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Author Topic: Former Ottawa assembly members tell their story - an open letter  (Read 24249 times)
delila
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« on: March 08, 2004, 09:30:45 pm »

     
 
 [This is part one.  The whole letter was too long to take on one post. drj]
 

 


 From :  Mary Burgess <mary_burgess@sbcglobal.net>
Sent :  March 7, 2004 12:12:01 PM
To :  "Delila Jahn" <crocusqueen@hotmail.com>
Subject :  The Final Straw
 
  |  |  | Inbox  
 
 
Hi Delila,
 
Chris will share a little about what happened just before we left the assembly.  That's when we knew it was the final straw.  Feel free to share this with your Bulletin Board friends.
--
Hi Delila, this is Chris.  I’ll share with you a little bit regarding the events that occurred that led to Mary and me leaving the Ottawa assembly.  It was basically brought on by the lies and deceitful manipulative actions of one brother who was in leadership in Fullerton, whose name I will not mention (I will explain the reason for this as I progress through the series of events).


The beginning of the end of Assembly life for us occurred when Armand had suggested that I meet with him and this brother (whose name I will not mention) regarding my relationship with Mary.  Armand knew that I was spending a fair amount of time with Mary (after all it was Nancy who kept on suggesting that I do stuff with Mary, such as asking her out for coffee, etc.) Remember, Nancy was not called Nancy “match maker” Zach/Cossette for nothing.  I think Armand may have been upset with Nancy for meddling in peoples lives when of course he wanted to be the chief meddler/boss (sometimes it seemed like Nancy wanted to be the leading brother). Anyway back to my story, Armand called in one of the Fullerton big guys and I was told basically the following by him (Armand was also present for this meeting):


-         That Mary was a great sister who very dedicated to the work

-         That he believed that she had a strong desire to follow the Lord

-         That for the time being we should limit the time that we spend together to normal assembly activities where other of the saints would be present also

-         That after a few months that we could spend more time together to pursue our relationship if God was leading that way


You know how  obvious it is  when some people lie, well when this nameless Fullerton brother said to wait a few months and then things would be allowed to progress, it was obvious that something was wrong.  It felt sort of like he was saying relax don’t worry, we’ll take care of you at the same time he was stabbing me in the back. I strongly suspected that they wanted to break up my relationship with Mary, and use the few months apart to distract me with possibilities of other sisters.  Perhaps this was because it wasn’t a relationship that the leaders had planned and I might be tempted in the future to not give myself to their leading (i.e. their control).  Perhaps it was for another reason, but I don’t want to speculate or accuse.


As the next few months progressed Mary and I would do things together such as travel an hour or so to the doctor that we were booth seeing at the time (as you probably recall we both had one of those mysterious assembly illnesses that left us unable to work at our jobs at the time).  I am sure that this time together got Armand worried so when this brother (who shall rename nameless) was back in town, he said that he wanted to talk to me.  He said that he was concerned that I was still spending too much time with Mary, and after trying to get me to talk about my relationship with Mary for a while, he eventually asked me if I saw Mary the night before after the Bible study (as I got home very late – probably around 2:00am).  I tried to continue to be evasive and just told him the simple truth that I was at the hospital the night before (without offering him the fact that Mary drove me to the hospital and waited for me there).  After not answering his questions directly a number of times he eventually worded his question so that I had no way to answer but to tell him that Mary was there as well.  He was getting frustrated that I wasn’t answering his questions and I was getting frustrated that he kept on interfering with what I am sure that I made obvious to him that I considered to be none of his business.  So to basically shut him up (trust me - he was very annoying), I told him all.  And his advice (i.e. his command) was that I further limit my contact with Mary to not even speak with her, until the leadership thought that it would be appropriate which if I remember correctly was about 3 to 6 months.  And then depending on how obedient we were, and how are health issues were and the leading of the Lord (of course they would tell us what the leading of the Lord was), things may be able to proceed further.


Shortly after this Armand gave me the advice to attend the Midwest Seminar to speak with this nameless brother there, as he felt that I was struggling with God’s leading.  So I made the trip and had a conversation with this brother in Armand’s presence, and was this time told the following.


-         That he sees absolutely no desire in Mary’s life to follow the Lord.

-         That she would chew me up and spit me out

-         That she is not to be trusted

-         A few other nasty lies about Mary which there is no need to mention

-         That God wants something better for me


Well I could see that (oops, I almost mentioned his name) nameless had changed his tactics as his first approach to manipulate me had failed.  Now that I had realized that he had contradicted himself in front of Armand, I spoke with Armand and asked him how this mystery brother could say that he saw “absolutely no desire in Mary’s life to follow the Lord”, but be able to say a few months earlier that “Mary was a great sister who very dedicated to the work”, and that “she had a strong desire to follow the Lord” (Armand was present for both conversations).  Armand’s response was “I don’t know brother, you have to ask him”.  So I did ask (Armand was also present for this).


It turned out that this Brother was not as skilled a liar as he may have thought himself to be, after stumbling around a bit with a dumb embarrassed look on his face he said, that he did not contradict himself, but that although he saw no evidence of desire for Mary to follow the Lord that he believes that she does have a desire to follow the Lord.  The tone of his voice and facial appearance made it unmistakably clear that he was still lying through his teeth.


So the funny part now is that since Mr. Flip Flop admitted again that Mary has a desire to follow the Lord (somehow he knows this although he doesn’t see it),  then he had to back off from his position of all the nasty lies that he said regarding her.  Here is where his real desperation started to show (remember Armand is listening to all of this).  I told him that I thought that I was being lied to and deceived, and could not be a party to this.  Now I am sure that he was worried that Mary and I would both leave so this is where he really began to squirm and start to offer up some despicable deal making.  His first offer was that Mary and I could “spend time” with each other after about 6 months. I immediately rejected this offer.  So I guess the Lord must have instantly led him to make me another offer, that being that if we behaved ourselves for (I think it was about) 3, that we could spend time together (but of course under the brothers direction).  But since I now was in the position of power (after having caught him in lies), I boldly told him sorry, that wouldn’t work either.  And once again the Lord must have led him to make me yet a different offer.  This next one was that if I left the brothers house that I could start seeing Mary right away.  This way it wouldn’t communicate the message that the leadership thought that this was the best way for us to proceed since I then would not be under the control of the leadership of the brothers house. This brother was really getting desperate, and Armand was just standing there listening, but not speaking.


Now here is where this brother’s true colors began to show more than ever.  After rejecting his offer once more, I think that he thought that I might have been worried what the other saints would think if I left the brothers house, so he told me that I could tell the other saints that I left because of health reasons (as I was very sick at the time).  So he had now jumped from lying himself to counseling me that I should lie as well.  I stood there in shock, and Armand continued to remain silent.  His final act of desperation was to make one more offer, that being that if and when I left the brothers house, I could not only start to “spend time” with Mary, but we could get married outside of the Assembly and still remain in fellowship.


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delila
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2004, 09:31:51 pm »

Part 2

Well needless to say by this time I was thoroughly disgusted with this brother, and could not live within a system in which the leadership was so dishonest and corrupt.  It was obviously all a game for his self importance and now he was losing.  So I really wanted to say something that would shock both him and Armand to realize what he had just said.  So with a bold voice I told him, that I was disgusted with him, and that I am sure that when Mary hears what he said that she would be too, but that he didn’t have to worry too much because I wouldn’t let anybody else know that he had said these things (lying to me and telling me that I should lie about why I would be leaving the brothers house).  I said this for Armand’s benefit as well as his.  But because I gave him my word that I wouldn’t tell anybody else that he said these things, I am not at liberty to give his name.  Of course the only reason that I told him this was to try and shock him to realize what he had done, and let him know that I know that he is a deceitful liar (and that Armand also observed this), not that I care if anybody knows that he is a liar.



If you want to know who the secret brother is, then you (or anyone else) could always try asking Armand, as Armand is free to say what he wants to regarding this brother.  Although it probably wouldn’t do anybody much good to expose this brother, still whether or not Armand would come clean regarding these events, would give some indication of where Armand stands regarding truth vs. Geftakysism.


Anyway, I told Armand that I could not remain in the assembly under this corrupt leadership, and he was kind and pleasant about it, and told me that if that was what I felt that he couldn’t stop me.  Armand obviously mentioned at least some of the story to Nancy, as she got in one last jab at me before I left, she said something like “You are not leaving because of what happened at the Midwest Seminar, you are leaving because you are selfish and just want to get married without assembly interference”.  Despite, the nameless brother’s offer to get married outside of the assembly, I chose not to argue with her, and just left. ("Free from the law - O Happy Condition!)


It was now obvious that the saints were told to avoid us.  I received absolutely zero help from any of the saints in moving (despite how many of them I had helped move).  Paul asked me to no longer be the best man at his wedding (despite the fact that we were very close friends, I even had already bought a new suit to match Paul’s for the wedding). When I went to pick up my stereo system that I had loaned to the sisters apartment, they were all crying and asking why.  By one of their comments it sounded like they were told that we left just because wanted to get married now without having to wait (I guess that it is no surprise that they weren’t told that we were leaving because the leadership was corrupt, the assembly system was a scam, and that we were lied to by the leadership and told to lie to others by the leadership).  Interestingly enough when I was packing up my stuff to move a few items (such as one of my Bibles), mysteriously disappeared, and one of the brothers said two of my items did not belong to me, so I just left them behind and was happy to leave.


Mary and I did end up attending Paul and Marcelle’s wedding (with Hugh as the new best man).  We were made to feel most unwelcome, and everyone tried to ignore us except Chandra who just looked at us and cried. BTW, I actually spoke to Chandra on the phone a few years ago when I was visiting some of the assemblyites and former assemblyites during a business trip; she seemed pleasant and told me about how Joshua was doing.  During this trip I also met with Ed R, Paul S, Hugh M, and Peter H.  Ed was married with children and attending the Metropolitan Bible Church.  Paul came to meet me after getting off of work well after midnight on a Saturday night, and I gave him a general idea of why I left, but without going into too many details.  At the time Paul seemed to be really pushing himself to keep up with assembly responsibilities and work, while still giving time to his family.  Hugh met me and Ed at the Dairy Queen, and although it was encouraging to hear Hugh say that as long as we were still walking with the Lord he could have fellowship with us, it was obvious that at that time he was still deeply into Geftakysism (Ed kept on pushing with very direct questions about “if the assembly way was the superior way, and if everything else fell short).  When I met with Peter (this was after he left fellowship), he told me that he had not heard any of the details of the real reason why we left fellowship (I guess that it is no surprise that Armand kept quiet about the real reason).


I actually ran into Armand at a pet store less than a year after I left the assembly, he said hello but that was it (I am surprised that he didn’t try to hide out of embarrassment because of his complicity with the nameless brother by his silence in the matter).  He was showing Ruth the animals at the store, and I only said a hello to him and left him there.


Actually there was one Brother who stopped by to see me and Mary while we were still in Ottawa and that was Darrell, he gave us a stuffed animal as a gift, and made it clear to us that he was still our friend regardless of what the assembly said.  I guess that it is no surprise that Darrel ended up leaving the assembly as well.


There were a few in leadership that I did trust at that time.  This would include Roger in Chicago, and Peter H, but certainly none of the leadership from Fullerton that I had met.  Roger actually anointed both Mary and me with oil and prayed for our healing.  As you know Mary and I were both very sick while we were in fellowship (I had to take a leave from work on my doctor’s advice, I had collapsed at numerous assembly activities such as at devotions, I had to be carried out of the house to the hospital because I couldn’t walk, and I spent numerous days and nights at the hospital).  But interestingly enough, when we left the assembly, our heath immediately improved, and shortly after we were back to perfect health. It was not until after we were cured, that one of our doctors (also a Christian) let us know that he felt the reason that we were so ill was because of the assembly system, and that God had not designed our bodies to live under such a system, and that our  bodies ceased to function normally because of this. This may explain why there were so many sick saints in the assembly. He also told us that he was praying for us, that God would lead us from the assembly to a healthy fellowship (I suspect that Flora may have told him a bit about the assembly system).  Well, his prayers were answered, and we were healed.


But the assembly could not have the saints think that God blessed us outside of their precious assembly system, so the lies started.  You may have heard some of them, things like God was punishing us and that Mary was dying with cancer, when not only did she never have cancer, but she was actually much healthier than she ever was in the assembly.  The Lord has simply never ceased to bless our lives together each and every day since we have been removed from the bondage of the assembly.  But the proud, hateful people in the assembly just spew their bitter lies.  It is both sad and sickening. We have been happily married for almost 14 years.


Please feel free to share any of this with whoever you like, or ask Armand to verify any of the facts (he knows all about the nameless brother). If you want to pass my email address on to anybody, it is the same as Mary’s except with “chris” instead of “mary” (chris_burgess@sbcglobal.net).  Anyway that is about all I have time to write about for now, so I’ll pass the keyboard back to Mary.

--

Delila, while they were working over Chris, at the same time Nancy is meeting with me and telling me all sorts of incredible lies about why I shouldn't choose Chris.The only other thing Chris hasn't mentioned was the real reason why the assembly objected to our relationship.  As you know I am an Arab Canadian  and the assembly policy was that people of different 'colors' were not to be together.  As you know, I challenged this point with Jim very vehemently and he held his 'prejudicial' point of view  but could not show me any legitimate thing  written in the Bible to support his case.  At the time that this argument between Jim and I erupted- onlookers believed I was making an issue because I was interested in snaring a husband.  That was the furthest thing from my mind.  At that time, it was a matter of principle- a principle that I had spent most of my life fighting for- EQUALITY!!   After all the assembly used many verses out of context to support many illogical 'policies' that served their purposes.  I would also like everyone to know that we have been happily married for 14 years and have never ceased to walk with the LORD the whole time- and we are raising our two children for the LORD!!

 

Well Delila, time to go, hope you enjoy!!

 

Love, Chris and Mary Burgess

 
 
 


 
 
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delila
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2004, 09:45:53 pm »

Dear Mary and Chris,

Thank you so much for your letter.  As it was a big post, I had to cut in in half and post it.  It helps with the battle for the turth, and man, I feel so stupid for my part in your leaving, my silence.  Believing the liars, it's a familiar theme in the assembly history, in those assemblies that still continue too.  I love you two for your courage alone, let alone for the people you are aside from that.  I never considered Chris a particularly bold or courageous person, unitl now.  And Armand, though I knew he was a ninny, well, he's a total cave-in now, in my estimation anyway.  Your letter will be a great encouragement, I know, to others.  Perhaps it may be the straw for many on the edge of leaving the assembly there now.  Again, thank you so much for sending it to me.  You are so esteemed in my mind, I can not say, just how much I admire you two.

love, Delila
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Recovering Saint
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2004, 10:39:14 pm »

Part 2

.................


Mary and I did end up attending Paul and Marcelle&#8217;s wedding (with Hugh as the new best man).  We were made to feel most unwelcome, and everyone tried to ignore us except Chandra who just looked at us and cried. BTW, I actually spoke to Chandra on the phone a few years ago when I was visiting some of the assemblyites and former assemblyites during a business trip; she seemed pleasant and told me about how Joshua was doing.  During this trip I also met with Ed R, Paul S, Hugh M, and Peter H.  Ed was married with children and attending the Metropolitan Bible Church.  Paul came to meet me after getting off of work well after midnight on a Saturday night, and I gave him a general idea of why I left, but without going into too many details.  At the time Paul seemed to be really pushing himself to keep up with assembly responsibilities and work, while still giving time to his family.  Hugh met me and Ed at the Dairy Queen, and although it was encouraging to hear Hugh say that as long as we were still walking with the Lord he could have fellowship with us, it was obvious that at that time he was still deeply into Geftakysism

........................................



Well let me swallow hard and say please forgive me Mary and Chris. I did believe Assembly line at the time.

I had my own struggles with how Ed was treated and told people so. It was because Ed asked me to see you that I felt it was alright. It is amazing how we believe people and now I feel so stupid.

Thank God I did go.

Anyone seeing this post remember this is what the Assembly does to you. It is brainwashing you to believe the leaders above any other opinions.

God bless you Mary and Chris and thank you Delila for the letter.

Feel free to email me Chris.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2004, 03:54:45 am by Hugh » Logged
M2
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2004, 10:41:57 pm »

Dear Chris and Mary,

I was one who shunned you when you left.  I have already apologized privately via email, but will now make a public statement that I was wrong to shun you.

A couple of things:

When I left the LBs asked me to not say anything further about my reasons for departure to the others who were still in.  I refused because I wanted the freedom of following the Lord and not regretting having given my word to remain silent.

It is OK and normal for single saints to want to marry.  It was put forth as a condemnation when you left, but real the issue is that they wanted to 'control' every aspect of your life and you would not let them.

At one point I was told that your marriage was on the rocks and that Mary was blaming the assembly for her problems.  And, to them, it was no wonder that you were having problems, since you had made your own decision to marry without the leader's approval. etc. etc. etc.

I remember the day that Chris moved very clearly.  I live just around the corner from the Cossette household.  I also remember regretting that we could not have a wedding shower for Mary.  I did not know that part of the problem was the inter-racial issue.  Chris and Claude worked for the same company and even worked together on the same contract.  It was via Claude's contact that Chris was introduced to the assembly in Ottawa.  Mary was an outreach contact.  One of four that actually came in to the assembly as a result of of witnessing 2x2 / mime performance(or something).  Only one of the four remains "in".

Lord bless,
Marcia
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Margaret
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2004, 12:29:48 am »

Hello Chris and Mary!  It is good to hear your story of how you saw through the lies and corruption and escaped.  One thing I remember from our contact in the early 90's after we left was how people said to you after you left, "To us, you're dead," and what a grief it was to you.  That was never said to us, but it's exactly how it felt.  I am so glad restoration is taking place!  

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delila
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2004, 03:56:45 am »

I don't have any trouble naming the brother from Fullerton though it isn't hard to guess who it is, son of the devil by choice, son of Geftakys by birth.  I walked in on an interrogation when I lived with Mary, but had no clue at the time why the three would be meeting in our living room.  Tim Geftakys is also guilty of lying to myself and Darrel about spending time together - or not doing so as the case may be.  Shame.  That's what he left us with, and you know what they say (and they really do say this btw): What goes around comes around, Tim.

Cheers!

Delila
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Oscar
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2004, 05:14:16 am »

Hi Chris and Mary,

I never met you during my assembly years.  I can't recall ever hearing of you for that matter.

Your experience of having a "mysterious assembly illness" exactly paralells mine.  

Mine hit about 1979...and lasted until about two weeks after I left in 1988.   Symptoms of hypoglycemia, (which were real), depression, inability to face things, tight back and neck muscles causing considerable pain, sleeplessness, neuralgia, a debilitating lack of energy, on and on.

I believe all these symptoms were brought on by stress caused by suppressed anger.

Glad to hear that you are rejoicing in Christ.   Smiley

God bless,

Thomas Maddux
« Last Edit: March 09, 2004, 08:59:08 am by Tom Maddux » Logged
mithrandir
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2004, 07:36:57 am »

The experience Chris had with the leaders has remarkable parallels to my experience.  Just as with him, I was presented with all kinds of "objections" when I expressed interest in certain sisters...things like, "you're both so negative", or, "she's strong-willed," etc.  However, there were those who were willing honestly to bare their fangs so that I could see what kind of creatures they were.  Mark Miller, Dan Notti, Jim Hayman, Greg Brislawn, Ron Womack, Mike Miller, and of course, George and Betty Geftakys all counseled me against marrying anyone who wasn't black, because "it would close missionary doors for this ministry" and "it might stumble some in the flock."  Now of course, you must realize two things.  First, there weren't that many black people in fellowship, for obvious reasons.  And second, there's a lot more that goes into a marriage than skin color.  I saw all kinds of people in Fullerton who were allowed the right to be attracted to each other because of common interests and pursuits - even white people marrying Filipinos, for instance!  Yet this was denied to black people.  The line that absolutely took the cake, though, came from Steve Irons when he used to be an elder.  He told me that God forbade interracial marriage.  His proof text was a verse in Acts about "God fixing the appointed bounds of each nation".  I pointed out to him all the mixed couples I saw in fellowship, and his response was, "Yes, we do seem to violate that rule around here..." Roll Eyes

My experience differs from Chris however, in that while he had the guts to call the leaders liars and rid himself of them, I stupidly hung around for 23 years.  I actually believed all that hogwash about upholding the New Testament pattern.  I was one of those who tithed mint and dill and cummin, and neglected the weightier provisions of the law - namely, justice, mercy and faithfulness.  The fact of my suffering and my stupidity in enduring it all is a source of the anger I still feel over a year after leaving the God-forsaken assembly.

Racism is wrong.  Ephesians and Colossians clearly state that God has given us a new identity which transcends all the old earthly identities, as it is infinitely better.  Our identity in Christ is the only identity that will count in Heaven.  But racism is just one of the sins the leaders of the Geftakys groups practiced.  Their sins are legion.  And they still refuse to repent.  When they see some of the sheep they have victimized, instead of contrition, they still wear a plastic smile and vomit condescending remarks.  I personally believe that many of them are evil - just as evil as Georgie the big cheese himself!  My promise for them is Matthew 23.

Clarence Thompson
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mithrandir
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2004, 07:41:45 am »

One other thing.  Read Galatians 2 if you want to see what happened to Peter and certain believers from among the circumcision when they tried to drive a wedge into the body of Christ because of some old earthly racial/religions identity.  I tried to point this out to the leaders in Fullerton and they were too dense to see it (and yes, I agree with you, Chris.  Almost none of them is to be trusted).
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sirons
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2004, 09:45:47 pm »

Dear Clarence,

I tried to email you privately, but I got a message back saying it was no longer in service.  So I'm going to do this as a post.  I hope you receive it.

I want to apologize to you for using that verse from Acts to not allow mixed marriages in the assembly.  Although this is not an excuse, you do know that I was parroting George.  Today I see how totally ludicrous it was for me to use that verse against mixed marriages.  It makes absolutely no sense when you think [as you pointed out to me back then] about the fact that other people in the assembly were allowed to marry who came from different nations.  If I could take back what I said, I would do so, but obviously the damage is done.  Please acccept my sincerest apology.  Please do not conclude from what I said to you back then that I personally was prejudiced towards you, although it certainly looks like it on the face of it.  I always liked you as a person and looked upon you as a beloved brother in Christ.  I hope you can believe me.

Your brother,

Steve Irons
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delila
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2004, 12:56:33 am »

The following is an excerpt from a novel/literary non-fiction about Clara Stain, assembly member for 7 years (among other things).  I post this piece here since it
happened in Ottawa.  However, from what I’ve read of others’ stories,  it may very well have happened in many other assemblies.
   

     Clara shuts off Mrs. Landry’s ancient Hoover, wraps the chord against the machine and pushes it toward the broom closet.  Mrs. Landry’s feet are propped up on
an ottoman in the tiny apartment.  The radio, which plays eternally here, unless it’sOprah time, the radio plays now:
   
   “What do you get when you kiss a guy?  
   You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.  
   Then he never phones ya -
   I’ll never fall in love a-gain.  
   I’ll never fall in love again.”  

     Mrs. Landry, well into her seventies, sings along.  Clara smiles at her and shakes a can of pledge in one hand, examines a dusting rag in the other.  It’s clean.
She sprays the coffee table and then polishes it, replacing the lamp and unused
ashtray.  It’s funny, this song.  Clara can’t block it out.  She finds herself singing along with the radio, with Mrs. Landry.  What would the saints say?
    When the dusting’s done, Clara disinfects the bathroom.  Other songs play
now on the radio, but in Clara’s head only “I’ll never fall in love a-gain...”  
   “Come on now, dear.  You’d better make sure you take your break.  You’ve
got to take care of yourself.” Mrs. Landry calls, shutting off the radio.  
   Clara pokes her head from the bathroom door, from where she’s kneeling on
the floor with a rag and an ice cream pail full of hot water and Mr.Clean.  
   “I’m finished.  Just need to put things away now.” Clara calls back.
   In the kitchen, Mrs. Landry is still singing “What do you get when you kiss a guy?” and the TV is on, but muted.  There are two tall glasses of iced tea on the tiny kitchen table and Mrs. Landry sets a plate beside each glass, a sandwich on each plate.  
   “Oh, but I brought my lunch, thank you.” Clara smiles, carefully, lifting a plastic bag from her backpack.
   “I know.  You always do, dear.  But I’ve seen what you eat too, and how pale you are, and how tired you look.  You won’t live to be my age if you keep that up. Now eat.”
    Clara smiles at this, Mrs. Landry, who raised ten children by herself, whose life story Clara could write down, having heard parts of it now for so many months.
Mrs. Landry: two breasts removed from cancer, beaten by her husband every day for
seventeen years, single parent - and in her day, that was something- conqueror, wise
woman, tough.  
   “I can’t get that song out of my head.” Clara confesses.
   Mrs. Landry smiles, a symphony of wrinkles and the kindest eyes.  It’s a good
sandwich, ham.  How long since I ate ham?  Clara wonders, immediately thinking of
Grandma, of that voice, begging Clara to “Y-eat somethingk” - Grandma, sending
money last year for a turkey at Christmas, which Clara baked at night, since that’s the
only time she was home long enough. A turkey, which dribbled over the little roaster
in the sister’s apartment and started a fire in the oven and had to be taken out.  The
turkey.  Clara had cooled the oven, washed the grease out, drained the baking pan and
put the turkey back in the oven.  That night she’d slept with a pillow on the kitchen
floor, thinking of Souris, of how life would go on there, of Grandma, folding cash
between two napkins and mailing it to Clara.  Grandma, who can not write, so there
was nothing else in the envelope.
   There is another ham sandwich in front of Clara and Mrs. Landry’s long,
painted fingernail is pointing to it.  Clara looks up at that old face, and tears warp the
lenses though which Clara sees.   .
   “Oh, here’s my show.  Now, where’s that flicker?  Here.” Mrs. Landry points a
remote control toward the TV and Oprah has a voice.  What would the saints say if
they knew about the TV at work?  “Idiot box.” brother George calls it, “The devil’s
horns” - he calls the antenna.  Shame creeps over Clara as she watches.
   Oprah, skinny again, and standing with a microphone in the audience, people, just like Mrs. Landry standing, one by one with something to say into that microphone.  People with something to say.  It is the expectation now, that Clara,
having finished her duties, will sit now with Mrs. Landry until Oprah is over and then get her paper signed and catch a bus to her afternoon client.  Today the show is about
surviving spousal abuse.  The audience, mostly women, has much to say.
   “See then?” Mrs. Landry points at the TV with her fist closed around the
remote control. “Dirty buggers!”
   Clara nods, wondering what life must have been for Mrs. Landry - to not have Oprah then, when she fed her children, worked a full time job and took care of ten
little faces, all looking to their mother for everything they required. Oprah pauses for
a commercial.
   “When he died,” Landry says, “The cops phoned us to say so.  And I told my
kids.  One son, Barry, little then yet, he says, ‘Mommy, you are my Dad and my Mom.
Who died - that doesn’t matter.’  Landry’s voice cracks on ‘matter’ and Clara nods.  
   Mrs. Landry’s hand reaches over and rests on top of Clara’s.  It is an old hand,
veins protruding, knuckles like knobs.  It rests there a long time.  They watch the rest
of Oprah.  It’s time for Clara to go.  She changes into her street shoes again and pulls
the draw string on her back pack.
   “Thank you again, my dear.  I’ll see you next week then, at the same time?”
Mrs. Landry’s face is wide with gratitude.  She waves, like a school girl in her house dress and closes the door only after Clara steps inside the elevator.
   Ten stories down, and out on the street, “What do you get when you kiss a guy?” plays again through Clara’s head.  She smiles at it, hums to it, surrenders to the
simple bitter sweet reality of living.  She could replace this song with a hymn.  She could, but why?  Why replace what just is?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2004, 01:02:25 am by delila » Logged
delila
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2004, 12:58:25 am »

excerpt part 2

---
   There is a bible study tonight, but supper first.  Rose has a special treat
tonight, one they’ve never had before: a platter of six rainbow trout sits in the centre
of the table.  André gives thanks, sounding tired, discouraged perhaps.  André is often
discouraged, struggling to rejoice, struggling to cover the fact that she’s not rejoicing.  
   But Clara is anything, but not discouraged, not this afternoon.  She’s not so
tired as she has been.   There’s a lightness this evening, and  “What do ya get when
you kiss a guy?” still bounces it’s way through her system, and now, these trout, eyes
open on every plate, slowly consumed by all.  Clara eats hers eagerly, the skin too,
though Eileen scrunches her nose at this, Clara considers the skin to be the best part.
André picks at her food,  Rose chitters about work, her plans for the Mission and
Training Team - which is her entire life currently.  Janet, whose long red hair is
pulled into a tight bun on top of her head just now, is smiling blankly at everyone.
They’re all here, twelve stories up in the sister’s apartment.  The sisters of Banner
Road.
   “How was your day, André?” Eileen asks, pulling the last off her fish meat
from its skeleton.  
   “Oh, just.... fine.” André answers.
   “Yeah?” Eileen responds, like André has actually said something, “Well,
today I learned how to draw blood.  Try topping that.” she says, still chewing fish.
   Yeah, Eileen’s a lab tech now.  Clara considers this for a moment, how Eileen
got counsel and really considered getting the training in the first place, with Aids
being such a big thing these days.  When the brothers told her it would be all right,
Eileen seemed almost sad about it.
   Clara stares at her plate now, a naked skeleton with face intact.  She thinks of
her brother, of fishing with Ken and Dad, of kissing the mouth of a dead fish once on
a dare.  Clara takes her fork and knife and cuts the head from its skeleton.  No one has
noticed.  She shoves the tines of her fork into the back of the fish head and props it up
like a puppet.  Then, Clara opens her mouth.
   “What do ya get when you kiss a guy?  You get enough germs to catch
pneumonia.  Then he never phones ya. I’ll never fall in love a-gain... I’ll never fall in
love again.”  Clara’s face smiles and scans the faces around the table.  Four other
faces stare back at her, eyes wide, mouths open.  Like she’s done a strip tease or
something.  For a moment, there is nothing but silence.  Clara raises the fish head,
pressing her lips against fish lips, she kisses it.
   Now, there’s only one sound that Clara can hear.  Her own laughter.  She
alone is laughing.  It is the funniest thing she’s ever heard or seen or done.  The
funniest thing that could happen.  But the sisters don’t get it.  They don’t, and their
faces say so.  Even Janet, whose face is usually a blank smile, is now simply blank.
Clara places her fish head back down on its plate, where it should be.  Her face burns
hot, but still smiles.  It’s okay.  They didn’t get it, but it doesn’t matter.

   Clearing the table and washing dishes, Clara remembers laughter, like it’s a
concrete noun.  Beth is popping popcorn, maybe ten years old, Clara eight, Ken six.
Mom and Dad have gone to the bar.  Clara mixes Tang in a pitcher with cold water.
Orange Tang.  The crystals crack and scrape against the bottom of the Tupperware
pitcher as she mixes.  Beth empties her pot of hot kernels into the a bread pan that is
so big, it would have doubled as a bathtub in pioneer times.
   When Paul says “Popcorn fart” Clara’s cheeks are already stuffed like big
bumpy balloons with as much popcorn as she could force into them, and she’s just
taken a pretty good drink of orange Tang too.  What she spews out in laughter is
yellow, melted and projected evenly over the bread pan, across the room.  And even
though she’s ruined everyone else’s snack, Clara can’t stop laughing.  Even though
Beth will tell Mom, and Mom’s big cracked hand will come down hard across Clara’s
mouth and she’ll be punished for weeks, shame upon shame, Clara can’t stop
laughing.  “It’s funny, I can’t help it.” she snorts.
   
   “Clara?”  Eileen’s voice interrupts the smile on Clara’s face, the bubbles
going down the drain in the kitchen sink, the happy memory.
   “Make sure the garbage goes out as soon as you’re done there.  It’s hot in here.
Fish stinks.”  Eileen directs.
   “Yes, of course.” Clara rinses the sink and polishes the taps.  She won’t forget.
Though perhaps there should be some kind of ceremony at the garbage chute.  A
moment of silence or something for the five nameless skeletons and their heads,
descending with gravity into the dumpster fathoms below.  But Clara doesn’t say that.
She’s said enough this evening, sang enough.  And there’s the bible study yet tonight.
---
   “That’s the flesh, sister.  I can’t believe you did that....” Nancy’s voice beats
into Clara’s head from the phone at her ear. Someone told Nancy then, about the fish
kiss, the fish song, the fish head on the end of Clara’s fork. Probably yesterday, after
the bible study, not that it matters who told.  Clara knows what’s coming next.  Nancy
is only blocks away.  The sisters walk to the meetings usually, though the brothers
usually insist on driving them home in the dark.  Nancy could tell Clara to walk right
over just now and receive a consequence.
   The flesh. Nancy’s moved on to talk about the flesh, the desires of the flesh,
the seemingly innocent things we do in the flesh.  All sin.  Walking in the flesh is sin.
And Clara listens, choking back her own defense, that it was just a song, just a funny
ditty... that it meant nothing.  Clara swallows this defense, after all, there is no cause
to defend one’s self.  Self preservation is sin too, self justification, useless. Clara
needs to be dead to that flesh - the reason Christ died - to be alive to the spirit - the
fruits of the spirit manifest.     
   “And you,” Nancy’s voice falls in the cadence of a steel toed boot on concrete,
“You defiled your whole home with that carnal performance?” All flesh will fade, be
consumed,  Clara reminds herself, like grass.  
   There is nothing to say.  Just repentance.  There are tears again, that same runny nose and the sniveling.  If Clara could, would she take back yesterday, the walk
home, the Oprah show with Mrs. Landry, the song she enjoyed all day?  She should.
She must.  Clara blows her nose.  All she can hear now, are Nancy’s words.  All she
can see is Nancy’s head, shaking slowly back and forth, the furrowed forehead
changing direction again and again, eyes fixed on a very disobedient child: Clara.
Nearly twenty years old now, and bad.  Very, very, bad.
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M2
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2004, 02:58:50 am »

Dear Clarence,

I tried to email you privately, but I got a message back saying it was no longer in service.  So I'm going to do this as a post.  I hope you receive it.

I want to apologize to you for using that verse from Acts to not allow mixed marriages in the assembly.  Although this is not an excuse, you do know that I was parroting George.  Today I see how totally ludicrous it was for me to use that verse against mixed marriages.  It makes absolutely no sense when you think [as you pointed out to me back then] about the fact that other people in the assembly were allowed to marry who came from different nations.  If I could take back what I said, I would do so, but obviously the damage is done.  Please acccept my sincerest apology.  Please do not conclude from what I said to you back then that I personally was prejudiced towards you, although it certainly looks like it on the face of it.  I always liked you as a person and looked upon you as a beloved brother in Christ.  I hope you can believe me.

Your brother,

Steve Irons

Steve,  I was touched by your apology.  It is refreshing to see repentance in action.

On January 4th, 2004 I sent Delila's Ottawa experience story to Armand Cossette along with an personal email.  Among other things, I felt he needed to know that his story had been posted on public forum.  I received the silent treatment, once again, and Delila has not received an apology to date.  I fully understand that most leaders/workers promoted the Geftakys agenda sincerely believing that it was God's will for them to do so.  However, upon declaring that they have repented from their association with George Geftakys, I would have expected that they would have asked for forgiveness, even as Steve has, when issues were/are brought to their attention.  The Ottawa leaders have not done so to date, but have made vague declarations that some things were wrong and they are attempting to change it, like lightening the meeting load e.g.

Selah!
Marcia
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mithrandir
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2004, 06:04:23 am »

Dear Clarence,

I tried to email you privately, but I got a message back saying it was no longer in service.  So I'm going to do this as a post.  I hope you receive it.

I want to apologize to you for using that verse from Acts to not allow mixed marriages in the assembly.  Although this is not an excuse, you do know that I was parroting George.  Today I see how totally ludicrous it was for me to use that verse against mixed marriages.  It makes absolutely no sense when you think [as you pointed out to me back then] about the fact that other people in the assembly were allowed to marry who came from different nations.  If I could take back what I said, I would do so, but obviously the damage is done.  Please acccept my sincerest apology.  Please do not conclude from what I said to you back then that I personally was prejudiced towards you, although it certainly looks like it on the face of it.  I always liked you as a person and looked upon you as a beloved brother in Christ.  I hope you can believe me.

Your brother,

Steve Irons
Steve, I accept and thank you for your apology.  You are truly showing yourself to be a man of character.  I too have had to make difficult apologies during this past year.  Once again, thank you.

Clarence Thompson
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