It was a cold day in December and my sister-in-law Sonia and I were out Christmas shopping. Sonia was also the wife of my Pastor at First Baptist Church in South Otselic New York. She’d been kind of quiet for the last few weeks and I wanted to find out why. We were sitting at Arby’s enjoying curly fries and mozzarella sticks when she decided to call to check up on her kids. She asked the kids if dad was home yet. I thought that was curious since we had just come from her house. I had figured he was up in the office working on a sermon. When she got off the phone I innocently asked where he was.
“I can’t say. The kids don’t even know yet,” she said simply.
I forgot about the conversation until I was traveling to Jeff’s mom’s house. Pastor Jeff and Sonia had gone there on vacation and the kids were asking if we would see them.
I told them we would and then Jeff said, “They aren’t there,”
“Where are they?” I asked.
“Pastor Jeff is preaching at a church this weekend,” Jeff said.
I thought nothing of it until I remembered what Sonia had said about Pastor Jeff being gone a few weeks prior to that. I started to see a mystery unfolding right before my eyes.
“Why would Pastor Jeff use his vacation time to preach elsewhere unless he had other intentions,” I thought to myself.
While at Jeff’s mom house we were shipped off to Brian and Amy’s which I thought was rather strange, since there were no extra visitors at her house. At supper that Sunday mom answered the phone.
“Hi Sonia,” she said.
Then she got a smile across her face and said, “You got it!”
Then she looked at me and left the room with the phone. I thought her actions were strange, but it was one of the clues I needed to solve the case.
Over the next few weeks Sonia became more reserved and I found myself doing all the talking. Which is very unusual. Jon and Joy even seemed to be avoiding me, and my online chats with Nate, my other brother-in-law also seemed strained. Even Amy wasn’t talking as much as usual (A very strange feat in itself).
“What had I done to cause so many people to not like me?”
I was starting to get a complex. A few weeks later Jeff and I were at a teen retreat with Jon and Joy and one of the fellowship pastors asked Jeff if the people at South Otselic were looking for a pastor. Right there I put two and two together and realized that one of my best friends was being taken away from me, but I needed one final clue.
When Jeff and I got back from the retreat we were getting ready to go out and I asked Jeff point blank, “Is Pastor Jeff thinking about leaving the church?”
He was quiet for a minute and then he said, “I can’t say.”
That was my final clue! The next morning at church was the business meeting. There was an air of sadness hanging about and I knew why. I said nothing of my suspicions to anyone and dreaded the meeting that was to follow the meal. As I sat there in the business meeting I waited for the news. Just as the meeting was about to close, Pastor Jeff got up and made his announcement. I could see him and Sonia searching my face for a reaction. When I didn’t react with shock Pastor Jeff knew that I knew. Sonia was much more talkative after the meeting and Joy hugged me and finally started acting like her normal self.
So thanks to my many years of reading Nancy Drew books, I had solved the case. It was a bittersweet ending and I would miss them, but I knew that Charleroy PA was where God wanted them, and who am I to argue with God.