About every five years or so, I run into my scrapbook while I'm going through this closet. Oh, there's the geeky-looking, eighth-grader there, holding his county spelling bee trophy. Oh, there's chubby little Ronnie in his Indian outfit on a vacation to Minnesota. And, the picture of our championship Bible quizzing team. Now it's also a lot of fun when we pull out the old photos of our family. Two decades of Christmas Eves, scenes from scores and scores of vacation adventures, sons in football uniforms, a daughter all dressed up for her first recital - ah, the memories. Now it isn't that we haven't had some not-so-great things happen. There was the automobile accident, the painful injuries, the bouts with various sicknesses - but somehow they just didn't make it into the memory book.

The Titanic has sailed into the Internet - bigtime. You wouldn't believe the mountains of information available about the sinking of that "unsinkable" ship back in 1912. With the Academy Award-winning movie, and endless TV shows and articles, a Broadway musical - fascination with the Titanic is at an all-time high. A lot of this information has been known for decades, but suddenly there's a tremendous appetite for that information. Like the tragic mistake made that fatal night by a radioman on the Titanic. The ship had received a number of warnings about ice ahead, and had adjusted her course southward as a result. But two hours before the Titanic hit the iceberg, the radioman received a warning from another ship about a major iceberg, along with the longitude and latitude coordinates. They put that iceberg right in Titanic's path. It's the one that sank the ship. But the radioman didn't know it was in their path. He was busy that night, so he stuck that message on a spindle where it could be dealt with later. That one choice doomed him - and 1,500 other passengers who died that night.

I first noticed it one day when I was mowing the lawn - a little dent in the ground. Over a few weeks, that little dent became a growing sinkhole. The ground was literally collapsing. I asked a neighbor, who was an amateur "sinkholeologist," what caused this phenomenon. He told me it was the drought of rainfall that we had been having. He said an underground spring had probably dried up. And that dried up the ground, and the roots above it - and my yard fell in.

I was with several members of our Team in the relentless evangelism schedule of one of our "Make A Difference" Weekends. We were getting pretty tired and our minds were totally focused on our outreaches. In fact, so tired and so focused, that I forgot about a radio station that was calling me for a live interview that afternoon. Now, I had just awakened from a brief nap and the phone rang. Thinking it was one of our Team members, I jokingly answered, "Good morning" - at 4:00 in the afternoon. Somehow, I was able to rebound immediately and go enthusiastically into that interview, and I don't think the folks on the other end ever knew I was surprised by their call. When I told my Team members about this, Esther said, "Ron, I've seen you come to life like that a lot of times. You're like a ventriloquist's dummy." I thanked her for sharing that, and she felt she should clarify what she meant. She said, "No, no. You're like this." Then she closed her eyes, hung her head, and leaned lifelessly against the wall. Then, without warning, she opened her eyes real wide, started moving her head from side to side, and said, "Hi, everybody! How ya doing?" I laughed so hard I could barely drive.

Apparently, the airlines know you have to keep us Americans amused. They try to keep something happening on those video screens during much of the flight. If it's a long flight, you get a movie. If it's a shorter flight, you get shorts - not to wear, I mean, the kind you watch on the screen. And I'm usually so busy amusing myself with all the work I have to do, I don't pay much attention to the screen. But on this one flight, I did occasionally glance up at the girls' gymnastics competitions they were showing in the sports highlights. The big competition was between the United States and Russia, so my star-spangled blood was pulling for you-know-who. After each girl performed, they would do this little replay. I never saw a replay of anything she did right. They insisted on showing two or three times where she messed up. "Look, everybody - see the one thing she did wrong." That bothers me.

We have some wonderful Native American friends in the Northwest, and during last summer's reservation outreaches, they honored us by inviting us to stay in their home. We had a great stay, but I did have to learn a custom that was new to me. When you walk in their front door, you are greeted with a pile of shoes. Now, in many Native American homes in that area, it's expected that your shoes won't make it past the door. Which makes you think about what socks you're going to wear that day - probably not the ones that look like Swiss cheese, you know. Actually, to come into the house with your shoes on is really to dishonor your hosts. And anyone who has had to sweep or vacuum the trail left behind by dirty shoes knows this is not just about honor - it makes sense to not track dirt into a clean house!

When I'm in Mexico where our Latin American outreach is based, my "Taco Bell" Spanish doesn't get me very far. I mean, how much meaningful communication can you have when all you know are words like "enchilada" and "burrito grande"? "You look burrito grande today." Our Director of Latin American Ministry, David Isais, is a wonderful translator and my best hope of communicating while I'm there. Needless to say, I light up when someone there is fluent in English - I can converse unassisted! In the course of talking with one bilingual, Mexican man, I learned he is involved with automobile racing in that country, sort of the Mexican NASCAR. He's an engineer. When I asked him if they have anything like America's Indianapolis 500, he told me they don't do long distance races like that. They can't. Then I asked him about the pressure of repairing a race car during one of those pit stops, and he informed me that they don't have pit stops. They don't stop. But they can't go as far as cars that do.

When it comes to the Olympics, it seems as if there are always certain athletes that give the Games a personal touch for us. In the 1994 Winter Olympics, we all wanted to see the women's skating showdown between Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding. In 1998, it was two teenagers named Michelle and Tara. Michelle Kwan was heavily favored to leave Japan with the gold medal; 15-year-old Tara Lapinski was expected to bring home the silver. But in a stunning performance - and Olympic upset - Tara Lapinski captured the gold. Michelle Kwan - who had skated an almost flawless program - was disappointed, but gracious. She won a silver medal that so many would love to win, but you know it still had to hurt. Some of that hurt slipped out as she sent a message to her family as TV carried it around the world. She said, "I love you, Mom and Dad, and Karen and Jimmy. I hope you still love me."

We have a wonderful Christian radio station in our area. Well, it's wonderful if you can hear it. A lot of people can. But I just talked with a friend who lives another direction who says she just can't pick up that station where she is. But then I've met people who live in a part of the area where the station has a strong signal - and they've never heard it either. They have never turned to that frequency. Important information is being communicated over that station - actually, eternally important information. But a lot of people are missing it. Some because the transmitter isn't transmitting their direction. And others because their receiver isn't tuned into that frequency!

Kissimmee, Florida is right in the middle of some of Florida's most exciting tourist attractions - so it's usually associated with happy times. But in February of '98 the headlines were about tragedy in Kissimmee, with 38 people killed in the deadliest tornado outbreak in the state's history. In its lead front page story, USA Today told about one couple who cowered in horror, it says, "as their house literally broke apart around them. The garage door blew open and tore away. The door into the kitchen opened, and the wind sucked like a vacuum cleaner, pulling their five-year-old daughter, Elissa, away. Her dad said, 'She was horizontal, and my wife was holding onto her legs. There was all this glass and everything started to disappear, all the furniture, the insides of the walls. If my wife had let go of Elissa, we wouldn't have been able to find her.' But Judy's grip held. And in a few moments, the tornado had passed and Elissa was safe in her arms."

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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