What Have I Gotten Myself Into? by Paula Rose Michelson

~~~~~~~~~~~~Reflective Questions

What motivates you?

Are you afraid of failure, success, or never trying?

What are you willing to give up to achieve your goal?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Text

Since she did not know how to answer, she thought of her needs. “Excuse me. May I ask some questions?”

“If you must.”

“What is your name and how long will it be until I can leave?”

“Those are the same questions every one of you asks.” Tía poured another cup of tea for herself. “Those I have business dealings with call me La Señora. You are to call me Tía as all my girls do. Vida is my given name, but few have permission to use it. It breeds familiarity. Do you understand?”

“I suppose so.”

Tía looked at the girl, motioned for her to say more, and waited.

A moment passed before Naomi understood what the old tía had implied. When she did, she asked, “This is a business arrangement, right?”

“Correct, a business arrangement. But nonnegotiable since you must stay here or be picked up by immigration and deported.”

“I understand.”

“Good. Now, so that no one will suspect what we are doing, it is best for you to call me Tía, as Victor said. This will make it easy for others to believe that I really am your aunt. Our little ruse will make sense to immigration and the community, should they choose to investigate our situation.” She eyed the girl. “I have given you something you could not get without my help. Now you will give me payment.”

“All right.” Naomi’s heart raced at what she might have agreed to. “How do I pay you?”

“Since you are fifteen and a minor, you will work for me until you are twenty. That is a good age for a woman to be on her own. Before then, I believe someone might take advantage of you. During these five years, you will be able to pay me back for what I have done for you. At the end of that time, you will have your freedom, the skills you need to make your way in this country, and five hundred dollars—one hundred dollars for each year you are with me, a good amount for a young woman to begin a new life with.”

Even as Naomi nodded, she wondered what the old woman would ask of her and wished that the woman who looked like her tía Rosa was actually her sweet aunt. However, she knew that the resemblance was only an illusion. “I have nowhere to go and no one who cares. I will give
you what you ask.”

“Good. Then welcome to mi casa.” She picked up Naomi’s suitcase. “Now come.” She walked to the bedroom across the hall from the kitchen, opened the door, and gestured for Naomi to enter. “Many have been happy here. You will be too.”

Naomi looked around the sparsely furnished room that was to be her home.

Tía pointed to the wardrobe. “In there you will find everything you need.” She walked to the wall cattycorner from the bedroom door, pulled aside the yellow drapes, and flipped on a light switch. Naomi looked through a lovely pair of French doors that opened onto a large patio. A fountain, much like those in Spain, with chairs around it, as well as a loveseat and a few scattered side tables, were directly in front of her. Off to the right was a wrought iron dining set, which could accommodate eight. She drank in the beauty and serenity of the place and her breath caught for a moment. The old woman’s unspoken words were clear; she would be able to sit by the fountain and gaze at the garden below.

“As you can see, I have chosen not to treat you as a servant but as a guest in mi casa. I ask that you do what I require and respect my privacy, as I will yours. And you must at all times remember your place. Now, I will leave you to change into something acceptable for one who works for me to be wearing. When you come back to the kitchen, we will eat and discuss your duties.”

Naomi sat on the old iron bed, took a moment to think about her situation, and wondered, What have I gotten myself into?

~~~~~~~~~~~~Author’s Comments

In Hosea 8: 1-3 the reaping of the whirlwind is prophesied for Israel, for the Scripture says, “Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle is over the house of the Lord because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law. Israel cries out to me, ‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’ But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him.

Just as the above prophesy is for a season, so is Naomi’s indenture. And, my friend, this is true of whatever trial or hardship you are going through. So take heart for God will never leave you for he wants to be your friend. Trust in him for he loves and paid the price for you. 


~~~~In light of this truth take a look at your answers to these questions:

What motivates you?

Are you afraid of failure, success, or never trying?

What are you willing to give up to achieve your goal?

Is there something you need to add, remove, or reframe? Life is all about learning, for it is in the process that we know more, and knowing more causes each of us to rethink what we assumed were our bottom line absolutes. 

Making the Best of a Bad Situation, by Paula Rose Michelson

Before you read today’s text, you might be able to understand Naomi better if you ask yourself:

1). If I were Naomi, frightened, alone, and inside the old Tía’s house what would I fear, or wish for?

2). If I felt bereft of everything, with no hope in sight and nothing to cling to, how would I act?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Text

            The old woman put the kettle on to boil. “I will make some tea and we will talk.” When the teapot whistled, she set the leaves to steep. While they waited, she made a phone call. “Hola, Flora. Please tell everyone at the market that I am sorry I was unable to hand out paychecks. I had to go to immigration. Tell them I will be in tomorrow.” She placed her hand over the receiver and looked at Naomi. “What would you like to eat?” Naomi shrugged. When she did not answer, the old woman turned away and continued her conversation.

            The girl took a moment to take in her surroundings and discovered that the cheerful gingham wallpaper and spotless kitchen helped her feel at home in spite of her fears. She noticed that the kitchen tiles were reminiscent of an advertisement she had seen in a recent magazine. Believing that only the needy trafficked in others’ misery, she sighed with relief.

            “What would you like to eat?”

            “Whatever you have will be fine.” It seemed to Naomi that the woman had decided to treat her as a guest instead of the prisoner she knew herself to be. Her emotions heightened; she remembered how foolish she had been to trust Mr. Sosa and admitted to herself that she had been naive to accept this woman’s help without knowing what she had agreed to. Aware that she had placed herself in peril, she hardened her heart as she sat on the edge of the chair. The meal ordered the two of them, captor and captive, waited for it to arrive. Alone in this strange new land, Naomi tried to fight off her fear of this unknown woman and the situation as she reminded herself, There was no other choice.

            “Naomi,” the old tía said at last as her gaze swept over the girl. “Tell me how you came to be at immigration.”

            “Well …” Naomi stalled. How much do I tell this woman? Do I tell her the truth, and if not, what should I leave out or make up?

            “Naomi!” her sponsor snapped, her voice demanding an immediate answer. “Do not think about what to say. Just tell me, in the simplest way possible, how you came to be there.”

            Naomi swallowed. It seemed best to tell the truth, so she began, “I came with the Sosa family. I was the companion to their blind grandmother.”

            “That is an unusual job for one so young to have. By the looks of you, I would not think you more than twelve.”

            Naomi strained to sit taller in the chair. “I am fifteen.”

            Tía rose to fill their cups. “How does a girl as young as you find a job with a family coming America? You had not been a companion before, had you?”

            Naomi watched the old tía bring the cups to the table, took her first sip, and gulped down courage. “I was in need of employment.” Aware that the warm feelings she usually associated with tea did not exist here, she continued, “There was this family with a blind grandmother. They required someone to tend to her every need as well as read, play the piano, and help her enjoy the tour. They thought I might do.”

            “But you are so young. Why did they pick you?”

            “I do not know. Perhaps it was because I agreed to work for no wage.”

            “I see.” Tía’s gaze swept over the girl.

            Aware that what she said might have led the woman to think her easy to manipulate, Naomi added, “They pledged to help me find my uncle once they settled here. Then they changed their minds.”

            The old woman waved her comments away. Feeling them dismissed, she went against her upbringing and added, a note of pride in her voice, “But it was Abuela Sophia who chose me for herself!”

            “I see you found favor with her?”

            Mortified by her outburst, Naomi cast her eyes down and quietly admitted, “Yes.”

            “Then I am certain you will find favor with me also.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Authors Comments

Tía’s expectations and Naomi’s fear of the situation she finds herself in are almost palatable. However, each of us is made of stronger stuff than we realize unless pressed to bare up under overwhelming obstacles. For learning to deal with life as it comes teaches us how to be true to our essence, that hard core of resolve which cannot be shaken. Yet, when we looked back, I imagine that each of us would recognize our crucible moments, moments where we learned how to yield to the situation without becoming other than we are. Some call these moments defining. In Naomi’s, mine, and perhaps in your situation the feeling might be one of hiding. And if that is how it felt it is sometimes hard to tell oneself that they acted rightly. But I am here to tell you that if you fall into this category, the better part of valor was to survive. After survival, which is the highest priority is insured, other things follow.

Now you might wonder what those other priorities are, so I’ll mention three:

1). Freedom to be

2). Freedom to think

3). Freedom to choose

Neither the things listed nor the ones you might want to add can fulfill Naomi’s or our needs at times. Because Scripture can, let me suggest one that has warmed my heart. Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By now you may be scratching your head because sighting this verse in light of our heroines’ dilemma might seem odd. I agree! However, odd as it appears ‘saved’ as in being ‘forgiven’ for something you have done or omitted to do is always a good place to begin, so let’s begin. And who knows, perhaps by extending ‘grace and forgiveness’ to ourselves and others, we might see by the end of chapter onehow this horrid place and woman could become an unexpected blessing.

Want to find out what happens before my next posting? Visit http://www.amazon.com/ and order your copy of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, and if you think your friends would enjoy joining you on this journey ask them to tag along as well.