Category Archives: Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends


PICT0091PICT0090PICT0089This is a picture book on how to play “42,” a Texas domino game.  It’s a game that makes funny faces come on my mama.  Sometimes she laughs uncontrollably.  Linda, in the second picture, shows how you can hide your dominos from the other players.  She doesn’t know we can all see her hand now.  In the last picture, it looks like only Paul is paying attention.  Just watch Paul and you’ll soon know how to play.  If you want to have fun, watch the lady in blue.

There are no 42 instructions in Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends, but there are lots of stories about my mom, Georgia Lou. 



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How do you like these darling children?

When taking people’s pictures, I often cut off heads.  I don’t usually cut off their whole bodies.  This was the exception.  Our kids sang at church Sunday.  When I saw this botched picture, I almost deleted it from my camera, then I thought, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!  (Romans 10:15)  And good news they did bring, cheering us all with their song and dance.  I pray they will continue to grow so their feet may be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). 

Do you remember singing this song in Sunday school?

I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery.  I may never fly o’er the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army.  (Yes, Sir!) 

Several months ago I started praying for each of my five grandchildren when I went to bed at night.  Then I added a friend’s granddaughter, then four kids of soon to be missionaries to Colombia and then a friend who is pretty much grown, but hasn’t outgrown her need for prayer.   Let’s pray for these kids.  They need to march in God’s infantry.  There are lots of armies they could join.  Let’s be sure they’re in God’s army. 

There are stories in Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends suitable for these kids.  Find one and read it to your child–or let him read it to you!  Then pray together for each other. 


Marty the photographer

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I set a jar of cold water and six tea bags on a tree stump in the back yard.  I don’t know if sun tea is better than the boiled kind.  It’s simply a symbol of a good Southern country good times. 

We used to have a hand-crank ice cream freezer.  The kids sat on it while the adults turned the crank.  I didn’t do much of either.  I mostly got in the way because I was too skinny my weight was worthless to keep the thing still.  And I certainly couldn’t turn the crank.  Nevertheless, this was good ice cream, making good memories. 

My daughter, Jenny, used to fish for crawdads at the ditch by our mountain church in New Mexico.  I hope she got as much out church as she did out of fishing with her friends. 

My sister who is nine years my senior remembers going to youth camp when they had to pay $7.50 and a pound of bacon.  She also remembers driving the tractor when she and the cousins weren’t old enough.  But she wasn’t four like Cousin Jimmy and I were.  We scared the aunts and uncles–did we get attention!  

In the 1920s, my mother’s family had an old car.  It didn’t run.  What she used it for, it didn’t need to run.  She quickly got her chores done, took an old hymnal out to that car.  She’d sit in the back seat and let the sun beam on her. She’d sing to the top of her lungs, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning,” “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,”Standing on the Promises” and whatever else was in the hymnal that she knew–and maybe some she didn’t. 

A couple more from my mother.  She and her brother smeared axle grease all over each other.  She says she doesn’t know why her mother didn’t beat the tar out of her.  One Halloween she and friends stole a chicken, roasted and ate it.  She said it was sure tough!  Mother!  I’m ashamed of you!

David and his life-long best friend, Gary, once camped in the back yard.  They cut weeds (the weeds we had in the 1950s) about 1-1/2 inches, punched holes through them with a nail, burned one end with the outdoor barbecue and blew smoke.  They did not inhale! 

My friend Denise tells a couple of good Southern California memories.  They had an apricot tree in their yard.  In the summer, she hid in it.  This is where she did all her thinking and planning.  Nobody knew where to find her.  In the fall, she and her brother raked the leaves from the tree, then jumped in.  She also remembers in the summer some kind of fruit dripping down her dirty arm.

Here is one from this sophisticated friend I can barely believe.   She said she and her brother would be walking home and it would be hot and they’d be thirsty.  They’d pass a yard with sprinklers not turned on.  He taught her to put her mouth on the sprinkler head and suck on it and water would come out.  Yuck, Denise!

We all remember Hide-and-Seek, Mother May I? and Red Light-Green Light.

Jodie, my sister, says she is now sitting on their deck in Ohio watching the lightning bugs.  I’m about to go swimming with my husband, but not in the ditch.  Does that count? 

Come on, turn off that computer and get to living this summer. 

Be sure to take a copy of Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends up to the apricot tree with a cool glass of sun tea. 




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Join us for pizza and salad with Mike Cousineau.  The pizza was better than we had on the Sea of Galilee.  I’d love to be back there, but eating tilapia.




                Long before we found The Prayer of Jabez (I Chr. 4:10) in our bookstores, Mike asked God to enlarge his territory.  In 1979, God took him to the Ivory Coast. 

                Mike Cousineau is a long-term missionary to Africa.  Our church has had the privilege of supporting his ministry with prayers and funds.   

                In July 2005, God again enlarged Mike’s territory with the Hanna Project.  God sent the fourth team to Ivory Coast.   They now had five medical doctors. 

                The surgeries, wound care, prescription glasses and so much more all led to the true mission—189 people came to Christ. 

                I didn’t realize the area covered by the Hanna project until I looked at a map.  Tajikistan is part of the former Soviet Union, located north of Afghanistan.  This is just one of the places blessed by the God through the Hanna Project. 

                We all like success stories, and Mike was glad to oblige:

                It is against the law to share the gospel with children in Tajikistan.   Max was a street kid at 7.  At 13, he was taken off the streets by the church.  His life turned around.  He completed his education in six years.  He came to Christ, dated and married the pastor’s daughter.  

                Now to North Africa:  Morocco is 99.9% Muslim.  O that we had that percentage of Christians in America.    Morocco’s king highlighted the country’s six best organizations, and the association with which The Hanna Project works was one of them. 

                Later, the prayer of Jabez popped up in Mike’s life again, “O that you would bless me.”    Many of us may be timid to pray that prayer.  Not Mike. 

                One evening, Mike was hungry for fruit.  He went to the store and bought some oranges and bananas.  A man on the street asked him for a piece of fruit.   Mike kept walking.  The still small voice reminded him, “Bless me, expand my territory.”   He realized God couldn’t bless him if he were going to keep the blessing to himself.  He went back and gave the man some of his fruit.  The man smiled.  They both were blessed. 

                Mike asked the question we should have asked him:  What do you want from New Hope? 

                His answer:  Not just finances, not just prayer support—but personal involvement—someone to go, someone with skills.  Mike is not shy. 

                Mike and the Hanna project need workers, from healthcare professionals to painters.  And he said he might even give you one day of R&R. 

They also need a generator, as their surgeons often perform operations by flashlight. 

                In February 2010, the Hanna Project plans to put a roof on a school.  They need someone who knows construction.  They also need nurses, doctors, assistants and more.   Do you wear one of these hats?

Mike concluded, “There are greater things to come.  Do you want to be involved?”


Check out Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends and learn about Pizza on the Sea of Galilee.  You can also read an exciting adventure about Mike Cousineau.  Fun stuff to read while you’re eating your pizza and salad. 

A short PS.  The pictures on my blog are independent of me.  Right before I push the button, they develop minds of their own.  If I’d been smarter than the pictures, I’d have placed Mike in the middle so it doesn’t look like he’s talking to himself.  Maybe they’ll be more submissive next time.  I wonder if God ever thinks that about us. 



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I Corinthians 13:1 tells us what we are without love.  One is a resounding gong.   Surely those sweet grandbabies of mine aren’t gongs.  Following is a story from Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends

Am I a Gong?

            Chopsticks!  I hate hearing those kids play chopsticks on the piano!  Over and over they play it because they don’t know any other music.  It’s not a bad tune.  When you play both parts, it even has a little harmony to it.  It’s just that they play it again and again as if everyone were enjoying a fine performance. 

            This is what I think of when I read in I Corinthians 13.  If we don’t have love, we’re playing chopsticks over and over again—and thinking everyone is enjoying it.  We’re like a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  

We have a set of presently unused percussion instruments at our church.  After the service, children bang on them until told to stop. 

            Do we go about our measured, repetitious lives like a sounding gong—making a lot of noise and motions, but with not much lasting results?  We may even irritate a few onlookers along the way.

            The Bible says we’re nothing if we don’t have the gift of love—even if we have mountain-moving faith.  If we give our possessions and even our bodies to be burned and we don’t practice love, we gain nothing. 

            Love is kind.  Am I kind to those who are not kind back?  Even sinners know how to be nice to people who are nice to them.  (Luke 6:32)

            Love doesn’t boast.  I can’t imagine a loving boaster.  It’s an oxymoron.  Rude and loving don’t go together, either.  Can you picture loving the guy you’re cutting off in traffic? 

            “You owe me.  I have my rights.”  Try to love a person while saying those words to him.  It’s harder than rubbing your head and patting your tummy.

            A loving person wants the other guy to succeed.  I like being that other guy.  But if we really want to succeed, we’ll be the cheerleader for so many around us who need more than a piercing sound. 

            Uh-oh.  Paul says in verse 4, love is patient.  I guess I’d better go back and apologize to those young chopstick players and gong resounders and clanging cymbalists.  I don’t want to be a gong.   


Don’t be a gong.  Go out and buy  a copy of Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends.  But I’ll be your friend even if you don’t.



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Ebby and I have two friends.  One young, one, hmmm (it’s all relative).  One is from California, one from Colorado, a male and a female.  Waudell Maple, Brother Mapes, is a 76-year-old hospice chaplain who was my youth director many years ago.  Ashlee is a ten-year-old student.  Brother Mapes said to use Ashlee’s picture.  “She’s much prettier than this ole man.” 

Brother Mapes takes Ebby, AKA Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends, to hospice patients and their families while they wait for the inevitable.  He also passes him out at Starbucks (St. Arbucks) for an ice breaker to open up a discussion about Jesus.  He takes him everywhere he goes.  “But he has to ride in the back seat.” 

Ashlee reads “Mud Pies,” from Ebby when she’s sad, “and that makes me laugh.”  Ashlee laughs more than most as she waits patiently for a family to call her own.  You can see she has that twinkle in her eye.  It seems to say, “I know God has something up His sleeve.” 

Brother Mapes has taken some nasty falls.  It sounds like he’s pretty bunged up, but I’ve checked and his sense of humor is intact.   From his latest e-mail:  “Did you tell me the name of a nursing home you have reserved a room in? I may be looking for one.  Don’t need Depends yet, just a wheelchair.  Sheesh!” 

Please pray for Ashlee and Brother Mapes.  Pray they keep laughing and making everyone around them laugh. 



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This morning when I checked my blog, the automatic scripture was Hebrews 13:3, Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.  I immediately thought of our dear Thelma, who lived and breathed prison ministry.  Following is the story about her that appeared in Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends.  May we follow in Thelma’s steps, as Janice Little, Frank Hicks, Joe Avila and many others have done. 





“Pray for Thelma.  She’s back in prison.” 

            Why would this nice lady be in prison?  I began to study the ups and downs of Thelma’s life.

            Her mother had a stroke when Thelma was seven.  This left her having to do most of the household chores.  Not an easy childhood. 

            At age eight, she heard a Chinese preacher, Mun Hope, at camp.  He had the children fill in their names in John 3:16:  For God so loved ….She immediately inserted Thelma and accepted that love. 

            She lived on Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota where her father taught school and was a government agent.   I’m sure she got lonely.    

            After high school, Thelma had the opportunity to go to Emmaus Bible School in Chicago. 

            During this time, she went to Lake Geneva Youth Camp as a counselor.  There, she met Gil Hernandez.   She did possess a little mischievous streak:  Icing a cake for the other counselors with Ex-Lax.  Surely this didn’t qualify as questionable character.  Apparently Gil didn’t think so.  He married her.  Maybe this was because he didn’t eat any of the cake. 

            Gil and Thelma took on their first formal ministry in Colorado Springs, where they became house parents to teen-aged boys at a Christian home for children.   Though this was exciting for Thelma, I’m sure it was a challenging assignment.  Along with this, they had already begun to raise their own family. 

            They then were ready to go to Mexico.  She again rose to the challenge.  She soon adjusted to the new culture.  They taught children and planted churches in Mexico for 21 years. 

            Finally, God led them to Fresno, where Thelma met the Rolen family—a lovely family.  Well, then there was Janice.  Here, I think, is where the path turned for Thelma.  Yes, I’m sure of it.  Janice, the Rolen’s daughter, is the one who led her on this path to prison. 

            Janice Little introduced Thelma Hernandez to Austin Morgan and Prison Fellowship.  Thelma at first wondered aloud, “why me?  I don’t know anything about prisoners.”  Her thinking soon changed.  Prison ministry became her most passionate and fruitful calling.  For 14 years, Thelma went into prisons all over the San Joaquin Valley.  Her consistent service and her huge smile showed the prisoners she loved them.  Her open Bible showed them Who loved them more.  

            All the way my Savior leads me.   God led Thelma from an Indian reservation to teaching prisoners in the center of California. 

            Cheers each winding path I tread.  Her path wound by way of Chicago, Colorado, Mexico and Central California.  Wherever she went, she had a glow about her.   

            Gives me grace for every trial.  Thelma did have real trials:

  • Having to care for a family when she should be playing with dolls.
  • Going to a country with a different culture while raising four children.
  • Cancer.

I knew Thelma only during her prison years and her cancer years.  She seldom spoke of the cancer, only of the people behind bars whom she’d grown to love.  During share time, we saw the tears:  “Please pray that there won’t be a lock-down this week at Avenal.”  “Please pray the women at Chowchilla will be receptive.” 

            Feeds me with the living bread.  Her children remember waking up and going to the kitchen.  Their mom was sipping coffee, reading her Bible and then writing letters.  This was a habit for Thelma, not a sometimes occurrence. 

            Jesus led me all the way.  On July 4, 2007, Thelma received her independence.  On July 9, in a packed auditorium, we honored Thelma and the God she took to the prisoners.  


…I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Matthew 25:36C


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