In our missions agency, we are required to itinerate to raise our funds. What that means is that we travel around preaching and telling churches about our dreams and goals. Then we pray that God would provide funds for the churches to support us on a monthly basis. It is, perhaps, the most inefficient and exhausting procedure on the planet. But it has its benefits too. We pray for the churches and they pray for us in turn. It creates a symbiotic relationship between missionary and church. This is a story of a prayer answered during our first itineration season.
When our daughter Emma was just 2 she received a special present. Being so cute, she was able to convince her uncle to buy her a blue teddy bear that she spotted on a trip to the mall. With typical 2 year old logic, she named it Blue Bear. And she loved Blue Bear.
Blue Bear accompanied us on our travels during that season of life. Every Sunday and Wednesday were were at a different church, sharing and preaching and meeting the people. Much of my time as a mom was spent in the church nursery entertaining and taking care of our children while Daddy preached and talked about missions to the “big people”. One night we made it all the way home before we realized that Emma had lost Blue Bear somewhere during the day. The church where we spent our evening was already closed. Monday would be the pastor’s day off, so we decided to call on Tuesday and ask him to check the church nursery for Blue Bear.
Emma cried that night and had a hard time going to sleep without Blue Bear. As I was turning out the light I heard her pray, “Jesus help Blue Bear come home.” My heart broke.
The pastor could not find Blue Bear anywhere. He was lost. Night after night, Emma would pray for Blue Bear and cry herself to sleep. Weeks passed and we continued traveling.
One day we decided to stop at our favorite little roadside junk store, I mean souvenir store, called “Treasure City”. Now we like to stop here for a potty break when we travel through this part of Minnesota. It’s a good place to stretch the legs, buy some flavored candy canes, and look at all the amusing junk that people can buy. You wouldn’t believe all the crap that people glue googley eyes on and try to sell to children! But it’s fun for the kids to poke at the dried frogs in Mariachi costumes glued to shot glasses and the crocodile heads mounted on plaques.
So while standing in an aisle surrounded by painted sea shells and clocks with sand dollars on them, I looked up into a fishing net hanging from the ceiling. The net held stuffed animals of all kinds and… lo and behold… there was Blue Bear! OK, it wasn’t the original, but the 2 year old didn’t know that. For Emma, a miracle had occurred! She screamed and danced all around the store with her beloved lost bear. Blue Bear had come home. That night in her prayers, Emma thanked God for helping Blue Bear to find his way home. And I do believe that God heard the prayers of my 2 year old and gave her a new teddy bear because God cares about the things that are a big deal to us.