One Tuesday in March I was in my classroom working with students, when a man walked in. He introduced himself, “I’m Jay A___. Your principal said I might visit you to observe your class. May I stay for awhile?”
I replied, “Yes. We are just taking our lunch break now, and celebrating March birthdays. Won’t you join us?”
“Terrific!” he said. “I have a March birthday, too!”
Jay stayed until the class was dismissed. Then he asked to talk to me about my work. He said, “I am the principal from the American school in Congo, Africa. Would you be interested in coming to teach?”
As he spoke, I felt a sense of astonishment and wonder. As a child, I had dreamed of someday going to Africa. In recent years I had again toyed with the idea of ‘someday’ going. But I had not done anything to pursue that dream.
“Oh, that sounds interesting! I will pray about it and see,” I thought to myself.
As Jay left, he said, “Please let me know your decision by Friday, as I will need to call headquarters and let them know by then.
As I sat at my desk and prayed, I had a strong feeling that this was in God’s hands, and that I should say “yes” to the next step. I picked up the phone and dialed the number of my supervisor, Joyce D____. I knew that many changes were coming in the district; changes for which I would need to be present. “How could I leave at such a time?” I thought to myself. Just then Joyce answered the phone.
“Joyce, I have just been offered a job in Africa for a year. Do you think I could get a one-year leave to go?” In my mind, I certainly expected that the answer would be “no.”
“What a wonderful opportunity!” Joyce responded. “I have just come from a meeting, and the changes planned for your class are going to be delayed for a year! Yes, this might be possible. But you will need to talk with Mrs. B____.”
“OK. I’ll try to see her today.” I hung up the phone, feeling a bit light-headed as I walked over to Mrs. B___’s office.
“May I talk to you for a minute? Jay has asked me to come to Africa for a year. What would you think of me taking a leave of absence to do this?”
“What? Is Jay recruiting my best teacher?” she laughed. “Well, seriously, this sounds like the chance of a lifetime. You should talk with Mr. Fred I___ as soon as possible.”
As I left her office, I thought of my full schedule for the week. This was Tuesday afternoon. Besides teaching all day, I had meetings and workshops scheduled for every day and evening of the week through Saturday. “How can I possibly find time to see Mr. I___?” I thought. “Oh, well, I guess there is nothing more I can do.” Mentally turning the whole thing over to God, I left it in His hands as I prepared the next day’s lessons.
Each Wednesday, the day began with a staff meeting at 8:00 a.m. I walked into the meeting room, looking for an empty seat. Suddenly, I realized that Mr. I____ was in the room next to the only empty seat! “He never comes to these meetings! What a coincidence!’ I thought to myself.
He turned to me, “Hi, RuthAnn! How are things going for you?”
“Very well, thank you. I have been hoping to talk to you about something,” I replied.
“Let’s step outside, then. I have a few minutes,” he said.
I briefly explained Jay’s offer to him.
Mr. I____ said, “What a wonderful opportunity! Of course we will miss you, but I am sure you may have the leave of absence. You must get the formal request in by next week, which is the deadline for leave requests.”
As I thanked him, I thought to myself, “I am amazed at how this is happening. Impossible things are falling into place as if arranged by God!”
Over the next several months, many impossible deadlines were met, many impossible arrangements fell easily into place. With each “impossible step”, I had the calm and inexplicable sense of God’s leading. I simply had an enormous sense of saying “Yes, Lord!” to one step at a time.
On August 8 I arrived to begin my year in Africa, a life-changing and blessed year, with God at every step.
My own sketch of a beach cabin I enjoyed near Pointe Noire, Congo, Africa.