Monday, June 19, 2006

This is our very tall grandson, Robbie, with his cousin, Suzanne. This photo, taken this past Christmas, does not show his full height of 6 feet 4 inches. It was not inherited from his father and certainly not from this grandfather.

Today I seem unable to publish the photo I wished to place here, so I'll just get on with a few comments. A week ago I wrote about the Judge and Prophet Samuel imploring the people of Israel to RETURN to the Lord, their God, then to REJECT their foreign gods and their evil practices, and following that to PREPARE their hearts before the Lord, and finally, to SERVE the Lord and to serve Him only. In the New Testament the writer James, the half brother of our Lord, wrote something similar insofar as the sequence is concerned, he implored his readers to first SUBMIT themselves to God and to then RESIST the devil.
And these steps have caused me to reflect a great deal on the subject of SURRENDER. The Lord's chosen people, Israel, and we, His Church, and particularly when it comes down to the individual, me, and you, find it difficult to fully submit, to fully return, to fully reject the foreign objects of our affection, and to fully resist the devil. And the question is why? Why is full surrender so difficult? Obviously if I knew the perfect and full answer I would likely be a much sought after sage. But I do have a few thoughts.
Why would one hesitate or be reluctant to fully surrender ones' all to an all-wise, all-caring, all-loving, all-powerful Heavenly Father? What is their to lose in such surrender other than our inner turmoil, our vain struggles, our futile efforts at self reform? It would seem to be such an obvious win-win that people would be lined up to enter into such a transaction with the God of the universe. But, alas! It is not so. One reason that occurs to me is trust. We know the right concepts about God, we've mastered the theological vocabulary, but do we fully trust Him? Oh yes, we've trusted Him with the eternal destiny of our immortal soul. That's then. Full surrender of my life and my will and my plans and my possessions, well, that's not then, it is now. And now is the realm in which I live. And so it is what I perceive it costing me right now that causes me to draw back. And is it not because I do not trust God enough to believe He will do better for me than I can do for myself? If I surrender all, might He not require of me something that I either can't do or would not wish to do? As the old song goes, "Please don't send me to Africa!" Isn't that kind of thinking more or less as the heart of the matter? I can't really trust God to let me do what I want to do. He'll require me to be and to do what I don't want to be and do. To think that God is forging some kind of plan for my surrendered will and life that is designed to make me forever misrable is to distrust God as being all-wise, all-loving, all-caring, and all-powerful. There's more to be said, but think about this. As the saying goes, "chew on this for a while."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

This is the hotel where we stayed our last time in Hosanna, two years ago, when we went out there for the dedication of the new building. Since that time two more buildings have been built and they were talking about three more and then having a dedication of buildings this coming January. Marvelous in our eyes has been the Lord's provision in the building of this much-need Bible college there in Hosanna.

Monday, June 12, 2006

This is the Wilkins Family and from left to right is Duane, Miah (now days taller than his Mom), our youngest daughter, Natalie, Erika (a bit taller now), and Alesha. As already mentioned, they served for years in The Gambia, West Africa, and are currently on a leave of absence from ABWE. Currently they live in New York State.

As you have read God's Word, have you ever given consideration to the importance not only of the very words, but their sequence. In the book of First Samuel we read in the fourth chapter of Israel going to war against their enemy, the Philistines. Although God had given them a prophet who had been duly recognized as such throughout the land, from "Dan to Beersheba" as Scripture says, there is no record that Israel bothered to consult him, or to pray, or to in any fashion seek Divine guidance. They then suffered a crushing defeat. As is common when we have been defeated, we scramble to come up with a better and improved plan. Their brilliant plan was to send to Shiloh, some 35 miles north of the battle front, and have the Ark of The Covenant of God brought to them. Accompanying the Ark were two notable bums, total losers, but these qualities not withstanding, they were ordained priests and the sons of Eli. The names of these two profligate and undisciplined lads were Hophni and Phinehas.

With a great deal of hoopla and confidence the soldiers of Israel again marched into battle against the Philistines and this time with their secret weapon, the Ark of God. The battle was exceedingly short, or at least the Bible's description of it is. Again Israel was defeated and even worse, the Ark was captured by the pagan, profane Philistines and Hophni and Phinehas were killed. This devastating news was taken back to the 98-year old and very obese Eli who fell from his chair upon hearing the news. The fall broke his neck and he died. The wife of Phinehas was pregnant and went into labor and died in childbirth. Before taking her last breath, she cried out, "Name the baby, Ichabod!" The meaning of Ichabod is, "the glory has departed." She was referring to the Ark being taken from Israel and falling into profane hands.

Chapter five of First Samuel describes all the grief that came to the Philistines during the seven months the Ark was in their possession. Chapter six tells how the Philistines managed to get the Ark back to Israel and in Chapter seven we are told that the Ark is back in Israel and placed in a private home where it remained for the next 20 years. Now, after being defeated twice in battle and losing the Ark of God to their enemy, Israel is prepared to listen to Samuel. Verse three reads, "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." Notice first of all that this is one of those IF/THEN propositions. But it was the sequence of the words I wanted to point out. This verse can be summarized in this way: RETURN, REJECT, PREPARE, SERVE.

To wander from God seems to be our natural disposition. "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love," is how the hymnist put it. And the farther and longer we wander the more we adopt the pagan and profane ways of the culture surrounding us. It was true of the people of Israel, it is true of us. Realizing that we are His and should walk in His ways we often forget that God's pathway to Him is today the same as it has always been. RETURN. To whom or to what? To the Lord. It is from Him that we departed, it is to Him that we must return. Our wayward and downward journey began in the heart, our return must be a return of the heart. It is a heart matter. And it must be with ALL our heart. You doubt it? Go back and read the verse. Next, REJECT. As Samuel said, "put away the foreign gods and Ashtaroth (a goddess of sex that was particularly loathesome to God) from among you." All four steps in this sequence are essential, none can be skipped over. One cannot RETURN, PREPARE, and SERVE and say, "I'll come back to the REJECTING part later and REJECT my vicious and vile addictions later one by one, gradually, as God enables me."

No! A thousand times, No! That is not God's way. God's way is to RETURN whole heartedly to Him, then to view those vile, pagan, profane foreign gods and the goddess of sex as He views them. To utterly hate and despise them. To totally REJECT them. You doubt it? Go back and read the verse. Then we are at the place where we can PREPARE our hearts before the Lord. We can absorb and interact with His Word in our hearts. Heart preparation. The hardened, packed down soil of our heart can and must be broken up to accept the good seed. Finally, we are refitted and outfitted to SERVE the Lord. This is the sequence. Is even the sequence of the words of Scripture divinely inspired? Yes.

One more thing from this seventh chapter. Well, two more things. First, the people of Israel did as Samuel instructed. They returned, rejected, prepared, and served the Lord. And Samuel gathered them together at Mizpah, that is, "Watchtower." How very significant. Having returned to the God we love, we must ever be vigilant, on the watch. We never want to stray again. And there at they "drew water and poured it out before the Lord." This, we must conclude, is symbolic of something, but of what? I submit to you that it was symbolic for them of what they had just done, it was symbolic of the spiritual transaction of returning, rejecting, preparing, and serving. Think of it. Think of the importance of water. Think how it slakes the thirst and refreshed and renews. Then picture taking a pitcher of clear, clean, cool water and instead of refreshing yourself, you pour it out onto the ground and there it is absorbed. Now, put the water back into the pitcher. It cannot be done. Your action of pouring out is irreversible. In a word, you have surrendered the water in totality and finality to the ground before you. That is surrender. That is the symbol. That is the picture. Are we prepared to do this with our lives, our wills, our plans, our future, our family, our all? All to Jesus to thus surrender?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

To the left is our oldest grandchild, Jason Hall, lighting the Advent Candles at a Christmas celebration a while back. To the right is his brother, Robert (Robbie) Hall. Jason has been in the U. S. Army for over ten years and is a sargeant and an avionics specialist. He and his wife, Gabriella, have done their time in Iraq and are now in the United States; however, Jason is being redeployed to Iraq for a second time while Gabriella is at Ft. Sam Houston getting additional training as an army nurse. Robbie is currently getting himself into top physical condition for his upcoming induction into the U. S. Army. He intends after basic training, to specialize in the same area of avionics as his brother.

This is a much nicer photo of our granddaughter Alesha. She and two of her second counsins sang some very nice trio numbers for us at our anniversary celebration.

Friday, June 09, 2006

These are my two brother, Jerry, the younger to the left and Dave, the elder of the two to the right. Jerry works a fulltime job, even though he could retire, as a draftsman in Texas and Dave has tried retirement once or twice and now works a fulltime job with his wife, Gerry, at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center. We all grew up in Susquehanna and graduated from the same high school our Mom, uncle, and aunt had graduated from.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Grandsons, Daniel DeValve, on the left in the photo on the left and still wearing the dentures with Miah Wilkins on the right. Both in son Dean's red Chrysler convertible with the Mercedes medallion.

Altogether too soon the DeValve family will be returning to Niger for another term of service. As unbelievable as it seems to us, his grandparents, and to his parents, I am sure, this will be his last year of high school. Then he will be returning to the USA to attend a Christian college...somewhere. In the photo to the right and pictured on the left is Suzanne DeValve who is very thankful she is not the one currently wearing the dentures. She has by now grown taller and with her brother and parents will be returning soon to Niger. To the right is Erika Wilkins. Erika is a high school senior this year and will be graduating from High School in New York State this June 22. She will be attending Cedarville University and intends to major in cross-cultural nursing. Cedarville has an excellent B.Sc. in Nursing programme. Check this blog to read more about Miah and Erika:

Check this blog to read more about Daniel and Suzanne:

More family photos will appear on this blog in the near future. In the meantime, let us pray that a peaceful solution can be found to the situation now brewing in Iran. One thing we do not need is one more war to fight.

Monday, June 05, 2006

To the left is our son, Dean, the younger twin. He was born in Kaduna, Nigeria, under the Union Jack. He also served in West Africa for several years putting a spanner to work on the airplanes of SIM-AIR and did a fair amount of piloting people around various West African countries. He is now engaged in the aviation industry as he has been since he was a teen. Here we are, father and son, sitting outside the General Store at the foot of Walton's Mountain. We're just waiting for John Boy to come down and have hopes we can hitch a ride with him into Charlottesville and just hang out with him for a while.

Now I told you before, didn't I, that these dentures got passed around quite a bit. Folks, it's like this. When you're poor and you're just poor white folk from the hills of Pennsylvania, actually Susquehanna County to be exact, you can afford only one set of dentures. So, they get passed around. Pictured here is our grandson, Daniel, now four years older and much improved in looks, and also our granddaughter, Alesha, likewise four years older and likewise much improved in looks. Posted earlier, Suzanne, the youngest of our three granddaughters and now four years later, she has grown new teeth and doesn't need the dentures. She too, along with Erika, who refused the dentures, and all the rest is a truly beautiful child. But why, you ask, would children need dentures. Well, is our part of the country when you don't brush your tooth, it might fall out. You said "tooth" don't you mean teeth? Nope, I told you we were from the hill country of Pennsylvania. Figure it out.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

And this is our beautiful daughter, Natalie, aka Yvonne, aka Penguin. Unbeknownst to us, she planned with other family members our wonderful 50th Anniversary and coordinated and enlisted the help needed to make it a smashing success. In the background is our son, Dean. Natalie is married to a great guy, Duane Wilkins, and they have children named Alesha, Erika, and Jeremiah (Miah). They served on the mission field in West Africa for several years in the country known as The Gambia. It was formerly a British Colony established as a resupply depot for British ships. This party/celebration was held at the Little White Church in Conklin, N.Y. which was our home church and sending church for many, many years.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

And these are our progeny: left to right, daughter Nancy, me (Don the aged), Dean now the eldest who also was born in Nigeria, in Kaduna in a British Colonial Hospital, Betty (and no, she does not dye her hair!), and our baby, Natalie, born in Jos, Nigeria, just 14 months after Nancy in a year that we shall not disclose (unless bribed!). We love our family, we strive to keep close to each even as we strove to stay close to our parents when they were still living and to our siblings who yet remain. Betty and I have lived everywhere, man. In addition to several places in Nigeria, Ghana, and briefly, Ethiopia, in the good old USA we have lived in Colorado (five years), South Carolina three different times--twice in Columbia and once in York County just south of Chalotte, N. C., in Pennsylvania, Ohio twice, Indiana, and New York three times. My father always lived in Susquehanna, Pa., and Betty's parents always lived in Mishawaka, Indiana. We have literally worn out more than one automobile traveling back and forth to keep in touch with our family. And they have done as much for us.

And this is the one, our daughter, Nancy, who has set off this family frenzy of blogging! Thanks, Nancy! When Nancy came into our lives Betty and I were in the dark valley of sadness and despondency. Almost immediately after we had learned that Betty was expecting, we lost our four-year old son, Dan. He was the elder of twin sons. Dean is his surviving brother. All the joy of expecting a new child was swallowed up by our daily sadness. But then on the seventh day of May of a certain year, in Jos, Nigeria, all the joy we had not experienced came bursting into our lives...Nancy Evelyn Hall. She filled our lives with joy then and has done so continually ever since. She and her husband, John, have two children who, likewise, bring them great joy as they do us, the grandparents.

It runs in the family...anything for a laugh! Actually, at this particular party at one time or another all of our grandchildren had these teeth in their mouths. Since they all survived, we assume they were not passing along some sort of infectious disease.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hall Chronicle
Since it is the first day of June, perhaps I should bring this blogspot up to date. As you the readers will note, I've been successful in placing a photo into the text. It is not that I'm clever at doing these things, it is that I have clever children who guide me step by step. Thanks Hannatu and Dusty-Penguin. This photo of Betty and me was taken a couple of years ago at my Aunt Jeanette Hausser's 90th Birthday Celebration where I served as MC. Why me? Well, that's the question I asked of my cousin, Becky. Her reply was, "The Matriarch of the family has spoken!"
Just a thought that came to me yesterday as I led Wednesday's session in "The Ten Days of Prayer" leading up to Pentecost (50th after Passover). We were discussing the CALL of God...His Call to we poor sinner through His Word, the Bible, effectuated by the Holy Spirit and then His Call to us, His children, to serve Him. Our discussion led us to consider those who've gone to dark and distant and lonely and hostile places on this planet to carry the "good news", the Gospel. Upon arriving many of these intrepid pioneers have found not only sinners needing to be saved, but people who are not just illiterate, but have a language that has not been decoded and put into writing. So these people, these missionaries who have come from the most ordinary and humblest of circumstances and, for the most part, without any distinguishing academic or intellectual achievements have taken on the work of linguists and translators and have put God's Word into the language of the people to whom they have gone. And, I ask, is this not a remarkable feat? Where did such enormous talent, yes, let me call it what it actually is, genius, come from, not to speak of their dedication and commitment to completing the task? Well, you say, it came from God, of course. And then I ask, would they have had this ability, this genius, had they not answered the dual call of God? I will answer this for you. Yes, but it would never, in all liklihood, have been discovered. It would have lain latent within them. Going to a foreign mission field did not create the aspect of genius they displayed. It was there all the time. It was the willing and positive response to God's CALL and to His will, it was the need their situation thrust upon them, that brought out what was within all of the time. And this goes not just for those who have put God's Word into writing, it goes for everything we do for Him. He takes the unnoticed, the unlettered, the ordinary peasant classes of this world to serve him in ways that are most remarkable. How sad when God calls men and women, boys and girls to salvation, and they reject His call. How sad when His children refuse to obey His call to service and spend their lives puttering about with mundane things when God intends something for them that in their wildest dreams they never could have envisioned. And that, dear ones, is the thought for the day.