Chapter XI Neighborhood Charity

October 3, 2016

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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