Banished to Patmos

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The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea

This was one of my first Blogs. This adventure to Patmos took place back in 2008, I added to the original story.

Our boat ride to Patmos was anything but uneventful. We were Izmir, Turkey, experiencing a different type of thunder storm, one that sounded more like an air raid with the loud popping sound of lightning shaking our hotel. We had to be up by 4:00 AM to allow for clearing customs for the departure to Patmos. My mind was filled with doubt about this trip. The unfamiliar weather played into my fear; we did, after all, have to pay a little extra to charter a boat off season to the remote island; things just did not feel right. As we approached the dock, a small, older boat was waiting for us to board. The vessel was bobbing wildly like a whale caught in a fishing net. I could not imagine how we could board the boat, let alone sail in it. We all needed assistance to get on the boat but not our leader Joanne. It seemed that as soon as she placed her jewel-studded shoes on the dock, it calmed down, like Jesus walking on water she was in. No sooner did the rage continue with waves splashing all over the deck. By the time I boarded, the ramp was being violently whipped up and down with huge swells beating the boat, Mother Nature’s heavy hand showed no mercy. We were told that instead of the usual three hours it was going to take five, and the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island” quickly flooded my brain,”A three-hour tour.” I found a spot to sit and started to pray, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for all the bad things I said about of some of the people on this trip.” It was not even 20 minutes when the dread of motion sickness set in. Like a chameleon, my color tone changed from yellow to green, and ridding myself  of the small morsel of breakfast was too much to bear. The W/C was located on the deck. Nothing about this boat was use- friendly. The Aegean Sea made me drunk, and like an inebriated sailor I struggled to go outside to free my stomach of the queasiness. As returned I wanted to check on an older lady from our team, but I dared not disturb her near-death experience. My roommate Alida, a nurse, needed to use the facilities, but she insisted on taking her personal toilet seat cover to the bathroom, I had to take a rain check on laughing.

Where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation
Entrance to the monastery

By the time we finally docked the boat, I honestly felt like I got beat up by a strong man and lost the fight.

We were quickly ushered to the top the hill to St. John’s Monsatery,  where an unfriendly Greek Orthodox priest was guarding the door as we passed. He told us that we only had an hour because he was scheduled to teach a class. We all wanted to get the most out of the experience, and were taking in all of what our tour guide was explaining. I was in complete awe, touching the spot where St. John laid his head to rest, the makeshift granite table he used for writing. I was trying so hard to imagine what it must have been like, to be in the presence of God. The old apostle wrote the Book of Revelation in this cave, Jesus instructed him to write down these words. This was Jesus speaking to him! The voice so powerful that it cracked the granite overhead in three directions.

The strict Greek priest forbade us to take pictures, but we were not going to be denied. We hid our cameras and took pictures without flash. This was before phones had good cameras. For a special blessing I placed rosaries and handkerchiefs that I purchased in Ephesus on the table, where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation.  We prayed and could have stayed there for hours but the priest ushered us out and locked the doors behind him.

Patmos icons

We had only a few hours before we boarded the boat from the nether world. Many of the shops were closed but I managed to find a store with original artwork. The only thing I could afford was a painted egg and an icon of John. The artist was out running an errand, so her husband, not realizing, sold me the egg with wet paint. When I got home, the gold frame came off along with the Greek newspaper it was wrapped in.

Our Greek lunch

My roommate Alida wanted to experience Greek food, but we only had a half an hour to eat. By the time our food arrived, my head was still spinning from the ride down to Patmos. I did not enjoy one bite of the beautiful feast set before me, so I can never say how great the food was, just that it looked amazing.

We all boarded the small boat…well not all of us. Jane was missing. Other than the monastery, I could not remember seeing her after that. An hour went by and still no Jane. This is a small island, and for a person to go missing is really unusual. We needed to get back to Izmir before dark, so the last thing we wanted to experience was the bad attitude of the sea at night. We were well into the second hour of looking for Jane, when Joanne, the head of the ministry, decided to call the authorities. I volunteered to go up and down the streets of the smallest village one more time. I yelled, “Jane, Jane, we need to leave, where are you?” Suddenly, just a stone’s throw away from the boat, I found her. Jane was so sick that just like Rip Van Winkle, she  fell into a deep sleep. The bench where Jane was sleeping was hidden behind a shady tree. Jane never heard the commotion we made, yelling her name and nervously running around to find her.

The ride back was smooth sailing. I will always remember this wonderful experience. Years later, we returned but this time we had the cave all to ourselves for hours.

“On  the Lord’s Day I was in the spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and sent it to the seven churches…” Rev. 1:10-11

 

  San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana's wedding   Deuteronomy 1:11
Me, Maddie, Wil, Lucas and Jacob 2 Timothy 3:15 New King
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My High Adventure

My High Adventure days

During my sabbatical from the Catholic Church, I had the great privilege of working for George Otis, an Evangelical minister; the name of his ministry was High Adventure.

I was a member of the Valley Vineyard, and it was through this ministry that I met and became friends with a young lady name Vickie. Vickie was working for High Adventure and told me of a part-time opening. My children were young and both in school, so I was able to take on the responsibility of that position.

Just three of many books written by George Otis

High Adventure’s offices were located on the second floor of a business building in Northridge, California. There the genius of George Otis took on the world to spread the gospel. “The Voice of Hope” was his brainchild, and he put up the first Christian radio station in Lebanon, near the Israeli border. Mr. Otis’s “High Adventure” was not an easy task because all this took place in the mid-seventies when Lebanon was being torn apart by the PLO. I was unfamiliar with the acronym PLO and was too embarrassed to ask what it stood for. The PLO was a topic of conversation at work, and I quickly learned that PLO stood for Palestine Liberation Organization, a terrorist group headed by Yasser Arafat.

Location of the Voice of Hope

George Otis did not listen to the voice of doubt, but to the voice of God. In order for him to accomplish this monumental undertaking, through this entire journey God aligned Mr. Otis with the right people to bring hope to Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries. Soon they would hear Christian programs to lift their spirits. George Otis, with the favor of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Major Saad Haddad of Lebanon, and other-hand picked men of God, who helped set up  “The Voice Of Hope.”

My job at High Adventure was to prepare taped programs for airing on The Voice of Hope. One of my duties was to listen to “Thru the Bible” programs by J. Vernon McGee. I was to splice out the name of “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” whenever it was used  because many Jews and perhaps Arabs who were Muslims might be listening to the broadcast, and out of respect to their beliefs, George Otis did not want to offend them; he only wanted to bring the Word of God to them.

J. Vernon McGee was a Bible scholar, whose  voice was so distinct that I can still hear it playing in my head. This was another means by which the Lord trained me to love the Word of God. Though J. Vernon McGee did not agree with Catholic doctrine, his understanding of the interpretation of the Bible was and is still well received by Protestants. Although he died in 1988, his program is still aired (Thru the Bible) on over 600 radio stations today.

The staff at High Adventure was small: Mr. Otis, his secretary, the accountant, and his assistant, Vickie, Don, his son, and me. The offices were small, and I worked in the back room. George Otis was a little taller than me, but when he walked into the office, and when he spoke, it seemed that the room shrank because he exuded extraordinary grace. George Otis was always upbeat and ready to take on what the world threw at him.  This one-time CEO of Lear Jets  was now a humble servant of the Most High God. Nothing would change the course God had paved for this giant, and George Otis knew God was on his side because he never stopped seeking Him.

On many occasions, George Otis traveled  to the Holy Land and Lebanon to oversee The Voice of Hope. He was on the PLO’s hit list, so he was instructed by Israeli officials to get a bulletproof vest for traveling to Lebanon. As part of my job responsibility, I was asked to drive to Los Angeles to pick up the vest for him. Anyone who knows me also knows that I really don’t like to drive to Los Angeles. I was given the keys to an old station wagon, of course no navigation apps, no map, just handwritten directions to get to some ammunition store in downtown LA to pick up the bulletproof vest. Through the grace of God  I made it there and back safely. When I turned off the engine of the old wagon, the car kept rattling and moving like it was having convulsions. I thought that I had done something to cause this and was scared to go back up to the office. I prayed for the car to stop shaking, and then went about my business.

On various occasions I drove to Camarillo to a beautiful church off the 101 Freeway, either to take paperwork, or to pick up something of importance for Mr. Otis. I loved working for this ministry, but it was short-lived because of Mike’s position, which required us to move to Orange County.

My desire to visit the Holy Land started in this small office. Part of the High Adventure ministry was to take tour groups to Israel. I’d hear the wonderful stories of the birthplace of our Lord so I longed to visit it. God knows the desires of our hearts, so He has granted me opportunities to visit the Holy Land. My first trip took place in 1996, and I have continued to travel there almost every year since.

I am surprised that George Otis’ story has not been picked up by some big movie production company, because what he did was both dangerous and exciting. I know of no other person who can say that he built a Christian radio station in Lebanon, especially in the height of a war. I pray that someday a movie will  be made about George Otis’ High Adventure.

The Lord has been so gracious to me because I never really realized how great the impact of George Otis has been on the Christian world. I naively saw him as my employer with a crazy busy job. I was ignorant of the war in Lebanon and the special need for the Voice of Hope to offer hope to Christians in the Middle East. I thank God that I had minuscule part of such a meaningful ministry. God is good!

Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever
Mike, St. Louis Cathedral Jackson Square New Orleans 1 John 4:1
Ephesians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 11 Take no part in the fruitless works
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Fear No Evil

Isaiah 41:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

I’ve always been a scaredy-cat, and can remember when this fear set into my mind. I’m sure it was part of my upbringing that brought this on. This fear got ahold of my mentality and has stayed with me most of my adult life.

The fear came in different ridiculous waves from fear of small, yappy dogs, to fear of getting pistol whipped and, of course, scary movies.

When my sister Norma and I were in our early teens, our mother sent us out to buy hamburgers. We walked to the local fast food establishment, which was less than a mile away. On the way there we encountered a dog that viciously came at us. Granted, the dog was a Chihuahua, but it was meaner than hell. We were about a block from the restaurant when the dog attacked us. We both froze, and the dog smelled our fear and knew he could keep us captive. Norma and I huddled together with our fists to our mouths. This fear was real, but at the same time comical. I would speak to Norma is a low voice to explain an escape, but it was as if the dog could understand what I was saying. I’d take a step and the barks got louder and more malicious. All Norma would say was, “What are we going to do?” I am the older sister, and wanted to step up to the responsibility of protecting her but the dog was relentless. In broad daylight, on a normal street lined with homes on one side and Colton High School on the other, we were in prison for what seemed to be hours. Finally the stupid dog grew tired of his bullying and went home. Needless to say, this ruined our outing; by the time we got home with the hamburgers our mother gave us an ear full for taking so long. It was useless to try to explain that a bantam weight dog held us up for so long. Our mother would never believe the story either way.

Child traumatic experience “The Tingler”

The first scary movie I saw was “The Tingler.” I was seven years old when this movie debuted. In the movie the spine of a person would escape and kill people. In one part of the movie “The Tingler” escaped into a movie theater to get its next victim. My sister Jo and I had our legs folded on the theater seat so that “The Tingler” could not get us,  and we screamed the entire time. Little did I know that this was a prelude to the mother of all scary movies “The Exorcist.”

My mother read the book The Exorcist so when the movie came out she wanted to see it. Mike and I were living in Santa Barbara at that time. We drove to Colton to pick up my mom and then headed to UCLA where the movie was playing. We waited in a long line to get in. I never asked my mom what the movie was about, because I was caught up in the hype that the film created.

The Exorcist, my nightmare

The movie scarred the rest of my life, I have never been so scared of anything since then.  I closed my eyes for a better part of the movie, but when I opened them, it was only to catch the most gory graphic parts. I wanted to cry, but I was in shock . Even today I cannot watch the trailer for this movie. This was in the early 70’s and we had a 240 Z two-seater car. I sat in between my mother and Mike. It was the longest ride home, and I thought for sure that either Mike or my mother were going to turn into the Devil. I never looked at them nor spoke a word, no one did.

The movie, The Exorcist, was captivating because exorcisms are real – so real that Pope Francis recently convened an exorcism workshop at the Vatican with 250 priests from 51 countries  in attendance. Exorcisms are in high demand because of the impact of the evil that has effected people.  People open doors to demons and they invite other evil spirits to join them; before you know it, the person is effected. Demons don’t need an invitation because people unknowingly  invite them in by viewing pornography, abusing drugs, alcohol, etc. This is just a small example of demons getting into your life. New Age and occult involvement is another big open door for Satan, he loves religions that make you a demi god. Satan is the master of all deception and is waiting for us to crack that door to come in.

Parents need to discern what their children are watching  because evil seeds planted can traumatize them. The Enemy’s plan is to get them while their minds are pliable and innocent.

2 Timothy 1:7-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Fear is not from God, and though I’ve known this for years, I still struggled with this phobia.

The St. Benedict Cross, and the Rosary

For the last 10 years Mike, my husband  has traveled for work. Sometimes he would be gone for several days. I suffered greatly whenever Mike traveled. I never got a good night’s sleep either. I broke this fear by praying the Rosary, and sleeping with a St. Benedict crucifix.

Psalm 34:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

I no longer am a slave to fear, I praise God that I was delivered of this through prayer.

My Prayer: Dear Lord, remove all fear from us: fear of dying, fear of cancer, fear of divorce, fear of everything that is not of You. Your Word says that perfect love casts out all fear. Dear Lord, allow us to experience Your perfect love. Train us to say Your prayer, ” The Our Father” to deliver us from all evil. Touch those who are afraid of the unknown. Let them have complete trust in You.  Amen

 

Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever
Mike, St. Louis Cathedral Jackson Square New Orleans 1 John 4:1
Ephesians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 11 Take no part in the fruitless works
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