//November

1969 Revisited

by Connie Vandeman Jeffery

The year 1969 wasn’t about Woodstock or the moon landing, although I remember the latter event in great detail. We watched it live on television—the Apollo 11 landing and then Neal Armstrong’s famous words as he stepped on the moon’s surface: “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I watched my dad wipe tears from his eyes and my mom sit spellbound in the rented trailer on Fenwick Island, Delaware, where we were vacationing that July. I was 13 years old and it didn’t get much better than a vacation at the beach and watching history unfold on live television. For me, though, 1969 was about learning to play the guitar, wishing I was Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary, and riding my horse, Nellie. And Vietnam—‘69 will always be about Vietnam.

Richard M. Nixon became president in 1969, and while Vietnam seemed like someone else’s war, it soon became our war, too, when my brother Bobby was drafted. Having a brother in Vietnam brought its own kind of anxiety to our family. I prayed for his safety every night and wrote letters to him and helped Mom with the care packages. He was seven years my senior and the closest brother I had. George, my oldest brother, got married and left home when I was three. Ronnie was 14 years older than me; following a complete nervous breakdown, he lived in a state hospital near our home. Bobby was all I had. He was more serious and grown-up when he came back from boot camp and headed quite quickly to Vietnam—which seemed like such a scary place. Bobby was a medic in 1969— right at the height of U. S. troop involvement. I just wanted him to come home safely.

I cried a lot about the war and about Bobby being gone. I strummed the three chords I had learned on the guitar and sang my Peter, Paul and Mary songs: “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? And how many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand? And how many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” And that’s where I thought the answers were—blowing in the wind, just out of my grasp.

When the telegram arrived, hand-delivered by two uniformed men, I watched in slow motion as my dad accepted the black bordered envelope and ripped it open with mom at his side. I stood in the background, too afraid to move. When their eyes lit upon the words “not seriously wounded,” they actually fell to their knees right there at the front door and wept tears of joy. I didn’t know what to feel. Elated, of course. Bobby was coming home, and he’d only had some shrapnel in his leg. He would be at Walter Reed Hospital for several weeks. It was the best possible news.

But I was numb, too. So many conflicting emotions would follow. I was so proud of Bobby. He’d served his country, made it through with only the most minor of physical wounds, but he was so different when he returned. Something had changed. He would never talk about the war. And he wasn’t proud of his service, Purple Heart and all. He was broken, but I was too young to know why. I had Nellie, the horse, who listened to all my mixed feelings, and I had my music. I also had that simple childlike faith that would only later become something solid—my faith at age 13 felt mushy, like Jell-O. I wanted to believe everything would work out. That Bobby would be normal again. That Ronnie would be healed of schizophrenia. That Romans 8:28 was true and all things really do “work together for good to them that love God.” It just didn’t feel as if my prayers were being answered.

I was just as surprised as my parents when Bobby re-enlisted, got married, and moved to San Antonio, Texas, stationed at Fort Sam Houston. He would live in the South the rest of his life—Texas and Georgia. And he would struggle for the rest of his life with the addiction issues that had begun, I later learned, in Vietnam. Marriage, a beautiful daughter, a divorce, remarriage, a series of jobs as a car salesman for different dealerships, buying a home in Georgia, losing that home to foreclosure, two grandchildren he adored, then cancer, and a too-early death at age 60. I am grateful the story of Bobby’s life doesn’t end there. Bobby, on his deathbed, found the one Answer that wasn’t blowing in the wind. It turned out to be real, tangible, and solid.

In October of 2009, when we learned Bobby didn’t have long to live, my oldest brother George and I flew to Georgia to visit him in the hospital. We would fly back just a few weeks later for his funeral. In between the two visits, Bobby and I talked on the phone while he was still lucid. He told me he wanted to be “saved.” I explained that he just needed to “call on the name of the Lord” and he would be saved. He’d see our parents again. We’d all be together again. And he did call on the name of the Lord. He prayed a simple prayer asking for forgiveness and surrendering himself, perhaps for the first time in his life, to Jesus.

When I sat with his wife, daughter and family, our brother, and a few friends at his simple, sweet service at a military cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia, I was filled with such gratitude for the gift of Bobby to the world. And for the gift of all the wounded warriors who fought and survived the atrocities of wars. And for those who didn’t survive. I was taken back to 1969, to the girl singing, “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky? How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? And how many deaths will it take ‘til he knows that too many people have died?”

I know now, 50 years later, that the answer is not just blowing in the wind. For me, it is my faith, stronger and more solid with each passing year. The soundtrack of my life still includes the great folk songs and ballads of 1969, but it was a different song that I sang at Bobby’s service, standing next to his flag-draped coffin: “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

 

Connie Vandeman Jeffery is the host of All God’s People, a weekly short video series highlighting the people and ministries of the Pacific Union Conference, and has had a long career in media.

2019-11-08T17:01:23-08:00November 11th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” November 8, 2019 Episode 345

In this episode of All God’s People

Frank Jobe Memorial Gala; Veteran’s Day; November Recorder; Gratitude; and more.

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La Sierra University’s Frank Jobe Memorial Gala Raises Scholarship Funds for Student Athletes

La Sierra University recently hosted the Frank Jobe Memorial Gala at the Riverside Convention Center, featuring basketball legend Bill Walton as the keynote speaker. The Gala raises money for scholarships for La Sierra’s Student Athletes. The Pacific Union Conference is just one of the many sponsors of the event. Pastor Ricardo Graham hosted a table with several of La Sierra’s students. As a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics institution, La Sierra University has developed a “Champions of Character” campus program. We are so proud of La Sierra – “where academic investigation, Christian faith, and service to others unite!”

Learn more about the event: https://lasierra.edu/frank-jobe-gala/

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

The month of November is known as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan made that designation in 1983 and it’s still recognized today. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, at that time there were less than two million people with the disease. Learn more about helping children understand Alzheimer’s disease in a recent Adventist Health article:
https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2019/november/helping-children-understand-alzheimer-s-disease/

November Recorder Themed on Gratitude

When the Aiea church in Hawaii gathers in gratitude after their worship service on Sabbath, families and babies are welcome participants in the fellowship meal. These three precious children are named Leilani, Jonathan, and Zamora. Read the articles on gratitude and find out what some of our student leaders and communication team members are grateful for, as well as all the news and inspiration from our conferences and entities. This year we are grateful for is the Spanish Recorder! The Fall issue is out and you can read it online at adventistfaith.com. Many thanks to our editor Alberto Valenzuela for 4 outstanding issues of the new Recorder in Spanish in 2019 as well as our monthly English Recorder!

Read the Recorder online: https://adventistfaith.com/recorder/

Honoring Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is next Monday, November 11, and it’s a day to pay tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Originating in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson marked a year since the end of the First World War, the day coincides with other days of remembrance around the world including Armistice Day in the United Kingdom and Remembrance Day across the Commonwealth of Nations.

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“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV

New from the Living God’s Love Blog
One Word, by Becky De Oliveira
Read the blog: https://adventistfaith.com/blog/living-gods-love/

2019-11-04T18:01:40-08:00November 4th, 2019|All Gods People|

Native American Camp Meeting Hosted in Southern Utah

by Nancy Crosby

November is Native American Heritage month. The Pacific Union is home to more than 1.2 million Native Americans. Much of the Navajo Nation lies within the Pacific Union.

One of the highlights of the year is the Native American camp meeting. Nevada-Utah Conference held the annual Native Camp Meeting from September 6 to 8 in Southern Utah. The weather was beautiful for the event.

Dr. Winston Craig was the guest speaker for the camp meeting. Craig spoke on nutrition and diabetes prevention. On Sunday, volunteers prepared a delicious meal of Navajo tacos for lunch.

“Many people enjoyed the fellowship and time at camp meeting,” said Pastor James Crosby of Kayenta. “Everyone pitched in to make the camp meeting happen. Local community people even came to help set up the tent and attended some of the meetings.”

Top of page: Three Navajo church members stand together for a photo at the annual Native American camp meeting hosted by the Nevada-Utah Conference.

 

Church member Betty Greyeyes makes Navajo fry bread for attendees of the Native American camp meeting hosted in Southern Utah.

All photos by Thomas Lloyd

 

2019-11-04T11:49:20-08:00November 4th, 2019|News|

One Word

by Becky De Oliveira

I’ve done graphic design, including hundreds—perhaps thousands—of assignments for Seventh-day Adventist institutions and organizations, for more than two decades. My experience leads me to conclude that if there is an authenticity problem in the Adventist church—and the amount of discussion around this topic leads me to conclude that there is— it can be summed up in just one word: earrings.

Try to guess how many times I’ve removed earrings from a photo using Photoshop. Let me put it this way: If I had a dime for every time, I’d be—in the words of country singer Maren Morris—“sitting on a big [mild expletive] pile of dimes.”

Not only have I removed earrings (and necklaces and bracelets and nose rings and lip rings and eyebrow rings and finger rings) from stock photos of models who are not personally known to anyone in the church, but I have had to erase them from pictures of people who actually go to church every week wearing these items. Everyone can see that they are wearing them. So who are we trying to fool? And how must the photographed person feel when they see their edited photo? They certainly would be aware that their earrings and other “adornments” have been removed.

What does this communicate exactly? It doesn’t seem to say, “Come as you are.”

Malcolm Gladwell talks about how consumers say they want one thing while really wanting another. He uses coffee as an example, saying, “If I asked all of you what you want in a coffee…every one of you would say I want a dark, rich, hearty roast. What percentage of you actually like a dark, rich, hearty roast? …somewhere between 25 and 27 percent of you. Most of you like milky, weak coffee.… But you will never, ever say to someone who asks you what you want that I want a milky, weak coffee.”

I wonder sometimes if we are the same—we say we want “authenticity,” but what we really want is conformity. I had a client for several years who always insisted that she wanted a really “edgy” design, but she always chose something traditional, usually based around a navy blue color scheme.

There are many reasons we struggle with authenticity—like all people do. There is the continual sway of social media and the need to impress other people, for instance. But I don’t think we can discount the possibility that we don’t really want it or encourage it. Perhaps one reason authenticity is so hard to come by in our churches is that there is a sizeable if somewhat hidden population that is uncomfortable allowing people to exist simply as they are.

We have a great deal to gain from being ourselves and accepting others as themselves (barring, of course, violent, abusive, or criminal behavior). I have to believe that God created us each for a reason and that existing fully as the people He made us to be, rather than weak copies of a supposed ideal, is part of what we are here to do. The strength of our individual characters is what allows us to do great things in the name of God, not merely to abstain from sins or behaviors that might be frowned upon by our communities.

If we are to have faith communities that truly exist in authenticity, we have to really mean it when we say we want our “coffee” dark, rich, and hearty. Perhaps it is an acquired taste, one that we must begin learning to appreciate now. The Bible indicates that this is what God wants from us—honesty: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8, ESV). Being authentic means accepting our own imperfections along with those of others; it means cultivating a culture where authenticity is actually encouraged.

 

Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, graphic designer, and doctoral student working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado. This piece was adapted from a longer article that appeared in Mountain Views, the quarterly journal of the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, based in Denver.

2019-11-04T10:03:12-08:00November 4th, 2019|Living God's Love|