Mysterious Ways: Shell in the Sand
On duty in World War II, his jeep was stranded at exactly the right moment.
By Norman Bernauer, Kansas City, Missouri
The engine revved, but our jeep’s wheels spun futilely in the sand. Stuck! It was another hot night in the fall of 1945, on the Pacific island of Saipan, and my corporal had taken me out on patrol duty. Sometimes service members would sneak a vehicle off base to cruise around the island, then ditch the vehicle when they were though. It was our job to bring those vehicles back. We’d noticed a set of tire tracks trailing off towards the beach and pulled off the main road to investigate. Now, the jeep refused to budge from its place, lodged in the sand.
While the corporal radioed base for help, I climbed out of the jeep to see if I could get us moving again. I thought of my mother back in Pittsburgh. “I’ll be praying for your safety till the day you come home,” she’d told me on the day I left for duty. I was only 18-years-old at the time, and she worried about me terribly.
Actually, Mom’s prayers must have been working. I hadn’t been in grave danger since my arrival on Saipan. Initially I’d been scheduled to go to Okinawa, the heart of combat. But the army had another plan for me. “You’ll stay here in Saipan,” they informed me, “and serve in the military police.” I greeted this with relief, knowing that my chances of seeing home again were now considerably higher.
I took a closer look at our jeep. The frame had caught on a mound of sand, so that the tires were slightly elevated and unable to gain traction. Nothing to do but wait, I thought. I could hear the waves of the Pacific in the distance as I scanned the sandy path in the jeep’s headlights. That’s when a dull, metal object illuminated in the headlights caught my eye. Hardly two feet in front of our vehicle, something small and pointy, sticking up from the sand. A 14” navel shell, unexploded and ready to go off at the slightest touch!
My corporal radioed base again for additional support to help retrieve the bomb. I couldn’t help but think again about my mother’s prayers. Why had our jeep gotten stuck at exactly that moment, when the other vehicle whose tracks we’d followed had apparently rolled on down the beach?
Mysterious Ways: A Day to Remember
Mom never forgot a special occasion. Never.
By April Sommervold, Akron, Iowa
“Hello?” I shouted, stepping through the front door of my parents’ house, shaking the snow off my boots. It felt like someone was there, even though I knew there wasn’t. With my dad in Texas for the winter, I came to check up on the house every so often—collect the mail, adjust the thermostat, make sure the winter storms hadn’t caused any damage. This was just a quick stop before I went home to celebrate my 29th wedding anniversary with my husband, Alan.
I didn’t feel much like celebrating. Mom had passed away just after our anniversary one year ago. I kept thinking back to the last phone call I got from her. “Happy Anniversary!” she said. “Mom loves you both so much!”
I wasn’t surprised she remembered. It was like she had some kind of internal “mom calendar” to recall every special occasion of family and friends, even at the age of 72. When she died, I tried to remind myself that God had blessed her with a long, happy life, but that didn’t make it any easier to go on without her.
I walked into the kitchen, mindlessly opening and closing the freezer door, half-expecting to see Mom standing at the counter, cutting up a tray of her famous chocolate-chip cookie bars. But no. Mom was gone.
The house was so cold. I turned up the heat and then sat at the roll-top desk in the living room. Lined up across the top were family photos—graduations, weddings, holidays. “I never dreamed this big,” Mom always said at our celebrations. “That life could be this wonderful.”
I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and stood up. That’s when I noticed something right by my foot. A small white card lying face down on the bright blue carpet.
That’s weird, I thought. I’d been here just last week and hadn’t seen any clutter on the desk. Where had it fallen from? I bent over, picked it up, and flipped it over.
Three words were printed on the card in bright pink script: “Mom loves you.”
I couldn’t wait to show Alan. Just like I’d never forget Mom, we hadn’t been forgotten either.