in February and Andreea in March, leaving only myself barren. I was depressed for a while and felt the Lord had rejected me. And being around the Engströms with their two babies and my three pregnant sister-wives just made me feel even worse.
The winter had not been as bad as I had expected it would be. There had been plenty of snow in January and February and the temperatures had, at their lowest, fallen to -21°C, but had only remained at that level on the thermometer a couple of days. For the most part it was quite mild - or so the Swedes assured us! By April when the thaw started, the pond level was getting dangerously high, requiring that the sluice be opened more and more, creating a problem in storing energy which had to be wasted. Stan was concerned what would happen if the turbines ever burned out because of the expense of replacing them. Stan wanted to know if we could export the electricity by selling it cheaply locally at surplass periods but was told it was not practical.
Now we were generating our own electricity but Lars Nilsson wanted alternative forms of energy as well. Work was under way to use solar cells and wind-generated power but we did not as yet have the finances to realise these goals. We could, of course, hook up to the grid of a local electricity company though this would dent our economy considerably. Building up a stock of spare parts was therefore of the highest priority, but that took money and therefore time.
The sense of despondency I felt at not being pregnant had not abated by the time Passover came around again. We had all noticed how circumstances had led to three pregnancies simultaneously and were keen to find out why the Lord had allowed my three sister-wives to get pregnant especially then, and especially as two of them, Anna and Sarah-Jane, had been trying for so long. We concluded, rightly or wrongly, that it was a reward for coming to Sweden and for being willing to sacrifice our former home in order to start a new ministry (I had forgotten that moving had probably saved our skins!). But why was I not included? I soon discovered that Isabel was feeling much the same way as I was for still her anticipated second child had not come. Seeing the other three pregnant had hurt her as it had led her to believe that she was unworthy, just as I was feeling now.
Stan had gone through the theology of all this before and we knew we should not have been feeling that way. The pregnancy of a sister-wife should be the object of praise and happiness - our being hurt showed only how self-centred we were and our inability to accept things the way God had ordained. But it was still tough and I remembered also that Stan had taught me that we had to do out part when it came to physical blessings. We often forgot how Stan felt about the matter for he was as keen for Isabel and I to get pregnant as he had been happy when Sarah-Jane, Anna and Andreea had conceived. And we had taken covenants to treat our sister-wives' children as our own in love and appreciation.
Since Stan was obviously fertile I wondered if perhaps there was a biological fault with myself and I was tempted to see a doctor about the matter. But Stan was less than enthusiastic.
"Our society had been trained to rely on science more than on Yahweh. We have plenty of biblical examples of women who were barren whom God subsequently blessed with children. They got pregnant in His own time and way. Hannah and Rachel are two prime examples. And their waiting was worth it, wasn't it?"
He was right, of course. Rachel had given birth to Joseph, who would become the tribal head of Israel, supplanting rebellious Reuben, and Hannah had given birth to a great prophet, Samuel. Both had pled with the Lord long and hard and both had been rewarded. Hannah's case had been rather special and I had, I must admit, been attracted to this woman. Could it be that the Lord wanted a special sacrifice at my hands?
Stan had rightly not been helpful when I had suggested this to him as I had nothing concrete in mind. He had gathered all his wives together one evening to discuss the problem and asked them if they would agree to him sleeping exclusively with me for two weeks to try and get me pregnant. I must admit I felt a bit guilty at this suggestion but everyone was enthusiastic, though I could see Isabel holding her tears back which didn't help matters for me one bit as I knew she would feel shunted to the side. But she already had a fine son, Stanislaw, Jr., whom Stan was enormously proud of, and she knew that the second child she had been promised may well have been the one she had miscarried. She had also had a lot of time with Stan before. Afterwards she came up to me and apologised for being so unsupportative and asked me to forgive her for her selfishness. I knew that she was still struggling with the last vestiges of a lack of self-esteem that she had inherited from her childhood - her father had wanted a son, not a daughter, and she had been accutely conscious of the fact that she was not what would make him happy. She had tried to be what she wasn't and damaged herself psychologically.
How cruel and selfish parents can be sometimes - they don't realise the psychological harm they can do to their children. Acceptance of who and what a child is is the most important thing a parent can do after lavishing love on him. Isabel had imagined all sorts of things about Stan that were pure fantasy, born of a lack of trust both in herself and in others, and imagined that he loved her less than the others. It had been hard for her watching child after child born to her sister-wives and believing each time that when she remained childless it was because she was unworthy. The problem had improved with time but had never entirely gone away. She wanted to be rid of the guilt she felt because she knew it impaired her relationship both with Stan and her sister-wives. I had often wondered why she spent so much time alone. So the period when I was without child had actually been a blessing to her and we had spent much time together consoling one another. Not that I felt the same degree of a lack of self-worth that Isabel did - my childhood had been stable, unlike hers, her family being ripped apart by divorce when she was young, which she was ultimately to blame as the psychological cause of her not being able to cope with polygamy in the early days and for leaving Stan for three years.
Isabel and I got to know each other very well and I believe she was the first sister-wife whom she finally opened up to about her sex life. I had always imagined her as timid in this department but as it turned out she was no mouse when it came to love-making! Which only went to show that the quiet ones on the outside are very usually the opposite inside. Stan had, of course, taught me this but I had never quite believed it until I got to know Isabel better. And yet I should have known better for Stan himself was by natural disposition introvert. And he was no mouse in bed! Time, and the necessity of being a patriarchal head, had largely taken care of that introversion though he would sometimes, when under great pressure, disappear and leave us to ourselves. Though none of us liked that, it forced to us to confront issues directly without seeking him as a mediator always, and this had matured us.
One evening when I was together with Isabel and we were chatting, she suddenly stopped short in mid-speech and looked at me with great intensity and surprise. Her mouth was moving but no words were coming out.
"What ever is the matter, Isabel," I asked worried, "are you feeling OK?"
But she still seemed unable to speak. Tears began to well up in her eyes. Finally, the words came out:
"The Lord wants me to bless you to get pregnant," she stuttered, and then began to cry.
I was speechless for a while. She continued:
"He wants me to bless you with all my heart and pray over you now, and give you and Stan my blessing for the fortnight. Do you mind?"
"No, of course not," I said, with a slight lump in my throat. "I'd be really happy if you would!"
Isabel came round behind me and laid her trembling hands on my head and began to bless me to be fertile. She apologised for her earlier barely concealed hostility and asked the Lord to fill her heart with love towards me and the hoped-for child. I felt her struggling inside, her real heart-felt desire to be right with Yahweh and with me, to overcome her weakness. She was fighting to trust the Lord in a way that she had never done before.
Stan made love to me for a fortnight every night and I was, I freely admit, in paradise. It was like having my honeymoon all over again. And every evening before I went into his room, Isabel asked if she could bless me. I was so impressed - I admired her courage, and it really helped. If I could have brought her with me with Stan I would have done so, because I knew she was giving her whole heart to me and my becoming pregnant, and I felt she had every right to share in my success if God granted it to me. That's how close and open I felt towards her.
How I do not know, but Yahweh must have heard all fourteen of Isabel's blessings because, praise the Lord, I got pregnant during the Passover season! And the only thought I had after I was sure, was that Isabel should be blessed in the same way. I therefore asked Stan if he would also give Isabel a fortnight as he had done me, to which he agreed, touched by my deep concern and love for her.
And so it was that, after the agreement of the others, who had in effect surrendered two whole months of intimate affection for us, that we all blessed Isabel just before she went into Stan's room every evening. I was amazed at the solidarity and even more amazed that they were all so willing to sacrifice their sexual wants in order for their sister-wife to get pregnant. Who can doubt that the love of Yah'shua is present in great abundance in such circumstances? For a woman, giving her bed to a sister-wife is surely one of the greatest sacrifices she can make, and yet for us who were naturally at one with Christian polygamy this proved to be almost no obstacle at all. Sharing Stan physically eventually became no different to sharing his table because we no longer feared that we were missing anything that the others had. We were all more than happy to bless Isabel in this way. Even more interesting, we none of us actually saw it as a sacrifice - of giving up something precious that might hurt, because it didn't hurt at all. Our experience was just the opposite - the Holy Spirit filled us with pure joy.
I don't think any of us doubted that Isabel would get pregnant after what had happened to me. Seeing the mighty hand of Yahweh at work had given us all a tremendous faith-boost. Though she was on the very door of the menopause, we remembered Sarah and trusted that the Lord would give her a son.
In the same month of April, Isabel conceived and Stan had five pregnant wives! It then occurred to us that we were going to need that midwife a great deal over the coming months and that so many pregnancies in one house was bound to raise eyebrows in the neighbouring county kommun. How would we ever hide our polygamy with so many children suddenly being born into the world? Here there were four men (apart from Wladyslaw and Karl), twelve women, and over twenty children with five more on the way. Their birth would be a matter of record. What should we do? We began to wonder if Stan was going to turn into a latter-day Peleg whose family had reputedly run into the hundreds! It required no great amount of mathematics to see that if Stan was going to have about twenty wives, as we believed, that Kadesh-Naphtali would be crawling with children in the end. What then? And how would the colony function with so many mothers effectively "out of action" for several months, for they would be weak and unable to carry out all the essential tasks that needed doing in the colony, especially in the winter.We knew that the very spiritual and physical fibre of the colony would be tested to the full.
Though long-range planning was one of Stan's fortes, he could come up with no satisfactory answer to this problem, and concluded that if the Swedish state was as indifferent to different lifestyles as he believed it was - provided no demands were placed on economic welfare by us - then perhaps we should just ignore the matter. Governments for the most part, he said, were only interested in gathering taxes and paying out as little as they had collected as possible.
Björn's view was that we should at least either get our own midwife or convert Ingrid from Borlänge. However, as we have discovered so often in the past, our resolutions concerning people were of little effect or use unless the Lord was in them. Władisław was training to be a doctor but there was no guarantee that he would wish to remain on the colony. He seemed divided as to whether to strike it out alone in the world or remain with the family and start his own. Besides, it would be some years yet before he qualified as a physician and if he got involved in the Swedish Health Service he might find himself posted almost anywhere in the country. He had even toyed with the idea of returning to Poland though Stan had pretty well dissuaded him to do this because of the dangers. The son of an enemy is almost as good a prize as the enemy himself in the warped minds of those filled with the spirit of murder.
It's a funny thing - when you need something especially badly, Yahweh has a tendency to bring people in your path to resolve problems. Sometimes you have to wait a while, other times it happens very suddenly. The move to Sweden had been planned by Stan for over two years and then, suddenly, there were seven pregnant women in the new colony!
The arrival of the Nilssons and Åkerstedts was essential to the suvival of the colony. Both were monogamist families who accepted the principle of polygamy but seemed in no hurry to rush anything. Hans Nilsson (35) and his wife Bente (33) had three children: Petter, aged seven, Marin, aged five, and Johannes aged two. His speciality was alternative forms of energy production and had been interested in various community projects before, hiring himself out to different groups, mostly non-Christian. He and his wife had been committed Seventh-day Adventists before they had met Björn who converted them to Messianic Israelism and Patriarchy. From Borås east of Göteborg (Gothenburg), they had moved to Jönköping to be near the Engströms.
The Åkerstedts were farmers from the Falköping region northwest of Jönköping. Bengt (50) and Michäela (42) were former Seventh-day Adventists like the Nilssons, and brought into the Covenant by Hans. Karl at 21 was their eldest who decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and who was now, as was plain to all, even more encouraged by the attention Maria Królewieca, Suszana's eldest, was giving him, and about which we were highly delighted. He had a sister, Karin (17), likewise raised a strict Adventist who was already eying Władisław Królewiec though Stan's son had not, at that time, returned her interest, being in any case away most of the time in Gävle. Stan seemed to approve of both possibilities but thought more time was needed for both his eldest children since Maria did not approve of polygamy which Karl was almost certain to want to pursue himself. Władisław had not made up his mind whether to go for one wife or more and felt no especial calling from God in the matter. He was not one to be rushed and would probably watch and see how Karin turned out. Karl was already interested in farming like his father and was enthusiastic about the Kadesh-Naphtali venture, so would probably remain. We were not sure how Karin would turn out though she seemed interested in the work of our Order. She was still young and might yet experience conflicting pulls.
It did concern us how our teenagers would grow up. Stan would not admit a family to the colony who had elder teenage children who were hostile to either the colony or to polygamy as they might, if not converted or at least subdued, leave the colony and make our lifestyle public. This was, to be sure, a very delicate matter. Selecting families to join us was therefore done with the utmost care always and never without a definite confirmation from the Holy Spirit to as many people in the colony as possible. Though we were keen to expand, we were not at all eager to bring in any possible seeds of destruction. Stan warned us that since the original Paradise in Eden had contained a serpent, the chances of not introducing at least one snake were small. There would have to be a complete separation before the final tribulation colonies were set up as no snake would be allowed into these. This might mean dividing families up, as Yah'shua had warned, though all of us prayed it would never happen to ours.
The Åkerstedt family had already experienced one small upheavel when Bengt had expressed interest in marrying a second woman, Sissel, though it seemed she had pulled out before the move to Kopparberg. Michäela was not opposed to the match in principle but was uncertain as to Sissel's true intents and motives. Both the Åkerstedts and Nilssons were in any case open to polygamy in their home.
My first month of pregnancy seemed no different from the way I felt before though I was of course past my depression. I did find that I was emotionally more sensitive and more sexually aware than before, though. Sarah-Jane, Anna, Andreea, Isabel and I all developed a special pre-maternal fellowship and were constantly comparing notes and asking advice from Suszana, Kryztina and Kasia. Sarah-Jane, Anna and I were the "greenhorns" and were together rather more often than with the others, enjoying the novelty of it all.
I don't know how Stan could bear so many women constantly talking about female things though I noticed that now Björn was here that he was often in his company. Sonja and Misha would often come over to us and Stan would wander over to Björn's such that the Engström home came to be known colloquially as "Patriarchs' Corner" and the Królewiec's as "The Nunnery", both of which were Anna's silly ideas, of course!
"Well, I just don't know what to do," said Stan one day looking very serious indeed, though the glint in his eye made me realise that he was teasing as usual.
"What don't you know what to do, honey?" I asked, expecting some humerous quip.
"Well, all my wives either have children or are about to have them. There aren't any barren ones anymore and I just don't know what to do."
Anna giggled. "Well, it's your own fault darling, for being so attractive!"
"Now you can have a rest!" chipped in Sarah-Jane.
"No way," protested Kasia, "what about me??"
"What about you," said Anna, "you've already got seven-in-one!"
Kasia scowled. Alexei was a power-house to be sure and so Kasia often got the butt of humerous remarks about him which wore thin after a while.
"Oh, it's worse than that," Anna went on grinning, "Stan's got two wives in Kasia as well! She's the only living example of internal polygamy. I don't think it's fair, really - Stan should see us twice as much as Kasia."
Kasia wasn't sure whether to laugh or be annoyed. If teased too much, she had the habit of stamping her foot on the ground which unfortunately just got Anna going even more.
"Pay no attention to them, my love," said Stan protectively, "they're only jealous. Haven't you noticed all those cans of red hair-dye that Anna brought from Poland with her?"
Kasia lightened up a bit and it was Anna's turn to scowl. There was a friendly rivalry between the two that was fairly evenly-matched. I kept out of it as it just wasn't my scene at all. But Stan just loved egging them on, seeing it all as youthful play. If Anna went too far Kasia would just go up to Stan and give him a very deep and long kiss, looking at Anna out of the corner of her eye. And Anna always took the bait. Not to be outdone, Anna would come up to Stan and wait for her turn. Stan, always one to be scrupulously fair, would start kissing Anna in the same way whilst she looked Kasia in the eyes. Of course, the two would break down giggling in the end and hug each other. There was no animosity between them. And sometimes I envied their dynamic relationship which was always so charged.
With the move to Kadesh-Naphtali I noticed that the sister-wives began developing new bonds with each other. As I have said, Isabel and I were much together. Kryztina and Kasia were very much with Sonja Engström, and Suszana seemed to be fascinated by Andreea. Stan, Misha and Andreea were very much into theological matters. Sarah-Jane was less with me now and seemed to gravitate towards Anna - they were certainly similar when it came to cheekiness! Stan called our interrelationships "Brownian Motion" which had baffled me a while until he had explained that it was the movement of dust particles on a liquid surface caused by the rapid movement of molecules in the liquid. I was always learning odd tidbits from him. It was by this means that he gained our interest in so many different topics which we in turned passed on enthusiastically to the children. It was catching. Learning was shere pleasure - always.
September rolled along and it was near to Sarah-Jane's birth. She had been quite ill latterly and had developped all sorts of cravings. The latest was salad cream on chicken sausages. And she wasn't the only one. Andreea would break out into a sweat every time she saw chocolate or smelled hot cocoa. But little did we know of what was about to strike us from the realms above and make those cravings disappear into the trashcan of forgetfulness.