Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Thanksgiving (04/18/05)
TITLE: Misdirected Direction
By Lori Othouse
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After dropping her things on the kitchen table, she went back outside to retrieve the box. The cool autumn air was inviting and she sat outside on the rocking chair to open it. She recognized the return address as that of her pen pal for almost a year, Sally. They had been assigned to each other through a missions program at her church and had written for a few weeks. Then, suddenly, the letters stopped. Sheri had faithfully kept writing to her every week, but hadn't heard back in several months.
As she pulled open the box, she frowned. There were stacks of letters, all from her, as well as various items that she had sent Sally - devotional books, bookmarks, even a little stuffed bear. Why would she return everything, especially after not responding to her in so long?
Sitting there, puzzled, Sheri then noticed an envelope that had slipped down to the side. She carefully opened it and pulled out a card with the words "Thank You" written in large print on the front. Her confusion turned to wonder as she read.
You don't know me. My name is Diane. I live at the address of your friend, Sally, that you have been writing to. She moved shortly before I got here and apparently left no forwarding address. This is very awkward for me, but I feel I owe you an explanation.
I'm sorry, but I've been reading your letters. For weeks they had been coming and I just tossed them away, but when you sent a package, I decided to open it. Inside was a book and bookmark with a beautiful poem on it. It was so touching that I felt envious of this person, Sally, and didn't even know her.
See, I live alone and don't have many friends. It's my fault, I suppose. Since my husband left, I haven't been very good company. Let's face it, I'm a bitter old woman. I just never wanted to trust anyone and hurt like that again. But when I read your sweet and encouraging letter, I realized how much I missed those friendships. I know I should've sent it right back to you, but I didn't. I was afraid you wouldn't write anymore."
Sheri could feel a lump forming in her throat. She took a deep breath and continued reading.
"I looked forward to your letters every week. You talked so much about Jesus and all that He's done for you that I thought maybe He could help me, nothing else has. One of the little books you sent had a prayer to pray if you wanted to accept Jesus. I felt kind of funny, but I really meant it and after I finished, something strange happened. Suddenly, I felt like all those things you said could be for me, not just someone else. Like I could have what you have. Like I wasn't alone anymore. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world!
I can never thank you enough for all you've done for me. I give thanks every day for you and your friendship with Sally. It changed my life. God bless you.
Sheri sat stunned as her tears dripped onto the letter. After a moment, she looked up and saw someone standing at the end of her driveway. She didn't recognize the face, but the woman was smiling. Quickly, she glanced back at the box and noticed there was no postage on it; it had been hand delivered. She caught her breath as she turned back to the woman.
"Diane?" she asked faintly.
The woman nodded and smiled even more. They walked toward each other and embraced like lifelong friends. For several minutes, Diane had no other words except "Thank you, Thank you" which she whispered over and over in Sheri's ear. Sheri breathed her own prayer of thanks, not only for this precious soul now saved, but for the privilege of God using her misdirected mail to bring it to pass.
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