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Changed . . . Image

Eight-year-old Jeremy rolled over and looked down on his 12-year-old brother Jim on the lower bunk. "Did you like that missionary tonight? I did!"

Jim sounded tired as he managed, "Yeah, he was OK. I didn't think him too special."

Jeremy's excitement was quite obvious, "I liked his toys he brought from Africa, and I liked hearing about eating monkey brains!"

"That was all right," Jim continued, "But he didn't seem to measure up to Sarah's description of him. I don't know what he said in those letters to her but she hasn't talked about much else for the past month." Jim imitated his teenaged sister's voice, "Ralph is going to come! Ralph is coming in just a few weeks!"

Jeremy giggled as he rolled over on his back. "Sarah really looked forward to Ralph's coming. But did you notice that he didn't say that much to her? I mean, he talked to all of us kids, and more to her than to the rest of us, but I think he talked to Dad the most."

Jim was pensive. "You're right. Adults always talk to Sarah more because she's older, and he seemed to treat her normally, as if there weren't any special relationship between him and her."

Jeremy rolled back over to look down at his brother. "You think Sarah really believes Ralph's her boyfriend?"

Jim was a little annoyed by the immaturity of Jeremy's question. "No, they aren't dating, but she's been writing him back and forth for a year, so I think she hoped that when he came, he would want to tell her how he truly felt about her and would want to give her his high school graduation ring or something like that."

"Did he?" Jeremy was obviously curious.

"No! Go to sleep!" Jim was even more annoyed. He didn't spend any time alone with her, and, as I said, didn't talk to her much at all."

Jeremy paused a little to gather his thoughts. He finally decided on a different approach. "How many letters did Sarah get from Ralph?"

Jim thought and then said, "I think about three or four. It takes a long time for letters to get to Africa and back. In the course of a year three or four times is about all you can write."

Jeremy didn't quite know what to say but then commented. "He looked really old. I mean, he looked almost as old as Dad. How old is Dad anyway?"

"No, he isn't as old as Dad," Jim corrected. "Dad's already 36. I would think he was 29 or so."

Jeremy didn't like always being corrected, so he said, "But he sure did look a lot older than his picture."

"Of course, he did," Jim set the record straight. "Haven't you noticed that all missionaries look older than their pictures? They take those pictures way back when they are young and then they come to our church after they go to the mission field and get grey hair and wrinkles. They're really misleading."

Jeremy thought he might have hit on a solution. "Do you think they could take the pictures later on when they looked older and then when they came to our churches they wouldn't have to look as old as their pictures?"

Jim was confused by the question and was getting tired of the conversation. "Do you mean they would take the picture when they were 40 and use it when they're 35? Jeremy, that's impossible!"

Jeremy didn't know how to cover his tracks so he took another tack. "Why would a missionary write a girl if he weren't interested in marrying her?"

Jim was silent and then said, "I don't know. I have puzzled about that too. Do you ever get letters from adults?"

"Grandma wrote me a birthday card," Jeremy tried to be helpful.

"Not a birthday card--a letter." Jim emphasized.

"No, I don't remember ever getting a letter from an adult," Jeremy admitted.

"Yeah, that puzzles me that Ralph would write all those letters to Sarah and then ignore her once he got here."

Jeremy was lost in thought, and then he queried, "Didn't the apostle Paul write letters?"

"That was to whole churches," Jim explained, "Not to individual people."

"But he wrote Timothy and Titus, didn't he?" Jeremy went on, "and even Philemon."

Jim thought a minute and asked, "What did he say to them?"

Jeremy had no idea. "I haven't read them, have you?"

"No," Jim was a bit sheepish as he admitted this fact to his brother. "But now after Sarah's bad experience with Ralph, I'm going to read them to find out."

Both boys were quite for a while, and Jim was just about to fall asleep when Jeremy's boyish voice broke the silence one last time.

"Remember that lady missionary who spoke at our church last year? Do you think I should write her a letter?"

"Go to sleep, Jeremy!" Jim was firm this time. "You can't write her! You're too young to get married!"

Tuesday Tea

Missionary Connection

Bunkbed Banter

Five-mile Run

A Car for a Missionary

Judah's Story

John--Apostle of Glory

Singles Pastor