We had our most recent Missions Conference at the church this weekend. Saturday evening, we had a cookout dinner and hayride which was very neat. No program, 'cause our speaker arrived too late, but the time together was good -- and the best attended any of our non-Sunday-morning events has ever been.
This morning, our speaker met with the Sunday School classes to talk about her experiences as a medical missionary in the Congo many years ago. She and her husband were both doctors on the mission field in the 60s. After they left Africa, her husband was the head of all medical missions for the UMC. She started a practice in her home town of Wilmore, KY. Her husband has been long gone now, but she keeps puttering along. She's 80, by my guess, and had to get back this afternoon to do rounds in the local hospital.
AND she preached a great sermon.
And then came the pledges. I always experience fear when I have to ask people to support the list of projects we've chosen. They're usually so faithful, but they don't have to be. We asked them to support a list of causes and projects to the tune of $7,000. They filled out their faith promise cards, then we proceded to finish the service. As we were singing the last hymn before the benediction, the Missions Committee brought the hastily added total to the front for me to read. They had promised over $8,000 -- in fact, with late promises coming in, it ought to be around $8,500 for this next year.
God is so faithful.
The message on my answering machine began, "This is Chris Woodfairy . . ." I was befuddled, to say the least. But years of pastoral ministry have taught me to smile and nod and wait for the other shoe to drop, even when listening to recordings. Even if what you've just heard makes no sense, it may if you just pay attention.*
Neverthless, it intrigued me. What sort of woodfairy did she think herself to be? A pixie? A hamadryad? A nymph? She never said. But eventually, my mind cleared enough to guess that she was using a double-barrelled, hyphenated name. Her father is Bob Wood. So I'm guessing she goes by Wood-Ferry or Wood-Ferree or Wood-Fehre.
Ah, what might have been.
*This is especially important when someone comes up to you and starts talking as if you've been buddies for years: you play along, hoping that he or she will give you enough clues to guess who in the world you're smiling and exchanging patter with before you have to embarrass yourself by asking for a name.