Thursday, March 14, 2013

chapter 10 out of control

Henry now gave his full attention to getting a hold of the almighty dollar. An education degree wasn't going to cut it. His brother Juan Alberto was selling life insurance to foreign nationals overseas. Enrique’s eyes about popped out of his head when he found out how much money Juan was pulling in. "I gotta find a way," he said. 

He got hired to be a salesperson for Equitable Life Insurance. His idea was to get licensed and trained in the insurance business from Equitable Life. Then he would switch to another insurance company that sold to foreign nationals overseas.

Henry became good friends with a successful older Cuban attorney. This man liked Henry. Henry was young, smart and fun. Henry was hungry for money, and this attorney thought Henry just might have the savvy to figure out how to make it come in his direction. The attorney saw a lot of himself in Henry.

Henry asked the attorney to introduce him to some of his overseas clients. He told him he would give him a finder’s fee for any client with whom he could make an insurance sale. The attorney was reluctant but Henry was persistent. Whenever they were out together, Henry kept after him. Finally he introduced Henry to a Palestinian business man who owned a paper company in Honduras. The man was amused. “You’ve got big dreams, young man. I’ll tell you what,” he said, “you come and see me in my office in Honduras and we’ll talk.” 

So now he needed enough money to get to Honduras. In addition to his insurance job, he did construction and roofing work. He soon saved up enough to pay for both the round trip plane ticket and a three week stay. The man was good to his word. He received Henry into his office and Henry made a $5000 commission on his first overseas sale. The man then introduced Henry to one of his senior salesmen, Jacobito Hilsaca. Jacobito thought Henry was the funniest person he ever met. Henry recruited him to find him clients and he paid Jacobito a good commission. When Henry returned and told the attorney about his Honduras trip, he was impressed. He introduced Henry to more clients.

Henry gave up his construction job. His next trip to Honduras was even more profitable. Again he stayed for three weeks. This time he came back with almost ten thousand dollars in commissions.

In five years, Henry and Lisa had four children - Nicolas, Alfredo, Enrique and Erica. When his first son was born, Henry was determined to provide a good life for his family.

Lisa was impressed with what Henry had done. They bought a nice house in Coral Gables, Florida.

Each time Henry went to Honduras he would make five to fifteen grand. But instead of dedicating himself to the business, he decided to enjoy life. He bought Lisa whatever she needed to take care of the family but with all the rest of the money, he had a good time. Between trips he had a lot of time to play.

But Henry's practice of working only when the money ran out, made life a roller coaster. He did a lot of gambling and even more drinking. He won big, sometimes. But in the long run, like most gamblers, he would lose more than he would win. Lisa became increasingly frustrated with Henry. He lived as if he were single.

Lisa was stuck at home with four small children. She was struggling.She wondered if things could get any worse. 

Then one night Henry discovered cocaine. It was like nothing he had ever experienced. Henry had been under the influence of one substance or another, on and off, for a long time. He had always felt he had control, that whatever he used served his purposes. But with cocaine, Henry watched his life spiral downward. He observed his digression as a husband and a father. He saw his ambition to work hard to make money losing ground to his need to be high. Expenses piled up. Now his business was going bust.

Henry's note: Do you remember the day your parents gave you your own bike? It was your first real taste of freedom! You could get further and further away until you couldn't hear your parent's voice calling for you to come home. Your bike served you well. It took you where you wanted to go and to places you'd never been to before. When you got your first car, remember the sense of freedom that gave you? But with cocaine, it was if suddenly I was driving along in my car and I’d turned the wheel to the right, but the car didn’t turn. I’d hit the brakes, then I’d stomp on the brakes, but the car didn’t stop. I’d try to cut the engine, but it only revved up higher. It took me where it wanted to go! I tried to kick out the windshield. I wanted out. But I was trapped, and the car only kept going. I didn't own it, it owned me.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

chapter 9 the honeymoon

Henry was good with the way his life was going. He was back in school working on his education degree. He had gotten a good scholarship. He was getting paid for his work as a teacher’s aide. He liked his church. He liked his night life too. He and Lisa would have their arguments, sometimes about marriage. He kept telling her they would get married, but he never did anything about it. He preferred things the way they were.

But then Lisa’s parents got into the mix. They thought it was time for Lisa to move on. They couldn’t understand why she stuck with Henry. Lisa was smart and artistic. She had always been interested in fashion. Her parents suggested she go to Paris for a year. There was a fashion school there. Paris was the epicenter of fashion, so how could she lose? Her mom told her they would pay for everything. Lisa hadn’t said anything to Henry about this. She knew what his reaction would be. But the more Henry dragged his feet, the more she thought about it.

Finally she told him. “It will just be for a year,” she said.

This sent a shock wave through Henry. He started thinking real hard about his relationship with Lisa. She was beautiful and so much fun. He was sure he'd lose her if she went. "And if I lose this girl," he thought, "I'll never find another one as good as her--to marry a scoundrel like me."

He asked her to marry him and the wedding took place at the Central Gospel Chapel in Miami on July 17, 1976. Henry had his brother Juan Alberto as his best man. They took off on a five week honeymoon. They went through the Smokey Mountains and then up to Toronto where they stayed with David and Agnes Adams. The Adams had been missionaries to Cuba. When Castro came into power, the Adams had to return to their home in Canada. Henry admired David. He was an excellent Bible teacher. David asked Henry to lead the singing at their church fellowship. Henry also shared at their meeting.

But Henry was a smoker. A couple times a day he would make an excuse to get out of the house because he had to have his cigarettes. He was careful. He would only smoke while driving in his car because if he smoked when he walked, a neighbor friend of the Adams might see him.

Late one evening it was raining, so Henry could only crack open the car window while he smoked. He heard a weird sound coming from the engine. He got back pretty late. He meant to open his car windows before he went to bed, but it was still raining.

The next morning Henry heard the sound of a chainsaw. He went outside and saw David cutting trees from his yard. While Henry was helping him with the wood, he told David about the strange noise coming from his car. David said to him, “Well I'm ready for a break! Let’s take it for a ride.” When they opened the car doors, the smell of cigarette smoke came out at them.

“Who smokes?” asked David.

Henry thought for a bit. He knew he was in trouble. "What should I say?" He worried for a moment. Then he was mad. He looked David right in the face. “I do,” he said.

“You know it’s a dangerous thing for a Christian to go back to something that God has delivered him from,” David said to him.

Later Agnes Adams talked to Henry. “I don’t know if you understand what the people at the chapel would say about David if they found out about your smoking.”

Henry didn’t say anything. He was angry before, now he was angrier. “Why is this guy talking to his wife about my smoking?” he thought.

Henry kept thinking about it. Henry respected David. He wanted David to think well of him. But something inside him snapped. He thought to himself, "I don't care what any of these people think about me. Why should I care? I'm tired of it."

They took off the next day to a place near Worcester, Massachusetts to stay with Myles Beers, Bob Beer's older brother. They stayed for several days and went on to reunite with the Adams' for the last two weeks of their honeymoon at the Adam’s cabin in the Smokey Mountains.

They came home to Miami at the end of August 1976. Henry got back to work and back to school. The Christians at the church were happy to see them. But something had changed inside Henry.

Bob Beers was commended to the Lord's work and moved to Holiday, Florida. With Bob gone, it got harder for Henry to appreciate the others at the assembly. Some of them got under his skin. Henry showed up at the assembly less and less. Finally he just quit going. This was tough on Lisa. These people and the way they worshiped were a big part of her life. She tried to continue to go by herself but it was hard.

One night out of the blue, John Quentin, an elder, along with another brother from the church, drove out to the Sardiña house. Both Henry and Lisa saw them as they came up to the door. Lisa was nervous. She let them in and they sat down. She asked if she could get anything for them. Henry was mad. He thought, “I’ll make this real quick.” He went to his bar, pulled out a bottle of Scotch, filled a glass with ice and poured in whiskey. He came back with the glass in his hand and the bottle in the other. "Can I pour you men a drink?" he asked.

They didn’t stay long. They couldn’t think of much to say.

When they left, Henry said to Lisa, “What a bunch of hypocrites!” Now for sure he was never going back to the assembly.

*Henry's note - To this day Henry is eternally grateful and thanks God for each and every Christian mentioned in this chapter for what they tried to do for Henry's benefit, because of the love of Christ. None of their labors or zeal was wasted. God later brought their teaching and testimony forcefully to Henry's recollection and used it to shape Henry's, doctrine, work ethic and zeal for the Lord Jesus. "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."