As any thoughtful, intelligent couple knows, after the romancing and dancing during a courtship, and then the wedding ceremony itself, there comes the time to settle down, get a house to live in and a job in order to buy food and the other necessities of life. Such was the situation facing me and Gloria during the first half of the year of '81. Our wedding was set for the 27th of June, and was planned to take place in the institute. What more appropriate place was there? That was where we initially met, had our first kiss, and shared many other moments of happiness. I have always said since that period of our life together how unique was our time of learning about the character of each other. For her part, Gloria observed me daily working at my craft of being a teacher. I, on the other hand, noticed how she deftly managed the household chores of cooking, taking care of my daily needs, and the like. Very fundamental things important to founding a strong relationship.
But my contract with the Institute was only meant to last for one year. I had to start getting serious about moving on to greener pastures. The English teaching job was never designed to provide an income level sufficient to support a couple, much less two or more children, plus in-laws. Here in Mexico, I'm just essentially a tourist, with no Mexican certification credentials for school teaching, be it public or private. My knowledge of the profession of educator in this part of the world was, practically speaking, nil. So, you can imagine the feeling of hope that filled my mind and soul when one April day I received a letter from a Bahá'í friend living in El Salvador.
Her name was Nancy McKeand. I had met Nancy and her husband Bob one year before at the Bahá'í National Center in a workshop for prospective pioneers. They were on their way to El Salvador to work at the American School in the capital city. I told them I was headed for Mexico, at a place not so very far from their destination. "Gee, let's keep in touch!" I said, as we exchanged addresses. Now, I've been in various situations in my life where I've met interesting people and have exchanged addresses with the fullest of intentions of writing to them - but never did. The spark of the moment simply fizzled out when I returned home. This time, however, was a great exception. We did mail each other two or three times prior to this April letter. Nancy's interest in my situation was even greater once I mentioned my future wife was from El Salvador.
The main purpose of this particular missive was to inquire if I'd be interested in teaching math at her school. Due to the guerilla war and civil unrest going on in E.S. in those days, the school was having a hard time keeping American-trained and certified teachers on staff. Would I consider taking a job there, she asked. My friends in Mexico thought it might be unwise to go there, but the McKeands assured me that things were not as bad as reported in the media. They were happy there and not considering leaving their "post" because of the turmoil. Coming from fellow Bahá'ís, that was good enough for me.
For me the letter arrived at a very opportune time. Just 4 days before, I became very sick -- a high fever with severe pain and swelling in my legs. I had to call a doctor and stay in bed for two days, thus missing my classes. In retrospect, I'm sure it was my first bout with an infection that I was to eventually suffer several times over the following 20 years, called erysipelas. Though I began improving somewhat before the letter came, its news surely was a great factor to aid my recovery.
I answered that letter quite rapidly. Now all I had to do was to convince Gloria. Obviously because of her own life story in E.S., she would have a different view of things. So I began crossing my fingers and consulting with her. Lucky for me, she was anxious to know about the son she had to leave behind, and she worried about her parents. She assented quite willingly.
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