Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

#13: Dead or Alive?

A Character story about patience.

Dead or Alive?

By the time the plane neared Tucson, Arizona, even Jason was weary of the noise and monotony of the ride. However, the sight of the mountains surrounding the city as they approached the airport renewed their excitement! In no time the plane had landed and had taxied to the terminal. The Jensens grabbed their carry-on bags and walked through the tunnel to the waiting room. Immediately they recognised their Uncle John in the crowd.

"Howdy, folks," Uncle John greeted them, shaking hands with the men, and hugging the ladies. "It's so good to have you come for a visit. And congratulations to all of you on the new family member you are expecting. We're all excited for you."

"We are too," Julie offered. "My new sister is already taking her first trip to Arizona."

Uncle John chuckled and rustled her hair. "And how do you know it will be a sister, Julie?"

"Oh, I just have a feeling."

"Where is everyone else?" Jason asked.

"The girls are in school, and Nancy is home fixing supper." Uncle John replied. "The kids don't get this week off like you do. But we promised Becky that if she got ahead in her work, she could take Friday off to be with you."

"Oh, goodie," Julie squealed, and then looked around to see if anyone was staring at her.

"Well, let's get our bags and we can be off," suggested Mr. Jensen. They walked over to the luggage area and chatted while they waited for their suitcases to appear on the conveyor belt. Soon they had everything in hand and headed for the parking lot. "Wow, what a shock," Mrs. Jensen remarked as they stepped outside. "Just how warm is it?"

"It's about 80 today," Uncle John replied. "But it will cool off tonight."

"The temperature was at freezing when we left home," Mrs. Jensen admitted. "This is quite the switch, ... but I don't think it would take long to get used to it."

All five of them got in Uncle John's van and headed out of the parking lot. "Since you gained three hours travelling this way, we still have some time before supper. I thought I might take you a long way home so that you can do a little sight-seeing. That way you can get acquainted with the area." Everyone agreed that was a great idea.

They travelled south, catching up on family news as they saw a very different part of the world. Shortly, Mr. Jensen turned to the twins seated in the back. "Well, what do you two think of the scenery?"

"I like it," Jason affirmed. "There's lots of room to go hunting and stuff."

"But Julie frowned. "It's so .. so bare. The people don't even have a lawn. And where are the pretty trees like we have? It must be dull in the fall .. no pretty colored leaves."

"Well after all, it is a desert," Uncle John chuckled. "And we do have trees, just different kinds. We've got the mesquite, and Palo Verde, and lots of fruit trees. But there are some things I miss since we moved here. Many people can't afford to grow lawns because we have so little rain and the summers are so hot .. up to 110 degrees some days. Grass would just die without constant watering. So lots of them just arrange different colored stone in their yards. At least there's nothing to mow." Jason liked that idea. Uncle John continued, "Trees like the maple and the elm couldn't survive the heat either. That's why we have the cactus. It's one of the few plants that can live best in the dryness and heat."

"What kind of trees are those?" Mr. Jensen asked his brother, pointing to a grove on their left.

"Those are pecan trees," Uncle John replied. "To harvest them, the growers put a large net under the tree and then a machine with a long arm shakes the whole tree. It doesn't take long to get most of the nuts off that way!"

"Do you have any Christmas trees?" Mrs. Jensen asked.

"Some do, but they are expensive. Many of course use an artificial tree. Lots of folks decorate their cacti in front of their house. It's a different kind of Christmas, but it's really pretty. I especially like the luminaries put out on Christmas Eve. I'll tell you about that later."

Just then they passed over a bridge. Julie commented, "What a strange place for a bridge. Where is the river? It's completely dry underneath."

"True, right now," Uncle John agreed. "But when we have a rain, that dry bed is a raging rapids. Sometimes it even floods the road for a short time. But when the rain stops, the water disappears into the soil."

They turned right and headed into the sun. A distant mountain range framed the horizon while rolling hills dotted with cactus of various types dominated the foreground. After a short silence, Uncle John remarked, "I don't notice the barren land now, but when we first came here, I had a lot of trouble getting used to it. I missed the forests, and the big puffy clouds back home. But after a short time, the Lord gave me a verse. It's found in Isaiah 35 verse one and says, ' ... in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.' When I looked at the barren land with so little lush greenery, I just thought, when the Lord comes back, these deserts won't look like this any longer. No sir. They're going to be as full of life as prairies of the north .. maybe even more. And those dry river beds are not forever. The soil is rich now, but the heat and dryness just keep it from producing. But some day that will be changed. Oh ... that will be a wonderful time!"

"Amen," Mr. Jensen responded. "And it's all because of that wonderful event we will be celebrating in a couple of weeks. You know what that is, kids?" The twins both shook their heads. Their dad continued. "The world calls in Easter, but a better name is Resurrection Day. When Jesus was killed, I suppose the disciples thought Jesus' life was a lot like this desert - dead and useless. But God was in full control. That Sunday morning Jesus demonstrated that He IS the Resurrection and the Life, just as He said."

"And He still is for all who put their trust in Him for salvation," Uncle John added. "What a wonderful day that was for me! And over these years, He has been faithful to watch over me and my family and to provide every need. Yup," he sighed with a big grin, "I'd say His care has already been just like a stream in this desert for me."