Today I met Bob Inama. Our first conversation was March 19, 2020 over a Skype video call. After a few technical difficulties, we were able to finally speak in a meeting with Bob, his wife Diane, and Shadow Mountain director, Chris Schoebinger. In this first initial meeting, Bob told us about his experiences working undercover for the US Army in the early 1960s in Soviet-occupied East Germany. He was eventually betrayed by an East German and arrested. The story that unfolded is not what you might expect. Yes, he was imprisoned. Yes, he was beaten daily. Yes, he was traumatized. But Bob's light never dimmed. He left behind his shackles and the depths of a tiny cell and built a life of hope, love, and family. Over the past several months, Covid-19 kept any chance at meeting slim since we live in different states. Since March 19, up until this past week, I've been working on Bob's story so that more people can read and be inspired by a life well lived. If all goes well with my publisher and the production, the book will be available Fall 2021. But right now, my heart is full for having met this man in person. At last.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
I'm excited to announce that Deborah Prophetess of God was given the Praiseworthy Award Honorable Mention by the LDSPMA. I love that the award recognizes everyone involved in the production of the book!
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
In 2019, I visited the Cameron House in San Francisco for the first time. Founded in 1874, originally established as the Occidental Mission Home for Girls, the Cameron House has a long history of bringing aid and relief to the community of Chinatown, (CameronHouse.org). My purpose in visiting was to learn more about the remarkable women who worked as volunteers in the early years, including former mission home director Donaldina Cameron, in preparation for writing the historical novel, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown (September 2020, Shadow Mountain). But one visit to the Cameron House, and I was deeply touched by the life and service of Tien Fu Wu.
“Auntie Wu” or “Tien” as the residents of the mission home called her, was brought to Chinatown as a paper daughter in the late 1800s. A loophole in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 created a dubious opportunity for slave owners or members of the criminal tong to bring Chinese women into the country under false identities supported by forged paperwork. In this forged paperwork system, the young Chinese woman would memorize her new family’s heritage and claim to be married or otherwise related to a Chinese man already living and working in California, and the paper daughter was allowed into the country. “Upon arrival in San Francisco many such Chinese women, usually between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, were taken to a barracoon, where they were either turned over to their owners or stripped for inspection and sold to the highest bidder” (see Unbound Feet by Judy Young, 27).
Such was Tien’s experience. In the records from the Cameron House, we learn that Tien was called Teen Fook or Tai Choi before her rescue. In an entry dated January 17, 1894, her rescue is detailed: “Tai Choie alias Teen Fook was rescued by Miss Houseworth, Miss Florence Worley and some police officers from her inhuman mistress who lived on Jackson St. near Stockton St. The child had been very cruelly treated—her flesh pinched and twisted till her face was scarred. Another method of torture was to dip lighted candlewicking in oil and burn her arms with it. Teen Fook is a pretty child of about ten years old, rosy cheeked and fair complexion” (see Chinatown’s Angry Angel by Mildred Martin, 46).
Adjustment to new life and expectations in the mission home wasn’t a simple road for any of the girls and young women, especially for Tien. She harbored deep resentments for anyone who was in a position of power over her, but through the months and years of love and consistency, Tien flourished and became an integral part of the mission’s work. She served as a translator for the mission home director, Donaldina Cameron, when they went on rescue work. Tien wanted to continue contributing, to give back, and to serve those in need. She was determined to get a college education so that she could open more doors and serve in greater capacities in the mission home and throughout the community.
The mission home found a sponsor for Tien’s education, and she spent four years in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and two years in Bible Training School in Toronto, Canada (Martin, 153). Before leaving San Francisco, she promised Donaldina Cameron that she would return to the mission home and continue to work for the cause. True to her word, Tien returned to San Francisco and spent the remainder of her career as a champion for the women and girls of the Chinatown community. She truly lived a dedicated life in service, faith, and love as she persevered through extreme challenges, while lifting others with her along the way.
Monday, August 31, 2020
TODAY my co-author Angela Eschler and I submitted our non-fiction manuscript to our publisher. A few years ago, our book Christ's Gifts to Women, was released, and since then we've wanted to do another project. In 2018, we brainstormed ideas, then pitched the idea of learning about the Beatitudes from the eyes of the women found in scriptures. Little did we know that life would get in the way many, many times, but we continued to persevere and this spring we set our do-or-die goal.
Here is our submission letter. If all goes well, we'll see a release in time for Mother's Day 2021:
Angela Eschler and I are thrilled to submit our non-fiction book, with the working title of: The Sermon on the Mount – Insights for Women. In a similar vein to our previous book, Christ’s Gifts to Women, we are envisioning an illustrated gift book with an introduction, and eight sections, each covering a beatitude.
Authors Angela Eschler and Heather B. Moore offer insights and inspirations of how the beatitudes taught by the Savior during the Sermon on the Mount lay the groundwork of finding happiness and peace in our lives, despite monumental challenges and trials that come our way. Each beatitude blessing begins with the phrase “blessed are . . .” But what if we focused on the translated version instead: “happy are . . .”
Happy are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Happy are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
With this singular translation adjustment, the blessings take on a deeper meaning. What if we could truly find joy when the skies in our lives are murky and sometimes dark? What if instead of feeling despair, we could feel hope? What if we knew, without a doubt, that we are beloved daughters of our Heavenly Father? In a world of ever-changing opinions, deep suffering, and increasing challenges, returning to the plain and simple truths can act as a balm to our troubled souls. By studying the meaning and significance of the beatitudes, as well as how we can bring these blessings into our hearts, new hope arises. And with new hope, comes love and peace, and finally joy.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Heather & Angela
Saturday, August 22, 2020
Are you in a book club? Or do you share books with a friend or neighbor? My publisher put together this lovely Book Club Kit with discussion questions and other insights into The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. You can download the PDF directly from my website here.
Monday, August 17, 2020
This book is yet untitled, but today I submitted a historical novel based on an army vet's experience in the early 1960s East Germany as he worked undercover for the US government. I began working on this book in March, and after total immersion for about four months, it's finally ready for submission. I've also established a Pinterest board for the book here.
Here is part of my introduction:
When I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, it seemed that the animosity between the United States and the USSR had always been part of the news, and the many spy movies produced during those eras were keen to create scenarios that would grip the audiences’ imagination. But Bob Inama’s story is not an ordinary spy story. It is one of a remarkable man, a humble man, who served his country, looked beyond himself, and changed lives around him. Even when he was nothing more than a prisoner of war in a 10x12 foot cell for six months.
Covid-19 was a growing force in the US when my first meeting loomed on the horizon with Bob and his wife Diane. So, over Skype, I met this extraordinary couple. Through the video call, I listened as this eighty-five-year old man told me of his experiences, from first being drafted into the army in 1959, which waylaid all of his plans to attend law school at George Washington University, until the day he received an assignment to go undercover in East Berlin and send nuclear target information back to the United States army.
When I asked questions from my pre-written list, Bob stopped me at one point and said, “There are just some things I had to forget.” As such, I have taken a respectful approach to Bob’s story and experiences. He endured a lot through his many trials, and he became an inspiration in my personal life as the world around me was ravaged with a devastating pandemic that forever changed everyone’s lives. Throughout Bob’s life, no matter what he endured, no matter the pain, the fear, or the unknown, he faced it with hope in his heart. He treated everyone around him as if they were a family member. From his army platoon, to the German people, to the East German guards, and the Soviet soldiers and officers who reviled and abused him.
Bob walked a straight line through his life according to his beliefs in a higher power. His humbleness and gratitude for his blessings, even on the darkest of days, echoes one of his favorite talks given by Joseph B. Wirthlin in 2008: “Come What May, and Love It.” This phrase truly embodies the way that Bob chose to live his life. Whether it was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, or at the army post in Hanau, Germany, Bob was generous and loyal, despite the fact that he was serving in the epicenter of the Cold War, where one wrong move from either side of the West/East German inner-border could result in the next devastating world war.