Two Ships

Herieth-Paul2Ife saw him waiting for the elevator.  She tried not to make it obvious that she was watching him as she pushed the cart down the hallway.  She knew he was in no. 406, the Royal suite.  He was very handsome and a sharp dresser.  He must be rich, she thought.  This was a 5-star hotel he was staying in.

He was looking straight ahead and appeared to be in deep thought.  He didn’t notice her and when the elevator doors opened, he went inside.  After they closed behind him, she continued down the hallway to the different suites she still had to clean.  When she got to his, she looked around.  It was in impeccable order.  The bed looked like it hadn’t been slept in.  Out of all the suites on this floor, his was the one she didn’t mind cleaning.

As she got to work, she wondered how long he was staying in Kampala this time.  The last time it was for two weeks and the time before that, three.  He wasn’t the first Japanese businessman she had seen in the hotel or in Kampala.  More and more Japanese were flocking to the city to live, holiday or set up businesses.  Was he planning to live here or to set up a business?  What about his family?  Did he have a wife and children?  He looked young–in his mid to late thirties.

Well, it was none of her business.  A man like him would not be interested in her–a single mother working as a maid in a fancy hotel and living in a run-down neighborhood.  And they were from different cultures.  No, she would be better off finding and marrying a decent Ugandan man who wouldn’t mind being a step-father to her daughter.

Toshiro leaned against the tree, looking up at the hotel.  She was probably in his suite 62_ac32e335-d1d8-4e7c-bffa-e98b58858fd7now.  He knew that she was watching him as he waited for the elevator.  He could feel her eyes on him.  He appeared not to have noticed or acknowledged her but he had.   The temptation to look at her was very strong but he resisted.  She could be married for all he knew and he was in a relationship.

To be honest, he was staying at this hotel because of her.  The first time he saw her was last year when they passed each other in the hallway.   Their eyes met and held for a long time before she lowered hers.   Since then, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her or wanting to see her again.  Perhaps, one of these days, he would say hello to her.  There was no harm in that, was there?

Just then a taxi pulled up in front of the hotel’s entrance.  He glanced at his watch.  It was time to go to the meeting.  Moving away from the tree, he hurried over to the taxi and climbed.   As it drove off, he glanced up at the fourth floor.  Hopefully, he would see her again tomorrow.

This is a prequel to Ife’s Toilet Crisis.

Two Different Worlds

T10626_Jacob_001“I’m thinking of breaking up with Josiah,” Phyllis said to her friend, Veronica when they were having lunch at a cafe close to Veronica’s workplace.

Veronica looked surprised.  “Why?” she asked.  “I thought you were really into him.”

“I am but, I’m not sure where this relationship is going.  We’ve been seeing each other for three and a half years now and I still haven’t met his family.  The last two years when he flew to Seoul for the Christmas holidays, he doesn’t ask me to go with him.  I don’t even know if he’s told them about me.  He met my family in our second year of dating.”

“Yes, he did on Thanksgiving but as I recall, some of your relatives didn’t exactly welcome him with open arms.  Maybe he’s trying to spare you from the same kind of treatment from his family.”

“You really like him, don’t you?” Phyllis asked.

“Yes.  He’s the best thing that has ever happened to you.  Don’t blow it.  Hang unto him.  He’s a keeper.”

Phyllis sighed.  “All right.  I’ll take it one day at a time.  Thanks for being such a terrific friend.”

Veronica smiled.  “You’re welcome.”  She glanced at her watch.  “It’s time for me to head back to the office.”

“Let’s do lunch again soon, okay?”

“Sounds good to me.”

They split the cheque and parted company.  Phyllis walked back to her office.  She was busy for the rest of the afternoon and was thankful when it was time to go home.

5404faab75c57b2d48d4ae4fbee86294--black-girls-black-womenShe grabbed a hot chocolate on her way to the subway.  On the train ride home she thought about what Veronica said.  Josiah was a really special guy who treated her like a queen.  He liked to buy her gifts, take her places and cook dinner for her.  Tonight, she was going over to his place for another romantic, home cooked dinner.  She was really looking forward to the dinner and spending the weekend with him.  She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when she wore her new negligee.  I probably wouldn’t be wearing it for long, she mused.  Yes, I would be a fool to break up with him.  When the time is right, I will meet his family.

When she got home, she checked her messages and then took a long, hot shower before she got dressed, grabbed her overnight bag, handbag and left.

“Something smells really, really good,” she remarked as soon as she entered the apartment.”

“It’s Popcorn chicken with basil.”

“Hmmm.  My mouth’s watering just thinking about it.”

He smiled as he helped her to remove her coat.  After he put it away in the closet, he took her in his arms and kissed her.  “I’ve been looking forward to doing that all day,” he said when he raised his head several minutes later.

Phyllis could hardly breathe.  “You have?” she gasped.

“Yes and I want to kiss you again but if I do, it will lead to other things and the dinner will get cold.”  Reluctantly, he released her and stepped back.

“Why-why don’t I go and freshen up in the meantime?”

“Good idea.  Dinner will be ready in a few minutes.”

She took up her overnight bag and headed for the bedroom.

A few minutes later, they were sitting at the candlelit table, having dinner.  In the background, classical music was playing.  “This is so good,” she exclaimed after she finished her first mouthful of the food.

“Thank you.”

“You’re such an amazing cook.”

“Cooking is something I really enjoy doing.  Before I became a Marketing and Sales Manager, I wanted to be a chef.  After I left university, I went to a culinary school in Paris.  It was a fantastic experience.”

“Why didn’t you become a chef?”

“As much as I loved it, I realized after a while that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a kitchen.  So, I decided that I would open my own restaurant and hire a guy who went to the same culinary school as the chef.”

“I’m glad you did.  We met at your restaurant.  One of my girlfriends was celebrating her fortieth birthday and we wanted to take her to the best restaurant in Soho.”

“Yes, I remember that night as if it happened today.  When I came out to greet and chat with the diners, I saw the staff gathered around your table singing happy birthday.  I came over and my eyes fell on you.  I barely acknowledged who else was at the table.”

“I couldn’t believe that you were the owner.  You looked so young.”

“Is that why you didn’t want to go out with me at first?”

“Well, I’ve never dated a younger man before and…”

“and one who’s from a different culture.”

“Yes, but then, I was so attracted to you that after a while, I had to stop making stupid excuses not to go out with you.”

“And here we are three and a half years later.”

She smiled.  “Yes.”  If she had followed her mind instead of her heart, she wouldn’t be here now enjoying a romantic dinner with him.

“I spoke to my parents this morning,” he said as they cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher.

“Oh.  How are they?”

“They’re doing well.  I’m planning to visit them in July.”

“Oh.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you.”

“They’re looking forward to meeting you.”

She almost dropped a glass.  “They know about me?” she exclaimed.

“Yes, they do.  I wanted to take you to Seoul to meet them but my grandmother was living with them and she wouldn’t have approved of us.  I wanted to spare you that.  While I was there and when she wasn’t around, I told my parents about you and even showed them pictures.  I hated spending Christmas without you and I promised myself that I would never do it again.  My grandmother died a couple of days after I left.  I couldn’t go to the funeral because of the short notice and I had already been away from the restaurant for a while.  My parents understood.”

“I’m sorry about your grandmother.”

“Me too.  I wish she could have known you and accepted you.”

“I’ve met people like your grandmother.  They don’t see past color or culture.”

“My mother had to deal with the same thing because she’s British.  My grandmother wanted my father to marry a Korean girl and was furious when he didn’t.  She refused to attend the wedding and stopped talking to my grandfather for months because he did.  I’m surprised that she didn’t shun me because I was Eurasian but she said that I looked more Korean because my Korean blood was stronger than my English blood.”

Phyllis shook her head.  “It’s sad that this sort of thing still happens in families.”

“Yes it is,” he agreed. “But let’s not talk about it anymore.  The important thing is that we are together.”

“Yes.  And we have our parents’ approval.”

“And even if we didn’t, it wouldn’t matter.”

They left the kitchen and the dishwasher going and went into living-room where they spent the evening talking and planning their trip to Seoul.  It was close to mid-night when they decided to turn in.  While he undressed in the room, she was putting on her negligee in the bathroom, her heart pounding with excitement and anticipation.  When she finally emerged, he was standing beside the window, wearing only his pajama pants.  He turned when he heard her and his eyes traveled over her.  She knew that the negligee looked great on her.  Its muted red shade flattered her coloring and the fine silk hugged her body in all the right places.

In a matter of seconds, she was in his arms and he was kissing her ravenously.  She clung to him as she returned his kisses.  They stood there kissing wildly and then he drew back, his chest heaving and pulled the negligee over her head.  She was naked.  Then, his hands and lips were all over her, making her head swim as ripples of indescribable pleasure spread through her body.  Then, he was backing her over to the bed until she was lying on top.  His heated gaze ran over her as he ripped off his pajama pants.  She reached eagerly for him and their lips met as their bodies merged.

In between kisses, he murmured, “I love you.”

When he buried his face in her neck, she whispered, “I love you.”

Before they went to Seoul in July, they got engaged and in the spring of following year they got married when his parents visited New York for the first time.  In June, at the age of 40, Phyllis gave birth to their first child, a healthy boy whom they named after her father who passed away just a couple of weeks before.  The second boy was named after Josiah’s father.

Two different worlds collided and became one. 

Tired

“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? – Amos 3:3

“Wendy, you can’t leave now!” Sarah cried. They were standing outside in the church’s parking lot.  The service had just ended and Wendy was heading home.  She was tired and just wanted to be by herself.

“I am leaving,” she said firmly.

Sarah looked confounded.  “But what about the potluck?  Everyone is heading downstairs to the room we set up.”

That’s when Wendy almost lost it.  “We?” she snapped.  “We didn’t set the room up. I set the room up with some help from the deacons.  You were no where around.  I don’t know where you were.  And when you finally showed up, the tables were already set up and the food put out and ready for serving.”

Sarah gaze faltered as Wendy glared at her.  “Well, I was making sure that the singles we invited to our special program today were going to stay for the potluck.”

Wendy shook her head.  “The invitation is there in the bulletin and I reminded them again during Sabbath school.  You should have been downstairs helping me, Sarah.  Not because I am the leader, it means that I am supposed to do everything.  There should be collaboration between you and me.  I’m tired of doing all of the planning, the preparations and the arrangements.  When I signed up to be Singles’ Ministry leader, I was really excited.  I asked you to be my assistant because you shared the same vision I had for reaching the single adults in our church.  I don’t know what has changed but I’m left doing most of the work and I am tired.  I’m going home.  You take care of the visitors and the potluck.  Now you will see how it feels to be left holding the bag.”

She started to walk away and Sarah frantically grabbed her arm.  “Wendy, I’m sorry,” she said.  “You’re right, I haven’t been pulling my weight lately.  It’s just that I have been so busy.  Mom was sick and I’ve had problems at the office.” Wendy stopped, the anger fading away.  “I’m sorry to hear that, Sarah,” she Said.  “How is your Mom?”

“She is better, thanks to God and the prayers of family and friends.”

“I’m happy to hear that.  What about your problems at work?”

“If you give me a lift home after the potluck, I can talk to you about my problems.”

Wendy smiled.  “All right,” she said.  “Let’s go and join the others.”  She reached out and gently squeezed Sarah’s hand as they walked back inside the church.

 

1

Three Miles for Water

Imagine walking three miles each day to collect water and the only water available is in filthy ponds or lakes.  This water is contaminated with waterborne illnesses but these women have no choice.  They don’t have indoor plumbing.  They don’t have the privilege of filling pots with water from the kitchen sink and using that water to cook.  They don’t have a washer and a dryer to do their laundry.  They don’t have bottled or filtered water for drinking.  They have dirty water at their disposal.  They need this water to cook, wash clothes and drink.  This water which is a necessity for them can bring death and sickness to their families.

Look at the ground they have to travel over in order to get this water that is not fit for anything.  It looks dry because of the scorching heat.  Imagine walking in that heat for three miles and then retracing your steps, carrying heavy buckets and jugs of water seven days a week.

Look at this water.  It’s brown.  This woman would gladly draw clean water from a well if there was one but she has to settle for this muddy water.

Fetching water is not only exhausting for women and girls but it takes a toll in other areas.  Water for the Ages gave these 10 facts on women and water:

Imagine being pregnant and having to travel a long distance to fetch water.   Here’s a video of a woman who suffered miscarriages as a result of fetching drinking water for her family.

This seems so wrong.  When I was a child and we had a water shortage, we had to draw water from the pipe in the yard.  It was heavy carrying this bucket up the stairs and to the bathroom.  I can’t imagine walking for miles with a heavy bucket of water.  This is not something that women or girls should be doing.  Yet the men are not doing it and some of them are marrying extra women to fetch them water.  These women are called, “water wives”.

Reuter’s reporter Danish Siddiqui reports that these “water wives” are often widows or single mothers wishing to “regain respect” in their communities. He notes that they usually do not share the marital bed and often live in separate apartments. But even though many are wives in name only, their labor is essential to their husbands: they must walk through hot temperatures and sticky humidity to communal wells, where they then wait hours for their turn before loading up metal containers and makeshift pitchers with water and lugging them back.   Their husband and the village depend on them to take on this time consuming and inconvenient task.  However, these women are happy with the arrangement.  It’s better than being a widow or abandoned.

Unlike the “water wives” many women in South Asia don’t have access to communal wells.  They have to travel far to fetch unclean water.  Thankfully, their situation is not hopeless.  Through Gospel for Asia, women can get clean water for their families from Jesus’ Wells.

Find out more about how the Lord is using clean water to demonstrate His love for these thirsty people by checking out this link.  You can help to improve the health of families by helping Gospel for Asia to provide clean, pure water from a Jesus’ Well.

Sources:  Gospel for Asia; Water for Ages; Smithsonian ;Yahoo News