Bedrooms? Yes, I Have Four, each one in a different part of the world.
I am sitting in a recliner chair in “ Bedroom #2” with the computer in my lap. It’s 6:30 in the evening here in Valdosta, GA. where I’ve been living with my daughter, Lanae, and her husband John, ever since I returned from Brazil, almost three months ago. The sun’s last rays are pouring in through the big window beside my chair. There are a few more boxes filled and setting in different places, waiting to go to the post office.
I will be leaving my Bedroom #2, one week from today, to go to Bedroom #1.
What’s this thing about bedrooms? Don’t you have an apartment – or something?
Well, it’s like this.
When Joe and I finally moved to Brazil at the beginning of 2001, we really moved. We sold our house in Florida and bought an eighth-floor spacious apartment in Natal, RN Brazil. It wasn’t fancy, and we loved it.
It had two large balconies where we hung hammocks and could just glimpse the Atlantic Ocean. It became “home” to both of us – and many Brazilians who came at all odd hours for coffee and a snack and a visit. Plus, we had a “home church” in our living room every Sunday. We loved our home and many others loved it also.
After 12 years, because of Joe’s health and need to return to the states, we sold our apartment in Natal, receiving a small apartment as part of the payment. So, I have a tiny apartment, with a bedroom in Natal. That is Bedroom #3.
My oldest daughter and her family live in the Portland, OR area.
They also have a bedroom with my name on it, my pictures on the walls.
Joe went to be with the Lord in February 2017, One month later, I moved to my bedroom in Sheryl’s home
Oh, you want to know about my bedroom #4?
Well, of all things, that bedroom is also in Brazil. But not in the same city as Bedroom #3.
I have several friends who live in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.
Three of them wanted me to go to Brasilia and stay with them. I was in Bedroom #1 (Portland, Oregon)and needed to return to Brazil. There were some legal things to resolve, besides some teaching commitments.
Four or five times I attempted to make plane reservations for Brasilia. Always, there was a problem! Finally, I told the Lord that I was giving up: when HE wanted me to go, for Him to show me.
About a month later, he did just that! And that time all fell into place and I traveled to Brasilia in Nov 2019, to Bedroom #4.
I’m not going to try to share some of the adventures now – for this is about bedrooms. 😊 But there were several – plus laughter,prayer, and teaching in some of the churches.
Then came the Chinese virus! Brazil moved into lockdown and, because of my age, I could not leave the apartment. but there is a small balcony and we got a hammock up. I was working on my blog and teaching – via phone, whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook – from the apartment End of May 2020, the US blocked Brazilians from going into the US. That was ok: I am a US Citizen, so no problem for me. However, this meant far fewer flights between the countries. My six children were united in wanting me back in the states.
So I got on one of the last regular flights out of Brazil to Miami, had some time with my son’s family, then came to Valdosta and Bedroom #2 and to today.
I have no words capable of expressing how much I appreciate my children and their spouses, as they work with their mother who has four bedrooms instead of one, and who apparently doesn’t know how to stop in any one of her bedrooms. 😊
But, there is hope. Things are changing in this world, many of them not good. The Lord has me here in the states, and my body is getting tired of planes and travel. I am learning more about teaching on-line. I have some books I am working on, which require that I stop and study and write.
As I head back to Bedroom #1 in Oregon, I have no idea what the Lord has in mind for me. But one thing He is teaching me, is to trust Him more.
You may have a house and a couple of bedrooms, or who knows in what puzzle the Lord has placed you? The important thing for each one of us is to trust Him. I may not know what He is doing? I don’t have to know.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
New International Version
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
This is my goal. When I do this, the rest will fall into place, including all of the bedrooms! -Voni –
It’s six pm – and the night sky is lowered over the mountains of Novo Friburgo . I still get surprised by the lack of twilight.
Outside it is definitely getting COLD… and as people come into our small house, they shed their warm coats, hats – even mittens. Most of these young people came by the city transit system, and had to walk a couple of blocks after getting out of the bus. The fire in the fireplace helps the warmth level – and the body heat helps even more.
The table is pushed back in a corner with a red and white plaid tablecloth, and piled with coffee, hot milk, sugar, fresh French bread, goiabada jam (guava in English) plus finger foods brought by some, small plastic plates, coffee cups, and plastic spoons. Those already there are working on the food and coffee, the ones coming in shed their jackets and head for the table. The sound level is gradually increasing from greetings (which include lots of hugs), and excited comments about our Bible Study subject for tonight: Demons – their power and manifestations in our lives. After last night, this is a hot subject.
The food is about gone and everyone finds places to sit (including on the tile floor – which is uncomfortably cold). So jackets and folded blankets hit the floor to sit on.
Each one brings out their Bibles, some have pen and paper to take notes. Time to start. I’m not attempting here to write everything down, but I will cover the main points.
Since there is so much to cover in these subjects, I will give a brief review, and if you have questions, please ask them. I certainly don’t have all the theological answers. I only know what I’ve experienced and learned. You do NOT have to agree with me. In fact, I would love to learn from others.
1/ What are demons and why or how do they have power?
1/ What are demons and why or how do they have power? Fallen angels following Satan. The world is physical and spiritual. Satan was one of the most important angels. He and his followers still have spiritual power that can overflow into our physical world.
God did not create the devil as we know him.
God didn’t create Satan to be evil, as we now know him to be. There are several different lines of thought about this: we will discuss two of them
The first line of thought is based upon the first few verses of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water”(Genesis 1:1-3) This line of thought believes that “darkness was over the face of the deep” means that there had been a horrendous war in the heavens that spilled over onto the earth, destroying God’s previous creation of the earth. Satan rebelled against God, wanting to take God’s place, and God expulsed Satan from heaven along with the 1/3 of the angels who were his followers.
The other line of thought of those verses is that when God created the world, He examined and then declared that each step of the creation was good (Genesis 1:31). This signifies that there was no evil on the earth. However, in chapter 3 of Genesis we discover that Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve to sin..This indicates that at some time in the timeline between Genesis 1:1 and the third chapter of Genesis, there must have been a rebellion of the angels, with one third of them turning against God and following Satan.
Lucifer’s fall from Heaven
The Bible gives us this information about the devil before his fall and after he became proud and rebelled against God.
Named Lucifer, which means “star of the morning”
Held a high-ranking position in the angelic host
Had exquisite beauty and great wisdom
Given a position of great power and influence
Called “the guardian cherub”
“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God…You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezekiel 28:12–17 NIV).
Cherubim are depicted in Scripture as powerful and majestic angelic creatures who surround God’s throne. And Lucifer had once been a guardian cherub. Since Lucifer had been the model of perfection, what sort of sin led to his fall? His heart became proud because of his incredible beauty. Lucifer allowed his perfection to be the cause of his corruption.
God’s judgment on Lucifer
Lucifer was not satisfied with worshipping God; instead, he wanted to be worshipped. Once a beautiful, powerful angel of God, he lost his former, exalted position in Heaven.
“How you are fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:12–15).
Lucifer (“star of the morning”) became Satan (“accuser”) when he fell to the earth. Jesus, speaking of this event, said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven” (Luke 10:18).
When Satan fell, he did not fall alone. Scripture tells us that he took one-third of the angels (see Revelation 12:4). Considering that the angelic host numbers more than 10,000 x 10,000 (see Revelation 5:11), that is a sizable group. They account for the fallen angels, or demons, that now do his bidding. As a result, Satan is a fallen, but powerful, spirit-being with a well-organized network of demon powers to help him accomplish his purposes. Those purposes, according to Jesus, are to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).
That’s the bad news. The good news is that two-thirds of the angels are on our side! As the prophet Elisha said to his servant, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
(Much of the above organization of info re: Lucifer, I found on Harvest.org )
These rebellious angels are now called demons. They are followers of Satan and obey his commands. They have more power than humans, but because of Jesus Christ conquering Satan on the cross, the balance of power over the world that Adam threw away to Satan, was taken from Satan and given to Christ. Therefore, Christ’s name and His blood have more power than the demons.
PART TWO of THE BIBLE STUDY. Demons Power vs Christ’s Power
2/ Where do we get power to confront and/or overcome demons/evil spirits?
As Christians, we have an even greater asset than the majority of angels on our side: He is Jesus Christ! “Now it is God Himself Who has anointed us. And He is constantly strengthening both you and us in union with Christ. He knows we are his since he has also stamped his seal of love over our hearts and has given us the Holy Spirit like an engagement ring is given to a bride – a down payment of the blessings to come!” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Passion Translation
Look at these verses. “God always makes His grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of His endless triumph. Through our yielded lives He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go. We have become the unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One to God – a perfume of life to those being saved and the odor of death to those who are perishing. The unbelievers smell a deadly stench that leads to death, but believers smell the life-giving aroma that leads to abundant life.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16…Passion Translation
Satan is angered when we return God’s love and walk with Him, honoring Him. Satan’s goal is to destroy us. He can’t destroy God, but he CAN hurt and destroy those whom God loves.
Is it any surprise if people turn against us – for we carry a deadly stench. Or the opposite: Have you ever met someone (e.g. a clerk at a store), began a conversation, and feel drawn to them? Then “take the plunge” and in words the Holy Spirit shows you to use, you ask them if they personally know God? For they have the perfume of life.
How does that apply to the demon world?
I do NOT go out looking for people with demons that need to be cast out. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior – and it is Him on whom I concentrate. However, without my knowledge, my perfume of life may affront a demon in someone, causing it to manifest itself in a reaction to the Holy Spirit in me – for, to the demon, I have a deadly stench. When they manifest themselves, they may create a scene, attempt to hurt the person who has the demon(s) in his/her body, or hurt me. I can remember illustrations of each of these in my own experiences.
Some are humorous, others are NOT. E.G. A woman from the back of a large church comes running and screaming onto the stage where we are sitting. She grabs a large flagpole (those things are heavy!) and starts swinging it over her head. Problem: as she swings that pole it comes close to hitting our heads: we are all having to duck her weapon. It took several men to grab her and her swinging pole, then go backstage and cast out the demons – there were quite a few.
I remember the story of the sons of Sceva. It wasn’t funny for them, but every time I read it I either smile or chuckle.
The Sons of Sceva “11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. The result? 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
Just remember this: You, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit within you. There is GREAT POWER in the name of Jesus Christ and GREAT POWER in His blood to command evil spirits to leave.
I command them to leave by the power of Jesus Christ’s name and the power of His blood. However, this is not to play games. We are in a spiritual war here, and we need to KNOW Who is our King and have a close relationship with Him, for He gives us His authority. And it is wise to put on The Whole Armor of God”
“10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:10-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
There is still more to study. However, it is time to quit for now.
Time for one more question?
3) Can demons enter into Christian’s bodies?
A good question – and one that requires more study on my part. Most people say no. They can oppress us, cause us to feel weight and heaviness, etc. But they cannot actually enter into our bodies and minds. However, I’ve had to cast out evil spirits who were manifesting from some whom I thought were Christians. Which means they had opened up their defense in some way – perhaps lack of forgiveness which leads to bitterness and creates cracks in our spiritual armor -there are many ways this can happen. Final statement for tonight. Look to our Lord! Learn more and more of Him. Let the Holy Spirit transform us from glory to glory. (Love that verse!) “We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 b Passion Translation
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 b NLT
A challenged and quieter group of young people prayed together, put on their coats to head out into the cold. We all have much to think about… and know we’ll be having more conversations.
The fire needs more wood as we get ready for bed. It is COLD outside and will become cold inside, as the fire dies down. Thanking God for this evening. We ALL learned
*** Parte deste estudo foi revisto de acordo com estudos sobre Lucifer, disponíveis em: Harvest.org
It is a beautiful sunny day in the mountains… the air crisp and sweaters feel good. I had worked through last night’s bedlam in my mind, talking it out with the Lord, and am looking forward to tonight’s Bible Study. I know it will be a good one, that it will challenge Cal and I as the young people will pepper us with questions.
I need to go to the store and buy plenty of French bread, and guava, and a few other things. As I leave the store, on an impulse, I decide to stop and visit an older Christian couple that we all love. They used to be spiritualists, but began following the Lord about ten years ago. Maybe they could give me some added perspective on what happened last night… and some hot coffee would taste good.
I wasn’t disappointed. We have a good conversation, along with some good coffee. As I begin thinking of leaving, Dona Maria Helena stops me; she has a book she wants me to see. I sit back down.
The title of the book in Portuguese is “Methods Satan Uses.” I start to leaf through it. It is well-written and illustrated. Some of the methods you may recognize. Alcoholism. Drugs. Break-up of Homes. Dishonesty. Different Formats of Spiritism. I was concerned, for all were very well illustrated but there was no mention of Christ and how He breaks people free.
On the section of the book that taught about spiritism, there was an illustration of a medium using ectoplasm from her own body to create the body of another person: a very dangerous process for if the link between the two bodies breaks down, the medium dies. This was something that Dona Maria Helena had done when she, herself, was a medium. I became concerned, for I sensed she was drawn to the book. I commented on this, and she said she was just fine. She wanted to show me the book, for a friend had given it to her, and she wanted me to see it.
I thank her, take the last sip of coffee in my cup, and stand, holding out my hands to Maria Helena and her husband, João, so we could pray together before I leave.
I close my eyes as João starts to pray, , , but my eyes fly open as I feel a violent movement on my left. Maria Helena has dropped both of our hands, and hers are curled like claws towards me.
I don’t move, for I sense that if I move she will rake me with those nails. As I look at her, I hear a deep guttural voice growling at me and that voice is coming from her mouth!
“Get out of this house – NOW! We do NOT want you here! You don’t belong!”
João begins praying, verbally and quietly. I do also. Neither one of us moved. The only distraction is their cute, little dog running into the living room out of curiosity, looks up at Maria Helena, tucks his tail between his legs and runs out of the room as fast as he can. (I still smile when I remember that.)
The three of us continue standing, João and I praying, and casting out the evil spirits. The power of the blood of Jesus and the power of His name causes the evil spirits to flee.
I watched Maria Helena as her physiognomy changed in front of my eyes.
The stiffness of her body relaxed, her hands dropped, and she began weeping. Her husband and I stood with our arms around her.
She understood what had happened. I hurt for her as she wept.
In a few minutes, she stirred, then walked over to the coffee table and gave me that book, asking me to get rid of it. I took it and agreed.
After a few more hugs and tears, I leave; in awe at what had happened and what God had done.
What did I do with that book?
When I get to the house, I carry everything in, then go to the fireplace and rip the book apart, using it for part of the kindling to start the evening fire,
as the colder air was creeping into the house.
I stand in front of the fire getting warm as I watch the pages of that book turn into ashes. No one else will read it, to be influenced by evil! I turn, go get a sweater, then go to the kitchen and start cutting the bread for supper.
All the while, thanking God for His mercy and His power.
PS – We had a fun and challenging Bible study that evening. Each one of us learned.
My years living in Brazil have taught me much – and there is more to learn.
Cal and I and our three youngest children are living in this city in some of the mountains that thrust themselves to the heights near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It is winter – and COLD at night.
(Just to give you an idea, we can see our breath when we first get up; until wood is placed on the small fireplace to take the chill out of the house.)
The small house we are renting has three bedrooms and two small bathrooms with electric showers – the more slowly one runs the water, the warmer the water is. Of course, if one runs the water too slowly, the electric shower quits working – and all you get is COLD WATER. It’s a delicate task to maintain water at a livable temperature: which means one seldom succeeds.
Our two daughters sleep together with five or six blankets piled on top of them, our son sleeps in warm clothes plus many blankets, Cal and I have an electric blanket with one heavy blanket on top of it – and consider ourselves RICH!
Most of you would think we were crazy to be thankful for this house – but there is a lot of laughter here, with many young people traipsing through. Supper is usually after dark, with a good fire going so the house is warm, I learned how to make guava jam… that with fresh French bread, coffee and hot milk, and fresh lemonade made with the blender, 10 or 12 young people crowded around a small table…we could eat a LOT!
A few weeks earlier, four of these youths had come and knocked on our door to ask if we would be willing to teach them Bible lessons. Would we ever! We began — now the group was growing and would soon grow too large to meet in our house. But we weren’t there yet . . .
Tonight, after we ate, we headed towards an apartment house of one of the girls to have a Bible Study in their building’s “social room.” There were 20 or 25 there… It was a great time.
Before leaving, we all formed a circle, holding hands, so we could pray.
The girl to my right (Elenor) who took my hand was the girl who had invited us to come here. We gave each other big smiles as we clasped our hands.
One of the boys started the prayer – when suddenly – bedlam!
It happened so fast, it took me a minute to grasp what was happening.
The girl that had been holding my hand, was thrown to the floor and was writhing and screaming. All of the young people were praying at the top of their lungs and jostling each other, trying to put their hands on the girl. The noise and confusion was mind-boggling.
I couldn’t even hear my own voice. I remember wondering what the people in the apartment building were thinking about the noise and racket coming from downstairs. And I thought, “when Jesus cast out evil spirits, I don’t think this is the way He did this!”
I was able to work my way through the bodies and touch Eleanor. I started praying with a quiet voice, casting the spirits out of her. The noise level went down (that girl could really scream as the demons manifested), somehow Cal got those young people to start to pray quietly.
I helped Eleanor get up, then hugged her. All who were there, also came up and hugged her. I explained a little bit of what had happened to her, and she told me she’d been attending spiritualist meetings. (That explained it all to me.)
Cal and I prayed with her one more time before she went up to her apartment. Everyone went home a little shaken, some not really understanding what had happened.
(The following night, in our little house, we had a lot of teaching to do, explaining with our Bibles open, as we worked through the events of the night before. And why we could no longer return to the apartments social area.
However, before we met together that night, God allowed me to have an even clearer lesson I have never forgotten.
When I got out of bed this morning, I had no idea that God was going to make it an unforgettable day.
Cal dropped me off close to the American school where I teach the 5th and 6th grades. The school is in a former home that had been converted to handle the classes. There are probably no more than 100 students for all the grades. I enjoy the teaching.
As I walk towards the school, the warmth of the sun on my back and the spots of shade from the trees feel wonderful The sidewalk is wide – but broken in places, so one must be careful to watch where you step. I walk slowly – for I’m arguing with God as I try to understand.
This is what had happened. Maria Vitoria is a young woman I loved. She was an exchange student in Portland, OR, when we lived there, was in our home constantly, although we weren’t her official “parents.”
Her real home was in Belo Horizonte where we now lived, and we grew to love her parents and older sister. Much of my learning about Brazil was in their home. The family was Catholic/Spiritist and from the Alan Kadec branch of spiritism. They made me feel welcome whenever I was there, for they all spoke English. Their home became kind of a refuge for me – a place of “safety” .
About a month ago, Maria Vitoria had a nasty fall on a sidewalk, badly scraping her legs and knees. Even after several visits to the doctors, her legs refused to heal. A couple of days previously, she went to a spiritualist gathering and the medium healed her legs, immediately. She was thrilled and telling all of her friends what had happened.
I was thinking about this as I walked… and I am upset with God.
“Father, what is going on! I know that Jesus healed people when He walked here on the earth, and I’ve read stories where people said they were healed these days. However, I was taught that the days of miracles and healing ended when all the apostles died.
But look at this! Maria Vitoria was healed by a spiritualist medium. I believe her. I know she is truthful and doesn’t exaggerate, and there is no possibility of misunderstanding her English. This really happened!
How do I fit this into what I have believed is true? Do the spiritualist mediums have more power than You? No, I know that is not true. You are God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! You are God, Three in One. All powerful. Omnipotent. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is NO ONE OR THING more powerful than You!”
I am almost in tears. I do not understand! Quietly a calmness comes as a new thought breaks into my mind. No, Satan and his spirits have no strength over God. But if they can sow seeds of doubt in my mind, they win.
There is only one solution I can see. God has the most power. Therefore, He has more power to heal than any spirit I was taught that miracles and evil spirits do not exist today. That teaching was wrong!
God has ALL power. Satan used man (Adam) to break the promises God had given to mankind. This caused Satan to become Lord of this earth, instead of man. A man – without sin – had to die to restore that contract. Jesus did just that. He created a new contract and bought my freedom, destroying the divide between God and I that Satan had created.
Lord God, I am beginning to have a new concept about everything! I thank You for Your Holy Spirit, Who is showing this to me! I need You to teach me how to win spiritual battles
Today we live in a world and a spiritual battle field surrounds us. I better open my eyes and see!!!.
I go up the stairs to the school, greeting the students and other teachers. No one realizes that my concepts of life were totally altered by my conversation with God as I walked in the freshness of a morning in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
As I look back to that day, I am aware that I also didn’t understand its significance, nor how God would continue to teach me until even today.
When a dear brother in Christ from Sri Lanka shared what he has learned about spiritual warfare, I perceived how the battles in the spiritual world are spilling over into our physical world, and today, it is time for me to start sharing. These battles will become more fierce, and we need to know what weapons God has given us with which to fight, and how to use them.
My next-door neighbor, Maria, and I are standing in her kitchen. She’s been talking to me, and now she is using a serious tone of voice. I still must listen intently to understand – and my mind had wandered as I asked myself: (Maria – why is everyone named Maria, Even some of the men? A friend’s doctor is named José Maria Santos. Why ???)
Suddenly, a word got through. “medium” …(in reference to the person who speaks to and hears from spirits, transmitting their requests – and orders – to you.)
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.”
“You need to listen to me more carefully!” Maria sputters. “I’m telling you that you NEED to take Joãozinho to a medium so he can get well! He’s been sick for several days with a fever and diarrhea, and that is dangerous. He could become dehydrated and you wouldn’t even know it!”
My stomach turned over. Our three-year-old needs a doctor, not a medium.
Maria continues. “Think about it. Whenever one of my children gets sick, I take them to a medium I know. I would be glad to take you and Joãozinho.”
I thank her profusely (I’ve learned how to do that well, as I discover how much the Brazilians like to help.) Then we kiss on each other’s cheeks (left cheek first, so you don’t bump noses) and I return to my house, talking to God as I go.
“Lord, help! Why is Joãozinho so ill? All of the children know to drink from the filter, and not from the faucet. It isn’t the alligator tail we ate a few days ago – at least I don’t think so! I know it was well -fried. WHAT is wrong? “
I am worried. No phone to call for help. I walk and pray, check on Joãozinho and get some more water down him, then pray and walk.
About 45 minutes later, someone knocks on our front door. I hear Cal answer it, then voices talking. I go downstairs. Paulo and Ana (a Brazilian couple who will be married in a few months and who both speak English, Ana’s younger sister (her sister was with them as their chaperone – in 1967 any couple has to have a chaperone on a date) – and another man – who also speaks English. I am thrilled to have company and start to the kitchen to make some cafézinho. Paulo stops me.
“Voni and Cal, I brought Dr.Fabio here to see Joãozinho. Dr Fabio is an obstetrician. Someone told us your little son was sick, and Dr Fabio wants to see him, first of all. Then we’ll have that coffee.”
I want to jump up and down, praising God. This morning Maria told me I needed a medium. God knew we needed a doctor, and He brought one to us!
What I learned? We were on a well, so I trusted the water. WRONG. Dr Fabio takes a water sample for the labs, examinesJoãozinho, gives him medication- then we adults had some delicious cafézinho , along with a wonderful visit before our guests left; and Dr Fábio giving me a condensed version of things I needed to do – immediately. I had to start boiling all water for 30 minutes before using it. 24/7 Even the water used in brushing teeth. A few days later, the lab report stated the water was heavily contaminated. So the water boiling regimen continued all the time we lived there..😊
That day will always stand out in my memory as a water-shed moment. I still remember the shock of Maria saying I should take our son to a medium. Spiritism was imbedded into their lives. Dealing with the spirits — I had thought that evil spirits were in Biblical times but not now? I have had many lessons from God showing me this is not true. Because of His grace, the lessons started gradually. I’m going to share some of them with you, for I want you to be aware of the spiritual world that surrounds you and I. It is just as real as my bones and flesh. We may deny that angels, evil spirits and/or miracles exist today. But what we think does not change the reality.
In the following stories I may change some of the names and not always give you the year . . . But what happened, happened.
A baby girl born in Ontario, Oregon, a small community set in the midst of farms and ranches, on August 28, 1932. Name? Vondelae Eldred (no middle name – and people always asked me why. Yes, there was a reason)
A very brief history here: My brother was born in 1934. In 1935, Dad sold his part of the ranch to his brother, and we moved to Bellingham, Washington, close to the Canadian border. Dad started a fuel business (at that time the fuel was coal). My earliest memory was when I was three, and talked Dad into letting me dry the dishes he was washing. (Mom was taking care of my brother.) Dad pulled a chair up beside him, helped me climb and stand on it, and gave me a towel to dry the dishes. I was one very proud little girl – and Dad hid his nervousness well, as he kept a close eye on me.
The memories come rolling in. Me sipping some of Mom’s perfume after stern instructions not to touch it – so, of course, I did – to my sorrow.
The ice truck driving down the alley and me running out to tell the driver how much ice we needed for our ‘ice cooler” that used huge chunks of ice to keep the food cold (before the days of electric refrigerators) and the mess it was to get rid of the ice water and put in new chunks of ice., (the kitchen floor always received a thorough mopping afterward. I loved the confusion – Mom hated it. For her, the worst part was it had to be done every couple of days.)
Me poking holes in a box of avocados to see if they were ripe (I still love avocados). And more memories – some funny, some embarrassing.
When I was five we moved to a small farm near Bellingham. Dad loved the land, and always found a way to work with it, wherever we lived. He added another truck and Eldred Fuel became a part of Bellingham businesses. More memories 😊
Mom and Dad loved God, each other, and my brother and I… in that order. I was secure in that love, and loved them, God and my brother (some of the time). We had the normal sibling disagreements – but Dad did not allow fisticuffs. And he taught us about the heartbreaks of angry words. With time and experience, I learned the value of those teachings.
I talked to God all the time, about everything – and still do. Jesus was involved in those conversations, also – but I did not know much about the Holy Spirit, other than He was also part of the Trinity.
I understood the value of water baptism – and was baptized when I was eleven.
Now I am going to skip years of memories – I will only say that it was a different world than the one we know now. But God was not different. He was always God and present in my life.
However . . . I did not know the Holy Spirit. but I was about to! …
In the summer of 1967, our family (Cal Hall, myself, and our five children – ages 15 to two) moved by a Japanese freighter to Brazil. We were part of a large group (in 1968, 68 people) who moved to work together to share the Good News about Jesus Christ in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil. The group began forming in 1962, representing years of work and learning, and was called Operation ’68.
We were as prepared as we could be – but I had no idea of some of the now indelibly printed adventures in my mind that were waiting for me, including moving next door to an active spiritualist family. That is when God began a process of deeper teaching.
Tonight I am feeling pensive. Memories passing in front of my inner eyes. Do you know what I mean?
An old swimming pool in Contagem, MG. Moss is growing between some of the stones… but Sr Jose keeps the water clean so family and friends can cool off on those hot days w/o wind. Some mango trees are growing close to the edge of the pool, so we can pick them and eat. Then we jump back into the water to get rid of the juice that has dripped all over us.:)
The house we built on top of a mountain above Belo Horizonte, MG. It was a miracle, for we had no money coming from the states… only what we earned through teaching English. An absolute impossibility for us, but not for God!
The laundry room was on the basement level … once a week I gathered up all the linens and dirty clothes, separated them in piles on the cement floor (many piles), filled the washing machine with cold water, added some Omo Laundry Soap, threw in the first pile of clothes, filled the laundry tubs with water, and began. I often thought of all the times I helped my mom wash clothes in the basement of Mom and Dad’s home in the US., using the same type of washing machine! So many years ago!
Washing machine, wringer, first laundry tub for rinsing, then wringer to second laundry tub to rinse again, wringer to clothes basket. It was automatic from throwing in the clothes until they were washed and rinsed and in the basket to go hang them up. ..It was like a dance. My hands and body following the steps and my mind talking to God – a lot! I discovered it was a great time to work things out in my conversations with Him.
One memory that stands out: A thunderstorm rolled in and surrounded us, with all the noise and lightning. I just had the last basket of clothes to hang up… and I rushed to get that done.
The rest of the basement area had only an unfinished cement floor, and the wall to the outside was open to the weather, with bricks creating an “inside/outside” feeling. For the clothesline, we’d had to use wire extended rather than clothesline cords- for the latter didn’t exist in our locale.
I ran out of the laundry room with that clothes basket and hastily started using the last clothespins to hang wet clothes onto that wire line – NOT smart! A few times I felt my body tingle as lightning arched across the sky. Many hours of tiring work – and it was done until the next week.
Only later, when I thought of those “tingles” did I realize what a blessing it was that I was wearing sturdy tennis shoes that had sufficient rubber to break my contact with the ground – AND a loving Father Who protected me!
Countless times He has protected you and I: many times without us realizing it when it happened. Then, with a backward look, we see – and are full of thanks! When I recognize those times I am in awe and thank Him again, every time I look at that memory.
How about you? Have you stopped to thank God in all your circumstances? Have you looked and see all those times He has blessed and protected?
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Nor the roof tops and sky from the apartment in Brasilia –
Nor the green grass and homes around a small lake north of Miami
Nor the back yard of my daughter’s home in Portland, Oregon.
Rather, it is the view from my chair where I am sitting and writing at another daughter’s home in Valdosta, Georgia.
The eight months that I was in Brasilia (capital of Brazil) turned out to be crazy. Nothing as planned but God was still involved. How thankful I am for that! I learned more about age and pain, and continue to learn more. Those classes follow me, regardless of where I am.
I’m working on learning: How can I teach and share effectively, using the internet? I did several “live” classes while in Brazil. Now I need to learn how to do them from here.
I’m also working on putting things together to go ahead on two books. I’d like to have them finished in October -prayer backup would be appreciated!
February: I was in Brasilia when the pandemic hit. Because of my age, I was stuck in the apartment which, thank God, had a small balcony so I could breathe fresh air. My six children in the states began to ask that I return to the states.
The end of May, fewer flights between Brazil and US. It was time to return. God opened the doors, I had mileage, so arrived in the US on the second of June, had a few days with son Jonathan Hall and family in Miami, then came to Valdosta.
During this phase of things happening, the mail outs on my blog were interrupted for a period of time. Now working on it to normalize. Many things I want to put here.
WHEN you receive this, would you please reply with a simple “received”. That will help me greatly. And if you have any questions or comments re: something you would like to know about in the future, please leave that info and I’ll answer.
From: Senhor Ben Gala To: The friends and family of Pastora Voni Pottle.
First, let me get the less important things out of the way, My name is Senhor Ben Gala.. a name I am proud of that has been in the Portuguese dictionary for years. The translation into the American language dictionary is “cane,” but I much prefer my Brazilian name! I believe it carries much more dignity with it than that tiny word “cane” which is inconsistent with my position of responsibility of helping Pra. Voni (for those of you who don’t speak Portuguese, this means Pastora Voni – which is the feminine word for Pastor.)
Forgive me, I got side-tracked!
What do I do that is so important? I assist an 87 year old woman to walk without falling. I DO NOT not consider her a normal 87-year-old. She speaks fluently in English and Portuguese, and also writes in both languages. (Portuguese is considered as one of the more difficult languages: it makes Spanish look like child’s play grammatically.) At times, she complains about her accent. But, as a language teacher told her many years ago, “An accent proves that you speak more than one language!” I totally agree with him!
She has some difficulty walking (which is why I AM SO IMPORTANT IN HER LIFE!)
She also has a dual citizenship, American and Brazilian. She and I will ALWAYS remember the days she received her citizenship card and then her Brazilian passport. They are both well-guarded, along with her American documents.
I was there … and proud to be at her side! She used me a lot that day, as we walked through the Federal Justice building (that is an impressive edifice!) From there, we received the info of what we had to do, took the car to an older section of the city, then we walked over broken sidewalks (THAT was a challenge for me) to enter an ancient building (ITEP – don’t ask me what those initials mean.)
When we entered that building, a long old stairway faced us. The clerks offered to bring the fingerprint equipment and the seals for the documents downstairs to where we were. BUT (did I already tell you that this lady can be very determined (I call it stubborn), she refused to have everything brought downstairs. She insisted that she could get up those stairs and then back down again. (I, along with some friends and one of her daughters who was also with us, ALL tried to convince her to not use those stairs, even though they had a hand rail (which she uses quite well). She would NOT listen!
We went up those stairs slowly, one at a time, and were ALL relieved when we got to the top.
We went into the office and were seated. The ladies in the office brought us coffee and cold water and congratulated us on getting up those stairs! Everyone (except me) enjoyed the water and coffee. I had to just look on as I was propped up against a wall ☹
I had to chuckle (although they couldn’t hear me) when they took her fingerprints. What a mess! When she was done, her friends took a picture of her hands as she held them up for the camera: each finger BLACK. I would have been embarrassed, but not her! She was so thrilled to be getting her documents that she just laughed. (She smiles and laughs a lot. and is always talking about how good God is to her!))
We finished all the documents, thanked the ladies in that department, then headed towards those stairs again! (Did you know it is more difficult to go down the stairs than up them?)
We worked down those stairs, one at a time. When we got to the bottom, we turned and thanked the clerks again. We headed out to the car (walking over more broken sidewalk, ) drove back to the Federal Justice Building, carried in the file of paperwork, the clerk took it and went through everything. She then printed out the Brazilian citizenship ID card and handed it to Pra. Voni.
You cannot imagine the smiles and hugs. I think everyone was just as happy and thrilled as Pra. Voni.
I know I was!
We finished the afternoon by going to a great restaurant overlooking the ocean. This was a treat from Pra. Voni to everyone for all their help and patience. Once again, I was leaned against a pillar, but this time I could see the ocean. No one offers me food nor drink because I am too thin. No one thinks I can digest anything – and they are probably correct. ☹
This is only ONE of the many experiences I’ve had as I’ve helped Pra. Voni. I’ll be back and share more of them with you, when I’m allowed to once again write for this blog.
It’s a life full of contrasts… excitement … tears … and fulfillment. I think she is right about God being so good to her – and to me, as well.