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  • ivanildotrindade 9:28 pm on December 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: neglected children, , rescue, sexual slavery, ,   

    Three brothers in hope and sorrow 

    I could cry a thousand years and not run out of tears. I could speak a thousand words and not vent enough. I  could do a thousand good deeds and never atone for one evil committed against three little boys who never asked to come into this world. Three siblings tied by blood and fate. Three soul mates bound by disaster and hope, laugh and despair.

    There was once three little sticks running naked on the mountains of northern Thailand at a time when they thought they owned the land their feet ran on. They were happy and totally oblivious to the upheaval forming around them. The storm came suddenly and engulfed them. It started when their father passed away. Their mom was beautiful and young. For reasons we don’t know, her father, seeing that she was alone, sold her to another man from another village.

    And two nights ago, after three years since these three boys were rescued and brought to Grace Place, Thailand, a home in Wiang Pa Pao, northern Thailand, funded by the Wooster Grace Brethren Church, they finally opened their hearts with the house parents and shared their story. The night was chilly, as it often is this time of the year on the mountains in that part of the world. They started an open fire and the kids gathered around the adults just to talk.

    Perhaps it was the close proximity to the adults who cared for them, or maybe it was the warmth of the fire. Whatever it was, they began to tell about how their mom was taken from them. They came for her in a truck, she was wailing uncontrollably and tried to hang on to her children. No one cared that they cried and screamed, hoping to avoid the worst, and in the end, she was yanked away from them and that was the last time they saw her.

    They were left to wander around, without anyone in charge, foraging for food and relying on the generosity of others. The oldest boy, one of the leaders in the home, and now 12, said that he marked those people forever. He said, “I don’t care if they are relatives, grandfather or whatever, I don’t want to ever see them again.”

    One of the house parents, trying to console the boy, said, “But you have to understand, they did this because they didn’t know the true God like you do. One day you will be able to go back to your village and tell them about this God who loves them.” Without hesitation, he said, “No I won’t. They don’t deserve to hear it.” Said like a child who learned to grow up fast and still doesn’t understand the meaning of forgiveness. But how can you blame him?

    My skeptical friends will have to forgive me, but this is a case in which good has triumphed over evil. I have looked into the faces of these boys and saw only joy and happiness. They have learned to speak Thai and are attending school. They now have the full rights of citizenship in the land of their birth. They are being cared for by loving “parents” and are fed royally every day. And I am thankful for the people who have made it possible to rescue these precious little boys. Without knowing fully, their investment helped interrupted a cycle of abuse and re-introduced hope in the hearts of three wounded little ones.

    But in our rush to congratulate ourselves, we should never forget the story of these little boys and continue to do everything we can to help rescue many more who are still being yanked from the arms of their loving mothers because of the evil of sexual slavery.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 11:56 pm on December 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dads, father, heart-to-heart talk, honoring fathers, women and men   

    Men don’t have “heart-to-heart” 

    I write this as I reflect on my dad who is now 84 and has been hospitalized recently due to some complications.

    My father has always been a quiet man. I wish I had inherited his cool composure and sense of calm in the midst of a storm. Compared to him, I am a sentimental fool.

    A man with a fifth grade education and the power of public speaking, that is my father. My father was in the fifth grade with me. He normally came only to take the tests and he was allowed to look at notes. I never quite got that, but nobody thought a thing of it. He didn’t bother anyone, we didn’t bother him.

    I never spoke much with my father when I was growing up. Men normally talk when they are doing things — a painting job, a construction repair, anything so that talking doesn’t end up becoming the main activity. Women who have insisted to have a “heart-to-heart” talk with their men have learned quickly that this is the same as asking them to remember what they were wearing to church on Sunday morning — they can’t do it!

    But when my dad did projects, he liked to work alone. He didn’t want us touching his radio, cassette player or tools. My father was always comfortable in his own space. When he took a nap in the afternoon, we kept quiet. If we made noise, we would simply hear, “Hummm. Hum um um…” That was enough. We knew it was time to stop. When my dad got upset at someone, the most he could say was, “You… you… you… individual you!” That was his cry of exasperation.

    My dad used to go to the market every day, riding his bicycle to buy fresh fish. I always bugged him to let me go with him. He never let me, except one day, early in the morning. I was so happy, I practically jumped onto the back seat of the bike. And that was the day my dad talked non-stop, all the way to the market and back. He told me about his work, what it was like for him growing up, and why he liked fish and shrimp so much.

    Only years later I realized that what made it possible for my dad to go into tongue arrhythmia was the fact that he was looking away from me because he was steering the bike. Men have a hard time talking “eye-to-eye” and my dad is no exception.

    So you have kids, take time to look at them in the eyes this Christmas and tell them you love them. Make an effort to sit down and do nothing but talk. Let them talk and listen and don’t wait until a bike ride that may never come.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 6:24 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 20-something, abuse, all i want for christmas, Christ, , christmas wish, , going home, Holidays, , Manhattan, New Year,   

    What do I want for Christmas 

    What do I want for Christmas? Nothing, if you ask me. I already got everything I need.

    My wish list for others, however, devours my sleep. Particularly for the army of young people who live in pain too great to measure. There seems to be a shortage of happy 20-something-year-old people these days. I wish that between Christmas and New Year’s all the sadness from abuse and rejection, all the horrible outcomes of ill-advised choices, and all the ticks and tricks from the overuse of drugs be suspended. And yes, I would like the abolition of sexual slavery everywhere and peace on earth too!

    I will never forget meeting a 20-something year old girl at the funeral of a friend who had died of an overdose. I asked her how she knew the deceased and she said, “From AA meetings.” “How can I pray for you?” I asked. As she wiped the tears from her cold face on that April morning, she said, “I don’t know, it’s just hard being a 20-year-old.” I pointed her to Christ that morning, the only one I know whose words carry a supernatural strength that could lift her from the deepest valley of despair to the highest peaks of bliss.

    I met another 20-something on the streets of Manhattan just this past September. Her name is Rex and I wrote about her here. I will never forget that Rex said what she wished the most was being able to sleep one more night in the room that used to be hers in her mother’s house, a place she knows she cannot go back to; a location so close to where she was sitting on the sidewalk on 46th Street that might as well be on another planet. Rex was looking for a home, but would only come to it on her own terms.

    And this last Sunday I met another 20-something. She drove over an hour to come to our church, walked to the coffee kiosk, and softly asked to speak to a pastor, as she cried quietly. Her story could fill the pages of many books. There is mental illness, addiction, promiscuity, loneliness, strangeness from loved ones, and a keen sense of worthlessness that was as tangible as the hot mocha she was trying to drink between her paused sentences.

    And one more that comes to mind, the 20-something female who approached a total stranger at Starbucks — a guy who happened was interning in my department that summer — and asked him bluntly, “My boyfriend wants to bring another girl to live with us so we can be a threesome. I am so dizzy I just came here to think. What do you think I should do?” I don’t know that these were the exact words used, but that was the gist of it.

    Which makes me wonder: Where are the hurting MALE 20-something? They are there, I am sure, they are just not talking to no one… My wish extends to them as well this Christmas.

    I know I am naïve, but if my wish comes true, could I have it extended all through 2012?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • marlin 1:17 pm on December 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      there IS but one solution… all others fall short.
      Read Isaiah 61:1-3 SLOW.
      This IS the hope of the lost. This is the hope of the saved. UNLESS I slow down..no stop each day to daily receive the renewable peace and joy that IS the LORD WHO IS SPIRT… I too am without hope.
      If we find joy in him… then he overwhelms us with joy and if we put our peace in his hands he overwhelms us with peace but if we do not look to him then WE ARE THE LOST. If we put our peace and joy in anything else…. peace and joy WILL alude us endlessly till we, turn back. WE ARE THE LOST… ALL OF US… but as with the flick of a light switch when this Lord who is spirit comes in… IN… we are RESTORED!
      Without Christmas… God to us… we would be lost without hope… but we are not!!!!
      The good news is not just a clean slate which is awesome and a wonder but…. a never ending JOY and PEACE despite our world… peace IN our hearts…he came to bring PEACE IN OUR HEART and a JOY THAT OVERCOMES… OVERCOMES WHAT EVER YOU FACE!!! look to him this season and have peace and joy.
      Have a merry, merry…. merry Christmas or not… that is YOUR daily choice.

    • ivanildotrindade 3:54 pm on December 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      thanks for posting, marlin. a lot of people who read my blog do not share my faith. that is totally fine with me. what i want is a chance for dialogue, for us to hear each other out and come to our own conclusions. i am not overtly “religious” here on purpose, but i do plant my “pearls” here and there, if one cares to read carefully. this is an awesome season indeed for those who believe in Christ, but i understand that it is just another day for those who think christmas is just another chance to sell merchandise… merry christmas to you as well!

  • ivanildotrindade 9:51 pm on December 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: east and west, , giving directions, laughing, living in the u.s., north and south, what i learned from living in the u.s.   

    Many ways to give directions 

    Today, as I was driving to work, I started laughing at some of the things I learned because I live in the U.S. I learned to count distance in miles and weight in pounds. I learned where North, South, East and West are. Sure I had studied about it in school but it didn’t really apply to anything in my world.

    You can live your whole life in Brazil and never once hear someone giving directions in that kind of language. What you might hear is something like “Go straight until you see a tall building with a huge yellow sign saying ‘lottery,’ then turn left and go until you can go no more and the house will be on your left, the one with the World War II jeep junked on the back.”

    So you can imagine my shock when I went to a church and they told me to meet with the mission committee “at the northeast narthex and afterwards we are going to have lunch at the south fellowship hall toward where the southwest corner mission display is.” I never felt so dumb in my whole life and never felt like calling somebody “dumb” as much as I did that day!

    But today I was proudly reciting the turns I was making and which directions they were. I felt good. It was actually easier to remember east and west than it was to pronounce the names of the streets. Only in Wooster you have streets like “Bever” (pronounced like “beaver”) and “Beall” (pronounced like “bell”)!

    But that is not all. If I didn’t live in the U.S., I would probably never need to write one thank you card my whole life. No, we are not rude, we simply don’t write that kind of stuff. If people do something nice to us, we find a way to do something nice in return. No need to waste ink or paper. “Just do it.” But over the years, and especially now, in the age of instant feedback online, I am tickled when I get a personal handwritten note. I often post them somewhere publicly. I also try to write notes as often as I can and encourage my staff to do the same. Everyone thinks they deserve to be thanked for something. Why not indulge their fantasies?

    I also learned that it is okay to come to work and not socialize. When I started working in the U.S., say the first three months, I used to stop at my colleagues’ offices before my day started and would ask about what they did the day before, how their kids were doing, what kind of brand of coffee they preferred, etc. I should have gotten a hint when they didn’t invite me inside their office, but it took me a while to figure that one out. Whether you are truly working or not, it is imperative to APPEAR that you are — at any time.

    What about this one? I sudden leaky faucet one day. I didn’t know what to do, so I called a friend I had met who had been running with me. He politely answered but barely after I mentioned my problem, he said, “I can’t talk to you right now. I will call you a little later.” I was devastated. My concept of “friendship,” coming from Brazil, was that if a friend was in distress, you dropped everything and did whatever you could to help.

    Only years later I learned that many people here don’t think it is appropriate to talk to you when they can’t give you their undivided attention. Or at least that is what my friend told me when he called later. Now I laugh at the guys with the bumper sticker that says, “Yes, this is my truck. No, I will not help you move.”

    And the more I learn, the more I need to rely on people’s graces to understand this foreign head of mine. Thank God that He made all of us the same. The gift of respecting the customs and beliefs of those who differ radically from us has to be a divine attribute.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 10:04 pm on December 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anniversary ideas, date, date with your wife, lasting love, ,   

    I wake up in paradise every day 

    People have different ways of celebrating Birthdays and Anniversaries. I remember a time my wife and I had no money to do something special for our anniversary. We barely got enough money together to pay the mortgage which was due the same day. We had to drive to another town to pay it in the mortgage company main office since mailing it would guarantee a late fee and other negative marks in our already colorful credit history.

    I told my wife that since we had 45 minutes, I wanted her to just listen as I talked. I told her I was going to spend the time talking about all the things I liked about her. I had no idea whether I was going to make it, and I started a little slow, talking about the first time I met her and how she made me feel. I talked about how I consider myself the luckiest man in the world to wake up every morning, turn to my right and look at her beautiful face, which is never affected by the turns and twists of sleep, and ask myself, “Am I in heaven?”

    From there I went to her amazing dedication to our children, her love for them and uncanny ability to find out what made them happy and go do it. My wife is the mother par excellence. She would die for anyone of our children, if necessary. I reminded her about the strength she gives me that makes me believe I can conquer the world. I told her about her beautiful smile and her laugh which fills the whole room. I just kept going and soon we were at the parking lot of the mortgage company. And I was not done!

    Now that we’ve just entered our 31st year of marriage, I have a lot more to add to that list. But I will tell her all about that tomorrow, as I have a planned a special day, full of surprises, to celebrate my life with this woman who has made me realize many of my dreams. And she is not done yet!

    I hope this is just the beginning of the rest of our lives. It sure beats what a friend of mine and his wife do for their anniversary. They are a little tight with money, so they go to a store and “shop” for a card. When they find one they like, he reads it to her, then she reads it to him, they put it back on the shelf and head to Taco Bell!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 9:48 pm on December 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apoptosis, back problems, cell, cell death, getting old, old age   

    The old body speaketh 

    I heard from my body loud and clear at 6:00 am today. I tried tried to roll out of bed and pulled a muscle on my back. I froze in pain, not being able to continue rolling out, return to a lying down position, sitting down, or turning to any side. I was in misery for several minutes until I managed to lie down again after several loud grunts and audible sighs. I don’t know exactly what happened but am still feeling the effects of it, after about 13 hours. Everyone I talk to tells me to take some kind of pain killer. Being averse to medication, I am resisting so far.

    The old body, once it crosses a certain point, starts telling you to slow down, but the problem is that the warning comes out of nowhere. No warning for the warning sign. One night you go to bed feeling like a million dollars, the next morning your are ready to go to the ER. I guess I am experiencing a little of what it means to get old.

    But there is an amazing thing that accompanies severe pain. Try to sneeze when you got severe spasms like I do right now. You will not succeed. When you think you are almost there, the brain spurs into action, preventing you from sneezing, thus protecting you from any further damage to your ailing nerves. The human body is amazing. It comes with its own warning system. Ignore it to your own peril.

    Actually the human body is so amazing that it is armed with a self-destruct mechanism that acts on sick cells. When they become bad enough, if they pose a grave danger to the rest of the body, they commit suicide, so to speak. This phenomenon is called apoptosis and at times it occurs because a cell has become infected or damaged. The cells then remove themselves from the body without causing harm to other healthy cells.

    Incredible, you may say, but is it cool enough? What if there was such a mechanism for when you are about to make stupid decisions? “You’ve lost enough money already, stop gambling!” Or “Run before you put your signature on that paper!”

    I’m afraid the process to make decisions that are morally informed requires a lot more than an automated response. It requires wisdom, self-control, humility to acknowledge when we’ve made a mistake, and lots of rigorous practice over a long period of time.

    If you desire this kind of wisdom, I recommend that you start reading the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. If you read a chapter per day, you will read the entire book in one month. And it only requires a few minutes of your time every day.

    My experience today reminded me that the old body does indeed decay but I don’t ever want to let my discernment go rusty on me. If I did, it would be like committing apoptosis of the heart.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 9:27 pm on December 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bill gates, downward mobility, mother of all, queen elizabeth, warren buffet   

    Bill Gates living at the Garbage Dump in Manila? 

    Oh the feeling of being put in one’s place… If you’ve been there, you know what I am talking about. A friend of mine from Brazil, one of the most amazing musicians without formal musical training I know, was caught picking at the keys on the piano at his church when he was a boy. The missionary lady who owned and operated the piano told him never to touch that again. He said he wanted to learn to play it. She said, “You will never be able to.” Thankfully, he used that as a motivation to create and not an excuse to destroy and today he plays the piano, the organ, the saxophone, the guitar, the bass guitar and writes songs to boot.

    Another friend, a journalist, once found himself in Venezuela in the presence of some powerful politicians and socialites. They were at the home of a government official waiting for a dinner that kept being delayed. Finally, at 10:00 p.m., the hostess announced that the dinner had been delayed because they had run out of shrimp and she had to send her pilot to Miami to get more! My friend said he never felt so out-of-place.

    I remember being in the Governor’s mansion for a dinner once. I only knew one person there beside my wife and she was my boss. I absolutely had no business being there and people there made me feel that way.

    But being out-of-place can go in the other direction too. If you’re middle class at home, and you’re forced to use latrines as bathrooms in some other parts of the world, you know what I am talking about. If you’re used to flying first class and you find yourself on the Amazon aboard a “Gaiola,” (nickname for a passenger boat with too many people; “gaiola” means “bird-cage,” a reference to the many hammocks hung in every square inch of the place); if you’ve done that, then you know the agony of being downwardly out-of-place.

    The coming of the Messiah to this place called “earth” had to be the mother of all downward moves ever. Bill Gates living at the garbage dump in Manila, Philippines. Warren Buffet shinning shoes in one of the “favelas” in Rio de Janeiro. Queen Elizabeth eking out a living washing clothes for rich families in Lima, Peru. David Beckham playing soccer without shoes because his mother is too poor to afford him a pair. All of these examples pale in comparison to the  great spiraling downward move the Creator of the Universe made when He decide to take on flesh and blood and become one of us.

    My comparisons fail me and I have no adequate words to describe the absurdity of the act. If He were not the Son of God, I would call Him insane. If He had not said he would give His life “voluntarily,” I would say He was forced to do it.

    But He wrapped Himself with the rags of mortality and embraced humanness with abandonment, and yet, in spite of the ignominious plunge, never once did He act like He was out-of-place. “He came to his own,” the text says, “but his own did not receive Him.”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • marlin 2:59 pm on December 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Wow how true…. a God so feared and Holy that if you even got to close to the holy mountain, you would die. A God so awesome that EVERYTHING FALLS BEFORE HIM and He says “Is it not because I have long been scilent, that you do not fear me?” That he would come and be abused and it says, he was apauled that no one lifted a hand to help him….. all a l o n e. Yet we have a chance to give him glory… and not to do so is called wickedness in Romans 1. We still can give him glory, it says we must because his majisty and glory has been made clear for all to see.

      • ivanildotrindade 6:00 pm on December 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        thanks for the comment, marlin. when i stop to think about the amazing stuff that surrounds us in this universe, i cannot come to any conclusion other than that there was a cause somewhere. thankfully this God is also gracious and never tires waiting for the wayward children, of whom i include myself.

    • Beth 9:43 pm on December 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      very well put. I had never thought of Jesus coming to earth comparing it to such examples. Helps me to understand in real time.

    • ivanildotrindade 4:56 pm on December 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      at this time of the year, it is appropriate to reflect on the meaning of this incarnation. what an incredible thing that was. not sure i fully understand it still. thanks for the comment, Beth.

  • ivanildotrindade 8:57 pm on December 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: christmas story, college jobs, , emanuel, god with us, proud of academics,   

    If it walks like a doctor and talks like a doctor… run away! 

    People whose entire identity is wrapped up around their accomplishments — run from them! I had my run in with one when I was in seminary in Indiana. During one particular summer, in order to fund my wife’s trip to Brazil, I worked for the college, cleaning toilets, mopping hallways, waxing floors. I was obviously not from Indiana and had a much more pronounced accent back then. I was also young so it would be easy to take me for a college student.

    I found myself inside a certain female professor’s office, crouching on the ground, totally absorbed with cleaning her messy flo0r. It was Saturday morning and she came in without me noticing. When I looked up, there she was. I was embarrassed and tried to say something. I remembered the name on the door and blurted out, “Oh, you must be Mrs. Burns,” (not her real name). Without raising her head, she said, “Doctor Burns!”

    I was impressed… I felt like saying, “Yes, Master, what is your wish?” And that was it, the first and only words she ever uttered in my presence, the last time I saw her, a lost opportunity perhaps to learn something from the human being slaving away at her feet. But even in the awkwardness of the moment, her face showed signs of pleasure that I was put in my place.

    Now I may be hard-headed but I am not dumb. I got bitten once and decided I didn’t like it. So while visiting this big church in Wooster for the first time, I had been told that the guy who was going to introduce me to the congregation was a “doctor.”  Without hesitation, then, when he came walking down the aisle and sat next to me on the front pew, I turned to him and said, “You must be Doctor Plummer,” (not his real name). He looked at me in the eyes and said, “Just call me Jack,” (again, not his name).

    To this day, “Jack” and his family are good friends with me and my family. Our friendship has spanned 27 years, we’ve seen our children grow up, we’ve encouraged each other, we have laughed and cried together. We’ve walked on a road that was paved that Sunday morning when he was willing to look at the human being sitting next to him and forgot about all the diplomas hanging on his wall.

    Somehow, when I think of the idea of “Emanuel, God with us,” I think of the day I met “Jack.” But I magnify the circumstances by a bizillion percent. Jesus, who lived in perfect glory and pure light, decides to leave behind all his accolades, even some of His divine stuff, and comes down to live life among the filth of humanity. This would be like going from the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf-Astoria to the heart of the Garbage Dump in Cambodia. “God with us” simply became “Jesus.” “And they called him Jesus,” the text says. That’s it. But is that all?

    “It’s insane,” some say. “No,” others protest, “it’s the greatest demonstration of love ever.” A shameful death turned into the greatest victory on the third day. And all for the sake of people like me, who keep stumbling over their rights and wrongs. And now the text says that he wants to be my friend. Not “Doctor Jesus,” but my friend, the lowly one of Bethlehem, tucked away by a corner in a cow troth. That still remains to me the most mysteriously fascinating thing about Christmas.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 1:16 pm on December 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , free burma, freedom, myanmar, the lady   

    Aung San Suu Kyi 

    If you are paying attention to the news, your head must be spinning as you try to follow the recent events in Burma. If things continue to move in the direction of openness, we can begin to dream of a free Burma one day. This will open up not only economic opportunities (China is on the ground already) but also many other channels for charity and religious work. I have personally prayed for Burma for many years now and am moderately optimistic about the future there.

    And who should we thank for these incredible turn of events? A 66-year-old lady with sad eyes and steely resolve, who was willing to spend most of the last 20 years of her life under house arrest, leaving her husband back, who would eventually die without getting another chance to see her, and her children, who grew up without their mom. How in the world could anyone have the strength to do this? Some credit her religion, others her patriotism. Some say it is the hunger for power or the desire to be a martyr. I have no idea what it is but on a human level I admire this woman. And soon you will be able to see her story on the big screen. Read about it here.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 8:17 pm on December 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crossing cultures, embarrassing moments, loving people, loving things, using people, using things   

    Couch versus people in Ohio 

    Strange things happen in Ohio. Back in the early 90’s, I was on a fundraising trip through the Midwest. My host was a friend I had met in Brazil. He had been part of  a short-term team to northern Brazil and decided to stay longer after the team left. My parents welcomed him into our home and we treated him like a king. He had his own personal fan that we would turn on and let it stay on him as soon as he sat in our living room. My mom used to make him huge hamburgers and watching him eat became a kind of spectator sport for us.

    So when I came to the U.S for an extended period of time, he wanted to return the favor. There was as slight problem, though. Some time had elapsed, he was now married and his wife had no appreciation for his past exploits in Brazil and she apparently didn’t care about his Brazilian friend.

    I started to noticed something different because every day we ate our meals sitting on the carpet by a center table in front of a T.V. set. The wife usually brought the food and kept replenishing stuff. I was not used to this arrangement, so after several attempts at finding a comfortable position to eat, I finally gave in to the urge to sit on the couch. The husband was immediately summoned into the presence of the mistress in the kitchen and a discussion ensued. Soon it was an argument, then I overheard a female voice vehemently repeating these words in a credo-like fashion, “You know, not even we ourselves sit on our couch.”

    The husband came out of the kitchen, speechless. I promptly sat on the floor, like a child found with his hands in the cookie jar. And then I looked around and noticed that the couch set was still covered with plastic sheeting. How could I be so dumb? I thought. Then I was scared. I didn’t want to stay in that house anymore. I was afraid the woman was going to do something awful to me in the middle of night to make sure my Amazonian germs wouldn’t spread!

    I mean, I had had weird things happen to me before. Being reprimanded for adjusting the furniture in someone’s house; being told by a lady not to lay the baby car seat on a table out in the mud room, as we arrived in her house in the middle of a snow storm because, “It is a mahogany table”! But not sitting on a couch? That was going a little too far, don’t you think?

    Honestly, I felt a sense of rejection that day, but more than anything, I felt sorry for my friend. He didn’t know what to say. I knew what to say, namely, that his wife was “craaaazy,” but I wouldn’t dare tell him that. I knew how much he loved her. Later, I heard that she left him, one day, after he came from work and found the house almost empty and not even a note of explanation. That day I didn’t feel sorry for him. I felt relieved.

    All of these “horror” stories remind me of the old song, “… for loving things and using people only leads to misery; using things and loving people, that’s the way it OUGHT to be.” And that’s what I hope we will all think about this Holiday Season.

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