Getting Through It

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by Curtis Peter Van Gorder

 

Do you ever have some days when problems seem to be hurled at you with such fervency that it almost becomes ludicrous?

Yesterday was like that. Today, I laugh about how ridiculous the situation was.

We traveled a few hours to a rural village to do a clown show for a festival they were holding. Our audience was composed of all the sheiks, officials, and hundreds of children from the area who all eagerly awaited our performance.

We were announced with great fanfare. When our theme song played we came out and shook hands with the children and did some gags. We, two clowns ran back into the tent to get ready for the show to begin.

Our MC spoke into the microphone to introduce our first act, “Now, let’s watch a fun story where the clowns learn how important it is to eat good food and to brush their teeth.”

The soundtrack began to play as I was on stage to begin the act, and then…

Silence.

“Come on guys, push the play button!” I thought to myself. Improvising, I froze like a statue, trying to make it look like part of the act. That worked for the first minute, but then clearly something else needed to happen.

Crestfallen, I went into our tent to see what had happened.

“The player froze! It’s not responding to anything!” the technician said.

Our volunteer, who acted as our MC came into the tent as well trying to be helpful, “Can’t you just skip that song and go to the next one?”

“Without this machine working, we have NOTHING!” my colleague tried to help him understand.

“Oh? No show?”

He understood.

I began to think of how was I going to improvise an hour show with a donkey, two crazy bird, and elephant puppets. No, that wasn’t going to work, either.

“I think it is time for us to put into practice some ‘extreme praise’ (for desperate moments such as this one),” I suggested to my colleague as the technician continued to fiddle with every button on the player to try to spank it back to life.

We nodded and began to pray, “Thank you Lord, that this player is frozen. There must be some reason for it. Without this machine working, You know that there will be no show for us today and a lot of children will be disappointed, but like I said, there must be some reason that we don’t know, just yet. If You want us to perform today, please show us how to fix the player. Praise you Jesus, for all the times that the player did work!”

The MC announced to the audience, “The clowns are having some technical difficulties so we will now have Abu Hassan perform a medley of his favorite Arabic songs.”

I went back with the technician and had a look at the player to see if I could find something he missed. I turned it over and over trying to see what button could get it working again.

“What does this ‘reset’ button do?”

“I am not sure, but I am almost certain it reformats the drive of the player – erasing all your information. I don’t think I want to press that. If we loose all our data we will really be in trouble.”

“We already are. What do we have to loose? Press it.”

The MC approached us, “Abu Hassan is running out of songs. Have you fixed it yet?”

We nodded negatively. He looked down his list of events and then walked back to the microphone as we frantically began to look for a pin that would fit the tiny hole of the reset button.

We heard the MC announce, “Thank you Abu Hassan. Now, the acrobatic club of the village will now perform for your entertainment.”

We borrowed a pin from someone who was wearing a name card attached to his shirt.

The player shut down. The screen was blank. The technician restarted the player. It came back to life. It was now working. We looked up and smiled at each other. Thank You, Jesus, for little miracles!

We told the MC that we were up and running again. He seemed relieved, as did we. After the acrobats had finished, he announced, “The clowns are now ready to perform. It seems that by a miracle, God has fixed their player!”

The show went on without a hitch and the crowd loved it!

Now I have yesterday under my belt, I am ready anything today has to throw at me. Hey, and if things get bad enough, no worries – I can always use my spiritual weapon of “extreme praise” to overcome any difficulty that might be thrown at me!

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Eat, Pray, Stay Together

DSCF0508by Peter van Gorder

A month ago I came from a situation where the various members of our family had different schedules and seldom were able to eat together. I couldn’t help feeling that our family was drifting apart and I wondered why.  In contrast, at the moment I am staying with an Italian friend who is teaching me the joy of ‘breaking bread’ together.

One thing I have learned from the Italians is how to eat. Meals here are a joy and an event unto themselves. For those of you who do not know about Italian meals, they are not about grabbing a quick bite on the run. They are a time to swap stories and insights, share miracles and revelations, debate historical and theological paradoxes, and open up about daily hopes and desires – all the while, savoring an excellent glass from the fruit of the vine. Just when you think the meal is finished, another delicious dish is set in front of you. Before you know it, 2 hours have gone by and you have loved every minute of it. We found no need for night time activities. Those I was traveling with were having so much fun at dinner that meals became the event of choice.   And here I must mention the personality of the people of this wonderful land.

The Italians I met were extremely hospitable and friendly, always ready to go the ‘extra mile’ to make your life comfortable even at their own expense. The virtues of kindness and friendliness are not only extolled but practiced daily at every level.   An example is when my Italian host, knowing that I came from Mumbai and would find it a novelty, invited me to go mushroom picking with him. We went high into the mountains after a recent rain. He is an expert in the various kinds of mushrooms and knows what is edible and what is poisonous. I was thankful for that at meal time. He told us with confidence, “In this area, there is really only one deadly mushroom. It is white and one bite of it will land you in the hospital in need of a liver transplant. That’s why I avoid white mushrooms.” “Me too, I avoid them like the plague!” I nodded wholeheartedly loving the liver God gave me just fine.  After some time, we found treasure troves of mushrooms that we later roasted, toasted, and grilled in various sauces.   After a fine meal, I meditated on why eating together is such a joy. Doing a bit of research I came up with these benefits taken from a recent study on the topic.

 Communication United meals are an opportune time to talk with each other; we connect, bond, and learn what is happening in each other’s lives. The invitation to “Tell us about something special that happened to you today” can lead to important information and creates warmth, security, belonging, and love.Manners Matter What better way to teach manners than by example. Asking to pass food, not putting elbows on the table, and eating slowly all add to make it a pleasant experience and one that our children will pass on to their children.Try it, you just might like it! Trying a new food from a foreign land can be an enlightening experience. It may take a few times to get used to a new food but it can enlarge our tastes and make us aware of other cultures. We can also try new vegetables that have never graced our tongue; or try out new recipes as well. 

Nutritious & Delicious! I probably don’t have to tell you that home cooked meals, just like momma makes, are healthier than fast food. There is good reason that buffets in most 5 star hotels offer mostly unprocessed and natural fruits and vegetables – a lot like home cooked meals.

 

  Learning Meal Planning Those children who eat together with their family can learn how to shop, plan, and cook healthy meals, a skill they will carry with them for the rest of their days. This is sometimes lacking in cultures where help is inexpensive and more available. If someone else is cooking your meals for us, we can miss out on the meal planning and preparation stages. Setting the table and clearing it, can also give everyone a feeling of being needed and part of the family ‘team’.

Feeling of Belonging and Security A benefit of eating together is that it fulfills the basic human need of belonging. Fulfilling this need at home ensures that children won’t seek it in unhealthy peer groups who might be involved in destructive behavior and habits such as smoking, drinking, or taking drugs.

Improve Grades According to recent research, teens who eat dinner more than 4 times a week with their families score higher in tests compared with those who don’t. Why? Perhaps it could be that when children are happier they are under less stress and can concentrate on their studies more. Meal times can be a happy occasion to share and celebrate daily victories.

Save Money Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week. By reversing this trend we are being kind to our pocketbooks.

Time for Prayer Meals are a great time to pray together for our specific needs and to show appreciation to the Lord for what He has done. Meals can be a kind of celebratory feast. It would be an interesting Bible study to see how eating food together is associated with important events and spiritual growth.   My father had the habit of praying before meals and so when he went to Japan and visited some non-Christians there, he prayed before the meals. It was a tradition that they respected and told others about, so that when they brought him to a friend’s house, they asked my father to pray.     I would say it is time to renew our commitment to call our family to ‘come and get it’. What we get is a lot more than just the food. We receive bonds of love, joy, and togetherness that will last in the lives of all we touch.

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Act 2:44  And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Act 2:46  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Act 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Act_20:7  And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Act_20:11  When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. Act_27:35  And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

Anatomy of a Clown part 2

Clownre

By Peter van Gorder

In the years since moving to India, I have developed the ‘clown ministry’ in many new ways. We have started acting/mime/storytelling workshops for the Deaf and disadvantaged children and are now working on acting out Jesus’ parables and other inspirational stories for outreach that can be used in youth camps such as YMCA, English, and Don Bosco summer camps. There is also a new project in the works of developing performances for festivals and for outreach on the street and other venues. I even did some acts as an angel statue where I handed out tracts. We scripted the annual performance for one school in India and we will soon be going to Kolkata to give a storytelling workshop to students at one school that has invited us.

As the proverb says, “a man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before ‘kings’. As a precious gem in scintillates in any direction it turns.” Hey, sounds a bit like the lamp Jesus talked about in letting your light shine and putting it on a candlestick so that it can give light to all that are in the house.

Clowning has brought me to many new cities in India and abroad that I wouldn’t have visited otherwise

In my travels, I often come across interesting people and fellow performers that I bond with such as Charlie Chaplin II and Mr. Banana. Each has their own story that impresses me the value of entertainment to open doors both for support as well as making others happy. I feel that there is a lot we can still develop in this field. Here is what Mr. Banana (Pierrick)graciously told me when I asked him about his life’s story. This is in fact an interesting project I have started to develop, to ask people for their life story in an interview form and ask relevant questions to draw out aspects of their life for their reflection and for us to apply as well. We can listen carefully to their story and draw those lessons out.

Catch Pierrick’s act on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gTAs6ILbsI

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I was born to an upper middle class family in Quebec, Canada. I played lots of sports growing up. I remember two instances in my childhood where I heard Voices that were guiding me. The first time I heard them, I was 14. After reading an article in a magazine about Greek mythology, it became evident that I would be travelling. These Voices speak to me from time to time when I am in a moment of deep inspiration and clarity. It was if are spoken, yet unspoken. It was as if they were telling me something I knew already. Another time, the Voices showed me that I would do unusual things that would inspire people. I think I was 16 just before leaving home after I graduated from high school. I had initiated something major that could have cost me everything. It was an intense period of guilt and regret. That time the Voices were very deeply felt. It was if they were trying to bring me out of the harsh reality I had momentarily created for myself.

First, I went to western Canada, and then I went down to Mexico and Central and South America. I learnt Spanish and lived as a handicraft maker for a bit before ending up into a circus conference by “coincidence”. I believe coincidence is the language of life. Things happen as signs when we align ourselves with life consciously or unconsciously. I feel like I didn’t choose what I do, it choose me.

I remember then being too shy to do anything. I traveled on to the north western USA, where I found a job in a luxury resort. At night, I would find a place to hide, where I could juggle potatoes all night. Then I went on to China and then to Australia where I started to live from small juggling shows, after I was tired of depending on a regular job for my living. I did fairly well and joined a traveling carnival for awhile.

Then I came to South East Asia, where I experienced a rebirth. It happened when I attended a rainbow gathering which made a strong impression on me. It showed me that it was possible to live an alternative lifestyle. I went on traveling around meeting always just the right person to show me more skills. I ended up running out of money and decided to stop in Vietnam and to train in the National Vietnamese circus there. I was also teaching English at night at a language center in Hanoi. Most of my circus skills came from that time. I kept developing those basics throughout the years in my own way. After finishing 6 months of circus I was approached by a Taiwanese circus wanting to give me a contract that I refused. I felt the circus life routine could go on forever, so it moved me into changing direction.

I kept my skills and heard the call to India. I came to India and fell in love with the colors the smells and the people. I got to feel at home with other foreigners that fell in love for the same reasons.

I ended up spending a season in Goa that changed my life. It was the first place in all that time of traveling that I allowed myself to go back to and has become ‘home’ to me. It was a second rebirth for me in a very creative way. This place allows artists, artisans, alternative life style people, freaks, and musicians to share and to feel normal in this growing community. So in between the season in Goa, I sometime go to other places in India or the Middle East (mostly Israel) and Europe.

When I went to Europe for the first time I fell in love with the street culture. I could do shows practically everywhere. Europe is quite free in this way, so it was a beautiful school for me.  I got to learn the street psychology and to make a lot of shows. So I now spend the summer season (3 months) in Europe and the winter season in Goa (6 months) and the rest of the year I go for interesting projects here and there ( Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, California, Canada). I have been living from shows for the last 8 years and it has taken me to over 40 countries.

I trust life puts me in the right place for my growth and I feel grateful for it.

Note: Here is an article from an orphanage he performed at.

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El Shaddai!

Pierrick St Pierre – or as we all know him by his artist name “Mr Banana”- is an amazing juggler, clown, and a long time friend of the children of El Shaddai. No doubt about it: as soon as he sets his feet on the school surrounding ground, some hundred small voices can be heard… some whispering, some screaming the same word: “BANAAANAAA!!!!!” Once more, our friend Pierrick – Banana brought his art, his heart, some artist friends,

Denarius, Dennis, Dalini and Vico to Assagao and performed a much appreciated show in the Shanti Niketan Hall.

Mr Orange (Oshan from The Turbans) new role of actor-cabaret-performer was very successful and he obviously enjoyed his new name a lot…. especially when 200 children were screaming it all together and VERY loud.

After that, just a small chai break and Banana and his International Team of musicians and jugglers went to the House of Norma where they had a second performance for the hospice children, and staff. Ah, what a beautiful afternoon! It was SO nice you could cry, and be unable to know if you did because you were too moved or you were laughing too much….

THANK YOU BANANAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! THANK YOU OOOOOOOOORAAAAANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU EVERYONEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anatomy of a Clown

by Curtis Peter van Gorder

                          “Laughter is the brush that sweeps away the cobwebs of your heart.

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Having some good laughs with the kids at an Osteoporosis Awareness Day Campaign

 We did a volunteer training program (called MOVE) for the medical staff of a leading university. As the attendees were all young people, we tried to keep the sessions lively by spicing things up with some humorous skits. Dr. von Poofen Spoof was our guest speaker, a crazy doctor speaking with a thick German accent dressed in a wild white wig, funny glasses, lab coat, stethoscope, and blue polka dot tie. The doctor illustrated the importance of listening when a patient entered asking for help. Problem was, the patient had an acute stutter as he tried to explain what ailed him, “D…d…d…doctor…It’s my…t..t..t..”

“Ah, just as I thought!” the doctor hastily surmised. Before the patient could get another word out, the doctor gave the patient the usual anesthetic (large foam hammer) and proceeded to extract the patient’s teeth. On awakening him, he found that it wasn’t his teeth but his toe that was bothering him – oops! Should’ve listened!

We as the facilitators weren’t quite sure how all this was going over with the participants so we took some time to listen to their reactions, here is one:

“Being medical students we related to the skits, I liked the idea of therapeutic laughter and would love to see it implemented in our hospitals.” – Hadeel

At the last session Dr. von Poofen Spoof returned for an encore performance, this time to give some of the medical benefits of laughter using a cauliflower as a model brain, which he pointed to often. Minus the bogus German accent, it went something like this:

“What happens in the brain when we laugh?  The neuroendocrine hormones associated with stress response are diminished. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex which produces endorphins is activated.

When we laugh neural paths arise in close association with the telencephalic and diencephalic centres concerned with respiration and our oxygen levels are increased.”

“Hey, we already know this,” one of the students said.

What to me was pure gibberish was just common medical jargon to them. I guess that’s why I’m a clown and not a medical student.

The first time I acted out Dr. von Poofen Spoof, it was at the opening of the local children’s museum. I was asked to be a ‘mad scientist’ to perform science experiments. It seems that kids like to learn more from a crazy scientist than a stuffy lab technician, so in the style of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” I mixed a bit of humor in with the science.

Oh, by the way, that was the only time in my life I ever shook hands with royalty. Their majesties were touring all the exhibits at the opening of the museum and greeted me with a cheery smile and warm handclasp to cheer me on. It was quite humbling to meet royalty dressed as a nut!

But hey, that is what humor is all about – having a good laugh at yourself and how ridiculous we can sometimes be. As someone once said, “The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.” (Shirley Mac Laine)

During my experience as a clown I have been surprised at the response and demand for clowns, we have sometimes done close to 300 clown shows a year! It seems that people who can encourage fun, enjoy life, and reduce stress in others are in great demand everywhere in the world.

In Palestine my clown colleague, Marco  found it very effective to use clown therapy to help children overcome their fears brought on by war.

Bill Cosby, the famous comedian, who suffered some tragic losses in his life own life said, “You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.

Throughout the years we have worked together with many institutions to bring joy to others through ‘clown therapy’. We have often visited hospitals to cheer up young cancer patients by entertaining them and involving them in fun games and songs. We have cooperated with “Operation Smile”, which operates free medical clinics for the needy. Our job was to entertain the patients as they waited to be treated. Our clown team accompanied the Bedouin Health Awareness Project to help children learn about personal hygiene. We traveled several hours to remote Bedouin rural schools with a medical expert to impart this health message to the children there. Portraying the message with puppets, humor, and vivid props such as a giant toothbrush was very effective. It seems most people realize that when we laugh – we listen.

My career started as a clown from humble origins. We were in Uganda, Africa, when Simon a colleague of mine, had the idea to visit a remote rural school to perform a clown show for the students there. He needed a driver and a ‘side kick’, so asked for my assistance.

“Sure, glad to help, but there is a small problem. I have never been a clown before and I don’t have a costume.”

“No worries! Just wear something funny and act a bit goofy and that should do.”

With that simplistic explanation, I gathered an odd collection of clothes added a pair of bright red suspenders, donned an overly large colorful hat and we were off.

After driving several hours, we arrived at the school, where we were greeted as if we were ambassadors from a prestigious nation. All the student body turned out with the principal.

Then after donning our costumes the show began, Simon swung right into action as the pro that he was with clown magic, the classic rubber chicken routine, and lots of fun and gags. We even got some character building in by using object lessons from what was available – which wasn’t much. Sprinkling salt on the audience, we encouraged everyone to be like the salt – enhance your situation by making it better – etc. The village school loved it and told us many times that it was a highlight of their year. A little fun and laughter really does go a long way! After that, I was sold on the idea and began to develop my clowning skills.

As I said, most people realize the value of a good laugh. In some countries, comedy news programs have become more widely watched than the regular news programs. Recently, our city government saw the need for comedy and held a comedy festival here. Apparently, they had struck a funny bone nerve that wanted to be tickled as tickets were sold out weeks before the first appearance. Why do comedians draw such crowds while other performers struggle to get people to attend their events?

     Perhaps Mark Twain, the great humorist summed it up well when he said, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”Pick up your weapon today against your woes! Have a good laugh, it will do you good

A Woman’s Best Friend

by Peter van Gorder  – from Alice Burdina, in Zambia

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I always loved horses. When I was 4 years old I first rode an old draft horse when visiting our relatives in Sochi, Russia, a place that has a long legacy with the Cossacks and their love for horses. Ever since then, horses have been a big part of my life.  Horse riding can be expensive. It can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing, and even if you do, accidents can happen. I have broken ribs and had a few injuries from falls, but my love for horses overcame those challenges.

When I was young, my girlfriend and I used to volunteer to take care of the horses in a stable nearby. The stable boys neglected to feed them because they were always out drinking. Sometimes the horses were starving, without food for 3 days until they started eating their own manure. We saw what was happening and we stepped in to care and love them to bring them back to health.

In the horse world, people who ride all the time say that they have 50% human and 50% horse blood. For many it is more than a hobby, but a lifestyle. I seemed to have a natural love and relationship with horses. I started riding lessons when I was 15 and after the third lesson, my trainer could see that I could ride, she told me, “You don’t need me, you already know how to ride well.”

Through my experiences, I have come to believe that God made horses to show what human relationships should be like. Horses are like people in that they are social creatures, but unlike people they cannot put up fronts, be fake, or insincere.  Horses know your intentions. It has to do with your body language.  For example, if you hide the bridle behind your back, they see that your eyes are tense and sense that you are trying to trick them. Horses are not meant to be ridden so they would usually rather spend time with friends. They are more designed for carrying weight. When a rider gets on its back, it is difficult for them so they choose who can ride them.  If you are relaxed, many horses will come up to you to cuddle and say hi. They love to get attention.

A strong bond can develop between horse and rider. Canadian champion rider Eric Lamaze had a horse named Hickstep. A few famous riders had owned him previously, and Eric was its 3rd rider. Other riders said, “There is nothing special in this horse.” But Eric saw something they didn’t. Eric and Hickstep became an inseparable team as they formed a strong bond and were unbeatable, winning almost every competition they entered. Their relationship proved that if a horse is loved, it will do almost anything for its rider.

Hickstep collapsed in the winner’s circle at its last competition, dying of a heart attack, after clearing a bar of 160 cm. Eric Lamaze said, “I was so fortunate to ride Hickstep. He was a horse of a lifetime, he was my soul mate.”

Just like people, there are all kinds of horses, each with their own personality. The way that they have been treated in the past determines in large part how they react to people. Horses have the intelligence of a 6 year old child and can be highly emotional. Mistreatment leaves a serious scar on them that sometimes requires much time to heal.

I have found that some owners are cruel to their horses by neglecting them, over riding them to make as much money as possible from riding lessons, and forcing them into confined spaces that are very traumatic for them.

Take the horse Freeway, an English thoroughbred for example. No one wanted to ride him because he was so skittish and tried to throw off whoever mounted him. Every time you rode him you didn’t know what to expect, but he was also a very good jumper – sometimes clearing 130 cm.

He was unpredictable and fearful because his former owners had abandoned him. When his new owner at the stable where I worked bought him, he was very skinny and had a problem with ulcers. He was also dealing with some mental issues. Freeway’s previous rider said, “This horse hates my guts.”

The first time I mounted him, he didn’t want to move. Freeway started bucking at every step and was uncontrollable. My main goal was for him to realize that as the rider, I wasn’t going to harm him. I did this by trying to get him to relax and release all his tensions. I used to spend a lot of time in the stable, giving him treats, and tenderly grooming him. I brought him into the lessons and he started getting very stressed and started behaving badly as he was remembering the bad experiences he had in the past.  Slowly we started bringing him into the lessons. He realized the rider is not a threat.  Training a horse is a team effort. It requires the cooperation of rider, horse, and trainer. The trainer observes and can see more than the rider sees. The rider carries out the commands, and the horse responds positively.

I read my book in his stable just to be with him. At first he ignored me, but eventually he would come and nudge me to say hi then turn and go about his business. As we spent more time together our bonds began to grow.  I would put my head on his knees and he would hug me with his neck. He became more cuddly with me and we started jumping (Versace).

Just like people, horses need their love cup filled to perform well.  When they feel neglected they get depressed. From the depression they get weak. If they feel loved they get over problems easier. Once you have made a bond and then break it, many horses get depressed.

I got very close to one horse. I told him that I had to leave, and I promised to come back, but the horse became so discouraged that in a few months he got very sick with Ulcers (Cushion’s Disease) and died.

I cared for another horse that was so wild that it took 4 people to hold him down and prevent him from hurting himself or someone else. I showed lots of patience and love to this horse and he eventually came to me on his own because he knew I understood him.

Those that have an extraordinary ability to communicate with horses are called ‘horse whisperers’. I knew one such lady who could read the thoughts of horses. There was a mare that was pregnant and about to give birth to a mare. She had colic and her condition was worsening. The horse whisperer talked to the horse and asked if the horse wanted to die or what the problem was? The horse communicated through a vision to her that she had eaten a certain weed which was making her sick. They found the weed and as they administered a cure and the horse recovered.

In another case, a mare that was very sick had just delivered a foal and they were going to put the horse down, but the horse communicated to the horse whisperer, to please wait until the foal was stronger and didn’t need her anymore. They waited and the mare died as soon as the foal was able to be by itself. The foal was taken in by a horse that was in a stable next to them and who loved it as her own. 7dcd071875496794e76d99754cb69b90

One of the most exciting areas in this field that I have experienced and would like to develop more is equine therapy. At a stable that I worked at, we had kids from the orphanage coming once a week. There was one girl named Esther. She was about 13 but looked like she was 8-9 and she used to live in the streets and was abused by older teens.

A Zambian lady found her and ‘adopted’ her and named her Esther. Esther used to continually pinch or hurt herself in different ways, but after the second lesson, she hurt herself less and less until in a month she stopped all together. She had a hard time socializing with other people. When she saw me she me she gave me a big hug and thanked me for teaching her riding as she enjoyed it so much. Riding gave her new confidence.

A boy with a spinal problem had difficulty standing straight, yet he began sitting up straight in the saddle during his lessons.  It was so rewarding to see these children smiling and playing games with the horses. Autistic children and those with Asperger’s Syndrome also benefitted tremendously from these lessons. One autistic child couldn’t stop yelling. Loud noises often scare horses and they usually flee loud noises but this horse understood this child and didn’t seem affected by it.

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In one activity we organized, these children ran with their pony and tried to jump over a small obstacle. Sometimes the child fell and the horse would wait on the other side for them to get up. Horse and child developed a deep connection as they were having so much fun together.

It was amazing to see the kids from rich families and the orphans mixing and getting dirty together on our designated Fun Day. Everyone went down to the river and we used a gym ball to toss around and have fun together.

I am so thankful that God gave us the gift of horses. They teach us about what really matters in our lives. They can feel compassion or be mean if they don’t like someone – they are not insincere or try to hide their feelings or pretend to be something they are not. They can be very patient and have all the best qualities that you wish people would have.

Like the birds that don’t reap and sow, yet are taken care of by their Heavenly Father, so are horses. They are unselfish and  don’t care if they are wearing a fancy bridle or no bridle at all. They value love and friendship. Sometimes we live too much in the material world. Horses can remind us to come back to our roots and be more spiritually minded by showing more love and kindness.

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Verses on Horses:

Have you given the horse strength and clothed its neck with thunder? – Job

Isa_63:13  That led them through the deep, as an

horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?

 Zec 14:20  In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD;

The 4 horsemen, horses of the Battle of Armaggedon.

 

Rev 19:11  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Rev 19:13  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Rev 19:14  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.