My Senior year in high school was much busier than my Junior year. For starters, my job was somewhat of a new experience because it was the first time that I had ever worked during a school year. I had summer jobs since I was 15, but I had never actually worked while school was in session.
After the teacher's strike ended, I was told to report to the janitors of my school and start working for two hours a night after the last hour of classes ended at 2:30 PM. I went to Joey's (the head janitor's) office to report to work. It wasn't really an "office." It was more like a break room for the janitors. I already knew two of the janitors, Cheryl and Dick, quite well. Cheryl and Dick usually cleaned the cafeteria, and I had gotten to know then over the last three years. Cheryl was happy to see me. She actually seemed excited about the fact that I would be working there every night. Dick put me to work in the drafting room. I vacuumed it twice a week, and I walked around picking up the little pieces of paper by hand on the other nights of the week. Mr. Haga, the teacher of the drafting class, was there almost every night and I got to know him pretty well. I gave him a tract once.
"Are you going to try to sell me on this?" he asked.
"Not if you don't want me to," I said.
"Well, good," he said in a friendly manner. "Because I've had others try and I've got all the religion I want."
"Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?" I asked.
"Of course," he said.
He offered the tract back, but I don't remember if I took it or not.
After I finished cleaning the drafting class on my first night of work, I went back into the custodian's office where I was told to help another janitor, Barry, clean some of the rooms. I found out that Barry was a new janitor and that he was only working in the hall he was working in until Thomas (another custodian) returned from vacation. Barry began cleaning the upstairs hall after Thomas returned. Barry was hired to take the place of another janitor named Harry who was told by his doctor that he shouldn't work for awhile.
I witnessed to Barry one night. I gave him a tract.
"Do you know if you'd go to heaven?" I asked.
"Look, Bob," he said putting his hand on my shoulder. "My children are religious and I've also got all of the religion that I need. I've been very involved with the church."
"Well do you mind if I ask you one final question?" I asked.
"Go ahead," he said.
"Do you know Christ as your Savior?"
"Of course," he said. I let him keep the tract.
When Thomas returned from vacation, Thomas gave me the task of cleaning the study hall. I was told to pick up every speck of paper (and every little piece of whatever) off the floor by hand, and straighten the rows of more than 100 desks. It started out taking 1 hour and 10 minutes, but by the end of the year, it only took 30-40 minutes. Dick eventually asked, "Why don't you use a vacuum cleaner?" I felt kind of embarrassed when Dick asked me that because I thought that they didn't want me using the vacuum cleaner (even though I was vacuuming the drafting room) because Thomas told me to pick the specks up by hand. Dick showed me where a vacuum cleaner was (which was a different one than the one I was using in the drafting room), and I started vacuuming the study hall once in a while. I continued to pick up the specks by hand on most nights because I was rather impressed with myself as to how fast I could do it. In actuality, it took the same amount of time to vacuum it than it did to pick all the specks up by hand. I vacuumed the study hall only about 6 times during the entire semester. Eventually I gave Thomas a tract.
Sarah and Trisha were the two Seniors who worked with me. Trisha and I became pretty good friends. Sarah and I also became friends, but we not become as close as Trisha and I did. By the end of the year, Sarah had adapted the name "Goon" for me as a joke because of some of the crazy things that she saw me do. It was not meant as an insult. Trisha frequently borrowed money from me to buy pop.
Once I witnessed to Trisha.
"I don't really believe in God now, but I asked Jesus to 'come in' when I was eight," she said.
After this conversation was over, I began to wonder if it was possible for a Christian to fall into atheism. I asked Don about it and he said that it could happen.
Edward, Tom, and I continued to grow in our friendship. Edward and I would sleep at Tom's house on Friday nights. On one Friday night we were playing Monopoly and Edward and I made a "business deal" that was supposed to "harm" Tom. Edward laughed afterwards. I thought that I had been tricked because I thought that Edward was laughing at me! I threw my cards and money in the box because I was angry! My insecurity was again affecting my behavior.
"I quit!" I shouted.
"What did you do that for?!" Edward said.
"I don't like what you just did!" I said.
"What?" Edward said.
"You tricked me!" I said.
"No he didn't!" Tom said. Tom and Edward then tried to explain to me that the deal I made with Edward was to my and Edward's advantage, but not to Tom's.
I felt embarrassed and took my cards and money back. I said to them, "I feel more embarrassed now than when I thought you tricked me."
"I like that kind of embarrassment," Edward said with a smile. In a way, I liked it, too. I was changing as a person, even if it was slowly.
Edward won the game. Tom was out first, and then Edward cleared me out.
Tom, Edward, and I spent almost every Friday night with each other until school got out in June of 1983. Tom and Edward also went bowling every Saturday because they were on a bowling league that was sponsored by Edward's dad. Tom would drive me home at 8:30 A.M. every Saturday morning before they went bowling.
I began to attend a Bible study in September. Don told me that he heard that Mr. Curtis (a teacher) was going to have a Bible study Monday mornings at 7:20 a.m. in the school. I was rather excited to hear that and decided that I wanted to go. I talked to Tom and Edward about it on a Friday night, and they decided that they wanted to go too.
The Bible study took place on the following Monday morning. Edward, Tom, Don, and I were there. There also was someone there named Tonya. She was a Junior.
Mr. Curtis began by asking each of us how much time we spent in the Bible, and then he began to teach from I Peter. We studied I Peter until well into the school year.
Don and Tonya had problems getting along. Tonya was a Pentecostal Christian from First Assembly of God, and Don didn't really care for Pentecostalism. Don frequently said something negative about Tonya or about what she believed. Tonya felt the pressure. There was even a "war" between their prayers on one particular Monday morning. Most of us clearly noticed the "battle" that was taking place in their prayers.
"Heavenly Father," Tonya prayed. "I thank you for this time together. I pray that you'll help us to be a witness to the people here at school. Help us not to convict people, because we know that that's your job, Lord. Please be with us throughout the week. In Jesus name I pray. Amen."
Don prayed along different lines. His prayer was mainly about declaring the word of God to the people around us, and about the conviction of the Holy Spirit in people's lives. Both of their prayers were Biblical in nature. Neither of them was wrong in what they prayed, but most of us knew that they disagreed with each other and were "warring" with each other.
"Did you hear the two of them praying against each other?" Tom asked me afterwards.
"What do you mean? I didn't see anything wrong with their prayers," I said. "What they both said was right."
"I know," Tom said. "But they disagree with each other and were fighting."
Edward also made a comment to me about it. Edward, Tom, and I didn't like the divisiveness that was developing.
Don walked up to me afterwards and said, "Did you hear her prayer? It was all wrong!"
"What was wrong with it?" I thought; but I didn't say it.
Don would frequently speak quite firmly to people about sin (and about the things that he believed in), believing that God would convict people through him. Tonya, however, took a less confrontational approach, believing that the Holy Spirit played a greater role in drawing people to God. What they both believed was acceptable (at least, as I saw it), but they believed each other to be wrong.
We tried to get the Bible study announced publicly to the school. The principle was a Christian, but he said that he wouldn't allow us to publicly announce the Bible study because he was afraid that some people would make a legal protest based upon the concept of "separation of church and state." The principle, however, encouraged us to continue to meet. He told us that we could invite people by word of mouth. I remember being very bothered by the idea that people might protest our meeting to study the Bible. We weren't forcing anyone to come. I felt that we had a right to meet in a public school as long as it was voluntary. I felt like my rights were being violated by the limits that were being placed on us. (As I understand it, later Supreme Court decisions would declare that Bible studies could be held in schools as long as they were student led. In the early 1980's, however, this debate was only in its infancy.)
Don and I were riding to church with someone on one particular Wednesday night, and Don started talking about Tonya.
Don said, "She's always with the guys in my typing class. She's not living the Christian life. You see, she's Pentecostal!"
"Ahhh," another person in the car said, as if this revelation somehow explained everything. "I see!"
The implication was that Tonya couldn't be a good Christian because she was a Pentecostal.
I suddenly became very angry over the fact that they would even dare to talk about another Christian like that! I felt that what they were doing was gossip, and that it was clearly a violation of what the Bible taught. I wanted to speak up, but I really didn't know how to defend the reasons that I disagreed with what they were saying; so I remained quiet.
Even though Don said inappropriate things about Tonya, I didn't consider Don to be a "bad guy." He had his problems just like the rest of us, but he was a sincere Christian, and I was impressed and encouraged by his passion to serve the Lord. As we said at my church, "Don is 'on fire' for the Lord!" Don was in many ways the one that I looked up to when I wanted spiritual answers. After all, he had "led" me to the Lord. I looked up to him as a spiritual example of how I wanted to be. Don and Dan were both spiritual examples to me.
On the night that I first told Tom and Edward about the Bible study, I asked Tom to start picking me up when he drove to school. I was having problems with other people at the bus stop in the morning. My behavior was a little "off-the-wall" at times and people at the bus stop started mocking me for it. I didn't want to put up with their mockery. Tom said that he would pick me up every morning, so I started riding with Tom. I walked home at night after work. It took me 40 minutes to walk home from the school.
Tom usually drove up to my house at about 7:50 a.m., but was frequently late (school started at 8:10 a.m.). There was a number of times that we barely made it to class on time. Sometimes we were late. We'd occasionally pick Don up for Bible studies. Sometimes we'd pick Don up just because he wanted a ride. Don usually rode his bike to school and he'd show up late sometimes.
Mr. Walters (Don's and my 1st hour teacher) asked Don why he was "always late" after Don had been late for a few days in a row.
"Well," Don tried to explain, "you see, I have two alarms. One is set for 6:00 and--"
"--the other for 10:00! Yeah, I know," Mr. Walters interrupted. The whole class laughed.
I became increasingly active in my church. Dan told me that he wouldn't be able to take me to church as much anymore. He asked Don to drive me to church once in a while. After about a month or two, Don was taking me regularly.
The youth group started up again in September. I was looking forward to hearing "Brother" Mark preach his great messages again. His messages always had a tremendous impact on me, and seemed to speak to whatever situation I was facing that week. Many others in the youth group said the same thing. "Brother" Mark was truly sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He was able to discern quite accurately what God wanted him to say to us. He spoke with wisdom and knowledge. He was timely. He spoke to us on our level, and he preached on things that were relevant to our lives.
I started memorizing the first year Word of Life scripture card pack. I got a Word of Life Club membership, but I felt that I had gotten it a little dishonestly. One of the requirements for membership was that you had to bring a visitor to the youth group. Don brought two visitors one night, and my 12th grade leader gave me credit for one of Don's visitors knowing that Don had brought both.
I did, however, get my first real visitor late in October, which was only a week after I got my membership. I invited Tom to hear "Brother" Mark's Halloween message warning us against Satanism. But Tom was offended when "Brother" Mark spoke against Christian rock music. Tom didn't particularity care for the church after that. I said "Uh-oh!!!" rather loudly when "Brother" Mark criticized Christian rock music. Others around me looked at me because I had said "Uh-oh!" much louder than what I wanted. I was embarrassed by what "Brother" Mark said because I was afraid that Tom would be offended. I looked at Tom and he had what appeared to be an angry look on his face. Tom later told me that he was offended.