Thursday, October 23, 2014

LEARNING AT TWO MILES HIGH



By Ada Brownell

Two miles high—the nosebleed section of America—Leadville, Colo.

When we moved there it was probably our 15th move. My husband was a telegrapher for the Rio Grande Railroad and he kept getting "bumped.".

Our beautiful almost-new mobile home arrived in Leadville during a snow storm. Even covered with mud, it was a wonderful sight. We’d been “batching” in a railroad house in Malta, about 5 miles away, with no running water and almost no furniture until we could hire the mover to bring the home to Leadville.

I enjoyed the Leadville church, started by a couple of young girls in the Silver King era of the late 19th Century. So much wickedness gripped the city in that era, the two young women reached out to children at first, and then discovered they pioneered a church. That was decades before we attended there.

One of the first things I noticed about the building were crutches on the wall.

“Why are those there?” I asked the pastor.

“Oh, that’s from the soldier boy who was healed and he didn’t need them anymore.”

Leadville was only a few miles from Camp Hale, a large Army post, which now is closed.

Our moves required me to leave my Sunday school in Thompson, Utah, and at first I grieved for the children. The town, population 100, had three bars and no church until the Lord moved on my heart and brought me helper to start a Sunday school in the schoolhouse. That was left behind..

In a short time after we arrived in Leadville, I became the high school class teacher. I’d been youth president in my home church a couple of years before we moved away. I loved youth and devoted my energies into that high school class with four or five students.

Because money was tight and I knew a little about writing news, I went to work as a reporter for The Leadville Herald-Democrat.

In only a little while, however, my husband’s job took him to Texas Creek during the week. My mother-in- law lived with us, and she took care of Carolyn who was age 3, and our oldest , Gary, who was in kindergarten.

I learned early God allows things in our lives that help us grow emotionally and spiritually. The fan on our furnace kept quitting. My husband showed me before he left how to take it out, get it running and then screw everything back together. Sometimes I had to do it several times a day and the only thing I couId do to keep the house warm was be patient.

Then in the middle of the night my mother in law used the bathroom.  I woke to a sucking sound. I’d taken a bath before bed and forgot to turn the water back on to keep it from freezing. The heat tape over our pipes was too short.

So I waited until my mother-in-law slept again. I didn’t want asked every hour of the day if the water was running. I threw a fake fur coat over my nightgown, stuck bare feet into boots, and picked up a fusee and matches. Snow was so deep I had to make a tunnel to crawl under the mobile home.

I got my matches wet. I went in reverse, shoveling snow with my back side, gingerly climbed the steps, grabbed the knob and my bare hand stuck to the frost on it. My brother taught flesh sticks to cold metal, so I pulled on the door instead of trying to get my hand loose.

My warm hand thawed the frost, but the door didn’t move. Deep snow from the roof melted a little. Water ran down and froze the door shut. I rang the doorbell over and over until my mother-in-law came and pushed while I pulled.

Finally inside, I dressed in ski pants, sweaters, gloves, heavy socks, boots and kept my matches dry when I tried the fusee again. Soon the water ran freely inside and the pipes hadn’t broken. The next day I was told it was 35 degrees below zero in the night.

I learned, Think before you act. 

I’m glad the Lord is patient, and even helps us when we’re stupid!

On the mountain, we had other trying times. But there I continued to write for Christian publications, and my experience at The Herald Democrat helped me launch a career as a journalist.  When we moved again, The Pueblo Chieftain hired me.

The Holy Spirit guides and leads. I often didn’t have a clue how today changes our future, but when I am yoked with Him, I have nothing to fear.

©Ada Brownell 2014