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LESSON #1

Protest Warning

LESSON #2

The BIG Day

LESSON #3

The Morning After

LESSON #4

Hospital

LESSON #5

Life in the Home

LESSON #6

Good  and  bad secrets

LESSON #7

Home Schooling

LESSON #8

Giving my life to Christ

LESSON #9

I'm a new creature

LESSON #10

I'm in the Lords army

LESSON #11

Free at last

LESSON #12

I'm sorry

LESSON #13

Daddy

LESSON #14

Peace like a river

LESSON #15

He watches over us

CHAPTER 1 – Protest Warning

"Johan, No school tomorrow, the radio says there are going to be protests in our village,"   my Mother announced  the news.  "Hurray! No school!" I thought to myself. Being seven years old  and  in the Government School, I much preferred playing in the river with my dog or swimming in the sea to school work!

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Although recently I have not been going to school as often because many times there is nothing to eat for breakfast and mum says she is not having me faint along the way.

"Its' serious" my Mother continued sharing with my Uncle Carlos "These people once voted in favour of the government, but now they've taken to the streets multiple times over the past months - demanding food deliveries from a government organisation that distributes essential food items at reduced prices." It all sounded very grown up to me, I just wish we had some dog food!

My Uncle Carlos had his radio to his ear " They don't believe the government's excuses any more. They stopped believing the official line that the lack of food was due to the "economic war" against Venezuela.  They were fed up - and they were actually dying of hunger." He told my mother.  

I didn't like the sound of some 'war' going on in my village I started to get worried with all this big people talk going on, I felt invisible like I was not there and no one noticed me, it made me start to feel a little frightened but just when I felt I was going to have to go outside and find Puppy, mum gave me a big smile and opened those big arms and I rushed into them and got smothered in her embrace. I just knew I was special and that my mum loved me more than anyone else.

"Anyway there is some good news Johan we got the barrel from Auntie Margot today, all the way from America, and look what I have for you"

With that my mum produced the most beautiful jacket I have ever seen, all different colours and textures and it fitted me like it was made for me. Imagine my own special jacket with a hood. 'You are special, just like Joseph in the Bible he had a jacket just like this one' mum said.

What would the boys at school say about this, I couldn't wait to show it off next time we went to school, whenever that would be, " God only knows!" that's what mum always says.


CHAPTER 2 – The Big Day

Auntie Maria had been taking advantage of the fact that the electricity was on to surf the net, she became very distressed informing us not only did we have this Great Protest but that flooding and mudslides were expected from extremely heavy rains forecast later in the day. Wow this was going to be one heck of a day! Forever referred to as ' The Big Day'

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Granny woke up from snoozing and said she remembered in the  1990's when most of the poor lived in shantytowns on the sides of the mountains near the city of Caracas. These homes, she told me were called 'Ranchos', they were dangerous and she said that she remembered one winter rainy season when over 200 homes were swept away by rain and mud.

Granny explained that over 70% of the total population of Vargas State was affected by the disaster. Public services, like water, electricity, phone lines, roads and bridges completely disappeared in some places. I could hardly imagine things getting worse than they were now. Our water was polluted and many times there was no electricity, phones only worked sometimes and buses were not reliable, mum told me so.

Granny went on recalling this terrible flooding in the olden days, she said there was no supplies of food and water for months, so most of the population had to be evacuated. She told me that looting occurred everywhere, forcing the military to implement  'Martial Law '  for over a year.

I could only imagine what Martial Law was but it didn't sound good, not the way Granny said it with her eyes getting bigger and bigger. I started to feel very anxious, all I knew was that I had to get Puppy, I didn't want any Protestor steeling her for soup and calling it Sancocho Venezolano. Granny had already told me people were eating rats and even zoo animals.

I shall never forget that dreadful morning, the sky was black and there was distant rumbling of thunder, we hoped the bad weather would make the organizers cancel the Great Protest but that was not the case. I woke and as usual there was not much to eat, my tummy growled. I can only imagine what one of mum's Arepa's filled with scrambled eggs would taste like right now. Oh I wish Granny was cooking up some Cachapas on the Budare griddle as she so often did in the pass stuffed with plenty   Queso de M ano   cheese. Well I could only dream because today there was some hot water with a few oats floating on top and some hot water with a little milk in it. I was trying to swallow my breakfast when the sound of gunshots rang out. The protestors had barricaded the street by our house. There was the horrid smell of burning tyres and tear gas. Things got worse and worse, Puppy was shaking and so was I.

Then when we thought nothing could get worse the torrential rains started, within a few hours the river next to our house had broken the banks. Water started coming under the door  and  something hit the window  and  broke it. Uncle Carlos taped a cushion over it. Mummy  and  Aunty Maria were trying to mop up water with old towels. I was holding the  puppy   and  hoping no one noticed she was inside. 

Suddenly there was a huge crash  and  the mudslide crushed half of our house. We all backed into the bedroom where Granny was on the bed. Uncle Carlos put my mattress over her. The noise was terrifying with the crashing of falling trees  as the mudslide and debris moved through our village. We could hear the neighbors screaming. We slammed the bedroom door  and  put a chair under the handle. Then we all hid in the closet, even  Puppy .  We were squashed together in the closet except for Granny who was still under the mattress..... the water was coming in under the door. Uncle Carlos took control, I wish my dad was there, but he wasn't and I was glad when Uncle said "Come on, we will have to go to the Shelter." He pushed open the front door  and  there was a lot of water. The river was where the road should have been. He told me " Go Go Go!" He  and  Mummy went back in the bedroom for Granny.  Aunty Maria was crying  and  saying she did not want to leave the house. I found my coat  and  put it on pulling the hood up tight and tucking Puppy in for safe keeping. 

I held on to Puppy   and  stepped into the water. We had to get to the Primary school. The rain had eased up and there was no sign of the Protestors.

Even though I walked on the side of the road the water was up to my knees. Aunty Maria was holding Carlos's phone shining a light at me. Mummy  and  Uncle Carlos were following, carrying Granny at least I thought they were..... 

Then there was a big surge the water was up to my waist.  I held P uppy  inside my coat. The light went out  and  something hit my legs under the water.  I fell over  and  felt myself being sucked away by the water...... runoff entered channels and rushed towards the sea, picking up and depositing sediments on its way, I was part of that debris I remember I banged my head into something. P uppy  put her foot in my mouth it was all muddy that's all I remember.

CHAPTER 3 - The Morning After

I woke up under a car, kind of jammed against the tires. I was wet  and  had mud in my mouth  and  my head was hurting but thank God I was alive.  I could not really work out where I was. I could see the sea  and,  where the ravine usually was, there was a big river, with great big stones.

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Mud - mud, mud, mud everywhere. You could not see the road because of the mud. I had a big lump on my head.  And  where was my  puppy ? I called her   and  looked  and  looked. Cars were smashed  and  crushed. Electricity poles were down  and  wires everywhere. I could not understand how I had got to the Bay because our house was much further up the ravine.

It seemed that t housands of people in their homes had been swept away by the flood waters and buried in the mudslides. I later learnt that In some cases, entire neighborhoods were wiped away in an instant. Just across the bay, debris piled up at the bottom of the hill. I could still see many people were stuck on their rooftops because the mud made leaving their homes impossible.

A woman came up to me on the beach, she seemed nice but she grabbed my arm and started dragging me , 'You will do very well in our brothel, I will feed you well and in exchange you will be one of our sex slaves' I squirmed my way out of her grasp and ran down the beach. I began to identify with some of the emotions that Joseph in the Bible must have felt, having been sold into slavery, rejected, betrayed, confused, afraid, unhappy, angry, bitter, frustrated etc the list was added to daily it seemed.

I thought I saw my  puppy  down by the sea  and  I went to look, but it was a bigger dog. 

Whilst I was there on the stony beach, a policeman in army uniform called to me. I asked him if he had seen my  puppy .  The Policeman took me to the 'Shelter'  and  I expected to see my mother, Aunty Maria, Uncle Carlos  and  Granny. He gave me to the nurse instead. She touched my head  and  said I had to go to the Hospital in Town. I thought maybe my mother was hurt  and  so I was going to see her. People were just sitting  and  staring. One lady was bawling a lot. I heard someone say she had lost her baby boy that seemed careless. I thought someone should help her look for him. Someone gave me a packet of crackers  and  a bottle of water.

This was a rare treat and I was grateful, I knew they must have cued for hours to get them, mum is out sometimes 6 hours just cuing up to get a little something to eat.

The Policeman said we would have to go to the hospital by boat. On the way back to the bay we went past a crushed car  and  I heard a whimper and there was a dog sat on the roof, surrounded by water, I told the Policeman "hold on, I think I see Puppy"   and  as we got close to the car  there she was wet  and  muddy but there perched on the top water all around her.

I picked her up  and  hugged her tight. The Policeman told me I was a champion and not to focus on what I had been through I was to focus on where I was going in life - where ever that was - the Hospital right now, unless this boat sank!  

I remembered the story Auntie Rosa had told about floating in a bath tub during a flood and I was thankful that I was in a wooden boat speeding along with Puppy's ears flying behind her!


CHAPTER 4 - The Hospital

We went on the boat and  The Policeman took me to Police Headquarters. Someone gave me a very big police cheese sandwich  and  I shared it with  Puppy . She liked it a lot. A young police woman gave me a string to tie round  Puppy 's neck so I did not have to carry her all the time. Then the policeman took me to the Hospital.

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It was quite a long walk up a steep hill  and  there was lots of mud  and  a funny smell. The river was very full. I saw a helicopter coming over my head with a flag underneath. The Policeman said it was a British Union Jack flag and that it was stuck under the helicopter was so people would know which countries were helping. Cars were blocking the road sitting where the river had put them. Some people seemed to be carrying a lot of shopping which was odd as the shops were mostly broken and nothing in them most of the time, little did I know that this was their entire earthly belongings.

When we got to the hospital there was a skinny nurse who was vexed  and  said that  Puppy  could not come inside Casualty! I was tired  and  sad. I wanted to see my Mummy  and  my Aunty  and  my Granny  and  Uncle Carlos! I said I did not want to stay there, mum had told me that there was a lack of medication and medical supplies so what was the point? But t he Policeman said it was OK and that he would hold  puppy  for me whilst I went in with the Nurse. I thought I was going to see my family, I looked in the room but there was just a little girl crying, an old man who was very still  and  a very pregnant lady moaning. There was a young boy like me with blood running down his leg into the water on the floor making a horrible mess. The stretchers were row after row of gunshot wounds from the Protest. The nurse took my temperature,  and  put a tight thing round my arm  and  then put a clothes pin thing on my finger. She said I had to see a doctor. 

The doctor looked very tired. She said she had been there for 24 hours, all the way through the flood, but no one had come to relieve her. She said that I had "con cushion" or at least that is what it sounded like. She said I should go home  and  rest. I told her our home was gone  and  I did not know where my family members were. She called the policeman in  and Puppy  peed on the floor. You can imagine the nurse was not happy! 

Whilst the nurse was shouting  and  getting a lady to come with a mop the police whispered in the Doctors ear. Then the Doctor told me to go  and  sit outside on the chairs with  Puppy .

After a long time when the Policeman came back with a bottle of water for me, he told me that I was going on a big adventure. He also told me that they were looking for my Mum  and  Uncle Carlos  and  Aunty Maria  and  that very sadly they had found my Granny  and  she was not alive any more.  He told me that I had to go to a nice Big House  and  wait to see what would happen. I was worried in case the people at the Big House would not like dogs. I began to cry I thought I might lose Puppy and I would be so lonely. I did not really understand what he said about Granny, how could she not be alive any more. I couldn't handle the thought and I wept again.

The Policeman told me that he would tell them at the Big House that Puppy  had to come as well. 

I felt lost and lonely, totally abandoned, all I really had to call my own was Puppy. I felt I just had to cheer Puppy up so I told her a story my Granny once told me.

It was about a Rottweiller dog called Orion, who officially recognized for his role in rescuing people during the tragedy years ago in a Big Flood. A mudslide forced Orion and his owner Mauricio Pérez to leave their home and go to a safer place. They came across a young girl trapped by turbulent water.

Orion guided the girl to shore by swimming at her side, then jumped back in to pull a second girl out of the water. He then helped eight children climb to high place and over time he saving 37 people from drowning, ranging from a girl of 8 years old to an elderly man of 80 years old.  He was awarded the Medal "Honor The Value" and a certificate for the role he played. He also received plaques and medals from private institutions and governments, international tributes. I told Puppy she deserved one of those Medals and one day I would give her one for sticking with me.


CHAPTER 5 – Life in the Big House

I was waiting at the hospital and suddenly, things happened in a rush.  Some strange soldiers came  and  the Policeman told me to go with them. I was pleased when I heard him tell them "the  Puppy  goes with Him - it's all he has left".  

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We went to the savannah in front of the hospital  and  there was a helicopter already there.   The blades of the helicopter were spinning  and  it was very loud. The dust  and  leaves were blowing at me like the hurricane wind all over again. The policeman did me high five  and  gave me to a big soldier who made me do up my coat  and  put a helmet on me. He put ear plugs in my ears  and  a sort of life jacket on me. Two soldiers pushed me up some big steps into the helicopter. I looked back  and  waved to the Policeman. Then they strapped me into a seat  and  they told me to hold  Puppy  tight. A lady soldier told me this was a Wild Cat Helicopter. She was funny  and  blocked  Puppy 's ears when she said "Wild cat" as she said dogs like to chase cats! She had a red cross on her shoulder  and  she said she was a nurse as well as a soldier. She said they were just giving me a ride to the Children's Home as the bridge on the way was gone  and  there was lots of rubbish blocking the road. I asked if my Mum would be there but it was too noisy I could not understand her answer.

When the helicopter landed, they undid all the straps  and  took off the lifejacket  and  I got out still clutching  Puppy . It was further than I thought  and  I fell down. I felt stupid as there were loads of children watching from the steps of the big house. They seemed disappointed that it was just me  and  Puppy, until behind me the soldiers brought out bottles of water  and  boxes of biscuits. "Come on Boy" said a Lady in an orange T shirt, "come away from that helicopter." She took me into the kitchen with the  puppy   and  I heard the helicopter flying away. I never got to say goodbye to the nice Nurse Soldier Lady. 

The Home was huge. There were lots of bedrooms for boys downstairs  and  upstairs there were lots more for girls. There was a lot of mud everywhere and the roof had leaked and there were buckets catching drips and piles of wet clothes everywhere. There was a very big dining room  and  kitchen. I was in a room with three other boys  and  I had my own bed. The home had a generator that was noisy but it was nice to have light. To save gas they just put the generator on from 6.00 -8.00pm then we went to bed  and  used flash lights.

The Lady in the orange T Shirt was called Miss Lisbeth, she said  Puppy  had to live in the dog house under the building but that I could see her when I wanted. She gave me to a man called Mr. Marcos also in an orange T Shirt  and  he showed me where  Puppy  would stay. He even had dog food for her. He said their dog had got lost in the flood. No one knew about my Mum  and  Aunty  and  Uncle Carlos. I told them the Police said Granny had died but they were looking for the others. Another younger staff member said she heard they were all washed away  and said "accept her sympathy, the Lord is with you boy, all these things will make you strong" I thought that must be a mistake and at that moment I felt rather weak not at all strong. I asked for my Dad but they said they heard that they were all gone. I did not think that could be right. 

As time in the Big House dragged on I sometimes went out with Miss Lizbeth, we were going shopping. I knew from hanging around with mum that this could take all day. We went together because our ID number ended in the same number, she told me all Venezuelans, including children, are assigned two shopping days a week based on their state ID number. 

So there we were after four hours along with thousands of people queuing. Miss Lizbeth kept me close because she said long queues were targets for muggers who sometimes worked their way down person by person. Soldiers armed with tear gas and assault rifles were standing guard over the supermarkets waiting for the supply trucks to arrive. I thought I might like to be a National Guard Officer when I grew up.

Miss Lizbeth told me the other day a young girl gave birth to a baby boy while waiting to buy chicken in the oven-hot plains town of El Tigre, I looked around to make sure no one was having a baby in our line.

I would sit on the curb and do my homework, sometimes you can get to know people I was talking to an old lady called Carrero she had been waiting for hours in a grocery line all of a sudden I noticed her gaze suddenly became more fixed. She tilted backward. No one broke her fall and her head smacked the concrete. She came to and started vomiting. I guess it was the same 'Con cushion' they said I had when I hit my head, I hoped she didn't have to go to the hospital with the grumpy nurse because there was no medicine there and a lot of people crying, and lots of people with gunshot wounds, bleeding everywhere!

Other days Miss Lizbeth would get me to line up with empty five-gallon jugs, hoping to catch a truck that comes through weekly with drinking water. She told me that poorer people wait at the foot of the green mountain that towers over the city, competing to siphon water from its springs.


CHAPTER 6 – Good and bad secrets

Jania told me she had a secret to tell me. We sat under the house with  Puppy   and  she told me........she told me Mr. Marcos had left because of her. He had been trying to get her to do bad things.  He told her that he would get her ready to have a boyfriend. He had been trying to touch her under her panties.

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He told her if she did not do what he said he would kill  Puppy . She said she ran straight away  and  told Miss Lisbeth what he tried to do  and  the police came  and  took him away. She said Mr. Marcos was in the prison waiting for the court to decide on his punishment. I was so mad! How could he say he would hurt  Puppy !  I was pleased he had left as I felt like doing him something really nasty.

Jania said she knew what to do about Mr. Marcos's bad intentions towards her as it was not the first time. She said her mother's boyfriend had done something wrong to her before  and  she had told her Sunday School Teacher. She said that is why she was in the Home. As her mother did not believe her but the Sunday School teacher did. She said the Sunday school teacher told her to "tell the truth  and  truth would set her free"   and  that she had prayed with her, then she got brave  and  when the Police came with the Welfare officer she told them all about it  and  they were sorting it all out. 

Jania said she knew that you should always run from people with bad intentions  and  tell someone. She said she knew now that some bad secrets should not be kept. She explained that "Good secrets" were like not telling about a surprise party or what was in a present. But "Bad secrets" were those where the person threatens you if you tell what they did and where they touch you. No one except your mum or the nurse should touch you where your underwear goes  and  then tell you not to tell anyone that is a bad secret to keep.  

Jania said that after that experience with her mother's boyfriend she had been different. She said her Sunday School Teacher had told her that God loved her  and  that it was not her fault. She said she had decided to serve Christ. I did not know what she meant but I did know I was pleased Mr. Marcos was gone. 


CHAPTER 7 – Life in the Tent School

After about two weeks in the Big House, which turned out to be a Children's Home, with more new people coming each day, the staff said the roads were clear  and  that we would have to start to go to school. 

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They made us walk about a mile as the bus had been crushed by the mudslide. School was weird, no uniforms, no books and we were in a tent. Tents are funny things. When the sun comes out they are hot, hot, hot  and  you have to roll up the sides. When it rains  and  some of the children cry because they think the flood is coming back, then you have to let the sides down again  and  be hot  and  sweaty again.

Our tent had UNICEF written on it which meant that nice people from overseas sent it. 

In the afternoon foreign workers came in blue T shirts they said they were our friends  and  they set up something called a Child Friendly Space where we played games. Their names were funny  and  if you did learn them then they left for good! So in the end we just called them "Miss"   and   "Sir"

I did not have any friends in the Home except one girl who was called Jania. She was 12  and  was already at Secondary School so she did not come with me to the Tent School. She had lived in that Home for months before the Great Flood. She would sit with me under the house  and  pet  Puppy   and  talk to me. I told her that I did not believe that my Mum  and  Aunt  and  Granny  and  Uncle Carlos could all be dead. Granny was old so I could believe that she had not made it but not the others. I had dreams that Mummy was calling me,  and  when it rained I dreamed I was under the car in mud with Puppies foot in my mouth!

The other children all seemed to know each other  and  the three in my room were all from the same village.  They called me 'Helicopter Boy'  and  would make helicopter noises every time I came in. One big boy said that he hated people from my village  and  that he would poison my dog as he wasn't a fierce race like a Pit Bull. He loved Pit Bulls  and  so, after a while, that is what we called him, even the staff.  "Pit" became his name. Everyone would have a job in the Home.

Pit's was to take out the garbage to the bins. He always made me do it so that he would not hurt  Puppy . He said he would tie a block round his neck  and  throw him in the sea. Worse still Pit said he would eat Puppy if he got really hungry.

Another problem was Mr. Marcos. He always looked at me as if I was in the way  and  said I should not hug  Puppy  as I would get 'Leap To Spring Osis'!  And  he told Jania to stay away from me. I began to avoid him. Then one Monday he just did not come to work any longer! I wondered when my Dad would come for me.

Sometimes I was very sad and lonely I would hide and cry quietly hugging Puppy my only comfort.

I didn't do too well in the Tent School, my mind was easily distracted and I got muddled up at times and couldn't concentrate. I wish I could remember where I use to live, I guess it was that bump to my head!

Some nights I would dream about my old home, Puppy and I were playing by the river and dad was home for the week end, it was such a good dream.


CHAPTER 8 – Giving my life to Christ

"Come  and  meet my Sunday School teacher Johan!" So the lady who had helped Sofia 'tell the truth' had come to visit. She was pretty  and  she smelled nice. She had a guitar  and  played songs with the children. She gave us Bible story books  and  crayons to colour. She said that Jesus could sleep in the storm when he was on a boat.

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So I figured He might be able to sleep through a flood and I thought that was incredible!

I could not sleep properly in a nice bed as the flood kept troubling me in my dreams  and  I kept crying for my mother. She told us that Jesus had a special power not to be afraid  and  not to hate people who hurt him. She told us that because Jesus loved us he died on the cross  and  wanted to help us to be friends with God  and  have power not to be afraid  and  not to hate people. She said we had to decide whether to follow Jesus or go our own way.  She said the way to become a Christian was to Repent  and  Believe.

I thought this sounded interesting I have always wanted special powers!!! Also I was very troubled about how much I hated Pit  and  Mr. Matías too!

I knew God had saved my life  and  I really needed to be able to sleep in the storm and through the flood. I decided to give my life to Christ  and  to be a Christian. I am not a great reader but the Bible Books had loads of pictures  and  the Sunday School Teacher said that God loved everyone whether they were top or bottom of the class, good or bad, pretty or ugly, that Jesus still died for them so they could "tell the truth  and  the truth would set them free" She taught us about Noah who had survived a flood and how God had put the rainbow in the sky to give us all hope that He would never destroy the earth by flood again. I liked that story because I had seen a big rainbow when I woke up under the car that awful day of the flood.

Pit somehow heard that I had put my hand up when the Sunday School Teacher prayed. He straight away said I was a Bible bashing Christian. He said Christians were selfish, only helped their own church people  and  taking people's money. He said he would kill  Puppy  then I could pray for him to be raised from the dead. I felt myself getting red I just wanted to punch Pit on the nose! That night I remember the boys in my room were especially tormenting with their helicopter noises  and  saying that nobody wanted to be friends with Helicopter Boy.

I pulled the sheet over my head  and  asked God to switch on those magic powers as right now all I could think about was all the bad things I wanted to do to those guys. I felt so alone but somehow I knew I had a best friend and His name was Jesus. It started to rain and the littlest boy started to cry but I went sound asleep I dreamt about Noah in the Ark and God sending the rainbow but I was frightened that the flood would return. I felt bad the next day, I felt so lost and lonely all I really had to call my own was Puppy, she made me smile, I would throw sticks for her and she would fetch!

CHAPTER 9 – I’m a new creature

Next week Jania and I were the first in Sunday School, I could hardly wait to learn more. She had told us this week we would learn about a butterfly that really started out as a fuzzy little caterpillar. I didn't like caterpillars, my dad had always warned me that they ate lots of his vegetables in the kitchen garden, I knew I didn't like them they were ugly, no one would say that caterpillars are beautiful. 

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A caterpillar is a worm -- and worms are not beautiful! In fact the only good thing about worms was that you could put them on a hook and go fishing. Sofia squirmed when I told her my fishing stories, with wriggling worms.

But then I learnt in Sunday School that one day the caterpillar spun a cocoon about himself and stays there for several weeks. Just hanging upside down, occasionally twitching, who would imagine that anything good was happening. But it was like the caterpillar was being born again and when it comes out, it is no longer a caterpillar, it has been miraculously changed into a beautiful butterfly, it was a new creation.

But it took time, it was like the caterpillar died in the chrysalis or cocoon and eventually the butterfly emerged but it was a struggle.

One day Puppy and I were in the field next to the Children's Home and we saw a chrysalis hanging from a twig, it started twitching and cracking open. We watched as the butterfly struggled to get out. It made me think of all the struggling I had to do over the time since the 'BIG Day' when we escaped the protests and got flooded out of our home. I later learnt that a butterfly must struggle out of its chrysalis to start the blood to flow into its wings to make it strong and able to fly. It must do this to complete its life cycle into a butterfly. I felt I wanted to help the struggling butterfly but by assisting the butterfly and helping it to free itself, I would never let it fully develop and fulfill its destiny. I would actually be hindering it and prevented it from becoming who it was meant to be.

What God showed me was that what He does, sometimes in our lives, is to allow the struggle, the hurt, the process  because we must fight to become fully who we are meant to be.

If He stepped in to help during the most crucial part in our lives, we would never become who we were made to be. As I pondered this thought out came the butterfly, flying away . with Puppy in the chase, she chased that butterfly all around the field until she eventually fell into the ditch which was filled with muddy water, you should have seen her she changed from a white puppy to a brown dog! "That's it Puppy you are going to have a bath even you will become a new creation."

The Bible says, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" When we invite Jesus to come into our heart, we become a new creation. God doesn't just clean us up, He makes us into a new person.

So now when I find myself in a huge struggle or fight I can have hope. I now understand that this could be in the most important part of my life that will make me into who I am destined to be. I know that Jesus is with me and what I am to become is so great that all I have been through and am going though will pave the way for what I am to become. Strong, free, and soaring high with beautiful, colorful butterfly wings to carry me onto the next adventure of life with Puppy.



CHAPTER 10 – I’m in the Lord’s army

I was so excited because today the Missionaries from America were coming to visit us in the Children's Home. We were told they were brining lots of toys from America, I could hardly wait, even Pit was excited and seemed in better mood than usual.

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When they arrived I was given a brand new skateboard and not only that but all the protective gear needed to keep me safe.

They told me the first thing was to make sure I had the right kind of shoes. I know you wouldn't go skating in a pair of cowboy boots, would you? Your shoes should have a flat bottom to help you get a better grip on the board. Next, I was told every skateboarder should wear a helmet. You might think that wearing a helmet makes you look like a dork, but, believe me, it is the smart thing to do. Another thing you will need is pads. It is important to have pads to protect your elbows and knees. Now that I had all the right gear, it is time to go skateboarding. Even professional skateboarders make sure they have the right protective equipment.

Just as we need protective gear in skateboarding, the Bible teaches us that we need protection in life. The Bible calls it the armor of God and it tells us that we need the armor of God to protect us from Satan's evil schemes. We were taught this in Sunday School and marched around singing 'I'm in the Lords army' I loved it, Jasmine thought it was for boys only but we got to learn about the armor of God.

The belt of truth - The Bible tells us that Satan is the "father of lies," but he can never win if we will hold on to the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord

The breastplate of righteousness - Satan can never harm us when we choose to do what God says is right

Feet fitted with the gospel of peace - Satan tries to create worry and confusion in our lives, but knowing Jesus brings peace

The shield of faith - Satan will try to plant seeds of doubt in our hearts and minds, but those seeds of doubt can never take root if we have faith in Jesus

The helmet of salvation - Jesus came from heaven to earth to save us from the evil one, if we accept salvation in Jesus' name, we will win the battle against Satan

The sword of the Spirit - the Bible, God's Holy Word, it is a powerful weapon against Satan.

I know no skateboarder should ever get on his board without the proper equipment, and I should never try to go through life without the armor of God.

CHAPTER 11 – Free at last

That Sunday School Teacher came back again the next week  and  asked if any of us had any questions. I said "How do you turn on the magic powers?" She told us that God loved us  and  wanted us to be free from fear  and  free from hate. She told us we had to take our fears  and  tell them to God. 

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 She told us that God always listens to us  and  that one of the special powers is prayer  and  that this is like a private phone to God. She said this private phone is only connected to God. He must have millions of ears to hear everyone at the same time. She said that fears  and  nightmares are like ropes that tie us  and  that God can cut them if we ask him in Jesus name. We all made cell phones out of cereal packets and started talking to God.

Then she said that hating people was the opposite of what God wanted us to do. She told us it was hard to have love for God in your heart if your heart was filled with hate. She told us we could open the tap of our heart  and  say we are sorry  and  let the hate run out.  She said this is called repentance. 

She told us a neat story about a woman who did some bad things in her life. She didn't say what they were but we know that she was very, very sorry. She felt so bad in fact, that she went to see Jesus in someone's house-when she wasn't even invited!! She didn't know anyone, the people in the house didn't want her there but she was meeting Jesus! I imagine she must have felt very scared and very little. I don't mean little like she was tiny, I mean little like she was with people who were very important. She probably felt UNimportant. Not only did she go, but she knelt down behind Jesus and washed his feet WITH HER TEARS! Then she washed them with perfume.

You can imagine how the other people in the house felt. One of them got upset with her and with Jesus! Simon the Pharisee didn't think Jesus should be letting her do that. But Jesus not only let her do it, he told her that her sins-all the bad things we do in our life-were forgiven. She was able to leave with a happy and peaceful heart. There were so many lessons to be learned from this story, firstly the woman did something wrong and wanted to make it right. I could think of lots of things I had said and done that I wish I could now make right. Sophia told me this is what Jesus wants me to do. If we do something wrong, what could we do to make it right? What are some things we could do to make it better?

The other thing we need to get from this story is how Jesus reacted. Did Jesus throw the woman out? Did he say-you did something wrong, leave me alone? What did Jesus do? He let her stay, he let her ask for forgiveness, and then he forgave her. It's important for us to do the same.

I decided to give it a try. After all, what had I got to lose except horrible dreams, bad feelings  and  loneliness? I gave God my fears, my memories of that scary storm, the sadness  and  the loneliness. Then I gave God the anger  and  the hate. It wasn't easy but I chose to stop hating  and  to forgive those mean kids  and  even Pit.

Then I remembered Mr. Matías and  his threats to hurt  Puppy   and  I thought of him in the State Prison  and  I even decided not to be angry with him any more too. I was free at last, free to . FORGIVE!


CHAPTER 12 – I’m sorry

I just have to learn how to say 'I'm sorry' it just doesn't seem to come naturally, Pit has made my life a misery and I have been mean to him as well. How do I say I'm sorry? These were the questions I was asking myself, Jania and our Sunday School Teacher.

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She told me that sincere apologies can lead to forgiveness, which takes the sting out of hurts. I knew this was necessary in a happy, healthy life. But I had to learn how to say I'm sorry, how to apologies and really mean it even to someone like Pit, because up until now I was glad I had punched him on the nose. Then I learnt the three things needed to successfully apologize.

1)  Remorse : Feeling sorry for the action.
2)   Repentance : Expressing what's in your heart.
3)  Recompense : This is when you try to make amends, which is not always possible, but always worth a try.

I knew "I'm sorry" means nothing unless it comes from a repentant heart. So I first had to ask God to forgive me for being so nasty to Pit.  

I had read in Efesios 4:32  Sed más bien amables unos con otros, misericordiosos, perdonándoos unos a otros, así como también Dios os perdonó en Cristo.

So I had no choice but to go and find Pit and tell him how sorry I was for punching him in the nose. "I'm sorry Pit. I blew it. I was wrong. Please forgive me Pit."

Guess what Pit put his hand out and we shook hands, it was the beginning of the healing that was so needed

I felt better after unpacking all those super powers but I was still lonely...... That night I dreamed of my Dad. He was looking for me in the mud, and all the nightmares and fears of that terrible night came flooding back, but then, in my dream Jesus came walking into my room and turned on the light and I wasn't afraid any more and Jesus took my hand and led me outside. There was dad and he and I and Puppy started playing on a lovely green lawn outside of a beautiful new house, it was a good dream and I woke up feeling good inside.


CHAPTER 13 – Daddy

Miss Lisbeth  and  the other adults in orange T shirts were always asking me what I remembered about where I came from. I told them my name  and  my village  and   I told them my Dad was Jonathan but I could not remember Granny's real name or Aunty Maria's or Uncle Carlos's surname . My Mum's name Hanna That is why I am Johan. Jo-Han .

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They told me that the Police said that they did not find my Mum  and  them  and  that the house went in the sea. I kept hoping it wasn't true. They said they would try to find my Dad.

Then one day Miss Lisbeth came into school  and  said I had to come now, now, now! I was worried that maybe something had happened to  Puppy  or that he had escaped  and  chewed up someone's shoes. It would not be the first time. She said no, I had a visitor. I went into the office  and  there was a very dirty tired looking man with a beard. It was ......my Dad.....He held his arms out  and  we just hugged  and   hugged and I wept for a long time He said he was sorry, that he had only just found out where I was as he had been told I was lost with my Mum  and  Lisa  and  Uncle Carlos. He had walked for days to get from the other side of the island to get to our village.  He said that people said that the whole family was lost. Then he met that Policeman from the first day  and  he told him I was alive  and  in the Home. As I listened, I realised that it was true my Mum was actually gone in the storm,  and  Aunty Maria  and  Uncle Carlos, I cried  and  cried  and  cried  and  then Miss Lisbeth suggested I take my Dad to meet  Puppy . 

When we sat under the house my Dad gave me a special present, all wrapped up, a Teddy Bear toy, soft and squidgy, little did I know how precious 'Teddy' would become to me.

Dad told me that he had been so sad when he thought that I was dead  and  that seeing me today was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He told me that he was so sorry that he had not come before. He asked me to forgive him for not being there. Dad said our lives may have taken some strange twists and turns but the One who holds our tomorrows is still in control. It kind of reminded me of the story of Joseph in the Bible.

Dad said that he had asked God to help him find me  and  now that he had, we would serve God together for the rest of our lives.  " And  Puppy"  


CHAPTER 14 – Peace like a river

Dad and I, along with Puppy, moved back into the country side, it was where we were from, it's where 'we belong' Dad told me.

Dad started planting vegetables, and keeping fish, goats and even rabbits to eat and distribute among the community.

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 He taught me about Moringa and we planted it all around our property and all the animals ate it and were very healthy. We even drank the tea and began to feel stronger and healthier day by day.

Sometimes we would all go down to the river to play. Those times I felt most at peace, Puppy would splash around at the edge and try to pick up rocks from the river bed, when she did bubbles would come out of her nose! It looked so funny I would laugh at her.

Dad taught me how to swim in the river, I loved those times with Dad, he made me feel special and it almost made up for not having mum around.

I continued to go to Sunday School and I learnt more about peace. This was a whole new experience for me. I learnt that Jesus said "  La paz os dejo, mi paz os doy; no os la doy como el mundo la da. No se turbe vuestro corazón, ni tenga miedo."

But sometimes at the end of the day, when it was time to turn out the lantern, we still did not have electricity, and go to bed, I wanted to know that I was not alone in the darkness. That is where my Teddy Bear came to the rescue.

I shall never forget the day Dad gave me 'Teddy' it was the day we were united at the Big House and at night Teddy was never very far away. Somehow, the darkness was not so frightening with "Teddy" in the bed with me, and Puppy sleeping at the foot of the bed in his special bed that Dad had built for her.

Our Sunday School teacher told us if we want to know peace, we can only know that peace when we know Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  If we don't know Jesus, we can have no peace.

That is how I was at the Big House before Jesus became my best friend and gave me that super power to forgive Pit and even that nasty man that threatened to kill Puppy and did nasty things to my friend Jania. I had no peace only fear and anger and loneliness but those days are now way behind me. In another life it seems.

I said to myself "Johan you have moved on, now you have your Dad and your Heavenly Daddy AND Puppy, I had found peace of mind, what more could a boy ask for!"

CHAPTER 15 – He watches over us

As time went by the crops started to grow again, the bananas were bearing and there was more to eat. There was a new sense of hope within our family as we grew together and grew in Jesus.

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Dad said we had to plant food because fields lie fallow while farmers spend their days waiting to buy imported goods. I told him sometimes the teachers even walk out of classrooms to search for food they can eat or resell.

Dad said that I was growing up, maturing, I was very pleased, I pushed out my chest out and stuck my chin up and went on tip toe to put on a few inches. I was now his big boy.

One day I noticed that Puppy was growing up as well in fact she was getting very fat!

I didn't understand why until she started to pull leaves together and she found some rags in the shed and it seemed she was making a bed for herself under the house. Then she lay down and I sat down and watched as she gave birth to two beautiful little puppies. They were perfect except their eyes were shut, but Dad explained they were born that way and very soon he was right they opened their eyes and saw me for the first time.

What Fun Fab days we had Puppy and I playing with her new puppies, I just knew I could never be happier than I was those days. Puppy always watched over her puppies, she would pick them up and bring back into the shelter if they wondered off and that is when I began to think that my Heavenly Daddy knows everything that I go through.

There is nothing that happens to me that He doesn't know about. Just like Puppy He is watching over me. When I felt lonely and totally abandoned at the Big House, when everything seems hopeless, I began to realize that even then God knows and God cares.

And if I wonder off track a bit, He comes after me just like Puppy rounds up her puppies so my Heavenly Daddy comes after me, gives me a big hug and brings me back into the pack.

Then it all came flooding back, the smell of 'Pan de Jamon' baking as Granny pottered around the kitchen in our old house that the Flood destroyed on 'The Big Day', and I can hear her now, singing at the top of her old crackly voice a song the Missionaries had taught her...

¿Cómo podré estar triste, cómo entre sombras ir,
cómo sentirme sólo y en el dolor vivir?
Si Cristo es mi consuelo, mi amigo siempre fiel,
si aún las aves tienen seguro asilo en Él
si aún las aves tienen seguro asilo en Él


¡Feliz, cantando alegre,
yo vivo siempre aquí;
Si Él cuida de las aves,
cuidará también de mí!


And I wept with joy, I knew my hurting heart was healed and for the first time since that dreadful night I sang that ol’ ol’ song


¡Feliz, cantando alegre,
yo vivo siempre aquí;
Si Él cuida de las aves,
cuidará también de mí!

Not just sparrows, He watches over Dad and I

'And Puppy and her puppies'!

 

THE END

 
 

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