Chapter Twenty Two

Marty barked excitedly running scattering the chickens in their pen around the barn out to the driveway looking down the road. Sam stepped out of the barn just as Erica’s silver Honda turned the corner from the county road a quarter mile away. Marty barked, running in circles looking at the car and then back at Sam. Marty knew the sound of everyone’s rig and he was the official welcoming committee. He was not allowed to run out and greet anyone down the lane as they drove up and had been taught to wait until they got out of the rig before he approached the car. So he sat on his wiggling butt in great anticipation. When she opened the door he met her with a surge of dog love. “Hi Marty! I missed you too!” Erica said as she wrapped her arms around him.

“Hi honey, you’re home a day early?” Sam asked.

“Oh, I talked to my professors to see if I could skip tomorrow so I could go to the women’s conference at church with Mom and Linda. Mom bought me a ticket just in case I could get off. I sure don’t want to waste her money! Meadow Song is going to be playing there!” She said with excitement. “Can you believe it? Mom was saying that there has been such a surge in ticket sales to attend this surprise concert Pastor Mike moved the conference to the church’s auditorium.”

“Hmmm… really?” Sam thought back to his last conversation with Pastor Mike and getting enough funding for the parking lot and expansion project. I see what he is up to! He thought to himself. Robin had mentioned the upcoming women’s conference and he had made tentative plans with Corey to take a small excavator and Bobcat out to the property to work for the entire weekend provided the deal closed by Friday. It was conditional though. Robin told Sam that sometime over the weekend he needed to talk to Corey about Monica about their living accommodations. Sam reluctantly agreed. He felt that it really wasn’t his business to tell Corey how to live his life. Robin had argued that it was biblical, that an elder should go talk to Corey, and Monica should not be in a leadership position and living like this. If Corey didn’t adhere to the warning then a group of men from the church needed to talk to him, and if Cory still didn’t take action, then he would not be allowed back in the church. Robin had brought up the fact that Cory and Monica’s actions had even justified Ben’s recent change in direction and ultimately his walk with the Lord. Ben was a sensitive subject and the conversation petered out at the mention of his name. Ben’s disrespect towards his family still disturbed Sam. “I need to go check on the cows and calves”, which usually meant that he needed to go out to the barn and process everything. Sam had just walked into the barn when Marty’ announced Erica’s arrival.

After giving his daughter a hug and a kiss on the forehead, Erica popped open the trunk. Sam grabbed Erica’s suitcase out of the trunk and was following her into the house when his phone buzzed in his back pocket. Setting her suitcase down, he answered, “Hello?”

“Hey Sam, this Sheila at Valley Title Company. We have received notice that the owners in China have signed paperwork for the Jaykee Creek property. It looks like I will have everything ready by the end of the day today and you and your wife can sign the paperwork first thing tomorrow. There isn’t any reason why it can’t be recorded by noon”.

“Wow! You do very good work! I was skeptical whether you would be able to pull this off!”

“Yes, this isn’t normal but we do a lot of work with your lawyer and he is very good. I also wanted to tell you that everyone here at the office was very impressed with you and your wife and your offer to that missionary family. That was another reason why we were able to get this done so quickly. When we heard about your kindness and hearing of that little girl needed the money to get treatment, we all wanted to contribute something too, so we worked late last night to get this done for them”.

“Well thank you!” Sam replied.

“In fact,” she continued, “when your lawyer mentioned that you were also wiring an additional twenty five hundred dollars to help them, one of our girls here at the office approached the corporate office to see if they would match your generosity”.

“Oh wow! That was nice of her!”

“Yes,” she continued. “This is so crazy! The secretary she spoke with at the corporate office in New York happens to be a relation to the cousin of one of the missionaries. Their family has not been able to touch base with them because of the lack of internet access and phone service where they live is so unreliable.”

“Yes, we have had that problem communicating with them too.” Sam said. “It truly is a miracle that we were able to get this contract signed.”

Sheila continued, “Sam, the corporate office decided to double your contribution and fly the little girl and her family to Singapore for medical treatment”.

Sam stood there stunned, “You’re kidding me?”

“No, I am not!”

Sam remembered the note in the glass bottle up on the barren windswept hill buried under the rocks of the corner post for who knows how many years: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Sam hurried into the house opening the door he hollered, “Robin! You are not going to believe this!”

Chapter Twenty One

Linda was laying in her new bedroom listening to new sounds of people stirring early in the morning. It was peaceful and homey but she was still a little apprehensive staying with Sam and Robin after their initial meeting. She liked Robin a lot. She was a good mom; very protective and forgiving. She neither justified nor condemned what her son had said but did apologize for his outburst. Linda had learned to read people well. It was the nature of her business and a skill that sometimes determined her survival on the street. The argument that she had inadvertently witnessed reminded her of one that she had been a part of when she was younger. She could relate to what Ben was going through. She had left like that too but now Linda was able to see the residual effects she had bestowed upon the family she walked away from. The pain and anguish that Robin tried so hard to suppress in order for Linda to feel welcome and the anger and frustration that Sam didn’t hide very well. Her new friend Erica was such a strong and powerful supporter of hers. Linda had wanted to leave this family but through Erica’s strong insistence and friendship she had agreed to give it a try for a week.

Linda walked into the kitchen and both Sam and Robin laughed. Her brown hair was standing straight out in multiple directions, she had borrowed a sweatshirt of Erica’s that was at least once size too large for her as were her pajama bottoms.

“Good morning Linda!” Sam said, “How did you sleep?” Robin asked her if she wanted some coffee and she nodded. “I slept so good!” Linda said, smiling sleepily. She sat in a chair at the table pulling her knees up to her chest with her feet on the seat of the chair. “It has been such a long time since I have slept in a real bed all night!” Linda had washed off all of her makeup the night before and there was one bruise by her temple that was yellow and healing up. Her eyes were still a little hollow but there was a sparkle in them that Robin keyed in on. It was her soul coming back alive! Robin put a large cup of coffee in front of her with some cream in a small container if she wanted to add it. Marty came over to Linda and put his head on her hip. Linda really liked Marty and gently stroked the side of his cheek. Marty loved her attention and accidently snored out loud in bliss.

“It sure looks like you did,” Sam said. Linda could tell that Sam was not sure of her being there and could sense his awkwardness. “You two girls have a great day” he said, walking over towards Robin. She handed him his lunch box and gave him a kiss. Marty broke away from Linda and followed Sam to the door. Sam turned and spoke to the dog saying, “You keep an eye on the place while I am gone Marty” and patted him on the head.

Robin leaned up against the granite countertop on the island and asked Linda, “What do you want to do today?”

“I don’t know. I would like to read my bible for a little bit,” she answered.

“Well you are welcome to join me in my daily routine if you’d like and we can do it together.” Robin offered.

“What is your daily routine?” Linda asked.

“I always start off the day in prayer. I have found when I skip prayer in the morning it makes for a rough day! After I pray, I read the bible. I have been doing this thing where you read the bible in a year. You can join me where I am at. After that I think we need to go shopping and get you some clothes!”

“Oh that sounds fun! My mom and I used to go shoppi…ng when I was younger.” Linda stuttered realizing what she was saying. She had not allowed herself to embrace those old memories. Robin moved on acting like she never noticed.

“This afternoon there are going to be some guest speakers at the church sharing their testimony of the Broken Lives program. I thought maybe we could stop by, listen to them and find out about the meeting times if you’re interested.

“Oh that would be good. I am a little nervous about it but Erica told me that the program had really helped you and Sam when you were younger”.

“Yes, it was very helpful for me. My life was a mess and they helped me get on track. I met a lady there who became my mentor and showed me how to embrace my relationship with the Lord. It was like she introduced me to the Lord. I want to help you like that if you will let me Linda”.

“Thank you Robin. Your family has been great. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. If Erica had not stopped me that night I am not sure if I would be alive today”.

There were about twenty people at the Broken Lives meeting. The first man that got up to give his testimony shared how he and his wife were Christians and their relationship was very solid. Pressures from the demands and deadlines on the job eventually took their toll first on their church obligations which eventually broke down their communication. He was climbing the ladder rapidly at a law firm. It started off with a long lunch with cocktails and evolved into working late several times a week. His secretary seemed to understand him and the struggles of climbing the corporate ladder and he allowed it to go too far one night at work and then everything fell apart. His wife sensed that all of this work was having negative impact on their relationship and decided to surprise him with dinner. She walked in and… After his divorce, he started drinking and could not stop. Eventually they fired him and he ended up on the street at the mission.

He came to Broken Lives by way of a visiting pastor who invited him to a meeting at a Bridal Ridge Community Church in California. The church had a unique program that really worked to change how you looked at yourself and revealed to you how God had a plan for your life. It was a cutting edge program similar to AA developed by Pastor Rob Landon changing the way we approached God.

After attending for a  year , he met a lady through the program and they married and began a new life together. They were both councilors now, proud to be coming alongside Pastor Rob Landen and the Broken Lives program.

Robin looked over at Linda. She was completely engulfed in his story, tears rolling down her cheeks. Robin got a tissue out of her purse and gave Linda one.

Hearing Rob Landon’s name perked Robins interest. She listened closely to what the speaker was saying.

He finished off with, “My wife and I owe everything to Pastor Rob Landon and his Broken Lives program. Without them I certainly would still be on the street”. Something about their testimony bothered her but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

The next two speakers had similar stories. One lady had especially touched Robin’s heart when she shared her testimony about one of her children who ran away from home . That hit too close to home with her. Each of the speakers dedicated their success to Broken Lives and Pastor Rob Landon.

When Linda and Robin were driving home, Linda commented on the success of the program.  Still something wasn’t right, but she could not put her finger on why this had left such a bad taste in her mouth. Linda commented on what the last speaker had said, “You can go anywhere in the country, to any church where the Broken Lives program is offered and same curriculum will be there.” Robin had missed it because she had still been reeling from the second lady’s testimony. What Heidi’s said when they were at coffee came back to her mind:

“the material Pastor Rob Landon wrote for “the program” was in nearly every church in the country and that Broken Lives program had been significantly if not entirely responsible for the transformation of up to eighty percent of the broken homes and restoring families. It is making a significant impact on the churches and communities across the nation if not the world.”

Robin then remembered looking up on the web, Pastor Rob Landon coming alongside the Most Holy Bishop, embracing the Mother of Apostles Church and announcing that all faiths worship the same God.

Robin was sick to her stomach. The deception was much deeper than she ever realized.