JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
A tale by Johny Noer
… a concrete threshold was breached.
The uncertain shadows that had fogged my mind for several weeks, in a single instant, solidified into a clear image. As I stood there in the hospital ward in the Danish town of Esbjerg, in a long swirl of confusion, the doctor’s question suddenly opened a door inside me… as if some concrete threshold finally was breached:
"Any twins in your family?"
"Twins?" Gisèle and I answered with the same question at the same time. We both gazed at the screen of the scanner.
"Yes, twins!" The doctor pointed with a thin silver pencil at the image on the screen. I couldn’t believe my eyes but the pointing pencil made a believer out of me. There was not one little head; there were two. Gisèle was expecting twins? She grabbed my arm. I knew that would make twelve! Or rather sixteen! For the moment we were preparing to make room for ten children, as the four eldest already had their own caravans. Plans now must be changed. We had to make room for twelve! The scope of our situation was starting to sink in.
For some days I had been a victim of the same ‘brainstorm’ as the apostle of old. My thoughts were ‘sometimes accusing, sometimes defending me’ (Rom.2:15). My former judgment had screamed to me to ‘return to Hungary as soon as possible’. "They need you down there," it said. Nonetheless, my present situation vetoed prudence; "you had to make room for the fourteen – but now for sixteen children," another voice said.
It would all take time; probably a year! Part of me, however, constantly craved proof, confirmation for such a decision! At the same time I was nagged by the irresistible question of conscience, "What about the families you have left in the Eastern Block? Don’t you have any spiritual and moral obligation towards them? Your big boys, Phillip and Thomas, whom you have left to take care of the herd, a small flock of sheep and goats, as well as a horse and a donkey?
And there was more. Hungary was still a satellite of the communist system. My good friend in the Szeged municipality could easily be overruled. The political situation was a time bomb. I wondered how many days were left before it exploded.
Then there was the cheque, which pointed to only one conclusion. And now… "Twins!" I heard Gisèle’s quiet voice. I emerged from my daydream and looked up. She was lying on the hospital bed with her hair spread out on the pillow. There was an aura of happy thankfulness around her – an almost heavenly radiance of understanding, as if a spark of revelation had ignited within her: "Twins!"
In that moment it all became clear to me. The case was closed! We had arrived in the right place at the right time. A full year was given us, before we returned to the spiritual battlefield in Central Europe.
… and the twins were probably two boys. I had already ten boys, so two more would make me a patriarch – like Jacob of old; he had twelve sons. I liked the image.
Gisèle smiled as if she knew better!
We got hold of two old trucks, a Ford and a Scania, and the large trailers, which they towed; and then Gisèle started to work! She was going to use the nice amount of money not only to design the finest homes for her family but to make room and beds for her little ones. Like a happy bird preparing her nest she started the great operation. She talked constantly but wasted no time. I had to listen to all her wonderful plans. She designed every room precisely, like a surgeon, counting every centimetre of the trailers. She then applied colours and wallpaper like an artist. I marvelled. She analysed every remaining space or corner for beds. Lots of beds. She mumbled numbers, which I couldn’t decipher and her eyes shone with joy. She measured the length and height of both the trailers and designed a steel balcony between them. Not a small one. A big one, which could be manoeuvred – by a special system – to disappear under the trailers, when we were moving. She calculated and whispered new numbers – then committed it all to memory. She grew in size but still ascended the stepladder from where she instructed the men. She was a beautiful queen and everybody obeyed her orders, because everything fit perfectly! She pressed a screwdriver firmly into the doors and commented for the hundredth time on how nice the wallpaper was – and how long it would look good and last. And, "Don’t you like the colour too? Doesn’t it blend wonderfully with the curtains?"
I looked at her and silently thanked the Lord that her tears were wiped away; she boldly asked the men to return at seven each morning, "I’m waiting for you with coffee and fresh bread from the bakery. Time is running. We must finish the job!" She was now counting the months.
At last everything seemed to be complete except for the bathrooms and the kitchen. The long, long table, with room for twelve or even sixteen children around it, was scheduled for next week. The big oven and the furniture had arrived. Now it was a matter of days and hours.
… then the twins arrived!
My old car completed the one mile sprint up the road to the hospital in Esbjerg in just over a minute. I skidded to a stop outside the main gate just before eight a.m. I jumped out. Gisèle smiled and stepped out. The breeze smelled of hospital. My sixth sense was already tingling. It was going to be boys. Two big boys!
I took a deep breath and scanned the corridor. The birth ward was at the end. I raced towards it. Gisèle walked calmly behind me. "The two boys are on their way," I said. Gisèle did not seem to hear. She smiled.
At the entrance to the birth ward I exclaimed: "I’ll go first; I’m the father of the boys!"
Gisèle looked at me. "More chivalry?" she asked, "I’m the one who is giving birth to the twins."
"The boys," I corrected and stepped in first, "Age before beauty." When I said ‘age’, I meant in fact: ‘wisdom’. I already felt like a patriarch: Twelve sons…
At ten o’clock the first of the twins was born. I was waiting in the room next door. I heard the wonderful sound of a baby crying. A nurse opened the door, "A girl," she smiled, "a wonderful big girl – three and a half kilo."
"Wait a minute," I said, but she closed the door and hurried back to Gisèle. Number two was on the way."
"All right! Lord," I prayed. "I was wrong with the first one, but the second one will surely be a boy! Nice with twins: A boy and a girl."
I heard another baby crying. The nurse opened the door. "You are the father of two wonderful girls," she said.
… and she was right! How could I ever have thought otherwise? That day I became the father of two beautiful, adorable twin girls, who have captured my heart… and they know it!
At the same hour ‘twins’ were also born in an old barn in Glejbjerg, 50 miles from Esbjerg. The two large lorry-trailers emerged out of the big vault-like store. The shaky barn gate was finally opened, and the two newly painted, shiny mobile homes entered into the light of a new day.
… and soon after we were waving goodbye to Frede and Inger Jørgensen, who had taken us all in and showed us hospitality at the Nørå Centre for more than a year.
"We shall call them Susan and Stephanie," Gisèle said kissing her small ones.
"What do these names mean?" I asked.
"’Susan’ means ‘the lily’ and signifies purity," Gisèle answered, "and ‘Stephanie’ means ‘crown’ and signifies… that she will be the last one of my childbearing."
And so it was. After ‘the crown’ we received no more children… and after having received the two nice mobile homes our future accommodation seemed settled!