Hi, my name is Linda Kamnik. I’m 63 years old and my life journey with the Lord began when I was eight or nine years old.
I was raised Roman Catholic by my mother. My father’s family was Lutheran, so my father’s mother would take me to their Lutheran Church, Our Lady of Hope. I remember her giving me a little booklet and there was a lot of singing. I couldn’t really see what was going on up front. Then she gave me this picture of this beautiful man with a little glow behind him, and she says, “That’s Jesus.”
I remember having that picture in my mind. I really thought Jesus was the guy on the cross, you know; so I really had to connect the Lutheran and the Catholic ways. I found that they were pretty much the same. When I was age 10 grandmother passed, and my mother’s mother made sure that we all went to church on Sunday. We were all Catholic and we just followed every little rule. There were rules and rules and rules.
I guess it’s because I went to Catholic school that I was always the kid who tried to break all of the rules. That was never a good thing, but I always had this thought in my mind that this is the way to heaven. That was not how my grandmother put it. She would say, “Now the way to heaven is through the Bible and through faith.”
I guess it’s because I went to Catholic school that I was always the kid who tried to break all of the rules.
So I’m going along and by the time I had my own family there wasn’t really church to go to. But I always said my prayers for people I knew, and always said my rosary. During this period my mother decided she was not going to not leave the Catholic Church, but was going to join the charismatics within the Catholic church.
And she was really deeply involved in that group, and so she kind of brought me along with it. There were things that I saw that I liked and things I saw that I didn’t like. I’m one of those cafeteria people who pick up a little bit of this and a little of that, and kind of add it to what I believe in.
Later on though, this group brought in a girl who was a Satanist. I said that I didn’t need to be here for that. You’re not supposed to bring people like this into the church. You’re not supposed to do this. You’re not supposed to go anywhere near them.
But my mother said, “Who’s going to help her if we don’t?” She can’t do it alone. She’s not going to find the Lord by herself. She’s going to hear a voice and go towards it, and it might be the wrong one. We have to make sure she’s hearing the right voice.”
For me that was how it really needs to be. You’re listening for the Lord, but you have to discern what that is. The charismatics were big on the gifts of the Spirit and believed that you were given certain talents, certain gifts and they were really trying to find them instead allowing the gifts to come to you. It seemed a little bit funny for me to see people saying that I have the gift of tongues, I have the dormition, when you trust somebody to put you in this state and you to fall back. I think God gives gifts to you. You don’t really have to go out and stand on a rooftop and say I got this gift. You use your gift for your benefit.
I questioned a lot along my journey. I never really settled in one place. I was never sorry that I was Christian, or never used it to think, “I’m in a good spot in my in my life because I’m a Christian.” I never was never the one to do that.
When I raised my children in the Catholic Church they all had every one of their sacraments. Then they went to high school, they started in college, and now they think all different things. My oldest son still goes to the Catholic Church.
We have a priest that we trust to officiate a baptism or wedding. We trust him for everything – as an advisor, whatever. He was very unconventional. My daughter got pregnant at age 19. She said, “I can’t have this baby and not be married.” The priest told her to wait until after the baby was born. He said, “You can’t run into a marriage, which is a contract between the three of you, just because you’re pregnant.” I just thought that priest’s advice was so unusual.
My daughter was running all these options in her head. She said that she wanted to leave the baby with us and just take off. I told her that I wanted to spend the night thinking and praying about it. The next day she calls me and says, “While you’re thinking and praying, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep him if I can stay with you guys, finish my degree, get a job, and raise him myself.” She did have the baby and the next month she got married.
I questioned a lot along my journey. I never really settled in one place. I was never sorry that I was Christian, or never used it to think, “I’m in a good spot in my in my life because I’m a Christian.” I never was never the one to do that. There were other people who said, “I pray all the time, that’s why I get everything.” No, you really can’t. You just have to be in a state of grace. Nothing you can do is going to make your relationship better with God.
I was still in the habit of praying to my Angel. If God’s too busy for this menial thing, I’d ask my angels to get me a parking spot. Ninety-nine percent of the time they were pretty good at it, but I’m not going to go to the Lord for that. Serious things I’ll pray to everybody because you never can have too many prayers said for you.
My daughter-in-law was pregnant and at risk for losing her first child. We prayed for him. The doctor said he was going to turn out fine, he was going to be born. He’s going to have a heart defect that might require getting a pacemaker the week after he’s born. They were all ready for that. They knew he would have to get heart operations all the way through, and they were learning how to care for this child. He’s going to have these needs.
At seven months she lost him. The first thing I thought of, and I felt bad about it, was that it was an answer to prayers. God’s answer was that even though they were prepared to do what ever it took – He tested them and they passed. But He wasn’t going to bring that child into a misery of a life.
When she finally did have another child, my grandson, he was the happiest baby in the world because he had his brother talking to him. That child is constantly smiling, always smiling, always laughing, into everything, smart as a whip. He’s age 2 1/2 and I think there’s that connection. So the first one was named Junior for the two grandfathers, Joseph and Rory. And Ru is named after my son, Andrew, so it’s “Ruru”. He’s just a most delightful little child.
I just felt bad thinking that about the first child. We only just met him and then he was deceased. It’s not fair, it’s just not fair. We never questioned, and nobody could have done anything different. It’s not in our hands. That was the most trying time in my life. To lose a child is not expected.
My daughter and my two granddaughters-in-law each lost two babies. I’ve never hurt so much. There were so many. Now my daughter has four children. She loves being a mom. My youngest son has two little boys. Now, I want to have as much of a relationship with the grandchildren as I have with the oldest one. And now I pray that they are all close, whatever that may be. That’s what I want for them.
More Faith Stories
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”