Our co worker Aimee LOVES surprises. She just loves them. Because I love her, it has been a dream of mine for quite some time to give her what she would love, a mega surprise!
God is so sweet to me. He gives me things I do not deserve and really brings things together in ways that I could never ever have imagined! Recently I had the joy of doing the thing I had always hoped for, surprising Aimee.
To make a long complicated list of details short, we did not think we would be seeing Aimee for a very long time because of our one assignment plans and Aimee had even a lot of you know Aimee had left Papua New Guinea for her much deserved and long awaited home assignment last July. At the time we thought we would be in PNG for another two years and we wouldn’t be seeing Aimee until her return to our village home. And then life happened. Iris’ eye problems were diagnosed and we knew we needed to take a hasty medical leave so that she could get the surgery she needed.
Amazingly we had just missed Aimee here in our home state of Michigan! Aimee had taken the trip out only a short month prior to our return to the U.S. to spend time with my family, visit friends and share at our church. We were so thankful that she did that trip but when it turned out that we were on our way back it was a little frustrating to know we had just “missed” each other! He we were, both in the good ole USA at the same time (something we never thought would happen) and we would never see each other!
Its very difficult to explain the kind of relationship we have with our co workers in ministry. We are a group of people devoting our lives to the one thing we feel most passionately about. Its just us. Three “units” of white people living together in a culture that is not our own and working hard toward a goal we are quite literally giving our lives for. Our coworkers become our everything. They are our only “ones” to agree with, to fight with, to love unconditionally, to encourage, to walk through life with, to lean on and to grow with. In many ways, our coworkers become like our family. Through the good and bad. 🙂 Aimee is not only my coworker in ministry but she is also like my sister. If there is something I know I could do to encourage her, I will do it. When we had arrived in America and were trying to settle in, I began thinking and praying a lot for Aimee as I knew she was about to face a difficult time. At the end of Jan Aimee would be leaving her family to return to Papua New Guinea. It felt very clear in my heart that THIS would be the perfect time to go see her and try to encourage her right before she had to face this difficult transition back to our village. With Tom’s blessing and willingness to stay with the kids so I could go (can we say super Dad? :D) I began to plan!
Thankfully we know Aimee’s family and several of her close friends so I had plenty of options of people close to her that I could contact to help me. Choosing to go with Aimee’s bff Sheri, I contacted her and shared my idea. In no time at all she and I had a plan in place to pull this off! After a good deal on plane tickets were purchased our plan was in place. Sheri was going to ask Aimee to come along with her to pick up a “friend” at the airport late in the evening because her husband didn’t want her going alone. Aimee, being the helpful friend that she is gladly agreed to help Sheri out with no clue what was going on. Yeeesssss!!!
I landed in San Francisco close to midnight and headed to the baggage claim where I knew Sheri was waiting with the unsuspecting Aimee. I rode down the escalator and spotted them right away. Aimee glanced my way and saw me as I grinned. She had THE FUNNIEST look on her face ever! I didn’t take a picture but there will be a mental one in my head forever. I wanted to burst out laughing! She was so confused and turned to Sheri with a look of total and complete bewilderment and said, “Uh, Beth is here!” She slowly stood up as I walked toward her and she still wasn’t even smiling she was SO confused and shocked. Haha. As I came closer I just said, “TRICKED YA!”. Then she started freaking out of course and we hugged and she just kept saying all kinds of explanations of disbelief and excitement as she jumped up and down. It was awesome. I hugged Sheri too and we had a great “high five” for a surprise executed perfectly! YESSS!
While living in the village together we had often slipped into day dreaming together and asking ourselves, “If we were in America right now, what would we do?” The answers to this question were always entertaining as we all conjured up visions of restaurant food and experiences we missed. 🙂 It may seem like we would think up some pretty extravagant things but we really wouldn’t. The things we dreamed of were just normal things! Now that I had surprised Aimee and we were BOTH in America at the SAME TIME, it was our chance! This was our chance to just experience what we had missed, together. The three short days I spent with Aimee and her family and friends were wonderful and simply flew by. I was so completely encouraged by all the conversations Aimee and I had, that we had waited months and months to have! It is a gift to be able to have fellowship with the person you are in ministry with when you are out of your specific ministry “context”. We can (and were able to) help each other process through things like very few others ever could because we can truly relate and the deepest level. To be honest it’s therapeutic and I for one wanted (and needed) those conversations for myself! I knew that Aimee would be blessed by them too.
There were so many things about the time we had together that made me so sure God had been in the details! For instance, I had no idea when I chose the dates for my trip that I would be able to be there for Aimee’s last “Sending Team” meeting. This is a night when members of the amazing group of people who have committed to support and encourage Aimee in her ministry come together. They meet to share updates of Aimee’s needs and life as well as to pray for her and Tigak people/Tigak church! I was incredibly blessed to be a part of this meeting, share a bit and be encouraged by the faithfulness of this group of brothers and sisters in Christ who are standing with us before the Lord for the Tigak people! Amazing. It was a touching and emotional night. Oh, and it was fun. 🙂
Aimee and my time spent together was a mixture of just spending time with each other and also with her family and friends (who feel like they have become ours as well). It was three days well spent and a great blessing to me. A rare time and opportunity we both enjoyed together. Now, just feast your eyes on the wonderful things about America we enjoyed together!