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

The Arrangement

He stood there on the grassy mound, looking down at the river as it surged towards the old bridge.  The sun felt warm on his face and a gentle breeze caressed his hair.  It was a glorious day and this was his favorite place to come every morning.  It was where he felt closest to God and to nature.  It was quiet, except for the sounds of the water and the birds.  It reminded him of his home in Inistioge, a small village in County Kilkenny, Ireland.  He used to love sit on the hill and watch the River Nore as it swept under the 18th-century stone bridge.  There and this place were a far cry from Johannesburg where he met Zendaya.

She had left Zimbabwe after losing her job at a supermarket and taken the long and difficult journey to Johannesburg, to escape homelessness and hunger in her country.   She walked into a church in downtown Johannesburg and joined a long line of people waiting for shelter and food.  He was visiting Father Botha at the time and when he saw her, he felt impressed to help her.  He arranged to provide her with room and board at the parish in exchange for doing the housekeeping and cooking at the clergy house where he lived.  It was an arrangement which seemed to be working out very nicely.

Life here in Cape Town was very tranquil. Never before in all of his forty-six years had he ever felt such peace and contentment as he did at that moment.  In the distance, he heard the peal of the church bell. It was time to head back.

Zendaya stood at the bedroom window which faced the road.  She saw him leave.  He was going to the river.  She knew that was where he went every morning because she followed him there once.  He didn’t see her.  She kept at a safe distance and watched him as he stood close to the edge, his back to her, looking down.  It was so peaceful up there.  Not a sound except the breeze rustling the leaves and the rushing water below. And then there were the birds always whistling and chirping as if they were sharing news with one another.

Yes, up there it was paradise.  Up there one felt close to God and could forget about their troubles.  If only she could forget…She started when she heard the church bell.  She hadn’t realized that she had been standing there that long.  He would be on his way back now.  Moving away from the window, she finished cleaning.

2a080176204afb47b35de94846cb5dcd--guildIt was after the midday Mass and he was on his way to the rectory to change into his black cassock when he heard Sister Hughes call out to him.  He stopped and turned as she quickly approached him.

“Father O’Reilly, there’s a young man here to see you.”

An inquiring look came over his face.  “Sister Hughes, did this young man tell you the reason for his visit?”

“He said he wanted to talk to you about Zendaya.”

“Zendaya?”

“Yes”

“I wonder what business he has with her.”

“He’s waiting in reception.  Shall I send him to your office?”

“Oh, yes, yes, Sister Hughes.  Please send him into my office in about five minutes.”

He excused himself and walked briskly to his office.  He went over to the desk and sat down, his brow furrowed.  What did this man want with Zendaya?

Five minutes later Sister Hughes appeared again but this time, with a tall, lanky African man in his mid-twenties.  “Come in,” he invited, standing up.  “Sister Hughes, please see that we are not disturbed.”

“Yes, Father O’Reilly.”  She left and closed the door behind her.

“Please have a seat,” Father O’Reilly told the young man in English.  “What is your name?” he asked after they both sat down.

“Anesu Munashe,” he replied.

The name sounded familiar to him.  He knew he had heard it before but where?  “Sister Hughes mentioned that you wanted to talk to me about Zendaya.  Are you any relation to her?”

Anesu shook his head.  “No.  We are not related.”

“Then, what is your business with her?”

“We are engaged to be married.”

Father O’Reilly’s eyebrows arched.  “Engaged?  She never mentioned that.”

“We got engaged last year.”

“How did you know that she was here in Cape Town?”

“Father Botha told me.  I rented a car and drove here.”

“It’s a very long drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town.”

“Yes, it is but after being separated from Zendaya for months, the hours seemed like minutes in comparison.  I came to take her with me.”

“Where do you plan on taking her?”

“To my uncle’s house in Cape St. Francis where we will stay until we get married.”

Father O’Reilly took a deep breath and said with a heavy sigh, “I’m afraid I have bad news for you.”

“What?” Anesu asked, looking alarmed.

“Your fiancée left here a few days ago and we have no idea where she is—”

“Left?” he exclaimed.  “But that doesn’t make any sense.  Why would she leave?”

“I don’t know.  When she didn’t show up for breakfast on Tuesday morning, one of the Sisters went to her room and found it empty.  She was gone.  We notified the police immediately but so far, we haven’t heard anything.  You can’t imagine how distressed we all are.  We have all been praying that she will come back.”

Anesu stood up.  “Maybe she went back to Johannesburg,” he said. “I will go there.”

Father O’Reilly stood up, his expression one of deep regret.  “I’m so sorry,” he said.  “I feel as though this were my fault, after all she was my responsibility…”

“It’s not your fault, Father.  Thank you for your time.”

Father O’Reilly shook his hand.  “God be with you.”

“Thank you, Father.”

Father O’Reilly opened the door and watched him as he walked away.  Then, he returned to his desk to finish his work.

It was later in the day when Sister Hughes popped into his office.  “Was the young man able to see Zendaya?”

He shook his head.  “He was called away on urgent business, I’m afraid.  I told him that he was welcome to come and visit her at any time.”

“Who was he?”

“A family friend.”

“How did he find out that she was here?”

“Father Botha told him.”

“Shall I tell Zendaya that her friend was here?”

“No, Sister Hughes.  I will tell her myself.”

“Very well, Father O’Reilly.”  She withdrew.

Hours, later after he had dinner, he walked over to the nondescript building which was the convent.  It was after nine and the place was quiet.  She was sitting by the window when he let himself in.  After closing the door, he strode across the room and stood beside the chair but she didn’t look up.

“You had a visitor,” he informed her tersely.

She looked up then.  “Who?”614full-kai-newman2

“Your fiancé.  Why didn’t you tell me that you were engaged?”

“Anesu was here?” she asked and saw his eyes narrow.

“Yes.  He found out where you were and came to see you.”

“What did you say to him?” she asked warily, rising to her feet.

“I told him that you left.  He said that he was going to find you.”

“What if he comes back here?”

“He won’t.  I made sure of that.”

“I wish he hadn’t come here.”

“Are you still going to marry him?”

“I don’t know.”

“You can’t marry him, Zendaya.  You don’t love him.”

“How do you know that?” she demanded, agitated because he was right.

“You wouldn’t be with me if you did.”  His eyes fell on the book of African poetry lying on the chair she had just vacated and picked it up.  “Now I remember why his name was so familiar to me,” he said as he flipped through the pages.  “He gave you this.”

“Yes.  It was his first book of poetry and he dedicated it to me.”

He turned to the front of the book where the autograph was and read it aloud, To my dear Zendaya, you were my inspiration for these poems so I dedicate this book to you.  Many of the words written are tokens of my deep love and appreciation for you, my beautiful, Nubian princess.  Eternally yours, Anesu.  He wanted to rip it up into pieces but instead he closed it.  “I’ll hang on to this,” he said, slipping it into the pocket of his cassock.

“Why?” she asked.  “You know that you’re not going to read it.”

“I want to remove every trace of him from your room and your life.  I don’t want anything around here that would remind you of him.  You belong to me, Zendaya.  I won’t share you with him or anyone else.” He moved closer to her, his eyes intent on her bent head.  When she raised it to look up at him, he saw the expression on her face.  “I know you resent me but you can’t deny that you want me as much as I want you.”  He couldn’t hide his desire for her which was like an unquenchable fire.  It was written all over his flushed face.

She closed her eyes in despair as she felt her body respond to him.  He was right.  He filled her with a longing she couldn’t fight and even now as he pulled her towards him, she didn’t resist.  She couldn’t resist, although her mind screamed at her that this was wrong.  He was a man of the cloth.  She knew she ought to stop what was about to happen but when she felt his lips on hers, it was her undoing.  Blindly, she reached up and clutched his head, her nails digging into his scalp as she kissed him back.

Anesu never made her feel this way.  She knew that in the morning she was going to hate herself for what she was doing to him.  What she had been doing to him ever since she met Father O’Reilly and the first night he came to her room.  Now as he disrobed them both and then carried her over to the bed, all thoughts of Anesu fled from her mind.

Meanwhile, Anesu drove back into town, his mind in turmoil.  Something wasn’t right.  He knew Zendaya as well as he knew himself and it didn’t make sense that she would just disappear like that.   He decided that he would go to the police station in the morning and make some inquiries before driving all the way back to Johannesburg.

Next is The Visitor.

Source:  Skyscanner

Ife Gets Jealous

1143538-800wHe was on the beach.  It was a beautiful afternoon.  The sun felt good on his face as he gazed out at the sea.  It was after 4.  In an hour he would see Ife.  Ife.  Right now he wished she were there with him.  They would walk along the water’s edge, holding hands before they went skinny dipping.  And then, instead of getting dressed and heading back to the hotel, they would make love right there in the sand.  His eyes darkened at the thought.

“Hello, Toshiro,” a pleasant voice said behind him.

Startled, he turned around.  It was Emma, the English woman who was staying at the hotel.  She had arrived last week and they had exchanged pleasantries.  Yesterday, she invited him to join her for breakfast and he accepted out of courtesy.  He smiled now.  “Hello, Emma.”

“I hope I’m not disturbing you.”

“No, you’re not disturbing.  You’re more than welcome to join me.”

She sat down beside him.  “It’s really quite beautiful here, isn’t it?  So peaceful.”

“Yes.  That’s why I come here every day.”

“I usually come in the mornings but this morning I couldn’t because I went on a tour to Lake Mburo National Park.”

“How did you like it?” thumb_286003_600_800_0_0_crop

“It was wonderful.  We were taken directly from the hotel and to the park for a boat safari, guided hike, and game drive.  We got to see the animals in three different ways and lunch was included.  I took so many photos.  As soon as I return to London, I’m going to post it to my blog.”

“Sounds like you had a great time.  I’ve never been on a tour even though I have been to Kampala many times.”

“Are you here for business or pleasure?”

“Business.” He explained to her that he was in the Sogo shosha which are Japanese companies that trade in a wide range of products and materials.  He didn’t mention that Sōgō shōsha were among the highest-paying employers in Japan.  “What about you?  What do you do?”

“I’m a Financial Director.  I get to develop and control the company’s annual operating budget to ensure that all financial targets are met and financial advice and guidance to the company’s managers and staff to enable them to achieve their objectives.”

“I can tell that you love what you do.”

She smiled.  “I do.  It’s a wonderful job.  I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

“My sister, Miko feels the same way about what she does.  She works for the Human Rights Organization.  Her specialty is Women’s Rights and she is very passionate about it.”

“Good for her.  The HRN has its hands full trying to eliminate domestic violence, human trafficking, honor killing of women, military rape, and other violent acts committed against women.  I’m thankful that there such organizations exist and am always interested in helping them in what ever way I can.”

Toshiro wondered what she would say if she knew about his arrangement with Ife.  How ironic it was that, for purely selfish reasons, the brother of a human rights advocate, should be exploiting one of the maids working at the hotel where he was a guest.  He got abruptly to his feet.  “I think we should be heading back to the hotel,” he said, glancing at his watch.  It was a quarter to five.  “I have a call to make.”

“All right.”  Emma stood up and followed him up the embankment.

Ife was on her way to the stairs to go up to fourth floor when she spotted Toshiro and the very pretty young English woman walk through the front entrance of the hotel, talking and laughing as they headed for the elevators.  She watched them jealously, making sure that they couldn’t see her.  When they got on the elevator and the doors closed behind them, she turned away, seething.  She was sorely tempted to go straight home instead of up to his suite.  No.  She couldn’t allow her jealousy to cost her her job.

Emma turned to Toshiro, her expression hopeful.  “Perhaps we could have dinner together this evening.”

He smiled apologetically.  “I’m afraid I have other plans.”

“A rain-check, perhaps?”

“I’m sorry, Emma, but I’m already in  relationship.”  When he said that he wasn’t thinking of his girlfriend, Asuka but of Ife.

“Well, whoever she is, she’s a very lucky woman.  It was a pleasure meeting and spending time with you, Toshiro.  Take care.”  She held out her hand.

He shook it.  “It was a pleasure meeting you and being in your company too, Emma.  Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.”  She turned and stepped out of the elevator when it reached her floor.

Minutes later, Ife heard the elevator doors open and saw him exit.  He was alone.  Relieved but still miffed, she watched him as he let himself into the suite.  She waited until it was exactly five o’ clock before she walked down the hallway to number 406.

He was on the telephone when she let herself.  “Thank you,” he said before hanging up.  “I asked for a car to pick me up tomorrow morning for my meeting,” he explained.   He walked over to her and would have taken her in his arms but she brushed past him.  Frowning, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

Herieth-Paul2Ife swung around to face him.  “I saw you and the English woman together.”

“I was on the beach and she joined me.”

“What did you do?”

“We talked and then it was time for us to head back here.”

“Is that all you did–talk?”

“Yes.”

“It’s obvious from the way she acted that she’s attracted to you.  What about you?  Are you attracted to her?”

Toshiro caught her by the shoulders.  “No, Ife, I’m not attracted to anyone but you,” he said.  “I think about you every minute of every day and I want you all the time.  You have no reason to be jealous of Emma or anyone else.  You’re the only one I want to be with.  Oh, Ife…” he groaned thickly before he began to kiss her passionately.

Ife’s jealousy went away and putting her arms around his neck, she eagerly responded to his kisses.  After they made love and showered, he ordered dinner which they had on the terrace.  By the time she left, it was almost eight o’ clock.

Miremba was with Mrs. Sato, their next door neighbor.  She always went there when her mother wasn’t there.  Ife didn’t like the idea of her being alone in the apartment.  And besides, Miremba and Mrs. Sato enjoyed each other’s company.  The older woman was teaching her how to speak and write Japanese.  “Mom, are you seeing someone?” she asked as they let themselves into their 1 bedroom studio apartment.

Ife glanced at her, startled.  “Why do you ask?”

“You used to come straight home after work but now you don’t come in until almost seven and you have this faraway look on your face as if you’re thinking about a special someone.  Who is he?  Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone.”

Ife closed and locked the front door before she replied, “This is just between us.  It’s the person who gave me the tickets to the ballet.”

“So, who is he?” Miremba asked.

“He’s a Japanese business man staying at the hotel.”

“He’s Japanese?  Wow.  Several weeks ago, I met Mrs. Sato’s grandson, Kento.  He’s really cute.  When he’s not visiting Mrs. Sato, we call or text each other.  He’s teaching me how to speak and write Japanese.”

“Make sure that you and he are never alone together.”

Yes, Mom.”

“Are you hungry?”

Miremba shook her head.  “No. I had chicken Teriyaki at Mrs. Sato’s.  It was delicious.  So, is it serious between you and this Japanese business guy?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, Mom, I’m sorry that things didn’t work out with Dad but I’m sure he would want you to be happy even if it means being happy with this other guy.”

“What about you, Miremba?”

“I want you to be happy too.” She hugged her mother.

Ife hugged her back, her expression troubled. “Thanks, Baby,” she murmured.

 

Next up is Toshiro Goes to Bunga.

Sources:  Viator; Wikipedia; Human Rights Now Japan; Study in the UK; Institute of Directors

The Kimono

large-1553101402-8f48644e0975da7f3a5204b6f24bd2f3Since he made the proposition, they had been seeing each other regularly every afternoon, excluding weekends.  She would arrive at his suite at five and he would let her in.  There were the odd occasions where he would be in the suite, waiting for her in the bedroom when she went to clean it and after she was finished, she would join him.  Afterwards, she finished cleaning the other rooms and suites before going home.

Seeing her during the week wasn’t enough for him.  He wanted to see her on the weekends too.  Today, after he was finished with his business and they were together in his suite, he would arrange with her for them to see each other on the weekends, preferably in the afternoon.

Right now, he was sitting in the lobby of another hotel, waiting impatiently for the others to show up so that the meeting could start.  He was always the first.  As he sat there, he thought about Ife.  He was relieved when she told him that she was divorced.  He wondered how long she was married and why it ended.  Was her ex-husband living in Kampala?  Did they have any children?  He hoped not.  It would only complicate things.  Maybe they didn’t.  Surely she would have mentioned if they had when he asked her if she was married.

It drove him crazy that she kept calling him Mr. Kobayashi.  He wanted her to call him by his first name.  It made things more intimate between them.  Right now it what they had was a business arrangement.  In exchange for not reporting her to management for using his toilet that fateful day when he caught her, he received her services.

He was a businessman.  He was used to making deals which benefitted all parties involved.  In all honesty, in this arrangement with Ife, he was the only one benefitting.  He was getting what he wanted while she was doing what she had to in order to survive.  He was exploiting her and he knew it.  His conscience wouldn’t let him forget it but he wanted her so badly and this was the only way he could think of to make sure that he got what he wanted.

His thoughts were interrupted when a group of men came into the lobby.  He rose to greet and introduce himself to them.  After exchanging pleasantries, they made their way to the boardroom where they spent the next few hours before breaking for lunch.  After lunch, the meeting last another few hours and then they adjourned.  He was anxious to get back to the hotel.  He glanced at his watch. He had just enough time to take a quick shower before Ife got there.   His heart skipped a beat at the mere thought of being with her.  She was so incredibly beautiful.  He was hooked.

When Ife got there, he was wearing a black Japanese Kimono Robe with red lapels, cuffs and sash.  It had an embroidered dragon and oriental motif on the front, the back and the sleeves.  It looked expensive.

hpaul_profile“I didn’t know that Japanese men wore kimonos,” she said.  “I thought only the women did.”

Toshiro smiled.  “Men wear kimonos too.  They often wear them to weddings, tea ceremonies and other very special or very formal occasions.  I have several.  This happens to be my favorite.  Do you like it?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  It’s beautiful.”

“Would you like me to buy you a kimono?  I think you would look very beautiful in one.”

“You don’t have to, Mr. Kobayashi.”

He moved closer to her.  “I want to, Ife.  I will buy it when I return to Tokyo and bring it with me the next time I’m in Kampala.”

Ife stared at him.  Why did he want to buy her a kimono?  What did it mean?  Was it a sign that he was developing feelings for her?  Or was he doing it out of guilt?  If that were the case, she didn’t want anything from him.  “Mr. Kobayashi, I don’t think you should…”

“Let’s not talk about the kimono any more,” he said as he pulled her against him.   “As a matter of fact, I would prefer if we didn’t talk about anything right now.”  His lips found hers.

Unable to help herself, Ife put her arms around his neck and kissed him back.

Next up is Toshiro Learns About Miremba.  

Source:  Kyotokimono-rental

The Mighty Sea

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;  These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep – Psalm 107:23, 24

ship and sea waves

(original unknown)

When you see some of the waves, you can’t help but marvel.  Some are as high as skyscrapers.  Imagine seeing what looks like an impenetrable wall of water surging towards you.  Those who are in ships see and experience firsthand God’s majesty and power in those surging and crashing waves. “He stirs up the sea with His power and by His understanding He breaks up the storm. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea” (Job 26:12; Psalm 107:25).

And the sea is so vast.  Large marine life like the humpback whale and the whale shark look like specks of dust in the sea when you view them from the air.  Yet, God is Master over the sea.  “Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, Yet they cannot prevail;  Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it” (Jeremiah 5:22).

Yes, the sea can be very intimidating because of its vastness, unfathomable depth and massive waves but the LORD on high is mightier Than the noise of many waters, Than the mighty waves of the sea (Psalm 93:4).  Isn’t it comforting to know that this God is the same One who takes care of us?  He is mightier than any storms or troubles we may face in life.

Sewing for a Better Future

Seven Wells is “a faith-based development organization raising up a generation who will transform Africa.”

In 2005, they started a sewing school for mothers.  The women attend Monday to Friday for 9 months with the goal that at the end they have a trade.  About 300 of them have graduated and are now self-sufficient and able to afford the basic necessities of life.  This helps them to feel good about themselves because they can take care of their families.  They have a purpose in life now.

This December 10 to 12 women are graduating and Seven Wells is hoping to provide each one with her own sewing machine so she can start her own business.  This is where you come.  The cost of a sewing machine is approximately $150, but you can donate any amount you would like to empower these women, making it possible for them to have a better future.  Not only will you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped a woman take care of her family but if you donate $50 or more you will receive a special gift sewn by these women mailed to you.

Help to make a difference in a woman’s life in Rwanda by making it possible for her to have her own sewing machine.  If you would like to make a donation visit here or if you would like to learn more about Seven Wells and the work they do, visit here.  These women are sewing for a better future.  Let’s do what we can to help them.

Claude’s Story

I’m sitting in the cafe that I frequently go to because I love their Latte when I can feel that someone is staring at me.  I turn my head and my eyes meet those of a very beautiful African American woman.  As we lock eyes for what seemed like eternity, I debate whether or not to walk over there or simply walk out.  It hasn’t been that long since my marriage ended after I found out that my wife was cheating on me.  Her betrayal still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  Relationships are the last thing on my mind right now.

The owner of the cafe, a jovial man walks over to her and she looks up at him.  He leans over and says something to her.  She grabs her handbag and immediately leaves.  The owner comes over to me and says in a low voice, “I saw her making eyes at you,” he said.  “I don’t want her business in here.  I told her that if she came here again, I would call the police.”

I stare at him, confused.  “What do you mean?  What kind of business is she in?”

He looks around to make sure no one could hear him.  “She’s one of them ladies of the night.  Seems like she likes to go into reputable businesses and find customers.  Well, she’s not use my cafe for her sordid business.”

“But, she didn’t look like a…”  I couldn’t even say the word.

“No, I don’t suppose she does but I know her kind.  I see her  hanging out on the street, trying to solicit and now she has the gall to come into my cafe.  I told her not to show her face around her anymore or else I’ll set the police on her.  I think I scared her off.  I don’t think she will come here anymore.”

I thank him and finish my Latte.  I get up from the table and leave.  Outside, I stand on the sidewalk and look in both directions.  I spot her standing at the corner.  I hurry towards her.  This is crazy, I think to myself.  I shouldn’t get involved.  But, I can’t let an opportunity to reach out to someone who needed help pass me by.  She turns her head and sees me.  I can see the surprise on her face.  “Hi,” I say when I reach her.  “I was hoping that you hadn’t gone far.”

“Why did you come after me?” she asks.

Up close she is very beautiful.  “I wanted to talk to you.”

“You’re not a cop, are you?”

I shake my head.  “No.  I’m a lawyer.”

“You think I need one?  Did the owner press charges against me?”

“No.  Why would he press charges against you?”

“Because I’m a hooker and I was on his premises.  I thought I was trying to solicit?”

“And were you?”

“No!  I was in there like any paying customer when I saw you.  I can’t help that you’re a very attractive man.  I was just admiring you.  I wasn’t going to solicit you or try to pick you up.”

“If he hadn’t told me what you were, I never would have guessed.  You don’t look like a…”

“Prostitute?  Well, during the day, I’m a regular person, doing regular things but at night I get picked up by all sorts of men.”

“Why do you do it?”

She shrugs.  “I got laid off a year ago.”

“So, why can’t you try to find another job or go through a temporary agency?”

“Listen, why should I settle for another nine to five job when I can earn $120. a customer?  I make more money having sex with rich, white businessmen?”

“You don’t have to do this.  You can make that kind of money without selling yourself.”

She stares at me.  “How?”

I think about it for a moment and then I say, “A former client recently told me that if I had any favors to ask of him, don’t hesitate.  I can call him and see what he can do for you.”

“Why are you doing this?” she asks.

“I’m a Christian lawyer.”

“Oh.  Wouldn’t your church have a problem with you helping me?”

“No.  As Christians we are supposed to help others.”

“I used to go to church a long time ago but stopped going because the members were judgmental.  I got pregnant out of wedlock when I was 17 and they treated me like I was the devil himself.”

“So, you’re mother?”  I can’t believe that as a mother she would sell herself.

She shakes her head.  “I was.  I lost the baby.  It was a stillborn.”

“I’m sorry.  What about the father?”

“He was one of the deacons.  That’s why I left the church.  They were a bunch of hypocrites judging me when the baby’s father was a man they all respected and treated like he was a saint.”

“I’m sorry you had a bad experience and you were judged instead of shown love and mercy but not all churches are like that.”

“I guess not but I’m not interested in going back to church.  How do you think they would treat me if they knew that I was hooking?”

“Unless you told them, how would they know?”

“I guess you’re right.”

“Listen,  I have to run.  I have to meet a client.  Is there a number where I can reach you?”

“Sure.  Do you have a business card and a pen?”

I fish in my breast pocket and hand her a business card and a pen.  She takes them.  I watch as she scribbles something at the back of the card before she hands it and the pen back to me.

I look at the card before putting it and the pen back in my pocket.  “Thanks for writing your name too, Danica.”

“What’s yours?”

“Claude.”

She holds out her hand.  “Well, it was nice meeting you, Claude.”

I shake it.  “Likewise.”

She withdraws her hand.  “Well, don’t let me keep you from your client.”

“Do you have any plans for tonight?”

“Yes, the usual.”

“How about having dinner with me tonight instead of…”

“Is this you being charitable again?”

“No.  I just you would spend the evening having dinner with me instead of with a complete stranger who’s only interested in you for one thing.  You’re a beautiful and smart woman, Danica.  You deserve much more.  Stop selling yourself.  It wouldn’t bring you any satisfaction or happiness.”

“Okay.  You don’t have to argue your case, Counselor.  You’ve talked me into having dinner with you.”

“Good.  Where do you live?”

She tells me.  “What time should I be expecting you?” she asks.

“I’ll be there at seven.”

“Okay, Claude.  I’ll see you at seven.”

I smile and then, I walk away.  I could feel her watching me.  I find myself looking forward to seeing her tonight.

At promptly seven o’ clock I show up at her apartment.  She looks amazing in a black dress with a V neckline and three quarter long sleeves.  She’s wearing her hair up, giving her an elegant appearance.  We go to one of my favorite restaurants where we enjoy a sumptuous meal and a very engaging conversation.  When I take her home, I ask her to have dinner with me the following evening.  By the end of the month we are seeing each other regularly.  She’s no longer soliciting. My friend and former client was able to find her a well paying job at a PR firm.

I’m taking her to church where she feels warmly welcomed.  What impresses her is that there’s a ministry for former drug addicts, drug dealers, alcoholics and prostitutes.  She sometimes can’t believe that a church is willing to minister to such people.  After her baptism and becoming a member of the church, with my encouragement and support, she has become a part of the ministry.  And now she’s helping prostitutes to leave the streets and they receive counseling and job training.  Many of them have joined the church.

I never imagined that I would get married again but that was before I met Danica.  We got married last year and are expecting our first child in the summer.  I thank God that I was in the cafe the same day she was.  I went there as usual for a Latte and found love.