I’m Pink Lady Apple and my friend Deviled Yeggs suggested that I record each project that I set up in the hopes of reforming the people who continue to work for Lily the Pink Enterprises. If for no other reason, it would show how God is at work.
I have already reported on Zuzka and Otto before. The plan to teach Rotten how to not be rotten is well ahead of schedule. He even stops people who call him Rotten to tell them his name is Otto now. Otto has not gone to the courthouse to change it officially, but he is quite used to it. The elements of his training, most of them established by Zuzka, are: two classroom sessions on being nice each week, but Otto insisted on three; they go with Scrambled and I to church each Sunday, but now Otto drives her there in his car; and Otto has to report on the Sunday school lesson and the sermon at the worship service to make sure he is paying attention and to help Zuzka with her English. When I started moving the homeless families into my spare apartment building rooms, we started having vesper services like they have at the mission, and Otto never misses a one. He did that on his own.
I gave Otto the night guard job, but he splits his time baking with the guard duty. We installed a sign in case a trucker arrived at an unscheduled time. The sign changes with the flip of a switch between the guard being on duty and the guard not being on duty, thus use the night ringer. We wired the gate to a button in the kitchen, so that Otto could check the paperwork through a tablet and buzz them in. We had the same already wired to the cider house control room, and that was still active if Otto did not respond quickly. Sometimes bakers cannot drop what they are doing.
Zuzka has become a hidden gem. She went to college, taking hydroponics with some classes in greenhouse operations. She has become the project manager for a scheme she dreamed up before the police raid that kicked out organized crime from our buildings, making everything a legitimate business. We have a contractor building a glass roof over the area between the house, the cider house, and the apartment building. She thought it would be fun to install a water slide from the second floor of the apartment building to the pool. She added a solar water heater on the apartment roof to allow the pool to be used for most of the year. The water for the slide would be the warm water entry into the pool. The new families in the apartment building cannot wait for that part to be finished. But then Zuzka has ideas for a variety of plant life. She eventually wants to create a walkway to check on the hydroponics structures, but until that is designed, she has scaffolding for the roofers that will remain erected so that the hydroponics farmers can tend the crops suspended in the air in even more pipes and water sluices. With the greenhouse in Doyle county, we will be able to more than double production of water lilies for the Lily the Pink elixir, but we will grow most of the vegetables for the residents with extra that we can give the mission. And she is studying how to grow some of the ingredients that Scrambled will need for his baking.
And then Sandy Beech suggested that she might be able to find some government small business program and load the rest of the rooves in the complex with electrical generation solar panels, and Zuzka cleared the extra roof load with the engineering firm that we were using.
But that leads up to a Sunday morning drive after church…
Zuzka suggested, “Otto, why don’t we talk about the sermon on the way home?”
Otto replied, “I, ummm, I would rather not. Can we go someplace to eat instead? I have some things on my mind that I have to work through. I apologize. I didn’t get much out of the sermon.”
Zuzka mulled over that for a little while. Rotten often got little out of the sermon, but he could recall the pastor’s main points and how those points tied into the Scripture readings. This was unlike Otto. She finally suggested a family restaurant where the prices were not too high. The rest of the way neither of them spoke. It was unlike either one of them, especially after they got to know each other.
After they were seated in a two-seat booth near the entrance, Zuzka leaned over and held Otto’s hand. “I know something is wrong. You are not being yourself. We promised to not have such secrets between ourselves. Please, tell me.”
Otto stared at the table instead of looking Zuzka into the eyes. Usually, he looked her in the eyes and did not notice the surroundings. “I started out listening to the pastor. Rev. C.S.L. is great. But then I got the idea from his sermon that you and Mom are going at this all wrong. I mean. You are trying hard through this charm school to make me a nice person, but the pastor said something different. I’m wondering if we are wasting our time.” He almost looked up to make eye contact at the end.
Zuzka asked, “What did the pastor say that had you thinking this?”
Otto replied, “He said being a nice guy was not good enough. The Lake of Fire was filled with nice guys. He talked about how many will say ‘Lord, Lord,’ but then God will say ‘Depart from Me; I never knew you.’ So the whole idea is not to become a nice guy. So, why are we doing this?”
Zuzka replied with a smile, “The pastor kept talking about how we can never be truly nice unless we have a relationship with Jesus.”
Otto nodded and interrupted, “Yeah, that’s when I quit listening to the pastor. I closed my eyes and quit taking notes. I bowed and prayed that Jesus would come into my heart. Zuzka, I want nothing more than to be as good for you and be nice to you, but if that takes putting Jesus first and you second, can you accept that?” He looked up to see her face for the first time since they arrived at the restaurant.
Zuzka was nodding her head and tears were rolling down her face. “Yes, Otto, yes. I have longed for that ever since I met you. I accepted Jesus many years ago, nearly ten years.”
Otto looked puzzled. “You were a prostitute just last year. How could you have already been a Christian?”
Zuzka explained, “I was a good church girl. The pastor in Latvia kept trying to build up my confidence by saying I was good girl, but I was only shy. I knew I was a good girl. Then, I went to the college to be a better farmer and a young couple handed me a tract and started to read through the tract with me. I realized that the emptiness in my life was not having Jesus. I was attending meetings of a group of Christians at the college regularly until the slave traders drugged me and after riding across the Atlantic in a shipping container, Baldwyn Apple purchased me. Being a slave, doing terrible things, does not make you a not Christian. What’s the word?”
Otto suggested, “Non-Christian?”
Zuzka nodded, “That will do. The Apostle Paul said to subject yourselves to your masters. I did so, all the time wanting a chance to escape. Otto, Jesus means more to me than life itself, and you are special to me also.”
Otto said, “That’s why I was so torn. I did not want to talk about it. If our charm school was a waste of time, we would have to stop, and I don’t want it to ever stop.”
Pink Lady popped her head around the wall of the booth. “Then let’s modify it to a Bible Study. You can still talk about each other, but there are two moments that are the most important to a Christian. Sure, birthdays, birthdays of your children and grandchildren, wedding days. All of those are important. But the day you accepted Jesus is the most important day in your life. And second to that is the next day.”
Otto gave her a scrunched face in confusion. “Tomorrow?”
Pink Lady laughed, “Not just tomorrow, but all tomorrows until you get to be with Jesus. Each day God grants to us is another day where we can learn more about Jesus, and we can learn how to be more like Jesus.”
Zuzka swallowed, “Thank you, Pink Lady, but how did you come here?”
Deviled Yeggs and Naomi (the one everyone calls Glyce, short for nitroglycerin) popped their heads over the divider between booths. Sophia and Blaise were there too. Deviled said, “When we saw you taking a detour, we followed. Not to spy on you or anything. I had to practice my surveillance techniques.”
Naomi snickered. “Let’s come clean. Otto must learn to tell the truth. We were being nosey. And maybe we were hungry too.”
Scrambled came around to their booth. “Son, I did not say anything, but Pink Lady gave me that ‘being better than just nice’ speech ever since I helped her escape from Baldwyn’s clutches. Of course, your uncle Deviled did most of the heavy lifting on that one, as usual. I accepted Jesus a couple of months ago. We’ve been praying for you and Poached.”
Otto shook his head. “Poached was always the good kid. I was the rotten one. Poached is okay.”
Pink Lady said, ”That may be his downfall. Poached is nice, and he may not see that he needs something more than that. We are still praying for them. As for Boaz, he was almost a monk, dedicating every breath to God, until the monastery’s abbot suggested he was destined for more than the monastery.”
A waitress walked up. She said, “I have been listening, and I would like to talk to you about Jesus during my break, but the manager is going to get angry with me if I don’t get your orders.”
They all laughed and sat back down, except for Zuzka. She leaned over and kissed Otto on the top of his head. “I love you, Otto Yeggs.”
And Otto met her eyes and said, “I love you, too, Zuzka. If it were not for you and Mom, I would have never heard the pastor’s sermon today. Would I have ever met Jesus?”
Pink Lady cleared her throat, “Look at menus, you too, and don’t forget to leave a big tip.”
Otto suggested, “Mom, I was hoping you would pick up the tab.”
There are a lot of tracts out there from a lot of different groups. Back when it was Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru, I had a few hundred 4 Spiritual Law tracts in my glove compartment at all times. I did not hand out all of them, however. Other people knew I always had some spare ones and I shared.