Stranger Danger: Expect the UNexpected
I just returned from 3 weeks of Missionary Training in Colorado…Not to be cliché, but it truly was one of the best, and most difficult, times of my entire life (such a paradox, or a pair of ducks as we were taught to call it, but that my friends is a whole different blog entirely).
We laughed, we cried, we played outdoor laser tag. Truly the adventure of a lifetime! But that was more or less to have been expected when you place 60 like-minded, Jesus loving, future missionaries in a community and delve into the issues of conflict, grief, saying goodbye, stress, culture shock, etc. But this blog is not about the expected, it is about the UNexpected.
“Now when you’re in Colorado you have to look up our friend ok? At least send him an email and get together for lunch. He is great! And you’ll love his wife. She’s beautiful and tall.” That is a direct quote from my mother. I heard several variations of it from both her and my dad more times than I can count in the days leading up to my departure (and throughout the first week I was there). So, being the submitting and loving daughter that I am, I fought my feelings of awkwardness and emailed their friend (whom we shall call Mr. Smith).
We set up a lunch date for my second weekend in Colorado, and I woke up that Saturday regretting my decision to appease my parents. I was emotionally drained after 2 weeks of stretching and pulling and prodding every feeling I had ever felt, not to mention surviving an intense hostage simulation. I was homesick and tired. I plodded out to the common area, where my friends offered little encouragement. They were going to spend the day relaxing and hanging out, and kept instructing me to yell “STRANGER DANGER!” if the Smiths did anything suspect or kidnapped me. Helpful advice right?
So, I’m waiting for my mystery lunch companions in the parking lot on a bench, kicking my feet like a little pouting kid, when a beautiful black car pulls up and three smiling faces come out to introduce themselves. And in that brief moment of the warm welcome, all awkwardness and apprehension disappear. I immediately feel at home with these people I have just met, and their kindness, interest, and humor make me feel as though I am with my family, miles away from the stress and emotional turmoil of the last 2 weeks.
The Smiths took me to an amazing restaurant with some of the best food I have ever tasted (but maybe my taste buds were no longer functional after so many days of cafeteria food). They asked about my calling to Costa Rica, about how I would be serving there, about how they could help support me and the mission. And when I spoke, they cared. They listened. They caught the vision. They might even come visit me in San Jose someday, and see the work that God is doing there.
Wow. What an incredible blessing the Smiths were. God brought them into my life in what seemed to me to be the most inopportune, UNexpected moment. He used them to encourage me, to comfort me, to love on me, to support me. How amazing is it that we serve a God who cares about the details? Who can meet us on the days we just feel grumpy and apathetic, and can lift us up by putting just the right people alongside of us.
That day in Colorado taught me that I can always expect God to do the UNexpected.