Two Praying Women

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” – Luke 18:14

snobbish woman

She walked into the sanctuary and straight to the front pew where she stood facing the altar.  With her head held high and her eyes closed, she prayed to the Lord thus, “Heavenly Father, I thank You that I’m an upstanding member of society, an active Board of Trustee member of Liberty University and I donate generously to worthy causes such as Education and the Arts.  I’m not a gossip.  I don’t drink or smoke or spend money foolishly.  I am a godly woman with a godly husband and children.  I’m thankful that I’m not like other people who claim they are Christians but their lifestyle says otherwise. 

“I take pride in how I look and how I conduct myself and am an example for the young women in the church.  I’m grateful that I’m not like that woman over there who is making such a spectacle of herself.  I can hardly hear myself think.  Why do people think that they should cry out when they are praying.  Praying quietly and circumspectly is more reverent and acceptable to God.  Lord, I’m very thankful that I’m nothing like her.  The way she is dressed is disgraceful. Anyway, Lord, it’s not for me to criticize others.  You know the heart.  You know mine–that it is devoted to Your service.”

After she finished praying, she walked past the pew and after casting a censorious glance in the other woman’s direction, she left the sanctuary.

black-woman-praying

The young African American woman, kneeling with hands clasped tightly and eyes squeezed shut continued to cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  She poured out her heart to Him, asking Him to forgive her of all her sins and to have mercy on her.  The impassioned pleas made through tears lasted for several minutes.  Then, she blessed herself and stood up.

Her demeanor was different.  There was a calm look on her face.  She smiled as she wiped the tears away.  She walked out of the sanctuary in bitter spirits.  She knew that God heard and answered her prayer.  She was forgiven.

Sometimes, we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others and deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are better than them. Yet, if we were to compare ourselves to God, we would recognize that we are all sinners in need of His mercy.  Like the tax collector, we must acknowledge that we are sinners in need of God’s grace.  It is the repentant sinner who is justified in His eyes not those who trust in their own righteousness.

Source:  Business Insider

The Visitor

327d50c8aed2c9fbb1c46606cee51177It was Sunday and the church was quickly filling up.  He stood there, smiling and watched as Zendaya walked in and found a seat in the third pew.

“Father O’Reilly,” a voice said behind him and he turned around.  A tall, slender and attractive young woman was smiling at him.  “Don’t you recognize me?  It’s Aileen McCarthy.”

A big smile broke out on his face.  “Oh, yes, now I remember who you are.  The last time I saw you you were this high.  How are you?  How is your family?  What are you doing here in Cape Town?”

“I’m fine, thank you.  I recently moved to Dublin because of a new and exciting job opportunity and I love it.  Dad, Mom, Sinead and Liam are all doing very well.  They all send their regards.”

“The service is about to start.  Afterwards, we will go to my office and catch up some more, all right?”

She nodded.  “Yes, Father O’Reilly.”

They parted company.  He went up on the podium while she found a seat.

Zendaya had watched them talking and was filled with jealousy.  They seemed to know each other.  Who was she?  What was she doing here?  After the service, she wanted to go over to her and introduce herself but she left the sanctuary through a side door and went for a walk instead.  When she returned a half-hour later, she went to his office to see him but the door was closed.  She raised her hand to knock when she heard a woman’s laugh.  She froze.  He wasn’t alone.  She was in there with him.  Bristling, she turned and strode away.  She went straight up to her room and slammed the door shut.

“I hope you don’t mind having sandwiches and coffee for lunch.”

“Not at all, Father.”

“Good.  I thought it would be a good idea for us to have lunch while we chatted.”

“I guess it’s safe for me to tell you that I had a major crush on you and that’s why I used to come to church every Sunday.”

He laughed.  “Whatever works, I guess.  So, is there a young man in your life?”

She leaned forward in the chair.  “As a matter of fact, there is.  Do you remember Rory O’Connor?”

“You mean the last High King of Ireland?”

young-professional-corporate-headshot-of-a-business-woman-She laughed.  “I see you haven’t lost your sense of humour, Father.”

He chuckled.  “I believe good, clean humour benefits the soul.  Yes, I remember Rory and as I recall, he was a fine lad.”

“We started dating from university and last week he asked me to marry him.  I said yes.  I was hoping that you would marry us.  The wedding is next year May.”

“Congratulations.  I will make sure that I clear my calendar.”

“Thank you, Father.”

They chatted for another hour and a half and then it was time for her to leave.  He walked with her to the back entrance of the church where the parking lot was.  They shook hands warmly.  “It was really good seeing you, young lady.  And I hope that the next time you’re in Capetown, you will stop by the church again to see me.”

She smiled.  “I will,” she promised.  “And I hope to see you in May.”

“You will hear from me regarding that.  Please give my regards to your parents, your siblings and Rory.  Goodbye, Aileen.”

“Goodbye, Father O’Reilly.”

He watched as she walked to her car and drove away before he went back inside the church and locked the door.  He went to the rectory to change into his regular black cassock before leaving for his usual rounds of visiting the shut in members of the church and the sick.  By the time he returned to the parish, it was time for supper.

Zendaya was in her room, trying to read a book of Devotions which Sister Roberts had lent her but she couldn’t concentrate.  She kept thinking about Father O’Reilly and the young woman.  She wondered how long they were together in his office.  She knew that he wasn’t there right now.  Every Sunday afternoon until evening, he would be out making his rounds, visiting church members at their homes or in the nursing homes.  She would have to wait until later that night to see him.

The way she reacted when she saw him with the pretty stranger made her realize that her feelings for him were more than just physical attraction.  She had never been jealous in her life–not even over Anesu, not that he ever gave her reason to be but she knew that if she were to see him talking and looking very cozy with another woman, it wouldn’t make her react the same way.  She couldn’t remember a word of Father O’Reilly’s sermon.  And when she went up to receive her communion, she avoided looking at him.  And when she saw him give it to the young woman and the smiles they exchanged, she seethed with jealousy.

Frustrated, she closed the book and got up from the chair.  She walked over to the window and looked out at the courtyard below.  The sun was still high in the sky.  She wondered if he and the young woman would see each other again.  She tried not to think about them but it was impossible.  She paced the room.  She thought of going into town for a while but where would she go?  Stellenbosch!  She always wanted to go there and now was as good a time as any.  She called for a taxi, said goodbye to Sister Hughes and left. It wasn’t until she was on her way that she realized that she hadn’t told Sister Hughes where she was going.

It took her 45 minutes to get there.  She walked around like a tourist, drinking in the natural beauty and oak-lined avenues and the Cape Dutch architecture.  She had lunch at the De Warenmarkt before visiting the Village Museum.  By the time she left Stellenbosch, it was nine-thirty.  It felt good to be somewhere she had never been before.  By the time she got back to the parish, it was after ten and dinner was past.  Fortunately, she had grabbed something to eat and had it on the drive over.  

She had just entered her room and was about to change when Father O’Reilly walked in.  He closed the door quietly behind him before he went over to her.  He looked very serious.  “I saw the taxi driving away as I came up the path.  That means you just got back.”

614full-kai-newmanShe leaned against the wall, her heart pounding as her eyes met his in a steady gaze.  “Yes.”

He glanced at his watch.  “It’s after ten.  According to Sister Hughes, you went out since 2 this afternoon.  So, you were gone for almost eight hours.”

“Yes.”

“Where did you go?”

“Didn’t Sister Hughes tell you?”

“She told me that you went out but she didn’t know where because you didn’t tell her.  Where did you go, Zendaya?”

“If you must know, I went to Stellenbosch.”

“Why?”

Her chin lifted just a fraction.  “I wanted to get away from the parish for a while.”

“Why go there?  Why not go for a walk around here?”

“I’m tired of going for walks around here.  Besides, I’ve always wanted to visit Stellenbosch.”

“Were you there alone?” he demanded.  “Or were you there with him?”

“What does it matter if I was there alone or with Anesu?” She moved away from the wall and was about to walk past him.

His expression darkened and he caught her by the shoulders.  Jealousy and anger flashed in his eyes.  “It matters to me,” he muttered between clenched teeth.

She tried to pull away from him but he was too strong.  “I was there ALONE.  And for your information I haven’t seen Anesu since I came to Cape Town.” She struggled against him again and this time he released her.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “I acted the way I did just now because I was jealous.”

She walked over to the window and stood looking out with her back to him for several minutes.  Then, turning around she said to him, “This morning before Mass, I saw you talking to a young woman I’ve never seen before.  Who was she?”

“That was Aileen.  She’s visiting from Ireland.”

“How well do you know her?”

“I’ve known her since she was a little girl.”

“Well, she’s not a little girl anymore, is she?  I came by your office to see you but she was in there with you.”

“Yes, we were catching up because we haven’t seen each other for years.”

“She’s very pretty.”

“Yes, she is.”

“So, are you planning to see her again?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I will be seeing her in May.”

“Are you attracted to her?”

He went over to her, his eyes searching her face.  “Is this why you’re acting like this?” he asked.  “You think I’m attracted to Aileen?”

Zendaya didn’t answer and she lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see what was in them.

“Zendaya, there’s nothing between Aileen and me.  She’s just a girl I knew from my village.   She’s here in Cape Town on holiday and came by the parish to see me, that’s all.”

“You said that you’re going to see her in May.”

“Yes, because that’s when she’s getting married.  She wants me to officiate.”

“She’s engaged?” She raised her eyes to look at him then.

“Yes and to a very nice young man.”

“Oh.”

He cupped her face between his hands, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.  “Zendaya, you have no reason to be jealous of her or anyone else,” he told her huskily.  “I don’t want anyone but you.”  He lowered his head and kissed her fiercely, groaning when she responded.

They exchanged wild kisses for several minutes and then separated long enough to remove their clothes.  Then, they were back in each other’s arms, kissing feverishly until he scooped her up and carried her over to the bed.

 

Next is, Zendaya Leaves.

Sources:  Come to Capetown; Love Capetown; Tripadvisor

What is Lacking

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” – Matthew 19:20

39cb98148e122885e37f25fb6b1994c4All week I got this nagging sense that God was trying to tell me something.  I have been racking my brains trying to figure out what it is.  Finally, I decided to pray about it.  And after I did, a couple of days later, I was impressed to read Matthew 19:16-30.

I opened my Bible and turned to that part of the Gospel and read about the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to get eternal life.  When I finished reading it, I asked God, “Lord, what do I lack?”

He said.  “Your desire to please me.”

“But, I read my Bible everyday, I pray three times a day, I go to church every Sunday and I’m the leader for the Men’s Ministry and I help to feed the homeless every other week.  I share the Gospel with people.  I don’t drink or smoke and I have abstained from sex.  I’m waiting until I get married.  How am I not pleasing you?” I was upset now.  I have done all of these things and He’s not satisfied?

“Yes, you have done all of these things but your lack has to do with your secular work.  You are not working as if you are working for Me.”

“Lord, I’m no longer happy at this job.  The new manager is impossible to work with.  I got offered a new job.  The salary is more and I know that I will get along with that manager.  I can buy a townhouse and trade in my car for a better one.  Lord, You can’t expect me to remain in a job where I’m miserable.”

“I want you to stay right where you are.  I will work things out for your good.  Trust Me.  Work as if you are working for Me and not for your manager.”

My heart was heavy.  I wanted to leave that job so badly and take the other one but I didn’t want to end up like the rich young man who turned down Jesus’ invitation to follow Him because of wealth.  How could anyone give up eternal life for wealth which is temporary and which they can’t take with them when they die?  No, I didn’t want to make a mistake I would possibly regret for the rest of my life.  I sighed.  “Okay, Lord, you win.  I’ll stay at my job.”

I stayed at my job and about a month later, the manager left for some inexplicable reason and was replaced by a woman I used to work with years ago at another firm.  She and I always got along very well so I was happy that she was my new manager.  Still, I work heartily as though I were working for the Lord.  I thanked Him for His goodness and faithfulness toward me after I asked Him to forgive me for not giving Him my best on the job.

You will be pleased to know that when my manager was promoted to Director, I got her job.  This means that I’m earning a bigger salary now–much more than what I would have earned from the other job.  And, I’m engaged to be married.  My fiancee joined the department last year around the same time I would have left.  When we are married, we will move into a townhouse and when we have a family, I will trade in my car for a bigger one.  Yes, God is good.

Like the rich young man, ask God what is lacking in your life and be prepared to make the necessary changes.  Don’t let money or possessions, personal gain or relationships prevent you from completely committing yourself to God.

We Are All Slaves

“We are all slaves,” Todd declared and Marsha stared at him.

black girl in white blouse“What do you mean by that?”  she wondered.

“It’s what my pastor said last week.”

“Where did he get that information from?”

“The Bible, of course.  It’s in chapter six of Romans, verses twenty to twenty-two.  We are either slaves of sin or slaves of God.  We serve one or other other.  We serve sin when we allow it to control our bodies, making us commit immoral acts.”

What sort of immoral acts?”

“Adultery, fornication, incest, homosexuality, lesbianism and fornication.”

“What’s fornication?”

“It’s sex outside of marriage.  It can be between two people who aren’t married to each other or between two unmarried people.”

“Oh.”  She turned away so that he wouldn’t see the expression on her face.

“But, sin isn’t just about sexual immorality.  There’s spiritual immorality as well.”

“What happens to a person who is a slave to sin?”

“Romans 6:16 says that obeying sin leads to death.  Doesn’t your church teach you these things?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

“Why don’t you leave that church and come to mine?”

She turned to face him.  “Leave the Catholic Church?” she exclaimed.  “How could I?  I was born and raised a Catholic.  Why should I leave the church just because Father Montgomery hasn’t taught us what’s in Romans 6?  He might one of these days, you know.”

“I used to be a Catholic but I left because I realized that they were teaching what wasn’t in the Bible and the sex scandals–”

Marsha glared at him.  “I’m sick and tired of people attacking the church.”

“Why are you getting so upset?” Todd asked.  “I’m not attacking the church.  All I’m saying is that it needs to address the and rid itself of the sex scandals.  I’m sure that if you or someone you knew were a victim, you would feel differently.  You would want justice.  The church is supposed to be a place where people should feel safe.”

“I have to go,” she muttered.  “I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”  She turned and walked away before he could say anything.

As he headed home, he felt impressed to pray for her.

padre2

Father Montgomery finished saying his prayer in the chapel, blessed himself and rose to his feet.  Next he went to the confessional to listen to three people make confessions.  By the time he left the parish, it was almost six o’clock.  He let himself into the abandoned mansion.   When he first visited it, he ventured down into the secret room, called a “priest hole” where Catholic clergy hid from their Protestant hunters.  Anti-Catholicism was rampant when Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558.  He tried to imagine what it would have been like to spend any amount of time there.  It made him think of the Jews who were hidden by well meaning citizens so that they could escape the concentration camps and ultimately, death.

It was in the Master’s bedroom where Marsha waited for him.  It was still furnished.  The furniture was old but still in good condition, natural light streamed through the large windows and the bed was still functional.  She was sitting at the edge of the bed, hands on lap when he walked in.  He knew right away that something was wrong.  “What’s the matter?” he asked as he sat down beside her.

“I ran into Todd on my way home from church this morning.”

He frowned.  “Who’s Todd?”

“He’s a boy from school.”

“Tell me what happened when you ran into him this morning.”

“He told me that we are all slaves.  Slaves to sin or slaves to God.  His pastor read this in chapter six of Romans.  I don’t want to be a slave to sin because it leads to death.”

“Marsha, you aren’t a slave of sin.  Such talk is foolishness.”

“But what about us?  Aren’t we sinning against God?”

He put his arm around her shoulders.  “It isn’t sin when two people love each other.  I love you and you love me, don’t you?”

“Yes, but–”

“Then, we aren’t sinning.  We are in a monogamous relationship.  We aren’t unequally yoked.  We share the same faith and believe in the same God.”

“Todd said that the church teaches things that aren’t in the Bible.”

“Do you trust me, Marsha?”

“Yes.”

“I would never mislead you or the rest of the flock.  What I teach is sound doctrine approved by God Himself.  Now, let’s not worry any more about what Todd or anyone else who has misguided views about our Church and its teachings.”  He gently pushed her back on to the bed and began to kiss her passionately.

Even as she surrendered to him, at the back of her mind, a small still voice was telling her that this was wrong but, as usual, she let her heart rule her head.

It was love for Eve which made Adam sin against God.  Don’t let love blind you to God’s truth.  It is by the constant obeying of His Word that we are delivered from sin.  Don’t be a slave to sin which leads to death but a slave to God which leads to eternal life.

Sources:  Atlas Obscura; Flickr

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14, NIV

baby_jesus11

God, the Son and the Word who was with the Father in the beginning became flesh.  He came into the world as a newborn Babe to live among men.  He was raised in a Jewish home to Jewish parents in the town of Nazareth.  He became a carpenter like Joseph before going into ministry.  As Man, Jesus experienced the things we experience such as hunger and thirst, tiredness and grief.  He was tempted like us but He didn’t sin.  He prayed daily to the Father.  He had friends and He socialized with different sorts of people, some of whom were treated as outcasts.

The glory John saw was the transfiguration of Jesus when He took Peter, James and him up to the high mountain where He communed with Moses and Elijah.  They were not to mention anything to anyone until He was raised from the dead (Matthew 17:1-3, 9).   Peter later wrote, “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:17, 18).

Jesus came from the Father to bring grace and truth into the world which was steeped in sin and darkness.  His grace was shown in his healing of diseases, the casting out of unclean spirits and in his interaction with tax collectors, sinners, the woman caught in adultery and the Samaritan woman.  He shared moral and religious truth through parables and the Sermon on the Mount.  He taught people how to live in relation to God and to people.  Jesus placed God’s truth which was found in His Word above the traditions of men and the lies of Satan.

As you celebrate this Christmas season, reflect on the amazing reality that Jesus, by Whom all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, set aside His majesty and glory and came in the form of man to tabernacle among the people (Colossians 1:16; Philippians 2:7).

Thank You, Lord Jesus for becoming like us, so that in the flesh You could save us.

Being True to Yourself

7653_t_1e9aa193-50be-4e07-8006-a69bcab56527“Lyndon, a group of us are going out for drinks after work.  Would you like to join us?” Jane asked him as he stopped by her desk to give her a brown envelope he wanted her to give to the mailman when he made his afternoon rounds.

“No thanks.  I already have plans for this evening.”

“Oh, yes, The Nutcracker Suite.”

Leela walked up just then.  “The Nutcracker Suite.  Is that the name of one of those fancy hotel rooms?  Is she anyone we know?”

Jane tried hard to keep a straight face while Lyndon’s face turned beet red.  He gave Leela as withering look as he muttered, “It’s the name of a ballet.”  Then he did an about turn and strode off, his back straight as s rod.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Jane doubled over with laughter.  “Why do you let him think that you’re ignorant when it comes to the Arts and the finer things in life?” She asked when she stopped laughing.

Leela shrugged.  “I enjoy getting a rise out of him.”

“You like him, don’t you?”

“A lot of good it does me.  It’s obvious that he can’t stand me.”

“Well, what do you expect?  You’re always teasing him.  If you want him to like you have to try a different approach.  You know what some of his interests are, talk to him about them.”

“All right.  I’ll do that.  I’ll pass on going for drinks.  I think I will stay here at the office and do a little extra work.”

Jane gave her a knowing look.  “Good for you.”

Leela smiled and went back to her cubicle.  As soon as five o’clock arrived and everyone had left, she got up from her desk.  She headed straight for Lyndon’s office.  His door was opened so after a knock on the door to let him know that she was there, she walked over to his desk.  He looked up from what he was doing and she could tell from the expression on his face that he wasn’t at all pleased to see her.

“I would like to finish this report before I leave,” he said.

“I won’t take up much of your time,” she said as she sat down opposite him.  “I came to apologize.”

His eyebrows rose.  “Apologize?”

“Yes, for my remark about The Nutcracker Suite.  I was just pulling your leg.  I know that it’s a ballet.  I’ve seen it twice.  It’s one of my favorite ballets.  My other two favorites are Giselle and Swan LakeSwan Lake was Tchaikovsky’s first ballet.”

She had his attention now.  “You know your ballet,” he remarked.

“I’m not only a big fan of ballet but opera as well.  I love La Traviata,La Bohème, Rigoletto, Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro.”

“That’s a very impressive list.  What about Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute and the Barber of Seville?”

“I’ve always wanted to see those as well as Aida but never got the chance.”

“I hope you get the opportunity to see them.  They are masterpieces.  Tell me, what else do you enjoy?”

“Well, I enjoy good books such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, To Kill A Mockingbird, Lolita, Anna Karenina and Beloved by Toni Morrison.  And as far as plays go, I love anything by Henrik Ibsen.  I think he was a male feminist.”

Lydon smiled.  “I suppose you’re right about that.  In A Doll’s House, he was basically saying that Nora didn’t have to remain as her husband’s “doll,” but that she can be independent.  What about other works from other playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill?”

She shrugged.  “I have read all of their plays but I’m more partial to William Shakespeare, Ibsen and Chekhov.”

“Are you familiar with August Strindberg?”

She shook her head.  “No.  Is he a playwright?”

“Yes.  He has written several plays.  I have a volume with five of his plays in it–The Father, Miss Julie, The Dance of Death, A Dream Play and The Ghost Sonata.  I could lend the volume to you if you like.”

Leela smiled.  “I would like that very much.  Thanks, Lyndon.”

“Tell me something.  Why do you give the impression that you’re not cultured?  Why do you come across as if you don’t know the difference between Art and the Arts.”

qLBb61ET_t“I’ve discovered that although men may like the idea of dating a smart woman, they don’t actually want to date one.  I’ve been dumped by several men because I was too smart.  I like to have intellectual and philosophical discussions but that was a big turn off for them.  They wanted to talk about sports, music, money, fitness, television and movies, clothes, work, food, travel, cars and guy things.  I don’t have a problem talking about these things but not all the time.  The minute I bring up something that interests me, they either change the subject or signal for the check.  And I don’t hear from them again.  One guy even said to me that he wants to wake up in the morning next to beauty not brains.  So, my solution to my dating problem was to pretend that I wasn’t all that smart and it worked.  I had no trouble getting and keeping dates.  Then, one night when I was lying in bed, I remembered what Polonius said to his son, Laertes before he left for Paris.”

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Yes.  That was very good advice and I decided to take it.  So, at the moment, I’m not dating anyone.”

“Not all men are intimidated by smart women.  I’m not.  And I think it’s important that we don’t diminish ourselves to please others.  Besides, it was God who blessed you with an intelligent mind.”

“Yes, He did.  Lyndon, I should leave now.  I don’t want to keep you from your date.”

“Actually, it isn’t a date.  I’m taking my niece.  It’s her birthday and she has always wanted to see The Nutcracker.”

“Oh.  You’re taking your niece.”  Leela was relieved.  “What a great birthday present.  She must be so excited.  She will love the ballet and so will you.”

“Yes, I’m sure we will.”

Leela stood up.  “Have a good evening and weekend.  I’ll see you on Monday.”

He stood up too.  “Leela, are you busy tomorrow evening?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

“How-how would you like to have dinner with me at the Les Enfants de Boheme?”

“I’d like that very much.”

He smiled.  “Good.  I’ll pick you up at your place at seven.”

She wrote down her address and phone number on the notepad on his desk.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow.”  He watched as she walked out of his office before he went behind the desk again and sat down.  He was looking forward to their date.  Finally, he had found a woman right up his alley.

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”– Frederick Douglass

Sources:  Literary Devices; Huffington Post; ListVerse; Udiscover Music; The Talko; Develop Good Habits

Toshiro Goes to Bunga

large-1553102039-540d93f2f5c1e1b733fcad18fe580f0bThe taxi pulled up in front of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bunga and Toshiro got out.  Last night, he decided that he would pay a visit to Ife’s church.  He wanted to surprise her.  His heart pounded as he stared at the building.  He was nervous.  After the taxi drove off, he walked slowly towards the first set of doors which were wide open.  People were filing in.  There were two men standing there talking.  As he passed them, they warmly greeted him and he smiled.

There were a few people in the foyer, talking.  One of the women standing there, greeted him and handed him a bulletin.  He thanked her and went inside the sanctuary.  He glanced around at the pews, searching for an empty seat when he spotted a Japanese woman who was sitting beside the aisle.  There was an empty seat beside her.  He made his way over to her.  She glanced up when he said “Good morning” in Japanese and smiled.

“Good morning,” she replied

“May I sit beside you?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you.” He bowed before he gingerly squeezed past her and sat down.

“You are a visitor,” she said as he sat down.

He nodded.  “Yes.”

“I’m Ichika Sato.  What’s your name?”

“Toshiro Kobayashi.”

“Did you come far?”

“I came from the Kampala Serena Hotel.”

“Oh.  My neighbor, Mrs. Basemara works at that hotel.  She isn’t here today but that’s her daughter, Miremba over there.  I will introduce you after the service.”

Toshiro followed her gaze and saw Miremba talking to a mature couple.  She was quite tall for her age and very pretty.  He turned his attention back to Mrs. Sato.  “How long have you been living in Kampala.”

“For about fifteen years.  My husband and I moved here after we retired.”

“He’s not here with you today?”

“No.  He died five years ago.  I flew back to Japan with the body for the funeral.  He wanted to be buried there.”

“I’m sorry about your husband.  Do you have any children?”

“Yes.  Three.  Two sons and a daughter and eight grandchildren.  My youngest grandson is currently here in Kampala.  He goes back to Kyoto at the end of the month.  What about you?  Are you from Tokyo?”

“No.  I was born and raised in Yokohama but moved to Tokyo after I graduated from Tsurumi University.  My sister moved to Tokyo last year but our parents are still living in Yokohama.  When I’m not abroad on business, I visit them every other weekend.”

“I have a niece who lives in Yokohama.  It’s a beautiful port city and is extremely close to Tokyo but you don’t get a lot of tourists.”

Toshiro smiled.  “I think that’s why my parents prefer Yokohama to Tokyo–less tourists.”

“The service is about to start.  I really would like to continue our conversation.  If you’re not in a hurry to get back to Kampala, I was wondering if you would have lunch with me.  I don’t live far from here.  I will invite Mrs. Basemara and Miremba to join us.”

“I would like that very much, Mrs. Sato.  Thank you.”  The music began and the congregation stood.  Mrs. Sato sang from a hymnal while he followed along on the screen in front.

It was a very good service.  He especially enjoyed children’s story and the special music.   The sermon, What’s So Amazing About Grace was powerful.  The two statements which impacted him were:  “Grace is anything that I need, but don’t deserve that I could never repay, but God gives to me anyway.   Grace is the face that God puts on when He looks at my failures, my faults and my flaws.”  

After the service, Mrs. Sato and he chatted for a while and then after the church sanctuary was almost empty, she signalled to Miremba to join them.  She immediately went over, a bright smile on her face.

“Hello, Mrs. Sato,” Miremba greeted her with a hug and kiss.  When she straightened, her eyes shifted to Toshiro.  “Are you a relative?”

Toshiro shook his head.  “No.  I only had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Sato today.”

“Miremba, Mr. Kobayashi is here on business and he’s staying at the hotel where your mother works.”

Miremba’s face brightened and she held out her hand.  “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Kobyashi.”

He smiled and shook her hand.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miremba.”

“Mom isn’t here, unfortunately.”

“I have invited Mr. Kobayashi to have lunch with me.  I would like your mother and you to join us.”

“Sure.  I’ll tell Mom.  Are you ready to leave now?”

“Mrs. Sato nodded.”

Merimba looked at Toshiro.  “Do you mind walking?” she asked.  “Mrs. Sato lives in the same apartment as Mom and me.  It’s about ten minutes from here.”

Toshiro shook his head.  “No, I don’t mind at all.  It’s a beautiful day.”

“Let’s go, then,” Mrs. Sato said and stood up.  She preceded Miremba and Toshiro out of the sanctuary.  At the entrance, she introduced Toshiro to the pastor.  He was very pleased when Toshiro told him how much he enjoyed the church service and he invited him to visit again soon.

They left and walked to the apartment building.  When they got there, Miremba left them and went to get her mother.  Ife was in the kitchen filling a vase of flowers with water.  She turned off the tap and carefully arranged the flowers she had bought in the vase.  “You’re home early,” she said.  “Usually, you would stay for a while longer.”

“Mom, Mrs. Sato has invited us to have lunch with her.”

“That’s very nice of her.”  Ife finished arranging the flowers.

“Guess who else is going to be there?”

“Her grandson, Kento?”  Ife took up the vase to take it to the sitting area.  With a smile, she walked past Miremba who followed her.

“No.  It’s isn’t Kento.  It’s Mr. Kobayashi.”

Ife almost dropped the vase.  She swung around and stared at her daughter.  “Mr. Kobayashi is at Mrs. Sato?” she exclaimed.  “But what is he doing there?”

“Well, he was at church and–”

“He was at church?”

“Yes.  He’s very handsome.”

“Why didn’t he tell me that he was going to be there?”

“Maybe he wanted to surprise you.  Mom, let’s go.  We don’t want to keep Mrs. Sato and him waiting.”

Ife turned and carried the vase over to the table.  After she set it down, she rushed past Miremba.  “I have to change,” she said.  Hereith bw

Several minutes later, they were in Mrs. Sato’s apartment.  Ife’s eyes immediately sought Toshiro who was staring at her.  She walked over to him.  “Mr. Kobayashi, I didn’t expect to see you here,” she said, feeling a bit flustered.  He looked so handsome in his suit.  And the way he was looking at her made her heart flutter.  “Miremba told me that you were in church.”

He smiled.  His fingers itched to touch her lovely face.  “Since I’ve been in Kampala, I haven’t been to church.  After you were kind enough to tell me about yours, I decided that I would come today.  I hope you don’t mind, Mrs. Basemara.”

“No, no.  I don’t mind at all.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there.  How-how did you find it?”

“I like your church.  I may visit it again.”

Mrs. Sato observed them with a smile.  It was obvious that there was something between them although they tried their best to make it appear otherwise.  “Let’s have a word of prayer and then eat,” she said.  She asked Miremba to pray and then they tucked into the tasty meal she had prepared the day before.  They talked and Mrs. Sato shared stories of her mission trips with her husband.  Soon it was time for Toshiro to head back the hotel.

He bowed to Mrs. Sato as was customary in the Japanese culture.  It was a sign of respect and expression of thanks.  “Thank you for inviting me to your home and for your hospitality.”

Mrs. Sato smiled.  “It was a pleasure having you.  I’m sure I will see you again.”

Toshiro smiled.  Then, he turned to Miremba and held out his hand.  “It was a pleasure to meet you,” he said as they shook hands.

Miremba smiled.  “Anata ni mo aete yokatta.”

Toshiro’s eyebrows rose.  “You speak Japanese?” he asked, sounding impressed.

Miremba looked pleased.  “Mrs. Sato and her grandson, Kento have been teaching me.”

Mzuri,” he replied and she laughed.

He turned to Ife who said to him, “I’ll come down to the lobby with you.”

He said his goodbyes to Mrs. Sato and Miremba before he followed Ife out of the apartment.  They didn’t say anything to each other as they walked to the elevator.  As they waited for it to arrive, he turned to Ife.  “Miremba is a lovely girl.  You must be very proud of her.”

“I am.”  The elevator came and the doors opened.  They stepped inside and she pressed the button for the ground floor.  “What did she say to you in Japanese?

“She told me that it was a pleasure meeting me too.”  He turned towards her and his eyes darkened as they searched her face.  Groaning, he reached for her and pulled her against him.  His lips found hers and plundered them.  They kissed for several minutes before he raised his head to gaze down into her upturned face.  “I’ve been dying to kiss you all afternoon,” he muttered thickly.  “I can’t wait to see you later.”

“I’ll be there at the usual time,” she promised, trying to catch her breath.  The elevator stopped and he released her.  They exited and she waited with him outside of the building until his taxi came.

Next up is Ife’s Loss.

Sources:  Japan Guide; Bunga SDA Central Church; EdarabiaSermon Search