Monday, July 29, 2013

Surprise! and surprise again!

Elizabeth and Alexander English Tea Room
"You can't make up days like today," I tell Mom this evening. "Thanks for praying. We wake up each morning not knowing what surprises to expect."

"I'm not the only one with you. You have a lot of people praying you through this," she replies.

God is providing a fast track for our basement project. This morning, the "two great guys" are back, finishing the framing. Tomorrow they expect to do the plumbing. And a friend is coming to string the electrical wire.

Meanwhile Kirsten and I take her dog to the groomer. While Zoe is madly squealing at being clipped, K treats me to a mother-daughter tea at Elizabeth and Alexander Tea Room. It's a precious time to talk over our children's growing years. W and I did a lot of things well and made a lot of mistakes, just like other parents.

I get to affirm the strong gifting of our daughter, too. She easily re-imagines spaces, creates beauty from chaos, and connects the dots between ideas. She loves seeing possibilities and combinations that may be non-traditional but fit into the world "just right." Both of us get great satisfaction from seeing how God arranges places and relationships for his purposes. (And we love to be part of those connections.)

When we go back for Zoe, we have a chance to pray with the groomer, Yvonne. She has serious health and financial challenges, but our God has all the resources in the world at His disposal. I've missed Yvonne since selling our dogs! One of my friends is taking her dog there - so we have a mutual contact.

W and I head to NW Seattle to look at used IKEA cabinets for the kitchen. As usual, I got a price in my head when I responded to the Craigslist ad last Friday. The seller lowered the price and wrote back: "$450 seems generous and fair." I agreed and got the internal green light to move forward.

When I sketch the shapes of the cabinets, I realize that they'll fit perfectly. The 24" sink cabinet is just the right size for our donated (free) kitchen sink. There's even a glass display cabinet.

At the seller's house, I'm stunned. The cabinets are like new, clean, and ready to install. The feet, end panels, and hardware are included. W and I looked at these in the Singapore IKEA, but they seemed an expensive pipe dream, what I might buy if we were splurging. Yet here they are, waiting for us. Doug shows us his remodeled kitchen, a lovely bright workroom with the same cabinets installed.

We start talking: this Swiss-German gentleman was raised in Ontario and went to Scarborough College, a sister college to the one I attended for 3 years. He finished his education in Springfield at sister schools to the seminary where I did my masters and doctorate. He was ordained by our denomination before moving to the Foursquare group.

Doug smiles and says, "I bet we have a few people in common." He writes down four names of friends and favorite professors. Surprise! We both know them. The list includes Dr. Gary McGee, the professor whose history course determined my dissertation topic and the direction of my studies. What are the chances?

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Moreover, Doug Hagey is a writer, college prof, church planter, and handyman - much like W. His wife Ellie is a nurse who works with impoverished immigrants. They've traveled the world serving people. These kitchen cabinets are the leftovers of God's provision for them.

Doug and W load up our SUV. Doug volunteers his trailer to bring the rest of the cabinets over. We follow him through the neighborhoods to avoid the freeway. On the way home, I read aloud a chapter from his book, In Search of the Church. W and I are learning the same things about emerging communities of Christ's followers. We're blown away in agreement.

Doug helps unload the cabinets in our driveway and speeds away without accepting gas money. "It's my contribution," he insists.

Our next trip takes us back into Seattle. The sweetest boy Freddie and his mom greet us at the door to their complex. She's a dark-haired beauty! The family is selling the counter and table that will complete our kitchen (@$20). We are as delighted to get it as they are to sell it. (W and I looked at that unit in Singapore as well.)

On the way out the door, I risk asking the husband the nationality of his wife.

"Indonesian," he replies.

Of course. Who else would she be? Her sister studied at the top university in Bandung, where we'll be in language school.

He's an anthropologist who teaches at UW. He and his wife met in Indonesia while he was working on his dissertation. They'll return to Jakarta for a few months of research about the time we arrive there next year.

"This is amazing," says the gal. "This is like ... "

"A God-thing?" I ask. She nods.

Kitchen counter and entry shelf
We all agree: "Let's stay in touch and get together in Jakarta!" W and I offer, "Feel free to stay with us if you are in Bandung and we're there at the same time." (We'll definitely need a guest room!)

Our son drives over to help W carry the cabinets into the basement. We tell him and our daughter about the so-called coincidences, one after another.

W make one more trip - to the builders' store for plumbing supplies - while I think about the meetings of this day. You really can't make stuff like this up.

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*But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV

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