Chapter Four

"Good morning, Europe. Guten Morgen, Europa! You're listening to Voice of America as we begin another broadcast day from our studios on Mountaineer Lane in Grantville, New United States. Today is September tenth, Gregorian; August thirty-first Julian and at the tone it will be five thirty Grantville Standard Time."

September 1632, Grantville, New United States

It wasn't on a fancy cul-de-sac. Rather, the house was at the dead end of a one-lane paved street where the hills had become so steep that the road builders gave up. Before the Ring of Fire, the small, cedar-shanked, one and a half story house with a basement opening up to the valley below had been distinguished only by being where strangers occasionally had to pull into the driveway to turn around or just start backing up. Now, on that red siding below the front porch, someone had painted around the two diamond shaped basement windows in red, white, and blue, star spangled Gothic lettering, "VOA-650" with "Voice of America" spelled out in foot-high black block lettering underneath.

A hundred-foot-tall steel tower stood high on the hilltop behind the back yard, looking very much like the cellular telephone relay tower it had begun life as. In other relatively level parts of the yard, men and women were busy building new buildings to house new projects for this bustling new world.

Gayle Mason turned toward John Grover. "Who would have believed it the day I went in to talk to Coleman Walker? What was it? Less than a year and a half ago. Not quite a month after the Ring of Fire happened."

Gayle laughed. "And Coleman named it Voice of America, even though he didn't want to fund it at first. Come on in and have a cup of something hot."

What had been—until recently—a little three bedroom, two bath, with a combination living-dining room and a galley style kitchen home, was now the headquarters of the most state of the art electronics corporation on the planet.

"It's all so scary, John," Gayle said, allowing herself to show her uncertainties. "All I ever wanted was to fiddle with my ham rig and do my electrical thing in the mines until my pension vested. Maybe someday, find a guy who isn't afraid of letting me be who I am."

She pulled her feet up under her and wrapped her arms around her midriff. "Now, we've signed the papers to make me Chairperson of General Electronics, Incorporated. I just signed a deal with the government for unlimited funding and who knows how many guaranteed profit contracts for redeveloping an entire electronics industry, and Mike wants me to take personal charge of equipping an entire army and navy with communications gear as soon as I can finish turning everything over to you, Mr. Chief Executive Officer and Station Manager."

She allowed her shoulders to slump and frowned, "It's just too much."

John Grover smiled and wondered again at the way some strong women often seemed to want to hug their daddies for comfort when things were going good. "Yeah. It is more than a bit overwhelming, isn't it?

"I know exactly how you feel. When they made me vice president of the construction company back up-time in Fairmont, I remember thinking, 'Wow, and me a high school drop out.'

"But you've made some really good decisions so far and we are so far ahead of where we have any right to be simply because of you. So take your time, get used to it, and then forget about all the titles. It's just you and me and Deanna Dee, just like always."

Smiling, Gayle allowed herself to come back to the present. "So how long do you think it'll take to get the tube research project going?"

"Well, when the new building is finished, we can finally move our jewelers and glassblowers into the same facility. We should be able to start training new supporting staff by the first of the year. It's going to be an example of having to build the tools to build the tools to build the tools. The rest of it . . . " John reached over to the desk and picked up a pile of freshly signed government contracts and read a few bits from them. "The first thing we've go to do is build radio receivers to go along with all those crystal set instruction flyers you've been spreading around. That's the only way our new neighbors can start getting the hang of seventeenth-century radio! For sure we won't die of boredom!

****

It was a warm late September morning as the Council of Elders of the Grantville Pentecostal Church gathered together at the spot on the banks of the new Ring-of-Fire-created lake where they had become accustomed to performing their baptisms. Brother Chalker's message had been somewhat nebulous as to what the event was that they were meeting about.

Pete Enriquez, as chair of the council, arrived first and set up the chairs. Elder and choir director Jennifer Copenhaver and her husband Roy brought drinks and some fresh homemade cookies, and Elder Paul Nemeth and Ingrid arrived in their newly-converted natural-gas-powered company pickup truck just on time. Ingrid had driven and had to help her husband out.

"We passed Brothers Chalker and Fischer along the way." Paul smiled faintly as he added, "Esau was a bit ornery this morning and fought taking the bit, so they're running a little late."

Chalker had named his lead two horses Esau and Jacob, the first twins mentioned in the Bible. The horses weren't technically twins, but they were a matched set, so Chalker found that appropriate.

"How are you feeling, Paul?" Jennifer inquired.

"Blessed, Sister Jennifer, blessed." Paul sat down as Ingrid continued to fuss over him and gather his blanket over his bony shoulders. "We may not have chemotherapy in this world, but we do have great opium to kill the pain."

A few minutes later Chalker and Fischer pulled up. After Chalker tied his harness to the wagon's brake handle, Fischer and he climbed down and took their places in the circle. "Sisters, Brothers, something wonderful has happened!" Chalker beamed as he announced the news. "Brother Fischer has been given the gifts of God!"

Chalker paused, trying to catch his breath. He then asked Pete to briefly explain the miracle that Fischer had performed.

When Pete finished, the Elders broke into applause and praised God for the gifts given Fischer.

"If he's succeeded in bringing Slater Dobbs back into the way, it truly must have been a miracle," Jennifer commented with a smile.

"It turns out that, like Saul on the road to Damascus, Brother Fischer here has been under the shelter of the Holy Ghost since long before arriving in Grantville," Chalker continued. "He had been blinded to the signs he has been given. When I realized that the protection that had been given Brother Fischer was from the Spirit, he was finally able to open his eyes."

"Hallelujah to that!" Pete Enriquez blurted out. "Fischer, I've gotten to know you so well. I knew that the Holy Spirit was in you. I'm so glad you've finally embraced it."

Ingrid and Paul Nemeth nodded. Paul coughed, then contributed, "I agree. I feel like I need to tell you all about something.

"When I went to the doctor's office for the checkup that found this cancer, it wasn't just my coughing that made me go." Paul paused before continuing. He described to the others in great detail the vision that he had received.

"I now think that the flames behind Brother Fischer was the Holy Spirit that's evidently been protecting him. I feel the dream was trying to show me that he is destined to become a powerful force in the future of our church."

The others were surprised by Paul's revelation at this point. Jennifer took hold of the hands of Brother Fischer to her left and Ingrid to her right and the rest joined in to form a prayer circle.

After much prayer, Chalker took hold of his cane and stood, "Seeing you all in agreement, I'd like to make a motion that Brother Fischer be confirmed as a full-fledged minister of the Pentecostal Church. Further that we give him the Call to serve as our Chief Minister of Down-timer Outreach, a role that he's been performing so well already. Do I hear a second?"

Almost simultaneously, all three Elders called out, "Second!"

"In that case, I guess we don't need a voice vote. Brother Fischer, would you please join me." Chalker smiled. He then turned to Fischer and leaned on his cane to lower himself to his knees. There was a catch in his voice as he began the ceremony.

Fischer's eyes swelled up with tears as he knelt down next to Chalker. He folded his hands together and bowed his head over them in prayer, waiting for Chalker's next words.

The old man placed his hands on Fischer's head. Now the three Elders came over and laid their hands onto Fischer's shoulders as well.

"Dieter Fischer, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the presence of this Council of Elders of the Pentecostal Church of Grantville, I do hereby confirm and ordain you as a full-fledged minister of the Pentecostal Church, entitled to all the privileges and responsibilities of our Faith."

A breeze rustled the surrounding trees and a cloud of golden sycamore leaves in their full fall glory swirled through the air around the little gathering. Even the glassy, smooth-cut wall of the Ring of Fire seemed to shimmer.

With this blessing of the Holy Spirit coming from the mouth of their new minister and sensing the presence of something greater than themselves, Roy and Ingrid joined the circle around the two ministers as the Elders began to hum "Rock of Ages." The three Elders transferred one hand from Fischer to their respective spouses who were now part of the circle.

Tears streamed down the old preacher's face as his voice rose with all the power still available to him. "Furthermore, by the power granted me by these Elders, I hereby name you Minister of Down-timer Outreach. May God grant you vision so that the souls that you shall save will outnumber all the stars in the sky. Welcome, Reverend Fischer, to your Call!"

After several emotion-packed minutes of each member calling out individual prayers of thanks for the new preacher, Chalker continued, "In the Book of Acts, after the first Pentecostal baptism was finished, there were God-fearing Jews from all over staying around the place the apostles gathered. When they heard the commotion, they gathered around the apostles and some of them made fun of them and said, 'These men are full of new wine!'"

Chalker grinned and started to laugh, "See, because the apostles were so filled with joy, others thought they were drunk! Today, my friends, we are drunk with the blessings of the Spirit!"

Jennifer Copenhaver broke out in uncontrollable laughter, followed by the rest, including Fischer. Pete called out, "We are born twice!" To which the rest responded through their laughter, "To die once!"

Openly weeping tears of joy, they hugged each other in the realization that the gift of tongues had finally marked this ordination of the first new Pentecostal minister in this new world.

October 1632, Grantville, New United States, Confederated Principalities of Europe

"But, no one has ever found a technical reason why we can't be on the air longer hours than we are. I asked them to research it at the national library or the state library or whatever they're calling it today." Marc Kronzburg, advertising sales manager of the Voice of America, didn't like leaving any spare money in the pockets of potential advertisers, and this had become his pet peeve.

Deanna Demetria Matowski, known to her friends as Deanna Dee, interrupted. "Marc, they can't find any proof that running the transmitter six hours in the morning and another six in the afternoon with a low current in between isn't extending them either. Until we get proof that we're not harming the tubes or we get some breakthroughs on the vacuum research, we're not going to deviate one bit from Gayle's instructions."

Now it was Marc's turn to pout. "Yes, yes, I know. It's Gayle's station, they're Gayle's tubes and she drove all over West Virginia . . . "

John Grover interjected with a smile, " . . . and Maryland and Pennsylvania!"

"And Pennsylvania and Maryland to get them, I know, I know." Marc continued the argument, which he had made dozens of times since coming onboard as the General Sales Manager for VOA. "But at least give me longer hours for the Christmas shopping season. This up-timer custom of yours is rapidly catching on with all the newly prosperous down-timers in the country.

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff