As a sheltered, ignorant, gangly girl, just a few days from turning sixteen, my life suddenly became a nightmare.
Our church denomination had a teen magazine that had a pen-pal column in it. It was for ages 16-22, if I remember. My name actually appeared a couple of months earlier than my birthday. I enjoyed getting letters from all over the U.S. About half the ones I received were from girls my own age but the other half consisted of lonely military young men.
Just a few minutes before leaving for school, the telephone rang and it was a young man whose home was about 20 miles from our town, but was stationed in California. He was at the bus depot ready to leave town but thought he would at least say hello. The day went on and as I arrived home from school that afternoon, I was met at the door and warned that another young Air Force man was in the living room. I was flabbergasted. This one was stationed in Great Falls, MT on his way home to Tacoma, WA. It was right on his route to stop by and hopefully meet a cute little girl. I think he got a surprise when he saw me because he paid more attention to my sister after that. We were gracious enough to invite him to stay for supper and after we ate, the phone rang again.
“Oh no, Mother, it’s another one, what will I do?” I squealed as I covered the receiver. This young man said he was in Spokane, WA and wondered how long it would take for him to get over to our town and asked if it would be all right to come over and meet me. I told him it would take about an hour and I would enjoy meeting him. It was hard to know what to say to him while the other one sat there listening. I’m not too sure that I didn’t begin to wonder whether I was grown up enough for all of the sudden attention.
While still on the phone I thought I heard some snickering behind me. Before the time lapsed that would take him to arrive, I got the real story.
It seems that my brother, just older than I, had been to the library where he had met our pastor. He just had to tell of the funny coincidence of the two contacts in the same day. Our pastor was a practical joker and couldn’t resist. “Oh, goody, give me the name of a third.” My brother was able to provide that information to him, joyfully. This was in the days of live long-distance operators and our church secretary was pulled into the scheme. I think No. 2 decided it was a good time to leave before another one showed up. After about an hour Pastor Jerry knocked at the door along with our associate pastor. We enjoyed laughing together about the joke.
This pastor went on to be a missionary in Germany, and eventually a General Superintendent in our denomination. I think as a young girl, it endeared me to him and made me realize that pastors are human too. Fifty years have gone by and the memories of his friendship to our family still remain.
Thanks, Pastor Jerry. We still love you