Last night, as my husband was working on setting up his post-apocalyptic city in “Fallout 4”, I sat on the floor of the den by his couch and opened a particular box. This box holds the dearest of my correspondence. Letters, cards, and photos, precious pieces of memory from friends, family, and loved ones. Stacks are held together by pretty ribbon, several cards or letters sometimes set together in the same envelope to save space. But I was in search of one letter in particular; it is coupled together with a candid photo of me and the woman whom I call my mentor, my “Frodo”.
Of all the years that we have known each other and the times that she has written to me, this is the only letter I have left. The others are probably packed away somewhere else that I cannot recall. So this is the only letter of hers that I currently hold in my close possession, and it is the most precious to me. This was a letter written to me for my wedding day. At the time, Erin was a missionary in Malawi and unable to make it back for my wedding (which broke my heart a little, I admit), but she sent this letter on ahead of herself, with instructions that it wasn’t to be opened until the day of my marriage ceremony. So I waited.
When I rolled out of bed on the morning of July 22, 2006, I reached over to the nightstand, where this letter sat waiting atop my journal. I opened it tenderly and devoured the words inside. It is two pages of plain paper, covered in words written in her lovely hand, and I could hear my beloved Adona’s (what equates to “Bosslady” in Chichewe) voice rising from those words to meet my ears. Even more so, though, I could feel her voice in my heart.
She wrote: “I wish you nothing but joy, Melissa, this day and always. I wish you trials and hard times to challenge you and Ben together. I wish you the simplicity of the moment. I wish you a grand adventure together, laughing, crying, and truly knowing each moment. For these things, and above all else for awareness of His Presence. I will continue to bathe you and Ben in prayer. And it is precisely these things for which I have no doubt — you will find them. You always have, since that first day I laid eyes upon you, and I saw a heart full of love and a life full of potential.”
This is an opinion of me that I have striven to live up to for the past, not only for Erin’s sake but for mine. To be the woman God created me to be, to show to others the love that He showered on me through Erin and other dear ones who have made such an impact on my life for so much the better. Erin saw what God was endeavoring to build in me long before I ever did and she guided me into ministry opportunities that have influenced me ever since.
Over the past almost-ten years, Ben and I have indeed had joys and trials, laughter and tears, and God has never left our sides, even when were stubborn and tried to do things on our own or our way. He has always been there, arms open to us and holding us tightly. And we have only just begun.
I sat and read and cried. I remembered and thanked God for my friend who, though still farther away than I would like, has done and continues to do so much good in my life. For her letter that got a beautiful day off to a memorable and tender start. And for her prayers that continue to follow and cover me day in and day out.