Well, I missed last month's update with a lot of transition. At the end of June, it became apparent that it was a good idea for me to leave the parish I was in, as with a very busy and absent pastor and roommate, there was not a chance for the type of support that I would need to live and minister in a remote area. I decided it would be good to come back to Boston for a while and get some things here stabilized before returning again to Ecuador. As it stands now, I hope to return in a few months, but it will happen when the timing works out! In the meantime, here is the latest update…. *****************************************************
On the fourth of July in the parish, I was able to hang up my US flag on the laundry wire. It was out of public view, on the upper deck of the house. Of course, no one there would know what the day was, so it was a private celebration. To get into the spirit, I watched a video on the American Revolution on Youtube. It all put me back in touch with roots, a chance to share some time - in spirit - with everyone back home!
In Puerto Quito in July, there was a party held for the community project for the disabled. There are Franciscan sisters who direct the spiritual and social dimension of the project, and apparently a very elderly benefactor donated a chunk of money to them so that the poor in Ecuador could have a party in honor of his birthday. There was a professional mime, as well as games and food and some dancing and singing, which culminated in a big happy birthday song to the man that no one knew! Although they didn't know him, everyone had a good time. It reminded me of the Gospel passage where Jesus was an invited guest:
"When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." (Lk 14:12-14)
Maria and Mercedes, sisters of Nieves, the girl who has been back and forth to the hospital for her leg operation and recovery, were able to come. They brought along their own children, too. For Mercedes, who doesn't often leave the house, it was the first time out to a social gathering in probably a few years. They all had fun, and after I gave them a ride back to their house, I was able to share the videos and photos with the others there who couldn't make it. It was a good day. I think of the common expression that is used for thanks in Ecuador: Dios le pague. It means, may God repay you, because I can't. I'm sure some day, that elderly man - and everyone else who opened their hearts to the disabled that day - will be repaid….
A smile from Cristian.
Mercedes came with her son, and with her daughter and nephews.
Carmita and Ivan, with Maria who is the occupational therapist in the project.
And here's the birthday singing with the mime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVf5vKMeoGs
A different task still waiting for me to do is to put together a video from the Special Olympics back in June. That's hopefully coming someday soon!!!....
Another moment of sadness came when I had to give up on the English Club at the high school. The principal didn't support the group, or rather more particularly, she didn't support my teaching style. She liked the results and possibilities we were getting, but wouldn't give a place to the group. So it was difficult to say goodbye to the students, especially because a big reason for my coming back this time was to continue with this group. But I got to chat with them, and they prepared and made some cards. What they expressed was very special to me, and I could see, both directly through words and indirectly, that this group experience had had a moving and growing effect on them. When things like that happen, it's not a particularly happy time, and I myself wasn't particularly happy, so I forgot to take photos of us. I'll always remember them, the journey we had together, and they will always be in my heart - and the video we made I still use in giving presentations….
I encourage the students to be lights, they each have a light to shine. They have experienced what is it to be trusted, so that their light can shine. Now, it's their chance to continue to shine.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Mt 5:14-16)
I said goodbye to various people in the parish and headed out to visit friends before leaving. I was able to visit Padre Julian in Quevedo, which is a coastal city. Padre Julian was the priest in Chontal when I first came to Ecuador, who worked with the community in building the church there. He had a chance to bless - and try out - a new motorcycle:
I also got to witness a 40-year renewal of wedding vows for a couple. All the family was there, as if it were the wedding day. They invited us back to eat, but we had to go out to another Mass… The couple had a limo waiting for them to take them back to eat. How humble of a limousine:
I also talked with Padre Julian about finally arranging a trip to Boston next summer, so we'll see …
I passed through Puerto Quito on my way back as well and stayed over at a friend's house, a teacher at the high school. I stayed a few nights and was able to catch up with friends there. After that, I headed out to Mindo, which has become a major tourist location in Ecuador, and is on the way from Puerto Quito - and Chontal - to Quito. I had a chance to catch up with Susan, an Arizonian married to an Ecuadorian man. She does a lot for the local church and diocese - they had owned one of the best-reviewed hotel/restaurants in Mindo according to TripAdvisor. Now, they are downsizing and making changes. They are thinking of transforming the hotel into an intercultural center, something that I would be very interested in! It was great to be able to catch up, somehow we found time to chat for a few hours.
I arrived in Quito at my friend Rosa's house. Rosa owns the Spanish school Vida Verde, and I had decided to take some Spanish classes before going, to help begin to reconcile some of my habits. I stayed with a few other students there, we became friends. One of the days early on, we went out to the local square and there was a cultural dance going on.
I actually won a CD for dancing with Rosa when a singer came out to belt some tunes and hand out CDs to people who would dance. We won partly because no one else was dancing, and because I was a gringo … There was a group of kids from Colombia visiting who were captivated with Andy and Nathalie, the couple in the Spanish program. They thought Andy was some type of famous performer, figuring that if there's a tall think gringo, he must be someone famous. We got a picture together;
But the dancing inspired me to take some dance lessons. I convinced Andy and Nathalie to join me, and we took a few hours of salsa dance lessons. Now, I've grown another left foot….
I took a week of Spanish classes - about 4 hours a day, one-on-one with a Spanish teacher. I figured I had developed a lot of questions and bad habits of different sorts - open ends - in the language that it would be good to review Hipatia had just lost her own mother a week before we began together. We had a good week together, and then at the end, she surprised me by telling me, "I didn't know how I was going to begin going back to work. But after this week with you, you've made me feel really at peace." I realized that God was ministering to her through me, and I thought of my meditation I had about getting off a bus in Santo Domingo and landing in just the right place. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Mt 5:4)
From Quito, we all went on a drive to Chontal, which is where Rosa is from (a lot of her family is still there.) We also brought her sister Cristina with her two children. Cristina's daughter Emili is the young girl in the very first picture I have from Chontal. At the end the first Mass, there was a phot-op moment at the entrance to the church. Julie, from the mission group, took the picture and printed it the next day on a mobile printer. This picture I keep in my Bible or breviary all the time, always a reminder of my relationship with Chontal. I haven't seen Emili in a long, long time, and I happened to have it with me in my Bible in the car. For the first time, I was able to show it to her, and she had a big blush. It was great!
On the way to Chontal, I also - at the request of Rosa - shared my whole conversion and vocation story. I didn't know it at the time, but it led to Rosa going to confession the next morning, and receiving communion at Mass for the first time in a long time.
"He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (Lk 4:18-19)
It also encouraged Cristina to share a story with me. She was at her limits with her boyfriend, who lives with her and is the father of her son. He was always out playing volyball and having a drink, not communicating, and leaving her with everything in the house. She had enough, and left him in the house with the kids and everything else, and went out to the church, to pray at the Blessed Sacrament, as, she said, her mother had always said. She went and poured out her heart, and afterwards went to a little cyber café to use the internet. Right away, one a facebook or web page, a passage from the Bible showed up and spoke directly to her: "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known." (Jeremiah 33:3) She felt so amazed, firstly that the passage was there and spoke to her right after calling out to God, and second for what the passage said: she will hear great and hidden things she never knew before. She knew God was going to do something great. She said her whole mood changed and she was filled with a deep joy and forgot about all her problems. She went home and treated her boyfriend with a smile, and as if nothing had happened. In response, he too changed his whole mood and attitude, and things got immediately better between them. I told her, it looks to me like you have seen "great and hidden things which you have not known". A few weeks later, they got engaged!
Here's a picture of Cristina (right) and another of her sisters Carmen. One day I was coming down from the school in the morning and she was on her way about to head up the mountain with two large empty jugs. She invited me to come with her and help her out. She does the 45 minute climb every day to her dad's farm, milks the cows, and carries the jugs of milk back down the mountain. It is a difficult life …
But I get to with a lot of cute kids - I laugh as I'm posting the photos ...
While in Chontal, I also took Andy and Nathalie up the mountain, to visit the farm of Rosa's and Cristina's father. We went up on foot, as it wasn't passable by car. A few years ago, I had gone up by truck, but now, after the landslides, it's barely passable at some points on foot.
We climbed this, crossing the huge groove that was formed in the mountain by one of the landslides.
A view looking back down into Chontal.
The people made a bridge to pass across the groove in the mountain. In the past, a truck could drive this whole way.
On the bridge.
Another pass across the groove.
Looking down the groove. Not for the faint of heights!
Many people make this walk each day, multiple times a day sometimes, and sometimes part way on dirtbike. It's made life even more difficult for the people who live up on the mountain.
In Chontal, my mother's birthday also passed. It was a special time to be in the church there. I remembered the song that we sang together on her makeshift bed, in front of the large image of the Divine Mercy. Especially, the refrain and the last verse:
O Lord, in my eyes you were gazing, Kindly smiling, my name you were saying; All I treasured, I have left on the sand there; Close to you, I will find other seas. … Lord, send me where you would have me, to a village, or heart of the city; I will remember that you are with me.
I felt those words were both mine and my Mom's - together….
On the same day, I also made a trip up to the local school to talk with the English teacher there. We had talked the last time I was there about my coming into the class. I had an idea that I like to do to start out when coming into a class, focused on presentation. I like to start with the very basics, as it's usually the first time that the students have ever met a native English-speaker. That means a one-on-one introduction with each student in the class as I go around to each one and get on a knee and offer my hand and a basic introduction. They have to answer the same in reply. It's a special time, as everyone is completely engrossed with each introduction, and I am reaching out to each kid personally. It's one of my favorite moments, because it expresses to each student one by one the very core of my mission. I can tell them eye-to-eye who I am and how happy I am to meet them. After that, since the face is the focus of the first encounter, I start doing the words for the parts of the face, and then after that, the parts of the body. We play games and do other fun exercises that get everyone involved. It is person-centered, as we begin everything we the person. Then, we move on to the environment of our encounter, the classroom, etc. But everything begins from that encounter, and the whole plan grows out of that encounter. So, that's always my desire and plan, and I went with that in mind to the teacher. I said, what are you guys doing in the class right now. She said, "We are about to do the names of the parts of the face and body." God is good!!
A big part of what I do at the very beginning has to do with making mistakes. I talk about the value of mistakes, how you have to make mistakes if you want to learn a language, you just won't advance. So, I start with stories about my own mistakes, like the time a man asked me if I was married, and I thought he was asking if I was tired. "A little bit." That gets a laugh. Then, I talk about my difficulty pronouncing d in Spanish, and how, when I thought I was asking people for a photo with everyone at the bullfights, I was actually asking to get a photo with the bulls themselves. Or the time I wanted the lunch without the fried plantains, and asked the waitress for the lunch without pants. What that does is it makes everyone laugh, it makes everyone comfortable, and it makes it OK to make mistakes. It shows them that mistakes can be great things. And, most importantly - it makes me one of them.
The second day, I start the class with a little exercise using what they know in English. First, I tell everyone to take out their notebooks. Then, a pen. Then, they tear a sheet out of their notebooks. Then, they write the Spanish word "vergüenza" on the papers in big letters. (That's the word for embarrassment, being afraid of what other people think of you.) Then, I had them all crumple the papers up. Then, they all stood up. Then, everyone turned to the window (which has no glass - c'mon we're in the tropics). And then we all kicked and tossed the papers out the window. It was a little exorcism of vergüenza, the greatest obstacle to growing. Of course, after I made my point, we all had to go and pick up the papers and put them in the trash as well. … And right away, I started with a review from the previous day on the face - and they all knew everything, right off the bat, it was amazing. Then we proceeded to the body parts with repeated pronunciation, and by the end of the class, everyone knew their arm from their elbow (I resisted using an old joke there, if you caught that). You could see them growing in vocabulary, then in simple sentences. I was amazed … Afterwards, the teacher and I planned about my coming back and stopping in for periodic sessions with the students. She says, you've done so much for me, but I haven't done anything for you, even given you a cup of water. What can I give to you? How can I repay you? I said, "You have given me something. I got to meet all the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders in the village because of you. I got to introduce myself personally, one on one, with every single one of them, look in their eyes with a smile. I got a chance to start to know them. I got a chance to share who I am, and they received it, they each were fed and grew, and I got to see it with my own eyes." If I announced "bible study, all kids welcome!", how many kids do you think I would meet? The water I can get anywhere. But she let me into her class. That was a lot more. That I could only get through her. I got everything I wanted…..
"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Mt 10:40-42)
I want to include some thoughts here on the conditions in Ecuador, especially related to how I see my mission. I want to share a little something that becomes visible, for example, with the English books that are used here. The government has standardized all teaching throughout the country, and the books are standard as well. Now, the government claims it is adopting the same teaching strategy and pedagogy as that of the authors of the book, a standardized pedagogy in Europe. But there's a big problem. Or, rather, that's the problem. By taking someone else's pedagogy and simply trying to adopt it raw and impose it universally - without preparation either of individuals or of culture - is, well, bad pedagogy. It does violence to whatever pedagogy you’re proposing to adopt. So, right at the very foundation, the country has poor pedagogy, and yet believes it is following the global pedagogy.
How does this play out practically? Well, if you look at the English book that they have, you'd see it right away. It is far, far, too advanced for either teachers or students. Written for students of any first language, it is entirely in English and draws no relation to the Spanish language. But even more, the content of the book, which in the authors' words is designed to relate to the lives of the students, is presented in the context of someone born and living in England (or the US, depending on the edition of the type of English learned). So, by using the book in this way, the government is forcing the schools to give students a resource completely out of context with their lives, which is the exact opposite of what the authors are trying to do. Yet, they believe they are in line with the authors' approach and thinking.
The example I noted here is a good example of what is happening through the culture here: an imposed advancement to the levels and standards of the overdeveloped countries, that, in the way it is imposed without a due organic process, essentially lacks the foundation of those very same levels and standards. It can be a form of hypocritical blindness that causes violence, once again, to the poor.
So, what is the source, and what is the solution? I believe it is in the great divide between the overdeveloped world and underdeveloped world. When the poor need and suffer and the rich do not give, it hurts! The division hurts! And what happens is that both enter into the pendulum dance of despair and presumption. That is to say, there are strong movements at times toward one direction and other times toward the other. In despair, there is a giving up of real unity and a fall into co-dependency: the underdeveloped depends on the developed. In presumption, there's also a giving on of real unity, but this time, the two worlds are completely independent. This condition, presumption, is the condition now here. The pendulum has swung the other way after being dependent on the overdeveloped countries (like the US) and feeling the painful effects of that. There is now a presumption here that Ecuador is going to become great on its own. It's going to create its own standards and way of life, or it's going to adopt the global way, a mix, or whatever, but it's going to do it on its own. "Dale, Patria!" says the billboard signs. Onward, Fatherland! And what is the source? It's that barrier between the two worlds, that creates division and abusive dependencies. And what is the solution? The solution is … Christ. To receive Him. And just as importantly - to be Him:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-22)
This is my mission.
In Chontal, as in all the place, but especially here, I enjoy being with the kids, playing with them, at times teaching, whatever. Sometimes, as I've found when visiting so many friends with kids at home in Boston, I'm like a living, breathing toy. One night some of the kids got to playing hopscotch. Remember that?
And Emili and I got some selfies with her grandmother, Teresa, who has had a stroke and lost her speech. Emili is very, very vivacious, and has always been a handful.
One evening, I was with Emili and some of the other kids (a lot are related, I lose track of it all sometimes). One of her cousins was upset with her because Emili was gossiping about her, and Emili took a little fit and walked far away to sulk. So I said to Katy, her cousin, "it looks like you guys need to talk." She said, what do I say to her, she always is whispering to people about me. I said, "you really want to be friends with her right? And you don't want her to talk about you like that, right? So, if you want, you could tell her that you want to be friends with her, but you don't like it when she talks about you like that." I didn't know how she would respond, but next thing I knew, she was walking off in the direction of Emili. I was so moved by that humility… I looked back in a little bit, and they were talking. I didn't know how Emili would respond … Then a little bit later, they were running off holding hands and playing together!
"Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 18:4)
Every August are the fiestas of the "parish". That's almost like the town, but if you imagine that there are 12 communities in the town, Chontal being one of them. So, each of the communities - or most of them anyways - has thei own fiestas at some point in the year, to commemorate their founding. But the mother town - García Moreno - also has the fiestas for the foundation of the parish. These are usually some of the best fiestas around in the area. I've been to the fiestas every year since 2010, except last year. This time around, I made it to a little bit of the bulls and the volleyball match. Though I didn't take any pictures. But Franklin and his wife Mayra treated me to some beer in gratitude - they were one of the families that received some of the funds from the donations. I also caught the concert with Americo Ecuatoriano, and who but María Belén got up on stage again to sing with him and actually won the contest as best dancer on stage with Americo… But at the beginning of it all, most of the communities come represented with a truck that is decorated like a float in a parade, according to a theme they've chosen for their community. The truck usually has a young woman on top dressed as a candidate for the election of the queen. The truck is also followed by a dance team. After they all process into the main square, there is an election for best car (best float). Then, there is the dance competition and vote for the best. In the evening, there's the election of the queen. I didn't get to the queen election this year, but here are some videos of the dancing. The first one, which is 10 minutes long, won:
The car for Chontal, with Wilian and and his wife Elizabeth, who spent much of the night preparing it:
There were a whole bunch of other cars, but I didn't get that many photos this time:
And a few videos as well:
A little story … I was getting a ride home one night from the fiestas, it's about a 45 minute, beautiful ride from Garcia Moreno to Chontal. Anyway, we were driving along and I was in the passenger seat. I wasn't paying too much attention because I was talking with other people. But I finally noticed that we were going a bit slow because the windshield had been fogged up for a while. I looked over and the driver wasn't using the defogger. I helped him out with it, and in a matter of a minute, the fog was cleared up. He thought all along it was the dust from the road… Driving down here is not a common thing, and people drive here in the rural areas very cautiously. They don't have a lot of experience with it, and can be timid with it. Usually in a village, I would guess that about 10% of people would drive a car or truck. But I would bet that it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t mounted a horse at least once in their life … It all means that it requires a certain gentleness and understanding to be here - on my part, yes, but how much more on their part with me!!
I was walking along the main street one day when a young woman called me over. We met up and she said she would like to invite me over for lunch one of the days before I leave. She and her husband Franklin, along with their 3 kids and granddaughter, lost their home in the landslides. So, they had me over for lunch in the place where they were staying. It's a small sort of function room that was constructed next to the at-a-distance school house. They are glad that no one died, and they like the temporary place they have, but they are looking forward to a new place. On the night of the landslides, about 5:30 in the morning on Mother's Day, the largest of the landslides split the mountain and came down with a thunderous sound. The wall of their house, in the children's room, crashed in, from the bottom. The mud slammed in against the wall and shoved the bed with the children across the room, holding it up against the wall. The floor in the house cracked open, and the water from the rains, that had formed streams down the mountain, came bursting through and into the house. After getting their senses, they waited for a bit, then got the children and left the house. The kids have been a bit shocked by it now whenever it rains, but they are all I good spirits otherwise.
As they told me the story over lunch, Franklin began to tell me how he was actually tired of the divisions in the village, and was getting comfortable avoiding people. His house was a bit up the mountain, and he could be away from people. When he came down to buy something it was quick, and when he went to play volleyball, he went right home afterwards. He was moving away from the community. Now, he says, he's living right in the middle of the place. It was as though God wanted him to not escape from the life of the village, and now he's more involved. It's difficult, but he sees the good in it, as he faces his own demons of sorts. I told him how, after the disaster, one of the residents had said to me, "Chontal is all done." He shook his head, "Chontal is not all done." ……
After the fiestas, just before I left for Quito, there was another meeting here including the people affected by the disaster that were receiving funds. The money had cleared at the end of July but hadn't been distributed yet, and we agreed that the people wanted the cash now instead of the materials, because, since it took so long for the money to clear, progress of different sorts had begun on each of the homes. In the process, a few families invited me over to eat, and we also took videos of some who wanted to express their thanks to all the donors. (I can post that after the meeting on September 17). Here, you can see that José and Arsenio have started on their new places, that are located away from mountain. Jose is going to add a little more on to accommodate his grandkids. The homes are simple, but very functional!
José and Ramiro sharing a Kodak moment on the porch.
Arsenio digging holes for the pilings.
In the video, several of the people thank me and the donors for the help and support. The phrases that you will hear are "de todo corazon" and "Dios le pague." The first means "with my whole heart", or "from the bottom of my heart". When something is from the bottom of your heart, it's more than just a desire or wish, it is a prayer. The phrase "Dios le pague" is actually the more original expression for giving thanks in this part of Ecuador, in the mountains, in the origins of the Indigenous. It means, "May God repay you," and what is really implied is also, "Because I can't." It always implies a certain poverty and humility. I am so glad that the people who donated will have a chance to view the videos and encounter in a special way the gratitude and real prayer of the people who have directly benefited from their generosity. It is as though, through the people who have received the help, the scripture is proclaimed:
He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed. (Prov 19:17)
As I said in my invitations to participate in the act of solidarity that was the fundraiser, I pointed out that whatever people did for the people, they also did for me. That's not taking a Bible verse and using it for something. When you give to my friends, you do also give to me through my friendship. But more than that, I am friends with them because I too and without a lot. Some friends and other people I know wonder how I will survive in the situation I am in. I don't have a job yet, or too much money, no home of my own, no retirement fund. But I don't worry about my situation. I certainly don't ignore it, but I don't worry at all about it. I am sure that I will never be without what I need in life.
He who gives to the poor will not want. (Prob 28:27)
Blessed is he who considers the poor! The LORD delivers him in the day of trouble; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you heal all his infirmities. (Psalm 41:1-3)
Why would we ever worry about the money or time or whatever we may lose by giving to the poor? By the very prayer of the poor, God will repay.
Dios le pague.
I'll tell one last story. Susana, whose husband Daniel lost a big portion of his farm on the side of the mountain, invited me over for breakfast in thanks for their share of the donation that was given. She lives next door to her sister Alicia and her family where I usually have stayed. Anyway, I went over and her other sister Sonia was there and we were talking, and she asked me, "So Jerome, when you go and visit houses, what do you do, do you do some type of teaching? If I invited you into my house, like, would you say to the man, you shouldn't be drinking, do you say to the woman, you shouldn't be wasting time, or to the kids, to obey your parents?" Now, this is typical, probably not just here in Ecuador, but also in Latin America, and all over the world, that the priest or religious person's job is to tell other people what they should be doing. So I responded, "When I accept whatever you give me to eat, that is a teaching. When I listen to you and everyone in the family, that is a teaching. When I play with the kids find joy in them, that is a teaching. When I make mistakes, and fumble with the language and still want to be here with you, that is a teaching. I come here because there is beauty already here. There is beauty already inside each of us. I come to recognize the beauty and bring it out. I am always teaching." Then, I went ahead and accidentally drank her whole giant glass of orange juice, right in front of her. I thought it was the second one that was given to me that I would politely drink, when I had already in fact drunk said second one, and had for some reason not noticed doing it! I was bloated with 3 glasses of OJ. Point made! You could see her personality open up like a flower after that. God is good…
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor 2:1-5)