The tiny room around me is filled with men and women my age. There is Nancy, a local accountant and mother of one. She is married to the man next to her, James. He owns a windshield repair business. Both are dressed in their Sunday best. Then there is Mike. He is dressed in a button up shirt and khakis. His smile reveals a good nature and he is rather good looking. He likes to fish and hunt when he not working at his job as a welder. Cami is across from me. She is a teacher and mother of three. The Sunday school Teacher is Doug. He is married to Jan that works in the church nursery I am told. He seems nice and asks everyone to take turns introducing their selves to me, the Visitor.
“My name is Tina. I live down the road and thought I’d come to church today. I have two boys, Bruce and Todd but they are with their dad this weekend. I work at the gas station on Main Street and part time as a waitress.” I tell them about as much as they told me as I sit here in my jeans and t-shirt.
They all tell me they are glad to have me in their class. Then they begin talking about events and people they know. This goes on for about fifteen minutes as I sit there clueless to the places or people they are discussing.
Next, Doug hands me a study guide and tells us all to turn to page thirty.
He then instructs everyone to turn in their bible to the book of Luke. Each person in the room has a bible, some bound in leather with their name on it. Mike even has one with a camouflage cover. As they are flipping to the book of Luke, Doug notices I do not have a bible.
“Hey Cami, hand Tina a bible off the shelf over there, please.”
Cami complies with Doug’s request and slides me a hardback bible. The cover says it is a King James Version. I am not sure what that means and I am not sure about how to find the book of Luke so I open the cover to the table of contents. Everyone else is on the correct page and looking at me impatiently. Finally, I am where I need to be and try to follow along.
Doug goes on about how this week’s lesson is a continuation of last week’s lesson. He then asks each person to take a turn reading from the bible. I try to keep up in the bible Cami gave me to use but what I am seeing on the page and what is being read by others doesn’t match. Doug asks if I want to read next and I tell him no.
Once we finish the lesson, everyone holds hands and prays. I hold Mike’s and Nancy’s hands. It feels really odd to hold a stranger’s hands for so long. As we all get up to leave, each person lingers around to talk to me. They tell me they hope I come back again. Some even tell me they want to come visit me at home. Some ask if I am staying for the worship service in the sanctuary. A few hugs later, I am finally out the door. On my way to the sanctuary, a few people look at me oddly so I duck into an empty room.
“Dear Lord. I am not like these people. I don’t want them coming to my house and seeing the mess.” My breathing is labored and hard. I feel like I am about to faint so I sit down.
I continue to talk softly to God, “I feel so dumb. I don’t know anything about what they were talking about. I couldn’t even find the correct page. I can’t do this.”
Minutes later, I exit a side door and walk back home. Now, as I look back at the church building, it still seems as cold and unfamiliar as it did before I entered its doors.
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