Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas! God Bless Everyone!

Since I do not blog on Sundays, I will post a Christmas message tonight, Christmas eve. Plans? With all the kids having flown from the nest a decade ago, Donnie and I will be having our Christmas eve dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, run by Korean, prior to midnight Mass, which is at 10:30 this evening. (It finishes at midnight, so the name is not entirely misleading.)

As he does every year, Finnegan, our priest's cat, has wandered from the cold into the warmth of the manger. Both he, and Sula, are parish cat, take turns sleeping in the manger. Sometimes they share it.

Sharing warm Christmas wishes with all! May God bless each one of you tomorrow and all days of this happy season!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Two Anti-Hunger Websites for the Holidays

As the holidays -- and all the yummy treats that most of us will be eating -- approach, I wanted to share with readers of my blogs two wonderful sites that help those who may not be feeling full during the holidays, or any time during the year for that matter.

The first site, No Kid Hungry, is fledgling group with a good objective: The leaders of the movement are asking visitors to their site to take a pledge to reach this goal by 2015.

The other site has been around for years (at least ten years) and does wonderful work:, and I posted about it on H2Helper a while back. This site can be visited every day, and just by spending 2-3 minutes at the site, without any investment other than time, you can help feed hungry children worldwide, contribute to saving the rain forests, help autism research, promote literacy, support veterans, and help abandoned animals -- it is an amazing site.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have no intention of spending Thanksgiving Day at a computer. In fact, I have all kinds of other plans, but I did want to wish all readers a happy -- and tasty -- day. As for me, I have a guest (friend) from Washington, DC, who has been here all week with me. Doah and I intend to attend the Thanksgiving Mass in the morning, then our whole family will go over to the community dinner that is sponsored by our parish. I think it is a bit unique. Every year the entire community (our town has only a little over 1000 people, including children) is invited to a free Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant-like building that our parish owns. Those who have cooking talent provide the food. Others serve or clean up. Since I have absolutely no cooking talent, my family and I serve on the clean-up crew. Every year hundreds eat for free -- rich and poor alike (and together). It is a great way to spend Thanksgiving!

However you spend your Thanksgiving, I hope it will be a day to remember and a day for which you find yourself grateful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have no intention of spending Thanksgiving Day at a computer. In fact, I have all kinds of other plans, but I did want to wish all readers a happy -- and tasty -- day. As for me, I have a guest (friend) from Washington, DC, who has been here all week with me. Doah and I intend to attend the Thanksgiving Mass in the morning, then our whole family will go over to the community dinner that is sponsored by our parish. I think it is a bit unique. Every year the entire community (our town has only a little over 1000 people, including children) is invited to a free Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant-like building that our parish owns. Those who have cooking talent provide the food. Others serve or clean up. Since I have absolutely no cooking talent, my family and I serve on the clean-up crew. Every year hundreds eat for free -- rich and poor alike (and together). It is a great way to spend Thanksgiving!

However you spend your Thanksgiving, I hope it will be a day to remember and a day for which you find yourself grateful!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Great Beginning

On the way to work last Friday morning, I stopped off at the local 7-11 store to pick up some flowers for employees to celebrate their recent accomplishment. As I was looking at the flowers, I saw a mother and her young son (perhaps age 7) walking out of the store and overheard their conversation.

Son: "I really don't like this breakfast sandwich."
Mother: "I know you don't, but it was the cheapest one, and you need something."
Son: "OK. I really wanted the other one."
Mother: "The other one costs 71 cents more, and I only have another quarter."
Son: "It's okay, Mom. I can eat this one."

The store owner/manager overheard the conversation, too, and called out to the couple, "Ma'am, please come back. I will sell you the other sandwich for 25 cents."

The mother and son came back. The exchange was made, with smiles all around. Then, saying good-bye, the mother and son left the store.

As the door swung shut, the little boy put his foot in it, turning around, and called out to the owner/manager in a loud voice, "THANK YOU!"

I think everyone in the store that morning experienced a great beginning to their day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Believer in Waiting

My second spiritual book is out! The title, as you can see, is A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God. I will try to post some excerpts here from time to time. (Actually, I have already posted some excerpts from the draft on my Modern Mysticism blog.) The first set of books will be going to reviewers who signed up with Library Thing, but I notice that Amazon has been quick off the start and already has it available for ordering. I hope that anyone who reads either the book or the excerpts will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. It was one of those books that seems to write itself. I do hope to have copies of my own in about a week, at which time I will host a book coming out party for local friends who read the prepublication manuscript and provided feedback. If you read it, I would love to hear your feedback!!

(And, yes, there are a few stories in the book related to H2 Helper topics.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chernobyl Children's Project

One of the first pieces I posted on Mahlou Musings was about Peter Volkovich from Belarus. I have repeated it below since links sometimes break. I was reminded about it recently when I came across a site, Children of Chernobyl, sponsored by a non-profit agency, founded after the Cold War to help the children Peter, I, and others were struggling to help during the end of the Soviet Union days. The work, begun by Peter, who, I fear, is no longer among the living since that would make him more than 100 years old now, has been taken over by a group of people, led by a Catholic priest, Louis Vuitton, who has become well known for his social activism. I found it thrilling to learn that more people are now involved and more children are now being helped. (For pictures of Chernobyl today, here is one site to visit: Chernobyl Today: Creepy Story. Be prepared to feel some sadness as the reality of a city devastated and abandoned is revealed.)

Here is the original post:

I met Pyotr Volkovich, the vice-president of the Peace Committee of the former Soviet Republic of Belarus in Minsk, in 1989. He was clearly a man with a mission: to improve his community, that community being the greater part of Belarus, which had suffered severely from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in nearby Ukraine.

While I was there, he gave me a description and history of the problem in the area and a list of medical supplies and equipment needed to care for the ill children, nearly 25% of whom had died from cancer after the reactor accident, many more of whom are now ill, and all of whom remain at risk from the irradiated soil and the food grown in it. I published that article in an international journal I edited, hoping that perhaps something would come of it. However, I did not follow up.

I met Peter again a year later when he was the keynote speaker at an International Rotary Convention in Portland, Oregon. Although I was only there by incidental invitation related to establishing a school exchange program, Pyotr said that from the moment he reached American soil at Kennedy Airport, even though he did not see me anywhere along the way, including upon arrival in Portland, he nonetheless knew that I would be there. I am convinced that this kind of confidence alone was enough to influence the events in his life.

I probably paid more attention to his speech than I otherwise might have because when he was introduced to the audience, instead of turning to his official interpreter, he asked me to do the interpretation from Russian into English for him. He gave one of the most brilliant speeches about the need for peace that I have ever heard. At what appeared to be the end of the speech, he presented the Rotary Foundation with the serial plate (framed in plastic) of the last surface-to-surface missile disassembled under the SALT Treaty. After hefty applause had died down, instead of leaving the stage, he continued with a very disconcerting phrase, "vokrug mira est' kolyakola..." (all around the world are bells). Bells was the only meaning I knew for the world, kolyakola, but I was hesitant to interpret it that way since the concept of bells made no sense in the given context, but I had no choice. Pyotr then continued, and everything made beautiful sense and left me and others with a lasting emotional response to his words: "They are big bells, warning of pending nuclear disaster. I did not, however, bring you a big bell. I brought you a small bell. [Here he took a tiny bell from his pocket and jingled it.] To hear this bell, you need the silence of peace."

The beginning of Pyotr's speech had focused on the serious medical needs of the Belarusan children, so our second meeting resulted in my sending information about the situation to medical circles in various places. Again, bad Samaritan that I was, I did not follow up but simply hoped that there would be interested parties who would contact Pyotr, and apparently some did.

Three years later when I again met Pyotr in Minsk, he had managed to arrange for the children from Gomel and other affected regions in Belarus to go to Germany for the summer, away from the radiation that daily accumulated to ever higher concentrations in their bodies. Although I was there for very different reasons (as a consultant to the Academy of Science textbook writers on the development of new K-12 and university textbooks in a variety of disciplines), he greeted me as if I were a long-time friend and fellow activist and excitedly told me about the medical equipment that the Peace Committee had received in the last 3-4 years from many different countries, saying "We consider this a result of your actions."

I was one of the few outsiders at that time to whom Pyotr had had access. However, I had never followed up on anything, so I could not honestly take credit for anything. Nonetheless, Pyotr pressed his gratitude on me.

That time I did help a little more actively. I gave the Peace Committee a monetary donation from my institutions, a rather hefty one, in fact, that we should not have been able to afford, but miraculously we ended up with a sum of money from our Russian operations that we had to somehow leave in Russia/Belarus. What better recipient could we have had than the Belarus Peace Committee?!

Like one person alone, one donation alone was not enough to make much difference. However, Pyotr knew that monetary contributions grow geometrically when they are combined, just as the combined results of people's efforts is greater than the sum of the parts. He put our contribution together with a contribution from an organization in Germany, and that allowed the Peace Committee to move 52 families from a highly irradiated area around Gomel to a newly built and relatively safe village not far from Minsk.

Pyotr knew all about getting anyone to do anything for him and be happy about it. I am sure that each individual was treated in similar ways. My ability to help was limited, but there were others who could and did help more. Pyotr treated all of us as if we were miracle makers when it was he who made the miracles happen.

I have not seen Pyotr since. In 1995, he retired from the Peace Committee, but he continued to work very hard behind the scenes for some years.

If you were to meet Pyotr, he would surprise you. Barely five feet tall and well past seventy when I first met him, he seemed seven feet tall and 30 years old as he talked about saving his land and his people. His eyes sparkled with the energy of someone much younger. His intensity and enthusiasm would move anyone to help him save his beloved Belarus.

The Pyotrs of this world can get anyone to do anything because they have a clear and altruistic goal and undauntedly tread toward it, regardless of obstacles. In such cases, everyone wants to help, and everyone feels good about helping. As for God, in addition to obviously facilitating some of those miracles, such as the inflow of medical equipment and the sudden appearance of hundreds of dollars in my institute's coffers that had to be used in Belarus, I think that Pyotr must have been one of His favorite instruments. After all, Pyotr proved that he could spread the good just as quickly as God could deliver it!


Peter's story is excerpted and adapted from a story I published in a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Enroute to Help the Philippinos

Posted on the Army of Martyrs is this plea to help those who are helping others:
My brother, Steve, and his wife Katy, are on a plane to the Philippines as I write this post. They will be landing in Manila shortly. This is their second visit to Manila and they have decided that God is calling them to work with my charity, the Philippine Aid Society by fighting the extreme poverty in the Philippines.

Of course, they will be taking a big step down as far as living conditions in their move from suburban America to the urban Metro-Manila. This is a sacrifice that they have decided to make in order to serve the less fortunate.

Steve, assisted by Katy, will take on the role of "Program Coordinator" for the duration of their five month stay in the Philippines. For the first two months, they will operate a soup kitchen. From there, we have not yet decided the next plan of action. Our hope is to purchase a suitable facility for a more permanent structure where we can provide food and shelter for the neediest Filipinos. We will need financial resources to do this and will begin looking into grant opportunities in the near future.

We can use your help. If you have a blog, just posting a link to our website would be helpful. If you could consider a donation, even a small amount of money goes a long way in the Philippines. We're also on Goodsearch where you can earn money for our charity (or any charity you select) by searching the internet just as you would on Google. Superdonate is a free program that sells your unused computer power to research organizations and donates the money to a charity of your choice (and we're one of the options!) Also, check us out on Facebook.

Above all, please say a prayer for our small charity if you think about it. Thanks!
If you click on the URL in the lead-in sentence above, you will get to the original post, where there are a number of other links with additional information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Final Act of Kindness

A police officer's random act of kindness was caught on tape last week, just minutes before he was gunned down. 'Today' correspondent Lee Cowan chronicles the touching story of Jeremy Henwood's final good deed. Footage from Henwood's funeral rolls as Cowan reports, "As thousands mourned the loss of San Diego police officer Jeremy Henwood last weekend, a quiet story of kindness began to emerge." Henwood, a Marine, had just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan only to be killed by a petty thief. "As the investigation continued and the eulogies were being written, this surveillance video surfaced," Cowan explains.

In the footage, Henwood waits for his meal at a McDonalds when 13-year-old Damien Tinsley comes up to ask him a question. "I asked him for 10 cents, and he said 'What is the 10 cents for?' And I said 'Three cookies.' And he said, 'Well I could buy the three cookies for you,'" Tinsley recounts. In the security camera footage, Tinsley smiles as the officer chats with him and buys him cookies.

-- from the Internet

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bear Witness to the Light

One of the blogs on my blogroll has disappeared. Well, disappeared may be the wrong word. The blog is still there, but no posts have been posted in nearly two months. Fr. John Sullivan, Springfield, Massachusetts, posted regularly on his blog, Bear Witness to the Light. He was a kindly priest as I found out in his responses to my occasional comments. After a full month of seeing nothing posted, I became concerned. It did not seem that someone who had posted regularly for seven years would close down a blog without a word. One would expect to at least a final, good-bye post, but Fr. John's last blog was simply a routine post in keeping with his other posts. Something seemed wrong. No matter how I added two and two, I was not getting close to four.

So, I did a little research. After all, in a former life (uh, career), I was a pretty good academic. Therefore, I know how to research. So, off I went in search of one missing priest. And I found him, well, sort of. It turns out that Fr. John was injured by the tornado that flattened Springfield in June. He suffered a separated shoulder and broken leg and required surgery. He will be in a rehabilitation facility for a while.

In addition, St. Michael's Retired Priest Residence, where Fr. John was living, was damaged by the tornado. In fact, a good part of it was reduced to rubble. So, even when Fr. John is released to another residence, there is a likelihood that he will not have a computer for a while. (Of course, this is quite secondary to his health.)

I also tracked down an address where cards can be sent:

Fr. John Sullivan
St Michaels Cathedral Rectory
86 Wendover Rd
Springfield, MA 01118

So, if you happen to also be a reader of Fr. John's blog, you might want to send a card to him! I am going to try to send this information to all his followers -- if I can track down there email addresses. I ask you to pass along the information to any of his blog followers you might know.

Whether or not you know Fr. John, have interacted with him in the blogosphere or not, I would ask you to pray for him. I am sure he can use our prayers!

posted on all Mahlou blogs

Saturday, July 2, 2011

God's Love Homeless Shelter

For a heartwarming story of someone who has been fortunate tirelessly and successfully helping those who are not fortunate read the story of God's Love Homeless Shelter in Helena, Montana. (Helena is not all that far from where our oldest daughter, Lizzie, was born in Hamilton, Montana many years ago. We loved Montana -- good country, God's country, good people, God's people.)

Thanks to Michael Lee McDonald for sharing this link on his Facebook page!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homeless Man Learns He Is Rich

Here is some interesting news from national news services. In the event that readers of this blog may not have seen it in spite of the story have received national attention, I am repeating here. It is not every day that someone who has been living on the streets has a fortune that is reversed overnight although many are able to get off the streets through the help of relatives and kind strangers and their own efforts. Any success story, regardless of the source of the success, is worth trumpeting.

SALT LAKE CITY -- A private investigator says he has tracked down a homeless Utah man and delivered some good news: He's inherited a lot of money.

David Lundberg said he found Max Melitzer pushing a shopping cart filled with personal possessions in a Salt Lake City park Saturday afternoon.

Lundberg declined to disclose how much money Melitzer will be receiving, but said the man's brother who died of cancer last year left him a "significant" amount in his will.

"He'll no longer be living on the street or in abandoned storage sheds," he told The Associated Press. "He'll be able to have a normal life, and be able to have a home, provide for himself, and purchase clothing, food and health care."

The story about Lundberg's two-month search for Lundberg has been reported by the Deseret News and KSL of Salt Lake City.

Lundberg said he was hired by the family's New York law firm to locate Melitzer, and some family members plan to meet Melitzer next week in Salt Lake City. He declined to identify them.

Melitzer's family wishes to remain private, and lawyers are deferring questions to Lundberg.

The investigator said he broke the news to Melitzer while they were sitting on a bench at Pioneer Park. While Lundberg said he didn't tell Melitzer how much money he was inheriting, the man was excited.

"He's still in shock. This came out of nowhere," Lundberg said. "He's a really mellow guy in his 60s, very sweet and more articulate than I thought for a man in his position."

Melitzer has been homeless for years and last had mail correspondence with his family in September. But when family members gave him a number to phone, he never called.

Don Hill, house manager at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, told Lundberg on Friday that he had seen Melitzer near the facility two days earlier.

Hill said he has known the homeless man for four years, and Melitzer stayed at places like the Rescue Mission when he's not roaming between Salt Lake City and Ogden.

"During the summer, I'd imagine, once in a while he'll stay out nights – outside," Hill told the Deseret News.

Earlier this month, a police officer found Melitzer sleeping in a car in an Ogden salvage yard.

Lundberg said Melitzer was taken Saturday to an undisclosed location in Salt Lake City and doesn't want to talk to the media right now. But Lundberg said he would talk to family members about possibly holding a news conference next week.

The investigator said he found Melitzer with the help of a tip. He received about 60 or 70 such calls after news about his search went out Friday.

"Someone called today (Saturday) and said they saw him at Pioneer Park. I thought it was another crazy tip, but sure enough, there he was," Lundberg said.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

More on Pandhandling

This has been a week rich in good posts by various bloggers.

Among these is a beautiful post about a panhandler by Anne Bender (Panhandler) on her blog, Imprisoned in My Bones, which I have listed on my 100th Lamb site as a recommended blog. Her posts and thoughtful and touching. I recommend that you take the time to read Pandhandler, as well as the comment made there by Mary, who describes a remarkable homeless man.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011: Life after War

I would invite readers to go to the following article, written by a member of Give an Hour. It tells the poignant story of a war veteran, hopelessly lost to drugs and despair, trapped in post-traumatic stress disorder and with few resources to help (most petered out before she could recover). The story seemed too appropriate for Memorial Day not to share. However, since it seems to be copyrighted, I have decided simply to include the link and urge you to take the time to follow the link and read the story; you won't regret it. You can find it here: I Served My Country...and Wound Up Living in My Car The veteran is Jennifer Crane; the author is Lynn Harris. If you can help GAH through a donation or through spreading the world, you will involve yourself in a very worthy cause. Visit the GAH website for more information.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More on God's Credit Card

note: image copyright Katrin Wegmann (

Last Saturday, I encountered an unexpected situation where I ended up reluctantly using God's credit card to pay for Donnie’s new computer. He had a chance to get 25% off on a new laptop, which he desperately needed since his desktop stopped work a couple of weeks ago and his current laptop is ten years old. He was dead in the water when it came to doing his work, which is graphics consulting. It turned out that he was several hundred dollars short, and the only credit card that had that much money available on it was God’s credit card. I was very reluctant to use it. I do not use it for personal needs, but if we did not use it at this point, Donnie would be without work for a while since we could not afford the regular price and the special deal was available only on Saturday. Sighing, I agreed to use God’s credit card, feeling considerably guilty about it and hoping that we, too, might be considered worthy of God’s financial help.

I mentally calculated the length of time it would take me to pay off the card, and that did not reassure me at all. Then I went to the post office, and in the mail box was a new credit card from USAA, offered because I had spent eight years in the military years ago. The credit line was the same as on God’s credit card, and I would be able to transfer the balance without any interest for a year on Monday. I have now activated the card, transferred the balance, and God has his card back.

That is pretty stunning: God rescued His credit card from my illicit use! I know now that I must keep that card clear for God’s purposes—and people in need are sent my way routinely. If I had had any doubt that this particular credit card belongs to Him (I did not), that doubt would have been entirely erased on Saturday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Unusual Power of God's Credit Card

note: image copyright Katrin Wegmann (

Monday evening Old Mission held a penance service, and I picked up, Rosie, the widow of my recently deceased friend, Jack, who has difficulty walking. Getting to confession is a difficult task for her, so she welcomed this evening opportunity.

As I drove up to her house in the country outside our small town afterward, we saw a tow truck with a vehicle on it, blocking her driveway. She recognized the vehicle as belonging to her unemployed grandson, who lives with her.

"Oh, no!" she exclaimed. "They are repossessing his car. I know he has been having difficulty making car payments. Now he will have no way to get a job."

Rosie also comes to our Tuesday prayer group, and she had been praying for the last few weeks for her grandson, Gary, who had recently lost his job and was experiencing some financial difficulties, including having to move out of his apartment, the reason he was living with her. She had also been praying that George would come to faith.

We found a place nearby to park and got out of the car. I took out Rosie's walker. Gary approached Rosie as she started to walk toward the house.

"Grandma," he asked in a whisper, "Can you help me? My car broke down in a city two hours away where I had gone for a job interview and needed to be towed back here. I think I can fix it, but the tow truck owner won't leave the car unless I pay the towing fee."

"How much?" she asked.

"$185," Gary said, flinching, knowing that Rosie would be angry, mainly because she did not have that kind of money.

"I don't know what to tell you or what to do," she said. "I don't have that much, not here and not in the bank."

Gary was crestfallen -- and worried. "He will have to take the car back with him, then," he said. "I don't know what to do, either."

Having overheard this conversation in spite of Gary's attempt to keep it private, I asked, "Will he take a credit card?"

"Yes, he will," answered Gary, "but I don't have a credit card."

"Well, I do," I told him. "I have God's credit card, and it can handle $185."

"Are you sure??" He was stunned.

"I am sure," I told him. "That is the purpose of this card. God will make sure it gets paid off."

With great gratitude, Gary accepted the offer. I sent Rosie into the house, it being cold outside, while Gary, the tow truck driver, and I handled the transaction. Gary thanked me several times, and then I left.

The greater thanks came today, however. Our prayer group gathered at my house for our monthly spiritual movie night. (We watched Gospel Road.) After the movie, we spent some time together, as usual, in prayer, including praying for intentions that had been shared with us.

Rosie had a special intention. "Gary knew I was coming here tonight," she said, "and asked us to pray for his job search to be successful."

Doris, who was on transportation duty for Rosie today, was surprised. "Gary? Really? I thought he did not believe."

"Well," said Rosie, "something seems to have changed."

Yes, indeed, there is something special about God's credit card.

(And today, as I was leaving McDonald's after picking up a drive-through lunch, a young man was holding a card, saying "traveling, broke, hungry." I returned to the parking lot, explained to him I had no cash with me but I did have God's credit card. We went into McDonald's together, and he ordered a meal. We also ordered a meal for a second man, a local homeless one by all appearances, who said "just feed my friend; I don't need anything" (an obviously untrue assertion). Then, just in case, I purchased a gift card and left it with the young man should he be hungry in the future. God's credit card has many uses!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome, 2011!

Wishing everyone a happy new year on the remarkable date of 1/1/11. I managed to get back into an older post and copy out the image. (Where there is a will, there is a way.) I have not been able to peck out as much as I would like on the new book in the past week on this computer, so I am awaiting with great expectancy the return of my own laptop, either repaired or replaced, in a few weeks -- a new start to a new year.

One great thing about Face Book is watching the New Year be embraced in country after country as it approaches our California coastline. We are among the last to welcome the new year, but the advantage to that is we get to enjoy a lot of other celebrations, beginning on the morning of December 31 (which I fortunately had off this year).

As the new year enters, we have had a remarkable change happen. Our little Simone, the feral cat we rescued when we moved nearly two years ago, changed from being aloof and afraid to affectionate. For the last few days, she has been following me everywhere, has nestled beside me on the couch, and has wanted to be petted. I always thought she would domesticate -- I am pretty successful at domesticating feral cats, the key to which is being patient. Two years is a long time to wait, but it looks like at least one little Leaver is entering the new year in great style.

So is Nikolina. She got her leg braces on Tuesday. They are pink! When I am able to post in a normal fashion and add new pictures, I will put a copy of Nikolina in her braces on the right sidebar. In the interim, it is great to see how she likes wearing them and knowing that in a while she will be able to stand and walk. The question asked when she was born in April 2009, will she be able to work, has been answered: Yes, she will!

Wishing a brave new world for all of you in 2011 -- and may it be gentle to you, as well!