NYONE WHO knows anything about horses knows there’s a right way and a wrong way to dismount. I didn’t.
It was during lambing time back in the spring of 1911, while I was punching cattle on a Montana ranch, that I was told to take a milk cow to the lambing camp many miles away. The men hitched up a team of horses, placed the cow’s calf in the wagon, and gave me a saddle horse to ride behind the wagon to make sure the cow followed.
We had been coming along just fine for a good little piece when suddenly the cow decided she wanted to go back home. In an effort to head her off I lost my hat, which I attempted to retrieve. Being my first experience with a saddle horse, it was educational. I tried to get off on the right side instead of the left.
The horse wasn’t used to people going off that side. He made a jump sideways, causing me to lose my balance. He kicked at me, but having been in a hurry when I swung down to grab my hat, I hadn’t bothered to take my foot out of the stirrup. When the horse realized that he couldn’t get rid of me, he ran as fast as he could, dragging me about a quarter of a mile.
I’m convinced that the Lord gave me the thought of turning around; for as I did, my foot came loose. Just after that the horse went down a steep bank where there were rocks and trees. If my foot hadn’t come loose from the stirrup when it did, I would have been killed! Thank God, He spared my life! How wonderful to be a child of the King!
I had decided to come to America in order to make some money fast so that I could go back home to Norway and buy my own farm. At my first job I had made $25 a month; but by the time winter set in, I was out of work. When I heard that a friend was earning much more in Montana, I moved there. Soon I was working for a rancher who had some three thousand sheep, cattle, and horses.
My first twenty-three years were spent in Norway, where I was born and raised. My childhood days were exciting and adventurous.
Dad and Mother were born-again Christians who taught me to live a clean, Christian life and to recognize sin. We children were disciplined with love in a manner which we remembered.
Around my home were many lakes and mountains. Dad made me a pair of skis out of oak, and were they ever nice! In the winter I skied a lot, ice skated, and went sledding. Dad had made me a wooden sled with steel runners. He and I were very good friends, and we had all kinds of fun.
Dad died when I was seventeen. Being the only boy with six elder sisters, I fell heir to a great deal of responsibility. That winter I made barrel staves and other materials from the timber on our farm to pay the taxes and the payments on our property improvements.
I thought a lot of my home and family, and I wanted to do everything I could to keep things going. We had six milk cows and fifteen sheep. I scythed all our hay by hand. There was a lot of work to be done. We put in long days-from daylight to dark.
My sisters were all born-again Christians; I was the only one of the children who didn’t know the Lord. Having assumed so much responsibility, I was quite independent and headstrong. Often I brought sorrow and grief to my family, who were all praying for me.
Praise God for their prayers! One evening in March, 1907, I found myself on my knees in a country schoolhouse, asking Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to take control of my life. I was nineteen years old, and I knew what I was doing. It was a mature decision.
About a year later I met the most wonderful girl I had ever met! And was she ever pretty! I was thrilled when she accepted my proposal for marriage. Together we established a Christian home, and were soon blessed with a beautiful baby boy, Chris. When he was about one year old, I decided to come to the States.
In the fall of 1914, when World War I started, I wrote to my wife and asked her to join me. I thought it would be better if we were all on one side of the ocean-and she agreed. I sent home enough money so that she could buy tickets for herself, our son, and her sister. In October they came to the United States, but they did not meet me in Livingston as we had agreed. Then I received a telegram from Billings, Montana, stating that Chris had contracted the measles.
When I arrived I found that they were all in quarantine. After a three-and-a-half-years separation-and I couldn’t even shake their hands! A nurse came toward me shouting, “Canna youus spreck Anglish ?” She was really in a predicament with these Norwegians!
Before that year was ended I had filed a claim on a 160-acre homestead. There were no fences and no buildings; but even in the middle of winter, I managed to get a small house up: It had no ceiling, but we moved in. (Later a neighbor left on a trip and asked us to take care of his place while he was gone. So we had a nice warm house for the rest of the winter.)
The next summer my wife and I both worked. We bought a milk cow, a team of horses, a saddle, a harness, and a plow. We had a little start, and our neighbors were kind enough to loan us the equipment we didn’t have.
On the homestead we had many experiences. There were many coyotes and rattlesnakes. I remember one Sunday morning, before we got up, we heard our dog barking just outside the house. Looking out I saw a coyote facing the dog.
Another incident happened one day when my wife went into the chicken house to feed the chickens. As she was leaving, she found a big rattlesnake blocking her way. Without flinching, she grabbed a stick and killed it.
We felt the Lord’s protecting hand through many dangers. He was good to us and blessed us with good friends and good health. We were happy.
In America three daughters were born into our family. Though we didn’t have much of this world’s earthly goods, we had a rich Father in heaven. We were such a happy, contented family that we were called “The Happy Viks.”
When our children were old enough to start to school, I bought a gentle horse and a small saddle, which they used for their school bus. It was over three miles to the tiny country schoolhouse. (In later years I bought a house in town so that the children could attend town school.)
We were Lutherans and belonged to the Lutheran Church. I began to question our faith and wondered if there was more for us. The Lord knew.
One evening in the late fall I was hauling wheat into town. As I walked by a hotel I heard some music, so I went in. Quite a few, including many young people, were gathered together, singing, testifying, and preaching the Word. I could really feel the Spirit of the Lord there. (Later I learned that these were Church of God people.)
When I left the meeting that night I thought, Now I have found what I have been longing for. I got my team at the livery stable and started home around eleven. It was three o’clock in the morning when I got home, and I was happy to tell my wife about the wonderful meeting.
The first time that my wife went with me to the meetings she was blessed of God. Even though she could understand very little English, she could feel the Spirit of the Lord. She testified in Norwegian, although only the Lord, my family, and I were able to understand her. She really received a blessing.
We continued to attend the services, and finally we went to our Lutheran pastor and requested that our names be taken from the church roll. Then we joined the Church of God.
One after another our children were saved and filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Soon after my wife received the Holy Ghost, she and I went into town; the children had been staying in town several days. Our eldest daughter greeted us warmly: “Mamma, I got the Baptism!” What a joy for us!
All of our children have gone to Church of God Bible schools. Our youngest daughter, Clara Yecha, received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in Bible college. So we felt that it was worth all the sacrifice that we had made to send her.
The Lord has given so many blessings. But our life has had tragedy as well. Two members of our family were killed in auto accidents. Only the Lord knows why it happened. We just leave it in His hands, because He knows best.
In November, 1966, my wife went to be with the Lord. It happened so suddenly!
We had just eaten breakfast together and had had our morning worship. She went to lie down. I was putting on my wraps when I heard her saying, “Jesus. Jesus.” I went in to see if there was something wrong. In just a few seconds her soul had left her body. Needless to say, it was a shock. I couldn’t bring myself to pray, “Lord, give her back to me.” But I simply thanked Him for taking her in a way so that she didn’t have to suffer.
I’m eighty-four years old now, and I may not be here much longer; but I am looking forward to heaven. I am thankful that I have had the privilege to serve the Lord and that I have a blessing that I know is real.