Too keyed up to sleep after signing off from her show, Mary made another cup of tea and returned to her computer. She did a Google search for Bringing Christ to Latin America, and up popped a photograph of a toddler with a woebegone expression in his brown eyes. The picture transitioned into an old man clutching a worn Bible, his toothless mouth stretched into a wide smile. That photograph dissolved into a married couple, with three small children gathered around, who stared into the camera with eyes that had more pain and sorrow than she dared imagine.
Mary clicked on the button at the bottom of the screen to enter the site before another photograph appeared. She knew photographs would pepper the site, but she wanted to read about the group before seeing any more troubled souls. Her heart was disturbed enough trying to decide how to deal with David’s decision to go to Peru as a missionary.
The home page came into view and text replaced the photographs. She sipped her tea and settled back to read.
Bringing Christ to Latin America was established in 1925 to reach the people of Central and South America. The organization has grown from a staff of two to thousands since its inception eighty-five years ago. We have brought the Gospel to millions of people in these Latin American countries.
We ask that you prayerfully consider joining us in this great calling to follow the command of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20.
The mission statement seemed straightforward and about what she had expected from the group’s name. She clicked on a Testimonials button to read about the work of the group in the words of its missionaries and their converts. Under the Peru tab, she saw photographs of Peruvian churches and the happy faces of the missionaries, arms slung around the shoulders of smiling parishioners. A note at the bottom of the Peruvian page said that one of the missionary couples was retiring because the wife had health issues that made mission field work increasingly difficult.
She swiped at the tear that rolled down her cheek as she read the wife’s statement. Then she clicked on a tab that outlined how to become a missionary. A list of rigorous requirements appeared.
She raised her eyebrows. That was a pretty thorough list. She doubted her parents had to complete such tasks before they left for Peru. Maybe if they had, they would have stayed in the United States. She clicked on the funding link and another list of requirements popped up.
Mary added the numbers on her computer calculator. Forty-two thousand dollars was a lot of money to raise. She wondered how many contributors it took to reach that goal. She wasn’t sure she could help raise that amount. Mary read a few more pages before her eyelids began to droop. She yawned and stretched her arms over her head, rotating her neck to loosen tight muscles. She padded downstairs and rinsed her teacup. The prospect of helping David raise forty-two thousand dollars physically weighed her down as she climbed the stairs to go to bed.
# # #
David logged off his computer and stood. The hours he spent online killed his back. A trip to the treadmill downstairs would loosen him up. He checked his watch. Four-thirty in the morning. He had time for four or five miles at least before finishing the night’s work and catching some sleep.
He entered in a number to set the treadmill’s pace at a brisk walk. He placed his cell phone in the cup holder of the treadmill before turning on the attached TV. CNN blared more bad news. What the world needed was some feel-good stories. David upped the speed on the treadmill and picked up his pace, breaking into a jog. His breath came in shorter puffs now and he felt his leg muscles bunching and releasing as his stride lengthened. He punched up the treadmill speed and ran faster, pumping his arms as his legs ate up the miles. Sweat dampened his bare chest as he settled into a rhythm. His cell phone chimed just as he reached mile four.
He slowed his pace enough to pick up the phone and check the caller ID. Sylvia’s number flashed on the screen. Cursing under his breath, he decreased the treadmill’s speed and inserted his phone earpiece before picking up the call.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He panted into the mouthpiece.
“Why are you breathing so hard? Did I interrupt something?”
David laughed. “No, you’re not interrupting anything. I’m just enjoying a little run on the treadmill. What’s up?”
“We need to move the location of today’s meeting to Grant’s office on H and Cedar, suite two-fifteen.”
“Four o’ clock, right?”
“Yes, and don’t be late.”
“I’m never late.”
A click sounded in his ear. David removed the earpiece, all the joy of the run draining out of him. Sylvia sure knew how to ruin a good time.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.