Arkansas, aw Arkansas, land of the backward and prejudice, land I do not miss at all.
Preston had finally come home from West Pac and we started packing for the move to Camden, Arkansas. The plan was for me to get the house ready to move then pack what Hannah and I needed for the drive from San Diego to Camden. Then when Preston came back home he would have the military movers pack us out and they would bring our stuff to Camden. Preston himself would then stay in San Diego and live on the ship. He would come see us whenever he could get leave and he would call into the church services when possible. All this because Elder Turner, the leader and prophet of United Fellowship House of Praise, said it was God’s will. All this because my life was about pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ first and foremost. Not just because I knew the consequences of disobeying the Lord, but because wanted to obey him, though that was a factor as well.
We drove out with several other people. I remember Monica was one of them. My folks had already moved out and Brother Simonsen had moved as well. Jeff decided to stay in Cali and my sister’s family stayed because her husband Brian was not a part of our church and wasn’t obeying the Lord, or so we were told. Later there would be prophesies about how he was going to die and about how he was gonna end up in a wheel chair…etc. The Tanson’s and Baldwin’s had moved already, the Young’s were still searching for that perfect property. They were being preached about all during their search. The “Lord” directed us to move to Camden and they were looking for property in Hot Springs so they were keeping themselves separated from the rest as if they were better and not obeying, or so we learned in the sermons. The Emihl’s had at first decided to accept the military assignment in Hawaii but them Sister Emihl’s found out she had a tumor in her brain. When they operated on her they got air on her brain and it cause a lot of damage. She is still alive today but she’s not the same mentally that she had been. I am so sorry to say the Turners used this to prove how god required us to move to Arkansas as well. They really should be ashamed of themselves. I am ashamed for being such a fool and believing them. I do want to say I didn’t necessarily go along with what they said about the Emihl’s but I didn’t really know what to believe about it either, I was a bit confused in that area. Her daughter used to come over and help me with Hannah, she was a lot of fun. I’m thankful to be back in touch with her today. The leaders, the Turners, had found a small two bedroom house on Locust Street to rent. I was gonna stay with them till I found a house. Mean while, I was pregnant with Kara, it was the end of 1999 and she was due in February. Cecelia was already there in Camden and staying with the Turners. They told her I was coming and needed the bedroom but she still hadn’t found her own place by the time I arrived. At first I shared the bedroom with Cece and Monica who was staying for a little while to attend the upcoming conference. Monica’s husband was not in the church and was considered unsaved and he was not going to move to Arkansas. Later they did move to Florida. When the conference was over and Monica went home Cece was told to give me the room and she got the living room couch which she wasn’t so happy about. Cecelia did act a little spoiled at times, but I think we all did in our own way. However, Elder Turner loved pointing out her childish ways often and putting her down. She did finally find a home and moved staying with the church for several years before getting fed up and leaving.
The Turners house could be a very noisy house. We had about two services a day. When we were not in service the TV was on quite loud. The Turners liked the news and the weather channel. Elder Turner liked old westerns and Sister Turner like horror movies. I was usually caught up on the latest new releases because they usually rented them. Living with them was the same as always, I had to watch my every move or I would be jumped on verbally. Not just by Elder Turner but by his wife as well. And if she didn’t get on my case about something there was always another church member who would or at least who would point out something they didn’t agree with and tell the Turners. Food was a big deal. I was a few weeks from having a baby and mighty hungry. I tried to eat as little from the frig as possible but if anything was missing whither I took it or not I heard about it. Or if something was put away wrong or not clean, I’d hear about that too. I cleaned dishes, kept up the floor but it wasn’t usually good enough. Lets just say Elder Turner was one grumpy man and his wife was not gonna take whatever she didn’t have to from him so if someone else caught the blame, she kept her mouth shut. I don’t know how many times I was yelled at and preached about. It wasn’t just me; it’s just that living with him gave him more opportunity to get at me. He yelled at the congregation sometimes daily about stuff. We took it cause it was all in the name of a prophet of God and he was teaching us to be soldiers for Jesus so we didn’t have room for being sensitive. I remember Sister Young crying at each service sometimes for days. I remember Brother Simonsen yelling back and leaving, but he always came back. I remember my mom trying to look Elder Turner in the eye and tell him he was wrong, but she would always back down and apologize. My sister would come out for conventions and such. I remember her crying a lot. Elder Turner would sometimes apologize to her or others like her and when she or they were gone he would explain to the rest of us that he didn’t really do anything wrong. He told us he apologized cause he had to do what it took to save a soul and that they were sensitive and couldn’t take his roughness so he would apologize to get them back and be able to keep helping them. I gotta admit, it worked.
There were some things that puzzled me. One was that at times I would really struggle in my mind about stuff and Elder Turner would not pick up on it. I would cry out to God for help and no help would come. I watched Elder Turner look at new folks and regulars alike and read them perfectly. He amazed people with his gift of prophesy. I just couldn’t understand why he never professed over me in the twenty years I was with him. Well, he attempted it once; he told me I had meanness in me. I was shocked. I never considered myself mean at all. I figured it was something down deep and I would have to keep an eye out for it and get rid of it. Sure enough, when I would finally do what I was always told to do by him and others by standing up for myself, the people I stood up to would go whining to him and he would cut me to pieces verbally and bring up my meanness. Later when I left UFHOP I actually tried to be mean and just couldn’t do it. I never had it in me and I never will, it was just a means to control me. I also learned later about how people can read facial and body language so well that you would think they were a prophet or a mind reader. Sometimes the way they grew up taught it to them and they don’t even know they are doing it.
Well, I finally found a three bedroom house with a huge fenced in backyard and a gorgeous large front yard with beautiful pine trees all over. It was an experience purchasing the home without any help from my parents, the church or my husband. Though my husband’s name was on the papers he was in San Diego so I had to learn how to do it on my own. I really had never purchased anything large on my own before. I had co signed on my first car with my mom but a few weeks later she gave it to Elder Turner without my permission. Yeah, that wasn’t cool. It wasn’t because I had done anything wrong but because she felt the Lord led her to do it. Then about a week after that he gave the car to another preacher in Louisiana.
Back to the house… The Turners suggested I remain with them till the baby came so I did. Elder Turner told me the trees on my property were a possible life threatening danger cause they could fall on the house and it was extremely important that I have them cut down. My mom was so upset, she loved the trees and I have to say they were so very beautiful. But, I didn’t want to test god and what Elder Turner said came from god, so I had the trees cut down. I should have made enough money off the wood to pay for the service plus some leftover but the tree cutting people stole a load so I had just enough to pay for their services. There were many times I felt disappointed about not having the beautiful trees but I scolded myself and stopped feeling bad about it cause it was a warning from the Lord. About two years later we had an ice storm. It was considered a national disaster. Many trees were ripped up from the roots and lay on the ground and houses, power lines, etc. This was a great victory for Elder Turner, he was able to use that for years, likely still preaching about it today, how he saved us by telling us to cut down the trees. Was he right? I don’t know.
I had Kara at the local hospital in Camden. My mom had called our friend Sister Moore in San Diego to come help me. I didn’t ask her to but I did want Sister Moore to be a part of us and thought that it would work out. Elder Turner met her in San Diego at the Young’s and he and Preston decided she would be a good wife for Brother Simonsen. She agreed to come help me but when she met Brother Simonsen it was instant love and so she was busy at Ryan’s Buffet staring into his eyes while I was pushing my little baby out. I could have used her to distract my mom but otherwise I didn’t mind. Later Sister Moore became Sister Simonsen.
My mom, oh boy did she ever cause me trouble. The day I had Kara the hospital was full of student nurses and they were everywhere. Two came to observe the birth and they were very sweet and stayed out-of-the-way. But they were unusual compare to the rest of the nosey student nurses. First let me first tell you all little about my mom. She’s rather gullible. She believes what people tell her and she thinks everyone likes her and wants her to teach them stuff. Oh yeah, she likes to talk, a lot. She was very into natural health and herbs at the time so she thought it would be a good idea to tell every student nurse that came into my room about herbs and such. The folks in the south know how to act friendly and polite to their elders but that doesn’t mean they are thinkin it. When she would leave they would gang up on me and rail on me for whatever she said whither it was something I agreed with or not. They would actually be mad at me and wouldn’t let me explain a thing. Then to make matters worse I’m the type that wants to know about the shots they want to give my new baby and what they are for and which ones can wait till later. Oh my, they were furious with this. They told Dr. Deadman, the well baby check up doctor, about how horrible I was so he came to me with preconceived ideas. When I tried to talk to him he ignored me and when he was done checking Kara he told me he had a social worker coming to talk to me.
In the mean time the student nurses continued to come into my room constantly and rail on me and lecture me. Even when I was supposed to sleep they would come in to get on my case. I just had a baby and was so wore out and they were making it so much worse. Finally the social worker came. She sat down next to me and started up a conversation. We had a blast talking about this and that like old friends. She told me when she first saw me I reminded her of her best friend in high school. Then she asked me about what all the trouble was about so I told her. She told me not to worry about it and that she would take care of everything. When she left everything became so quiet. No one came to lecture me anymore, no one came at all. I don’t think they even came for the regular BP readings and such. After a while I got so lonely. I was also suffering from a slight postpartum and I just wanted to see my other daughter, Hannah. No one would bring her to the hospital to see me. Elder Turner would pop his head in and ask me how I was and then leave. My mom had caused me such stress I didn’t want her company. Preston was out to sea. A nurse had snapped a pic for him and sent it but he never got it. He got mad at me latter for not sending it. Yeah, can’t win. Finally my dad came by with the most wonderful tasting Wendy’s food ever. In other word I was starving, hospital food doesn’t always do the trick and if you are not in the room when it come then you have to wait till the next meal. My dad’s company was the best, I was so glad he came.
I remember coming home; Hannah looked so different, almost like a different kid. Sister Turner had been working on getting her potty trained while I was gone and she was pretty much there. Sister Turners potty training technique is to have the kid sit on the little toilet for as long as it takes to go even if it is all day. Anyway, Hannah quickly warmed me back up and was the same bouncy haired little twerp as always. She had curls all over her head, not one hair wasn’t curly and they bounced everywhere she went.
About Hannah, she could sing like no bodies business at the age of two. She had a range that went through the roof and could go through the floor. She had the beat and rhythm and could sing on key every time. She would often sing The Lords Prayer in front of large congregations and hit every note perfectly. Along with her amazing voice and range came her screaming, her ear-piercing screaming. I didn’t know anything about Autism at that time and I surely didn’t know about Aspergers. So I had no explanation for why she went from a sweet little baby to a temper tantrum throwing tough very difficult screaming toddler. Sure, toddlers have a reputation for being challenging, and our church had its share of toddlers already which is why Hannah’s extreme behavior was credited to demons. Elder turner and the church prayed over her tried to cast the demon out and everything. She didn’t change.
Discipline was another matter. I was raised getting my butt whooped by my mom who didn’t play around so that was what I was familiar with. Elder Turners mom beat him and so did Sister Turners mom. Preston was the same. We all knew the scripture “spare the rod, spoil the child and it was preached often. Sister Turner was the worst of the bunch, she didn’t just whoop Hannah, she’d whoop anybody’s baby or child and she should have been turned in for child abuse. I wish I had been in my right mind cause I sure would turn her in now. I can’t say I was right in my discipline but I had a cutoff point, it just made sense. Sister Turner would even tell folks that she liked whooping children. I remember watching her whoop a twelve-year-old boys butt, (not one of mine) and she was whaling away nonstop for a long time. It was all condoned by elder Turner. There were things Sister Turner would do that Elder Turner would either stop her on or talk about her when she was gone. Things that were cruel and mean that he knew she shouldn’t have. She knew how to verbally cut someone down and never feel bad about it.
Sometime Elder Turner would use that “skill” to get someone. He would send her to emotionally “kill” them then he would come as the nice guy and “resurrect” them. It always worked to, to the best of my knowledge. But she was often on the alert for the next prey. For me it was even the little things. I had this bed that was high off the ground so I could stand up and then bend over and be laying my upper body on the bed. I used to do that for a quick breather break then go about my business. After all I had my own kids, everyone else’s kids, another family or two plus the Turners to take care of, cooking, cleaning and such, yeah, I got tired sometimes. When Sister Turner would see me stand lying on the bed she would go tell Elder Turner then they would decide something was wrong with my health and I should be seen by a doctor. The problem with being seen and having tests done was that I had military insurance remote so I had co-pay which can really add up. I would of course be seen and turn out just fine with a big bill to pay. I found out years later that it was often said that I would die and Brother Simonsen would die and Preston and Sister Simonsen could get married or something like that. I always felt strange about the Turners telling me to see a doctor but I didn’t know any of that was going on.
I wasn’t the only one that had that going on behind my back. When the church was still rather new there was prophesy that Monica’s husband would pass and Brother Tanson’s wife would pass and Monica and Brother Tanson would end up together. But them Sister Tanson got “saved” and became a part of the church so everyone acted like they forgot about it.
After Kara was born Elder Turner bawled out the church for not moving me into my house though he was the one who was dictating my move. They all moved me in including the stuff from storage very quickly. It was so nice to be on my own with just my babies finally. But that feeling faded pretty fast cause the Turners were in my business constantly. Church was often at my home or at least everyone would come by after church for a potluck. I loved hosting the pot-lucks but when all the new folks that Elder Turner found were moved into my house and the parents who needed babysitters were told I’d do it. Life got more stressful. Of course with having new folks in the house I also got to have the Turners there most of the time with them which meant whatever I did I was going to be nitpicked and criticized.
I cooked big giant pots of food. I was considered the churches cook. Everyone would have seconds and thirds till they were scraping the bottom of the pot. Preston used to stand in the kitchen and take a taste of it and tell me it needed this or that. He’d tell me when everyone was gone that he couldn’t figure out why people said I was such a good cook, my food was ok but not great. Thankfully he was hardly ever home so I could enjoy cooking without hearing his criticism.
Preston would come home when he could and stay for a week or two. The first few days were great but then it would become a new stress and I would just wait for him to leave again. He had his own way of putting me down. For one thing he is a genius on the computer. He can build them from scratch and he can program and such. He didn’t go to school to do this and he didn’t program in the Navy either. He had learned from his big brother and took it from there. He swore by and still does swear by Lynux and Kubuntu and Gimp and programs like that. He was raised believing he wasn’t very smart so my not understanding the advanced computer programs meant I must really be stupid. Sister Simonsen and Sister Turner would try to make me feel better because they didn’t understand all of it either and they had excellent computer skills.
When we were still newlyweds I used to tell him he was very smart and he would get mad at me. He knew he wasn’t and didn’t want to hear my lies trying to make him feel better. But he didn’t know yet that I’m not a liar even on the little things that a lot of folks lie about. Eventually he started realizing he was actually smart and was just misunderstood as a kid. Preston was also made fun of as a child. He got tired of it and decided he didn’t need friends and that he would be fine being a loner. He also looked at everything in life through his logic. If it wasn’t logical to him there was no room for it in his world and not need to discuss it either. Many years later while talking to a psychologist and to my daughter’s councilor they both told me it sounded like he has Aspergers. They didn’t know about each other, btw. I started studying Aspergers and not only did Preston fit the bill but so did Hannah and Levi. However, as is common in adults with Aspergers, he thought the whole thing ridicules. I now understand why he seemed so cruel at times. People in the Autistic spectrum, like those with Aspergers, are often painfully honest. They lack social skills and if not taught early on often do not understand why their comments are taken as insults. So, when I would dress in a sexy negligee and he would look at me and comment that he thought fat woman who try to dress sexy were a turn off, it wasn’t an insult to him, he was just stating a fact.
I remember something Elder Turner loved to pick on me about. When I say pick on I don’t mean it in the loving friends and family way. I mean he would tell me or whoever he was picking on about it and then use it in sermons for years. I am not at all exaggerating about the word years, I mean that literally. I crave sugar from time to time. Not all the time, just now and then. It’s likely when I’m PMSing, nothing unusual. I will crave sugary things for a while then I will stop and not want anything surgery for a while as well. Whither I was in such a mood or not if Elder Turner saw me eating anything sweet he would go on about how I was addicted like a drug addict to sugar. Sometimes I would be “caught” eating a sweet thing along with everyone else at a pot-luck. It didn’t matter really; he would just seize the opportunity. I now believe it was for the same reason he came up with the meanness thing, because he couldn’t read me and he couldn’t totally ignore me so he had to make stuff up.
Elder Turner was not a stupid man, he knew how to manipulate quite well. He knew how to chew people out then to say the nicest things about them making them feel like one of God’s special chosen people. One minute he would tell Brother Young, Brother Tanson and my dad that they needed to get right with God and that they weren’t ready to preach then the next minute he would call them a minister or teacher or preacher and let them do one or more of the services. He would tell us all how Sister Young and Brother Tanson were selfish and insisted on doing their own thing and all kinds of bad stuff then he would hand a service over to one of them and introduce whichever it was like they were the most gifted teacher that God ever had. My sister was always treated like royalty when she came. He would sit and argue with her and stuff and she’d cry real hard but she did that anyway. He always let her come out in a positive way feeling better, unlike most of the rest of the small congregation.
My sister has always been what I call “the movie star” in my family. She’s the pretty one, the talented one, the smart one. No, I’m not jealous, just tellin it like it is. My dad used to compare me to her and let me know that I just couldn’t do what she did and I would never have the opportunity to be successful like she would. I believe he did that because I reminded him of himself and though he masked it pretty well he had a very low self-esteem and saw himself as a failure. Thus, giving me low expectations of myself would mean less disappointment in his eyes. I have to add, my sister did not treat me like this at all, and she was actually unaware that I was being compared to her. She just treated me like she was my mom. Lol It wasn’t just my family that gave Kari the “movie star” treatment, especially after she married into a better class. She was the one people wanted to be associated with. Sometime it did bother me. Like the time when Sister Young announced that the Lord had shown her to pick Kari as her new baby’s godmother. I had been bf’s with that family for quite a while. I took Sister Young’s older two with me to do fun stuff and get them out of the house and I was the one who brought the older three to see their new baby brother and I was the one who spent a lot of time with him and his siblings. Kari lived about an hour away and in San Diego time that meant two or three hours away and would only visit once a week at the official church time and sometimes on Wednesdays nights. Yeah, that one hurt deep. But then I saw Kari bring him neat new toys and stuff and I realized I could never do that. I didn’t have that kind of money and apparently new stuff was more desired than time. Writing this now I remember the pain of rejection though I fell it is better she chose Kari because that is the type of person she wanted. It wasn’t just the Young’s, it was others and in time it was even the Turner’s as well.
I love my sister dearly and I do not hold all that against her. I do hold against her that she has forgotten that I was the practical one in the family, that I was the one who thought things though before jumping into something. She’s forgotten that and has chosen to believe what the Turner’s say about me. I don’t know everything they say about me and I won’t make stuff up but sometimes I get a glimpse through the things Kari says. Like one time she asked me something and I wanted to know why she would ask such a thing. She told me it was because she knew I was wild now. Maybe she came up with that but I doubt it, I know the turners and I know how they deal. It sounds to me like they put that and a lot of other lies in her head. I love talking to her, we usually laugh and tell about the funny stuff our kids are doing. We talk about struggles in life and such. Though we avoid certain subjects I can still hear the strain and caution in her voice that keep her from being close to me like we had always been. We did bring us a taboo subject once and when I tried to explain myself to her she let me know she already knew everything about everything and there was nothing new I could tell her. So that discussion didn’t last long and certainly didn’t go anywhere. About a year ago I tried to tell her how the Turners treated me but because they treat her in a nicer manner she didn’t believe me. That is something I hold against her, not in an unforgiving way but in a waiting kind of way, waiting for her to remember who I am.
I have more to write about Arkansas but this is so long already so I will continue later.
Read Full Post »