Bronze Refined As Silver

by Mark Eidemiller


Chapter Five

"Atomic batteries to power....turbines to speed."
"Roger. Ready to move out."

The sound of the notebook pc's opening clip was loud in this camper van, I observed. I may have to find another sound file or adjust the volume somewhat.

I sat at the dinette table, and made contact with my ISP in Portland via the satellite connection. Downloading my email was a breeze with this super-fast modem. Then I clicked on NEW MESSAGE, addressed it to Jack, and sat for a few moments, gathering my thoughts, listening to the sounds of children playing elsewhere in the RV park, and the hums of the generator and environmental systems.

Then I began typing: "Dear Jack...."


Dear Jack:

Greeting from the Black Beauty. Yes, the name stuck.

We're in an Idaho Falls RV park. Clark's doing his exercises outside where he can move about freely, so I thought I'd drop you a quick note.

Thanks again for the sendoff. The prayer cover will certainly be needed. Like I said, Monica can pull these messages off my home pc, so you won't need to. I know you and computers are distant strangers, so I leave them in her capable hands.

(Monica, please be gentle with Jack, OK?)

And I already praise God for those cards we had made up, with our cell number, email address, and the house address. This afternoon we gave two of them away to people we met here at the RV park. And the idea of having them laminated was an excellent idea, Jack! Makes them more durable, and waterproof!

So, let's see. What have we been doing since we left?

Mostly, a lot of looking. Observing. Some sightseeing. You know I've been mostly a home boy, not the type to travel much -- so this is a new experience for me. On the other hand, Clark's been all over the world -- but that was the world he left in 1949. Things *have* changed.

Y'know, It's been incredible, all the things Clark has shared first-hand from their adventures. I'd love to write it all down.

But that's not why we're here. This is a 3,000-mile coast-to-coast *mission* -- and we've only just begun. Right now we're stretching our spiritual muscles, strengthening and preparing us for what's ahead. You've said it before -- little trials to prepare us for big trials.

Clark and I are in one accord. We're willing to be used of God wherever He takes us. More about that later.

Oh, yes! Clark is teaching me to speak Mayan. We figured it could come in handy. Mayan sounds like someone coughing or clearing their throat -- and it's an extremely rare language, making it harder to be overheard. In turn, I'm going to teach him how to use the notebook and utilize the Internet. That way he can be checking things out -- like online street maps, for instance -- while I'm driving. It's cheaper than a Global Positioning System.

Well, it's getting late. Clark should be back soon, and I'm starting to get tired.

Talk to you later. Take care, and God bless.

Perry and Clark

I smiled, clicked SEND, and off it went. I backed out of the system, and put the notebook in the backpack for the night.


Dear Jack:

We're in Utah. I have *got* to tell you some of the things that have been happening to us.

Remember when I said that Clark and I were willing to be used of God wherever He would take us? Well, let me give you an example from just yesterday.

There's a little town called Poplar Bluffs, population under 5,000. We were driving through it when we were cut off by a fire engine, heading in the direction of a dark plume of smoke in the near distance. Clark and I glanced at each other for only an instant, then I turned the wheel and put on the speed in pursuit.

It *had been* a nice quiet residential neighborhood. Now one house was well on its way to being consumed, while neighbors with garden hoses tried keeping it from spreading.

Everyone's attention was directed elsewhere, so no one saw the old man but us. Late sixties, kinda frail, and staggering while he coughed, looking like he was going to collapse at any moment. Clark grabbed the first aid kit under his seat and told me to get in as close as I could. I slowly maneuvered around the scene, closing in the distance. Suddenly Clark opened the passenger door and had stepped out on the running boards -- while we're still moving! I knew what he was up to, so just made sure my speed was even. Then, at just the right time, he stepped onto the pavement, was caught off balance for just a moment, then rapidly sprinted to the injured man's side. What a sight!!

And just in time, too! The man lost his balance and started to fall, but Clark caught him and settled him gently to the grass. I praise God that Clark had been beefing up on modern first aid "just in case." He made the old man comfortable and administered first aid until the paramedics arrived.

Later, the medics told us that the old man had suffered a little from smoke inhalation, but Clark's quick actions had possibly saved his life.

For the next two hours we helped where we could, taking turns with neighbors and their garden hoses, or just praying for all those around us. When it was all over, we all gathered around the couple who lived in the house -- the old gentleman Clark had saved, and his wife. Everything they had was lost. While the neighbors comforted them, Clark took me aside.

Like I said, Poplar Bluffs is a small town. One bank. It was easy to talk to the bank manager, Jerry Grogan. The couple's savings, even counting the insurance, wouldn't cover it all. So we made a couple of phone calls. Tomorrow, after we're out of town, Grogan will inform them that a anonymous donation of $10,000 was deposited into their savings, to help rebuild their home. Grogan told us that somehow he suspected, others would add to that amount. We gave him our card, and he promised to keep us informed of the progress.

Then, like spiritual "Lone Rangers", we headed out of town, to continue our journey.

Hi, yo, Black Beauty! Isn't God good? More later.

Perry and Clark


Jack:

We need you to do some research for us. Clark and I were talking about where he had been put in deep freeze, and we came up with an idea.

What about a wildlife refuge, or a game preserve? Remember, once he got out, he built up his strength by eating the *wild meat* that was around. Also, he was in a location that would've been undisturbed for *several decades*. What would be better than a large tract of Federally sanctioned land, unable to be touched by land developers.

We need someone to go to the library and look into newspaper archives around the time that Clark appeared. Look for a small, almost obscure article, about a refuge or preserve. Since Clark ate some of the wild game there, it might look like vandalism, so see if anyone made note of it in the papers.

Let us know what you find. Thanks.

Perry and Clark


Dear Jack:

Well, it looks like this won't be a boring trip -- not by a long shot. Last night, somebody tried breaking into the van.

Let me start from the beginning.

We're in Hampton, Nebraska. It was getting late. The name of the motel caught our eyes: The Crossing. It has an actual railroad caboose sitting out front as a fixed landmark, and the entire motel has a railroad motif. We were tired, so it looked like a winner to us.

Let me set the scene. The motel itself has two levels. The doors upstairs open onto a walkway which stretches the length of the structure, broken up only by three sets of stairways -- left, right, and middle. We got a room on the second floor, and parked the van in the spot right below us, where we could see it from the window.

The decorations inside the room continued the railroad pattern, with pictures of trains and scenic railroad panoramas. There was a small table near the window at the front of the room, with four swivel chairs that looked like standard cheap-motel stock.

I claimed the bed farthest from the door. Clark just grunted and made a beeline to the shower. I heard the sigh of appreciation a couple of minutes later. (I tell you, it takes so little to satisfy Clark at times, praise the Lord.)

While Clark showered, I cleaned up the trash from the van, and brought in our travel bags. I dropped his on the other bed, as he came out of the bathroom. As Clark started stretching in preparation for his exercises, I grabbed my toiletry case and headed for the shower. Over my shoulder I pleaded, "Not too long, please? It's late."

He smiled, and continued.

An hour later we were both sound asleep.

I figure it was near 2:30am when the van's security alarm went off, and we were both instantly awake. The idea of having a silent alarm hooked to the van's security system really paid off. Clark was halfway to the door before my feet hit the floor! He pulled open the door, and, without even pausing, gripped the railing and vaulted over it like an Olympic athlete! The two kids attempting to break into the van -- one Latino, one white, both in their late teens -- probably never knew what hit them!

As I took the long way down, I saw that Clark had landed directly behind them. He had a large hand around the back of each boy's neck, effectively immobilizing them.

The Latino tried to pull a backhanded punch to Clark's head. With a move that looked to be more reflexive than not, Clark shifted them both, and -- I'm not joking! -- the white kid found himself suddenly in the path of the Latino's fist. POW! Clark lowered the unconcious white kid to the ground while still holding onto the puzzled Latino's neck.

"Now that wasn't very nice, was it?" I heard him calmly address the boy as I arrived.

I surveyed the scene, and couldn't hold back a grin. "Nicely done," I commented. "Need any help?"

"I don't think so. What should we do?"

I looked at the kid. "Relax. We just want to help."

This had the opposite effect on the boy, as he started yelling and cursing. Clark cut him off by briefly -- but sharply -- increasing his grip. The tirade became a squeek. Just then, the man from the room below ours came out, and announced that the police were on their way. I turned and nodded.

"Thanks. You saw what happened?"

"You bet. Whooooo! I ain't never seen such a sight! Mister --" he addressed Clark. "-- are you a wrestler or one o' those martial arts guys?"

I turned away to hide my grin. "No, sir. Just strong," replied Clark evenly.

The Latino launched into another stream of profanity, and tried to kick back at Clark's knee.

"Now stop that!" he said as he squeezed again. The boy grimaced, and chose silent obedience.

The police showed up a few minutes later. With the testimonies of myself and the other gentleman, it was clear that Clark was only subduing the youth. And the cop broke up laughing when when he heard how the white kid had been knocked out. He had recognized the two boys, explaining to us that they were wanted for several other break-ins over the last three months. He congratulated us for helping capture them.

He put them in the back of his patrol car, then took our statements. I asked if he needed us to testify, since we were just passing through. The policeman took our cell number and address, and told us he'd contact us if he needed us.

As the police car took off, the man from the first floor approached us. He identified himself as Dan Briggs, and invited us to his room for a few minutes. Clark and I looked at one another, recognizing this as an opportunity for ministry, then accepted. Clark reset the alarm while I secured the room, then we got some soft drinks and ice from some machines next to the Motel Office, and joined Briggs in his room. We sat around for a couple of hours, just talking. He had been curious as to how peacefully Clark had handled those two -- the redirected punch notwithstanding.

Clark explained. "I had no anger towards them. I don't know why they would want to do what they did. But no harm was done to the van, and I tried not to leave bruises on their necks."

"Not many people would'a taken it. What's your secret?"

Clark paused for only an instant, then looked the man in the eyes and said, "The love of Jesus."

Jack, this touched something within him. He began opening up to us. He'd been an ex-preacher's kid who'd backslid into some serious drinking. But he admitted, he'd been going to AA and had six months sober. We all praised God for that. We listened to him, and then prayed with him. When we left, we gave him the number of our cell phone, and the Portland address.

I took a look around the van, double-checked the alarm, and joined Clark back upstairs.

As I looked off of the railing at the van below, I commented to Clark, "That was impressive. Seem a little like old times?"

He smiled broadly. "Yeah. I guess I moved on instinct."

"Thank God for the instinct not to harm those two."

"Amen. I could've. But I felt.....a rush of compassion.....couldn't understand it."

I nodded. "But now you do."

"Yes. Perry, before we go, can we give our number to those boys? If they need help...."

"I'm with you. We'll check it out in the morning."

The next morning we located the local police department, passed on the information, and headed out of town.

Give everyone our love. Thanks for the prayers. Keep 'em coming.

Back on the sawdust trail....

Perry and Clark


Dear Jack:

Clark's outside doing some jogging, so I thought I'd drop you a note and ask you another favor.

We run into people all the time, who need a place to stay and some good Christian fellowship. Yet, out here in unfamiliar territory, we end up having to apologize because we don't know the people.

I'd like to see if there's a way we can resolve that. You've got friends all over the place, Jack. Do any of them have a ministry house that we could refer people to, or would any of them want to start a ministry house? I'm not talking something as big as ours, but you get the idea. And if money is the problem, maybe we can use some of the Hidalgo resources to get them started.

I haven't brought this up to Clark yet. I wanted to see what you had to say on it first.

I could keep the information in my notebook pc. We could pull up the information, contact the closest place on the cell, and set things up before just dropping by. Then take them right to the doorstep, making sure they get a good start. We'd also get to know the people, and they would get to know us.

What's your thoughts on this, Jack? Pray about it and let me know what you think? Bring Verner in on it if you want.

Thanks.

Perry


Dear Jack:

Greetings from Iowa. Just southwest of Davenport, along a lonely stretch of road. Figured we'd camp it tonight. Clark's outside doing his exercises (I gotta get him to run me through them some time -- hopefully I can keep up).

I really praise God for all He's doing here, with both of us.

Everywhere we go, God puts someone in our path to minister to. Sometimes it's nothing more than getting some lunch for a hungry man, other times it's being able to add something to the offering plate of a struggling church, or telling someone about the love of God and leaving a card.

The order of the day seems to be: see a need, and meet it.

Clark's like a little kid at times! He loves helping others! And no wonder -- apart from crimefighting, this is what he did best -- helping those who needed help. This is second nature to him, now enhanced by his new spiritual eyes and the love of Christ, that reaches past the surface and finds the real need.

Onward and upward go the Rover Boys....

Perry and Clark


Jack:

We crossed over into Ohio about midnight, and came upon an old biker stuck at the side of the road. Said his name was Jim Bronson. He rode an old Triumph motorcycle, circa 1960s, and wore a weatherbeaten leather jacket that had seen better days. We'd heard him before we saw him, as he yelled at the old bike, cursing up a blue streak. We came alongside to see if we could help, then took him inside the van and gave him something to eat.

He told us he'd been traveling the roads of the world for more than thirty years. Said he was 64, but he looked about ten years older than that due to years of wind-in-the-face biking. He couldn't remember where home had been. As we talked, he told us of some of the people he had met, the things he had seen. But one thing both Clark and I could see -- he was lonely. So we talked with him and shared Jesus with him. Something was working within him, but the Lord showed us not to push. So we tinkered on the bike for an hour, then gave it up for the night. The next morning we went to the nearest town, had them bring the bike in, and got it working again.

Jack, we're sending him in your direction, okay? Take him in and welcome him as family. Use whatever you have to to get his bike back to mint condition -- price is no object. He's had it for a lotta years, and there's an emotional attachment to it. I know it'll touch his heart. Get Frank and Barry in on this. They know bikes. They can help put it into shape; it'll be a good witness. Set up a room for him. Make sure you emphasize that he's got a home now. If he decides to hit the road again, he'll always know he's got a home base. Whatever he needs in the way of supplies, take care of it.

Let us know when he gets there, and keep praying in the meantime.

Driving down that long lonesome highway....

Perry and Clark


Jack:

We're in front of Dorothy Brooks' apartment. She's running some errands, and should be back in a few minutes. I'm geared up for E.V.A., so now we're just waiting in silent prayer.

Needless to say, this is what we came for, so pray for us. I'll report in when I can.

Happy trails....

Perry and Clark


Go to Chapter Six


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