Kidless! for the first time in eons, centuries, forever, whatever! —
Our little darlings were three hours away, tucked in the comfort of their classrooms, while we, we were smack in the middle of autumn foliage at its peak in the Adirondack Mountains. Two days of canoeing, strolling the streets of Lake Placid, and breathtaking views lay ahead — all with Jeff and Lori, who had dared invite us along for the ride.
Then we saw the huge table taking up all the space in the dining area. My heart sank. One table meant we’d be eating our meals together with the other guests. I, quite frankly, wasn’t too excited about meeting other guests. What on earth would we ever have in common with a random couple or two who happened to be canoeing around some pond like we were going to do? We’d have to be social. We’d have to be polite and careful.
Sure enough, pockets of silence peppered the first meal, though the folks seemed nice enough. The twinkle in Ed and Jan’s eyes came from canoeing every autumn for the last 25 years. Jill and Gordon were from the UK. Now that was interesting. We could talk about Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy.
“There really is something to this art of conversation business,” Mark and I agreed later. “When you decide to take an interest and draw people out of their shells, you can find out quite a bit.” Both couples seemed genuinely interested in hearing about our kids and their Lego creations. Their eyes had not glazed over when I had talked about how Hunter stood up at the end of a church service and announced, “Time to eat!” Jill and Gordon also talked of their church; they had traveled a lot and even been whitewater rafting in Uganda, so when they asked if we’d traveled I felt free to mention that I’d grown up just over the border in Congo.
By the end of the first meal I almost wished that we hadn’t already made plans to eat in Lake Placid the following night. At least we would share two breakfasts together. Throughout the next day, as we drove up the summit of Whiteface Mountain, strolled along Main Street in Lake Placid, lost my phone and then (thank you, God!) found it again, I found myself wanting to know more about Jill and Gordon and their background. Anyone who lives in the same area as Jane and has been to Africa automatically incites, within me, a lot of curiosity.
So during our last breakfast I decided to throw out some general bait and ask if they were Church of England.
But she threw out the bait first. She made mention of my being a mish kid.
Now wait a minute. Not everyone knows that term. Only folks who have had direct involvement with missionaries or missionary kids would call one a mish kid. My heart flip-flopped. I threw out some code: I mentioned Congo’s over-grown, livestock filled airfields and MAF planes. She caught it, and threw another back: She mentioned an MAF family that had flown out of Nyankunde. She mentioned UFM. She had a close friend who worked at the hospital in Kijabe. Jill and Gordon’s mouths dropped when I told them my father was buried there.
I couldn’t believe it. A random couple at a random bed and breakfast during one particular autumn in the middle of the Adirondacks in the Great State of New York. “It’s very bizarre,” I said to Mark on our drive home.
“It’s not bizarre at all,” he answered thoughtfully. “I’ve learned a big lesson: I need to get out of my comfort zone and reach out more. Nothing is random; God’s hand is in everything. He obviously orchestrated your meeting this weekend. Me — I saw that table and thought it would all be a drag. Look what happened. I need to meet each day understanding that each meeting is an opportunity.”
He’s right. And for me there’s more. Recently, through more than a few sermons at church, I had given up believing the lie that I was “done”. That God was no longer interested in the likes of me, or working in the likes of me. As I had relinquished my grip on stupid ideas like that and spending more time with him, God had been very tenderly showing me in increasing strength that I was important to him, loved by him, and a channel of his grace. On a random weekend like this, God showed up in the Adirondacks and particularly showed me that he takes personal interest in me and that his hand is in everything. That, “simply”, is not only so much more than enough. It’s all I need.