Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Friend (11/02/17)
TITLE: Weaving the Strands of a Story
By Lisa Enqvist
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We shared many similar childhood memories: our love of the tiny pink flowers on the coral creeper growing along our school fence; creating bouncing rubber balls from dried latex strips from rubber trees; eating sour fruits dipped in salt; we both remembered our first gentle kindergarten teacher, Miss Ethel.
My new friend Esther and I had never met. I was eight years her senior, but we found that we had numerous overlapping childhood experiences.
Her comments on a photograph I sent her connected me to stories I never even knew I had missed while growing up. In the picture, my family stood on the steps of a house we’d lived in for a year. Two white-haired ladies stood with us. One was our landlady, the other her unmarried daughter. My new e-mail pen pal recognized the house and the ladies. She had visited them as a kid together with her grandmother. Her search in her family tree showed that the older lady was her grandmother’s cousin.
We exchanged scraps of stories back and forth.
Esther lived with her maternal grandparents her first kindergarten and grade school years. I was at the end of my high school years. My art teacher was her grandma’s neighbor. I remembered that neighborhood and recalled my mother’s story of getting lost the first time she searched for the post office. We had just moved to that town.
It began raining. A lady who lived along that road saw my mother and invited her into her home. They drank tea together while my mother waited for the rain to stop. The lady then showed my mother the right way to the post office. I realized that the friendly lady was my new friend, Esther’s grandma.
Later Esther wrote stories about her grandma’s unmarried sisters and brother who all lived together. The brother was the only florist in town at the time. He grew roses in his garden.
That story brought back a memory of fresh roses I received at the Kandy Nursing Home from a patient in another room. She had heard I was seriously ill. Her brother sent her a new bouquet of roses every day from their garden. At the time I was sixteen and did not know who the lady was who sent me the roses. Now I knew. It was Esther’s great aunt! The roses were grown by her great uncle.
New fragments of history came with each e-mail letter. I gradually became friends with her cousins. I learned to know her aunt, a prize-winning Sri Lankan author, and finally also her mother, both sisters in their 80s.
One of Esther’s cousins posted a photograph on Facebook. It was taken across the road from her parents’ home. I recognized the building. The new owner used the familiar name of the place where our Sunday school had gathered when I was five, six, and seven. He called it Lighthouse Bakery. Earlier it was Lighthouse Mission.
I shared that photograph on Facebook with Sri Lankan childhood friends whom I’ve rediscovered in the past few years. The best part of the story came through one old Sunday school friend. He had lived in that tiny building together with his mother and his foster aunt, a gray-haired British missionary. He knew that his mother and his foster aunt and my mother spent hours praying with and for members of Esther’s family. I wonder what God will still do in answer to those prayers prayed more than 60 years ago.
On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, I was able to visit Esther’s author aunt and strengthen our bonds of friendship. I could never have imagined what a beautiful picture of friendship God would create for me through a tiny comment on the words of a school song from long ago. Now a bit of my history is interwoven with Esther’s history in a way no one but God could bring about.
True story. Names changed.
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