Bishop Eric … and My Mud Hut in Africa

What I’m about to discuss you may have seen before but I’m revisiting the subject with a definite purpose in mind. In my early high school years, I began to actually examine how, what I was learning and studying in what we used to call Sunday School (don’t have a clue what they call it now) was going to affect my life. I was affected deeply enough that for a time I actually considered becoming a Congregational minister. It seemed a rather easy life to me; listening to people’s woes and complaints, then giving sage advice on how to fix their lives. Then for one hour on Sunday, wearing a black robe and telling people how God expected them to conduct their affairs.

But then somewhere along the line I was exposed to the life of a missionary in Africa and that exposure changed my entire outlook. You see, my understanding of the two roles in Christendom, that of the stateside minister and that of a missionary in deepest darkest Africa were worlds apart in more than the geographical sense. What I saw in the life of the Congregational minister was a life of relative ease. What I saw in the life of a missionary to Africa was a life of tremendous sacrifice and commitment. The effect that had on me was not one of encouragement but rather one of discouragement.

In short … I came to believe that if I really turned my life over to Christ, became totally committed to being a full-fledged Christian, that I would be relegating my future to a mud hut in Africa … and that is not what I wanted to do with my future. I wanted to be pig farmer who happened to be a Christian … most of the time. It wasn’t until I was in my third month of sobriety that I received a piece of advice that I wish I’d had years before.

When I came face-t0-face with the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him” my mind went back to the mud hut in Africa notion. Thankfully, a perceptive Larry B, my sponsor, did as Granny would have said, jerked a not in my tail. He said, “That takes someone exceptional to do that. And besides He (God) probably has something else in mind for you.” Nevertheless, I have remained in awe of anyone, accustomed to the luxuries people in this country take for granted, who could give it all up for the equivalent of today’s mud hut in Africa. And that finally brings me to the point of this message.

There is a man I have come to know as Bishop Eric. He has devoted his life to “The Good News” and has affected lives all over the world. He has traveled the world planting the seeds of salvation and forgiveness for most of his adult life all the while maintaining a full time “civilian” job. A year and a half ago Bishop Eric gave up that lucrative “civilian” job and moved to “a mud hut in Africa” to found The Hope Center in Nigeria.

While it’s a bit of a stretch to call where he is living and conducting the affairs of The Hope Center a mud hut in Africa, it’s not much of a stretch. The accommodations were primitive in the beginning and much of what he has accomplished has been a true labor of love. The thing you, my readers, need to realize is that in countries like Nigeria in central Africa, being gay is not generally acceptable. Many families, upon learning of their child’s sexuality will disown them, shun them and in extreme cases murder them to avoid public humiliation. So, it shouldn’t take much imagination to realize what a burden Bishop Eric has taken upon his shoulders.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am in total awe of the man. He embodies everything that I felt I would never have the courage or the will to be. I don’t agree with him on all things, but what I don’t agree with him on pale in comparison to the respect and admiration I have for him.

So how does he manage the day to day operations of his “mud hut in Africa”? It isn’t easy and he needs financial support desperately. His needs aren’t overwhelming by our standards, but by Nigerian standards they are mountainous. I have in my possession a copy of his monthly budget and budgets for the projects he dreams of implementing. They are next to nothing by our standards but in Nigeria they are a lot.

My purpose in sharing this is to inspire you, my readers, to consider contributing to the financial requirements and investments needed to aid Bishop Eric in his mission to give hope and a future to the people of Nigeria who are most often overlooked at best or shunned and persecuted at worst because of their emotional make up.

Check out his website at  You can donate through the web site and if you want to know more about their financial need and plans please contact me and I will send you a detailed list of monthly expenses as well as proposed improvements. You can reach me through Facebook or at .


What the Heck Just Happened

I have been silent for a while … Again!! But no longer. A week ago our nation went to the polls to elect a successor to President Obama. I went to the polls before work and cast my ballot. I didn’t hear any reports during the day but before I went I was discouraged based on what all the reports up to that time were telling me that HRC was going to be the next president.
When I arrived home I turned on the television expecting to hear that it was all over and that our country had elected its first female president. And that, to me, was a dismal and depressing thought. Not because I was against a woman for president any more than I had been against an African American for president eight years earlier. It was a dismal and depressing thought because of the character flaws I saw in Hillary Rodham Clinton, and even more dismal and depressing because so many of my fellow Americans seemed to be so oblivious to the flawed character of the woman.
Before you get carried away with a litany of flaws in Donald Trump, in particular, the accusations of sexual predator, I want to remind you that the only verifiable accusation was in the Hollywood Tonight hot mic conversation with the show’s host. And might I also remind you that the only “character” flaws in those accusations were of a nature that hardly rose to the level of HRC’s malfeasance in office and corruption that was becoming more and more evident every day.
But that isn’t my main concern here, or to my intended point. I suggest that for a real and definitive understanding of the basis for my political point of view, you start by looking at the demonstrations that have been occurring around the country since the election. I have watched the interviews of demonstrators and what I am left with is an image of ignorant and self-centered mobs of people who are the result of two-plus generations that have been educated by a largely socialistic education system. They have no clue to what our history really is.
The history (when taught) they have been fed is one of a cruel and unjust people who have acquired what they have by taking it from others. The reason the people who feed that line to poorly educated, morally void “young skulls full of mush” is due their own failure to take advantage of what has been laid before them. They have devoted their lives to telling others how they think the world should be rather than how it is. In other words, the education system in our country has been taken over by a socialistic group known as the NEA … National Education Association. The NEA is nothing more than a labor union which unfortunately has actually become the most dangerous and the most powerful labor union in our country.
Regardless of what the NEA publicizes as their goal, the result is that now two, going on three, generations of people who have been fed a steady diet of what I call “non-responsibility.” In other words, whatever happens to you in life is never your fault. It is always the fault of someone else, generally the fault of people who expect you to eventually grow up and in rather crude but to the point words … grow a set.
Parents who have actually taken stock of what their children are being fed in school are the ones who are either home schooling their children or the reason that charter schools have become so popular in large segments of our society. It’s called taking control of your own life and as Granny would have said … “use your head for something besides a hat rack!”
The American people, as a whole, are a generous and compassionate people, but their generosity and compassion has reached its limits. The education system which has taught that the government is the arbiter of where that generosity and compassion should be applied has finally been exposed for what it is … the support system of a different kind of slavery. Slavery means that one group or segment of a society controls every aspect of the lives of another for the sole benefit of the slave owners.
When our own civil war ended, hundreds of thousands of slaves were suddenly freed to live and direct their own lives. What gets overlooked is the fact that thousands of them didn’t want to leave their bondage. They had never been taught and therefore had no idea how to cope for themselves; how to take responsibility for their own lives. Again in my opinion, the demonstrators marching in the streets of our cities are the result of all those years of the NEA indoctrinating our young people to the notion that they are not responsible for their own lives, and now they are afraid that Donald Trump is going to make them assume that responsibility.
The agitators are accomplishing what they want by an age-old tactic of repeating a lie often enough that it becomes the truth. In this case, the lies are that Donald Trump is a bigot, which he isn’t; a misogynist which he isn’t; a sexist, which he definitely isn’t. What he is, is a threat to the “plantation owners” and their overseers because he is telling the slaves “we are going to free you to pursue your own futures in the manner that you decide is best for you. And, we are going to do that by providing an environment free of the restraints of the past which have kept you down on the plantation.”
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote soon after the war of independence, and I paraphrase; “The great American experiment will last until a majority of the population realizes they can vote themselves an income from the national treasury.”
That is exactly what the “Plantation owners” have convinced the general population of. Last week the rest of the population stripped the “Plantation owners” of their power by using the basis of our constitutional foundation, the electoral college, to do so.
Thankfully, our founding fathers realized the dangers of pure democracy, which is nothing more than mob rule by ballot, and created a democratic representative republic.
As a result, the people who know how to work for a living, who want to work for a living, who want to direct their own lives, who want the government to do only what it was intended to do, which is to provide the safe environment for them to do so, and the people who are tired of things the way they have become … those people have spoken.

One is silver and the other gold

I have been posting about friends recently. No particular reason that I can point to really. It’s just that friends have been on my mind a lot recently. Is it a natural progression because I am now ankle deep in my seventies? I assume that has something to do with it, but there’s more.

People who live relatively normal lives because they are born with bodies that match their gender identity are fortunate. They generally don’t know the feeling of rejection by the people in their lives due to something beyond their control. Before you go off on a rant about having control over the issue, bear this in mind; we all have control over our actions but control over emotions is a different matter. Emotions have a life of their own, and those are what cause the most grief in the life of anyone who is born with a body that doesn’t match their emotional set.

When I finally came face to face with that unorthodox set of emotions, I also came face to face with friends, and family too, who couldn’t see beyond the appearance to the spirit behind the screen. I soon found myself faced with a sorting process. Sorting out the relationships, both new and old became a painful exercise.

I have old friends that I’ve known, literally all my life. Jeanie and I were born in the same hospital room in the Texas Panhandle in 1944. Roger I’ve known since I was 4 years old. Vince and Connie since I was 9. Denny and Candy since high school. These friends are people who have stuck with me through all the chaos of redefining my person.

Family on the other hand is an entirely different story. A sad story but true. The closer the relationship, it seems, the more difficult the process of coming to grips with who I have revealed myself to be. The 2 oldest children haven’t spoken to me since the publication of Dear Mom and Dad; each for their own reasons; misguided as I deem those reasons to be. One first cousin is understanding and accepting the other 2 have pretty much disapproved. My only brother and only sister have more or less, followed the lead of the 2 disapproving cousins. Again, each for their own reasons. So, what am I left with?

Friends! At the close of my last blog I quoted a little ditty that we used to sing at camp. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver the other gold.” If I could convert all the silver and gold I have in friendships to hard currency I could retire and live comfortably for the rest of my life. The older I get the more precious that currency becomes, and it is never more evident than when I lose one of those gold coins like I did earlier this week.

I spoke of Daryll in a Facebook entry earlier this week. Tuesday morning, last week I awoke and reached for my phone, still pretty much in a stupor, to check the time. I inadvertently dialed his number. When I realized what I’d done I immediately canceled the call. Within a minute he called me back.
We hadn’t spoken in months. I hadn’t bugged him because I assumed he was getting on with life and building his fabricating business. Over the course of our 10-year friendship, Daryll had bailed me out of trouble, mostly vehicle trouble any number of times, always coming to my rescue with a tow or a battery or tires. He even set up an online parts business for me to run at one point.

We talked for the better part of a half hour and through the conversation I learned that his health wasn’t the best; that the Arizona heat was beginning to wear him down. He talked about closing up shop here and moving to Boise Idaho next year. But, I didn’t realize how bad his condition was until first thing in the morning, the day before yesterday, when once again my phone rang and it was his name on the caller id. But it wasn’t him. It was his wife.

“Georgia, it’s Vonda. Daryll passed away on Sunday. I need your help.”

It was like a bugler blowing reveille 6 inches from my ear. Death or the reality of impending death never comes gently to any door. That is a hard reality for anyone, especially for me to face. Up to the time Marilyn died, I had never, not one single time, lost anyone close to me. Daryll was not what I would classify as close, though we shared things that few understand. But he was a solid 24 carat gold friend and his death has shaken me to the core.

His death has brought home to me the very fragile nature of life and how easily it can be shattered. It’s only been a few weeks since a member of our church family suddenly and unexplainably lost her 12-year-old son. He just became ill and died one day.

These circumstances always remind us of that fact, but how often do we awake each morning and treat everyone in our sphere with the tenderness that we would if we knew that would be the last time we would ever be together? From my own experience, I would surmise that the answer to that question would be … never. But it should be “every time” shouldn’t it?

Who is sitting next to you right this minute, on the phone with you, right this minute, that you have given the slightest thought to the possibility that it might be the very last time? Would you be saying, thinking, feeling what you are at this moment if you knew it was the last moment?

At this point in history, the radio and television ads for precious metals and the importance possessing them are as numerous as the ads for beer, maybe more numerous. So how about the next time you see or hear one of those ads, why don’t you give some thought to the silver and gold people in your life and what you need to do to make sure they know that they are safe in your heart? And, never take their presence for granted.