Seeing is BelievingL. D. Wenzel / Fantasy
Seeing is Believing
by L. D. Wenzel
Copyright © 2015 by L. D. Wenzel
All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced
in whole or in part or transmitted in any form or
by any means—mechanical or electronic—without
written permission from the author, except by a reviewer
who may quote brief passages in a review.
First published in 2015 by Grimbold Books
in: These Twisted Roots. Thanks to Zoë Harris
Original (cover) illustration by Evelinn Enochsen
used with permission
All the characters in this novel are fictitious
and do not exist. Any similarities to any person,
living or dead, were not intended.
Authors website: www.ldwenzel.com
Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see.
No one really knew how Luna first came to live with Manny and Harald Nelson.
"T'was a miracle," insisted Manny. "The Lord brought this precious child to our humble home. Nothing more to say."
The story goes that the golden-locked girl simply appeared on the old woman's doorstep, sound asleep in a wicker basket.
"I felt like Pharaoh's daughter liftin' baby Moses right out of the Nile," she would say.
Who was this orphaned four-year-old, and how did she end up with an elderly couple in rural Wisconsin?
"Things are not as other-worldly as my wife remembers," Harald would say. "There were lots of bureaucratic snags along the way."
Within a month a welfare woman, Janice McClure, knocked at their door. "Mrs. Nelson, a missing child is a serious matter, and kidnapping is a crime."
Manny shot back, "This child was a gift to us from our Lord. Read this note someone pinned to the basket: ''My name is Luna. Will you please take care of me?'"
The woman stuffed the note into her handbag. "'Dr. Nygaard will evaluate this back at Family Services. Meanwhile, it is my job to evaluate your family as an appropriate foster home." The woman focused on the dozens of fruit jars strewn about the kitchen counters. Manny was making the cherry jam she sold to tourists. Luna stood on a chair beside her, waving a wooden spoon.
"This is a Christian home," said Manny. "The child will be brought up in the fear and love of God. How much more appropriate can you get?"
Janice McClure did not reply, but meticulously looked about the farm taking notes, and then drove back to the highway.
A week later she returned, this time with two brawny assistants in white jackets. She held up a document and said to the Nelsons: "You were informed last week by mail that Family Services has decided to remove this child from your home and place her in proper foster care. If the child's parents cannot be found, we will put her up for adoption. That is the law." The welfare woman looked at the Nelsons with indifference. "You should know your advanced age was the determining factor."
A terrified Luna hid behind Manny's skirt, but the woman grabbed her arm.
"No!" cried Manny. "She's God's child, and He's chosen us to take care of her."
The men in white joined the woman in wrenching Luna from Manny. The girl screamed and kicked as they forced her into a waiting car and drove off.
"No!" cried Manny. "Why, Lord, why?"
Harald and Manny Nelson were missionaries, or at least they had been. As a young man, Harald had studied linguistics and had worked with Bible translators among indigenous tribes. His job was to create a written grammar from oral structures. He met Manny while on furlough at the Missionary Training Center in Minnesota. There they fell in love and were married.
However, all was not well at the Center. Harald wrote in his journal:
Returning missionaries, me included, were outraged by the school's new, liberal teachings. A mutiny broke out when two rebellious teachers rallied the disaffected staff to take over the school. Though I and a few others agreed, treason was not the Christian way.
Their prayerful solution was to leave friend and foe behind and establish a new missionary community. Manny had inherited a cherry orchard in Wisconsin, near Ellison Bay in Door County, the state's thumb-like peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan. Soon after, in 1960, three families had packed their bags and left for Daybreak, their new home.
Manny wrote to those who remained behind:
What a beautiful place the Lord has given us! The air is so fresh and millions of white daisies carpet the meadows. The cherry orchard ends on a high bluff, overlooking the bay. No place could be more fair to further God's plan.
Indeed, many claim Door County to be Wisconsin's greatest treasure, with beauty rivaling New England. The farm, their new home, was rundown, but the squalor only added to its charm. Upon stepping out of the car, Manny looked beyond the taint to the tall pines and swarming sea gulls and swooned.
This is the Garden of Eden, where God wants me to be.
Harald recorded in his journal, We set off to restore what time had tattered, beginning with the farmhouse. We campaigned everywhere, hoping to enlist new recruits with missionary zeal.
Daybreak Missionary Institute, however, never came to be. Years later, one could see only the farmhouse and a barn, which were already there. Though the men had converted the hayloft to a dormitory, no trainees ever came. They never built the school.
Harald wrote, Though downtrodden, we press on. Though the others would forsake, Manny and I stand firm. God will reveal His plan for His possession.
In time, Harald had to rent out the dorm rooms to migrant cherry pickers. Finally, in 1972, the last family made their exit, leaving only the Nelsons to carry on the ministry.
Before Luna's arrival, the Nelsons had kept to themselves. With sales from their huge organic garden, fresh eggs, and goat cheese, they suffered no want. Still, both tourists and locals thought them a bit weird. They snickered behind their backs, especially at Manny with her gunnysack dresses and the wart on her chin.
Manny wrote to the folks back home:
A cold wind blows the snowdrifts high. Harald has just fed the goats and is sitting beside me and our cozy wood stove. Still, we miss the sound of Luna's happy voice. A year has gone by since they snatched her away. They say she thrives with her new family in Green Bay. Don't believe a word! I pray with tears that the Lord will bring her back.
One sunny day in May of 1982, Harald hurried back from the mailbox with a large envelope. His wife was planting tomato seedlings in the garden.
"Manny," he said, out of breath, "put on your Sunday clothes. Family Services in Green Bay want us to come down immediately. It's about Luna."
Manny gasped. "What?"
"They want to tell us in person. Whatever, we have to prepare. Come, dear wife, let us pray together."
In the middle of the field, the couple rededicated their lives to their Lord and His service.
"Mr. and Mrs. Nelson, we are so glad you came at such short notice. My name is Dr. Nygaard, head of Family Services, and this is Peggy Newman, our head nurse." Their warm greeting surprised Manny.
"How might we be of service?" asked Harald.
Nygaard cleared his throat. "Luna's situation is not good. She is not developing as we had hoped. With the best of foster families, nothing seems to work. She's becoming more and more depressed, and we now regret taking Luna from your home. She keeps calling out for you, Manny. After much deliberation, and if you are willing, we would like you to become Luna's official foster parents."
"Dear God!" Manny raised her hands toward heaven. "Thank you, Jesus."
"However, there are things about this child you should know." Nygaard added. "Luna suffers from psychosis, a rare syndrome that's hard to classify. She sees magical creatures and speaks to them in her own language. Perhaps this stems from a traumatic loss of her mother; no one knows. I believe living on a farm with animals and Door County's natural beauty could have a profound therapeutic impact on Luna. With your love and care, this disorder, in time, should disappear."
. "We will follow up to meet her psychological needs." He signaled in another woman "I'd like you to meet Janice McClure, a therapist from your district. She deals with childhood trauma and will work together with you and Luna's teachers."
An unholy fear rippled through Manny's being. Before her stood the same woman who had torn the girl from her arms. "Y-you—"
Harald rushed to Manny's side, fearing what she might say. "Trust in the Lord, Manny," he whispered. "He's in control."
McClure extended her hand to Manny. "Those were the regulations. I was doing my job. Now that Family Services wants Luna in your foster care, you have my support. But remember, adoption by qualified parents is still possible and—"
"Mrs. McClure," interrupted Nygaard, "Luna's health and happiness come first. If all goes well, Luna will live with the Nelsons for years to come."
Thank God, thought Harald. Dr. Nygaard is in charge and clearly on our side.
"When can we take her home?" asked Manny with a wide smile.
"Today. I have already worked out the legal issues so that all that you must do is sign the contract and make a brief court appearance. We have prepared Luna as best we could. She's very excited about leaving with you, but