URGENT: We are praying for our dossier to be submitted TOMORROW (Thursday), to keep from major delays as adoptions temporarily close in K & L’s country. PLEASE pray with us!
Today (June 22) is 10 years since Jeff and I met. For fun, (and to bless him), I wanted to write out the story of that day. Here’s the final installment… Read Part I HERE, Part II HERE, and Part III HERE
We had only been seated a few seconds when a sweet local girl walked up to take our order. Jeff suggested that we needed to try the chicken schnitzel and of course, we all needed a chocolate banana milkshake. Off she went to put in our order, and we were alone again at our table. B was sitting close to the balcony railing, admiring the view, and Jeff was directly across from me.
A small bowl of sunflower seeds was on the table – the rugged-China version of chips and salsa, or basket of bread. We took turns grabbing seeds from the bowl as we chatted, and Jeff nonchalantly spit his shells on the floor from time-to-time, as is the custom. Each of us had our own bottled beverage we had picked up at a small shop along our walk. The drinks weren’t cold, since cold beverages are such a foreign concept (and considered unhealthy) in many Asian and European countries, but it didn’t matter. I found everything about that dinner refreshing.
Soon our food appeared, and we dug into our chicken schnitzel. And as promised, it was delicious. The milkshakes were very different than what is served in the States, but surprisingly yummy. Jeff finished his meal and sat back in his chair, with a determined air about him.
It was time for some serious debriefing.
Turning to B, he asked her to sum-up her trip and share what she was planning to do in the near future. She shared with him her difficulties with culture shock upon arriving in Asia, which is so vastly different than anything she had experienced in Brazil. And she said that while she was certainly glad God had brought her on this trip, she definitely thought she’d be doing work long-term in Brazil, where she was fluent in the language, and already had established contacts with the people. (Note: I don’t know if B ever went back to Brazil. She’s been serving in Asia longer now than all the time I spent there combined. God is funny that way.)
I listened, sipping on my runny milkshake.
Jeff turned my direction and smiled. My turn.
“Now let me ask you something,” he started. “I hear you tell me that Father has called you into this work…”
“Right,” I answered.
“And I hear you tell me that you’ve come to this country several times, and this is your 2nd time in this region…” he said.
“Yes, ” I answered.
“And I hear you tell me you love this people group, and your heart is here…” he continued.
“Right,” I said.
I tried not to take note that he’d been listening so well all day.
“And so… why aren’t you here full time?” he asked.
I paused nervously, and looked down towards the cobblestone street.
I didn’t want to tell him what my struggle really was. If I did, he would surely think I was weak. B knew. And she didn’t understand. She was stronger, more independent. She knew the burden on my heart, and I sensed that she was impatient with me for it.
I opened my mouth, fully prepared to lie to Jeff and give him an answer that would satisfy his curiosity and close the door on that conversation.
But before I could get a word out, I heard the Lord clearly say to my spirit, Tell him the truth.
And then I looked him straight in the eye and the truth came spilling out…
“Honestly, I don’t want to do it alone,” I said.
He put his chair back on all four legs and leaned in on the table to listen.
“Yes, I do feel like Father has called me to do this work, but I struggle with this,” I continued. “Because I don’t feel like he’s called me to do it alone.”
“I see,” he said, waiting for me to say more.
“I believe he’s called me to work alongside a husband, for our family to do the work together… but here I am as a single woman, and Father hasn’t brought a husband into my life yet… so while I don’t feel that it’s Father’s will for me to do this work as a single woman, that’s precisely where I find myself. So that’s a struggle for me… I know that may sound weak, but that’s my answer to your question,” I finished.
Jeff smiled, “I don’t think that’s weak at all,” he said.
There were no speeches about being a strong woman and not needing a man.
No sermons about God calling some people to be single.
No jokes about going to seminary just to get my “Mrs” degree.
Instead this rugged, backpacking missionary encouraged me to keep seeking the Lord’s will and said he would pray for God to give me guidance.
I silently breathed a sigh of relief, happy that I had told him the truth. But I could still feel myself blushing as I had been briefly put in the spotlight.
By then the meal was finished, and we gathered ourselves up to leave. Back down the steep staircase we went, B and I practicing our “xie xie” (thank you) towards the kind staff members. Back across the little bridge and onto the cobblestone street. The three of us chatted as we walked back towards the entrance of Old Town. We came to the place where we would part ways, and B and I thanked our new friend for spending the day with us. He told us how happy he was to meet us, shook our hands, and urged us to be safe in our travels.
And then, just like that, he was walking away. B and I turned to walk the opposite direction towards our guesthouse. It was time to start packing for our trip home the following day. I turned once to look back at him, feeling slightly sad that I’d probably never see him again.
Chiding myself and feeling silly, I turned back around and matched my step with B, not wanting her to notice that I’d given him a 2nd glance.
But inside I prayed that the Lord would send someone like him into my life…