When we returned from our short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic, we talked about sharing our experiences at church, First Baptist Church in North East, PA. I know this is pretty standard fare for people serving in this capacity. One goes on a mission trip, comes back, and talks about the trip at church. What isn’t standard is that I was “volunteered” to speak. I kind of thought we would all speak for a couple of minutes, but was unanimously (minus one) voted down. It was decided that I would speak for the group. Lovely.
Our pastor, Bob Klecan, agreed that a presentation would be appropriate, and he figured ten minutes would be a good time for the report. He scheduled me to speak yesterday, February 19. I wasn’t too worried about it, I write fairly well, and I belong to Noon-Time Toastmasters in Erie, PA. So I was comfortably confident I could turn out something coherent and present it in an acceptable fashion. This isn’t to brag, I’m just saying that the basic skills required were not a huge concern. I just wanted to honor God with what I did.
Through the week I worked on it, and as of Saturday I had about four minutes, thirty-eight seconds. Wow! Expanding this would not be difficult, I was happy to add stuff that I had been afraid would not fit. Beth made a couple of suggestions which I incorporated, and I got the talk ready to go. I made a few fine-tuning changes later on Saturday, and even Sunday morning until just before service started. I prayed about it, Beth prayed about it, and we prayed about it together. I was confident that I would at least present it ok, and not embarrass myself. Good enough for me.
I have been fighting a cold for a week or so, but getting better. I did not think that would be a factor. However, on Saturday I sneezed for about five minutes straight. When I was done sneezing, my nose became a faucet and my sinuses were completely clogged. Beth and I serve on the worship team at church, with Beth being one of the guitarists, and I am one of the singers. With the unbelievably nasty cold hitting like a blizzard (uh, flood?), I was doubtful I could sing, and was concerned about my ability to talk on Sunday
The cold hit me mid-morning Saturday, just before I started working on the talk. So, I did what I would expect anyone in that position to do. I took my laptop, got a cup of coffee, and headed out to our unattached, unheated garage to work on the missions report. One might ask why in the world I would do that? Well, the answer is that I had determined to smoke one of the Dominican cigars I brought back while working on the report. And I’m not permitted to smoke my cigars in the house. So, I was left with no choice but to work in the cold, cruel wastes of northwestern Pennsylvania, sheltered only by an unheated garage, and with a nasty cold no less! See how cruel my wife can be? (Kidding, honey!!)
In any event, I was fairly calm about the whole thing, cold and all. We went to bed Saturday night, and I prayed (and we prayed) that God would take away the cold for Sunday morning. Vitamin C, zinc, echinacea tea, NyQuil, and lights out. Interestingly, Saturday night I wound up doing an all-nighter; I’m at the age where that means I don’t have to get up even once to use the bathroom.