Monday, October 24, 2011

Life as I Knew It

The Weekend President Kennedy was Shot –Part 1

They say anyone who was alive at the time President Kennedy was shot will always remember where they were when they heard the news. Though I was a half a world away, I remember it too! The weekend he was killed was one of the strangest of my life.

My family had been on “local leave” - the missionaries’ term for vacation. Every year, each missionary family had a week or two of local leave. Usually, it was spent somewhere away from a missionary’s home base; to get away so to speak. My family was no exception. That year we spent the week in another city, miles away from our home city of Ogbomosho.

On the day we were to return, our car broke down a couple of hours down the road. We were stranded. Back then there were no cell phones to call for help, no AAA to provide roadside service, and gas stations were few and far between…so we waited by the side of the road hoping another vehicle would come along.

After a while, a “lori” came by. A “lori” was a stripped down version of a truck. The lori driver stopped and offered to take us back to the city we had just left. Our plan was to go back to the missionary family whom we had been visiting and get them to drive us back to our car the next day. After some repairs, we hoped to set out for home again.

The only place to ride in this lori was the open bed in the back. My entire family climbed in and sat down among others who were hitching a ride that night. A few miles down the road, it began to rain. It was cold. We huddled beside each other in the dark of the night, in the pouring rain. The rain pelted down directly on us. It stung as it hit my face and arms – and I was very cold! My mother took a sweater she had and held it over the heads of my siblings and me as best as she could. It was a miserable ride that seemed to last forever.

Finally, at long last, we arrived back at our friend’s home only to be met at the door with the news that President Kennedy had been shot! I was not sure how this news impacted me personally but by the looks on the adult’s faces, I could tell it was very grave news indeed!

The next day, with the help of our friends we resumed our trip home. We finally arrived back in Ogbomosho; I was so glad to be home! But to my dismay, we were met by local police with the news that our home had been broken into and we could not return to it just yet.

A day or two later, we moved back in and took inventory of our loss. The burglar had stolen some of my parent’s possessions and my sibling’s money. (We kids received a shilling a week as allowance. This was usually spent fairly quickly in the local market on peppermint candy called Trebors or peanuts sold by the peanut lady who sat outside of the hospital gates.) But the burglar had not stolen my money (all 1 or 2 shillings of it). I had kept my money in a match box which he passed over presumably thinking it was matches. I felt so clever for having hidden my money so well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Through my Kitchen Window

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
- Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Who Knew? I turned out to be a Writer, after all!”

(This article, written by me, 1st appeared in “Writer’s Weekly” May 11, 2011)

1976 – Our nation celebrated its bi-centennial anniversary. My town held a writing competition. Students from several area high schools wrote short essays called “Bi-centennial Minutes”. I participated because I had to…it was a required assignment in my English class. A few weeks later, a reporter and a photographer from the local newspaper walked into my school and interviewed me - because I had won the competition!

Another spring a year or two later, at my high school’s awards ceremony, my name was called as a “Laurel Leaf” winner. This was a writing award and no one was more surprised than me! You see, I could not spell or punctuate – at all! I punctuated written pieces like some people sprinkle salt and pepper on their food; I just sort of sprinkled some around in my written pieces…or so it appeared. I grew tired of all the red marks my papers collected so when college came - I majored in nursing!

Several years ago, someone I loved struggled severely and I struggled along side of her. I longed to be able to pray more effectively for this person. I began a personal study of prayer, journaling as I gained insights. After a few years, my friend was better and I had a manuscript written. I discovered I loved writing, now that computers are available…computers that can spell and punctuate for me.

Then one summer, I read a newspaper blurb about an upcoming writer’s conference in my area. I longed to attend but I was not a writer, at least not a published writer. I showed the article to my husband, sheepishly confessing my new silly dream of becoming a writer. He encouraged me to attend. I laughed as I made plans to attend. After all, I had written a manuscript. I decided to simply declare myself a writer.

The conference was wonderful! The speakers were great. I came back encouraged and hopeful. In one of the sessions, I learned how to submit articles to magazines. I learned about writing query letters and tips for finding magazines in need of material. Participants were strongly encouraged to try our hands at article writing.

In the few months after the conference, I began writing, and submitting articles and devotionals. That was less than two years ago. Today I have a growing list of credits which include over 20 published pieces. The money I spent on the conference was earned back and turned a small prophet in the first year. And guess what? I turned out to be a writer after all!