Sharon was excited. It was summer break from college and she was going on a mission trip to Chile. She was going to be helping them with their VBS in a mission church there. She had just gotten over her first broken heart and was getting back to normal. Since she broke up with James her Christian life had been put back into perspective. She had decided to attend college again the next year and this Missions trip was something that she always wanted to do. After saying goodbye to her family she boarded the plane. Several hours later they landed in Chile. The Mission family was waiting for them. The missionary introduced himself.
“My name is pastor Gervoni and this is my wife Jane. You can call me Pastor Henry if you’d like, Gervoni is a hard name for the people here to pronounce. This is our son, Antonio.”
Antonio was a handsome man with black hair and brown eyes. He looked at Sharon and smiled, “pleased to meet you, he said, and you guys can call me Tony.”
After loading their bags into the waiting van they were taken to the place where they were to stay.
Later at dinner Antonio came and sat down next to Sharon and her friend Francis. “How do you like your room? Sorry it’s so unfinished, we are in the process of building this Church. That’s part of the reason why you are here, well the men of your group anyway. Mom says that you girls are going to be helping in the kitchen.”
“Yeah, that’s what we heard. I mean you guys are going to want to be fed well if you are going to finish building the church,” Sharon said
Antonio smiled again. It wasn’t a normal smile, there was something about it that made her feel special. After dinner Pastor Henry gathered everyone together for a meeting. He assigned the guys their building jobs and the girls their other odd jobs. Then he talked a little about VBS. Each student was paired with someone from the Mission Church to help teach the kids.
Pastor Henry was about to announce who would get who when a small child burst into the room. “Mr. Tony, Mr. Tony my baby sister is sick can you come make her better,” she said in halted English.
Antonio walked over to the girl and put his arm on her shoulder. “It’s O.K Shen, I’ll be right there, just let me get my bag,” He told her in French.
Pastor Henry asked if anyone would go and assist Antonio and Sharon gladly went along. The drive out there was quiet. Shen had fallen asleep and Antonio just wanted to get there as fast as possible. When he pulled up to Shen’s house Sharon was shocked. It was a small house made out of mud and straw. Inside there were two rooms and Antonio quickly went to where the baby was crying.
He felt her forehead and then said, “Sharon, can you please get me a cold rag.” Sharon got the rag and brought it to Antonio. “Thanks,” he said with a smile. Her temperature is very high, I think we need to give her a little Tylenol and some cold juice. Sharon went to his bag and dug out the Tylenol. She brought it back to Antonio and then went to see the baby’s mother. She wished she could tell her what was going on.
Finally Shen said, “Will my baby sister be alright?”
“Yes, I think so,” Antonio said and then he talked to her mother in French. The baby’s mother came back with a bottle of juice and went in to see her baby.
“It’s just a classic case of the flu. I think she will be fine. I do think that we need to stay a little while longer, so that Mrs. Mendosa will feel better,” Antonio said.
Shen climbed up into Antonio’s lap and gave him a hug.
“Can you tell me a story, Mr. Tony?” she asked. Antonio began to tell her the story of Baby Moses and he was so animated that even Sharon was on the edge of her seat. When he was done he picked up Shen and took her to her bed. Sharon got up to check on Mrs. Mendosa and then she heard singing. She peeked over at where Shen was lying and saw Antonio softly singing Jesus Loves Me to her. She smiled as she remembered how her dad had done the same for her when she was small. After tucking in Shen, Antonio came over to the baby’s cradle. Mrs. Mendosa was sleeping and the baby started to stir. Sharon picked her up and sang a song to her. It was a beautiful little lullaby that he thought he had never heard before.
He listened carefully as she sang, “Rock a bye baby on the treetop, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, I love you baby, Mommy does too, and God will keep baby safe as you sleep.”
At that moment she felt Antonio watching her and she quickly stopped singing. “Oh no go ahead and finish I think you have a very pretty voice, and I like that version so much better than the old one,” He said. Sharon put the baby back in the cradle and Antonio went over to tell Mrs. Mendosa that they would be leaving and that the baby would be all right.
On the way home, Sharon asked, “Antonio, tell me about yourself.”
Antonio said, “First of all please call me Tony. I go to school in Italy where I was born. I’m studying to be a doctor, but recently I have begun to think that maybe the Lord wants me to be a missionary doctor. Since Italy has no Christian School for me to attend, I want to go to America and study at a Bible School there, but I haven’t decided which one yet. I’ve been to America lots with mom and dad, but I really would like to go there and visit some of the famous sights. Sonshine Baptist Church is our sending church and they have all ready raised up money for me to go to America. Some of the people here have offered to help too, but they are so poor that I will need to work too. What about you.”
Sharon said, “I like the name Antonio, and if you don’t mind I would like to call you that.”
Antonio smiled and said, “O.K, I like hearing you say it anyway. As I said before you have a very pretty voice. Can I tell you something else?”
“Sure,” Sharon said.
“Well, I think that you are very beautiful and your blue eyes are so expressive. It’s very rare to see blue eyes in this country and yours are especially beautiful. The way you took care of the baby back there was so nice to see. You are going to make a great mother some day,” Antonio said.
Sharon blushed, “Antonio, you certainly know how to sweet talk a girl. It must be the Italian blood coming through. And by the way you are quite good with children yourself. You’ll make someone a good father someday.”
It was Antonio’s turn to blush. “I may be Italian, but what I said before was true. I will definitely enjoy working with you. Dad let me see the VBS list and it turns out that you and I will be teaching the fours and fives class together.”
The rest of the trip back was quiet and when Antonio dropped her off at the place she was staying he walked her up to the door. “You can be my nurse anytime!” He said with a smile.
The next day Sharon watched from the kitchen window as the guys worked on the building. As she was washing the dishes from lunch her mind turned back to the night before. She thought about the little children she had seen in the village where Shen lived and all the poverty in the village. Her heart went out to the people of Chile. She wanted to help them. Then her mind jumped back to Antonio and she smiled. She thought about the compliment he paid her and she wondered if his words were true. Just as she finished the dishes Antonio walked into the kitchen. “Hi,’ he said. “It’s getting too hot to work outside any more. I thought I would come in and help you finish here. There is a nice shady porch to sit on and we need to talk about our VBS class.”
They finished up the dishes and since she wasn’t on dinner detail she had a little free time. They went to the porch and began to talk. They were supposed to be planning their lesson for the night, but they got talking about other things instead. Sharon told him all about her family and her life, including her recent break up with James. With tears she told him about how he threatened her because she wouldn’t give in to him. She had never told anyone but her mom, dad, and Francis about it before. She felt so relaxed with Antonio. When their conversation finally came back to the lesson Sharon felt so at ease that she didn’t notice that Mrs. Gervoni was standing there.
Antonio looked up and saw his mom standing there. “It’s time for supper,” she said.
The next two weeks flew by and before she knew it was time to go home. Antonio and her had become really close and leaving him was going to be the hardest thing that she had ever done. They had seen many children saved over those weeks and several of the older ones even dedicated their lives to the Lord. The night before they were to leave Antonio took her to his special spot and they watched the sunset together. As the sun began to set Antonio reached out and took both her hands in his.
He said, “Sharon, you mean the world to me, and I will miss you so much. I know the experts say that love doesn’t happen over night, but let me tell you they are wrong. From the moment I saw you I knew that something wonderful was going to happen for us, and it has. I want you to know that you will be the first person I come to see when I enroll in your college down there.”
Sharon shed a tear and said, “Oh Antonio I’m going to miss you so much. Love does happen overnight because since I saw you with little Shen, I knew you were the one for me. When you come down in September I’ll be waiting for you.”
Then Antonio held her in his arms for a long time and they cried together.
The next day Sharon left for home. She had so much to tell her mom and dad.
It was a cold August morning when Sharon got into her car and drove to the airport. She was so happy that she would finally get to see Antonio again. As she waited for the plane she thought about the news that she had to tell him. Finally Antonio’s plane landed and she went to meet him. As soon as he saw her he dropped his bags and ran to meet her.
He threw his arms around her and picked her up. “I missed you so much,” he said.
“I missed you too,” she said as she looked into his eyes. His eyes were so soft and Sharon saw love in them like she had never seen before. They were a beautiful light brown and she wondered if her eyes told him the same thing.
“Mom and Dad are dying to meet you. They have a big lunch planned for us so we had better go.
When they got home Sharon’s mom and dad greeted them. “Mom, Dad, this is Antonio,” Sharon told them.
“Glad to finally meet you. Sharon has told me so much about you,” her dad said as he shook his hand. He nodded his approval of the handshake. He liked a good sturdy handshake and then Sharon smiled. She knew her dad approved.
A week later Antonio enrolled in Bible College and the school year began. With all the excitement of a new school year Sharon hadn’t gotten a chance to tell him her big news. One night as they were studying in the library Sharon said, “Antonio, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the Lord wants me to do. Remember when you said that I could be your nurse anytime, well, I feel that the Lord wants me to work with you in your missionary work. I don’t want to be a nurse, but I would like to work side by side with you in Chile. Those children there need to know that Jesus Loves them, and I want to tell them.”
Antonio smiled and said, “Sharon, that’s great! I’ve been praying that the Lord would call you to my mission field. I was afraid that He would only call me and not you. You need to be in the Lord’s will too, and if he wants you in Chile, then praise God.
The semester finished up. Sharon and Antonio packed up and got in the car to drive to her house. Antonio was unusually quiet. “What’s on your mind, Antonio,” Sharon asked. “Oh, I’m just a little homesick that’s all. I mean being away from family is hard enough, but culture shock on top of that is even harder.”
“Maybe you should fly home and see them. I’m sure mom and dad will help you with expenses,” Sharon suggested.
Antonio thought a minute and then said, “You really think they would help?”
“Yeah, every year mom and dad set aside mission expenses and this year they wanted to use it for your parents, but I think they wouldn’t mind donating it to you instead.
Antonio decided to go back home for his semester break. The night before he was to leave he took Sharon for a ride. He took her to the beach and showed her a special rock. On that rock he had carved their initials.
“This is where I come to think and pray. I wanted to show it to you. It was here that I made a very important decision,” he said. He took Sharon’s hand in his and got down on knee. “Sharon,” he said, “I love you more that anything else in the whole world and I would be honored if you would agree to marry me and work side by side in our ministry together.”
Sharon smiled and said, “Yes, I’ll marry you
As Sharon walked down the aisle she glanced up to see Antonio looking at her. His brown eyes shown with love and the smile on his face was the same smile he had given her the first time he met her.
As she took his hand he gave it a little squeeze and said quietly, “You are the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world and I will always love you.” Sharon smiled and said, “I’ll always love you too.”
This story has so much potential. The setting is interesting and could be flushed out more. I'd like to see the time span of the mission experience longer so you could develop the relationship between Antonio and Sharon a bit more. Show me instead of telling me what makes their love special. What is VBS? Having the couple from different countries adds to the interest of this piece. The opening paragraph doesn't work well. Something like--Sharon stepped off the ancient bus tired and sweaty, yet excited about being in Chile. Try to put a space between the paragraphs when posting at FaithWriters since it doesn't allow for indenting. It would make the story easier to read. I printed out this story. If you would like a more detailed critique, please send me your mailing address. Best wishes.