CHAPTER 13

1947-1950 FAMILY AND MINISTRY IN NORFOLK

In late 1946 I departed San Juan on the USS SAN CARLOS for Philadelphia. Morena and Jonathan flew to Miami and then to Little Rock to visit her parents and relatives. We brought back from Puerto Rico one thing we did not take with us originally. Morena was carrying a tiny embryo, which was to become James (Angel), science teacher, playwright , author and, eclipse watcher.

Our car arrived from Puerto Rico and I drove to Norfolk. Before we left Washington we had upgraded to a 1940 black Chevrolet. No passenger cars were manufactured for model years 1943-1945. So good used cars were scarce. (All of the carmakers were making only military vehicles during the war). Morena and the children and I met in Norfolk. The NESPELEN went to sea just after I went aboard. We had temporarily rented a cottage on the beach.

After returning from the cruise, we bought a small three-bedroom home in Oakdale Farms near the biggest shopping center in Norfolk, Ward's Corner. We had a carport and 15 tall pine trees in our back yard. We paid $4200.00 for it. Our address was 422 McDonald Crest. It was to be home until 1950.

On September 2, 1947 Jim was born at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia. To get across the bay from Norfolk to Portsmouth required a 15-minute ride on a combined passenger and car ferry. When it was evident Morena's labor pains were steady, I tried to get her in the car. She saw some clothes on the line and insisted on taking them in before she was ready to go. I imagined myself delivering Jimmy in the back yard or while waiting for the ferry if traffic was backed up so would have to wait for a second or third ferry boat. But we got the first ferry and Morena was taken to the hospital.

I returned home and waited an hour before phoning the hospital since Morena's previous deliveries came after long labor. To my surprise the nurse informed me that the baby had already been born.

Morena's parents came to be with us for the next few weeks.

In spite of the many days I spent at sea we had a very fruitful ministry. The Navigators representatives, Jake and Nadine Boss were closing down their home and moving out of the city.

The men in their home had furnished much of the labor and money to build the original Tabernacle Church at 22nd and Granny and men in the Navigator ministry made up a good part of the original congregation. Along with them and some other choice young men we started a class in Scripture Memory and Personal Evangelism.

Later we called ourselves the TIDE WATER CHRISTIAN LAYMEN'S ASSOCIATION.

Among the projects we completed was a Service Men’s Center for evangelism and disciple making in the bar district of downtown Norfolk. The Norfolk Newspapers backed the project and gave us a lot of free publicity.

The team of men raised up became giants in the faith. When we visit them we find they are still diligent, faithful, and fruitful.

Morena started a movement with women in the Tabernacle Church, which was turned over to Shirley Rice when we left Norfolk. It grew into a citywide Bible Study.

On January 21, 1950 Joe joined the family.

Although we hated to leave our friends in Norfolk, we were glad for the stability of shore duty in New York

To find a place to live five-year-old Jonathan and I drove to New York. I had told him about the tall buildings we would see, As we drove through Manhattan he voiced his amazement by saying, “You didn’t say they were that tall.”

We bought a two Story Cape Cod home on Long Island near Hicksville and later finished two more rooms. The home on Southberry Lane for which we paid $18,000 is probably worth a quarter of a million dollars today.

As a going away present the Tabernacle Church gave us a seven-volume set of Systematic Theology books we consult almost daily.

As an example of the ministry aboard ship, see appendix for article called Generational Legacy published in Navigators publication, One to One.

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James W. Downing
2650 Stoneridge Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80919
Ph/fax 719 598 1461
E mail jimmorena@aol.com

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