Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An enduring Word

I just had the most encouraging (and unexpected) interaction! One of our fellow local church-goers recently returned to Finland after 10 years of ministry here in Botswana and, shortly before her departure, sold her car. As it happens, the paperwork was not able to be finalized prior to her departure late last week so she asked if we would be willing to receive things from people on her behalf, to hand off to one of her remaining colleagues to forward to her when we see them. We agreed. Rob got a call yesterday from the new owner of the car, to arrange to meet for the transfer of paperwork. Rob told him that I would be in the office today, that he could drop them off here. The man, Edward, agreed.

He called me this afternoon and said that he would be by before 3:00PM, looking for further directions as he was at the bank but didn't know exactly where my office was. I agreed to walk out to the main road and meet him there. After a few minutes of not seeing him, I called again to make sure that he had not passed me in the time that it had taken me to walk to the main road. While we were talking, he said, "Oh, I can see you now!"

When he approached, we greeted. Then, he said, "I have something for you."

He handed me a small stack of papers. The top paper was the receipt for the car purchase transfer of funds. But the following sheets of paper were my sermon notes from a message that I shared with the ELCB congregation here in Maun back in January 2010: Why it doesn't matter What Jesus Would Do! He laughed when he saw my face. He then explained that he had recognized my voice on the phone – "As soon as I heard you speak, I knew who you were; you sounded just like you sounded when you preached" – and so brought these notes to prove that he remembered me. He said that he still wanted to keep the notes, he just wanted me to see them. He had been a visitor at our church that day and had asked for my notes so that he could study them in order to (as he put it) fully understand the message.

What a fun reunion… both with Edward and with my sermon notes! When Rob and I give a lesson or a message here, someone always asks us for our notes afterwards. Sometimes it is when their first language is neither English (what we have spoken in) nor Setswana (into which our message was translated), as was the case with Edward. We have often wondered aloud, between the two of us, what it is that happens to our notes once they are given away. If Edward's treatment of them is any indication of the kind of longevity such messages can have – at least in physical form – consider my day made!

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