Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Asia (02/26/09)
TITLE: Woven Comfort
By Noreen Ophoff
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In their steamer trunk they packed their winter coats, hats, boots and wool gloves. They took metal dishes and utensils as they were told the native people were wary of plastics as they didn't know what they were. They took deodorant, and a promise from their mothers to send periodic care packages with personal items, so they didn't have to take a two year's supply of everything.
Missionary work was in their blood, as Steve's grandfather, Jesse, had been to the same Asian village of T'agor many years ago. His grandmother had so loved these gentle people, that she not only accompanied her husband to the mission field, but she became a friend to all who met her. Elizabeth had dreamed of missionary work as a young girl.
It seemed as soon as they set up housekeeping in the missionary quonset hut just outside T'agor, visitors came to their door at any time of day or night. Steve was teaching school to the village children where he was admired for his knowledge and sense of humor. Elizabeth was known for her practical ways and easy laughter.
One cold, rainy night, just as the young couple had finished the blessing over their soup and grilled cheese sandwich supper, there was a knock on the door. Huddled beneath the brown awning was a man, a woman and three little children, two girls and a tiny boy not more than one year old. They were dressed in the garments of a distant village, and were quickly ushered into the warmth and welcome of the little house.
Steve escorted them into the parlor, offering them towels to dry themselves. He quickly fashioned a low table from a leaf of the dining room table, and set out a small plate for each person. He didn't know how Elizabeth was going to stretch their food, since market day was two days off and he knew their larder was low, but his wife was also a very creative woman.
Elizabeth began singing the 23rd Psalm, being especially loud in the phrase “You prepare a banquet before me”. When she came to the improvised table, Steve saw she had taken each of their two sandwiches and cut out shepherd's hooks, managing to cut five out of each one. She served the lentil and leek soup in coffee cups with teaspoons. Way back in the cupboard, nearly hidden, she located a small can of black olives a friend had included once in a care package, shipped from home. These she sliced and set them out with graham crackers in the other side of the divided dish.
The three little children clapped their hands at the food, especially the cut-out sandwiches. Elizabeth explained to everyone, “Jesus is our Shepherd, and with His rod and staff he comforts us and protects us. The staff is the shape of our sandwiches.”
The soaking family had traveled the distance of seven miles that one day, the parents carrying the children most of the way. Their destination was the market to sell trinkets they had made from grasses. They had finger rings and woven mats, but they had no food for their trip, and hadn't eaten the entire day.
Elizabeth and Steve thanked their wonderful, loving God for guiding this family to their cozy home. Steve spoke the family's dialect, and with a lot of smiling and pointing, they all had a lovely evening together. After supper, Elizabeth picked up her guitar and sang simple songs everyone learned easily, as they passed the time together, until everyone was tucked beneath a coverlet and fell happily asleep.
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