Memories of Ricky Rodriguez

Wonderful Memories

By Peter Amsterdam

I have a lot of happy memories of Pete--experiences, things we did together, conversations I had with him, and the way I saw him interact with his friends and family. I have a lot of wonderful and happy remembrances stacked up from the nearly 20 years that I lived with Pete, from the time he was four until he was 24. He was 19 when his dad died and I married his mother when he was 20.

When you live with someone for that long, you get to know them well. I had a first-hand view of his life as a child, as a teen, and then as a young man. I saw him grow from a caring and happy child, to an intelligent and good-natured man. I saw him bring so much happiness to the lives of those around him through all of those years. The Pete I knew was a son to be proud of.

I was a close friend and co-worker to his parents during those years, and it always impressed me to see the love they had for Pete, and the love he gave them in return. He was a joy in their lives. During the time we lived in France and South Africa, I remember a lot of the things Pete and his family enjoyed--playing together, going on drives and outings together, walking, mowing the lawn, washing the car, talking, laughing, reading, watching TV and movies and documentaries, climbing trees, and so much more.

From the time Pete was 7 until 12 we lived in the Philippines. It was during this time that Pete helped a lot on handyman projects with his father and the handymen in the Home. He worked on converting a rundown nipa hut into a place where people could live and work. It was here that his parents bought him a bicycle, got him chickens to take care of, and where he learned to grow a vegetable garden. He was responsible and dependable, and he loved to try and learn new things.

Then we moved to Japan where Pete went to a Family school with other Family children. Besides schooling, he helped on handyman projects, including helping to build the school's park and playground. While in Japan he went to Disneyland, he traveled with his family throughout southern Japan, and made two trips to Korea.

When Pete was 13 we moved to Canada. Pete's dad had told him and his sister, Techi, that one thing he wanted for them was to experience life on a farm, as he felt it was such a good learning experience. So in Canada the Lord supplied a house for rent that had five acres and a barn. A woman was boarding a horse on the property and she taught Pete to ride. Eventually we found a pony for sale for $200 so his mom and dad bought it so Pete could train it and ride it. A local trainer came and taught Pete how to teach the pony, and in time Pete was riding his pony.

At the farm Pete raised geese, ducks, sheep, a ram, dogs, pigeons and cats. He bought and sold animals, he helped the sheep give birth, and he went to animal auctions. He also planted a vegetable garden. One year he and I worked on a huge garden together. These are some of the many happy memories I have during the years I lived with Pete.

I remember helping him to learn how to drive when he was 15. He took a drivers' education course and passed his drivers' test. He also took night school courses in electronics and mechanics, and had a great aptitude for learning and applying what he had learned. He excelled at nearly everything he decided to learn or gain experience in. Pete never did anything with half a heart. He was never sloppy in his work. He did everything he did well.

Amy and I regularly took Pete and Techi camping, along with my daughter Beth, and her friend, Chalsey, both of who lived nearby. We would go about once a month to various campsites in the area. We'd go hiking, canoeing, play board games, sing songs--you know, the regular camping activities. These camping trips are filled with happy memories of Pete and the fun times we had together.

We once went to a wool fair, where they had sheep shearing, sold wool products, did weaving, etc. Pete also went to the county fair each year. It's nearly impossible to think of all of the things we did together, but there were a whole lot more--and these are a few of the ones that come to mind.

Pete and I went on a trip when he was 19. This trip lasted three months. We traveled to England, Washington DC, Michigan, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. We were together daily and slept in the same room most of the time. I had numerous lengthy conversations with him, we debated theology, not always agreeing with each other, we talked about anything he wanted to discuss. I got to know him well.

A few months after Pete's father died, he went on a three month trip to Russia with Amy and Francis to visit the Family Homes there. After his return Home he decided he'd like to go back to Russia as a missionary. He returned to Russia and lived there and in Hungary for almost one and a half years, after which he and his girlfriend, Elixcia (she used the name Nicole when living with us, and later became his wife) came back home to live with us in Portugal, for about three years.

Pete was 22-24 years old during this last time he was living with us. His mom and I had been married about two years by this time. Pete regularly mentioned to me and others that he was happy that I was with his mom and taking care of her. That kind of assurance meant a lot to me. I knew that I would never replace his father to him--whom he loved very much--but I was happy that he “approved� of me and my marriage to his mother.

During this time I began to see and appreciate even more the joy that Pete was to his mother. He would often come to our room to see her. He would sit and talk with his mom, laugh with her, discuss issues, talk about his girlfriend and all kinds of other topics.

From time to time we would have special dinners with Pete and Nicole, which was always fun. We'd cook something special and enjoy one another's company. He'd also help with handyman projects in our room, and I worked with him on a number of other handyman projects as well. Pete's love for others, his attention to details, and his desire to help others, impressed me on a regular basis.

I'm happy that Pete was part of my life. I watched him grow up. I watched his life. I witnessed his love for his parents and their love for him. When I think of all of the good that Pete did in his life when I knew him--his love for others, his giving nature, the way he took care of his sister Techi, the loving son he was to his mother and father, the caring boyfriend he was to Nicole, the good friend he was to those he lived with--it fills me with sweet memories.

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