Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)
By Ruth Thoutenhoofd
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Surgery was performed, but imperfectly. Her beautiful little nose was flattened and her upper lip sewn together into a tiny, thin line. There was little to work with above her generous lower lip, which looked ugly in its disproportion. The plastic surgery on her palate didn’t hold, so her speech would be slurred. She was not beautiful. Her mother worried about her future.
As her story unfolded, she turned out to be a complex character, fighting with her siblings, chasing boys who called her names, drawing pictures, telling her sisters stories and acting out plays with them, falling in love with her Creator.
In her unhappy, turbulent teen years, many surgeries were performed. Each September for many years she would return to school with an improved face. Everything she suffered through made her look a bit better, and sound almost normal, but she was never content with the results. She didn’t date. Young men had a hard time looking past her imperfect face to experience the beauty beneath.
Halfway through her story, she learned to apply makeup deftly, discovered a unique sense of fashion, and finally came to peace with her appearance. Her name, it seemed, was a foreshadowing of her relationship with God and she grew strong in kindness, empathy, obedience and integrity.
Most of the conflict in her story was internal. She suffered with her singleness and travelled restlessly all across the country, getting first a BA and then her RN, finally moving to Haiti, where she ground dull needles into dark skin and shooed chickens off the hospital beds. At night her sensitive spirit struggled as the voodoo drums echoed through the thin walls of her house. Her tapes and letters home were positive, but you could hear her sadness and read loneliness between the lines.
When her mother was dying of cancer, she was called home to care for her, which she did gladly. Servant hood came naturally for her, and she cared for her mother tenderly. She didn’t return to Haiti, but settled down instead, finally buying herself a few household items and getting to know the people in her church.
The story turned into a romance, when she met the newly converted Jacques who loved her compassion and style. She laughed helplessly at his jokes and fell in love. But she discovered a flaw in his past which she couldn’t accept and ended the relationship. She grieved two years for the dream that had died, filling her journal with verses from the psalms, struggling to find peace with herself.
In truly dramatic style, they were brought back together. She was a visiting nurse and his surveyor’s van was parked outside the house she was visiting. Twice. In their city of a million, this seemed like an act of God and their pastor later counselled them to marry in spite of her questions about his past. She was thirty nine, beautiful and elegant on her wedding day. It seemed the climax of the story.
They loved each other with a fine passion that never faded. Fourteen years into the marriage he still waited in his van at the curb till she waved him off to work in the morning. They served God together, humbly giving their money and time to any needy person who came across their path. They intentionally laid up treasure in heaven, obtaining few possessions, though they both worked hard at jobs that paid well.
Her story had a surprise ending. Sixteen years after their marriage she died of a quick, brutal cancer. She wrote in her journal, “Those were the days, my friend; I thought they’d never end, but it seems they are about to…”
Jacques was heartbroken. His wailing drifted up from the basement the night he heard she had just days to live. “No one will ever love me like Faith did.” Many, many people attended her funeral. She had been much loved and admired.
The manuscript of her story was complete. The Author was satisfied. The Editor found no errors.
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