In Chapter 20 of “OUIJA – For the Record,” the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan makes brief appearances. My brother Mike became friends with his son Greg at the American International School of Kabul.
I remember only two occasions involving the ambassador. The first was at the Fourth of July fireworks in Kabul in 1969, which he hosted. The second time was when Greg invited us to their house to watch a movie. I don’t remember what the movie was, but I do remember the occasion because we didn’t even have televisions and here he had movies (DVD players didn’t exist, so it must have been a movie reel).
I later learned during research for my book that the Ambassador, Robert G. Neumann, was appointed by President Johnson as Ambassador to Afghanistan in November of 1966. He served as ambassador until 1973, when King Mohammed Zahir Shah was overthrown. He was later ambassador to Morocco and Saudi Arabia before his death in 1999.
Remarkably, his son Ronald E. Newmann (who changed the spelling) also served as the ambassador to Afghanistan after the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. He served as ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. He also served as ambassador to Algeria and Bahrain later in his life.
I haven’t been able to determine what happened to my brother’s friend Greg.
So, now it’s 2014—44 years after we came back from Afghanistan. I don’t remember much after we arrived back in Vallejo, California. Our dad took my mom back and we lived in the Casa De Vallejo Hotel until school ended. My brother Mike never went back to school and instead joined the Air Force. We moved from Vallejo back to Avondale that year (God knows why!). I was looking through my files today and ran across a photo of my family that was taken in 1970. It had been hidden in the folder for five years. We look like any other family in the photo. Who would think that we were barely holding it together, having been traumatized by the events of the prior two years involving the Ouija Board. We looked so innocent in the photo. I’m the one with the pony tails. Mike wasn’t in the photo.
I have not fallen off the face of the earth for the past two years. I have been thinking (and not blogging, apparently).
After I published "Ouija for the Record", my sister had a psychotic break with reality (according to her). She went into treatment and has struggled to understand "why" it happened. For years, she said she didn’t remember anything. That she had blocked it all out. I believed that it was possible for that to happen. I guess after reading my story, it all came back to her - and more.
About a year ago, she decided to write our story from her perspective (although her book reads suspiciously like mine). She admitted in it that she knew what she was doing all along. That she moved the indicator on the Ouija Board intentionally. In trying to explain why she pretended to be God for nearly two years, she says that she was sexually abused. I don’t know if that’s true or not and I don’t know if it would cause someone to pretend to be God and then lead a family into many dangerous situations.
It’s been more than 40 years since we returned from Afghanistan.
I guess I’m really tired of thinking—and talking—about it.
I’m working on an ebook version of my novel “Ouija – For the Record” that should be uploaded to my website within 30 days. Stay tuned.
I will never forget Dr. J. Christy Wilson.
Dr. Wilson was the pastor (and secret missionary) of the Community Christian Church of Kabul in 1969. He’s introduced in Chapter 20 of “OUIJA: For the Record.” Although he was in my life for only a short period, he greatly influenced me. He was one of the most interesting people I had ever met and was truly one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. And, he was the one who brought the exorcist to our house in March 1970.
While doing some research recently, a friend discovered his obituary in The Boston Globe (March 5, 1999): "A memorial service will be held today for J. Christy Wilson, Jr., a former missionary and professor of world missions and evangelism at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton. Mr. Wilson died of cancer Feb. 8 in Duarte, Calif., where he was living in his retirement. He was 77. Born in Tabriz, Iran, he graduated from Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary and earned a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He was a missionary and teacher in Afghanistan from 1951 to 1974, when he moved to Hamilton, where he was a professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary from 1975 to 1992. He was the author of several books, including “Afghanistan: The Forbidden Harvest” and “Today’s Tent Makers.”
He died ten years before I published my book. I never got to thank him for saving my family.
Here’s a selected section from my book that haunts me still.
The indicator stopped for a few seconds, then started moving again, “A-R-E Y-O-U R-E-A-D-Y T-O L-E-A-R-N A-B-O-U-T Y-O-U-R M-I-S-S-I-O-N”
“We’re going to be missionaries, right?” I asked, a little disappointed it was up for discussion.
The indicator moved slowly to NO.
“What?” Daddy asked.
“Y-O-U W-I-L-L B-U-I-L-D T-H-E T-E-M-P-L-E F-O-R M-Y S-O-N”
Mother and Father knew what it said before I could read it back. They looked at each other and then at the board.
“But the temple is going to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.” Mother said.
The indicator went to NO.
“But, everyone believes—,”
“T-H-E-Y A-R-E W-R-O-N-G”
“How can all these people be wrong?” Father asked.
“P-R-O-P-H-E-T-S S-O-M-E-T-I-M-E-S M-I-S-I-N-T-E-R-P-R-E-T”
“When will your son come back to earth?” Mother interrupted.
“O-N-L-Y I K-N-O-W”
“Will you tell us?” Mother pushed.
The indicator moved swiftly to NO. “M-Y T-I-M-E I-S N-O-T S-A-M-E A-S Y-O-U-R-S”
No one said a word as Ouija continued, “R-E-A-D M-A-L-A-C-H-I 4 5”
Aubrey turned quickly to the chapter and verse. He read, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
“I S-E-N-T E-L-I-J-A-H T-O Y-O-U”
The great and dreadful day of the Lord was about Armageddon and the millennium rule of Christ. How could we be a part of it? This was not possible. We were going to build a temple?
“You’re talking about Armageddon.” Mike said tentatively.
The indicator moved ominously to YES.
Except for Mother’s gasp, the room was silent.
Mike finally asked, “When will it start?”
“I-T S-T-A-R-T-E-D I-N 1-9-4-8”
“What do you mean?” Mother asked.
“I-S-R-A-E-L R-E-T-U-R-N-E-D H-O-M-E”
“That’s the year Israel became a country,” Mike was annoyed that Mother didn’t know that.
“I-S-A-I-A-H 1-1 1-1 TO 1-2”
Aubrey read, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
“E-Z-E-K-I-A-L 3-6 2-4”
Aubrey quickly turned to Ezekial and read, “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land,” and then Aubrey added his own comment, “God is talking about the Israelites.”
Ouija encouraged Aubrey to read on, “C-H-A-P-T-E-R 3-7”
Aubrey continued reading and stopped at verse 21. He emphasized each word, “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the Children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations….” When he finished reading Chapter 38, Mother put her hands back on the indicator, and it moved quickly from letter to letter.
“1 T-H-E-S-S-E-L-O-N-I-A-N-S 4 1-6 T-O 1-7”
Aubrey read, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” As soon as he finished reading, the indicator moved again.
“1 CO-R-I-N-T-H-I-A-N-S 1-5 5-2”
Aubrey turned to the passage, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
“That’s the rapture, where Christians are taken,” Mother said matter-of-factly. “It comes first.”
“A-L-L O-F M-A-T-T-H-E-W 2-4”
Aubrey read the first two verses silently, and then he unconsciously started reading aloud, “… and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows….” Aubrey’s voice trailed off.
‘R-E-A-D A-L-L” and Aubrey read the next 42 verses out loud.
As soon as he stopped reading, Ouija said, “R-E-V-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S 1-3”
Aubrey read the entire chapter and concluded with, “here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred threescore and six.” Aubrey calculated the number in his head and finished, “that’s 666.”
“What does that mean?” Mike asked Ouija.
“P-E-O-P-L-E W-I-L-L H-A-V-E I-N-V-I-S-I-B-L-E N-U-M-B-E-R-S F-R-O-M B-I-R-T-H”
“What do the numbers mean?” Aubrey asked.
“6-6-6 I-S O-N-L-Y P-A-R-T O-F N-U-M-B-E-R”
Mike couldn’t stop himself, “Is 666 for the Soviet Union?”
The indicator moved slowly to NO.
“But the Soviets are our enemy.” Mike yelled. “It has to be for the Soviet Union.”
“S-O-V-I-E-T U-N-I-O-N W-I-L-L N-O-T S-T-A-N-D”
“Then which country is it?” Mike asked.
Aubrey read farther into the Book of Revelations. He read about the seven years of tribulation; plagues that kill three-quarters of the world’s population; the battle of Armageddon, where the beast and the false prophet were cast into the lake of fire; about Satan being bound for a thousand years; and about those who do not take the mark of the beast who will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years.
Then Satan will be loosed and go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to do battle. Fire will come down from God and devour Satan and his followers and they will be cast into the lake of fire and then, Judgment Day, followed by a new heaven and a new earth.
“I-T W-I-L-L S-T-A-R-T A-N-D E-N-D I-N A-F-G-H-A-N-I-S-T-A-N”
“What are we supposed to do?” Father asked meekly.
“B-U-I-L-D T-H-E T-E-M-P-L-E”
In mid-May, my husband and I attended the screening of “For the Record,” a short film based on my book. This amazing film was directed by Sarah Rudoy and produced by Kyle Martinez McIntosh. The screenplay, written by Alyssa Kurtzman, captured the central conflict at the heart of my family’s experience with a Ouija board, which is: If you believe you are talking to God, then you are compelled to do whatever it takes to obey him, even if it means leaving your loved ones behind and journeying to a remote country in Asia.
Alyssa’s screenplay distilled the central theme of my 342 page book into a 15 minute film that sensitively conveyed the emotional toll it took on our family. The film’s set was a spot-on recreation of trailer life in the late ‘60s, thanks to production designer William Hopper, and thanks to the editing skills of Andrew Siwoff, a Ouija board spelling out messages was worth watching.
I can’t say enough about the actors who brought our story to the screen: Bob Jaffe (Levoy), Mary Rose Leggio ( Mary), Nicole Maggio (Tricia) and Alexis Molnar (Diana). Their portrayals of my family brought tears to my eyes at the screening.
My special thanks go to Sarah, who handled my family’s story with care and sensitivity. She is an amazing filmmaker! Sarah recently graduated from NYU and now lives in Los Angeles.
Due to increased demand for autographed copies of “OUIJA – For the Record,” my website has been revamped to make that a viable option. The BUY button has changed so that you can buy signed copies directly from me (through your Pay Pal account) and you can include any special autograph request. You can choose from an autographed paperback or hard cover book. The prices include shipping and handling.
If you don’t want a signed copy, the BUY page now allows you to compare prices between my publisher (LULU.com) and Amazon.com (Barnes & Noble will be added shortly).
P.S. If you like my website (I do), then you should check out my designer’s website: Dunkirk Systems.
I guess you could say that since my family’s experience with a Ouija board from 1968 to 1970, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid discussions about anything remotely related to the paranormal, including Ouija boards, angels, demons, ghosts, or spirits. So imagine my surprise when I learned that a lot of people out there have been talking about the paranormal on an ever-increasing frequency while I was holed up in my office banging out my story (“OUIJA – For the Record”). These are some of the sites I’ve found, although I’m sure there are many more:
Some of my readers have been asking what I thought was behind the Ouija board. Since my book was just published, I prefer to let my readers talk amongst themselves about that for awhile. I have heard that some people have read the story twice and have reached a different conclusion each time. So, what was behind the board? Tell me what you think on my Forum.
P.S. An NYU film student has written a screenplay about a portion of my book that’s due out in March. More on that later.