Mom and I have been partners in missionary adventures ever since I was a baby, when she took me in a stroller to distribute tracts and booklets door to door. Since I've been home from college, we've been at it again - this time, I drive her from house to house as we systematically blanket a neighboring town with literature. We've long since finished the easy part - the city limits. Now we're in the byways. And I assure you, it is one adventure after another!!! Here's a sampling of the latest. :)
We always carry a dog daser with us. It emits a high frequency which dogs dislike, so most dogs run away when they hear it. This particular day, Mom got out of the car and dased the huge white dog cautiously approaching her. Nothing happened. He advanced. She dased him again. Still nothing. Thinking perhaps he was scared, she thought, I'll just pet him to let him know I'm okay and won't hurt him. Wrong move. The instant her fingertip brushed the tip of his bristled neck hair, his jaws connected with her forearm. Dazed, she stood there, holding her arm in shock as wet, crimson liquid soaked her white shirt sleeve. Just then, the owner - who had been sitting outside when we drove up - arrived to assess the situation. "Did he bite you?" Well, obviously... She thoroughly scolded Mom for petting a strange dog, and proceeded to escort her dog to the house.
She returned shortly with first-aid paraphernalia. We kept telling her, "Don't worry, it'll be fine." At first she was like, "Don't worry?!! My dog just bit someone and you tell me 'Don't worry'?!!" But she calmed down bit by bit. When everything was bandaged up, the lady ushered us over to the chairs where she had been sitting before we arrived, and said, "Well what did you come to bring me? Invite me, invite me!" We were able to share what we had come to bring her, as well as a copy of The Great Controversy. The lady was intrigued, and said, "I'm a librarian, so I will read this and research it for myself." We had a wonderful conversation together, and ended with prayer. By the end of the prayer, this lady - who had sort of a scowl on her face when we drove up - hugged us, all aglow with smiles.
We met her again this past week, and she was so happy to see us. Of course she wanted to see Mom's arm immediately, which has healed up very nicely except for a little scab. She also informed us that she had her dog put down just a few days ago. You see, 14-year-old Shay was blind and deaf, which explains why he never heard the high frequency of the daser. He just knew that he smelled someone strange and he was going to protect his owner whatever the cost.
The Car and the Ditch
A few weeks later, we went out again to continue our door-to-door adventures. All was going well, until we reached this gravel driveway that went up, and up, and up, until finally even the lowest gear couldn't handle the grade. So Mom got out and walked the rest of the way up to the house. When she returned, I proceeded to back down the driveway, as there was no turnout in sight. Now, I've had to back down many a driveway, and I believe I've gotten quite proficient at it. However, something happened that day. I don't know what - I just know that, in the process of trying to avoid a deep rut on the left, I must have overcorrected, and by and by I found myself hugging the muddy mountainside on my right. I maneuvered this way and that, but no matter what I tried, the tires spun us deeper into the muck.
Finally I concluded, "We're stuck." So I order Mom into the front seat, while I get out in my white denim skirt and proceed to push our little Toyota with all the strength my 90 pounds could muster. Fail. Okay, I know what to do. No problem. We'll just get those flat rocks piled beside the driveway, wedge those under the wheels and drive out. Easy! Uhh, well, actually not. That didn't work either. We had been praying all this time. I tried pushing some more, adjusted the rocks, adding more here and there. Then I stopped. Lord, I'm going to try this one more time. If you want us to get out of this mess and proceed, please get us out. But if You have a special reason for us to meet the owner of this house, then have this last effort fail also. You can probably guess what happened. FAIL! :D
So we trekked up to the top of the mountain, where we met a kind old hermit. He was very gracious, and successfully pulled us out of his muddy driveway. But as we talked together, he confided that he didn't study his Bible all that much. In fact, he was rather disgruntled with organized religion. But he agreed that it was important to follow Christ's example, doing good to others, etc. We prayed with him before we left, and shared with him Steps to Christ.
These experiences reminded me of Paul's account of his missionary experiences:
"Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep, in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (2 Cor. 11:24-27)And yet, he didn't complain. He penned the words to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Having gone through our own small trials of dog bites and a car in the ditch - which "delayed" us from the Lord's work - Mom and I are starting to see why Paul could rejoice even in trials. You see, really, those trials were God's blessings in disguise. They weren't really delays - they were keys to building friendships, chances to minister to souls, who might never have listened if we hadn't shared that bond of working through difficulties together. God always knows what He's doing, and what a blessing to be His instruments, his servants, even if we have to suffer a little in the process. Because really, what is the price of a soul? Is it worth a dog bite? Is it worth a muddy white skirt? I say far, far more. For Christ, it was worth leaving paradise. It was worth even life itself - just to save one soul. Just to save you; just to save me. How can I complain?