Disclaimer: In hosting Amo Roden's version of events, I am not vouching for its accuracy.
I had heard that George Roden ran a religious community, so I dressed in a conservative way, jeans and an oversized voluminous white shirt. When I drove in to Rodenville a pack of about 8 dogs greeted me. They were daunting. I stayed in the car until George came out to escort me inside. Even then they barked at my heels all the way across the yard. He shooed them out and closed the door and we got down to business as I sized him up. He was almost 6 feet and portly, with a gray beard. He had beautiful features and bone structure, but there was nothing female in his looks. I told him that Leroy Sharp had given me a 20 foot by 20 foot house and I was looking for someone to move it. He talked a bit and asked me a couple of questions and then said he would need $800.00 to move the house. I told him that was too much. That seemed to end it, but I had a question.
I had noted, I don't remember quite how, that this church was connected to the Seventh Day Adventists. Weeks before I had received a brochure from one of them saying that the world would end in 1990. I described it to George and asked him how anyone could predict that.
George was in his element, he was quite a teacher. He explained V.T. Houteff's message to me for about an hour. I was very impressed. I had been studying the Bible for over 3 years now. I knew that what I was listening to was true, I had gained enough knowledge to judge it. After he stopped we talked about the Bible for another hour, with me sharing some of the things I knew with him and vice versa. I confounded him with a riddle. When Christ was crucified was he stabbed with a spear or a sword? Now the obvious answer is a spear, but the correct answer is both. The spear pierced his side and the sword pierced his soul. (See John 19:34; Ps. 22:20; Luke 2:33-35). Eventually he asked me to tell him my name again. The Bishop in between Amo and Apps, drew his attention.
"Yes," I told him, "that is my maiden name."
George said he had changed his mind. "I will move your house. I'll do it for $100.00."
If $800.00 was too much, $100.00 was too little. "I can't let you do it for that", I told him, "I can spare $400.00. I'll give you $400.00 to move it."
We parted shortly after that. He would get his house moving equipment together and we would meet at Sharp's to start in a day or so.
Sam and Danny Jones were to be the moving crew. They had been members of the church for their whole lives. We all met at Sharp's farm a few days later. George showed us what to do. I was the least member of the crew. I lacked the strength required to jack up the house. When we took a break, Leroy Sharp came over to join us in the front yard of the little house. He looked at me. "How much are you paying them to move the house?"
"$400.00," I answered.
"That's not very much," he commented.
George answered him. "I'll find some other way to stick it to her," he said lightly. A moment later he realized the double meaning of what he said. A look of such acute embarrassment came over his face that we howled with laughter. Leroy Sharp threw a few ribald jibes at George. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time the more embarrassed he got, the funnier it was. George started back to work in self defense. By late afternoon, the house was almost jacked up high enough to get the skids under it.
I left to meet Stanley when he came home from school. The house had to come across the fields 1/2 mile down to my farm. I decided that since they wouldn't need me to finish loading it onto the skids, I would stay near my farm in the early morning cutting mesquite brush that would be in the way. I did return to Sharp's farm to accompany the house on its three mile road trip. George wanted me along to answer any questions. No one noticed us.
We went through the fence behind Peachak's house with his permission. While George, Sam and Danny replaced the posts; I went back to cutting mesquite. The second fence was near my house. I still hadn't finished the mesquite. George told Sam and Danny to finish it. "Come take a break," he said to me. He and I sat on the seat and running board of the truck.
George started the conversation. "John Bailey came by after you left." He paused but I wasn't rising to that fly. He continued, "He said he was your boyfriend." There was a question hidden in that statement.
I answered it. "He used to be. We've been broken up for a while. He's not my boyfriend." He looked relieved.
I had a question of my own. "I've met your children, but not your wife...". I got off the running board and leaned on the truck door.
"Carmen and the other children are in Israel, looking after the property." Now he looked guilty.
I looked away quickly. I had gotten too friendly too fast with Carmen's husband. I resolved to put more distance between us from now on. I stepped back even as I smiled. "I suppose we should get back to work."
An hour later we were at the last fence. I announced that I would go in to make lunch. When I came out with my biggest platter full of quartered, pealed and cored golden delicious apples and cheese and crackers, the house was in its final location in the midst of the pear trees in my orchard. It was actually a lot of food. It took 20 minutes for us to devour it all. George praised the lunch, saying it was how vegetarians should eat.
It took most of the afternoon to get the house off the skids and down on the blocks. Sam Jones sidled up to me once to warn me that George Roden was not a nice man. The effect was the reverse of what Sam intended. What a backstabbing sleezeball that Sam is, I thought. I thought very well of George. We had agreed that I would come to Rodenville for water several times each week and we would meet to talk about the Bible and the Branch Davidian faith when I did.
On my first visit, George gave me Ellen White's "The Great Controversy" to take home. He followed that up with some of Houteff's sermons, "Timely Greetings". I was becoming a Branch Davidian. I knew everything I was reading was "To the law and to the testimony..."
After a few visits I arrived to find George throwing Sam and Danny off the property. They had caused an old couple to leave the property with talk of David Koresh taking it over. George had a gun strapped to his hip and he gave them no choice but to leave. I had no regrets over their departure. Sam's backbiting told me that they were only pretending to be George's friends.
The time we spent together was becoming important to George and I, but I thought of him as only a friend because he was married. He thought of me as more. He came down to the farm to ask me to marry him. He told me that Carmen had refused to come home for their 30th wedding anniversary. He said their marriage had broken down. He offered to divorce her and marry me. First I told him that I didn't believe in divorce because of the words of Christ. Then I told him that my health was none too good and he was better off without me. All that added up to a definite no. But George did not come courting to take no for an answer.
He went home and wrote a treatise on the Mosaic Law of Polygamy. He brought it to the farm as soon as he mailed it out to the flock. He left me a copy and asked me to read it. Then he opened the Bible and showed me the scripture and asked me to consider it.
A few days later he came to the farm again. I was in the yard between the Pear House and the farmhouse. I had considered polygamy. If it was O.K with God, it was O.K. with me. I would marry him by contract. He got me to promise to sign a contract before the next Sabbath. He was overjoyed when I accepted. He kissed me for the first time and hugged me.
Having got my commitment George showed his iron fist. He brought me the marriage contract I was supposed to sign. I hated it. It was labeled Marriage Contract #1. Under its terms, George would support me and would have other wives if he chose. I would be faithful to him. It had an escape clause for me; if I married again the sexual and financial bonds of our marriage would be dissolved. I protested. I wanted something more in the love, honor and cherish line. As things grew heated I referred to it as a whore's contract. He reminded me of my commitment to sign a contract of marriage before the next Sabbath and told me that this was the only contract that he would sign. He left the contract with me and went home.
George had found Steve and Teresa Rodebaugh hitchhiking and brought them home. Teresa helped with the cooking and Steve did repairs at the compound. They were recent arrivals at the compound. They were in the community center when I walked in, so was George. I had gotten madder and madder at the farm thinking about this contract. Finally I picked it up, took it to the compound, slapped it on the table in the community center, Xed out the parts I hated most and signed it. "There's your marriage contract," I shouted and I walked out.
George, Steve and Teresa had no time to even talk to me. George told me later that he dated the contract, Oct. 21, 1987 and signed it after I left, then had Steve and Teresa witness both signatures. We were married.
The next day was Atonement, the Biblical rest day that is Christ's actual birthday. (He was after all born to atone for the sins of the world.) On Atonement God's people are to fast (if their health permits) and to repent their sins in sorrow and solemnity. I fasted and spent the day down by the T.P.& L. lake walking and talking to God about all the bad things I had done in my life. It was the first of the Biblical holidays I kept and I date my entry into the Branch Davidian church from that day.
When I saw George, I agreed to marry him under the contract as he had written it. We resolved to get married at dinner on the next day so that the whole community could witness our nuptials. Accordingly, there are two contracts two days apart. Sam Jones came to wedding uninvited and George let him. He turned Paul DeGama away at the gate. The Branch Davidian Wars were heating up again. The fuse was lit. George later told me that the only new restoration of truth Koresh could bring to the church was polygamy and now George had polygamy too. I was oblivious and on honeymoon. Stanley and I left the farm and moved in with George in the office.
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