THE LORD AND I
AFFAIRS OF THE HEART
“Whose findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor with the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22.
It was eleven o'clock on a wintry Sunday morning in February when I heard the doorbell ring. When I opened the door, I found a tall, fine-featured man standing in front of me. “Hi,” he said.
“My name is Phil Scopelite. I have an appointment for the Portuguese lessons.”
“Come in. I am Clelia Reis, your teacher.”
I took him to the front room and sat by my desk near the picture window. He sat in front of me, and we began the lesson. We had hardly begun, when we heard a call coming from the back room:
“Help! Clelia, come quickly!”
We ran to the kitchen and found my brother Renildo and his friend both lying on the floor. Renildo was almost blue and was making limited movements with his hands. He started to point to his belt. Mother immediately began to loosen it. Phil went to the telephone and called the doctor, who arrived shortly and started to examine them. Renildo’s friend was not as bad off as my brother and started to tell the doctor what happened.
We were fixing the car in the garage when we started to get unusually cold, so we closed the door. While we were fixing the engine of the car, the motor kept running and filled the air with fumes. Renildo was bent over the engine and mentioned that he was suddenly tired. That was when I realized we were getting asphyxiated. I was also feeling sick and tired. I opened the side door and pulled him out by his shoulders.
Phil and the doctor carried the two to bed and laid them down. The doctor said that rest, a lot of water, and a prescription were all they needed.
Then, Phil took me to the drugstore. When we crossed the street, he held my arm in his. At home, mother was waiting for us with a table filled with food. She asked Phil to eat with us. A demonstration of her appreciation, for all the help he had given us.
Phil had perfect table manners and proved himself the true gentleman I had imagined him to be. Mother and I were equally impressed.
After several weeks of lessons, we started going out together. Many times after class we would go to the public library and listen to classical music, or we would go and sit by the waters of Lake Michigan to hear the waves splashing against the shore. He also went with me to church to attend a series of studies that were being held. He politely showed a great deal of interest in the meetings and decided to enroll in a correspondence Bible course of The Voice of Prophecy.
One day after school, he offered me a present of a box of candies. We were standing against the wall of the school, when Phil took a big cigar out of his pocket, lit it, and began to smoke. I almost dropped the box of candies; I was totally shocked.
“What is the matter?” he asked, not realizing the reason for my surprise.
“You smoke!” I answered with a touch of disgust in my voice.
“Yes, I smoke. What is wrong with that?” he asked me.
Then I gave him a lecture about smoking. He threw the cigar away and promised he would never smoke again. As amazing as it may seem, he never did.
Every time Phil came over for dinner, he noticed we never had any meat on the table. Once he asked why there wasn’t any meat with the meal. I explained that we were vegetarians and that meat was not a very healthful food for our diet. I also told him how I was amazingly healthier since I had quit eating meat.
“I won’t eat meat anymore.” He decided, and became a vegetarian.
One time he called me and said he was very upset. His sister was going to be married and his father would not give her away at the wedding. Phil came over and poured out his heart to me. He said that everything was going wrong. His father would not even speak to his mother.
“Phil”, I said, “Jesus is the only solution to problems like yours. I’m sure that it would help if you prayed about your problems.”
That night, before he went to bed, he knelt down and talked to Jesus for the first time. The next day he came to see me with a big smile on his face.
He told me the whole story. When he went to his room to pray the night before, he left his mother crying in the kitchen. The next day when he woke up, he went downstairs to find his mother cheerfully singing.
“Mother, you are singing now! What happened?” he asked. “You were crying last night, and now you are so happy!”
“Daddy is going to give Marie away at her wedding. He is a really warmhearted man too; he even gave me a kiss.”
It wasn’t very long before we found ourselves going to Marie’s wedding in Phil’s car. “I am going to this wedding only because it is my sister’s; I don’t like weddings. Everybody ends up getting drunk, so I will try my best not to drink very much. I have to drive you back home, so I have to be in shape to drive.” He said.
“Phil, don’t you know what alcohol does to our bodies?” Then I began another lecture on health.
“I will quit drinking alcoholic beverages.” He said as the car approached the church.
The wedding was beautiful. Marie looked like a radiant angel. Everybody was in just the right mood, all cheery and joyful. After church we went to the hall where the reception was being held. There were so many people. On one side of the hall was a long table decorated with lacy trimmings. A big wedding cake was placed perfectly in the center of the table. Near the rear of the hall a band played softly, some romantic melodies of live. After we ate, Phil took me to another room where everyone was dancing. A plump woman came up to us, took Phil by the arm, pulled him onto the dance floor, and started to polka with him. Then the music stopped, and he came to say that the next dance would be ours.
“I’m sorry, but in our religion we don’t dance. I cannot explain very well the reason why, so I will take you to our minister. You can ask him, and he will tell you.”
Several times the same plump woman came to urge him to dance with her again. Later we went back home. At the door he pulled me close to him and asked me if I would marry him.
“Give me time to think.” I answered. I went into the house and that night I could not sleep. Phil wanted to marry me and he was not a church member. Ever since I was a little girl, I had heard that we should not be equally yoked with unbelievers. I got on my knees and asked God what to do. The next day when I went to work, I had only one thing on my mind the whole day: What am I going to tell him? Every Wednesday night we had a prayer meeting in my church, so I decided to take my problem to our pastor. I told him that Phil had asked me to marry him, and I did not know what to tell him.
“Tell him that you will marry him on one condition: that he will become a baptized church member. You are in love with him, aren’t you? I know that Phil is an excellent person, and I am sure that he will accept Christ as his personal savior. He will also make a good husband. Tell him yes, for sure.”
The pastor had both his mind and mine made up. I was now sure that I wanted to marry Phil, but I just did not feel that it was time to tell him. Every day he asked me for an answer. I would say that I needed a week to think it over. On Sunday, one week after he had asked the question, I told him about the advice the pastor had given me. " I will marry you after you are a baptized church member."
Summer passes by with its radiance and beauty. Every night Phil came by to see me. Our love grew stronger and stronger each moment we were apart. Every night it was harder than the night before to say a good by.
Soon we saw the leaves turn golden brown and carelessly swirl to the earth. Summer was at its end and fall was soon to come. In October, Phil’s oldest brother would be married. This meant we would be attending yet another wedding, but this time Phil would not be dancing or drinking.
Near the end of November, Phil was immersed in a baptismal pool. He had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
“Now you can marry me, so lets set a date.” He said.
After much study, we decided to get married at the end of February. Winter came with its cold chill and dark, gloomy days. To Phil and me, everything looked bright and hopeful. Phil was always kind, gentle, and punctual. If he said he would be somewhere at 3:05, he would be there exactly on time. Winter is never graciously welcomed by anybody, but that winter was different. I had Phil with me almost every day. The long days became short, and the weeks and months flew by even faster.
Finally the day came when we were united in holy matrimony. The church was filled with friends and relatives. After church, we went home with some friends for a very small celebration. After all, if Phil didn’t want a large wedding, then neither did I. this pleased Phil, because he knew that I was able to give up something that I had always wished for, like a big wedding. The following day we took our car and drove to the Ozarks for our honeymoon.
We visited seven states and saw two caves, several lakes, and one waterfall. At the falls, he carried me to the top of the hill just for fun. We walked, ran, and skipped like little children playing, follow the leader. No one and nothing were there to disturb us. Only the noises of nature helped us enjoy our unforgettable times together. Waterfalls bubbled away, trees blew in the wind, lizards chirped, and toads croaked here and there. We came to a tree that fell on the ground with its leaves all crisp and brown. We just sat there talking, enjoying each others company. We made plans to have a family and teach them the love of God. Everything was still, and it seemed as though nature had stopped for us. The waterfall looked as though it was standing still, without any motion. We were truly in love. Then reality set in; the night would have to end and we would have to go back to the hotel. We ended our honeymoon in Indiana, where we rented a room at the edge of the Ohio River.
After many hours of traveling, we finally came to our little apartment on Willow Street, in Chicago. The next day, life began with its own routine. Phil returned to work, while I stayed at home. Phil and I started to look for a house to buy; we found one that was near Phil’s mother. After living there for six months, waiting for the papers to be cleared, we decided that it really wasn’t what we wanted, so we moved out. Before we moved out, we were blessed with a lovely little girl. She weighed seven pounds, four ounces. Phil’s kindness was evident when he took over the washing and helped in every other way he could.
For three years we moved from place to place. After much searching, we finally found a house fifteen minutes from Phil’s work. We bought the house and moved in. God was on our side all the way. Phil started to give Bible studies to a family that totally accepted the Lord. Later they were baptized in our church. Phil enjoyed giving Bible studies so much that soon he had several people studying with him. Many were baptized. He studied with anyone who wanted to study. He also invented a Bible game which he titled Fact-Full-Fun. We had a little heaven on earth.
One day I said to Phil, lets have another baby. We had a son and a daughter, and now I wanted another child.
“Are you sure that you want yet another baby?”
“Oh yes, lets have a baby in the summer. We had our little girl in the winter; that was very hard, so lets plan to have the baby in a summer month.”
We decided that we should have the baby in August. I started to count backwards and calculated that to have the baby in August, I would have to conceive in November. So we would have to pray about it in November. That is exactly what we did. We waited for November, then asked God to let us have a baby. In the third week of the month I went to see my doctor and told her I was pregnant.
“How long have you gone without your monthly cycle?” The doctor asked me.
“Oh, I haven’t missed any monthly cycle yet, but I am pregnant.”
My doctor laughed at me very sympathetically and said: “Nobody gets pregnant without missing her cycle first. I guarantee, because I know that you are not pregnant.”
“Yes, I am.” I said. “We prayed for a baby, and God has answered our prayers with a beautiful baby. Don’t ask me how I know, because I don’t know how to explain it, but I know that I am pregnant. We prayed for a baby, and God gave us our wish.”
I waited for three months before going back to the doctor. I did not enjoy being laughed at for my belief in God’s response to our prayers. The next time I saw her, I told her that I really was pregnant, and that I had missed three months in a row.
“Well, you really are pregnant. I have never before seen people get pregnant the way you did. All my patients come to me, after they have missed at least two months, but you came here before you missed a single monthly cycle. That is incredible!”
She told everyone in the office that I really was pregnant. I knew the story of Hannah in the Bible and how she prayed for Samuel. That is why we prayed for our baby. We were following Hannah’s example. On August 19, our baby was born. It was wonderful to go home from the hospital and find our children, Gio and Liliana, waiting for us. Liliana was six years old and was anxious to meet her baby brother. In the kitchen by the table was a new high chair. Gio noticed me looking at the chair and said: “Surprised, huh?” Gio's story I will tell you later.
“Yes, dad did not tell me that he bought a high chair.”
“But he did. See, Grandpa called me yesterday and asked what the baby’s name was. When I told him that his name was Pasqual, Grandpa was so surprised you named the baby after him that he called Virginia and told her to take him downtown immediately. He had to go buy a high chair for little Pasqual. He wanted you to find the chair when you got home from the hospital. He is happy beyond words.”
Gio was already twelve years old, going to school and taking violin lessons when Pasqual was born. So with Gio at school and Phil at work, Lil, Pasqual, and I had much time to go and come as we pleased. We gave some nicknames to the cildren: Liliana became Lil, Giovansostenes became Gio, and Pasqual became Pat. Because Pat had everybody's attention, I decided to do something special for Lil. I took them to the Art Museum many times. We ate in the cafeteria and spent the whole day in the museum. Lil became interested in Impressionism art and learned to recognize the painters by their styles. Once we went to Sears to do some shopping. Lil noticed a painting in the back of the store. She pulled my skirt and shouted loudly:
“Mother, Matisse! Look, mother, there is Matisse.”
From a distance I could not identify it, but I said: “No, that is not Matisse.” But she insisted it was, she was only four years old at the time and I did not give her the credit she deserved, so we walked to the painting. Can you believe it?! She was right. It was Matisse.
One day Phil said to me, Honey, our family is growing. Let’s buy a bigger house in the suburbs. After much searching we found a model home that suited us in every way. We decided to buy the largest lot and to build the house according to our own taste. Every Sunday we went to see the progress of our house. Finally, the builders told us the house was finished and that we could move in. Moving was an ordeal, but everybody helped and soon we were established in our new home.
Because I hated the alphabet so much when I was a little girl, I decided to teach my daughter how to read words instead of syllables. She was only four years old, and in one week she could read her whole book. I taught her addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. When she was seven, we sent her to school. She told me later that she was bored with school. She complained there was nothing new to learn all the way to the fifth grade.
I decided not to teach Pasqual as I had Liliana. I didn’t want him to be bored at school too. I could not forget the many problems I had in public school, so I insisted that they go only to church school.
Gio was the little genius of our family. He taught himself to read when he was two and a half years old. When we took a bus to go downtown, he read aloud the names of every bus that passed by. People stopped to hear him and to ask me his age. I think that I was the proudest foster mother that ever lived. Gio also had an ear for music. He told us that he wanted to play the violin. Once when we were in the car coming home from Phil’s parent’s house, the radio was playing a concert with a violin solo. It was Paganini’s concerto, and Gio started to hum the music. So we bought him a violin and placed him in the Conservatory of Music of Chicago. He studied there for five years until he had to quit, because he was going to Broadview Academy. Later, he went to Thunderbird Academy and finished high school there.
Pasqual was the little minister in the family. He was two years old when he got on the stage and recited twelve memory verses from the Bible. When he was five years old, he preached, The Second Coming of Christ to about 200 children. With a microphone in his left hand and his right hand clenched in the air, he would say:
“And we will see a dark cloud, the size of a man’s hand. And the cloud will get bigger, and bigger, and closer, and closer until we will see that the cloud is made of angels, and the angels will be bringing Jesus with them.”
People called him The Prayer Boy. After finishing Broadview Academy, he went to Pacific Union College in California where he made straight A’s all through college. Now he is married and has two sons.
When we moved to Willow Springs, we kept the house in Chicago. We had to go back to paint it, before we could rent it out. One day while I was painting the house, Lil went outside to see if she could find some of her old friends. She returned home with a little girl. After a while, Lil brought her friend to me and said her friend wanted to talk to me. She said, “Mother, This is Linda.”
“Hi, Linda, what do you want to talk to me about?”
“Could you be my mother?” Linda asked. “You see. My mother is looking for someone to give me to. So, would you be my mother?”
I was shocked! “Linda, your mother does not want to give you away; how did you get this idea in your head?”
‘Oh yes, my mother wants to give me away. You come with me and my mother will tell you herself that she wants to give me away.”
“Where do you live?”
“I live in the last house in this block.”
“Is your mother home now?”
“No. My mother is at work now, and her boyfriend is at home sleeping. See, we only have one bed for all three of us. My mother works during the day. While she works, her boyfriend sleeps. Her boyfriend works nights, and my mother works days. So, when he is working, we are sleeping. That is why I cannot stay at home during the day, because he has to sleep. When I stay home, I end up waking him up, and he gets really angry. My mother will be home at five. Will you come and tell my mother that you will be my new mother?”
“Linda, I can not be your new mother.” I objected.
“Please!” She begged.
“Well, I will think about it.” My curiosity started to get the better of me I promised Linda I would at least go see her mother. That evening Phil and I went to Linda’s house. When we got there, her mother was home watching television. She explained to us that she worked all day and did not have time to look after Linda.
Phil asked me if I wanted to take on such a responsibility, and I told him that I would love to do it. Linda’s mother had a suitcase already packed. So it was decided that Linda would come with us and every Sunday her mother would come to see her. She would pay us a small fee for taking her in.
After we took Linda, her mother moved away without giving us her new address. We didn’t hear from her for two years. About a month after we took Linda in, her father came with Linda’s brother and begged us to keep him also. Phil looked at the husky little fellow and fell in love with him.
“Gussy, come here.” Phil said, extending his arms. Gussy’s smile made his cheeks even fatter. So we agreed to keep him also. We had both children with us for two years. After that, their parents got back together and they came for their children. By then, we were very attached to the children and it was really hard to part with them.
Life can be so complicated sometimes. Phil and I were married for 25 years. We had some good times and some times when things didn’t go just right. For example, when we got married, I weighed 103 pounds. We attended many family gatherings and would go to the beach, and went swimming. Phil was so proud of me. But later my weight increased to 136 pounds; Phil was extremely unhappy about that. When he married me, I had a violin shape, later I had a banjo shape; a big body with skinny legs. Our differences grew and grew, until Phil couldn’t take it anymore and left me.
We got a divorce, and Phil married a beautiful woman. Only God can help us in poignant situations like this. We were good friends, but our children are the ones who were hurt the most. In June 1995 Phil died of Leukemia. Only God can mend the Affairs Of The Heart.
WHEN TO FOLLOW ADVICE
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy." Psalms, 66: 18-20.
When parents give advice, we should follow it, for most likely it will be good. When we take advice from our parents, we are honoring them. I did not take my mother's advice, and now I cannot tell her how sorry I am. Now she has gone to her rest.
While I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a Seventh Day Adventist school, my mother decided that she would make all the payments to the school with her own money. She didn't want my father to pay for, because she was afraid that he might complain that the tuition was too high. She wrote and told me that she would pay for all my tuition, although I should be very careful not to enroll in any extra classes, especially if they were not required in the school curriculum. She did not want to have to work extra hard to make the payments. I wrote, and asked her permission to enroll in an oil painting class and I also wanted to take piano lessons. She wrote back and said:
"Definitely not, don't take these extra classes. I have many expenses besides the school tuition. You know that we are really blessed that dad allowed you to go to a church school so far away from home. You also know that he is very attached to you, and this distance really hurts him.
Therefore I don't think it is wise for me to ask him to pay for the extra classes. Just be happy with what you have, instead of asking for more. I love you with all my heart, and I want the best for you, but I don't think that you should take a bigger load than you already have. I have no objection for you to learn oil painting and piano, but I think they are going to affect you and your grades. I think you should finish high school first, and then you can learn whatever you want. In this day and age nobody can get anywhere without an education. So concentrate on your education first, after that there will be plenty of time for you to choose what you want to be. I know by my own experience that when you take piano lessons you don't want to do anything else, all you want to do, is to play the piano. Before you were born I was taking piano lessons, and I didn't want to do anything else.
I wanted to play the piano all day long, and I did. We had a good cook at the time, and she would also clean the whole house. That gave me time to play the piano to my hearts content. After you were born, I had to nurse you, and I loved you so much that I did everything for you including giving up my piano lessons. I gave all my time to you. Please, darling, listen to me. You will not be Sorry, I promise. Please write to me. Every day I look for the mailman hoping to get a letter from you. You have been writing to me only once a month. Please write more often than that. I send you about four letters for each letter that you write to me.
This summer I am going to take a vacation and I will be coming to the school to stay there with you for about three weeks. Dad won't go, he should take a vacation also, but he refuses to do that. You know that every year he works through his vacation. He said that he never would be able to live away from the job. That is his life and his own belief. I can't change him. Every day when he comes home from work he asks me if we had news from you, and every day I have to tell him no. Why don't you take a few minutes off from your time and write a letter especially to your father? Do that today when you finish reading this letter.
Your brother Renildo misses you too. He runs from whatever he is doing to hear my answer to dad when he asks if I have news from you. When he hears me say no, he walks away very sad. I don't know what to do to make him happy when we don't hear from you. I love you. We all love you, and I am always praying for you.
Please write. Love mother.”
Here is my sin. I did not listen to my mother's advice. Instead, I wrote to my older brother Raudenez. He lived in Rio de Janeiro, not far from my school in Sao Paulo. I told him everything that was in mother's letter, and I also told him how much I wanted to take those two classes. He wrote back and said that he would pay for the extra classes.
I went to the school's office to register for the two classes, completely ignoring my mother's advice.
Only two times in my life I do remember taking advice. One was the advice of a minister concerning my marriage, and the other was the advice of a minister’s wife.
Their advice I should not have followed. I should have realized that a minister is also a human being and has no right to change the Bible. The Bible says we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
And what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Co. 6: 14.
Later in our marriage, my ex-husband told me he was baptized only to marry me. Now he is not going to church anymore. I was so anxious to be married. I thought that if the minister said it was all right, it would be all right. When I did not follow my mother's advice, I was disobeying God. He says in Exodus 20: 12. "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
I wish I could tell my mother I am sorry, but I can't, so I will tell God that I am sorry. Please! Choose your advice wisely; especially if it is about being unequally yoked. If you are not sure about the advice you receive; then, ask God whose advice you should follow.
The other poor advice I took was from a minister's wife. This is the story.
When I came back from Rio de Janeiro, and went to school in Recife, my hometown; I went to a Baptist school. I made friends with several students, but especially with a girl named Sarah. Sarah and I had our own group of friends, which included some of the boys of our area. We were very close. Her father owned a bookstore, so Sarah supplied me with all my schoolbooks without charging me a dime.
Later, Sarah’s parents decided to move away from our town and, of course, they planned to take Sarah with them. One of our friends asked if I wanted to go to the airport to see Sarah off. We went in her parent’s car to the airport to see Sarah perhaps for the last time. The airplane was scheduled to depart at 3:00 PM., and generally, it took one hour to get to the airport. It was already 2:30 PM., and it had started to rain. The rain slowed the traffic down to almost a stop. We couldn’t see any way possible to get to the airport before the plane took off. We started to cry because we had lost all hope of seeing Sarah again. Just then I got an idea. I bowed my head silently and ask God for help. I also made a promise to God. I said to Him: “Dear Lord, It seems impossible for us to see our good friend Sarah at least one more time. It’s 3:00 o’clock and the airplane should be leaving now. We are still far away from the airport. If You could delay the airplane, we could see Sarah again. If You do that for us, I will never cut my hair again as long as I live, thank You Lord. Amem.”
When we finally got to the airport, it was almost 5:00 PM. The rain had stopped, but the plane did not leave for another hour. Se saw our friend one more time.
For many years, I did not cut my hair, as I had promised. Then one day the minister’s wife asked: “Why don’t you cut your hair?” I told her the whole story. Then she said to me: “Don’t you know that we cannot make promises to God? God does not hold you to such a promise. Besides, you were just a teenager when you made that promise, I am sure God doesn’t want you to be responsible for that.”
I listened to her advice and cut my hair. Then something happened last year, a minister spoke in our church and read from Ecclesiastes 5:4,5, the following:
“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
I am sorry now that I don’t seem to know when to follow advice. I hope you do.
WHO IS TO BLAME
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God “ (1 Corinthians, 10:31).
It was Sunday afternoon, and we had just arrived home from visiting Phil’s mother. As usual I started to feel uncomfortable, and I said:
Me: “Phil, I have a terrible pain in my stomach. What can I do?”
Phil: “I think you should go see Dr. Hardy. I am sure he will tell you what to do.”
I went to see Dr. H.and said, “Dr. H. every time I eat at my mother-in-law’s house I get a terrible pain in my stomach.”
Dr. H. “Do you have this pain only at your mother-in-law’s house? Or do you have it also at home and other places?”
Me: “O no, I don’t have any pain in my stomach at home or other places. I get it only at my mother-in-law’s house. I have no idea why.”
Dr. H.: “Well, that’s simple. Your pain is psychological. You need some tranquilizers. Here is some Librium. Every time you go to your in-law’s house, take one of them. You will feel very good and have no more pain in the stomach. Tell me what happens when you go there the next time.”
Me: “But, Dr. Hardy, I am not nervous when I go there. I am very comfortable there. I cannot believe my nerves are the problem; it must be something else.”
Dr. H.: “Just do as I tell you, and you will feel better pretty soon.”
So, I took the Librium every time I went to my mother-in-law’s house. Yet, nothing changed; every time I ate at her house, I got pains in my stomach. I was flabbergasted because I never had that pain anywhere else.
My Italian mother-in-law always prepared a seven-course meal. When you ate at her house you had to try everything or her feelings would be hurt. I had forgotten that my poor stomach wasn’t used to that much food, and I made a pig of myself just to please her. But at that time I couldn’t figure out what was causing the pain in my stomach. I continued to take the Librium, but I knew it wasn’t doing me any good.
One day I decided that her food did not agree with my stomach and forced the food out. To my surprise the pain went away and I felt much better. Now I knew what to do when I went to eat at her house. I threw the Librium away and did my little act every time we ate there. I was very happy to find a solution to my problem.
My plan didn’t last very long for my husband discovered what I was doing, and reported me to Dr. H. He said I should be taken to a psychiatrist, and gave the name of one we both knew. When my husband came home and told me what Dr. H. had recommended, I was very disgusted with both of them. I knew what my problem was. I also knew how to solve it.
That was thirty years ago. My mother-in-law passed away and my husband and I got a divorce. But he also passed away a few years ago.
Later, I started to have more chest pains. I called the doctor in Bessemer, and he told me to go to the emergency room for examination.
They discovered that I have a hiatus hernia. The first thing the doctor said when he saw me was, “You have a hiatus hernia. You must be very careful not to overeat. If overeat, you will have a lot of pain in your stomach.”
Wow! Now I knew I wasn’t crazy. All that fuss, and all I was doing wrong was overeating. I had forgotten what the Bible says in Proverbs 23:1,2,3. It says:
“When you sit down to eat with a ruler (or an Italian mother-in-law), consider carefully what is before you; And put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.”
Thanks to the Lord today I don’t have this problem anymore. And now I know “Who is to blame, but myself?”
BLAME IT ON THE DOG
One day the phone rang and it was the Power Company. "Phil, I got a call from the Power Company, and they want us to pay what we owe, or they will disconnect the electricity. "What do you want me to do? Do you want me to go rob a bank? I give you my whole check, and it is up to you to be thrifty, organized, and a good steward. If you don't know how to handle the money, don't come to me for help. I am not giving you one more dime."
"But Phil, you know how things have all gone up. You are still bringing home the same amount you brought home five years ago. Don't you know about the consumer's price index going up sky high? Don't you read the paper?"
"Of course, I read the paper. You know that reading the paper is my favorite thing."
"Then you know about the consumer's price index. You are just ignoring the issue. Phil, you own that company, yet your least employee takes home better pay than you do. All you care about is that the company grows. All your money is put back into the company. That’ s not fair.”
"I already told you I am not giving you one more dime. Just leave me alone."
"Phil, I am going to town today to buy a dog. I want him so I can breed my dog and sell the puppies. That way, I can help and pay all those bills."
"No, I forbid you to do that. We already have a dog. We don't need two dogs in one house."
"But Phil, that is exactly why I want to buy the dog. We have Heidi. She is so perfect. She is one of the most beautiful Doberman pincher I have ever seen. I know she will have gorgeous puppies. The dog I want to buy is a show dog of an excellent bloodline."
"No, I already told you that I don't want another dog in this house. That’s it no more dogs."
He went to work, and I went to downtown Chicago to buy the dog. I reasoned this within myself: This man wants $250.00 for this dog. I only have $150.00. If he sells me a $250.00 dog for $150.00 I will know that God is allowing me to disobey Phil.
When I got to the man's house I went straight to the point. I took my money out and placed it on top of his table. I said, "I know that you want $250.00, but if you let me have the dog for $150.00 here is the money."
"The dog is yours," he said.
I went back home with my prized possession, a three Month old Doberman pincher, with all the good qualities for a stud of his kind. When Phil came home and saw the dog, he only said three things.
"I see you bought the dog. Take him back, I will not have another dog in this house."
"Yes, I bought him for my price, $100.00 less than what the man wanted in the beginning."
"Take him back"
"No! He is my puppy." I hugged him as if he was a baby and said to Phil, "I am not going to take him back."
"OK, keep the dog."
But he was angry. His voice had deepened and there was sadness to his voice. He went upstairs, packed his suitcase, and left.
For ten years I prayed that God would bring Phil back home. But he never came back.
I never thought that Phil would use such a silly excuse to leave me for good and Just BLAME IT ON A DOG.
Yet, the blame was all mine, for not obeying the word of God, for if I had obyed what He told me in Ephesians 5:22 Phil would not have left me, and I would still be his wife when he passed away.
22 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. ”
But Gos did forgive me, as you will see in the following chapter.
GOD'S LOVING CARE
After Phil left me I started a whole new life, and bought more dogs to make a real kennel. After a year or so, I decided to sell all the dogs and close the kennel. With the money I made selling the dogs, plus a very nice check that Phil gave me, I decide to do some traveling in South America.
I have made many trips here and abroad, and the best part of all my trips is watching GOD'S LOVING CARE for me. In this story, I will be mentioning some of the things that happened to me in which only God could be the author with so much protection and care. I don't believe in coincidences, but I fully believe in Divine intervention.
I flew to Miami to go to BRAZIL, and when I got there I found out that my plane to BRAZIL would not leave for another six hours. I didn’t want to get out of the airport, so I just sat on a bench and watched the people. At an airport, there are a variety of people from all walks of life, and also all kinds of nationalities. I especially enjoy observing the families. I enjoy how the children responded to their parent’s commands.
The hours passed by faster than I ever dreamed, and I was surprised when I heard my flight announced on the loud speaker. I boarded the plane, and in a short time I fell a sleep. I slept the whole night. In the morning a stewardess woke me for breakfast. It wasn't much long after we ate, that we landed in Belen, a city in Para, a state in BRAZIL.
I was alone. I had no one to travel with me, and my whole trip was just beginning. My planes were to stay the whole winter away from the cold weather of Chicago. As soon as the airplane landed, everybody had to leave the plane. On the side of the plane were stairs which passengers used to get off. The asphalt was rough and old. The buildings at the airport were all also old, yet it was so wonderful to step on my native country's soil. I was home at last. In the airport, we had to open our suitcases for inspection. It is something that we do whenever we arrive in another country; we go through customs. They looked at my passport, and asked me if I was moving back to BRAZIL. I told them that I was going to stay just for a while.
They stamped my passport, and gave it back to me. Another airplane took me to Recife, my birthplace. I had been away from home for 23 years. I also had stopped corresponding, so I was somewhat apprehensive of how I would be received. But Oh! What a surprise to see my relatives waiting for me with open arms. The airport of Recife was just as modern as the airport in the USA. All the streets were paved with asphalt and well kept.
My old house was still there. Of course someone else lived in it. The huge supermarket was still the same. The most impressive difference was the new construction of the roads. A street that took us one hour to go from Recife to Olinda was so modern now that we made the trip in 15 minutes.
I spent one month there visiting all my youth friends and relatives. My sister Cleodice took me everywhere. When I was a little girl I had an elderly friend named Maria Barboza. I really wanted to see her before I left that state, but she lived in a boarding Seventh Day Adventist Academy about six hours by car, from Recife. I didn't have a car to go there, so I decided to go by bus. I went to the bus depot, and inquired what bus would take me to Belen De Maria the city where the academy was.
This was my first experience recognizing on how God cared for me. In the bus depot, they told me to take bus 15*. I bought the fare, and went to look for bus 15. There were more than 20 bus lines, and no signs stating what number they were. Each line had people waiting for their respective buses. I had no idea of what line to stand in. I started to look around to see if I could see a line with young people going to school. When I saw one young man in one of the lines, I walked to him and asked him if he knew what line would go to Belen De Maria. He said to me:
"This one, I am going there too."
Me:-"Are you by chance, a student at EDUCANDARIO NORDESTINO AVENTISTA?"
Him: -- "Yes I am. I am going there now, is that where you are going also?"
Me: -"Yes, I am, and I have no idea how to get there. The man that sold me the ticket told me to take bus 15, but the lines are not marked, and I had no way of knowing what line it was for the bus 15. That is when I saw you, and asked you if you knew what line this one were. Thank God I found you. Could you tell me when we get there, where I should get off? I've never been there before, and I don't know what the school looks like. Does the bus stop in front of the school?"
Him: --"Sure! I can tell you where to get off, but the bus doesn't stop in front of the school. After we get off, we have to walk about one mile, but don't worry, I will help you with your luggage."
Me: -"Do you know what? I think that God pointed you to me.
There are hundreds of people here waiting for their buses, yet with all these people I only came to you. Are you a SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST like me? I know that you go to one of our schools, but many of the students are not from our denomination. What denomination are you?"
Him-"I am a SDA just like you. And it was GOD who pointed me to you. All my friends went back to school yesterday, and I had plans to go back with them also, but I had some problems that kept me back and I was forced to delay my trip until today. If I had gone to school yesterday I don't know how in the world would you find the school. I really agree with you that GOD provided for me to guide you."
We made a wonderful trip to the school. In every city that we came upon; the bus stopped and venders with all kinds of goods would come up to the bus, and sell them to the passengers. I can still lick my lip form the taste of those Brazilian foods. I bought Tapioca com Coco, Castanha Assada, Mamao, and other Brazilian delicacies. When we got to the city where the school was, my new young friend told me that we were almost there. I saw huge mountains and a river down in the valley, and I wondered if that river went through the school. I asked him about that, and he told me that the river went right by the school. He also told me that all the students swam in the river. How wonderful it is to see God caring for his children. He placed them in this beautiful place and He even provided a river for the students to swim.
When I entered the school, a young lade came to greet me, and asked me if I had called the school in advance to reserve a place. I was a bit embarrassed about that because I had taken for granted that the school would have a place for unexpected visitors. I apologized for neglecting this important detail. Then she said to me:
"Great! You can stay with me! I will make the arrangements with the dean of the students. Come with me and I will show you your bed."
She took me to her room, and showed me a nicely made bed with all fresh and clean linen. Then she said, “this is your bed.” She got my suitcase and placed it on top of a dresser, and said to me that I could use it for my clothing. After she had me completely accommodated she took me to the dean and introduced me to her as her private guest. I couldn't help but wonder why would God be so kind to me, and show me His kindness through these young people. At night when all the classes were over my new friend went with me to visit my old friend Maria Barboza. Her house was about half a mile from the girl's dormitory. What a delight to meet again with a SAINT of GOD. I was very young when my parents and I met her. At that time she lived in the interior of BRAZIL, and whenever she came to Recife where we lived she would stay at our house as a special guest. On those occasions she would tell us all her personal experiences with the people persecuting her because of our religion. Some times she had to spent the night in the woods hiding from her persecutors. I remember asking her if she wasn't afraid to sleep out in the open, and she always said that her guardian angel was right there with her, protecting her.
As the years passed by, the people of the interior began to know more about GOD and stopped persecuting all the believers. She then was freer to work for the LORD. She converted her house into a miniature hospital. People from everywhere came to her for treatment. I never asked her where she got her medical knowledge, but I think that GOD directly instructed her. There were no doctors for many miles, where she lived, so whenever there was an accident they would run to her for help. She told me that once some people brought her a child with his brains coming out of the scull, and the child was still alive. She placed his brains back in the scull, dressed it the best she knew how, and gave the child back to the parents.
I asked her how could she do all that. I know that I would be turned to pieces in a situation like that. She told me that she got all her strength from GOD, and that without HIM she was nothing. We stayed at her house for a few hours. I taught her our ABC's method of prayer that I had learned from Pastor Glen Coon. After that, my young friend and I went back to the dormitory. About six a.m. the next day, Maria Barboza came to the girls dormitory to meet with me one more time. She didn't leave until I was on the bus to go back to my sister's house in Recife. The bus left about 9 a.m. and now I was once more traveling alone.
In Recife I had many relatives, one of them was a cousin named Almerio; who was an engineer in the military. He made lakes, dams, and anything that was made for water. He was very proud of his work. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to a military club to see some of the things he had made. Early in the morning he came over to take me to his club. We were almost there when he asked me if I had ever seen how bricks were made.
Before I answered, he was already driving into a brick factory where the most important workers were donkeys. The building had a large door like a garage door. It was wide open. Inside, there were several little hills marking the places where the donkeys would stand. The building was about one hundred by two hundred square feet, and had nothing dividing in the inside. At one hill, was a line of six donkeys, one behind the other. On top of the donkeys, there were big loads of raw clay, which had just, been dug from a river near by. I was standing on top of one of the hills far from the donkeys, when one man shouted to me:
"LADY! GET OUT OF THERE QUICKLY. THAT IS WHERE THE DONKEY WILL GO NEXT WHEN WE FINISH UNLOADING HIM."
I ran quickly to another location, but the same man yelled back to me that the donkeys would go there also. I ran to the side of the building by the wall and the donkey went exactly to the place where I was. The man was working in one place, and a boy about 12 years old, was unloading the donkeys. One by one, he unloaded about six donkeys. After all the donkeys were free from their load, they formed a line of one donkey after another until all the donkeys were in the same line. When the last donkey took his position on the line, all the donkeys took off running to the river and the boy calmly followed them. I said to Almerio:
"Will the boy be able to catch the donkeys when they are so far ahead of him?"
Almerio simply said:
"Come, I want to show you something."
We got into his car and he drove to the edge of the river. I was very surprised to see the same donkeys lined up on the edge of the river by a group of boys. The first boy was still walking and the other boys were already loading the first donkey with a new load of the raw clay that they were digging from the river's bank. When all the donkeys had a new load of clay, they ran back to the building to be unloaded again. I was flabbergasted. I had never seen any animal working with so much precision. I didn't hear one word spoken the whole time. The animals knew exactly what to do next without being told.
We left the donkeys filled with wonder of how our loving Father had given so much intelligence to one of His little creatures. We finally arrived at the military club and Almerio took me all over the club, and introduced me to all his friends. I enjoyed the whole thing, but I couldn't stop thinking about the donkeys. That was where I could see God's hands at work.
While in Recife the Lord provided me with many guides. My friends Dr. Bella Rushansky and Dr. Edvard Araujo took me to many places that other wise I would not have seen. May God bless every one that helped me while in Recife.
From Recife I went to BRAZILIA the capital of BRAZIL. After I got accommodated in a very nice hotel, I called an old friend, that lived there. In a short time she arrived with her husband. It was wonderful to meet them. Her husband was the president of the Brazilian conference, and he immediately volunteered to be my guide. Every day he picked me. He took me all over the city explaining every detail of the place. How the city was divided in sections for each specific thing. Like one section was only for churches, and another section was only for government officials, and another for schools, and another for stores, and so on. The land in Brasilia is a bright red like the land in Alabama. The only body of water was a man made lake in the middle of the city. In Brazil rains a lot, and as usual it started to rain. It is not as nice to go around site seeing when it is raining, as when the sun is shining, but we still had a real good time. Finally I had to move on, and it was still raining. I went to the airport, and found out that all the flights had been temporarily stopped. I asked them if there was any hope of the flights to start again, and they told me that they were about to start flying again. I found a place to sit, and waited for my plane. I waited for about five hours, but finally I got into a plane, and flew to my next city which was Bello Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais.
When I was eighteen years old as a student in the School of Arts of the University of Recife; I had learned about a famous sculptor called "ALEJADINHO". His name means the little crippled one. He got the name because he was indeed crippled, yet he became one of the most famous sculptors in Brazil. I new that most of his works were in Minas Gerais, so the thing I wanted to see the most was his works. I got a room in a hotel, and called a friend of my youth. Her name is Ruth Oliveira. We had the same room in the girls dormitory when we were students in one of our Seventh Day Adventist school in the state of Sao Paulo. Ruth told me that most of his works were at a Catholic church in a city called Ouro Preto. I walked to a bus depot and bought a ticket to Ouro Preto, and went to see the works of Alejadinho. When I got in Ouro Preto the sun was out and beautiful. I asked the people around where was the church of San Francisco, and they pointed the church to me. I walked to the church, and was absolutely amazed at the beautiful works of a sculptor that to do his work he had someone to rap the tools around his hands for him to work. I had never seeing so much determination as I could see in this work. It showed me that nothing is impossible when we want to do something. I took several photos, and stood there gazing at the statues. I don't know how long I was there, but suddenly I realized that it was raining outside.
I walked to the bus stop, and when I was there a lady told me that I needed to go to the bus depot to get my ticket. I thought that I could buy it in the bus, but she told me that if I didn't have a ticket they would not let me ride in the bus. She told me where the depot was, and I walked to the depot under a torrential rain. I bought the ticket and walked back to the bus stop. My clothing was all wet. I got in the bus, and got a sit right in the front
behind the driver; I wanted to get out fast once I got to my destination. Amazing as it is; the Lord saved me from getting sick. I got to the hotel and took a hot bath, after that I eat a hearty meal and went to the window to watch the rain. On the Sabbath my friend Ruth picked me and took me to church first then to her house for a superb dinner.
I am still amazed of God's loving care for me in all those places.
From Bello Horizonte I went to Rio de Janeiro to meet with all my relatives that lived there. I called ahead and asked my brother Renildo to wait for me at the airport. I had not seeing my brother for nearly ten years, and I was very ancceous to see him. He was waiting for me, and we had a fantastic time reminiscing. He took me to his apartment in Copacabana, one of the most famous beach in Brazil. From his front window we could see the
Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the whole bay. He took me to all the main centers of attraction, as Corcovado, where we have the largest statue of Christ in the world. From every place in Rio we can see the statue of Christ with his arms extended as if He was blessing the entire city. We also visited all our relatives. I stayed in Rio for a whole month. Then, I moved on in my excursion of Brazil, and went to Sao Paulo where I stayed another month.
From Sao Paulo, I had yet one more place to visit; it was "The Foz of Iguasu." I had an air fare up to there and back to Rio, or Sao Paulo, where I would take another airplane back to the states. I took the airplane and flew to the "Foz of Iguasu". When I arrived at the airport; I looked for a taxi to take me to a hotel. I had made a reservation at the "Hotel das Cataratas" but I knew that this hotel was very expensive, so I asked the driver if there were a hotel less expensive, and he told me that there was one other hotel, and he was sure that it was less expensive than the "Hotel das Cataratas," so I told him to take me there, and he did. I asked if they had a room in the first floor, and they said no, and the only room available was on the ground floor. I said that I would take it. The room was on a floor level with the grounds outside like an English basement. I didn't like it very much, but there was no other choice.
From Brazil, I went to three more countries. While in Brazil, I made all my trips by plane, but when I left Brazil, I wanted to see the scenery, so I went by bus. I visited Buenos Aires, in Argentina, Asunción, in Paraguay, and Montevideo In Uruguay.
In each city I had to change the dollar for the money of the respective country. I was absolutely exhausted from the whole thing. On my way back to the USA I stopped at a city in south Brazil named Porto Alegre. After I got off the bus, I took a taxicab and asked the driver to take me to the cheapest hotel in the city.
Driver: - Please Madam, you don’t want to do that!
Me: --- Why not?”
Driver- Oh Madam, the cheapest hotels are very dangerous. Only the very low class people go there. There are much crime going on in those hotels, especially robberies. They will steal everything; even your hair pins.
Me: -- Then, where should I go? I don’t want to spend too much money in hotels because I still have to travel a very long distance. What choices do I have?
Driver: -The first class hotels are very expensive, so I advise you to go to a second class hotel. There are four classes of hotels, but for you, I am sure that the best for your circumstance is the second class.
Me -- OK, take me to a second class hotel.
He took me to a second class hotel on top of a hill. The building was a mixture of modern and old at the same time. It looked so good that I thought that he had taken me to a first class hotel. All the rooms were occupied except a room way up on the third floor. I took the room, changed my clothing and went for a walk around the city. It was Friday and I started preparing for the Sabbath.
I went to the huge flea market, and bought some fruits and bread for the next day. I didn’t want to eat in the restaurant on the Sabbath. Next morning I got a telephone book and looked for the address of a Seventh day Adventist Church. I was so surprised to find out that the church was only a block away from the hotel. I knew that God was with me when he told the taxi driver to take me there. On the Sabbath, I went to church, and had a delightful time. What a pleasure to hear the sermon in my own native language, which is Portuguese.
For the last three weeks away from Brazil, I had heard all the sermons in Spanish and had not understood half of them. Now it was a different thing. I was home, and I felt so good. The next day was Sunday, and I walked all over the city the whole morning. I walked up hill, down hill, and finally back to the hotel.
Because I am a vegetarian I decided to eat all my meals right in my room. The food in the restaurant was very delicious, but very greasy. After I finished eating, I went to look at the street from a window at the end of a long hall. I wasn’t there very long when I heard a man’s deep voice behind me. I turned around, and discovered a man about 25 years old standing with both hands in the walls blocking my way out completely. He was about 5’9” and probably weighed about 150 lb. He had blue eyes with dirty greasy brown hair. He had long dirty nails, and very dirty clothing. His hair was long and messy, as if he had not combed it for a long time. He looked absolutely disgusting. I looked at him and said: “What do you want?”
Him:-- "You know what I want".
Me: ---"You must be out of your mind! I am an old woman, why would you want me? There are a lot of girls out there your own age. Why don’t you go after them? You don’t know me. You don’t need me. Please, let me go. I am very tired and in need of rest. So, please, let me go."
Him:-- "Sure! But I will go with you.”
Me: --- "No! You cannot go with me. Go out there in the street and you will find a girl your own age. Go ahead."
Him: -- "Oh no! The girls down there have diseases, you don’t, that is why I want you."
As he said that he moved one step closer to me and started to feel my hair with his dirty hands. I pushed his hands out of my hair and silently talked to God. I asked God to send His angels to protect me. Then I continued to talk to the man.
Me - "Please, sir, let me go to my own room."
Him: - "Sure! But I will go with you."
Me: -- "No! You cannot go with me. See, I am a servant of God and I don’t do these things that you want. I am writing a book about God and I must keep myself clean. So, please, let me go. May I go now?"
Him: --"Go ahead, I am not stopping you. Just show me your book and I will leave you alone."
Me: -- "I already told you that the book is written in English, and you don’t understand that language."
Him:-- "I want to see your book, show it to me. I want to learn about God. Anyway, why did Jesus come to earth?"
Me: -- "Jesus came to the earth to save people like you and me from the devil, and to give us eternal life."
Him:-- "I want to see your book, show it to me. I want to learn about God."
As he said that, he placed both hands on my neck as if he wanted to kill me. Immediately, I placed both arms inside of his arms and gave an about face. That forced him to remove his arms out of my neck. As I did that I silently prayed for help, and I claimed God’s promise of Luke 10:19 that says: “Behold, I give unto you Power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the Power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Then as if he could read my mind, he said to me: “Lady, you have a lot of Power.”
But again he placed his hands on the walls blocking my way out. It was about two p.m. when I had discovered this man behind me, and now it was already close to five, and I did not know what to do when suddenly one door opened and a man walked out of his room. When I saw the man, I felt that this was my chance to escape. I dashed under his arms, and ran for my life. I passed the other man still running, and took the stair way down to the first floor. When I got there I found the building manager and told him the whole story of what had happened to me upstairs. I told him that the man’s room number was 314, and I asked him to call the police.
Manager: - "Did you say room 314?"
Me: --- Yes, I said room 314. Why are you so surprised?
Manager- Do you know whom is staying in room 314? Well I am sure you don’t. But the man in room 314 is a government official. I don’t think we should call the police for a government official. Do you want me to move you to another room? I could ask some of my people to trade rooms with you, if you like that.
Me: -- No, I don’t think so. Tomorrow I will leave, so I don’t see the need to move just for one night could you please accompany me upstairs?
The manager went with me upstairs and we found the government man waiting for me. The manager took him to his room, and asked him to live me alone. He also moved him to a different room.
The next day I left Porto Alegre, with a heart filled with thanks to God that I could go back home unharmed. In all my life, I had never dreamed that I would be ATTACKED BY AN EVIL MAN.
Nevertheless that experience showed me more than ever, and I could plainly see "God´s Loving care"
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