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Wishing you all the Christmas magic your soul can hold along with the hope that your holiday season has been joyful, triumphant, merry and bright~

love, love, love,

The Gracious Rain Cheer-Meister Committee

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Christmas Prayers

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Christmas Prayers

by J.K. “Trapper” Hatch

“I grew up during the Great Depression in the little town of Taylor, Arizona. In those days there were no jobs around Taylor, so when I was seventeen years old, a couple of friends and I decided we would hitchhike the 250 miles to Phoenix to find some kind of work.

It was the first week in December of 1933, and we rode part of the way in the back of a cattle truck. We had to get down between the cows to keep warm.

When we arrived in Phoenix, we found out that there was no work to be had. Many men were standing in lines waiting for the free soup the government was giving out to those in need. You could buy hotcakes for ten cents, but we didn’t have a dime; so after a while we joined the soup line.

We looked for work and somehow survived for two weeks; then Christmas drew near. One of my friends had a sister who lived not too far away, and he and my other friend decided to go to her house for Christmas. But I was determined to go home.

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Early the next morning, the day before Christmas, I started hitchhiking.

I didn’t get to Flagstaff until 5:00 in the afternoon. That was halfway home. The sky was steel gray and it was bitterly cold, with eight inches of snow on the ground. There were holes in both of my shoes, so I found some cardboard and cut pieces to fit inside to keep my feet a little drier. Then I started down the highway again, trying to get another ride.

Since it was Christmas Eve, there wasn’t much traffic. It grew darker and colder, and I became more and more dejected as the few cars swished by in the snow and the chill of the night penetrated my thin coat.

By 10:00 I had become so cold and numb that I began to wonder what it would be like to freeze to death. I was so tired that I knew I’d never make it unless someone stopped soon. Several more cars passed me by, and I had to talk to myself to keep going. “One more car,” I said. “If the next car doesn’t stop, I’ll lie down under a tree and let it happen. One more car.”

In a short while I could hear an engine in the distance. “This is it,” I told myself, taking a deep breath as I held out my thumb. Swish.

The car went by me. I closed my eyes and sank to my knees in total despair.

In my misery, everything was shut out of my mind for several seconds; but then I heard a sound. The car had stopped and was backing up! I struggled to my feet, heart pounding. In the car were two men from my hometown of Taylor.

They had recognized me as they passed.

At about 1:00 a.m. I was safely deposited at the front door of my home. I could see there was still a light on, and as I came quietly through the door, there sat Dad and Mom with their heads in their hands, praying. When I spoke I was greeted with joyful cries and tears. Mom told me they had been praying all evening and into the night for my well-being and safe return home.

There were no presents that Christmas. Dad killed an old rooster next morning, and that was our Christmas dinner. Yet I have never felt the spirit of Christmas more strongly than I did that day as I sat with Dad, Mom, and my brothers and sisters and felt the warmth and love of our family.”

Merry Christmas, My Boy…

Dane

Very soon—next week in fact, I’ll get to talk to my far away boy for Christmas. When people hear that he only has six months left they ALWAYS say, “Wow, the time has gone by so fast.”

Well, not to me…

He sent us these pictures and truthfully they remind me of so many things we have to be thankful for this holiday season.

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Here is the paper clip star on top of his tiny pretend Christmas tree.

Here he is with Elder Newman at a place called the Hill of Crosses. The people in Lithuania have left millions of crosses here for over 600 years in defiance of foreign invasion. Dane sent post cards from this monument as well. It is an amazing place.

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Here is the Barbie sized Christmas tree that sits on their table.

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He sent this one especially for me. This is a game we used to play on hot summer days. He’d actually lay on the floor and let me “try” to pour water directly in his mouth without nearly drowning him. Why he loved it I’ll never know–but apparently he’s carrying on without me.

Silly dude…

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Since the string of lights is bigger than his whole tree–he put it here with a picture of the Savior. Very pretty–I’d say.

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Here they are…The men in black–looking all brave and scary. But we know who they really are…

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Elder Porter, Elder Cook and my Daney-boy–in their true forms–crazy people in a foreign land. Please note the matching ties. Yikes…

Merry Christmas, son.

Be safe and warm. We miss you.

Puppy Love

Owen

A friend of ours, “Utah Grammie” over at Main Street Memories, witnessed a pretty incredible event unfold in her family this last week. With her permission, we would like to share the story with you on Gracious Rain.

Before we begin, here’s a little preface:

On Wednesday Nov. 18, 2009 while her family was visiting relatives in Arivaca, Arizona, her sister’s beloved dog, Owen, went missing.

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It happened while they were all outside ready to feed the animals.  One of the horses came up behind Owen and spooked him. He bolted out of the yard and down the dirt road. Gone. The family spent the day searching for the scared puppy but no luck. Volunteer groups from the area came but the area was huge-consisting of a lot of desert full of scrub brush and mesquite tree that stretched out for miles and miles. The poor dog could be anywhere.

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By the next day the family was becoming more somber. Rightly so.  The desert is no place for a  little city pup, what with coyotes and snakes and all kinds of hidden dangers for a creature so small on their own. On Thursday Utah Grammie said, “No news. We’re still holding out hope. In the meantime, I just can’t be flippant. Sorry. Hopefully the new day will bring good news.”

They put up fliers offering a $500 reward all over the area, but still nothing additional to report on Friday either. Everyone was heartbroken. Owen wasn’t just a dog, he was a beloved member of the family.

Saturday is where the miracle actually begins…

I’ll let Utah Grammie take it from here:

*****

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Miracle in the desert

There’s a lot more to this, and if you’ve doubts about prayer, courage, strength….about the stars and the heaven’s alignment….about the kindness of strangers….and man’s love of God’s creatures….then you need to read no further.

Because this is the story of hope, answered prayers, and…’thanks-giving’

Everyone was supportive. Told Kathy he’d be found..he’d be safe.. Because that’s what one says..even if one doesn’t believe…..has doubts.

After all, one small city dog..in a place far away from his home..unknown terrain….what with coyotes, bobcats and all other dangers of the desert at night. And it was now 3 nights..and 4 days..

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No word..even the believers, the hopeful, were losing hope. “It’s really not very likely he’ll be found alive..after one night out there..” some said {but all were thinking by now..} But that’s not the way it was supposed to be..not the way the story ends..

The reward posters were placed in the small town of Arivaca, in the bar/restaurant in Amado..the mercantile, the library….given out at the elementary school where Larry substituted as a kindergarten teacher…the shelter in Green Valley..the border patrol station..no one had seen him.

One small white dog..one large and dangerous desert..thousand of acres vs one flat-faced [pup], with bottom-less brown eyes.. all spit and vinegar…

On the day we had all but given up hope, Kathy’s cell phone rang. Bad reception..”wait, what?”

“I thi.. I ma..have fou.. your dog..” The line went dead..the caller ID said simply “unknown”..

The phone rang again..”What? Where are you? What’s you’re number..give me YOUR number!?”

He gave the first 3 digits..then the line went dead…again.

“NO..”

It rang a third time..he quickly gave the LAST 4..Kathy ran into the house to use the land-line. The voice on the other end said “I think we have him..” 4 1/2 miles. Hills..washes..no houses..then a small house..a man holding Owen..

Kathy screaming, crying, Gerri jumping. Owen was found. He’s alive!

The man, now himself close to tears, is hugged by Kathy. He hugs back..then tells his story.

Seems he has a small, modest home. 4 dogs himself. Lots of barking – teenage daughter, pretty wife. But for some reason, the barking at 2:30 Saturday morning was..well..different. The man thought he’s just step outside and check..

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A coyote was trying to get something under his car..what was it? His Great Dane was furious..barking..the coyote was growling..menacing.. He let the Great Dane out..he ran off the coyote.. the man looked under the car.. Now what is this? A small, white city dog? Out here? Wha??

The man took him inside. The little dog was wearing a collar with tags..and a phone number..a long distance phone number. He couldn’t call at that hour. He started to work on all the burrs, stickers and desert this little city dog had gotten himself into.

He continued to try to make Owen {he found his name was on his tag} comfortable..feed him and give him water..he gently groomed him, talked to him, for over 4 hours..He called at 8am.

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When Kathy & Gerri arrived, when the hugs and the tears and the laughter subsided..the man told the story.. no, he and his wife and daughter had not seen the fliers on a lost little white dog..they didn’t know…

Kathy hugged him.. told him there was a reward..

“No, no..not necessary..I couldn’t..”

Kathy gave him the reward. $500, just like the flier had said. The flier he had not seen.

The man appeared to be in shock..he couldn’t believe it..he said “thank you – thank you…I don’t…” Like us all, he had been having a rough time ..Thanksgiving and Christmas were a worry..he has a daughter..and a wife..and little extra beyond the basics. But not having extra money didn’t stop him from opening his home, his heart….{.and 3 long distance phone calls!} They hugged, cried and said good-bye.

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Later, when Kathy’s husband, Bruce was leaving to drive back to Lake Havasu..he stopped to thank the man and his family himself. Bruce told the man he was Kathy’s hero..thanked him again. The man looked at Bruce and said..

“No..you are our hero..we didn’t know if we were going to have a real Thanksgiving or Christmas this year..now, thanks to Owen, we will..”

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One small dog, one huge desert, one group of friends and strangers, one gracious God.

One happy ending…

Thank you for praying, thank “Ron ” for calling..thank the people of Arivaca, thank God. And thanks to the Great Dane..that coyote may still be runnin’….. 🙂

Utah Grammie

Happy Thanksgiving!

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For each new morning with its light,

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For rest and shelter of the night,

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For song of bird and hum of bee,

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Father in Heaven, we thank Thee.

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For health and food,

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For love and friends,

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For everything Thy goodness sends…

ThanksgivingFather in Heaven…we thank Thee.

~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you will be able to gather those you cherish closer to you, and that you may feel Heavenly Father’s love this day—and always.

We are grateful for you. Thanks for reading–

Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!