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The 12 Books of Abraham

    Chapter 12

    Going Public

    "We have to go public," announced Stan soberly, looking at us from the table and around at each face. The reaction amongst the sister-wives was mixed. Some were obviously happy, others were shocked, and some full of fear. We all knew the risks involved, especially to the children, and I know that that was what concerned Stan the most.

    "Don't worry," insisted Stan, "we shan't go and announce ourselves in the newspapers. I don't intend to parade my family in public, and say, 'Look, we're polygamists!' We still have to be circumspect and careful. What it means is that I must be prepared to talk about the subject on national TV and radio stations. I underline the word prepared, because it has to be the Lord who guides in this matter. And before I do anything in this country, where our family is most at risk, we must all do a lot of research to determine what the reaction in Sweden might be to a national campaign. We have to work on two fronts - the national, ensuring laws are enacted to protect polygamists - and the Body of Christ , making sure that it is taught properly. The latter is the most important mission to be sure since that's where the salvational issue lies. As for the national ... well, that's maybe one of the reasons why the Lord brought us to Sweden, if not the main one. We could never have gone public in Poland."

    I was mostly looking at Isabel and Kryztina who of all of us were the most afraid for their children. Isabel represented the most extreme position, wanting our polygamy to be as close to 100% secret as possible, even though that luxury was now in the past, caused in part by her own defection for three years. And now that she had a second son, she was especially vunerable. Kryztina's position lay closest to Isabel's for she had still not resolved in her own mind what she would do should the state start threatening our children, as we knew they might. Her reflex in the past, she had often admitted, might well be to run.

    The American historical experience had not been a happy one, with many families being ripped apart by Federal agents. The memory of Short Creek, although a fundamentalist Mormon settlement, was, though it occurred nearly 40 years ago, fresh in our memories. And the suffering their families went through created amongst us a bond of sympathy for them, for after all, the welfare and happiness of children transcends religious barriers.

    Like us, these Fundamentalist Mormons had withdrawn from the public eye because of persecution both in the work place and in school, and started their own community. Stan knew that even though pro-polygamy laws might one day be enacted in both our countries this would still not change the attitude of the monogamy-only camp nor guarantee a cessation of discrimination and persecution. Our only recourse, we knew, was to start our own communites and teach our own children for their psychological well-being, a task not made easy by the negative publicity generated by the more extreme fundamentalist Mormons who were clearly in the wrong as far as marrying under-age women, abusing children, and even resorting to murder were concerned. They had lent useful armour and ammunition to the monogamy-only camp and set back the cause of righteous polygamy many years. Then there were the various religious communal groups who had likewise tarnished the communal movement generally by their extreemism and abuses. The Jim Jones and David Koresh cults were still fresh in our minds too. It wouldn't matter how pure or holy our communal living or polygamy might be once the mob spirit was stirred up.

    "I shall begin by appearing on radio using a pseudonym," said Stan, "and then let the Lord take it from there. The important thing is to be willing to stand up for the cause and be counted, especially as it's clearly a salvational issue for many women. The fact that we are the first and therefore oldest and most experienced Christian polygamist family in the West will mean a lot to the movement as a whole. And the battleground has to be the United States."

    Sarah-Jane and I started to get keyed up at the thought of our ministry having an impact in the USA.

    "Why the USA and not here?" asked Hanna. "Surely Sweden is just as likely to accept polygamy as the USA, if not more?"

    Stan thought for a moment. "Yes, I know what you're getting at, Hanna. And it is true that Sweden is much more liberal than the USA in many respects. But there is no strong polygamy movement here yet. America is where it is going to first take root as a legally accepted practice in the Western world. And once it happens there, other countries like Sweden will follow suit. Remember also that Christianity, though under heavy attack in America, is much stronger there than it is here in Scandinavia where it has almost entirely disappeared. No, I think we need to keep a low profile here for the time being, and in Europe generally, though the fact that Church and State were separated here recently is a good sign."

    "What about England?" asked Sarah-Jane.

    "England is still very conservative in that area even though many good conservative values have, sadly, taken quite a beating in the last couple of decades. England still has a state church which is tied closely with the monarchy. So long as those two institutions remain as they are, polygamy is very unlikely to become legal. But there is a very large Moslem population, so that might provide a lever in the future. We shall wait and see."

    "What do you think the chances are in the rest of Europe?" asked Andreea again.

    "Not good," replied Stan. "Catholic Europe will be a major obstacle, as will the Eastern Orthodox world, though polygamy was once suggested by a Russian Duma representative, wasn't it, Kasia?"

    "Yes, I heard about that," said Kasia. "But nobody took him seriously, and as the Orthodox Church gets more influence, we probably won't hear that suggestion again for a very long time."

    "France might be an exception in Catholic Europe because of it so secularised. No, if polygamy succeeds in Europe, then it will begin in Scandinavia, and probably Sweden," insisted Stan. "Though I may be wrong, I believe Sweden may well be the first nation to make polygamy legal. And when the time comes, we may have a pivotal rôle in that event."

    Now that everyone in the family had children, the enthusiasm of the "public camp", led previously by such people as Anna and Sarah-Jane, had waned somewhat. Hanna, who though she wasn't a full member of the family yet, hadn't said anything more for a while though I could see she was carefully weighing the pro's and con's inside.

    "What you need is some Swedish wives," she suddenly said to everyone's surprise. "If you're going to wage a campaign here in Sweden, that's what you need. I don't count, even though I'm half Swedish, because I'm Finnish. Björn is the only Swedish polygamist here now but even he has no Swedish wives. Sonja is Norwegian and I'm sure she'll be important in Norway later. But you still need Swedish wives. The only two Swedish married women here are monogamists"

    Stan smiled. "What do you suggest, Hanna?" he teased. "An advertisement in a national newspaper like Aftonbladet?"

    Hanna pursed her lips. She was still not used to Stan's sense of humour yet and in that respect had gravitated alot to Isabel. Anna came to her rescue:

    "We could make you a big sandwich board with 'Polygamous Wives Wanted: Swedes Only' and walk around Stockholm."

    Suszana giggled at the mental image of Stan advertising for wives in the centre of the capital.

    "Nah," quipped Sarah-Jane, "he'd be arrested as a racist!"

    "Then he'd have to marry some immigrants," tried Anna - "maybe an African, an Arab, a Kurd, and...."

    Stan interrupted her: "Alright, that will do, ladies. I apologise for teasing you, Hanna - I suppose I deserved that."

    He did not look pleased, but Anna and Sarah-Jane were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Isabel had a look of exasperation on her face and even Suszana looked a little guilty for having joined in the banter.

    "These speculations aren't helpful," went on Stan, a little fed up with us. "If the Lord wants Swedish sister-wives for you, then He must provide them in His own way and in His own time. Let's move on to something more useful."

    The invitation to be interviewed on an American radio station was soon forthcoming after Stan had indicated that he was willing to speak publicly to a couple of polygamist friends there. He asked us to think up a pseudonym for him.

    "What nationality do you think I should be?" he asked.

    Most of us thought it should be a Swedish name.

    "It's got to be simple and memorable," Stan went on. "People are bound to find a nickname for us so I don't want to give them a name which they can easily twist in a negative way."

    "What about something typically Swedish like Lundqvist?" suggested Björn, but Stan didn't like the name too much.

    "How about Conrad for a first name?" suggested Hanna. "It sounds dignified."

    "No, no," I said, "people will take the first part and call him a 'con' or something like that."

    Isabel made her contribution: "What about something uncontroversial and well know like Peter?"

    "The name must carry authority," insisted Stan. "It must be a name that must have respectability without being pompous. It doesn't have to be Swedish-sounding given the immigrants that have come here over the centuries."

    As we couldn't think of anything we let the matter drop and went on to other things.

    The summer was upon us and I was making the most of it. The almost complete absence of spring and the short summer in Sweden came as a big disappointment to me. The autumn was long and dull, and the winter even longer. Only Sarah-Jane didn't seem to mind very much as she had come from a similar latitude in Canada. I noticed how depressed Stan would sometimes get during the long winter nights, a problem in the north of the country that led to a great deal of alcoholism amongst the population. At Björn's suggestion we installed lots of bright halogen lamps in the house to make it much brighter, and especially in the working areas like the kitchen, library, and offices.

    Once it was clear to Karl that Hanna was interested in Stan, he switched his attention back to Maria figuring that she was his best bet as no other doors had opened in the marriage stakes, but he was not to have an easy time. Maria's Christianisation was a very slow process that was frustrating for Karl who was seriously committed to to both Christ and to our Order.

    It was good to have Władysław at home for the summer. Stan and Suszana had missed his absences a lot and with the increasing work load that was placed on him, he would often miss weekend visits. Being in the community for a protracted period of time seemed to restore his spiritual balance somewhat, and having an amour here helped root him more into colony life. He was around Stan a lot in the business aspects of the community and helped Hanna update and better organise the little health centre that had started. Michaëla was now a qualified nurse and helped Hanna out as much as she could. All three of us had received a directive from Stan to work out a strategy for providing our own medical facilities and medicines for a seven year period in which we would be cut off from the world. Apart from the expenses involved in getting equipment for a largish community, there would be the problems of medicines which could not be stored for longer than a couple or years. Some drugs had very short shelf lives indeed. That the Lord would have to take care of a good deal of our health was evident. Our main concern would be taking care of injuries like broken bones and the like. The more research work we did into these things the more we realised just how dependent we would have to become on divine healing. That being the case, we understood that there would have to be a major paradigm shift in our thinking and expectations.

    Hanna had now been dedicated to Stan for four months and seemed well integrated into family life. She worked at the local health clinic at Mora by day and was at home in the evening and at weekends, though was on call at these times too occasionally.

    But she was getting impatient to be properly married. We had all noticed improvements in her but the lesbian tendencies were not fully rooted out though she seemed to have them under a tight rein. Knowing how anxious she was to have a target to work for, Stan eventually yielded and suggested a provisional betrothal day in October, making the dedication six months long. And though she was happy, she had secretly hoped to make the time much shorter.

    "I don't know what more I can do," she said frustrated to Stan and I one day. "I can't force myself to change - I'm doing all I can. I've been doing everything you asked of me, Stan. I don't mind that. But seeing what you eight have just makes me yearn for it more and more. I'm even getting careless at work because I keep thinking about you the whole time."

    Stan looked concerned though I could see his mind was being changed. Self-discipline was a key to his philosophy of marriage. The last thing he wanted was an emotional bull-in-the-china shop. But I thought that some of his fears were unfounded. I know his motive was protecting me and yet I was more enthusiastic to have her as a full sister-wife sooner than he was.

    "Darling," I said to him one day when we were alone, "you don't have to worry about Hanna and I any more. We really get on famously and she confides everything to me. We talk about her problem from time to time and whilst I know it's there, I really don't think there's any more temptation to sin on her part with her particular problem than with the rest of us in our areas of weakness. I'm all in favour of shortening the dedication. I think you'll find out more about her and whether she has the necessary self-control when she's betrothed to you."

    "I understand what you're saying, my love," replied Stan, "I and I really do appreciate the love and concern you have for Hanna. Most of what you say makes sense. But you must surely know that betrothal is not the time to find out whether someone is ready for marriage or not. By then it's too late because it's a permanent commitment that can't be broken."

    He was right. "But couldn't you just make it a longer betrothal if there were problems?" I suggested.

    "No, I don't think so. It would just make everything worse. Then she'd want a shorter betrothal to stop her from fornicating. I know it seems harsh and unfeeling, but Hanna has still got to get over one or two problems before I feel comfortable about admitting her fully into the family. Of course, if there's a dramatic change before October, we can review the position again."

    He was adamant and so I let the subject drop. I knew he was right only I felt so sorry for Hanna. I knew how I had felt and how I had wanted everything to just 'happen'. We would all have to be a little more patient.

    Hanna had hit it off with almost all the rest though she had found Sarah-Jane and Anna exasperating at times. Isabel was especially attached to her. Stan was right to wait a little longer, for Hanna was to pass through her Peniel in much the same way as I did, though it was much milder. And it all started when Stan met an Estonian woman called Elise Reifman in Tartu in August of the same year.

    Dr. Elisa Reifman was from Tartu in south-eastern Estonia, a graduate of economics from the university there, and of mixed Estonian, German, Russian and Swedish ancestry. Thirty-two years of age, she was a lecturer at the university. Of medium height, with short wavy brown hair, and a face showed her mixed ancestry, making it hard to categorise. She first learned about Stan on the internet and followed his ever expanding webpage with great interest for two years. Extreemly interested in the patriarchal lifestyle we were living, she had invited him to visit Estonia and to meet some other friends similarly interested.

    One afternoon Stan came in to the dining room very excited and a few minutes late for lunch.

    "Listen here, girls," he said excitedly, clutching a piece of paper which he had just printed out. "I received this very interesting email just now from Estonia."

    Hanna's ears pricked up. Estonia is a neighbour of Finland and speaks a language very similar to Finnish.

      Dear Mr. Królewiec

      I and my esteemed colleagues send you greetings from the University of Tartu in the Republic of Estonia.

      My name is Dr. Elisa Reifman, thirty-two years of age, divorced eight years ago, with no children. I am a lecturer in Economics at the University.

      I first started reading your very interesting Web Page, First European Christian Polygamy Page, two years ago and am very interested in your lifestyle. We have many social and economic problems here in Estonia after independence from the USSR, with high divorce rates and a surplass of women who cannot find good husbands.

      I and my friends Hilda Rätsep, Silvia Saarma, and Salme Kõrge would like to invite you to visit us in Tartu for one or two weeks to speak to us more about this subject. We are all born-again Christians but do not belong to any church or group.

      You are welcome to stay in our humble home if you visit us. It would be our pleasure to show you around Tartu and any other place in the Republic of Estonia which will interest you. You are welcome to bring members of your family with you.

      Please reply at your earliest convenience as the academic year starts in a little over a fortnight and we will all be very busy.

      I thank you for your kind attention.

      Yours faithfully,

      Elisa Reifman

    Everyone started whispering excitedly - Hanna looked stunned.

    "Wow!" exclaimed Sarah-Jane. "Four women! Aren't there any men?"

    "There's no mention of any though there may well be others whom they've discussed this subject with."

    Hanna's face looked pale and ashen. The thought of four women possible joining our family all at the same time came as a great shock to her. If Molly had been enough to send me tumbling, I could well imagine what four would have felt like to Hanna. Of course, nobody knew whether any of these women would join or family but Hanna wasn't thinking logically, as I hadn't. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning coming out of the sky, Hanna felt that she had four competitors when it had seemed that the field had all been hers alone.

    "Well, I must answer her. What do you all think?" asked Stan.

    "Do what you have always done," suggested Andreea. "Thank her for the invitation, say that you are interested, but that you will have to check your program and get back to her. That will give us time to pray about it."

    "She said time was short," added Kryztina, "so I think you should say you will get back in 24 hours."

    "Those are good ideas," said Stan gratefully. "Is there anyone who would like to come along ... if we can afford it? We might be able to get a reasonably cheap passage by ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, the capital, and then take a train or bus to Tartu."

    We started discussing who, if any of us, might accompany Stan.

    "This may be a fortnight's visit. I don't feel that I should be bringing any children along with us this time. Either I should go alone or bring Suszana with me as her children are the oldest and could well manage without her for a week or two."

    Suszana perked up. "I'd love to come, dearest, but I'll have to talk with the two youngest first, as they've never been separaetd from me before. What does everyone else think?"

    The others realised that Suszana was the only possibly choice. Most of us had newborn babes and therefore we were entirely out of the question. The only other two possibilities were Kryztina and Kasia, but they had young children too. Kasia was dead keen at first, as she always was with any suggestion of foreign travel, and wanted to leave Alexei with one of the others. But Stan would have none of it. The disappointment on her face was all too obvious and I felt sorry for her. Poor Kasia - such an intensely emotional person and who could take things so personally, for whom a "no" answer was often conceived as a blow against her worth and integrity. But then I think most of us had felt that way from time to time.

    Stan had more to say about the Estonian trip:

    "We must also remember, my loves, that this isn't Raj but a community with four patriarchs and two young men, all of whom are eligible husbands for polygamy. I noticed that some of you started intimating that maybe our family would expand by four more souls. But what if none of them are for us? Björn, Bengt, Hans, Władysław and Karl are all candidates for marriage. And what if none of them are interested in any of us? Our ministry doesn't just exist for ourselves, you know. Maybe there are men out there ready to become patriarchs too. Let's not fall into the old Mormon error of believing that the more wives we get the better chances we have in the next life!! It doesn't work like that! And whilst I am always open to the possibility of finding more wives, I would not be going to Estonia in order to recruit them. My visit would be to further the cause of patriarchy. We are not on a wife-hunt, my dears. I suspect that most of my time will be occupied with teaching the Gospel."

    Hanna seemed relieved, the others a little disappointed. I have to confess that for the first time I was beginning to notice the problems of finding time with Stan now that we were eight wives with a ninth on the way. Whilst our fellowship would be enriched with more, there was always that time problem, which even Stan, with all the best intentions in the world, could not change. And so I confronted him with my thoughts on the matter when we were having a Bible meeting one night.

    "Darling, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the size of our family and the future. There are eight wives today, and soon Hanna will be the nineth. Just how big will you let this family grow? What are the limits in size? I know cash is one limiting factor, and also the Lord's will. What I am wondering about is the Biblical restriction not to unnecessarily multiply wives? Can you tell us what your thoughts about this are because I know some of us are concerned?"

    Stan looked gravely at me, as though I had tresspassed on a taboo subject and I momentarily hesitated, wondering if I had approached the matter in too aggressive a spirit. Stan did not like aggressive women. His tone was slightly rebuking when he replied.

    "I'm surprised at you, Hélène," he said, making me want to recoil inside. Nobody liked to be repremended by our husband and my heart began to pound. "You know only too well what I have taught about this matter over the years. Yes, I do understand your anxieties though I can't see why you should be more anxious about having three, nine or fifteen sister-wives. The only thing that matters is the Lord's will in this matter. What He gives to us, we are love-bound to accept. And what he doesn't give to us, we are love-bound to accept also. I do not know what an excessive number of wives is. The Biblical rebuke was chiefly to kings who would always be tempted because of their wealth and power to marry to excess, even to the point of marrying non-covenant women as Solomon foolishly did. You know as well as I do how strict I am about admission of wives into this family - and if anything, I'm maybe too cautious. But I would rather err on the side of caution than liberality. I know many of you think that I should marry Hanna right away but my cautiousness is motivated only out of concern for all of you, not to mention Hanna herself. When the Spirit speaks expressly, I act, just as I did with Andreea who came into this family very quickly.

    "The 'numbers question' is, of course, as much a concern to me as I know it is to you. I believe that the limit of wives a man is to take is determined by Yahweh Himself based on the capacity of that man to take care of them and love them. That was a principle that the Lord revealed to Hanna in the parable of the talents. But I would even go so far as to say that the capacity of the patriarch isn't the only limiting factor - it may be that the Lord wants that man as an apostle or evangelist who, by the nature of his calling, will be away from home for long periods of time. And in that situation he may be asked by the Lord to sacrifice having extra wives in this life so that he can fulfil his calling in this life, but with the knowledge that he will receive them in the next."

    Andreea interrupted him. "What about the wives who must sacrifice having a husband so that he can be an apostle or an evangelist? What happens to them? Should they marry other men or stay single?"

    Stan was stumped and did not answer. Andreea continued:

    "It seems to me that no matter how little time we may have with you, the most important thing is to be married and raise children. What's the difference between having thirty sister-wives and seeing little of Stan, and Stan being a traveling minister with little time to see us? Surely the most important thing is to be together? I would rather be married to a husband whom I only saw once every six months than to remaining single or marrying someone else I know I won't be with in the eternities? If we say that we would prefer to be married to someone just for this life because it would give us more time with a husband, what we're saying is that the carnal is more important than the spiritual. What we're saying is that we're not willing to sacrifice a little company and sex for the sake of an eternal spiritual union. None of us here wants to be single so it all boils down to these things. And if we prefer the lesser alternative, then it means that we are carnal before anything else."

    Now we were all speechless - nobody could refute her. Once again we saw that the issue was one of flesh versus spirit.

    "Thank you, Andreea, you are absolutely right," said Stan. "I would of course be happiest knowing I had you all at home. And the thought of you belonging to other men would break my heart. I am you, and you are me. No matter how long we may be separated, and for whatever reason, that would be infinitely better than being separated from you in eternity."

    There were a few moist eyes in the room. And I felt terrible. I kicked myself for yet again being so self-centred. Even Hanna had been affected and seemed deep in thought. She broke the silence:

    "I see now how selfish I really am," she said with a mournful voice. "The most important thing is that we are of one mind and heart in the Lord. So long as we are that, we can manage anything."

    She turned to look at Stan:

    "And I'm sorry for nagging you about hurrying up the marriage. I see now that I have a lot of carnal ways to get rid of."

    Family repentance, as we called it, usually started in a spontaneous way like this, and it was catching. Everyone started confessing their sins openly and asking for forgiveness, Stan included.

    "My dearly belovèd wives, I do not know how big this family will become, but I have always believed there will be at least twelve wives to fulfil the apostolic mandate that I have been given. It doesn't matter to me whether there will be no more wives or twenty more if it is the Lord's will, because He will provide for us in every way. We are realising more and more -- all of us -- just what plural marriage is really about. We are discovering that it is to learn to be Christ-like in everything, to be sumitted to Yahweh our heavenly Father, and to be satisfied with what we have been, and will be, given.

    "I shall go to Estonia with a view to bring glory to Yahweh's holy Name and I would be very happy if you would all bless me to do the same."

    Kryztina was asked by Suszana as the eldest wife to lead a prayer circle as we gathered around Stan and laid our right hands on his head and our left hands on each other's shoulders. Kryztina prayed over Stan and asked the Lord to lead and direct him in Estonia. The next day the whole colony gathered and the men similarly blessed him. It was so much easier to relax in the Lord's will than to get anxious about things we could not possibly know. We praised Him for the present situation and left it in His hands to make of it what He would.

    Four days later Stan left with Hanna by air from Gävle to Helsinki and from the Finnish capital took a ferry to Tallinn . We had all agreed that Hanna was the obvious choice and that such a trip would give her a wonderful opportunity to grow spiritually. Elise had specifically asked for a woman to come with him so that they could question her about the woman's perspective of polygamy. Better still, Hanna would be accompanying him as his betrothed wife.

    After much prayer Stan had realised that it was the Lord's will that he bring forward the betrothal by a couple of months. None of us was in any doubt about it or of her calling to visit Estonia. It was, after all, a related language and she could translate for Stan if necessary. It was the perfect solution, killing two (or maybe even three) birds with one stone. She had got special permission to be off work as she was getting maried, she had told the clinic.

    Hanna was besides herself with joy. The day before she and Stan were to drive to Gävle with Władysław, they were betrothed in a couple of ceremonies involving first the whole community and then just the family.

    Stan also was happy. He realised he had been too cautious and was relieved just to be in the Lord's will. That night the couple lay in each other's arms in wedded bliss and in the morning Hanna was tearfully embracing us all, saying how much she wished she could stay so as to be around us during the betrothal honeymoon as much as she was looking forward to being with Stan in Estonia.

    During the night Isabel had been woken up and shown a vision. Now Isabel was not one who had many such experiences but when she did we knew they were important. In it she had been shown Stan entering into full marriage with Hanna whilst in Estonia and had seen Christ standing behind them and blessing their union. As soon as it was dawn Isabel asked us all to come to her room.

    At 6 a.m. we all eight of us squeezed into her little bedroom, and she told us what she had seen.

    "You all know that I was married to Stan two days after our betrothal. I believe it is the Lord's will that Hanna be fully married to Stan in two days' time too. As he is leaving the house in an hour I think, if you all agree, that we should give our consent to a full marriage union before he leaves. We can have the ceremony when they get back. What do you think?"

    We were all surprised, and yet in a way not surprised because the Lord had been surprising us a lot recently. After a hurried discussion we put it to the vote. We were unanimous - Stan should feel free to marry Hanna fully in Estonia if the Lord told him to. Anna was sent to fetch Stan who was already up and we told him what we felt.

    "I am really happy that the Lord is now leading us like this," said Stan gratefully. "Thank you for your blessing. I shan't tell Hanna anything yet and leave it up to the Lord. If we do get married fully, I will get in contact with you by 'phone or email."

    After an early breakfast we all kissed Stan, Hanna and Władysław goodbye. The pace at which events were suddenly unfolding had really surprised us but without the shocks that tend to accompany a less mature polygamous family.

    "Who would have believed it would have happened so quickly?" exclaimed Sarah-Jane as we waved the car goodbye. "I didn't think Stan would marry her for at least another year. It only goes to show that whatever plans we may have that God has the last word."

    We all agreed with her, feeling a mixtrue of sadness mingled with joy as the car disappeared down the lane. We were now, to all intents and purposes, nine sister-wives. My heart just glowed at the thought of it. I was rejoicing for Hanna, for Stan, and for all of us. Her lesbian tendencies simply got swallowed up in the joy of our living together and never troubled her again. It was as though it was silently snuffed out in the night without any fanfare of any kind. Hanna had found three freedoms in herself, in Stan, and in us - and these three freedoms were one freedom, in Christ our Saviour.

    And I had discovered something too - that the addition of a new wife was not something to fear, or be jealous of, so long as I stayed close to Christ. It was more like welcoming a new believer into the Body of Christ! It involved the mutual sharing of joy in a common husband just as one mutually shares the ecstacy of salvation in a common Saviour! And though I knew I would see Stan a fraction less often, I also knew that that would be more than compensated for the ever growing happiness in having another sister-wife - not just as another sister in Christ, not just as another friend and companion, but more important perhaps than all of these, of partaking in a joy that grew exponentially as more committed women joined us.

    They say that old soldiers have a special cameraderie because of shared dangers and hardships but I discovered that sister-wives in a polygamous marriage enjoyed something like the old soldiers, though it was yet still deeper, because the cementing bond was not just shared experience but a shared husband and a shared Saviour. I remember the founder of our Order saying something about that special soldiers' fellowship and I felt a twinge of envy at the time. He had talked about the Confederate Army in the Civil War and of the deep, deep love they felt for General Lee. Plural mariage was a bit like that, only it was love without violence and a different kind of sacrifice. Just as those soldiers were laying down their lives for their cause, their general, their comrades, and their families back home, so we were laying down our carnal natures for something much, much better - an eternal bond, that death could never erase because it was being formed and immortalised by the blood of Yah'shua the Messiah.

    With Stan and Hanna gone, the house suddenly felt empty again and we found ourselves keeping each other's company rather more than usual. Hanna, the misfit, had changed us all considerably. Now she was no misfit, but a new link in a new plural relationship. And every time I thought about her, my heart began to swell with gratitude. How wonderful is our Redeemer that He is able to change us so, replacing despair with hope, chaos with stability, fear with love. Here we all were, facing a new beginning with a nineth sister-wife, and wondering whether Stan would come back home with four more! It didn't mater, because we were already so happy. That August evening we all went out for a long walk on a beautifully warm day, taking our little ones with us. The Engströms joined us and some of the Nilssons. We felt like Yahweh's army of love walking together as a single Bride of Christ. We chatted excitedly wondering how the Estonian trip would turn out. Kasia started singing and we all joined in the Halelujah chorus. What a happy band of people we were that day!

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