Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index


In South Bend Kroger, I work with Roxi, a delightful and hard working woman in her fifties. She came to work hobbling. It was her first day back to work after her foot surgery. I tried to keep her sitting down and do paper work or computer work. Soon I realized that she was the familiar face and I was the stranger for the day. Everyone knew Roxi. She knew their name as well as their loved ones. When they called her name she would hobble to the window. Soon they would ask “What happened to your foot?” She would tell her full story to each one of our patients. Every time she told her story, she was just as animated as last time and kept our customers keenly interested. Each one of our patients went away thinking that he or she got the special inside story from Roxi.

Helping an Elderly man

One day a elderly man, oh in his eighties, came to my pharmacy window and asked me to help him get some OTC medicine for his bed bound wife; she had stomach problems. He told me that she had all the ailments you could possibly think of and was paranoid of so many things. He cooked, cleaned, and took care of her. He said, “You know I am a man. I don’t know how to do many things. So I hired a housekeeper to help me. My wife fired her. You can’t have two women under one roof.”

He got married to this woman in 1944. She was so beautiful; more beautiful than a famous actress at that time. He was warned by friends and family that she will bring with her large medical bills due to her paranoia. He said, “Well I loved her. She was so beautiful. What could I do? I married her. They were right. Her medical bills never ceased. I am so tired of her nagging and all her illness and it may all be in her head.” He looked at me with his sad eyes. “I guess that is my lot in life.”

Wabash Store

A pharmacist drove 60 miles to relieve me. Next shift pharmacist had called in sick. This is Kathy’s first day at this store. She eagerly accepted overtime for Christmas expenses. She said she had six children. I looked at her in dismay.

“You work not only fulltime but overtime? How do you do that?”
“Oh I have a friend that takes care of them while I work”

This friend lives with her so that her children have a caretaker. She said each of these children started out as a foster child. She loved them and after some time she could no longer give them back. So she started to adopt one at a time. They range from age twelve down to age four. They are all very smart and wonderful kids. They also have syndromes from their natural mother’s abuse of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy. She just stopped taking in foster children. She said six kids keep you hopping. She is planning a trip to Disney World this coming summer for her family.

My Dog Ate My Pills

A woman walks into my pharmacy. She was in desperate need for the pills that was filled just 3 days ago. She explained to my technician that her dog ate them. Indeed when I saw the bottle, it was all chewed up and cracked. She pleaded that I call her doctor for replacement prescription. I did not even ask her if her dog was dead or alive after eating all those pills, eighty of them. Upon calling, the doctor said, “No refills.” He had just received an anonymous call saying that she is selling drugs on the street. My technician told me that there are many such customers. They will wait for a pharmacist like me who do not know them or their history and try to plead. I learned that both her and her brother had been in jail for selling drugs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wings to Fly — 18

Memoir Index

Turning Point in Business

It was January of 2005. My mother-in-law Marjorie was very sick. In fact she was dying of cancer. Mannatech, a nutraceutical company, had invited Tamara and I to come with them to their corporate trip to Hawaii. We were very excited. Yet I was not sure if I should go with Marjorie being sick as she was. She told me. “Go for your trip. I want you to go.” By now Tom was spending most of his days with his mom. With Tom at his mom’s side daily I felt it was OK.

Even as I was planning to go to Hawaii, I knew my days with my business were soon over. I realized that business success required more than excitement, vision, diligence, and long-suffering. I lacked the key ingredients; The business savvy, the street smart, and the stomach to take what a business can throw at you. I had difficulty discerning who will eat us alive and who or what will actually help the growth of Proevity. And I was the president!

In Hawaii, the weather was beautiful. The scenery was breathtaking. Meals were exquisite. Luau I attended was so enjoyable. I was carefree and even volunteered to go up on the stage (along with children and many other volunteers) to learn hula dance. We would try to follow the professional dancers and we were so comical that the audience laughed until they cried.

There was a longing tugging at me. I missed Tom so terribly. I was at a place so beautiful and I was here with Tamara, not my husband. For the first time since the start of the business, I would miss him so much in my business trip. Every beautiful place we were at, the beautiful mountains whose trail is dotted by more beautiful ponds where we would stop and dip in the water, I would wish for Tom’s presence with me.

I am not sure what we accomplished those ten days. Tamara felt that we accomplished a lot. She was full of hope and expectation as always. I wanted my husband more than business success.

I came home on January 9th. On January 10th Tom and I went to be with his mom. The next day she passed away. I was thankful that she told me to go to Hawaii and I was thankful that she waited until I came home to see her before she passed away.

There would be even more testing for me regarding Tom’s calling to serve God. By this time it has been a year and a half since Tom had asked me if we could “live by faith” alone; meaning no support from any one other than ourselves. My respond to him had been “absolutely NOT”.

He wanted to give notice to our church that he did not want any full time minister’s stipend. There was a political force coming from Southern California in our church and he was not willing to be dictated by their creed in serving Jesus.

My business was not making money. Typically by the time we paid all of our employees and vendors we had nearly nothing left for the owners. Although many spiritual men in the past entered into service for the Lord without any expectation of any support in sight, yet I was not such a person. These great men of God also encountered so much human suffering. This I did not want either.

I reconsidered Tom’s request to go into next level of living by faith. Whether I liked it or not I was bound to Tom with love I could not shake. I considered going back to work as a pharmacist for the first time in about ten years. The thought scared me. Yet to stay in my business was not an option. My business can not support our family. Tom felt God always took care of us and will take care of us no matter what.

There was a problem. I could not just walk away from my business. We had three employees who relied on me for their wages. I was held by my deep belief that if my actions hurt others, even at the point of my own destruction, I couldnot and will not do it. It would be nine more months before I would have enough courage to tell Tamara that I must leave the business; that she is on her own. And this also would require deep healing of my inner being before I could walk away.

Wings to Fly — 17

Memoir Index

Thanksgiving Tradition

On November 20, 1983 Christian was born. I believe that thanksgiving was two days later that year. I thought I would have to be home and miss a very special holiday. My mother-in-law said, “How about we have Thanksgiving at your house. I’ll do all the cooking. You invite everyone and we will all enjoy the holiday gathering AND Christian.”

Thus our Thanksgiving family tradition began. Every year afterwards, all of Kim family and all of Neill family in Chicago land area would gather at our home. My Ohio sister-in-law Patricia and her family started to join us. Sometimes my Texas sister-in-law Yvonne joined us and others from California would join us. It soon became the favorite holiday for my children. There were so many children running around. Paul and Mary who did not have children at that time came on Wednesday evening and kicked off our holiday. As their family grew to three children and a dog, sometimes they still came on the eve of the Thanksgiving. Oh how our children looked forward to those times.

Mary and I made the Turkey and dressing and everyone else brought a dish or two to create a feast. There was so much food that we could not fit it all on the tables. The number of people would continue to grow as the young people got married and already married couples started to have more children. As our families grew, we needed three long tables between dining room and the living room.

Who would have thought that a birth of a child could have created a wonderful family tradition?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wings to Fly — 16

Memoir Index

Crippled Within


I was a new pharmacist. I was working at a small clinic owned by Grant hospital. I worked about ten hours a week after Christian was born. My customers liked me very much, and some would even make their doctor’s appointment based on when I was working in the pharmacy.

We had one doctor whom I will call Dr. Gulinskii (not his real name). He was a family doctor. He would bring his patients to my pharmacy with his arm around their shoulders and would proceed to dictate their medicines to me. He was liked by his patients.

One day a woman walked into my pharmacy and asked me out of the blue, “Do you know any good dermatologists? My son asked me to find one, and Dr. Gulinskii did not give me any names.” I replied naively, “We have one upstairs. She is an excellent dermatologist named Dr. Banuchi. Her husband is a surgeon.” As I was speaking, Dr. Gulinskii walked in. His face turned red. He waited until I took care of the lady. After she left, he started to raise his voice. “I will not have you taking my patients away from me. You will hear about this. I can get you fired!”

I was so disturbed I did not know what to do. How could I tell him he misunderstood me? For the next many weeks, he stopped coming into my pharmacy. He called me several times, threatening to put my job in jeopardy. Yet he would not allow me to explain anything. I told my supervisor what was happening. He told me, “Don’t be bothered by his empty threat. He can’t fire you. He does not own the pharmacy.” Yet I was so distraught by this that when I went on vacation with my family, I could not enjoy a minute of our time. Tom and the kids were on vacation, but I was not there emotionally.

Sometime later I drafted a beautiful letter in calligraphy explaining the total misunderstanding. I gave it to his wife who was his receptionist. She took it from me and promised to give it to her husband. I felt she sympathized with me. Two days later, he walked into my pharmacy with his arm around a patient and dictated her prescriptions to me. He acted as if nothing had ever happened. There was no apologies.

Business Partners

Tamara and I started our business on a shoe string budget. Two years into it, we were $30,000 in the hole on my credit card and were seeking investors. It seemed we had everything but funding to make it really work. I approached Jack Kippengel (not his real name) whom I had gotten to know in business conferences. He was a grandfatherly type whom I was immediately drawn to. He sympathized with our dilemma, really believed in our vision, and was enthusiastic about participating. He told us that he would raise one million dollars for us in exchange for 10% ownership of the company.

From the start Tamara had a strong distrust for Jack, but because of our desperate need she accepted him. I had no such feelings. He was raising money. He convinced someone to invest $5,000, and he was working on more. He told us that in so many months he would have all of the money raised. He opened up a checking account for the money he raised, which only he could access. I don’t exactly know how that came about. Maybe both Tamara and I were too naive. Soon he had $10,000 in the company checking account. Within a short time, he was spending money for what he believed should be done, like creating expensive brochures and hiring professionals to produce them.

By now Jack also had a strong disliking for Tamara. Neither trusted the other. They were both talking to me saying we needed to get rid of the other. I was paralyzed. I could not think logically. Since they were both so totally dedicated to the business now, I was afraid that getting rid of either one of them would be devastating to that one. They would be hurt, and they would be bitter towards me. I went through days where if my family talked to me, I was not there. My mind was totally preoccupied.

One day I took a walk. I was deeply perturbed, and I started to talk to God about this situation. I had a sense that I needed to let go of Jack Kippengel. Tamara and I called him and told him that he was no longer a part of Proevity. He had already spent the $10,000 he raised and still owed $2,000 to designers. We also had to hire an attorney to make sure he was completely out of the picture. The man we had brought on board to solve our financial problems had left us with an additional $12,000 debt.

These are two of many experiences where I was paralyzed because I had a need for others to like me or appreciate me. I also felt that I was responsible for their well being, their livelihood, and their dignity, even if it meant I should be destroyed. Later I learned where this ingrained belief system came from and how to deal with it.

Wings to Fly — 15

Memoir Index

The Possibility of Inner Healing

My business trip to New York left an indelible mark on my life. Not only did I experience the Lord in a profound way, but I was now looking at human life from another angle, getting new insight into human behavior and response from an analytical view. The two-and-a-half-week program left me in total awe and respect for God and His creation of the human mind.

When I came home, Mary, my sister-in-law, began to tell me about a new discovery regarding emotional healing. Her description paralleled what I learned in New York. One was a secular approach, and the other was a biblical approach.

Mary told me about her inner healing. Her experience was so profound and her freedom was so grand that she could not keep silent. I was curious. I purchased the book that she got so much benefit from. It was written by a dear Christian brother named Ed Smith. He is a Christian counselor who works with emotionally wounded people unable to function. He could not understand why Christian counselors were not able to achieve better results than their non-Christian counterparts. In the Bible, when the Lord told the lame to walk and the blind to see, they were healed completely. Ed Smith wanted to see this kind of result in those he was counseling. He was lead by the Lord and learned to achieve the complete healing of debilitating emotional wounds through Jesus.

What amazed me was that this was Mary speaking to me. In my estimation, she had a perfect life. Paul and Mary were crazy in love. Mary opted to stay home to take care of her family and to serve the church even though her family could benefit from extra income. In church service, Paul and Mary excelled. They took on high-school and college-age young people’s work. They hosted dinners for 20+ young people weekly. Mary made herself available for anyone who needed an ear. She was not distracted with a professional career like I was. She was definitely Tom’s sister.

Yet she suffered. “I am not a good enough wife, mother, sister, serving one....” The list went on and on. “I would be sick and I would apologize to Paul for not having cooked dinner. No matter how much I served in the church, I felt I didn’t serve enough. No matter what I did for my children, I was not good enough as a mother.”

We talked for hours. We talked about how similar the results were between Ed Smith’s work and the New York human potential work. We realized that in God’s creation, if His principles are applied, the results are the same. There is always blessing in honoring your parents. The most satisfied human beings were those who give back to humanity with their money and person, whether they are Christian or not. Yet the inner life of a Christian is something that non-Christians cannot experience.

At this time, I looked at myself. I was enjoying my business tremendously. Something may become of it. I was looking towards becoming very successful and Tom would continue to serve the Lord. Yet I thought of the moments of despair, loneliness, abandonment, absolute desire to succeed at all cost. Though I told myself I did not need emotional healing, I was curious about Mary’s experience, and the thought, “Maybe I also need to be healed,” kept me looking into this.

In Ed Smith’s book, he gave an example I could relate to. In fact, everyone I know can relate to it. My social world for the last 30 years was with devout Christians trying to live according to the Bible. We know God cares for us in all situations, yet if we lose our job, panic sets in. We are filled with anxiety until we find another job. This is a small example of our belief system. We believe the Word according to our knowledge, yet in the depths of our being we don’t believe it. Our job becomes our security instead of the Word, or Christ. As we come to Jesus, we experience peace temporarily only to be filled with anxiety until the problem is resolved. Yet if the Word were the truth in the depth of our heart, we would not be traumatized by any calamity. We would be at peace.

In our congregation, we had so many high teachings and practices, yet I was not experiencing true peace and rest. Could Jesus really bring me this peace and rest? I was on a quest to find out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wings to Fly — 14

Memoir Index

Spice of Life


Recently Tom and I had a conversation regarding when our extended families started hugging to greet and to say good-bye. Hugging was not a tradition for either the Kim family or the Neill family. We both concluded that our dear friend Tricia started the tradition. I used to invite the Kims (my side) and the Neills and Tricia for Thanksgiving dinners. She is my very dear friend. She is a very outgoing and delightful person who brings warmth wherever she goes. Hugging comes naturally for her from her Italian heritage. When she says hello and good-bye, she hugs us. She came with us to Neill family reunions and everyone loved her. The kids—my children, nieces, and nephews—accepted her as a part of the Neill clan. By the time our first camping trip with her was over, we were all transformed into huggers. Thank you, dear Tricia. I treasure this display of affection.


Amy is one of my dearest friends. Amy’s oldest daughter and my youngest daughter are best friends. They claim that they will be the best of friends forever. I hope so.

I first met Amy when I was in college. I was twenty years old and she was a baby. Yes, we are twenty years apart. Her parents were a young couple, oh maybe five to seven years older than me. They invited many college students for dinner. I remember the cozy apartment which was within a large building which our congregation used as our church meeting place. Her dad was in college with me as was Tom, my future husband. Baby Amy was so cute. I held her. I watched her crawl. She was so adorable. Little did I realize then that our daughters would bring us together, and I would love her as a friend and sister.

Family Nights

Henna, my oldest daughter, says this was her idea. A couple times a year we would all gather around our fireplace. We would roast marshmallows, make campfire pies, and drink hot chocolate. We would haul our queen-size mattress over by the fireplace. When the kids were young, they would have pillow fights with dad. As the kids got older we would play board games, talk, listen to music, or any other various things, always keeping the fire alive and blazing. The biggest part was the whole family sleeping together—mom and dad and anyone else who could fit on the queen-size mattress...the others very close by.

One winter, Lizy decided that we would all be in our bathrobes to participate. It was in the middle of December. Christian, my son, called his friend Andrew to join us, but let him know the required attire. Christian picked up Andrew. When they walked in, there was Andrew with a bathrobe over his jeans and sweater like the rest of us! It was fun.

Roasting Socks

We were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Stevens and we were planning on a two-week vacation. Our kids were very young. The Stevens did not know where we were going. It would be a surprise. It had been so hot in the Chicago area for so long that we could not even imagine packing long pants and long shirts, never mind jackets, extra socks, and such. The first day in Michigan was damp and cool. Every day it was misty, rainy, or cold. We packed one pair of long pants for each child for emergency cool weather. Soon their socks and pants needed to be washed and dried. We built a fire for cooking and at the end of dinner, Christian brought out his socks. He was tired of wet socks. We put them on the grill over the coals to dry. It wasn’t long before our noses told us his socks were actually roasting. They were turning black and smoky. The next day we went into town and bought clothes, clothes, and more clothes...sweat pants, shirts, jackets, and socks for everyone.

Slice of Life

Slice of Life Index

People of Kroger Stores

I was hired to be a part-time pharmacist at Goshen Kroger Food and Drugs. Because I chose NOT to work full time, when Goshen Kroger near my home hired a full-time pharmacist, I became a floating pharmacist. I go to different stores as they have need. The long drive is arduous, but Kroger pays gas and time.

Typically, I don’t work with other pharmacists. We rarely overlap. I work mostly with technicians who are an integral part of the pharmacy.

When I go to Kroger pharmacy in Wabash, Indiana, Dave is there—a retired part-time pharmacist who loves to work there. He once had his own pharmacy, and oh, how he loved it! He had a fountain bar, oak cabinetry, and all of the old beauty that was the “pharmacy” of the bygone era.

He moved from the Chicago area to a small town south of South Bend, Indiana. He bought a failing drugstore and gave it a face lift. His wife ran the store, and he was the pharmacist. Soon his pharmacy came alive. His amiable and caring personality did much to rejuvenate the dying business. Those sixteen years were bliss—he loved it. His store was the center of town happenings. Dave and his wife were closely involved in town affairs…until politics made the work harder with no matching financial gain, so he sold his pharmacy to CVS. I asked, “What did they do with the beautiful addition and fountain bar?” “They got rid of it all,” he replied.

Prior to owning a drugstore, Dave worked on an Indian reservation as a clinical pharmacist. "It was like M*A*S*H, the TV program. It was just like it,” he said. “It was so much fun.”

“Why did you move?” I inquired. He said, “We wanted to have children. White children are not accepted among the Indian children.”


In Goshen Kroger, I work with three technicians. Brandie is a hard worker. She holds the pharmacy together with the help of Penny and Laura. Brandie told me her story. When she was nine years old, she was coming home from a birthday party. The whole family was in the car—her dad, mom, and the three children. They were hit by a drunk driver. Her dad was killed instantly. Her mom and the two older brothers were in the hospital for months. Her mom was fired from her job because she became an invalid. She worked for a health insurance company, and they did not have wheelchair access. Brandie came out okay—or so she thought.

Now, at age twenty-eight she has many unexplained pains that can immobilize her for hours or days at a time. In October of 2007, her husband of one year was killed in a car accident outside of Goshen. Yet she is a strong and wonderful person to be around. I pray that her future will be richly blessed.


In La Porte Kroger, I work with Crystal, a bright young girl with strikingly clear blue eyes and very blond hair. She tells me that she will get married today (11/15/07) at the local courthouse. Ricky, her fiancée, is German. She will go to Germany to re-marry her husband there the same way. In the spring, they will have a formal traditional wedding with all the fanfare.

Crystal wanted her grandfather’s approval before marrying. He is in his mid-eighties. When he was nine years old in Russia, German soldiers came into his town. The Germans killed his whole family but spared him. He had beautiful blue eyes and very blond hair; the rest of the family did not. The Germans took him into the army. He was the boy who would patch their pants and run any errands for the soldiers. Crystal said no one in her large family knows anything about his childhood. As a teenager, when the war was ending, he was asked by the American soldiers if he wanted to join the US army. He said, “Yes.” He was an orphan with no place to go. After the war, he came to the US, met a nice American girl, and settled down in Michigan City, Indiana.

Crystal says her whole family is very close and live within blocks…all of them. It was very important that her grandfather accept her husband-to-be. With much anxiety and hope, she explained the situation to Ricky. She arranged a meeting between them. When the two were brought together, Ricky began by speaking to him in Russian, her grandfather’s mother tongue. Her grandfather responded to Ricky in German. Her grandfather came out of the room with his arm around Ricky’s shoulder. Crystal knew that Ricky had received Grandfather’s approval.


Joshua is a young college student who works in the La Port Kroger store. He is taking pre-pharmacy courses. He would like to be a pharmacist one day. He knows that he will have to put himself through school. His mother and father just got divorced and finances are very limited.

“It must be very difficult for you.” I commented.

“Not really. I am very busy. I am glad that mom is happy now. She found a boyfriend who makes her happy. I don’t see her much,” he said.

He asked me what I like to do. I told him that I started to write and found myself loving it. Joshua loves to sing. He brought me a CD to hear him as the baritone in a choir. He also sings in a barbershop quartet.

He has very definite ideas about the rampant illegitimate child births in the US. After some conversation I said, “Maybe the political route is your calling.” “Maybe,” he said.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wings to Fly — 13

Memoir Index

Medical Mission to Ecuador

Proevity, my education company, would lead me to a medical trip to Ecuador. It was such an unusual thing for me, participating in a medical mission with a group of health care providers. There were two doctors (a cardiologist from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an internist from Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center), a dentist from downtown Chicago, a pharmacist (me), a medical technician with heart equipment, a nutritionist from Northwestern Hospital, and several other support personnel including Tamara, my business partner.

Zuly, one of our team members, had been an orphan in Ecuador. She was adopted by an American missionary, and now she is a successful business woman. She wanted to bring back to her country some of the blessings she received, so she created this medical team.

I was bringing two large suitcases full of vitamins donated by Mannatech, a nutraceutical company. One-third of our vitamins got stolen at the airport in Quito, Ecuador. We had been warned that theft was rampant. I was the one carrying the vitamins that got stolen, but I was not in the habit of securing suitcases. Was I naïve to think this would not happen to people on a humanitarian mission? I was not the only one. One of our two sets of medical equipment was stolen. I had camaraderie in my misfortune.

As we met with the mayor of a small town where we were setting up a temporary clinic for two weeks, we heard a loud speaker going down the main street. I asked what was being said. “Oh, they are announcing that a medical clinic has come from the US. Anyone who wishes to see a health-care person is to come and wait at the gate by eight in the morning. Many people have never seen a doctor or a dentist in their whole life.” The mayor promised to expedite things so that our clinic would run smoothly.

The first day, it must have been 90°F by 8 AM. Our bus brought us to a makeshift clinic, which was a grammar school vacated for our service for two weeks. This school consisted of a long roof and pillars. There were no walls. On a windy day, the dust blows right through the classrooms. I saw masses of people. There must have been 200 to 300 people. I am not accustomed to estimating such a large number of people waiting for service. I was sure that many of these people who would not get to see a doctor. Every day was the same story. If they were lucky enough to see a doctor, they would come to me for whatever medicine they needed. My pharmacy consisted of two suitcases full of medicine donated by pharmaceutical companies (mainly because they were reaching their expiration date). I placed some medicine in plastic bags and made a motion, “Take this pill X times a day.” I quickly learned to say that in Spanish. Of course I could not explain anything else—how to take it, what to avoid, food and drug interaction, etc. My pharmacy supply ran out days before the end of our program.

My friend Maria, a very successful dentist with a plush downtown Chicago office, told me, “I have never pulled so many teeth in my whole life.” She spoke fluent Spanish. My doctor friends from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center had never seen so many patients as they did in those dusty school rooms. My friend the nutritionist, who also spoke fluent Spanish, spent the time giving twenty minute classes on hygiene and good nutrition. We agreed that the vast majority of the illnesses in this town were due to the lack of proper hygiene.

There were no chairs for those waiting. They stood in the hot sun for hours. We had no water to give them. They were so thankful for our service—I never heard a complaint from any of them. As I was “practicing pharmacy” in the shaded classroom pharmacy, I wondered how the “patients” were doing as they waited in the scorching sun. I saw one father with a small, deformed child in his arms stand for hours in the sun for hours waiting for that ever-so-slow line to move. That child was fourteen years old and looked no more than five. We were told that she had never seen a doctor—the family had no money for such a luxury. I wondered what our cardiologist and internist could do for such a child.

At five in the afternoon, we told everyone that the clinic was closed. Those who had waited all day without seeing a medical person were in tears. We told them to come early the next day. I never knew when the earliest one came. At 8 AM when our bus arrived, there were hundreds in line already. We talked about how helpless we felt. The doctors felt so inept. Yet my friend Maria felt most satisfied. She was able to pull out more rotted teeth than she had ever done in her practice in any given day. All in all, it felt wonderful that we made a small dent for the humanity in need.

Sunday was our first day off. We were going to a beautiful and famous beach. It was hot everyday, yet on that specific Sunday it was chilly. We were on a two hour bus ride to go to a scenic beach that foreigners loved. We huddled in our sweaters under gray clouds. It was almost too chilly to enjoy each other’s company. We went to a quaint food shop for lunch. I looked at my plate. There was a crack in the plate. It crossed my mind, maybe I should ask for another plate with new food. I discarded that thought. The food looked so good. I ate it all and it was so delicious. That evening I was so sick I thought I would die. I was crippled with violent nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For the next three days, I couldn’t get out of my room. Other than my run to the bathroom I was bound to my bed. My doctor friend told me, “That is why I did not eat anything the whole day.” She only ate at our “Hacienda” where food was prepared according to foreigners’ delicate make-up.

My hacienda’s hostess took care of me. She made special chicken soup and other dishes that I could tolerate. As my health was improving, she took me to downtown to help me pass my time. She told me, “ I own this building, that building, and several others.” Each building was impressive. These were high rises for business and tall apartment buildings. “My father owns the next whole block. My grandmother and grandfather …” It seemed this one family owned all of downtown. “I have a home in southern California where I spend six months. The other six months I run Hacienda here. My husband spends his six months in our home in Germany, but I don’t go there. It’s much more interesting here taking care of folks such as yourselves.”

She continued to talk about her life. She went to college. After graduation her dad bought her a home along a beautiful beach in the town of her choice in California (I don’t remember which town). She enjoyed her life. she came home to Ecuador only to visit. Her dad sent her living expense all her life. Now she was in her forties, this is the first work she is doing; running a hacienda which she loves. She sees lot of politicians for their political gatherings, lot of foreigners for different reasons; vacation, mission, and others. She liked us. We were doing good for “those poor people”. She referred her countrymen as “those people”. She never called them “my people”. She made many special foods for me and we thoroughly enjoyed each other.

We all formed a close bond. When we were at the air port, some of us hired an anti theft luggage service where our luggage would be saran wrapped many times over. This was pre 9-11 of twin towers of New York. As we were coming home we were so glad that we live in United States of America. Each of us had many special experiences and memories of this trip.