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"And Puppy"

CHAPTER 1 - Hurricane Warning

"Cameron, No school tomorrow, the radio says there is bad weather coming," my Mother announced the news. "Hurray! No school!" I thought to myself. Being seven years old and in the Government School, I much preferred playing in the river with my dog or swimming in the sea to school work!

"The Prime Minister says no work either it is serious" my Mother continued. She said everyone was told to stay home and tidy up their yards so nothing would fly about in the wind, then she sent me to put the garbage in the skip.

The adults were talking about some ‘Cat Called Gary’ one and two which tells you how bad a storm is going to be. But this one was a ‘Cat Called Gary’ 5. Some said the storm would miss us and others said that we needed to pray hard. Aunty Lisa said she heard that people on another island had to stay safe in a storm last week by sitting in a bathtub. We did not have a bath tub just a shower outside!

I wondered where my Dad was. He did not live with us or even in our village. He worked for Forestry so he was often on the trails or looking after the tourist sites. I did see him though, as he would bring groceries for my Mum. He would sometimes talk to me on her phone. Even thought dad is not here I know I am important to my mum and dad. Mum is always telling me “I am special

I noticed the sky was getting darker even though it was only five o'clock. One of the men from the Village Council came by and said that we should have cut the tree outside but it was too late. He asked if we had groceries and reminded us to charge our phones and fill buckets as the light and water would probably be cut off in the storm. He showed me a picture on his phone of a map with a big red and yellow blob with a white dot in the middle. He said that was "the eye of the storm" It looked like a dragon’s eye, it made me a bit frightened.

CHAPTER 2 - The Storm

We will never forget that night, It was about 7pm when the electricity went off and we turned on Joey’s flashlight. The wind was howling outside and Granny kept talking about a hurricane she had been in as a child. Joey got a message on his phone from a friend in America to say the storm was Category 5 and coming right for us and it was the strongest ever!!!! Water started coming under the door and something hit the window and broke it. Joey taped a cushion over it. Mummy and Aunty Lisa were trying to mop up water with old towels. I was holding the puppy and hoping no one noticed she was inside.

Suddenly there was a huge crash and the door broke and the Wind came inside and so did a lot of dirty water and we realized that the river next to the house was overflowing. We all backed into the bedroom where Granny was on the bed. Joey put my mattress over her. The noise was terrifying with the crashing of falling trees and buildings and thunder rolling. We could hear the neighbors screaming. We slammed the bedroom door and put a chair under the handle. Then we all hid in the closet, even Puppy. We were squashed together in the closet except for Granny who was still under the mattress..... the water was coming in under the door........then suddenly it was quiet.

Joey said this was the "Eye" that the Village Council man had talked about. We came out of the closet and could see the sky where the ceiling should have been. Joey said "Come on, we will have to go to the Shelter.” He pushed open the front door and there was a lot of water. The river was where the road should have been. He told me "Go Go Go!" He and Mummy went back in the bedroom for Granny. Aunty Lisa was crying and saying she did not want to leave the house. I found my coat and put it on pulling the hood up tight.

I held on to Puppy and stepped into the water. We had to get to the Primary school. The wind was quiet and the air strangely still.

Even though I walked on the side of the road the water was up to my knees. Aunty Lisa was holding Joey's phone shining a light at me. Mummy and Joey were following, carrying Granny at least I thought they were.....

Then the wind got angry again and the water was up to my waist. I held the puppy inside my coat. The light went out and something hit my legs under the water. I fell over and felt myself being sucked away by the water...... my head banged into something. Puppy put her foot in my mouth, it was all muddy, thats all I remember!

CHAPTER 3 - The Morning After

I woke up under a car, kind of jammed against the tyres. I was wet and had mud in my mouth and my head was hurting but thank God I was alive. I could not really work out where I was. I could see the sea and, where the ravine usually was, there was a big river, with great big stones. And mud - mud, mud, mud everywhere. You could not see the road because of the mud. I had a big lump on my head. And where was my puppy? I called him and looked and looked. People were standing in the street just looking. Cars were smashed and crushed. Electricity poles were down and wires everywhere. I could not understand how I had got to the Bay. Our house was much further up the ravine. I thought I saw my puppy down by the sea and I went to look, but it was a bigger dog.

Whilst I was there on the stony beach, a policeman in army uniform called to me. I asked him if he had seen my puppy. The Policeman took me to the Shelter and I expected to see my mother, Aunty Lisa, Joey and Granny. He gave me to the nurse instead. She touched my head and said I had to go to the Hospital in Town. I thought maybe my mother was hurt and so I was going to see her. People were just sitting and staring. One lady was bawling a lot. I heard someone say she had lost her baby that seemed careless. I thought someone should help her look for it. The Policeman said we would have to go to the hospital by boat. Someone gave me a packet of crackers and a bottle of water.

On the way back to the bay we went past a crushed car and I heard a whimper. I saw a tail. I told the Policeman "stop, hold on a bitl" and looked under the car and there was Puppy wet and muddy but there......

I picked her up and hugged her tight. The Policeman said Puppy could come too, at last something good had happened. The Policeman told me I was a champion and not to focus on what I had been through I was to focus on where I was going in life – where ever that was – the Hospital right now!

CHAPTER 4 - The Hospital

We went on the boat to the Fisheries and The Policeman took me to Police Headquarters. Someone gave me a very big police cheese sandwich and I shared it with Puppy. He liked it a lot. A young police woman gave me a string to tie round Puppy's neck so I did not have to carry her all the time. Then the policeman took me to the Hospital. It was quite a long walk up a steep hill and there was lots of mud and a funny smell. The river was very full. I saw a helicopter coming over my head with a flag underneath. The Policeman said it was a British Union Jack flag and that it was stuck under the helicopter was so people would know which countries were helping. There was galvanise everywhere from the roofs and cars were blocking the road sitting where the river had put them. Some people seemed to be carrying a lot of shopping which was odd as the shops were mostly broken.

When we got to the hospital there was a fat nurse who was vexed and said that Puppy could not come inside Casualty! I was tired and sad. I wanted to see my Mummy and my Aunty and my Granny and Joey! I said I did not want to stay there. The Policeman said it was OK and that he would hold puppy for me whilst I went in with the Nurse. I thought I was going to see my family, I looked in the room but there was just a little girl crying, an old man who was very still and a very pregnant lady moaning. There was a young boy like me with blood running down his leg into the water on the floor making a horrible mess. The nurse took my temperature, and put a tight thing round my arm and then put a clothes pin thing on my finger. She said I had to see a doctor.

The doctor looked very tired. She said she had been there for 24 hours, all the way through the storm, but no one had come to relieve her. She said that I had "con cushion" or at least that is what it sounded like. She said I should go home and rest. I told her our home was gone and I did not know where my family members were. She called the policeman in and Puppy peed on the floor. You can imagine the nurse was not happy!

Whilst the nurse was shouting and getting a lady to come with a mop the police whispered in the Doctors ear. Then the Doctor told me to go and sit outside on the chairs with Puppy.

After a long time when the Policeman came back with a bottle of Sprite for me and a bread and a tin of Vienna Sausage. He told me that I was going on a big adventure. He also told me that they were looking for my Mum and Joey and Aunty Lisa and that very sadly they had found my Granny and she was not alive any more. He told me that I had to go to a nice Big House and wait to see what would happen. I was worried in case the people at the Big House would not like dogs. I began to cry I thought I might lose Puppy and I would be so lonely. I did not really understand what he said about Granny, how could she not be alive any more.

The Policeman told me that he would tell them at the Big House that Puppy had to come as well.

CHAPTER 5 – Life in the Big House

I was waiting at the hospital and suddenly, things happened in a rush. Some strange soldiers came and the Policeman told me to go with them. I was pleased when I heard him tell them "the Puppy goes with Him – it’s all he has left". We went to the savannah in front of the hospital and there was a helicopter already there. The blades of the rotor were spinning and it was very loud. The dust and leaves were blowing at me like the hurricane wind all over again. The policeman did me high five and gave me to a big soldier who made me do up my coat and put a helmet on me. He put ear plugs in my ears and a sort of life jacket on me.
Two soldiers pushed me up some big steps into the helicopter. I looked back and waved to the Policeman. Then they strapped me into a seat and they told me to hold Puppy tight. A lady soldier told me this was a Wild Cat Helicopter. She was funny and blocked Puppy's ears when she said “Wild cat” as she said dogs like to chase cats! She had a red cross on her shoulder and she said she was a nurse as well as a soldier. She said they were just giving me a ride to the Children's Home as the bridge on the way was gone and there was lots of rubbish blocking the road. I asked if my Mum would be there but it was too noisy I could not understand her answer.

When the helicopter landed, they undid all the straps and took off the lifejacket and I got out still clutching Puppy. It was further than I thought and I fell down. I felt stupid as there were loads of children watching from the steps of the big house. They seemed disappointed that it was just me and Puppy, until behind me the soldiers brought out bottles of water and boxes of biscuits. "Come on Boy" said a Lady in an orange T shirt, “come away from that helicopter.” She took me into the kitchen with the puppy and I heard the helicopter flying away. I never got to say goodbye to the nice Nurse Soldier Lady.

The Home was huge. There were lots of bedrooms for boys downstairs and upstairs there were lots more for girls.

The roof had come off a bit so the girls were all in just two of the rooms, and there were piles of wet clothes everywhere. There was a very big dining room and kitchen. I was in a room with three other boys and I had my own bed. The home had a generator that was noisy but it was nice to have light. There was no TV or Internet as the Storm had messed up everything. To save gas they just put the generator on from 6.00 -8.00pm then we went to bed and used flash lights.

The Lady in the orange T Shirt was called Miss Gloria, she said Puppy had to live in the dog house under the building but that I could see her when I wanted. She gave me to a man called Mr. Johnson also in an orange T Shirt and he showed me where Puppy would stay. He even had dog food for her. He said their dog had got lost in the storm. No one knew about my Mum and Aunty and Joey. I told them the Police said Granny had died but they were looking for the others. Another younger staff member said she heard they were all washed away and said “accept her sympathy, the Lord is with you boy, all these things will make you strong” I thought that must be a mistake and at that moment I felt rather weak not at all strong. I asked for my Dad but they said they heard that they were all gone. I did not think that could be right.

CHAPTER 6 – Life in the Tent School

After about two weeks in the Big House, which turned out to be a Children’s Home, with more new people coming each day, the staff said the roads were clear and that we would have to go to school. They made us walk about a mile as the bus had been crushed by a tree falling on it. School was weird, no uniforms, no books, and, because the galvanised roof had blown off, we were in a tent. Tents are funny things. When the sun comes out they are hot, hot, hot and you have to roll up the sides. When it rains and some of the children cry because they think the storm is coming back, then you have to let the sides down again and be hot and sweaty again. Our tent had UNICEF written on it which meant that nice people from overseas sent it.

In the afternoon foreign workers came in blue T shirts they said they were our friends and they set up something called a Child Friendly Space where we played games. Their names were funny and if you did learn them then they left for good! So in the end we just called them "Miss" and "Sir"

I did not have any friends in the Home except one girl who was called Jasmine. She was 12 and was already at Secondary School so she did not come with me to the Tent School. She had lived in that Home for months before the Storm. She would sit with me under the house and pet Puppy and talk to me. I told her that I did not believe that my Mum and Aunt and Granny and Joey could all be dead. Granny was old so I could believe that she had not made it but not the others. I had dreams that Mummy was calling me, and when the wind blew and it rained I dreamed I was under the car in mud.

The other children all seemed to know each other and the three in my room were all from the same village. They called me Helicopter Boy and would make helicopter noises every time I came in. One big boy said that he hated people from my village and that he would poison my dog as he wasn't a fierce race like a Pit Bull. He loved Pit Bulls and so, after a while, that is what we called him, even the staff. "Pit" became his name. Everyone would have a job in the Home.

Pit’s was to take out the garbage to the bins. He always made me do it so that he would not hurt Puppy. He said he would tie a block round his neck and throw him in the sea. Sometimes I was very sad and lonely I would hide and cry quietly hugging Puppy my only comfort.

Another problem was Mr. Johnson. He always looked at me as if I was in the way and said I should not hug Puppy as I would get ‘Leap To Spring Osis’! And he told Jasmine to stay away from me. I began to avoid him. Then one Monday he just did not come to work any longer! Whatever... I wondered when my Dad would come for me.

CHAPTER 7 – Good and bad secrets

Jasmine told me she had a secret to tell me. We sat under the house with Puppy and she told me........she told me Mr. Johnson had left because of her. He had been trying to get her to do bad things. He told her that he would get her ready to have a boyfriend. He had been trying to touch her under her panties. He told her if she did not do what he said he would kill Puppy. She said she ran straight away and told Miss Gloria what he tried to do and the police came and took him away. She said Mr. Johnson was in the prison waiting for the court to decide on his punishment. I was so mad! How could he say he would hurt Puppy! I was pleased he had left as I felt like doing him something.

Jasmine said she knew what to do about Mr. Johnson's bad intentions towards her as it was not the first time. She said her mother's boyfriend had done something wrong to her before and she had told her Sunday School Teacher. She said that is why she was in the Home. As her mother did not believe her but the Sunday School teacher did. She said the Sunday school teacher told her to "tell the truth and truth would set her free" and that she had prayed with her, then she got brave and when the Police came with the Welfare officer she told them all about it and they were sorting it all out.

Jasmine said she knew that you should always run from people with bad intentions and tell someone. She said she knew now that some bad secrets should not be kept. She explained that “Good secrets” were like not telling about a surprise party or what was in a present. But “Bad secrets” were those where the person threatens you if you tell what they did and where they touch you. No one except your mum or the nurse should touch you where your underwear goes and then tell you not to tell anyone that is a bad secret to keep.

Jasmine said that after that experience with her mother's boyfriend she had been different. She said her Sunday School Teacher had told her that God loved her and that it was not her fault. She said she had decided to serve Christ. I did not know what she meant but I did know I was pleased Mr. Johnson was gone.

CHAPTER 8 – Giving my life to Christ

"Come and meet my Sunday School teacher Camo!" So the lady who had helped Jasmine ‘tell the truth’ had come to visit. She was pretty and she smelled nice. She had a guitar and played songs with the children. She gave us Bible story books and crayons to colour. She said that Jesus could sleep in the storm when he was on a boat. I thought that was incredible!

I could not sleep properly in a nice bed as the storm kept troubling me in my dreams and I kept crying for my mother. She told us that Jesus had a special power not to be afraid and not to hate people who hurt him. She told us that because Jesus loved us he died on the cross and wanted to help us to be friends with God and have power not to be afraid and not to hate people. She said we had to decide whether to follow Jesus or go our own way. She said the way to become a Christian was to Repent and Believe.

I thought this sounded interesting I have always wanted special powers!!! Also I was very troubled about how much I hated Pit and Mr. Johnson too!

I knew God had saved my life and I really needed to be able to sleep in the storm. I decided to give my life to Christ and to be a Christian. I am not a great reader but the Bible Books had loads of pictures and the Sunday School Teacher said that God loved everyone whether they were top or bottom of the class, good or bad, pretty or ugly, that Jesus still died for them so they could "tell the truth and the truth would set them free"

Pit somehow heard that I had put my hand up when the Sunday School Teacher prayed. He straight away said I was a Bible bashing Christian. He said Christians were selfish, only helped their own church people and taking people's money. He said he would kill Puppy then I could pray for him to be raised from the dead. I felt myself getting red I just wanted to punch Pit on the nose! That night I remember the boys in my room were especially tormenting with their helicopter noises and saying that nobody wanted to be friends with Helicopter Boy.

I pulled the sheet over my head and asked God to switch on those magic powers as right now all I could think about was all the bad things I wanted to do to those guys. I felt so alone but somehow I knew I had a best friend and His name was Jesus. It started to rain and the littlest boy started to cry but I went sound asleep even though I still had a horrible dream, which made me feel bad the next day I felt so lost and lonely all I really had to call my own was Puppy.

CHAPTER 9 – Being set free

That Sunday School Teacher came back again the next week and asked if any of us had any questions. I said "How do you turn on the magic powers?" She told us that God loved us and wanted us to be free from fear and free from hate. She told us we had to take our fears and tell them to God. She told us that God always listens to us and that one of the special powers is prayer and that this is like a private phone to God. She said this private phone is only connected to God. He must have millions of ears to hear everyone at the same time. She said that fears and nightmares are like ropes that tie us and that God can cut them if we ask him in Jesus name. We all made cell phones out of cereal packets.

Then she said that hating people was the opposite of what God wanted us to do. She told us it was hard to have love for God in your heart if your heart was filled with hate. She told us we could open the tap of our heart and say we are sorry and let the hate run out. She said this is called repentance. She showed us a water cooler and turned the tap on and let the water out into a bucket. She must have put something in it as that water was black, black, black! She said we had to let out the bad feelings of fear and hate and invite God to wash us out. Then she told us that we could be filled up with God's clean water.

I decided to give it a try. After all, what had I got to lose except horrible dreams, bad feelings and loneliness? I gave God my fears, my memories of that scary storm, the sadness and the loneliness. Then I gave God the anger and the hate. It wasn't easy but I chose to stop hating and to forgive those mean kids and even Pit.

Then I remembered Mr. Johnson and his threats to hurt Puppy and I thought of him in the State Prison and I even decided not to be angry with him any more too. I felt better after unpacking all those super powers but I was still lonely...... That night I dreamed of my Dad. He was looking for me in the mud, then he and Puppy and I were playing on a lovely green lawn, it was a good dream and I woke up feeling good inside.

CHAPTER 10 – Daddy

Miss Gloria and the other adults in orange T shirts were always asking me what I remembered about where I came from. I told them my name and my village and my Mum's name Camel Roberts but I could not remember Granny's real name or Aunty Lisa’s or Joey’s surname. I told them my Dad was Ronnie Joseph. That is why I am Cameron. Cam - Ron.

They told me that the Police said that they did not find my Mum and them and that the house went in the sea. I kept hoping it wasn't true. They said they would try to find my Dad.

Then one day Miss Gloria came into school and said I had to come now, now, now! I was worried that maybe something had happened to Puppy or that he had escaped and chewed up someone's shoes. It would not be the first time. She said no, I had a visitor. I went into the office and there was a very dirty tired looking man with a beard. It was Dad.....He held his arms out and we just hugged and hugged. He said he was sorry, that he had only just found out where I was as he had been told I was lost with my Mum and Lisa and Joey. He had walked for days to get from the other side of the island to get to our village. He said that people said that the whole family was lost. Then he met that Policeman from the first day and he told him I was alive and in the Home. As I listened, I realised that it was true my Mum was actually gone in the storm, and Aunty Lisa and Joey, I cried and cried and cried and then Miss Gloria suggested I take my Dad to meet Puppy.

When we sat under the house my Dad gave me a special present, all wrapped up, a Teddy Bear toy, soft and squidgy, little did I know how precious ‘Teddy’ would become to me.

Dad told me that he had been so sad when he thought that I was dead and that seeing me today was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He told me that he was so sorry that he had not come before. He asked me to forgive him for not being there. Dad said our lives may have taken some strange twists and turns but the One who holds our tomorrows is still in control. It kind of reminded me of the story of Joseph in the Bible. Dad said that he had asked God to help him find me and now that he had, we would serve God together for the rest of our lives. "And Puppy”

CHAPTER 11 – Peace like a river

Dad and I along with Puppy moved back into the country side, it was where we were from, it’s where ‘we belong’ Dad told me.

Sometimes we would all go down to the river to play. Those times I felt most at peace, Puppy would splash around at the edge and try to pick up rocks from the river bed, when she did bubbles would come out of her nose! It looked so funny I would laugh at her.

Dad taught me how to swim in the river, I loved those times with Dad, he made me feel special and it almost made up for not having mum around.

I continued to go to Sunday School and I learnt more about peace. This was a whole new experience for me. I learnt that Jesus said “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid."

But sometimes at the end of the day, when it was time to turn out the lantern, we still did not have electricity, and go to bed, I wanted to know that I was not alone in the darkness. That is where my Teddy Bear came to the rescue.

Dad gave me Teddy the day we were united at the Big House and at night Teddy was never very far away. Somehow, the darkness was not so frightening with "Teddy" in the bed with me, and Puppy sleeping at the foot of the bed in his special bed that Dad had built for her.

Our Sunday School teacher told us something funny, she said "Know Jesus, Know Peace - No Jesus, No Peace."

That made me laugh out loud and it really said it all! If we want to know peace, we can only know that peace when we know Jesus, the Prince of Peace. If we don't know Jesus, we can have no peace.

That is how I was at the Big House before Jesus became my best friend and gave me that super power to forgive Pit and even that nasty man that threatened to kill Puppy and did nasty things to my friend Jasmine. I had no peace only fear and anger and loneliness but those days are now way behind me. In another life it seems.

I have moved on, now I have my Daddy and my Heavenly Daddy and Puppy, what more could a boy ask for!


CHAPTER 12 – He watches over us

As time went by the crops started to grow again, the bananas were bearing and there was more to eat. The trees were green again with leaves and some of the fruit trees that we thought were dead after the storm started to spring. There was a new sense of hope. Dad said that I was growing up, I was very pleased, I pushed out my chest out and stuck my chin up and went on tip toe to put on a few inches. I was now his big boy.

One day I noticed that Puppy was growing up as well in fact she was getting very fat!

I didn’t understand why until she started to pull leaves together and she found some rags in the shed and it seemed she was making a bed for herself under the house. Then she lay down and I sat down and watched as she gave birth to two beautiful little puppies. They were perfect except their eyes were shut, but Dad explained they were born that way and very soon he was right they opened their eyes and saw me for the first time.

What Fun Fab days we had Puppy and I playing with her new puppies, I just knew I could never be happier than I was those days. Puppy always watched over her puppies, she would pick them up and bring back into the shelter if they wondered off and that is when I began to think that my Heavenly Daddy knows everything that I go through.

There is nothing that happens to me that He doesn't know about. Just like Puppy He is watching over me. When I felt lonely and totally abandoned at the Big House, when everything seems hopeless, I began to realize that even then God knows and God cares.

And if I wonder off track a bit, He comes after me just like Puppy rounds up her puppies so my Heavenly Daddy comes after me, gives me a big hug and brings me back into the pack.

Then it all came flooding back, the smell of 'Coconut Bread' baking as Granny pottered around the kitchen in our old house that the Storm destroyed, and I can hear her now, singing at the top of her old crackly voice a song the Missionaries had taught her...

“Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart feel lonely, and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches over me. His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free! His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He watches me.”

And I wept with joy, I knew my hurting heart was healed and for the first time since that dreadful night I sang that ol’ ol’ song “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free! His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He watches me.”

Not just sparrows, He watches over Dad and I ‘and Puppy and her puppies’!





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