”The Eagle has Landed”

I was busy yesterday and didn’t get to share my memories of Apollo 11. So I’ll be a day late and a dollar short.

I was very excited and anxious to see man walk on the moon. I was just 7 year old but was so intrigued by our space program. Through television, I had kept up with all launches and advances NASA had made to get us to the moon.

Mom had found a novelty astronaut jumpsuit at Ben Franklin Department Store for me, complete with NASA insignia and Apollo mission emblems. I had the jumpsuit on, while I watched the CBS broadcast of the landing and can remember the excitement in Walter Cronkite’s voice. He, myself and the whole nation anxiously, and nervously, listened to the live radio feed from the lunar module, as they made their descent to Tranquility Base.

I can remember the excitement I had when I heard those famous words, “The Eagle has Landed.” I jumped up and down with excitement. My mother had to calm me down. I can remember the smile and excitement in Walter Cronkite’s face. He was wrenching his hands together and grinning from ear to ear.

Several moments passed and we finally got a camera feed from the outside of the module. Sometime during the space flight, the outside camera had gotten turned and the image was upside down. NASA corrected the problem, giving us an upright image. Finally, the door opened and Neil Armstrong came down the ladder. He stepped onto the moon’s surface, first describing the surface to NASA. Then he spoke those famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

While the camera being turned caused a delay in exiting the lunar module, something else was going on inside that isn’t known by many.

Inside the lunar module just hours before following Neil Armstrong onto the heavenly body, Buzz Aldrin, being a devout Christian, celebrated the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion, with wafers and a bottle of wine – a fact the U.S. government reportedly refused to make public at the time. Holy Communion is a Christian act of worship symbolizing Jesus’s final meal with his disciples, known as The Last Supper. Neil Armstrong, being a deist, didn’t participate. However, out of respect, he stood back and observed.

The Apollo 11 astronaut’s plan to broadcast the religious act back to Earth was blocked by NASA after an atheist filed a lawsuit complaining about a previous holy broadcast on the Apollo 8 mission.

‘I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup,’ Aldrin described in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine, cited in the Guardian.

‘It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.’

Before that, Aldrin had radioed Houston Space Center Mission Control inviting listeners to ‘give thanks’ with him and also read a section of the gospel of John he had written on a card:

‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.’

The verse can be found in the book of John, chapter 15, verse 5.

I personally find it interesting, and fitting, that on a distant and lifeless rock, Earth’s own satellite, both of which were created by God, that the first act of man on the moon, man that was given life by God our creator, was to speak words of life first spoken by Jesus Christ, bringing life to the lifeless Moon.

That was a very memorable day for me. The excitement didn’t wear off for some time. For the longest time, my father couldn’t keep handkerchiefs. I was forever putting on my NASA jumpsuit and playing Neil Armstrong in the yard. To properly play, I had to have a flag to plant on the surface of the moon. So I would use crayons and color my father’s handkerchief as a US Flag, tying them to a stick. I would then firmly jab it in the ground.

My interest in space travel and the cosmos has grown over the years. I still keep up with news and information of advancements in space travel. However, I have found something that peaks my interest even more, I have found Jesus Christ and accepted him as my Savior. While I am still envious of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, I am more envious of Buzz Aldrin praying and speaking the words of Jesus Christ on the moon.

I may no longer play Neil Armstrong in the yard but I do sort of play Buzz Aldrin, reading, studying and meditating the Word of God.

Anyway, that’s my recollection of July 20 1969, with some knowledge I have learned over my years of reading up on the subject. I hope you enjoyed my reminiscing.

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A Godly Community

I went to a cookout in San Jon NM on July 7 2019. It is a community of 300 people and I met half of them at the cookout.

As I was introduced, by people I had only met that morning in church, in my conversations with them, I discovered this was a community unlike any other I had ever met. It is a community deeply rooted in the area. Individuals who’s genealogy goes back at least 5 generations in the area, whose ancestors first came in and settled the land. They are a very tight knitted group of people. Sure, there were a few whose lineage isn’t connected to the area but the majority can trace their roots to the first settlers. As a result, their families have a deep rooted sense of loyalty to each other, due to life experiences they have all shared.

One individual told me of how her great great grandfather came to NM, living in a tent for 2 years until he built a half dugout to live in. She said her great grandfather raised his family in the same dugout and she was born in it.

This an example of a half dugout home.

One man said his great grandfather was a US Marshall in the Oklahoma territory and covered half the state. This same individual spoke of going on cattle drives with his father, taking the cattle to market in Lubbock TX, which is 150 miles away, as the crow flys. He said there was a grand total of 13 gates they had to go through. That is some wide open territory.

The saddest story I heard was from a woman that told me despite of what history books tell us, the NM territory was the Dust Bowl, not Oklahoma.

She said the dried up, desert land of NM was not always that way. It was once lush beautiful grassland. She recalled as a child, while riding in the saddle of a full grown horse, the grass was so tall it would get caught up in the stirrups. You’d have to remove the grass once you finished riding. She said that God, in his infinite wisdom, placed the grass there for a reason. It is called buffalo grass and it takes very little water to sustain. Due to little rain in the area, the grass retained all its nutrients and was there for the large buffalo herds, until hunters came in and killed all the buffalo for its hide. She said the grass was suitable for cattle and large ranches were in the area when she was a child.

The government, without understanding this, only saw large grassland and assumed the territory was suitable for farming. They sold the land off in sections, a section being 640 acres, to farmers. The farmers came in and turned the ground for farming, killing the grass. The government then built hydro electric dams, cutting off what little water the land had. The land dried up and turned into a large dust bowl. She said it was hard times. The cattle were dying off and ranches were going under.

The government finally saw their error and in an effort to compensate the ranchers they gave a measly $1.25 per head for cattle, sending the army in to shoot and kill the diseased, withering cattle, burying them in mass graves. Her father was one of the ranchers. He agreed to it, as much as he hated to do so. She remembers her father watching as the soldiers shot his cattle and she seen her father’s spirit break with each cow shot. He couldn’t take it anymore and ordered the soldiers to quit, driving them off his land, by force. I could see her heart breaking as she told the story.

I also heard of how they can remember grandparents and great grandparents tell stories of fighting Indians.

I intend to visit this community again, for a longer period. I hope to interview some, record their stories and write of them. This needs to be told.

I love the people of San Jon NM and I pray for God to bless them. They are a community deeply rooted in the land, just as deeply rooted in the Gospel, with a brotherly and Godly love one another.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Proverbs 12:25

Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

I have traversed many highways across this great country of ours and the one thing I have discovered everywhere I go is that people are eager to talk and open up, if given a chance.

I love meeting new people and finding out about them. It’s not that I’m nosey, I just love people.

Like today, I am sitting on a bench, enjoying the weather, in front of a store. People pass by, I give them a smile or hello, and before you know it we are conversing, learning about each other and about our families, some even have a seat near me. We speak of childhood memories and the paths we have taken to get to where we have arrived in our lives. All this is done without even an introduction to each other. However, I do make a point to learn there names and I let them know mine. I want more than a face with my memories, I also want a name. That way I can ask God to bless them and give thanks for my new friends.

I attended an outstanding chapel service this morning, attended by people who are led by the Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is strong with this dozen or so congregation and they were so welcoming. I have even been invited to a cookout, at their local community center this evening, where they will have fireworks and homemade ice cream. I will be attending. Who can turn down an invitation from such gracious hosts.

All this is possible with kindness, good cheer and love for each other. God is so good. I thank him for all the people I have met throughout my travels. I feel the least little encounter we have with other people, can profoundly change our lives in some form or fashion. I thank him for all my experiences, good or bad, for those are the experiences that have got me where I am today. Those experiences have taught the importance of a close relationship with God.

Remember, a kind word or meaningful smile can make a better day for the receiver. May God Bless you all.