October 23
4:10 p.m.

Have to give Tav the information for Charlotte’s funeral service. Too many things to do this week.

Thank God for sweet Martha. She came in to help with the overload in the office.

“Bless you.” She now gives me hugs. It seems so long ago when I was the first one to give her a hug. “It’s been craaaaazy with the missionaries coming in this weekend.”

“You don’t worry about the front office. Just go do what you need to do.” With a gentle nudge, she sends me on my way.

And then, it struck me. I rush in to Kate’s office.

“They’re not married,” I whisper.

“Who?”

I’m quickly scanning the bios again. Lloyd Wiggins and Edna Rich were the Directors of some evangelism training organization and traveled the world together, spending hours on the road, in the plane, boats, and trains!

And, obviously, hotels.

Kate nods, “Shhh.”

“You don’t approve?”

“No. I shouldn’t judge…”

“Of course you should…and you know I’m no prune-y prude. From what I can read between the lines, they’re nothing but scam artists—using money from various churches to finance their flings together.”

“Okay, since you started it, here’s my ‘prayer concern.’ They’re super pious, and I’m sure they must be doing good somewhere, but I’m uncomfortable with their leaving their spouses behind and traveling all over the world together. Some of the stories Edna’s told me just make me wonder.”

“I’m sure they’ve helped somebody, but mostly themselves…I’m thinking…anyway, even if they’re helping the poor and whatever they’re doing, that doesn’t justify their conning the churches.”

“Their board is made up of some wonderful, well-known pastors and leaders in the church. I checked them out, and have even met some of them. Even Mark’s on their board,” Kate adds. “But for some reason I don’t trust them.”

“Sounds like they surround themselves with good people to cover their creepiness.”

And that’s why, girls and boys, you have to be very careful which missionaries you support.

True story. I know this. I’m a PK.

________

4:25 p.m.

The tech support finally did their job! But I haven’t yet received the sermon information for the bulletin…it’s going to be a late, late day.

Kate had given me most of the details last Monday, but we’re still waiting to hear what the sermon topic and Scripture was going to be. Faith has been driving me crazy sobbing and crying that the music wasn’t going to have the anointing of the Holy Spirit if she didn’t know what the Scripture was being used.

“Kate, I’ve emailed both Bonnie and Clyde several times, and they haven’t yet sent me the info for the bulletin.” I’m in Kate’s office, watching her filing Mark’s sermon notes and thanking God I don’t have to do that for a while.

“Let me ask Mark. Maybe they sent the info to him.”

“Telephone. Pick it up, somebody.” Pete’s yelling out that the church telephone is ringing, and he refuses to answer it—even though he’s sitting at my desk.

“Be right back,” I rush to get the phone and instead slam right into Tav as he’s walking out of his office. Why is he even here?

“Whoa.”

“I’m so sorry…” I think I must have crushed my head into his shoulder. “I didn’t know you were…throw up.” Please Lord, I don’t want to throw up in front of him. You could slay me, instead.

“Are you alright?”

“I think so,” I mutter. Hello, I slammed into your well-carved shoulder.

“Here, sit down.” He scoops me up gently and places me on a chair in the corner of Kate’s office.

“You’re sweeping me off my feet…” I’m giggling, now I feel a little drunk.

“Hey beauty. You might have a slight concussion,” Tav’s telling me. He’s calling me Beauty. The room’s definitely spinning a bit now.

“The telephone…”

“…can go to voice mail. Let’s make sure you haven’t hurt yourself. Looks like you have a red spot where your head connected very nicely with my shoulder.” He’s checking out my face carefully. He’s staring into my eyes. I quickly close them.

“I’m not going to kiss you, you know. At least, not right now…I’m just checking for concussion.” He’s smiling.

“That’s not why I closed them.”

“No? Then why did you?” He raises an eyebrow as he stands up and looks down at me.

“Mark says to go ahead and print the bulletin without the Scripture verse or sermon title.” So glad to see Kate walk back into the room.

“What should I tell Faith?”

“Tell Faith what?” Speak of the devil. Was she living at the church now?

“Hi Faith, we don’t have the Scripture verse or sermon title,” Kate informs her.

“Oh, but I have it.”

“You do?” You could have knocked Kate and me down with a feather.

“I got it yesterday morning when I was here…that was yesterday, wasn’t it, Tav Tav?”

“I guess…”

When was Faith here with Tav? I hadn’t seen her in church. Ugh. Probably, after I had left. Or before…

“I thought so. Tav Tav wanted to meet before the peons got here”—she’s doing the bouncy hair thing. “Didn’t you, Tavie?”

Peons? Double ugh. Tavie? I might yet throw up.

“No, that’s not how it was, Faith. You need to make sure your facts are right.” Tavish is suddenly gone, but he has left us with her.

Faith has gone a whiter shade of pale. I’m not sure if cold anger is worse than the one that just blows up in your face. She’s giving me this look—you know the type that you feel kicked in the stomach because you know that something bad is going to happen.

I still felt a little dizzy and they are too many things happening to think about. First things first.

“Faith, could I please have the info?”

“Sure, Natalie. Always here for Jesus’ work.”

With the bulletin information in hand, I escape back into my office. Kate could handle Faith.

But Faith hasn’t finished with me as yet.

“Natalie, the Lord laid it on my heart to pray for you. I have been anointed by him to be his prophetess. I’ll be sharing with my prayer group how much you need prayer.”

“Thanks Faith. That is so sweet of you. One can never get enough of prayer, can one?”

“No, Natalie. One can never get enough, but you’ll see.”

I have no time fathom what she means. Whatever it is, she sounds like a veritable Prophetess of Doom.

_____________

5:45 p.m.

“Kate, have you seen the church keys?” Kate’s working late, too. And then, we’re going to head over for the missions’ dinner.

“No, where did you leave it?”

“It was on the chair…right were I was sitting. I know it was there because it was in my hands and…maybe, I…”

“Maybe you what? Natalie, why is there a red bump on your forehead?”

“Connected with Tavish’s shoulder when he walked out of his office.”

“Whaaat?!” Poor Kate, I think I’ve shortened her life span by several years, even decades.

“Long story.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

“Yes…thanks. Much better. But that’s just it…”—I’m half-talking to myself—”…I’m sure I had the keys because I sat on them when Tavish…I was in the chair…”

Kate’s sensing more to the Tavish story, but she’s keeping her mouth shut.

“Faith might have picked them up,” she suggests. “Why don’t you ask her?”

“Faith? Actually, I did think that…but why?”

“Jealousy…resentment…who knows? She’s an unhappy creature and was not pleased when Tavish told her off.”

“He did, didn’t he?” I couldn’t care less about the keys, I was thinking about Tavish. “But she wouldn’t actually…”

“Oh yes, she would. She’s a mean girl.”

“Hi Faith, this is Natalie.”

“Oh Natalie! Is everything okay? You’re not upset or anything?”

“No. Not at all. Just wanted to let you know the bulletins were done and I’ve placed your copy in your mail box.” There was something in the tone of her voice that made me sure that she had the church keys. I wasn’t going to ask her, I’d rather pay to have all the locks changed than let her know I was on to her. Knowledge is power, my mom always says.

Kate sure had called it right.

______________

Photo by ePi.Longo via Flickr