Stop Making Excuses

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When God calls us to serve Him do we make excuses?  Moses did.  When God asked him to go and tell the Pharaoh to let the Jews go, Moses protested, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.”  So God asked him, (Exodus 4:10-12) “Who makes mouths?” the Lord asked him. “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go, and do as I have told you.  I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

Moses protested but in the end, he led the people out of Egypt.  He became a great leader.  After his death, it was written that, “There has never been another prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent Moses to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and his entire land.  And it was through Moses that the Lord demonstrated his mighty power and terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

We have to trust God and believe that He will equip us for the work He calls us to do.  He used the staff Moses carried to perform great things and He equipped Moses to become a leader.  When it became too much for Moses to handle the many responsibilities, God impressed Jethro, Moses’ father in law to give him this very good advice, “You’re going to wear yourself out-and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided.

You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives.  But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes.

“Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.  These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” (Exodus 18:18-23)

Moses learned how to delegate and that too makes for good leadership.  God does not expect one person to do everything and that is why leaders in the church and in the world have people working with them.  Jesus taught this when He called twelve men into His ministry.  He could have done it all by Himself but He chose not.

Jeremiah was a youth when God called Him to service.  He shares the experience which must have been overwhelming.  “The Lord gave me a message. He said, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

“Don’t say that,” the Lord replied, “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

When God calls us, He doesn’t send out to do the work and leaves us on our own.  He is with us every step of the way—instructing, guiding and helping us.  I used to be shy and didn’t socialize easily.  Since I allowed God to use me, I am not shy anymore.  He helped me to gradually get over my shyness.  I started with small things like scripture reading, poetry reading and then I graduated to telling the mission story, sharing my testimony in front of a large audience and making announcements.  He called me to be the leader of Singles Ministry.  I didn’t know anything about being a leader but I trusted that He would help me to do my best and He did.  He accomplished a lot through me.  Now, I am comfortable being a leader and I delegate like Moses was encouraged to.

Is God calling you to serve Him?  Don’t use your age or gender as an excuse not to answer His call.  David was a boy when he was anointed king of Israel and Josiah Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.  He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn aside from doing what was right. (2 Kings 22:2)  God accomplished great things through women.  Deborah was a judge, Miriam was a prophetess and Dorcas was a disciple and community worker.  God can use you.  Stop making excuses and allow Him to do marvelous work through you.

Toshiro Returns to Tokyo

Z8VeQHoI_oToshiro was back in Tokyo.  He returned two weeks ago.  It was hard being away from Kampala.  All he could think about was Ife and how much he missed being with her.  All along he knew that what he had been doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself.  He wanted Ife so much.  She filled him with a desire that was so potent and raw that it scared him.

He could tell from the way she responded when they made love that she wanted him too.  And that realization was what he used to rationalize his actions.  But his conscience continued to trouble him.

And he felt badly about Asuka.  They had been going steady for some time now and still he hadn’t broached the subject of marriage with her.  His family expected him to pop the question soon and he imagined that her family might expect the same thing.  He knew that Asuka was in love with him but he realized that he didn’t feel the same way and that was before he met Ife.

Speaking of Asuka, he was supposed to meet her for a coffee at the cafe where they usually went.  It was within walking distance from his apartment.  No doubt she was already there waiting for him.  She was always very punctual.

They hadn’t seen each other for months and when he was in Tokyo, he made sure that they spent time together.  This year, however, it was different for him.  He didn’t look forward to coming home anymore.  For him, Kampala was home.  It was where Ife was.  He closed his eyes briefly.  Oh, Ife, I wish I could be with you right now.  Was she thinking about him?  Did she miss him?  She’s probably glad to be rid of you for a while because of what you’re doing to her, an accusing voice retorted and he flinched.

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As soon as he walked into the cafe, he spotted Asuka.  He went over to her and she stood up, her expression one of delight.  She was obviously very happy to see him.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips.  Then, she sat down.  “I ordered you Hot Tea.”  She put it in front of him.

“You’re welcome,” she said.  “You must be happy to be able to speak Japanese again.  How are things in Kampala?”He attempted a smile.  “Thank you.”

“The usual,” he said.  “Well, while I was there, journalists were protesting alleged abuse by the police.  They saw what was happening as an attack on press freedom in Uganda.   Then, there’s growing concern among some Ugandans about Chinese funding because of the debts they see other countries struggling with.  And then there’s the charcoal trade which is decimating forests.”

“Last week Tuesday was World Toilet Day so I was reading up about it online and came across an article which said that there’s a toilet crisis in Kampala.  It said that there aren’t public toilets for about 1,200 people, I think and that mud tinged with feces washes into homes during heavy rains.  How disgusting!”  She made a face and shuddered.  “How could people live like that and why isn’t the government doing something about it?”

“Yes, the sanitation crisis is growing worse.  It’s not only happening in Kampala but in South Africa, India and other places.”

“We’re so lucky, Toshiro.  We have access to clean toilets at home and in public.  I think that sometimes we take these things for granted.  I wanted to help so I sent a donation to one of the charities which is helping to provide clean toilets for the people in Africa.  Using public toilets isn’t safe for the women.  They could catch diseases or even get raped.  Can you imagine that?  And children aren’t safe either.  I read about four children who drown in pit toilets.  I still get choked up just thinking about them, especially, the three year old. ”

“Let’s not talk about this anymore because it’s upsetting you.”  He couldn’t bear to hear it anymore.  It made him think of Ife and how she could have lost her job if it had been discovered that she had used the toilet in his suite that day when he caught her.  He wondered if she was one of those people who didn’t have toilets in their homes.

“You’re right.  Let’s talk about something else.  The hotel where you stay, is it nice?”

“Yes, it is.  It’s a 5 star hotel.”

“What do you do when you’re not on business?”

“I go sightseeing or I stay in my room and catch up on the News.”  That wasn’t true.  He hardly went sightseeing and in the evenings, he was in his suite with Ife.

“Maybe one of these days, I will visit you there.   I read that it’s a relatively safe place for tourists.  Besides, I won’t be alone.  You will be there to protect me.”  She reached over and squeezed his hand.  “It’s so good to see you.  I always miss you so much every time you go away and I count the days when you’ll be back.  When do you go again?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe next month.”

“But not during Christmas and New Year’s I hope.”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do you go there so often?”

“Business.”  That wasn’t true anymore.  Ife was his reason for going to Kampala now.

“Well, I hope you plan to spend Christmas here.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he sipped his tea.  I wonder what Christmas is like in Kampala. 

“My parents are wondering what your intentions are.”

He stared at her blankly.  “What do you mean?”

“Well…we’ve been dating for five years now and they are wondering if we are going to settle down anytime soon.  We’re both in our thirties now.”

Toshiro sighed.  “Asuka, I have something to tell you.”

She looked wary now.  And she set the cup of coffee down on the table.  “What is it?” she asked.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you.  You asked why I go to Kampala so often and I told that it had to do with business.  Well, it doesn’t–not entirely.  This year I have been involved with a woman I met there.”

Asuka stared at him.  “What do you mean by involved?”

Toshiro could feel his face getting warm.  “I’m in a relationship with her.”

“But you’re in a relationship with me.”

“I know–”

“Does she know about me?”

“No.”

“Are you sleeping with her?”

“Yes.”

Asuka’s face was pale now.  Hurt and pain etched her features.  “Are you in love with her?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t believe this.  I have kept myself pure for you because I believed that we were going to get married.”

“You told me that you couldn’t sleep with me because you’re a Christian.”

“Is that why you’re sleeping with her?”

No.”

“Well, I guess this is it for us.”  She got up and pulled on her coat and scarf.   Grabbing her handbag, she muttered, “Goodbye, Toshiro” before she turned and walked away.

He sat there for a long time, feeling terrible.  The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Asuka.  If he hadn’t met and fallen in love with Ife, he would have married her.  In time, he would have grown to love her the way she loved him.

He finished his tea which had gotten lukewarm and then got up and left the cafe.  He didn’t go straight home.  Instead, he walked for a while, thinking.  He had to sort out what he was going to do about Ife.  He hadn’t banked on falling in love with her.  Initially, it had been an extremely strong sexual attraction which he thought that he would get over after a while.

He knew what he ought to do but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.  This whole thing had turned into a great mess.  He needed to talk to someone.  Miko.  He called her immediately on his cell.  Her voice mail came on.  He left a message asking her to call him.

She returned his call a couple of hours later.  He asked her if he could stop by her place the following day because he really needed to talk to her.

Next up is Toshiro’s Exploitation.

Source:  AP News

The Christmas Sweater

il_1588xN.1617920774_tfc8.jpgMarva stood there at the cash register, wishing she could take off the sweater.  She had gotten some dirty looks.  One man grumbled, “Another feminist.” Another asked her, “Are you saying that Santa should be a woman?”  “Are you pushing that gender equality stuff?” Parents glared at her.  One mother shook her head and hustled her kids to another cashier.  Others didn’t seem bothered about it at all while others thought it was silly.  “Everyone knows that Santa is based on St. Nicholas.  If you want to wear such a sweater, go for it.  I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“It’s a bit silly, if you ask me,” a woman standing in the other line remarked.  “Everyone knows that Santa is a white bearded man in a red suit and there’s Mrs. Claus.” Another woman said, “She’s just trying to get attention.  Just ignore her.”

All day she was subjected to unkind remarks and unsavory looks although there were a few smiles and  chuckles.  She couldn’t wait for her shift to be over.  And when it was, she rushed to get her coat and put it on.  Her supervisor, Anne looked apologetically at her.  “I’m sorry you had to go through that,” she said.  “If you weren’t married, I would have let you wear one of the other sweaters.”

“You mean nobody else wanted to wear it.”

“That too.  Well, at least we know now that the sweater’s not popular with most shoppers which means that the sales, if any, will be very low.  I will have to get in touch with the account manager and let her know that the product isn’t selling and to discontinue it.  Thanks again for helping with the promotion.”

“I think I made some enemies.”

“Don’t worry.  Tomorrow, our busiest day before Christmas will be featured on the local news at noon and Wendy will let them know that this was a promotion of our latest Christmas wear and she will talk about them at length.  Everyone will see that you were wearing it not by personal but for professional reasons.  You did well today.  Go home and rest up for tomorrow which will be like a zoo.  And you wear what you want–as long as it’s red or green–to get people into the Christmas spirit.”

Marva smiled.  “I can do with a nice warm bath,” she said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early.  Have a good evening.”  She turned and walked away.  As she was heading towards the doors leading into the shopping mall, a young woman intercepted her.

“I just wanted to say, it’s your sweater, it’s your thoughts…so, it’s your business.  Ignore the haters.”

Marva smiled.  “Thank you.”  She didn’t bother to say that it wasn’t her sweater and those weren’t her thoughts.  And her reason for wearing it was strictly business.  “Have a Merry Christmas.”  She popped into Moore’s to get a couple of shirts for Adrien and then headed to their luxury condo facing the CN Tower and within walking distance from the waterfront.  He should be home by now.

_MG_9919-Recovered.jpgWhen she let herself into the spacious unit, a tantalizingly delicious smell wafted into the foyer and she quickly removed her boots and coat.  She scurried to the bedroom to hide the bag with his shirts in her side of the closet and then, hurried into the kitchen. Adrien was standing in front of the stove and turned when he heard her.  He froze when he saw her sweater.  He placed his hands on top of his head.  “You wore that to work?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  It was part of a promotional event.  You have no idea how badly I wanted to take it off.  I got nasty looks and people made all sorts of remarks.”

“I’m not surprised.  People love Santa.  They act as if he’s real.  Sometimes, it seems like Christmas is more about him than about Jesus.”  He went over to her and kissed her on the lips before hugging her.  “By the sounds of it, you had a really rough day.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why don’t you go and get undressed while I draw you a warm bath.  By the time you’re done, dinner will be ready.”

She smiled and rumpled his hair.  “You read my mind,” she said.  “Thank you, Baby.”

“Anything for you.”  He released her and taking her by the hand, he led her to the master bedroom and while she got undressed, he got the bath ready for her.  It felt so good being submerged in the warm, sudsy water and so relaxing too.  She rested her head against the side of the tub and closed her eyes.

Twenty minutes, dressed in red silk pajamas, she emerged from the bedroom and went into the dining-room where a candlelit dinner awaited her.  Adrien held the chair for her to sit down.  He leaned over and kissed her on the nape of her neck before he went to the head of the table and sat down.  “Did you enjoy your bath?” he asked as he unfolded his napkin.

Marva nodded.  “Yes, I did.  Thank you.  Dinner looks and smells amazing.”

He smiled then they bowed their heads as he said a prayer.  “Bon appetit.”

She eagerly tucked into the Sole Meunière with perfectly golden roast potatoes and salad.  He was a much better cook than she which was why he did most of the cooking.  “This is delicious,” she said.  “You should have been a chef.”  He was a

“I love cooking, yes but I love my job as a Construction Manager even more.  Besides, you are a fantastic cook too.  It’s one of the reasons why I married you.”

She laughed.  “What are the other reasons?”

“You’re beautiful, sexy and I’m crazy about you.”

“I like those reasons.”

“When we met five years ago, I didn’t think you would be interested in me.”

“Why because you’re Jewish and I’m Christian?”

“Yes.  And I’m not Jamaican.”

“I’m a couple of years older than you but none of these things matter when two people love each other.  I admit that when you took me to meet your family, I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure if they would approve of you marrying a black Christian woman but they welcomed me and treated me like I was a part of the family.”

“My family knows what it’s like to be discriminated against and that’s why they make it a policy to love Jews and non-Jews alike.”

“That’s how it should be.  In both religions, we are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

“Yes.  My parents arrived in Toronto yesterday.  They will be staying with Anouk and Michel.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing them and celebrating Hanukkah with them.”

“And I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you, especially the part where we get to kiss under the mistletoe.”

Marva laughed.  “Is that why you hang one in every room?”

He smiled.  “Yes.  Would you like dessert?”

“Sure.  What’s the dessert this time?”

“Your favorite.”

Ten minutes later, they were lounging in the living room having Rugelach while watching a couple of their favorite Christmas movie classics.  It was after mid-night when they finally decided to turn in.  When they were snuggled under the covers, he turned on his side to face her.  “I hope our evening together made up for your rotten day at work.”

Marva was lying on her back.  She turned her head towards him as she placed her hand on his thigh.  “It did, Honey.  Thank you.”

He smiled.  “I’m happy to hear that and you’re welcome.”

“I learned a very valuable lesson wearing that Christmas sweater.  People judged me unfairly because of what I was wearing.  They made all sorts of assumptions about me.  It was no different from how I’m treated because of my color and my accent.  I had a choice not to wear the sweater but I wore it because my manager asked me to.  It reminds me of the times when God asked me to do something I didn’t want to do or wanted to get out of like Moses did when He asked him to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let His people go.  During those times, I had to lay aside my feelings and doubts and misgivings and just trust God.  Wearing that sweater has given me an idea for my own line of clothing.  You know I’ve always wanted to get into designing my own clothes but was too afraid to go for it.  Now, I think that I will do it.”

Adrien leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.  “I think that’s a fantastic idea.”

“You do?”

“Yes.  I’ve seen your sketches, remember?  Maybe now’s the time for you to do this.”

“Maybe.  It would be nice to start my own business.”

“Speaking of business, how about you and I getting down to our own business right now…”

Marva giggled as he disappeared under the covers.

Sources:  Trade Schools; Bon Appetit;

Faith in Action

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead – James 2:15-17

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Five weeks ago, I was in a bad way.  I got laid off and had trouble finding another job.  I was getting worried that I would not be able to pay my rent anymore and get evicted.  I was all alone here in Canada.  My family were all back in Jamaica.  Life was extremely hard there so asking them for money was out of the question.  My Employment Insurance (EI) was running out.  I wasn’t a member of any church so I couldn’t ask a pastor or a minister or a priest to help me.

Time was running out.  I didn’t have any food in the apartment and I was hungry.  I didn’t have any more money.  My EI payments had ended.  I still couldn’t find a job and it didn’t help when I got a bad cold and was laid up in bed for several days.  I looked terrible because I had lost a considerable amount of weight because all I had at my disposal was a half-empty carton of Orange Juice.

Finally, I swallowed my pride and went to my neighbor whom I knew was a Christian.  I always saw her reading a Daily Word or she was always talking to somebody about God.  So, if anyone could help me, it would be her.

I left my apartment and went across the hall.  After taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door.  Hopefully, she was at home.  She was.  She opened the door and looked at me.  “I would invite you in but I have company.”

“It’s all right,” I said.  “I hate to do this but I don’t have any choice.  Could you lend me some money?”

“What do you need it for?”

“I don’t have any food in my apartment.”

“How much do you need?”

“Twenty would be enough.”

“I’m afraid I only have a $100.”

“Oh.  Okay.” Crushed, I said, “Thanks anyway.  Sorry to have troubled you.  Have a good evening.”  I was about to turn away when she caught me by the arm.

“Go and pray to God to help you.  He will.”

I didn’t answer.  I turned and crossed the carpet and let myself into my apartment.  I leaned against the door, feeling very discouraged.  I couldn’t believe that my Christian neighbor didn’t help me.  Couldn’t she have asked her guests for change for the $100 or didn’t she have any food she could have given me?  No, she sent me away empty-handed and with words that couldn’t satisfy my hunger.

I remembered that I had a large bag of potato chips.  I went and took it down from the cupboard and put some in plastic lid.  I sat at the window and munched on them.  I did this again the following day and the next until the bag was finished.  Despair settled in again and then there was a knock on my door.  I opened it and recognized the woman whom I sometimes saw the Christian woman talking to.  She had a shopping cart full of groceries.  “May I come in?” she asked, smiling.

I nodded and held the door open for her to come in.

“I’m afraid I bought too many groceries.  My son moved out last week so I’m all alone.   I bought two of everything.  Do you mind helping me go through these bags?”

“Sure.”  My heart was racing.  This couldn’t be happening.  It felt so surreal.  Was this God helping me?  We went through the bags and when we were done, her groceries were in the bags and in the cart while mine were on the countertop in my kitchen waiting to be packed away.  I thanked her profusely as I held the door open for her.  “Are you a Christian?” I asked her.

She shook her head.  “No, but when I was trying to figure out what to do with the extra groceries, you came to my mind.  I just couldn’t shake the feeling that you needed them.”

I watched her hurry down the hallway to the elevator.  She lived two floors below me.  When I closed my door and went into the kitchen, I put away the groceries, thanking God for His help.  It had to be Him.  Who else could it be?  And what irony.  The person who should have helped me but didn’t was a Christian and the person who wasn’t a Christian did.  That evening I cooked myself a decent meal and enjoyed it in front of the TV.

After that unexpected blessing, I started to go to the church in my neighborhood–not the same one my neighbor went to, though.  The people were warm and welcoming.  I started to go to their prayer meetings.  I asked my prayer partner to pray that I find a job soon or I would be evicted.  A week later, she asked me for my resume.  I gave it to her.  Another week passed by and then I was called in for an interview.  It seems like her sister-in-law was in need of a secretary.  I got the job.  I thanked God and I thanked my prayer partner.

I don’t have any bitterness toward my neighbor.  I am pleasant to her whenever we see each other.  I told her that she was right about God helping me.  And I know that if she ever came to me for help, I would do whatever I can to help her.  Sometimes, I sit in front of the window and have a bowl of potato chips just to remind me of the desperate times and that God will bring us through them–sometimes in ways we don’t expect.

Faith is not just words but actions too.  When a person needs your help, help them.  It’s possible that God sent them to you.   

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.

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 Proposition

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She really had to go but she was on the the fourth floor.  There was no way she could make it down  to the first floor where the staff toilet was.  Either she wet herself on the way down in the elevator or she used his toilet.  If she got caught she could lose her job but she was desperate.   

She was lucky that she had access to toilets here  at the hotel.  If she were at home or on the road, she would be forced to use a free public toilet but there was always the fear of catching a disease or getting raped. 

I’ll be quick about it.   She dashed into the washroom and closed the door.  She sat on the toilet seat and relieved herself, promising herself that this would never happen again.  Suddenly, the door opened and the Japanese man stood there.  She couldn’t tell which one of them was more shocked and embarrassed.  He muttered something under his breath and quickly closed the door.  She was mortified.  What was she going to do now?  He had caught her red-handed.  If he reported her, she would be fired on the spot.  She needed this job to take care of her daughter.

She got up, pulled her underwear up and the skirt of her uniform down, flushed the toilet and washed her hands.  Slowly, she opened the door and walked into the living-room where he was.  He turned when he heard her.  For several minutes, there was a tense silence.  She went over to him.  Her heart was racing and her hands were trembling.  Fear gripped her. Yusuke Ogasawara

Taking a deep breath, she said, “Sir, please don’t report me.  This is the first time I have used the toilet in any of the suites or rooms.  I couldn’t hold it.  I promise it wouldn’t happen again.  Just please don’t report me.  They will fire me and I need this job.”

He didn’t answer right away but he seemed to be considering what she said.  This close he was extremely handsome.

“Is that the new uniform?” he asked.

“Yes.” Today was the first time she was wearing it.  She liked it much better than the old one.

“What’s your name?”

“Ife Basemera.”

“Are you married, Ife?”

She shook her head.  “I’m divorced.”  She didn’t mention that she had a daughter.

“All right, Ife.  I wouldn’t report you.”

She breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  “Oh, thank you, Mr–?”

“Kobayashi but you may call me Toshiro.”

“Thank you, Mr. Kobayashi for not reporting me.”

“I’m not sure if you will be so grateful once you have heard my proposition.”

Ife frowned.  “Your proposition?”

“Yes.  You’re a very beautiful and desirable woman, Ife.  My proposition is that in exchange for you keeping your job, you and I should get to know each other better.”

Ife swallowed.  “What do you mean?”

He smiled.  “I think you know what I mean.”  And as if to leave no room for any misunderstanding, he reached out and caressed her arm with his knuckles.  Her skin felt soft and smooth.  His eyes darkened on her upturned face.  He removed his jacket and his tie.  “Let’s go in there where it’s more comfortable.” he said, inclining his head backwards, indicating the bedroom which was behind him.

Ife’s heart sank.  She had wanted him to be interested in her but not like this–not just for sex.  Yet, she had no choice.  Either she agreed to his proposition or she was out of a job.  Wordlessly, she nodded and followed him into the bedroom.

An hour later, she got dressed.  He pulled on an expensive silk robe and followed her into the living-room.  “I would like to see you again tomorrow, Ife,” he said, “but at five o’ clock in the afternoon.”

She opened her mouth to tell him that she couldn’t because of her daughter, Miremba but she held her tongue.  Instead, she nodded before quickly slipping out of the suite before anyone could see her.  She finished her rounds until her 8 hour shift was over.  When she got home, she fixed dinner and straightened the place, although she was tired.

This story is fiction but there is a severe toilet shortage in Kampala, one of Africa’s bustling cities.  It is home to 1.5 million people but it has only 14 free public toilets.  Many of these public toilets are dilapidated with walls often smeared with feces.  And on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, there are no public toilets for around 1,200 people.   Outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases are common and yet authorities in Kampala have not constructed a single public toilet for years, There is an existing plan, however, to set up 200 toilets by 2025 with the support of donors such as the German development agency GIZ.   Until then, this continues to be a sanitation crisis.

There are many people who don’t have toilet facilities in their homes.  And women can’t use the public toilets without the fear of disease or rape.

Tuesday, November 19 is World Toilet Day.  To find out more information and how you can help, visit this link.  This year’s theme is leaving no one behind.

A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. Whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right. And yet, today, 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation. How can anyone lift themselves out of poverty without sanitation? We must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind – United Nations

Sources: Vice;  Cleantec Innovation; Woman’s DayIndependent; New Vision