Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)
TITLE: Just Another Season
By Donna Powers
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We hadn’t done much today, and my students had been staring toward the door for the last hour. Once the bell rang, they all sped out the door with a sprinkling of garbled goodbyes.
I grinned at the speed of their exit as I left the room. I didn’t even have to say good-bye to my classroom, since I’d be back there for summer school. I headed for the teachers’ lounge, where everyone was talking about their summer plans.
“I’m headed for the beach,” offered Lydia, whose tan had already had a head start.
“You always go to the beach,” responded Maria. “Shouldn’t you try something different once in a while?”
Lydia shrugged. “I don’t want to. I love the beach. Where are you going?”
“My cousin’s cabin in Canada.”
“Too many bugs in Canada.” Lydia turned to me. “Hey, Annie, are you teaching summer school again?”
I smiled; I knew I was predictable. “I’m a glutton for punishment. Plus, my bills won’t wait until September.”
We all laughed at that one, but I noticed Gail hadn’t joined the discussion. “What are you doing?” I asked her. “Are you teaching summer school, too?”
“Not this year.” She took a trembling breath before answering, “I’m going to China.”
“Oooh, what an exciting vacation!” gushed Lydia.
“The whole summer? How can you afford that?” I asked.
Her answer took us by surprise. “It’s not a vacation. I’m going on a mission trip.”
Gail definitely had our attention now.
“You? A mission trip?” Maria was incredulous. “I knew you went to church, but I didn’t realize you were that much into it.”
As Gail continued, her voice lost its tremor. “We had a speaker at church from the China Inland Mission, this January. When he talked, God spoke to my heart. People in China are in such desperate conditions. Mike was at church, too, and by the end of the service, we both knew we’d go to China this summer”
“But you’re an art teacher,” I reminded her. “What good can an art teacher do, at a mission? Are you going to teach them to draw pictures of the food they don’t have?”
I regretted my sarcasm the minute it came from my mouth, but Gail only laughed. “That’s what I thought, at first. But, we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads and now we believe we have to follow where God leads – and that He’ll show us what to do when we get there.”
Lydia stood up. “Well, honey, good for you,” she trilled in a too-bright voice. “I’ll think good thoughts for you. Good luck!
Maria smirked at Lydia but turned back to Gail. “Give up your whole summer to help people you don’t even know? That’s … really amazing. And you don’t seem like the missionary type.”
“I’m probably not,” she responded. “But if God can use me, I’m willing to go. Summer’s just another season for us, but it might be life or death for the people at the mission.”
That one got us all thinking. Maria shook her head. “That’s great, Gail. I’ll pray for you.”
I had to ask: “What about your kids - and the rent? How can you afford it?”
“The kids are going with us,” she replied. I looked at her with increased surprise as she continued: “As for the bills, we’ve put those in God’s hands. Ever since we knew we’d be going, we’ve been asking God to provide our rent payments and to take care of us while we’re over there.”
Maria looked uncomfortable but impressed as she bid us goodbye, and Gail began gathering her belongings from the lounge’s coffee nook. As intrigued as I might be, I had my plans set for this summer, and I surely couldn’t consider doing anything but teaching. But something within me clamored to hear more. I hemmed and hawed, and Gail picked up on it.
“Listen, Annie - if you want to learn more, my missionary group will be presenting a program Sunday at our church. Why don’t you come?”
Equal forces of necessity and curiosity warred within me as I pondered my answer. I looked around the lounge and when I didn’t find an answer on its familiar walls, I reached within myself and found the response I’d only just discovered.
“I’ll go,” I said.
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