By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for full coffee thermos and mulch!
I have never been on a church mission trip. As the mother of eight children, I suspect we were the object of most missions. I'm not sure I wasn't the object of this mission trip this time. I could just hear the planning committee.
"You know she's got these two little children and school is almost out."
"Yes, and at her age we need to get her away for a few days."
"Yes. Our real mission is to save the children but we will tell her it is a mission trip to help sort and pack supplies for flood victims at our distribution depot."
I was invited. There were two women going that I had known for at least thirty years and they were always lots of fun. Dr. Hubby only had a few questions.
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know".
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know."
"What time will you be back?"
"I don't know."
"OK, I'll handle things here."
I have to admit I was also thinking of that long hot summer approaching when I would have to spend endless hours serving as backyard life guard and WWIII mediator as the children began re-establishing their territorial borders.
Yes, I would go.
When I arrived at the church to leave for our trip, I found myself in the car with two women I had known only for a short time and one I did not know…or didn't know that I knew…or knew but had forgotten I knew. To be on the safe side I just did not introduce myself.
Now, I know it is hard to believe, but I am a very shy person. "I never met a stranger I didn't like" only works if you are able to speak to that stranger and carry on a conversation. I opted for Mark Twain's advice "Better to keep your mouth closed and thought a fool, then to open it and remove all doubt." I would be a good listener.
It was a good choice as I had no idea what they were talking about. They discussed favorite recipes; I listened. They discussed master gardening techniques. I listened. They commented on every bush, flower, and weed on the side of the highway calling them by their biological name and allocating them to the proper category, phylum, and location at Lowes. I listened. They discussed diets, nutrition, and exercise. I listened. At that point I was wishing I had consumed a gallon of coffee before leaving so I could contribute to the conversation with "When is the next rest stop?" but I hadn't.
To their credit they tried to include me in the conversation.
"I bet those kids keep you busy," said one.
"Do you garden?" asked another.
"Are you enjoying being retired?" inquired the maybe-stranger- maybe-not person driving.
"I don't know."
"Oh, look at those thornius yellow bivoscrotum bivalve phyla-silly-us roses. Those would look so pretty in your yard (referring to the person in the front seat). You know they have cross pollinated those knocked out roses and now there's the double bloom that tolerates more extreme climate conditions…" And it went downhill from there.
When we stopped for lunch eight hours later, someone from the other car asked if anyone was ready to trade cars. ME!!!
When I got into my comfort zone car, a longtime friend asked "So how did it go?" I told them I didn't say anything; I just listened. I did not think that statement was cause for riotous laughter, but it did. I told them they talked about cooking (more laughter), diets (continued laughter) and at great length about knocked up roses they got at Lowes which I guess is the home for unwed and promiscuous roses. More laughter.
By this time the car was rocking from side to side as the occupants gasped for air. I could see the confused expressions of the occupants in the first car. Later that evening I overheard the maybe-stranger-maybe-not person ask if I was always this quiet and reserved which caused much spewing of coke through the noses of my old friends. "Just wait till she gets warmed up!" they warned.
I did warm up. My roommate that night was the maybe-stranger-maybe-not person. I relaxed when I discovered that I really hadn't met her before. I also realized that she suffered from the same condition my others friends have. They unexpectedly lapse into some kind of coma around 2 a.m. in the middle of one of my stories.
On the way home we stopped every fifteen minutes. I was passed back and forth like a hot potato. "We've enjoyed Jody for the last 22.8 miles. It's your turn now…my ears hurt."
One of the ladies I had ridden with during my "quiet period" asked "What happened to Jody? She was so quiet before". My old friend explained. "You have to understand, Jody only speaks six-year-old and nine-year-old. Real conversation with live adults is limited to her computer. When she finally gets her jaw and brain coordinated, she has to talk very fast and a lot before she returns home and enters the 'cone of silence". "Well, I think our next mission should be to get her among adult humans more often."
I agree. Maybe I'll go to Lowes and get some knocked up roses to plant.