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a STORY THAT IS REALITY – PART 6

BIBLE STUDY – NOVO FRIBURGO, RJ NOVEMBER

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.

  1. Named Lucifer, which means “star of the morning”
  2. Held a high-ranking position in the angelic host
  3. Had exquisite beauty and great wisdom
  4. Given a position of great power and influence
  5. 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).

Lucifer’s followers

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

A STORY THAT IS REALITY – part 5

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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!”

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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?

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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.

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A STORY THAT IS REALITY – Part 4

Demons Manifesting – God Is Teaching Me

Novo Friburgo, RJ

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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.

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(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.)

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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!

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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!

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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 . . .

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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.

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One of the boys started the prayer – when suddenly –  bedlam!

It happened so fast, it took me a minute to grasp what was happening.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

-voni

A Story that Is Real – Part. 3

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.     

– Voni-

A Story

A Story that Is True. 

This is how it began. . . 

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. 

I’ll share some more about that in the next post 

-voni 

THANKING GOD -AT ALL TIMES !

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?

-voni-

“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

DID YOU KNOW…

2020 06 21

No – the picture isn’t of the ocean in Natal – 

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. 

God bless! 

Voni

Mr Ben

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.

Sincerely Yours,

Sr. Ben Gala

Sir. Ben

FORGIVENESS Is Beautiful

My eyes follow the eagle flying through the sky...

I watch the trees sway in the fresh warm wind...

I feel the fresh breeze touch my body...

and I think of how all of this compares with forgiveness!!!

I see the effects of it, I can feel it in my heart and body,
but I can’t see it.
Some things are too beautiful to see with normal eyesight;
However,  our spirits perceive forgiveness – and rejoice.

Voni

IS GOD SPEAKING?

2020 04 20 Brasilia – DF, Brasil   

I am literally sprawled out in my hammock.
It is hanging in a small space; my left leg and foot extend out in the hammock, my right leg and foot hanging over the edge.  Sprawled is the correct word 😉

It is 5:00 pm  and the sun will go down soon. The clouds are covering the sky leaving small patches of blue. The temp is about 72 degrees F. (22 C)  No rain today -which is nice

The parking lot for part of the four building complex here in Brasilia is almost full.   Normally, it would be empty. I’m unsure when the lockdown will be lifted. For now, the population here in Brazil is still accepting it – but the rumblings of discontent are beginning to grow.  How much longer will the country be able to survive without working?

I am unsure of anything right now: except that I can trust God.
Memories of His faithfulness are pouring into my mind, along with the important principles He taught me.

foto: Ahmed S Shalapy

I remember World War 2 – 1941-1945   which tells you some about my age? 😊

 Because we lived in the state of Washington, close to the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese theater of war was VERY real to me.

The conversations and concern, when someone found a torpedo from a Japanese submarine on the sands of the coastline. Air raid drills at our school caused students to have nightmares. Maps hung in front of the blackboard showing Europe (the horrors  of St Petersburg- Russia, and the Bataan Death March –Pacific Ocean – plus so many other places,) The teachers had us  following the war without TV. The evening news on the radio glued the population to the words spoken.

 The only times we saw footage of what was happening was when we went to a movie (seldom!) and saw the newsreels –

it is amazing to me how much I remember.
Uncertainty. Rationing. Families planting “Victory Gardens” so they could have more food No butter (margarine was invented.  It was white and we had to mix the small package of coloring into it so it looked edible.)

 Friends and loved ones not coming back from the war. Our lives were totally changed. But God was still there.

1987 – Another time when I was walking in uncertainty.
When our children discovered that their dad had another family none of us knew.  He was the father of two more children. Their mother was someone I’d helped for many years. No bombs, but the death of our family as upheavals and truth battered on our doors.  Moving back to the states. Walking in the fear of the unknown. Three years of nightmares and learning more of God’s faithfulness.
The Holy Spirit taught me so much that totally changed my life concepts.
Forgiveness. Blessing. Thankfulness. Learning that God was still with me, even in the USA. My husband abandoned us, but God didn’t!

It is different today – but the uncertainty and fear once again walk through the nations.
For most of us, there are no bombs.  But there IS death – unexpected; leaving each person aware that we do not have control over our lives.

If we were honest, did we ever have control over our lives?
No – but we liked to think we did.

As I stand on the small verandah looking at the rooftops of Brasilia,  I sense an invisible blanket over everything.   The streets are quiet. The noise of children playing is almost non-existent. I arrived here only  months before they started locking it down two months ago.

Now we don’t turn on the radios: but depend upon TV and our smart phones to keep us informed.
Thus far, we have limited rationing. Most of the basics are available. But there is a definite rationing of hugs and kisses.  And it is creating a vacuum in all of our lives. It’s interesting how  important the physical touch is.  There is also a fear: will the nation be able to escapee an economic crash?
The people are praying: on the streets, in their cars and homes. Waiting for God’s answer.

Much of what is happening here is also happening in the US – and  other countries. However I am mostly conscious of Brazil and the EUA. 

Many things hit you and I, emotionally and physically. People are fighting fatigue, fear, lack of peace – and the list continues.  But it isn’t for us to feel guilty about these emotions; rather, we are to face them, accept them, then take them to God, requesting His help and guidance as we learn how to walk through the challenges. 

foto: Sérgio Lima/Poder360 – 20.mar.2020

Look at what Paul wrote. Can we apply it to what we are walking through now?

2nd Corintians 1:8-11

Brothers and sisters, you need to know about the severe trials we experienced while we were in western Turkey. All of the hardships we passed through crushed us beyond our ability to endure, and we were so completely overwhelmed that we were about to give up entirely. It felt like wehad a death sentence written upon our hearts, and we still feel it to this day. It has taught us to lose all faith in ourselves and to place all of our trust in the God who raises the dead. 10 He has rescued us from terrifying encounters with death. And now we fasten our hopes on him to continue to deliver us from death yet again, 11 as you labor together with us through prayer

Because there are so many interceding for us, our deliverance will cause even more people to give thanks to God. What a gracious gift of mercy surrounds us because of your prayers!

Will you and I discover the same faith that Paul had, locking our hopes on Him as we walk through the unknown, holding onto God’s hand (Isa 41:11-13) and knowing the truth of God’s promises.(Romans 8:28) ???

  • Voni