PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
Perhaps a year after the event with the young man, we dropped in on the pizza place where the young fellow had worked. He wasn’t there but we were hungry and ordered a pizza.
I like my pizza half-baked and expressly ordered it that way. It came out so well done, it was black on the edges. As well, I had ordered two extra toppings, both of which were merely sprinkled, but for which we paid perhaps a third again of what the pizza was worth.
When I brought the overdone part to their attention, they would do nothing about it. The owner did the waiting and was openly dismissive. We ate it, paid, and left.
This was just another of several continuous bad experiences in eating out. The Lord was teaching me something here.
On another occasion, Carroll and Yvonne Vance had taken us out for dinner to The Keg on Macleod Trail in Calgary. In my food I found pieces of glass. Calling the headwaiter over, he laughed about it and did nothing. Being with the Vances, I didn’t press the matter. What could I do? Besides, I was far more interested in what Carroll, one gifted in prophecy from God, had to say, and didn’t want to be distracted from spiritual matters or to disturb him.
Eating pizza burned black at a pizza place in Brooks with the Mediwakes after church services on Sunday was also unpleasant. The waiters did nothing about it, perhaps because they were very busy, seeing the church crowds were out for lunch. I think the Mediwakes were paying for it, and I didn’t feel right about complaining out loud or appearing disagreeable.
Marilyn and I once took Sharon Utech out for dinner at a pizza and pasta restaurant on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. We had met her in her hometown (Fork River or Winnipegosis) in 1977 and she was now living in Winnipeg with her brother.
I believe we heard the restaurant was popular for its food. The place was drenched in smoke. I asked for a non-smoking area, but making such a request in those days would usually give the impression one was from a mental asylum or another solar system. I don’t know why we stayed, but we did. We ate, hastily left for some fresh air, and were soon home to shower. I thought, “This isn’t good. Why should we subject ourselves to this?”
Once in Calgary I was served up chopped ham, instead of the corned beef I had expressly asked for in a Denver sandwich. It was an insult to someone who, by conviction, didn’t want to eat pork.
It didn’t occur to me that by sending the sandwich back and kindly asking for corned beef, I could be offending the chef, thus inviting unwanted unmentionables concealed in my sandwich. Paranoid? Perhaps, but we’ve heard stories and seen documentaries of hidden cameras in restaurant kitchens – chef snot in your hamburger can’t be good.
In this exceptional case, we had invited Constable Ivor McCorkindale of the Calgary City Police to sit with us in our booth on his coffee break. Because we were bearing witness to Ivor of the Lord, I didn’t wish to press the issue in his presence when the sandwich returned, with the ham remaining, though the waiter promised me it was now corned beef. I could both see and taste the difference, which wasn’t difficult; Ivor agreed that it wasn’t corned beef. At that point, the Lord said to me, “Eat it; it won’t kill you.”
Seeing I was given to speak of the Lord, and seeing He told me to eat it and never mind, I have to conclude we were to be there. Therefore, this instance cannot count as one in which we were wayward by eating in restaurants, though it wasn’t pleasant. After all, we were on the road with no other known and preferable food source, in which He makes allowances. “The Lord’s purposes are manifold,” Mickey Patrick used to prophesy repeatedly in Prince Albert. It’s true.
Admittedly, I have had a bad attitude in many circumstances. In dramatic contrast, Paul and Silas were singing and rejoicing in the Lord after being unjustly beaten bloody for doing good, and the Lord brought salvation to the jailer and his household (Acts 16). And I complain when I have to eat a sandwich with some pork in it? Nevertheless, it was another unpleasant event of many in eating out. I have viewed this incident as a double-edged sword – needful for the time, but setting us in a different direction for the future.
I also didn’t appreciate waiters flattering me, or drooling over me, for anticipated tips. And I didn’t appreciate it when they glared at me because they thought the tips weren’t enough, especially when I didn’t think their service was worth anything.
If they expect to be rewarded, waiting staff ought to be available and see to it that the food is satisfactory soon after being served, that the water jug and breadbasket are replenished, that we can order things overlooked during the meal, and that things aren’t burned or raw or missing. All these services should be rendered with a friendly and sincere attitude, recognizing it is the least to be expected of them.
It became rather frustrating when waiters seemed to expect a tip whether they rendered satisfactory service or not, busy or not. “Entitlement” is the word of the day.
Invariably, I was the one who would find hair, glass, or something unacceptable in my food. “Trust Victor to find it!” became the common remark. I always chalked it up to being the attitudinal culprit, attracting trouble like a magnet nails. Why were these things happening to me? Ever slow on the uptake, it took me a long time to catch on that God wasn’t blessing us in eating out, something He had been discouraging for some time.
It occurred to me that whenever I needed to eat out, having little choice except to go hungry for days, there was seldom a problem. Eating out when there was no need for it was invariably a recipe for frustration.
I have concluded that God doesn’t favor restaurants, at least not for us. In thinking about it, there are many good reasons for not eating out:
One, it is rarely sanitary. Restaurant employees don’t always wash their hands. Cooks and waiters can have colds or other pathogens. They have fed me mice disguised as breaded shrimp, pork, charcoal (made from my food), glass, hair, stale and rancid food, and leftovers (several of these, deliberately), as well as rendering us careless service and contempt. Are strangers, whose motive is primarily profit, going to handle your food with tender loving care? Rare wise ones will do so, knowing it promotes good business, but in most cases, I don’t think so. I’ve been a stranger, so I know.
Two, becoming dependent on eating out, people lose their cooking skills, which is a basic all families and households should conserve and enjoy. Proper knowledge, food care, and preparation are important. We see these skills diminishing year by year with our clientele in our organic grocery business.
Three, it is costly eating out. If people were to add up their bills and consider what they get for their money, or what better they could get for it, I think many would be surprised, if not shocked.
Four, restaurants, especially fast-food joints, are notorious for lack of nutrition and unhealthy chemical inputs. Pink slime, anyone? Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Super Size Me, tells it all.
Five, this is speculative, but I believe a day comes when hospitals, restaurants, and other public places will be directly or indirectly serving up super bugs, or other pathogens, that will cut a deadly swath through populations exposed to lack of hygiene, ignorance, carelessness, and irresponsibility. Creatures of habit will be the hardest hit. It’s no secret now that many are dying in hospitals because of lack of hygiene on the part of doctors and nurses.
Will restaurant employees be more conscientious about our health than hospital personnel? I think that getting into the habit of taking responsibility for one’s own health (eliminating unnecessary eating out being one of several measures) can one day save one’s life. I expect it has already done so for many. More and more, we hear of new dangers and threats in the food industry.
I decided to visit Marv Mielke in 1980 about a year or so after we left his place. He was on his way out the door when I arrived. He never looked like he could afford to lose any weight, but now he was thin, haggard, and subdued, the opposite of how we last saw him.
Marv stopped just long enough to tell me that his wife had left him, taking the children with her. She said she wanted TV, Christmas, and a private home, things she couldn’t have with “The Move,” vowing she wouldn’t return unless things changed.
I think that at the time of that visit, he had just renewed union with her. The group wasn’t there in his house anymore. He apparently quit “The Move,” if they hadn’t already quit him. I suppose he met Marietta’s conditions.
But what would happen from here? Could their former relationship be fully restored? Was it worth restoring if he was supposed to forsake family for “The Move of God” and failed to do so? Could she respect him? Was he worthy of it? Or had he never really believed “The Move” was of God? Had he cared?
We would find out what Marietta chose to do.
Paul’s father decided to pay us a visit. We received him with open arms, thankful he would come. He brought flowers and acted as though we were rather special to him. We supposed it to be true for two reasons: 1) we were his son’s friend, and 2) we were genuinely friendly and open with him and Frada, his wife, in the phone calls, as they called to keep in touch with Paul. We expected he could recognize our sentiments toward him.
We discussed many things with Dave. He asked questions, some of which pertained to the paper I had written about false prophets and how to identify them – it had many Scriptures from the New Testament, which spoke of the Jews persecuting the Christians. Paul had given him a copy. Dave never said a word about those references at the time. (The paper wasn’t focusing on those verses, but we would find David later focusing on them.)
Dave also took many pictures, and while we indulged him, I didn’t want them, and wasn’t comfortable with it. He took them inside and outside our home, of us standing here and there, including one of us standing with the business truck in its parking space out back.
When Dave left, we thought it was on the best of terms, notwithstanding the disagreements we had on beliefs and division in faith, which we didn’t find to be unusual or unusually difficult. (Paul remained with us.)
Weeks after Dave visited us, we took him up on his invitation to visit them. We booked a flight for Philadelphia, with a stopover in Toronto, then on to the Newark Airport, where Dave joyfully picked us up.
The entire visit seemed very good. Dave entertained us and treated us as newfound friends. He took the three of us fishing on the ocean in his boat; he flew his model plane for us, which crashed; we ordered one of his favorites – garlic and oil pizza, and ate Philadelphia’s soft pretzels with mustard. We also visited Frada’s most handsome sister, Annetta, and toured sites like the Smithsonian, the Liberty Bell, and the White House in Washington D.C. (where we saw George Bush Sr. casually speaking on the street with others before he became President).
While in Philadelphia, Paul, Marilyn, and I decided to go to a Messianic congregation meeting at Beth Yeshua. Jews coming to believe in the One they had so sorely rejected was of great interest to me. I also wondered what they had to offer us, a common thought amongst Gentile Christians concerning Messianic Jewish movements. I enjoyed the music and dancing, though we didn’t dance – we were cautiously, circumspectly sizing things up. Time and time again, we had learned that appearances seldom tell the true story.
A fund drive was on for a building in which to worship. As we talked with some people, I received a Word and said to those we were visiting with, “The Lord doesn’t want a building.” A certain woman became defensive and argued. Not getting into the reasoning, I repeated that the Lord was after their hearts, a temple without hands, not a building. She rose up and declared, with indignation, “Well, praise the Lord!” and stomped off.
It wasn’t long before I could see that these people didn’t know the Lord after the Spirit. They were worshipping Him after the flesh (from a human point of view):
“He died for all people so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for the Man Who died and was brought back to life for them. So from now on we don’t think of anyone from a human point of view. If we did think of Christ from a human point of view, we don’t anymore. Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17 GW).
Beth Yeshua was lively and religious, but it didn’t worship Yeshua in spirit and in truth. They simply claimed Yeshua for themselves, as though He belonged to them, first and foremost, He and they being Jewish. They were worshipping an historical Jesus, not the Living Present Personal God He is, not the “I Am That I Am.” As most Gentiles have a carnal worship of God, which is not acceptable to Him, so we have found it with most Messianic Jews professing faith in Him.
A former high school acquaintance of Paul’s, Tynne (Tina) Satinoff was attending there. When she discovered Paul was there, she was beside herself with joy, if not with marital hopes. As we visited, we shared with her that if she was genuinely desirous of walking with the Lord, she needed to come out of men’s works (which we discerned Beth Yeshua was). She would have to take up the cross and forsake all.
Tynne invited us to her elder’s home, Joseph Finkelstein’s. As we visited and shared with her, he stood between us and her, and defended Tynne’s spiritual walk and involvement with Beth Yeshua.
He said to me, “You’re a false prophet.”
I asked him how he determined so. He said that he could tell by my countenance.
“Is that it?” I asked.
I don’t know what he saw, except for an uncommon sobriety and perhaps a sense of disappointment with the expectation that Tynne would heed him and not us. But I hadn’t heard of anyone determining whether one is true or false by a countenance before.
Though Tynne was somewhat disappointed that we were parting ways, she listened to Joseph and the two of them agreed to dismiss us. We would find out the fruits of Joseph’s and Tynne’s choices in later years.
Our time complete in Philadelphia, Marilyn and I flew back to Winnipeg, leaving Paul behind. We parted on what seemed to be genuinely good terms with his parents. They said they were thankful Paul had such good friends.
Before leaving, I tried to help Paul get started in a business of his own, perhaps as a handyman. This would enable him to come and go more freely than if he were employed. But he didn’t have the necessary skills or aptitude. He went on to try other things.
While we were gone, we left Mike Trepanier with the truck and asked him to answer what few calls there would be from the paper for our services. He had very few deliveries, but while he operated the truck, he pasted a round mirror on my rear view, furnished a cushion on my seat, and left a chain behind the seat for times when we might need it.
When we returned, he asked us how we could survive on the meager income he had experienced when we were away.
We hadn’t had a problem at all. We have learned that it isn’t only how much one earns but how much one spends. More importantly, it’s about how the Lord provides. One can be wealthy on very little or poor with very much.
“He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack” (Exodus 16:18).
Mike asked me about the chain several months later. I don’t know why I was so dense, but I honestly didn’t think that the chain I had in the truck was his. He even mentioned that there was a shiny, forged link to join it midway where it had once been broken and was repaired, which there was.
A few years later, I realized it was his and wondered how in the world I could have been so stupid and stubborn, ignoring the matter. I have been that way many times from childhood. It’s almost like a mental disorder. Becoming a believer didn’t seem to make much difference with me in these sorts of things for some time.
For years, I aspired to be some great Christian worker, God’s “man of the hour,” His gift to men. Oh, how self-centered and presumptuous! We began running a little ad in the personal section of the Winnipeg Free Press offering free spiritual help and solutions to personal problems.
We got calls, but they were from strange people, mostly misfits who not only didn’t belong anywhere, but also couldn’t belong. It was no wonder they were troubled. They had their own ways of seeing things and weren’t about to be persuaded otherwise. They were hurting, nobody was helping them, they weren’t open to help, and we were in no position to help them. It simply wasn’t our time. Here are two fellows I recall:
One Ukrainian fellow barely into his thirties believed he had a revelation from God. He was planning on going to notify Israel of the meaning of the Star of David, that being that the two triangles represented the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of this world. He said that the triangle pointing up represents God’s Kingdom, and the triangle pointing down represents the world’s kingdom.
He had lost all his hair, wore a toupée, and wondered if it was vanity. He drank some wine before coming to meet with us because he was so shy and nervous. I felt badly for him, but there seemed to be nothing we could do.
Another fellow, Henry Unruh, of Mennonite background, had a horrible preoccupation with his sin of masturbation. He was thoroughly bound by it. He simply couldn’t resist, as much as he would try. I shared how the Lord had set me free of that very thing, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere with him.
This man labored dreadfully under the Law, perhaps thinking he was doing God service. He was a tormented soul, but a very self-righteous one. While apparently seeking counsel, he obviously believed he was in a position of counselor and helper instead, and this toward those who weren’t enslaved as he. What ironies and contradictions in man! I was meeting myself in others.
We weren’t free to pray for him, as we had for others who were then delivered of their compulsions. On January 3rd, 1981, the Lord gave me a song for him.
(Click HERE to listen to “His Yoke Is Easy,” or to read the lyrics.)
It wasn’t long before we gave up the ads and trying to make things happen.
Alan, a young bachelor from the Maritimes (Canadian East Coast provinces), took up residence in the third story of our building. He had been in a terrible car accident and was left with much scarring for life, both physical and mental. He couldn’t walk or talk normally.
We invited him to our place for a visit, and he began to testify of the Lord as though he was a fervent, zealous believer. He spoke of how great God was and how he had experienced close fellowship with Him. While he put on a brave face, we discerned it wasn’t real.
I began to share with Alan, speaking to him of the Lord. As I spoke, the phone rang. It was a woman who had seen me on one of my delivery jobs and was propositioning me. I confess that I was tempted by the intrigue, almost wishing that I wasn’t involved with Alan in our current conversation. Yet I realized the evil of the occasion and told the woman I wasn’t interested; she immediately hung up, and I went back to Alan.
I don’t know if it was my conscience or what, but Alan seemed to know what was going on, and if he didn’t know, he seemed curious as to what had happened. I don’t remember telling him and don’t think I did, but I may have. As I recall, I was feeling a bit guilty about the call, because I’d been tempted. I also thought, however, that disallowing further interruption to talk about it was best.
On January 27th, the Lord gave me a song for Alan.
(Click HERE to listen to “Look to Him,” or to read the lyrics.)
This song came to confront Alan with reality and to encourage him to repent and believe. When I told him the Lord had given me something for him and then sang it to him, he broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. Suddenly he had changed and wasn’t the fellow he had been pretending to be. The jig was up, not that he admitted anything.
His father came from the East Coast to visit him. After a couple days, we coincidentally met. When his father found out that we were believers and that Alan knew it, he upbraided Alan.
“Why didn’t you tell me they were believers and introduce me to them?” he asked.
Alan just sat there and wouldn’t say a word through the entire visit. He didn’t believe at all. He had only been pretending.
I found it interesting that while he deemed it worthwhile to pretend to be a fervent believer, he steadfastly resisted being one. Alan went away apparently as hardened as ever. Again, the mystery of iniquity was something at which to marvel.
Alan’s father told me of the horrible ordeal of seeing his son in a full body cast in critical condition. He told me of how he tried to talk to Alan to hold on, of how they fervently prayed for his healing, and how they were pleased with the results, considering that they could have lost him or he could have been a quadriplegic or in a vegetative state.
The Gilbert family was of a branch of Branhamites whose headquarters were in Indiana. They knew the Tower family in Portage La Prairie, sixty miles west of Winnipeg, whom we had yet to meet, who also originated in the East Coast, and who were of the same Branhamite branch. We had no idea we would soon be meeting the Towers under trying circumstances.
We planned to go to Philadelphia again soon, likely in the spring. I had struggled with food and weight problems all my life. One day, as I was in the bathroom (the Lord has spoken to me there many times; I don’t know why), He said, “By the next time you see Paul, you’ll be slim and trim.”
Paul met Caren Lampitoc in a furniture store in Philadelphia where he got a sales job. True to his idiosyncrasy, it wasn’t long before he sought to marry her. I didn’t approve, and I didn’t know her parents didn’t approve, either (Paul didn’t tell us), but I was inspired to write a song for her, “What Will Be Will Be,” which was for us, too.
How different we discovered the Christian walk to be from what we expected or were led to believe! It was lonely, painful of soul, friendless, fraught with enemies on all sides, and the greatest enemy was on the inside. We had to do battle with unbelief, and with our carnal desires, ambitions, hopes, dreams, and lusts of the flesh – lusting mostly for social security, belonging, acceptance, importance, and recognition.
All must be surrendered or lost; there really is no choice in the matter in the call of God. He who keeps his life loses it, and if he loses it for the Lord’s sake, it’s still lost, but replaced with much more and much better at some time down the road.
The main thing is that one must learn to trust God through it all and let it happen. One must accept that God is in charge of everything, working all for good. Even if all is lost, there is no loss in Him.
On February 27th, 1981, the Lord gave me a song, reflecting this reality.
(Click HERE to listen to “What Will Be Will Be,” or to read the lyrics.)