Tuesday, October 1, 2019

For Writers: What to Remember, What to Forget

by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

Multi-published author and ghostwriter of more than 100 titles, Cecil (Cec) Murphey tells how his missionary experience impacts his writing. 

A decade after I left Kenya, East Africa, I returned and met with a group of pastors whom I had taught. I preached twice that day, both in churches I helped to start. Afterward, ten of us gathered in the home of Blasio Were, one of the pastors. Because he was the only one who didn’t know fluent English, we spoke in Luo, the local language.

I turned to Erastus. “I would never have learned the language without your help.”

“I did little.” He shrugged shyly. “A lesson or two only.”

“You did more than that.” In those days, Erastus had taught in an elementary school twelve miles away. After classes, he rode his bicycle to my house. Most afternoons, he spent at least an hour teaching me.

“If you say so,” he said, “but I do not remember.” 

How could he not remember? He not only had taught me the syntax and vocabulary, but he demanded that I learn to pronounce the words exactly right. One day it had taken him almost an hour to teach me a particularly difficult guttural diphthong. 

Nathaniel Jullu said, “Do you remember the financial problems I had after I left teaching to start a church? The offerings were small, and I borrowed money from you.” 

I shook my head.

“When I could not repay, you canceled my debt. I shall always remember. How is it that you have forgotten?”

One by one, the others told stories of help I had given during times when they faced serious troubles. At most, I retained blurred memories.

As daylight vanished, Blasio hung a German-made kerosene-operated pressure lamp. 

Neh (look).” He pointed at the lamp.

I commented that it was a nice lamp and returned to the conversation with the others. I reminded another pastor of the time he traveled 150 miles by bus to buy a part for my motorcycle so I could stay and teach. 

“Did I do that?” He shrugged as if it were nothing.

Blasio pointed to the pressure lamp again. “Neh! Mano ber? (Look, isn’t it nice?)”

“It’s nice,” I said. 

“Can you not see?” He touched the lamp fondly. “It is the one you gave me. Do you not remember?” 

I shook my head.

Blasio threw an arm around my shoulder. “You have done acts of kindness for my brothers and do not remember. They have done acts of kindness that they have forgotten. They remember what you have done. You remember what they have done. Ah, this is the way God teaches us, is it not?”

I still didn’t understand.

The barely educated man leaned closer. “Those who give must never remember. Those who receive must never forget. Is that not the way of God?”

Those simple words changed my life. Although not given as advice, it was a lesson I never wanted to forget. 

And I still remember.


Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Optimistic dream-driver, PeggySue is named for the Buddy Holly song with the great drumbeat. At school author visits, she teaches students the secrets to writing, and speaks at events and conferences. Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells. 


  1. I just found my blessing in morning's stillness. God's blessings Ms. Peggy Sue for blessing me with this story. I've yet to meet Mr. Murphy, but have learned from his sage counsel. Just did again. :-)

  2. What an awesome story and lesson.
    Thanks for sharing, Peggy Sue.

  3. Thank you for the story and the moral. It has made my day.

  4. What a profound truth. It took a moment to sink in, then I was awed!