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LESSON #1

Flash Flood Warning

LESSON #2

The BIG Flood

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 – Flash Flood Warning

"Johan, No school tomorrow, the radio says there has been heavy rain in the Mountains and we are expecting flooding" my Mother announced the news. "Hurray! No school!" I thought to myself. Being seven years old and in Primary School, I much preferred playing in the river with my dog to school work!

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"The Prime Minister says no work either it is serious" my Mother continued.
“He said the rains this year have been much heavier than usual and the soil is very wet so only a small amount of rain could have significant impacts.”

I knew the rainy season was between late April and October. So hearing mum talking about some frontal system and a trough sending torrential rain and she said the north had been ravaged by severe flooding after several days of heavy rain in the Mountains. This was so early in the season I started to get nervous.

Uncle Diego told me to go and start collecting sand he had to make up sandbags to try and put around the house especially blocking up the doors. Puppy and I took the wheelbarrow down to the beach I was shouveling sand into it and Puppy was scratching it out. It turned into a game until I remembered mums warning ‘We gotta be prepared” I rushed home with my sand and helped Uncle Diego bag it up.

Mum was busy gather supplies, she said it was in case we had to leave immediately, or if services are cut off. She had to remember Granny’s specific needs, including medication. I told her not to forget Puppies special needs, like dog food, a bone and drinking water. Mum seemed more interested in drinking water for the family and I was running around drawing water from the well and Granny was boiling it up and putting it in large containers. “Put in the bleach” mum kept saying.

Uncle Diego had obtained extra batteries and everyone was busy charging their cell phones. Someone from America had once sent us a solar charger for phones and Uncle Diego was clutching it like his life depended upon it!

Granny was busy putting all our important documents in a waterproof container, it was taking a long time because every time she came across a birth certificate, it always seemed to have a long story behind it. And the marriage certificate had stories about the great day, even the Passports had to pondered over, page by page remembering all those trips to far off lands.

Auntie Rosa was busy putting items into bags include things like blankets, towels and clothing. Boxes contained all the extra tinned foods that Uncle Diego had got from the market. “Things are selling out the shelves are bare” he told mum. “This is a crisis, don’t forget the first aid kit.”

Mum said we should make up a Family Disaster Plan, in which each person has a role and knows in advance exactly what to do and how to work together in case of emergency.
All of a sudden I felt very lonely and ignored, all the adults were busy doing important things and I was told to just ‘go away,’ I felt very rejected and alone. I wondered where my Dad was.
He did not live with us or even in our village. He worked in the cotton fields and cutting sugar cane. I did see him though, as he would bring bags of food for my Mum. He would sometimes talk to me on her phone. Even thought dad was not here I know I was important to my mum and dad. Mum was always telling me “Johan you are a special boy” She always told me God knew me and would quote the Bible “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart” It always made me feel special and I tried to remember this now as everyone was rushing around preparing for the ‘BIG flood.’

But as time went on I started to get frightened, I wish Dad was here, no one seemed to have any time for me, so I went outside to find Puppy and we sat together and watched the dark storm clouds get darker, ‘full of rain’ Uncle told me, I wished they would go away and leave us alone.


CHAPTER 2 – The Big Flood

We will never forget that night, It was about 7pm when the electricity went off and we turned on Uncle Diego’s flashlight. The wind was howling outside and Granny kept talking about a storm and flash flood she had been in as a child. Uncle Diego got a message on his phone from a friend in America to say that torrential rain was causing flash flooding and mudslides in the interior.

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It didn’t seem that far away from us and very soon the water started coming under the door and something hit the window and broke it. Uncle Diego taped a cushion over it. Mummy and Auntie Rosa 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 door broke and a lot of dirty water came gushing in and we realized that the river next to the house was overflowing. We all backed into the bedroom where Granny was on the bed. Uncle Diego put my mattress over her. The noise was terrifying with the crashing of falling trees and buildings and thunder rolling. 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 we knew we had to get out.

Uncle Diego 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. Auntie Rosa 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.

I held on to Puppy and stepped into the water. We had to get to the Primary school up on the hill we would be safe there.

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

By then the water was up to my waist and large rocks were tumbling down. I held Puppy 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...... my head banged into something. Puppy put her foot in my mouth it tasted all muddy, that was the last thing I remembered.

CHAPTER 3 - The Morning After

I woke up under a car, kind of jammed against the tyres. 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. There was a beautiful rainbow in the sky that was the only good think I remembered. You could not see the road because of the mud the flood water was up to the windows of some houses. I had a big lump on my head. And where was my puppy? I called her and looked and looked. People were standing on the roof of cars just looking. Cars were smashed and crushed. Electricity poles were down and wires everywhere. I could not understand how I had got to the Bay. Our house was much further up the ravine. 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, Auntie Rosa, Uncle Diego 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 that seemed careless. I thought someone should help her look for it. The Policeman said we would have to go to the hospital by boat. Someone gave me a Tamale and a bottle of water, I was so hungry it was delicious.

On the way back to the bay we went past a crushed car and I heard a whimper. I saw a tail. I told the Policeman "stop, stop please I see Puppy" and I looked under the car and there she was wet and muddy but there......

I picked her up and hugged her tight she was shivering. The Policeman said Puppy could come too, at last something good had happened. 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 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.

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Then the policeman took me to the Hospital. 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 flooded with mud up to their window sills.

When we got to the hospital there was a fat 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 Diego! I said I did not want to stay there. The 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 nurse took my temperature, 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 flooding, but no one had come to relieve her. She said that I had a "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 Juice for me and a Medianoche sandwich. He told me that I was going on a big adventure. He also told me that they were looking for my Mum and Uncle Diego and Auntie Rosa 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.

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 another 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 on top the helicopter were spinning like a fan and it was very loud. The dust and leaves were blowing me over, 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, I wish I had one for Puppy, she was in my coat but she was shivering with fear.

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 Puppy and I heard the helicopter flying away. I never got to say goodbye to the nice Nurse Soldier Lady.
The Home was huge, the lounge, dining room and kitchen were thick with mud, and there were piles of wet clothes everywhere. There were lots of bedrooms for boys downstairs and upstairs there were lots more for girls.
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. There was no TV or Internet as the Flood had messed up everything. 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 Camila, 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. Matías 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 storm. No one knew about my Mum and Aunty and Uncle Diego. 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.

I was beginning to feel frustrated, trapped and hurt. Pain started to take over my feelings, I had to find someone to blame. I started getting angry it seemed a way of releasing energy, it was my little protest to the loss of my family, it just didn’t make sense, it simple wasn’t fair and I wanted to lash out and hurt someone.

Nurse came to talk to me she wanted to know how I was feeling physically, I told her I felt drained and empty. I seem to be having difficulty making decisions or staying focused. I was becoming easily frustrated and ended up arguing more with people, I was feeling tired, sad, numb, lonely and worried. This was hard, I needed help.


CHAPTER 6 – Good and bad secrets

Another problem was Mr. Matías. 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 Sofia, my only friend, to stay away from me. I began to avoid him. Then one Monday he just did not come to work any longer!

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One day Sofia told me she had a secret to tell me. We sat under the house with Puppy and she told me........she told me Mr. Matías 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. He told her if she did not do what he said he would kill Puppy. She said she ran straight away and told Miss Camila what he tried to do and the police came and took him away. She said Mr. Matías 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.

Sofia said she knew what to do about Mr. Matías'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.

Sofia 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.

Sofia 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. Matías 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 go to school.

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They made us walk about a mile as the bus had been washed away. School was weird, no uniforms, no books, and mud everywhere, 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 storm 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" They taught us that this sudden and intense storm they said was especially unusual because it occurred in December, while we all know the typical rainy lasts from May to October. They taught us that the out-of-season rains were formed from some cold front but I didn’t believe them because it was very hot! They told us about debris flows that moved rapidly, and many of them were highly destructive. I guess that is what hit me behind the knee and made me fall into the water on that dreadful night of the Big Flood.

I did not have any friends in the Home except for Sofia. 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 Diego 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, the smaller boys would cry and I would I dreamed I was under the car covered in mud. (With Puppies paw 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 she 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 her neck and throw her in the sea. 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!

I wondered when my Dad would come and rescue me.


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.

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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. 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.

That night it started to rain heavy and the rain was lashing in and some of the boys started to cry and one wet his bed but I went sound asleep even though I still had a horrible dream, which made me feel bad the next day I felt so lost and lonely all I really had to call my own was Puppy, but then I remembered I could call on my new friend Jesus.

CHAPTER 9 – I’m a new creature

Next week Sofia 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 Flood’. 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, "De modo que si alguno está en Cristo, nueva criatura es; las cosas viejas pasaron; he aquí, son hechas nuevas!" 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, Sofia 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 three things needed to successful apologise:

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 Efésios 4:32 Antes, sede uns para com os outros benignos, misericordiosos, perdoando-vos uns aos outros, como também Deus vos perdoou em 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 Camila and the other adults in orange T shirts were always asking me what I remembered about where I came from. I could not remember Granny's real name or Auntie Rosa’s or Uncle Diego’s other name. I told them my name and my village and my Dad's name Jose, Mum’s name was Hanny, that is why I am 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 river. I kept hoping it wasn't true. They said they would try to find my Dad.

Then one day Miss Camila came into school and said I had to come now, now, now! I was worried that maybe something had happened to Puppy or that she 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. 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, Auntie and Uncle Diego. Dad had walked for days to get from the Interior 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 flood and mudslides, and Auntie Rosa and Uncle Diego, I cried and cried and cried and then Miss Camila 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 gone 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” I said


CHAPTER 14 – Peace like a river

Dad and I along with Puppy moved back into the interior, 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.

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.

Dad gave me Teddy 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 Sofia. I had no peace only fear and anger and loneliness but those days are now way behind me. In another life it seems.

I thought to myself “Johan you have moved on, now you have your Dad and your Heavenly Daddy and Puppy, 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. Dad said that I was growing up, I was very pleased, I pushed my chest out and stuck my chin up in the air and went on tip toe to make myself a little taller. Dad said I was now his big boy, he had my back, he was watching over me.

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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 over her as she gave birth to three 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 watching over them.

What ‘Fun Fabulous’ 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.
I was happy the sun was shining and the birds were singing and a little sparrow came hopping up to look at Puppy’s puppies.
Then it all came flooding back, the smell of Tostones frying as Granny pottered around the kitchen in our old house that the Big Flood destroyed, and I can hear her now, singing at the top of her old crackly voice an old song the Missionaries taught her years ago…

¿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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