43. Tall – has C.
When I added four words to the small ‘Too-hard-gift-basket’ I gave to a Member of our South Australian Upper House, Mr. T in 2002, I had no idea that I was to experience this profound truth first hand – Nothing is too hard for God. Millions of churchgoers every week give lip service in their worship about an all-powerful God. How often do we put God to the test by faith?
In chapter 60 of ‘More in number’ I wrote about the pastor praying at my son Tim’s dedication in 1984, when he was a toddler: “May he bring thousands to Jesus”. I had never forgotten this prayer, occasionally reminding my wife of it. Had this been a special, prophetic word at the time? In September 04 my son had received notification that, as from 2005, he was accepted to study at a Bible College south of Adelaide. He had made enquiries on his own accord and started to attend our church. Who still doubts that persistent, earnest prayer does not work?
May I add to the slogan – nothing is too hard for God – even more so, if you use Google”. Almost daily I came across information I doubted on Radio, TV or in the newspaper. Google was the most useful tool to check, if my thinking was warped or games being played by the media. On Thursday 16/9/04 a storm that had raged in the Caribbean and had caused massive damage and loss of life, was moving across the Gulf of Mexico. Alabama was the next place to get hit by the storm, named Ivan.
I had wondered, why the path of the storm was predicted so early and accurately, when it had barely passed over Cuba? Since I have a sister living near Mobile, Alabama I took an interest in Ivan. The next morning, Friday 17/9/04, one of our TV Stations reported 12 dead after the storm had “slammed” into the South Coast of the United States. At first I thought I had read two dead scroll across the bottom of the screen.
A few more facts didn’t make sense about the reports. My wife Isobel (she ought to know, they named a previous storm after her) claimed she saw reports of 15 metre waves hitting the US. I also learned, for the first time, that New Orleans supposedly lies 3 metres below sea level. In 1988 I briefly visited the City. Why had I never registered this interesting, geographical feature before?
Research on the Internet indeed showed one Canadian TV Station’s reporting on Ivan, New Orleans is below sea level. But then, another website I found stated just the opposite and gave the elevation as 35 feet. Either NO is above or below sea level.
I hated to make a straight forward, boring claim that I think someone is wrong? My way preferred a little mystery and humour to leave my mark. I sent the following email to the TV Station, with a copy to ABC Newsradio:
Subject: Ivan was speeding
I am a driving instructor and my best mate Ivan, would you believe, was
caught speeding on the South Coast of the US. Actually, they don't call it
South Coast, but Gulf Coast.
They also try to nail him with damage in New Orleans and Tallhassee;
everyone is cross with him, but he couldn't have done all three.
He did a U-Turn, came back to where he'd slowly slammed into the wall,
and found out he had killed 12 people. He only thought it was 2 at first.
Should I stay friends with a guy like Ivan? I suppose I have to forgive
him. He once forgave me for something I'd done. I slambed in to a traffic
light, he got caught between the pole and my roo-bar. Lucky he survived;
looking at the black-and white photo, it was a miracle.
Will the people of Alabama, Florida and Louisiana be as forgiving as me,
especially the people in New Orleans, 35 feet above sea level?
Don't they say, forgiving is better than forgetting? Or something like that?
Kind regards from a friend of Ivan.
Dieter R. Fischer
PS My wife argues as usual. That storm in the US, what's is name,
had supposedly 15 m waves slamming the South Coast of the US.
I said, no way - must've been 15 feet. She argues, no 15 meters.
Love believes everything, according to my friend Corrie, a cousin to Ivan.
The pun on the capital of Florida put a smile on my face as soon as I had typed in the name Tallahassee as Tall has see. Isobel and I had visited friends in that city on our honeymoon in 1971. Corrie in the PS above stands for Corinthians, a book in the New Testament. Chapter 13 is a wonderful expose of Christian love, stating in part, that “love believes everything”. (I must be a bad lover).
I had typed the three words “New Orleans elevation” into Google and to my surprise the first link popped up. It read: New Orleans elevation is 35 feet above sea level. The information about NO being below sea level I found at CTV.CA. These letters plus the ‘35 feet’ teased me immensely.
To spread my doubts further I emailed a Watchdog TV program, which exposes anomalies (note the last four letters) in the media. Recently I had requested and subsequently received a free fridge magnet on offer. It gives their slogan: STAY BRAVE AND TRUE. I emailed the program on 17/9/04:
Subject: Lies below sea level
If any of our Media report that New Orleans, which was supposedly
in danger of being hit by Ivan, lies below sea level, it would need careful
I typed the three words - 'New Orleans Elevation' - into Google
and this came up in the first line -
New Orleans elevation is 35 feet above sea level.
If we report facts, we must report the full truth. If parts of NO lies below
the sea, they must have built mighty, big dam walls on the Missisippi to
hold back all that water.
Dieter R. Fischer
PS CTV.CA, a Canadian TV station believes that NO lies
below sea level. What did we do before 'Googling' to start an argument?
Immediately after sending these emails I telephoned my sister in the USA. I didn’t know what to expect – a dead telephone line, a distraught sister, frantically clearing up debris or that she was harmed or worse. To my surprise she answered the phone promptly and calmly. She did not know that 12 people had been killed, which further surprised me. The trailer she lived in, a few kilometers from the coast, was not damaged. She spoke of trees having crashed down, but was not specific on other damage. I didn’t mention my suspicion that News reports in Australia were exaggerated. Speaking to my sister confirmed my line of thinking, however.
A mother was shown on the same news bulletin as the ‘Ivan’ story. She was interviewed on TV, following her 19 year-old son’s rescue after 7 days at sea off the coast of Ireland. The lady shown expressed, how relieved she was at the good news of the happy ending. But I sensed that something was not right, she sounded like she was forcing herself to act the part. How I could sense it, I don’t know. But it was enough for me to tune in a little more closely. I did find parts of the story unbelievable.
One of the other people rescued at sea, the total involved a group of five, if I recall correctly, said that they were trying to attract attention by setting tyres (or a tyre) alight on the deck of their stricken yacht. Where on earth did the tyre come from? What unusual pieces of equipment to carry on board a boat? How did they set it alight, with matches? Did they pour petrol on it first? If yes, why then did the yacht not burn as well?
It worried me that news items were often brief, fast and shallow. They flashed past our brain, before we have time grasp any of it. I considered emailing about this case, but there are limits to how much time and effort I was prepared to spend, just questioning news items. Why was I questioning so much of what I heard, saw or read?
One day I watched a current affairs program on TV. Certain phrases, words or other data teased me and I did what I knew to do best – silently pray, asking God what this was all about. In the next breath I challenged, if another direct link occurs, Lord, I assume you want me to email the program. Seconds later a man was shown on the screen, his surname given as “Fischer”, spelled in the German way as my surname. I took this as confirmation that God did indeed want me to contact this program. So I emailed 15/7/04:
Subject: Stem Cell Mystery
What do 'Iraqi weapons of mass destruction' have in common with stem cells?
According to your report, tonight Scientists claim: "Nonseeing is not the same
as nonbeing". This applies to many areas of life. God is a good example.
Dieter R. Fischer
PS Your photos, names and the ages of those killed in Iraq, really bring home
the tragedy of it all.
In Chapter 40 I reported the incredible fluke of my Suzuki’s odometer on 7/8/04 reading 177 777. Looking back it was unreal, how it all came about. On 5/8/04, two days before, I filled up with petrol. According to my fuel logbook; the odometer reading was 177 574. Normally I would not cover over 200 kilometres on a Saturday/Sunday.
However, late the previous week I had seen a TV News report of a young man, who was swept away in his car, after trying to drive across, in a flooded ford. He spent two hours, according to the news, clinging to the roof of his car, while waiting to be rescued. What amazed me was that despite the terrifying ordeal, he looked relaxed, dry and smiled into the camera, as if enjoying the attention he was receiving.
His surname I remade into Re:why me. (A month later a child was reported killed at a bus stop on Park Terrace, Salisbury with the same surname). I also was amused reading that the man, stuck in the river, was from Riverton. The newspaper’s headline “Up the Creek” had rung a bell in the backwaters of my active brain.
That day, Saturday 5/8/04 I had the urge to visit the scene of the rooftop rescue. I wondered, if the car was still in the water. My client, a friend of the family, needed experience driving in the country. I suggested we drive to the Barossa Valley, just under an hour’s drive away. It would benefit him greatly, as well as satisfy my curiosity. I told him what I wanted to check out and said the lesson was to be free of charge.
Much took place that Saturday. My diary entry is five pages long. Here are extracts, all of which make perfect sense to me. In italic I add some explanations.
Two blokes sat in car outside 7 Mitchell Ave. (friendly or ?).
I had taken the dog for a walk and felt I was being watched by these two men.
Could not do parking in Ward St. A.S. Driving School car there for ages.
This is where I noticed the pallets and returned the following Monday to check it.
Picked up Fanta can near where sign was, Claude Pizza.
I had initially seen a flyer, Claude Pizza, near where a friend ‘Claude’ worked. I heard he had troubles, so I sent him a letter of encouragement. A week later I saw the can at the same spot and picked it up.
Needed film for camera. Parked outside Liquorland. Went to Coles, as I walked in I sensed I’d see D. and D. I did - how spooky!
I knew D and D from the Liberal Party branch, where I had been President. It is located right across the road. Their surname spooked me too.
Outside chain of ponds two sheep lying down in paddock – dead?
I couldn’t recall ever having seen sheep sleep before.
Just before Chateau Yaldara saw sign ‘Fuss Road’ (balloons), dead rabbit.
Fuss in German is ‘foot’. Somebody by that name links with balloons in an early part of my story.
TV News said late model Nissan. It was early model (87-88). Picked up 440 ml can of Bourbon, makes sense.
“Bon is French for good - L won”.
Parked beside Tarago 15 2002 (at the winery). Saw same vehicle in North Adelaide that evening. (See below).
Felt like buying wine. The man sold me 1.5 L ‘Big Fella’ for $ 15.
Looking closer at this oversize bottle of wine, I noticed it was a 2002 Merlot, produced by ‘River Run’. In fine print it said: Approx. 15.4 Standard Drinks. I liked the humour. I bet the producers of the wine were ‘Lots’.
The place was easy to find, because it was right by a historic winery, a busy tourist attraction, featuring numerous, picturesque stone buildings. Phil and I spent about 45 minutes at the place. Nearby, the car was still stuck in the river. I asked him to take a photo. We took the opportunity to have a relaxing look around and sat down for a drink.
Photo taken by a student of his driving instructor. Luckily, the vehicle was not ours.
Why was I here for? What was that inner urge to explore, to check out, if the truth had been reported? Was I lured here on purpose? Was this a kind of test, if I would indeed pick up the story and do what I did so often, drive and check it out?
That evening Isobel and I attended a dinner in a Restaurant in North Adelaide. It may have been nothing, but I spotted the Tarago 15 2002 registration number exiting the car park just as we did. I was sure we were being watched.
I had no idea about the odometer reading on my Suzuki. Without the trip to the Barossa, to add to the mileage, Monday’s 1 plus five 7’s miracle in Ward St. Modbury, would not have happened.