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Friday, August 29, 2014

Kara Howell's The Presence of Shadows

A Taste of Friday presents Kara Howell and the Presence of Shadows!
Read and enjoy Chapter One


99-cent e-book on Amazon

Ebed-melech paced the small chamber that he called home. He stared with blurry eyes at the scroll in his left hand and pulled at his hair with the other. Helpless anguish filled his heart as he reread the letter from his abba.

The Second Year in the Reign of our Thirty-Ninth Candice

My dearest Ebed-melech,

Something terrible has happened and I find that I can hardly bear to write this message. My heart is heavy, but I must inform you of the events of the last few weeks. Terror has reigned in our hearts since the first attack. Let me explain. Dogo’s herdsmen have been plagued by a beast that suddenly appeared in the hills surrounding the pasture land. Actually, appeared is not the right word, for no one has seen the creature. It attacks with little warning and leaves no tracks to follow. The only thing anyone has seen is an enormous shadow. The loss to our taxilar herds is devastating, but even worse is the loss of friends and family.
Your brother was with our herds when the beast last attacked. We have not been able to find him since. Whatever this thing is, we don’t believe it keeps prey alive. Instead it devours everything it can get to satisfy its ferocious appetite.

We mourn your brother and have committed his soul to Melek. It is only the hope of seeing him in heaven that has kept your mother and me from complete despair. We rest in the hands of Melek and pray that He will be your strength in this difficult time.

We received your last letter and are so thankful that you were able to convince King Zedekiah to release Jeremiah. We pray for your safety through the capture of Jerusalem. May Melek use Babylon to bring Yisra’el back to Himself. Serve Him faithfully and pray for deliverance from the beast we face.

Always praying for you,
Your Abba,


The Twelfth Year of the Sixty-Seventh Candice

Brehane and his friend sat on a hill and gazed out at the taxilars. “I wish that I could have a herd of my own,” Dawit said.

“Really?” Brehane looked at his friend.

“Yeah. It’s better than slaving over a hot fire, banging metal into shape.”

“I thought you’d be happy to be a blacksmith like your abba,” Brehane said. “But I certainly don’t blame you for wanting to be a herdsman. I love it. Someday I’m going to have my own herd. It will be larger than my abba’s and I will earn the respect of the elders of the village.”

“It must be nice doing something you love.” Dawit frowned. “I mean, I don’t hate the work of a blacksmith, it’s just a lot nicer out here under the blue sky every day.”

Brehane reached over and patted Dawit on the back. “Maybe when we are older you can choose to be a herdsman instead of a blacksmith. I would give you a few taxilars from my herd to start your own. Then we could spend every day together.”

“But that will take forever!” Dawit complained. “I’m only nine and you’re just a year older.”

Brehane stood up to get a better look at the grazing animals. Dawit stood beside him and stretched.

Dawit quietly asked, “Do you ever think about what would happen if a taxilar died while you’re out here?”
Brehane shivered at the thought. “Nah, that will never happen to me. My abba taught me how to take care of them, and I’m good at it.” He playfully punched Dawit in the arm for suggesting such a ridiculous thing.

“Hey.” Dawit pointed toward the north. “Is that kid supposed to be that far from the herd?”

“No.” Brehane jogged after the taxilar. “Stay here with the rest of the herd,” he called over his shoulder.
Where did that crazy taxilar go? Brehane knew the river lay ahead of him and fear shot through his heart. Any animal that wandered too close to its banks would be prey to a number of predators. “Come here!” Brehane desperately hoped his voice would carry over the roar of the river. The bushes, trees, and vines made it hard to get even a glimpse of the animal. Leaves slapped him in the face as he rushed through foliage. When he drew a breath, only tension seemed to enter his lungs.

There! Brehane just saw its white tail disappear into the tall reeds on his left. He sprinted toward it as quickly as he could, heart throbbing with fear. Pushing back the black waves of hair that blew into his eyes, he continued to call the wayward animal, but it ran closer to the bank of the green water. Brehane burst out of the thin vegetation near the banks. He gained ground on the scurrying kid. When it was just a few feet in front of him, it looked back and then turned its gray-masked face to the water flowing beside it. The rush of the river pounded in Brehane’s ears. Brehane reached out to grab the kid’s soft, long hair when the air exploded with the alarm of hundreds of birds. Brehane’s head snapped up. Several squawking birds flew out of the trees. He returned his attention to the kid. His hand was just inches from the animal when a crocodile surged out of the water, latched onto the middle of the animal, and ripped it from the safety of the shore.
Brehane watched in horror. The bow and arrows on his back were useless as the croc jerked the taxilar from side to side until it was torn in small chunks that the beast proceeded to swallow whole.

At the end of the day, Brehane had no other choice than to return to the village. How would they take his terrible news? He’d herded his abba’s taxilars for less than a year. He was such a failure. He dropped to his knees at the outskirts of Dogo. How could he be a great herdsman like his abba if he lost the animals so easily?

Through his tears he saw Abba run up to him and pull him up into a tight embrace.

Brehane choked out the story of how he had lost the taxilar. Breaking through his accusing thoughts, Abba’s gentle voice crooned, “It’s okay, Brehane. I’m glad you weren’t hurt. The herd will be fine. You tried to get that animal away from the shore. Sometimes they are just too stubborn for even the best herdsman to keep them safe.”

But Brehane determined that day not to lose another taxilar. He would be strong enough and smart enough to do the job well, and ensure his future as a respected herdsman of his village.

The Nineteenth Year of the Sixty-Seventh Candice

Brehane watched his sister’s shadow bounce up and down in front of him as she skipped alongside him. He was glad that Zema didn’t carry the jug they’d filled with the cool water of Lake Tana. It had been a long, hot day under the blazing sun and the promise of sundown was a welcome thought. The hot breeze blew his dark hair into his eyes and he flipped it out of his face.

The brilliant body of Spangle drew his attention away from his little sister. The churis padded beside them on silent paws. Brehane watched the large animal. Spangle’s vivid colors and graceful movements fascinated him. He reached out and stroked the large cat’s silky head. His heart filled with pride as he admired Spangle’s long silky strands of fur. Indigo blue stripes wove around his caramel body and legs. Red spots popped out on his tail and tufted ears. Spangle turned his head and barely lifted his chin to look Brehane in the eye. He chuffed softly and pressed against Brehane’s hand.

“Can we go through the village today?” Zema looked back at him. She turned around and walked backwards. She shuffled her feet and a cloud of dust swirled around them. “I know it takes a little longer than if we go through the mango grove, but then we can say ‘Jambo’ to everyone.”

Brehane sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “All right. We can go say ‘Jambo’ to some of our friends, but not to ‘everyone.’”

“I can’t wait until I’m seventeen like you, then I will go to the village every day and play with my friends,” Zema stated with assurance.

“Well, you have a while to wait since you’re only nine.” Brehane tapped her on the head.

As they entered Dogo, Zema ran her hand over the top of the wooden gate. Her little finger caught in one of the thin vines tying the poles together. She tugged on it.

Brehane helped her pull her finger free. “I love to come to the village.” She smiled up at him.

“Yes.” Brehane rumpled her hair. “I know you do.”

The village noises were so different from those he heard in the pasture. Hammers clanged, fires crackled, looms squeaked, and axes chopped. The smell of fried fish floated on the breeze and filled his nostrils. Woven-grass huts spread along the outer fence of the circular village, leaving the center open for daily life and business.

Dogo was one of many small villages in Flasha Mura where Gisbons dwelled. The average Gisbon stood no taller than four feet. Brehane, like his people, had black skin, eyes and hair. Both males and females had shoulder-length, wavy hair. A layer of curly, black hair protected the bottom of their bare feet. Their light tunics were of simple colors embroidered with bright thread.

Dogo had all of the essential tradespeople: a tanner, blacksmith like his friend Dawit, cloth maker, and wood worker. A few healers lived there and they knew all kinds of secret remedies. Most of the remedies were made from plants that the healers grew or foraged for.

Brehane nodded to Dawit who stood outside his abba’s blacksmith hut. Dawit smiled and nodded back. Just then a girl walked around the hut and approached Dawit.

Without even a thought, Brehane’s feet changed course. “Zema, it looks like someone has come to visit Dawit. Let’s go meet her.”

“Okay.” Zema beamed. “I love meeting new people.”

“Jambo Dawit,” Brehane said as they approached. He eyed the girl curiously.

“Jambo, Brehane. Zema.” Dawit smiled.

The girl beside him turned to look at them and Brehane was so shocked he tripped over a rock and stumbled into Zema. “Watch where you’re going,” his sister huffed.

The girl had the most striking eyes he’d ever seen. They were much lighter than most and a completely different color. They vacillated between gray and blue. He really couldn’t decide which color they were. Her hair was dark brown instead of black.

Dawit’s chuckle drew Brehane away from his observations. He quickly closed his mouth.

“This is my cousin, Abrinet. Abrinet, this is Brehane and Zema.”

Before Brehane could swallow, Zema said, “It’s nice to meet you. I didn’t know that Dawit had a cousin, at least not one that I didn’t already know.” She grinned at the girl.

“Nice to meet you,” Brehane managed to mumble.

“I’m pleased to meet you too.” Abrinet smiled at them. She looked down at Zema. “You haven’t met me before because I live in Hamusit.”

“I’ve never been there, but my uncle has been there on business for the Candice,” Brehane said.

Abrinet opened her mouth to talk when a familiar voice called, “Brehane! Zema!”

Brehane turned. Aunt Adey waved at them.

“Look,” Zema exclaimed. “There’s Aunt Adey and little Fana.” She yelled their names, and ran as she waved both arms above her head.

Brehane reluctantly said, “Kwaheri, Abrinet and Dawit.” Then he followed Zema. It took all of his willpower not to look back at Abrinet.

“Zema, what a nice surprise,” Aunt Adey said. “And Brehane, too. What brings you here tonight?”

“Zema,” Brehane stated.

“Ah,” Aunt Adey said. Her dark eyes said she understood.

“Can I carry Fana?” Zema jumped up and down by her aunt’s side.

Aunt Adey handed the baby to Zema and relaxed her tense shoulders a little.

“Here,” Brehane said. “Let me take the water jug for you.” He reached for the handle of the rough clay jug and took it from his tired aunt. From behind him someone snickered. He turned his head and saw Gedeyon and three of his friends. Just what he needed.

“Well, look who it is,” Gedeyon sneered. “If it isn’t the perfect herdsman who never loses his taxilars. Oh, wait! He did lose one when he was just a little boy.” Gedeyon stuck his lip out in a pout.

Brehane felt his anger hover just below the surface. He determined not to let Gedeyon get to him. Not this time. Instead he ignored him and followed Aunt Adey.

Brehane sucked in air. Hot gravel hit the back of his legs. He winced and hissed his exhale between clenched teeth. It stung like crazy. He didn’t even need to turn to know that Gedeyon had thrown it at him, or told one of the other boys to. He did his best to ignore the pain and drew closer to the rest of his family. He’d had too many confrontations with the boys to trust his own reaction.

While they escorted Aunt Adey home, Zema shouted greetings to all who worked outside their grass hut. Zema’s cheery shout was hard to ignore and most of the villagers waved and smiled back. White teeth shone in their round black faces.

Brehane stepped into his aunt and uncle’s small grass hut. He set her large jug down on the wood table that Aunt Adey wiped the grit from. Zema continued to chatter and Brehane knew she wouldn’t want to go home anytime soon. He racked his brain to come up with some way to get her to leave. Finally he had it. He leaned down and whispered, “Remember, Uncle Mihret is coming tonight.”

Zema’s eyes lit up. She handed Fana back and quickly said farewell to Aunt Adey. Brehane smiled and kissed Fana’s cheek. He waved. “See you soon, Aunt Adey.”

They weren’t far from the eastern gate of Dogo. As they left the village behind, Zema bubbled, “I can’t wait until Uncle Mihret tells us the story he promised.”

A flock of pink flamingos flew over them. Their noise almost drowned out Zema’s words.

“Me either. I hope it’s about great Gisbons and wars!” Brehane thrust the jug of water out in front of him like a sword.

“Oh, I hope it’s about princesses falling in love!” she said dreamily. She pinned him with a look that dared him to say otherwise.

“I’ll eat extra fast tonight, then maybe Uncle Mihret will begin early,” he replied. He hoped to avoid the argument his sister wanted.

An obstinate glint filled Zema’s eyes and she puckered her lips. She definitely would not let this end peacefully.

“If you eat any faster, the chickens will guard their grain when you’re around!” She rested her slender little hands on her hips.

“Well, not everyone can take their sweet time eating like you do.” His voice rose in annoyance at her taunt. “It’s a miracle you have time for anything between meals.”

The hut came into view just in time to distract Zema from further comment. She skipped ahead of him into the yard. Mama was bent over the cook fire in front of their large hut. Birds sang from the tree that stood like a tall sentry on the far right. Its fragrant red blossoms swayed in the light breeze. The smell and bleating of the taxilars drifted from their pen around the hut. Spangle jogged through the yard and into the trees that surrounded it. He was probably going hunting for something to eat. Brehane drew a deep breath. The sounds and smells of home seeped contentment into his heart.

“Mama, I got to hold Fana.” Zema stood up tall and proud. “Brehane carried the water jug for Aunt Adey. 
We had so much fun!” She bounced up and down on the balls of her little feet.

“I’m so glad.” Mama smiled. “How is my sister?”

“Great! Fana is so cute. I just couldn’t quit kissing her chubby little black cheeks.”

Brehane sat down beside the cook fire and grabbed the bore bristle brush that was always handy. He brushed the leaves and dirt out of the hair on the bottom of his feet. The aroma of wat hovered above the cook fire and made his mouth water. He walked over and peered into the pot. He stirred the wat. The spicy stew had pieces of pork in it tonight.

The sound of laughter drifted to his round ears and he turned. Abba and Uncle Mihret sat under the tree. They looked toward the taxilar pens that were nestled behind the hut. The birds above them chirped loudly in an attempt to scare them away.

Brehane set the brush down and jogged over to join them.

“How was the herd today, son?” Abba clapped a hand on Brehane’s shoulder.

“Fine, but if this heat continues, the pasture will dry up.” Brehane frowned. “The taxilars’ appetite is already dwindling in the hottest part of the day.

“I had to chase down a kid that got lost in the middle of the grove of trees in the east pasture. Even though its mother called frantically to it, the kid wouldn’t move without me dragging it.” He shrugged. “Overall, it was a normal day.”

“I hope this drought ends soon,” Abba said, “or we’ll need to shear the taxilars before their wool has gotten long enough. I hope we can get an optimal price, but if it’s too short that won’t happen. I have never seen a year this hot and dry.” He gestured at the cracked soil.

Brehane looked around at the once green vegetation and frowned at the land that was dry and brown. It looked very much like it was dying.

“I miss the pleasant weather we’re accustomed to.” Abba pulled at his tan tunic in an effort to cool his sweaty body. Concern shone in his light brown eyes.

“I would be grateful to see this exhausting heat washed away by a good soaking rain.” Uncle Mihret sighed. 
He turned to look at Brehane. “How many herds did you share the pasture with today?”

“There were five of us,” Brehane replied.

“Come, get dinner,” Mama called from beside the fire.

Abba wrapped his thick arms around Mama’s slender waist. “It smells wonderful, Lakech.”

She smiled and her brown eyes shown with pleasure.

When his family had seated themselves on the grass mats, Brehane grabbed the clay jug and poured water into the smooth wooden cups held out to him.

Uncle Mihret drained his. “Ah! That’s so refreshing in this heat.” He held his cup out for Brehane to refill. But Brehane hadn’t filled his abba’s yet.

“That’s my brother, always cutting in line,” Abba joked dryly.

Brehane hardly noticed the spiciness of the stew or the tangy zip of the flat bread. His mind was occupied by curiosity. What story might his uncle tell them?

“Ahh!” Brehane jumped. Somehow he’d managed to knock over his cup as well as Zema’s. The spilled water soaked into the dry soil and disappeared. His leg was cool where it had been splashed.

“Are you all right, son?” Abba had a handful of food stopped halfway to his mouth. The wat was about to drip out of the injera it was wrapped in.

“Yeah.” Brehane quickly wiped the water off of his plate. Zema wiggled and looked impatiently from one adult to the other. As soon as Abba set his plate aside, Brehane jumped up and gathered the wooden plates and cups. Zema was right behind him and helped him wash up.

When they returned to the fire, Abba, Mama, and Uncle Mihret stared at them. Their mouths hung open.

“What?” Brehane shrugged.

“In the seventeen years that I have known you, you haven’t ever cleaned up this quickly,” Mama said.
Zema skipped to Uncle Mihret, grabbed his hand, and swung it.

“So, Tesfa,” Uncle Mihret said, “what do you say we put the children to bed early, and you and I can go catch noctilights.”

Brehane wasn’t fooled. His uncle’s mouth was quirked in a half smile and mischief danced in his eyes.
“No, Uncle Mihret! You promised to tell us a story,” his sister whined. She frowned. She abruptly stopped swinging their uncle’s hand.

“That’s right, I did, didn’t I?” Uncle Mihret chuckled, a sound that rumbled inside and then boiled out.
“Get comfortable and I will begin.”

Spangle lay down behind Brehane and he leaned against the churis’ soft side. Zema climbed into Mama’s lap, and Abba pulled one of the log benches over to share with Uncle Mihret.

“Well, let’s see” Uncle Mihret rubbed his chin. “I will tell you the history of a people very close to my heart. They were not Gisbons like us, but Men. However, I will begin with a remarkable woman.”

“Oh, I hope she’s a lovely princess,” Zema said. She clapped her hands in delight.

“No, not a princess, but she was a very brave woman, and she was beautiful. Her name was Hannah.

“Hannah had a big problem. She was married to Elkanah. But he was also married to Peninnah. Hannah walked through life with a broken heart. Not because her husband had two wives, but because she had no children. No matter what Elkanah said or how much he showed her he loved her, she was sad. He even tried to give her double of what he gave Peninnah. Still, he could not give her what she really longed for.

“Hannah sat by a tree just outside of the city of Shiloh and cried great heaving sobs.

“Elkanah, her husband, rubbed her back. ‘Hannah, why are you crying?’

“‘Every year when we come to Shiloh,’ Hannah hiccupped out, ‘Peninnah teases me relentlessly. I don’t know why your other wife has children and I don’t. Have I done something to displease Melek?’ she asked. Her eyes clenched as the tears ran down her cheeks.

“‘I’m sure you’ve done nothing wrong.’ Elkanah soothed. ‘Am I not better than ten sons?’ he asked. ‘I love you whether you have children or not.’

“‘But I want a son to hold and to make you proud.’ She sniffed.

“‘I am proud of you, my love.’ He lifted her chin and kissed her cheek. ‘Dry your eyes and we will go together to the tabernacle and offer the sacrifice to Melek.’ He pulled her to her feet and handed her a strip of clean cloth to wipe her eyes.”

Zema sat up straight with interest. “They knew Melek too?” she asked.

“In a way, they knew Him.” Mihret smiled at Zema’s eagerness. “They knew that He had promised to send a savior for them, but Nikao hadn’t come yet.”

“Oh,” Zema said and snuggled back into Mama.

“While Elkanah stayed outside and made sure that the sacrifice was handled properly, Hannah took her burden into the tabernacle.

“She walked past Eli, the priest, who sat in the doorway. Once inside, Hannah faced the wall and poured out her heart to Melek. In her anguish she gripped the soft, purple linen curtain that lined the wall. She wept. Her heart cried out, ‘If You will let me have a son I will give him to You for all the days of his life. When he is old enough, I will bring him back here so that the priests may teach him to serve You.’ She swayed and moaned.

“The other worshipers stared at Hannah and whispered among themselves. When Eli realized what was happening, he became suspicious. He looked closely at Hannah. Her lips moved but no sound came from them. With his face contorted with rage and disgust, he stomped over to Hannah.

“‘You are drunk. How long will you continue to drink strong wine?!’ he demanded.

“Hannah’s eyes popped open in surprise. ‘My lord, I haven’t drunk anything. It is because of my great sorrow that I’m pouring out my soul to Melek. Please do not think poorly of me,’ she explained. She released the cloth and clasped her hands tightly in front of her. Tears streaked her travel worn face.

“Eli’s expression softened toward her. ‘Go in peace and may He grant you your request.’ He blessed her and sent her on her way.

“When Hannah left, her face was no longer lined with grief, but radiated peace. She told Elkanah about her encounter with Eli, and he was relieved to see a smile on her lips again.

“The very next day, Peninnah whispered to Hannah, ‘Would you just look at what a great abba Elkanah is.’ She smiled wickedly at Hannah. ‘It’s too bad you haven’t given him any children.’ She placed her arm around Hannah’s shoulder in insincere comfort.

“Hannah started to get upset, but then she remembered Eli’s prayer. Instead she smiled at Peninnah, tossed the arm off of her shoulders, and said, ‘You’re right. Elkanah is a wonderful abba.’

“Elkanah and his family returned to their home in Ramah. Hannah left Shiloh with a confident stride instead of the downhearted shuffle that she’d gone with before. She waited in anticipation for the answer to her prayers. If only she had known what Melek had planned for her.”

Zema said, “Ooooh. She’s going to have a baby, isn’t she?” Her voice was filled with satisfaction.
“Well, you’ll just have to listen and see,” Mihret quipped.

“At home, life was just the same as before. Hannah worked hard to prepare meals, wash the clothes, and tend to the animals. Through it all, the hope for a son swelled in her heart.

“When she had a moment’s break from her work, she liked to walk in a dry riverbed near their home. She could think and pray with some privacy there. Best of all, Peninnah couldn’t follow her and spew venomous words into her ears. Peninnah had to stay at home with all of her children.

“One warm winter’s day, a few months after she returned home, Hannah walked down the river bed humming to herself. She carefully stepped on the uneven ground. Rocks and boulders were strewn about, and she had twisted an ankle on more than one occasion. She looked carefully for rocks that she could carve into little statues. She found it relaxing to make figures materialize out of the rocks.

“She picked her way through a part of the bed that had very large boulders scattered around. She placed her hand on a boulder to step between it and another, and felt an overwhelming curiosity to investigate the other side of it. She had passed that rock hundreds of times without giving it a second thought. She shrugged and slowly walked around it. She bent over to look at a vein in the rock. When she did, she noticed an oval opening large enough for a loaf of bread to fit inside. She looked closer and saw sunlight reflect off of something wedged in the opening. A turquoise gleam. Carefully she reached in and pried loose a hard object. Hannah gasped in disbelief as she stared at the turquoise dragon egg that filled both of her hands.”

Zema asked, “Was it real?”

Brehane sat up a little to watch his uncle’s face as he answered.

“Hannah certainly believed it was.” Uncle Mihret chuckled. “But there is something you should know about dragons. They were prophets through whom Melek sent messages to His people. Hannah marveled that Melek had chosen her to raise one of His messengers. She had heard stories of others whom Melek had favored with this privilege, but not anyone she had known. She tucked the precious egg in the crook of her arm under her shawl. She danced her way toward home. The sound of scattered rocks followed in her wake.

“‘Elkanah! Elkanah! Come quickly!’ she shouted when she was in earshot.

“Her husband raced around the corner of their tent. Concern etched every line of his face. ‘What! What is it!’ he demanded.

“The smile on her face eased his anxiety. She rushed him into their wood and cloth tent. ‘Melek has answered my prayers, only beyond what I hoped or imagined.’ With a flourish she flung her shawl back and exposed the beautiful egg cradled in her arm.

“Elkanah staggered and reached for a chair behind him. ‘I-is-is that what I think it is?’ he stammered.
“‘Yes!’ She beamed.

“Slowly a huge grin split Elkanah’s face. The two of them danced around the room hand in hand, giddy with joy. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, banged on the door post with a stick. She pulled back the flap before they could answer and demanded, ‘What’s happening?’

“Elkanah shouted for joy, ‘Hannah and I are going to raise a dragon to serve Melek. He has answered her prayers.’ At this announcement Peninnah turned ashen. She spun and stomped back to her own house and her squalling babe. Hannah could not suppress her giggle. She gently stroked the egg, and gazed at it in wonder.

“Elkanah returned to his work with a bounce in his step and a silly grin on his face.

“And now, my dear children,” Uncle Mihret said as he slapped his hands on his knees. “You will have to wait until tomorrow night for more of the story.” He stood and stretched. The thin loops in his earlobes dangled and swung as he got up.

“Aw!” exclaimed Brehane and Zema together.

Zema’s little hands were back on her hips but her long lashes drooped with sleep.

Uncle Mihret held up both hands. “I need to get a good night’s sleep so I am ready to balance the royal budget tomorrow. And you need sleep as much as I do.”

“It’s a good thing you live close by,” Zema said. She got up and gave him a hug.

“Come, children,” Mama stood. “To your room! Tomorrow you can pester your uncle.”

Brehane chatted with Zema about Hannah and her dragon egg as he walked back to their room. He glanced at Spangle who walked beside them with his ears turned toward them. There was an intelligent light in those eyes. He wondered again if Spangle could understand what they said.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

God’s Call To Bring Books To the Orphans of Nepal - Child Hope International and John 3:16 Authors Team Up For A Missions Trip in October 2014

Some of the original orphans who grew up in Child Hope homes and are now in college and graduate school

Behind every great adventure for the Kingdom of God is a great story. I want to share with you how the opportunity to bring Christian books to Nepal became a reality.

Ever had a divine meeting with someone? You will read about one here—one God orchestrated that I could not have imagined ahead of time.

Lorilyn Roberts Colorado Springs 2012

Two years ago, I made a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the annual picnic hosted by Hope’s Promise, the adoption agency I worked through for the adoptions of both of my daughters. Jennifer LeBeau, the social worker who had helped me with my adoption of Joy from Vietnam, was retiring, and I wanted to finally meet her and thank her for all her encouragement and prayers when I was in Vietnam. We had actually never had an opportunity to visit any of the folks at Hope’s Promise, and I felt God leading me to “splurge” and make the trip.  

The night after our arrival in Colorado Springs, unbeknownst to me, Joy uploaded a picture of us to Facebook and labeled our location as Colorado Springs. Silas, who had helped me with my adoption of Manisha from Nepal (before Joy’s adoption from Vietnam), saw the post and contacted me through Facebook. He lives in California and happened to be in Colorado Springs at the same time for a pastor’s meeting. We had not seen each other in over a decade, and the opportunity to connect in Colorado Springs was quite a delightful surprise to both of us. Little did I know this was a divine appointment. Only because of the Facebook post of a photo was the connection made. However, what happened at our luncheon the next day was even more amazing.

As we sat and chatted over lunch in downtown Colorado Springs, Silas lamented, “You know, what we really need for the orphans are Christian books. They have Bibles to read, but no Christian books.”

Silas with Lorilyn Roberts' daughters in Colorado Springs 2012

Silas had no idea I lead a network of over three hundred Christian authors from all over the world. I stared at him and said, without missing a beat, “I can make that happen. I lead a network of Christian authors, and I believe many of them would jump at the opportunity to donate books to start a Christian library in Kathmandu.” As we discussed the idea, we both agreed we would need to start small and grow the idea as more Christians caught on to the vision we had.

We decided to plan a trip specifically dedicated to this project. I would travel with a team from Child Hope International. From that meeting two years ago, the dream is finally being realized. Our goal for the trip in October is to take three hundred books to Nepal.

To explain a little about Child Hope International, Silas Khadka is the executive director of the organization. I met Silas when I traveled to Nepal to adopt Manisha. She was three at the time I adopted her. Silas was working with Hope’s Promise, the adoption agency I worked through, to place orphans in Christian homes in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

1994 Lorilyn in Nepal when she adopted Manisha  (3 years old)

The process of adopting from Nepal is riddled with delays and uncertainty. My adoption was actually the last one Silas did internationally. Later, he and his wife, Bhakti, came up with the idea of intra-national adoption. They began to adopt abandoned children, and as God began to raise up Christian families in Nepal, Silas and Bhakti found other couples who were also willing to adopt orphaned children in-country. They soon developed a program to train and support families in welcoming abandoned children into their homes. Eventually their ministry grew into Child Hope International. 

Orphans who have been adopted into one of the 23 Child Hope International homes

1994, I took this photo of them
Today Silas and his wife and two sons live in San Jose, California, traveling to Nepal a couple of times each year to encourage the families and children supported by CHI.

Orphans who have been adopted into one of the 23 Child Hope International Homes

The books we will be taking to Nepal in October will be shared among the twenty-plus homes where over two hundred abandoned children have been adopted. The books will be used to help the children with learning English, reading, and writing. The books will also encourage the children in their faith and walk with God.

Silas is a former pastor of a church in Kathmandu and the church has property on which to build a Christian library. A library would benefit not only the orphaned children, but college students from the University of Kathmandu would be able to enjoy the benefits as well. We also envision pastors in Nepal being able to check out scholarly Christian books from the library, enabling leaders to grow spiritually without having to travel abroad. With access to great Christian classics and new books by John 3:16 authors, we can make an impact on an entire nation—I truly believe we can make a difference in the lives of many abandoned children.

The best-selling author of the Left Behind Series, Jerry Jenkins, who is a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network, has offered to donate one copy of every book he has written. Donated books by John 3:16 authors are already arriving in my mailbox.

I plan to leave for Nepal on October 17 (which happens to be my birthday) and return home on October 27. If you would like to contribute financially, we will be taking donations.

I will be offering a personalized signed edition of my book, Children of Dreams, an Adoption Memoir, for donations of $34.99 or more. All donations will go toward the “Nepali Library Project.”

Most important of all, please pray for Silas and myself, as well as the others on the team who will be traveling with us—that all the details will be worked out as God leads.

I believe God has given the John 3:16 Marketing Network a unique opportunity, through Child Hope International to enrich the lives of an entire country with Godly books—Christian worldview books that will touch the heart and soul of the nation one orphan at a time.

Recently someone told me that Nepal is the fastest growing country in the world for Jesus—faster than China! In a country that is poor and trapped in the dark religion of Hinduism, the fields are ripe for a great harvest. I pray that you have caught the vision for what we can do to make a difference in the lives of many abandoned children. Please join with us in bringing books to Nepal. We can bless young minds with the knowledge of Jesus Christ—and stir hearts with good ole fashion stories meant for pure enjoyment.


If you would like more information about the trip in October and/or would like to make a donation, please click here.

The most important part of this opportunity is to pray for the team  and me in particular. I (Lorilyn Roberts) would really appreciate your prayers.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Get On Board and Stay On Board, by Pearl Nsiah-Kumi

God loves us so much He has made a way for us to escape the consequences of sin, by believing in the name of His Son, Jesus.

Get on board for a spiritual walk to your salvation. 

My friend Pearl Nsiah-Kumi, a multi-published Christian author and retired nurse, and a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network, has put together a compelling book for us, Get On Board and Stay On Board. 

It is a collection of poems, short articles and Bible studies based on Scripture, to encourage non-Christians to place their faith in Jesus, and also to support Christians to have a closer relationship with God.

Click Here Today to Get Your Copy for Only $0.99:

Right now, Pearl and friends (Lorilyn Roberts included), are offering FREE Bonus Gifts to strengthen your faith in God. You can receive all this additional support we’ve provided with your order of Pearl’s book.

Say YES to a relationship with Jesus, and allow Him to transform your life!


Pearl Nsiah-Kumi is a retired Registered Nurse; she grew up in Ghana, West Africa. She has lived in the USA for forty years and has three adult children, one son-in-law and four beautiful grandchildren. Pearl has authored two books in the past two years and loves to express her understanding of the Bible through writing articles and poems. Her goal is two-fold: To reach people with the truth of God's word in inviting them to experience faith in Jesus Christ, and also to encourage Christians to mature in walking faithfully with their God through obedience to Him. In addition to writing, Pearl is also a Volunteer Counselor at a local Crisis Pregnancy Clinic.