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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Love It? Hate It?

There’s a back story here; one that my mother told me when we lived in Conrad, Montana. You see, being a pastor of a very small church in a very small community, doesn’t earn a living that will support a family of five. So Dad used to joke that he would either become the mayor of the town or would join the Air Force. Following is Mom’s recollection of the transition. And in brackets at the end will be my take on it.

At the end of 1964, my husband received a letter asking him to join the Air Force as a chaplain, with the rank of captain.

I wasn’t too thrilled, since this was during the Vietnam war. Soon he got orders for Lackland AF base in Texas for training. I was left with the children and Christmas coming.

Soon there were orders for Duluth, Minnesota. We would have to drive from Montana to Minnesota in the middle of winter. I thought, “I don’t think I like the Air Force.”

I arranged for the movers and everything was packed. We arrived in Duluth with 9 feet of snow on the ground. In fact, I saw snow until July.

We were assigned guest quarters [both my brother Danny and I remember that we stayed in a MOTEL near the base, not guest quarters, when we first arrived], which turned out to be one long room with 5 cots and one bathroom. Now I really didn’t like the Air Force.

I figured it had to get better and, three years later, it did. We were assigned to Japan.

[And now my hindsight. I could probably rightfully say that I am eternally grateful to the Air Force. God used it to change my life dramatically. While attending chapel, I heard the gospel from some Bible believing chaplains. I saw parts of the world, and experienced a lifestyle, I would not have otherwise been privileged to experience. And this little snippet from Mom was only the anxiety talking of making a total life turnaround. She, as stated in the last line, did appreciate the places and experiences the Air Force afforded them. I only wish I’d been younger when he went into the service, so that I could have gone to Europe with them. By then, I was a young mom myself, having met my husband at an Air Force chapel in Sacramento, California. Thank You, Lord, and Go, Air Force!]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

An Indian Boy

As I mentioned in the previous post, some terms have changed over the years. Also, I distinctly remember this particular event, and Mom’s timing is a little off. I was nine years old when “Clancy” came to live with us. She refers to having three children under the age of 5, but that was not the case. Our memories get morphed over time …

While living in Montana, we were called by the chaplain at the Boys Reform School [in Wolf Point, Montana] asking us to take an Assiniboin Indian to raise. We told him we already had 3 children under 5 years of age, but he insisted this boy needed a home, not a reform school.

His father had been crushed between two freight train cars and his mother had run away. The boy took a bike to find her, but could not. No one would take him, so they put him in the Reform School for stealing the bike.

We said we would try. We had fixed up a bedroom in the basement of our house, only he wanted to be upstairs with the rest of the family.

Because he only had the clothes he came in, the church [First Christian Church of Conrad, where my dad was the minister] gave us a clothes shower. That really helped a lot and he liked all his new clothes. He had previously gotten clothes from the thrift store or a grab bag.

He was 14, but in the 6th grade. We tried putting him in that grade in school, but it didn’t work. We moved him to the 7th grade where he could play on the basketball team. That was the right place for him. He played really well and got along nicely.

[Rhonda’s insertion: I recall that Clancy HATED taking baths! He would sit in the bathroom and run the water. Then a little while later would drain all the water and come out claiming to have bathed. Didn’t happen. He loved to wrestle with us kids. And my recollection was that he got sent back to the reform school from our house because he stole a bike. Coincidence? Or was Mom remembering something else?]

When he grew up, he became a carpenter and lived on the Wolf Point Indian Reservation. One day, when we lived in Hillsboro, I answered a knock on the door and there was a huge Indian man. It was Ralph. What a surprise! I hadn’t seen him in years. We had been living in Germany.

He stayed with us for a week and we caught up on his life [he had been an alcoholic, his wife intervened and got him help, had become a Christian, and wanted Mom and Dad to know that.], his marriage, and his new daughter.

My, How Times Change

I’ve been going over Mom Sawyer's notes and retyping them for the family and friends who are interested. Today’s blog (which refers to life in the mid 1960s) is a reminder that labels and acceptable terms change with the times. I have not interfered with her composition. With that in mind, Mom’s actual title for this entry was 

Teaching Indian Children 

50 [fifty] years ago, I was asked to teach a class of mentally challenged Indian children, at that time called “retarded.” Since I needed more education for that job, I packed up our children and went to Bellingham, Washington, to attend the college there for the summer. My parents lived there so Mom [Nelson] would care for the children while I was in school.

In the fall, I started teaching. I soon realized that these children weren’t retarded, they had been given the wrong test. They had never seen the animals in the book, or the furniture, or the fruits and vegetables. They had no TV or books.

I began bringing in pictures of elephants and monkeys to color, and fruits and vegetables to eat. They told me in no uncertain terms, they didn’t like the peas or radishes or zucchinis. In fact, they thought the zucchini was tasteless.

We went on field trips to see different types of buildings and farms and museums.

We played games and sang songs.

Some of the children were still slow learners, but others past [passed] the test by the end of the year.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rolling “Me, Me, Me"

More from Mom Sawyer’s notes on growing up with David. :-)

One day David came in and pulled me outside to look at a skateboard sitting on our sidewalk.

I asked where that had come from. He pointed across the street. I told him he couldn't just take things from other people’s yards, but of course he didn’t understand. In the orphanage, a child could play with anything in the yard.

He told me, “Me, me, me!” He wanted a skateboard.

I decided we could go to town and look for one. We went into several stores and finally found one that he liked.

When we got home, he tried it out. He did just fine for a while and then he fell off. He began crying and he ran into his bedroom.

He didn’t want supper, so we took him to the hospital for an x-ray. It turned out he had a broken arm.

There was no way to explain the cast that was going to be put on, along with a sling. That was a difficult time.

When it was time to have the cast removed, we had the interpreter explain the saw that would be used and assure David that his arm would not be taken off. 

All was well … and the skateboard went to the Goodwill.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

I’d Love to ...

  • have a cup of tea with Mom
  • walk through a museum with Mom
  • listen to piano music with Mom
  • sing a duet with Mom
  • have her tell me to sit up straight and not shuffle my feet
  • have her tell me that tomorrow is another day
  • have her tell me that every place has something good about it
  • listen to a story about growing up in Bellingham
  • tell her it was me who took that twenty out of her purse when I was 15
  • listen to her read me a story
  • sew doll clothes with her
  • appreciate her standing up for me with the biology teacher
  • see her favorite decorations in every home she lived in
  • listen to her say “this is your self-sacrificing mother”
  • appreciate that she truly WAS a self-sacrificing mother
  • honor her 
  • tell her I love her one more time
  • see her in heaven

“Happy” Mother’s Day

Thursday, May 05, 2016

This Little Piggy ...

It seemed appropriate for me to add this note from Mom Sawyer’s musings, since Ingrid and I took four kids to a working farm today. 

While I was growing up, our family lived on a 2 acre farm. We had rows of strawberries, raspberries, corn, and beans. My sister and I received a penny a row for weeding the garden.

During WWII, my folks added rabbits and chickens. I really didn’t like those chickens. They were noisy and messy and didn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Then Dad brought home a little pig. He was so cute! We just loved him. We fed him before going to school [every day]. He always grunted enthusiastically.

Of course, he got bigger and bigger.

One day Dad said it was time to kill our pig. I couldn’t imagine such a thing, but when I got home from school, our pig was gone.

From then on, whenever Mom put pork on the table, my sister and I turned into vegetarians.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Going to School

(Another of Mom Sawyer’s notes about adopting David DaeKyo. I am making little to no edits, so that we get her words.)

After about a week [of arriving in Oregon], David pulled me to the window and pointed to the school. We did a lot of pointing in those first weeks.

He had seen the children in the neighborhood coming and going.

I had already signed him up for the 1st grade. I knew he would be unhappy about being in the 1st grade when he was in the 3rd grade in Korea, but he had to learn English before advancing.

The next Monday, I took him to school and sat next to him in class. I showed him the page number being used. Since he was embarrassed to have me in class with him, the teacher assigned a boy to sit next to him.

During story time David became wiggly, since he didn't understand the story. I decided half day would be enough to start with.

In a few weeks, he was advanced to 3rd grade for math. He was very good at that. The teacher drew illustrations on the board for the story problems.

One day, during the lunch hour, David was on the monkey bars. The bell rang and David was still on the monkey bars. The playground teacher said, “You come down from there!” David [repeated] “You come down from there!”

The teacher thought he was sassing her, so she pulled him into the principal’s office. He understood that David mimicked everyone in order to learn English. That teacher hadn’t been informed. The principal called to tell me what had happened.

A few weeks later, the principal called again. This time David had stuck his hand down a squirrel hole on the playground. The squirrel bit David’s finger and it was bleeding badly. The nurse had cleaned him up and put a bandage on, but she felt I should take him to the clinic to be checked for rabies.

I went to the school and picked him up and drove to the clinic. A blood test was taken. There was no sign of rabies.

On the way home, we stopped at the Korean interpreter’s home so she could tell David not to put his hand into any more holes on the playground or anywhere else!

David’s Home, Part 2

(Another of Mom Sawyer’s notes about adopting David DaeKyo. I am making little to no edits, so that we get her words.)

We adopted David Shim DaeKyo two years after our Japanese son died of cancer at age 9, but that is a different story. This is about David.

He was born in Korea in 1970. His father was killed when he fell off of a garbage truck. David’s mother took him to the woods when he was 5 and left him there. She had no way to support him, his sister, and baby brother.

After a while, the police found him and took him to a state orphanage in Seoul. He was 8 when we adopted him through Holt International Children’s Services.

At this time, we were stationed at Klamath Falls, Oregon, by the Air Force.

One summer day we decided to take David over to see the Giant Redwoods. Big mistake!

When we got out of the car and began walking up the path, David started crying and screaming and then running back to the car. I wondered what was wrong with that child. Of course, we didn’t know about the earlier trauma in his life, and he still didn’t speak any English in order to tell us.

We drove out of that beautiful, peaceful place … no longer peaceful for us.