Draped in a white robe, he knelt on a blanket, woven with rich reds and blues… a birch tree stretched its sheltering branches over him. A couple strolled nearby, hand in hand. Their attention was on the misty mountain peaks and on each other. Their voices drifted to the man and he raised his head to gaze at them.
“Oops, I think we interrupted his prayer time.” Shari’s voice was hushed.
“Not at all. I’m finished… just basking in the presence of God.” He stood and stretched. The couple exchanged looks. “Yep, I’m a fellow American living here in Himachal Pradesh. I speak Hindi and Pahari as well as English. Name’s Kevin.” Kevin peeled off the robe to reveal jeans and a fleece coat with a logo that matched their own jackets. The young woman covered her mouth to muffle a giggle. “The robe is to keep most of the dew off my clothes and to be less conspicuous among the locals during prayer.”
“Jeff and Shari.” Jeff stepped forward to shake Kevin’s hand. “Since you actually live here maybe you could give us some tips about local places to visit.”
Kevin’s brow quirked. “You don’t have your trip all planned out?”
“Just hotels and plane tickets. We decided to come and see what God had planned for us.”
“Interesting.” He eyed them with a twinkle. “How’d you like your own personal guide?”
They started off with a breakfast of Appam (pancakes made with rice and coconut) at a small restaurant. Kevin excused himself to bow his head and Jeff and Shari joined him in a silent prayer.
“May I ask a personal question?” Shari stirred sugar into her tea.
“Of course.” Kevin leaned back in his chair.
“Who do you pray to?”
The deep peace that seemed a part of Kevin transformed into a radiant joy. “Jesus. I pray to my Jesus.”
Kevin fumbled with his fork. “No way! I was sure it was the Dalai Lama or something.”
“My bride and I honeymooned here three years ago… like the two of you. Becky was so moved by what she saw here, the beauty of Creation shouting praise to the Creator… and grieved by the presence of the Dalai Lama and other false gods in the middle of it. So every morning we would get up at four and pray. Just like the D.L.“ Kevin’s eyes held a teasing twinkle. “Cept we pray to the real deal, of course.”
“Where is she... I’d love to meet her too!” Shari leaned forward, eyes glowing.
“She contracted Meningitis on our fifth day. I stayed here after she died to keep our tradition.” His hands picked up his mug and put it down again.
A tear slipped down Shari’s cheek. “Will you stay here always?”
“Not sure. I only know today. That’s enough for now.” A silence stretched between them. “Since you’re also believers, we should pray together. This country is beautiful but... we need His protection.”
Jeff’s gaze on his new wife was intense. “Yes... let’s pray.”
They drove through the Great Himalayan National Park in a beaten up truck. Jeff used his camera and filled several memory cards.”I got some awesome shots. Still can’t believe we got so close to musk deer, brown bear, and even a snow leopard!”
“That was God. You gotta know that!” Kevin was enjoying the trip as much as Jeff and Shari.
The following days were filled with exploring the area and they met at four every morning to pray against the false gods and lift the country of India to the One True God.
After a week it was time for the newlyweds to move on to Shimla. “Be sure to visit the hot water sulphur springs and Chadwick Falls. Sorry if I horned in on your together time.”
“I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it!” Shari wiped her eyes again.
Jeff tipped his ball cap back. “This wasn’t what I expected for my honeymoon, but we prayed that He would use this time to bond the three of us together… me, Shari and Him. Glad you were a part of that, brother!”
“God has a way of adjusting our plans. He did with my life and it hurt, but I’ve been blessed in it.” Kevin brushed away tears as he hugged them both. “He loves when we leave our lives open to His re-directions. You’ve set yourselves up for a life of adventure! Embrace it and find the joy in every day.”
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