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Thanks For Freedom

When
our local high school hired a Spanish teacher from Spain and he
needed a place to stay, we invited him to live with us until he
could find a place of his own. What he learned from the time he
spent with us could not possibly have been more valuable than the
final lessons he taught me.

One day I took him to the bank
with me. When I pulled up at the drive-through window and reached
for the tube to put my check in, Manuel looked at me with
surprise.

"What are you
doing?" he asked.

I explained how the tube was
used to transport my check inside the bank.

He shook his head in
amazement. "Wait until I tell my father this," he said.
"My father is a banker and in Spain we have no such
things."

To celebrate his arrival we
took Manuel to Opry Mills in Nashville, Tennessee, and had supper
at the Rainforest Café. His large brown eyes were opened wide
with awe and he asked question after question.

Unfortunately, Manuel’s
enthusiasm for America couldn’t make up for his problems
deciphering our slang. When my husband asked him if our
sister-in-law had talked his ear off, he grabbed his ear and
looked at Bill as if he were crazy.

Manuel never complained about
the differences in our customs, but I could tell he was having
trouble adjusting. One night we were eating a chicken and rice
casserole I had prepared when I heard him whisper to my husband.

"Bill," he said
softly, "what animal am I eating?"

As time passed Manuel’s
homesickness grew and he is now back in Spain, but for the short
time he was here he gave us the gift of his friendship and
reminded us of the many privileges and conveniences we often take
for granted in our country.

Because of what happened on
September 11, America and its people will never be the same. We
are now acutely aware of the freedoms and privileges Manuel saw so
clearly as a visitor that we seldom gave a second thought.

This Christmas there will be
many Americans seated around tables with empty chairs, struggling
to cope with their loss. Our thoughts and prayers at Kentucky
Living are with those families throughout the holiday season.

God bless America. God bless Kentucky, and God please
bless those families with hurting hearts.

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