Category Archives: The Day We Met

Jeff’s Take, Part 2

Pin It
I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to post this latest installment on the day we met. To read Shannon’s account, click here. To catch up on my perspective, click here for the prologue and here for part one.

There are some things that God puts in the heart of every boy, and there are some things that He puts in the heart of every girl. Leaving room for damage done to us by this fallen, broken world, I believe there are defaults for how men and women think, feel, and behave themselves.

Two things that most men and boys can relate to are shepherds and soldiers. There’s something innate in us that wants to protect, and we are willing to fight to the death in defense of what we’re fighting for. I think that we men are designed to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father by leading, watching over, providing for, and protecting that which has been placed in our care.

The reason I’m telling you this is because of something the Lord was doing in me (in a most wonderful, unexpected way) the day I met Shannon.

You need to understand that, at the time we met, I was living an almost ideal life for a single Christian guy. I was doing work that was Biblical, strategic, and important. I was living in an exotic location. Life as I knew it was an interesting blend of adventurer, secret agent, and minister. I was living the dream.

…but by the end of that day, something in me was awakened.

From the moment I met Shannon, I was distracted by her. Her eyes, her smile, her energy and enthusiasm, her obvious love for the Lord and His obvious Presence in her. Within moments of meeting her I realized there was nothing else I’d rather be doing than spending the day with her. Fortunately, that was the plan.

My lucky day had arrived. No, not luck – Someone Else had a plan.

However, I reminded myself, I’m not on a date with this beauty, I’m here to be a resource and a friend to both her and B. In fact, I would remind myself throughout the day that I needed to engage B as well, not just Shannon. Apparently, I did a good job of hiding my interest, because for months after that first day, Shannon thought I was attracted to B. In the interest of full disclosure, B is a very interesting, charming, funny, adventurous, godly woman. She just isn’t Shannon. And Shannon was always the one that God had for me. But I digress…

Along with all of her other amazing qualities, there was one thing about Shannon that kept coming to the surface during that day. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was unquestionably appealing. Though I couldn’t define it, I found myself responding quite easily to it all day. I wanted to watch over her and care for her. I mean this in a different way than just be her translator and tour guide. And then, over a banana chocolate milkshake, she defined it for me. In a vulnerable moment, she shared with us (B was there, too) that, although she felt called to the work, the place, and the people, she could not do it alone.

She needed someone. That was the thing which was so appealing abut her. She needed to be looked after. Shannon desperately needed a husband to lead, to protect, to guide, to shepherd her. As she shared that with us (“I just can’t do it alone.”), there was no mistaking what she meant. And it took an enormous amount of self-control for me to not volunteer for that assignment right on the spot. Just as real as an alarm clock, that statement woke up something in me that God had put in me (and, I think, in every boy and man).

You see, all my life, I have wanted to be heroic. Most boys do. (and, I imagine, most men do, too). I have come to understand – since becoming a husband and a daddy – that being heroic is just too small a goal for boys and men to attain to. We are created for so much more than random acts of heroism and bravery. We are created to follow the example of Jesus and bear the image of God in our lives and in the lives that we touch. Let me put it another way…

As I sat there across the table from the most beautiful woman I’d ever encountered, I was stunned by her honesty. And then I was inspired to action.

I wanted to meet all her needs and make sure that she was taken care of.

I wanted to lead her to places of provision and rest.

I wanted to connect her to Jesus, the fountain of life, and help her drink deeply of the living water.

Does this have a familiar feel to it? “The Lord is my Shepherd…”

gratuitous picture of one of my daughters’ favorite movie stars

God awoke something in me that day, something that I think He puts in the heart of every boy (and man) – a shepherd’s heart. The 23rd Psalm paints a picture not only of how God looks after us, but also of how we are to look after the flocks which the Good Shepherd has entrusted to us. Now I want to lead, provide, watch over, and protect.

But I have left that story and moved on to something else, so let me go back.

As I said, I just sat there stunned, for at least two reasons. The first was her honesty and vulnerability. I mean, people don’t just say things like that – at least not without making a joke out of it. She really opened herself up to some ridicule there, even in the presence of her friend and the missionary, because her friend was Ms. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me – I don’t need anyone else to help me get the job done,” and the missionary was (as far as she knew) some gung-ho, all-out, no excuses, no-quit kind of guy. Yet she bared her soul, admitted her weakness and need, and captured my heart in the process. (she’s had it ever since).

Which was the second reason I was stunned. I just knew that I had to be with this woman. Not yet in the forever, ’till death do us part kind of way, but I had to know what kind of person has this kind of courage to be so weak and needy? And how did she get this way? And does she really have a boyfriend, or not? And if so, would it be wrong for me to bump him out of the way and woo her?

But the day was ending, and it was time to go. I had no good official reason to be with her – er, them, anymore. So I walked them back to the guesthouse they were staying at, and then made my way back home, wondering what it would be like to be with a woman like that…

Jeff’s Take, Part 1

Pin It
Sorry! It’s taken a few days longer than I thought it would to get this next post up because I’ve been hunting something dead in the garage. No kidding. The sad thing is I haven’t found it yet. No kidding. I’m obviously not much of a hunter.

Webster’s defines prejudice as “preconceived judgement or opinion”. We all have our prejudices, mostly based on some experience that is related to what we are pre-judging.

I must admit, I was going into my tour-guide play day with some prejudices, and it was not a good way to start. You see, I had just spent a month with a great group of Americans who really struggled with being in a country so…un-American. By the end of their trip, they wanted to sleep in an American bed, wake up and have an American breakfast, and speak only English all day long to everyone they met. These are not unreasonable things if you are in America. However, they weren’t, so these things just weren’t going to happen, and that caused them stress. (This is culture shock.)

I assumed that the two girls I’d be with were experiencing the same culture shock, wanting to change their environment to something more comfortable for them. I was…wrong. I had pre-judged Shannon and B based on other, related (recent!) experiences. They weren’t culture shocking; they were getting over being sick. They were actually a joy to be around, but I’ll get to that in due time.

I had also assumed there might be something “broken” or unappealing about them, mostly because I had observed that before in single seminary women who were involved in missions (especially as a career). Again, I was wrong, and I’m saying it.

As I was riding in the taxi to our rendezvous point, I probably said some dopey prayer like, “Lord please give me strength to make it through this day and to be a help to these poor girls.”. The lesson, in hindsight, is that I’m a dork.

Shannon, the hat, and some friends she made over in the big country

As the cab slowed down at my destination, I noticed Shannon. Oh man, did I notice Shannon. I told the driver, “Stop here, please,” to which he responded, “What?”. You see, my first glimpse of Shannon made me forget where I was, because I started speaking English to some guy who couldn’t understand me at all. Well, that was quickly resolved; I talked to him correctly, he stopped, and I began to make my way toward my destiny.

The first thing I noticed about Shannon was this crazy bucket hat she was wearing. The thing looked like someone had splattered it with every color paint you could imagine. It’s the kind of clothing article that catches one’s eye in a crowd. Well, I noticed her.

Which brings me to the second thing…. her eyes. Her amazing, stunning, beautiful eyes. It’s not just that they are this gorgeous blue color – they are almost always so full of life (unless she hasn’t slept well or I’ve left the toilet seat up, or…wait, I’m getting off subject here). Anyway, beautiful, expressive, vibrant eyes. And a smile that lit up the whole park. And I nearly called my team leader that very moment to thank him for forcing me to come meet this woman. Then I quit daydreaming, my thoughts turned to reality and I thought, “This can’t be who I’m supposed to meet.” (prejudices. dumb.)

the eyes have it

I wasn’t sure what to say to her. How do you talk to someone like that? Fortunately, I was saved from looking too silly by someone else. There was another woman talking to me; someone in between me and those eyes, talking, talking, talking…

Oh! The girl I was supposed to meet was talking to me! Pay attention, Jeff! As it turns out, I was looking for both women; the talker turned out to be B, and the eyes turned out to be Shannon. “Nice to meet you, Ladies. Ready for a few adventures?”

I sure was.

Jeff’s Take, Prologue

Pin It
Over the next week or so I will be telling the story of the day we met from my perspective. However, today I will be telling about the month and day before the day we met, to give a bit of context. So today is the prologue, and Part 1 is coming in a day or two…

As Shannon has already said, I was a backpacker at the time we met. More specifically, I was part of a group that was doing something akin to anthropological cartography. That’s a fancy way of saying we were looking for people. Specific people. Have you ever seen those ads in the paper where the government has “lost” or “unclaimed” money and if your name is on the list, then call this number? Or perhaps a better example would be the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. Have you ever wished they’d come knocking at your door with some great, big news that would change your life forever? Well, that’s kind of what I was involved in. We had some great news to share with a group of folks, but first we had to find them. I was one of the finders.

We would take public buses to the end of the bus routes (small country towns that would be similar to county seats), and then from there we would hike all over each area, going to every village we could find, and determining if the people we were looking for lived there. We compiled this information in a way that would be easy to use and follow.

This was a big job that required a lot of manpower (By our estimates, there could have been as many as 250,000 people we were looking for!), and we would often have people come and help us look for our people.

The day before I met Shannon, one of the busiest months of my life was coming to a close. I was on the road for about 20-24 days that month, leading a volunteer team of mountain bikers that discovered along the way they were being re-tasked as backpackers. That discovery, along with food, health, language, and culture adjustments made for a challenging trip for them (and, by extension, for me). We had accomplished quite a bit, but we were physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually drained.

Yet hope was rising within me! I was going to take a scouting trip with some co-workers up to a really cool, way-out-there border town that a few of us were about to move to and use as a base of operations. It would be my first city adventure in this Big Country, as well as the first time I got to see where I’d be moving to. My bus ticket was purchased, and I was packing up my things when I heard a knock at my door….

My team leader was there, and he had a favor to ask: would I be able take on a little project the next day? He had two volunteers who had a pretty rough few weeks and needed a nice, relaxing, fun day to end their trip on a positive note. Could I play tour guide for two female seminary students, taking them to see the local sites, do some fun stuff, and help them sort out all that God had been doing in them and through them on this trip?

Well, I told him, I already had a project I was involved with; could he use someone else? (I even offered a few suggestions) The short answer: no one else could cover this assignment, and he would find a replacement for me on the road trip (which, by the way makes no sense in hindsight).

If I had known that I was meeting her, I would have paid money for the assignment. A lot of money.

I felt kind of trapped, actually, and wasn’t happy about it, but agreed to do it. (Thanks be to God Who saved me from that awesome adventure my buddies had with the cool crowd in the border town. And I absolutely mean that.). I prepared for the next day, packing my backpack, setting an itinerary, making sure of bus schedules, etc., and then had a relaxing evening before heading to bed. It seemed like a disappointing assignment, but I was going to make the most of it. I had no idea, really, that the next day would be one of the most profoundly significant ones of my life…