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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: Leap of Faith
By Kate Oliver Webb


Clarissa Banks clutched Jerome Forester’s sweet letter in her hand as she hurried home in the frigid darkness of a December night in Boston. She slept with it under her pillow. She breakfasted with it propped up against a pot of marmalade. It rested alone in the center drawer of her high teacher’s desk during her morning lessons, with her mind half on the prim but precocious females who received her instruction in English grammar, and half on the letter.

The letter had arrived three weeks ago, but she had not, as yet, answered it.

The newly ordained Reverend Forester and the orphaned Clarissa had been “stepping out” for over a year prior to his missionary commitment. Jerome was hesitant to make any romantic declarations because of Clarissa’s independent status, with no connection to any established family. He had intended that they have at least an “understanding” before his mission to Hawaii began. However, as the time to depart loomed, he had been unable to bring himself to make the commitment.

Jerome was aboard the Parthian when it set sail from Boston bound for Honolulu, Hawaii, in early Spring, 1828. Also aboard was a small contingent of fellow missionaries sent from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

The voyage was expected to take five to six months, and it docked at Honolulu harbor exactly five and half months from the day it departed Boston. Jerome had been assigned to travel with Dr. Percy Springfield, who was to set up a clinic in a village on the coast opposite Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Jerome and the Springfield family had met for the first time aboard ship, and the doctor had made known his intention that the mission work was to begin on the voyage.

Jerome had written as often as his ministerial duties aboard ship permitted, and mailed his missives at various ports of call along the way. It wasn’t until the day before the ship reached Honolulu that Jerome finally had his thoughts together enough to present his proposal to his beloved Clarissa. He was certain Clarissa cared for him. However, he regretted not sharing his heart with her before he left Boston. He could only hope and pray that the Lord would somehow prepare her for what he intended would be the beginning of their life together.

And so, 6,000 miles away in Boston, Clarissa pondered Jerome’s life-changing letter.

“My dearest heart,” the letter began. “I cannot begin to tell you how much I miss you. It is that which has completely convinced me that I cannot go another minute without getting my thoughts onto paper. I pray that when you receive this, you will feel as I do, and that your response will be positive.

“Next to my Lord Jesus, I love you more than anything. I cannot see my life without you in it. I believe, coming as it does from the bottom of my heart, that this is also what God wills. Although a marriage proposal by letter is unusual, with God’s prompting, I am asking you to marry me.

“Will you?

“I have shared all I know of what I expect our life to be like here in Hawaii. You will be needed, there is no question of that. You will also be wanted, which I cannot stress enough.

“My darling girl, I hope with all my heart that this finds you well, and that you feel as I do, that our life is meant to be spent together. May I hear that good news soon?”

Clarissa responded with all the emotion her romantic soul could muster. She cried, shivered, giggled like a child, and spent sleepless nights with only the butterflies in her stomach to keep her company. She initially felt somewhat cheated that this proposal wasn’t the traditional, face-to-face, down-on-one-knee event; but she was grateful that she had this time alone to get over the emotional response, and spend time thinking through the proposal in logical terms.

And yet, hadn’t she known in her heart, before Jerome left for Hawaii, that God was calling her to this mission as well? Wasn’t his letter confirmation that the desires of her heart were being given to her?

There were plans to be made, permissions sought, a myriad of details to see to.

And so, a year later, on Christmas Eve, 1829, Jerome Forester and Clarissa Banks stood before the Reverend Springfield in a Hawaiian mission church, and became husband and wife.

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This article has been read 472 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Barbara Lynn Culler10/30/10
This sounds like a real historical event- was it?

It started out with showing but tended to be more telling- most likely due to the word limits.

Would love to hear more about how this all transpired!
Rachel Phelps10/30/10
Your first paragraph is very strong. It really created an image in my mind. As the story progressed, I felt as if there was more and more telling. Perhaps some of the letter could have been cut to save on word count and bump up the showing.

Great love letter angle!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/30/10
This is a sweet love story. How wonderful that she felt the calling as well. Nicely done.
Nancy Sullivan 10/31/10
Your story has the elements for a great adventure for Clarissa and Jerome. Wonder if more is to come. Great writing.
Connie Dixon10/31/10
Loved the story line and the way the story evolved through the letter writing. I know this was historical but I just wanted to be able to send a quick text: I Will!
Lyn Churchyard10/31/10
I did enjoy this with all its old world charm. Your descriptions were wonderful - like the pot of marmalade and especially and spent sleepless nights with only the butterflies in her stomach to keep her company. Well done flower girl :-)
Caitlyn Meissner11/01/10
What a fun idea for an article. The lives of missionaries has always been a difficult one, but I like how you focused on the love and romance that came with it. Good job!