$1 Million Cash On My Coffee Table But I Rather Have Jesus

Overall, I didn’t make a profit this year. One business made money but the other lost, one investment went up and the other went down. When everything is all said and done, I lost money. I won’t know how much until an accountant preps my books but I’m sure it’s at least 5 figures. I worked like a dog. I worked all day. I took only a few days off. I pushed and pushed but it just seems like things didn’t work out. I’m exhausted.

Some of my notable 2006 expenses:
– $4,054 food
– $3,259 travel
– $3,086 banking
– $5,078 phone

Add that all up, multiply by 10 and I gave slightly more than that to outreach, evangelism, missions and new churches this year. Unfortunately I didn’t save anything, and I have a bad feeling about that.

So lets end this on a super happy note.

As I started driving out to Guelph for Dana’s wedding, it dawned on me again how fast life flies by. I met Dana online in 2002. We’ve become the best of online friends since then and met in real life in 2006. We only spent a little bit of time together in person, but hundreds of hours chatting online.

Dana’s dad and mom are pastors and missionaries. They’ve been all over the world saving lives. Their family and friends are missionaries as well. This kind of thing means the world to me. Dana grew up on the mission field and it’s molded who she is today.

The long drive to her city was a bit tiring for me, and I’ve done the drive many times to visit my sister at school. When I got to the church my jaw dropped, partially because from the outside it looked like it was sinking into the ground, partially because it looked like it was 1,000 years old. It was covered in beautiful wood and stone.

I met J for the very first time but I heard about him from Dana a lot. J’s family are also missionaries and J has been all over, especially Indonesia where he tells me his hobbies included swinging from vines in the jungle like Tarzan. I setup my camcorder and camera equipment and recorded the short and beautiful wedding ceremony. After, I gave Dana and J their hugs and went about my life for a few hours while the professional photographer took photos.

The reception was in a beautiful updated community centre. When I got to the reception we did more videotaping, we ate the most delicious foods from all over the world (seems like almost everyone was a missionary so they knew about all the different kinds of foods from all the different cultures). It wasn’t catered, people from all over the world cooked food. I had some delicious basmati rice with red curry. Most of the people there were white but collectively they had done church ministry work everywhere worldwide. The food was beyond amazing. The fact that a white person made curry better than brown people made me think.

I walked around and talked to men and women, children and adults, young and old. Many people were simply on break from a 2 year mission trip. Some were heading back to the airport in a few days to start a new mission trip or continue one. One young man told me he won’t be going into missions. “I’m going into business, someone has to stay here and pay for these missionaries to go do what they do, someone has to provide the money, it doesn’t grow on trees you know.” hahahaha! A man after my own heart. He was currently in business school and everyone in his family were full time missionaries. I had a good conversation with him. I talked to teen girls who weren’t into the latest pop music or celebrities but instead talked endlessly about 3rd world villages being transformed by the salvation message of Jesus. Can we trade some of these teens with our spoiled brat teens?

After the reception was over, I helped pack away the reception hall as is my custom, and to my shock all of the young people helped as well – without being asked. They were picking up and packing the folding tables themselves and doing it more efficiently than me. I was amazed and remembered again that missionaries have a lot to teach us. These kids aren’t concerned with what they can get for Christmas, but what they can give. I work with teens everyday and I’ve been trying and trying to teach them these values.

I said my farewells to everyone after it started getting late and I drove home that night in amazement of God. Even right now as I type this, I’m just floored. All those missionaries, in one room at the same time. If we could get them to stay in one city of Canada for 2 years they would transform the city. It’s one reason I’m happy to go overboard funding missions work.

On a silly note, while at the reception I was also honored to be the only colored person there. Everyone was white except for me. That is until 4 of Dana’s friends from school showed up late who were brown and black. After everything was finished I sat down with them and we all laughed about how cool it is to be a minority sometimes, especially when everyone else is so nice.

You know what, I can’t stop talking or thinking about this. I met over 100 amazing missionaries, yes I counted over 100 and talked to almost every one of them. I walked around the room shaking peoples hands and introducing myself. Dana’s whole family are missionaries for life and so are J’s. People of all ages, all educations, all kinds of skill sets, who have collectively been to almost every country in the world representing Jesus. Countries I’ve never even heard of! It was one of the most amazing experience for me to be in their presence.

Let me explain this better:

I was 17 years old. Summer. It was approaching evening. I had a home office packed with regular customers. The doorbell rang. 2 large black men came inside. They didn’t say a word. Both were carrying a Price Chopper grocery bag in each hand. 4 bags in total. They emptied the bags in front of me, on my fake wood coffee table.

$100 and $50 bills, Canadian, American and Euro currency. I stacked that money into separate piles of $30,000 each. It was so much I had to call my friend Steve to help. Steve was in the other room (my home office) dealing with some of our clients. When he saw the pile of money he was literally speechless. I mean literally. I thought he was going to faint. He stuttered a few words and then started counting. Steve’s been my buddy since grade 3.

We made over 30 piles, and counted almost $1 Million in cash. We sat there, looking at the money like it was a super hot girl. After we finished doing that, we packed the money neatly in a suitcase and rolled it over to the bank. The lady at the bank snapped at me saying “this line is for business only.” When we opened the suitcase a bit to show her, her mouth opened up so big I thought I could fit my head inside. Because of the sum of money some paperwork had to be done to make sure everything was in order, then we deposited the money just like we were depositing a paycheck for $400. Most of the money was then wired to Germany. When I got back home I logged into my dial up internet access, using my Cyrix 686 with 32mb of RAM and sent an email to a German company: “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Asif Zamir, and I’ve just wired you $XXX,XXX.XX Please send the shipping container(s) to this shipping port and address…”

I should take a moment to mention the following:
– the whole thing was completely legitimate and fully legal
– nothing illegal was going on
– i never have that kind of cash in my home
– the cash wasn’t mine
– the shipping containers were filled with food-commodities going to a developing country to be sold at retail.
– cash was being used because the business owners involved were used to dealing with only cash. Later on they switched to more updated payment methods.
– it only sounds very shady when I talk about it

Needless to say, that was an interesting day for me, a 17 year old boy. But this day, this wedding of my great friend Dana and the reception where I met and talked to and prayed with 100 missionaries, and having some of them pray over me – and hearing about hundreds of thousands of souls being won for Jesus, about communities being changed and lives being completely healed, about the expansion of the faith and hundreds of new church plants doing well – this is truly more amazing to me than all the money in the world.

Family Reunion

Lets start off with me venting then conclude with something good.

Have you ever tried to do something good, and have it blow up in your face? This happens to me often, and I never seem to learn, and chances are I haven’t learned this time either. I helped someone get an apartment by paying first and last, 6 months of rent, signing my name for the apartment and helping them to move in.

The moving in was fun, because something good was being done for someone with a baby. I’ve done this many times before, and I will do this many times again. The apartment was nice, it did need an initial cleaning as most do, and in a crawl space were many empty beer bottles. Eggbert, and I packed what seemed to be 500 empty beer bottles into my car. We saw some grouchy church people pass us by holding all the beer bottles, shaking their heads. Later I would learn that a rumor was started that Eggbert and I were having a fling and that we were both drunkards.

Now for those of you who have never done this you’re thinking “ah, he shouldn’t have put up the money.” No. It’s the putting up my name where I shouldn’t have. This person over the course of 6 months has turned the apartment into a pile of poo-poo, like literally. I’ll explain more after. It started with the landlord calling me at all hours complaining that the tenant was not home, and the 2 year old baby was alone, crying. I couldn’t believe this to be true so I would go over to get some answers. I would get further calls of noise and dirty smells coming from the (basement) apartment, I would go over and get some answers. This got worst and worst until I got a call that the tenant had left, and that I should come over to see the apartment.

I went over, with 4 other friends, the same that helped move her in just a few months prior. Well, what we saw is something we are still talking about, something we’ll be talking about for a long time to come. A 800sq ft apartment turned into a garbage dump. Dirty baby diapers piled up into the bathtub (HOW DID YOU SHOWER?) and garbage everywhere. I mean, everywhere. I mean really everywhere. We brought 10 large garbage bags with us, and I had to go to the store to buy 40 more. Yes 40 more garbage bags.

There were some items we thought to be in good condition; particularly clothing and baby items and so we took those over to the goodwill donation truck at the Westwood Mall. The intake manager was delighted to get so much stuff all at once. It was such a stressful night that after I took everyone to Mandarin so I could drown my sorrows in shrimp and honey garlic ribs. A few days later we would read in the paper about a Mississauga goodwill donation that had to be burned because it caused the staff to get sick. We jokingly laugh, with a touch of fear that it could have been the donation we made.

The worst part of this story? The landlord told me she trusted me when she took in this tenant, and now she doesn’t trust me. I do this thing all the time. This year so far I’ve paid for 3 peoples first and lasts, 2 turned out very well and this one blew up in my face.

And now to some good stuff as promised. My friends invited me to go to their family reunion. I jumped at the opportunity because I’ve never been to a family reunion. I’ve seen them on tv in movies, but my family doesn’t do that kind of thing. This started off with a drive out to the country. A farm, maybe 10 acres or more. When we drove up I thought “wow look at this massive property.” Turned out that was simply the front yard. The backyard was 10x bigger and had several crops growing including corn which we would later pick, roast and eat.

We arrived rather early, and just helped with the cooking and the setup. One of my favorite things to do is walk around, so I walked around. I walked up and down that country road, enjoying the absolute nothing that was out there. Back at the property people were starting to arrive, young and old. The children wanted to play so we did some Frisbee games. I sat on a tractor. I had conversations.

Now it was the conversations that made this family reunion so much fun for me. So many different generations of family, from babies, to grandparents and I think there was a great grand parent as well.

God does the same thing for us. He invites everyone into His gigantic family which consists of all kinds of people of all ages and all backgrounds. Strangers are welcomed in and treated as family. And there’s lots of food :)

We spent the time talking and talking more, taking photographs, laughing, telling jokes. Someone told me they were going to propose to someone else, and then that someone else asked me what that someone said, but I won’t tell. I will be at the wedding though :)