The Welcome

“What on earth are we doing here?” I wondered as I shivered in the drafty room  in upper state New York on that bitterly cold January night. We had just arrived in New York from Kansas to attend a semester of Bible College, which was connected to the mission we had applied to, while waiting for the verdict of whether we would serve in Kenya under the auspices of that mission. We arrived on a Sunday evening, just as chapel service was starting, so our welcome by the Bible College representative was brief and breathless, as he trotted off to the chapel, after a quick “Hi. I’m So and So. Welcome to Elim. Here’s your room”.

Chip and I looked at each other, our questions and hesitations mirrored perfectly in each other’s eyes. I turned to gaze out the window, which also served as a refrigerator (really, we used it as a fridge for about a week before finding a real fridge to use!), to see snow swirling in eddies in the parking lot, wondering if there was a good place to eat in this tiny town. This was before Google, so we had to rely on word of mouth recommendations but did not know whom to ask. Chip finally took matters in hand and went to find someone so we could eat dinner. We were starving!

“Did we make the right decision?” Chip asked as we sat at the diner we found down the road a little from the tiny town of Lima. We had sold everything we owned in Kansas, packed all our clothes and had driven halfway across the U.S. to go to Bible College in a place where we knew absolutely no one, in the middle of winter, hoping to be approved by a mission we had no experience with, on our way to a country we had only heard of, on the other side of the world! Did we indeed make the right decision? We were beginning to have our doubts.

The next morning, we awoke to brilliant sunshine streaming through the ‘refrigerator-window’ – a promising sign. We were greeted much more warmly by another representative of the Bible College (matching the sun’s warm welcome) and escorted to where we could get help registering for classes and orienting us around campus. We discovered later that our classes were fascinating, our teachers interesting to interact with, the chapels services inspiring, our fellow students eager and just as committed to serving God as we. All the people we met were much warmer than the northern winter weather we were shivering through. Things were looking up and we were reassured that indeed, we were in the right place at the right time.

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