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

#14: Stored and Ready

A Character story about preparation.

Stored and Ready

Though they had just arrived in Arizona, the Jensens were already amazed at the difference between the desert countryside and their home. In spite of the long trip, the twins were not too tired to enjoy Uncle John's sight-seeing tour before heading for the house.

As they headed west of Tucson, Jason took advantage of a lull in the conversation. "Where are we going next?"

"I thought I might take you through a part of the Saguaro National Monument near here," Uncle John replied.

"Hey, that would be great," Mr. Jensen responded. "I've seen pictures of the Saguaros (pronounced sa-WAW-ro), but never have seen them in person."

"Those are those big cactuses we saw in the pictures, aren't they, Dad?" Jason asked.

"That's right," Uncle John interrupted. "Those are some over there," he continued, pointing to a hill on his right. "You'll see them everywhere. But the National Monument has literally thousands of them. It is an unusual sight."

As they drove on, they saw more and more of the giants. But as Uncle John's van entered the National Monument, the twins were amazed to see the hills covered with them, looking like telephone poles dotting the landscape. Most of the Saguaros were very tall but the number and shape of the arms varied greatly from one to another.

"I brought this book along," Uncle John said. "It tells a number of interesting facts about these giants."

"Oh, good, " Mr. Jensen said, taking the book and opening to the index. He read a few moments and then commented, "Listen to this: the Saguaro cactus usually lives 75 years before it grows its first arm."

"Wow!" Julie said with surprise. "That means most of these cactuses are really old."

Mr. Jensen nodded. "That's cacti, and yes, often they will live to be over 200. They grow slowly - about two inches a year and are fifteen years old before they are a foot tall. At maturity they have four arms, and weigh ten tons or more, it says. They have large white flowers - the state flower in fact - and these yield a red fruit containing 2000 seeds each."

"Did you say ten tons?" Jason asked. "But why does it weigh so much?"

"That's a neat thing about these giants," Uncle John added. "As you can see, the climate is quite dry here. Often we can go months with little or no rain. The cactus is designed just for such a climate. The roots are not deep - only a few inches below the surface - but they branch out for 65 feet in every direction. This way they can take in 200 gallons of water in one rain. In fact, Saguaros have been known to store four years of water during one rainy season. All this water means the inside is 30 degrees cooler than the outside. Certain animals, such as the woodpecker, like to make their home in the Saguaro. Hey, look over there!" Uncle John was pointing at one of the cacti. "See that little bird there in that hole? That's the elf owl. It will usually live in the vacated woodpecker holes where it is cool, and it can get water to drink."

Uncle John stopped the van and Mrs. Jensen took a picture of the twins dwarfed under one of the giants. Jason wanted to see just how sharp the needles were, but he had seconds thoughts and decided to just look. When they returned and started off again, Mr. Jensen began punching buttons on his calculator.

"What are you adding, Daddy?" Julie asked, leaning over the front seat.

"Oh, I was just trying to find out how much water is in one of these Saguaros. The book says that 98% of its weight is water. That would mean, if my figures are correct, that an average Saguaro of ten to fifteen tons contains between 2,300 and 3,500 gallons of water. That would fill a few bath tubs!"

"Wow!" said Jason. "That's almost unbelievable!"

"Isn't that a marvelous design, kids," Mr. Jensen continued. "God made a plant that is perfectly adapted to the climate. When a dry season comes, the Saguaro will be prepared, because it is full of water. Do you know what Bible verse that makes me think of?" The twins shook their heads. "It's in John chapter 7. Jesus said, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.' When our resources dry up, we can always come to Christ and find our needs will be abundantly met."

"I did that last week," Julie offered. "I had to get my math done ahead of time to come on this trip and it was haaard! So I prayed and asked the Lord to help me, and He did! I got it all done, and only got three wrong."

"Good for you, Sissy," Mr. Jensen smiled. "When you trust God during times of need, it shows that you are practicing what you are learning. That surely makes me happy .. and God too, I'm sure."

"That kind of makes you a little elf owl," Uncle John suggested. "This little bird lives right in the cactus and can get a drink any time he wants to. When we 'abide in Christ' we can bring our needs to Him in prayer all through the day."

"Good point, John," Mr. Jensen agreed. "Kids, I can see I'm going to have some stiff competition with my science lessons while we're here," Mr. Jensen chuckled.

Uncle John grinned. "Well, I guess it's time we headed for home. The kids will soon be home from school and supper will be ready."

"Fine with me," Jason affirmed. "I'm starved!"