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I awoke early while it was yet dark, and as the day dawned in the east, I made my way once again up the mountain path, arriving at a nearby ridge just in time to hear the sun splinter through the hard floor of the earth. Nothing could hinder the sun’s progression, for a fire consumed all that stood in its preordained path. Earth is no match for heaven, for though it may oppose for a season, in the end the weaker must bow to the stronger.
“Heaven always wins,” the silent voice whispered in my ear. I took comfort in knowing that I was on heaven’s side—or rather, that heaven was on my side—in any potential conflict in life. Yet I knew too that knowing this great truth was only useful when tested in the crucible of experience. Promises of protection were comforting only in the face of danger. Guiding lights were useful only in the dark. If there were no foolish people, there would be no gift of wisdom.
After meditating on the recent revelations and sending forth a silent inquiry for any other nugget that I would need this day, I arose and returned to the lodge. As the sun rose higher, I climbed into my truck and made my way to Newkirk to meet with Joseph, Joshua, and those newly begotten ones who were being prepared for a Kingdom task that was not yet clearly understood.
“Where is Joseph?” I asked. No one had yet seen him this morning. The day was overcast and seemed to threaten rain in the distance. Yet, as instructed, the potential disciples had gathered as a small crowd of men and women in bodies of various shapes, shades, and sizes, a veritable cross-section of humanity, it seemed.
Joshua had arrived before me, and soon he spoke up, saying, “May I assume that you are all gathered here because you are ready to begin this new work that lies ahead?”
All of them affirmed this, either with nods or raised hands or with a loud “Yes!” Being new to the area, I knew no one except those that I had just met a day earlier, so I was careful to write down their names in order to commit them to memory as quickly as possible. Their names were as follows:
There were seven married men: Toivo, Ivan, Chen, Raj, Olabisi, Naoki, and Abdul. Five men were single: Atsa, Kuyani, Kika, Sven, and young Juan. There were also five single women: Maggie, Dakota, Bryn, Zoe, and Ruth. Altogether, there were twenty-four in our fellowship, including the wives of the seven married men, each a unique pillar of the coming Kingdom.
We spent the next hour getting to know each other better. Each had his or her own story, but all had been led by different paths to this conjunction of callings. We would now have to learn to work together and to build trust in the gifts that they brought with them.
But Joseph was still nowhere to be seen. Finally, I spoke up. “I think we should spread ourselves through the town and see if we can find Joseph. I myself will go to the Indian village and see if he is still there.”
“That is a good idea,” Joshua replied. “Let us meet here mid-afternoon. If we find him earlier, we will ring the bell in the town square.”
We parted, and the group began to scatter themselves throughout the town as I drove to the village on the far side of the valley. Crossing the bridge over the river, I felt a certain energy that seemed to radiate from the river. Curious, I stopped on the other side and walked down to the river bank. Bending over, I scooped up a handful of water and put it to my lips. Instantly, I recognized its sweet taste. “This is living water!” I said aloud. “The water from the mountain crack must have reached the river upstream. The valley is being revitalized.”
The newly energized water of life was now flowing through the valley, making its way past Newkirk, heading down the valley toward the town of Cosmos just a few miles away. “I wonder how they will react to this living water,” I mused.
Cosmos had a reputation for debauchery and lawlessness, although there was also in it a community having strict moral principles that prided itself on conforming to the laws of the Creator. After being expelled from Kirk long ago, this small community had found refuge on east side of Cosmos. Cosmos was a cacophonous mixture of good and evil, liberty and slavery, peace and violence, along with every conceivable religion espousing a different but “true” path to utopia. Newkirk and Cosmos remained suspicious of each other, and occasionally open conflict broke out between them.
Living water! I thought to myself. This could prove interesting. Maybe peace is slowly drifting our way, like clouds being carried slowly but steadily by strong, but unseen wings. I returned to my truck and continued toward the village. When I arrived, I asked for directions to the lodge of the high chief and soon found it in the center of town. I knocked on the door and was soon ushered into a comfortable living room, where I was introduced to Chief Hiamovi. 173
“Please sit,” he said to me after cordially shaking my hand. “May I offer you something to drink? Tea or coffee, perhaps?”
“Thank-you, Chief,” I responded. “I appreciate your hospitality. I would like some coffee, if it is not too much trouble.”
“No trouble at all, Anava,” he said.
Before long, two cups of coffee were placed on the low table in front of us. Hiamovi took a sip and then said to me, “Joseph speaks highly of you.”
“That is very kind of him,” I responded with a slight bow. “My late father used to have a friend from here. Actually, that is how I first heard of this valley.”
“Who was your father’s friend?” he asked.
“My father said his name was Joe and that he was actually of the Yaqui tribe. I heard many stories of Yaqui Joe when I was a child.” 174
“I knew Joe when I was a young man. He lived among us for a long time before returning to his family in Hiakim. He wanted to die and be buried with his ancestors. Those people call themselves Hiaki, which came to be pronounced as Yaqui. Joe passed from this earth to the greater place some years ago, but if your father’s name was Thomas, then I believe I knew him as well.”
“Yes, Thomas was my father,” I said with some surprise. I took a sip of hot coffee.
“He was made an honorary member of our tribe,” the Chief continued. “So that means you too are one of us. Now that you are here, we will record your name in our books as an accepted steward of the land. Our chief steward, as you already know, is Joseph. He is the son of your father’s friend, Yaqui Joe. Joe’s full name was Joseph, and his son was named after him. When Joe returned to Hiakim, his son Joseph elected to remain here with us, for this had been his home for most of his life.”
He paused. “It appears that the two of you were always meant to meet and to work together.”
“I am truly amazed to learn of this!” I exclaimed with some excitement. “But I am here because Joseph did not show up at our meeting this morning in Newkirk. All of us are looking for him, and I came here to see if he is still at home. The last thing he told me yesterday afternoon was that he had to talk to you about the recent developments in Newkirk.”
“Yes,” said the Chief. “We discussed these matters far into the night, and I know that he left here this morning. I authorized Joseph to exercise his wise authority in Newkirk and throughout the entire valley in order to enforce the Creator’s laws as he saw fit. The time has come for us to build the Creator’s Kingdom and to assert His rights over our portion of the land He has created. Men have trampled upon His rights long enough. They have fought for their own rights with little regard for the Creator’s legal rights. But that is now changing, for a new day has arrived.”
The Chief took another short sip of his coffee. “If anything had happened to his car, you would have seen it along the road as you drove here. But he usually likes to walk.”
“So Joseph appears to be missing,” I said slowly. “That is a mystery indeed, and a sense of foreboding is growing within me. I wonder what has become of him. I really should leave right away and look for him.” I stood up and began moving toward the door. “I will drive more slowly on my return trip and look for any sign indicating what might have happened to him.”
“My blessing goes with you,” the Chief said. “Find him—for all of us. He cannot be lost, for I have seen a long and good path that yet lies before him.”
I drove slowly out of the village and down the road toward Newkirk. Looking carefully on each side of the road, it was not long before I noticed a white object a short distance from the road. I stopped the truck and walked closer until I could see that it was a muddy shirt. I picked it up carefully and saw that it was stained with blood. 175
My heart sank and I shuddered. This did not look good. Foul play was afoot. Joseph had not merely disappeared. He had been taken!