The girls of the Stony Ridge Young Adult Missionary Society looked like flowers in their summer dresses, but they buzzed like bees when Peggy Blake’s young man came into the church hall. He walked right up to the front of the room and sat in the chair closest to the podium. Standing behind it, Peggy looked at him once, then stared across the rows of metal folding chairs at the gathering members.
Everybody knew Peggy had broken John Webb’s heart when she applied to the Mission Board for a post in Africa. Everybody knew she had heard the call to the mission field in Africa when she was nine years old. Everybody knew Peggy was stubborn. Everybody knew except John, who only met her when she entered Occidental College.
Peggy pounded the podium with the gavel to announce the start of the meeting. The swarm of girls scattered to find seats and the boys came from the back to sit among them. But they all watched Peggy and John.
“The meeting will come to order,” she demanded, although no one was talking. “Gladys, will read the minutes from last week.”
Gladys read without a taking breath, stumbling every time she glanced at John who slouched in his chair, arms folded and one leg resting on the knee of the other.
“Thank you, Gladys.” Peggy nodded when she dropped into her chair. “That was an excellent report. Now we must decide how we’ll use the money we raised at last month’s picnic basket auction.”
John’s arm popped up and his hand waved in front of Peggy’s face. She glared at his arm, then glared at the watching members of the Society. Without waiting to be called on, he spoke up.
“I move we send it to the work in China.”
Peggy frowned at him. “Mr. Webb, you are not a member of this Society, so you can’t make a motion.” She looked across him at the young people sitting in the rows. “I’ll entertain a proper motion from the members.”
They responded with a vote to send the money to Africa, but the buzz coming from heads bent close together may have distracted some of the members from voting thoughtfully. A tap of the gavel brought them to attention for new business. Tommy Rice read a report about the mission work in the Congo. He described tangled jungles and unsaved savages who danced half-naked around huge bonfires. He begged the members of the Society to pray fervently for God’s children in this uncivilized land. Peggy beamed.
“Thank you, Tom. That was very informative. I trust we will all pray faithfully for the lost people of Africa. Is there any other new business?”
John Webb raised his hand again. Peggy glowered at him, but he spoke from his slouch.
“I move you consider China.”
“John, you can’t make a motion. Anyway, this Society voted last year to support the work in Africa. Please don’t interrupt again.”
She looked out at her Society, but no one spoke. She raised the gavel.
“No, I mean you should consider China.”
Peggy scowled at John, who had risen. The members of the Society leaned forward to see what she would do. She raised her chin and straightened her shoulders.
“God has called me to Africa. You know that. I will not abandon that call.”
She looked away and raised the gavel again. Everyone could see her knuckles whiten as her grip on it tightened. Just as it struck the podium, John dropped to one knee.
“Margaret Blake, will you consider serving the Lord in China as my wife?”
Everyone in the room gasped and Peggy looked down at John, her eyes wide and her mouth open. He reached his hand toward her and she touched his fingers, then slid her hand into his. He stood and her mouth closed, but her eyes began to glitter.
“Yes, John Webb. Yes I will.”
He dropped her hand and put his arm around her shoulder, turning her away from the wildly buzzing room.
“What about Africa?” one of the boys called out.
“You go to Africa. I’m going to serve the Lord in China with my husband.”
Without taking her eyes from John’s, Peggy tossed the gavel toward the rows filled with the members of the Stony Ridge Young Adult Missionary Society.
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