The story of my Life!/ Called from afar!
I was born in Switzerland, the oldest of 4 children. I grew up in a small town of around 4000 people, an hour south of Lucerne in central Switzerland surrounded by the alps. The story of William Tell originated from the town next to mine. I was one of the smarter students in school and I developed a mind of my own pretty quickly... By the time I was a teenager I already knew better than my parents. Whenever they talked to me, I just nodded in agreement, but in my own mind I told myself; "they don't know what they are talking about, I know what I'm doing"! I wanted to be a great soccer player or a musician; really I wanted to be rich and famous and I had a career as a Lawyer or a Psychiatrist on my mind. But when it dawned on me how much schooling I would have to do to become a Lawyer or a Psychiatrist, I quickly lost interest. I loved being in school, but I disliked studying at home and doing my homework. I started smoking as a teenager; even though I knew it was not good for me. I noticed it slowed me down in playing soccer, but I smoked anyway because I thought it would impress the girls. I attended college prep High School, but made up my mind not to continue on to College, instead I got an apprenticeship at a local bank. I was one of two out of twenty applicants that got hired. Back when I was 14 I had my first summer job and when I was 15 I went back to it. I was raised up catholic, I always believed in God and Jesus Christ- but it did not mean much to me. As a teenager I realized that I did wrong things, but I could not stop. I kept on doing them anyway.
Running away 1
We ran away and went to Germany from where we took a plane to Montreal Canada and from there we planned to enter the United States of America. That was July 4th, so the embassy was closed and we waited for the next day and somehow we got a visa and took a bus all the way to Miami Florida. But we were not used to the heat in Miami in July, us being from Switzerland where it is much cooler in July. So we decided to end up half way between Canada and Florida and that was of course Philadelphia. We were scared of New York City, we heard too many crazy stories.... In Philadelphia we stayed at the YMCA, we looked around and it started to dawn on us that finding a job was going to be almost impossible. Our English was not very good, we were just 16 years old and we knew almost nothing. Money also started to run out, or run low. We switched to staying in Hostels for a few bucks a night, but eating three meals a day - that was killing our finances. In our travels through Center City we came upon some "Jesus People" who tried to talk to us and gave us a tract. That night we were at our wits ends; our money nearing zero, no prospects of a job - we did not know what to do. We thought and thought until it seemed our heads would break and we seriously considered calling our parents, but our pride would not let us, we did not want to be failures. So out of the blue I said; what about these Christians? They are Christians, we should be able to stay with them! We went and called them and announced to them that we were coming for a visit and in our minds not just a visit but to stay! As we were in their big house, more like a mansion with lots of teenagers just like us, they made it very clear to us that we couldn't just stay but that we had to show that we were serious about Jesus in order to move in with them. Ok, we would do that...So for what seemed like an eternity, we met them every day in Center City, did the Art show/outreach with them. Now a side benefit for us was that they served dinner for everyone. After a while we figured out that they all were "saved", whatever exactly that meant.... We told them that we wanted to be saved too, for surely that would help us to move in we thought. They were happy and explained the "sinner's prayer" to us and prayed with us. They told us we would feel different afterward which I highly doubted. After we prayed, I did feel different, which surprised me. But they still wouldn't let us move in. On the following Sunday they had "a Center meeting", where all the church members from Philadelphia got together for a Bible study. We knew it was now or never for us to move in because by then we had slept outside for the last three nights. At that meeting, for the first time we saw their pastor and his pretty wife. Now we were convinced that this was a cult, because how could such an ugly dude get such a pretty wife? Plus at this meeting he came down on everyone. We thought; how can he be so mean to these nice people who are always trying to help us? After the meeting we cornered some brothers and asked to move in. Somehow they let us move in. To this day, I don't know what made them decide to let us move in, because we obviously were not serious about Jesus as they were. We moved in at the "Lamb-House" were there were maybe 100 young Christians permanently or for the summer. Now we were in, but now we had to follow "the program"; which meant, job hunting during the day, Art-show/outreach at night. After about a week or so, they shipped us to NYC where there was a German speaking sister who could help us. Reluctantly we complied. As soon as we arrived in NYC it was off to a Hotel Diplomat meeting with their pastor. Afterwards we ended up at "515" which was the church building for the brothers and sisters who were not doing so well in Christ, who did not measure up to the church standards of being faithful.
How I became a runaway.....
I became best friends during my second summer job with a kid from my town. We knew each other all our lives but we were never friends. Now working together at this summer job we became best friends, inseparable. When we went back for our last year of High School, my friend started to convince me that we were not going to succeed in our small little town, that we needed to get to the "Big City", to the "Big Lights" in order to succeed. I was very skeptical at first, knowing how most kids running away get caught or fail in running away. We kept talking and eventually I became convinced that we "had to do it". After 3 months of careful planning, right after we completed our last year of High School, at the beginning of July 1979 we ran away from home. We did not run away because we had it bad, or because our parents did not love us, nor did they mistreat us - we solely ran away to chase our dreams of becoming rich and famous, a successful person and we were convinced in our 16 year old minds that it all would work out.
LIFE at 515 W47th Street in NEW YORK CITY
I could probably write a book just about my approximately 9 months at “515”. About 9 months, doesn’t that get you thinking about a baby spending 9 months in his mother’s womb? At “515” for the first time as a runaway we felt like we had a place to lay our heads and that was a great feeling. Life as a runaway isn’t romantic or glorious, instead it is very tense; you are constantly looking over your shoulder, you get nervous at the sight of police and you never know how much your family knows or how close they are to finding you. Being a runaway is a very stressful life, so to have a place to call our own was just a terrific feeling, we could relax a little for the time being. At first we slept between beds of others, but eventually we got our own beds and our own small room. Here we were two 16 year old foreigners living amongst the “bad” older brothers and sisters of the Church of Bible Understanding. We never ended up with the German sister; I think her name was Maria B., because she lived in a fellowship house in Brooklyn where nobody was around during the daytime. At this time the Church had a business called “fruits of the earth”, which was operated by Tim Mckenna and Rick Robinson. Tim would go buy fruits and vegetables at night at hunts point market in the Bronx and Rick Robinson would deliver them in the morning to various Restaurants in the City. I was put with Tim and my friend Lucchi was put with Rick. I would go with Tim around midnight to buy the fruits and vegetables and Lucchi would go in the morning with Rick to deliver them. Tim became my first guardian. (And to this day we are in contact with each other) Our English was not very good, but through work and Tim and others we started to understand English and learn how to speak it. Tim gave me my first Bible study; the pearl of great value and I was very proud of myself because I figured it out myself. The older brothers and sisters would break up into teams after work and go out and help do the Artshow and outreach in different parts of New York or the Borough’s. We avoided doing that or going with them. After we got settled into life at “515” and they started to give us allowance and laundry money and transportation money, now we were ready to have some fun and to go out on the town and explore New York City. We also bought a stereo and started to listen to Rock and Roll music in our room at “515”. We decorated our room with posters of our Rock’n’Roll heros. One brother who got send from Washington center to “515” took offense at our posters. We told him; yes the posters are on the wall, but that Jesus was in our hearts. And we asked him; what is more important, what’s on the wall or what’s in the heart? And he really had no answer to that. We were two 16 year old know it alls. We ended up in Times Square on New Year’s Eve and thought that something amazing was going to happen since all these thousands and thousands of people were gathered together, only to be disappointed that all that happened was some silly ball dropping at midnight. We snuck away at various times and attended concerts, hanged out on 42nd street, got sold some fake pot, got taken for our money by hustlers while attempting to buy a camera. The only reason why we had become interested in pot was that while out witnessing with the brothers and sisters people seemed to be unwilling to give up pot for Jesus and so that got us curious about it. We tried to smoke the fake pot but we had no idea what we were doing and that thankfully remained our only experience with drugs. I have no idea what the brothers and sisters at “515” thought about us. They were probably to busy being Round and Round about themselves. The first “Big Meeting” we attended was in Staten Island at the Roller skating rink. There probably were 1000 brothers and sisters there. We spoke German, I remember speaking in German about others who were sitting right next to us and they had no idea what we were talking about or that we were talking about them. In those days they had a weekly or twice weekly lamb bible study for the Manhattan lambs that got saved at different Artshows/outreaches throughout Manhattan. And me and my friend were expected to attend since we were lambs living in the fellowship. We would show up sometimes, one week my friend, another week myself and sometimes we go together and sometimes we avoided the Bible studies. But they couldn’t say anything because we did show up sometimes. We were acutely aware that we were “guests” and that they could ask us to leave if they wanted to. Looking back it is rather amazing that we never got caught going out at night, playing hooky from artshows and bible studies. Joanne Fontana was the one giving the Bible studies at the 51st loft. After a while I did start to like the Bible studies and started to show up for every one of them. I would never say anything, but I did pay attention. Eventually Joanne F. succeeded in drawing me out and I did start to participate some. During all this time, my parents did not know where I was or whether I was still alive and the brothers and sisters did not know that we were runaways. We told them some story that we were students and that our parents knew were we were and we pretended to go and call them sometimes. Those Bible studies started to do something to me on the inside, although we kept up much of our shenanigans in the meantime. In the spring or early summer of 1980 the fellowship started an “older newly saved house” in Jersey City. So they thought it would be better for us to be with newly saved brothers and sisters instead of older brothers and sisters. So we moved from “515” in New York to a small fellowship house in Jersey City.
To the Young Sheep House by way of Jersey City, Boston & The Bronx
I don’t think there ever was a fellowship house like the Jersey City older newly saved house and there never was one like it afterward either. In the Church of Bible Understanding the lambs went to the lamb house that was their training center. But what to do if someone in their twenties got saved? He couldn’t go to the lamb house. So I suppose someone came up with the idea of a house for newly saved who were in their twenties. Really we were a motley crew of rejects one way or another. Two 17 year olds who didn’t belong into “515”, a sort of an older brother who returned with his girlfriend, Fred and Donna Siegenthaler. A newly saved boyfriend and girlfriend and various brothers who were newly saved who were in their early twenties. I think we may have had 13 living in a small 3 bedroom row house, most of us up in the attic which got hot like an oven in the summertime. We were so different, but somehow this was the first time that I got the sense of family. Maybe it was Joanne F who was the glue that held us together, I don’t know. Jim Greiner used to come and give us Bible studies and Harry Weinbaum too for a short time. We used to go out witnessing and what I remember is the late night going out to the diner in what we called the “diner scene’s”. Jersey City is the place were I started to enjoy witnessing, it was a lot of fun, I realized that you couldn’t lose arguing for Jesus. I certainly wasn’t motivated by pleasing Jesus, more for the excitement or vanity of youth. During this time I was still listening to Rock n’ Roll music. I used to crank it up right before we went out witnessing and I got all fired up. One day it came to me clear as day, I realized that I should be getting my motivation from Jesus and not from the music and that day I quit listening to it. In Jersey City we started working Christian Brothers carpet cleaning I think with Steve Mandaro and George Vernarchik if my memory serves me right. In those days, going to diners late night, I usually didn’t get more than 5 hours of sleep a night. We still went to the lamb meetings since we were lambs, that included Danny and Brenda; the engaged couple and Lucchi and myself. There we met other lambs from the Lamb house and from the other centers. The zealous lamb brothers were always talking about going to start centers, and us too at the jam-packed Jersey City house were thinking about starting a second house in New Brunswick. Danny and myself stood up and presented our idea to everyone at one of the lamb meetings. (Not knowing at that time, but that would have a profound effect on the route my life would take in a little while) Back in Jersey City, Lucchi and myself were thinking of what to do. Obviously our plans were not working out here, we were not getting famous nor rich. We had an idea of going back to Germany, not Switzerland were we were from and trying our fortune there. The more we started to talk about it and make plans, the more I got to thinking; what do I really want? And I answered myself that I wanted to go to heaven. I reasoned with myself that no matter how much I would say that I’m going to follow Jesus in Germany, that wasn’t going to happen by myself. I should be where I would get the most help in attaining my goal of going to heaven. Of course, that was here in Jersey City with my brothers and sisters. I was not going to go to Germany with my friend, instead I was staying here I decided. In making that decision, I also knew what that meant, what I had to do. I had to tell the truth about me being a runaway. I told my friend my decision and he sort of went crazy. He started running up and down, pleading with me to wait until he was gone to tell the brothers and sisters that I was a runaway. The brothers and sisters did not know what was going on since all this was done in German, they knew something was going on but not what. I told the brothers and sisters, or was it Joanne that I had to talk to them. We went to a diner and I told the truth about me being a runaway. They took it pretty well and were very supportive, but since that day Lucchi and me stopped being friends and a few weeks afterwards he packed his bags and went back to Europe. At least that burden was off my back, but there would be others later on… One day I got a phone call and they said; aren’t you going to Boston? I had no idea what they were talking about and didn’t think twice about it and just went about my normal business. By that time the zealous Lamb brothers had been sent to cities with and older and middle sister to start centers. Lee Jackson, Ronnie C and Tim Aument were in Pittsburg and Lou Pelosi, Ray Kirschner, Jeanette Firgeaux and Lisa Brown went to Boston. Brothers and sisters from the Lamb house would go to Boston on the weekend to help out and I got picked to go with them, they just forgot to tell me. From the lamb house they picked me up on the way to Boston. Now I knew Lou Pelosi from my beginning days at the lamb house and I really didn’t like him because he was full of “new wine” sort of speak. I liked Ray Kirschner, now he was the definition of a “cool brother”. So I was determined to stay away from Lou and to unite with cool Ray. But I did not know that Ray was kind of sick, maybe the after effects of him having been in Haiti and he was on his way back to the lamb house and the powers that be had already decided that I “the hopeful young brother” from the Jersey City older newly saved house would stay in Boston as Ray Kirschner’s replacement. While I was setting out on an new adventure in Boston the older newly saved house in Jersey City slowly but surely fizzled out or fell apart. You know, relationships in cobu never work out, so Donna and Fred ran into the cobu machine and ended up leaving as did the other young couple. Eventually the only one left there was Jim LaRue and I think he had to pack up shop and move to “515”. But I was in Boston, a new fellowship. I got a lot of help from Lou Pelosi, because while I may have had lots of good intentions and some zeal, I really hadn’t had any Christian training like getting a verse a day and that sort of thing. Lou Pelosi and myself ended up very close and Jeanette F was a big stabilizing force there with us. Later Steve Bosco would come and he was a big help in closing jobs for the carpet cleaning business. Boston was a tough city, a college town, a very prejudice town. We were not prepared for college kids, we had a hard time witnessing and gathering lambs. The Pittsburgh fellowship was very successful with lots of newly saved and lots of lambs coming to meeting. Not us, only a handful would get saved and maybe 2 or 3 come to meetings with us. But the fellowship between us was great. We would come to Big Meetings and in those days the all night Bible studies were all the rage. We all wanted to stay up all night studying the Bible but one by one we would fall asleep after midnight. We were supposed to have a designated driver who got some sleep, but no one wanted to miss out on the Bible study. So we all were very tired when we got back on the road to drive back from Hamburg Pa to Boston. Steve Bosco was our driver, but an hour into driving he said he was too tired to drive and Lou Pelosi took over the driving duties while we all slept in the back of the van. He fell asleep at he weel and veered of the road and we drove straight into a light pole. Lou hit his head on the steering weel and he had a big gash that required stitches. Steve Bosco broke his jaw, we had three lambs with us, thankfully they were not hurt. Lisa and Jeanette, I think one of them broke their arm. We also had Joyce Bissett and her two children with us. One was a baby who cried and cried after the accident, but neither of them was hurt. William West was the first brother who came upon the accident and helped us. There were no more “all night Bible studies” after that. We went back to Boston, Lou Pelosi came back about a week later and Steve Bosco remained at the Lamb house. A few months later we closed Boston fellowship as we had not had much success there. We went to Worcester for a week or so and then to the Bronx fellowship in preparation for the upcoming Young Sheep House which would be the next step in Lou Pelosi’s and my cobu life. It was supposed to be; 1. Lamb House 2. Young Sheep House 3. Middle School and 4 more after that I think.
The Brooklyn young sheep house 1981-1983 for me and 1984/85 for othersAround June of 1981 the first twelve young sheep (18-20 year olds) that had completed the lamb course, lesson 1-3 at that time and 4-20 later on moved into the Brooklyn Young Sheep training center. At the same time there were lambs taking the lamb course at the Philadelphia lamb house, given by Jim Greiner from notes by stewart and the following 2 or three lamb course classes would join us later at the Young sheep House. The first twelve were; Lou Pelosi, Lee Jackson, Ray Kirshner, Marc Hamel, Hilton Lawrence, Bernie Epp, Sandra Bloomfield, Leah Gordone, Paulette Blair, Dawn Petrov, Lise Poirier and Joanne Gendron – I think. There would be a total of about 105 that ended up taking part in this training. We were voted on at a big meeting and backed by the church to be the first to move to the training center. Now I really don’t remember if it was ever spelled out exactly what the purpose of our training or what the training exactly entailed, stewart was going to train us young sheep not to become like the “bad” older brothers and sisters. Until then my interaction with stewart had really been minimal, except for a few brief words I had not talked to him and I was sort of afraid to talk to him. But now our interactions with stewart would start to become intense. Our first get together with stewart and gayle at the young sheep house, stewart asked one of the sisters; how did you get in here? Insinuating that she had fooled all the brothers and sisters in the whole church and stole her way into the young sheep house. When I heard that, I was ready to dig a hole and disappear, because I was sure I would be next. Our first lesson was “We not Me” and that would be a continues theme at the Young Sheep House, so much so that everyone in the neighborhood would end up calling us “the We people”. We even got shirts made up, red for the brothers and light blue for the sisters with our name and “We people” printed on it. We were also introduced to counseling by stewart, the lessons at the young sheep house would be general for everyone and each of us would get counseling about our specific problems and given ways and directions on how to work on them. Paulette Blair and myself managed to be the first ones to go for counseling. We went with stewart and gayle to a diner where he “counseled” us. Paulette went first. I really don’t remember what she said, but afterward I said something like “yea, me too, I’m like that” upon which stewart looked at gayle and said something like; “look at this brother he thinks he is like that sister” Our general counseling was that we were fat sheep because we managed to push to be the first ones to go for counseling instead of all of us considering who needs it most. He told us although being a fat sheep wasn’t a bad thing; we had to make sure that we use it for the good of others. My specific counseling was that my problem is fear and the answer is Faith in God’s love for me. We all know stewart had a canny ability to know human nature/human beings and he definitely nailed me with that counseling. As the counseling continued with the other young sheep it relatively quickly degenerated and after a while no one really wanted to go anymore as some had “bad experiences”. I remember one sister who was told at her counseling session that instead of building bridges she tears bridges down. She was never the same after that and left not too much later. I think Lou Pelosi also sank after his counseling and was never the same bubbly person again that he had been until then. Marc Hamel I believe was the first brother who left. We used to have late night sessions with stewart and gayle and one night Marc just said that he had to go to sleep, got up and went to his room. Of course that did not go over to well with stewart. I think the next day or very soon, Marc packed his bags and went back to Montreal. The Young sheep house was a building with 4 floors and had 2 apartments on each floor. The church bought it for 30’000 dollars and it was in extremely bad shape and in a very bad neighborhood. A few years before we moved in there had been a big shoot out right in the middle of our block and our area had the second highest crime rate in all of Brooklyn at the time. The church had various older brothers like Chuck Marburger there fixing up the whole building and we would work with them. At the beginning it was just a few of us; so we fixed one apartment and moved into it, and then the next and so on. Stewart and Gayle were still living in Phila and came up to visit us 2-3 times a week and we would call him daily. A while later the church bought the Princeton house, so now stewart was half way between the lamb house and the young sheep house. At big meetings the lambs and us young sheep were the good guys and the older brothers and sisters were the bad guys. We were continuously told to take our training seriously so that we wouldn’t become like those older brothers and sisters. We were a bunch of young people together who loved Jesus, so our meetings amongst ourselves were usually very joyful. At the beginning of the Young sheep house, something that was very different from the rest of the cobu operation was that we were told to gather friends. There was no going out doing the Art-show, leading many to Christ and all those numbers. We went out with the shepherd tract and we would ask; are you one of God’s sheep? We would make friends with them, explain about the Lord is our shepherd and each of them who became our friends would sign their name on a shepherd tract and each time we would meet them they would answer one of the 6 questions on the back of the shepherd tract. Also we were not allowed to invite them to our house or tell them to come over. They were supposed to be the one’s asking to come over. That eventually eased up some as we started having graduations for all our friends who had completed the 6 questions on the shepherd tract, they would come over and get a diploma and have their picture taken with the person that took them through the shepherd tract. I really don’t remember if there ever was a curriculum of lessons and subject we were supposed to study and complete. It seemed like going out to centers was always the big goal. Stewart would call us his “Guinea pigs” and we took that as a compliment, but looking back that was just beyond awful. Stewart would talk about the lessons, I remember church history was supposed to be one of them, which we never started or got into. Reading “Pilgrim’s Progress” that was part of our course and there was some rule chart and log book that we had to keep. This is what was on our rule chart and for some reason there was Moses holding up the 10 commandments in the background. 1. Memorize a verse for today. 2. Read your Bible reading program. 3. Speak in scriptures at least 5 times. 4. Confess your belief in Jesus. 5. Love your neighbor. 6. Keep your room neat. 7. Do your chores. 8. Faithful to assigned responsibilities. 9. Haiti responsibility. 10. Work on your skills or GED for 10 minutes a day. 11. Special help for at least one friend. 12. Do your Adam and Eve/brother and sister direction. 13. Fellowship in the second coming or resurrection. 14. Meet with your three fold cord. 15. Love one another. 16. Number of friends on the tract. 17. Number of friends who graduated. 18. Fill in your log book. 19. Number of points gained or lost. 20. In bed on time and lights out. (The chart was just checks, but the log book we had to write things down) Logbook; 1. Why did you pick this verse today? 2. What understanding and actions did you take from your Bible reading program? 3. Did you live your precept today? 4. How did you give yourself a swift kick today? 5. How did you disobey/obey your conscience? 6. How did you overcome sinking into today’s problem? 7. How did you work on your program today? 8. What progress did you make on your GED or skills? 9. What did you do with your assigned responsibilities? 10. How was your pride in Jesus? 11. What did you do about your friends? 12. What did you do about the lamb course? 13. What did you do about your three fold cord? 14. What did you do about We or Me? 15. Your complaint and what you did about it. 16. How were you at the meeting? 17. What was the biggest thing Jesus did for you? 18. What was the biggest blunder/mistake/failure today? 19. On what subject do you need counseling? 20. Did you grow or wither today? (chart and logbook info courtesy of Mike Montoya’s website, no way in this world do I remember any of this stuff) We also started to have “Adam and Eve” lessons. Looking back that was probably some of the worst crap we ever heard, but at the time us young impressionable adults were gulping up what stewart dished out. Of course stewart got to play Mr know it all, and got to control us and steer us in certain ways. At one of our “Adam and Eve” lessons we got paired up and now we were husband and wife and the wife after 6 months of marriage told the husband; I have been thinking about my mother lately… and us husbands were supposed to reply. Of course we were informed that “Eve” was manipulating for something. All of us husbands failed miserably in our trying to talk to our wifes and stewart had to enlighten us. He explained to us that something had to be wrong for the wife to be thinking about her mom. We were supposed to ask her questions that she would have to say “yes” to. Like; “don’t you want me to take care of you” and she would have to say yes to that. Another time he explained to us that if a space ship is of course by just inches at the launching by the time it was in outer space it would be miles off course. There was always the reminder of a brother needing “spare zeal” and “honesty” otherwise “Eve” would eat him alive. As for the sisters they were instructed to ask for attention from brothers they liked instead of manipulating for it. We brothers were to tell the sister what we liked about her. Some of these things were helpful in breaking the ice and get conversation going, and in some instances made it easier to talk to each other. But it was also a rigid and mechanical approach to relationships. There were brothers and sisters that liked each other, but I don’t think any meaningful relationships happened during the young sheep house. There were a couple that got married way later, but I think they either liked each other before the Young sheep house or after. One thing that was great about the Young sheep house was the racial and social harmony we all had. We were young people who believed in Jesus, we did not care if you were white, black, Hispanic or Asian; we were all one family. Neither did we care whether your family was rich, poor or middle class. I know the people around the neighborhood were amazed at the unity we had between all of us who came from such different backgrounds. It never became an issue as to was smart and who wasn’t intelligent. There probably where young sheep from every center that was open at this time; Pittsburg, Washington, Virginia, Baltimore, Worcester, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal and Bethlehem. One was swept up in Tampa Bay, sister was from Germany. Truthfully we were all met and witnessed to by the bad older brothers and sisters. I grew up in Switzerland which at that time was mostly white, so the young sheep house was my introduction to different cultures. I remember the first time I saw Paulette Blair put the hot iron on the stove to heat up. I was “horrified” to see her put the hot iron in her hair. I knew that my hair would completely burn up if I did that, but her hair straightened out. Amazing… Also during the young sheep house I got to restart the “fruits of the earth” business with Carl Burley as my main partner and with Tracy Barnes. We would buy fruits at Hunts point market and we had a cart at 40th and Broadway, right in the garment district where we would sell fruits to people. That was a great experience and we did well. The only problem was that I needed to go to sleep early, miss some meetings and of course being young and not so wise it didn’t take too long that I was burning the candle on both ends and not getting enough sleep. I don’t remember why we stopped doing it, maybe that’s was why? Another thing at the young sheep house we had our own newsletter that would get printed monthly I think. Bob SanPasqual was the main editor and we had a team working on it and they did a great job of creating very good and interesting articles in the newsletter.
I’m going back a little and I will talk about being a runaway and how I got back in touch with my family. When we were living at “515”, we used to go to Times Square and visit the international magazine store and read the German teen magazines. One day, much to our surprise, we found our picture in the magazine, and a flyer asking for anyone who knew anything about us to contact police. We were freaked out to the max. But the following week, we read some stories in the same magazine about some girls saying that they were hanging out and partying with us in Holland. Now we felt better, they had no idea where we were. When I finally told the brothers and sisters in Jersey City that I was a runaway, they never put any pressure on me to contact my family or to go back to them. After Boston it was suggested to me, by way of stewart I think that I could write to my family and we would send the letter to the Montreal fellowship and they would mail it to my family and my mom and dad wouldn’t know exactly where is was living. My fear was since I wasn’t 18 yet that my parents would force me to come back home. Of course they were overjoyed to find out that I was alive and well. I did not find out until later, but my friend Lucchie had went back to his family in Switzerland. But when they questioned him about me he just made up all kinds of crazy stories and never told them anything real about me or where I was. My parents are smart, they send the cops to the fellowship house in Montreal and from there to the Young sheep house in Brooklyn. I wasn’t there at the time the cops showed up, and I got really afraid when I heard about it. The message from the police was for me to get in contact with my family. I was very reluctant, but the fellowship told me to call and not to worry. If my parents really wanted to take me back, they could have done so already. I called them and they were extremely happy to hear from me. Not until many years later did I realize what I had done to my parents by running away from home. They were worried to death about me, they did not know for more than a year if I was dead or alive. My father blamed my mom, it was all her fault…My brothers and sister felt it too. My youngest brother was 6 years old when I ran away and he would ask many times; “when is Bernie coming back”. My sister who is the second oldest sort of was forced into my spot. What my dad was never able to force me to do, mainly follow in his footsteps with target shooting, now my sister had to do it. My actions had a great effect on everyone else, but in my 16 year old mind I was only thinking about myself. And of course being a parent myself now, I realize this all the more. My parents did come to visit me at the Young sheep house. I did get to spend one week together with them. They did meet some of the other young sheep. They saw that I was happy and healthy. They did not really understand anything about being born again, they were catholic. When my parents were getting ready to go back home, my dad cried. Now my dad was one of those though old school dads who hardly ever showed any emotion, unless he was angry of course. But that day he did show emotions, and until he passed away he never gave up hope that maybe I would come back home. Since then I’ve been back in touch with my family and once my legal situation was straightened out 10 years later, I’ve been back home visiting them. I got to see my grand ma at least three or four times before she passed away. My brothers and sisters all been here a few times and in general I have a good relationship with each of them. Now if I can explain about my legal situation a little bit; here it goes- we came on a tourist visa, which is only good for three months. After that we were illegal aliens. When we first moved into the Lamb house, Kevin Browne was extremely suspicious of us and he did not believe a word we said. Besides that we were never really questioned by anyone else, I think we presented a picture that we were here on a student visa. My legal situation kept me from going to Haiti for a long time, I could not get a driver’s license and I could not get a job in the world, which I liked, because I always got to work in the church businesses, Christian Brothers, Fruits of the Earth. I qualified for the amnesty that President Ronald Reagan brought about and in 1988 I became a legal resident and in 2003 I became an American Citizen. But more about that later… Ok, one more amazing story; when we were living in the Jersey City fellowship we went to pass out flyers for Christian Brothers Carpet cleaning. Now where they dropped us of was in Montclair, a town that has a lot of very rich people living in it. Now upper class people don’t appreciate teenagers running around their neighborhood and sticking flyers into their mail boxes. So they called the cops and we got picked up and taken to the police station. During our conversation with the cops our legal status came up. The brothers had to bring our passports to the police station. How we got out of this, I do not know, but after they saw our passports everything seemed to be ok, even though our visa had expired long ago. It must have been Jesus, that’s my only explanation. I will now start to speak of some of the personal lessons I learned or experienced during the young sheep house. I and most of us we made friends with others for life. The time we spent there and what we went through together left a lasting impression on us. Early on in the young sheep house, I was hiding some personal sin and instead of coming to the light I tried to deal with it on my own. I had become one of the “hopeful brothers, a Uniter brother”, but I was still hiding sin. I got so convicted that I actually got physically sick and by God’s Grace I finally came to the light with the brothers. Now they were upset that I had been hiding sin and wondered how they could trust me, or that I wasn’t trustworthy. Stewart told them that now that I had come to the light, they could trust me. This was a very valuable lesson from Jesus for me. When Lucchie and myself ran away from home we stole some money from our parents, with the fellowships help I was able to do some carpet cleaning jobs and pay pack my part, and for that I was very grateful. Since I’m touching on Christian brothers carpet cleaning, here are a few of my experiences; we used to race each other through the streets of Brooklyn to see who would go to the next job first. We used to take the machines on the subway, carrying them up and down the steps and sometimes other people would help us. We would be able to keep the tips, then we switched to sharing and later we handed in the tips, we could never find a solution that was good for everyone. I’ve been in many very rich houses and some famous people. I cleaned Gloria Gaynors carpets in New Jersey, one of the super models studio apartment in Manhattan, but the best ones where always the ones in Harlem or in Brooklyn, people who got us to clean their carpets because they knew we were Christians. A lot of them treated us like family. Once I browned a Haitian cotton couch, and I had to go back a few times and treat it with anti browning treatment. One time 7 of us young sheep Christian brothers decided to go visit a lamb sister at JFK high school in the Bronx. We were all dressed in the blue Christian Brother’s uniform. We walked right into the High school and went to the lunch room and found the sister. We promptly got arrested for trespassing and since the school had ongoing problems with trespassers they decided to press charges. We like a chain gang were shipped off to central booking in the Bronx. What a sight that must have been. Now in central booking the police put us all in a cell. We remembering our persecuted brothers and sisters thought it was a good idea to start singing some Christian hymns. An officer came right away and told us if we don’t shut up we would be in that cell for a long time. That took the wind out of our sails and we immediately stopped singing. Eventually we got released, but we did have to go to court. Court was like a circus, and they just put the blame on one person, sealed his record and it was supposed to disappear in 6 months. Now years later at my naturalization interview that arrest would become an issue, but more about that later. Jesus would speak to us at our meetings sometimes and he always reassured us that he loved us. In general our meetings were good amongst each other, only when stewart was teaching us a lesson, at those times it seemed to get complicated. Once most of us brothers “where gone in the spirit” and we mocked the sisters for being in the flesh, or because they wouldn’t go along with us. At the next meeting with stewart us brothers presented stewart with the picture of us being “gone in the spirit”, far above all else. Stewart’s reply was; I’m sure glad Jesus isn’t like that. We were instantly deflated and we had to apologize to the sisters for our unchristian behavior. Of course, looking back we were only imitating our great leader stewart, because that’s how he always presented himself. Another time, for the sake of making the most of the time, we drove like 90 miles an hour on the High way to and from the big meeting. Now the vans we were driving were not in top shape, so driving 90 miles an hour lots of things would be shaking, it was kind of frightening. But being “good brothers” we went along with this way of quote on quote making the most of the time. I believe one of the “bad” older brothers actually told stewart what we were doing and he put a stop to it immediately. We continually had meetings into the late hours of the night and a lot of us were tired during the day time because we did not get enough sleep. The woodruff house was in an all black neighborhood and we split up into groups to gather friends in various neighborhoods throughout the area. Our groups area was “Ebbets field”. Jesus really used me and others being white and walking around like we didn’t have a care to his glory. If anyone would be looking for me, all they had to ask where the white guy is and most people would be able to direct them to where I was. People tried to rob me twice while I was at the young sheep house. Once while getting Chinese food around the corner; but we made it safely back to the Young sheep house and once while out flyering somewhere in East New York. Both times Jesus protected me and they did not succeed in robbing me or doing anything to me. I’m sure Jesus protected us in many ways that we didn’t even realize. At least once a person who worked in the corner store got shot in the stomach right in front of our house. I saw him and he was in bad shape, but he did survive. Now stewart and gayle lived in Princeton and on weekends groups of us would go there. Us coming from hustling and bustling Brooklyn New York, it was extremely peaceful and relaxing to be in a place like Princeton. We also received “counseling” and some of those sessions would turn into very strange silent sessions. 5 or 6 of us sitting around stewart’s desk in his study, not saying anything and stewart not saying anything either, sometimes for long period of times. That was so strange and weird. Needless to say a lot of us young sheep lost all of our eagerness to go to Princeton. One thing that didn’t affect me, but affected a lot of others and especially the sisters was there was a lot of pressure put on brothers and sisters to find jobs. I because of my legal situation was always in Christian Brothers, and even during slow times a lot of other brothers were cut and had to find jobs in the world. And since there was no Christian sisters business, all the sisters had to find regular jobs in the world. Some of them got a lot of pressure if they didn’t find a job right away or in a certain amount of time. For me the young sheep house was a great experience, but for others less so. Especially once who came toward the end of it didn’t have the same good experience and of course ones that got continually picked on, as stewart had his favorites to pick on, they didn’t have such a good experience. We had a few pretty smart brothers and sisters among us and going to college became an issue. But in the church that was a taboo issue and I’m sure that lack of possibility of human development contributed to ones leaving. Going to visit our parents and family was always a thorny issue and which was usually not dealt with and some had to push really hard to go see their loved ones which of course did not go over well with stewart. As going to college was always portrait as loving this live so going to see your family was always portrait as a trip back to the flesh. Once stewart came up with the idea of “an interest day”. We were supposed to develop as a real Christian and a real person. I’m sure he probably told us about his interests and we formed groups where we would go out to museums, parks or go to take pictures. It felt very strange to me and freeing at the same time. But we were treating ourselves in such a divided fashion in this issue of the physical and the spiritual. Therefore it did not last, it was great, but it just fizzled out as many other such things did. I spent almost 2 years at the Young sheep house and my experience in general was a very good one. Now we started of very good and as all things cobu, it did not end so well, it fell apart eventually. When we first got there, we were all new, more on even level, one group one family. Gathering the friends at first was very different from the usual fellowship operation of pressuring people into getting saved and coming over and moving in. At first at the young sheep house it was supposed to be by attraction and them asking to come over. But as we got further into the young sheep house class, that regressed and after they completed the shepherd tract, we showed them the art show and they were expected to get saved and they were put on the lamb course and it became a numbers thing; how many friends, how many completed the shepherd tract, how many saved, how many lamb course lessons completed…..We used to go round and round with each other when our numbers weren’t that good and we would be reluctant to call stewart. There was one brother who used to bail us out with lots of completed lamb course lessons and our numbers would look a lot better. But it turned out when we started going to centers and others had to take care of the lambs, nobody could find “these lambs” and it turned out that the brother had made up most of his “lambs”. Also as the young sheep house continued Hilton Lawrence became our defacto “leader”. The one who would communicate with stewart. Hilton was a brother who loved the Bible and the second coming and he had a zeal about him. So he became our “leader” in the carpet business and in the spiritual business which really looking back wasn’t a good thing, not for him and not for us. But stewart probably wanted it like that. Going out to centers always seemed like one of the big goals of the young sheep house, I don’t know why, but it probably also had to do with gathering more numbers plus to us young people going to centers was a very exciting thing. In all this we never got any training about how to start a center, what it entailed, what the goals were and all the important things. Our zeal for Jesus was going to do it all! And going to centers turned into more of a brothers thing; it was never a brothers and sisters together thing, I think the brothers were supposed to go out and establish a center and the sisters would follow, which hardly ever happened, or never really worked out that way. So in the spring of 1983 7 of us young sheep brothers who were considered the most serious or most zealous set off to North Philadelphia for practice. I think the brothers were; Hilton Lawrence, Kenny Jones, Paul Peterson, Galo Rodriguez, Myself, Mitch Sims and maybe Andre Fenty? I really don’t have much of a recollection of our time in Philadelphia, all I remember is that Jesus would speak to us a lot and that I was terrified and afraid that he would say something to me…. he did tell brothers to speak to him from their heart, he asked brothers for their specific desires and I think that he addressed us as “his sons”. After our practice time in Philadelphia was finished, three brothers were picked to go out and start a center. That was Hilton Lawrence, Galo Rodriguez and I. The city the fellowship/stewart picked was Reading Pa. Stewart wanted to reestablish the church in the cities it originally started in. Now he thought Allentown was too tough as there were a lot of “disgruntled former members” of the fellowship living there. So I guess Reading Pa was the next best thing… So off we went. We were provided a pretty decent van, we loaded it with supplies and a carpet machine and off we went. We were supposed to go there and find a house and the church would rent it and we would start or restart the Reading Pa fellowship. We slept in the van for a few days, got woken up by the cops and told that we couldn’t park and sleep in our vehicle and we looked for houses during the day. Now think for a moment, what house owner in their right mind is going to rent a house to One Hispanic 19 year old, a 20 year old European white kid and a 21 year old black Caribbean person? Of course no one. But we tried and of course go nowhere, polite smiles we got, but that was it. Eventually John B. had to come and bail us out. He found a house for us on a small street in the not so good part of town. But we were happy, it was our place. Now Reading Pa is not like New York, it is a relatively small town with one High school up on the hill. In our zeal, or maybe better in our ignorance we burned out the whole town. We were constantly at the High school preaching, in the center of town witnessing, in the projects looking for people to talk to about Jesus. We really had nothing else to do. The carpet business never took off, people in Reading weren’t interested in getting their carpets cleaned or didn’t want to spend the money. They used to tell us; “no thanks, I just had my carpets cleaned.” We asked; so when was the last time you had your carpets cleaned? And they told us “oh about 5 years ago. We did clean some super greasy Chinese restaurant for little money, but we did get some food out of it. I don’t remember how or why, but Galo Rodriguez left us and joined the marines as we were getting Reading going. So that left me and Hilton. Now Hilton had a lot of drive or zeal and it felt to me like I was getting run over by a bus. It was completely about numbers. He would drop me off and I went to see my lambs while he was off seeing his own lambs. This was a totally miserable time for me, but to all the other brothers and sisters it looked like the 2 zealous brothers establishing a new center and I’m sure that’s how we also presented it at meetings. I think even stewart realized that something wasn’t right, but he wasn’t going to call us back because we were always held up as good examples and used to shame the “bad” and “unfaithful” older brothers and sisters. Eventually it was time to go back to Baltimore and restart the Baltimore fellowship. Actually I think some brothers and sisters were still there but us Young sheep with our zeal were coming to town. So Hilton went of to Baltimore with some other Young sheep brothers and they send Kenny Samuel, Maria Nunez and Noel B to Reading. So now we were Brothers and sisters in a center for a while. Kenny and myself made a good team as we were much more even balanced than Hilton and myself had been. Now the sisters did not last and eventually returned to Brooklyn. I don’t remember what exactly happened, but one thing for sure, there was really nothing work wise to do for the sisters and maybe they cracked from the pressure stewart put on them, but I really don’t remember now. Now this is where my memory starts to be a little foggy. I think from Reading Pa I went to Worcester Ma. Don’t ask me why or how, or even with who – I don’t remember. I don’t remember if we closed Reading at that time or if someone else went there, but don’t worry, we will get back to Reading rather sooner than later. I remember stewart said at a meeting that I had become a piece of furniture in Reading, meaning that I had been there way too long. Now in Worcester, there were brothers and sisters there already because the churches printing shop was there. So we did not have to find a house, but we stayed in the same fellowship house as the other brothers and sisters. But we were sort of separate, as we were the good guys and they were the bad guys. Now Worcester is a town in which there is nothing to do, which has a mall in the center of town and a rather large Hispanic population. We were gathering for the next lamb meeting in Brooklyn NY and we got so much interest, that we had to call NY to send us a school bus to bring all our lambs to the meeting. We were extremely proud of ourselves for all that success. But alas, when we got to New York, a lot of our lambs split and went to town, and what was supposed to be a crowning moment in a zealous young brothers life turned into a complete embarrassment. The whole meeting stewart had me chase after our straying lambs and I was like a madman running back and forth trying to locate our lambs. Stewart called it beginners luck, us bringing all those lambs. And believe me, after this we got a lot more careful in screening these lambs in order to see that we weren’t just giving them a free ride to New York. Some young sheep went to Pittsburgh to get that center going again, but it my memory serves me right, it did not last all that long. Only few of us made it to centers, your average young sheep brother and most of the young sheep sisters never made it to a center. At best they got to sniff some center air and then it was right back to the young sheep house. By then there wasn’t any more young sheep classes going on in Brooklyn, they continued to gather lambs, but more and more there wasn’t much direction there. And I suspect a lot of them were starting to be looked at as failures since they could never manage to make out to a center. Again, I don’t know why that was supposed to be the big thing, starting centers. Obviously not everyone is made to start centers and really us in the centers we had no clue as to what we were doing and neither had we received any kind of real training about how to start a center. Going to centers was all born to fail as we all proved eventually. By that time some of the older young sheep had reached the ripe age of 21 and 22 years old and were technically no longer young sheep and eventually they would be one by one shipped off to the lamb house which by that time had become the middle rescue mission. After 2 or 3 lamb classes the lamb house fizzled out and was turned into the middle rescue mission. The middle rescue mission was supposed to be the place where all the ones between 21-23 year olds in the fellowship where gathered in order to get rescued from becoming the next bad older brothers and sisters. Of course stewart was going to design a program for the middle ones, if they faithfully adhered to it, they would turn into faithful older brothers and sisters instead of the present bad older brothers and sisters. But these middle ones already had some bad habits and that’s why they needed to get rescued. Not like the lambs or us young sheep who were still the good guys. But back to the centers. Eventually the fellowship bought a nice house in a better part of town and Hilton returned back to Reading. Now they put up some huge sign which read; Come now, let us reason together. (Isaiah 1:18) Which harked back to the beginning days of the fellowship. That house was supposed to be the house of reason and they had some direction from stewart as to bring people over to the house, compel them to come in. So they had great numbers coming over, maybe like 30 in a day which was a huge number for a small town like Reading. Of course that success was held up to all of our noses and we all were impressed and wondered how in the world they were doing it. In the end it turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Hilton had a falling out with stewart and either left or was shipped back to NYC and left from there. Now it was time for me to return to Reading. I’m going back to the Young sheep house days for a little, because I just remembered a couple of things. One thing that was great about the Young sheep house was the racial and social harmony we all had. We were young people who believed in Jesus, we did not care if you were white, black, Hispanic or Asian; we were all one family. Neither did we care whether your family was rich, poor or middle class. I know the people around the neighborhood were amazed at the unity we had between all of us who came from such different backgrounds. It never became an issue as to was smart and who wasn’t intelligent. There probably where young sheep from every center that was open at this time; Pittsburg, Washington, Virginia, Baltimore, Worcester, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal and Bethlehem. One was swept up in Tampa Bay, sister was from Germany. Truthfully we were all met and witnessed to by the bad older brothers and sisters. I grew up in Switzerland which at that time was mostly white, so the young sheep house was my introduction to different cultures. I remember the first time I saw Paulette Blair put the hot iron on the stove to heat up. I was “horrified” to see her put the hot iron in her hair. I knew that my hair would completely burn up if I did that, but her hair straightened out. Amazing… Also during the young sheep house I got to restart the “fruits of the earth” business with Carl Burley as my main partner and with Tracy Barnes. We would buy fruits at Hunts point market and we had a cart at 40th and Broadway, right in the garment district where we would sell fruits to people. That was a great experience and we did well. The only problem was that I needed to go to sleep early, miss some meetings and of course being young and not so wise it didn’t take too long that I was burning the candle on both ends and not getting enough sleep. I don’t remember why we stopped doing it, maybe that’s was why? Another thing at the young sheep house we had our own newsletter that would get printed monthly I think. Bob SanPasqual was the main editor and we had a team working on it and they did a great job of creating very good and interesting articles in the newsletter.
So I returned back to Reading Pa, but instead of being in a rickety old rented house, we were in a beautiful big house in the better part of town with a big “Come now and let us reason together” sign on the front. Also there were two or maybe 3 serious “lamb brothers” who were over every day and went witnessing with us and we all studied the Bible together. They basically moved in, because they were over at the fellowship house more than at their parents house. It is probably 1985 by now, a lot of the young sheep at what used to be the young sheep house but was now basically called “the Woodruff Ave house” either left or were shipped off to the middle rescue/retart mission which was at the lamb house. Lamb classes at the lamb house had also fizzled out, 2-3 classes moved on to the young sheep house and there were not enough to follow to have a lamb house. We in the centers were the good guys and the ones left at the Woodruff house were more and more tending toward the bad guys/failure category. We were getting older, a lot of us were approaching middle/older brothers and sisters ages. Throughout our lamb and young sheep years we had been “very spiritual” but there really was hardly any human development nor were we developing much of any skills. In the centers, especially small town centers like Reading/Lancaster Pa, we never made enough to support ourselves and the fellowship supported us. Of course as we were getting older that started to bother us. While in Reading, we got directions from brother stewart to come up with new business ideas and to develop them. We busted our brains, but we really didn’t come up with anything good, at stewart’s suggestion we attempted to “recycle” car batteries. But that never really went anywhere, we collected some money from battery manufacturers by selling the old batteries to them, but we never succeeded in reconditioning the batteries ourselves. One thing that made a difference is around that time the “donation program” started up. We were able to get donated items and go to flea markets and sell them. As long as we got some decent stuff, we did well, but when the supply dried up or if it was all junk, and then we sold almost nothing. Returning back to Reading Pa I met Kevin Brown jr and our lives have been intertwined ever since. He was a lamb that got saved in Baltimore and his brother too when the young sheep went to Baltimore, Hilton Lawrence, Kenny Jones, Bob SanPasqual…. Kevin and his brother moved in and eventually he came to Reading. I don’t remember why and how, but we started going to Lancaster Pa a few times a week, witnessing gathering lambs, maybe because we had burned out everybody in Reading by that time, but I don’t remember anymore. Eventually the fellowship bought a house on South Prince Ave in Lancaster and we started a fellowship there. By this time a lot of young sheep had left and there was only a remnant left at Woodruff Avenue. They used to send us lambs from NYC because it was better for new lambs to be with the “hopeful brothers” in the centers…. But just about all of them were more trouble than they were worth. In Reading we had some streetwise and wild Bronx lamb, not really lamb, I think he may have been 20 years old that got into it with one of our lamb sisters. Now we had to ship him back to NYC and the sister was all ashamed and never really the same after that. One time they send us an interested person from Japan, but he wasn’t really interested in much and became a burden to us. In Lancaster we got two newly saved brothers who had “issues” whether it was mental, psychological or whatever I do not know, but we really weren’t prepared for individuals who needed a lot of help and they turned into being a distraction for us, we had to devote a lot of time, a lot of wasted time to their numbers and issues. Lancaster being another small town, it didn’t take too long for everyone in town to know who we were. Stewart tried different gimmicks, one was the older brothers would come out and help us on the weekends and the older brother who did that was called the “Godfather”. So different older brothers would come out and help us and we loved it. I particularly remember Chuck Hart coming and he was one of our favorite. Really, we didn’t know what we were doing in the centers, we may have had zeal and desire, but the know how, we greatly lacked. So we appreciated the older brothers coming out very much. But it didn’t last very long. Towards the end of the Lancaster fellowship it was me and one relatively newly saved brother from NY. We used to go out witnessing and end up arguing which way to go. I said to go right, he said to go left and each of us insisted on our way. That can be the sort of silly and dumb thing we got into when all we had is two brothers…. Eventually we closed Lancaster and I went back to Reading. For a while we went back to Lancaster on the weekend to tend our lambs and to witness. Now back in reading, there were maybe about 5 of us. Now I was approaching 24 years of age, so that was in 1986, and in my mind I was spinning my weels. I was not getting anywhere humanly speaking, skill wise, job wise and now I had been almost 3 years in the centers and I was one of the few “original” young sheep left. So in my dark head I started thinking about having to go back to New York and be one of the “bad” older brothers and of course that did not look appealing to me. But neither did my other option of remaining in a center with these younger brothers and sisters and be some sort of a spiritual being. Around that time I didn’t really talk to stewart anymore, I let the others talk to him when we did our phone calls and I became more separate from everyone else and eventually I packed up the little that I had and left, I think in the middle of the night.
RUNNING AWAY AGAIN!
I had by now spend more than seven years in the church of bible understanding, from 16 to almost 24 years of age. I left and I hitchhiked from Reading Pa to NYC. I have no family here in America, only other young sheep brothers and sisters that had already left or others that I have met along the way. I had a crush on a lamb/young sheep sister (who had long ago left) ever since my early lamb days and she and another sister had come to visit us in Reading and somehow I took that to me that she was interested in me. She was living in NYC, so when I left I went to find her. Now in those days we were still able to hitchhike. Matter of fact a cop gave me a ride from one end of his borough to the other end of it. We had a decent talk and actually he had started out as a cop in New York City. A friendly truck driver took me the rest of the way to the Bronx and from there I found a way to her apartment in Brooklyn or was it Queens I don’t exactly remember. To my surprise she was living with another dude, so staying with her was not an option. That hope of me and her blew up right in my face. Fortunately for me I was able to find my way to Lou Pelosi’s apartment in Canarsie Brooklyn and he let me stay there and I slept on his sofa. Mike Papadock was his roommate, another brother who had been at the young sheep house with us. He was a very neat brother, but kind of an introvert and withdrawn, and I’m sure life in the fellowship exasperated these traits of his. Lou worked installing floors for a place on Flatbush Avenue and he asked his boss and I was able to go work with them. John Monk also worked there. I am very grateful to Lou for welcoming me into his apartment and he would help me out many more times down the road as we shall see. Our boss was an Italian who used to be a very wild in his younger years, maybe even involved with the mafia, but in his later years he had converted to Judaism in order to marry his Jewish sweetheart. Now that was something, an Italian Jew! Around this time President Ronald Reagan signed the amnesty for Illegal aliens into law; anyone who had entered the United States legally before August of 1980 was eligible to apply for the amnesty and would receive a temporary green card and then they would receive a permanent green card in two years. I’m thankful for this amnesty because that is how I became a legal resident of the United States and a citizen later on. Lou Pelosi taught me how to drive and I got my driver’s license at 24 years of age. Thank you Lou for being patient in teaching me how to drive. I also was able to legally work and file taxes and I did not have to be off the books anymore or work for cash only. Oh, that was a big relieve for me. I worked with Lou and John for about 1 ½ years, I learned how to install tiles and how to rip up any kind of floor covering and then prep the surface. Eventually I got my own apartment but I never got to furnish it besides the bed, kitchen table and a sofa that my landlady gave me. I continued to see the sister but nothing serious or real ever developed from it, it very obviously wasn’t meant to be and looking back it was best for everyone involved. Coming out of cobu, I wasn’t ready for any real relationship nor was I ready for how the women of this world operate. The sisters in the fellowship were generally very nice and they were never out to purposely hurt any of us brothers. I had just about zero experience with the opposite sex, coming to the fellowship at 16 years of age. All that Adam and Eve stuff from the young sheep house was of no use or help at all, if anything it probably made me more scared of women. Having been in the centers for quite a few years and mostly with brothers, I had almost no interaction in a real way with the opposite sex. I wanted to have relationships; I wanted to be married but….. Another benefit of finally being a legal resident is that it made it possible for me to finally go back to Switzerland and visit my family and my relatives and I’ve been back there many times since. I left to quote on quote “get my life together”, to make something out of myself, to “show them”, but what that exactly was supposed to mean, that was never really clear to me. My fantasy was to get rich, get a fancy car and drive by Woodruff Avenue and to show off that I wasn’t just a looser that couldn’t accomplish anything. To tell the truth, I never became rich, I didn’t get a fancy car so I could drive by the fellowship but I learned a skill and I supported myself.