Darlene Diebler Rose

Darlene Diebler Rose and her husband, The Reverend Russell Diebler, went to Papua, New Guinea as missionaries. Her husband was the first missionary to go to an interior, unreached, stone-age people group. These natives believed the physical world existed only in their valley, and the spirit world existed on the other side of the mountains. A year and a half after her husband’s arrival, Darlene was allowed to follow him. When this 20-ish woman walked over the top of the mountain from the other side, the people realized she and her husband were real humans, like them, and not spirit people.

I heard Mrs. Rose on tape once. Her voice in itself was neither dramatic nor impressive. But her story. That was something else. Soft-spoken, her gentle voice evidenced her humility.


When World War II broke out and Japan took over the island, Reverend Diebler was taken to a prison camp. As he looked down at his wife from the vehicle that was about to take him away, he said “Honey, remember that God has promised he will never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). And there were times she wondered if her God had left her.

Darlene never saw her husband again. Several months later, the soldiers returned for Darlene and the others in their compound. In the truck beds, the younger people grasped hands to encircle the older people in the middle of the truck bed to prevent their falling off the truck and down the mountain as the drivers drove as fast as they could on the curvy mountain roads.

In the camp where they were taken, separate from the one where Russell was, Darlene was selected as head of the Dutch barracks because of her fluency in Dutch, Indonesian and English. Every night they all gathered in the barracks while Darlene read scripture and they prayed together.


Darlene, along with the other younger prisoners, often worked two or three jobs a day. They worked in soggy fields and got leg ulcers. They never had shoes, which made their feet strong. They “postponed” many meals while having to cook three meals for the soldiers daily.

Thirty-pound rats sometimes ate through her mosquito net and crawled into bed with her. Rats could smell death so the group had to set guards to protect the dysentery patients from them.

In November of 1943 the Dutch head of the camp came to tell her Russell had died three months earlier at Pare Pare camp.

“It was one of those moments when I thought my Lord had left me.” She turned around and said “God.” He answered, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2).

Darlene said, “All right.” And she experienced God’s peace that comes, not with hope fulfilled, but hope surrendered.

Later that day, Mr. Yamaji, the Camp Commander, called her into his office.

“You know, the news you heard today, many Japanese women have also heard. One day this war will be over and you will be able to return to America and dance and forget all this.”

Darlene said, “I know, Mr. Yamaji, but may I have permission to speak to you?” When he agreed, she continued. “I don’t sorrow like people who have no hope. I met someone when I was nine years old …” and she shared the plan of salvation with him. She knew that day Mr. Yamaji became her friend.


Darlene was taken to a former insane asylum and placed on death row. The Japanese said they had evidence (false testimony) she was an American spy, reporting on plane and troop movements. The judo chops they inflicted caused her to think her neck was broken several times. Guards would take her back to her cell and she would say “Lord, I can’t take this any more.” And He would say “My child, my grace is sufficient for you.” And she would begin to sing “He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater …”

She got dysentery, so they took her off whole rice and brought her rice porridge. She saw white on top of it and thought “Oh, someone knows I love coconut.” When she took the bowl nearer the window she saw it wasn’t coconut, but worms. She became skin and bones, and very weak.

One day Darlene watched another prisoner very, very carefully slip to the end of the camp and pull down a bunch of bananas. Darlene could smell them. “Oh Lord,” she prayed, “if I could just have one banana I would be so grateful. But if you can’t get one into this cell, I will thank you for the rice porridge.”

One day Mr. Yamaji arrived from the other camp and smiled at her as guards opened her cell door. She clapped her hands. “Mr. Yamaji, it’s like seeing an old friend.” Tears came to his eyes and he walked away to speak to the other guards. Then he returned to her cell.

“You’re very ill. I’m going back to the other camp now. The women all wonder where you are.” This camp had told her former camp she was dying of tuberculosis, because they didn’t want others to know she was to be beheaded.

“Tell them I’m all right, that I am still trusting in the Lord. They will understand, and you will understand, Mr. Yamaji.” He nodded and left.


After everyone was gone, she realized she hadn’t bowed to any of the officials when they came to her cell–a major offense. Soon a guard came to the door and she thought she was being taken to another “hearing.” Instead, he brought in 92 bananas!

“Oh Lord,” she said, “I have no right to eat those bananas. Yesterday I told you there was no way you could get one banana into this cell.” He replied, “This is what I delight to do, above and beyond what you ask or think.”


Some time later, Darlene was taken up the hill to where the executions took place. The Camp Commander, out of her line of sight, read the list of accusations. “You are worthy of death.” He slapped the hilt of his sword and pulled it out to behead her. At that very instant she heard cars coming from all directions and yelling for this man. He went into the office, where she heard lots of excited talking. He came out of the office, grabbed Darlene and put her into a jeep. He placed two bottles of wine in her lap and said “These are from Mr. Yamaji.” Then the jeep took her back to the barracks.

“If you ever tell anyone what happened here I’ll get you the next time.”

Darlene begged God to keep her sane. She began to sing “Underneath me, in trusting resting lie.” Billows of peace rolled over her and the fear of death left her as God filled her with His presence.

Darlene survived four years, from age 22 to 26, in the women’s camp at Kampili.


One day an American plane flew over the camp. The next day the prisoners saw many planes coming toward their camp from the East. They dropped their shovels and picks and watched silver things drop. The Americans dropped 5000 incendiary bombs on that camp. Everything began to burn. Darlene jumped into a ditch, but the Lord said “You borrowed a Bible from that little woman.”

Jumping out of the ditch, Darlene ran to her cell to rescue the Bible. When she ran back out she saw the camp gate was open so the prisoners could escape the conflagration.

There were 138,000 soldiers around that camp, running over the prisoners to get to their machine guns. At the end of the day Darlene was amazed she was still alive. She found another woman crying.

The woman said “My mattress burned.”

“Please don’t cry. We’re alive.”

“I know, but I didn’t leave my mattress in my cell. I threw it in the ditch where you were.” They looked and right where Darlene had been hiding in the ditch, the mattress was incinerated with a bomb casing lying beside it. “Oh Lord, it wasn’t the Bible you wanted to rescue. It was me.”


Two weeks later the war ended. Mr. Yamaji pulled her in to help translate between the Americans and the Japanese. Some American soldiers hid her and flew her out, because there was no provision to remove the women and children from the camp.

At an Australian camp, she was asked if there was anything she would like.

“Yes, I’d like a shower.” (She didn’t think anyone had hot water, so expected cold water.) But the water was hot! The women showered until someone knocked on the door. “We have tea ready for you. If you’d like you can take another shower later.”


She returned to America alone at 26. Because she hadn’t heard from them since writing that she was coming home, she assumed her parents had also died.

She prayed for a Red Cross worker to help her find someone from the family who might be left. Turning a corner, she saw a Red Cross worker. Darlene told her she needed to find any remaining family in Ohio.

“What’s your name?” the worker asked.

“Darlene Diebley.”

“I’ve been on the ship all morning looking for you. I have three telegrams for you.” And they were from her mother and father, who were alive in Oakland, California. When she arrived at home there were many people from the church waiting to greet her. She didn’t know them but looked for two beloved faces. As she held her parents tight she thought, “What will it be like when someday those clouds will part asunder and Jesus will be there.”


In 1949 Darlene and her second husband, Jerry Rose, returned to New Guinea to serve God, then moved to another calling in the Australian Outback in 1978.

Years later they retired to Tennessee, where Darlene was taken into the arms of her Lord and Master in February 2004. Jerry followed six months later.

Darlene said she knew something of the cost of following Christ. But she didn’t remember that. She said she would follow Jesus anywhere. “Those were the sweetest years God gave me because then He taught me He would never leave me nor forsake me.”

Darlene Diebley Rose’s audio testimony is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AphiQbh9Q

And her book at https://amzn.to/3WvoGRo

Darlene found hope in God’s promises, and in her relationship with Jesus Christ. Where is your hope?

post by carolnl | | Closed

What’s Your Story?

Everyone has a story, if we will only take time to listen.

When my late husband and I waited several months for a transplant in Florida, we heard stories from a lot of folks.

One of our favorite places to visit before Jerry was hospitalized was a pretty little town among rolling hills. Micanopy was about thirty minutes from the hospital in Gainesville. We enjoyed wandering through antique shops, talking with shop owners, and delighting in ice cream from a small shop on the main street. When Jerry got too tired, he would sit on a bench in front of our favorite store and watch people while I wandered.

The ice cream shop always pulled us in. One day while we were enjoying their delicious goodness, we met Cliff, who introduced himself and his wife, the woman we’d met several times before, as the shop owners.

“Where are you from?” he asked.


“That’s a long ways away. Are you vacationing?”

Jerry answered. “No. I’m on the list for a liver and pancreas transplant at Gainesville and we’re waiting for the call.”

“Wow, that’s got to be tough.”

We continued the conversation, learning from Clifton “Hollywood” Harris that he was at that time the third-longest-running rodeo clown in the United States. A Texas native, he always dreamed of being a rodeo clown. While he competed in rodeo for awhile, he loved physical comedy and becoming a rodeo clown seemed a natural progression.

His eight-ish son, “Boogerhead”, (now Brinson James the Entertainer), strolled through the shop and we were introduced. Hollywood was teaching his young son to join him on the circuit, and the two were already a team.

“He’s been my sidekick ever since he was two years old,” said Hollywood.

Hollywood Harris and Boogerhead – Photo used by permission

Harris began his rodeo clown career in 1984. We met him in 2005, when he’d already been in the business twenty-one years. He said being a rodeo clown was actually more dangerous than being a bullrider, because his job was to distract the bull and protect the rider. Harris is regarded as one of the most innovative clowns in rodeo and was chosen to perform at International Finals Rodeos, both as a Comedy Act and Barrel Clown. He also won a record six events at the IFR Contract Act Show in Oklahoma City which included Comedy Act, Dress Act, and the Barrel Man Competition!

Below are two special pictures.

Boogerhead posted the picture on the left a few years ago as a Father’s Day tribute to his dad.

Below right, Hollywood and James Brinson as an adult performer. That’s one proud Dad!

I found Hollywood on Facebook yesterday and reconnected with him, telling him my memory of our conversation seventeen years ago, and what a delight it was to meet caring folks like him and his wife along our journey.

That day in the ice cream shop seventeen years ago we sat and talked for one or two hours. Cliff was gracious, humble, open–and in civilian clothing! We loved hearing about his career and especially his love for his son. He asked what kept us going in the face of a terminal illness.

Jerry shared with him that what gave us hope was our faith in Jesus Christ. Jerry said that whether he lived or died, he couldn’t lose. Either he would stay here with me, his bride, or he would be in the presence of his Lord and Savior. As it turned out, he went home to be with Jesus and I was alone–but not alone–because my God promised never to leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

Everyone believes in something.

  • It may be your own capabilities and skills.
  • It may be that statement, “It’s all good.”
  • It may be trusting that someone else will take care of whatever concerns you.
  • It may mean ignoring the pain around you and hoping it will go away.
  • It may be your financial security.

But when it comes to life and death, when it comes to real purpose and meaning in life, Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation we have.

Jesus said,

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6:47-49

Where is your hope?

And when’s the last time you took time to listen to someone’s story?

  • Perhaps after they’ve lost a loved one.
  • Or had a career crisis.
  • Or lost financial resources.
  • Or love their work or family and want to tell you what brings them joy.

And when have you last shared your own story? I’d love to hear it.

post by carolnl | | Closed

Stormy Weather

California has been slammed by the biggest storms we’ve had in five years, sending rain and wind and flooding. I heard this morning that floods result in more deaths than any other natural disaster, including the fires we’ve had over the past few years.

One of our favorite restaurants in Capitola, Zelda’s, lost most of two walls and their outdoor seating area. Don and I were there with Arn and Jenny about three weeks ago, on one of the Coast’s beautiful, sunny days.

Most of the Capitola Pier, including The Wharf, another favorite breakfast place at the end of the pier behind us in the photo, has been wiped out.

We have friends who have been evacuated from their homes due to possible levee breaks, downed trees, flash flooding, power outages, and road closures.

This shows the breakup of the Capitola Wharf.

Photo by Julie Joy Johnson

The photo to the right shows the destruction of the Capitola Wharf.

Our former church, Twin Lakes Church in Aptos (and others, I assume) is providing assistance to those who are evacuated or need help. Go to tlc.org/relief if you need assistance.

Don and I traveled Highway 17 south to Santa Cruz for two appointments on Friday. While we were rerouted to a long, narrow, curvy detour, we were able to get through. The news this morning shows one lane of the highway going south closed.

  • Mudslides.
  • Downed trees.
  • Winds up to 85 mph in some parts of the Bay Area.

For a view of the Soquel Creek passing the landmark Shadowbrook Restaurant, see this video from @TimmoRice.


And for a view of Montecito Creek in Santa Barbara County, see https://twitter.com/i/status/1612541031739973633

Governor Newsom declared this a state of emergency, and it surely is for those who have lost homes, businesses, and in some cases, family members. Please pray for California as we go through another week or more of heavy storms. And for those whose homes or livelihoods are gone, and must either be demolished or rebuilt. Many will need help to recover. Pray that in this time of loss and damage many will turn to God in faith, believing He still has a good plan for them (Jeremiah 29:11).

And let’s watch for opportunities to serve those around us, whether or not we’re in a hard-hit area of the State. Jesus gave his life in place of ours – He healed the sick, raised the dead, spoke truth to all, and took the punishment for our sins on Himself so we could have eternal life. What an example! We too can reach out to those in need, whether by donating to a group that is providing food and shelter for those impacted by this storm, or by giving directly, by praying for those who have lost so much, by helping with cleanup … There are ways each of us can be engaged in ministering to those in need at this time.

 Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:33-35



Resolutions? or Commitments

I finally tested negative for Covid on Friday and suddenly had the energy to clear out a cupboard full of wrapping paper, sheets, candles, ribbons. Don and I gathered all the Christmas wrappings to put away ’til next December. I rearranged the rest of the items and I can find what I need again.

Aren’t our lives often like that? Mine gets cluttered with busy-ness, with multiple demands on my time and resources. And periodically I need to go through and clean it out. Let go of those things God has not given me as priority. Hold onto and deepen the ones he has. Spend more time with him to help reduce the chaos.

We don’t reach goals if we don’t make plans. Our pastor plans to teach on a chapter of the book of John each week from now through Easter. So to start, in addition to other reading and time with God, Don and I will read through a chapter of the book of John each week, usually every day, as we follow Jesus’ journey to the cross.

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Losing weight, exercising more, spending more time with family, whatever it is for you. For the most part, resolutions that begin January 1st end before February begins! So I haven’t made resolutions the past years.

However, it is the start of a new year and I want my year, my behavior, my walk with God to deepen. That doesn’t require a resolution, but it does require a commitment.

Where do you want to go deeper with God this year?

Do you need more peace and rest?

How about a more loving attitude toward those difficult people in your life?

Or, as Richard of Chichester penned in the thirteenth century

O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly, day by day,
by day, by day, by day.

I knew I missed being in church the past two weekends; but oh, walking into the sanctuary yesterday morning was wonderful. As Phil Wickham sings “There’s joy in the house of the Lord today and we won’t be quiet.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8uKldEUrPE

After a short sermon, wonderful music and remembering Christ’s sacrifice through communion, our pastors and elders stood at the front of the church, in the balcony, and outside. They invited us to come up in family groups to receive a blessing for the New Year. People waited respectfully for an opening. No one rushed away. Don and I were among the last to be prayed over. The time was precious.

So, while I’m neither a pastor nor an elder, I would like to pass a blessing from the Lord on to you for this near year. (This is for me too!)

“May you see Jesus more clearly,

love him more dearly,

Follow him more nearly day by day.

And may you be blessed with obedience and joy as you follow the Savior into the year ahead, whatever it may bring.”

And from the traditional, wonderful ancient blessing in Numbers 6:24-26:

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”




December 18, 1620. Four hundred two years and one week ago. The Mayflower, carrying passengers who desired to build a new life with religious freedom, docked in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Imagine the anticipation of these passengers as they reached their new land. Anticipation to start a new colony, to build new lives, to worship in freedom

We anticipated, too. My brother Arnold and his girlfriend Jenny came for a visit, and spent several days with Don and me.

We enjoyed and valued the time learning to know and love Jenny.

Breakfast in Capitola at Zelda’s – a tradition when Arn and Carol, his late wife, came to visit. We’d take Mom, and watch for whales, pelicans or dolphins.

She and Arnold arrived Wednesday evening from Kansas. We met Bob and Sheila for dinner at Aqui, one of our favorite Cal-Mex spots. Thursday we enjoyed a lovely day together in Napa, and Friday in Capitola and Carmel.

Jenny flew home Saturday morning to return to her sons. I didn’t feel good – head congested, throat sore…so tested for Covid (negative).

Our Froese family Christmas was Sunday. As I prepared for church I thought I might pass out. Arn suggested I retest. I did, and was positive.

That changed all our plans. Arn, Don and I missed our family Christmas. They missed the beautiful fruit salad I prepared, and the zwiebach (double rolls, a Mennonite tradition) Arn had baked. They were gracious, telling me they had enough food and just to rest – we’d get the gifts to them later.

When Arn realized his late wife’s family in LA also had been exposed to Covid, he immediately packed up to head directly home to Sterling.

We had anticipated some family face to face time today, Christmas Day, but that had to change. Don and I have quarantined this week (as have Jenny and Arn, who also tested positive) and are spending a quiet day at home together. Instead, we and Arn and Jenny read the Christmas story aloud together via zoom, then we enjoyed opening their white elephant gift and chatting.

Anticipation – the Israelites anticipated the coming of their Messiah, so long foretold by the prophets. And that anticipation was fulfilled with the coming of the Christ-child in a stable in Bethlehem, just as had been prophesied. I think of the God who became a tiny seed in the body of a faithful young virgin, Mary, impregnated by the Holy Spirit. What must she have felt? Anticipation? Fear about the stigma attached to an unwed pregnancy? Did she hold her head high, knowing this pregnancy was of God, or did she hide herself as much as possible?

We know she went to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was significantly older and six months further along in her pregnancy as she carried John the Baptist. And scripture says when the two women greeted each other, the babe in Elizabeth’s womb (John) leaped for joy. That unborn child recognized the coming of the Savior, even while in the womb!

We can never reach God on our own. He is holy, righteous, and cannot look on sin. It’s only because He reached down to us–that Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again, taking the penalty for mankind’s–for my–sin–that we are able to be in relationship with Him.

I have much for which to thank God.

  • A loving husband, family, and friends
  • Music, especially some of the marvelous Christmas music we’ve enjoyed recently
  • Our church family
  • Freedom to worship
  • The reminder of those in great need because of war, poverty, famine, illness, loss, and loneliness, and that on occasion God allows us to step into and meet some of those needs.
  • Dear friends who serve God in foreign countries, joyfully leaving behind many of the comforts of home to find home in a different culture and language.

And most important, I’m thankful for the greatest gift of all, the one we celebrate at this season. The One who created the world came to earth as the Christ-child, and will return one day to reign in peace and justice over all. HE is the reason for the season, the reason we give gifts to each other, the reason we sing and rejoice and praise God.

How’s your Christmas season going? Can you find things for which to thank God, even if they are not what might have been your preference?