Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chapter 14

14.  I Make a Name for Myself
As days passed it became apparent that the short fuzzy male teammate who had expressed an interest in me was becoming far more enamored of me than he should.  There were express rules against dating but I liked the attention I was getting and I didn’t want to be mean.  One day on the bus, I was leaning up against this boy and I heard a low voice from behind me say, “Angel, you better guard your heart.”  I turned around and rudely responded, “it’s none of your business”.  The voice had been Mario’s, the obnoxious trumpet player who had stayed with my family during the summer.  He calmly responded, "you're making everyone on this bus feel uncomfortable and I care enough to confront you about it. Stop flirting with [him] or you'll have bigger problems." I was amazed that he would dare to correct me when I had never spoken two words to him before.  Here he was chastising me and not the other person involved?  How rude, I thought.

I was so angry with him, I resolved to never speak to him as long as I lived (very mature).  Meanwhile, the other guy just put his arm around me and cozied up to me even more.  As the weeks went by, the attention being given to me by this boy became quite unbearable and very, very unwelcome.  I finally spoke to my director but instead of telling him that the feelings were not mutual (I was still trying not to be "mean"), I downplayed it and we were both allowed to continue to minister on the same team.  I regret that decision but I was still struggling with my health and with my own insecurities.  If I shut this guy down completely, would I ever feel loved again?

I have very few memories of ministry time in India due to my extreme health issues but some of what I do remember is quite amusing.  We traveled by bus for ten hours from Calcutta to reach a mountain city in Mizoram.  The trip proved to be too much for me and I relapsed into a feverish state with severe abdominal issues.  Leaving me in my room with another girl who had an injured back but would check in on me from time to time, the team headed off for a grueling day filled with 3 concerts.  When my roommate (Rachel*) returned, she found that in between bouts of sickness, I had done all of our laundry and it was hung up throughout the room to dry.  She told me all about the day’s adventures and then we turned out the lights after praying together for God’s healing and protection.  Because of the fever and chills, I had requested a space heater for it was very cold during the night in Mizoram.

As we fell asleep, I dreamt in that place between waking and sleeping. In my dream I saw that the curtains caught on fire and I barely had the strength to put them out.  In my sleep I heard a loud “POP” and then a “Ssssssssssssss”.  My eyes popped open and I stared down at the end of my bed, heart pounding and senses struggling to wake up.  I saw a smeary orange ball at the end of my bed.  Putting on my glasses and turning on the light, I found that the space heater was on fire and smoke was billowing up toward the ceiling.  Thinking quickly but not coherently, I decided I better turn on the ceiling fan to get the smoke out.  Or, for those who have already thought ahead, maybe to add oxygen to the flames.  I have to say, it wasn’t one of my best moments.  

Turning the fan back off, I crawled across my bed, reached down near the heating unit and quickly unplugged it.  If you think this is taking a long time to tell, it took just as much time to put it into action.  The medicines and the fever had taken all my “quickness” and turned it to mush.  Meanwhile, pretty brunette Rachel was sleeping soundly.

Calling her name, I picked up the house phone and dialed the front desk.  Answering with a thick accent, the operator asked for my room number.  I calmly told him and said, “and there is a fire in our room.  I think you’ll want to come and do something about it.”  Now, had I been healthy, I would have put the fire out myself with a thick blanket.  It wasn’t at a dangerous level and was only very smoky.  But, as I said my thoughts were mush.  Rachel was sitting up in bed by this time and had apparently decided….actually I don’t know what she was thinking.  She said later that she had no thoughts at all, she couldn’t snap out of her deep sleep. I told her, "don't worry, the maintenance guys are coming....I think."

Then I gathered my pillow and a blanket and left our room.  I knocked on the door of the room next to us, where my friend Leigh was staying.  When she answered the door, she peeked out at me and slowly said, “Yes?” with a raised eyebrow.  I replied, “can I stay in your room tonight?”  Thinking my request was very odd, she opened the door and said “sure” wondering if Rachel and I had had a fight or something.  I told her, as if it were the most commonplace thing ever, “naw, we didn’t fight.  There’s just a fire in my room.”  And then I went and lay down on her bed.  Her jaw dropped. When she collected her thoughts, Leigh exclaimed, “what?!” and raced out the door just as the maintenance man from the front desk ran into my former room with a fire extinguisher.

Somehow during the mayhem, it was decided that my roomie and I should probably be relocated into a non-smoke-filled room.  By now, all the girls from the team were out of their rooms and excitedly reacting to my newest adventure.  Our squeals and giggles carried upstairs and were heard by some of our teammates, including the guy who chastised me before, Mario.  Mario told the director, “I’ll go down and see what’s going on”.  Safely ensconced in my new bedroom, I heard his voice down the hallway interrogating my friends. I giddily shouted for him to come and see me.  He later told me that he knew then that I was really quite ill because I had actually requested his presence.

By the time he arrived by my side, Rachel also arrived.  She stood in our doorway covered head-to-toe in the white stuff that comes out of fire extinguishers.  Blink, blink went her big, brown eyes.  The maintenance man took one look at her and began apologizing as he hit her over and over again with a rolled up towel.  Puffs of white bounced off of her and I began to giggle.  I couldn’t stop, she looked so funny standing there as she thanked him repeatedly for beating her with the towel. Plus, everyone had all of our dusty clothes and underwear gathered in their arms.  I laughed so hysterically that it was catchy and eventually everyone else joined in too.  Shaking her head as she tucked me into my new smokeless bed, Leigh said “only Angel.”  And that is how I became known as the “Queen of Adventures” (sarcasm included).

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