone to the University library and studied many of the Indian tribes in Mexico. There are 114 different languages and tribal groups there. I tried to work with the Spanish while in Lake Elsinore, but really wanted better training. I asked Evangelist Elmer Fernandez who to work with. He was spoke Cuban Spanish- very fast. He told me about Ezekiel Salazar, in Los Angeles. So I moved to Montecito Park. What a great work! My family was the English department in a Spanish church, for awhile. I was not very stable, but I and my kids needed an English church until I learned Spanish. We began to attend Hillside Baptist around the corner. Pastor Ray Ramirez was an ex-boxer and a very hard worker that loved souls. I was living on the side of a hill in Los Angeles during the Northridge earthquake, I think it was in 1993 or 94. We just suffered a few broken pictures. I had been very impressed with Lighthouse Baptist Church in San Diego. Also, since I had lived in Norman Oklahoma from 1982-1986, I had had a desire to work with the Mexican people. It seemed God had always moved me closer to them and closer. I wanted to attend Lighthouse’s Bible Institute. Pastor Fisher always had good spirit filled practical messages. So, I moved to City Heights San Diego in 1994, or early 1995. Since I was so close to the border of Mexico, I began soul winning every Saturday across the border in Tijuana. I used the tract “Comer Ser Salvo” (How to be saved) door to door. It is a very good soul winning tool Roland Garlick made for La Espada ministries. My wife Linda and I and my son Nathan would cross the border and be at the first house by 9 AM, usually. I ended up crossing the international border (La Linea) at least 20000 times. I figured out one time that I have spent at least 66 twenty-four hour days waiting in that line to get back across to the states. I began attending bible institute, and worked at a company as a night custodian in the Mira Mesa area. I have been a reader all my life. I remember reading when library books when I was in the 4th grade in Germany. A reading man is a ready man. It is like continually going to school. I always had a habit of whatever church I was in, of reading the books in the Pastors library. I learned a lot in the Bible institute under Jeff Wade, but had a very strong desire to do something in Tijuana. I began top pray “Lord, if you want me to move to Tijuana, give me a job where I can work at night and do church work during the day.” He did. I was the first person hired in 5 years as a custodian for Mesa College. I worked 10pm until 6 Am. I began cruising through Tijuana and praying for a place to start a work, and if it was the Lord’s will to live there. The Lord showed me a house in Colonia Rubi, #13 Calle Santiago Alvarez. We moved there Dec. 1996. Looking back now, it was very hard on the kids. I had to take David and Nathan of the Lighthouse Christian Academy, where David was an excellent student. It was very hard on all of us, but especially my wife Linda. Thanks boys. Thanks Linda. I did not know it at the time, but the Lord was using this as a training ground for David’s future profession, an Airborne Spanish Linguist for the Air Force on a Rivet Joint spy plane. Nathan learned to play soccer with the local kids. We started a small church/mission in our house. Looking back, I can’t believe that I used to study Spanish, go soul winning, prepare sermons, teach my kids, and commute across the border and work a grave yard shift. I joke that I had no blood in my body, it was all coffee to stay awake! Crazy. Don’t let me do that again. Missionary Bob Walker used to send some of his students over to help on Wednesdays.
I did not know anything about raising support or deputation. I just went and did it. We struggled and prayed to pay all the bills. I did get a little support, but we decided to move back to the states and go on deputation in 1996. While in Tijuana, we sometimes had up to 40 in one service, and sometimes only one family. Pastor Clint Miller helped us so much with gas money and food, and helped us get our apartment in Escondido, where we moved. I thought, well, we did not go to a church to ask for support, and tell them what we want to do, we already have been doing it. But the Pastors and people do not think this way. If you do not prove yourself the way they expect, they do not know how to judge you. Just because you do things different, does not mean you are wrong. You just found a different way to do it.
My wife worked in the churches thrift shop, and I began making phone calls to schedule meetings. I sometimes would call 300 or more churches in a week and only get two meetings. Deputation is very hard on missionaries, so pray for those on deputation. They need it. My dad was still alive, and I used to drive straight through in 23 1/2 hours, and only stop for gas 5 times, to get to Blanchard, Ok. It would take 2 days to get my eyes back to normal! Then I would rest visit my family, and go to meetings in other states. My dad was a real Okie. I once opened the hood of his station wagon, and there was a birds nest, with eggs in it, on the motor! He raised Duroc hogs, and my brother Robert got to grow up in the country. Once I had to get another car, and I bought a yellow Ford LTD from the church thrift shop, where someone had just donated it. The day I started a deputation circuit, the red alternator light was on when I started the trip, so I drove it without turning the motor off the whole time. I was afraid I had a dead battery and couldn’t restart it. David went with me on that trip, and I remember getting snowed in in Moriarty New Mexico, where we all waited for the snow to stop, and the road to clear. The Ford LTD had those front panels that moved down and covered the lights when they were not in use. I remember they got frozen open. What fun. If I did that trip now at present gas prices, it would cost a fortune. I think the price of gas was $1.75 a gallon, maybe lower. Can you say INFLATION? The price went down as you traveled East. Barstow, Mojave, Needles, Kingman, Flagstaff, Gallup, Amarillo, Shamrock Texas, almost there— Oklahoma, and 5 1/2 more hours, pulling into the yard. I preached in Lawrence Kansas, Carlsbad New Mexico, Las Vegas and Reno Nevada, Salt Lake City, Stockton Missouri, Lyles Tennessee, Gainesville Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Bloomington, way down South past Victoria Texas. I preached in Hudson Falls New York (I flew there), and many other places in California, such as Riverside, Lompoc, Long Beach, Santa Cruz, Chula Vista, Mira Mesa, Fallbrook. My biggest trip was from coast to coast in a Ford Club wagon van I had converted into a mini camper. From California, I traveled through 9 states and preached in 5 days. I ended up in Columbus Ga. and went down into Florida to Sopchoppy and Tallahassee. In Sopchoppy, a missionary told a story about a local girl who had married a guy five miles from her house. In an almost undecipherable accent, her dad asked her “What did you marry a foreigner for?” But I failed to tell you what happened on my first mission conference of the trip, in Paducah Kentucky. I was walking down from the second floor to go soul winning on a set of stairs on the outside of the building on the church property. A weld broke, the stair fell, and I smashed my ankle. I limped over and told the Pastor. He wanted to take me to the Doctor I just taped a bag of frozen peas around my ankle, and thought it was just a bruise and a sprain. The next day, with my foot in a bucket of ice, I was making phone calls. I think it was broken, and I did not know it. I was in pain and gobbled Ibuprofen the whole rest of the trip. Remember way back when I got saved at the Bible Baptist Church in Gardena. Pastor Rick Beck had loaned me a Thiessens Theology book, and then ended up resigning and leaving the next week. I had kept that book for 25 years. He was Pastoring Highland Baptist in Paducah, so I returned his book. I did not know that my friend who works with me now in Brazil, Gordon Wilkey, was then living in Paducah at that time, also. In Lyles Tn. I got the stomach flu. The cleaning staff could hear me crawl to the toilet and get sick. I remembered that my van had a unique feature. If you did not disconnect the negative battery cable, around the second day while parked, the battery would go dead. So I hobbled down to my van. As I closed the hood, I noticed a little bird lodged in the grill, killed while smashing into my van on the road. The Lord immediately reminded me “His eye is on the sparrow.” God knew what was happening to me, Amen. When I finally pulled into Georgia, only my second visit to my home state since being born there in 1956, I was in bad shape. I preached in the morning, gave a message in the men’s fellowship meeting in the afternoon, and then lost my voice. As I lay on my bed, I counted how many things were wrong with me. I had the stomach flu, diarrhea, a broken ankle, and lost my voice. I needed rest. On the way home, I got to preach for one of my first Pastors. Ron Patterson at Harvest Baptist in San Angelo, Tx. His wife Sandy had had both kidneys fail, and then a stroke, but she still somehow had a smile. She had to do dialysis every night. The church pianist eventually gave her a kidney to transplant. I remember that this was my last meeting on my 7000 mile trip, by myself. I was driving away from San Angelo, in the early AM. I stopped on the road in the middle of nowhere to use the restroom. I looked up at “The stars at night that are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” Cold, lonely, but awed, far from home. It was more than a 1,500 mile drive to California. The drive from Fort Stockton Texas, to El Paso is very boring, tiring and grueling. In fact all the way home on the 10 Freeway is nothing but cactus and tumbleweeds, interspersed with small towns. I once went to a Mission Conference in Bisbee Texas. On that trip I had an old camper Brother Lee Webb gave me on the back of my GMC truck. As I drove along at 60 mph, a highway patrol vehicle pulled up behind me, traveled completely around me and was checking out my tie-down straps. I had 4 Wal-Mart tie down straps holding the whole camper in place. It moved a little bit in the wind. Oh oh, prayer time! He did not stop me, and I got home to Escondido, alright. I made another trip with Linda and Nathan to Salt Lake City , Utah. We went into town to see “Temple Square”, the capital building for the Mormon church. It had a golden angel Moronai blowing a trumpet at the peak of the building. It looked like “Disneyland with Paint”. Those of us who know the Lord consider the Mormon church to be one of the devils best cults. Jesus said “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against my church.” Joseph Smith said an angel appeared to him and told him all the churches were corrupted and a new church was starting. One of them is a liar. It is not the Son of God, for sure. Galatians 1:8- “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” They preach another gospel. They may have nice white shirts and name tags and ties, and act real nice , but I believe they are some of the wolves Jesus warned us about. Matthew 7:15- “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” I love them , and try to win them to the Lord, but I also must mark them as false prophets.
After the Mission Conference in Carlsbad New Mexico, I went on a Saturday back into another part of Tijuana, Mexico below the Otay Mesa part of California. While driving back from New Mexico, I had listened to a sermon called “The best place for a scriptural New Testament Church, In the midst of a poor and afflicted people.” That Saturday as I drove up from a small valley , I saw to the right of me a hill top lined with 5 story apartment buildings. I stopped and began soul winning through these poor and afflicted people , door by door, apartment by apartment. There are 105 apartment buildings in Colonia El Lago. I knocked every door during our time ministering to these people several times. For maybe a year we won souls and held small bible studies in homes. We did not have the money to rent a place to meet. When we got our income tax check back, we used a portion of the money to rent our first building in this area of Tijuana, and started the “Fundamental Baptist Church.” “El Lago” means “The Lake”. I used to joke “Where is the lake?” There wasn’t any.
I was praying for a way to work full time in Tijuana. We only had a little support, and Linda worked at a nursing home to help pay the rest of the bills. We commuted to Tijuana from Escondido to go soul winning on Tuesday, for Wednesday services, and came down on Fridays to stay the weekend, to prepare for the services Sunday and go soul winning. I want to thank Linda for all her sacrifice and hard work. We always used any extra money for the ministry. But we had a wonderful time serving the Lord. We had a small mission going, and I still had been praying for the Lord to work a way for me to work full time and live in Tijuana. While at a church in Chula Vista, a missionary named George Navarao came up to me and said “I have a house you can live in for free in Tijuana.” Free?! That is my favorite word. I did not pay to much attention to the part where he told me the neighborhood was a rough place, and why. I found out later. It was only 5 miles from the house we used for services in Colonia El Lago. He had been a construction foreman and the house was not finished. It was 3 stories high. The front room was huge, and I began to figure how I could board up the huge picture windows so we could use it for meeting. There was no fence or wall around the property, which would be my first project. The previous occupant, a Mexican Baptist Pastor had lived there for many years and owed a huge water bill, and had never made any improvements. He probably did not have the money. They also owed about $2000. on the water bill. I prayed if the Lord was in this He would show me by doing something about the bill. They made it $0.00! Amen. We moved our things to the new property. There was a room in the back of the first floor. I had a locking mechanism welded onto a steel door for security and stored my things and George’s in-side this room. The first night I stayed there was very spooky. The dogs barked. There was very little light. I saw a cat the size of a small cougar enter the house. I had buried my wallet and valuables in the back yard in case I was robbed. Great man of faith! It was a different world to me. We began holding services at the new place. My wife tried to clean the bedrooms. At night, a horde, and I mean a horde of cockroaches would come out of the outlets and holes in the walls. Yech. I put some insect bombs in there and we used the wet-vac to vacuum them up. Yes, there were that many. The car I was driving was a Lincoln Town car. An older model. I used to pick up the poor little kids on a bus route in it. Yes! I bet they loved it. I did not get the transmission fixed in time, and one night after services on Wednesday, while driving down the 805 freeway in the states on the way home, it broke down. We had to coast off the highway, and ask a man permission to use his phone. We called my son Daniel, and he came and picked us up. I had to sell the car to ecology auto wrecking for $120. The beautifully cushioned electric seats were worth more than that! Now, I lived still in Escondido, California, and my church was 60 miles away, in Tijuana, and I had no car. Sounds like as prayer project to me. I began praying for a car. After a few weeks, a friend gave us enough money to rent a car and drive down to the building in Tijuana. The front doors were open, every thing was scattered around, and what could be stolen was gone. They had broken into the steel doors also. They took my electric hand saw, table saw, wet-vacuum , computer, tools…. everything. George had a large wood lathe on the third floor, and they even stole that. It took 3-4 men to carry it. We had been trying to move down to TJ, but not been able to. We needed a new place to meet, now. God opened up a building in Colonia El Lago after several weeks. Oh, the car problem. After 3 months of prayer, God had bought a tremendous man of God into our lives. Brother Rikki Patterson. He purchased me a 3/4 ton GMC truck, which we use to commute, and to run a bus route, after having installed side boards on it. Even now, as I write this 6-7 years later, God used him again, while I labor in Brazil, to answer prayer and help pay for my motorcycle registration this month. We both know, only in Heaven when we see all the souls that have been saved, will we know how much our work will be rewarded and how much his generosity has helped pull souls out of hell.
The new building we rented was a house within walking distance of the people who attended our church. When I went to pay the rent for the second month, the landlord told me he could no longer rent to us. He said that the children that attended our church were a possible lawsuit liability. What I think happened is that the local Catholic priest, or local Catholic people told him “We do not want those Baptist here.” So, I had 1 week to locate anew building. I began fervently praying and driving around looking for a place to rent. On the last day, a Friday. I found a house for $400 a month, with three bedrooms, right over the hill from where our “gift house ” had been. It was located in Colonia Buenos Aries Sur. We moved in and began services that Sunday. We used 1 room for Sunday School, which my wife taught, and the front room, which was very large, and kitchen for the main service. In April 2004, we had 24 adults for Sunday School, and a group of kids for a children’s class. We had a baptism service and I think baptized three. One of the ladies who was baptized was crippled on her hip and would hobble to church on crutches with her husband. My Pastor, John Wilkerson was able to visit her small “hut” on the hillside when he came for a visit one time. He is a very busy man, and I appreciated him coming down from Long Beach. On the wall, by my filing cabinet in one of our first church buildings, I kept a photo of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I just liked it. While in this last building, in Tijuana, I posted photos of Sao Paulo, Brazil and asked the people to pray for workers in Brazil. I did not know that soon the Lord would call me and Linda to Brazil.
I began to notice things from Brazil. What I mean is this. I would go to the store and see coffee, from Brazil. I would read news on the internet, and notice articles about Brazil. On the wall of my church in Bueos Aires de Sur, in Tijuana, I had posted photos of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I would say to the people before I preached. Pray for workers in Brazil. I began to read stories about the giant Favela (a slum area) in Rio de Janeiro called “Rochina”. When I was a teenager, I used to love to read books about the favelas in Brazil. I began praying, “Lord, are you calling me to Brazil”? I was praying this and fasting one day. As I knocked on doors in Tijuana, Mexico, a man came to the door. As I talked to him, he said (in Spanish) “Are you talking to me in Portuguese?” This is the language of Brazil. I went to Bible Baptist Church of Mira Mesa and an evangelist that night preached how God called him into evangelism. He said he had a great soul winning church, right at the back door of a military base. Many soldiers were getting saved every week. But, he felt God was calling him into evangelism. He prayed “Lord, who is going to take care of this church? Look at all the people getting saved.” He said, the Lord replied “Who is going to take care of them when you are dead?” Huummm, I had 4-5 experiences like this happen and became convinced that God was calling me to Brazil. I had been looking for a permanent place to meet of our own. But I stopped. Just over the next hill , Tony Pizano had started a church. There was a new preacher that had taken over the church, Bladimier. I began to take the people to this church, and I gave him the van, and many items of furniture and other things I had. A very faithful sister in the church, sister Elizabeth wanted to have an apartment of her own for her and her son. My wife took gave her all of her paycheck, and I gave her a lot of furniture and we were able to move her into her own apartment, away from the lost members of her family. Linda is so generous.
After transferring all the members I could to this church, and closing things down, I began trying to schedule meetings to go on deputation and raise support. I ended up visiting 43 churches, and getting some support to enable me to go to Brazil with my family. I did not have the support level recommended by a mission board. But I was not depending on the mission board. I was depending on the Lord. Amen! His bank is always full.
Independent Baptists go to church to church and usually present some kind of slide show to the Church, presenting their Mission field. You call Pastors all over the US, try to schedule and coordinate meetings. It can be a very hard and long process. I scheduled and went to meetings n New York, Texas, California, Missouri, Oklahoma, wherever I could get an open door.
After raising some support, on April 4, 2006, I flew to Brazil. I had been to Sao Paulo on a “survey trip”. In order to get a Religious visa (which I applied for in Los Angeles) you have to be invited into the country by a National Brazilian church. I obtained all the paperwork and was invited by the bible Baptist Church in Florinopolis, in the state of Santa Catarina. The Pastor is Moises Demazio. I had fasted for many days, and the Lord did answer many prayers. He provided someone to stay with named Fernando, who was an English teacher, otherwise I would still be standing in the income tax office yelling “does anyone her speak English?”
My first flight to Florianopolis, Brazil.
I first had to pack for the trip, of course. Over the years I learned what to take and what not to take. I love peanut butter, and live on it in Brazil, with bananas, when I can get it. It costs more and is very grainy. I also take many bags of “trail mix’, nuts, raisins and M & M’s , I get at the dollar store. Batteries also. I carefully pack all my valuable items I don’t want lost or “stolen” in y carry on and computer bag. Like cameras, i Pods etc. I have a small zippered pouch I pull out and throw into my plane seat before I stow my bag overhead. It contains, Ibuprofen, sleeping mask, extra batteries, noise cancellation headphones, whatever I might need on the flight. In the early days, there was no TSA, but now I wear a shoestring for a belt , so I don’t have to take a heavy buckled belt I wear off and on again. In all I will go through about 3 security checks until I reach my destination in Brazil. (Yes, by the time I arrive, I am exhausted) Once I am through security in San Diego, I am committed to going, and am sad to be leaving my family. I always carry Gospel tracts, and I start looking for potential people to give one to, and maybe witness to. I once sat on a flight against the bathroom wall (worst seat on the plane) on the way back from Florianopolis. My neighbor setting next to me was terrified of trying to talk with me, she was Chinese and spoke no English. AWW I had no one to talk to for 9 hours.
I do not sleep to well on a flight, and when I get to Sao Paulo , I am tired already . However, then I must disembark the plane and go through customs and immigration. Then I must get my bags and catch my connecting flight. Often , my travel agent has given me only 1 1/2 hours to do all this. I must pray and trust God to work out all the connections and details. On one of my last trips back from Manaus, (in the Amazon) I had to run through this huge airport in Sao Paulo, that was completely different do to remodeling, and also change my money from Brazilian to US, to make my connecting flight to the US. First, the plane parked out on the tarmac, we had to climb down a portable staircase and take a bus to the m main building. This makes me late already. I was sweating like crazy, had to get through immigration and security lines (and I also got lost do to all the changes) . I arrived at my gate drenched in sweat, huffing and puffing. They were still waiting to board, a little late. Amen! I have learned to ask for as many hours between flight as I can get.
The people that you meet
I love traveling and meeting all the different people from so many different countries, and witnessing to them or giving them a tract. I have met magicians, International Bankers, and a lot of common people. In Florianopolis Brazil, where I lived for 6 years, I would pray for God’s guidance and go to the bus station, in Centro. Florianopolis is the capital of the state of Santa Catarina. The capital is located on an island that has 32 beaches. I first moved to the island after return9ng from a 6 week visit home. I arrived at the Floripa airport and there was no one to meet or help me. The Pastor I was working with was away on furlough in the US. So I walked around the airport one time, looking and praying for some one to come forward. Nothing. So, I rented a vw van taxi and we started looking for a cheap Hotel. I ended up at the “3 Brothers Hotel” in Barra da Lagoa, on the far side of the island. I rented a room. The next day, I began going house to house, witnessing to people, or if no one was home, leaving a Gospel tract in their mailbox, called a “caxinha”. This is not legal in the US, but is OK to do in Brazil.
I came upon a “pousada” house for rent. This is a 1, or 2 bedroom hliuse that is furnished. I rented it for R500, a month . (500 Brazilian dollars a month). At that time, the Brazian “Real” as their dollar is called was 1.70 for $1. US dollar. Today (10-28-16) it is 3.19 for $1. Very good for a US citizen, bad for Brazil.
The apt. I rented was only 2 blocks from the canal (barra) that ran from the sea through the town to and open Lagoon/lake called Lagoa Concepcepcao. It was very beautiful. The tourist season had ended the weekend I arrived. I began systematically “Evangelizing” every street and every house on the island. I went to Church at Bible Baptist n the mainland on the bus. I had purchased a mountain bike to use as transportation when I lived in Palhoca. I now began to pray for money to buy a moto. God ended up answering that prayer from a generous Pastor in Grafton Ill., also an x-Marine. I received enough money to buy a 100CC Honda “Biz”. In the US, it is called a Mo-ped. I ended up going door to door, street by street to almost the entire island, as best I could. Rio Vermelho, Ingleses, Santino, Lagoa Concepcepcao, Prinha, Saco de Limaoes, and all the rest. I did this 5 days a week, every day. I used the church address fromGrande Floriaopolis to invite people to.
After a few years, Pastor Moises invited me to live closer to the church on the mainland. He said the church would support me for R150, a month ($50. -75. then.) I fasted for 5 days about it. On the fifth day, I sat down on a curb in Estreito, near the soccer stadium (Figuerense stadium) on the main land. I turned around, and their was a “for rent sign”. I asked the owner the price. For a kitinette, (1 bedroom) it was R500. he asked me is I smoked. I said no, and gave him a John and Romans portion of the Bible. I wanted him to know “what” he was renting to, a “preacher”. I ended up moving to to this small apt. and used a gift of money I received form a church to furnish it. I bought a used refrigerator, a table, 4 chairs, a “guarda ropa” (closet) and Pastor Moises asked another friend to give me a used single bed.
I continued every day, 5 days a week, to evangelize and go street by street , house to house, taking the gospel to every creature. That is a basic thing I believe every church should set as a goal in your church. To reach every door in your city.
If there was someone at that house I could talk to, I witnessed to them as much as I could. If no one was home, I left a Gospel tract in the mailbox. You are allowed to do this in Brazil. The Lord had answered prayer, and I was able to buy a small motorcycle called a “Honda Biz”. (In America it is called a Moped). I went to a new street each day. I can’t believe some of the steep hills I used to walk up on the Island of Florinapolis (Floripa). I can not walk up and down hills any more. Or if I do, much slower. In this manner I reached all the cities of Grande Florianopolis, and surrounding communities. It took 6 years. I used tracts from Bible Baptist of Florianopolis, with their address.
I had made 2-3 trips to the city of Curitiba to rent a room at a Hotel, and evangelize for 2-3 days at a time. It is a very modern city, and very large. I moved there and rented a small 1 room place. Pastor Moises Demazio and his church arranged for a flat bed truck to move me there. It rained moving day, and when I arrived at the apt., the inside was still dripping from being washed down with a hose. What do you say when you can not do anything about it? “Oh well”. It was very cold. Once , it was so cold, it took three days of cooking beans on the stove, and they still were not cooked all the way! Freezing.
My wife is afraid to fly so I made every trip alone. I returned home every 3-4 months. I called her and prayed with her every day. After 5 months, I gave away all my furniture and started traveling to different major cities in Brazil, as the Lord lead me. If you read the Bible in Acts chapter 8 , we read what Philip did. He Evangelized city to city every day, he was married with 3 daughters, but traveled alone also.
God has been so good to me. He has kept me safe in many dangerous places. When I was in Rio de Janeiro for the third time, I heard a story about a Jiu Jitsu expert, who was being robbed, for the third time. He decided to fight back. He was shot in the head! If an expert had that problem, it is good advice to go along with the robber, wouldn’t you say? God has given me a desire to keep soul winning, every day. One of my major ministries is my prayer ministry. If I did not fervently spend time in prayer every day, for the Power of the Holy Spirit , for His love and compassion, for His boldness, for His wisdom, I could not do this. Amen
My next trip was to the jungle city of Manaus, in the Amazon, I believe in 2013.
I prayed a lot about it. and looked for a place to stay on the internet. I found a place near the airport. They promised to meet me at the airport in a friend’s car and take me to the house, where I rented one of the rooms. Before I got there, I did not know the room was inside the house.
On arrival, the customs agent waived me through. You could smell the river while waiting in line. It feeds into the Amazon and is called the Rio Negro. I walked around the airport, (this was about 10 PM) and could not find the person who was supposed to pick me up. I had the address, so I got into a taxi and headed to the room. On the way there, the taxi driver got ahold of the person renting me the room via the phine number I had and found out they were waiting for me back at the airport. it was very dark. We went back and I found them. After getting moved in, I woke up for my prayer time the next day, and then showered and dressed to go out and begin evangelizing the city of Manaus. It is a city of 2 million people in the middle of the jungle. I went door to door, and also would travel by bus downtown to ‘Centro” where thousands of people walked around shopping. I usually gave out 400 gospel tracts a day, and witnessed to all I could.
It was very HOT, and humid. I think I ended up passing out 15,000 tracts. I am not sure, I did write it down. I did not have much money, and several times i had to eat for 1 Brazilian Real, about 50 cents, “Almoca Communidade”, a social program poor people went to eat fr lunch. It had basic cole slaw, some meat with fat on it, and mashed potatoes and rice. It was food. I had moved to a small one room “kitnette’ where the only furniture I had was a child’s bed (borrowed from the neighbors), a plastic chair and a fan. Nothing else. It was so hot. I washed my clothes in the sink and hung them out to dry every day. I had to take my iPod outside to search for an open internet connection so I could call my wife. I would call her and pray for her. Manaus has many poor and humble people. They were very open to the Gospel. Some of the streets I* evangelized on were very steep. I can not walk up hills now. My knee is bad with arthritis, and I just am getting old. No fun. Looking back now, I can not believe what the Lord allowed me to do. amen! I began praying about flying to Belem, which is a very large city at the mouth of the Amazon. I had enough money for a ticket, and ended up flying there. On Brazilian airlines, you are only allowed 50 pounds checked luggage and then you have to pay a lot for excess baggage. I ended up throwing away my computer speakers, my pants and some other clothes. Just piled them on the floor, I kept going back to the ticket agent and he kept weighing what I had. I still had to pay some, but when we first started , it cost to much! Hundreds of dollars I needed for a Hotel room in Belem. When I went back my final time to the pile of “stuff’ i had to throw out, there were two custodians standing there shaking there finger at me, with a policeman. I took a plastic bag they offered me, and stuffed everything in, and went outside and just gave it away to a man sitting with his friends on a bench. Oh well…
When I landed in Belem, I asked the taxi driver to “take me to an inexpensive Hotel”. He took me to the Centro part of town, downtown, and stopped at various places so I could look the Hotel over and check the prices. I did not have internet in Manaus my last month, so I had no idea what and where to look for.I checked out a few really cheap places, and they were bad. Dirty, old, no security, I finally rented a room at Hotel “Ver O Centro” “See the Center”. The room included free breakfast. I used to save some of the breakfast and eat it for lunch. My finances were very tight. There are thousands of people walking through many shops and streets in Centro. I went to the park and saw “leaf cutter ants” walking in a long line down a tree, across the lawn and onto the sidewalk. They each had cut a little bit of a leaf and were carrying it, doing their part. There was so many people! While Evangelizing up the block on the main street sidewalks, I noticed they were putting up Grand stand seating for a parade. I asked what for ? “Ciro do Nazare” a man replied. What is that I asked? He frowned at me. It was a Catholic festival where thousands come and parade an idol of “Cirro de Nazare” down the street. I later got video of this. Thousands of thousands of people. I gave out 400 tracts a day. I found a lady that ran a very small print shop with one little copier the copies by hand with scissors. She was very fast and efficient. Two sisters ran this little shop named “Isley and Isabell”. I pray for them every day. It really had a hard time finding an open wifi signal, or an internet cafe to call my wife on Skype. I call and pray with her every day . I saw rats run out of one sewer into openings in another. In the meantime, I was looking and praying for a place to rent I could afford. Usually they rent a small apt called a “kitnete”, with a kitchen and bathroom and bedroom. I could not find one. I did find and contact an American Missionary and he gave me directions to his church. He was in the United States, but coming back the next week. (Note: I ended up renting a house on his seminary property on another trip) I should have waited for him. the day of the Idol parade, maybe 500,000 people, it was huge showed up. I have video of wall to wall people , some of them with bricks on their head (maybe doing penance?) some with little wooden pretend houses on their head (bless my house). slowly shuffling along in this huge parade. god certainly moved me there in time. Amen.
I could not find a permanent place to stat, despite walking around the town and looking at adds for rent. So I began to pray about traveling to a new town “Fortaleza” to evangelize. I ended up waiting for the only bus that left the next day at 8 AM all night for 22hours at the bus station. It was torture.
I forgot how many Gospel tracts i gave out, but everyone who would take a tract or talk to me, I witnessed or gave them one. That is Evangelism. Saturating the towwn with your doctrine.
To be continued…..Fortaleza.