Miss Broom. Remembering her makes me smile.
It was an unexpected meeting. The paths of our lives crossed for a few days all because of two calamities: a personal adversity of mine and a natural disaster in Europe.
It was the spring of 2010.
Jake and I were living at a remote camp in Ethiopia and that April I had plans and tickets to fly to Greece to visit our Daughter #2.
Then unluckily just before my trip, I got a grand toothache. One of my molars was infected and after three days of jaw and neck pain, I was desperate to see a dentist.
Jake couldn’t leave the camp, so our co-worker Joan agreed to ride beside me as I ‘bravely’ drove our double-cab truck the four hours to the big city of Addis Abeba.
We checked into rooms at our mission guesthouse and I found a dentist. He tried but couldn’t fix the problem. I was grateful for the pain meds he gave me and I planned to see a specialist in Greece. (It would be three dentists later before that tooth was extracted.)
Then I heard about the disaster.
Remember when that volcano erupted in Iceland and sent clouds of ash over northern Europe? All air space was closed; all flights in and out of that area were indefinitely cancelled.
I didn’t know when I would be able to fly out.
That’s when I met Miss Broom. Her English accent and expressions and manners, along with her kind blue eyes and silver hair and faith in God were so attractive. I loved hearing her stories.
Miss Broom was a retired teacher. In the years 1964-1971 she taught the Emperor Haile Selassie’s great grandchildren in London where they were sent for their education.
She had come to Ethiopia that spring to reconnect with Sophie, “His Majesty’s grand-daughter,” she told me, and now her trip home was delayed. “My sister will be worried, you know. We have tickets for the Russian Ice Dances, but never mind. God knows,” she told me.
We were stranded together at that guest house for some days and I enjoyed being with her, sharing meals and conversations, taxis and cups of tea.
If I’d arrived in the city as I’d planned, and she had left when she wanted to, I would not have had the pleasure of meeting her.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
Last month Jake and I had a big joy of reuniting with other Americans who had lived in the remote camp place the same time we did.
It was so, so good to be together and reminisce and thank God for all He did for us those years. I felt such love and special gratitude for each person.
Joan was there and we remembered this story of that day she helped me get to Addis and find a dentist.
As I am remembering Miss Broom and thanking God for the pleasure of knowing her for a few days, I am feeling way more grateful to Him for the years my life coincided with Joan’s.
Joan, a hardy, humble, beautiful soul from the ranch lands of Wyoming, was a joyful and effective missionary teacher for many years in Ethiopia. She is successful at criticizing no one and loving everyone and persevering in hard places.
What a privilege it was to be ‘neighbors’ with Joan, sharing meals and conversations, adventures and prayers.
Ah, God’s serendipitous blessings!
How He surprises us, mixing events and places with people, like Miss Broom and Joan — people He wants us to meet, just so He can bless us.
He does that a lot, doesn’t He?
He sure does.