Chapter XVIII The Evangelistic Meetings

In just a few days it was time to start the evangelistic meetings with the engineer from Satiago Del Estero. The first meeting was on a Sunday afternoon. Dr. Alvarez and his wife had made up a printed invitation that they had passed out door to door in the neighborhood. Several of the neighbors promised to come and they also invited others. The meetings were held in the yard in front of the house. Some brought chairs. Some of the men had helped Dr. Alvarez put up a string of lights around the yard that they plugged in when it started to get dark.

At the first meeting a number of the neighbors were there. The engineer preached a message that clearly explained the power of God to change lives and give sinners a new life. After the message he did something that no one expected. He said, “Now I want to give you an opportunity to respond to this message and personally accept the new life that God offers. I’m going to ask that my wife and Dr. Alvarez and his wife come to the front with me. I can’t help but think that there must be some here who are ready to accept God’s offer of salvation and new life. I want you all to stand. While we sing the first verse of a hymn, if you would like to accept this invitation of new life in Christ I want you to step out and come up here. One of these people here will take you into the house and explain to you how you can have this new life.”

Silvia, the neighbor of Paul and Mary, was among the first who stepped out. You may remember that her husband had recently been killed. After they finished singing the hymn the meeting was closed with prayer. The people began to converse with one another. One by one those who had gone forward began to come out of the house with a smile on their faces.

The next day Mary talked with Silvia. She asked her what they did the night before when they went into the house. “Well” she said, “Adriana sat down with me and two other women. She explained to us that we needed to pray to God in our own words and ask God to forgive us of our sins on the basis of what Christ did for us when he died on the cross. She said that if we were repentant of our sins we could pray and ask God to forgive us. All three of us said that we would like to do it. Then she asked us to bow our heads, close our eyes and, in our own words, pray out loud and asking God to forgive us and make us one of his children. We all did that. After that I felt a great relief in my heart.”

The truth is that Mary also had felt the urge to go up front, but she was a little undecided because she didn’t know that they were going to do in the house. After she talked to Silvia she decided that she too should go in the house with someone that evening if they did the same thing. That is what she did.

Each night of the meetings a few more people made that decision. The next to the last night of the meetings Dr. Alvarez said he wanted to give everyone a time to share what God had done for them as a result of the meetings. He called it a “testimony time.” Paul had gone every night to the meetings and paid close attention to all that was said. So far, he hadn’t made a decision like so many others had. Mary wondered if she should ask him why he hadn’t gone forward, but she didn’t want him to make the decision because of her influence. When they left their house on Saturday to go to the meetings she decided to ask him what he thought of the special meetings. He thought for a little bit before he said, “It was all very good. I’m glad for those who made a decision for Christ. I would like to do that too, but I’m a little nervous about how my boss with take it if he finds out about it. You remember he said that he didn’t want any religious person working for him.”

Keep reading further chapters to find out whether Paul makes a decision.

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Chapter XVII Being Used Of God

November 22, 2016

Chapter XVII Being Used Of God

Our last chapter told about the tragic death of Ralph, the neighbor of the Parks family. Mary couldn’t help but think that Silvia must be grieving something terrible over the loss of her husband. Dr. Alvarez had a part in the funeral. His wife, Adriana, talked briefly with Silvia at the cemetery and asked if she could come over the next day to talk to her.

Up to this point, Silvia hadn’t shown much interest in the things of God. She hadn’t accepted Mary’s invitation to attend the Bible studies on Sunday mornings. She did, however, accept Adriana’s offer to come and talk to her. Adriana sat down with her and opened her Bible to the book of Ruth. She said, “I know you must be suffering the loss of your husband. Here in the book of Ruth we find the story of a woman who suffered, not only the loss of her husband, but also of her two sons. Never the less, she continued strong in faith and in her trust in God.” Silvia was very grateful for the comforting words and asked Adriana if she could come back again the next day. Adriana said she would.

After the funeral Mary offered to go with Silvia to the telephone office and help her send a telegram to her family to tell them of her great loss. On the way Silvia asked Mary if she thought it was wise for her to put confidence in Mrs. Alvarez. Mary assured her that she would be wise to share her burdens with her.

The next Sunday morning Dr. Alvarez announced that he had received a letter from his friend in Santiago Del Estero. He said he had asked for a weeks vacation in March so he could come and preach to them. He asked all the people to promise that they would come every evening to the meetings. He also said that he hoped they would invite their neighbors and friends. He said he would like to take up an offering every night during the meetings. He explained to them that it was customary for churches to take up an offering every Sunday to pay their pastor and cover the expenses of the church. He said, “Since I have an income and we just meet in our house, I haven’t felt it was necessary to take up an offering every Sunday. This offering I want to take up in the special meetings will be to help cover the expenses of my friend for his trip here. Everyone was in agreement.

After the meeting Dr. Alvarez gave Paul an envelope with money in it to pay for the wood his boss would need to build the shelves he wanted made. Paul felt honored that he trusted him with the money. As soon as he got home he put the envelope in a safe place so he could take it to work with him the next morning.

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Chapter XVI A Homicide

November 15, 2016

Chapter XVI A Homicide

Paul hurried home from work because he wanted to leave with Dr Alvarez the cost estimate his boss had made for the shelves that he wanted made. The doctor wasn’t home so he left the estimate with his wife.

Before he got home he saw his neighbor raking leaves in his front yard. His name was John. He stopped to talk with him for a few minuets. John and his wife had come to the Bible studies a number of times at the Alvarez home.

The following Friday evening the Parks family was eating their evening meal when someone clapped their hands at the front gate. It was Silvia, the wife of Ralph Diaz. You may remember that he and his family had recently moved To Chilecito to work in the sugar cane harvest. Silvia was worried about Ralph because he hadn’t come home yet. She said his boss was going to pay his employees at the end of the day. She was waiting for him to come home with some money so she could go out and buy some groceries. It was almost 9:00. Paul invited her to come in and share her concern with Mary. Together they debated about what they should do.

Silvia wanted to report it to the police, but Paul thought they should wait a while longer before doing that. He asked her if it could be that Ralph might have stopped at a bar to have a few drinks on the way home. “That could be,” she said.

Mary offered to cook something for their evening meal while Paul went out to see if he could find Ralph. He stopped at John’s house and told him what had happened and asked him to go with him. Together they made the rounds of all the bars, but they didn’t find Ralph in any of them. They had to go back and tell Silvia that they hadn’t found him. Paul offered to go with her the next morning to the police station and report that he was missing.

Word soon got around the neighborhood about the problem at the Diaz house. Several came by the house to offer comfort to Silvia and her family. About 4:00 that afternoon a squad car stopped in front of the Diaz house and two policemen got out. Paul saw them. He went and got Mary and they ran to find out what the news was. It wasn’t good news. They said a body had been found under a pile of sugar cane. They wanted Silvia to go with them to the police station to see if it was Ralph’s body. Mary got in the squad car and went with Silvia. Within a few minuets they came back with the sad news that it was Ralph. He had been stabbed.

You can imagine the shock and desperation that Silvia and the children felt. They had just recently moved to Chilecito. They didn’t have any relatives there. They hadn’t had time to make many friends there. Silvia didn’t have any money.

That same afternoon a man from the neighborhood started going door to door asking for donations to help with the funeral and burial expenses of Ralph. Others came to clean the house and make preparations for the viewing that would be held the next morning. In spite of the fact that most of the people didn’t know the Diaz family, out of respect, a great many came to the viewing and to offer consolation to Silvia and the children. With Silvia’s permission, Ralph asked Dr. Alvarez to come and pray at the funeral.

As you can imagine, the neighbors were greatly troubled and wondered who the murderer was. Many were there from out of town to work in the sugar cane harvest. They asked themselves, “Was it one of us or one of them? Obviously, the murderer had taken Ralph’s money. Some had suspicions about who it might have been, but no one knew for sure.

Will the guilty person be found? Keep reading the story of the Parks family.

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Chapter XV Waiting For A Cost Estimate

While Paul was at work, he waited with much anticipation for Dr. Alvarez to arrive and talk to his boss. Quitting time finally arrived and he still hadn’t come. Paul was almost certain that his boss would change his opinion about Dr. Alvarez after talking to him. The next day it was almost quitting time before Dr. Alvarez came. His boss took him to his office to talk to him. When Dr. Alvarez left the office he went out on the work floor to greet Paul and admire the work he was doing.

Dr. Alvarez offered to give Paul a ride home since it was quitting time. Paul told him he would have to wait a while because he would need to take a shower and change his clothes before he would be ready to leave. The doctor said, “That’s no problem. On Monday I was here in the neighborhood to treat a dog. I should go by and see how it is doing. While you are taking a shower I’ll go see the dog.”

When Paul left the carpenter shop Dr. Alvarez was waiting for him in front. When Paul got in the car he asked him how his talk went with his boss. “Good” he said. “First we talked about things in general. Then I explained to him what I wanted him to do for me. He said he would come by and take the measurements at noon tomorrow.”

When Paul got home Mary was waiting for him with news about a lot in the neighborhood that was for sale. She said “They just recently put up a for sale sign on it.” She insisted that Paul go with her to see it before dark. Charlie and Priscilla went with them. It was a little over four blocks from their house. In the back of the lot there was a small shed, but it didn’t have a roof on it. Paul liked the lot.

On Sunday morning, when they went to the Bible study at the Alvarez house, Paul asked the doctor if his boss had come by to take the measurements. He said, “Yes he did and he said he will have the estimate ready tomorrow for you to bring to me.”

Paul and Mary continued studying the Bible by means of the Bible studies that Dr. Alvarez gave to them. So far, they had been studying together, but Mary had more free time than Paul. She wondered if it would be possible for her to study on her own and make more progress. She asked Dr. Alvarez if that might be possible. He said, “Why sure. There is no reason why you can’t unless it would cause Paul to slack off on his studies.” Paul assured him that he wouldn’t do that.

One Sunday Dr. Alvarez told those who came to the Bible study that he would like to start having a preaching service on Sundays, but he didn’t feel that he was capable of preaching. He said he had written to his engineer friend in Catamarca to see if he could come and hold a series of evangelistic meetings. (You may remember that Dr. Alvarez’s engineer friend was introduced to us in chapter VII.) Those who had come to the Friday meetings when he was there were all in favor of it. Someone asked what he meant by evangelistic meetings. He explained to them that it was a special effort to invite people to come to hear a clear presentation of the plan of salvation. He said he was in hopes that he would soon get a response to his letter.

The next day at work Paul waited all day for his boss to say something about the cost estimate for the work Dr. Alvarez wanted done. Just a few minuets before it was time to close the shop his boss came and said, “Before you leave I want you to stop at the office. I have a cost estimate ready for you to take to your religious friend.” Paul was a little disappointed. He thought, “I wish he would at least call him Dr. Alvarez instead of my religious friend.”

The life of the parks family is similar to that of the majority of their neighbors. They all faced similar trials and had similar daily activities. In our next chapter we will learn more about the Parks Family.

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Chapter XIV Making a Hard Decision

When Paul came home from work he told Mary that his boss had a very unfavorable opinion of the Bible studies at the Alvarez house. “To make matters worse, he said he didn’t want anyone working for him who is involved in religion. What shall we do?”

Mary didn’t respond for a little bit. Then she said, “Perhaps we should go talk to Dr. Alvarez. If we have to stop going to the Bible studies he should know the reason why.” They left right away and went to the Alvarez house. They didn’t find him home. His wife said he should be back within a half hour. About an hour later they went back. That time they found him drinking mate in front of the house with his wife.

When they shared their problem with him he said, “Well this isn’t the first time someone has been faced with a problem like yours. It doesn’t surprise me that some don’t look with favor on what we are doing. Perhaps you could help the situation a little if you explained to your boss that we aren’t promoting a new religion. In reality, it isn’t religion at all. We are just teaching what the Bible says. To be sure, our intention is to start a church. The word religion appears very few times in the Bible. When it does, it is nearly always spoken of as a bad thing.”

Paul said, “I’m afraid it’s going to be very difficult to convince my boss of that. I don’t think he gives much importance to religion. I don’t know why he is so opposed to what you are doing.”

“Yes, I understand” said Dr. Alvarez. “I don’t know if the priest has talked to him or not. It could be that he is afraid he might lose some customers at the carpenter shop if people think he is identified with us. I have been needing some shelves made to store medicine on. Maybe I should talk to him and give him the job. Do you think that might help?”

“It might” Paul said. “Should I send him to your house to take the measurements?” “No” Dr. Alvarez said. “Most likely he wouldn’t find me home. It would be better if I go and talk to him. That way we can agree on a time when I will be at home.”

Paul and Mary were somewhat relieved when they went back home. Paul said, “Dr. Alvarez is really showing a lot of consideration for my boss in spite of all the bad things he said about him.” Mary said, “That must be another manifestation of what it means to live as a Christian. I hope we won’t have to stop going to the Bible studies. I’m learning a lot and I have a lot of respect for the Alvarez family.”

The next day Paul could hardly wait to tell his boss that Dr. Alvarez wanted to talk to him. His boss said, “If it’s about religion, I don’t want to talk to him.” Paul said “No, he has some work he wants you o do. “Well, that’s something else” He said.

You will want to read the next chapter in the story to find out what the outcome will be.

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Chapter XIII Is it Good or Bad?

When Paul came home from work Mary was waiting for him in the front yard. She had mate ready for him to drink with her. She was reading one of the little books that Dr. Alvarez had left with them the day before. Paul sat down to drink mate with her. He said, “I don’t know if it’s because of the influence Dr. Alvarez has had on me, or what it is, but I feel like I’m changing. When I was younger I didn’t want anything to do with religion. Now I have more interest in the things of God. Just a few months ago, when the Alvarez family arrived, I decided I wasn’t going to have anything to do with their religion. Now, I don’t know, but it seems like I’m changing my opinion.”

Mary said, “Well I don’t see anything wrong with what the Alvarez family is doing. I don’t know what it’s going to lead to. I still have some doubts about it all, but what gives me a good opinion of it is that Dr. Alvarez is just teaching us what the Bible says. It isn’t just his opinion. From these little books he left with us, it’s obvious that the Bible agrees with what he is teaching.”

Then they both started studying where they left off the night before in the little books. They didn’t get finished before it started to get dark and Mary went in the house to get their evening meal ready.

The next day Paul’s boss said to him, “Paul, they tell me that you and your family are getting involved in the religion that the veterinary is propagating. Watch out. He is deceiving people. His aim appears to be to divert people away from the church. It sounds like a cult to me. You and your family are going to be left in shame and disgrace if you accept what he is teaching. What’s more, I don’t want any one working for me who is a religious fanatic. What’s wrong with the church? We don’t need another religion here in Chilecito.”

Paul said, “Well, so far I haven’t seen anything wrong with what he is doing. They are good people. He is just teaching us what the Bible says. Let’s wait and see.”

His boss said, “I’m just warning you for your own good. There isn’t anything good about what he is doing. I’ll be happy if I don’t hear anything more about this new religion.”

What is going to happen now? Is Paul at risk of losing his job and the good relationship he has with his boss? Will they continue to attend the Bible studies? In future chapters we will learn more about the Parks family.

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Chapter XII

A Visit With The Doctor

Paul and Mary were sitting in their front yard one evening drinking Mate. [That is an Argentine tea that nearly everyone drinks in Argentina. It is most often put in a hallowed out gourd. They drink it through a metal tube that has a filter on the end of it.] While they were sitting there Dr. Alvarez stopped in front of their house. Paul went to the gate to welcome him in. Mary brought another chair out of the house for him.

They talked at first about the events of the day. Then the doctor asked Paul if he understood what it meant to be saved. “Well,” Paul said, “I have heard you mention it a number of times in your Bible studies, but I can’t say I understand much of what is meant by it.” Then Dr. Alvarez explained to him that Christ came to this world and gave his life to rescue sinners from the judgment of God that is upon them because of their sins. He pulled a New Testament out of his pocket and opened it to Romans 3:23. he said “Let me read what it says here in Romans 3:23. It says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “That means that all are sinners.” Then he read Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “That says we all deserve to die, but God wants to give us the gift of eternal life.” Then he flipped a few pages ahead and read I Timothy 1:15. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” “That plainly says that Christ came into this world to save sinners.”

Dr. Alvarez asked Paul if he realized that he was a sinner. “Well,” Paul said, “I have made some bad mistakes. I don’t know if that makes me a sinner.” the doctor opened his New Testament again to Romans 3:23 and read it again. “Here it says that all have sinned. That must include you too, don’t you think?” Paul said “It appears that way.”

To be saved,” Dr. Alvarez said, “we need to repent. That means we need to face the fact that we are sinners. The truth is that God has abundant reason for condemning us to eternal punishment. Jesus said, in Matthew 9:13, that he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. You can both be saved when you repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you and make you a child of his.”

Then he asked Paul if he was reading the Bible. Paul said “Yes.” The the doctor said “I have something in my car I want to give you.” he went to his car and came back with two little Bible study booklets. He said “I would like for both of you to study these booklets and answer the questions. It will help you to understand what you need to do to be saved. If you have them finished you can bring them to me when you come on Sunday.”

Dr. Alvarez drank one more mate with them and said he had to go because he had some thing to do at home. Mary went in the house and brought out the New Testament. She said, “I’ll look up and read the verses in the booklet and you can answer the questions.” Paul pulled a carpenter’s pencil out of his pocket. Mary said, “No dear, don’t right in the booklet with that.” She went back in the house and came back out with a ball point pen.

The first question was, “Who is Christ?” The Bible verse was John 4:42. Mary read the verse twice. Paul said “It says he is the Savior of the world.” Mary said “That’s right.” The second question was “What did Christ come to do when he came into this world?” The Bible verse was Luke 19:10. Mary read the verse and Paul wrote “To seek and to save that which was lost.” They continue with the study, but soon it got too dark for them to read.

Just then Priscilla and Charlie came back from the store. Their mother had sent them to buy macaroni that she planned to fix for their evening meal. They all went inside and Mary put water on the stove to heat. With that we are going to leave the Parks family for now. In our next chapter we will learn more about them.

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Chapter XI Neighborhood Charity

Paul and Mary ran when they saw smoke coming out of their neighbor’s house. When they arrived they found Ralph struggling with a mattress that he was trying to drag out of the house. They had thrown water on it and succeeded in extinguishing the flames but there was still smoke coming out of it. Paul helped him and they soon had the mattress in the front yard. There didn’t appear to be any further damage in the house.

Silvia explained how it happened. She said she was in the back yard washing clothes. The children were out there with her. She glanced at the back door and saw smoke in the house. She rushed in and found Ralph asleep on the mattress. Then Ralph confessed that he laid down on the mattress while he was smoking a cigarette. He said “I must have fallen asleep and the cigarette fell out of my hand and started the mattress on fire.”

News quickly spread around the neighborhood that there was a fire. When people started arriving the mattress was still burning. Ralph said, “Let her burn. She isn’t good for anything now anyhow.” Some of the neighbors knew that the Diaz family were very limited financially. One neighbor said, “What a shame. Now they are left without a bed.” Paul said “They didn’t have a bed. They were sleeping on the mattress on the floor.” Another said “Why don’t we take up a collection and see if we get enough to buy them a mattress?” All agreed. One lady pulled out an empty plastic shopping bag and said “You can put it in here.” People started stepping up and putting bills and coins in the bag. After everyone had contributed something they counted the money. It only came to $25 pesos. That wasn’t nearly enough to buy a new mattress. One man said “We have a used mattress that we could sell for that money.” Four men volunteered to go to his house with him and get the mattress.

When Paul and Mary finally got home it was after 1:00 and Mary hadn’t started getting anything ready for the noon meal. She quickly put some things on the table and they ate a cold meal. While they were eating Mary said to Paul “I’m sure glad you don’t smoke. They hardly had money to put food on the table and yet he was spending money on cigarettes.” Paul said “Yes and apart from that he is hurting his health and almost burned the house down”

The following week was without events for the Parks family. On Friday Mary got the idea of inviting the Diaz family to go to the Bible study with them on Sunday. When Paul came home she asked Paul what he thought about her idea. Paul said “I think it’s an excellent idea.” The next morning Mary went over to invite them. Silvia answered the door. She was very negative. She said “I don’t like this matter of religion. Where is God? He lets us live in misery. In spite of the little we have he permitted the disaster that happened last Sunday. If God exists, it sure doesn’t appear like he is doing anything for us.”

Mary didn’t know how to respond. She didn’t want to argue with her. She said, “Well I just wanted to invite you. That’s all.” When she came home she told Paul how the conversation went. Paul said “From what we heard, it wasn’t God that set the mattress on fire.”

The next day the Parks family went again to the Bible study. Most of the neighbors who came the previous Sunday were back again along with some others. Doctor Alvarez continued with his study of the gospel of John. He read verses 4 -12 of chapter one. He explained who John the Baptist was and how he bore witness to Jesus who is the light of the world.

He gave a detailed explanation of verse twelve which says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” He explained what Jesus had done to make it possible for us to be God’s children. He said “Jesus gave his life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin.” Then he explained how we need to come to God in prayer and recognize that we are sinners and ask God to forgive us because Jesus bore our punishment for us.

When Paul and Mary left to go home the children ran on ahead. They discussed the Bible study. “The doctor sure is a joy to listen to,” Paul said. Mary said “We have a lot to learn and he has a lot to teach us.”

In our next chapter we will learn more about the Parks family.

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Chapter X Sunday Church

September 27, 2016

Chapter X Sunday Church

Paul started walking home after what seemed to him a hard day at work. He felt as though his boss lost patience with him. After he had gone a few blocks a car, called a Citroen, passed him and stopped a few meters ahead of him. Those cars, because of their shape, are often called “frog cars.” It was Dr. Alvarez who was driving it. He saw that it was Paul and stopped to ask if he could give him a ride home. Paul was thankful for the ride. Dr. Alvarez said he bought the car to have an economical means of transportation to go out and doctor the farmers sick animals.

As he was driving, Dr. Alvarez told Paul that they were going to start having a Bible study at their house on Sunday mornings. He said, “I sure hope you and your family can come.” Paul asked him if the engineer that was there recently would be leading the Bible study. He said, “No, I plan to teach the class myself and my wife is going to have a class for the children.” Paul said he would tell Mary and perhaps they would come.

When Paul got home he told Mary of his good fortune in getting a ride home. Then she told him some bad news she had for him. She said, “This morning I started to do the laundry and the pump quit on me. We don’t have water. You remember that our neighbors also depend on our pump for water.” Paul had to go and talk to the well man. He said he couldn’t come until the next afternoon.

When Charlie came home from school Mary took him with her to a neighbor’s house to get a pail of water. Therefor it was late when Mary had the evening meal ready. When Paul sat down to eat he told Mary about the Bible study the Alvarez family was going to have at their house on Sunday morning. Mary said, “Ah yes. I saw Mrs Alvarez at the grocery store this morning and she told me about it.” They were both in agreement that it would be good for them to go. For them, it was a good social outlet.

On Sunday morning the parks family arrived at the Alvarez house. Several of their neighbors were there. Before the class Dr. Alvarez announced that they planned to continue with the class every Sunday morning. He said it was still his desire to start an evangelical church in Chilecito. He told about what a blessing the church was to them when they lived in La Rioja. He said, “The church wasn’t just a social outlet for us. It strengthened us spiritually and gave us a means of helping others spiritually. Without a church here we feel like we are failing to obey a Bible command we find in Hebrews 10:25. it says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Then he said “The greatest thing about the church is that it was there that we learned that we needed to have a personal relationship with God.”

Those who had been in the Bible study conducted by the engineer that came from La Rioja could tell that Dr. Alvarez didn’t have as much Bible knowledge as the engineer had. However, he did the best he could to explain the meaning of each verse starting with the first chapter of the Gospel of John.

When he arrived at verse three they all started talking about the significance of accepting the belief that all things were created by God. Some were inclined to think that all things came into being by means of evolution. Dr. Alvarez explained some of the reasons why that theory left him without an adequate explanation of several things.

Before they realized it, two hours had gone by and the class never really came to a formal closing. The women began thinking about getting the noon meal ready and were anxious to go home. The children’s class had ended some time ago and they were playing hid and go seek in the back yard. Dr. Alvarez thanked them all for coming and invited them to come again next Sunday.

When Paul and Mary got almost home they saw smoke coming out of the house where their new neighbors lived. In our next chapter we will learn what happened.

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Chapter IX The Harvest

September 20, 2016

Chapter IX The Harvest

Mary spent the afternoon cleaning the house because Paul had told her that he and his boss would be coming after work with the new kitchen cabinet that he had been building for her in his spare time at the carpenter shop. He had spent several months working on it in the little spare time his boss gave him. Mary was waiting at the door at the time she expected them to arrive. Time passed and the pickup never came. Finally, at the time Paul usually arrived after walking home, Paul arrived. He said the pickup was broke down and they had to put it in the shop. Mary was disappointed because she had waited for several months for that new cabinet. Paul offered to stay home with the children so Mary could go to the local store and do some grocery shopping.

While Mary was at the store she overheard some of the people talking about the sugar cane harvest that would be starting in just a few days. One lady said “It’s a shame that the peons have to work for such a pitifully low wage for chopping cane.” The store keeper said “Some have started arriving from Paraguay to help with the harvest. This morning a man was here and asked me if I knew of a house that was for rent.”

The next morning Mary noticed that there were some people working at the abandoned house next door to them. It had been some years since it had been occupied. Some were cleaning out the debris inside. Part of the roof needed to be replaced. Mary thought “It’s going to take a lot of work to get that house fixed up to be lived in.” In the afternoon a truck delivered some sheets of roofing and men went to work on the roof. The next day they put a door on the house and, instead of putting glass in the windows, they boarded them up.

The following week a family arrived who had rented the house. When Paul got home from work that afternoon, he and Mary went over to introduce themselves and welcome them to the neighborhood. They learned that their last name was Diaz and that they were from Santiago del Estero. His name was Ralph and her name was Silvia. They had four children. He had come to work in the sugar cane harvest. They had little in the way of furniture. They didn’t have beds, but they did have mattresses so they could sleep on the floor. Silvia was preparing to cook something over a grill in the back yard.

Ralph said to Paul, “You know, we have a problem in that we don’t have a well here. The owner says that about two years ago he found that someone had stolen the pump and he didn’t have money to buy one yet.” Paul said, “Most likely he will have to pull the pipes out of the ground also because it’s very possible that neighbor kids have dropped rocks down the well. You are more than welcome to come over and get water from our pump until the owner gets your pump fixed.” Ralph thanked him for giving them that privilege.

Three days later Paul’s boss had his pickup fixed. He told Paul that he had to make a delivery in his neighborhood that afternoon, and that he could drop off the cabinet he had made at his house while he was out that way. Paul told him to just leave it behind the house. Mary was home when he came. She thanked him kindly. She went to work cleaning the house again in hopes that Paul could bring it into the kitchen and set it up when he got home. When Paul came home he went to their new neighbor’s house and asked Ralph if he could help him bring it in and put it in place. He also needed help to fasten a part of it on the wall. Ralph was glad to help him. After they finished Paul offered to pay him. Ralph said “No, as a neighbor it’s my pleasure and duty to help my neighbor when I can.” Mary quickly gathered up a few grocery items to send home with him.

In our next chapter we will learn more about the Parks family.

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